1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. O’MALLEY presented two petitions from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union of Hobart and Launceston, praying the House to prohibit the importation, sale, and manufacture of intoxicating liquors in British New Guinea.
Mr. KENNEDY presented a similar petition from certain residents of Benalla.
Mr. FOWLER presented a similar petition from certain electors of Perth.
Mr. WINTER COOKE presented a similar petition from certain . electors of Wannon.
Mr. KNOX presented a similar petition from certain electors of Kooyong.
Mr. KIRWAN presented a similar petition from certain residents, of . Bunbury.
Sir PHILIP FYSH presented two similar petitions from certain electorates of Tasmania.
Mr. CROUCH presented a similar petition from certain residents of Gee- long.
Mr. A. C. GROOM presented a petition from certain residents of Mirboo North and surrounding district praying the House to pass into law the Bonuses for Manufactures Bill.
Mr. R. EDWARDS presented a similar petition from certain electors of Queensland.
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN presented a similar petition from certain electors of New South Wales.
-I wish to know from the Minister for Home Affairs whether he has yet received a statement from the Governments of the States with reference to the value of the public buildings and other properties taken over by the Commonwealth ?
– Communications were sent many months since to the Governments of the States asking them to make applications and to give values. One application was received from the Government of Western Australia, but it was incomplete, as it included, I think, only 53 post-offices’. I am not aware that, any application has been received from the Governments of the other States.
– How many months is it since the last communication on the subject was sent to the Governments of the States 1
– I cannot say from memory, but I think that two communications on the subject have been sent to the Governments of the States.
– Is the Minister for Home Affairs in a position tb say on what day he will bring forward the proposed new electoral divisions for consideration?
– I had intended to do so to-morrow, but as I have to-day received a telegram from the New South Wale’s Commissioner saying that he will hot be ablo to post the report and maps dealing with the New South Wales divisions from
Sydney until this afternoon, it will be impossible to deal with the matter this week. I hope, however, to deal with it to-morrow week, if the state of public business will allow me to do so.
– Could we not commence the consideration of the proposed electoral divisions of the other States 1 Is it necessary to wait for the report and maps from New South Wales 1
– As there will, no doubt, be some debate upon the proposed divisions when they are brought forward for consideration, I think that it will save time to have as many of them as possible dealt with at one time, to prevent the repetition which might arise from postponements. The proposed divisions for Western Australia and Tasmania will not be ready for three or four weeks.
– A correspondent in today’s Age states that in the Australian Light Horse privates . in the six New South Wales regiments are to be paid according to the published scale, at the rate of £6 8s. per annum, -with horse and clothing allowances in addition, the privates of the five Victorian regiments are to receive only volunteer pay, at the rate of £2 10s. per annum. Is that statement correct 1 If so, will the Minister inform the’ House why the distinction has been, made ?
– The estimates which have been laid upon the table . have been prepared upon a uniform basis in regard to rates of pay.
– Is it true, as reported in to-day’s newspapers, that the members of the Tasmanian Volunteer Force are not to be paid for their services?
– It was my de sire that the whole of the forces in the’ States should have among them a proportion of partially-paid men, especially the Light Horse and Field’ A rtillery, but, yielding to the representations of the Premier of Tasmania and others as to the necessity for greater economy in the expenditure of that State, I have reluctantly submitted estimates which make no alteration in regard to the Tasmanian forces of the conditions which were in force lost year. Those forces will . therefore not be paid this year.
– Has the Minister for Home Affairs yet received the final report from the Capital Sites Commission with respect to the Dalgety site ! If not, -when does he expect to receive it ? When do the Government intend to carry out “the promise of the Prime Minister with respect to the settlement of the Capital Site question *1
– I have had no further communication from the Commissioners in regard to the Dalgety site ; but I’ will ask them to forward their report as soon as possible. As I have already stated, there has been some delay in the preparation of maps, but, although I cannot speak positively as to the date when the report will be received, I think it should be ready early next week - certainly by the end of the week. As to the consideration of the question by Parliament, it is impossible for me to give any exact date at the present time.’ The Prime Minister has said. that the matter will be dealt with during this session. If it is–
– “If it is?” We have had. a definite promise.
– Will the honorable member allow me to finish my “reply ? If it is dealt with during this session I hope that honorable members will be satisfied.
– Has the Minister any idea where the members of the Commission are -at present ?
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Regulations prohibiting attendance in uniform at meetings held for religious or political purposes.
Return showing the number of arrivals in and departures from Victoria.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– In the absence of the Prime Minister, I have to say that he has been informed by me that -
The quotation by the honorable member is from a telegraph report which does not give the statement completely. The following report, taken from the Ballarat Courier of the 4th August, is a more correct version of the utterance in question : - “ All that the present Parliament contemplated was the selection of a site that should be nationalized, and nationalized on such lines that it would contribute largely to the expense of its establishment. (Applause.) It would be for the people to say whether it should be established on business lines or not. The people of Australia had their hands on the brake in this as well as in other matters, and whatever the proposals might be; or by whom they might be made, they would not embody an expenditure of £2,000,000 or £1,000,000 upon what had been derisively referred to as a ‘ bush capital.’ The proposals would be for housing the Federal Parliament and its officers in the simplest way. “
When the question of the selection of the site is submitted to the House, as the honor: able member was informed by the Prime Minister last night, the full proposals of the Government will be laid before honorable members.
– Then this is simply more Age twisting 1
– No. It is a telegraphed report.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions, I have to say- 1 and 2. The Premier of New South Wales, in reply to a recent communication from this Government, ad vised that Mr. Oliver’s supplementary report had not yet been furnished. Copies of the latest papers obtainable on this subject were distributed amongst ‘ honorable members last week.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The following are the answers to the honorable member’s questions : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The report in question has only recently been received, and is now under consideration.
In Committee (Consideration . resumed from 4th August, vide page 3036) :
The permanent forces shall consist of officers who . are appointed officers of those forces, and of soldiers, petty officers, and sailors who are bound to continuous or military or naval service for a term.
– When progress was reported last evening I had stated to the Committee that it seemed to me” that it would be desirable in this clause to make some provision as to the classes of the Defence Forces of Australia in which permanent men should be permitted to be employed. It seemed to me, and seems still, that not only is it in accordance with public opinion, but that public opinion is right, that our permanent soldiery should consist of the minimum that is necessary to secure the efficiency of our forces ; and that any idea of the employment of a large number of permanent soldiery should be pronounced by this Parliament to be not in accordance with its desires. The permanent soldiery of Australia at present consist chiefly of garrison artillery. There is also a considerable number of officers and’ ^non-commissioned officers employed on the Administrative and Instructional staffs. By the Administrative staffs I mean the various Head-quarters staffs and their appendages.
– Mainly doing clerical work.
– When the Estimates come up for consideration something may be said on that matter. There are also small bodies of submarine miners and engineers, and there are two batteries- of permanent field artillery, as well as a very insignificant number of permanent members of the Army Medical and Army Service Corps - numbers so small that if the amendment which I intend to propose meets with the approval of the Committee, they could be provided for in connexion with the Instructional. Staffs, without any difficul ty or any important alteration of the work they are doing at present. In the amendment which I am going tomove, defining in what respect the defence forces shall be permanent or partially-paid or otherwise, I do not deal with naval defence, because I do not profess to understand the details of naval affairs, or to have that acquaintance with them that I ought to have with the details of military affairs. There is a clear line of cleavage between those men who are to be for purely land service and those whose service is connected with naval defence. To my mind, our business should be to make it clear that beyond the necessary administrative and instructional members of the permanent forces, we should depend for our purely land defence solely upon the citizen forces of Australia. This is a wholesome principle, and the only principle that is possible in view of the limited character of our resources. I alsoventure to say that it will be found that our citizen forces can be made a thoroughly efficient means of defence. I may illustrate this argument by reference to the case of permanent as contrasted with partially-paid or volunteer field-artillery. We have in Australia two batteries of permanent field artillery. Both are in the State of New South Wales. There are no permanent field artillery in any of the other States.
– There are only 36 men in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbanerespectively.
– If the Ministerf or Defence willlook at theEstimates he will findthat provision is made for permanent field artillery as contrasted with garrison artillery, and that in the minute of the General Officer, Commanding, dated the 4.-th October, 1902,’ it is stated -
The existing force of Royal Australian Artillery, namely, two batteries of field artillery, and ten companies of garrison artillery, numbering only 42 officers and 1,019 other ranks, is barely adequate.
– The permanent field
Artillerymen are maintained for instructional purposes only.
– No, they are not: they form a fighting unit. ‘ I know very well that they are an excellent corps, and it must not be supposed for one moment that I am reflecting upon their efficiency. They afford the solitary instance in Australia of a permanent fighting force as distinguished from permanent administrative or instructional staffs in connexion with our purely land forces. Either- this is an anomaly, or the principle adopted with regard to field artillery is a good one, and should be applied to other troops.
– I can assure the honorable and learned member that’ the Permanent Field Artillery are maintained for instructional purposes only.
– The General Officer Commanding, in his minute, refers to them in a different sense.
– The conditions have been altered since that was written, both as to the numbers of the men and the duties which they have to perform. There are 36 men in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane respectively for instructional purposes only.
– Then that particular kind of permanent force has already been done away with, and the right honorable gentlemanhas achieved the’ result at which I aim in ray amendment, to which, therefore, he cannot have .any reasonable objection. The idea of the General Officer Commanding with regard to instructional troops is indicated in the minute to which I have already referred, in which he says -
The permanent force, therefore, in Canada is maintained solely as an all-important nucleus of trained and experienced men, and for instructional purposes, namely : - (Two squadrons of horse, one battery of field artillery, two companies of garrison artillery, and five companies of infantry, numbering in January, 1900, 908 of all ranks). . . . Instructional troops are further required, as in Canada, to form a necessary nucleus of trained and experienced men for the forge generally, and for instructional purposes.
It is the first part of the last sentence to which I take exception. It is not necessary to have a permanent company of infantry, for instance, as an ideal to which our citizen soldiery should aspire, nor is it necessary to maintain a permanent squadron of light horse with a similar object. If the instructional and administrative staffs are properly manned, the ample material available for our citizen forces will enable us to turn out soldiers qualified to do all the work we require. A single squadron of light horse, or a single battery of field artillery, would be a mere drop in the ocean. If one permanent squadron of light horse would be a good thing in one State> we should have a similar squadron in each State, and the establishment of permanent forces, such as I have referred to, would be merely the beginning of a system which might result in our creating a very considerable standing army to the detriment of our citizen forces. Citizen soldiers do not cost more than one-fourth or one-fifth of the amount required for the maintenance of permanent forces, and if we spend all the money we can afford upon the equipment and the provision of munitions of > war for real practice by our citizen forces we shall better serve the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole. From what the Minister has said, we have practically no permanent forces as fighting units except the men required to man our forts. I move -
That the following new sub-clause be added : - “No permanent military forces shall be raised, maintained or organized, except for administrative staffs, instructional staffs, garrison artillery, fortress engineers, or submarine mining engineers.”
That is exactly in accordance with what the Minister has stated.
– There is the ordnance staff to provide for.
– That comes under the head of “administrative staff.” Surely the. ordnance officer, who has the control of the military stores, may well be included as a member of the administrative staff.
– Then there are the army service and medical corps.
– There is scarcely a score of men in those two branches of the service who could not be regarded as belonging to the administrative staff.
– There are 100 men belonging to those corps.
– Yes; but nearly all of them belong to the administrative or instructional staffs - it is for those purposes that they are needed.
– They are in the same category as the submarine miners and the garrison artillery.
– No, they are not.
– Then there are engineers to provide for.
– I have provided in my amendment for fortress engineers. The two great objects for which we should have permanent troops, firstly, for administrative and instructional purposes, and secondly for the highly skilled mechanical work, which has to be performed by garrison artillery, and fortress and submarine mining engineers, are covered by the amendment.
– What is the difference between “ garrison “ and “ fortress “ 1
– I have used the word “ fortress “ . engineers, because that term is used in the Estimates, to distinguish garrison - engineers from field engineers. The Minister for Defence interjects in a way which leads me to believe that for the moment I have not succeeded in conveying to him exactly what I intended. I think he will find that the classification in my amendment includes practically every individual who is a t present employed in the permanent force, subject of course to the accuracy of the information which he has supplied regarding the changed character of the Permanent Field Artillery. For example, if we look at the Estimates we shall find . that . the “ Australian Army Medical Corps, partially paid “ includes several hundred members in New South Wales, whilst the “Army Medical Corps, permanent “ includes only ten. Those ten constitute practically an instructional staff. The words “ instructional staff” which are contained in the amendment will, therefore, cover that . particular instance.
– We might insert the words “Army Medical Corps.”
– That corps is included in the administrative and the instructional staffs. If we were to insert the words suggested it might lead those in authority to believe that they could establish a permanent army service corps in the field quite apart from instructional purposes. I may be quite wrong, but I feel that it is my duty to submit this view to the Committee. I hold that the amendment indicates what ought to be done if we are to make the best use of the funds at our disposal.. Under these circumstances, it is wise to incorporate it in the Bill, because the matter will then be within the control of Parliament, and not merely within that of the Executive. If we do not specifically deal with it in this measure the Executive may alter this policy at any time. On the other hand, should the public desire any alteration of policy, it will be easy enoughto repeal this provision, although full noticewould require to be given that such a. change was contemplated. I am satisfied that my amendment covers every case in which it is necessary to employ permanent, forces, and in which, as a matter of fact, such forces are now employed. If there is. anything which has been made clear from the debates which have taken place in this. House during the past two years, it is that, outside instructional and garrison work - using the latter term in its largest sense - our military forces should be composed exclusively of citizen forces. My proposal simply carries out the declaration of this Parliament and of the people of Australia.
– The people have not. had an opportunity- of saying anything about it.
– They -have had just thesarae opportunity of expressing themselves, upon it that they have had in respect of any other clauses of the Bill, or of thenaval agreement.
– We need not introduce those matters into this debate.
– Through their representatives in Parliament the people have declared very definitely in favour of limitingthe number of our permanent forces. If those forces are to be kept down to thelowest possible minimum, and if we are tosecure the best possible return for the money expended, the lines indicated in the amendment are those which should be followed. But,, having travelled along that road, . the Minister appears to object to any declaration by Parliament that it approves of his action and desires him to continue travelling alongit. In my opinion, he is suffering from an excess . of sensitiveness. The amendment is practically tantamount to a declaration of parliamentary approval of his action, and yet he he is so modest that he desires toprevent that approval from being expressed, in a formal manner.
– Does the Minister intend to make any statement in reference to the very important amendment submitted 1 I should like him to tell us what number of the permanent forces will be affected by the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corinella if it is adopted.
– At the present time the permanent military forces of the Commonwealth aggregate 1,228, whilst the naval forces number 170, thus making atotal of 1,398.
– How many officers are there 1
– If the honorable member will peruse the return which has been circulated, he can ascertain that information for himself.
– That number includes the instructional staff, I suppose?
– The paper which has been distributed contains the fullest information. It gives the number of the Headquarters Staff, the number stationed at Thursday Island and King George’s Sound, as well as the strength of the forces in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, and Western Australia.
– If the amendment is carried, what effect will it have ?
– None at all. The amendment merely declares that the system at present in vogue shall be continued. Under that system the permanent forces take care of the batteries in our harbor and coastal defences, the engineers look after forts, armaments, and submarine mines, and there are a certain number of officers and men, called the “instructional staff,” whose services are utilized to instruct the militia forces.
– Are the whole 1,300 occupied in the discharge of those duties ?
– All, except the naval forces. .
– I am afraid that the Minister is wrong.
– I amnot wrong. If I am, perhaps the honorable member will be able to explain in what respect I am wrong. There are no permanent forces at the present time which can be called field fighting forces. The remarks of the honorable and learned member for ‘ Corinella had reference to the system which was in existence some time ago. At that time there was a battery of field artillery in New South Wales and half a battery in Queensland.
The position, however, has since undergone a change, and to-day there is half a battery, comprising 36 men stationed at Brisbane,, and a similar number at Sydney and at Melbourne.. These men, however, do not comeunder the designation of “ field artillery.” They form a portion of the Royal Australian, Artillery. There is at present an estab: lishment of 755 members of the Royal Australian Artillery, 108 of which are employed for instructional purposes at. Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne.
– How do they instruct. By example only ?
– No. They take part in the drills. Horses are provided for the militia field artillery, and the militia are instruated.
– Do the regulars instruct the militia ?
– Yes. They instruct the officers and men of the militia forces.
– Do the rank and file of the regulars instruct any one?
– That is a new idea.
– The instructional staff are specially qualified to impartinstruction.
– Has there been any change? Are they not really performing the same duties that they previously carried out?
– Instead of being a separate force of field artillery, the men are now part of the Royal AustralianArtillery.
– Do they not perform the same work !
– I believe that to some extent they do. They were, formerly a separate fighting force, but that is not now the case.
– If my amendment carries out the Minister’s view, why should he object to it ?
– I think it carries out the view to which I have always endeavoured to give effect, namely, that we sho uld, under present condions, have no pe rmanent military forcessave those necessary for administrative and instructional purposes, and for manning the forts and maintaining the armaments, with the engineers to look after the forts and’ submarine mines. I have always considered that there should be no special fighting corps of permanent men which could be regarded as being superior to the citizen soldiery. The citizen soldiers represent the strength of our defence, and -we should reserve the permanent .forces for administrative and instructional purposes, and for the technical requirements connected with the manning and maintenance of the forts and armaments.
– If the permanent forces instruct the citizen forces, they are placed in a position of superiority.
– But the position is not as it was before. The field artillery were previously drilled side by side with the permanent men. The competition gave rise to the feeling that the forces upon which we do not rely were of more importance than those upon which we really depend.
– Then why object to my amendment ?
– I have not done so yet. The views held by the honorable and learned member exactly coincide with tuy own, that, as we have to depend upon our citizen soldiers for our defence, we should place them in the most prominent position. In view of the fact that we have over 20,000 citizen soldiers and only a few hundred permanent men, I consider that the honorable and learned member’s suggestion is quite in. accord with what is desired by the Government at the present time ; but I do not think that it is necessary to amend the clause as he proposes. I fail to see why we should tie our hands in this respect. The honorable and learned member has no fault to find with the existing arrangements.
– I should not find fault with, the right honorable gentleman’s administration.
– The honorable and learned member cannot do. so, because we are at present carrying out the very proposal that he wishes to embody in the Bill. As I pointed out when moving the second reading of the Bill, this is a machinery measure designed to meet not only the existing conditions, but any other conditions that may arise. It seems to me that if we accepted this amendment” we should say in effect, that we were able to foresee everything likely to happen in the future, and that we did not intend to trust the Parliaments of that time. If we agreed to this amendment, it would be necessary for any future Parliament which desired to make any change in regard to our forces, to amend this measure, and as the embodiment of this amendment in the Bill would not cause any-deviation from our present policy, I fail to see why we should make it. The honorable and learned member has spoken of large schemes for the creation of permanent forces. It seems to me that there ‘ again some honorable members display an inclination to distrust the Parliaments of the ^future. Are we going to say, because some of us may imagine that the Parliament of the future will have large ideas in relation to the necessity of establishing permanent troops, that we must do our utmost to prevent them from giving effect to their desires’? My belief is that the Parliaments of the future will be just as competent as we are to do what is right.
– Why did not the Ministry leave it open to the Parliaments of the future to do something in regard to the naval agreement?
– That is not at all apropos of the question before the Chair. The Parliaments of the future will be able to amend that agreement if they choose to do so. .
– Not for ten years.
– That is nothing in the life of a nation. We have to remember that we have some 170 members of the naval forces, and that the honorable and learned member does not propose to deal with them.
– I said that I would exclude them from my proposal.
– Some honorable members hold strong views in relation to naval warfare, and if we accept this amendment it will be tantamount to saying that, while we trust the Parliaments of the future so far as the naval forces are concerned, we feel that we cannot do so in relation to the military forces. We do not know what may happen within a very short time. It might be necessary next year to raise a number of troops. I hope that such will not be the case, but if we had occasion to do so we should find it necessary first to secure an amendment of this measure.
– It would be impossible for a Government to raise additional troops unless they had the means to do so. Some honorable members appear to distrust the Executive. We must remember that the Executive are responsible to this House, and that if they do anything which is not in accordance with the wishes of the House they must pay the penalty. I think we ought to so frame this measure that it will be open to the Government of the day to expand or contract the forces in any way that may be deemed necessary. We know that the Executive cannot sanction an expansion or contraction of the forces without the consent of this House. But the honorable and learned member is not content with the knowledge of that power. He says that we should expressly include this stipulation in the Bill, and declare that no permanent forces shall be raised except for certain purposes. My opinion is that such a provision would seriously affect the Bill. It would make it a little Bill, instead of a great one. It would put it in chains.
– In a straight jacket.
– Quite so. The only reason for the amendment is the suspicion that some future Government or Parliament may wish to do something which honorable members think should not be done, and, therefore, they are trying to put every obstacle in the way of its being done. My opinion is that the amendment is unnecessary, because the Government are at the present time doing practically all that the honorable and learned member wishes to be done.
-My mind has fluctuated very much while I have listened to the address of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, who has had a great deal of practical experience, and that of the Minister, who has had a great deal of official experience in connexion with military matters. In my opinion, a very great principle is involved in the amendment. I believe that it is the wish of the majority of the people of Australia that our permanent forces shall be strictly limited, and that our. citizen forces shall be capable of indefinite expansion. There ‘ is no more costly form of military defence than the maintenance of permanent forces. We must, of course, have some permanent force, if only as an instructional centre, and as a standard of efficiency to which our citizen soldiery should be assimilated as closely as possible ; but the Minister has insensibly become infected with the glamour of military glory, and imagining himself to be the Ma] or-General
Commanding the Forces, will not brook interference from, outside critics or authorities, even when a proposal is made which is. exactly in a line with his own ideas. If he had moved the amendment, he would have exhausted the resources of oratory in showing how necessary such a provision is, but because his ideas have been taken, up by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, he has treated it as another instance of shrapnel being fired into the Ministry by their devoted adherents. It seems to me that the amendment embodies a sound principle, which we all wish to see established. The disorganization and extravagance which has marked our military administration in the past has been, to some extent, due to the fact that Parliament did not, by legislation, limit the lengths to which that expenditure should go, and there has consequently been a tendency to inflate it.
– But we have not had permanent forces hitherto.
– We had permanent infantry in New South Wales in years gone by, when Western Australia was a no-man’s land, and we have permanent artillery at the present time.
– Only 36 men.
– Formerly there were some hundreds of them ; while in Western Australia, where formerly they had none at all, there .are now eighteen permanent men. Everything is going to the West. If the* right honorable gentleman regards the amendment as a personal matter, I shall have to vote against it, but if we are allowed the liberty of voting according to our consciences I shall support it. The honorable and learned member for Corinella provides for an administrative staff, an instructional staff, garrison artillery, fortress engineers, and submarine engineers. What other permanent men do we want ? ‘
– I think we need a permanent army service corps and a permanent army medical corps.
– I think that they would be regarded as part of the instructional staff. If I could believe that my right honorable friend would be in charge of the Department for many years to come, I would throw the amendment to the winds, but as that is not likely, I think that the Committee should agree to it.’
– I will agree to the amendment.
– I think that the Minister should not accept the amendment. If he looks at page 61 of the Estimates he will find that 215 gunners and drivers are providedfor the Royal Australian Artillery in New South Wales, while on page 91, 67 gunners and drivers are provided for the Royal Australian Artillery in Queensland. But if it were proposed, as in the amendment, to make provision only for garrison artillery, it would be impossible to employ these drivers.
– Nearly all the men are gunners ; hardly any of them are drivers.
– No doubt that is so, but as drivers cannot be regarded as part of the garrison artillery, it would be impossible to employ them at all.
– They can be provided for as part of the instructional or administrative staff.
– The General Officer Commanding knows’ more about military details than does the Minister, or any other member of the Committee.
– He ought to do so
– He certainly ought to do so. It seems very unwise that if he thinks it necessary to employ some permanent men as field artillery - 36 in New South Wales, 18 in Victoria, and 18 in Queensland - Parliament should limit them to garrison artillery, and should upset the plans of the General Officer Commanding in this direction. A battery of field artillery is just as much a scientific corps in respect to knowledge of guns and mechanism as is a battery of garrison artillery.
– Not nearly so.
– Field artillery approaches garrison artillery in this respect ; and the Minister is making a great mistake in accepting this amendment without putting in field artillery as well as garrison artillery.
– That would allow of field batteries as fighting units.
– I do not see why there should not be permanent field batteries ; they certainly would be better than militia and volunteer field artillery. .
– They are all garrison artillery in reality.
– How can they be garrison artillery if some of them are drivers? A garrison artillery gun is fixed in large fortifications.
– Some of the men are detailed to act as drivers although being garrison artillery men. They are all-round men.
– To the extent that a garrison artilleryman drives he is not a garrison artilleryman. The right honorable member means that although we choose to call these men garrison artillery’ the whole of them can be made into infantry because they are all-round men.
– The sailors on board His Majesty’s ships are turned into infantry if the authorities choose. Sailors took that 4.7 gun up to Ladysmith from the H.M.S. Powerful.
– If there is anything wrong in the amendment, I will have it altered.
– I understand the Minister to say that he wants to have all-round men, so that if he chooses to employ them as infantry men he will do so.
– It seems like butchery to “have a go” at the Minister now. It is not real warfare. The right honorable gentleman has capitulated to the honorable and learned member for Corinella. But we have not merely to look to the present ; we have to consider the future also. During the last two years, Parliament has shown a strong sense of economy in regard to military matters, and the Commandant being wise in his generation, has cut down the permanent forces. But he has’ not cut down ‘the officers in the same ratio as he has retrenched the men. Unquestionably, that was not what Parliament wanted. Formerly we had a number of officers drawing larger salaries than were paid to Imperial officers, and there were more of them, according to the number of men, than there were officers in England. I am glad that the Minister has accepted the amendment, because it gives Parliament a freer hand. If, in the near future, we have a House of Representatives which is less watchful than the present one, the General Officer would not be able to add ‘to the permanent forces. In the past the members of the field artillery, although probably good men, have been mostly used as officers’ servants.
– It is not so now.
– Not since the Commonwealth took over the Defence Department. Matters have been changed, largely because Parliament cut down the Estimates. I have no intention of going into the technical side of the question, but I may point out that the honorable and. learned member for Corio will find, on inquiry, that the drivers he has referred to belong to the Army Service Corps.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
-I move -
That all the words after the word “ officers,” line 1 , he omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “duly appointed and all male inhabitants (excepting those who are exempted as hereinafter provided) who have resided in the Commonwealth for Six months and are British subjects, and are between the ages of eighteen and 2.1 years. The male population liable to serve in the national militia forces shall -
The period for any one detached drill shall not exceed eight hours nor be less than two hours.”
I am well aware that my proposal will not meet with the approval of some honorable members, and, doubtless, it will call forth a considerable amount of criticism from many. But I am persuaded that the course which I indicate in my amendment is one which in the end will be beneficial to the country. Therefore I feel bound to propose it to the Committee, leaving honorable members to act as they please. And since some misconception has arisen in connexion with my amendment, I must first of all outline its details. I lay it down, and I think it will be generally admitted, that it is the duty of every citizen in an emergency to assist in the defence of the Commonwealth. I say most emphatically that this is a duty which cannot be delegated to mere hired men, except in so far as hired men are essential to act as instructors, and to make the citizen forces efficient. So much is practically admitted, and it has been the policy of honorable members up to the present to reduce the permanent forces to such a strength as to make them inefficient as a fighting force in the defence of Australia, whilst, at the same time making them efficient as an instructional unit as to be capable of enabling citizen forces to defend, should the necessity ever arise, the honour and safety of our country. We need hardly call to mind that it is a tradition of the English Parliament to oppose a huge standing army. At first the Mutiny Act, and now the Army Act - an annual statute - effectually places within the power of the Commons of England the regulation of the military strength of the nation. It will be admitted that the liberties which we now possess are ours, not by reason of our standing as a military power, but by reason of the sturdy independence which our forebears have alwaysmanifested, and that determination - latent, perhaps, but nevertheless always existent - to defend their liberties by exposing themselves to any danger and hazard, rather than tamely submit to servitude. Democracy is peculiarly liable to be overawed, and this is particularly the case now, because of the enormous power that the possession of arms gives to the man who knows how to use them. I think that that has been sufficiently exemplified during the late. disastrous war, and we may readily believe that the power of modern arms demonstrates the absolute paralysis and helplessness of a great people when opposed to a comparative handful of armed men. Democracy, which appears upon the surface to be a very sound structure, is apparently dependent for its continued: existence upon the liberty freely to express its opinions in a constitutional way. A very small army could coerce a very strong democracy, and the traditions of the English and American nations are very rightly opposed to the dominance of a standing army. As citizenship is valueless without the freedom to exercise its privileges, we have to consider in what way we can safeguard our liberties and, at the same time, prevent any foreign invader from, making an inroad upon our territory. I propose that all males between the ages of 18 and 21 who have been in the Commonwealth for a certain time shall be liable to serve in the militia forces. When the Defence Bill was before us last. session, in a very much less perfect form for any end than that in which it now appears, I had proposed to introduce the Swiss militia system, because I believe that in that country we have an example of a successful democracy, which finds a standing army unnecessary, although it is surrounded by powerful armed nations. I have, however, after consulting with men who have made military questions a study, arrived at the conclusion that it is unnecessary to go even to that extent, and, therefore, I propose to apply the very mildest possible form of military service. My amendment provides that all males between 18 and 21 years shall be called upon to present themselves for fourteen days’ training in each year. These men number, according to the information furnished by the Government Statistician, about 108,000, of which we may presume that about 100,000 would be at our call.
– Are the men to go into barracks ?
– I propose that they shall present themselves at such places as may be determined upon, not all at once, but in such numbers as may be considered convenient.
– Are they to be paid?
– Most emphatically, no.
– I suppose they are’ to have rifles and ammunition?
– Undoubtedly .; the basic idea of my amendment is that it is the duty of every citizen to fit himself for the defence of the Commonwealth. The Minister proposes to take the power to make a levy en masse in times of danger. He does not propose to pay the whole of those who respond to that call.
– Oh yes, we must pay them.
– Surely not. The Minister has power to call upon every male inhabitant of Australia except those who are exempt from service - that is, those who are already in the defence forces - and who have resided for six months in the Commonwealth and are British subjects, and who are between the ages of 18 and 60, to serve in the militia. It is inconceivable that when the whole nation has to respond to a call to arms every man should be paid. On the very face of it such an idea is absurd. Therefore, since the principle of general conscription is introduced, the Minister and not I must bear the odium of its introduction if there be any. The Minister surely doesnot propose to pay the population upon a levy en masse.
– Yes, I do. Subclause (2)jsf clause 29 provides for that.
– The authorities will have the right to call every one out. Does the Minister propose that every one called out shall be paid?
– Yes. But I do not say how much.
– If the Minister does not say how much, he can also agree to pay the men who are called outf under my proposal. Under the Bill , it is’ proposed that the authorities shall have the right to call out all males between the ages of 18 and 60. What particular end would be gained by calling out these untrained men does not at once appear. They might be very useful, or they might not. In any case, they would not, in the majority of cases, know how to shoot or be disciplined, and they ‘would, therefore, have all the characteristics of a mob, and none of the qualifications of soldiers. I am sure that the Minister will not cavil at the training of these men, although he may object, perhaps, on the score of expense, or may defer to that innate objection which some men may have to any proposal of the kind. One phase of this matter which, I think, is deserving of the consideration of the Committee is the effect of physical training and drill upon growing youths. Every one who has given any thought to this question must deplore the amount of waste youth or manhood in -this country. We have here the curse of larrikinism - a curse that is not growing any less acute as the years go on - for which apparently there is no remedy. Young men are permitted to grow up untrained, without any occupation and without useful recreation. They are allowed to leave school and to grow up in idleness instead of being trained to some trade or profession. Their parents neglect their duty, and the State does not take it upon itself to find useful occupations for these young men. The effect of neglecting these youths is that they grow up not only useless to themselves, but as physical degenerates and a positive danger to society. I desire to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that the standard for the British Army has been continuously lowered, and that although it is lowered now to an extent which we used to regard as almost farcical, it is still very difficult to obtain a sufficient number of suitable recruits. The standard of physique is. being lessened each year.
– This year the Imperial authorities are increasing it by an inch.
– As a matter of fact, the report of the committee which inquired into this question points out that the physique of the English people is unquestionably degenerating. There is a very good and sufficient explanation for this. The English - and Australians, too, for that matter - are a town-living people. We have abandoned the country, and the result must inevitably be, as is the case in Lancashire, a degeneracy in the race. One of the very great advantages of a military training for the youth of this country would be its effect upon their physique and upon their mental and moral tone. The average Australian is a being to whom obedience and discipline are most irksome and disagreeable. Yet, I venture to say that discipline and a recognition of the necessity for obedience are amongst the most essential virtues of a good citizen. Perhaps they are the greatest essentials. If a man has not learnt to be obedient he is Certainly not qualified to command himself, to say nothing of others. The effect of a military training upon the youth of the country at the impressionable period, between 18 and 21 years of age, would be to inculcate habits which would benefit them when they undertook the more serious duties of citizenship, and which would prove of inestimable value both to the individual and the State. I am quite aware that a number of honorable members may object to my proposal - as the whole AngloSaxon race seems to object to its prototype on the Continent - because of what the word “ conscription “ connotes. That term, I know, conveys to the English and Australian mind ideas of a very disagreeable character, and since those ideas are gathered frOm what “ conscription “ means upon the Continent I can hardly wonder at it. There “ conscription “ necessarily involves compulsory military service of a character that is destructive alike to the welfare of the nation and of the individual. It means that for a period of from three to five years their young men - the flower of their nation - are exposed, to a most rigorous and senseless system of routine, which crushes Out individual initiative, and subjects them to galling indignities and insults. In very many cases it results in the breaking of their spirits, and, in others, even goads them to suicide in their desire to escape from its thraldom.
From every stand-point the effect of that system is a most damnable one. It , takes an appreciable number of the wealth producers away from their ordinary avocations, and throws upon the remainder the burden of supporting them. It also creates a military caste, an evil above all things to be avoided. In Australia recently there has been an unfortunate tendency - perhaps owing to the Boer war - to exalt the military ideal. The trappings of war, the gilt lace, and other embellishments which the Minister for Defence affects to despise, but for which in reality he entertains the greatest respect, the clanking sabre and the tinkling spurs, offer great attractions to the rising generation, who are imbued with the idea that war consists of walking down Bourke-street in a very smart uniform. They learn only when it is too late that there are other duties connected with military operations which are not of such an alluring character. I hold that a military ideal is a bad one, and .that to foster it would be a national misfortune. Now, any nation the defence of which is intrusted to a paid or hireling force must of necessity contain a military caste. Under such circumstances, I conceive that neither its defence nor its liberties can be firmly assured. I hold that my amendment embodies all the virtues which are to be found in a system of compulsory military service, and that there are virtues in such a system is undeniable. It is a fact that compulsory military services considerably improves the physique of those who submit to it. And it also assists them to a clearer conception of the duties of citizenship. There is a very hazy idea amongst the people - and particularly amongst the rising generation - of what really constitute the duties of citizenship. They understand that they will enjoy a vote by-and-by, but they have no clear conception of the obligations which citizenship imposes. They vaguely realize that it is a privilege to be endowed with a vote, but they do not appreciate that its enjoyment should carry with it the corelative duty of fitting themselves for the duties of citizenship amongst the chief of which is the defence of their country. The term “conscription “ cannot be applied to an amendment of the character I have submitted, which merely requires the youth of the Commonwealth between 18 and 21 years of age to submit to fourteen days’ training per annum for three years, and to an additional fourteen days for detached drills.
That constitutes the minimum of training which is necessary to enable the rising generation to learn to shoot, and to obtain a rudimentary knowledge of military drill. The idea of thenecessity for a complete knowledge of that kind of drill is, I am pleased to know, passing away. Men are beginning to realize that they should be trained chiefly to act upon their own initiative, and to shoot straight when occasion requires. I think that we may hope to see arising in. our midst a condition of things not unlike that which existed in England in days gone by, when the English people were the best archers in Europe, and when they won very many and famous battles because of their skill in that respect. In Australia at the present time some men can shoot, but the majority cannot. One could hardly imagine some of them using a gun, and perhaps it is a very good thing that they are not allowed to do so just now. I should like to see eveiy adult in this country trained to the use of the rifle. That should be the aim of every one.
– Would the honorable and learned member supply these men with rifles ?
– That would involve us in a cost of over £500,000.
– In what way ?
– That would be the cost of purchasing 108,000 rifles.
– All that we should do would be to supply them with the rifles and ammunition necessary to enable them to perfect themselves in the art of shooting during their detached or continuous drills.
– No rifles are given to volunteers or militia. If the State provided rifles for all these men it would have to incur an outlay of at least £500,000.
– How many rifles does the honorable member think we should require?
– Over 100,000.
– If 100,000 men were available and came up in different detachments every fortnight, it is very obvious that at the outside we should not require more than 10,000 rifles. If 5,000 men presented themselves for drill during a period of fourteen days, the result would be that the whole 100,000 would undergo a fortnight’s drill in 40 weeks, so that 5,000 rifles would be sufficient. These details, however, may readily be adjusted. It is erroneous to suppose that we should require 100,000 rifles for the purpose of instructing 100,000 men.
– Why should we not have 100,000 rifles?
– Exactly. The system which I propose would not be open to the danger of creating a caste ; it would have none of the objections that attach to conscription; it would not impose a grievous burden on the people, but, on the other hand, it would have all the good effects that relate to a system of compulsory drill. It would afford physical training and culture for a growing population, which perhaps needs it more than does any other population in the world, in order to absorb its very exuberant energies at a time when those energies, generally speaking, run to waste and occasionally to crime. It is an undeniable fact that the majority of young men who come to grief do so, not because of any innate tendency to crime, but simply because they are idle and have nothing to absorb their energies. They have never received any training, and there seems to be no directing influence on their lives. I should like to point out that in this country it is rather too late now to speak of compulsion as being in itself distasteful. Here we compel every man, whether he desires it or not, to have his child educated. We compel every man, whether he likes it or not, to have his child vaccinated, and we compel every person to adopt certain regulations and restrictions in regard to the requirements of health. We attend, therefore, up to a certain point to the mental and physical health of every growing citizen. The State says to the individual, “ Either you or the people collectively must see that your child is properly educated both physically and mentally.” But it stops short at the most impressionable stage in the life of the young man, and hesitates to do that which is still necessary to fit him for the exercise of the privileges of citizenship. The defence of the country is undoubtedly one of the duties of citizenship, and it is also essential to teach a child how to use the right to vote when it is placed in his hands. Physical culture and mental and moral training are certainly essentials if we are to make good citizens, and although, perhaps, it may seem very premature to endeavour to make a citizen a good one before he actually reaches the age of citizenship, I believe that all wise men will admit that it is useless to seek to train him after he has reached that stage. There is a wise saying that one should commence to train a child 30 or 40 years before it is born, and, certainly, there is a great deal in the aphorism. I do not think we can too soon enter upon the work, but, certainly, we may easily begin too late. I wish to point out now that the Bill itself proposes this innovation in certain circum-
Stances. It provides for compulsory military service when difficulty or danger arises. In that emergency it is proposed that the people shall be called upon to defend their country. But unless we have some scheme such as I propose, the population will be wholly untrained and unfit to make anything but the most melancholy display against any foe. My proposition will not intertere with production, and it will not cause any young man to neglect hiswork or to lose an opportunity to follow his ordinary avocation. In a country such as this, where holidays follow one another with amazing rapidity, it can hardly be urged against the acceptance of this amendment that a young man would not be able to attend drill for fourteen days a year. Honorable members will see that I have given notice of another amendment, by which I propose that the district commandant may exempt any person from continuous training in any particular year if he be already efficient or be willing to attend at the next yearly muster for a period in excess of that for which he is liable. I propose also that the district commandant in all cases shall determine the date at which any person may be summoned to attend, so that men engaged in shearing or other occupations will not be called upon to present themselves at inconvenient times. As to the Saturday afternoon and evening drills, it is very obvious that they can be attended with little or no trouble. I believe that this amendment will do much to make country life a little more attractive than it is. Young men desert the country for the city, because of the attractiveness of city’ life. It is notorious that the meetings of societies, schools of arts, and corps of volunteers in villages do a great deal to make country life more attractive to the growing youth, and therefore anything which will extend that attractiveness will have a tendency to counteract that which I regard as one of the most lamentable features of civilized life, namely, the tendency of men to get into the large towns. Any system which does not in the end cause large numbers of men to go back to the soil and get their living there, must inevitably fail, because it attempts to balance the social pyramid upon its apex instead of establishing it upon its base.. Therefore, I think that anything with the tendency to make country life attractive, and to give a zest and direction to the exuberant energies of the growing generation, will be a good thing to adopt. What I propose will not result in the creation of a military class, neither is it likely to give a desire for the pomp and glitter of military life, because when all undergo the same training, and are exercised in the use of arms, just as they are taught to read and write, there will be no need for military display. The amendment, if agreed to, would provide an ample and efficient Defence Force, and the expense of carrying it into effect would not be serious. All that would be necessary would be to purchase a few more rifles, and to provide a little extra for the services of instructional officers and the holding of camps.
– Does the honorable member propose to pay those who are in course of training ?
– I have already said that I do not. If I did propose to pay them, the right honorable gentleman would tell the Committee that it would cost perhaps £500,000 a year to do so, and would ask honorable members if they are prepared to vote so large an amount of money. We do not pay men for doing their duty to the State by recording their votes, although in New South Wales, and I suppose in Victoria too, thousands of men lose a day’s work at every general election. Why, then, should we pay men for doing their duty in regard to the defence of their country 1 I lay particular stress upon the fact that the amendment would provide for an efficient Defence Force, and by effectively training the youth of the country would make them better citizens. That is a consideration which the Committee cannot lightly disregard. The Minister, who knows how much the encountering of difficulties and the overcoming of obstacles in his early years has had to do with his advancement in his subsequent career, must admit that anything which will tend to regulate, control, and direct the energies of the youth of the country, will improve them mentally, morally, and physically, and make them more valuable as citizens. If what I propose would do nothing more than stamp out the incipient larrikinism which exists in our midst, I think the expense would be justifiable. I do not pretend that the training provided will create forces as efficient in military drill as the trained continental forces. Nor is such efficiency necessary in our circumstances. The amendment will, however, afford an opportunity to. every youth to learn how to bear arms. The cadet system might be used to afford a training to the children in our schools as a preliminary to their further training for the national militia. What I propose is only an extension of the system advocated by the Minister for Defence, and of our present educational system. We now take a boy and educate him in reading, writing, and other studies, up to a certain point, whether his parents like it or not, and, speaking as one who has had some experience of teaching in the public schools, I say that the results to the State would be infinitely better if more time were given to the physical than to the scholastic education of our children. What I propose would provide an efficient system of training, which will have none of the disagreeable dr objectionable features of conscription. The amendment, if agreed to, would do incalculable good to the growing youth of the country, and would afford the Commonwealth an effective shield and weapon for its liberties against’ both internal and external foes. It would enable our people to realize the saying’ that no country is truly free unless its citizens are worthy of freedom, nor likely to remain so unless they are ready to light in defence of it. I merely propose to make compulsory in reference to the male population between the ages of 18 and 21 years attendance at certain detached drills, and the undergoing of fourteen > days’ continuous training each year, which has been regarded both here and in England as sufficient for the volunteer forces. I hope that honorable members will give to my proposal the consideration which it deserves. I am aware that there are difficulties to be met and prejudices to be overcome, but I hope that for the reasons I have given - that the amendment provides for the creation of an efficient means of defence, and would have a very marked effect upon the physical, mental, and moral welfare of the growing generation, in making them more fit for the privileges of citizenship - honorable members will not reject it.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).Although I have listened carefully to the speech of the honorable member, to see if I could bring myself to accept his conclusions, I find myself unable to do so. For one thing, I think that the system of defence for which he wishes us to provide is altogether beyond our requirements. It would be. excessively costly, and I do not think it would result in the physical improvement of the race, of which he is so certain. He seems to regard the proposal as one for the physical development and discipline of our growing population by means of athletic exercises, and hopes thereby to get rid of certain qualities in the young Australianswhich, he says, are deplorable, but which I do not think are of as great moment as he imagines. I am aware that there is a certain amount of larrikinism in Australia, but I have yet to learn that there is more herethan there is in countries where compulsory military service obtains.
– In proportion to population there is a great deal less.
– We see more of the larrikinism of young Australians because it is immediately in front of us, but I decline to believe that there is less unruliness in Continental countries where they have the physical, mental, and moral training which the honorable member for West Sydney desires to introduce here.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that physical training is notof itself good ?
– Far from it. I think that it is .good, but I will not admit that we arc in need of it because of the terrible condition into which our young people have fallen. Some of those characteristics which people deplore are the result of the natural rebound from the dull grey industrial Gradgrind existence of older countries. It is because of the greater freedom and the better conditions under which we live, that our young people show more blithesomeness and gaiety and animal” spirits. Of course, a certain amount of discipline is required to impart steadinessto our national character, but I should bevery sorry to see all those qualities which tend to make life happy and free, and. glad, and spontaneous, disciplined out of existence. I do not see the necessity for the creation of such a force as has been suggested, to correct any inherent defects in our national character. The honorable member proposes to take away from their ordinary occupations 108,000 of Our population, and compel them to go into camp for a fortnight every year, and to also drill them iipon 32 other days in the year, without any compensation. That would be equivalent to taxing the young manhood of the country to the extent of £4 or £5 per annum in order to maintain our military system.
– Is that too great a sacrifice to ask ?
– It would not be too great a sacrifice if the necessities of our national existence required it ; but I contend that that point has not yet been reached. The strange feature about . this proposal is that it comes from honorable members in the labour corner, who are constantly telling us that we need anticipate no danger from outside.
– Who has said that there is no danger ? I have not.
– I have.
– Honorable members belonging to the labour party have said so. I did not say that the honorable member for Bland had so expressed himself.
– The proposal comes from me, and I have not said so.
– No; but tRe amendment is receiving the support of members of the labour party. It proposes to levy a military tax for which there is no necessity, and which would involve an expenditure fully three or four times as great as that represented by our present outlay for defence purposes. The time is not ripe for entertaining such a proposal, because our present methods of defence are adequate for all purposes.
– What would be the cost?
– One hundred and eight thousand men would be called upon to contribute about £i per annum in the form of compulsory service, and the community generally would have to pay for rifles and instruction. We could not send these young men into camp every year without incurring an outlay much in excess of the amount now expended on our defences.
– It is not proposed that there should be one glorified camp for a fortnight into which every mother’s son would be required to go.
– No; but the honorable member proposes that 108,000 men should go into camp eveiy year, although they might not all be under canvas at once. All these men would have to be fed, and to be instructed in field tactics and shootiDg, and the expenditure involved would exceed by three or four times the amount now expended upon our defences.
– Would the honorable member object if the men volunteered ?
– Yes; because the expense would so largely exceed our requirements. I should object, because I think we are already doing enough to effectively guard Australia against attack. I believe that the cadet system is an excellent one, and that when combined with other athletic exercises, particularly those upon which instruction is now given in our State schools, it will afford all the discipline and training our young people require. I believe that by these means we shall, to a large extent, overcome those undesirable traits of character which have been deplored. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney referred to the Minister for Defence in terms of ridicule when he stated that the men who might be called out for the defence of Australia in time of war would have to be paid. Did the- honorable member ever know a British soldier’ go to war without being paid?
– Is there not a great difference between calling upon men to go into camp for fourteen days’ training, and requiring them to go on active service for four or five years?
– Yes ; but the honorable member ridiculed the statement of the Minister for Defence that the men who are called upon for active service would have to be paid.
– The Minister did not say how much he intended to pay the men.
– The amount does not affect the principle. I have yet to learn that it would be a good thing to send every one of our eighteen -year-old boys into camp. I am inclined to think that such a proceeding would not necessarily cure the evils which the honorable and learned member for West Sydney seeks to eradicate.
– Kipling says “ Single men in barracks don’t grow into plaster saints.”
– Exactly ; I do not wish to circumscribe the opportunities for physical development which may be afforded to our young men and boys. One of the best features in connexion with our schools to-day is the increasing importance which is being attached to the physical development of the young, and the more we can instruct our boys in the rudiments of military science the better it will be. AVe shall then attain the primary object which the honorable member has in view without incurring the enormous expense that his scheme would involve, and without mading a huge draft upon the incomes of the people of Australia. If we compel men to go into camp for a fortnight every year we are practically imposing upon them a poll-tax of £4 or £5.
– How would the volunteers go into camp ?
– Some of them are paid for going into camp.
– The honorable member does not know what he is talking about.
– That is the result of listening so intently to the rubbish of the honorable member.
– They do not receive wages, but they get their food.
– Yes ; but the partially-paid get pay besides. Furthermore it is not compulsory for the purely volunteers to go, and I venture to say that some of them would not go if they had to lose a fortnight’s pay. There is all the difference in the world between compelling men to go into camp and leaving^ the way open for them to voluntarily make the sacrifice, and I strongly object to the compulsory element. I am not condemning the honorable member’s proposal in toto. I am, however, condemning its compulsory provisions, and the cost which its adoption . would involve. I say further that it is contrary to the genius of our race, and that up to the present time the necessities of Australia have not shown any necessity for it. I do not see my way to support a scheme which is so drastic and so entirely unnecessary.
– I think we are all agreed that the first and most sacred duty of citizenship is that we should qualify ourselves for the defence of our country in time of danger. But, whilst I credit my honorable friend with the best and most patriotic motives,, I think that his proposal goes a very long way beyond the necessities of the case. If Australia were similarly situated to Switzerland or Germany, which have armed camps all round their borders, I should be the first to advocate a proposal of this sort. But we should not forget . that in the case of Australia our. battle-ground is the ocean. It is upon the sea that we should endeavourto meet any opposing force, and to prevent it from obtaining a foothold upon our; shores. The scheme outlined by the honorable member goes a long way beyond anything that I . conceive to be necessary for the purposes of our land defence. The costof training 108,000 young men for twoweeks each year - of providing them with food, arms, ammunition, and other essentials, would in itself represent a very large sum. It would doubtless involve an expenditure of some hundreds -‘of thousandsof pounds annually, whilst the tax upon the people would be still more serious. Under its operation every man would be compelled to lose two consecutive weeks’ wages. Possibly that might involve the loss of his position. Throughout the country there are many engaged in avocation’s which are of acontinuous nature, and which they could not abandon for a week or two, and afterwards resume. How could a young man leave the milking-yard of a farm for a fortnight ? If he did so, he would probably find, upon his return, that his cows were all dry.
– The amendment would involve only one young man being taken from his family at a time, and he might gowhen the cows were dry.
– Plenty of youngmen are employed to milk upon farms in the country, and for these substitutes could not always be obtained. Tlie same argument applies to numerous other avocations.. The scheme would impose altogether toogreat a tax upon the people. I consider that we should submit to any hardship necessary to fit us for the defence of our country, but the proposal of the honorable member would imposequite an unnecessary hardship upon the young men of the Commonwealth. Theprovision which we are making for our land defences is in every way ample for our requirements. I maintain that our greatest, expenditure upon defence should be incurred in connexion with our naval and harbor defence. Whilst I give my honorable friend the greatest credit for his patriotic intentions, I hold that bis proposal would constitute an unnecessary burden on the taxpayers, and demand an unreasonable sacrifice from the manhood of Australia. Therefore I cannot support it.
– I think it is a great pity that this proposal is not likely to receive a larger measure of support. The view which I entertain is quite in consonance with that of the honorable member for West Sydney. I think that the military training of our young men would prove an excellent thing both from theindividual and the national stand-point. It would help to make them better citizens, and might save a very large proportion of them from pernicious influences at the most plastic period of their lives. As one who passed through a course of discipline and drill in the volunteer force of another State, when I was betwen fifteen and nineteen years of age, I can say that it exercised nothing but a good influence upon the members of that force. It provided a common meeting place for the night drill each week, and thus , resulted in the establishment of a sort of club. At the annual encampments practically no trouble was experienced by the majority in getting away from their ordinary avocations. I am quite prepared to admit that some little difficulty might be encountered in arranging for the simultaneous assembling of all our young men between 18 and 21 years of age for purposes of military instruction, which would extend over a fortnight. That, however, is not necessary to the success of the scheme. It would be quite possible to allow the youth of the country districts to undergo the course of drill suggested during the slackest period of the year. If, as has been alleged, the young men of the Commonwealth are performing duties from which they cannot dissociate themselves for a fortnight during the year, it speaks very little for their positions. If they cannot get away for two weeks from their ordinary avocations after working from daylight till dark for 50 weeks in the year, they are actually slaves. Reference has been made to those who discharge milking duties upon farms. They commence work at about 4.30 a.m., and continue till 8.30 p.m., and yet we are told that they must continue that round of employment, not for -50 weeks, but for 52 weeks each year.
– They have an interval during the day.
– They have an interval which is generally devoted to the profit of their employers in a variety of ways. The hours worked in the milking districts are nothing short of scandalous.
– The honorable member wishes to take them off a chain which has alittle money attached to it, and to put them’ upon one which has none.
– I do not. The money aspect of the question is a small one in the eyes of men who are earning perhaps 10s. or 15s. per week compared with what practically would be a holiday to them, inasmuch as they would be away from their routine duties. In my judgment not much difficulty would be experienced in so arranging these industrial matters that men could obtain the necessary leave, if’ they deemed it desirable to do so. It is idle for the honorable member for Parramatta to urge that this proposal is put forward by those who argue against the necessity for an armed force. I do not know how many members have declared that in Australia there is no necessity for such a force. Personally I hold that the possibility of an invasion . is such that we ought to make adequate provision to repel it. We ought not to be content with the farce which is at present being carried on.. We have a handful of men and a handful of rifles-
– We have 23,000 menapart from the members of the rifle clubs.
– But we have not 23,000– modern rifles with which to arm them. There are under 20,000 magazine rifles within the Commonwealth, and our number of effective field guns is also preposterously low. The only battery that is armed witlt decent guns is the New South Wales A battery, and those weapons are right out of date, as the Boer war proved.
– Does not the honorable member think that it would be better to devote a very much smaller sum than this proposal would involve to the purchase of rifles and adequate ammunition ?
– I am in accord with the honorable member in making all the provision that is necessary in that connexion, and I am perfectly willing to vote for a reduction of the ordinary Military Estimates to provide for the adequate . armament of the forces and for an amplesupply of ammunition.
– We cannot reduce the Estimates.
– Then the Minister should put a fair vote upon the Estimates for equipping the forces. The right honorable gentleman pretends that we are training 23,000 men, when he knows perfectly well that we cannot equip them. It is simply farcical to continue as we have been doing.
– Washington had not an army equal to that.
– But Washington had to cope with different conditions from those which obtain here to-day. To me it seems essential that we should have 100,000 rifles in Australia even if the present system of military administration is continued.
– The supply of those rifles would involve an expenditure of £500,000.
Mr.WATSON. - I would rather spend £500,000 in that way than continue the present system. The Minister begins his administration at the wrong end. He should first provide the requisite rifles, and then train the men. We need 100,000 rifles even under the present system, and, therefore, it is no argument against the proposal of the honorable member for West Sydney to urge that its adoption would necessitate the purchase of that number of weapons. The cost of training 23,000 men under the present system, should be placed alongside the cost of training an equal number under the proposed scheme, if we are to arrive at a fair comparison. In New Zealand the total cost, inclusive of the administrative and instructional staffs, the expense incurred in connexion with camps, and everything that goes to make up the estimate, is £6 5s. per man per annum. But, so far as I know, the New Zealanders, from a military point of view, cut just as good a figure in South Africa as our troops did.
– What pay do they receive?
– They receive no pay. We are assuming that the 100,000 men who would come within the scope of the amendment would not be paid.
– Would the honorable member make it compulsory for the men to attend drills, and yet allow them no pay?
– I think that all between the ages named should do so. I served four years without receiving any pay.
– No; but that makes no difference. The honorable member for Parramatta spoke of the absurd nature of this proposal, and immediately proceeded to make himself ridiculous by referring to the enormous cost that it would involve.
– Can the honorable member prove the contrary?
– I have shown that in New Zealand the whole cost is £6 os. per man, and at the same ratio our present estimate’s would be increased by only £100,000 per annum.
– Is this proposal in accord with the system which prevails in New Zealand ?
– It is on the same basis so far as the cost is concerned.
– I do not think so.
– The honorable member will have an opportunity of showing in what respect it differs from the New Zealand system, so far as the question of cost is involved. Assuming that the New Zealand men are not paid for their services, and that they are adequately instructed - as I presume they are - the cost of our administrative and instructional staff should be rather less per head than it is there, inasmuch as we should have 100,000 men to deal with.
– Does the honorable member suggest that this system should take the place of our present permanent establishments?
– No. I think that the present permanent establishments should be retained.
– They cost £200,000 a year.
– Exactly. But I am willing that this increase should take place.
– How does the honorable member arrive at the conclusion that £6 5s. per head would mean an increase of only £100,000 a year, when that amount had to be paid in respect of over 100,000 men ?
– I was referring to the increase that would be necessary in our present Estimates. The interjection just made by the Minister reminds me, however, that the increase would be more than £100,000, because we should retain the permanent forces. Having regard to that fact, it seems to me that it would amount to £200,000 per year. In other words, instead of spending some £524,000 a year, as we do now, we should have to expend about £700,000 per annum in this direction. I am not adopting the New Zealand basis because there the proportion of permanent men is smaller. We could afford to incur the increased expenditure that would be involved, assuming that we retained our present establishment of permanent forces - which, roughly speaking, I favour - because we should thus be able to secure the services of 100,000 men, who would be trained just as well as are those whom we have at our disposal at the present time. I do not imagine that, on the whole, the members of the militia average more than three years’ service each. In addition to the 100,000 men who would actually present themselves for drill every year, we should gradually secure a very large reserve, consisting of those who had recently undergone the course of instruction, and who would be available for any emergency that might arise.
– We should have at least 200,000.
– Within a very short time we should have 200,000 in that state of efficiency. It seems to me that it is necessary to provide for something in this direction, because at the present time Australia is not adequately defended. The Prime Minister some little time ago referred, apparently with some degree of pride, to the fact that we could call on 900,000 men to defend Australia in case of emergency. He considered, I presume, that the knowledge that we had such a body of men at our backs would prevent any foreign ‘ power from attempting to interfere with us. But the Prime Minister, as a sensible and practical man, must know that it is simply vainglorious for him to talk in that strain, in view of the fact that our arms are few and mostly obsolete. I believe that even if this proposal involved a total expenditure of £700,000 per annum on our defence system, it would still be an economical one, for it would afford a degree of security which Australia has not so far enjoyed, and is not likely to enjoy as long as the present system prevails. Shortly before the Defence Department was taken over by the Commonwealth, the various States extended their defence expenditure to upwards of £900,000 per annum. They incurred that expenditure not in respect of arms, ammunition, or any of the other essentials of defence, but upon the so-called training of men, and in increasing the number of officers.
– And also in increasing the pay.
– Yes. If the StatesGovernments considered it wise to undertake an expenditure of that kind, in order tosecure a comparatively trifling result, how much wiser would it be for the Commonwealth to incur an additional expenditure of £200,000 per annum in order to secure the adequate defence of Australia. At the same time, we should assist in a very great degree in improving the tone of our young men, and secure for them all the benefitswhich arise from healthy association, and the discipline which, consciously or unconsciously, would influence every year of their loiter life
– This is a proposal which involves something more than the welfare of the young men who would join the training camps, lb is the first time that I have heard it seriously urged that the moral backbone of our voung men can best be built up by barrack life.
– No one advocated barracks.
– That was the general impression derived from the statements made by more than one honorable member in favour of this proposal. This is not a, joking matter, and I venture to tell the leader of the labour party that it is not aquestion to be dealt with without an appeal to the electors. Has’any honorable member gone before his constituents and said - “ I am in favour of conscription”. This is practically a mild form of conscription.
– A strong form.
– Although the question has never been submitted to the people, the honorable and learned member has come forward with a proposal that men shall be compelled to serve in the army, whether they believe in it or not.
– The Bill itself provides that citizens shall be liable for active service, whether they like it or not, and the honorable member is going to vote for that proposal.
– The honorable and learned member will find that the clause to which he refers provides that the citizens shall be called out only in time of danger. In that respect I think the principle is a: good one. The man who would not volunteer when his country was in danger should not be-in the country. I would say, as a celebrated leader said on one occasion, that those who are not prepared to go forward should step behind and get out of danger. Here we have a proposal which has not been discussed by the people, but which is of the very first importance. It should be carefully put before the electors before it is dealt with by us.
– Why not have a referendum on the subject 1
– I should not object to’ that proposal.
– I should do so. Would the honorable member incur the expense of a referendum in regard to such a proposal as this 1
– I should not object to a referendum to determine the question. I object to a matter of so much, importance being brought forward before it- has been submitted to the people of Australia. I am satisfied that it was not discussed at the last general elections. On one or two occasions during the Federal campaign I referred to the question of defence. I declared that -in my opinion the expenditure should be kept within reasonable bounds, and also that I should not be any party to anything in the shape of conscription. The possibility of the acceptance of this amendment is so remote that we need not discuss its merits at any length ; but I would ask honorable members whether they believe that a young man would be better fitted to meet the competition of this commercial age by reason of the fact that ho had spent some time in a military camp.
– It is very doubtful.
– I do not think he would be. Do honorable members think that, by taking men away from their usual avocations for a fortnight every year in order to submit them to a course of drill, we should make them better fitted to compete with the other nations whose great commercial intelligence and wealth of material now cause us so much alarm 1
– If by that means their physique and their mental training were improved, they would be better fitted to meet that competition.
– The honorable member is in error. He has held that physical training should be almost the first and only consideration. Does he not know that the whole scheme of warfare has changed during the last 25 years 1 Prior to the Crimean War it was held that an able-bodied man of strong physique was worth two ordinary men ; but the scientific improvements which have since been made in the instruments of war have proved that the small man with the better intelligence is the best fighting machine.
– I shall not deny that assertion.
– The mere fact that the honorable and learned member comes within that category does not detract from the soundness of the contention. Well-equipped intelligence is one of the essentials of successful warfare. I venture to say a word against barrack life, and against the suggestion which has been made that, if country lads were required to attend the encampments for a given period every year, the desire to migrate to the larger towns that seems to prevail amongst them would be removed. I venture to say that the youth of Australia in the country districts are better suited for the work to be done when under canvas than the youth in the towns. I do not agree with the honorable member for West Sydney that the training he proposes would do . away with larrikinism, and I am Surprised at the repeated statements about the amount of larrikinism which exists in Australia. I have had an opportunity of seeing some of the big cities of the world, and I believe that, generally speaking, the Australian lad is the best behaved of his kind and class to be found anywhere. The mover Of the amendment knows a certain city where a kind of larrikinism exists which heats anything of which Australians are capable. That is, however, a side issue. I seriously protest against the proposal to compel young men to undergo continuous training for a fortnight in three consecutive years. The economic conditions of the country, with which the honorable member for Parramatta has dealt, prevent us from adopting such a proposal. It is much better to give assistance to the volunteer movement, and to do all that we can for the proper training of those who are ready to submit themselves to military discipline, and to undergo the necessary drill, while those who have no desire to leave their usual avocations may be trusted to find the money necessary to compensate those who give up their time in preparing for the defence of their country. Has an appeal for volunteers ever had to be repeated in a British community when danger has appeared on the horizon ? Happily it is characteristic of the British people that twice as many as are wanted always respond to such an appeal. I shall not under any circumstances, even after a general* election, support a proposal in the nature of conscription until appeals for volunteers have been made in vain.
– It will be too late to do anything then.
– I hope that there’ will be no such sudden invasion of Australia as will prevent Parliament from making and passing whatever legislation is necessary to cope with it. But until our people have proved themselves unworthy of the freedom which they enjoy, I shall not approve of any system of conscription.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay has again placed the Committee and the country under a great obligation in pointing out in terse and intelligent language the special danger which we have to fear from the immature views of innocent and unwise reformers, such as the honorable member for Bland and the honorable and learned member for West Sydney.. We have frequently heard those honorable gentlemen expatiate upon the virtues of reform, and to-night we have an example of the sort of reform which, if permitted, they would’ make. It was said long ago, and may be it still remains a truth, that the most dangerous people in a community are not the scoundrels, but the inexperienced, immature reformers. You have to watch the scoundrels for only part of the time ; but you have to watch the immature and inexperienced reformers all the time. When I interjected that the cows could not cease to secrete milk so that our young men might go to the conscription camps which the honorable member for West Sydney proposes to form, the honorable member for Bland replied that this proposal does not hang upon the milking. What does it hang upon 1 In the first place, like everything else, it hangs upon the question of cost. In round figures, it would cost £50,000 to feed a force of 100,000 men for a period of two weeks.
– A shilling a day per man would be the cost, according to the official returns.
– I have not allowed so much. I have put the cost at 10s. a man per week. Then there is the. cost of the rifles which have to be obtained.
– But we shall want rifles under any scheme. It would be unfair to charge the cost of new rifles to this scheme.
– I do not intend to be unfair, but I must charge the cost to this scheme, notwithstanding the honorable member’s objection. He will concede that the scheme would not be complete without a proper supply of modern rifles, and in that he is absolutely right. A thorough knowledge of the weapon to be used is the essence of all training in the art of warfare. A boomerang would be valueless to the honorable member for Bland, but to an Australian more ‘ closely in touch with the Arcadian life which the honorable member for West Sydney has described, it is a weapon of defence and an implement which enables him to earn his living. In the same way a spear would be valueless to me, I would trip over it; butitis the most useful possession, of the savage. A person unaccustomed to the use of a rifle has in his hands a weapon which is dangerous to him and. to his friends, and the essence of all military training is to make men thoroughly conversant with the proper use of their, weapons. The combination of the man and the weapon is the most effective means of offence and defence which the nation can have. Therefore, modern rifles are absolutely essential to any defence force for which we may provide, and the cost of purchasing such rifles must be taken into account in considering the proposal of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. Something must also be allowed for freight and for wages. I presume that the honorable member would not ask these men to serve for less than the minimum wage - 7s. per diem.
– We ask them to serve for nothing.
– Some one must pay for their- services. If the men do not receive their usual pay they lose their money, and if their employer has to pay them without obtaining the benefit of their services in return he loses his money. If you have 100,000 men in camp whose work is worth 7s. a day, and that money is not earned, it is lost to the State, although the loss does not appear specifically in the financial statement of the Treasurer. I put down £500,000 .for wages.
– The honorable member’s estimate is like the Argus estimate of the cost of the Federal capital.
– We must also allow for the cost of tents, and for other expenditure, so that it- appears absolutely incontestable that this mild little proposal, which does not hang upon the milking, but upon my honorable friend’s inexperience, will cost about £1,500,000. The honorable member for Bland made reference to New Zealand, but I find that the Premier of New Zealand, in a memorandum which he wrote for submission to the Conference of Prime Ministers, pointed out that the want of capital has prevented him from dealing with rifle clubs and similar institutions as he desired to do. He says that New Zealand wants 30,000 new magazine rifles, the cost of which he puts down at £120,000.
– The cost would be £150,000, because these rifles are worth £5 each.
- Mr. Seddon also points out that he thinks that the members of rifle clubs should receive a free grant of 100 rounds of ammunition each for practice. In Canada the members of rifle associations are provided with rifles on loan, and are given free ammunition. The Governments of those countries, instead of adopting the system of conscription, and proceeding on ethical lines, do something practical for the training of their people.
– We have not sufficient rifles here.
– That is so, and it is essential that we should get more rifles. M.any of the 23,000 men provided for on the Estimates might as well be armed with blunderbusses as with the rifles they have. Why therefore do not honorable gentlemen do the right thing, and assist the Minister to obtain a sufficient sum for the purchase of the necessary rifles ?
– We will assist him if he proposes to provide for their purchase.
– Will the honorable member vote money for the purchase of more rifles 1
– I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that the honorable member for Bland and other honorable members believe that it is wiser to arm those who are prepared to train themselves for the defence of the State with modern rifles, and to furnish them with ammunition, than to adopt the method of conscription proposed by the honorable member for. West Sydney.
– The honorable member is ingeniously perverting what I said.
– The honorable member for Bland also states that he will support a proposal to provide a supply of rifles for what he calls the flower of the community ; and I hope that when the Estimates are submitted the honorable member will have an opportunity to make good his promise.
– The amendment proposed by the honorable member for West Sydney is indeed a marvellous one, and this fact is specially borne in upon me after listening to the remarks of the honorable member for Richmond. He gave us a lecture upon reforms and reformers, and it is evident that he wishes to see a smallarms and ammunition factory established. It is indeed strange that whereas in the earlier part of the sitting the Committee unanimously decided that, out of regard for economy the permanent forces should be reduced to a minimum, we should- immediately afterwards find honorable members supporting an amendment which would have the effect of creating a force of 100,000 men,* and of necessitating a large increase in the permanent forces for administrative and instructional purposes. On the one hand we have a strong cry for economy, and on the other hand a proposal, which we are told is of a progressive character, but which involves the introduction of a system of conscription and an .immensely increased expenditure. It has been admitted by- a number of honorable members that we are not in a position to incur the expense of maintaining a huge military system, or of adopting all the means that are necessary to create a high military spirit, and yet we find members of the labour party in the forefront of a movement which is directed to that end. Why those honorable members, who call themselves radicals or liberals, should be so desirous to develop militarism, I cannot understand. It would be reasonable to adopt means calculated to develop the patriotic spirit of the people to the point of encouraging them to fit themselves for defence purposes, but such a scheme as that proposed by the honorable member for
West Sydney would have the effect of encouraging a spirit of aggression. In the course of a few years most of our young men would have received a partial military training, and I am afraid that if they were not called upon to fight in defence of their country they would probably want to invade another. Therefore, we should probably bring about conditions far worse than those which the honorable member for West Sydney has so greatly deplored. Owing to climatic and other conditions ou’r people are so inclined to outdoor life that home discipline does not exist amongst us to the same extent as in older and colder countries, and the ‘honorable member for West Sydney .would supply this defect by the scheme which he proposes. I think, however, that he suggests a very expensive and dangerous way of accomplishing his object. Larrikinism in Australia is not so very bad as some honorable members would represent. No doubt isolated cases of an extreme character are sometimes brought under our notice, but when we compare the outbreaks of larrikinism in Australia with the developments of Hooliganism in such cities as London and New York, we have no reason to be dissatisfied with ourselves. The best test of the character of a community and of its regard for law and order is afforded by the demeanour of the masses at large assemblages, and we know that there are no better-behaved crowds than ours. During the visit of the Duke of York to Australia, hundreds of thousands of people were able to parade .our streets until late hours at night without molestation. The vast crowds of people were perfectly orderly, and, in fact, we enjoyed extraordinary-freedom from outbreaks of ruffianism or blackguardism. I do not see any force in the social arguments used in favour of the amendment. We are told that we must have rifles, and that has been used as an argument in favour of the establishment of a small arms and ammunition factory. Let us obtain rifles by all means, but do not let us create a large and unnecessary military force. The recent war in South Africa affords an excellent example of the possibilities which lie before us in matters of defence. The fighting men of the Transvaal, who were to a very large extent untrained, numbered only 60,000, and yet. they were able for some time to hold at bay the immense force of 300,000 men which Great Britain launched against them. They defied Great Britain notwithstanding her enormous facilities for transport, and they succeeded under conditions which we shall never be called upon ‘to face, because there is no power that could bring such large forces against us. We might possibly be troubled by filibusters attacking some of our principal centres for the purpose of levying toll, but no nation or combination of nations would ever be able to hold Australia against the forces which we should be able to bring into the field.
– We do not’ know what Japan might do.
– With all her millions Japan could not do much harm, because she has not the facilities necessary to enable her to land a large military force upon our shores. We are not exposed to any danger that would justify us in calling into existence a force such as that contemplated by the amendment. All the training required for our young people is now provided under the school cadet system. Those who may have an inclination for military training, after they leave school, can always find their way into the ranks of the volunteer forces. The cost of maintaining the system indicated by the amendment would be enormous. Men would have to be brought long distances from sparsely settled parts of Australia to the more populous centres for t.he purposes of training, and the loss of time involved to individuals and the cost to the Commonwealth would be very great. The majority of the soldiers sent from Australia to South Africa received only about five or six weeks’ training before they embarked, and they proved beyond doubt their extreme usefulness for that kind of fighting which would probably have to be done here. There is ‘ no question about our being able to offer a most effective defence with men possessing only a limited amount of training, and there is no necessity to build up a large force by means of a system very closely resembling that adopted in Germany. I have always looked upon militarism as the toy of the conservatives, and I cannot understand the interest which the members of the labour party are displaying in encouraging a military spirit. All our forces should be directed towards bringing the nations of the world into closer unity and towards abolishing militarism, and I shall do everything I can t© oppose any movement for the creation of a large military force in Australia. A volunteer movement properly directed will suffice for all our immediate requirements.
– Since this proposal was submitted I have been endeavouring to determine how it would work, but up to the present time I have failed to understand how it is practicable.
– It works in Switzerland.
– Because Swiss methods have had to adapt themselves to it as a primary necessity to Swiss existence. Moreover, if the honorable member will look at Switzerland and Australia on the map, he will see that there is some slight difference between their areas, to begin with.
– There are sparsely- populated districts in Switzerland.
– There are not sparselypopulated districts, in the Australian sense. The scheme of the honorable member for West Sydney is a much more ‘ modest one than was his original proposal, but even in its present form it is sufficiently ambitious,quite apart from any principle involved. It means that every male in the Commonwealth between 18 and 21 years of age will be required to turn out 28 working days each year for drill purposes.
– No. They may be drilled at night.
– I have yet to learn the difference between work at night and work during the day ; time. These young men will be required to devote fourteen consecutive days to drill in addition to fourteen days which are not consecutive. . I have yet to learn that eight hours’ continuous drill, whether it be in a barrack-yard or in the field, is not quite as hard as is any ordinary avocation. The idea that the youth of Australia are prepared to travel any distance and to lose any wages for 28 days’ “holiday,” as it has been termed, is beyond my conception. I ask the honorable member how the young men who are resident in the sparsely - populated districts of. the Commonwealth can attend parade upon 32 days in the year 1 It is impossible. His scheme is apparently founded upon the theory that everybody hari a Saturday halfholiday and has nothing ho do in the evening. But even if that assumption were correct, I never before understood that a Saturday half-holiday meant ceasing to work for money with a view to carrying bricks for nothing. I am astonished at the quarter from which such a proposal emanates. I was always under the impression that if one party more than another held fast to the principle that the labourer was worthy of his hire, it was the labour party.
– But we also recognise citizens’ rights and duties.
– Never to the extent of compelling men to work for nothing. If the labour party ever takes up that position, it will be entirely out of sympathy with me.
– This is not a labour party question.
– I understand that, though the leader of that party is advocating the proposal which I am discussing. Perhaps I should more accurately have described its supporters as “members of the labour party.” I hold that men who are willing to be trained for the service of their country are doing work of practical value to the community, and have just as much right to be paid as have the men who earn their livelihood in the public service.
– Or even a Member of Parliament ?
– Exactly. Why do not 75 patriotic persons come forward and perform legislative duties for nothing 1 No doubt there are plenty of men who would be only too glad to undertake the task, but if we agreed to a compulsory system of legislation I do not think that the first 75 men who came along would be found willing to undertake it. The proposal of the honorable member will deprive the youth of the Commonwealth of one month in each working year.
– Do they not owe something to the community?
– If they have to perform the duties outlined by the amendment the community will owe something to them.
– The honorable and learned member has a very queer idea of what a citizen owes to the State.
– In time of danger he owes the duty of sharing in the defence of the community ; but he does not owe. the ‘duty of being trained for military service for nothing in time of peace. I do not know whether the honorable member is going to adhere to his proposal that a man shall be privileged to escape the obligation by a monetary payment.
– That was the proposal under the Bill.
– I apologize for having misunderstood the honorable member. The principle involved in his proposal is something which is new to English-speaking communities. It is a change which is of a more drastic character than perhaps any that has been proposed in connexion with military and naval affairs since England enjoyed constitutional government. We have all read of the intense hostility that the operations of the press-gang used to ai’ouse amongst all persons who had any respect for the liberty of the subject. Apparently the honorable member for Bland approves of this scheme, because it provides for a universal press-gang, the immensity of. which apparently deprives it of all objectionable features.
– Is not there a press-gang clause under this Bill? What is clause 55?
– Clause 55 declares that when our hearths and homes are in danger we must defend them. The amendment submitted embodies a change of a most extraordinary and drastic character, and one that should not be adopted by any community except after the fullest deliberation, and under the compulsion of circumstances. Reference has been made to the system operating in Germany. But I would ask whether the socialistic party in Germany favours any system of conscription?
– This is not the German system.
– It is not the German system in detail, but it is . in principle. Any compulsory system -of service in time of peace is a system of conscription, neither more nor less.
– Not in time of war then ?
– If the honorable and learned member cannot see any difference between compulsory service in time of peace and compulsory service in time of war, he had better knock one man down without provocation, and assault another upon provocation, and he will soon discover it. The honorable member for Bland indulged in an estimate of the cost of the proposed scheme. I purpose submitting another estimate. I claim that it will cost £5 per head, without taking into consideration the question of pay. That represents an expenditure of £500,000. The instructional staff for 100,000 men, adopting’ a scale which is much below that at present in vogue, will cost £250,000 more. I need scarcely point out that if we have men continuously training in every little town throughout the- Commonwealth, we shall require an enormous increase of the instructional staff. An expenditure of £250,000 in this connexion is, therefore, a very modesb estimate. Then I allow £1 per head per annum for the cost of rifles.
– Is not that an unfair charge with which to debit this scheme ?
– I will compare its total cost with the total cost of the other scheme. I am basing my estimate of the cost of the instructional staff upon the cost of that staff in Australia, and deducting about 30 per cent.’from the proportional result. Then we should still have to maintain our regulars, which would cost £120,000.
– They cost £150,000.
– But that amount includes the head-quarters staff.
– How many, men does the honorable and learned member think would be annually trained under this proposal?
– About 100,000 men. At the present time there are 108,000 young men in the Commonwealth between the ages of 18 and 21 years.
– There would not be 108,000 men trained each year.
– Yes, every man between 18 and 21 years of age would have to turn out. I have allowed £1 00, 000 for the supply of rifles’ and £120,000 for the maintenance of our regulars. The estimates I have submitted aggregate the mere trifle of £970,000. That is just about what I think we ought annually to expend upon the Defence Forces in Australia, but it is very much in excess of the sum voted by Parliament last year.
– But the other classes would have to present themselves as time went on.
– Under this proposal when a man reached 21 years of age he would have finished with military service.
– He could go on with it if he chose.
– In making my estimate of the cost of the scheme proposed, I have not allowed for anything beyond it and the regular troops. If my figures are correct, this scheme would involve- an expenditure of about £1,000,000 a year, apart from rifle clubs and other organizations.
– We should . have 100,000 men in what practically would be a rifle club. What more should we require?
– If my figures are anywhere near the truth, it is clear that the scheme is a financial impossibility.
– I think they are £200,000 out.
– They are £200,000 in excess of the honorable member’s estimate, which is quite a different thing: If the scheme came into operation, and I were a betting man, I should be prepared to back my figures in relation to this particular matter against those put forward by the honorable member.
– I am making provision for more money than is allowed in New Zealand for somewhat similar work.
– The men there do not serve as long, nor in as many centres, and they are not subject to other conditions entailing much expense.
– The centres in New Zealand are numerous.
– My main, objection, quite apart from the financial aspect of the case, is that the proposal constitutes what would be an entirely unjustifiable departure from the existing system until there had been an unmistakable expression of public opinion in favour of it. Even in that event, I do not think that I should support it. I should retire from politics, and leave others to bring the system into force. I feel strongly that it would be a most undesirable and unwise step to take. If there is one thing more than another that would be calculated to promote militarism in this country it is this proposal, especially if it would afford our young men the “enchanting holiday” suggested by its advocates. It is said that the men would rush away from their ordinary work to enjoy fourteen days’ holiday and 32 days of drill at another place ; that they would not mind losing a fortnight’s pay or missing their usual half-holidays ; that they would prefer drill to football matches, and consider it more desirable than any other occupation which they might follow at night. We are told that they would enjoy the drill thoroughly. Thus, if there is anything that would cause the Commonwealth to become in spirit a great armed nation, whether we had the rifles or not, such a system as this would have that effect. That would be a result alien to our history, and to the feel- i ings of many people ; and, therefore, it is impossible to conceive that any Parliament 1 would adopt such a proposal, except under I J the most strenuous pressure of public opinion.
– Having listened to the speeches’ made by the opponents of” this amendment, I cannot help thinking that there has been a considerable degree of exaggeration in connexion with the debate. The honorable and learned member for Corinella appears to oppose the amendment because he thinks that it would lead to the development of militarism, and he is astonished that any member of the labour party should support such a proposition.
– I did not mention the labour party when I was dealing with the question of militarism.
– Militarism is understood to be the building up of a class of professional soldiers in the community. Surely the honorable and learned member knows there is a wide difference between that and a system under which every male citizen under 21 years of age would be required to undergo a certain amount of training. If the system became irksome to our young men, it would speedily cause them to have a dislike for militarism. On the other hand, if they did not object to it as a means of training them for the defence of their country, why should we complain ? Both objections cannot hold good. It seems to me that a misapprehension exists as to what the honorable and learned member for West Sydney said in relation to the question of larrifcinism. I listened to him attentively, but I did not understand him to say that larrikinism was more rampant in Australia than it was in any other country. He simply said that one argument in favour of the amendment was that, if carried out, it would have a tendency to improve our young men. When a representative of law and order, or “ the old man,” is subjected to a mild attack by pushes who hurl glass bottles and rocks at him, it will be a consolation to him to know, on the assurance of the honorable member for Parramatta, that the outrage is merely an indication of blithesomeness on the part of the youths. Perhaps too much has been made of the idea that the system would tend to improve our young men ; but I cannot understand why honorable members should object to young men
– The honorable member cannot understand any one who does not misrepresent things as he does.
– I am not misrepresenting any one. The honorable member defined larrikinism as blithesomeness.
– The honorable member is making a gross misrepresentation.
– We know that there is some larrikinism in Australia.
– I said so, but the honorable member apparently did not hear me.
– If this system will tend to lessen the evil, I think it is fair to bring forward such an argument. Of course, the suppression of larrikinism is not the main object of the proposal, but some honorable members seem to object to every young man in the Commonwealth being called upon to serve a certain time . without receiving any pay.
– We object to their being compelled to serve in this way.
– The objection is that they should not be called upon to serve in the way proposed by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney without receiving any pay for their services, because it would be a tax on the individual. Those who oppose the amendment urge that if an individual is to attend these drills for the benefit of the country, he should be paid for his labour, and that, if that were done, the proposal would be satisfactory.
– It is said that a young man would lose a fortnight’s wages while attending the instructional camp. But those who raise that objection see nothing wrong in requiring a certain number of men in the community to give their services to the State for a time without being recompensed in respect of loss of wages.
– They volunteer.
– The distinction is immaterial. I have devoted some time to drill, and if I choose to do so with the result that I lose a fortnight’s or a month’s wages every year, is the tax on the individual reduced by reason of the fact that I volunteer my services 1
– The honorable member says there is no difference between voluntary service and compulsory service.
– We have got beyond the stage at which any one could fairly object to this proposal on the ground of its being compulsory.
– If a man volunteers to subscribe £5 to any cause the honorable member would not say that every one else should be compelled to do so.
– No. I am dealing simply with the objection that this proposal, which might cause a man to forfeit a fortnight’s wages would be a tax on the individual. If that be so, why should not the volunteer system, under which a man is also required to attend certain drills, and may thus forfeit a week’s or ‘a fortnight’s wages, be also a tax on the individual ? It seems to me that that argument must go by the board.
– Is a voluntary payment a tax 1 The honorable member had better consider his terms.
– So far as the individual is concerned, it is a tax upon his energy and his time to have to attend drills whether he be a volunteer or not. What is the use of quibbling about words *! I have not heard of any proposal to reimburse the members of the militia in respect of the wages they lose while attending drill. If the honorable member does not object to that system he should not object to this proposal.
– The militia are partiallypaid.
-But there are volunteers. I do not deny that the proposal would be a very important departure from what has hitherto been the practice. But, at the same time, we should not in any way exaggerate the proposition. To my mind, the actual position has been exaggerated. The difference between the men who would serve under this system and the militia is that under this scheme the burden would extend over a greater number and a wider area. The only question that can fairly be asked in regard to the proposal is whether it is necessary - whether it is wise. The questions of cost and efficiency must be considered in relation, to each other. I am suprised to hear that some honorable members are prepared to favour the conscription clause in this Bill, under which every male under 60 years of age may be called upon to serve in time of danger, although they are not prepared to vote for this amendment. It is urged that under the clause to which I have referred, our male population will be called out only in time of danger. But there are many people who believe that we are constantly in danger.
– The term used is “ time of war.”
– It is urged that in time of danger it would be justifiable to call upon the whole of our male population under 60 years of age to take up arms in defence of the country. The question as to when we are in danger is after all one of degree.
– A man’ calls in a doctor when he is seriously ill, but he does not require him to be in attendance throughout his life.
– But a doctor’s income must be maintained in order that he may be at hand -ready to attend to a call at any time. It is said that we are in constant danger of attack, that we do not know when a war may be declared in Europe, and, therefore, that we are called upon to adopt a military system of some kind, and to be prepared to defend our country. It is held by some that the only defence we need is naval defence. However, I do not intend to go into all the arguments on that subject. What I desire to point out is that it is agreed on all hands that the people of the Commonwealth should be able to defend themselves, and what we have now to consider is, what is the best means of land defence to adopt 1 In my opinion, the best thing for us to do is to drill and train our young men, so far as that is possible without, too great an expenditure, or too great an interference with their everyday avocations. I am very much inclined to support the amendment, because of my connexion in my younger days with the volunteer movement. I recollect very well the enthusiasm with which we all entered into our work then. I gave readily and with pleasure to the work of drilling much more time than the amendment requires to be devoted to it, and not only did I not receive pay, but I had to meet expenses out of my own pocket. Whenever we came to Melbourne to attend reviews we paid our own hotel bills and other expenses without grumbling. Every member of the community who takes an interest in the performance of the duties of citizenship devotes a great deal of his time to various social movements. Many, for instance, give hours to attendance at friendly societies’ meetings, and others to meetings for charitable objects, or to further causes which are deemed to be for the advancement of society ; but we should be surprised if people asked pay for such work. My own experience is that the work devolving upon volunteers is not considered by them a tax, and it gives them a certain amount of pleasure. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney did right in pointing out that it is part of the duty of every’ citizen to prepare to defend his country, and that he, therefore, has no right to expect to be paid for such work. The Minister had exactly the same idea in his mind when - he drafted the provision for the calling out of the male population in time of war. The basic principle of our defence system is the duty of each member of the community to defend his country, and it follows as a corollary that it is each man’s duty to devote a certain amount of his time and energy to preparing himself to take part in his country’s defence. With regard to the objection to the amendment on the ground that it provides for a compulsory system, I would ask honorable members if we are not hedged round with compulsions at every turn % But as most of them are customary we do not feel them. If we consulted the boys and girls whom we send to school we should find that most of them attend school against their inclination ; but we who are older recognise that it is necessary for them to educate themselves at school for the work of life, and therefore we compel their attendance. Many of the party to which I belong hold that it would be well if we provided, not only for the free and compulsory education of our children, but for the education of our youths right up to manhood, in technical knowledge and the studies which are followed at the University. It is only an extension of the cadet system which is now proposed. What the honorable and learned member for West Sydney asks is that we should agree to the compulsory training of our youths in military matters for a period of three years after they leave .school, and under such conditions as will best meet their convenience. This is only adding one more compulsion to all those which now exist. If there is any people in the world who are constantly subject to compulsion for the preservation of law and order, it is the people of the British race. The freedom of the individual is limited in every direction and by every institution, so that right up to the Crown itself there is no room for an autocrat. Many of these compulsions are for the development of our youth, so. that they may become better citizens, and while I hope that as the world gets older the risk of warfare will decrease, I consider it necessary to do all that is reasonable for the proper training in military matters of our young men between the ages of 18 and 21 years. I admit that this training may not produce a military force which would thoroughly commend itself to military experts ; but it will be very useful in teaching our people how to bear arms, will improve them physically, will give them a useful discipline, and will confer upon them the other benefits which the honorable and learned member for West Sydney has mentioned, and which I need not enumerate again. If it is admitted that we must prepare for our own defence, the need for making our citizens efficient in the rudiments of warfare cannot be denied. In my opinion, the cost of the proposed system will not be very great. A great deal is already done voluntarily by members of rifle clubs and volunteer corps to make themselves capable to defend their country, and I do not think it is too much to require other persons to undertake this duty. I am not sure that it is necessary to provide for a fortnight’s continuous training each year, but the detached drills should not prove a difficulty. It will be easy to drill the men at night.
– Only in the centres of population.
– And in the country districts, too. I have seen a great deal of our country districts, and I have known young men who were members of the Australian Horse to go long distances to attend drills, and to be delighted to have the chance to do so. They did not find the work irksome, but, on the contrary, rather liked the outings. The work of drilling is not nearly so hard as that required of footballers and those who engage in other field sports. It is all a matter of taste.
– Because some men like drilling, the honorable member would have all men like it.
– We compel children to do things which they do not like, because we know that it is necessary for their good that they should be trained for the battle of life.
– We compel them because they are children ; we ought not to compel men. ‘
– The honorable member has himself admitted the value of physical training. To my mind, the whole question is whether this system is too costly, and whether it will put individuals to too much trouble and loss. I do not think there will be much loss. It might be thought from some of the speeches which have been delivered that all our young men are in permanentsituations, and have to work all the year round, but, unfortunately, many of them, have a great deal of idle time.
– And if the amendment were carried they would have a fortnight more of idle time each year,
– That does not follow. I have heard the honorable member argue that if the hours of labour were shortened more people would obtain employment, and it might be argued that if our youths were compelled to submit to a fortnight’s continuous training each year, there would be work to be done by people who are now unemployed. No time will be lost in attending drill. Those who have holidays can use that time, whilst those who “are out of work will be able to employ their idle time.
– It is ridiculous to suppose that men can go into training in camp whenever they like.
-The system will be arranged to meet the general convenience. What is proposed is not the German system, under which men have to serve continuously for a couple of years. When I was a volunteer I gave up every night for months to learning my drill. We were all ready to do it, because of our interest in the work, and because of the opportunity it gave us to meet our friends. Once a system of this kind is fairly started, the compulsion is not felt. The honorable member, for instance, does not feel the compulsion of the laws which require him to be honest. I shall vote for the amendment, but, if possible, I should like to be informed by thosewho are able to speak on the subject, if a. fortnight’s continuous training each year isabsolutely necessary. The detached drills can be undergone without much loss of time or inconvenience ; but I think that if it were possible to reduce bhe term for continuous training it would remove a great deal of the objection to the proposal.
Mr.FOWLER (Perth).- I must confess that the proposal of the honorable member for West Sydney had a good deal of attraction for me, and it was only after careful consideration that I decided to oppose it.On the face of it, a scheme which provides for a considerable amount of physical and mental training for the rising generation has a good deal to commend it, but it seems to me that, under the proposal of the honorable member, the training would be neither so thorough nor continuous as to produce results such as we desire. Military discipline has exerted a wholesome influence upon the physique of the younger generations in some of the older countries in which the conscription system has been effectively carried out. In Germany the height and physique of the people, has been very considerably improved since the introduction of conscription. We ‘are not, however, proposing anything of that kind, and I am glad that there is no necessity for casting the blight of universal conscription upon Australia. The instruction imparted to the young men who would come under the operation of the scheme proposed would not be sufficient to yield any definite results with regard to their physique, nor would the mental discipline be appreciable.
– They would have more training than the members of the militia forces.
– Undoubtedly. But that does not prove very much, because any one who looks critically at the physique of a good many members of our defence forces will say that it is by no means of that strikingly military quality which characterizes those who have had a longer and more arduous training. Moreover, I think that the honorable member proposes to start the training of these young people at too late a period in life. In countries in which young people mature more slowly, it might be sufficient to begin at the age of eighteen, but we should have to make a very much earlier beginning here. Therefore, I should prefer to see our cadet system expanded so that the school children might derive the full advantage of any training which it might be possible to give them. In England, the military instructors are allowed, during their spare time, to exercise school children at drill and gymnastics. I do not know whether our instructors have much time to spare, but if they have, we might very well utilize their services for the purpose of putting school children, who are perhaps too young to join the cadets, through a course of physical training. I am sure that would have a much more satisfactory effect upon the physique of the community than the somewhat perfunctory training contemplated by the honorable member. I cannot agree with those who urge that all the young men of Australia should undergo military training, in order to enable us to provide for our military necessities. Nearly all the military authorities agree that any descent in force upon Australia is out of the question at present. It would be practically impossible for any nation to land an overwhelming force upon our shores with the intention of subjugating the country. All we have to guard against is the possibility of a raid by a hostile squadron, and we should not need a large force to repel such an attack. I agree with those honorable members who have urged the necessity of making our defence forces thoroughly efficient in all respects, and of equipping them with the best and most modern weapons. I agree further that we should also maintain reserve stocks of rifles and ammunition, so that in a grave emergency we might extend our defence organization, but a force sufficient to cope with an ordinary European army would’ be entirely beyond the necessities of the case. Those who wish to “ cut the painter “with the mother country - and I believe they are few - might very well advocate the adoption of some such scheme as that proposed. But I see no possibility of any such danger as that which has been suggested confronting us for some considerable time - certainly not until a very serious re-arrangement of the balance ‘ of power in the world has taken place. If the necessity did arise for Australia to enter upon a scheme of defence based upon the supposition that we were open to attack upon a very large scale, I should be willing to support a proposal of this kind or even one of a more drastic nature. But to my mind our present object should be to provide for possible contingencies, and whilst bringing our defence forces up to the highest pitch of perfection, to limit our expenditure to what is necessary. Under these circumstances I shall be obliged to vote against the amendment.
– To my mind two things need to be demonstrated by the honorable member for West Sydney and his supporters before the proposal under consideration should be accepted by the Committee. The first is that a necessity exists for training the number of men which his scheme would embrace, and the second that it is essential we should adopt a compulsory, in preference to a voluntary system, to secure their enrolment. I would remind the honorable member that he has neglected to provide for the imposition of any penalty upon those who refuse to accept the conditions which he would apply to them. Up to the present time the voluntary system has been ample for our requirements. The honorable member for Darling has shown that it is not necessary for Australia to turn out 100,000 trained men each year. Then why incur the expenditure which would be involved in their training? Under the operation of the voluntary system, our experience is that more volunteers are forthcoming than we can equip. Take the rifle clubs in Victoria as an example. Three or ‘ four years ago the State Government held out inducements to members of those organizations to become efficient as marksmen, and, as a result, no less than 23,000 men enrolled themselves. Up to the present time, however, we have not been able to equip those men with rifles. Would it not be wiser to continue the volunteer system, to equip our citizen forces, and to provide them with instructional officers, than to enter upon a wildcat system such as that proposed ? The honorable member for* Darling declared that the compulsory system did not impose any more tax upon the energies of a man than did the voluntary system. I beg to differ from him. He must know from experience that there are a very considerable number of men who could not reasonably comply with the conditions proposed. In the rural districts of Australia there are plenty of young men’ who are only too eager to take advantage of any opportunities which are presented to them for becoming skilled marksmen and for obtaining a knowledge pf military drill. But there are many cases in which it would be utterly impossible for young men to comply with the conditions laid down in the amendment, except at considerable personal sacrifice - a sacrifice which would be altogether disproportionate to the results obtained. That is my view of the matter. I believe that if a little consideration is extended to the rifle clubs, and to the light horse, we shall have more than ample volunteers for our requirements. Past experience shows that men who are trained to the use of the rifle, and who are good horsemen, require only a very brief period of drill to fit them for service in the field. I shall therefore oppose the amendment.
– I am glad to know that the honorable member, for West Sydney believes that it is obligatory upon the citizens of Australia to defend their country whenever it may be threatened. To my mind, however, his proposal has not been sufficiently considered. Certainly it differs very materially from the amendment of which he had previously given notice, and which really amounted to conscription for the whole population of the Commonwealth.* If the principle that young men between the ages of 18 and 21 years should be required to undergo an annual course of military training is a good one, then it should certainly be extended to those of more mature years, who are better fitted to undergo the fatiguesof military life. The amendment is altogether too drastic. The idea of conscript tion has always been utterly repugnant to British people. We have always made it our proud boast that the army of England and the forces of Australia are raised by voluntary enlistment. The honorable and learned member has suggested the introduction of a system which public opinion in the old country has not favoured. I believe that the people of Australia are opposed to such a system, and that the idea of conscription is repugnant to them. If I had ventured to embody such a proposal in the Bill, we should have heard a howl of indignation throughout the Commonwealth, from Cape York to Tasmania. But the proposal, coming as it does from the honorable and learned member for West Sydney,, appears to have been received with much good feeling, and with but a slight exhibition of hostility. I presume that it is because of the geniality of the honorable and learned member that no one cares to say anything harsh in regard to his amendment, and that every honorable member who has spoken on the subject has treated him with the greatest consideration, although he has felt constrained at the end of his speech to intimate that he cannot vote for the proposition. A system of this kind, if applied only to young men between the age of IS and 21, would be ineffective. If we compelled our young men to attend a few drills every year whilst they were between the age of 18 and 21, and then freed them from the necessity of undergoing any further military training, we should have no army worthy of the name. We> should not have a mature man in the orcgs.
– By the time they had reached the age of 21, they would be trained men, and would be able to leave the- forces.
– They might perhaps attend the drills against their wishes. Having fulfilled the requirements as to compulsory training, they would leave on reaching the age of 21, with the result that we should not have any one above the age of 21 in the ranks. No doubt we all had a great idea of our own worth when we reached that age, but looking back now we realize that we did not know as much as at that time we thought we did. I have learned for the first time this evening - and the knowledge may serve me in good stead - that some honorable mem bers of the labour party believe in compelling men to work without receiving any reward for their services. I was always under the impression that they considered that if we required militia we should pay for their services - that the “labourer is worthy of his hire.” It seems, however, that the honorable member for Darling and certain other members of the labour party are willing that we should have only a volunteer system, and they consider that our male population should serve their country as soldiers without receiving any pay for their services. My experience has been that the volunteer system does not find so much favour with the people as does the system of militia. The reason for the preference is that a fee, however small, sweetens labour. It is by no means a disagreeable thing for a man to receive £1 or £2 after he has been in camp for a day or two, and there can be no doubt that the system of a partially-paid force is far more popular than is the volunteer system. This fact has been impressed upon me with greatforce during the last few months. It is bad enough for a man who volunteers to serve his country to be told that he must expect no monetary reward ; that he must accept as a sufficient return for his services the great honour which his country does him in allowing him to serve it ; but what is to be said of a system that would compel a man to serve in this way for three years without receiving any remuneration? I thought that by inserting clause 32 in the Bill I should meet the wishes of honorable members generally, and that it would be in accord with the views of the people. It provides that, with the exception of the provision in Part i which relates to times of great danger, our defence forces shall be maintained by means of volunteer enlistments only. If the honorable and learned member for West Sydney had his way this as well as many other clauses would have to be cast aside. I wish to emphasize the argument advanced by the honorable member for Moira, that if this amendment were adopted it would be necessary to re-cast the Bill. We should find it necessary to insert a number of penal clauses determining the punishment to be meted out to every citizen of Australia who neglected or declined to serve his country while betweerfthe ages of 18 and 21. How should we enforce such a provision 1 We should be able to fine a man who refused to comply with it, but he might have no means of satisfying the fine, and we should then have to send him to gaol. In this time of peace - when there is apparently no danger ahead - are we say to our citizens - “ You shall serve your country as soldiers while you are between the ages of 1-8 and 21, but after you have attained your majority you may go scot free.” It seems to me that the honorable and learned member has shown his wisdom by excluding all of us from the operation of his scheme.
– He ought also to exclude all the electors from the operation of the scheme.
-I presume that he holds the opinion that we have done our share, and that the work should fall upon the younger men. But I am anxious to learn from him how he proposes to enforce this provision.
– It is provided for in clause 71.
– That clause relates only to service at a time of great national danger. I understand that the honorable and learned member proposes that a man shall be sent to prison who neglects to attend the requisite number of drills. I should not care to go before my constituents and tell them that, if the young men between, the ages of 18 and 21 failed to comply with this requirement, they would be treated as criminals and sent to goal. I do not think that any Parliament which contemplated the adoption of the system of . conscription would allow every man over 21 years of age to escape from it. But this proposal, even if it -were limited as suggested, would- involve an enormous and totally unnecessary expenditure. If we have more money to devote to the purposes of defence than we are expending in that direction at the present time, I think we should utilize it in improving our sea defences. It is from across the sea that our enemy must come, and it is better that we should .fight him on the sea rather than allow him to land. If we fought him on land our homes and our territory would be devastated ; but, on the other hand, if we met him and defeated him on the sea we should do no such . injury. In my opinion, it would be better for us to devote our attention to the work of making the forces that we already have as efficient as possible.. Instead of adopting this proposal it would -be far better for us to endeavour to properly equip and arm the 23,000 militia and volunteers that we have, and to encourage as far as possible the rifle club system, which would add another 30,000 men to our available defence force. It would be well for us to give attention to these matters rather than embark upon a new project which I believe has never before been seriously discussed in any Legislative Assembly on this continent. The proposal is altogether foreign to our inclinations. From infancy we have been taught to regard conscription as something which the British people both here and in the old world will not endure. I hope therefore that, while we are grateful to the honorable and learned member for his patriotic desire that this country should be properly defended, we shall intimate to him in unmistakable terms that we cannot accept his proposal. The honorable and learned member excludes the naval forces from his amendment. Are we to have conscription in relation to the navy 1
– Oh, yes.
– I do not think I need say more. I am absolutely opposed to-the amendment”, but I do not wish to say anything harsh in regard to it. I am in sympathy with the honorable and learned member’s desire that this country should be adequately defended, but, as the matter has now been fully discussed, and as it is clear the House is against him, I trust that as soon as he has replied he will announce his willingness to withdraw the amendment.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney).- I feel that I should be doing the House, the country, the Minister for Defence, and myself a grievous wrong if I did not say something in reply, even if I cannot say exactly what the right honorable gentleman would wish me to say. The speech delivered by him would move a man of very much more heroic temperament than mine to grief and tears, even if they did not break their serious resolutions. The right honorable gentleman has said many things, but I will reply only to the one or two remarks which I have succeeded in jotting down. He says that this is a new principle which was never before seriously discussed in an assembly iri Australia. I can conceive of no more emphatic denunciation than that. It is a sufficient damnation for any proposal that it is being discussed for the first time in Australia. I can imagine the right honorable gentleman making a similar objection at the time when witchcraft was in full swing, or asking with pathetic earnestness when . Stephenson was trying to get a Bill passed to allow of the running of the first railway train - “What about the ‘Coo’?” But so far from this being the first time that the proposal has been made in Australia, I desire to call the attention of my right honorable friend to the following paragraph in the speech delivered by the Governor of South Australia when opening the State Parliament on the 6th June, 1889 :-
My Government consider that the strength of the Defence Forces may be substantially increased, without any corresponding addition to their cost and with advantage to the community, by the adoption of a system which will render -all males in centres of population, at certain ages - not being physically disqualified - liable to a course of drill and discipline which, whilst not unduly interfering with their ordinary avocations, will qualify them in time of need to render valuable assistance in the defence of the colony. To give effect to this view, an amendment of the Defence Forces Act will be proposed.
At that time the right honorable member’s late colleague was Premier of South Australia, and he told me that had his Government remained in office they would have introduced a Bill embodying the principle which I had the honour to submit for consideration this afternoon. The right honorable gentleman has asked me what I would propose to do with men who refused to undergo this training. Under clause 74 the right honorable gentleman proposes that any man who, in time of war, refuses to enlist, shall be treated as a deserter.
Clause 55 is an unnecessary provision, because every Government already possesses the right to call out all able-bodied male citizens to defend their country, and to make what provision it likes for their punishment if they refuse to come, it being left to Parliament and the civil courts to afterwards ratify or condemn such action. I would propose that those who decline to submit themselves for military training, although I refuse to believe that any large number of our people would be so mean spirited as to do so, should be deprived of their rights of citizenship. I believe that if the tocsin rang to morrow, everybody who could do so would respond to the call to arms. But the spectacle of the 900,000 persons, of whom the Minister spoke with legitimate pride, marching with one rifle among every 125 or 130of them, and that rifle in many cases, in the possession of some one unable to use it, is calculated to strike terror into the boldest heart. But any man who refused to attend the drills necessary to make him capable to defend his country would be unworthy of the privileges of citizenship, and I would therefore punish such a man by refusing to allow him to take any part in the government of his country.
– Then there would be no voters.
– Surely that is not a terrible thing for the right honorable gentleman to contemplate, since he represents a constituency in which, until recently, I understand, the votes of some fourteen or fifteen persons were sufficient to elect him, as most of the community were disfranchised. I do not think that the objection that my proposal is a novel one is a sufficient answer to it. In the very nature of things, there must be a time when every proposal is so regarded. But the right honorable gentleman added to that remarkable and cogent argument the statement that if the amendment were carried he would have to recast the whole Bill, a melancholy catastrophe which no sane being can think of without shedding tears. He spoke of the time which has been devoted to the discussion of this measure, .and yet he deliberately “ stone-walled “ a proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corinella which he ultimately accepted. The honorable member for Parramatta, who is an expert in these recondite matters, denounced the proposal very roundly as an impossible and a ridiculous one.
– What I said was that the cost would be ridiculously high.
– I understood the honorable member to say either that I or that the amendment was ridiculous, and, knowing his innate politeness, I prefer to think that he referred to my amendment rather than to myself. He said that it was opposed to the genius of the British people - a phrase which I fancy I have heard before - to provide for a system of compulsion ; and the statement seems to have penetrated the mind of my open-hearted friend, the Minister for Defence, because he also used the words. But only yesterday the honorable member for Parramatta voted for a proposal to compel every white man in New Guinea to abstain from intoxicants, because he does not use them himself. I say that that is opposed to the genius of the British people. So far as I know, they have been most consistent drinkers for centuries, and the candidate who went on to the hustings in Great Britain and declared that he would rob the poor man of his beer would come down more heavily than the candidate who declared that every one should serve in the Army. My honorable friend, however, said that under my proposal the wharf labourers in my electorate would be deprived of their wages. They are not overpaid now, but this provision would not affect them, because we do not allow any person who is under the age of 21 to join our union. But if it were seriously proposed to deprive them of their right to obtain intoxicants, the result would be fatal to the man who made the proposition. If the honorable member had his way, would he not prevent every person in the Commonwealth from taking anything in the nature of intoxicants ?
– I ask the honorable member to give notice of the -question.
– The honorable member, knows that he would. Even the head of the Defence Department would ge t no more liquor to drink in the course of his natural life. The Bill has been opposed by men who are afraid of the shadow of the word “ conscription.” The honorable and learned member for Corinella said that the principle is the same, whether a man is required to servethree or five years in the German or French Army, or to undergo fourteen days’ continuous training. I deny that there is any similarity in principle between the proposal I have made and the conscription system. In Germany and other continental countries they have adopted a rigid system of discipline and militarism such as would not be tolerated here under any circumstances. My proposal provides for just that degree of compulsion that I conceive to be necessary to make the burden fall upon all men equally, rather than upon the shoulders of some, and just that degree that has been applied to the systems which have been in vogue in this country in connexion with our partially paid and volunteer forces. We do not contemplate the establishment of militarism or of a military caste, or the imposition of crushing burdens upon the people. It was reserved for the honorable member for Wide Bay to put forward an objection which was fortunately confined to himself. He said that he would not vote for my proposal because the people had not had an opportunity of expressing their opinion upon it. This very modest reliance upon the people, on the part of the honorable member, is equivalent to the position assumed by the young lady who, when a proposal was made to her, flew to her mamma and asked her what she was to do. The honorable member has cast his vote with regard to dozens of matters in respect of which he has not consulted his constituents. In the event of some startling innovation, some unheard of change being proposed in the Government policy that would give the party to which we belong a great shove forward, would the honorable member suggest that he should go to his constituents, and ask their opinion ? Certainly not ; we Should hear the honorable member, with all the eloquence of his native Doric tongue, toying - “Certainly I am in favour of it.” Only those opposed to the proposal would Suggest the necessity of seeking the opinion of the people. Thus, we see how effectively circumstances alter cases. I decline to think that because this is a novel proposition, or because the people have not yet heard of it, or because it is foreign to the genius of the British people - whatever that ma.y be - we should hesitate to adopt it. As for the idea of compulsion, it is almost impossible to walk along the street without breaking some law. We cannot expectorate in the streets, we cannot ride a bicycle without a light, we cannot have consumption in quietness, and we are compelled to’ vaccinate and educate our children, and yet we are told that my proposal should not be adopted because it contains the element of compulsion. It is no more compulsory than 100 other things which are found to be essential to the welfare of a civilized community. As for the idea that it is a modified militarism, the honorable’ member for Parramatta and others have readily consented to a radical change in the policy of this country in regard to naval defence, upon which they might very well have first consulted their constituents, and yet when they are asked to complete an effective system of land defence, they talk about militarism and compulsion, and opposition to the genius of the British people. It is a matter of regret that some of the military authorities in the Commonwealth have set their faces rigidly against my proposal. With the exception of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and the honorable member for Dalley, I do not think any of my opponents in this matter would know the difference between shrapnel and Epsom salts. The honorable and learned member for Corio has extended to me a certain amount of support, and the honorable member for Bland has also gallantly come to my aid. Notwithstanding the opposition of tha military authorities, and the fact that my proposal has been characterized as absolutely absurd ; notwithstanding all the diffusive and contradictory reasons put forward against it, and the” statements that it would be ineffective ; that it would cost too much ; that it is ridiculous, .and opposed to the genius of the British people, I still think that it is absolutely necessary. The present system, tried by any criterion - tried by that which we ought to believe in, namely, the report of the General Officer Commanding - is absolutely ineffective. It has been condemned alike by experts and the common-sense men of the community. We have untrained men without arms, and the whole of our defences are in a state of .miserable chaos. Still honorable members hesitate to cast a vote for a system which, although it may be opposed to the genius of the British people, would at any rate give us an effective means of defence. Under the circumstances, however, and after the pathetic appeal made by the Minister, I shall, with the consent of the Committee, withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. A. McLEAN (Gippsland).- I should like to direct the attention of the Minister to one of the effects of the re-organization scheme. I refer to the proposal to. convert about 300 of the Victorian Rangers into Light Horse. I believe that it was made with the very best intentions, and I have no doubt that the General Officer Commanding thought that the men would prefer to join the militia forces, as members of which they would be partially paid, rather than remain pure and simple volunteers. I am credibly informed, however, that the great majority of the Rangers are not in a position to avail themselves of the opportunity offered, and that if the proposal is carried out, it will have the effect of disbanding ‘them. In view of the work which they have already done, I think that would be a matter for profound regret. None of our forces have attended more closely to drill and instruction than have the Rangers. At the last Sunbury encampment they practically out-distanced all other corps in rifle shooting. The first battalion of militia scored 18-3 per cent, of hits out of the shots fired, the -2nd battalion 20’3 per cent., the third battalion 20-1 per cent., and 4th and 5th battalions 17’4 per cent. The 1st battalion of the Rangers scored 31-8 per cent , and the 2nd battalion 25 -S per cent. The Scottish Rifles, which is also a. volunteer regiment, scored 26 per cent., and came next to the Rangers in shooting. Honorable members will therefore see that the Rangers secured by far and away the best results. The men are anxious to continue to. give their services, which at present cost only £2 per man per annum ; whereas the proposed change would involve an increased cost of between £2,000 and £3,000 per annum. Apart altogether from the question of increased cost, I think that it would be very unfortunate if these men were driven out of the service against their will. In the first place they cannot give the required time’ to the training in the initial stages, and, secondly the greater number of them live in country townships and do not keep horses. They are excellent horsemen, and about 200 of them volunteered for service in South Africa and proved themselves to be very good’- soldiers. I hope the Minister will give attention to this matter, because nearly 300 men are concerned, and as they are thoroughly proficient in the use of the rifle it would be a pity to lose their services.
– How many men are affected ?
– I believe the exact number is 276.
– It was impossible to bring about the re-organization of our Defence Forces which has been effected, without making some alterations in the character of the existing forces. « I need scarcely point out that it has been the desire of the Government to interfere with the latter as little as possible, and to avoid, wherever practicable, the conversion of foot regiments into mounted corps. In Victoria, however, we decided that there should be five regiments of light horse, and, to carry out our purpose, it was absolutely necessary that some of the infantry corps should be converted into mounted troops. But where that course has been followed the troops receive some slight compensation in that they now obtain pay which was formerly denied them. In my judgment, mounted troops are specially suitable for country districts. There, infantry corps are not half so valuable as are mounted troops,, because of the celerity with which the latter can move from place to place. The foot regiments aer more suitable to the centres of population such as Melbourne, Sydney, and other capital cities.
– A large proportion of the Victorian Rangers passed the riding test prior to their departure for South Africa.
– In New South Wales there are six regiments of light horse.
– What relation have these facts to the clause under discussion ?
– I admit that there is no connexion between them. I shall be very glad to look into the question, but I do not think that it is possible to alter what has been done.
– I trust that the Minister will look into this matter very carefully. What is threatened in Victoria has already been carried out in New South Wales. Probably, if the Minister had rendered good service to the State as a volunteer for many years, and, upon the conversion of his regiment into a mounted corps was not in a position to providehis own horse, he would look upon the arbitrary decision of the General Officer Commanding from quite a different standpoint. I hold that it is grossly unfair to disband these volunteer forces, the members of which have practically devoted the whole of their lives to the service of the State. The right honorable gentleman declares that as compensation for their conversion into mounted troops they will in future receive pay. But I would ask whether in the past they have submitted to all sorts of inconveniences and made great personal sacrifices for the sake of obtaining a little pay 1 No, they have done so because they loved their work. The Minister knows that the’ case of the K Company at Cooma is upon allfours with that quoted by the honorable member for Gippsland. That company holds an excellent record, and yet, the General Officer Commanding, in the most high-handed manner, has ordered its disbandment.
– Its conversion.
– What is the use of talking about its conversion when many of its members are too poor to provide horses for themselves. There is too much of this spirit of nepotism pervading the military regime of this country - too much of a disposition to give to the “ toney “ classes the plums of the service. I had no intention of debating this question at the present stage. I should have preferred to wait until the Estimates were under consideration. When those Estimates are submitted the General Officer Commanding will hear from me. It is all very well for the Minister for Defence to declare that the infantry forces are more suitable for the big centres of population. Apparently all sorts of privileges are to be granted to those who live in the cities. I maintain that the country districts are entitled to more consideration. When the Estimates are submitted, I shall enter a- most emphatic protest against this sort of administration. The General Officer Commanding has simply ignored the claims of many members of the volunteer forces, who have not only rendered good service to the State, but who have fought for the flag in South Africa. I recognise that in districts like my own, it is well to have mounted troops. But whilst we cannot advocate the establishment of fresh infantry corps, we have a right to demand that those which are already in existence shall not be ruthlessly disbanded.
– I join with the honorable member for Gippsland and the honorable member for EdenMonaro in asking the Minister to. extend some consideration to the volunteer companies, the members of which have devoted the best part of their lives to the service of the State. In the districts of Wellington and Dubbo, and other parts of the Robertson electorate, the infantry companies have been disbanded.
– Practically they have been disbanded, inasmuch as their members are unable to provide themselves with horses at their own expense. In listening to the remarks of the honorable member for Gippsland, I was reminded of a letter bearing upon this matter, which I received last month.
– They have nob written to me.
– Only last night I posted a similar letter, which I received from Dubbo, to the right honorable gentleman. If he will peruse that communication, he will see that the volunteers are very much hurt indeed at the action which has been taken. The following letter, upon the same subject, is from an officer of nineteen years’ standing in the district of Wellington
The members of the local volunteer company are very much annoyed on account of the intention of the military authorities to form amounted troop here in lieu of infantry. The accoutrements, &c., have all been called in from the men, and a regimental order was yesterday received from, regimental head-quarters, Richmond, New South Wales, to disband the company although, according to yesterday’s Telegraph no changes were to be made until after the Defence Bill was passed. This change is pretty rough, particularly on some. There are four or five of us with nearly nineteen years’ service, and the mounted will not suit us at all.
These volunteers have to find the means to provide themselves with horses so as to continue their service to the State. They are all good horsemen, and should the necessity arise for them to take the field they would be able to render” similar gallant service to that which was rendered by the Australian troops in South Africa.
– How many are there ?
– The number is quite immaterial. It is the principle about which we have a right to complain. I trust that the Minister will look into this matter, with a view to seeing whether the services of these competent men cannot-be retained.
– The only military forces to be found in the district which I have the honour to represent are already mounted, and have been so for a considerable time. ‘ It cannot, therefore, be said that I have any personal interest in this matter. At the same time I object to the alteration of policy that has been effected, upon the ground that it interferes with the voluntary system, which I believe is the only one which we should adopt in Australia. I hold that we should not employ paid soldiers, save for instructional purposes. For many years past I have belonged to a volunteer regiment which received nothing whatever for its services. The members of that regiment have undergone very severe self-denial in order to maintain their efficiency.
– What regiment is that’
– The Victorian Mounted Rifles.
– They are very glad to obtain the pay.
– I mix with them pretty freely, and the Minister is the only person whom I have ever heard makethatstatement. I have never heard a member of the regiment declare that he was glad they were to be paid for their services. On the contrary I have heard a great many officers and men express their sorrow that the force was to be no longer a volunteer one. These men have exercised self-denial in the interests of their country, and in order to carry out their duty ; but a number of those who are not so well off are now being called upon to provide horses for themselves. It is unfair that we should collect the forces in the large towns, and add to the many exclusive privileges which the people living in large centres of population enjoy, the opportunity of rendering themselves effective for’ the defence of their country. It is ridiculous to imagine that we shall be able to do altogether without infantry. If we are to have any infantry there is no reason why those living in the more scattered portions of the country, who desire to render themsslves fit to defend the Commonwealth when called upon to do so, but who are not able to provide themselves with horses, should be denied the opportunity of making themselves effective. The proposal really means that opportunities which are given to those who live in large centres of population to make themselves fit for service are to be denied those who live in country districts. The Minister will say, no doubt, that these men will have an opportunity of joining rifle clubs.
– There are some 4,500 infantry.
– But not volunteers.
– I am referring to volunteers. We are taking a retrograde step in allowing the Imperialistic notion to pervade every portion of our defence forces. It is against Australian sentiment to wholly wipe out of existence a body of men who, in the past, have done good service. The great bulk of the men whom we sent to South Africa had been trained in the volunteer forces of Victoria, and they proved that it is ‘possible to make our men effecti ve at the minimum of cost under the volunteer system. That being so, I fail to see the necessity for a large expenditure, which is now to be increased, because of the opinion held by the officer whom we have secured to re-organizeour forces. The Minister may say that those who oppose the proposal are prepared only to agree to a scheme of reorganization which will provide, really, for the maintenance of existing conditions. I am sure that no honorable member entertains such an idea. But until it has been shown that the volunteer movement in Australia has resulted in ineffectiveness and failure, we are entitled to maintain that it is the best, or, at all events, that it is as good as any other system. In these circumstances, I fail to understand whyin carrying out this re-organization scheme every obstacle should be placed in the way of a movement which in the past has proved of immense value to us individually as well as to the Empire. I have no desire to take up the time of the Committee unnecessarily, but I wish to impress upon the Minister the fact that, unless some alteration be made in the scheme, this is not the last occasion on which he will hear of this question.
– It is a curious thing that I have not received one letter on the subject.
– I hope that the ind vidual members of our partially-paid and volunteer troops have more sense than to think of inundating the Minister with individual opinions on.questions of this kind.
– It would be a breach of discipline for them to do so.
– I believe that the only members of the defences forces who have the right to take that course are those who hold seats in this Parliament. If the Minister applies to the General Officer Commanding he will ascertain that the regulations distinctly forbid the members of the forces, with the exceptions I have named, from communicating with him. I wish to impress upon the Minister that the obliteration of the volunteer system will be brought forward again and again until more favorable treatment is obtained. I am sure that the sympathy of the people of Australia is at the back of the system.
– I was told on good authority that these men were delighted with the change.
– That is nonsense.
– I think the Minister will admit that I am in a ‘better position than he is to obtain a true estimate of the position. His information has probably filtered through an interested channel.
– My information came from very good authority. I shall tell the honorable member by-and-by the name of my informant.
– I have not heard a member of the Mounted Rifles - or the Australian Light Horse, as the force will be called - express satisfaction at the change which is proposed in regard to payment. While we were in camp at Sunbury, I heard dozens of officers and men express their very great regret that the General Officer Commanding had made such a recommendation.
– If they do not desire to be paid, it is not too late for us to refuse to make them any payment.
– I personally hope that they will not be paid - that we shall be able to retain the regiment as a volunteer one, and that the only other volunteer regiment in “Victoria - the Rangers - will not be compelled either to retire or to incur an expense, in providing themselves with horses, which they are not able to meet. That is the position in which they at present find themselves. They have either to retire compulsorily, or ‘ to mortgage their future in order to comply with the altered conditions.
– I trust that the Minister for Defence will look into the matter which has been brought under his notice by the honorable member. The order has gone forth that a certain action shall be taken by the military authorities.
– Action has been taken.
– It seems to me absurd, that because of some freak on the part of the Minister or his officers, volunteer forces which have served for fifteen or twenty years are to be disbanded.
– What is the particular case to which the honorable member refers 1
– I represent a very large electorate, and I presume from what the honorable member has told me, that the proposal will apply throughout the country districts. I understand that it will not apply to large centres of population but to the country. We have to look to the men in the country. Many of the men whom we sent to South Africa in the defence of the Empire came from our country districts, and proved to be some of the most useful soldiers at the disposal of the British officers. I feel, therefore, that the Minister has taken upon himself a very great responsibility in disbanding the volunteer forces.
– We are not disbanding, but converting them. What is the particular case to which the honorable member refers1?
– I have a letter from an officer in my constituency who refers to an order received from regimental head-quarters, Richmond, New South Wales, to disband the company. I do not think I should disclose the source of my information, but the gentleman in question, who has served his country for 20 years, is now told that his services are no longer required.
– Is he a member of an infantry company ?
– Yes. I knowthat the Minister is anxious to make our defences as complete as possible. His intentions are good, but I believe that in this instance they have been misdirected. It is not too late for him to mend his ways, and if he will take the matter into consideration I feel satisfied that right will be done. The question is of so much importance that I trust the Minister will give it his consideration as promptly as possible. The greater the delay, the greater must be the dissatisfaction.
– But some of the companies have already been disbanded.
– Yes. This letter points out that the corps in question has been disbanded.
– We are not disbanding, but converting these forces.
-“ Convert” is only another word for “disband.” In view of the strong representations which have been made to the Minister, he should admit the errol’ of his ways.. If he does so, we shall be glad to accept the assurance - which I am sure he will give - that the matter will be rectified. The right honorable gentleman knows that in a communication which he recently received in reference to the way in which the differenttroops from Australia performed their’ work in South Africa, the British officers highly commended our forces. I trust that the Minister will deal with this matter with the least possible delay. If he hesitates to give us an assurance on the point it seems to me that other steps must be taken to make sure that the services of these men will be properly recognised. I feel that we have no right to put what is practically an insult on men who have performed signal services to the country.
– I thought that they were all satisfied.
-I have a letter here from one of them.
– He may be the only person in the district who is dissatisfied.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro has brought forward a similar complaint, and I understand that the honorable member for Robertson sent a letter on the subject to the Minister only yesterday. If something is not done to remedy the grievances of these men the Minister will have great trouble in getting his Estimates through. I trust, however, that before the Estimates come under consideration, ‘the right honorable gentleman will look into the representations which have been made, and will cancel the order which has been sent forth.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 30 (Power to raise forces).
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I have given notice of” an amendment limiting the number of permanent men who may be raised to 1,000. That is the limit imposed in Canada, where they have much greater need for a large military force than we have here, since Canada is contiguous to the territory of the United States. But whereas they have 45,000 men in the militia forces there, they have only 1,000 permanent men. Since my amendment was placed on the notice-paper, however, a previous clause has been amended in a direction in which I indicated that an amendment should be made. The Committee have decided that permanent men shall be raised and maintained only for certain specified services, and, that being so, I think that the further limitation which I have spoken of is not absolutely necessary. I think, however, that the clause should read -
The Governor-General may, subject to the provisions of this Act, raise, maintain, and organize…………..
Clause verbally amended and agreed to.
Clauses 31 to 41 agreed to.
The services of the permanent forces and of all 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. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I intend to ask the Committee to negative this clause, because I object to any compulsion being placed upon our men, whether they belong to the permanent or to the citizen force, to serve outside the Commonwealth. A very recent experience has shown that they are only too willing to do so voluntarily, if they think that their services are needed elsewhere. For my own part I do not think that the Constitution empowers us to compel men to serve outside the Commonwealth.
– Then what about the provision relating to the naval forces of the Commonwealth ?
– I am referring now only to the land forces. The naval forces are dealt with in another clause.
– But the same Constitution Act applies to both forces.
– I know that opinions may differ on the constitutional point, and, therefore, I base my objection to the clause on the ground of inexpediency. Even if we have the power, I do not think that we should compel men to serve outside the Commonwealth.
– I understand that this clause applies only to persons continuously employed in the active forces, although, . under clause 45, citizen members of the naval forces may not be required to serve beyond the limits of the
Commonwealth. I do not think that it is right that any of our forces should be sent beyond the Commonwealth, and I shall therefore vote against the clause.
– If the clause is struck out it will have the effect of prohibiting the permanent naval forces, as well as the permanent land forces, from being sent beyond the three miles limit. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne could accomplish his purpose by inserting the words “ naval forces “ after the word- “permanent.”
– It would be best to strike out the clause, and to apply the provisions of clause 45, not only to the citizen forces but to the defence forces as a whole. If the military forces are to serve beyond the Commonwealth only as volunteers, and the naval forces are to be liable to be called upon to serve either within or beyond the Commonwealth, we could most conveniently make the necessary provision in clause 45. Upon the question of policy I agree that there will always be an ample number of volunteers for service abroad.
– Having regard to the immediate necessities of the case only, the clause is not of very great importance, because we have only a few permanent men whom it would perhaps be undesirable to any large extent to remove beyond the Commonwealth. Furthermore, the men would no doubt volunteer for service abroad if the opportunity were presented to- them. Viewing the matter from a practical stand-point, however, I think that we shall depart from sound principles if we strike out the clause. When a man agrees to serve as a professional soldier it is not in the interests of the country that the hands of the authorities should be tied, or that their power should be restricted in regard to the disposal of his services. If those who enrol are willing to serve anywhere, what is the object of restricting the power of those in control. The proposal to tie our hands has its origin in that “little Australia” idea that our soldiers should not go anywhere beyond our own limits. Any one would think that we had no interests beyond our own territory. The honorable and learned member for Corinella has already succeeded in tying our hands in regard to the maintenance of permanent forces, and now he desires to place us in a still more humiliating position. Supposing that Great Britain were at war with some power which held a possession close to our shores, and it became necessary to the interests of Australia to occupy that possession. Would it not be absurd if we were unable to require our permanent troops to go there? Again, suppose that New Zealand were threatened with invasion, and that we were asked to send a few thousand troops to her aid.
– Our nien would volunteer in a body.
– We should be powerless to do anything. Honorable members seem to have become possessed with the “little Australia” idea to such an extent that they fail to realize our responsibilities. We do not intend to send any soldiers out of Australia at present,, but the time may come when it will be desirable to do so. If we had no power to order our soldiers to go beyond the Commonwealth, we should have to summon Parliament to pass an Amending Act, because our hands would be tied. If we desired an officer to go to New Zealand, we should have to approach him respectfully and say - “ Will you please go to New Zealand 1” He might then say - “No thank you, it is not convenient.” That is not my idea of the position that should be occupied by a professional soldier. The soldiers of Australia should be like those of Great Britain. It is not for them to reason why, but to do as they are told. Why should the Australian soldier be surrounded with special safeguards ? Why should the “ little Australia” idea prevail to the extent of excluding us from sending men beyond our limits, in order to protect our interests, or to discharge our obligations 1 One would think that we did not belong to the British Empire, and that, no matter what part of the Empire was attacked, we should not be legally prevented from lending our aid. I am very much opposed to any such idea. I think that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne ought to be elected as the president of “ little Australia.”
– The Minister for Defence has waxed eloquent in his denunciation of the “ little Australia “ idea, and in support of his own great Imperialistic ideas. The “ little Australians “ to whom he has referred desire to give our military men the right to determine whether they shall go beyond the limits of the
Commonwealth, whereas, according to the great Imperialistic notions of the Minister, moulded upon old-world ideas, military men should be mere machines. The man who is compelled to give his services does not make the best of fighting men, and we shall do better to rely upon volunteers in any case of emergency which might arise beyond our shores. The Imperialistic ideas of the Minister have not hitherto been applied to our military affairs. When there was a call for volunteers to go to South Africa the men of Australia readily responded, and they would respond again if necessity arose. I have no objection to rendering the best and most effective service for the defence of the Empire or for the maintenance of its supremacy, but I strongly object to the principle that men enrolled for the defence of this portion of the Empire shall be mere machines, and that they shall be compelled to go beyond the Commonwealth whenever required. The freedom of choice which has hitherto been exercised has not operated to our detriment, and I do not see why it should do so in the future.
– I should like to know from the Minister whether he promised the Imperial authorities that this provision should be engrafted upon our defence system ? If he did, and it is rejected, of course he will be placed in a very embarrassing position.’ I should also like to know whether the Empire will fall to pieces if the clause is defeated. Prom the way in which the right honorable gentleman champions any proposal to utilize our military forces for service beyond the limits of the Commonwealth, it would seem as if some attempt was made during his recent visit to England to induce Australia to subscribe to that principle. Who are the men that the Minister desires shall be eligible for service abroad ? They are the very men upon whose training the State annually expends thousands of pounds. In reading the speeches of Ministers during their recent visit to England, it occurred to me that when they spoke of the defence of the Empire, they spoke purely from the standpoint of what it represented to Great Britain. No suggestion was ever made as to any benefit which was to result to Australia. I am quite satisfied that if the Minister for Defence possessed the power, he would sacrifice Australia a dozen times over in order to preserve the Empire.
– What makes the honorable member say that?
– The speeches of the right honorable gentleman. Even the Prime Minister at a banquet on one occasion had to rise and declare that he did not take too kindly to the remarks of his colleague.
– That is not so.
– At any rate the statement was cabled out here.
– It was not a true statement.
– The Minister was misreported, I suppose. I never yet knew a Minister who was not misreported when he got into a dilemma. It appears to me that the Prime Minister had to put a very strong curb upon the right honorable gentleman when he was discussinglmperial matters.
– That is not so.
– In any case, I am opposed to giving the Governor-General power to send troops beyond the limits of the Commonwealth. I hold that the military forces of Australia should be organized purely for purposes of local defence, and the fact ought to be made pretty clear to the people of Great Britain that we are not prepared to subscribe to any scheme which will make Australia practically a recruiting ground for the British Army.
– My opposition to this clause is not prompted by the same motives as those which actuate the honorable member for Kennedy. I think that the desire of most honorable members is that the great bulk of our troops shall consist of citizen soldiers, and that our permanent forces shall form merely the nucleus of our defence organization.
– But why placard it in this way ?
– I quite recognise that even for local defence purposes it may be necessary to send our troops beyond the limits of the Commonwealth. But there is no need for us to allow it to be said that any of them went under compulsion. I am perfectly convinced that there is not a man amongst them who would not be willing to volunteer for service abroad should the necessity for so doing arise. That was clearly demonstrated in connexion with the South African war when the members of the permanent forces in Victoria volunteered in a body.
Clauses 43 and 44 agreed to.
Clause 45 -
Amendments (by Sir John Forrest) agreed to -
That the following heading be inserted before Sub-clause (I.) - ‘“Naval force to serve outside Commonwealth “ ; that the word “ citizen,” line 1 , be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “defence”; that the word “forces,” line 1, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “force,” and that the following heading be inserted before sub-clause (2) - “Military forces not liable to serve beyond the Commonwealth.”
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).Is it intended that a member of a rifle club who is included in the term “ military forces “ may be ordered against his will to proceed, for instance, to New Guinea ?- That Possession is not within the Commonwealth, but it is a Territory under the Commonwealth.
– Honorable members must trust the Executive in that case. They will not act unreasonably.
– I would much rather trust to an Act of Parliament. It seems to me that it will answer our purpose if we omit the words “ and those of any Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth.”
– What would the honorable and “learned member do in the case of New Guinea ?
– I should certainly trust to the operation of the volunteer system. The Minister’s purpose would be served by a provision that -
Members of the military forces shall not be required unless they voluntarily agree to do so to serve beyond the limits 6f the Commonwealth.
I know of several men who are anxious to join rifle clubs and to become proficient in the use of the rifle, but who do not wish to render themselves liable to serve in the malarial climate of New Guinea when called upon to do so. They have families dependent upon them.
– Would they be likely to be sent?
– They do not wish to take an oath that they will go if they are called upon to do so. They are perfectly willing to defend their country, but they have no desire to take an oath that they will run the risk of the malarial fever and ague of New Guinea, or of any other Possession which might be placed under the control of the Commonwealth; I am simply asking that there shall be no compulsion. It would be well if the members of the rifle clubs could feel that their services were confined to Australia, and that they were not bound to take an oath to serve . in any but a white man’s country.
– Would the volunteers go to New Guinea?
– I would not compel them to do so.
– It would be better not to have any forces.
– I have more faith in Australian sentiment than has a “ little Australian “ of the Minister’s type. The right honorable gentleman is afraid that Australians would not volunteer if they were required to do so. He is afraid that they are all such skunks that when there was need for them to serve their country they would shrink from doing so. I have more faith than he has in Australian sentiment, and I am not afraid that there will be any difficulty experienced when their services are required.
– They are at liberty to leave save in the time of war.
– That is the very time that some men might desire not to go to New Guinea. I propose to move the omission of the words at the end of the sub-clause.
Amendment (by Sir John Forrest) agreed to -
That the words “Citizen Forces,” line 7, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “Defence Force.”
Amendment (by Mr. Higgins) proposed -
That the words “and those of any Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth,” be omitted.
– I should like to ask the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne to reconsider his amendment. The object of our forces is the defence of Australia. We have specifically accepted from the British Government the care of British New Guinea, as being part of our special Australian duty, and it seems to me that in doing so we have accepted the whole responsibility of looking after it. If we are going to stop short of taking care of it with our Defence Forces, our action will be a very imperfect acceptance of the obligation.
– Is the honorable member afraid of the patriotism of the volunteers 1
– If the honorable and learned member carried out his volunteer principles it would mean that every man would have to volunteer before he could be called upon to serve in any part of Australia. From the stand-point of defence British New Guinea is apart of the Commonwealth. We have accepted the obligation, and if our troops are not to go to British New Guinea under the general terms of their oath they should not be required under the terms of that oath to leave their own State in the performance of their duty. I think that the two points stand on exactly the same footing. I supported the previous amendment because I considered that there was a fair line of demarcation. Here I think that the position taken up by the honorable and learned member is on the inner side of the line. AVe must protect British New Guinea and our Defence Forces are as much bound to go there if ordered to do so, as they are bound to defend any part of our shores. I cannot see any distinction between Thursday Island and Port Moresby in this respect. The man who takes the oath of service in Australia has to protect not only Australia, but places which are technically parts of the Commonwealth. If we made the Northern Territory a part of the Commonwealth should we not have to defend it as well as any other part that is known technically as a State 1 It is a mere difference in verbiage, and I trust that the honorable and learned member will not persevere with his amendment.
– I have very great pleasure in supporting the objection raised by the honorable and learned member for Corinella to the amendment now before the Chair. It seems to me that as we have taken over British New Guinea we must be prepared to accept our full responsibility. I am’ sorry that it became necessary for us to accept that responsibility, for I am satisfied that even this Parliament did not realize the duty that would rest upon us in dealing with the tribes which are to be found there. Having accepted that duty, and having determined that the laws which will be in force in the Possession under the authority of the Federal Parliament shall be maintained, it appears to me that we must have full power to enforce those laws. I hope it will never be necessary for us to give effect to the provision to which the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne objects, but it seems to me that we must have the power in order, if necessary, to defend the lives and property of those who may be induced, by reason of the facilities afforded by our laws, to take up property in New Guinea and- reside there.
– What we have we must hold.
– I do not say that we ought not to retain our hold upon British New Guinea. I agree that the British Government acted rightly in taking over that portion of New Guinea which was . available. At the same time, it would have been better if we had arranged with the Imperial authorities to provide the protection necessary for the Possession. It is too late for us now to deal with that matter. We have accepted the responsibility, and in the circumstances the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne must admit that the question is one that requires the very serious consideration of this Parliament.
– Is the honorable member friendly to the Bill ?
– I -adopt a friendly attitude towards the wise provisions in the Bill, but there are some clauses in it of which I do not approve. The provision before us relates to the protection of a number of citizens in a Territory which we have taken over. There are only 500 white settlers there to-day, but before we have an opportunity of amending, this BUI some rich discovery of gold may be made in the’ Possession, and thousands of the white population of Australia may be attracted to it. We know that there are warlike tribes in New Guinea, who would not hesitate to murder a large body of whites, and, that being so, would any one say that we should not have the right to send our volunteers to the Possession just as we sent them to South Africa?
– They volunteered to go to South Africa. Why not allow them to do so in this case 1
– - But British New Guinea has been taken over by the
Commonwealth, and, so far as the question of defence is concerned, it is just as much a part of Australia as is New South Wales, or Queensland. Our power to legislate with regard to the Possession, is greater than it is in relation to any of the States of the Commonwealth. The States Legislatures have the sole right to deal with many of the matters on which we can legislate for British New. Guinea, and, in view of that fact, I think it is necessary for us to preserve this right. I hope it will never be necessary to exercise it ; but if the necessity should arise, I am sure that every one would be glad, even without compulsion, to do his part in protecting the lives and the property of the.white people settled in the Territory.
– I am rather surprised at the views which have been expressed by. the honorable member for Macquarie. It is somewhat strange that he did not take this matter into consideration when the Naval Agreement Bill was before the House. I understood that the squadron would protect the coast of Australia.
– But we have to look after the interior of the Possession as well as the coast line.
– Neither the Germans nor the British have reached the imaginary line which separates their respective Territories. When the Naval Agreement Bill was before us, many honorable members were anxious to provide for an Australian Navy, which would have been able to attend to the defence of the Possession j but the honorable member for Macquarie voted against a proposal which was made in that direction, and supported an expenditure of £200,000 a year, which might otherwise have been devoted to this purpose.
– I should vote again for it to-morrow.
– If this provision be passed, and at some time or other it becomes necessary for us to send troops to New Guinea, how shall we transport them 1 Are we to supply them with topboots to wade across, or to send them over in small boats’! As a matter of fact, we have no vessels by which to transport them. The Minister for Defence told us that the few gunboats which we possess were fit only for the scrap heap, and surely we would not risk the lives of valuable men in such vessels. This question should have been taken into consideration when the Naval Agreement Bill was before us. It seems to methatthe Imperial Government has saddled us with a heavy responsibility in regard to the Possession.
– I think we have a lot for which to thank the British Government.
– If they had confirmed the annexation which took place at the instance of Sir Thomas Mcllwraith, the position would have been different, but since the Imperial Government have allowed two foreign powers to annex the greater part of the island, I think we have nothing to thank them for. In my opinion, the Committee should agree to the amendment. Men could be’ gotto volunteer to fightin South Africa, and surely if there was any fighting to be done in any Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth, volunteers to serve there would be readily obtainable. I recognise our responsibility in regard to New Guinea, but if men are needed there in the future, it will be easy to get volunteers for the service.
– I am a little concerned as to the logical effect of the principle underlying the amendment if it were applied to Western Australia. One reason given why only volunteers should be asked to serve in New Guinea is the danger of malarial fever there, but I do not think that that can be strongly relied upon, because soldiers can scarcely be expected to be exempt from serving in particular places because of the possibility of injury to their health, or of the unduly large number of bullets flying about there. But if there is any ground for the objection to the words in the clause on the score that troops sent to New Guinea would have to take a sea voyage, that objection applies equally to the sending of troops to Western Australia. Is that State to be left, if a descent is made upon our shores, to the defence of volunteers, or are regular troops to be sent there by camel corps?
– Troops going to Western Australia by sea would have to go outside the limits of the Commonwealth ?
– Yes, and would have to take a sea voyage which is probably more dangerous than the voyage to New Guinea. To my mind the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne would create a very awkward situation and, therefore, I shall oppose it.
– I hope that the Minister will resist the amendment. New Guinea is a Territory of the Commonwealth, and Australians will not allow an enemy to place his foot upon Papua. But we have no better evidence of the likelihood of such a thing than the action of the General, who is now on his way there to ascertain the strategetic importance of some islands adjacent to the mainland which, it is said, could advantageously be fortified. If they are fortified, the probabilities are that the Territory will be a source of strength in the defence of the northern parts of Australia. As we have taken over the Territory of Papua, we should realize our responsibility for its control, and not allow an enemy to land there. I am certain that it would be as great an insult to the Australian people for an enemy to attempt to take up a position in New Zealand as for him to land upon our own shores, and in the same way, I think, we should prevent any enemy from landing in Papua.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause- put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 46 agreed to.
Clause 47 (Protection of States from domestic violence).
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy).- I intend to vote against this clause, as it stands.
– Order of Business. .
Motion (by Mr. Dkakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - I should lite to know what business is to be taken tomorrow and on Friday 1
– The debate upon the second reading of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill will be continued to-morrow. The Defence Bill may bo proceeded with on Friday, but that will depend upon the number of speakers who are ready to continue the.debate upon the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. As we have made such good progress with the Defence Bill, it is desirable that we should conclude its considern- tion as soon as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 August 1903, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030805_reps_1_15/>.