House of Representatives
7 August 1903

1st Parliament · 2nd Session



Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

page 3264

PERSONAL EXPLANATION

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

– I find that a constant misrepresentation has been made, and is being re asserted each day, to the effect that I intend to appoint myself to bo Chief Justice of this Commonwealth. I wish to state in the most emphatic terms that the idea of doing so has not been present in my mind, and that nobody knows better than my honorable and learned friend, the Attorney-General, that it is not, and never has been, my intention to do so.

Mr Deakin:

– Hear, hear.

Mr Fisher:

– The right honorable gentleman is quite entitled to the position.

page 3264

PETITION

Mr. HARTNOLL presented a petition from certain electors of southern Tasmania, praying the House’ to prohibit the importation, sale, and manufacture of intoxicating liquors in British New Guinea.

Petition received.

page 3264

PAPERS

Sir WILLIAM LYNE laid on the table

Capital Sites Commission - Report on Dnlgety site.

New South Wales Electoral Divisions- Report of Commissioner, with maps.

page 3265

DEFENCE BILL

In Committee (Consideration resumed h-om 6th August, vide page 3235) :

Clause 58 -

The Governor-General may establish’and maintain Cadet Corps consisting of -

Boys over twelve years of age who are attending school ; or

Boys between fourteen and eighteen years of age who are not attending school.

Cadet Corps consisting of boys who are not attending school shall be called Senior Cadet Corps.

Cadet Corps may be furnished with such arms ammunition and accoutrements as are prescribed.

Cadets shall not be liable for active service.

All Cadet Corps in a Military District shall be under the orders of the District Commandant of that District.

Mr McCAY:
Corinella

– I desire to say in connexion with this clause that I trust that it will be one of the most actively administered in the whole measure. As I said last session, in the debate upon the second reading of the Defence Bill then introduced, it seems to me that in a properlyorganized system of cadet corps we have the solution of the difficulty which confronts those administering the Department of Defence, because such a system will provide for the proper preliminary discipline and training of Our youths, so that when they join the defence forces of the Commonwealth, the limited time at their disposal for military exercises may be devoted to thoroughly practical field work and instruction. Of course, to make our cadet system effective, the Commonwealth authorities will require the hearty cooperation of the authorities of the States. In addition to the advantages which may be secured in the way I have stated, there are the moral and physical benefits which will accrue to the rising generation. I believe that the Minister is in sympathy with theidea, and I look forward with great hope to the advantages which will be derived from its execution.

Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).I echo the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, but I desire also to suggest to the Minister an extension of the cadet system. Honorable members will notice that Part V. deals only with military cadets, and I wish to so amend this clause that it shall provide that the GovernorGeneral may establish and maintain naval as well as military cadet corps. There are in existence in Queensland at the present time several naval cadet corps, and the Naval Commandant, Captain Creswell, has very highly commended their work. In a recent report he states that he was originally opposed to the idea that naval cadet corps had any value, but that, after having seen their work, and having taken them to sea. in one of the gunboats, he has come to entertain a very high opinion of their possibilities. In Brisbane and various coastal towns in Queensland - and I suppose it is the same in all the coastal towns of the Commonwealth - boys at even an earlier age than twelve years go in greatly ‘for boating, which is one of their most popular pastimes. An inherent love for the sea exists in them, and it has been found that when they are organized into cadet corps they soon attain a high standard of efficiency. We recently passed a Bill the object of which is to encourage our people to take an interest in naval matters, and, that being so, we cannot commence too early to instil into the minds of the boys of the Commonwealth a liking for the work of naval defence. I do not wish to refer at length to the value of military and naval training for our young people, because the facts are sufficiently patent to all. To secure the object which I have in view, I intend to move the insertion, after the word “ maintain,” line 2, of the words “ military and naval.”

Mr KNOX:
Kooyong

– Ihave an earlier amendment. I move -

That the word “ may,” line 1, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ shall.”

The honorable and learned member for Corinella lias voiced my ideas in regard to cadet organization, and as he is able to speak from experience, I am glad to have my views supported by such an authority. I have no expectation that the Committee will make a mandatory instruction to the Government on this subject ; I have moved the amendment chiefly to secure for this very important clause the full consideration of honorable members, and I hope to get from the Minister the declaration that he intends to put the cadet system into the forefront of his defence scheme.

Sir John Forrest:

– There may not be enough money.

Mr KNOX:

– I quite understand that to make the system effective he must obtain from Parliament a much larger vote for the purpose than he has received up to the present time. In the Estimates now before us the quite inadequate sum of £5,220 is set down for the cadet corps of the various States, and I therefore intend to ask, when the proper opportunity occurs, that the amount be increased. The honorable and learned member for Corinella has indicated the advantages which are to be derived from giving as much encouragment as possible to the cadet system. On Wednesday evening the honorable and learned member for West Sydney very strongly urged that every citizen should be compulsorily instructed for a term of years in the art of warfare. I must confess that I had a great deal of sympathy with his proposition, because I believe that the imprimatur of citizenship should be a man’s ability to use his rifle in defence of his country when necessary. But the scheme proposed by my honorable and learned friend was, in my opinion, unnecessarily expensive and impractical. It is, however, possible to give practical effect to his views by the military instruction of the boys in our various State schools. I hold that not only will the giving of such instruction prove of great advantage to the Commonwealth, but that it will have a good effect upon the moral and physical condition of the boys themselves which will be of advantage to them all through their future lives. The Minister, of course, must have the co-operation of the States authorities, and’ so far as Victoria at leastis concerned, where the cadet movement was originated by the late Senator Sir Frederick Sargood, he will have the heartiest cooperation.

Sir John Forrest:

– There are about 6,000 cadets in Victoria, and they cost only £1,383 per annum.

Mr Salmon:

– But they are not armed.

Mr Austin Chapman:

– Those in command of the cadet forces are constantly applying in vain for rifles, ammunition, and other equipment.

Mr KNOX:

– I know that they do not now get the necessary encouragement, but I hold “that every boy who is physically capable should be required to attend military drill, and to learn how to handle a rifle. Of course, the younger boys cannot carry heavy rifles, but light and useful weapons could be placed in their’ hands. I feel the more that is done in this direction the more effect will be given to the underlying principle of the Bill, which is dependence for defence upon our citizen soldiery. Honorable members must be so well aware of the advantages of the cadet system as to make it quite unnecessary for me to labour the matter by quoting facts and figures. I will, however, point out that the General Officer Commanding has a very high opinion of the value of the cadet system for the future recruiting of our defence forces. Referring to the good effects of military discipline and training upon the rising generation, he recommends that the system which has proved so valuable in Victoria should be extended throughout the Commonwealth. I hope that the Minister will regard the amendment with favour.

Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I agree very much with what has been said by the honorable member, but I do not see that the amendment would carry us much further. I do not think that any good purpose would be served by the substitution of the word “ shall “ for “may,” because the Minister would not be compelled to do anything more than is being at present done. In all the States of the Commonwealth there are thousands of cadets, and in New South Wales we have a large number who are receiving excellent instruction. At the same time, I think that very much .more encouragement should be given to the system. If the honorable member formulates a definite scheme for the improvement of the present system, which can be carried out at reasonable cost, I shall give him my support. The proposed mandate would be complied with if one corps of cadets were maintained in each of the States, instead of the large number of corps we have at present.

Mr SALMON:
Laanecoorie

– I hope we shall not drift into a general discussion as to whether the adoption of the cadet system has been justified, or whether it shall be further extended. We are all agreed that experience has shown that there is no- better method of laying the foundation of an effective defence force than the training of school boys to the use of arms, and I think that if sub-clause (3) were made mandatory it would have more effect than the amendment proposed. The cadet system has flourished in spite of discouragement. It owes its success largely to the enthusiasm of the lads father than to any special assistance received . from the authorities.

InVictoria the cadetswere first placed under the Education Department, and they were then fairly well looked after. But when they were subjected to direct military control they were not supplied with the arms and ammunition necessary for their proper training. In addition to that, they have been to a large extent discouraged by the refusal of the Defence Department, under the present Minister, to supply them with railway passes to enable them to travel from one district to another to take part in rifle competitions.

Sir John Forrest:

– We now have to pay for them, whereas formerly they travelled free.

Mr SALMON:

– For some time prior to the transfer of the Defence Department to the Commonwealth the Department was debited with the cost of carrying members of the defence forces over the railways.

Sir John Forrest:

– They were entitled by law to travel free.

Mr SALMON:

– In Victoria the custom was to issue warrants, upon which tickets were obtainable, and anaccountfor these was rendered by the Railway Department to the Defence Department.

Sir John Forrest:

– Then what was the use of the law under which the members of the defence forces were entitled to travel free?

Mr SALMON:

– I am speaking of the practice which obtained. One of the most efficient cadet corps in Victoria belonged to the Echuca district, and the boys travelled to various parts of Victoria and carried off the chief prizes offered for efficiency in rifle shooting. Allsuch lads should be encouraged, because the experience gained in travelling about cultivates the quality of self-reliance, and fits them to take responsible positions in after life. Above all, they should be supplied with arms and ammunition. The parents already supply the uniforms, and it is of no use to ask them to provide rifles and ammunition also, because in many cases they are unable to afford it. Moreover, it is the duty of the State to give the lads an opportunity to obtain that instruction which will decrease the ultimate cost of military training. The very best men who were sent from Victoria to South Africa were those who had passed through the cadet corps. I hope that the Minister will be more sympathetic with the cadet corps, and that he will see that they are supplied with proper arms and a full supply of ammunition.

Mr KIRWAN:
Kalgoorlie

– I think that the idea of the honorable member for Kooyong has been rather misunderstood by the honorable member for Parramatta, and that it has not been generally grasped by the Committee. The amendment would not achieve the object which - the honorable member, has in view. It is intended to test the feeling of the Committee upon the question whether it should be made compulsory for all boys between the ages of twelve and eighteen to become members of cadet corps. I do not approve of that proposal for several reasons. In the first place, the Committee has already decided that compulsion should not be applied to youths between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, and I fail to see why we should approve of it in relation to younger boys. Another objection to the proposal seems to me to be fatal. If we apply compulsion to these youths we shall have to provide them with arms and uniforms.

Mr A McLEAN:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · PROT

– Is that the object of the amendment?

Mr KIRWAN:

– The honorable member for Kooyong stated that his object was to invite a general discussion on the question, and I understand that the purport of his proposal is as I have described. Whilst’ thoroughly sympathizing with the idea of extending the usefulness of cadet corps, I think that we should go too far if we compelled all boys to join them.

Mr MAUGER:
Melbourne Ports

– A large number of parents strongly object to many of the features of the present system. It would be far preferable if the boys were under the supervision of the Education Department, and direct association with military administration were avoided. There are many objections urged against permitting cadets to go into general military camps. The moral tone of the community was seriously lowered by the low “jingo” songs which were prevalent when the war spirit was rampant some little time ago.

Mr McCay:

– The honorable member might give us some examples.

Mr MAUGER:

– I refer to such songs as those in which references were made to “Boys of the Bull-dog Breed” and “A Little Bit off the Top.”

Mr Ronald:

– And “The Little Ones Lefc Behind.”

Mr MAUGER:

– Yes. It may be very amusing to honorable members to hear my complaint, but I seriously contend that such songs do not exercise an elevating influence upon our Australian youth. I know of a large number of lads who would have liked to join the cadet corps, but their parents were not in a position to buy uniforms for them. Does the honorable member for Kooyong propose that the whole of the boys should be supplied with uniforms, or that some should appear in uniforms and others in ordinary dress ; or does he propose to abolish uniforms altogether 1 I hope that this matter will not be rushed, and that the Minister will not be led to incur a large expenditure in carrying out what is at best a doubtful experiment.

Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).The honorable member for Laanecoorie has delivered a most interesting speech with reference to what has been accomplished by the cadet system in the past. I see an objection to the substitution of the word proposed by .the honorable member for Kooyong, even if it has not the effect which was pointed out by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. The clause in its present form merely means that boys may continue in cadet corps after they have quitted school and until they are competent to join the higher branches of the military forces. Of course they will be equipped, but, until we vote a sufficient sum of money to provide for a huge force, there is no danger whatever of the scheme involving too large an expenditure. In Melbourne, during the Ducal visit, a magnificent display was made by the cadets, although the annual expenditure upon them by this State represents only about £1,300. Similarly in Sydney the members of that force make a formidable muster. I think that the idea embodied in the clause is an excellent one. I trust that the honorable member for Kooyong will not press his amendment. If he does so, I shall be obliged to vote for the clause in its present form.

Mr FISHER:
Wide Bay

– I think that the Minister would expedite the course of business if at this stage he made a statement as to the Government policy in regard to this matter. It seems to me that the end whicli the honorable member for Kooyong has in view is a considerable extension of the cadet system, which is a very laudable object. But I would point out to him that one of the most effective ways of accomplishing his purpose would be to move, when the Estimates are under consideration, that 10 per cent, of the total expenditure upon military defence in time of peace shall be allocated to fostering that force. We should then be in a position to insure the proper training and equipment of its members. Hitherto, most of the cadet corps have been trained in the State-schools of the Commonwealth, and the teachers have acted as their instructors.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– In New South Wales the teachers take their own boys into camp.

Mr FISHER:

– I do not object to that. At the present time, however, the Commonwealth has absolutely no power over the teachers. If one or more of the States chose to say to the Minister - “ None of our teachers shall be allowed to train the cadets in military drill,” what would be his position ? That is why I am exceedingly anxious that the right honorable gentleman should make a statement of Ministerial policy upon the matter.

Sir JOHN FORREST:
Protectionist

– I am glad that this discussion has taken place, because it confirms the opinion which I have always held that one of the best things we can do for the youth of this country, is to drill them, so as to make them familiar wit military evolutions and the use of the rifle. Such a course of training also materially improves a- boy’s physique. It teaches him to walk erect, as if he was not ashamed to look his fellows in the face. I think that the cadet movement is capable of conferring an immense amount of good upon the youth of this country. The reason why the Government have done nothing in the direction of encouraging that movement is that we have lacked a uniform statute which would be applicable to the whole of Australia. I ha.ve, however, made some representations to the State authorities upon the matter, and have found them very willing indeed to assist us. If we can arrange for the State school teachers to become drill instructors to the cadets, the scheme will work very smoothly. I do not think that it will cost very much. It has not done so in Victoria. Last year the expenditure upon the cadet force in this State was only £1,300. I think that the drilling of the boys should be under the control of the Military Department, but there is no reason why the State school teachers should not receive an honorarium for performing the duties of drill instructors.

Mr McCay:

– The Government could make them their agents.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– That is what I should like to do, but in some schools the teachers might not be competent to undertake the work. I do not think that any one desires to see a compulsory cadet system introduced. I believe that nine- tenths of the boys will be only too glad to avail themselves of any opportunities for being drilled that may be presented to them. I repeat that in the past our chief difficulty has been the absence of a uniform statute throughout Australia. When that obstacle is overcome we shall be in a position to submit some scheme to every Education Department in the Commonwealth. Thus, we hope to bring about uniformity in the training of the cadets. Personally, I have always favoured the drilling of our youth. By undertaking the task we shall confer a great benefit upon the lads themselves, besides doing something of national advantage in the time of emergency. I shall be very glad to accede to the request of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs to make this part of the Bill applicable to naval as well as military cadets. I am also prepared to agree with the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Corinella to increase the age limit from eighteen to nineteen years. I am informed that in Victoria there are 4 19 senior cadets, and 3,950 junior cadets. The senior cadets have 450 Martini- Enfield rifles, and the juniors 376 Martini-Enfield, and 4,270 Francotte rifles.

Mr SPENCE:
Darling

– I intend to support the clause. At Cobar, in, my electorate, there is a public officer who is enthusiastic in his desire to instruct the youth of the country in the rudiments of military drill. In that town quite a number of lads, after they had left school, desired to continue under his tuition, but we could get absolutely no help from the Department. We applied for assistance, but were referred by the Military Department to the Education Department. I attempted to obtain a supply of dummy rifles to enable the youths to be drilled in the use of arms. In this effort, however, I was unsuccessful, although the whole enterprise was to be carried out by means of local funds, and without any cost to the State.

I am not making any complaint, because I am willing to recognise existing conditions, and the explanation which the Minister has just given to the Committee was furnished to me a day or two ago. These youths, who will now come under sub-clause (2), afford abundant material for strengthening the military forces of the future, and if, instead of adopting a policy of red tape, the Department gives them some freedom, the system will be of great benefit. The headmaster of a State school is not always ready to continue to drill boys after they have left school, but if he is a military man he has the work at heart, and is always prepared to do so. Therefore, I think that the Minister should provide some allowance for such men. There are other cases in which ladies have charge of country schools. They are excellent teachers, but, while some of them can drill their pupils, we could not expect them to take up this work. It often happens, however, that there are private citizens ready, from a pure love of the movement, to drill boys after they have left school, and I believe that this system can be materially extended. Every advantage is enjoyed by the boys in the large cities, but scarcely a.ny consideration is given either by the Education Department or the Defence Department to boys living in country towns. This kind of work is a source of pleasure in country districts, and I think that we ought to do something to extend the movement. When visiting Cobar recently with other honorable members, we were met at the station by these boys. They were headed by a band, and constituted practically a guard of honour. As a matter of fact, these corps receive no encouragement whatever from the Department. The supply of rifles is hot only very important, but involves considerable expenditure. We must remember that the boys who will come under sub-clause (2) are rapidly approaching manhood, and that many of them will subsequently join our rifle clubs. I therefore suggest that, instead of arming them with the ordinary small cadet rifles, we should supply them with the weapons which they will use when they become members of those clubs. They are quite old enough to take care of them. If we adopted this practice, we should obtain efficiency at a minimum of cost. We should also have an increased supply of arms, and a large body of trained riflemen available if Russia or some other power invaded our shores. In New South Wales the cadets start with the use of dummies, and as they grow older are supplied with rifles.

Sir John Forrest:

– The -11 9 senior cadets in Victoria have 450 rifles.

Mr SPENCE:

– They are well provided for. We should give the elder boys rifles which they would be able to use when they entered the rifle clubs, from which we shall hereafter draw much of our fighting strength. As an insurance against invasion, I think that this is a direction in which we might well spend some money. I feel inclined to agree to a vote for these two branches, because I think they offer all the advantages to which reference has been made. I trust that full attention will be given to the country districts, for the cities can well take care of themselves.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:
EdenMonaro

– I have known this question to be raised again and again during the consideration of the Defence Estimates in the New South Wales Legislature, and, although the Ministry have been entirely in sympathy with the proposal, the Estimates have been passed, without any understanding being arrived at, and nothing more has been done. Unless we obtain some more tangible result when the Defence Estimates are before us, we shall probably find ourselves next year in the position that we are in to-day. I know that the Minister for Defence is in sympathy with the cadet movement, and has every desire to fall in with the wishes which honorable members have expressed this morning. I find, however, that the sum set apart on the Estimates for cadets is only £4,743. That does not represent one per cent, of the proposed expenditure upon the military forces, and I contend that it is wholly, insufficient. If we are going to train our youths, and if, as the Minister says, they will learn as cadets the value of obedience and discipline, surely we should be prepared to do something more for this movement. If, in this way, we are to secure a reserve force which will be available in the hour of ‘ need, should we not consent to a further expenditure? Unless we propose to throw on the parents themselves the expense of training the cadets, it is absurd for us to expect to obtain efficiency as the result of such an insignificant outlay. We are familiar with the history of the cadet movement in New South Wales. The honorable member for Darling has already told the Committee of the progress which it has made in the country districts. At Milton, in my own constituency, a cadet corpshas been formed, and everything connected with its establishment and maintenance has been provided by the parents of the boys. A few days ago, however, when a request was made for the supply of ammunition for the use of the corps, the reply was received that the General did hot consider that the time was ripe for granting such an application.

Sir John Forrest:

– We have not the money yet.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:

– If MajorGeneral Hutton is in sympathy with the movement, instead of giving expression to the opinion I have mentioned, he should have said that provision would be made for the supply of ammunition as soon as the money was available. It seems to me that there is an inclination on the part of those in authority to endeavour in every way to ‘ scotch ‘: the citizen soldier movement. The first step towards the creation of a citizen soldiery is the training of our boys, and then our young men, in military tactics. Whilst I would go so far as to> make the system compulsory, I do not think it is necessary to do so. If some consideration is given to the existing cadet corps, and to proposals to establish new ones, we shall find all the boys ready and willing tojoin in the movement. But some provision must be made for the supply of rifles, uniform, and ammunition to them, and in my opinion the sum - proposed to be set apart for this purpose on the Estimates for the current year is wholly inadequate.

Sir John Forrest:

– We have over 4,000 cadets in Victoria, and the expense involved is only some £1,300 per annum, although the corps in this State are said to be the best.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:

– Does the right honorable gentleman think that £4,743 per annum will be sufficient to provide for the cadet movement throughout Australia %

Sir John Forrest:

– We shall not be able to do much more than initiate the scheme this year.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:

– That is not the question. No difficulty will be experienced in carrying out this scheme. Honorable members know that numerous applications for the establishment of cadet corps are before the Department, and although the military instinct is not unduly evident in my own constituency applications from all parts of it have been sent in. This is a very important question from the military stand-point, and it is for the Minister, who is in sympathy with the proposal, to inform us how we can best emphasize our opinion that the provision proposed to be made is wholly insufficient.

Mr Bamford:

– We can do. so on the Estimates.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:

– But we cannot increase the amount proposed to be voted.

Sir John Forrest:

– Honorable members may deal vigorously with the question when the Estimates are before us.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:

– That appears to have but little effect. Unless I obtain some satisfaction from the General Officer Commanding

Mr Salmon:

– Do not threaten.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:

– I am giving what is known in my country as “ beforehand notice.” Unless I obtain some satisfaction from the General in regard to the applications which have been sent in from various parts of my electorate, as well as in relation to many military, detachments in other parts of New South Wales, I shall adopt a different method to obtain satisfaction. I shall move to reduce his salary, and unless the General takes up an attitude different from that taken up at present by him, I believe that I shall obtain very good support for the proposal.

Mr Henry Willis:

– Is he not in sympathy with this movement ?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:

– Having regard to the staff expenses and the amount proposed to be set apart for this purpose, he does not appear to be. Recently the General Officer Commanding visited Bathurst in order to review some troops. The whole ceremony was not likely to occupy more than twenty minutes, but he found it necessary to have half-a-dozen staff officers in attendance, and to incur expense in other ways. Nevertheless we are told that that system cannot be cut down. Side by side with the large expenditure on the staff we find a proposal to expend £4,743 on the cadet corps of Australia. The whole thing is absurd, and I intend to deal trenchantly with the question when the Estimates are before us. I give the General notice in advance, so that hemay be prepared, through the Minister, to answer our complaints. There is too much glory and glitter about these men, and the sooner we clip the wings of those who think that the military system is to be run by a highly-paid staff, and that nothing whatever is to be done for the cadet and other forces in country districts, the better it will be. I am for a citizen soldiery, but we are not acting in a way that will encourage the movement. The honorable member for Port Melbourne may laugh, but in New South Wales this is regarded as a serious matter. Those at the head of defence matters seem to think that they can ride rough-shod over the people, but we will show them that they cannot.

Mr FOWLER:
Perth

– While I am unable to emulate the honorable member for Melbourne Ports in the giving of information to the Committee as to the lyrical tastes of the rising generation, I desire to point out that, in my opinion, it would be better if the junior members of our cadet forces were kept apart from the present military organization. There is in Great Britain a cadet system which I think we might advantageously follow in that respect. There they have what are called boys’ brigades, and the testimony is general that the operation of the system has been very beneficial, as regards both the physical and moral effect of the discipline to which the children are subjected.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Does the honorable member refer to the church school brigades ?

Mr FOWLER:

– The system originated largely under the wing of certain churches, but it has since been considerably extended. We canhardly over-estimate the value to boys, and even to girls, of a thoroughly effective system of discipline and physical instruction, and the work of giving such instruction is such as ought to be taken in hand by the Defence Department, even if the children are not directly members of our defence forces. I have been very pleased to see the way in which the cadet system has developed in Victoria, though it has certain defects which militate against its complete adoption. There is, for instance, the cost of the uniforms, which is a very serious thing to the parents of the poorer children. What I suggest is the adoption of a simple uniform, consisting, perhaps, of an easyfitting tunic, which could be drawn over the ordinary clothes, and secured at the waist by a belt, together with a cap. The present uniform tends to make the boys ridiculous. I have walked behind some of these small military men, equipped in absurd imitation of adult soldiers, and they have appeared to me almost grotesque.

Mr Ronald:

– Why not adopt the kilt ?

Mr FOWLER:

– We might do worse. My suggestion is the adoption of a cheap and distinctive uniform for the whole Commonwealth, which could be procured at the minimum of cost, and would give the children, when at drill, that appearance which is so desirable. I am thoroughly in accord with those who would like to see a substantial sum voted to make ihe cadet corps effective throughout Australia.

Mr CLARKE:
Cowper

– I think that sufficient indication has been given to the Minister by the various speakers who have preceded me of the desire of the Committee that the cadet system shall be encouraged. The policy of the Government, as it was briefly and tersely put by the Prime Minister in his Maitland manifesto, is defence by means of a citizen soldiery : and no better or more substantial foundation for the organization of such a defence force can be found than in the encouragement and fostering of military knowledge and skill amongst our juveniles. Boys at school are at an impressionable age and full of enthusiasm, and are therefore likely to remember as long as they live the instruction which is given to them in military matters. That being so, we should strenuously insist- upon encouragement being given to the cadet system, and not allow the Government to be led away, as I sometimes think they are, by the advice of their administrative officers. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro has pointed out that money is expended unnecessarily upon the head-quarters staff, and that, no doubt, is the case. It has been told me by men on whom I thoroughly rely, as persons who know what they speak about, that there is too much expenditure upon mere frill. Take, for instance, the case mentioned by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. In that instance the General Officer Commanding travelled from Melbourne to Bathurst to make an inspection of a few mounted men, which occupied perhaps half-un-hour, and he took his whole staff with him. We do not want to see our money expended in that way for show purposes. I think that the Minister should lay down a policy for his Department, and insist upon it being administered by the General Officer Commanding. I should like also to emphasize what has been said by the honorable member for Darling Downs as to the desirability of encouraging naval, as well as military, cadet corps. We have splendid advantages in Australia for the training of naval cadets, but - and I speak under correction - I believe that there are no -naval cadets in New South Wales, notwithstanding the abundance of material there. On the northern rivers we have what ure called water brigades - organizations whose object is to save life and property in time of flood. They are purely voluntary, and consist of young men and boys who act under the supervision and tuition of men of more experience. If the members of those bodies were given some naval training, and a periodical trip to sea on a man-of-war, they would be very useful in time of need for our naval defence. I hope that the Minister will give effect to the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Darling- Downs, and that the various expressions of opinion from the members of the Committee will cause the right honorable gentleman to initiate and actively prosecute a policy which will build up a truly citizen soldiery.

Mr A McLEAN:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · PROT

– I desire to support the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. In my opinion, there is too great a tendency on the part of our military authorities to spend money unnecessarily upon our land forces to the neglect of our naval defence, though most honorable members will ad-, mit that the latter is our first arm of defence. . There is no time when persons are more susceptible to training, and more benefited by athletic exercises and discipline, than when they are children ; and military instruction could be given to our school children, not only more effectively, but at a less cost, than later in their lives, and with no sacrifice of time on their part. At the same time, I would not make military training compulsory even for our boys. Our difficulty will be to supply sufficient arms and drill instructors for. those who will be anxious to join the cadet corps. In my opinion, the country is indebted to the late Sir Frederick Sargood for the work he did in initiating the cadet movement in Victoria, and great benefits have already accrued from it. For a long time our cadets were armed with dummy rifles, which were well enough for drill purposes, but, of course, gave no opportunities to the children to learn to shoot. The Government of which I was the head therefore placed the sura of £3,000 upon the Estimates for the purchase of effective rifles. It is not necessary that expensive and modern rifles should be given to the cadets, because children can learn to shoot straight with almost any kind of rifle.

Mr E SOLOMON:
FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · FT

– They should have, safe rifles.

Mr A McLEAN:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · PROT

– Yes ; but if they learn to shoot with one kind of rifle they will very soon be able to shoot effectively with any other kind. When I was a boy I learned to shoot with a muzzle-loading gun, but the first time that I used a MartiniHenri rifle I tied with the highest scorer in a match. I quite agree with the honorable member for Perth that it is absurd to waste any considerable amount upon clothing or trappings. We do not want to spend money on frippery, frill, and feathers. The cheapest possible uniform, or even a badge, would be quite sufficient to distinguish cadets from other boys. Whatever money is available should be devoted to drilling the boys, improving their marksmanship, and imparting instruction that would be useful in after life. I am very glad that the Minister is in sympathy with the cadet movement, and that he recognises the desirability of arranging with the States Governments to forward it in the schools, because there is no doubt that the schoolmasters are the best persons to have charge of the youngsters. They are more anxious with regard to their moral and social advancement, and take a keener interest in their welfare than do other instructors. I do not regard the amendment of the honorable member for Kooyong as necessary. We do not make it imperative upon the Government to have a Defence Force, and it is not desirable that we should use the word “ shall “ in this connexion when we do not employ it in regard to the Defence Forces generally. It has already been stated that the military authorities are not displaying towards the cadet movement that sympathy which it deserves. Some years ago I conducted an inquiry in Victoria with a view to effecting retrenchment, and I took evidence from all the military authorities, who, without exception, advised that the amount which we were spending upon the cadets and upon’ other branches of our citizen soldiery should be cut down, and that the votes for themaintenance of the permanent forces, and.the headquarters staff should remain untouched. There is no doubt that money devoted to the training of cadets and other branches of our citizen forces will produce much better results in proportion to the amount expended than will that applied to the maintenance of permanent forces and a. large central staff.

Mr E SOLOMON:
FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · FT

– I regard this as one of the most important clauses in the Bill. The children whom we train in the schools must, in after years, form the foundation of our Defence Forces, and we should, from the commencement, instil into them the necessity of acquainting themselves with the use of arms. I think that more opportunities should be afforded to the cadets for rifle practice, and that the Government should not hesitate to devote small sums to the purchase of prizes which would encourage the youngsters to become efficient marksmen. I do not know if there is any system by which youths of the age of sixteen or seventeen, who have passed through the cadet forces, can be encouraged to take part in rifle shooting competitions, but I suggest that the Minister should do everything he can to encourage such practice. I fully share the views expressed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs with regard to the maintenance of naval cadets, and I shall have much pleasure in supporting any proposal that he may make in that direction. I hope that the Minister will recognise that the vote placed upon the* Estimates for expenditure upon the cadets i» altogether inadequate, and that it will be largely increased. If the amount were doubled it would not be too much.

Mr WILKINSON:
Moreton

– I think that even as matters stand the cadet corps, constitute the tap-root of our defence system, and that we should secure much better results if we proceeded in the direction indicated by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. We may legislate ever so well, and all our efforts may be rendered abortive, if the administration continues to be as unsympathetic as it has proved during the last eighteen months towards the cadets and other branches of our citizen forces. I do not know the extent to which the cadet system has been developed in other States, but in Queensland we had a very well organized and disciplined, although numerically small, corps,, which, under the administration of the Defence Department since it was transferred to the Commonwealth, has been practically wiped out. The intention of Parliament as evidenced last session was mot that we should maintain a highly-paid standing army, but that we should have a well-equipped and well-disciplined citizen force, upon which we could rely at all times. It is well known that if children are drilled At school they are much more apt pupils in after life when they are called upon to undergo military instruction. We have made the mistake in the past in connexion with our defence system of allowing boys to drop out after reaching the age of fourteen. I am glad to notice that it is provided in the Bill that boys may remain members of the cadet corps until they are of an age which will enable them to become members of rifle clubs. This would be a great improvement if we could feel sure that the administration would be sympathetic. I desire to read an extract from the Brisbane Observer, which seems to me to describe the position of Queensland to a nicety with regard to rifle clubs and cadets. The writer says -

General Hutton touches on many important points in his annual report, portions of which we have already published, but none have a greater interest than that which deals with the cadet military system. The General regrets that no funds are available for such a system

Sir John Forrest:

– He says “for the development of the cadet system.” It will be better for the honorable member to read from the report itself.

Mr WILKINSON:

– I am reading the comments of the Observer upon it. The article continues - but he trusts that before long a movement so valuable to the future of the Australian nation may be seriously taken in hand. To our mind, no scheme which does not encourage the youth to interest himself practically in military tactics can claim to have much to commend it. If there is money to train men, there should not be much difficulty in providing enough to allow the rising generation to prepare to take the places of men when they become too old to bear arms, or for other reasons can no longer take an active part in military affairs. Is it not generally admitted that the best soldier is he who has been caught young, and has been subjected to a course of discipline, which makes him not only a better fighter but a better man ? It seems a lopsided system which will take the full-grown man and attempt to mould him, and refuse the youth whose very years and whose school life make him particularly susceptible to all the influences which are brought to bear upon any scheme of training. School discipline is a valuable aid to that of militarism. But once let a boy leave school and enter the work-a-any world, and he leaves his discipline on the shelf with his school books. The thing which has long been lamented in connexion with the old system has been the hiatus in a boy’s life which separated his State school cadet term from that in which he might join the Defence Force made it exceedingly difficult to recruit him ; and without, even the cadet system - poor as it is - we can see not only an almost impossible task before those who would make Australia self-defensive, but also the possibility of an alarming increase in the number of larrikins and thriftless boys. As General Hutton remarks, the inculcation among the members of the rising generation of the great principles of patriotism, self - sacrifice, and self - discipline is necessary as forming the basis of a national military training, and if these principles are not to be instilled until the youth of the country has reached man’s estate, it is leaving it too late to do much practical good. The idea of leaving the cadet system to the various States is so much nonsense. Either we are to have a national system of defence, or we are not. If we have, it is one that must be controlled by the Commonwealth. Indeed, one of the great arguments urged in favour of federation was that it would unify the continent for defensive purposes; and for the Commonwealth to say it cannot provide money to continue what is the very foundation of the principles of defence is to admit its inability to provide for the country’s protection. Not only should the cadet system be maintained, but it should be augmented, and in conjunction with it should be the equipment of training ships. Australia at least owes this to her 3’outh.

I join with other honorable members in the complaint that whilst we have been told that there is no money available for the encouragement of our cadet forces, there has never been any scarcity when funds have been required for the purpose Of maintaining the gilt and gingerbread display of the head-quarters staff. I “have not the slightest wish to cast any reflection upon the gallant officer who now commands our Defence Forces. We know his reputation, and recognise that he is fully entitled to all the honours bestowed upon him. But I think that as a’ cavalry officer he is out of place in his present position.

Sir John Forrest:

– He is not a cavalry officer.

Mr WILKINSON:

– He is endeavouring to form cavalry instead of mounted rifle corps. We do not require to be taught that the first essential in connexion with our defences is to instruct our men how to shoot. That is far more important than mounting the men on horseback, because the average Australian is a good horseman. He may not be able to perform the military manoeuvres which are executed by a cavalry regiment with the same brilliancy, but he can do practically all that is required of him in the field. Therefore I hold that the same necessity does not exist for training men to ride as for training them to become expert marksmen. The use of the rifle should be taught in the State schools throughout the Commonwealth. Some of our cadets are al read)’ armed with a very effective and useful weapon by means of which they can be taught to shoot quite as well as if they were armed with the most approved .and modern rifle. By training the boys in our public schools to handle a rifle they will be stimulated upon leaving those institutions to become members of rifle clubs. These men will give their service to the State, not for the sake of any monetary gain, because I bold that far more is spent by the members, of rifle clubs themselves than is contributed by the Government in the slight encouragement that is offered to them. Very frequently the professional soldier follows that avocation for the sake of earning a livelihood. But the citizen soldier gives of his time and his substance to the country. I am very sorry indeed that in the regulations which have been issued there appears to be a tendency to restrict in every possible way the privileges which have hitherto been enjoyed by the citizen portion of our defence forces. I do not think that our citizen soldiers are being treated at all generously, and I believe that the Minister should have a little more to say in the administration of his Department, instead of leaving so much to professional soldiers.

Mr HUGHES:
West Sydney

– I think that the Minister might very well accept the amendment.

Sir John Forrest:

No one has supported it. It was merely moved to afford an opportunity for discussion.

Mr HUGHES:

– Then the Minister should advance reasons why he is not prepared to accept the proposal of the honorable member for Kooyong.

Sir John Forrest:

– It is unusual to use mandatory language in connexion with a matter of this kind.

Mr HUGHES:

– I suppose the fact that it is unusual to do so, constitutes a sufficient reason why the light honorable gentleman should refuse 1o accept the proposal. Certainly if the move, of the amendment presses it to a division, I shall be . found supporting it.

Mr. KNOX (Kooyong).- With the permission of the Committee I desire to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments (by Mr. L. E. Groom) agreed to-

That the word “ military,” in the heading, be omitted, and that after the word “maintain,” line 2, the words “military and naval “be inserted.

Mr CROUCH:
Corio

– I have been asked by some cadet officers to draw attention to one or two trifling matters oi sentiment in connexion with this clause. It has been suggested that the word “ youths “ should be substituted for the word “ boys,” in paragraph (6) and sub-clause (2).

Sir John Forrest:

– I think they would prefer to be called boys instead of youths.

Mr CROUCH:

-I do not think so. I propose afterwards to move that senior cadet corps may consist of youths between fourteen and nineteen years of age instead of between fourteen and eighteen years, and I understand that the Minister is prepared! to accept that amendment. For my own part, I do not think he should refuse to> extend the age to 21 .years.

Mr McCay:

– That limit would be too» high.

Mr CROUCH:

– I do not think so. Youths over eighteen years of age are required for the purpose of stiffening a corps, and unless we have some youths over that age it is impossible to keep the noncommissioned officers in them. I understand that the Minister contends that we should not increase the maximum age to 21 because it is open for a youth of eighteen to» join the volunteer or militia forces. In my opinion, he would make a great mistake if he departed from the recognised practice.

Mr Fowler:

– Is it not proposed that these cadet corps shall feed the other forces 1

Mr CROUCH:

– As soon as a lad attains the age of eighteen years he may join theordinary militia if he desires to do so. Thehonorable member for Perth is not aware of the fact that under the regulations no one who is under 5ft. 6in. in height can join the militia. A youth who could not comply with that regulation might still desire’ to retain; some connexion with the military forces, and’ if my suggestion were adopted he would bes able to remain in the cadet corps until he was 21 years of age.

Mr McCay:

– The honorable and learned member is considering the youth and not the country.

Mr CROUCH:

– I am considering an organization which has done splendid, work in the past. I know that there are some senior cadets who object to be paid for rendering a public service, and they will not join the militia, although they are content to remain in the cadet corps, if a youth of eighteen desires to remain in a cadet corps for another two years, and thus help to strengthen its backbone, I fail to see why he should not be allowed to do so. I move -

That the word “Bo3’s” line 5, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Youths.”

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment (by Mr. Crouch) proposed -

That the word “eighteen” line 5, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ nineteen.1’

Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - I should like the Minister to agree to the age being raised to nineteen. I understand that the system of military cadets desired to be establishedis designed to give our youths the necessary training in what I might call barrack-square work as well as some elementary practice in rifle shooting.

Sir John Forrest:

– I am agreeable to raise the limit to nineteen.

Mr Crouch:

– Has the honorable and learned member had any experience of senior cadets 1

Mr McCAY:

– When I was a schoolmaster I had a corps of junior cadets under my control.

Mr Crouch:

– They are different altogether.

Mr McCAY:

– I know as much about the senior cadets as does the honorable and learned member, and I am able to state that the senior cadet authorities in Melbourne will be quite satisfied if the age be raised from eighteen to nineteen. I have an assurance to that effect from those immediately concerned with senior cadets whom I have consulted. They .would prefer the limit to be raised to twenty years, so that they might retain the services of the young men for a little while longer. But they agree that if we raise the age to nineteen we shall give them a margin that will enable them to carry on in a satisfactory way. If all youths had to leave the cadet corps on reaching the age of eighteen years it would be necessary if they were not to be lost to the military service for a militia officer to be ready to snap them up on the day that they went ‘ out of the corps. On the other hand, if we allow one year’s margin the officers will have a chance of securing these youths for the militia. I know from experience that the reason why the cadets, as a whole, have not served to feed the volunteer and militia forces is because there is a gap between the time at which they leave the junior cadet corps and the age at which they are available for service in the other military forces. They leave school when ‘ they are fourteen or fifteen years of age, and save when they are members of senior cadet corps, two or three years elapse before they are eligible for -service in the military forces. During this interim they lose their , affection for military work. I therefore think that it is necessary to allow a small margin, which would enable some of the older boys to act as noncommissioned officers in the cadet corps. In that way they would obtain most valuable training, which would be of great service to them when they joined the military forces. If we raised the maximum age to 21 years they would finish their military career when they left the senior cadet corps, and would join no other force. We have to be careful not to raise the limit to too great an extent, just as we must see that we do not make it too low.

Mr Crouch:

– If the honorable and learned member says that he is acting with the authority of the senior cadet officers in Melbourne, I must be content to see the limit fixed at nineteen years.

Mr McCAY:

– I am not acting on their authority, but T have put before the Committee the information that I have gained from those immediately concerned.

Mr WILKS:
Dalley

– I regret that the Minister for Defence has agreed to accept this amendment. My experience is that the average boy, on leaving school, is apprenticed to a trade in which he associates with adults, and that it is against human nature to expect him on reaching the age of eighteen or nineteen years to join a cadet corps in which boys are serving. I am speaking from experience, because I know that in New South Wales thousands of young mechanics who are associated with men in their daily avocations, are willing to join naval brigades and militia and volunteer corps ; bub while they work beside men all the’ week they are not prepared to join cadet corps if it means association with boys.

Mr McCay:

– This amendment will not prevent them from joining the military forces when they reach the age of eighteen years.

Mr WILKS:

– Then I think that senior cadets corps will be a dead letter. These youths will join the volunteers and militia. In my opinion, a youth should not be allowed to remain in the cadets after reaching the age of eighteen years.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment (by Mr.Crouch) agreed to -

That the word “ boys,” line 8, be omitted with a view to insert in lien thereof the word “youths.”

Amendment (bySir JohnForrest) agreed to-

That after the word “ All,” line 15, the word “ military “ be inserted.

Mr SKENE:
Grampians

– I have listened with pleasure to the remarks made by the honorable and learned member for Corinella and others with regard to our cadet corps, and I consider that as we believe the training of our youths in these corps will be of great advantage to the community, and will fit them later on for service in time of war, some little consideration should be shown to them. In clause 11 provision is made for preference to be given, in the first appointment of officers, to persons who have served in the ranks. I fail to see why some preference should not also be given to the senior cadets who have served for several years, and who would probably be equally eligible for appointment as commissioned officers. They would be required to pass the prescribed examination just as any other member of the military forces will be called upon to do, and I fail to understand why they should not have the same consideration extended to them. Many lads are trained during their school days - often at some little expense to their parents - and I think it would be regrettable if we created a gap between the cadet corps and the militia which could not be bridged. The country lads have no opportunity of joining . the senior cadet corps after they have left school, and the only way to make provision for them is to give them a reasonable opportunity to put in an application for a commission in the militia within a reasonable time after they leave school. When Major-General Tulloch was in command of the Victorian Defence Forces, he arranged for examinations to be held by the Imperial officers in some of the larger public schools. I cannot say whether the system extended to the State schools, but the boys in the other establishments were notified that they might present themselves for examination, and that those who passed, no matter what their position might be in the school corps, would be able subsequently to enter the Defence Forces as officers on probation, without being required to serve as privates in the ranks. When Sir Charles Holled-Smith took charge of the defence forces of Victoria, he refused to recognise that practice, and it was abolished. The honorable and learned member for Corinella, without pledging himself to support it, has kindly drafted an amendment for me, which, I think, might be added as a new sub-clause. The new sub-clause I should like to add is this : -

Service in a cadet corps shall be deemed to be service within the meaning of section 11 of this Act, provided that the person so serving shall have attained the rank of acting lieutenant, or higher rank, in his service in a cadet corps, and has not ceased to serve in a cadet corps for more than three years prior to the date of his application to be an officer in the Defence Force.

Sir John Forrest:

– Does the honorable member mean to apply that provision to junior cadets as well as to senior cadets?

Mr SKENE:

– Yes; so long as they have reached the rank of acting lieutenant.

Sir John Forrest:

– A commission could not be given to a boy of fifteen.

Mr SKENE:

– A boy who had left school at fifteen could apply when he waseighteen. Mr. McCay. - If the honorable member . confines his amendment to senior cadets it will have a better chance of passing.

Mr SKENE:

– I do not want to- prevent the lads in the country from having an opportunity to gain promotion.

Mr McCay:

– If the cadet system develops, as I hope it will, we shall have senior cadet corps in the country as well as in the city.

Mr SKENE:

– Of course, if I cannot carry the whole proposal, I must take less. As I have already mentioned, Major-General Tulloch when in command in Victoria had the boys in the Public school cadets examined by Imperial officers. Although some of the lieutenants failed to pass the examination, many corporals and sergeants were able to do so, and their names are now on the records of the Defence Department. I will, however, adopt the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and I therefore move -

Thatthe following words be added : - “ (6) Service in a senior cadet corps shall be deemed to be service within the meaning of section 11 of this Act.”

Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- I ask the honorable member to withdraw his amendment, and to give notice of his proposal as a new clause to follow clause 58. I have for many years been trying to obtain for the men in the permanent forces better opportunities for rising in rank, and I am afraid that what the honorable member proposes’ may stand in the way of that.

Mr Skene:

– The cadets will have to take their chance with other applicants for commissions.

Mr CROUCH:

– In any case I think we should be given time to study the proposal. It is impossible to understand the effect of such amendments when no notice is given of them.

Sir John Forrest:

– I do not think any harm will be done by accepting the amendment.

Mr CROUCH:

– Will the Minister promise to re-commit the clause if exception is taken to the amendment later on?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I cannot promise to re-commit the clause, but I would point out to the honorable and learned member for Corio that all that the amendment does is to add to the definition of Defence Force in clause 11. If it is agreed to, preference must be given in the first appointment of officers, in the case of equality of qualifications, to persons who have servea in the Defence Force for three years without a commission, including persons who have served in a cadet corps. I do not see why a young man of nineteen, if he can pass the necessary examination, should not have an opportunity to obtain a commission.

Mr BAMFORD:
Herbert

– It seems to me that the amendment will open the door for favoritism. We have already had many instances in which young men who have had influence behind them have been prorooted over the heads of men of . much longer service. I agree with the honorable and learned member for Corio, that the proposal of the honorable member should be postponed.

Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - I think that, the amendment might very well be ac-. cepted. As the Minister has pointed out, all it means is that in the first appointment of officers preference shall be given, in thecase of equality of qualifications, to persons who have served for three years without a. commission in the Defence Force, includingthe senior cadets. It provides a connecting, link between the senior cadets and the citizen defence force which should be very serviceable.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 59 -

The Governor-General may -

  1. Acquire or build and arm and maintain ships, vessels, and boats ;
  2. Construct and maintain forts and defenceworks ;
  3. Lay down mines ;
  4. Acquire, construct, and maintain artillery and rifle ranges ; and
  5. Do all matters and things deemed by him to be necessary or desirable for the efficient defence and protection of the Commonwealth or of any State.
Mr KIRWAN:
Kalgoorlie

– This clause gives to the Governor-General certain specified powers, and, in my opinion, there should be added to them the power toestablish and control a small arms and ammunition factory. I think that the majority of honorable members are in favour of the establishment of such a factory.

Mr McCay:

– Does not paragraph (e) confer the necessary power?

Mr KIRWAN:

– If so, paragraph (e) also confers the power to acquire, construct, and maintain ships, and the other powerswhich are specified in the foregoing paragraphs. I think that as those powers are specified, we should also specify the power to establish and control a small arms and ammunition factory. The time may arisewhen it will be essential to have such a factory. We are so far removed from othercountries from which supplies may be obtained, that it will be necessary for us in time of war to depend upon ourselves.

Sir John Forrest:

– I have no objection to an amendment such as the honorablemember suggests.

Mr HIGGINS:
Northern Melbourne

– I have been requested by the honorable member for New England to call the attention of the Committee to the first paragraph in the clause. He thinks that it is too much to give the Governor-General power to acquire, arm, and maintain ships, vessels, and boats. Of course, there would have to be an appropriation of money for the purpose, and the necessity for having to get that money voted by Parliament would be a substantial check upon the Ministry; but the honorable member thinks that the power should be limited in some way. I would also draw attention to the provisions of paragraph (e), which, in my opinion, is unnecessarily wide. The words of the paragraph place a tremendous power in the hands of the Ministry.

Sir John Forrest:

– What limit is there to the power of the Government in any case? It could exercise the powers conferred by those words, even if no such provision were contained in the Bill.

Mr HIGGINS:

– That is an idle retort. No doubt a Ministry can do illegal things, and ask Parliament to indemnify them ; but it is one thing to act as the law authorizes, and another to act illegally. I think that the provision is too extreme.

Sir John Forrest:

– Surely the provision of paragraph (e) is limited by the wording of the preceding paragraphs ?

Mr HIGGINS:

– I do not think so, though this is not the place for a legal argument on the subject. The GovernorGeneral is empowered to acquire or build, and arm and maintain ships, vessels, and boats, construct and maintain forts and defence works, lay down mines, acquire, construct, and maintain artillery and rifle ranges, and, beyond and above all this, he is to be authorized to do all matters and things deemed by him to be necessary. That seems to me to give too wide a power. In this case, the “Governor-General” means the “Minister,” and he has full power to do everything that he may deem to be necessary without any reference to Parliament. If a Minister is worth anything at all, and a great emergency arises, he will act without the law, and afterwards look to Parliament for an indemnity. At the same time, there is a great check upon the whims of Ministers when they know that they have to apply to Parliament to sanction their acts.

Sir John Forrest:

– Nothing could be done unless the Minister had money at his command. Parliament would require to vote the necessary money to carry out any of the works, or to effect any of the objects mentioned in the clause.

Mr HIGGINS:

– That does not affect my argument. I think we should omit paragraph (e) because there is no occasion for it.

Sir JOHN FORREST:
Protectionist

– If the honorable and learned member will look at the Acts of other countries he will find that this provision is contained in nearly every one of them. The powers taken in the clause are intended only to authorize the Government to do whatever may be necessary for the purposes of defence when Parliament has voted the necessary money. Ships could not be acquired or built, armed, and maintained, nor could forts be constructed or mines laid down, unless money were available for the purpose. Paragraph (e) refers to all matters and things connected with the efficient defence and protection of the Commonwealth, and could not relate to any other matters. The power proposed to be taken is necessary, and could be exercised only subject to the approval of Parliament.

Amendment (by Mr. Kirwan) agreed to-

That the following words be inserted : -

” Establish and maintain arms and ammunition factories.”

Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).In view of the opinion of the Committee that some large powers of this kind should be given, I do not propose to amend paragraph (a), but I think that paragraph (e) ‘ should be limited in its application to “ All similar matters and things not inconsistent with this Act.”

Sir John Forrest:

– I could not agree to the word “ similar.” This provision is found in nearly all Acts of a similar character.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Can the Minister assure the Committee that any country has such a provision in its Act? ‘

Sir John Forrest:

– Yes, it is as common as possible, and I could point to several instances if I had the time.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I understood the. Minister to say that every defence Act contains a power similar to the extraordinary power which is embodied in clause 59.

Sir John Forrest:

– I did not say so. I said that in plenty of Acts general powers are given.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I do not deny that statement. At all events there is no marginal note referring honorable members to the statutes from which these drastic provisions have been taken. I quite admit that huge powers are given to the GovernorGeneral for specific purposes. But in the present instance we are dealing with our defences, and are expressly providing what may and may not be done. This clause declares that the Governor-General may “do all matters and things deemed by him to be necessary “ for the purposes of defence. What is the use of the Committee enacting certain provisions if such a plenary power, is to be given to the GovernorGeneral? Of course the answer to my question is that the Governor - General would have to obtain from Parliament the necessary money with which to do anything, and that fact would restrain his hand.

Mr Wilks:

– It would be a feather in his cap if he could get along without the money.

Mr HIGGINS:

– But our experience is that after money has been expended, Parliament is invariably asked to vote it. In such circumstances the most that we can do is to dismiss the Ministry from office.

Sir John Forrest:

– The power conferred by the clause is not so great as that of declaring war.

Mr HIGGINS:

– The Governor-General cannot declare war.

Sir John Forrest:

– But the King can.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Of course that is a matter which is involved in the very life of a nation. But even in England, where there is a full national existence, Parliament is very careful only to revive the Army Act from year to year, and to prohibit the creation of a standing army except for a limited term. Of course, we have not full national powers, and we do not desire them. Here, however, it is proposed to give army powers without imposing any limit of time, to a subordinate authority, namely, the Federal Government. I move -

That the words “ Subject to the provisions of this Act “ be inserted at the beginning of paragraph (e).

Sir John Forrest:

– I am quite willing to accept the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 60 agreed to.

Clause 61 -

The principal railway official in any State or the owner, controller, or manager of any railway or tramway in any State shall, when required by the Governor-General, convey and carry members of the Defence Force, together with their horses, guns, ammunition, forage, baggage, and stores, from any place to any place on the railway or tramway, and shall provide all engines, carriages, trucks, and rolling-stock necessary for the purpose.

Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).Do I understand that it is the intention of the Minister to compel the States railways to carry troops without cost in time of peace ?

Sir John Forrest:

– Certainly not.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Then I think that fact should be made clear in this clause.

Sir John Forrest:

– It is intended to apply only to time of war. .

Mr HIGGINS:
NORTHERN MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · PROT

– It does not say so.

Sir John Forrest:

– The States are not expected to carry troops for nothing in time of peace. But in time of war that might be necessary.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Some provision should be inserted in the Bill to compel the States railways, subject to reasonable compensation, to carry our troops even in time of peace. I therefore move -

That after the words “Governor-General,’ line 4, the words “and as prescribed” be inserted.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 62 and 63 agreed to.

Clause 64 -

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

Amendment (by Mr. Higgins) agreed to -

That after the word “ may,” line 1, the words “in time of war “ be inserted.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 65 agreed to.

Clause 66 -

No toll or due, whether demandable by virtue, of any Act or State Act or otherwise, at any wharf, landing place, bridge, ferry, gate, or bar on a public road shall be demanded or taken in. respect of -

Any member of the Defence Force on marchor duty or any prisoner under his charge ;

Any horse ridden or used by any member of the Defence Force on march or duty or by any prisoner under his charge ;

Any vehicle employed only in converting members of the Defence Force on inarch or duty or any prisoner under their charge or conveying military or naval arms stores or baggage ; or

Any animal drawing any such vehicle.

Mr BAMFORD:
Herbert

– I specially object to this provision being made applicable to ferries. In Queensland there are quite a number of private ferries, and it would be grossly unjust to compel their owners to carry our troops from place to place for nothing.

Sir John Forrest:

– The clause does not mean that our troops shall use ferries for nothing.

Mr BAMFORD:

– I do not think that, at the instance of any commanding officer, a private ferryman should be obliged to carry troops without payment. I therefore move -

That after the word “taken,” line 4, the words “in time of war” be inserted.

Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).This clause means that no toll or dues shall be demanded or taken at any time for the service which is here provided for. Seeing that we pay the railways for the transport of troops I think that we ought also to pay the ferries.

Sir John Forrest:

– How would it do to insert the word “ public “ before the word “ ferry “ ?

Mr BAMFORD:
HERBERT, QUEENSLAND · ALP; NAT from 1917

– It might be a public ferry leased to a private citizen.

Amendment negatived.

Sir JOHN FORREST:
Protectionist

– I am willing to strike out the word “ferry.” I move -

That the word. “ ferry,” line 3, be omitted.

Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).This clause controls only State railways. I desire to point out to the Minister that there are some private railways in the Commonwealth, and that the construction of others is contemplated. Does the Minister propose to subject both private and Stateowned railways to the provisions of this Act? We have private railways in Queensland, authorized and under construction, and some of them are over 100 miles in length.

Mr Tudor:

– There are also a number in Tasmania.

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

– I think they should be subject to this provision, and I mention this matter in order that the Minister may, if necessary, recommit the clause.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I will make a note of the point.

Amendment a.greed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause67 -

The officer in charge of any artillery or rifle range may stop all traffic, during artillery or rifle practice, on any road or waterway crossing the line of lire, or in dangerous proximity thereto.

Mr BAMFORD:
Herbert

– I think this clause should be omitted.

Sir John Forrest:

– It is necessary for the safety of the public.

Mr BAMFORD:

– Apparently such a power is not provided for in any of the State Acts. At all events, there is no reference to them in the marginal notes.

Mr Crouch:

– It existed in the Victorian Act.

Mr BAMFORD:

– I have been in communication with the Defence Department, and it seems to me that they treat the public in a rather high-handed way in regard to this matter. This remark applies especially to subordinate officers. In one part of Queensland, to my own knowledge, the officers are continually endangering the lives of the public, by allowing their men to fire across roadways. Notwithstanding the remonstrances of those who use those thoroughfares, no action has been taken by the Department to prevent the practice, and if this clause is passed, they will have . a still greater opportunity to infringe the rights of the public. In any event, notice should be given in the newspapers as to the time at which firing operations are to take place, and provision might be made for that by regulation. I shall vote against the clause.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 68 agreed to.

Clause 69 -

  1. Any officer who -

    1. knowingly claims pay on account of any drill performed with his corps for any man belonging to any other corps : or knowingly claims pay for officers or men not present ; or
  2. Any soldier or sailor who -

    1. knowingly claims or receives pay on account of any drill performed in the ranks of any corps, other than his own proper corps . . . shall be guilty of an indictable offence . . .

Mr. McCAY (Corinella).- The honorable and learned member for Corio has just drawn my attention to a matter which I think requires the consideration of the Committee. I wish to point out that in Victoria, at all events, there is a very valuable practice under which men belonging to a corps, for example, in Melbourne, who go, say, to Bendigo for a few months in the pursuance of their ordinary civil avocations, are allowed to be attached to a corps in that city. After the expiration of a few months, perhaps these men return to their own homes and rejoin their corps. The officer commanding the corps to which’ they have been attached then certifies to the officer commanding the corps to which they belong that they have attended certain drills, and that officer may then claim for the men the pay due to them in respect of those particular parades. This practice enables a man to attend to his duties as a soldier during his temporary absencefrom home, and it is a perfectly safe one. As the clause stands it would be stopped, and I therefore move -

That after the word “ knowingly,” line 2, the words “and except as prescribed” be inserted.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment (by Mr. McCay) agreed to -

That after the word “ knowingly,” line 8, the words “ except as prescribed “ be inserted.

Mr FOWLER:
Perth

– I move-

That the following new sub-clause be inserted : - “(5a) Any contractor purveyor or other person and any employee of any such contractor purveyor or other person who fraudulently knowingly or negligently supplies to the Commonwealth or any officer of the Commonwealth for use by the Defence Force or any part thereof any article of food which is inferior in quality or quantity to that specified in the contract agreement or order under which it is supplied, or any material or equipment which is inferior to that specified in the contract agreement or order under which it is supplied, and any officer of the Commonwealth who fraudulently knowingly or negligently or contrary to his duty receives for use by the Defence Force or any part thereof any article of food or any material or equipment supplied in contravention of this section shall be guilty of an indictable offence and shall be liable to imprisonment with or without hard labour for any period not exceeding three years. “

Sir John Forrest:

– I think it would be better to propose this amendment as a separate clause.

Mr FOWLER:

– I should like to see the amendment included in the list of indictable offences, and for that reason I consider it should be part of this clause. I have no desire to labour the matter, because I believe that although the proposal is an innovation so far as a measure of this kind is concerned, it is one which will be recognised as being highly necessary. Whenever there is a war, or an alarm of war, we invariably meet with instances of a grossly scandalous kind in which the community is defrauded in respect of the value given in goods or equipment supplied to the Defence Forces, and by which the efficiency of those forces is very seriously interfered with.

During the war in South Africa numerous cases of that kind occurred, and, in some instances, within the Commonwealth. We have heard a great deal of the paper helmets that were supplied to our troops, and which melted away under the first shower of rain to which they were exposed. We have also heard of the case in which soldiers were supplied with tins of jam that were considerably underweight.

Mr Tudor:

– And of very bad quality.

Mr FOWLER:

– Yes. There was likewise a gross scandal in connexion with the horsing of many of the mounted detachments. During the Spanish-American war similar scandals occurred; and, in fact, there has been no war in modern times which has not very pointedly illustrated the necessity for such a provision as this. It may be said that the penalties proposed in my amendment are too stringent; but in matters of this kind I think the maximum penalty should be a heavy one. There have been instances of scandals perpetrated by contractors with the connivance of officers that deserved severer punishment than I propose under this clause.

Mr McCay:

– I should, at all events, sentence a man to three years’ imprisonment who supplied troops with tin bayonets.

Sir John Forrest:

– Is it proposed that this provision shall apply only in time of war?

Mr FOWLER:

– I have considered the point whether it should be restricted in that way, but it seems to me that we should not effectively secure our object if we caused it to apply only under such conditions.

Sir John Forrest:

– I think it is too stringent.

Mr FOWLER:

– A contractor in time of peace might supply munitions of war, equipment, or material, which were of such an inferior nature that they would seriously interfere with the efficiency of our troops ; but their defectiveness might not be discovered until the time of war actually occurred. If we limited the provision as suggested the contractor who provided such faulty equipment, and the officer who connived at its supply would thus escape punishment. Therefore, this provision is equally necessary in time of war and time of peace.

Sir John Forrest:

– Would the honorable member send a man to prison’ for supplying a piece of bad meat to the forces?

Mr McCay:

– I think the amendment should be amended by providing thatany man who “fraudulently and knowingly” supplies such things shall be guilty of an indictable offence.

Mr FOWLER:

– With all respect to the honorable and learned member, I hold that we should also make negligence punishable. Many men would otherwise escape punishment because they would plead that the supply of inferior provisions or equipment was simply an act of negligence. It is always said that such cases are due to an oversight, but it is strange that these acts of negligence invariably favour the individual interested.

Sir John Forrest:

– Why should an army contractor, in time of peace, be treated differently from an ordinary contractor 1 Why should army contractors be treated differently from men supplying food or clothing to prisons, hospitals, or other Government institutions’!

Mr FOWLER:

– We cannot afford to be indulgent in matters connected with the defence of the country. We know that scandalous things are constantly being perpetrated, and, as the forces are so liable to be imposed upon - although’ it is necessary that their equipment should be of the best quality - we must do everything to safeguard them from imposition. I think that officers who, through negligence, allow inferior food or material to be supplied should be punished.

Mr McCay:

– It is “contrary to the duty “ of an officer to accept inferior supplies under any conceivable circuinstances, but the circumstances might not justify the punishment for which the honorable member provides.

Mr FOWLER:

– Insignificant departures from a contract would not be punished, because, even in civil contracts, a certain degree of latitude is allowed; but, if the supervision is to be effective, officers, as well as contractors, must be punishable. I acknowledge the assistance of the AttorneyGeneral in the drafting of the provision, but I am quite open to accept suggestions for its improvement. I do not suppose that the officer who allowed light-weight tins of jam to be supplied to the troops in South Africa committed a criminal act, but he was guilty of a serious dereliction of duty in not ascertaining that the proper quantity was being supplied, and such breaches of duty should be punishable just as positive offences are punishable.

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

– But the penalty should be lighter. Under the honorable member’s amendment an officer who negligently received inferior bread would be liable to imprisonment for three years, and would be guilty of an indictable offence, which, of course, could not be summarily punished.

Mr FOWLER:

– The maximum penalty would be inflicted only when the negligence had been very gross.

Mr McCay:

– Should a contractor or officer be punishable by imprisonment merely for negligence in regard to the supply of bread t

Mr FOWLER:

– The punishment awarded would, I suppose, depend upon the view taken by the court. ‘ If the offence were a technical one, the offender might perhaps be imprisoned until the rising of the court.

Mr McCay:

– An officer in such a case would be cashiered.

Mr FOWLER:

– An officer who neglected his duty so far as to receive inferior food would deserve to be cashiered. The offence is, unfortunately, only too common. Almost every old soldier of the -Imperial army will tell you that at one time the food supplied was, neither in quality nor quantity, anything like what was contracted for.

Mr McCay:

– The objection I take to the provision is that it applies the same penalty to both trifling and serious offences.

Mr FOWLER:

– The maximum penalty would be inflicted only in serious cases.

Mr McCay:

– But to some men a day in gaol would be as damning as a year’s imprisonment.

Mr FOWLER:

– The honorable and learned member must remember that persons are liable to imprisonment for any of the offences already provided for in the clause, although some of them may be merely technical, and of trifling importance.

Mr McCay:

– But they must be committed knowingly. The clause deals only with deliberate acts of deception.

Mr FOWLER:

– I do not take the attitude that the amendment is not capable of improvement, but I urge that it is necessary to do something to prevent the abuses of which I have spoken, and I should like the assistance of honorable members in bringing about a reform. Usually when scandals of this kind are discovered there is a great outcry, and an inquiry is instituted, but those who have made the plunder generally escape punishment.

Mr SPENCE:
Darling

– I think that there is justification for the imposition of an exceptionally heavy penalty when offences of the kind to’ which the honorable member has referred are committed. In my opinion, imprisonment for three years is an exceedingly mild punishment for such offences. I am not a believer in capital punishment, but I would point out that, although under the laws of the States, murder - and in some cases other crimes - is punishable with death, fradulent army contractors are often virtually guilty of the murder of many thousands, and escape punishment altogether. That has been the experience of Great Britain, and of every other country, including even America during the civil war. Napoleon is credited with the remark that army contractors and their ilk are the lepers of a nation. In his day it was notorious that many men made fortunes, and were able to live in fine homes, because of the profits they made in supplying inferior material and food to the troops. We know, too, how great the suffering of English troops has been because of the bad food and inferior clothing and equipment with which they have at times been supplied - suffering and sickness which have not been exceeded by that caused by wounds and injuries received on the field of battle. But it is not only the health of our soldiers that we have to consider ; we must remember that the very fate of a country often depends upon the equipment of her forces, and the supply of proper food to her men. As has often been pointed out of late, the most important Department of an army is that which has to do with supplies for the stomach - the Commissariat Department. In fighting, as in other work, men do best on good food, and it is necessary, also, that they should have good clothing and efficient weapons. It is notorious, however, that the commercial men and others who contract foi’ the supply of food and materials in war time often hold the loosest ethical principles. They seem to think that they must seize the occasion to grab all the money that they can. During the civil war in America, notwithstanding the worthy cause at stake, many men were content to -make money by purveying cheap supplies to the army.- The Minister for Defence asks why army contractors should be treated differently .from other contractors. One reason is that frauds perpetrated by other contractors can more easily be found out ; but the censorship in connexion with the operations of an army in the field prevents the complaints of the men from being heard, and unless they come to the ears of an officer like Lord Roberts, there is very little chance of things being remedied. Men who are fighting in South Africa have to take what is ready for them on the spot ; they cannot wait until better jam is sent to them from England or Australia. I strongly advocate a system under which the Government would manufacture its own requirements. Great Britain does a great deal in that way, although she is not looked upon as a particularly democratic country. Not only should contractors be prevented from making profits dishonestly, but they should also be punished for the suffering which’ they inflict upon the soldiers, and the risk of loss to which they submit the country. Men cannot fight properly if they ure robbed of their proper food, and swindled in the matter of clothing ‘and equipment. The experience of hundreds of .years has not produced a method for preventing the fraud of contractors, and, therefore, I think that the Government should supply its soldiers with clothing, equipment, and weapons of its own manufacture. The amendment is, however, an attempt to improve existing conditions, and I cordially support it.

Mr MAUGER:
Melbourne Ports

– I hope that some comprehensive provision will be made with regard to this important matter. I have a lively recollection of the scandals which occurred in connexion with the supply of the saddles and other accoutrements that were required for the equipment of the Victorian troops sent to South Africa, and I hope the Minister will grasp the necessity for the proposed new sub-clause and agree to it.

Sir John Forrest:

– We shall place every one in gaol if we are not careful.

Mr MAUGER:

– I do not think so. I do not regard even the majority of contractors as dishonest; but there are men who take advantage of times of excitement to rob the public.

Sir John Forrest:

– That might be very well in time of war, but we also have to obtain supplies in times of peace.

Mr MAUGER:

– I believe that the supplies sent in in the ordinary course in times of peace are fairly up to sample, but it is at periods of scare and excitement that the principal abuses take place, and we should safeguard ourselves against any recurrence of what was disclosed in connexion with the equipment of our contingents for South Africa. I hope that the Minister will accept the new sub-clause.

Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - I do not think any of us will be inclined to quarrel with the principle of the proposed sub-clause. It is necessary to be specially rigid with regard to both contractors and those who are responsible for the receipt of supplies for the troops in times of peace as well as in times of war, because a great portion of the materiel required in times of war is received in times of peace. We need not probe very deeply into the history of Great Britain in order to find instances in which weapons and ammunition of inferior quality have been supplied, and have cost the lives of men who were worth many hundreds of times the value of the goods. The same thing is liable to occur here. Human nature is the same all the world over, and contractors do not perhaps always realize what their miserable extra profit may cost in human life. Whether they do so or not, however, we should endeavour to put a stop to any further abuses. What I object to in the amendment is that it would make an act of negligence of the most trivial character, on the part of an officer, a criminal offence punishable only by indictment, which involves a preliminary trial before justices, and a committal for trial before a jury, and the branding of a man for life as a criminal. The honorable member had in his mind only the most serious cases, but the sub-clause in its verbiage covers trifling cases as well. It is of no use to say that a man might be imprisoned for only a short time, because the man who is committed for trial and is afterwards found guilty by a jury is industrially and socially damned as effectively by one day’s imprisonment as by three years’ imprisonment. I have always objected to our criminal laws being so framed as to put it within the power or caprice of any particular set of Crown officials to bring a man before the Courts upon a criminal charge. I suggest that the first part of the sub-clause should be amended to read -

Any contractor, purveyor, or other person, and any employe of any such contractor or other persons who fraudulently and knowingly supplies.

That makes the new sub-clause agree with the other provisions in clause 69. It is also proposed that if any officer fraudulently, knowingly, or negligently or contrary to his duty, receives goods, he should be liable to imprisonment. Those words “negligently or contrary to his duty “ are not required. It would be contrary to the duty of an officer at all times to receive any article not absolutely up to requirements. It is the duty of the commanding officer of a corps who himself cannot personally, receive all his stores, but who does so through his subordinate officers, to see that all stores are according to sample, and if a single jacket which had a button sewn upon it not quite so strongly as the contract required were received, he would, under the terms of the proposed new sub-clause, be liable to three years’ imprisonment.

Mr Fowler:

– Could a wilful offender escape under the plea of negligence ?

Mr McCAY:

– No ; he could not. Of course, the prosecution could not see into a man’s mind in order to ascertain whether he did certain things knowingly or otherwise, but the Judge and jury before whom he was tried would draw their own inferences from his conduct. For instance, if a quantity of light weight jam were sent in, the jury would conclude that the intention of the contractor was fraudulent, and that he acted knowingly, in order to secure more profit than he was entitled to. Instead of dealing with acts of negligence in this clause I should prefer to frame a new clause, and provide for a pecuniary penalty. If the honorable member for Perth will accept my suggestion I shall cordially support his amendment.

Mr. FOWLER (Perth).- I think that there is a great deal of force in what the honorable and learned member has said, and I am quite willing to accept his suggestion. The honorable and learned member for Corio has given me similar advice, and I think that I ought to give full consideration to suggestions coming from legal and military authorities, such as the honorable and learned members referred to. With the consent of the Committee I propose to insert the word “ and “ between the words “fraudulently” and “knowingly,” and to omit the words “ or negligently,” line 4 ; also to insert the word “and” between the words “fraudulently” and “ knowingly,” line 13; and omit the words “or negligently, or contrary to his duty.” I also wish to alter the word “section,” line 18, to “sub-section,” and to omit ‘all the subsequent words, because they are already contained in the clause as it stands.

Amendment amended accordingly.

Sir JOHN FORREST:
Protectionist

– It goes without saying that I should be in favour of requiring contractors to supply goods according to the terms of their contracts, but it seems to me that the proposed subclause,even in its altered form, goes further than is necessary. Honorable members will recollect that when I was speaking as to the necessity of making provision in the Bill for the future, I was told that it was necessary only to apply it to our present conditions. At present we have only’ 1,300 permanent men, and we hold military encampments in the different States once a year. The supplies for our permanent forces and for the men in the encampments are all that we require from contractors, and it seems to be unnecessary to apply the stringent conditions proposed to such circumstances. Why should the contractors for our limited requirements be subject to a law different from that which applies to those who contract for the supply of goods to other Government or public institutions. The ordinary law is good enough to apply to our contractors in times of peace. If the provisions of the sub-clause were restricted in its operation to times of war I should not object, because the supply of goods to troops on active service is one over which we cannot exercise too close a supervision. Because a contractor unknowingly supplies meat of an inferior quality to the troops at Queenscliff, is he to be dragged before the court and charged with an indictable offence1? Under such circumstances I should refuse to become a contractor. If the amendment were adopted, it would be incumbent upon the person accused to prove that the inferior goods were supplied by him unwittingly. In other words, it would make a man a criminal first, and afterwards impose upon him the onus of proving his innocence.

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

– That is what the Government did in its administration of the Customs Act.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I am as anxious to see right done as is any one. But why should some respectable butcher who, perhaps, supplies inferior meat to the troops at Queenscliff, which is so ably represented by the honorable and learned member for Corio, be charged with having wilfully supplied it? Why should he be compelled to prove that he did not knowingly supply such meat 1

Mr McCay:

– He would not have to prove that.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– At any rate there would be a long paragraph in the newspapers which would probably ruin his business, even though he afterwards proved himself to be perfectly innocent. I hold that we should treat every one alike. Why should we have one law relating to contracts for the supply of food to the military, and another relating to contracts for food supplied to the hospitals ? I would further point out that all the food supplied to the military is subjected to official scrutiny.

Mr Fowler:

– It is strange that there are so many complaints.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– An officer has to inspect the food each day. Why, then, should we make the provision proposed? In my opinion it is unnecessary. I should be very severe upon persons who supplied inferior goods to the military authorities in time of war, but even in connexion with the scandals which occurred in the recent South African campaign, I hold that those who inspected those goods were almost equally to blame. I move -

That after the word “ who,” line 3, the words “ in time of war “ be inserted.

Mr CROUCH:
Corio

– I am very glad to hear from the Minister that I so ably represent the “ respectable “ butcher. But I do not think that the respectable butcher should be allowed, even if he desired, to supply inferior meat even in time of peace. The fact that we cannot legislate in reference to the food supplied by contractors to hospitals, is no argument why we should not legislate in regard to the food supplied to the military. If we had the power to deal with hospital contracts, I should urge the adoption of a similar provision. I would, further, point out that the proposed amendment will apply to camps of instruction. Because I go down to a camp at Sunbury for a few days, why should I be compelled to eat meat that is infected with fluke or tuberculosis ?

Mr A McLEAN:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · PROT

– Is there any reason why the military forces should be treated, differently from everybody else 1

Mr CROUCH:

– If we could enact a general law upon the subject I should be exceedingly glad. Unfortunately, we have not that power. At the present time all that we can do in a Defence Bill is to legislate in the interests of our soldiers and sailors. I hope that the Committee will support the amendment.

Mr SALMON:
Laanecoorie

– I think that the honorable member for Perth desires to go a little too far in this matter, and that he would be wise if he accepted the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Corinella.

Mr Fowler:

– I have done so.

Mr SALMON:

– Then I shall support him. The honorable and learned member for Corio has indicated what might happen at one of the instructional camps. At such camps it is no uncommon thing for officers to inspect the food submitted. It would, however, be rather extraordinary if the orderly officer who had received food of an inferior quality were made guilty of a criminal offence. Under the amendment as amended, however, that will be impossible. In my opinion it is advisable that regular army contractors should be made to feel that we are doing all in our power to avoid a repetition of the disgraceful occurrences which were recently witnessed in South Africa. The contractors of Australia have not * proved themselves very much superior to those in other parts of the world. Some 6f the .goods which were sent by them to South Africa were a positive disgrace. Honorable members do not know half the truth in regard to this matter. We can only learn from those who took part in the campaign the full facts regarding the criminal neglect exhibited by contractors, who ought to have been imbued with a much greater sense of their responsibility.

Mr WILKS:
Dalley

– I trust that the Minister will accept the amendment. Quite recently in New South Wales scandals occurred in connexion with military contracts. There the officers who were charged with the inspection of the food and clothing supplied were very remiss in their duties. Serious scandals also occurred in South Africa in connexion with the military food and clothing supplied. An investigation took place which showed that one contractor, who had charged a very high rate for his flour, had supplied an article of grossly inferior quality. The adoption of the amendment will make it incumbent upon contractors to supply goods which are up to standard. No contractor who desires to do a fair thing need fear the adoption of the honorable member’s proposal. It is. only those who wish to obtain a contract at a rate which will not pay them, or who think that anything is good enough for a soldier, who will have cause for apprehension. The experience of New South Wales in this connexion warrants me in supporting -the amendment.

Mr MAHON:
Coolgardie

-! think that the honorable member for Perth deserves to be congratulated upon having moved a very useful amendment. Whilst I sympathize with the objection which has been urged to its application in time of peace, I think that the balance of argument is in favour of the position which he has taken up. The amendment, however, is not sufficiently comprehensive to effect the purpose which he has in view, because I notice that the words used in it are “material or equipment.” These, in my judgment, would not prevent a contractor from supplying inferior horses to the army.

Mr McCay:

– The horses are usually selected.

Mr MAHON:

– They were so well selected in the case of the South African campaign, that one contractor was sent to gaol for three years for having supplied animals of an inferior type. I do not know whether the amendment would be applicable to a foreign contractor - say a Glasgow company which perhaps may supply dynamite or guns. I should like to know how a foreign contractor supplying material would be dealt with. Further, if - the contractors were a limited liability company - an institution in which “ there is no body to be kicked, or soul to be damned “ according to the time-worn aphorism, what would happen ? Would the innocent employes - who are bound either to carry out the instructions of their principals, or to forfeit their positions - be sent to goal ? If so, it seems to me that we are putting them between the devil and the deep sea.

Mr Fowler:

– Then the honorable member would allow any kind of fraud to be perpetrated under cover of an employé

Mr MAHON:

– I wish to prevent fraud, but I take it that -some of the successful contractors for army supplies will be limited liability companies. Are the employes who actually supply the goods to be sent to gaol, or should we, under this clause, be able to reach the managing director or the chief agent of the company 1

Mr E SOLOMON:
FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · FT

– The contract would have to be signed.

Mr MAHON:

– Certainly the contract would require to be signed. I should like some further light to be thrown on the question of what will be the position of foreign contractors under this proposal. The value of the amendment will certainly go down in my estimation if it will punish only local contractors, and allow foreign contractors to commit these offences with impunity. I rose chiefly for the purpose of eliciting some information in regard to this question, for I should like to see the provision made as effective as possible.

Mr. FOWLER (Perth). - I am sorry that I cannot accept the Minister’s proposal.

Sir John Forrest:

– By leave of the Committee, I beg to withdraw it.

Amendment of the amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment agreed, to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 70 and 71 agreed to.

Clause 72 (When drafted, refusing to be sworn,&c.)

Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- In introducing this Bill to the House, the Minister for Defence promised to inquire why soldiers and non-commissioned officers should be required to take the oath, while commissioned officers were not compelled to do so.

Sir John Forrest:

– I am informed that officers in the British Army are not sworn.

Mr CROUCH:

– Is there any reason for this?

Sir John Forrest:

– That is the only reason.

Mr McCay:

– A commissioned officer, even if he is not sworn, is subject to discipline just as is any other officer.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 73 to 81 agreed to.

Clause 82-

The Governor-General may -

Convene courts martial ;

Appoint officers to constitute courts martial ; and

Approve, confirm, mitigate, or remit the sentence of any court martial.

Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I gave notice that I desired to call the attention of the Committee to clauses 82 and 83. Clause 82, in addition to empoweringthe Governor-General to convene courts martial and to appoint officers to constitute them, i gives him the very important power, which should always be retained by him, to “ approve, confirm, mitigate, or remit the sentence ofany court martial.” Honorable members will see that the next clause enables the Governor-General to delegate any of these powers, either generally or in relation to any particular case or class of cases, or in regard to any military district, and that delegation is to be revocable by him. I feel that it is right that the Governor-General should be able to give officers the power to convene courts martial, and to appoint the members of those courts, but I submit to the Committee that it is important that he should not be allowed to delegate to officers his power to approve, confirm, mitigate, or remit sentences. It constitutes the only power of appeal that is open to a soldier, because he has no right to appeal to the ordinary courts from a court martial. A court martial can affect a man’s liberty and property and in some instances forfeit his life. I think that it should be understood in every case that the Governor-General - and the term, of course, means the “ Ministry “ - shall have the power to say - “I shall mitigate that sentence, or I shall remit it or confirm it.”

Sir John Forrest:

– The provision to which the honorable and learned member objects does not prevent the GovernorGeneral from exercising that power.

Mr HIGGINS:

– No, but by being able to delegate the power to approve, mitigate, or remit a sentence he rids himself of responsibility, and the Minister will be able to say to the House - “ I left this matter in the hands of the General Officer Commanding ; he has done so and so, and I cannot help it.”

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

– It is like a Court of Appeal declining to entertain jurisdiction.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Yes. The GovernorGeneral might say - I delegated this matter to the General Officer Commanding, or to some one else, and as he says that he approves of the decision, I have not interfered.” In my opinion he should not be allowed to delegate to any one the power of approving, confirming, mitigating, or remitting the sentence of any court martial. If the Minister will be satisfied to retain paragraphs (a) and (b), I shall have no objection. It is the provision in paragraph (c) that I oppose.

Sir JOHN FORREST:
Protectionist

– The only reason for proposing that theGovernor-General shall have the right to delegate these powers is that owing to the extensive area of the Commonwealth undue delay might otherwise occur in dealing with these matters. It has been the custom for the Governor-General to delegate these powers, either wholly or partly, to the Commandants of various districts. If the papers relating to a case had to be sent say from Western Australia to the GovernorGeneral in Melbourne, arid the offender concerned had to remain under arrest while they were passing to and fro, the practice would not only not be conducive to the expedition of public business, but there would be other grave objections to it. If a court martial in Western Australia passed a sentence of seven days’ imprisonment on a soldier, and the papers relating to the case had to be sent to the Governor-General in Melbourne before any action could be taken to remit or confirm the sentence, what would become of the man while the Governor-General was considering his case? He would be in durance for perhaps a month.

Mr McCay:

– Suppose he was ordered to be confined to barracks for seven days 1

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– In that case, I presume that he would be .allowed out on parole for three weeks or a month, and if, in the end, the Governor-General confirmed the sentence, he would then have to serve it. The immense area with which we have to deal constitutes the difficulty in the way of the honorable and learned member’s proposal, i agree with him that, if we could avoid it, we should not allow the Governor-General to delegate the power to approve, confirm, mitigate, or remit these sentences, but T fail to see that there is an)’ escape from the position. If a court martial sentenced a soldier to a term of imprisonment which the Commandant considered to be too severe, he would be able, under the clause as it stands, to mitigate the sentence at once, instead of the man being kept in gaol while the papers were being transmitted to the GovernorGeneral.

Mr Higgins:

– I think that there is force in the argument that it is necessary to act promptly in these matters.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– It seems to me that all we can do is to say that the delegation of the power to deal with the matters referred to in paragraph (c) shall relate only to short sentences. I should be very glad to strike out the paragraph, but for the fact that I feel it would result in very great inconvenience. In these circumstances I think it would be better to permit the Governor-General to delegate his powers in regard to approving, confirming, mitigating, or remitting any short sentences, or in regard to all cases in which the offender would suffer by reason of the delay that would necessarily take place in securing the actual authority of the Governor-General for the mitigation of the sentence.

Mr Higgins:

– That is a very reasonable proposition, provided that we can define “ short sentences.”

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I think that matter might be left to be expressed in the . document of delegation. The powers given to the Commandant could be limited in that way. The idea is that these powers should be delegated to the commandant in each district, but I do not think that we could define short sentences in this clause.

Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I recognise that there is a great deal of weight in the argument which the Minister has advanced, and I realize also that very great difficulty would be experienced in defining the term “ short sentences “ to which this power should apply. I notice that subclause (2) of clause 83 provides that -

The delegation …. shall not prevent the exercise of any power by the GovernorGeneral. but after there had been an appeal to the General Officer Commanding, the GovernorGeneral would probably say - “ I decline to act now because the General Officer Commanding has already dealt with this matter.” We might provide that the GovernorGeneral shall have the right to exercise this power, whether it has been already exercised or not. We might provide that, even if the commanding officer to whom an appeal had been made had confirmed the decision of the court martial, the GovernorGeneral should still have power to review the case.

Sir John Forrest:

– I do not think it is necessary to provide for that in the clause itself. The Minister would have no hesitation in overriding the decision of the commanding officer.

Mr HIGGINS:

– If the Minister thinks that there is that power, I am content.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 83 agreed to.

Clause 84 (Laws applicable to courts martial).

Mr CROUCH:
Corio

– I move-

That the following words be added : - “ Except in time of war, every sailor and soldier, before being dismissed or reduced for any alleged offence, may, if he so request, be tried by court martial.”

It seems to me to be very unfair that a mam should have his professional career utterly destroyed without having the right to be heard and tried in a proper and formal manner. Those who have any experience of these matters know that a soldier may frequently, so to speak, be wiped out at the sweet will of some officer, stripped of the value of all his work, and cast adrift at a time when he is unfit for any other occupation.

Sir John Forrest:

– The honorable and learned member must remember that officers hold their appointments only during pleasure.

Mr CROUCH:

– Yes ; but no man should be dismissed or reduced in rank for an offence without having a proper and fair trial. Under clause 9 1 a person tried by court martial may be assisted in his defence by counsel, but sometimes boards of inquiry are constituted by the person who is really the accuser.

Sir John Forrest:

– Does the honorable and learned member say that the accuser sits as a Judge?

Mr CROUCH:

– No; a board of inquiry merely makes an investigation, and sends in a report to an authority who has had no chance of seeing the demeanour of the witnesses examined, or of forming an unbiased opinion. For instance, a complaint is made against a soldier, and the Commanding Officer is directed to hold an inquiry. That officer has perhaps already recommended the man’s dismissal. What I propose will only apply in time of peace.

Sir John Forrest:

– Is this provision different from that in the Imperial. Act ?

Mr CROUCH:

– In the Imperial Army a soldier lias no rights at all.

Sir John Forrest:

– The honorable and learned member speaks as though the 250,000 men in the British Army were serfs, and could get no justice.

Mr CROUCH:

– In any case I wish to provide that Australian soldiers shall get justice. What I ask for is given to an officer, and I do not see why it should not be given also to a sailor or a soldier.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 85 -

Any person who wilfully interrupts or disturbs: the proceedings of a court martial … or who by writing or speech uses words calculated toimproperly influence the court, or the members thereof, or the witnesses before the court, or to bring the court into disrepute, shall be guilty of contempt of court ….

Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I wish to point out that under the clause as it stands a newspaper proprietor who publishes any comment upon the conduct of a court martial’ would be liable to punishmentfor contempt of court. Such a provision would prevent comment. such as that which has taken place in England in connexion with the ragging cases of which we haveheard so much. I have no objection to the press being compelled to keep silence until the proceedings of a court martial are over, but once a finding is come to, the pressshould be able to make any comment thought proper. I move -

That the words ‘ “ or to bring the court intodisrepute “ be omitted.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 86 -

Contempt of court shall be punishable as. follows -

  1. On conviction before the High Court or a Justice thereof by fine or imprisonment.

Amendment (by Mr. Higgins) agreed to-

That after the word “ thereof “ the words “ ora Supreme Court or a Judge thereof” be inserted.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 87 and 88 agreed to.

Clause 89 (Power to summon witnesses).

Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I should like some information in regard to this and the subsequent clause. Clause- 89 provides that a court martial may require any person to give evidence and produce documents, and under clause 90’ every person who disobeys an order to appear, refuses to be sworn, or refuses orfails to answer any question, or to produceany document, will be liable to a penalty not exceeding £100. These provisions, would apply to civilians, but, if my recollection is correct, it is not usual to give a court martial such power in regard tocivilians.

Sir John Forrest:

– How could a court martial obtain evidence without such powers?

Mr HIGGINS:

– I cannot conceive of any case in which the evidence of a civilian would be necessary.

Mr McCay:

– It might be necessary for a person who is being tried for desertion, for example, to call a civilian to justify his absence.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 90 agreed to.

Clause 91 -

Every person who is tried by court martial may be assisted in his defence by counsel.

Amendment (by Mr. Kirwan) agreed to-

That the following words be added “ and if the offence charged be punishable by death, he shall be entitled to be defended by counsel at the expense of the Crown.”

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 92 to 107 agreed to.

Clause 108-

It shall not be necessary for any order or notice under this Act to be in writing, unless by this Act required to be so, . . .

Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I admit that an order on parade, or on the field, or in a room, cannot be given in writing, but I think that an order of a court martial should always be in writing. I therefore move -

That after the word “ so “ the words ‘ ‘ or unless it be an order of a court martial “ be inserted.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 109 agreed to.

Clause 110 (Police to aid in the arrest of deserters).

Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).This clause refers to police officers of the Commonwealth, and I should like to know whether it is intended that the Commonwealth shall have its own police?

Sir John Forrest:

– Yes, I believe so.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Is that another of the items of new expenditure which it is proposed to charge to the different States?

Clause agreed to.

Clause 111 agreed to.

Clause 112 (Regulations).

Amendment (by Sir John Forrest) agreed to -

That the following new paragraph to follow paragraph (d) be inserted: - “Requiring from officers, and others holding positions, the nature of which in the opinion of the Minister renders it necessary for such officers and others to give security for their fidelity, togive such security and for fixing the amount and nature of such security.

Mr A McLEAN:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · PROT

– This clause provides for making regulations for almost everything connected with our defence organization, but no mention is made of the cadet corps. Is it intended to take power to make regulations for the management of the cadets?

Sir John Forrest:

– We shall have to make provision in that direction when the Bill is recommitted.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Schedules agreed to.

Sir JOHN FORREST:
Protectionist

– Owing to the fact that the Army Act will not be in force, so far as the members of our Defence forces are concerned in times of peace, it will be necessary to make some other provision, especially in regard to courts martial. I have had a few clauses prepared to meet the case, and I shall ask honorable members to consider them at our next sitting.

Progress reported.

page 3291

MINISTERIAL STATEMENT

Re-arrangement of Portfolios.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:
HunterMinister for External Affairs · Protectionist

– Subject to the approval of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, I have to announce certain changes in the allotment of Ministerial portfolios. The vacancy in the Department of Trade and Customs, caused by the resignation of my right honorable and learned friend, Mr. Kingston, will be filled by Sir William Lyne. Sir John Forrest will succeed to the Department of Home Affairs, and Mr. Drake to that of Defence, whilst the vacancy thus occasioned in the Department of the Post-office will be filled by the appointment of Sir Phillip Fysh. I am glad to say that the changes made will not prevent Sir William Lyne from dealing with the resolutions which are to be submitted with regard to the electoral divisions. The resolutions as regards the Federal capital sites will be moved either by Sir William Lyne or by myself.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– When?

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– When the opportunity offers. The honorable member knows that that cannot be done just now, because there are other important matters still in progress. The Federal Capital Sites will, as I have before stated, be dealt with at the first available opportunity. I have only to announce further that the debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill will be resumed on Tuesday.

Mr Mahon:

– Who is the new honorary Minister?

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– I have no further announcement to make at present.

page 3292

ADJOURNMENT

Order of Business. - States Debts. - Restrictions upon Blind Travellers.

Motion (by Sir Edmund Barton) proposed -

That this House do now adjourn.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I desire to know whether the Prime Minister can say when the proposals relating to the re-distribution of seats in this House will be brought before the House ?

Sir Edmund Barton:

– On next Thursday, if possible.

Mr CROUCH:
Corio

– I wish to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister a matter which affects a good many people in the Commonwealth. Recently a blind man took passage by steamer from Melbourne to Tasmania, but it was not until after the vessel had gone several miles beyond Williamstown that it was discovered by the authorities on board that he was blind. Although he had paid his passage and was accompanied by a person who was not blind, the ship was put back and the blind man was landed at Williamstown. I wrote to the Premier of Tasmania upon the subject, and received a reply dated 29th July, as follows : -

Referring to your letter of the 19th ulto. with regard to the restriction imposed upon blind, persons landing in this State, I have the honour to inform you that your letters were submitted to the Crown law officers, who advised that under our law the master of a ship arriving in Tasmania with passengers likely to become a charge upon the public is required to execute a bond for £100 for each passenger ; this provision extends to blind persons.

I should like to know if it would not be possible for the Prime Minister to make representations so that blind persons may be allowed to travel throughout the Commonwealth, without being subjected to the restrictions which prevailed prior to federation. Because a person is so unfortunate as to be blind, he should not be brought up standing by artificial barriers every time he attempts to move beyond the limits of his own State.

Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether an opportunity will be given to honorable members, in connexion with the Budget, to discuss a matter of very graveimportance to Australia, which is now exciting much interest in all the States, viz., the relation of the States debts to the Commonwealth. I am sure that it would be advisable to have as much light as can be afforded thrown upon this matter as early as possible. I had a notice of motion on the paper dealing with this subject, but as private members’ business has been shelved, and Government business now occupies the whole area, I have had no opportunity of bringing it forward. I hope that during the debate upon the Budget we shall have some illumination from. some source in regard to this serious problem, and I think honorable members will be glad to have an assurance from the Prime Minister that something is being done, or that he will give the House an opportunity of discussing it as soon as possible.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:
Protectionist

– Answering the last question first, I may inform the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne that there is not the least intention to stifle debate upon the Budget, or to take the slightest course that would prevent the freest expression of the views of honorable members upon the subject referred to. With reference to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and my statement regarding the electoral divisions, perhaps I should have been a little more explicit. I said that the reports regarding the electoral divisions would be submitted on Thursday, in the expectation that the debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill would probably be sufficiently advanced upon Wednesday night to allow of that being done. If necessary, we shall go on with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill on Thursday, and, if possible, finish it before we proceed to deal with the, reports upon electoral divisions - unless the consideration of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill reaches such a point that we cannot further postpone the electoral divisions, which must be dealt with before long. As to the case of the unfortunate blind man who was mentioned by the honorable and learned member for Corio, he will recollect that the Parliament of the Commonwealth is itself a little sensitive in regard to any interference with its laws or institutions by the States Governments, and it would not be surprising if, in their turn, they were rather sensitive to any interference on our part. For that reason I am always chary of interfering in any way which could be called, in the least degree critical or unfriendly. Therefore, I should feel very great delicacy in making any suggestion to the Premier of Tasmania upon the subject to which reference has been made.We are bound to believe that the States Parliaments will do what is right.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 4.2 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 August 1903, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030807_reps_1_15/>.