2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Prime Minister lay upon the table a return showing the amountof revenue which will be lost to each of the States by reason of the decision of the High Court that Commonwealth officers are npt subject to State taxation, and the number of Commonwealth officers affected by the decision, having regard to the fact that many Commonwealth officers would in no case be liable to pay income tax, because their salaries are less than the amounts exempted by the States laws?
– 1 have .already asked for the information, and shall lay it upon the table when I receive it.
– It is stated in a press paragraph this morning that the Prime Minister contemplates giving the AgentsGeneral discretionary power in reference to some of the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act. If that be so, will the right honorable gentleman tell the House what are the provisions with respect to which he intends to give this discretionary power, and let us know what the discretion will really amount to, before he does any-? thing further in the matter ?
– I have seen the statement to which the honorable member alludes. One might infer from it that there is more than one Prime Minister in the Commonwealth, because I have not said a word to any human being on the subject referred to.
– T should like to ask the other half of the Prime Minister, his equal-ih-all-things, whether he has given such information to the press?
– Is the honorable member in order in using that mode pf address when asking a formal question of a Minister ?
– The Prime Minister has stated in this Chamber that the Minister of Trade and Customs would be his equal in all things. He has. used the words himself.
– I have applied a number of expressions to honorable members opposite, which I do not think I should be in order in using in asking an official question.
– I think that in formal questions to a Minister his. proper official title should be used.
– Then I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs; who, we have been led to believe, is the equal in all things of ‘the Prime Minister^ - Mr. Reid;-*-Is that style of. address in order ?
– It does not appear to me that the question can fairly be taken exception to. The honorable member for Yarra has addressed the Minister by his official title, adding the reason why he is asking the question, which he has a right to dp. So far as he has gone, I think the question is perfectly in order.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, who is, as I have stated, the alleged equal in all things of the Prime Minister, whether the newspaper paragraph to which the honorable member, for Fremantle has drawn attention refers to action contemplated by him?
– The honorable member for Yarra must’ know that the Minister of Trade and Customs has nothing to do with the administration of the Immigration Restriction. Act.
– The honorable member for Yarra addressed his question to the Minister of Trade and Customs, and1 1 take it that the Prime Minister has no right to intervene.
Mr. SPEAKER. There is no reason why the Prime Minister should not reply, if the Minister of Trade and Customs does not do so.
– I wish to know, sir, whether your ruling, that when a question is asked of a Minister, and he does not reply, another. Minister may reply for him, will apply to honorable members generally.
– Certainly not. Ministers collectively represent the Government, and questions addressed to one may be answered by. another. The Prime Minister, by virtue of his office, may reply to any question involving policy.- The relation between members is quite different from that between- Ministers.
– I would remind the honorable member for Yarra that all matters relating to the administration of- external affairs rests with the Prime Minister. If I wished to make any official representation to the mother country on behalf of my Department, I should do it through him.
– The Prime Minister having answered the- question of the honorable member for Yarra, had the Minister of Trade and Customs also the right to reply to it ?
– Certainly. There can be no question about the propriety of the course followed.
– It is stated in yesterday’s Agc, in a letter signed by Sir Horace Tozer, . the Agent-General for Queensland, that female domestic servants, persons directing the sinking of round bricked shafts, and skilled miners from Germany required for the concentration of ores, are being prevented from coming to Australia by the operation of the Immigration Restriction Act. Will the Prime Minister ascertain how many such persons have been prevented from coming here?
– I think my honorable friend will see that it is impossible to answer that question.
– Will the right honorable gentleman make inquiries on the subject?
– It is impossible to obtain accurate information, because, if the law prohibits such persons from coming here their knowledge of the fact would prevent most of them from applying for admission. I do not, however, agree that all persons of the classes named would be excluded under the provisions of the Act, even though they came here under contract. All I can promise to do is to cause inquiries to be made with a view to ascertaining what information we have in the Department as to persons having been prevented by the Act from coming to Australia.
– It is stated by one of the newspapers this morning, in reference to the recent all-night sitting, that the meals consumed by honorable members are paid for by the Commonwealth. I should like the Prime Minister to give that statement a denial, so that the public may know the truth. I have paid for all” the meals I have had.
– The practice in New South Wales, which I think is not an improper one–
– All Governments have followed it.
– The leader of the Opposition appears to think that all other Governments have done the same - is for the Government, when there is a sitting under extraordinary circumstances, to arrange out of their Ministerial funds for the convenience of honorable members. The public are not burdened with the expense in any way.
– The statement in the newspaper is absolutely untrue. It says that the taxpayers pay for these meals.
– I can say in the most positive way- that it is absolutely untrue. The meals do not cost the public a penny. 11 e 2
– I rise ‘to make a personal explanation. During Wednesday’s sitting, while we were discussing the Estimates, the Chairman of Committees ordered me to discontinue my speech, on the ground that I had been guilty of tedious repetition and continued irrelevance. I have since referred, not only to the report which is to be embodied m’ Hansard, but to the gentlemen who reported my remarks, and I find that there was no justification for that action. I repeated myself only when my speech was interrupted by a call for a quorum, and then, just as in writing a letter one repeats a word or two to show the connexion of the various pages, I repeated a sentence or two to preserve the continuity of my speech.
– It is important that we should know, not in reference to the honorable member personally, but as a matter of order and procedure generally, whether in a case such as undoubtedly occurred in Committee, in which the Chairman took a certain course with reference to the honorable member, on the ground of tedious repetition-
– Does the right honorable gentleman desire to prevent the honorable member from justifying himself?
– I do not desire to close the mouth of the honorable member, but wish to know, whether, as a matter of order and procedure, which is to govern the House on future occasions, it is in order to bring before the House certain proceedings in Committee, and to make a statement upon the question whether the direction given by the Chairman was well founded or ill-founded. I only desire to know what the position is, so that in the event of cases of a similar character arising, other honorable members may have the same right.
– Under the Standing Orders, the business transacted in Committee is not known to the House until it is reported. But I imagine that the course usually followed whenever an honorable member claims the indulgence of the House in order to make a personal explanation will be followed in this instance ; and that he will be permitted, in his endeavour to clear himself from any imputation that he may conceive to rest upon him, to refer to anything that may have occurred in Committee or in the House. The course of referring in the House to the proceedings in Committee is not a desirable one, but generally speaking the fullest liberty should be permitted to an honorable member who desires, as a matter of privilege or personal explanation, to relate the circumstances under which a certain course was taken with regard to him. It will not be in order for the honorable member for Gwydir to reflect upon the Chairman, but he will be at perfect liberty to explain the circumstances under which a certain course was taken in Committee.
– I do not .for a moment desire to reflect upon the Chairman. My sole object is to safeguard other honorable members from ‘being placed in the same position that I was owing to misapprehension. There is no precedent for the action that was taken with regard to me, and I feel that it is my duty, as the first honorable member who was taken to task for tedious repetition, to state distinctly that I was not guilty of tedious repetition, or of any conduct that warranted the action of the Chairman.
– Read the ‘Hansard report.
-I do not think it is necessary to read the report. I have the report here, and not only so, but I have taken every care to ascertain the facts, which amply justify my making this statement to the House. I do not desire to take up the time of honorable members in reading the report, which honorable members may see for themselves.
– Was the honorable member reported verbatim?
– I not only rely upon the report itself, but upon the Hansard reporters’ notes.
– The reporters would not take notes of tedious repetitions.
– I have only Hansard and my own recollection to depend upon, but I am satisfied that the course taken in my case was one to which other honorable members should not be subjected under similar circumstances.
– I should like to explain that the Chairman is absent.
– I had no time to inform him of my intention to bring this matter before the House.
– The Prime Minister cannot speak without the permission of the House.
– Surely I may mention that the Chairman is absent - surely I may be permitted by this most generous House to make that statement?
– On a point of order, I ask if the Prime Minister is in order in making a statement without obtaining the leave of the House.
– Upon the point of order, the honorable member for Kennedy is undoubtedly right. No honorable member, whether the Prime Minister or any other, has any right to make a statement without the leave of the House.
– I desire to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether the rules of the House of Commons are not adopted as a guide in regulating the procedure of this House, and whether the Speaker of the House of Commons has not ruled that ‘the Prime Minister is not, in certain circumstances, subject to the ordinary rules which apply to private members, but is free to make a statement to the House whenever he thinks it necessary in the interests of the country to do so.
– The standing order upon which the right honorable member bases His question is No. i, which reads as follows: -
In all cases not provided for hereinafter or by Sessional or other Orders, recourse shall be had to the rules, forms, and practice of the Commons House of the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland in force at the time of the adoption of these orders, which shall be followed as far as they can be applied to the proceedings of the House of Representatives.
Our Standing Orders definitely provide that there must be some matter before the chair to enable any honorable member to speak, and that rule applies to the Prime Minister equally with every other honorable member. The Prime Minister, of course, has opportunities which are not presented to other Honorable members, to the extent that it is always open to him to lay a paper on the table, and . to make any remarks he may desire in connexion with the motion that it be printed. Except in that regard, the Prime Minister has no privileges that any other honorable member does not possess.
– I presume that our rule in regard to the privileges of members is the same as that of the House of Commons. I desire to know, however, whether it has not been ruled in the House of Commons that an exception should be made in the case of statements by the Prime .Minister ?
– In the House of Commons it has been many times ruled that the Prime Minister may make a statement to the House. That rule has not been uniformly disregarded in this House; -but it applies more particularly to statements of public policy. Immediately my attention is directed to the fact that there is no question before the House, I am bound to rule according to the Standing Orders, under which the Prime Minister has no rights beyond those enjoyed by every other honorable member.
– My point is whether the Speaker of the House of Commons has not ruled that, even in a case where a member objects, the Prime Minister should still have the right to make a statement to the House?
– I am quite unable to speak of the ruling given in a specific case.
– I desire to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it is the practice of the Hansard staff, in issuing proofs of their speeches to honorable members, to include repetitions ?
– Certainly not. The Hansard staff are instructed, in the first place, not to report interjections which are not noticed by the honorable member who is addressing the Chair, or, in the second place, repetitions.
– The honorable member for Gwydir is relying on the notes of the Hansard reporters, and the Prime Minister is guilty of a distinct attempt to mislead the public when he refers to the proofs.
– Order ! The officers of the Hansard staff have been instructed by the Principal- Parliamentary Reporter not to take any notice of interjections to which the honorable member who is speaking does not reply, and not to include in the I transcription of their notes repetitions of utterances of the speaker which, owing to various reasons, occur from time to time. Otherwise our reports would not be the excellent documents they now are. We all owe very much to the Hansard staff, for which we should not be indebted to them, if they followed a speaker through all his varied expressions of the same idea.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– I should i ike to ask the honorable member for Gwydir whether he is relying on the mere proof of the report given to him, or upon the notes taken by the Hansard reporters?
– Questions may only be addressed to private members in respect of any business of which they have charge. Questions may not be asked concerning a matter such as that to which the honorable member refers.
– As ,the Prime Minister has made a statement which to some extent reflects upon me, I desire to make a personal explanation. I have already stated quite clearly that I have perused the usual proof of Hansard which is supplied to honorable members, that I have consulted the Principal Parliamentary Reporter, and have asked for a transcript of all notes taken by the members of the Hansard staff which were not included in the proof supplied to me, and that I have been furnished with such a transcript.
-Order. The honorable member is now repeating a statement which he has already made.
– The Prime Minister has ignored that statement.
– Order. The honorable member is repeating a statement which he made some time since.
– I merely wish to say that I rely for my justification upon the notes which were taken bv the members of the Hansard staff, the transcript of which was not embodied in the official report. I claim that the practice of the Hansard staff in eliminating repetitions from the official report has no bearing upon my case, inasmuch as I have information from the Principal Parliamentary Reporter as to what repetitions, if any, took place.
Mr. REID (East Sydney- Minister of External Affairs). - I think that it is only fair, sir, if you will allow me to say so-
– Order. If the Prime. Minister desires to make a personal explanation, I shall be ?lad to hear him.
– That is so. Almost everything comes under that heading. I wish to make a personal explanation, in fairness to the honorable member for Gwydir. I took his observations to refer to the document which he held in his hand, and I did not catch his words to the effect that he had seen a transcript of the full shorthand notes taken by the Hansard reporters. In justice to the honorable member I wish to say that I misapprehended him in the remarks which I made.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether in view of the disorganized state of the House and the utter impossibility of carrying’ on the business of the country to any useful purpose, he will see fit to advise a dissolution of the House?
– If I took the question seriously, I should say that an honorable and learned member of the position and constitutional knowledge of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, should know that if a Ministry entertained any idea of tendering such advice, the last place in which it should be mentioned is in this Chamber.
– The right honorable gentleman mentioned it in his policy speech.
– The matter is one affecting the independence of this House. I say, with great respect, that, as a matter of constitutional propriety, it would be grossly wrong for me to mention any such matter in this Chamber, because it would strike at the very root of the independence of the House.
– It would do, if the statement were made in the form of a threat.
– There have been occasions upon which Ministers have tendered such advice, and upon which it has not been accepted. But in such cases, the last thing a Ministry would think of doing would be t’o make a statement to the House. The mere fact of such advice -being given terminates the connexion of the Ministry with the House, because if it be accepted, the House goes, and if it is not, the Ministry goes. The matter is not, in any case, one for this House to discuss. I would state further that I draw a sharp distinction between conduct tending to the disorganization of this House, which is indulged in between three or four members, and conduct which has the formal sanction of the whole of the members of the Opposition. If the whole of the members of the Opposition desire .to reduce this House to a state of impotency, which will make its further continuance useless, and an offence, all I can say is that they have many methods of showing that desire, and that ‘the moment it is shown, I think that certain questions of serious import will arise which may in the end affect this House very closely. I would, however, be the last person whilst this House is proceeding, as I believe it is as a whole, with an honest desire to transact public business, and to make its existence useful to the public, and whilst” the conduct which tends to disorganization and disintegration has not the full sanction of the Opposition) to make any such statement as that suggested. Some members of the Opposition have publicly repudiated this attempt at disorganization,, and in fairness to the Opposition, I decline to take conduct such as occurred a night or two ago as a proof that they accept responsibility for the obstruction or desire to disorganize the public business. Under these circumstances; the most painful contingency - the extreme contingency - to which the honorable and learned member’s question refers, has not yet come within the sphere of even my private cogitations. I can assure the thirty-six gentlemen sitting on the other side of the House that when they show me in unmistakable terms, or by their conduct, that they are determined to bring about a dissolution at once, my own impression is that that event would not be very far off.
– I do not suppose that any honorable member will dissent from the constitutional position .taken up by the Prime Minister. I should, however, like to know how he reconciles his present statement and belief with the view put forward in his policy speech, in which he distinctly threatened the House with a dissolution.
– If the honorable member thinks that I threatened the House with a dissolution, his experience should teach him that what Ministers propose to do in that direction does not necessarily follow.
Consecration of Banners.
– I desire to. move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz., “ The Royal Review next Monday, and ‘the expenditure of public money on a denominational service in connexion with the consecration of banners.”’
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– I understand that the Minister of Defence entertains the view that this question might very properly ‘be discussed upon the -Defence Estimates.
– The honorable and learned member did not give me notice of his intention to move the adjournment of the House. He did not tell me of it until 28 minutes to 11 o’clock.
– When I gave notice to the Minister, he stated that the question might very property be debated when the Estimates were under consideration, and I understand that they are to be considered to-day.
– Could not the honorable and learned member debate the matter then ?
– No. The Minister having submitted his defence reorganization scheme, it naturally follows that a very large part of the debate upon the first day that the Defence Estimates are under consideration will have reference to that scheme. Unfortunately, this consecration of military banners is to take place next Monday. I trust that the Prime Minister, or the Minister of Defence, will take action to stop the proceedings in connexion with that ceremonial. Regarding the Minister’s statement that I only gave him notice of my intention to move the adjournment of the House at 28 minutes to11o’clock-
– Is not my statement true?
– I think that the time fixed by the Minister is rather late. I told him at least a fortnight ago that I contemplated taking some action in connexion with this matter.
– The honorable and learned member said that it would be raised during the discussion upon the Defence Estimates.
– Consequently, the Minister cannot urge that he is being taken by surprise. Seeing that the Estimates of his Department are to be discussed to-day, he should have been fully prepared, and, therefore, his statement that this matter should be debated entirely upon the Defence Estimates falls to the ground. I do not desire to do anything which is contrary to the wishes of the honorable and learned gentleman, because I must admit that in this matter he has given me all the information for which I have asked. I wish to say that this matter, although it is apparently a trivial one, involving as it does an expenditure of only£66s.6d.-
– Order. Will the honorable and learned member kindly take his seat ? I have no information upon the matter, but I would ask the Minister of Defence whether the expenditure of£66s.6d., towhichthe honorable and learned member for Corio refers, is included in any vote upon the Estimates which are to be considered in a few minutes.
– It will be paid out, of the ordinary vote which appears upon the Estimates.
– In that case, I do not think thatI ought to allow the honorable and learned member to proceed, inasmuch as his motion would anticipate discussion upon another matter, which will presently come before the Committee of Supply. If this expenditure can be dealt with in the debate upon the Defence Estimates, I ought not to permit the honorable and learned member to proceed at the present stage.
– I submit, sir, that the very fact that you had to ask the Minister of Defence whether the expenditure to which I refer is included in the Defence Estimates shows that the item is not specific. If. you rule that I cannot proceed with my motion, I submit that it necessarily follows that no public expenditure can be discussed until the Estimates are under consideration.
– In answer to the point which has been raised by the honorable and learned member, I would say that I should regard his question as one of urgency - in view of the fact that the ceremony to which he refers will take place upon Monday next - if the Defence Estimates were not to be considered before that day. But seeing that they are to be considered this morning, and that consequently the honorable and learned member will not lose his opportunity of discussing this matter, I do not think that I ought to permit the debate to continue. To do so would allow a discussion which will follow in a few moments to be anticipated.
– I would respectfully submit that my motion covers more than the immediate expenditure contemplated in connexion with the consecration of military banners. But concerning that expenditure, I would point out that you are assuming, sir, that that particular matter will be discussed to-day. I submit that it is extremely unlikely that that will be so. The item is a long way down upon the Defence Estimates, and, consequently, it is improbable that it will be reached to-day. As the ceremonial to which I have referred will take place on Monday next, I would ask you to reconsider the matter very carefully before ruling finally that I cannot proceed with my motion.
-Having heard the honorable and learned member for a second. time, I have no hesitation in definitely ruling that at this stage he cannot proceed upon the notice that has been handed up to me, because a discussion upon the matter to which he refers would almost certainly take place upon the first item of the Defence Estimates. The honorable and learned member’s motion deals specifically with a matter of public expenditure. It reads -
To consider the Royal Review next Monday, and the expenditure of public money on a denominational service in connexion with the consecration of banners.
Seeing that the whole question of expenditure will come up for discussion in a few moments in Committee of Supply, I finally rule that the honorable and learned member cannot proceed at this stage.
– I propose to amend my motion.
– The honorable and learned member cannot do that. If he pleases, he can submit a motion dissenting from my ruling. It is quite competent for him to do that. I have already ruled .that he cannot proceed upon the formal motion for the adjournment of the House which he has handed to me.
– I understand, sir, that your ruling is that the honorable and learned member’s motion for adjournment cannot be proceeded with, but that upon the first item of the Defence Department it will be quite competent for him to make any remarks which he may think fit upon the general administration of that Department, including the particular matter of the consecration of military banners. If that be so, I appeal to the honorable and learned member to accept the position, and to discuss that matter upon the Defence Estimates.
– I would point out that the proposed review takes place on Monday next, and it is extremely likely that no vote will be arrived at upon that specific item of expenditure to-day.
– I thought that the honorable member desired to raise a fresh point of order. My answer to his statement is that, even if I permitted a discussion upon the motion of the honorable and learned member for Corio, no decision upon the item of expenditure in question would be arrived at.
– Mr. Speaker-
– Will . the honorable and learned member take his seat? The honorable and learned member has a right to address me upon a new point of order, but not otherwise.
– I wish to say that I did not have my motion before me when you ruled that it was out of order. I now find that it states that I desire to move the adjournment of the House to consider a matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ the Royal review next Monday, and the expenditure of public money on a denominational service in connexion with the consecration of banners.” In my remarks upon that motion I do not propose’ to confine myself to the expenditure of public money for denominational purposes. I intend also to discuss the Royal review, which takes place on Monday next. I wish to give an undertaking to that effect, and consequently I ask that I may be allowed to proceed. My motion has already been supported by the requisite number of honorable members.
– Really I do not think that I ought to permit the honorable and learned member -to proceed He has raised one point of order, which I have already finally determined. The new point which he now brings forward was considered by me previously. I repeat that the whole question will be open to discussion upon the Defence Estimates.
– I should like to ask your ruling, sir, upon a fresh point of order, and in doing so I wish it to be understood that I have no desire to embarrass the Chair in any way. I think, however, that it is well that we should have this, matter cleared up for our future guidance. I desire to know whether the very fact that a certain number of honorable members have supported the motion of the honorable and learned member for Corio is not practically an affirmation that this matter is one of urgent public importance, and under such circumstances ought it not to take precedence of all other business ?
– The fact that five honorable members rose in their places to support the motion of the honorable and learned member for Corio is conclusive evidence of its urgency. In the face of that fact I should not be justified in ruling that the business is not urgent, and could not therefore be brought forward. Our Standing Orders have to be read together, and in view of the standing order which declares that no question which anticipates any other question on the noticepaper shall be brought forward, I cannot’ permit the discussion of this matter. It anticipates not only a question on the noticepaper for a particular day, but one which is to come up for consideration immediately we go into Committee.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- Under standing order 287 I move -
That the ruling of Mr. Speaker which will not permit the honorable member for Corio to discuss the question of the Royal Review next Monday be disagreed to.
I submit this motion with a great deal of regret. I do not know whether it will be seconded, but I feel that in taking this action J am merely protecting not only my own right, but those of every honorable member.
– The motion not being seconded, I cannot put the question.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether a minimum wage clause has been inserted in all contracts for the supply of clothing for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is “ Yes.” I may add for his information that in South Australia an additional precaution is taken owing to some special circumstances which are said to prevail there. In that State the contractor has to furnish with his tender a statement showing the weekly wages or rates of piece-work to be paid under the contract.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 9th November, vide page 6786):
– I move-
That the item “ Secretary,£900,” be reduced by£1.
I take this action in order that the Committee may have an opportunity to express its dissatisfaction with the proposal of the Minister to hold a denominational and sectarian service in connexion wth the Royal Review and consecration of banners to take place on Monday next. I have at the outset to thank the leader of the Opposition - who naturally desires on the first item to discuss the question of the re-organization of the Defence Forces - for giving way to me. It is most unfortunate that the Minister was permitted a few days ago to drag a red herring across the track by making a statement as to the proposed reorganization of the Forces, when he could have done so on the motion for the second reading of the Bill to carry out the Government proposals.
– I made it specially for the purpose of obliging honorable members.
– I hold very definite views upon this question, but shall reserve my remarks until the Bill which has already been circulated is before the House on the motion for the second reading. That will be the proper time to discuss the whole matter. I ask honorable members to support this amendment on the ground that in doing so they will merely carry out the traditions of the Committee. When the Estimates were before us in 1902 a proposal was made to strike out an item of £200 to provide for the expenses of a religious service in the Exhibition-building in connexion with the coronation, and the Ministry allowed the item to be struck out without calling for a division. The service in question was a denominational one, but the Committee very properly decided to strike out the item on the ground that as every tax payer had to pay equally for the services of the Commonwealth, it was unfair that certain persons in the community who did not agree with this service should be called upon to contribute to the cost of carrying it out. The Minister seems to take up the position that the service to be held on Monday next will not be a denominational one, simply because a number of denominations will be represented at the ceremony.
– There is absolutely nothing denominational in the prayer.
– Could it be said by a person who did not belong to a denomination?
– A man could not say it unless he were aChristian, that is the only limitation.
– Why not get a nonChristian to say it?
– It would not hurt a nonChristian.
– The attitude taken up by the Minister is that because the proposed service will extend to several denominations - because the majority will be represented - the rights of the minority are not to be considered. He has admitted that the services will be a denominational one.
– I have not. The honorable and learned member must not put words into my mouth. He has a right to speak for himself, but certainly not for me.
– I shall leave the Committee to judge whether the honorable and learned gentleman has not made the admission in question by stating that the prayer was limited.
– I have specifically denied it.
– The interjection will appear in Hansard, and honorable members will be able to judge whether the honorable and learned gentleman did not make the admission which I attribute to him. I object to preference being shown to any special denomination, when there is a minority - it may be a minority of only one - opposed to anything of the kind. It is an infringement of the spirit, if not of the letter, of the Constitution, which provides that no religious body shall be established, and that no preference or discrimination shall be shown in regard to any religious denomination. I take it that this service can be objected to strongly on denominational grounds. On the20th ultimo I asked the Minister of Defence whether it was true that it had been arranged to consecrate the banners in the Melbourne Anglican Cathedral, or in Albert Park. The Minister replied-
It was stated in one of the newspapers that it had been arranged to consecrate the banners in the Melbourne Anglican Cathedral, but that statement was incorrect. No such proposal has been made to me. I am endeavouring to have the banners consecrated at a parade by chaplains of the Commonwealth Forces.
At another stage, he said that he did not. agree with their being consecrated in the Anglican Cathedral.
– I said I did not believe in the consecration taking place in a church of any particular denomination.
– The honorable and learned gentleman said -
When I saw the paragraph in the newspapers a few days ago, with regard to the proposed consecration of the colours in the Anglican Cathedral, I bore in mind the fact that we have no State church in Australia. I sent to the barracks for information as to whether the statement was correct, and drew attention to the fact that there was no State church in Australia, and that therefore I did not think it desirable to have the ceremony performed in a church of any. particular denomination, whether the Church of England or otherwise.
The honorable and learned gentleman also said that he proposed to have the ceremony carried out in Albert Park, and added -
I see no reason for not following the practice of the British Army on a similar occasion in Australia.
– I do not think that is right. I said I did not know, but I thought that it had been done before in Australia.
– It will be seen from the quotations from Hansard that the Minister does not remember what he did say, and that he objects to the banners being consecrated by any particular denomination, but not to their being consecrated by particular denominations. I wish the Committee to take notice of the form of prayer, and to inquire as to its source. The first part of the prayer is taken from the Communion Service in the Book of Common Prayer; the second is from the Evening Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer; the third is from the Collect for the fifth Sunday after Trinity, from the Book of Common Prayer; and the last is an original composition prepared by the Minister, or some one acting for him. I intend to read a part of the prayer, since it led to endless sectarian strife in England. If there’ is one part of the Book of Common Prayer which it would be unfortunate to adopt for this purpose it is that to which I am about to refer. It led to 2,000 clergymen leaving the Church of England on St. Bartholomew’s Day, 1662, because they did not believe in the King’s supremacy over the Church of England, and in the Divine right of the King to rule churches. They thought the State should confine itself to State matters, and leave the Church to look after religion. They objected to the Crown’s authority over spiritual affairs. It is admitted by historians that some of the most learned, most devoted, and most spiritual members of the church at the time left it rather than submit to a portion of the prayer which the Minister has selected for use. The prayer reads -
O Lord, our heavenly Father, high and mighty, King of kings, Lord of lords, the only. Ruler of princes, Who dost from Thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth; most heartily we beseech Thee with Thy favour to behold our most gracious Sovereign King Edward VII. then come the words - and so replenish him with the grace of Thy Holy Spirit -
That is the part to which exception was taken in olden times. It refers to the
Divine right of the King to govern the church - that he may always incline to Thy will, and
Walk in Thy way. Endue him plenteously with heavenly gifts, grant him in health and wealth, long to live; strengthen him that he may vanquish and overcome all his enemies; and, finally, after this life, he may attain everlasting joy and felicity, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
– What is wrong with that?
– I am not going to say what is wrong or right about it; my own private opinion has nothing to do with it, but as I have remarked, 2,000 clergymen of the Church of England left the Church because of it.
– Do not drag in those matters.
– I am not dragging them in. The historic facts stand and should be known here and accepted. I, in common with some thousands of others, will have to attend this service, and many men who are not members of the Church of England cannot accept this prayer if it means that the King has a right to govern any church. Many denominations object to it. In the printed programme of the service, as issued by the Minister, the name of His Majesty appears very properly in largecapitals; but it is noteworthy that the words “Holy Spirit” are printed with a small “h” and’ small “s.”
– What is the honorable and learned member’s objection to the prayer ?
– I am voicing the objections of many persons outside.
– What is the ground of the objection ?
– That the King is not the depository of the Holy Spirit.
– It does not seem to me that that sentence is capable of the construction which the honorable and learned member has placed on it.
– The Minister was not satisfied with that prayer. On the 27th October last, I asked him - and the question and answer are recorded on page 6208 of Hansard -
Will the Minister of Defence place a copy of the prayer previously referred to by him in the Library for inspection by members ?
To that the Minister replied -
The prayer will be taken into consideration by all the chaplains who are to take part in the ceremony before it is finally adopted, in order that care may be exercised to see that no expression remains in it to which any denomination might take exception. When this has been done I shall have no objection to a copy of the prayer being laid on the table of the library, in order that it may be perused by those honorable members who desire to read it.
We have an example, in the history of the Victorian Bible in State Schools League, of the effect of attempts of this kind to scrutinize and to water-down religious opinions and beliefs. Nearly all the denominations were at first represented in that league, but very soon the representatives of a denomination whose adherents number one-fourth of the population left it. Then the Unitarian representative left it. Then the Jewish Rabbi, and finally the Congregational representative left it, and it was discovered that a collection of Biblical extracts which would suit all denominations would be regarded as having no religious value at all, because with many people, when a matter loses its denominational flavour, it becomes non-religious. This subject has already been raised by some of the denominations. I have received a letter from the Rev. A. Rivett, of Albury, dated 7 th November, who stated that he brought the matter up before the Congregational Union of Australasia. I am informed that a denomination whose adherents number one-fourth of the population will refuse to be represented by their chaplain at the ceremony to take place on Monday next, because a chaplain who represents another denomination has been chosen to be the principal chaplain on the occasion. So that the ceremony is certain to cause offence, and the Committee should support me in my attempt to prevent denominational differences from spreading any further. The Minister said that he would refer this matter to the chaplains of the Department. I asked him if he would allow the proposed prayer to be read by representatives of denominations who are not represented in the Chaplains Department of the Defence Forces; but the Minister said that he would confine the matter strictly to denominations who had representatives.
– I said that I would confine it strictly to officers of the Commonwealth Forces who were chaplains; that I would not refer the matter to any denomination which had not a chaplain in the Forces.
– Must I correct the Minister again? On the 20th October, I asked the Minister whether he -
Had any objection to allow any denomination which is not represented by a chaplain, or any denomination which, representing taxpayers, is non-Christian, to be present at the consecration of these banners?
His reply was -
I do not propose to invite any denomination to be officially represented at the consecration 0 f the banners, except those which have chaplains in the Forces. 1 find b.y reference to the Military List, pub lished on the ist February, 1904, that there are no Roman Catholic chaplains in Queensland. South Australia, and Tasmania; no Presbyterian chaplains in South Australia, and none in Western Australia ; while there are no Independent, Baptist, Unitarian, or Jewish chaplains in any of the States. At the ceremony on Monday next the adherents of denominations not represented by chaplains will number 1,545,000, or one-third of the total population of the Commonwealth. I admit that the proceedings will be countenanced by the representatives of a majority of the population, but I lay it down as a proposition which the Committee should affirm, that where matters of religion are concerned, not one penny of public money should be spent on any proceedings in which a minority cannot take part. The Minister has said that he did not know of colours ever having been presented to a Victorian regiment.
– I do not know of any such proceeding.
– The colours now borne by the Senior Cadets on all occasions were made by Lady Loch and her daughters, but they were presented without a religious consecration, and I cannot find that anywhere in Australia, with the exception of Western Australia, on the occasion referred to by the right honorable member for Swan, has any religious ceremony of this nature taken place.
– It has happened more than once in Western Australia.
– Things are done there which could not be done in any of the other States, and, I hope, will never be done under the Commonwealth Administration. That was because the State at the time had not representative government, and was administered by an autocrat. The Minister has asked what objection there can be to the colours under which our troops have to fight being consecrated with prayer. I would remind honorable members, however, that, nowadays, regimental colours are never carried on the field of battle. Some of the regiments taking part in the South African war possess colours which have been borne in previous fights extending back over a period of centuries ; but nowadays such colours are always left behind at the home station. Therefore, when the Minister spoke of the troops fighting under tlie colours, he said what was not correct.
– Did I say that?
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports interjected, when the Minister was speaking the other day, “Are you going to consecrate the guns ? “ and the honorable and learned ..gentleman’s reply was to the effect that he saw no objection to a form of prayer being used in connexion with the consecration of the colours, because ours is a defence force.
– I said, “ Ours is a defence force, and I think that it is a very proper thing to ask for a blessing upon the colours of such an organization.”
– The honorable and learned gentleman made the statement in reply to a question asked by me. The other statement was made in reply to an interjection of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. The Minister also told us that he had sanctioned these proceedings because the King’s Regulations provide1 a form of prayer. I have looked through the King’s Regulations, and I find that there is no form of prayer provided there. I wish to know under what section of the King’s Regulations these proceedings are authorized? In the first place, the King’s Regulations apply only to authorized denominations. I understand that some Methodist chaplains have of late been appointed, but, when the King’s Regulations were issued, the only authorized denominations in England were Presbyterian, Church of England, and Roman Catholic, all representative of State churches. The King’s Regulations, upon which the Minister depends for his authority-
– I did not say that. I wish the honorable and learned member would quote my words, and not paraphrase them.
– I am not going to quote the Minister’s words, because he has denied his statements several times. The King’s Regulations say -
Where a minister of any one of the recognised Protestant denominations is not available, officers and soldiers of that denomination may attend the service of either of the other denominations that they may elect.
Every soldier, when not prevented by military duty, is to attend the worship of Almighty God, according to the forms prescribed by his own religion.
The regulations also provide that a Book of Common Prayer is to be issued at the public expense to every soldier who applies for it. What I wish to point out is that the Minister is adopting the procedure followed in a country which has a State church. I also wish to direct attention to the drill for which provision is made upon the occasion of the consecration of the colours. I propose to quote from the Victorian Infantry Drill Book, issued to officers, in which the following directions are given : -
The consecration will then proceed. (A form of prayer for this ceremony may be procured at the Chaplain-General’s office.
After the consecration the senior Major will hand the Queen’s colour to the person presenting the colours, from whom the senior lieutenant will receive it, going down on the right knee ; the regimental colour will in like manner be handed by the next senior Major and received by the second senior lieutenant ; both lieutenants will then rise.
This shows that on the presentation of the colours there is to be a certain amount of kneeling on the part of the officers to whom the colours are to be handed. I should like to know what warrant there is for asking officers to kneel to the person who is to present the colours.
– The only provision made there is for kneeling to receive the colours.
– From whom?
– From whoever may present them.
– I take it that the Minister approves of this.
– I have not said so.
– At any rate, arrangements are to be made for officers to kneel to the person who is to present the colours. That arrangement has received the approval of the Minister. When I spoke to some members of the Committee they expressed a very strong objection to the consecration of the colours, but did not think it was worth while taking any notice of the proposed arrangements. If this is to be the only case of its kind, I do not know that any serious notice need be taken of it, but ifwe consent to spend £66s.6d. upon this ceremony, and recognise any one denominational service at the expense of the general taxpayer, we shall initiate a bad practice. I trust that honorable members will agree with me in saying that so far as this matter is concerned, the consciences and convictions of those who do not approve of the form which the ceremony is to take shall be recognised.
The denominations which are not represented by the chaplains who will take part in the ceremony, comprise fully one-third of the community, and presumably one-third of the troops will have reason to object to any distinction being made to the disadvantage of the religious bodies with which they are connected. If any man desires to leave the parade-ground whilst the ceremony is going on, he should be permitted to do so. I asked the Minister whether any of the troops would, according to the terms of the King’s Regulations, be permitted to leave the ground if they so desired. The Minister said nothing whatever would be done to infringe the spirit or letter of the King’s Regulations. I am informed, however, that no troops will be allowed to absent themselves from the parade. The men will be compelled to be present. This is one of the day parades of the year, and will count in respect of a man’s efficiency and pay. If a soldier does not attend upon this occasion he will not be ranked as efficient.
– Does the honorable and learned member contend that a soldier must be present at this parade in order to qualify as efficient for the year?
– I assert that it will be absolutely necessary for some men to be present in order to qualify as efficient. I find that the King’s Regulations, which have been approved by the Minister, provide -
No soldier of any denomination is to be obliged to attend divine worship of any other religious body than his own.
If I had any choice in the matter, I should not attend the parade, but I shall be compelled to do so. I think it is right that we should protest against the slightest infringement upon religious equality and liberty, and I hope that the Minister will render it unnecessary to proceed to a division in order to insure that the religious equality of all members of the Commonwealth military forces shall be preserved.
– I desire to say only aword or two with reference to the remarks of the honorable and learned member. I do not propose to repeat all the answers I have given to the numerous questions the honorable and learned member has put to me. The fact is that a form of prayer is to be used, and that the leading part in the ceremony of consecration is to be takenby the senior chaplain of the Commonwealth Forces of Australia,who happens to be the Rev. Mr. Mort, of Sydney, a member of the Anglican communion. Chaplains representative of each of the denominations having chaplains in Victoria are also to take part. The denominations having chaplains in other States are also represented in the Victorian forces, namely, Church of England, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Roman Catholic. A chaplain of each of these denominations, in addition to the senior chaplain of the Forces, has been requested to attend. This matter arose on the 12th of October, when a paragraph appeared in the Argus, stating that the consecration was to take place in the Anglican Cathedral, Melbourne. That was the first intimation I had, and I immediately had the extract cut out and .sent to the General Officer Commanding, with the following minute: - ‘
The Minister would he glad to be informed what colours are referred to in the above extract from the “Argus”; whether the information therein given is corect; and, if so, whether such procedure is proposed, in view of the fact that there is no established Church in Australia. Any such proposals should, the Minister thinks, be submitted for his consideration before being adopted.
I was informed by the General Officer Commanding -
No arrangement has been made at present for consecrating the standards sent by His Majesty the King. The Minister may rely upon my consulting him in the matter.
Then the General Officer Commanding discussed the matter with me, and we arranged what, as a matter of fact, is to take place on Monday. That is, the senior chaplain is to lead,’ and the other chaplains representative of each of the denominations which have chaplains in the forces have been asked to be present..
– Have been asked to be present ?
– The honorable member exacts accuracy in language in others which would be praiseworthy in himself. No chaplain can be ordered to be present, because no compulsion can be exercised in such cases. They have been invited to be present.
– The Minister said they had been requested to attend.
– I do not see the distinction.
– If the Minister invited me to do something it would be very different from requesting me to perform a certain act.
– I do not see any distinction in this case. The chaplains have been requested to take part in the service. What the exact words of the communication were I do not know, because I did not send it. At any rate, they have been requested to join in the service, and I do not think that any of them will refuse to do so. The chaplains are to meet and arrange with Mr. Mort, the senior chaplain, as to how they will divide the duty of repeating the prayers. Of course, from a military point of view, seniority depends on seniority of commission, and the Rev. Mr. Mort is senior, because he has been longest connected with the Forces as chaplain. I do not propose to discuss the prayers that are to be offered. The honorable and, learned member for Corio says that they are extracted from the Anglican Book’ of Common Prayer. I do not profess to know. I am not an Anglican, but I belong to the Presbyterian Church, about which the honorable member for Kennedy seems so muchconcerned. At any rate, I do not know that any non -Anglican susceptibilities have so far been offended in the least degree by the form of the proposed prayers. I confess that I regret that the honorable and learned member has considered it necessary, in the performance of his duty to the public as a member of this House, to act as he has done.
– I know that the Minister regrets it, .and I regret that his action has rendered mine necessary.
– I regret the action of the honorable and learned member, because if any unpleasantness should arise he may take to himself the credit of having caused it.
– I think the thanks of the Committee are due to the honorable and learned member for Corio for bringing this matter before them. I do not intend to discuss the proposed prayer, because that has nothing to do with me, or with this House. I object, however, to our having anything to do with the recognition of any particular denomination or denominations.
– We use a form of prayer in this House.
– That is true, but, judging from the conduct of honorable members upon some occasions immediately after the prayer has been offered, I think it would be a very good thing if we abandoned our present’ practice. The course that it is proposed to adopt in connexion with the consecration of the banners may prove to be the thin end of the wedge for the recognition of a State Church. Of course these evils grow from small beginnings. It is just possible that years hence, when no honorable member of this House will have anything to do with political life, the matter to which I refer may assume a very much larger shape.
– I should be very sorry to have anything to do with it if I entertained that opinion.
– I regret very much that this ceremonial is to be held, and espe-! daily in view of the fact that some little time ago the House almost unanimously refused to vote a sum of money to enable a religious service to be held in the Exhibition Building in connexion with the Coronaton of the King. I mate bold to say that that service would have partaken of just as broa’d a character as does the one which is contemplated.
– If we have an army we must have chaplains, and we must pay them. One would think that Ave were a lot of heathens.
– I regret a’ery much that, in view of all the circumstances, the service is to be held. To my mind it is likely to prove the thin end of the wedge, and to be quoted in future as a precedent in the direction of the establishment of a State Church. My object in addressing these remarks to the Committee is to place upon record the fact that some protest Avas made against the proposal of the Government I hope that the service which will be held on Monday next will not be regarded as a precedent.
– I also join in the encomiums which have been passed upon the honorable member for Corio. I object to the introduction into the Commonwealth Parliament of proposals to restore or perpetuate the relics of bygone ages - of ceremonies which belong *o the darkness of savage antiquity. I say that, as an intelligent body of men, we ought to abolish them. I do not contend for a moment that prayer for His Majesty the King is not good.
– Does the honorable member think that he needs it?
– I do. I think that all persons belonging to the aristocracy require prayer and everything else upon which they can lay their hands. If Ave dip into history, Ave shall find that the savages of every age had their so-called “ medicine men,” vhom they used to call in to bless the bludgeons and spears Avith which ‘they went forth to slay their enemies. In America the Geronomo and tiger-cat Apache Indian chiefs never went out to kill their adversaries without first having their weapons blessed by their medicine men. It is about time that we abolished such nonsense. Before General Kuropatkin left Moscow the divine petroleum Avas showered upon his head, but the Japanese have burnt it off. I believe in prayer, but I believe in prayer according to the injunction in the Scriptures, which says “ Pray in your I closets.” The hypocrites pray in the “open 1 market,” whereas genuine Christians pray in their closets. I am surprised that a progressive Ministry in an enlightened ag,e should propose to sanction such a violation of sacred religion.
– Surely the honorable member does not call the present Ministry a “ progressive “ one?
– Yes, collectively speaking, I do. Personally, I am indebted to the honorable and learned member for Corio. It requires some courage to rise in this Committee and to say what one thinks.
– The honorable member has shown that he can take either side.
– The honorable member for New England is labouring under a multiplicity of terrific hallucinations.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- I should like the Minister to state definitely whether he will direct that any officer, noncommissioned officer, or man may attend the. parade at the Royal Review, which is to”1 be held on Monday, without taking part in the religious ceremony?
– I cannot make any definite promise at the moment, because I do not’ know w here it will land me.
– Surely the Minister can make a simple reply to a question of that sort.
– It is customary for a man, when he assumes responsibility, to ascertain the facts before making a definite’ announcement.
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy). - It seems to me that the request of the honorable and learned member for Corio is a very fair one. Surely any member of the Defence Force whO entertains conscientious objections to attending the religious portion of the cere’monial will have his scruples respected !
– In that case he need not attend.
– I understand that the men are compelled to be present.
– If they wish to make up the number of parades necessary to render them “efficient,” they must attend.
– I understood that they were compelled to be present. If so, I think it is a reasonable request that they should be relieved of the obligation to participate in the proposed religious service.
– I wish to point out that, with the exception of the Permanent Forces, no member of the Defence Force need attend the parade upon Monday next. It is quite true that the men can earn a certain maximum pay, but during the year there are more than sufficient parades held to permit of their earning that maximum. They have to attend a certain number of parades - less than the maximum number - in order to qualify themselves as “-efficient,” and to avoid being fined. The result is that no member of the Forces attends all parades. I repeat that no member of the Citizen Forces need attend this parade. Upon Monday next the country troops will not hold a’ parade at all - even in their own localities. Attendance at the approaching review, except in regard to the Permanent Force, is entirely voluntary, and I will undertake to say “that any member of that force who has conscientious objections to listening to the prayers which are to be offered upon that occasion need not listen to them.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- As the Minister is aware, many men take advantage of the parade upon the King’s Birthday to assist in qualifying as “efficient.” There is nothing else to occupy their time upon that day. During the year every member of the Defence Force is compelled to attend three whole-day parades, fifteen half-days, and twenty-four night drills, in order to qualify as “efficient.” The Minister’s statement that members of the Citizen Force need not attend simply means that those who do not will be required to forego their liberty upon some other day in order to put in the requisite number of parades. The Minister has also declared that any member of the Permanent Forces who entertains conscientious objections to attending the proposed religious service need not be present. I venture to say that any individual who dared to absent himself from that service would be a “marked” man, and would speedily have his discharge applied for. It is only by protesting against this sort of thing that we can hope to effect any reform in the Forces. I shall either be obliged to hand over the command of my company, on Monday next, to somebody else, or to listen to a service to which, because of the susceptibilities of others, I entertain grave objection.
– The honorable and learned member will not attend the parade on behalf of other people.
– Knowing that the service will offend other persons, it is objectionable to me. I have no desire to obstruct the transaction of public business. This is the first occasion upon which I have sought to move the adjournment of the House.
– Why apologize? The honorable and learned member is quite within his rights in so doing.
– I am not apologizing, but I wish to point out that with me this is a matter of earnest conviction. Of course the proposed service will not shock the sensibilities of those who believe in a State church, but I am descended from a race which fought against that. I have no wish to obtrude my own denomination into this matter, but, as an Independent, I refuse to even seem to recognise any connexion between the State and the Church. I believe that we, as a State, should adhere to strict secularism. Why should a Jew be called upon to attend this service? There are Jews who are respected members of this House, and, in passing, I may say that I was proud to hear the way in which one of these honorable gentlemen was cheered when he rose a few days ago to protest against an attack which had been made upon him on the ground of his race and religion. Why should a Jew who is a member of our Defence Forces, and who must attend the Review in order to be efficient, be compelled to listen to a prayer to which he objects? It is a scandal that he should be compelled to do so.
– What about the prayer with which the House is opened every day ?
– Any honorable member who objects to it need not be present, unless he chooses, when it is read. All that I ask is that if a member of the Forces desires to stay away, he shall be allowed to do so. I am satisfied’ that the Committee has a sufficient sense of fairness to decide that a man’s religious convictions shall be re- spected, and that any member of the Defence Forces who desires to stay away on the occasion of the Review shall be allowed to do so. Members of the Militia Forces will not be compelled to attend, but the Minister should say to those who will have to do so that they need not take part in the religious portion of the ceremony if they have con.scient ious objections. Some of the Permanent Forces will probably be kept at fatigue duty and other distasteful work if they state that they have conscientious scruples in connexion with this ceremony, and I say that it is an insult to the House and to the religious beliefs of a large section of the community, that the proposed service should take place. I trust that the Committee will not consent to it.
– I feel just as strongly as does the honorable and learned member for Corio that no man’s conscientious convictions should be interfered with in any way. If there were one word in the proposed prayer that was tantamount to such an interference, I should say at once that the Minister had done wrong in consenting to it. I. am a dissenter, and do not recognise any State church ; but I cannot conceive of anything in the words of the prayer intended to be used which amounts to a recognition of a State church, or that could possibly be offensive to any one.
– The King’s supremacy in religion is recognised in it.
– Nothing of the kind. Surely no one would object to pray that God’s blessing might rest upon the King. I am a preacher in the denomination to which I belong, and, notwithstanding that I arn against a State church in every shape and form, I would use this prayer, rightly or wrongly, in any pulpit I might occupy. If I were Minister of Defence, the service probably would not take place. I do not intend to raise any objection to it, but if I did, my objection would be not to the form of the prayer, but to the consecration of the banners. I should oppose the holding of any religious service in connexion with their consecration. I cannot see the consistency of having prayer associated with the consecration of banners which may float over the heads of men when they go forth to kill their fellow beings. If the honorable and learned member had objected to the proposal on that broad ground, there might have been something in his opposition to it; but we should stultify ourselves if we supported the amendment merely on the lines on which it has been submitted. If the objection had been raised on other lines-
– I adopt the honorable member’s arguments altogether.
– Had the honorable and learned member opposed the proposal on other grounds, I might have considered whether the consecration should take place at all ; but surely no one would object to ask a blessing - -whether for the Czar of Russia, ,the Emperor of Japan, or any man. I shall not support the honorable and learned member, but I am pleased to learn that for once he- has some settled convictions. I hope that we shall have further evidence in that direction.
– I agree with the views expressed by the honorable member for New England, as to the wording of the prayer, and do not propose to take any exception to it. I have not carefully studied the prayer; but, after all, the objection taken to the wording is only a minor matter. What we have to consider are the important principles underlying the whole proposal, and I think that the Committee is under an obligation to the honorable and1 learned member for Corio for bringing those principles prominently before us. In this new land we have rid ourselves of the old shackles of denominationalism - of a State Church, and a State system of religion - but in this instance we are to have a revival of the old system.
– There is nothing in that.
– I object not to the wording of the prayer, but to the methods to be adopted in carrying out the ceremony. The honorable and learned member for Corio asked us’ to object to the ceremony, not merely because of the wording of the prayer, but because of the broad1 general principle which is involved. It is from that standpoint that I view the question, apart altogether from the technicalities associated with the utterance of a few words of prayer by the representative of some religious denomination.
– I think that the honorable member for Corio took objection to particular words in the prayer.
– Not exclusively.
– I understood that the honorable and learned member’s objection related to the broad principle underlying their use. I shall protest as strongly as I can against preference being given to any one church, or to anything in the direction of bringing about the establishment of any
State Church in the Commonwealth. I have as great a reverence for the verities of the Christian religion as has any honorable member. I endeavour to cultivate the Christian spirit, because I have a profound belief in those verities; but the proposed ceremony will practically require on the part of those who join in it the recognition of a particular church, or a particular form of religion, and will tend to bring the grand and noble aims of the Prince of Peace into ridicule. It is for that reason that I protest against it, and shall support the amendment. I shall support the honorable and learned member, in protesting not against the mere words to be used in the prayer, but against the principle involved in the introduction of a system that must bring the grand and noble religion of Jesus Christ into ridicule, and make it but a mere travesty.
– I did not intend to take part in the discussion of the proposed consecration ceremony, but as some honorable members appear to take a different view from that held by the soldiers as to what is meant by serving under the colours, I think it is necessary to briefly deal with the question. Let me relate to the Committee a little incident which took place in South Africa at the time of the Zulu war, in order to show how highly the troops value their colours. Just before the battle of Isandula, the two battalions of the 24th Regiment met in South Africa for the first time since the Peninsular War, and they celebrated the occasion by setting apart a special d’ay for the trooping of their colours. The sentiments which were expressed at that ceremony are so firmly imprinted on my memory that I shall never forget” them. It was a regular gala.day for the two battalions. Shortly afterwards the battle of Isandula took place, and while General Thesiger, afterwards Lord Chelmsford, was away with part of the two battalions, the remainder, with the colours, remained in camp. If honorable members had witnessed the anxiety which the men betrayed for the safety of their colours, they would not have anything to say against the consecration which is to take place on Monday next. A banner, after all, is only a bit of silk - sometimes a fragment little better than a rag - but the whole history of a regiment is sometimes contained in it ; and in this case the history of the 24th Regiment was bound up in the little bit of silk which was the subject of such deep anxiety. Honorable members may, perhaps, remember the story of Lieutenants Melville and Coghill, who,; believing the colours to be in danger, tore them from the poles, and wrapped them round their bodies like a cummer-bund. They swam through rivers, they dropped down bluffs, but eventually, in their anxiety to get away, and so save the honour of ‘.he regiment, they were shot. The first thing that was asked when we came up with the relieving force was, what had become of the colours? Attempts were made to ascertain their whereabouts, and. if honorable members had seen the anxiety expressed by both officers and men about their loss they would not oppose the proposed consecration. The regiment with which I served, the Royal Artillery, had no colours with them, because their colours are kept either at London or Woolwich, I forget which.
– Are not regimental colours always kept at home?
– If regimental colours were always kept at home the 24th Regiment would not have had its colours in danger on the occasion of which I am speaking.
– But at the present day?
– I do not know, because’ it is twenty-three or twenty-four years since I left the service. Some days after, Lieutenants Melville and Coghill were found with the colours wrapped round them, and their bodies were brought into camp at Helpmakaar, on the Natal side of the Tugela. It seemed to me that the saving of the colours was the only thing that kept the regiment together. The colours are symbolic of the unity of a regiment. The names of the engagements in which it has taken part during its whole existence are inscribed on them, and the trooping of the colours once a year is a great day. Those who have seen the trooping of the colours of the’ different regiments of Guards at St. James’ in London know that it is a sight always to be remembered. The proposed consecration service at Albert Park will be a similar proceeding, to which I see ho objection at all. If the Government think fit to have these banners consecrated, all I have to say is, let them be consecrated. If I were a member of the Forces, and had any religious scruple about being present at a ceremony of this kind, I would stay away. The Minister said that any one who objects to it’ may stay away, so that I do not know what objection there can be to the course proposed. The honorable “and learned member for Corio has told us that men staying away because of religious scruples, or because they object to the ceremony, will have to do fatigue duty. I know that when I served in the ranks my desire was always to get to church, in order to avoid fatigue duty.
– That did not show much respect for religion.
– Going to church made me a better man, or, at any rate, I was not a worse man for going there. So far as respect for religion is concerned, I resemble the honorable member ; I respect as much of it as I like.
– It would be better for us if the principles taught in church were more often obeyed by us.
– It does no man harm to go to church. The mere act of consecration is neither here nor there. The honorable and learned member for Corio took exception to the wording of the prayer.
– No. I saidthat other people were offended by it. It does not matter to me personally.
– I understood the honorable and learned member to say that it made the King thehead of the Church, though I could not understand his objection. Similar objection might be taken to the prayer with which our proceedings are opened, but, of course, any honorable member who objects to it can stay away while it is being read. The honorable member for Canobolas has told us that there is a great principle involved. I thought that there was a great principle underlying the proposed religious service at the Exhibition Building, and I was not prepared to vote£200 for it, because I am opposed to anything like the recognition of a State church ; but I should like to know from the honorable and learned member for Corio what denomination takes exception to the particular form of prayer which is to be adopted at Albert Park. Every one of us, in one way or another, when he prays, asks for the blessing of the Almighty, and that is all that is asked for in this instance. 1 do not cavil at the wording of the petition. With regard to the sentiment created byproceedings of this kind, I say that honorable members ought to serve in the Forces if they wish to know the value of sentiment. The colours of a regiment are only a little bit of bunting, but the feeling I had when I saw the flag flying over Rorke’s Drift, when we came up to its relief, was such as I have never experienced before or since. If those who follow the banners which are to be consecrated on Monday next have the same feelings it will be a good thing for them. Take away sentiment, and what have we left? Nothing at all.
– Will the consecration of these banners increase that sentiment ?
– Will it take it away?I think that it is a good thing to consecrate the banners, though I do not care whether it is done by a Church of England clergyman, a Presbyterian, or one of some other denomination. If the ceremony creates in others the sentiment which was aroused in my own breast, it will be a good thing for them.
– I understand that the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corio is, strictly speaking, to reduce the proposed vote by £1, whatever his reasons for moving it may be. I have time and again in this Chamber opposed to the utmost of my ability the reduction of the Defence Estimates, and I take this opportunity to doso again. There has been a great deal of discussion upon the particular matter referred toby the honorable and learned member for Corio, but I wish rather to give reasons why I think that the provision made for the defence of Australia is too small as it is, and why, in consequence, we should not support the honorable and learned member’s amendment.
– Let us first dispose of the question raised by the honorable and learned member for Corio.
– There will be nothing to prevent other honorable members from continuing the discussion of that question after I have concluded my speech.
– This is a “ put-up “ thing, to prevent a distinct issue being raised.
– I ask that the honorable and learned member for Corio may be called upon to withdraw that remark.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Mr. Groom). - I did not catch the remark; but if words of offence were used, I ask the honorable and learned member to withdraw them.
– If you, sir, rule that my words were offensive, I withdraw them. I said that this is a “ put-up “ thing, to prevent a distinct issue being raised.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Mr. Groom). - I think that those words contain a reflection on the honorable member for Wentworth, and I thereforeask that they be withdrawn.
– I withdraw them.
– The dispositions made for the defence of the Commonwealth presuppose an invasion or an attempt by a foreign power to take territory from us, with a view to establishing a colony or naval base in Australia. I do not think, however, that that assumption is a tenable one. I hold that the most likely form of attack would be a raid on our commerce or on one of our chief ports. Australia is too distant from other parts of the world for any important power to contemplate the invasion or seizure of our territory. But we are bringing into existence to meet such a remote contingency a field force, the organization of which seems to have already been practically perfected. Let me give one or two reasons for my opinion that an invasion of Australia will in all probability never take place. The only country which in modern times has carried on a campaign similar to that which would be necessary for the subjugation of Australia, or the seizure of any of our territory, is Great Britain; but, in spite of her enormous mercantile marine, and the great wealth which she possesses, she found the subjugation of a small people in South Africa an almost impossible task. With the exception of the United States, with which I hope we shall never have any difference, there is no power in the world capable of effecting a serious landing on our coasts. Furthermore, we should not lose sight of the fact that an enemy could’ not seriously consider the invasion of Australia until after England had permanently lost command of the seas. On the other hand, it is quite possible that the fleets of England may temporarily in time of war lose command of the seas, though I hope that that will never come about. It is also more than probable that long distance cruisers will occasionally be able to evade the British Fleets engaged in blockading the ports of our enemies.
– That has happened before.
– Yes, and might happen again. In time of war the duty of the English fleets would be to, as far as possible, blockade the ports of the enemy ; but single cruisers might now and again succeed in slipping through the cordon of British warships, and afterwards try to damage the mercantile marine of Great Britain. And then, with a view to prevent food supplies from reaching that country, they might raid distant ports of the Empire. As it would be virtually impossible, owing to the proximity of the cruisers co-operating with the English Fleets, for such cruisers to attack vessels bringing England’s food supplies near the English coasts, that is, at their point of arrival, they would go further afield and seek to intercept them at their point of departure. And, consequently, I hold that the forms of attack which we have most to fear are such raiding of our ports, and such interference with our shipping, as might be made by a powerful commercedestroying vessel of the enemy. The protection of our ports may seem of small moment to people living in the country, but as the four chief coastal cities of Australia contain one-third of the population of the Commonwealth, while, with the exception of a few detached lines in Queensland, all our railway systems branch out from them ; as, in short, they are our chief centres of external and internal distribution, their protection is a matter of the utmost importance. A cruiser of heavy tonnage and’ fair armament, such as the Russian vessel, Gromoboi, which recently visited these waters, would be able to so terrorize our merchant marine as to make it take refuge in these ports, and to intimidate our people to the extent of seriously interfering with the whole business of the country.
– That could happen only if the British Fleet in these waters was destroyed.
– One Russian ship recently paralyzed business in San Francisco.
– - I have endeavoured to show that it is probable that foreign cruisers may occasionally escape English blockading squadrons, in the same way as the Russian Fleet escaped from the Japanese squadron engaged in blockading Vladivostock.
– But directly an enemy’s cruiser did any damage in these waters, the fact would be reported to the British vessels engaged in defending our coast.
– I admit that. I think I shall be able to show that that will not take very long - that the fact to which the Minister has referred will make it essential to the cruiser to deliver an immediate attack against our shipping and the bases of our shipping. And I will endeavour to show that our ports are not in a position to repel a sudden raid of this narture. Several suggestions have been made with a view to insuring the more effective protection of our ports: The’ head of trie late Government suggested that torpedo-boat destroyers should be obtained. The natural objection I have to such a proposal is that the formation of a separate fleet for Australia would not be best calculated to promote the well-being of the Commonwealth, or of the Empire of which we form an important part. Torpedoboats are most effective for the purposes of attack; and can develop their best qualities only during night attacks and whilst manoeuvring in smooth waters. An enemy’s ship would, however, make an attack under the conditions most favorable for her purpose, and would certainly not at night attack a port defended by torpedoboats. The second essential for the effective manoeuvring of a torpedo squadron is smooth water - a condition which seldom obtains along our coasts. Therefore, I think we may, for the present, dismiss the suggestion that we should obtain torpedoboat destroyers.
– What about submarine boats?
– Submarines, owing to their slowness, are useful more for the purpose of ‘ attacking than for defending ports. A large number of submarine boats are being constructed by France, and also by England, with a view to attack each other’s ports in the channel. A submarine is too slow to attack a moving ship with any certainty. She can direct her movements so as to deliver an attack at a fixed point and in a given time. If, however, an enemy’s cruiser were off our shores, her commander would not insert an advertisement in the newspapers intimating that she would be at a given place at a certain time. I do not think, therefore, that for defence we can place much reliance upon submarines. Our harbor defences must, since neither torpedo craft nor submarines are adapted to our requirements, take the form usually adopted, namely, that of a system of minefields, protected by quick-firing batteries, which are themselves protected by heavy guns of position ; this latter to keep the enemy’s ships beyond striking distance of our mine-field protection armament. With these mine-fields we should be in a different position from that occupied by the Russians at Port Arthur, who largely used floating mines. Floating mines have an enormous moral effect - and, therefore, are most demoralizingly effective - upon an enemy. Our object, however, would be not only to prevent an enemy’s cruisers from coming into our ports, but to enable our own ships to navigate our coasts and harbors with per- ‘ feet safety after the enemy had been driven from our shores. They would, of course, for some considerable time afterwards be exposed to great danger if floating mines were used for the purposes of defence, and for that reason we have to put on one side any idea of adopting them. I hope that very shortly the great powers will arrive at an understanding precluding belligerents from sowing the sea with floating mines. Ordinary mines, such as are used for harbor defences, are intended to prevent an enemy’s ships from rushing past the forts. We have recently had illustrations of the fact that modern ships of war can stand a tremendous amount of battering. One battleship recently arrived at Chifu with such a large number of holes in her that they represented a considerable portion of her superficial area. And an ‘ordinary armoured’ cruiser could undoubtedly rush past any forts we have in Australia. Any mine-fields designed to prevent war ships from executing such a manoeuvre, must be protected by quick-firing artillery of comparatively light calibre. The batteries containing these guns must in every case be protected by heavier guns, capable of preventing a cruiser from approaching within close range. According to May, warships have so ‘preponderating an armament that if they were able to approach within 600 yards - which is about the range at which they could effectively work all their guns - of a battery of light guns, they would soon be able to put it out of action. Therefore, it is necessary that we should have heavier guns mounted in commanding positions, to make the enemy keep at a respectful distance. We have not in Australia any such heavy guns as are mounted on fortresses in other parts of the world; and I do not think that we require guns of excessively large calibre, my whole argument being based upon the supposition that an attack by an armoured cruiser, not by a fleet or battleships, is what we have most to fear. The defences of Sydney are in a far better position than those of Melbourne.
– Sydney requires more protection than Melbourne, because it is nearer the open sea.
– Undoubtedly it requires more protection, and for reasons other than that mentioned by the honorable member. If is the naval base for the British Squadron in these seas ; and, although I quite understand that the Imperial authorities undertake the protection of their bases, we cannot ignore the fact that Sydney is specially liable to attack on account ‘ of its being the head-quarters, and of containing the war munitions of the Admiralty in Australia. For this special reason special measures must be taken to insure the safety of Australian interests in and about that port. Well, sir, I have shown the necessity for two forms of batteries - quick-firing batteries for the protection of the mine-fields, and batteries of heavier guns for the protection of the lighter armaments; but, of course, it is of no use to have defences - and we have already spent a large sum upon defence works - unless we have the men to man the guns. We find that before Federation, the States which looked after their own defences had, as a whole, much stronger forces available for immediate use in their forts, than the Commonwealth possesses at the present time. One of the strong reasons advanced in favour of Federation was that our common defences could be made much more efficient than would be possible under the States’ Administrations. That promise has been carried out so far as the field forces are concerned; but I regret to say that, there are not now so many gunners available to work our guns at a moment’s notice as there were prior to Federation.
– There is a sufficiency of gunners. I had a return made out quite recently, when I was investigating the very point referred to by the honorable member, and I found that with one small exception, there are a sufficient number of permanent and partially paid gunners to provide the necessary reliefs for manning the forts from time to time.
– I quite accept that statement ; but I should like to know how long it would take for the militia garrison artillery to reach the forts at, say, Queenscliff?
– As long as it would occupy a train to travel from Melbourne to Queenscliff.
– Would everything be in working order within twenty-four hours ?
– We could mobilize our garrison artillery and have them within the forts between dark and dawn.
– And that might be too late. The General Officer Commanding, however, does not hold that view as to the adequateness of the reliefs provided. In his last report he says -
The latest pattern guns are now being placed in position in Sydney ; and during the ensuing twelve months similar guns will be placed at
Hobart, Adelaide, and Fremantle. The detachments for these guns should be permanent troops. It is also laid down that for these guns there shall be at least two reliefs. The increase in the Estimates now submitted only provides for one relief, so that the barest possible requirements are estimated for.
– Including the militia forces, there are two reliefs.
– But the General Officer Commanding holds that the quick-firing artillery should be worked by permanent soldiers. I do not wish to deal with technical matters; but it appears to me that if we are to have quick-firing artillery of the kind which will prove most useful in repelling a sudden rush, it will be to our interest to keep in the forts such men as will be able to work them at a moment’s notice.
– That is what was done prior to Federation.
– Exactly. I find that within the past few years the field’ and garrison artillery - and the field artillery constitutes a very small proportion of the garrison artillery-
– There is no permanent field artillery.
– But there is a small cadre force which is used for field artillery instructional purposes. I find that upon the date of its transfer to the Federation, the Permanent Artillery numbered 1,220 of all ranks. Upon these Estimates provision is made for only 755. Furthermore, I find that the Estimates show a decrease of ^140 in the Engineers’ vote, which covers the submarine mining engineers. The curious feature in connexion with this decrease is that, whereas the amounts it will have to disburse are less, yet the Accounts and Pay Branch gets more for doing it; consequently, it is not economy in the public estate which has brought about the small reduction in the Engineers’ vote. The necessity to keep an adequate permanent force is a matter which has agitated the mind of the chief military adviser to the Government ever since he has been in Australia. The General Officer Commanding, in his report of this year, says -
I pointed out last year that the reduction of the Royal Australian Artillery to the existing establishment laid down by the Minister for the Estimates of 1903-4 “ can only be viewed with the most serious apprehension, as the numbers are quite inadequate for the duties required of them. The effective land defence of the naval positions on the one side, and of the commercial centres on the other, is most seriously compromised.
My point is that the effective land defence of our naval positions, and of our commercial centres, is seriously endangered by maintaining this force at its present insufficient strength. That is the opinion of the principal military adviser to the Government - a gentleman whose counsel upon this matter has been repeatedly disregarded, although the first duty of this Parliament is to safeguard the lives and property of the people intrusted to its charge. The General Officer Commanding continues -
I represented that a reduction of the Permanent Artillery personnel existing in the six States prior to Federation from fifty officers and 1,170 other ranks to thirty-eight officers and 820 other ranks might be effected, but only as a temporary measure. In spite, however, of my earnest representations, the late Minister of Defence still further reduced the number to thirty-four officers arid 714 other ranks.
I say that at the time that recommendation was made the then Minister of Defence took upon himself an enormous responsibility in disregarding the advice of our chief military expert in this matter.
– The recommendation upon which I acted was made by the General Officer Commanding.
– I trust that the right honorable gentleman will be able to show that his action was not fraught with such serious consequences to the people of Australia as is alleged by the General Officer Commanding.
– The reduction was insisted on in Committee of Supply.
– I quite admit that the reduction was insisted upon by the Committee of Supply. But I should be lacking in my duty if I did not urge that the Government should not have agreed to a decrease which, in its own opinion, might operate prejudicially to the safety of the people.
– The Government ought to have resigned, I suppose?
– If I ever occupied a responsible position, such as that which was recently filled by the right honorable member for Swan, I should prefer to resign my seat in this House and appeal to the country, if necessary, rather than endanger the safety of the people by agreeing to such a reduction.
– Then the honorable member would be resigning every day.
– The honorable member occupied a seat upon the other side of the House at the time.
– The honorable member for Richmond is interjecting somewhat prematurely, since he is doing so from the’ Treasury benches. I regard this matterof defence as an absolutely non-party one - one which it is the duty of all sides of the House to make efficient.
– The Committee of. Supply agreed to an amendment reducing the Defence vote by ,£131,000.
– But it did not say upon what lines that reduction was to be effected.
– It did.
– I do not wish to labour this question, if honorable members will allow me to proceed.
– Nobody has attempted to give the question of defence a party colour.
– That is so. I hold that this House was absolutely wrong in insisting upon such an enormous reduction, without assigning adequate reasons for disregarding the advice of the General Officer Commanding. That officer’s report continues -
Practical experience and personal investigation, extending over the last twelve months, have fully confirmed my opinion that the result of this las’t reduction can only be to seriously compromise the security of the Commonwealth.
In view of these statements, I claim that this Committee should very seriously reconsider its decision of twelve months ago. Continuing, the General Officer Commanding says -
It will be observed, therefore, as represented by me in my report dated May, 1903, that the permanent minimum of the Royal Australian Artillery will eventually require to be forty-three officers and 922 other ranks, but that, as a temporary measure, thirty-eight officers and S20 other ranks may be sufficient.
In other words, the personnel of the regiment required for the purposes which I have outlined needs to be increased by 200 men. That is a large proportionate increase, but I hope that, in view of the unqualified statement of the General Officer Commanding, this Committee will see its way at an early date to sanction it. I think that a gentleman who entertains such a high regard for the responsibilities of his position as does the present Minister of Defence, will shortly realize that our ports and shipping should be safeguarded from attack, and to this end will carry out this very strong recommendation of the General Officer Commanding to increase the personnel of the force in question.
– The General Officer Commanding recommended die maintenance of the present number of that force. He submitted an interim scheme.
– No. He stated that the number might be temporarily reduced to 858, whereas the present personnel is only 755-
– How many are kept at the barracks?
– The cadre force is kept there, but its members are included in the numbers I have given.
– And how many do they number?
– I cannot, of course, give the actual number.
– How many are kept at the barracks ?
– The number varies, but it is always considerable.
– My argument is based upon the propriety of maintaining all the men who are required to man the guns in such a position that they may fee able to man them within the shortest possible time.
– A month ago I began to investigate this very question, and I am still engaged in that task.
– I am extremely glad to know that the Minister has been so prompt to deal with the matter. It augurs well for the Department that we have a man of his energy at its head:. I also desire briefly to refer to the mine-fields which are required to prevent a sudden rush past our forts. Although the number of mines seems to be sufficient for the purpose, I find that in Victoria they cannot be laid down in less than three weeks.
– Who is the honorable member’s authority for that statement ?
– The right honorable member for Swan will not deny its accuracy?
– The work can be carried out in much less than three weeks.
– I . think that my statement is absolutely incontrovertible. It is tolerably well known that the mine-fields, which are available for the protection of Port Phillip, can only be laid down by the present force of submarine miners in three weeks. The personnel of that force could hardly be augmented in time of danger, because the laying of mines is a very delicate business. In my judgment, the submarine mining vote for Victoria should be very considerably increased. What is the use of possessing mines if, in case of emergency, they cannot be laid down?
– They can be laid down. We have a big corps of submarine miners in Sydney.
– I admit that we are better off in this regard in Sydney. But we have not got enough men of our own, let alone enough to send any away when they would be most needed. I am not dealing with this matter from a provincial stand-point, but from a national one.
– They can be laid down in less than three weeks.
– What I have stated is an absolute fact. If the right honorable member desires me to do so, I can prove it, but I ask him not to insist upon my labouring a particular point. It is a question of a few thousand pounds ; - a question between safety and extreme risk. My right honorable friend, who is quite prepared to spend. £4,000,000 of the taxpayers’ money on the construction of the Transcontinental Railway-
– He is not serious.
– I do not think for one moment that he is; but he is always telling us that he desires the Commonwealth to spend this large sum of money on the construction of the line.
– The honorable member cannot grasp that big question.
– I do not wish’ to carry on a dialogue with the right honorable member, but I do think that a man who wants to spend four millions on such a project, should not be adverse to spending a few thousands to secure the safety from an extreme danger of a third of our population. I have shown, I think, that the artillery force, as it stands at present, is much less than the General Officer Commanding thinks is adequate, and less than I imagine every man who considers the question will believe is necessary. I have shown that the submarine mining force - in Victoria, at all events - is in a precariously inefficient state.
– Could we not bring them from Sydney ?
– Could we bring them from Sydney while a raiding cruiser was rushing the forts?
– We are to wait till the ships are threatening- us?
– If we are to take men from ports which’ are already insufficiently protected-
– I thought that the honorable member said that it was one service.
– All the submarine miners of Australia are not retained in Sydney. Quite properly, the detachments are held where they are required. It becomes necessary, at a moment’s notice, to put down mines if there is an alarm, and an enemy’s ship would not courteously wait outside Port Phillip while we sent for men from Sydney to put down the mines at this port. The idea is ridiculous.
– The Permanent Forces are supplemented by the Militia.
– I am speaking of the Permanent Forces and the Militia. Even if the submarine miners of the Permanent and Militia Forces were called on, it would be impossible to get the mines laid at Port Phillip Heads within three weeks. There is one other point I wish to make before concluding. We were told, prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth, that one of the results of Federation would be improved defence for the respective Colonies. Now, New South Wales was at that time the best defended Colony. I think I have clearly shown to the Committee that I do not desire exclusive defence for New South Wales; but I must say that the people of that State entered Federation on the understanding, among others, that, by doing so, they would be better defended. And without doubt they have in that fact a sound argument for the contention that the defence of their State should not. at any rate, be diminished.
– Has it been diminished? The squadron has been very much increased.
– The right honorable member should know that the Estimates have been very seriously decreased so far as the New South Wales defences are concerned. The decrease dates from the time when he, himself, was in office. I assure him, however, that I am not reflecting on his administration.
– My administration was all right.
– I admit - to save trouble - that the right honorable member was the best man for the office, but why should he not permit me to express my views on this question? I am not saying anything that is hurtful to him.
– The honorable member is preventing the proper defence of Western Australia by not urging the pushing on of the construction of the Transcontinental Railway, which is really necessary for defence purposes.
– Shall I quote the General Officer Commanding on that railroad ? Now we know exactly why the right honorable member for Swan pays no regard to the views of the General Officer Commanding.
– I do not say that.
– I shall now show that the Estimates have been decreased yearly in a way which is not in the best interests of the Commonwealth. The actual expenditure for 1901-2 was ;£6i 1,761.
– It was £800,000.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Mr. Groom). - I would ask the right honorable member for Swan to reserve his remarks until he has an opportunity to speak to the question.
– I have taken these figures from the various Estimates.
– Do they include naval defence?
– No, I am talking of the defences which we ourselves control - not of the naval defence of Australia under the Naval Agreement. I have nothing whatever to say with regard to the Naval Subsidy. That subsidy would bring the total expenditure up to £800,000, so that the right honorable member is correct ; but I have not been dealing with that part of the defence of Australia.
– Do the figures include works and buildings?
– The Estimates show that the actual expenditure of the Commonwealth for the year 1901-2 was £611,761, while the actual expenditure in New South Wales was y?2’o9,278. The Commonwealth expenditure in 1902-3 was rightly increased to £710,000, but the expenditure in New South Wales was decreased to £173,000, or £36,000 less than it was just prior to Federation. These figures are, of course, exclusive of the Naval Subsidy. In 1903-4 the Commonwealth actual expenditure on defence was less than for .the year 1902-3, there being only £519,000, while the actual expenditure in New South Wales was only £153,000. The Defence expenditure in New South Wales has been consistently decreased. The Estimates now before us provide for- a total expenditure of £^592.000 - New South Wales’ share being £171,000. I hope every penny of it will be spent.
– Does not the sum of £592,000 include the cost of the Central administration which is common to all the States ?
– Yes ; but the cost of the Central administration - and I presume the honorable and learned member refers to the. General Staff - is simply a matter of about
– Does not that include all the new expenditure which is’ common to all the States?
– It does not materially decrease the executive expenditure in New South Wales. It has not much to do with it. The Commonwealth decided that New South Wales had an over sufficiency of permanent artillery. That may or may not be correct; but, in my opinion - and I have given reasons for my view - it is absolutely incorrect. Whatever may have prompted that contention, I hold that in view of the representations that were made to the people of New South Wales prior to Federation, she should not have her Defence vote decreased for the benefit of the rest of Australia. We do not mind paying an increased vote in which all the people of Australia should share alike ; but I hold that New South Wales should not be made to suffer simply because she had the prescience to insure that the defences of her principal city were in an efficient and adequate state.
– There is an increase of £18,000 as compared with last year.
– There is the difference between the present Estimates and the actual expenditure for last year. I am commending the Minister for the increase, and I repeat that I hope every penny will be spent. I am quite convinced that the Minister holds the same view as myself. Ministers always think that they do not get enough for their Departments, but the Minister of Defence especially is justified in holding that view. I do not wish to detain the Committee, and should have been infinitely better pleased had this dialogue with my right honorable friend not been so long ; but I wish lt) emphasize the fact that we are preparing our defences on a system which is not best calculated to meet the clanger we have most to fear. We are told that Switzerland is the prototype of Australia. I do not know if the Minister in making that statement meant that it was the prototype of Australia for administrative or for executive purposes ; but I hold that we should take no example from that country when we are considering our general policy of defence. In the first place, Switzerland is protected by the European understanding as to the inviolability of its territory.
– There are armed nations all around her.
– I think that it was by the Treaty of Vienna in 1815 that the inviolability of Swiss territory was assured. For that reason Switzerland has nothing to fear, provided that the parties to the treaty respect it. But they have a citizen soldiery in a very high state of efficiency, and I hope that in time we shall have our field forces and citizen soldiery in the same efficient state. In the meantime, however, we are neglecting a danger to which we in Australia are peculiarly exposed, and which does not exist in the case of Switzerland. The population of the four principal cities in that country numbers only about 430,000 souls, and only one is in any ‘way possible of attack. I refer to the city of Bale. Geneva, although close to the frontier, is surrounded by mountains, and would be difficult of attack. We all know that Switzerland is a country with impassable rivers and mountains - the most impossible country to attack that it is possible to conceive - and her citizen forces are, consequently, quite adequate for its defence. In Australia, however, we have four ports, containing a third of the population of the Commonwealth., which are so vulnerable that they are liable to immediate attack by a raiding cruiser, and such an attack one of extreme danger.
– How many ports?
– Four; I do not say that they are the only ports that should be protected. I make no exception, but there are four which, because of their situation, the richness of their commerce, and their insufficient’ defences, would be most likely of attack.
– What are they ?
– The honorable member must surely recognise them. I can assure him that Brisbane would not be forgotten. I point out this danger, and hope that when the next Estimates come forward the Defence vote will be very largely increased. I trust that the Estimates of the Department now before us will not be reduced, and that every penny voted will be spent- - and well spent - in the defence of Australia.
– I very largely indorse the views which have been expressed by the honorable member for Wentworth in regard to the insufficiency of the Estimates to cover the cost of effective defence. The Defence Estimates form an item in the Budget which may be regarded as one of the most important that we could be called upon to consider. National defence ought to be a question of obtaining security, and above ail considerations of expense. Beforedealing with that aspect of the question, however, I should like to refer to the discussion which took place this morning in regard to the proposed consecration of banners. I have no desire to go into the question of the advisableness or otherwise of holding the ceremony. That is a matter upon which honorable members and the public may, perhaps, be allowed to hold different opinions ; but I do not think there is any great principle underlying it, such as was suggested by the honorable member for Canobolas. So far as I could gather from the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Corio, his principal contention was that the form of prayer was in some respects likely to be unacceptable - I shall not say objectionable - to certain sections of the Military Forces. I cannot understand what is the great objection. If there be a likelihood of the form of prayer chosen proving distasteful to some persons, a way out of the difficulty, if time will allow, would be to get a number of clergymen of all denominations concerned to meet together, and agree to a form.
– If that were done, the banners could not be consecrated for another five years.
– The Minister said that he would do that.
– What ! Send it to the clergymen of all denominations ! A copy of the prayer was sent to each chaplain concerned, days ago.
– In that case an opportunity has been given to those chiefly concerned to arrive at an amicable agreement in the matter. I understand that the attendance at the parade is to be purely voluntary. If the men were to be compelled to take part in a service which might offend the consciences of some of them, there would be ground of complaint, but I understand that the element of compulsion does not enter into the matter at all.
– Is this not tedious repetition within the meaning of the standing order ?
– I have been interrupted to a slight extent, but I only wish to suggest an easy way out of what I do hot admit to be a real difficulty. This is not a party matter; it does not concern one party more than another ; so that I think honorable members might accept my remarks in the spirit in which they are made, as a friendly suggestion to get rid . of what some seem to think a difficulty, though it does not present itself to me in that light. Coming now to the question of defence generally, I think that the plea for spending more money on defencethan it is now proposed to spend has been justified by the arguments used by the honorable member for Wentworth in support of his contentions. If honorable members will refer to the second annual report of the General Officer Commanding, they will see that we have a very serious question to face. There can be no higher authority on this subject, nor one whose recommendations are worthy of greater consideration, than the General Officer Commanding.
– Do you not think that we should have a quorum, Mr. Acting Chairman ?
– On page 15 of his last report, the General Officer Commanding, dealing with the subject of stores and equipment, says -
The serious condition of the stores and equipment was brought to the notice of the Government in the Minute on Defence, dated 7th April, 1902. This unsatisfactory condition of affairs was further commented upon at length in Clause 13 and Clause 31 of the Annual Report, dated 1st May, 1903.
It is with feelings of the gravest apprehension that I again invite attention to the unsatisfactory condition of the warlike stores. The previous representations on this subject require but little modification in the present Report, from those made by me in the official documents abovementioned, excepting in the items “ Fixed Defences,” “Small Arms,” and “Small Arm Ammunition.”
I need not go into that matter, because I presume that honorable members are familiar with the details referred to. On page 31 of the same document, the MajorGeneral says -
The work of re-organization and reconstruction of the whole of the pre-existing Military Forces of Australia has now been carried through the initial stages, and a new Commonwealth Military system has thus been brought into actual operation. The energies of all concerned must now be concentrated on the solidification of the system which has been accepted. It is reasonable to look forward with the utmost confidence to the result, if only the. whole of the officers and men concerned set themselves as loyally and with equal determination to solidifying the structure as they have to bringing it into being.
Then he deals with the question of arms and ammunition, in regard to which I refer honorable members to the report. These, however, are the comments which follow -
It has been shown that a further Special Warlike Store Vote of£449,683 is required for the stores enumerated in (1)-
That is, guns, gun-waggons, arms, ammunition, and equipments on a peace establishment - and (2) -
That is, guns, et cetera, on a war establishment - (vide Clause 28 C), and that to provide the complete military system as stated in (3) - the completion in their entirety of the various units comprising the Field Force and the Garrison Force, under the scheme of organization - an annual outlay of ,£609,419 is necessary (vide clause 25).
This expenditure will provide a Field Force complete in all its details, and fit for active operations of 13,831 men and sixty guns upon a peace footing, and of 27,753 men and eighty-four guns upon a war footing. It will further provide a Garrison Force of 11,752 men and twenty-six guns, exclusive of the armament of the fixed Defences, with behind them an important auxiliary force of approximately 29,000 riflemen furnished by the Rifle Clubs. The troops thus provided, as already shown in the Minute of Defence, dated 7th April, 1902, are the least number which would afford reasonable security against invasion, and which would suffice for the present protection of Australian interests.
The principle in view in thus laying down the above minimum numbers for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth is that a hostile invasion of Australia, with intention to effect permanent territorial occupation, would never be attempted with a less force than from 20,000 to 50,000 well equipped, well trained, and well organized troops. It is obvious, therefore, that a force at least equal that proposed is required to insure any reasonable hope of success.
These are very important matters, and they emphasize the necessity for not being too niggardly in providing for defence. The General Officer Commanding continues -
The security by land of Australia, as a whole, cannot, moreover, be considered assured-
– I rise to a point of order. I understand that the honorable and learned member for Corio has moved to amend subdivision 1 of division 41, by reducing the salary of the Secretary to the Defence Department by £1, his object being to protest against the expenditure of public money for denominational purposes. I contend that any general debate upon the Defence Estimates is out of order. I am not aware that there is any understanding that such a debate should be permitted at the present time. If the whole division were before the Committee, and the amendment of a specific item had not been moved, the honorable member for Lang would be in order, but an amendment having been moved concentrating the attention of the Committee on a certain item, he is precluded from discussing generally the administration of the Defence Department until the amendment has been disposed of. To fortify my opinion I refer you, Mr. Groom, to standing order 173, which provides that discussion shall be confined to the clause or amendment before the Committee.
– In Committee of Supply ?
– That is the standing order which governs debate in Committee, whether of Supply, Ways and Means, or on a Bill. The honorable member apparently is very desirous of postponing a decision on. the question which has been raised by the honorable and learned member for Corio.
– There appears to be a determination amongst honorable members opposite to prevent a decision being arrived at on that matter until the money has been spent. Under standing order 173 the honorable member will not be in order in discussing more than the proposed reduction of the salary of the Secretary to the Department.
– I submit that the object of the honorable and learned member for Corio in moving the reduction of the Secretary’s salary is no concern of the Chairman in his official capacity. The honorable member for Coolgardie is on the horns of a dilemma. Either the discussion must be confined to the question of what salary the Secretary should get, or if, because the Secretary is the permanent head of the Department, other questions may be discussed on that amendment, the discussion cannot be limited to the matter brought forward by the honorable and learned member for Corio.
– I referred only incidentally to the matter brought forward by the honorable and learned member for Corio. I contend that nothing can be discussed while the amendment is before the Chair, except the propriety of reducing the Secretary’s salary.
– A number of honorable members spoke this morning from the Opposition benches on the subject brought forward by the honorable and learned member for Corio, and it did not then occur to the honorable member for Coolgardie to raise a point of order.
– I was not here.
– The honorable member was here during part of the time when the proposed consecration service was being discussed, because I saw him here. Either the discussion must be confined to the question whether the salary of the Secretary should be reduced by£1, which is practically meaningless, or if other questions may be discussed, you, Mr. Groom, can find no points of limitation.
– I submit that if there were anything in the point raised by the honorable member, the honorable and learned member for Corio would have been absolutely precluded from discussing the matter of consecrating the banners, which, admittedly, was the primary object he had in view.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Mr. Groom). - In my opinion thehonorable member for Lang is quite in order in proceeding upon the lines he has adopted. If the amendment were construed strictly, in the manner desired by the honorable member for Coolgardie, the discussion would be confined to the reasons for the reduction of the item by£1. I think that the honorable and learned member for Corio is following the ordinary precedent, but that in doing so, he cannot confine honorable members to the particular issue which he has himself raised.
– This is a proposal for a, reduction of salary, and it is remarkable that all similar proposals have emanated from honorable members opposite, who profess to be anxious to increase, rather than to reduce wages.
– That is not fair.
– I shall apologize if my remark is offensive,
– It is not offensive, it is unfair.
– I was struck by the humour of the situation, and I had not the slightest intention to say anything offensive. I do not think that anything has been said or done which should cause honorable members to lose their tempers in the discussion of such a prosy matter as the Estimates. I desire again to refer to the report of the General Officer Commanding, who says -
It may be as well to state at once that a force of the requisite strength organized and capable of taking the field does not at present exist in Australia, and that there are at present no local means of equipping such a force. The organisation is incomplete ; the departments necessary for a mobile Army have yet to be created ; and there are neither sufficient guns, arms, equipment, nor ammunition available. It will therefore be seen that the construction of a trans-continental railway would, under existing circumstances, confer no satisfactory advantage upon Australia in its present condition of military unpreparedness.
– We have never heard that before.
– According to the General Officer Commanding, the construction of the railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta will involve an absolute waste of money, unless proper attention is paid to our defences, and this condition cannot be complied with, unless adequate provision is made on the Estimates. He says further -
The most that could be expected from the military situation at present existing would be the concentration of a certain number of armed men, who, without adequateadministrative Departments, or the required equipment, would be quite incapable of coping with even an inferior number of an invader’s troops, carefully trained, organized, and equipped with the latest modern appliances, as they unquestionably would be.
– Is the honorable member seeking to prevent a. division from being taken to-day?
– No, I am not moved by any such consideration. I know nothing about any division.
– The honorable member will lose his train this afternoon, if he does not take care.
– Honorable members seem to think that they have a monopoly of criticism.
– We have not a monopoly of impertinent criticism.
– It is remarkable that immediately I exercise my undoubted right to offercriticism, honorable members should impute motives which certainly have no existence in fact. This is not a party question, and I have nothing to do with any division that may be in prospect. I desire to present my views upon this question. I hold very strong opinions in regard to it.
– The honorable member should not be insolent.
– The honorable member himself enjoys a monopoly of the privilege of being insolent, and I have no desire to share that distinction with him.
The General Officer Commanding proceeds to say -
It is impossible to view the military situation in Australia, in face of the momentous changes taking place in the balance of power in the East, without grave misgivings. The victories of the Japanese arms within the last four months have astounded the whole civilized world by their brilliancy and by their astonishing rapidity. The future and far-reaching results of the war have yet to be felt, but it is safe to predict that the opening up of China will follow as a result which, together with the opening of a canal across the Isthmus of Panama, will materially alter the existing political and commercial situation in the Pacific.
– That was read this morning.
– Possibly, but I did not hear it. Anyhow I am reading it again. The honorable and learned member is at perfect liberty to read what he likes, and I have an. equal right to quote the General Officer Commanding in support of the arguments I have advanced. He says further -
It is certain that commercial supremacy in the Pacific will be the aim and ambition of the leading naval and military Powers of the world, and that Australian interests must thereby be seriously compromised, if not imperilled, unless they are effectively secured by a reasonable measure of military defence.
In view of the alarming nature of this report - and I take it that it is not unnecessarily alarming, because doubtless it has been drawn up after very careful consideration - it behoves us, as the guardians of the interests of the Commonwealth, to secure ourselves against the dangers referred to. I should like to quote from a leading article which appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of Monday last, which bears upon one or two of the statements contained in the report Of the General Officer Commanding as to foreign, powers establishing themselves in the Pacific. The fact that naval bases are being established by these powers is mentioned as an additional argument in support of the necessity for our keeping ourselves in a continual state of preparedness for the purposes of defence. The article from which I am about to quote refers particularly to the fact that the master of the steamer Ysabel had been refused trading rights in the Marshall group. The writer says -
German steamers are permitted to trade with British-owned islands in the Pacific on payment of a licence fee of £100 per annum, which must also be paid by each British-owned steamer engaged in the trade. But the German reply to this neighbourly treatment by Great Britain is to levy a prohibitive rate against the British steamer entering a German island group, and to charge vessels flying the Union Jack more than fifty times as much for the privilege of trading with a German possession as Britain charges a vessel flying the German flag for the privilege of entering a British-owned harbor in the South Seas. The incident is significant as a presage: of what may be expected to follow when the feverish struggle for trade, which has already brought the European Powers into dangerous juxtaposition in Asia, is extended, as seems inevitable, to the island groups that lie as it were at the backdoor of Australia. The insatiable craving for fresh markets, which shall be the exclusive property of the exploiter, has already led to a terrible war in Eastern Asia, and now the greedy monopolist is at work also in the South Seas.
Australian commercial predominance must inevitably be followed by political predominance in all these islands. It is impossible that the trade with an island group should be in the hands of the subjects of one Power, while the political control should be in the hands of another Power. “ The future of Germany,” observed the Kaiser, in demanding funds for a huge programme of naval construction, 11 is on the water.” Germany, needs a big fleet to support her in enforcing this policy of grabbing trade by any and every means from those who already possess it. That is obvious.
The article concludes as follows : -
The German colonies in Togoland, the Cameroons, South-west Africa, East Africa, and Kiauchau are little more than military settlements. And there is no reason to suppose that the destiny of the German colonies in the Pacific islands will be any different. That is an additional reason why the latest manifestation in the Marshall Islands of what Bismarck called the “ furor Teutonicus” is to be viewed with apprehension by Australia. Such an unscrupulous effort to secure a trading monopoly contains a significant warning. Commercial expansion connotes political expansion. And the political expansion of Germany in the Pacific means the creation, not of peaceful trading colonies under the German flag, but of military settlements and bases that must in the future be a source of grave anxiety to the people of the Commonwealth.
These warnings are repeated not only in the press 6ut elsewhere, and we should not disregard them. The matter is one of very serious moment, and one which is well worthy of consideration by this Parliament. But that is not all. I have here a statement which will perhaps open the eyes of honorable members still, more to the gravity of the situation as” it may possibly affect our future trading interests. The Argus of 10th November contains the following, telegram from Sydney, which is headed “German Ambitions” and “Naval Base at New Britain “ : -
Much has been heard of late as to German activity in the Pacific, but it will be a matter of surprise to many Australians to learn that for a considerable time past the Germans have quietly, under the guise of mercantile expansion, been successfully and expeditiously building up a naval base within striking distance of the Torres Straits route.
I wish to emphasize that point. The telegram continues -
Extensive works are being carried out at Simpson’s harbor, in Blancho Bay, and atMatuti, in German New Guinea. A wharf, 1,000 feet in length, is being built, together with spacious warehouses, at a cost of about£40,000. The wharf will be larger than any in Australia, and accommodation will be sufficient for a city with a population of 100,000. So far, however, there are no inhabitants at the Bay, and practically no trade is done there. The work is ostensibly being carried out for the accommodation of the island steamers belonging to the Norddeutscher Lloyd Co., which call there at intervals of six weeks. The great bulk of the trade of . New Britain, however, is transacted at Herbertshohe, ten miles distant. Eventually the facts began to dawn upon observing men that Germany had no base in this part of the world, and the conclusion arrived at, and now generally held by those interested in island affairs, is that these works are being carried out by the Norddeutscher Lloyd on behalf of the Imperial authorities, who throughout appear to have taken an active part in all arrangements. The spot is described as an ideal site for a naval coaling base, for the storage of quickfirers and ammunition, and for the equipment of German mail steamers as cruisers in the event of war. Simpson’s harbor is situated on a kind of peninsula commanded by highlands of volcanic origin, which could be rendered almost impregnable by the mounting of a few guns. In the opinion of an Englishman acquainted with New Britain, there is no question as to the use to which the works are to be put.
I have quoted that telegram, not with the idea of awakening antagonism to foreign Powers, because I recognise that they have a perfect right to provide for the protection of their own commerce, and to establish navalbases so that they may be prepared to take aggressive measures should they be rendered necessary. But whilst commending, their foresight and enterprise in establishing bases within striking distance of Australia, it would be little short of criminal upon our part if we did not adopt effective measures to protect our commerce and our shores. I have no wish to prolong this discussion more than is absolutely necessary for my purpose. I feel strongly uponthe matter of Australian defence, because I realize what it means if we neglect the opportunity of adopting reasonable precautions whilst yet there is time. I realize that there may come a period when it will become imperative for us to take active measures for our defence, and I do not wish Australia to be found in a condition of unpreparedness. If we rush into expenditure at a time of emergency the chances are that it will not prove nearly so effective as it would if we incurred that expenditure under normal conditions, and with a full recognition of the possibilities of the future.
– I understand that the honorable and learned member for Corio, and those who think with him upon the question of the consecration of the military banners, are anxious to obtain a division upon the proposed amendment this afternoon. Of course, the Government will always welcome that expedition of business which is indicated by a division, and therefore I ask honorable members who wish to address themselves to the Defence Estimates generally to allow a vote to be taken upon the matter to which I have referred. Such a division will not affect the general debate upon the Defence Estimates.
– Will it not?
– No; it will remove one obstacle to progress.
– I ask honorable members to assist the Government in obtaining a division upon the amendment submitted before the ordinary hour for adjournment arrives.
– I desire to say that the honorable member for New England has entirely voiced my views upon this matter. I am not in accord with the view entertained by the honorable and learned member for Corio in regard to the prayers which are to be used at the consecration of the banners. It is because I wish to protest against an innovation of this character that I intend to vote with him.
Question - That the item “ Secretary, £900,” be reduced by - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa). - I wish to ask the Minister of Defence whether, if we pass this portion of the Defence Estimates, we shall be deprived of the opportunity of addressing ourselves generally to those Estimates?
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa). - I desired to comment at some length on the Estimates of this Department, but as I have a very bad cold I am placed at a disadvantage. In the first place, I wish to call the attention of the Committee to the amount on the Estimates for Queensland. Every member of the Ministry must be aware of the parlous condition of the finances of that State, and if the Defence Estimates relating to Queensland can be cut down without impairing the efficiency of the forces I think that they should. 1 shall be happy to point out any case in which I consider that the Estimates may be reduced in the interests of that State. The Estimates of the military expenditure in Queensland show an increase of .£16,730 on that for 1903-4, and at the present juncture that is a matter of some moment to the Treasurer of Queensland. The difficulty is only in relation to the present year, and if we could make a reduction I should be satisfied twelve months hence to vote the full amount. I am satisfied that efficiency can be maintained this year with a reduced vote. It will be remembered that when last year’s Estimates were before us certain reductions were promised, more particularly in regard to the General Head-Quarters Staff in Melbourne. I am sorry that that reduction has not been made.
Air. PAGE. - ^400 for passage money seems a rather heavy charge.
– I wish to make a few remarks in regard to the consecration of banners which is to take place at Albert Park on Monday next. My opinion is that it is an absurdity to bless these banners in any manner ; but if they are’ to be blessed, every religion to be found in the nation of which they are to be taken as symbolic should be represented. I should be glad to know that a conference of representatives of the various religions of Australia would be called to formulate a prayer and a form of service for the occasion. I speak now upon the subject from a different point of view from that from which I would have spoken prior to the division, because the Committee must be regarded as having affirmed the desirability of holding a consecration service, though I desire to lodge my protest against the holding of that ceremony, unless every Australian religion is represented at it. I have taken the trouble to go through the Military Forces List, to find out how the denominations are represented in our Forces by chaplains, and I have discovered that, although we have no State religion in Australia, certain denominations have a far larger proportion of chaplains of high rank than have others. Honorable members will accept my statement that I, as the son of an English mother, revere the religion of that mother. If she chose to give up the Church of England for Roman Catholicism, I have the greatest respect for her religion, and whatever remarks I may make to-day are not made with a desire to point the finger at any religion. In Victoria we have recently had what is known as Hospital Sunday, and when I say that the Presbyterians collected the largest amount for our charities. I pay them my meed of respect and praise for a splendid ‘effort. But how has that denomination been treated in the matter of its representation by chaplains in out Defence Forces? I protest that it has not been treated fairly. I have culled from our Military Forces ‘ List, issued in September, some particulars on this subject, to which honorable members may find it advantageous to refer later on when they appear in the columns of Hansard. Chaplains, like members of the profession to which I belong, when they join the Army, are given the privileges and titles of officers of various ranks. Now, I find that in New South Wales there are twentysix chaplains of whom one ranks as colonel, one as lieutenant-colonel, two as majors, and twenty-two as captains. The State coming next in importance, having regard to population - because when I speak of the value or importance of a State, I have regard only to the human beings living upon it. The earth, with all its richness, is of value only for the human units which it contains. In Victoria there are twenty-nine chaplains, or three more than in New South Wales, but not one of them ranks as colonel or lieutenant-colonel, though there are twentytwo majors, and seven captains. In the February issue of the list from which I have .taken these figures, four of the majors enjoy the relative rank of lieutenant-colonel, whatever that means. But this privilege appears to have been taken from them. I do not think that it has been done during the tenure of office of the present Minister, but I direct his attention to the matter. I am sure that these gentlemen have done nothing to warrant their reduction in rank.
– They have not been reduced. There must be some other explanation.
– The note “ with relative rank of lieutenant-colonel “ was in February, 1904, appended to the names of the Rev. Henry John Wilkinson, the Rev. Joseph Hay, the Rev. Richard George Burke, and the Rev. James Kennedy - two of them clergymen of the Church of England, one a Roman Catholic, and one a Presbyterian. That privilege seems to have been taken away from them.
– I promise to inquire into the matter.
– Yes. I do not wish Victorians to be reduced unless they have deserved it.
– I think that some of those gentlemen have passed away.
– To a place where there are no colonels.
– The less reason for reducing the other two, though I think that the Prince of Peace has no room in his kingdom for colonels. In Queensland there are eleven chaplains. But Queensland is not considered fit to have one of the rank of colonel or lieutenant-colonel.
– Queensland has a chaplain who is a lieutenant -colonel, and a Presbyterian too.
– I thank the Minister for setting me right. My misstatement was a slip of the tongue.
– The chaplain who in New South Wales bears the rank of colonel went out to the Soudan, and has therefore seen service.
– I honour him for it.
– The rank was conferred upon him in recognition of his service.
– The service of God can take place anywhere - within these walls, within the walls of a church, or within the walls of a hovel - though I think that, the clergy can find as much to do in the service of their Master in Australia as on a field of carnage. Queensland, as well as New South Wales, has despatched contingents abroad, but, nevertheless, possesses no chaplain who is a colonel, though it has one lieutenant-colonel and ten captains. South Australia has neither colonels, lieutenantcolonels, nor majors, although her demo-. cratic legislation can pretty well vie with that of the other States, and goes far beyond that of Victoria. There are only three chaplains in that State, and they hold the rank of captain. In Western Australia there are seventeen chaplains, of whom one is a lieutenant-colonel, and sixteen are captains. In little Tasmania, they have seven chaplains, all captains. Since Victoria is so well represented in the Ministry by the honorable and learned member for Corinella and the honorable member for Gippsland, and possesses twenty-nine chaplains, some of them should rank as colonels or lieutenant-colonels. I have also ascertained how the various religions are represented in our Defence Force by the chaplains. I find that every religion is not so represented. The Republic of France recognises every religion, by contributing equally to all; but, although we recognise all religions as equal, we do not contribute to their support out of State funds. But in our Defence Forces the old ignominy of favouring certain religions exists. In New South Wales the Church of England - to which I allude with all reverence, and which has covered England with splendid temples - has one colonel, one lieutenantcolonel, one major, and seven captains. The Presbyterian Church, to which I have paid my meed of praise for its splendid efforts on Hospital Sunday, has one major and four captains. The Roman Catholic Church has three captains, and the Methodist Church six captains. So that only the Church of England is represented by colonels and lieutenantcolonels. In Victoria, the Church of England is represented by seventeen majors and three captains; the Presbyterians by four majors and one captain ; the Roman Catholics by one captain ; and the Wesleyans by one major and two captains. I pay my meed of praise to the governing authorities of Victoria, because, although they have not given Victorian chaplains any of the higher ranks, they have brought about a fairer division and a larger representation than any other State possesses. In Queensland the Church of England is represented by nine captains, and the Presbyterian by one lieutenantcolonel, while the Wesleyans have one captain ; the other denominations being unrepresented. In South Australia, the Church of England has two captains, and the Methodists one captain. In Western Australia, the Church of England has one lieutenant-colonel and eight captains; the Roman Catholic Church one captain; the
Wesleyans five captains, and the Methodists two captains. In Tasmania, the Church of England has four captains, the Presbyterians two, and the Wesleyans one. Honorable members will see that only five religious bodies have been mentioned - the Church of England, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Wesleyan, and Independent. I have not the slightest doubt that the representatives of all these denominations will pray with equal earnestness, but it is not desirable that any preference should be shown for any particular denomination. Would it not be better to invite the representatives of all Christian religions to formulate a prayer to their Master? If the consecration of an inanimate object, such as the flag, is to have any effect, surely a prayer in which all the Churches were joined would constitute a stronger appeal than one offered by representatives of only a few of the Christian churches. It has been the practice of every European nation to invoke blessings on its flag. Every nation prays for victory, and for carnage. Honorable members will perhaps permit me to present to their minds the scene pourtrayed in one picture in the celebrated Wiertz collection at Brussels. There we have a splendid portrayal of the man of the future - at the end of the present century - holding in the hollow of his giant hand the baubles which have led to the desecration of all that is most high and noble on the earth, which have led to pillage, slaughter, and murder. As he looks upon the flags and baubles, and instruments of warfare, he marvels at the results they have brought about, and which are depicted in the background. We. want no blood-stained flag. Our object should be to keep our flag white and unstained, one that has never known warfare, either between ourselves and our foreign foes, or bloody internecine struggles such as have taken place in other countries.
– We shall never be a nation until we can show a blood-stained flag.
– War must be a pleasant subject for the honorable member if that is his idea.
– According to the honorable member we must commit murder before we can become a nation.
– There is one flag upon which no belligerent fires. That is the Red Cross. The nations of Europe paid Switzerland a great honour when they adopted her flag, reversing the colours only, as the badge of mercy and succour upon the battle-field. The people of Switzerland have always used their best efforts in the interests of peace, and it was highly appropriate that their flag should be adopted by the nations of Europe. When we see the colours of France, we can scarcely fail to think of the memorable words of Carlisle, in which he relates that Barbaroux sent a message to Marseilles, asking that there might be sent to him 600 men who were willing to die. His call was responded to, the men marched upon Paris with the tricolour floating over them, and we know of the carnage and misery that followed in their wake. Our Union Jack is only a little more than 100 years old. It is the emblem of a union that was brought about by the corruption of Lord Castlereagh, who ended his ignominious life by killing himself with his own hand. It would have been better for humanity if he had died in the cradle. Our Union Jack, which, as I have said, is scarcely more than a century old, has been steeped in blood. Would that it had not been, or that it could be purified. Then there is the Old Glory of the United States of America, which, until recently, had remained unsullied. Unfortunately, the United States were not content to adopt a purely defensive attitude, but carried their flag beyond their own borders. Loving that nation as I do, I regret that it would not accept the offer made by Mr. Carnegie of£4,000,000 to induce it to abandon the Philippines. If the United States had continued true to the sentiments with which the Old Glory had been previously associated, their flag would have stood in a higher position today than perhaps that of any other nation. The Christian flag of Russia has been blessed and prayed for by perhaps 120,000,000 of people, and the flag of Japan has been prayed for by the Pagans and Christians of that country. Surely if the God of the Christians, is mightier than the gods of the Pagans, victory should have been assured to the Russians, rather than to the Japanese. I protest against the proposed consecration of banners, unless every religion is represented. The honorable member who preceded me spoke about Colonel Hoad, and I should like to know whether that officer was recalled by the Minister, or came back of his own volition.
– He came back at the termination of the period for which he was sent away.
– I understand that he was at the front for only about two or three weeks.
– I could not say.
– If Colonel Hoad came back without orders, he should not have done so. He should have remained at the front where hecould obtain the information best calculated to qualify him for the high position to which he will doubtless attain in our military forces. If his reason for returning was that he feared chat he would lose his chance of advancement, he has cast a slur upon honorable members of this House, and upon , the Defence authorities. The time spent by him in learning something that would be of use to us would naturally be recorded in his favour. If it is not too late, I hope that Colonel Hoad will be sent back, so that he may enlarge his knowledge. I trust that a clear statement will be made upon this question. If the Russo-Japanese war has demonstrated one fact more than another, it is that coal is almost equal in value to powder and shot, and I should like to know if provision is being made for the defence of the coal mines along the coast of New South Wales. I am sorry to say that the Victorian coal mines are not protected. As I understand that honorable members desire to adjourn at the usual hour, I shall conclude my remarks for the present, and resume next week.
– I have not with me the papers relating to Colonel Hoad’s case, because I did not expect the matter to be referred to to-day. When Colonel Hoad was sent away, a minute was written to the effect that the probable duration of his absence would be about six months - the anticipation being that the winter in Manchuria would greatly interfere with military operations. Colonel Hoad has been away since the 30th March, or about seven months. He was not recalled by this Government, nor, so far as I am aware, by the previous Government. He has not yet waited upon me since his return, and consequently I am unable to give any further information at present. Of course, I shall naturally ask him for an official report. In the meantime, I certainly do not draw any inference against him .
– Neither do I.
House adjourned at 4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 November 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19041111_reps_2_23/>.