House of Representatives
15 November 1904

2nd Parliament · 1st Session



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

page 6917

QUESTION

COMMONWEALTH METEOROLOGICAL DEPARTMENT

Mr GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND

– I understand that some correspondence took place between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, when he was Prime Minister, and the Governments of the States, with reference to the establishment of a Commonwealth Meteorological Department in substitution for the States Departments. Will the Prime Minister bring the question of superseding the States Departments by a Federal Department before the Conference of Premiers, which is to meet in February next?

Mr REID:
Minister for External Affairs · EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · Free Trade

– I think that the subject is a most proper one to bring before that Conference, and it is my intention to do so.

page 6917

QUESTION

SOUTH AFRICAN WAR

Mr DEAKIN:
BALLAARAT, VICTORIA

– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence if he is aware that proposals for a local record of the services of the troops sent by the various States and the Commonwealth to South Africa have been under consideration by the Government in one formor another since 1901 or 1902? Did not the War Office apply for a statement of the services of the Australian troops, and was it not supplied ? Did not those responsible for the Times’ History of the War also make a similar application which was granted? Was not the question directly brought under the notice of the Commonwealth Government in 1903 by the then GovernorGeneral, Lord Tennyson, and finally, was not a proposal to a similar effect, with the addition of details as to the manner in which the work should be done, made by the General Officer Commanding? Has the honorable and learned gentleman any objection to laying upon the Library table the papers which conveyed the several proposals and the replies made to them?

Mr McCAY:
Minister for Defence · CORINELLA, VICTORIA · Protectionist

– The honorable and learned gentleman was good enough to inform me this morning that he intended to ask these questions, and I have, therefore, obtained the file of correspondence to which he has referred. The first letter upon it is dated 6th August, 1901, and since then letters on the subject of the compilation of a history of the services of Australian contingents in South Africa have been added from time to time.

Mr McDonald:

– Are the letters on the file copies, or originals?

Mr McCAY:

– Some of them are copies, and some are originals.

Mr Thomas:

– Are not the Government ashamed to write a history of that war?

Mr McCAY:

– I do not propose to go into that question. I find that in 1903 the then Governor-General, Lord Tennyson, communicated with the Government of the day on the subject, and that on the 31st December, 1903, Major-General Sir Edward Hutton also communicated with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in regard to it, to which communication the following reply, dated 14th January, 1904, was sent : -

The Prime Minister directs me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 31st ult., respecting the proposed official history of the Australian contingents in South Africa.

  1. Mr. Deakin desires me to say that he has read your communication with considerable interest, and feels sure that your suggestions will be of considerable value when the matter comes up for consideration.
  2. Your letter would have been acknowledged at an earlier date but for Mr. Deakin’s absence from town.
Mr Fisher:

– Is that the “curt reply” referred to in the report of the speech of the Major-General at last night’s banquet?

Mr McCAY:

– That is the reply.

Mr Watson:

– What is contemplated by the history? Merely a. record of the services of our troops ? Official histories are seldom worth much.

Mr McCAY:

– I looked through the file only five minutes ago, so that I have not made myself fully acquainted with its contents. I propose, however, to peruse it at the first convenient opportunity, and, in the meantime, it willbe available to honorable members.

page 6917

QUESTION

MAGAZINE RIFLE LOADING CLIP

Mr SALMON:
LAANECOORIE, VICTORIA

– Has the Minister of Defence seen the report of the official trial of a clip for the rapid loading of magazine rifles invented by Captain Kampfhenkel? There has been an official trial, and I hope the Minister willcause the papers dealing with it to be laid upon the Library table?

Mr McCAY:
Protectionist

– I have not seen the report of the trial, but I shall endeavour to obtain what information there is concerning it, and make it available to honorable members.

page 6918

QUESTION

WOOLOONGABBA POST OFFICE

Mr BAMFORD:
HERBERT, QUEENSLAND

– Will the PostmasterGeneral lay upon the table the papers dealing with the Wooloongabba post-office?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
Minister for Home Affairs · NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The papers are now available to the honorable member.

page 6918

QUESTION

STATE TAXATION OF FEDERAL AGENCIES

Sir JOHN FORREST:
SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

– Has the Prime Minister read the leading article in this morning’s issue of the Age newspaper which suggests what is said to be a very simple way of overcoming the difficulty which has arisen because of the decision of the High Court that Federal officers are not liable for State income taxation? The writer of the article states that this Parliament could in a few minutes pass an Act providing for the taxation of Commonwealth officers in accordance with the taxation imposed by the States Acts, and I therefore ask the Prime Minister if this Parliament has the constitutional power to do what is suggested, namely, to levy a tax on a special class? Is it not’ a fundamental principle of the Constitution that all taxation imposed by this Parliament must be universal in its application?

Mr REID:
Free Trade

– The question involves an interpretation of the Constitution which I do not feel prepared to give offhand. I have not read the leading article referred to, but I am aware that it is always possible to procure from writers in the newspapers a simple solution for any of the troubles which perplex mankind.

page 6918

QUESTION

ENGLISH MAIL TENDERS

Mr HIGGINS:
NORTHERN MELBOURNE, VICTORIA

– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether he will lay upon the table the tenders received for the English mail service - T mean the last tender and the one which preceded it? I wish, further, to know what steps the Minister proposes to take to arrange for an efficient mail service upon the expiration of the present contract at the end of this year?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
Postmaster-General · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– T have, the last tender received, which I propose to lay upon the table. The previous tender cannot be traced in my office, and I am endeavouring to obtain particulars regarding it, to lay before honorable members. The question of making arrangements for carrying on a reliable mail service at the termination of the existing contract, has been receiving attention for some time past, and the honor able and learned member may rest assured that failing the receipt of a satisfactory tender, every opportunity will be availed of for the transmission of our mails by vessels proceeding to the old country.

page 6918

DEPUTY POSTMASTER-GENERAL : WESTERN AUSRALIA

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I desire to know from the Postmaster-General the reason for the delay in making a permanent appointment, to the position of Deputy Postmaster-General of Western Australia. The former occupant of that position has been retired and pensioned for some time.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
Postmaster-General · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– This matter came before me officially a few days ago, and in view of certain circumstances, I thought it best to allow the matter to remain in abeyance until the Estimates had been dealt with: When they are disposed of, I hope, in a few days, I shall be in a position- to afford honorable members full information with regard to the appointment referred to, and others.

page 6918

DECIMAL COINAGE

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

– I wish to know whether the Prime Minister will table the replies received by him from various persons with regard to the decimal coinage system.’ I might explain that the honorable member for Bland, when Prime Minister, asked various associations and institutions to favour him with their views upon the report of the Decimal Coinage Committee, which has been twice adopted ‘ by this House. Numerous replies, have been received, and I think they would be useful ifthe Prime Minister consented to lay them on the table, or directed that a precis should be prepared for the information of honorable members.

Mr REID:
Free Trade

– I think that the latter suggestion of the honorable member would be the best one to adopt, and I shall have a precis prepared, lay it upon the table, and move that it be printed.

page 6918

QUESTION

ALIENS IN QUEENSLAND

Mr MCDONALD:

– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether there is any truth in the statement which has been published in the Brisbane press that it is the intention of the Government to take some action to test the question whether a number of the aliens in Queensland are entitled to exercise the Federal franchise, and whether they should be included in the count of the population, for the purpose of arriving at the number of representatives to which that State is entitled.

Mr REID:
Free Trade

– I think that that matter comes under the Department of my honorable colleague the Minister of Home Affairs.

Mr MCDONALD:

– The question is whether, under the provisions of the Constitution, certain aliens should be included in the count! in Queensland, and as to whether that State is justly entitled to ten instead of nine representatives. It is desirable, in the interest of the whole community that this question should be decided.

Mr REID:

– I understand, both from the question of my honorable friend and from the information given to me by my honorable colleague the Minister of Home Affairs, that the legal interpretation of the Constitution is involved. The matter has not yet reached a stage at which we can obtain an opinion upon it, but I suppose that we shall soon be able to do so.

Mr Fisher:

– Will the Government be guided by the opinion of the AttorneyGeneral ?

Mr REID:

– That is a matter for consideration. I should, of course, prefer to take the opinion of the Attorney-General.

Mr McDonald:

– The honorable member is not referring to the opinion of the present Attorney-General.

Mr REID:

– I may tell my honorable friend that my attention has not been drawn to any of the papers. I shall refer to them, and shall probably be able to furnish a more satisfactory answer if my honorable friend will repeat his question on Thursday.

Mr MCDONALD:

– There is another question which I should like to ask. It appears that in collecting the rolls in Queensland some of the police - I do not know whether they are directing the inquiry in connexion with the compilation of the State rolls - are asking aliens who claim to be entitled to a vote whether they have paid the poll-tax, and that applicants who have not paid the poll-tax are being told that their names cannot be placed on a roll. I think that some understanding should be arrived at with regard .to this point.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
Minister for Home Affairs · NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Although one or two other complaints have been made with regard to the method in which the Queensland rolls are being collected, this is the first time that a grievance of the kind mentioned by the honorable member has been brought before me. No such instructions as those suggested have emanated from the Chief Electoral Office. I shall make inquiries, and if I find that the course indicated is being adopted by the police, I shall at once put a stop to the practice.

page 6919

QUESTION

DUTY ON ELECTRICAL RHEOSTATS

Mr TUDOR:
for Mr. Maloney

asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. Are rheostats (electrical) admitted free?
  2. If so, will the Government return to Messrs. Clarke, Padley, and Co. the sum of £$ 18s. 4d. due to them as a refund for duty charged on one rheostat for electrical lift on or about 14th October, 1 902?
Mr McLEAN:
Minister for Trade and Customs · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · Protectionist

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Yes.
  2. The article on which re-fund is claimed was not entered by the importer as a rheostat, nor was any special mention made of it at the time of entry. The invoice described it as a controlling switch, and the latter was not classed by the Department as a rheostat till 8th April, 1903. Every previous Minister has fully considered this claim, and refused to recognise it, and in this conclusion I fully concur. The claim is legally barred by section 166 of the Customs Act.

page 6919

QUESTION

LEPERS IN QUEENSLAND

Mr WILKINSON:
MORETON, QUEENSLAND

asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -

  1. How many lepers have been discovered and segregated in Queensland up to date?
  2. How many of them have been arrested and segregated during the last four years - that is, since the inception of the Commonwealth?
  3. Of the number so arrested and segregated, from first to last, how many were Europeans, how many Asiatics, and how many Polynesians?
Mr REID:
Free Trade

– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -

The Department is not in possession of the desired particulars, but the Premier of Queensland has been asked to furnish the information.

page 6919

QUESTION

SERGEANT G. A. KING

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

asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -

  1. Did Major-General Sir Edward Hutton, on 15th April last, issue a General Order for the assembly of a Court of Inquiry for the purpose of investigating the case of Sergeant G. A. King, who was discharged from the 7th Infantry Regiment (St. George’s Rifles) by Lieutenant-Colonel Neild on 18th May, 1903, and other matters in connexion with the administration of the St. George’s Rifles by Lieutenant-Colonel Neild?
  2. Has the Court of Inquiry yet been held?
  3. Did Sergeant King tender his resignation immediately prior to his discharge by LieutenantColonel Neild?
  4. If so, under what authority did Lieutenant-

Colonel Neild ignore that resignation?

  1. Was any definite and specific charge, or any charge, preferred against Sergeant Kingprior to his discharge, or was Sergeant King ever made acquainted with the reason of his discharge?
  2. Has Regulation No. 77 (made under the New

South Wales Volunteer Act then in force), in so far as it relates to the publication in Regimental and District Orders of the “ Cause of the discharge,” been complied with by LieutenantColonel Neild and Brigadier-General Finn?

Mr McCAY:
Protectionist

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -

  1. Yes.
  2. No. 3, 4, 5, and 6. The assembly of the Court of

Inquiry was postponed, as a Select Committee of the Senate has, since 20th April last, been inquiring into matters connected with Senator Lieutenant-Colonel Neild, and the administration of the St. George’s English Rifle Regiment has become involved in such inquiry. All the papers submitted from Head-quarters for the purposes of the Court of Inquiry were withdrawn for the use of the Select Committee, and are still in its possession ; consequently, the information is not available for reply.

page 6920

QUESTION

FINES FOR TELEGRAPHIC ERRORS

Mr FOWLER:
PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

  1. Whether he has under his consideration the practice followed in the Postal Department in Western Australia of fining telegraphists for errors in their work?
  2. Where such errors are chiefly caused by indifferent circuits and defective signals, does the Postmaster-General consider that the operators should be punished?
  3. Where an error occurs as between two op erators, does the Postmaster-General approve of the fining of both when the offender cannot be particularized ?
  4. Are errors in the transmission of telegrams offences under the Regulations?
Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
Postmaster-General · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -

  1. The Postmaster-General has not previously had this matter under his consideration.
  2. It is considered that operators should not be punished for any errors for which they are not responsible.
  3. Whether such a course would be approved of would depend entirely upon circumstances.
  4. When it is so provided in the regulations of any State, such errors are offences. There is, however, no departmental regulation affecting the State of Western Australia in this respect, and no regulations with respect to such errors have been made since the transfer of the Department.

page 6920

QUESTION

SUPPLY (1904-5)

In Committee (Consideration resumed from nth November, vide page 6916):

Departmentof Defence

Division 41 (Chief Administration), £4,789

Mr WATSON:
Bland

– In view of the fact that the scheme set forth by the Minister of Defence a week or so ago, in his very concise and informative speech, is practically a composite one, or, at any rate, the result of the combined efforts of several Ministers, and of the further circumstance, that one of those Ministers was a colleague of my own, I do not think that it is necessary for me to enter into any detailed criticism of his proposals. In the first place, I must compliment him upon the clearness with which he outlined the scheme to the Committee, and in the second, I desire to commend his reference to the Swiss system of national defence. Personally, I should like to see Australia go a great deal further in the direction of that system than it has yet gone, because, in my view, it is almost a model system to adopt in a country which desires to rely for its defence almost entirely upon the services of its citizens rather than upon those of a professional soldiery. I am not convinced that, if the proposition in some tangible and practicable shape were submitted to the people of Australia, there would not be a favorable response from them, especially if all the advantages of the Swiss system were placed before them in anything like a definite form. At present we train but a small proportion of our citizens as possible soldiers, in case of need. It is true that our equipment is no more than sufficient for the small number that we more or less efficiently train. My ideal of Australian defence is that every man in the community should be so trained that he would be capable of taking part in its protection, should the occasion arise. It seems to me that nowadays there is a greater necessity to insist upon a man receiving some reasonable degree of training before he is fitted to take the field than was formerly the case. In the olden days the weapons employed were simple in their action, and the movements en masse were acquired with comparative ease. Consequently the same degree of training was not necessary to develop the individual resource of each unit of the forces that seems to be necessary under modern conditions.

In my view that fact emphasizes the need which exists for making provision for the training of all our citizens. A proposal somewhat upon these lines was put forward by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney when the Defence Bill was under consideration, but immediately the element of compulsion was mentioned in this connexion, immediately it was discerned that to completely train the citizens of Australia involved compelling them to undergo a certain course of instruction, and to devote a certain amount of time to the State, the cr-y of “conscription “ was raised, and the proposition met with but scant courtesy. I am quite as strongly opposed to any general idea of conscription which would withdraw, a large proportion of our population from industrial pursuits, as anybody can be, but it seems to me that that system is quite a different proposition from what is involved in the Swiss system, under which every citizen between certain ages is compelled to give a portion of time - which need not necessarily cause him to be absent for more than one week from his ordinary occupation - each year to military training. It may be a matter of detail as to how many weeks of continuous training are necessary to develop the soldier, but even if no such continuous training were provided, it seems to me that a great advantage would be derived from having a large proportion of our youth skilled in the use of arms, and possessed of a knowledge of simple military manoeuvres. However, for the present, I suppose, we must be satisfied with what the people will sanction, and, therefore, I am content to develop the existing system, always consistent with the making of proper provision in respect of armament and equipment. In regard to these matters, for years past we have been very remiss in the Commonwealth, and none of the States have been more so than has Victoria. That, I think, is the most regrettable feature of all our efforts at defence. No matter how disposed one may be to vote an immense sum of money for defence purposes, it must be admitted that the aggregate amount which we now spend in this direction is a very large one indeed. Personally, I am convinced that we are not getting anything like the return which we should obtain from that expenditure. I do not pretend to have acquired the expert knowledge which is possessed by a number of honorable members, but it seems to me that we might get a great deal more for our expenditure upon defence than we do at the present time. As

I have previously remarked, the scheme which has been put forward by the Minister of Defence has been under the consideration qf various Ministers in different Governments for some time past, and has practically received the indorsement of each of them. So far as I am concerned, that scheme approaches much nearer to my original conception of the benefit which might be derived from a federalization of the Australian Defence Forces than did the scheme which was contained in the Defence Act, which was passed by this Parliament at the instance of the right honorable member for Swan. My first idea was that, taking into consideration the vast area of our territory, and the necessarily scattered manner in which the forces would be distributed over an immense coast-line, it would be unwise to do more than establish a central advisory body for the purpose of seeing that all our defence operations were conducted upon a uniform plan - that uniform, equipment, and armament were provided, and that all were kept working upon the same lines, although they need not necessarily be under the same administrative heads. The right honorable member for Swan, in the Bill which he introduced, adopted another view. He created a centralized administration, which, in my view, was quite a different thing from a central advisory body, or even from a commanding officer, whose sole duty it would be to insure the adoption of uniform methods, but to do no more than that, so far as administration was concerned. I do not suppose that it is necessary for me to say anything to the Minister of Defence in connexion with the wisdom of decentralizing administration. From his own experience as a militia officer, he knows - indeed, he has pointed out in the House upon several occasions - just where the difficulties created by red-tape have crept in.

Mr McCay:

– I am of the same opinion still.

Mr WATSON:

– I think that the scheme which we are now considering will go a long way towards reducing the red-tapeism which has hitherto existed. That is the way in which it appeals to me. I have not one word of criticism to offer against the gentleman who is now retiring from the position of General Officer Commanding. I at once admit that he has always shown himself an enthusiastic soldier. Many of us may have differed from him from time to time in matters of detail, or in regard to the general outline of his warlike ambitions, but we can appreciate the fact that whatever his right hand found to do, he did it with all his might. I have no word of criticism to offer so far as he is concerned ; but even allowing that he was willing to assume the responsibilities attaching to the office of General Officer Commanding, as understood and carried out under the Defence Act, it was too much to expect one man, sitting in Melbourne, or in any other part of the Commonwealth, to take upon his shoulders the work of dealing administratively with all the details of defence that might arise throughout the continent. It was too much to expect a man, no matter how able he might be, or how anxious to carry out his duties in a proper way, to do that work effectively. Therefore,’ while I was not always of the opinion that there was any necessity for a Council of Defence, I cherished the idea that we should have as General Officer Commanding an expert soldier, acting as adviser to the Minister, while the Minister himself would undertake all responsibility. That is the view of the position which presented itself to me in the early stages of Federation, and I conceive that the present proposal practically coincides with that idea. The Minister will still be responsible; he will not be able to shelter himself behind the fact that his Council has given him certain advice. In common with the Ministry of which he is a member, he will have to take the responsibility for the general direction of the Forces, and the work of carrying out an efficient defence. While it is ‘true that I did not, some time ago, see the wisdom of having a Council of Defence, it will thus be seen that in my view this scheme will carry us nearer my ideal so far as decentralization is concerned. I do not say but that there mav be some details of the scheme with which fault can be found. The Minister, in putting these proposals forward, largely assumed a tentative attitude. He seemed to recognise, as I think we all should, that any move in this direction must be largely experimental. We cannot expect to strike the right keynote at the first attempt, and alf that our assent to this scheme, to my mind, will involve, is that we are agreed that it is wise to divest the expert, who is intrusted with the duty of insuring that the best possible methods of defence are adopted, of much of the administrative work which must now cumber his mind to such an extent as to render it impossible for him to give us of his best in the larger matter of policy. Let us take, for instance, the position of the gentleman who is now vacating the office of General Officer Commanding. Was it to be expected that he would be able to properly apply himself to the general policy of Australian defence, when a great part of his time was occupied in the consideration of small matters of detail - the question of whether an officer at the other end of Australia should receive promotion, or whether some officer had or had not exceeded his duty in relation to the control of his regiment? A thousand and one details had to come before the General Officer Commanding, and these naturally unfitted him, to some extent, from undertaking the larger and more onerous duties of adviser in chief to the Government on the question of defence. There is only one feature of this scheme to which I desire to take any grave exception. The Minister stated the other day that in his view it was necessary that the officers on the Council of Defence should be changed every four years.

Mr McCay:

– On the Military Board.

Mr WATSON:

– I thought that the honorable and learned gentleman referred to the Council of Defence.

Mr McCay:

– No, to the Military Board. The Council of Defence is that on which the Minister and the Treasurer will hold seats. Ministers, it is evident, often change office.

Mr WATSON:

– The main point of the honorable and learned gentleman’s contention, as I understood it, was that it was unwise to allow either the InspectorGeneral or the Chief of Staff, who would be members of this board, to remain on it so long as to run the risk of becoming rusty, and failing to keep pace with the spirit of development of the times. I quite agree that it is unwise to allow men - and especially those occupying such responsible positions - to remain too long in office. It is true that in some of the States a tendency was shown to retain a man in a high and responsible office from motives of pure good nature. There was an unwillingness to throw an officer, who was perhaps a very decent fellow, and in every way deserving, on the world, with the result that in the meantime the Forces, or the Department in which he happened to be, suffered. I agree with the Government proposal, as a general principle; but if it is to be made a hard-and-fast rule that these officers shall be changed every four years, injustice may be done, and the result may be to practically deprive us of the services of a man who would be of inestimable value at a particular juncture. Take the case of the Inspector-General. Whether he be an Australian, or an officer obtained in some other part of the Empire, we require the advice and assistance of the ablest man, from an all-round stand-point, whom it is possible to obtain for this position. We often see a man attain a responsible position, and demonstrate his value and fitness for the duties which he has to discharge, at a comparatively early age. Many men at the age of, say, fortyyears, have demonstrated their fitness for such positions, but even if we go a little further, and say that such capacity is shown by a man at the age of forty-five years, it seems to me that if we limit the term of service on the Board to four years, we shall place the members of it in an awkward position. Let us suppose that the Inspector-General is an Australian officer, who, having practically devoted his life to the development of his faculties as a member of the military profession, becomes Inspector-General, say, when he is a little over forty years of age. He would be fitted for no other profession, and four years after his appointment to the office in ordinary circumstances he would be in the very prime of life - in the very fullness of his vigor and experience. And yet at the expiration of that period he would have either to retire from the Forces, and give up the prospect of further employment in Australia, or go back to a. subordinate position. That would be a very awkward predicament in which to place a man of this character. We will say that he is an enthusiast, who, instead of taking things easily, as so many public officers are disposed to do, has availed himself of every opportunity to keep in touch with what is going on in the outside world. Yet, at the end of the four years’ period, he would be asked either to retire altogether from the position of Inspector-General, or to submit to being reduced, and accepting a very subordinate position. Setting aside for the moment the first alternative of his quitting the Forces altogether, let us assume that he accepts lower rank, and goes back to the position, say, of a District Commandant. That would be very likely to lead to friction, because the officer who had been in the position of critic would then remain to be criticised, possibly by one of the officers whom he had been criticising only a short while previously. If we contemplate the d elegation of two or three officers from the position of Inspector-General to that of Dist rict Commandant, we must eventually create conditions in which we should have these men criticised, perhaps by an officer whom it had been their duty a little previously to put upon the rack, in order to expose errors of which he might have been guilty . That, to my mind, would be subversive of discipline, and would lead to a great deal of friction. I think that we should contemplate allowing this Inspector-General in particular to remain in office while he is efficient, and that then he should look forward to going upon the retired’ list. I do not think that it will be a wise thing to have an officer for four years as an Inspector-General, and for the succeeding three or four years as a State Commandant or a Staff Officer. I think in either of those alternatives we should find room for trouble, and that the arrangement would not work for the advantage of the Forces as a whole. So that I trust the Minister will see the. wisdom of relaxing that rule. I admit that it is difficult to lay down anything like a hard-and-fast line in cases of this description.

Mr McCay:

– The honorable member may notice that the Bill does not bind us ; if further experience teaches us that what I propose is not the proper course, we leave the other course open to be followed.

Mr WATSON:

– I have not studied the Bill, but am taking the Minister’s speech.

Mr McCay:

– Nevertheless, I still hold to my own opinion.

Mr WATSON:

– I admit that the proposals are largely tentative, and I do. not pretend’ to dogmatize on the point. But the question presents itself to me in that light - that there will remain large possibilities of friction and of inefficiency if this proposal for a rigid four years’ period is adhered to. I am glad to find that the Minister has not put the proposal in the Bill in that particular shape. As I have said, it is difficult to draw a hard and fast line, and to say that such and such a rule mustbe observed. Some men, no matter if they remained in a position for ten or twelve years, would always keep themselves up to the mark - would always keep abreast of the march of progress in other parts of the world, and would be mentally and physically alert and active at perhapsa comparatively advanced age ; whilst in other cases there would be just the opposite tendency. We cannot perhapslay down a rule and apply it satisfactorily in all cases ; but it seems to me that it would be much better to have in the Bill power to appoint for four years, and, if thought advisable, to re-appoint for another four years. I dare say that eight years would be a reasonable maximum. We have to fix upon some maximum, and probably eight years would be as long a period as we could expect the highest point of efficiency in this officer. In the meantime it would be advisable to leave open the question of whether members of the Military Board and the Inspector-General should not be eligible for re-appointment at least for another period of four years. I do not wish to say any more with regard to the general scheme outlined bythe Minister, so far as concerns the Council of Defence and the Military Board. It appears to me that a reasonable plan is presented, which should be satisfactory, so far as results are concerned. But I should have liked to see the Minister come forward with some proposal with respect to the establishment of a training college. It is true that the honorable gentleman stated that in this matter we are governed by the consideration of expense, and it certainly is difficult to arrange easily to increase the expenditure to the degree necessary to establish a training college.

Mr McCay:

– Does the honorable member think that I have had sufficient time to consider these matters fairly ?

Mr WATSON:

– I do not say that the Minister has had time to come down with a detailed scheme. But it does not seem to me that we can consider the scheme effective without some proper machinery for the training of officers.

Mr Skene:

– And of educating them.

Mr WATSON:

– And of educating them; the two things run concurrently. At the present time in regard to our Permanent Forces, we rely upon a most haphazard system. We recruit the officers of the Permanent Forces, to a large extent, I am sorry to say, from families which hold positions in the world, rather than on account of the particular merits of the individuals applying for commissions. I know that in New South Wales it has been for some time a sort of passport into the Permanent Artillery to belong to one or other of the leading families of that State; and I am sorry to say that it is not always their brightest members that these people have sent into the Military Forces. In New South Wales we have not had a very encouraging experience of the haphazard system which has been followed for a considerable time past. It seems to me, therefore, that it would be preferable if, in a small way, we could have a training college, which youths could enter as cadets, with a certainty that as soon as they emerged, and were properly qualified - if they could qualify themselves - they would be given commissions, and have a reasonable period of employment in the permanent Military Forces. Further, I dare say that such a college would be utilized for short courses in connexion with the training of militia officers. I do not know how far that is practicable ; I was looking primarily to the training of the Permanent Forces.

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

– We shall require to have the Federal Capital established before we shall be able to have a military college.

Mr WATSON:

– It is more than probable that the establishment of the Federal Capital would facilitate the establishment of such a college. But it seems to me that in Australia, where we rely on such a small Permanent Force, it is even more necessary than is the case elsewhere, that that force should be of the best possible material - that it should consist of absolutely picked men ; not only that the rank and file should . be good men, but that the officers should constitute such a nucleus that they would be fit, if necessary, not only to carry out the particular duties for which they were trained, but would be fit to take command of armies, or of suchsections of armies as we are able to put into the field in Australia. We cannot expect that militia officers, with the comparatively small amount of time at their disposal outside of their ordinary businesses, shall as a body, at any rate, possess that knowledge of tactics and strategy which we should expect from professional soldiers. Therefore, I should hope that the community will be impressed with the absolute necessity of training in the most efficient manner possible the small number of officers that we can afford to enrol in the Permanent Forces of Australia. There is one matter upon which I desire to compliment the Minister, and that is that he has anticipated parliamentary authority to the extent of ordering some new field guns. Our condition in that respect has been lamentable for a good while past. The fact that we Have had quite a number of field artillery corps in existence with no guns whatever with which to teach them, or to put under their control, would in itself be a sufficient reason - I will not say a sufficient excuse, for no excuse is needed - for the Minister taking the action he has taken. I know that some time ago my colleague, Senator Dawson, when Minister of Defence, was collecting evidence as to how soon guns of the new pattern might be obtained in Australia. I am very sorry to say that at that time the War Office was so busily engaged in re-arming the British Artillery that they did not hold out any immediate hope of our getting guns of the latest pattern. But I understand that the Minister, before ordering these guns, was assured that within a reasonable time they could be supplied. I am glad that he took advantage of the earliest opportunity to send the order, and thus gave us some chance of getting uptodate guns for our Field Forces. There is one other point which seems to me to deserve more attention at the hands of the Minister, and upon which, even allowing for the comparatively short time that the Government has held office, we might have anticipated some declaration at this juncture, and that is in respect to our coastal defence. As most honorable members are aware, I opposed the ratification of the Naval Agreement with Great Britain, not that I did not appreciate the value of having the British squadron in these waters-

Mr McWilliams:

– That is the only defence we have.

Mr WATSON:

– I admit that it is the only naval defence we have, but I submit that that should not be the case. I. opposed that proposal, not that I did not appreciate the value of having a sea-going squadron here, but because, in my view, it was absolutely essential that all the money we could spare for naval defence should, for some time to come, be devoted to putting the harbors in an impregnable state. It is useless to talk about defending the ports of Australia with one squadron. Considering our immense coastline, it would be as reasonable to expect a person to find a needle in a haystack as to expect our one squadron to find an enemy that might come down to raid our ports.

Sir John Forrest:

– Does the honorable member think that a purely local squadron could do it?

Mr WATSON:

– I do not think that any one squadron could be expected to do it.

Sir John Forrest:

– What are we to do?

Mr WATSON:

– What should be done i s not to rely upon any one squadron, but, as far as possible, to make each port impregnable. If our people feel a sense of security, it is an absolutely false one.

Mr Higgins:

– Is not the flagshipat Singapore, or somewhere else ?

Mr WATSON:

– I think she is; and the other vessels are scattered throughout Australian waters. The money which is now devoted to the Auxiliary Squadron, and additional money, should be voted annually to provide a proper floating harbor defence right round the coast. We have, it is true, a certain number of batteries at the principal ports. We have two torpedo boats at Melbourne, a gun-boat at Adelaide, and a couple of gun-boats at Brisbane, but beyond these there is practically no floating harbor defence.

Mr McWilliams:

– The honorable member might say that there is none, because they would be quite useless against a modern navy.

Mr WATSON:

– The floating defences we have are almost useless. When I was in office, I communicated with the Admiralty as to the possibility of our being supplied on terms with some torpedo-boat destroyers for our harbor defence. I am sorry to say that they were not able to afford any assistance in that direction. But I am so impressed with the necessity of providing at least one torpedo boat destroyer, or an equally efficient vesselfor each of the principal harbors in Australia, that I should be quite willing to vote a sum sufficient to construct a vessel every year until we had a sufficient number of them .

Mr DAVID THOMSON:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– What about submarine boats?

Mr WATSON:

– I do not pretend to have the expert knowledge to enable me to distinguish the relative values of submarine boats and torpedo boat destroyers, or other vessels of that class.

Mr McCay:

– Submarine boats would be of no use for our purpose.

Mr McWilliams:

– Does the honorable member think that in warfare one torpedo boat destroyer in each port would be sufficient ?

Mr WATSON:

– We must make a beginning somewhere. Unfortunately, in New South Wales we have no vessel on which to train our so-called Naval Brigade. The men are as efficient as men enrolled elsewhere in that branch, but for some considerable time past we have had no opportunity of training them. And now there is a proposal, I understand, to spend £1,000 in bringing the gunboat Protector from Adelaide to Sydney, there to be used for a few months for training purposes. But, after all, that is of minor importance, because it seems to me that no satisfactory result can accrue from the mere spasmodic training of the men. As far as I have been able to glean from those who can be regarded as experts, even one vessel of this type in a port would be of value. There should be stationed at various points round the Commonwealth a vessel which could act as a scout, and discover if the enemy were likely to approach, and by means of wireless telegraphy, or some other method, communicate with the head-quarters of the seagoing squadron, thus enabling them to concentrate on an enemy which otherwise might not be discovered. Every one knows that a torpedo boat destroyer, lying low in the water, and steaming very rapidly, could more easily discover an enemy without being seen, than the ordinary vessels of a squadron could do. Besides, the ordinary harbor defences, in the shape of batteries, would be much more formidable in the eyes of an enemy, if they were supplemented by an offensive instrument such as a torpedo boat destroyer would be. Not only would it be fitted for the destruction of torpedo boats belonging to the enemy, but it also could eject torpedoes. I do not pretend, of course, to know a great deal about this subject. I took the opportunity of ascertaining the views of those naval experts whom one can approach in Australia, and I found that they _ were unanimously of opinion that our first line of defence should be the floating defence for our harbors and for coastal purposes.

Mr Liddell:

– Would it not be better to spend on our Naval Forces the money which is now spent, on the land force ?

Mr WATSON:

– I do not subscribe absolutely to that proposition, because, no matter how efficient the Naval Force might be, there would always be the possibility of it being temporarily overcome. No one can tell where a raider may turn up. The land force would be able to keep a raider in check until our naval reserve could be brought up.

Mr Liddell:

– But seeing that all our wealth is upon our coast-line, is it not worth while to make our main line of defence there?

Mr WATSON:

– I agree with the honorable member that we have not given the attention which should have been given to the naval branch of defence, possibly because it does not lend itself to a spectacular display so easily as does a land force. I do not know whether that is the reason or not, but certainly so long as the people can see a certain number of troops parading they seem to fancy that everything is all right, and do not worry about the essential point of naval defence.

Mr Johnson:

– If we are to start with a new naval system the expense will be very much greater.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– The security will also be very much greater.

Mr WATSON:

– I think that the establishment of a mosquito fleet for defence purposes in the ports would not be enormously expensive. These torpedo boat destroyers can be constructed for about ^60,000 each.

Mr Johnson:

– I thought that the honorable member was referring to a navy.

Mr WATSON:

– So far as manning them is concerned, they do not require a very large permanent crew. They require, of course, one or two artificers and engineers permanently employed, but for their ordinary manning it seems to me that we could depend on our naval militia. If that be so, they should not cost’ an extraordinary amount to maintain, until active service conditions arose.

Mr Johnson:

– It is a very necessary branch of defence.

Mr WATSON:

– It is so necessary, that I think there should be some provision made by Parliament to proceed yearly with the construction of one or more of these boats, upon the understanding that we shall continue the expenditure every year until we have something like an efficient fleet of this character. I do not pretend that we are in such a financial position that we should be justified in proceeding with the construction of a sea-going squadron for a very considerable time. I see no immediate prospect of that. But I do feel that it is essential that we should have havens of refuge scattered around our coast to which vessels of our mercantile marine might fly, and in which they might remain if a raiding squadron were in Australian waters. It is of no use to expect that in Our time we shall have a sufficiently strong’ sea-going fleet to insure the absolute protection of our coastal routes, but we could make impregnable havens along the coast, within, say, a couple of days’ steam of each other, to which our merchant marine could fly for safety in the event of a sudden attack from such a raiding squadron as we might expect in these waters. I am quite prepared to give the Government every assistance in making some provision in this direction. After all, even though it may be said that we are spending a large amount on defence to-day, an addition of £50,000 or £60,000 in each year for the construction of one of these torpedo-boat destroyers would not amount to very much spread over the whole of the Commonwealth.

Mr McCay:

– The honorable gentleman refers to the cost price of such a vessel ?

Mr WATSON:

– That is so; but in connexion with the cost of up-keep, it should be remembered that we should hardly contemplate the retention of the Cerberus as a fighting machine if we had in our ports boats of such a character as I have described. I take it that we would at once distribute the officers and men of the Cerberus amongst the torpedo-boat destroyers as we got them.

Mr Johnson:

– How much does the Cerberus cost for upkeep?

Mr WATSON:

-I think she costs £18,000 or £19,000 a year.

Sir John Forrest:

– No ; not so much as that.

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

– I think it is not so much as that, but whatever it is it is thrown away.

Mr McCay:

– The Permanent Naval Force in Victoria costs about £18,000 a year.

Mr WATSON:

– That is nearly all connected with the Cerberus.

Mr McCay:

– There are gunboats as well.

Mr WATSON:

– There are two torpedo boats manned by militia, except to the extent of a few men who are transferred from the Cerberus. In any case, I think it will be found that the Cerberus is costing nearly £18,000 a year, and, at best, she amounts to only a floating battery.

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

– And she is not much at that.

Mr WATSON:

– She is not much at that, and I, for one, shut down on the proposal to spend£20,000 on re-arming her. So far as the annual cost is concerned, I have every reason to believe that the scheme put forward by Captain Creswell - and I am not now speaking of the scheme he put forward some time ago, in relation to an Australian sea-going spuadron; but to his proposal with respect to coastal defence, pure and simple - it would not cost us any more to maintain, say, half-a-dozen efficient torpedo-boat destroyers, or vessels of that class, than we now spend in maintaining inefficient boats of quite another class.

Mr McCay:

– I have been inquiring into the matter, and my information, up to the present, hardly bears that out.

Mr WATSON:

– That is certainly my impression, but even if it did cost a little more the community generally would be quite agreeable to find that money rather than that we should continue in the position in which we are at the present time. I quite agree with the general proposals the Minister has put forward, with the limitation I mentioned a little time ago, with respect to the period of office. I feel sure that this Parliament would support the honorable and learned gentleman if he were to bring down some proposal of this nature. I should personally be prepared to give him every assistance, and I believe that most honorable members on this side would be prepared to take the responsibility of sanctioning the additional expenditure that would be involved in providing an adequate harbor and coast defence for Australia.

Mr SKENE:
Grampians

– I join with the leader of the Opposition in congratulating the Minister of Defence upon the very painstaking way in which he has put this matter before the Committee. I also desire to thank the honorable and learned gentleman for the care he has taken, because we do not often find Ministers prepared to go to so much trouble. A few years ago he would have been a bold man who attempted to criticise these matters if he were not somewhat of an expert. But the new methods which have been adopted in connexion with military systems have been criticised by leading men at home as business methods. I have noticed that Sir Robert Giffen speaks now of “a business War Office,” and as we have here an attempt to introduce ordinary methods of business, as far as possible, into our military system, every honorable member may feel himself justified in speaking on the question. In any remarks I have to make I shall be glad if the Minister will recognise that I have no desire to speak in any fault-finding spirit.There are some points in the honorable and learned gentleman’s statement which suggest, to my mind, that difficulties will arise in carrying out the scheme proposed. I do not find fault with the machinery, or with its parts, but I have some doubt as to how they will work together. A machine may be composed of the very best parts, but if they are not properly combined there will be friction. It is probable that many of my difficulties may be removed by the simple process of pointing out that I have not fairly understood the proposal. If I understand the scheme aright, it is that there are to be councils and boards to be responsible for what we might call the Civil Department, and the Military Department is to be left practically in the hands of the States Commandants. In addition, of course, we are to have an Inspector-General, who is to report upon all matters. I confess that I have some misapprehension with respect to the somewhat equivocal position which it seems to me the Inspector-General will occupy with regard to the Boards. He is to be the best military expert available, and yet his duty is simply to be to report. He is to take no responsibility as an executive head in time of peace, but is to report to a Board, which will take the responsibility.

Mr Higgins:

– Who will have charge in war time?

Mr SKENE:

– I understood the Minister to say that in time of war the InspectorGeneral would be the executive head.

Mr McCay:

– Not toy operation of law. He would be the man naturally best suited for the position.

Mr SKENE:

– Looking at the matter with the experience which I have had of boards and executive staffs in the ordinary walks of life, the position of the InspectorGeneral seems anomalous. I understand that he is to report”’ to the Council.

Mr McCay:

– He is to report to the Military Board, not to the Council.

Mr SKENE:

– Does the Board pass on his reports to the Council ?

Mr McCay:

– Not necessarily.

Mr SKENE:

– The reports of the InspectorGeneral must either be accepted or rejected by the Council.

Mr McCay:

– No; the Council will deal with big questions of policy, while the Board will deal with questions of administration. The Inspector-General will report to the Board on the administration of the I

Department generally. It is only when questions of policy arise that the Council will come in.

Mr SKENE:

– Then we shall have an officer, presumably the best obtainable, reporting to men who will be his inferiors in rank and attainments?

Mr McCay:

– They will not be his subordinates, though they may be his inferiors in rank.

Mr SKENE:

– I feel certain that such an arrangement would create’ friction in ordinary business circles. If the head of a business establishment had to report to the heads of departments, it would be sure to cause friction.

Mr McCay:

– That is not an accurate analogy.

Mr SKENE:

– The Inspector-General, in reporting to the Board, will be reporting to men who will be practically his inferiors.

Mr Johnson:

– Does not that always happen in business life where directors report to the committee or council of an organization ?

Mr SKENE:

– No. The executive head or adviser of a company may report to a board, but not to a board constituted of men inferior to himself. The InspectorGeneral is to be quite separated from executive command. The Minister referred to his proposal to give more power to the Commandants of the States as decentralization. The honorable member for Bland has properly pointed out that there should be decentralization in the administration, but it does not follow that there should be decentralization in connexion with executive matters. In a short article written by Sir Robert Giffen on the report of the Committee on War Organization, it is stated that the principal defect which was discovered was insufficient decentralization, which caused the multiplication of clerical work at head-quarters, and much friction in correspondence. This was specially complained of in connexion with the Account. ant-General’s Department on the civil side. The scheme now under discussion, however, seems to provide for decentralization in the executive command as well, which is going back upon our Federal ideas, since it was thought that under Federation we should have a more centralized executive in connexion with matters of defence. I think that if we are to have a centrifugal force, we must counterbalanace it with a centripetal force. If we distribute the command among the States Commandants without any centripetal force, the tendency will be towards disintegration rather than towards ‘decentralization. The Minister has told us that the Military Board is to deal with such matters as the States Commandants might not desire to deal with themselves.

Mr McCay:

– Yes; administrative matters.

Mr SKENE:

– Should it be left to the States Commandants to decide what matters they will deal with? Should there not be some one who can say to them, “ This matter does not come within your province; it lies within the province of the Board “ ?

Mr McCay:

– That will be one of the duties of the Inspector-General. He will report as to how the States Commandants are administering their commands, and the Board will act accordingly. I do not pretend to have dealt with every matter of detail in the short speech which I made the other day. o

Mr SKENE:

– What the honorable and learned gentleman said was this -

Questions which State Commandants do not desire to decide for themselves, as involving in their view possible questions of policy, or other important administrative points, will be referred to the members of the Board in whose province they come, and they will personally take the responsibility for any decision which is given.

From that statement I gather that it will be entirely for the States Commandants to refer or not to refer matters to the Board, and some will accordingly assume greater responsibility than others. Some will always be referring matters to the Boar], while others will take more upon themselves. It seems to me that there should be some executive head in time of peace. While the States Commandants might be allowed to take more initiative within reasonable limits, there should be some central head’ through which all communications should go. I suggest that the Inspector-General is wrongly placed. Is it necessary that he should carry out the duties of an active inspector? In one of our largest banking institutions, the head officer is the Chief Inspector, who never goes out of his office ; neither does the Inspector for the State of Victoria.

Mr McCay:

– Then I venture to say that the officers are misnamed - they are inspectors who do not inspect.

Mr SKENE:

– They are inspectors because they deal with the inspecting branch. If the Inspector-General of our Commonwealth Forces were to spend more of his time at Head-Quarters, and detail other officers to perform the actual work of inspection, subject to his general supervision, he would be able to render much more useful service.

Mr Lonsdale:

– In the case of the bank, it is a matter of inspecting accounts, whereas in the other instance, it is men who have to be inspected.

Mr McCay:

– Exactly. Accounts could be sent to an inspector, whereas men could not.

Mr SKENE:

– I am now speaking of the executive work which might be transacted at Head-Quarters. No matter how able a man might be, he would belong to only one branch of the service.

Mr McCay:

– The same principle would apply to a General Officer Commanding.

Mr SKENE:

– That is quite true; but I think that the Inspector-General, instead of being so much away from HeadQuarters, as seems to be contemplated, should delegate to officers connected with the various branches of the service, the work of making periodical inspections. Such officers should send in their reports, and the InspectorGeneral could, in the light of his greater experience, advise upon them. I am sure that more satisfactory results would be obtained by adopting that plan.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– The InspectorGeneral might still be biased by his own special training.

Mr SKENE:

– Yes, but he would have the benefit of the expert opinions of the most capable officers in the various branches of the service, and would be able to give his best attention to the matters brought under his notice. The honorable member for Bland mentioned the proposal that the Inspector-General should retire at the end of four years. The Minister has not given us the slightest indication of the steps that would be taken, in anticipation of the expiration of the four-year period, to appoint a successor to the retiring InspectorGeneral. The idea is that the InspectorGeneral should retire at the end of the term mentioned, because he would no longer be up-to-date, but I should like to know where his up-to-date successor is to come from. It is extremely unlikely that we shall have any officers in our Forces who are more up-to-date than the retiring InspectorGeneral, and possibly we shall be forced into continuing the practice of enlisting the services of an Imperial officer. The General Officer Commanding, speaking at Sydney recently, seemed to me to hit the nail on the head. He pointed out that we ought to regard the proposed change as the outcome of a desire to give practical expression to Australian sentiment in favour of our Forces being commanded by un Australian, or by an officer who has Australian sympathies.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– It is very doubtful whether that sentiment exists to any great extent.

Mr SKENE:

– I think that we might pay full regard to the Australian sentiment upon that point, and at the same time keep our forces in touch with the Imperial Army. The Minister has not, however, given us any indication as to the steps that would be taken to provide a successor to the InspectorGeneral at the termination of his term of service. Perhaps my ideas are crude and impracticable, but I think that we might take measures which would enable us to provide for the appointment of a succession of officers belonging to our forces, who would be sufficiently uptodate to assume the position of InspectorGeneral. In order to accomplish this end we must send some of our officers abroad to be trained. The Minister stated that it was intended to send junior officers to Great Britain for training in connexion with the Imperial Forces.

Mr McCay:

– I did not mention officers of any particular rank. I said that we proposed to send men to England for training, and also to exchange officers with the Imperial Forces.

Mr SKENE:

– I conceive that the difficulty I have been suggesting might be overcome by our sending some of our officers of high rank to England to be attached to the Imperial Forces. If we adopted that plan, it might be better to shorten the term of the Inspector-General from four years to three. Then, perhaps, after completing one period of service the InspectorGeneral might be permitted to attach himself to the Imperial Forces, and obtain the very latest information regarding military matters, in order to fit himself to again occupy the position. We might, at the same time, arrange with the Imperial authorities to send out an officer of the highest rank and attainments to spend probably some months here in inspecting our forces, thereby assisting to bring our defences as nearly as possible up-to-date. I am in sympathy with the remarks made by the honorable member for Bland, with regard to affording opportunities to our young men to obtain the education and experience necessary to fit them for the highest positions in our Forces. I think that we could, without incurring verv great expense, establish a system of military education and- training - perhaps by attaching a military college or academy to our university - which would be equal to that of Great Britain. In a trenchant report upon “ Our Uneducated Officers,” ;Major-General Franks-Russell, C.M.G., represents the condition of affairs as appalling. The War Committee divided their subject of reference into three distinct heads : - 1. The Antecedent Education of Army Candidates; 2. The Intermediate Education of the same ; 3. The Military Training of the Young Officer. Under the first head there was a strong condemnation of the system of education now practised by the great public schools, a censure all the more remarkable as the head-masters of the great public schools. Eton and St. Paul’s, were members of the Committee. Officers are. stated to foe deficient in general education. The Commander-in-Chief expressed himself as dissatisfied with both the general and technical education of the officers, and many other witnesses stated that it was no uncommon thing to find officers unable to write a good letter or to draw up an intelligent report. The general trend of the evidence, in short, is to indicate that the early education of the young officer has not hitherto been conducted on proper lines. Of the two military colleges, Woolwich and Sandhurst, we are told there is modified approval of Woolwich, but scarcely a good word - is said of Sandhurst. It seems to me that it would not be difficult for us to impart instruction equal at least to that which has been given in the old country.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– Whence could we derive our instructors in military tactics?

Mr SKENE:

– I presume that some of our own officers would be capable of lecturing on the various branches of that subject.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– We should have to import our instructors.

Mr SKENE:

– Even so, if a good system of instruction were established, I do not suppose the expense would be cavilled at.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– The instructors would have to be periodically changed.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– We could secure the services of any number of Imperial officers under engagements for twelve months.

Mr SKENE:

– In all the countries I have visited, including Canada, the United States, and Mexico, military colleges or academies are conducted.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– How did the Japanese secure instruction for their officers? They sent to Germany, France, and England for them.

Mr SKENE:

– I am not now speaking of the higher, but of the primary and intermediate education which would be necessary to fit our young men for a military career. I am of opinion that that training could be better accomplished here than by sending officers home when they are very young. If they were sent to England when they were young, they would lose that Australian sympathy which would characterize them.

Mr Lonsdale:

– Say “national “ sympathy.

Mr SKENE:

– There is a difference between national sympathy and Australian sympathy in that connexion. We know that the Army of Great Britain was created and nurtured in an atmosphere which does not exist here, and which never will’ exist. Major-General Hutton seems to have realized that fact after twelve years’ experience of Australia. Had he appreciated it a little earlier, he might have accomplished even better work than he has performed. In this new country we have not the class of persons from whom the Army has been recruited in the old country. Consequently, we require to build it up in accordance with our own ideals. There is only one other matter to which I desire to refer, namely, our coastal and harbor defences. A great difference of opinion appears to exist as to what should be done in regard to these matters. I read an article by Captain Mahan some time ago, in which he strongly recommended the use of flotillas of torpedo boats.

Mr McCay:

– He used the word “flotillas.”

Mr Mcwilliams:

– He did not say that there should be one torpedo boat!, destroyer in each port.

Mr SKENE:

– That is so. We require more than one in each port.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– But we must make a beginning.

Mr SKENE:

– Yes. That matter, however, has already been touched upon by previous speakers. Whilst we are talking of these far-off schemes, I think that we ought to endeavour to do something practical with the means at our command. Concerning the admitted necessity that we should be able hurriedly to concentrate our forces, I would point out that the fewer the number of those troops, the greater is the need for concentration. It seems to me that the fact that we cannot run a truck between the two great cities of Australia without being obliged to detrain the goods which it carries and to load them again, is one of the worst features of our whole defence system. If we were attacked by a cruiser - as has been suggested by the honorable member for Wentworth - I would point out that if we possessed some quick-firing guns and had men available who could handle them, reinforcements could quickly be brought from Sydney to Melbourne if a uniform gauge existed.

Mr Lonsdale:

– If Melbourne had to depend for its defence upon the arrival of men from Sydney, the city would be knocked to pieces before the required assistance was forthcoming.

Mr SKENE:

– But a number of men would be available in Melbourne, and these could be reinforced from Sydney. I have a vivid recollection of the manner in which - during the recent South African war - the Boers made use of the railways to rapidly transport troop’s from one part of the country to another. In my opinion, our danger of attack by a cruiser has been rather over-estimated.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– The Yarra constitutes Victoria’s best means of protection.

Mr SKENE:

– I think that our distance from the open ocean constitutes our best protection. The points which I have urged have been put forward not with the idea of informing the Minister, but merely by way of suggesting the difficulties which have presented themselves to my mind. If there be no foundation for my statements, no harm will have been done; but if anything which I have said affords the honorable and learned gentleman the slightest indication of a weak spot. I shall have accomplished all that I desire.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– It is the fashion in this House to describe matters of a far-reaching character as “most important,” and the phrase is so frequently used that one hesitates to employ it upon the present occasion. Yet I venture to sa that the new proposals in regard to our defence system are of so wide and radical a character, that they justify the use of those words. By way of preliminary remark. I wish to state that in common with other honorable members, I feel indebted to the Minister of Defence for the very clear, explicit, and full manner in which he has placed these new proposals before the Committee. If I fail to understand them after his explanation, it must be due to my own incapacity, rather than to any lack of effort on his part. His statements were most clear and complete. I find myself in agreement with him when he says that citizen rights involve certain citizen duties. I quite admit that it is part of the duty of every citizen to defend his country. I do not exempt from that service any person, short of those who are physically incapacitated. We have secured for ourselves certain great privileges by way of citizenship, and certain greater privileges in respect of territorial matters and governmental rights, and these can be maintained only by constant vigilance and constant service. For my part, I think that we are quite justified in demanding that those who participate in these advantages shall perform their part in maintaining them. In short, we are so many trustees for those who will follow us, and only when we recognise that fact, and act up to our sense of duty in that connexion, shall we have discharged those obligations which are the necessary corollary of the rights we possess. I cannot say that I quite agree with the remarks which have been made by the two speakers who preceded me with respect to trailing. I am inclined to think with the Minister that it is yet too early to talk of establishing a Military College in Australia. It may be a very good institution to establish in some of the older countries of the world- in Britain or in the United States - but, in view of our scattered population, and of the limit of our capacity to withstand taxation. I do not know that it would be wise to found a college of that description at the present stage, especially when we can get all the service that we require - if not better service - by continuing the system which has been hitherto adopted, and by supplementing it in the way that has been suggested by the Minister, namely, by sending men to England to gain training and experience under the most competent officers the world can supply, and perhaps by the suggested exchange of officers. I am not quite clear as to whether the last proposal would be a good thing. However, I heartily approve of sending Australians to the mother country to obtain as much experience as they possibly can, under commanders whose world-wide knowledge entitles them to impart that instruction which our men require. None the less, I am of opinion that there is a desire on the part of Australian troops generally to be commanded as far as possible, by Australians. I have already spoken of the desirableness of sending Australians to the mother country to receive a military training, and I thoroughly approve of the idea - wherever practicable - of placing these officers upon their return in command of their fellows. There is something more than the mere matter of sentiment involved. . Our experience in Victoria, at all events,” has been that Imperial officers appointed to take control of the Military Forces of this State, so far from looking to Victoria for their rewards, have always had an eye on the Imperial War Office.

Sir John Forrest:

– They were only temporarily employed by the State.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– They were temporarily loaned to the State; but, as I have said, they looked for future promotion and increased emolument not to the State which employed them but to the Imperial War Office.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– What promotion could Victoria give them ?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– I do not know that w-j could have given an officer holding the position of General Officer Commanding any great advancement. Possibly, as long as that office were retained the occupant - whoever he might be - would always have had an eye to his ultimate advancement not in Australia but out of it. That, perhaps, is only natural.

Mr Lonsdale:

– He would do his duty here.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– He would do what he conceived to be his. duty. But I consider that the duty of such an officer is to atrend to the needs of Australia, and not merely to have an eye to what Great Britain may require.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– Does the honorable member mean to say that these officers have neglected their dutv in Australia?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Not exactly. In order to explain the position as I see it, let me say that, so far as I was able to understand. the efforts of the last occupant of the post of General Officer Commanding, he showed, by establishing and strengthening the light horse branch of the service, that he had an eye rather to the utilization of the services of Australians abroad than to any particular service they might render in Australia.

Mr Crouch:

– The honorable member is quite right.

Mr Knox:

– How does the honorable gentleman justify that statement?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– I do not consider that we need to do anything at all in that direction. Ours should be a purely defensive system, and nothing more. What we really require is, as has been indicated by other honorable members, to perfect our arms of defence in order to repel invasion from over-sea. There is no danger of any other attack, and I fail to see what use the light horse would be to us in resisting an over-sea invasion. It appeared to me that the General Officer Commanding - and I hope I do the gentleman no wrong - had in mind the service of Australians abroad rather than in Australia. No doubt the Minister will reply that under the Commonwealth Defence Act our troops cannot serve abroad.

Mr McCay:

– I do not agree with the honorable member’s view of the organization.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Possibly not; yet I venture to say there is ample justification for it. Returning to the question of the . training of Australians, I think that the establishment of a Military College at this juncture is possibly beyond our means and our requirements, and that the proposal to have our men trained in the older fields of military learning is perhaps the right one at this stage to adopt. As to the matter of promotions, I should like to see as many Australian officers as possible in command of our troops, but as I believe that the Minister is in sympathy with that ideal, I need say nothing further in regard to it. Coming to the question of organization, I have already stated that it is part of the duty of every citizen to defend the rights and privileges which have been given him, and I should like to see us begin the work of fitting our citizens to do so, by adopting and extending the cadet system, so often advocated by the honorable member for Kooyong. I thoroughly believe in the cadet system, first of all, in connexion with our State schools. It is there that we may properly begin to train boys to understand what discipline means, to be prompt to obey, to understand the word of command, the way to fall into their places, and other matters of the same kind. Then the system should be so extended that every man say, from eighteen years of age upwards, whilst in full possession of his active physical powers, would undergo a certain degree of instruction over a certain period oi years. That would be much upon the lines of the Swiss system, and would fit our men to be of service to their country whenever they were called upon to defend it. These are essential matters. I believe absolutely in the very great necessity of teaching the whole male population how to handle a rifle and to shoot with precision.

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

– And encouraging the use of the rifle.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– We should encourage the rifle club movement by every legitimate means consonant with our powers in the matter of money and of service. These are details which have hitherto been somewhat neglected. No one welcomed more heartily than I did the inauguration of the rifle-club movement in Australia, and no one would support it more than I do, now that it is in existence. I should like to see it encouraged in every way. To come back to the proposal immediately before the Chair, I think that the establishment of a Council of Defence will be a step in the right direction. When speaking in this House, in 1901, I advocated the creation of such a Council, expressing the opinion that it should consist partly of officers and partly of civilians, so that our defence system might be kept more closely in touch with our parliamentary institutions and the public expenditure. The proposed Council of Defence in some respects meets the views I then expressed.

Mr Crouch:

– The honorable member understands that there is to be a Council of Defence, and also a Military Board.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– I understand that there is to be a Council of Defence, and also a Military Board and a Naval Board. The Minister stated that by means of this Council we should secure continuity of policy in regard to defence, and that we should not jump from one system to another with the advent of every new officer appointed to take command of our Forces. But I fail to gather from the scheme that any policy is to be laid down by the Council. Article 10 in the Memorandum circulated by the Minister sets forth that -

The Council will not require to meet frequently ; it will discuss questions of general policy and questions involving Defence expenditure as a whole. It will keep minutes. The permanent head of the Department will be Secretary to the Council.

It does not appear, however, that it is to have any voice in framing the policy of the

Defence Department. Even if it were to do anything in that direction the military element, so far as I can gather, would so strongly preponderate that we should not be likely to make any departure from the lines already laid down. It appears that we are to follow the old rule adopted in the States Legislatures, as well as in this Parliament, and party votes are to determine the policy to be adopted in respect of the defence of Australia. Now, I do not wish to deprive the Cabinet or Parliament of some voice in the control of our military affairs. We believe in a citizen soldiery, and in fostering individual patriotic effort by every legitimate means. That being so, we must take steps to keep Parliament in touch with our Forces, and therefore, while I did not and do not desire to take away from Parliament the right to have some voice in the determination of questions of defence, I thought that the Council of Defence when established would make certain recommendations that might assist us in determining the broad general lines of the policy to be adopted for the defence of Australia as a whole. It is true that in explaining the proposals of the Government the Minister made some remarks which might appear to contradict the views I have expressed in regard to the powers of the Council. Speaking on the 2nd inst., after explaining the constitution of the Council, he said -

This will be the constitution of the Council of Defence, whose duty it will be to discuss questions of general policy, and questions involving Defence expenditure as. a whole.

There does not seem to be anything touch.ing the recommendations of that Council of Defence, though possibly that is intended.

Mr McCay:

– What would the Council of Defence be for except for the purpose of arriving at some conclusion?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– I am coming to what I think they might discuss. The Minister added a little later on -

The Council, of course, will not be able to override the Cabinet, any more than a Cabinet can over-ride Parliament, but we hope that, consisting, as it will, partly of members of the Cabinet, partly of some of our best and most experienced professional soldiers and sailors, and partly of experienced members of the Citizen Forces, it will be able to bring the intelligence, as well as the knowledge, of Defence matters, and of Australian feeling to bear upon questions that come before it, which will enable it to frame a policy from time to time that will be alike satisfactory to the public and sufficient foi the protection of Australia.

If the Council is to frame a policy and make recommendations to the Minister and Parliament itself, it will fulfil the functions which I contend it should fulfil ; but it does not appear from the papers that the Minister has laid before us that that is so.

Mr McCay:

– The honorable member must read my speech as well as my minute. The minute left out every word that I thought could be omitted.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Necessarily ! I do not blame the Minister for that, and if I have misrepresented or misapprehended him in any respect, I shall be glad to be put right.

Mr McCay:

– I think the honorable member is quoting the answer himself.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– The honorable gentleman said nothing about the framing of a policy in his minute. In his speech he added -

It will not be asked to discuss minute details : to say, for instance, whether the contingencies under a certain subdivision should be limited to £120 or .£150; but it will look at the great lines of expenditure that are being incurred, and will consider how far they are proper and appropriate. The Government hope that in this way we shall be able to derive very considerable advantage from the constitution of the Council, which will cover the two branches of Defence - the army and the navy - our land forces and our sea forces.

That might be all right, were it not for the fact that, apparently, Parliament is to say, to begin with, how much of the money is to go in a certain direction - how much for the Navy and how much for military affairs; and seeing that this Council is to be so strongly military in character - that the military element is to predominate - it seems to me that it will be almost impossible to make any alteration of policy with respect to the present system in Australia. The character of the Council determines beforehand the line of policy it will pursue. The military element will dominate all the others, and we shall not get any change or any advantages whilst that is so. Unless this is altered. I fear the proposed Council of Defence will not be the success we could wish. Personally, I am strongly in favour of greater attention to naval matters, and I am, therefore, almost completely in accord with the honorable member for Bland, when he advocated that greater attention should be given to the naval side of our defence. But in the constitution of the Council of Defence, the naval side is to be a mere cipher.

Mr McCay:

– There is but one more military member than there are naval members on the Council.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– According to the minute, the Council is to consist, first of all, of the Minister of State for Defence. He will be neither military nor naval, unless, like the present Minister, he happen to be a military man.

Mr McCay:

– That will not affect a question of this kind.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Leaving the Minister out of the question, the next member is the Inspector-General, who will be a military man. Then the chief of the general staff will be a military man. The next member is to be a representative of the Citizen Forces, and he will be a military officer.

Mr McCay:

– The Citizen Forces are both military and naval.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Will there be two representatives of the Citizen Forces - one military and one naval?

Mr McCay:

– We shall give due representation to both sides.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– The honorable gentleman has not so stated in his minute, and even now ‘does not make it clear. In any case, the representation of the military and naval branches will be as three to two. Therefore, much more representation is to foe given to the military than to the naval side of our Forces. I say advisedly that we do not give sufficient weight, and do not attach enough importance, to the naval side, more especially as we are now federated, and are by no means liable to internal- attack or to conflicts between State and State.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– What naval representation would the honorable member propose?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– I will explain what I mean a little later on. In theory we have three lines of defence in Australia. Taking them in the order of what should be their importance, we have first of all the Imperial Squadron ; secondly, our coastal and harbor defence; and, thirdly, our Land Forces. An examination of these three theoretical lines of defence discloses the fact that practically we have only one worthy of the name. So far as the Imperial Squadron is concerned, I, like some other honorable members, opposed the new arrangement which was made with regard to that squadron. The squadron is not exactly a part of the Defence Forces of Australia. It can be called away whenever it pleases the Lords of the .Admiralty in Great Britain to call it. Whenever the supremacy of Great Britain was challenged in war, that squadron would almost certainly be taken away, and we should be left defenceless.

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

– England’s supremacy at sea is the best defence we can have.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– The honorable member anticipates me. If in any way Great Britain were engaged in a struggle of great dimensions - and it is generally admitted that the next naval war will be one of a very wide, far-reaching character - then, I say the only defence we have from a naval point of view would be taken away from us, and our trade and commerce, our coasts and harbors, would be left open to any raiding attack that might be made upon them. This was recognised at the time when the Naval Agreement was framed. Honorable members who have read that agreement will recollect that article 2 stated distinctly that the squadron was for the protection of the trade and commerce as between Great Britain and Australia, and not for the protection of Australian coasts, shipping, or harbors. Under those circumstances, we have to look at the matter with our eyes open. We know that the Imperial Squadron :an be taken away from us. It is, therefore, part of our duty to see what we can do with respect to naval matters on our own account, so as to back up the Imperial Navy in Australian waters whenever and whereever necessary. I do not know of what use the light-horse regiments of Australia would be if the Imperial Squadron were taken away. I do not know that our field artillery would be of very great service to our ports and harbors if they were threatened by or exposed to attack. But if we had modern and up-to-date equipment in our various ports, and if these were backed up by the most modern weapons, and by trained men, that would be the beginning of a naval policy which would, in my judgment, be on right lines. I am not going to say that it is part of our duty to build battle ships and lay out heavy sums in an attempt to defend ourselves on water, but in the case of every port, we ought to be thoroughly certain that there is not much chance for any ships to get past the defences. All fixed and floating defences, so far as harbors and cities are concerned, should be modern, up to-date, and of the best possible character. In that way we should be guaranteed, along that line at any rate, that the money had not been wasted. But the position to-day is that we are spending £600,000 on the Land Forces, and only about £50,000 on the Naval Forces. That policy ought to be largely reversed. I do not quite agree with the honorable member for Bland that, in addition to the amounts named, we should spend a large sum upon naval matters. What we might do is to make further savings on the land forces by adopting the method I indicated a few moments ago - by having men trained to take their places if required when our shores were attacked. If every male citizen were trained in the way I have suggested, we need not keep up such an expenditure as at present. Every man then, in some sort, would be a reservist, ready, when called on, to defend his own hearth and home. But he should not be so called on unless and until our two first lines had been broken, and an invasion in force were threatened. The Imperial Squadron being only a trade and commerce protector, and liable to be taken away at any time, what we want in connexion with our own naval efforts is a defensive-offensive system, and that does not now exist. The only danger I can foresee is the danger of an attack from oversea. Surely it is part of our bounden duty, even if something else should have to wait, to strengthen the weakest point, and that is our coastal and harbor defences. We are not giving adequate attention to this line of defence. We are not spending sufficient money in that direction. In my judgment, we are certainly not taking adequate steps to secure ourselves from an attack for loot or coal, or forboth combined. If Great Britain were involved in a naval war, and that protection which we ought to have from a portion of the Imperial Squadron were withdrawn we would be at the mercy of our foreign foes. As has been pointed out by naval experts time and again, those countries which have not a great deal of commerce to protect are strengthening their navies for aggressive purposes. If we are to be exposed to an oversea attack we are not only unwise, but foolish, in neglecting the naval side of our defence.

Mr McWilliams:

– What does the honorable member anticipate would put our coastal defence in order to resist a foreign attack, supposing that England had lost the supremacy of the sea?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– To answer that question requires the possession of a great deal more expert knowledge than I am able to bring to bear upon the subject just now.

Mr McCay:

– That is the proposal which the honorable member is making.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Exactly ; but, although I make that proposal, still I recognise, in common with every other honorable member, that we cannot expend £4,000,000 or£5,000,000 straight away. We could, however, incur a yearly expenditure until our object was accomplished. The honorable member for Bland said that we could begin by constructing torpedo boat destroyers, to be sent out to meet, and possibly defeat, an attacking force. I do not know that that is quite the best way to begin, though I do think it is supplementary to that which I advocate. These are matters which call for expert knowledge. What I feel is that we have to protect our cities, and whatever floating and fixed defence we have about our cities and our coal bases ought to be of the best description.

Mr McCay:

– To protect our cities from what ?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– From a naval attack.

Mr McCay:

– Does the honorable member mean a bombardment or an occupation of them?

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Bombardment, of course. So long as Great Britain retains any power, I do not think there is the slightest danger of a war for conquest being undertaken. But what I do think is possible and quite probable is that, if the Imperial Squadron were withdrawn, privateers or other foes might come down upon us and take certain loot which we should not need to give them if we were adequately defended.

Mr Spence:

– Torpedo boats would be useful to keep them away.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Certainly they would. I quite agree with what was stated here some time ago by Captain Creswell, in a very admirable report - that what is required for Australian defence is a special kind of ship, heavily armed, but nevertheless fast, which could go out to meet the raiders on the water and defeat them if possible; that if that attempt failed, the next line of defence at the heads of our ports and harbors, in the shape of mines and batteries and other fixed and floating defences, should be called into requisition; and finally, if they failed, then, and only then, should the Land Forces come into play. Apparently we have reversed the policy. We are building up a Land Force fast, and at a large expenditure, although it would be the last to come into requisition in the event of an attack being made upon our shores. We ought to strengthen that line which is likely to be first attacked, and begin to put right our weakest points, before we attempt to strengthen our strongest points. In all the reductions which have been made on the naval expenditure during the last two years, we have done wrong. When the Commonwealth came into existence, about ,£70,000 a year was spent on naval affairs, whereas to-day only about ,£40,000 a year is spent. Before the Common wealth was established there may have been some just ground for building up Land Forces, though I do not think there was ever any danger of an attack by. one State upon another. But when the States were federated, we had an opportunity of remodelling our whole defence policy. We began in the wrong way, when we cut down the naval expenditure, and we are continuing to pursue that course. It is in accord, not only with Australian policy, but also with, I think, the Imperial policy that the naval side of the defence system should be strengthened. In the report, which he presented in April, 1902, Captain Creswell says -

From an Australian point of view, the case for the establishment of her own naval defence scarcely needs argument. From the Imperial stand-point the case is equally strong. The life of the Empire depends on the fleet; any strengthening of the fleet adds to the security of the Empire. Australia is the only considerable dependency that is absolutely free from any concern for the protection, of a land frontier, and in a position to concentrate her attention on sea forces and add to the fleet strength of the Empire.

That, to me, sums up the whole situation. By adding to our naval defence, we add to the Imperial naval defence. By strengthening our defence on that side, we not only help Australia, but also help the Empire. In these circumstances, I think our duty is not to devote so much attention, as we are doing, to the military side, but to give more attention to the naval side. I heard with pleasure what the honorable member for Bland had to say on this subject, and I echo in very large part his sentiments. It appears to me that, by dividing the work as between the Imperial Forces on the one side, and Australian Forces on the other, we are doing the best thing we can to secure our own safety, and add to the strength of the Empire. I believe in a certain amount of specialization. In my opinion, it is the duty of the Empire to hold the sea doors open, to maintain and guard all the trade routes, and to protect all the transport and commerce thereon. But it is also the duty of each part of the Empire - and I may take Australia as a good example - to defend its shores. Our policy should be purely defensive. The best way in which we can maintain that defence, secure our own safety, help our own people, and assist the Empire is by beginning the development of that naval policy which, in my judgment, is the true line of defence for Australia. By so doing, we should make more secure our cities and our people, and make more certain this Continent for the people who now inhabit it, for the great race from whom we have sprung, and to whom we still offer, and must continue to offer, for years to come/ a great field for colonization. In doing that we shall be doing a large part of our share of the defence of the Empire, and if the partiular means I have suggested be adopted I think we shall be doing it most thoroughly and effectively.

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

– I do not know that there is any subject as to which I feel a greater sense of responsibility ‘than I do in connexion with this subject of defence. Whatever Ministry may be in power, and whatever side in politics holds the reins of office, a responsibility is thrown upon the whole House. However much individual members may feel that they are handicapped in discharging it, they cannot avoid the fact that a very important responsibility is thrown upon them, and they must discharge it in the best way they can. I am aware that it is said that on this subject more than on any other “ Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” It is inevitable that we should have long speeches of a more or less technical character from honorable members who are not very highly qualified to express a definite opinion on such a subject. But at whatever risk of such an imputation, we must discharge our responsibility in criticising the form of defence presented by the reigning Ministry from time to time. I regret that after more than three years of our existence as a Commonwealth our system ‘of defence has not reached such a definite form that we can consider it as absolutely settled, and can devote ourselves in the future to such a gradual development of it as the increasing means at our disposal, and the increasing responsibilities of Australia in relation to the rest of the Empire, demand. My trouble on the defence question is the same to-day as it was three and a half years ago, when the right honorable member for Swan introduced his first Defence Bill in this Chamber. My difficulty is that, in spite of very lengthy and able explanations as to what our system of defence is, I have failed to understand that we have a definite and well-recognised system for the defence of Australia. This may be due, as the honorable member for Bourke has suggested in regard to himself, to some defect on my part, but, seeing that my difficulty is shared by other honorable members, and by a vast number of people outside Parliament, I begin to think that the defect is not so much mine as it is a defect of those in authority, in setting forth the alleged defence system. I admit that this is one of the* most difficult subjects with which we have had to deal in om Federation. As we have been reminded by Ministers, and by the late General Officer Commanding the Military Forces, we have had to consolidate and weld into one system the systems of six separate States, differing very largely in many respects from each other. That in itself has constituted an. enormous difficulty to overcome.’ I fail to see that we have ever yet had a definite idea set before us, to which,- though we might not reach its consummation in one, two, or, perhaps ten years, we might look as ultimately providing for us an ideal defence system for Australia, having regard to our means and position, and the character of the attack to which we are liable. I admit, with many others, that the present Minister of Defence has tackled the question in a way which leads us to hope very much from that honorable and learned gentleman in the future. But, up to the present, the honorable and learned gentleman has, with others, failed to convince me that we have really a definite system, and a definite end in view which we are going gradually to evolve. The honorable land learned .gentleman’s lack of Ministerial experience should be rather an advantage to him in this matter. We know that younger men are possessed of greater enthusiasm, and as there can be no question of the honorable and learned gentleman’s ability, I hope he will succeed ultimately in extricating us from the difficulty into which I think we have got by blundering away during a series of years, without endeavouring to establish some definite system which all could understand. I have listened with very great attention to the three speeches which have been delivered to-day. In various ways they have reflected the difficulties which I have felt’ in my own mind. I have noticed that point after point raised by the preceding speakers this afternoon, have presented difficulties to them as they have presented difficulties to me, and to critics outside. The speech of the honorable member for Bland is one to which I listened with peculiar interest, because, though opposed to the honorable gentleman in politics, I do think he has been very much misrepresented on this question of defence. In New South Wales, and in some of the other States, he has been blamed for having been the author of the complete destruction of the defence system of Australia, because, in the first session of our first Parliament, owing to the accident of his position, more than to anything else, he .took a leading part in requiring the Government to cut down the Defence Estimates. So far was the honorable gentleman from taking a unique or extraordinary position, that, as has been pointed out before, the Treasurer of the day, who by the way is the present Treasurer, absolutely invited honorable members of the House of Representatives to assist him in any way they could to cut down the Defence Estimates. When we had those Estimates before us we saw that not only just prior to Federation, but also just after it, the expenditure proposed for the defences of Australia was going up by leaps and bounds. That was not the only difficulty. The main difficulty was that many of us felt, with a degree of absolute conviction, that we were not getting value for our money.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– What if the expenditure were retrenched in the wrong way?

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

– The honorable member must know that the members of the Legislature were brought face to face with what they considered abnormally increasing Defence Estimates. They could not model a system of defence for Australia, and they could only check the Ministry of the day by insisting that the Estimates should be cut down by a certain amount, leaving the Ministry to frame their system in accordance with the idea existing in the Legislature as to what its cost should be.

Mr Kelly:

– The honorable member forgets that the Defence Estimates have been yearly cut down, whereas the civil service estimates have been yearly increased.

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

– I may forget that, but it is quite apart from my argument. My argument is that the expenditure on defence was constantly going upwards under the States Governments, and the tendency was that it should still further go up under the Federation, and it would have done so if this House had not taken the stand it did, and if it had not been clear to honorable members that we were paying too much for our whistle. It was clear that we were spending money in a great many directions, whilst its expenditure did not increase the efficiency of the defence of Australia in any degree whatever. This House insisted, and I think rightly, in having the Defence Estimates cut down. Although, with many other honorable members on both sides, I took part in the effort to cut down those Estimates we have never been blamed in any way for the part we took. The whole of the opprobrium has been thrown upon the honorable member for Bland and the party behind him. From the very first day on which we discussed this question the honorable member for Bland has been grossly misrepresented by his critics in this matter.’ He has been represented as blindly insisting upon cutting down the Defence Estimates, and refusing to provide adequately for the defence of Australia, whereas the speeches delivered by the honorable gentleman in our first session, and his speech again today, have proved most conclusively that he is quite willing to vote whatever is requisite for the adequate defence of Australia. But he insists, as I should, that we should not pay too much for our whistle. He has insisted that our expenditure in this connexion shall take the form of providing for the true defence of Australia, and that money shall not be expended uselessly. The honorable gentleman has insisted this afternoon on providing for the adequate defence of Australia, he has complimented the present Minister of Defence for ordering certain fort and field guns, and he has asked the Government to go further and provide torpedo-boat destroyers. I am unable to say whether, in that matter, the honorable gentleman is right or wrong, but he has shown his desire to vote money for the defence of Australia when he can be convinced that by the expenditure proposed we shall be getting value for our money. The honorable gentleman is prepared to go further than I shall go. He urges that the Minister of Defence should provide a system of instruction for military officers attached to the various corps. I, like him, believe that this must be brought about some day ; but I think that the matter might be left in abeyance until the site of the Federal Capital has been fixed, because the initial consideration must be, “Where should we place such a college ?” Of course, it should be located in the Federal Capital. The next question would be whether we can at present afford the expense of establishing such a college. The Minister would be one of the first to admit that it is requisite for a proper system of defence to have an instructional college where our officers can be properly trained and developed. The honorable member for Bland has admitted that the idea of a purely Australian Navy, which he favoured, having been rejected, it was a right thing to provide for naval defence in some other way, and I presume that he approves of what I believe .to be the very good system of joining in with the Imperial Government in the matter. I- disagree with the honorable member for Bourke in the view that our naval defence is merely the defence of commerce in the restricted sense ‘ of the protection given to ships in mid-ocean which are carrying goods between other parts of the British Dominions and Australia. The protection of our ports is as much the protection of the commerce of the Empire as is the protection of the ships in mid-ocean. Unless there were coaling bases here, and harbors to which vessels could retreat, to refit, there would be no proper defence of the commerce of Australia. But while I see a system in our naval defence such as one could sit down and write an adequate description of in a few minutes, it would trouble even the most experienced to similarly describe the land defences of Australia. I am not going into the question of the defence of ports and harbors, though I admit the vast importance of that second line. I agree with the honorable member for Bourke that we have not done as much as we should have done in providing defence of that nature. The late General Officer Commanding in his report speaks of the three Ministries and the four Prime Ministers under whom he has served ; but we in this Chamber have known six Ministers of Defence, though none of them has been able to give us a clear idea of our system of land defence. In dealing with the Defence Bill certain general rules were laid down for a definite system of defence, and, as the honorable member for

Bourke pointed out, any one who analyzed that measure would come to the conclusion that it was based on the training of cadets. It has been complained that to base a military system on the training of school children is going rather low down ; but I think that if we wish to make soldiers we should catch them young, and train them properly. We cannot commence better than by subjecting our school boys to drill and discipline, which will leave them with a certain amount of military, knowledge when they go out into the world, and enable them to become part of our Defence Force. I shall not discuss this afternoon whether we should adopt the Swiss or some other national military system for our model, because I think the matter has already been treated rather too academically, but, in my view, we cannot adopt any other system in toto. Australia must evolve a system for herself. There are many differences between our situation and that of Switzerland. For example, we are surrounded by water, whereas Switzerland is entirely surrounded by land, and has therefore no navy to provide for, so that she has many difficulties which we have not to meet. We cannot, on the other hand, find an entirely satisfactory model in the military system of the late Boer Republic, which has been lauded by so many critics. But although, as the honorable member for Bourke has pointed out, the Defence Act bases our military system upon the training of cadets, the Estimates of expenditure for last year and this year do not show any recognition of the system, because the appropriation for New South Wales this year is only £180, as against £r,i8o last year; for Victoria, £1,716, as against £1,862; for Queensland, £1,270 in each year; for South Australia, no provision this year, as against £260 last year; for Western Australia, no provision this year, as against £450 last year; and for Tasmania, £200 in each year. Those figures bear out my statement that none of the six Ministers of Defence whom we have had has been able to demonstrate that we have any definite system in view, and that we are proceeding year byyear towards the realization of an ideal. There is another important matter in which I take very great interest, indeed. In the first speech I made in this House on the question of our defences, I indicated that my ideal of a Defence Force for Australia was one under which we would create reserves. .My idea is that we should train men as rapidly and as effectively as we can, so that in time of danger and difficulty we may have hundreds of thousands of men instructed in the ordinary rudiments of warfare, and capable of shooting straight. We thought that we should be able to create reserves by establishing and encouraging rifle clubs. The first Defence Bill introduced into this House was lauded as one which would give full encouragement to rifle clubs, which are, or ought to be, so popular in our midst. No doubt, rifle clubs are popular in some of the States, but not in others, lt has been stated that the difficulty of the Minister of Defence and the General Officer Commanding has been to weld six different systems into one. I would ask honorable members how far they have succeeded in accomplishing their task? In Victoria, last year, £20,372 was spent upon rifle clubs,- whilst provision is made upon the present Estimates for an. outlay of £25,247. That indicates a steady increase, and if the rifle clubs do all that is expected of them, it will be well warranted. Turning to the other States, however, we find that, in New South Wales last year, £5,893 was spent upon rifle clubs, whilst this year the vote is increased to £8,040. If we have become one nation, and the soldiers of the several States have been enrolled in a general Defence Force for Australia, and if we charge back to each State - as we do - the amount of money spent upon the Defence Forces, what reason is there for spending so much money in Victoria, and such a small sum in New South Wales?

Mr McCay:

– The reason is that there are far more rifle clubs in Victoria than in New South Wales. No obstacle is placed in the way of the formation of clubs; but, on the other hand, every encouragement is offered. We provide on the Estimates for the number of clubs that we expect to be in operation during the year.

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

– The Minister is telling me only what I know already. He might have informed me that the real difficulty was to make the rifle clubs as popular in New South Wales as they have evidently become in Victoria. Even if he had made such a statement, however, he would not have disposed of the fact that in connexion with rifle clubs Victoria has been paying £25,000 as against the £6,000 spent by New South Wales for the defence of Australia. The riflemen in Victoria are not being trained in the interests of Victoria, or to defend that State, but in order that they may fit themselves to defend the Commonwealth. The members of rifle clubs are doing their duty towards the Commonwealth by making themselves efficient shots. What I say is that if we are to have a definite ideal in connexion with our Defence Forces, we should much more closely approach equal conditions amongst the States so far as rifle clubs are concerned”. Last year ,£2,320 was spent upon rifle clubs in Queensland, whereas provision is made on the Estimates for .£8,915. This would appear to indicate that some effort is being made in that State to more closely approach the ideal of the defence system of Australia. When we look to South Australia, however, where there has been such a .serious falling off in connexion with the cadet forces, we find that ,£2,386 was spent last year, and that only ,£2,784 is provided for upon these Estimates.

Mr McCay:

– That is explained by the fact that last year we had to devote nearly all the money at our disposal to the purchase of ammunition ; but this year what is called the small arms ammunition fund is sufficiently large to enable us to pay for a considerable portion of the ammunition required by the rifle clubs, and it is not necessary to place an increased vote upon the Estimates.

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

– No doubt the Minister will be able to partly account for the smallness of some of these votes in that way ; but neither his statement, nor anyother that I can conceive it possible for him to make, would explain the disparity which exists between the amounts spent upon rifle clubs in such States as Victoria and New South Wales. If the rifle clubs are not made sufficiently popular, and if we do not take the means to make them popular, the fault must lie with the administration. I am sure that it is the desire of this Parliament that every encouragement should be given to rifle clubs, to which we look as providing the cheapest and most effective means of defence we can have in Australia. I know that the Minister will probably be able to tell me that an effective rifleman is not a perfected soldier ; but I know that if the Minister is honest, he will admit that a rifleman has gone three parts of the journey towards perfecting himself as a soldier, and that it is much easier to make an effective soldier of a man already trained as a rifleman than of an absolutely raw recruit.

Mr McCay:

– I admit that freely.

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

– If our riflemen were not trained sufficiently to enable them to become effective soldiers within a very short period, we should amend the rifle regulations in such a way that we should be able to evolve more valuable reserves. Above all, if we are not treating the rifle clubs liberally enough - and I am told that we are not - they should be made so popular that they would furnish us with the means of defence, and obviate the necessity of resorting to conscription. 1 do not believe it will ever be necessary to resort to compulsory service in Australia. We shall always have a sufficient number of men ready to volunteer for our defence ; but we must afford sufficient facilities and encouragement. Whilst we make the service unattractive, we cannot- expect to achieve satisfactory results. We still retain the ridiculous distinction between militia and volunteers. If we are to have a homogeneous system we should provide wholly for partially-paid troops, for volunteers, or for compulsory service. At present a great deal of friction is being created owing to the distinctions drawn between different branches of the service.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– They are killing the whole force.

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

– I know that they are creating a great deal of trouble in Tasmania. I feel that the time has now arrived, after three years of administration of the present system, to adopt some definite ideal to which we should attempt to gradually attain. In Western Australia last year £^2,858 was spent upon rifle clubs, whilst it is proposed to appropriate ,£6,400 this year. If the remarks of the Minister with regard to ammunition also apply to this vote, Western Australia is moving in the right direction so far as rifle clubs are concerned. In Tasmania the paltry sum of ^£1.50 was spent last year, and I am glad to say that the much larger amount of .£764 is to be appropriated this year. The expenditure upon rifle clubs in Tasmania, however, should represent as many thousands as it now does hundreds. I believe that this is pre-eminently a question which honorable members desire to keep free from party strife. Honorable members of all shades of opinion unite in the desire that we should have an adequate system of defence, and I hope that when our prospects improve we shall be able to devote much larger sums to adequately protecting ourselves against foreign aggression. I hope that we shall always insist, as we did in the first session, upon getting the full value of our money, and not fritter it away in useless adornments. A great deal has been said upon former occasions with regard to the excess of gold lace and frippery in connexion with our Defence Forces, and although those honorable members who objected to the extent to which that element entered into consideration were rather roughly criticized, I was pleased to be told by an officer of some distinction that the action taken was thoroughly appreciated.

Sir John Forrest:

– One or two officers, perhaps.

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

– I can assure the right honorable member for Swan that thev number more than one or two. One officer in particular informed me that he thoroughly approved of the views to which I gave expression upon that occasion. Pointing to the uniform in which he was dressed, he inquired what I thought it had cost. I replied, that it might have cost £7 or £8. He then told me that it had cost £5, and asked, “ Is it not good enough for all ordinary purposes?” I answered, that it was. He then added. “Yet, the service insists that I shall wear a uniform which cost four or five times that amount.”

Sir John Forrest:

– Why does not the honorable member wear moleskins?

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

– I think that the right honorable member goes to extremes, although Australians can fight and die in moleskins quite as well as they can in gold lace. I claim that every soldier in our army should carry a Marshal’s baton in his knapsack. In stepping from the ranks to the position of an officer, he should not be penalized by being required to expend a large sum upon uniforms. I hope that whatever may be the outcome of the criticism of these Estimates, Ministers will recognise that we should have an effective Defence Force, and that, while we should not waste money upon it, we should endeavour to achieve our ideal as soon as possible.

Mr MAUGER:
Melbourne Ports

– I do not ‘ propose to traverse the ground which has been covered by other honorable members. But I would remind the Minister of Defence that when this House agreed to contribute £200,000 annually towards ;the maintenance of ,the Imperial Navy, it did so upon the distinct promise that our local Naval Forces should be maintained. I do not know whether he is aware that these forces were never so inefficient as they are at the present time.

Mr Crouch:

– A distinct promise was made that the Cerberus should be maintained.

Mr MAUGER:

– Yes, and that gradually the local Naval Forces should be increased. In my judgment this is a matter that should be immediately attended to. T know that I cannot lay any blame in this connexion at the door of the present Minister, but I hope that he will realize that the naval portion of our defence system should receive more attention than has hitherto been bestowed upon it. Our best men have retired from the Victorian Naval Forces.

Sir John Forrest:

– They all resigned.

Mr MAUGER:

– They resigned through want of management and lack of tact on the part of those in authority. I hope that the Minister will turn his attention to the development of these forces. Then, it seems to me that they are not being fair!-‘ tr(eated in other respects. For instance, I find that skilled blacksmiths in the employ of the Victorian Defence Force receive 7s. per day, painters 6s., and carpenters and joiners 6s.

Mr McCay:

– The honorable member is speaking of the men who are permanently employed.

Mr MAUGER:

– Yes; I am speaking of artizans who have no right to be employed by the Government at such a wage. It is only fair to add that they receive is. id. per day for rations. But even then they do not obtain the wages which are ordinarily paid to blacksmiths in private employment.

Mr McCay:

– A blacksmith receives a shilling per day, in addition to his allowance for rations.

Mr MAUGER:

– I think that the Minister is wrong.

Mr McCay:

– I may be. I do not pretend to have any knowledge upon the subject other than that which is derived from the figures which appear in the Estimates.

Mr MAUGER:

– But even admitting the accuracy of the Minister’s statement, I hold that the pay of these men is altogether inadequate. I would further point out that in Victoria, carpenters receive 7 s. a day, whereas in Queensland they are paid 8s. Similarly, the armourer in this State receives 7s. 6d. per day, whilst the officer occupying a similar position in Queensland draws 8s. 6d. I ask the Minister to examine these anomalies with a view to correcting them. Another matter which requires explanation is why the paymaster in Victoria should receive £200 per annum, whilst the officer filling a similar position in Queensland draws £360 per annum. These Estimates, I notice, make provision for an increase of £10 to the former official. It is the first increase which he will have received during- ten years. I do not for a moment advocate the payment of indiscriminate increments, but it appears to me that there is something radically wrong when an officer in the Naval Department has to wait ten years before receiving an increase, and then is granted only £10.

Mr McCay:

– That officer is classified under the Public Service Act, and is paid accordingly.

Mr MAUGER:

– I do not know what reason to assign for it. I am merely dealing with the facts as they exist. It seems to me that the naval officers do not receive the attention which is meted out to the military officers. Take the case of Commander Colquhoun. He was specially mentioned in despatches for his bravery in South Africa, and was advanced in rank, but was not granted any increase of pay. At the present time he is receiving £425 per annum, and he has been promised an increase this year of £25, which is the minimum increment attaching to his present status. Seeing that this is the first increase which he has had for many years, why should he be granted only the minimum increment?

Mr Mcwilliams:

– Most of our money goes in increasing the salaries of hi’ghly–paid officers.

Mr MAUGER:

– But if officers in the Military Department receive regular increments there is no sound reason why the same rule should not be applied to the Naval Department.

Mr McCay:

– I do not think that the honorable member will find that that is so.

Mr MAUGER:

– Surely an officer who happens to be in the naval branch of the service should not receive different treatment from that meted out to an officer in a corresponding grade of the military service. I am not blaming the Minister, but I urge that, this matter should receive careful attention/. I also urge that efforts should be made to extend the naval branch of our defence system. In Victoria we used to pride ourselves upon the State Naval Brigade; but we cannot do so now, for the simple reason that under the Commonwealth it has been allowed to drift, and is not receiving proper attention. Under different management there may be a change. The Minister is giving the matter his consideration, so that we may expect reasonable developments, and I hope my complaint will receive his earliest and careful attention. The promise made by the Barton Government when the Naval Agreement Bill was before the House, that our own Navy would be developed and strengthened by degrees, so that we might have a naval force under Australian command, should be carried into effect.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– Did the honorable member take that promise seriously?

Mr MAUGER:

– What right had I not to do so? The promise was given, without any reservation, that efforts would be made, not only to maintain our own forces, but to develop the Australian side of naval defence. We have a right to expect that promise to be carried out. There is one other matter which I should like to bring under the notice of the Minister. Several attempts have been made, although not during his term of office, to bring a number of civilians in the employ of the Department under the military regime. I hope that these attempts will be strenuously opposed. The artificers,for instance, who are specially skilled men, have been regarded as coming within the civil rather than the military branch of the service, and’ there seems to be a strong argument in favour of that view of their position. I trust that unless there is a very strong reason, from a military point of view, for departing from that practice, steps will be taken to keep these men free from compulsory military service.

Mr MCWILLIAMS:
Franklin

– I am one of those who have always taken very great interest in the question of defence, and I date the decadence of the Defence Forces in Tasmania from the time when we introduced a partially-paid militia system. I am quite convinced that a militia which is paid, and a volunteer force which is not, can never run in double harness. We cannot expect volunteers to give the necessary time and attention to their duties, whilst their confreres, because they happen to be militia men, are paid for their services.

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

– They do it in New South Wales.

Mr MCWILLIAMS:

– According to a statement just made by the honorable member for South Sydney - a statement that is a strong argument in favour of my contention - rifle clubs are practically non-existent in New South Wales.

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

– We have rifle clubs there.

Mr MCWILLIAMS:

– This is a per capita vote, and whilst we are paying £[25,000 per annum in respect of the rifle club movement in Victoria, the total payments made in respect of the rifle clubs of New South Wales is only £[8,000.

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

– But the honorable member is referring only to rifle clubs.

Mr MCWILLIAMS:

– A rifleman is a volunteer.

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

– But a rifleman is not a volunteer soldier, as we understand the matter.

Mr MCWILLIAMS:

– Riflemen constitute our best class of volunteers, and if the movement be properly developed and attended to, it must undoubtedly become one of the best means of defence that Australia is ever likely to possess. If a volunteer system were substituted for that of a partially-paid militia, we should find that the rifle clubs, as in some of the States prior to Federation, would undergo practically the same system of training as do the members of that branch of the service. Prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth, they went into camps of exercise, and instructors were provided to train and drill them. In Tasmania, they were volunteers in the best sense of the term, but I do not know what position they occupied in some of the other States. Under the State system, a rifleman became a proficient marksman. He attended a certain number of drills, and had to go into camp.

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

– Our rifle clubs are not drilled.

Mr MCWILLIAMS:

– I believe that is the reason why the rifle clubs in New South Wales are declining.

Mr Spence:

– .They are only beginning to develop.

Mr MCWILLIAMS:

– They are developing very slowly, as compared with the rifle clubs or Victoria.

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

– In New South Wales we have a volunteer system, quite distinct from the rifle clubs.

Mr MCWILLIAMS:

– The volunteer system of Australia is not as healthy as those who wish to see our defences placed on a satisfactory footing would desire. There are some matters relating to the Defence Forces of Tasmania, to which I shall refer more closely when we are dealing with the items relating to them ; *but in support of the point that I am endeavouring- to make, I would remind the Committee that in Tasmania we had, prior to Federation, upwards of 3,000 volunteers, independent of cadets, and that the total defence vote was only £[10,000 per annum. At the present time we provide for 1,300 men, at a total cost of £[23,000. In other words, whilst the number of men in uniform has been decreased by more than half, the total cost has increased to the same extent. The dual system of a partially-paid militia and a volunteer force, forms the bedrock of all the trouble which has occurred in connexion with the Defence Forces in that State. I differ entirely from those who think that we can ever have a satisfactory land force until we adopt a compulsory system of defence. I was exceedingly pleased by the very creditable display made yesterday by the cadets who took part in the Royal Review, and I think that their numerical strength, and the manner in which they went through the various evolutions they were called upon to perform, constituted by far the most pleasing feature of the display. . I agree with the honorable member for South Sydney, that if we desire to establish any practical system df land defence for Australia, we must begin with the boys in our States schools. I am one of those who have always held that it is not right for a country like Australia to undertake anything in the shape of the militarism of the old world, and I hope that the maintenance of a great army is not, and will not be contemplated. Seeing that we do not want to encourage anything in that direction, it is no part of the duty of any particular section of the community to train themselves, or to become trained for the defence of the rest of the people, and for the whole of Australia. Instead of having a paid militia, I should make it the duty of every able-bodied man in the Commonwealth to fit himself for the protection of Australia. That is a duty which is the monopoly of no particular class. It is a responsibility which is the monopoly of no particular class. We have in the Defence Forces of Australia, roughly speaking, some 40,000 men.

Mr Reid:

– I do not think that there are so many.

Mr MCWILLIAMS:

– I am including the rifle clubs, which could be, and should be, made one of the best arms of the service. When we were sending contingents to South Africa, it will be admitted that proportionately to population, no people in Australia responded to the call of the Empire better than did .those of the little

State of Tasmania. I may add that the number of applications to serve were greatly in excess of the number required. When they got to South Africa, the men, enlisted under our purely voluntary system, many of them being rifleclub men, showed themselves to be thoroughly efficient, and no Australian troops secured a larger proportion of honours, or didbetter in the field than did the Tasmanian contingents. We are brought face to face with the fact, that whilst we are spending about £600,000 per annum upon our Forces, no one can say that our defences are inanything like a satisfactory condition. It is of no use to try to hide the fact. If it were not for the supremacy of Great Britain, if the British Navy were to lose the command of the seas, Australia would not be in a position to defend herself. As to the suggestion which has been made by the leader of the Opposition, I think it is too childish and absurd to receive the consideration of honorable members. What is his proposal ? That Australia should deliberately commence to construct a navy, and that we should have one torpedo-boat destroyer in each of our principal ports. Tasmania at one time was foolish enough to accept the advice of an expert, and become the possessor of a torpedoboat. Before the vessel was half paid for, she was obsolete. If we purchased torpedo boats at the rate the honorable member for Bland proposes - one per annum, and one for the capital of each State - the boats first purchased would be obsolete before the last were built.

Mr Carpenter:

– We should always get the newest.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– Yes ; but the boat that was built in 1904 would not be new three or four years hence. The experience of the Russian fleet in Port Arthur has taught . us the futility of efforts of this description. The whole of the Russian fleet in Eastern waters was there practically bottled up. We should not be able to afford such a fleet as that for the next twenty-five years; yet the honorable member for Bland expects that one torpedoboat per annum is to create a navy for Australia.

Mr Carpenter:

– He does not expect anything of the sort.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– I think that it would be the height of absurdity for Australia to go in for anything of the kind. Our real naval defence is the British Navy. The Imperial Squadron is our real source of coastal defence, and I am prepared that Australia should pay. in no grudging spirit for the maintenance of that protection.

Mr Johnson:

– One torpedo-destroyer would destroy a great ship like the Euryalus.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– If she got there. I should prefer the whole expenditure which Australia is prepared to incur on land forces, to be laid out in the maintenance of a purely volunteer system. If that does not succeed, a compulsory military defence system should be established. At the present time we are not getting anything, like an equivalent return for our expenditure. So long as we maintain the system of paying men for the half-day when they go to drill or into camp - of paying them practically for every time they get into their uniforms - we shall not be in a position to maintain an army such as would be able to defend us if ever we had to resist invasion. I repeat that it should be the privilege and the duty of every young man in Australia possessing the advantages that are granted to him, to take his fair share in defending his own independence, his own liberties, and his own possessions. I say deliberately that it would be the greatest godsend that could happen to many hundreds and thousands of our young fellows if they were taken when they were from fifteen to twenty years of age, put into a uniform, and brought under some kind of discipline. It would make better men of them, give them an interest in life, of which many of them are sadly in need, and would give them a sense of responsibility. The training both at drill and in camp would be the best thing that could happen to many thousands of them. I hope that the Minister will give his most serious consideration to the question of the training of the cadets. I believe that it is better to drill the lads at school, because many of them then become fairly good volunteers and well on their way to proficiency before leaving, especially in the case of the higher private schools, the pupils in which do not leave so early as do the pupils in the State schools. At some State schools there are some of the best cadet clubs that one could wish to see. I have in my mind’s eye a head teacher who is strongly imbued with the value of the defence movement. He devotes a very great deal of his time after school hours to the development of his cadet corps, with the result that it would be a credit to any part of Australia. A little encouragement in the way of ammunition ought to be given.

Mr McCay:

– They get, I think, 100 rounds free, and 100 rounds at half-price.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– I hope that the Minister will be shocked when I tell him that not very long ago, in Tasmania, I attended a camp where the boys were charged one shilling per day for provisions. If little trophies were offered for competition between the various schools, it would serve a good purpose. It needs only a little encouragement to induce a school-boy to take an interest in the cadet movement.

Mr Wilks:

– If the honorable member lived next door to a cadet corps, and they were provided with ammunition, he would not need much encouragement to move.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– I had the pleasure of sending my eldest boy to a corps on the very day he was up to the standard ; and as soon as my second boy is up to the standard he will become a cadet, and as regards the use of the ammunition, I accept full responsibility. In my opinion, the real defence of Australia must be a purely voluntary system as far as payment is concerned, and it might be followed by compulsion if the men were not prepared to do their duty. That, together with a reasonable contribution to the Imperial Navy for the protection of our shores against invasion, is, I think, the most practicable and satisfactory system of defence that we are likely to get formany years to come.

Mr KNOX:
Kooyong

– The honorable member for Franklin has spoken such solid good sense that I could well leave unsaid anything I wish to say, inasmuch as it must be more or less a repetition of the excellent ideas which he put forward. I believe that sooner or later - and I think much sooner than is expected - every man capable of carrying arms will be forced to learn how to use a rifle and to understand the elementary part of drill. I hold, and I have continuously tried to urge, the view held by so many honorable members, that the very basis of the citizen soldiery to which all of us are more or less distinctly pledged, is in the education of the boys at school. The last speaker said it would be a great advantage to the boys in their careers if they were compelled to learn military drill. Apart from every other consideration, the habit which they would acquire of rendering obedience to the orders of those who are superior to them in age and experience would justify that form of training. If a boy is taught at his. school the use of the rifle, and the ordinary skeleton drill, he will never forget what he has learned, and when the necessity arose, he would be able to fall into line in defence of his country. I have the personal assurance of the Minister that there has not been time to get the States to come into line in connexion with the cadet movement. I trust that he will give an assurance to the Committee that during the recess he will place, himself in communication with the States, with a view to secure their cordial co-operation in this very important movement, which is the very basis of our citizen soldiery. The honorable member for Franklin has referred to the encouragement which the cadets have received. If the regulations are carried out, they are receiving as much practical encouragement in the shape of ammunition and the use of rifles as may be immediately necessary. But the school-masters do not receive the necessary encouragement in the form of a specific reward for the work which they do. There are enthusiasts at many schools, and in the suburbs of Melbourne I could name several men who are very enthusiastic in promoting this movement. But there are others who are less enthusiastic, and who need some incentive to induce them to perform this extra work.

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

– What reward?

Mr KNOX:

– I would not pretend to say the amount of the reward which is necessary ; but I contend that a master who is responsible for the drilling of his scholars ought to receive a monetary reward.

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

– I thought I heard the honorablemember cheer the idea of a volunteer plan ?

Mr KNOX:

– Unless this reward be given, systematic and satisfactory results will never be achieved. If the cadet system be regarded as the bedrock of our citizen soldiery, we shall in time build up a great organization in which every person will be able to take his proper position in his country’s hour of need. The honorable member for South Sydney has referred to the fact that there is a larger number of riflemen in Victoria than in any of the other States. Indeed he said that there are more riflemen in this State than in all the others combined. That movement has nothing to do with the Federal defence arrangements. It was started in the State Parliament under an active Minister of Defence, and the systematic encouragement that was then offered for the formation of rifle clubs, led to a great accession of members. The Minister will agree that, unless we get an enthusiast at the head of the movement, we cannot hope to be successful in the organization of rifle clubs. If we have at the head of the movement one who believes that to make our Land Forces successful they must have rifle training, we shall secure in other States the efficiency in this respect which has been secured in Victoria. Victoria, fortunately, was successful in having such a man at the head of the movement here.

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

– There is no analogy between Victoria and some of the other States.

Mr KNOX:

– The honorable member speaks probably with reference to the greater distances which have to be covered by the members of rifle clubs in other States, but I remind him that we may compare, in this respect, the metropolitan areas of Sydney and Melbourne, and we shall then find that the number of members of rifle clubs in this State greatly exceeds the number in New South Wales. If we consider the number of rifle clubs in the more densely populated areas in the different States, it will be clear that there has been a much more enthusiastic handling of the movement in Victoria than elsewhere in the Commonwealth. I think that every man who has arrived at twenty-one years of age, and is physically capable, should be able to show that he has passed through a rifle club, the militia, or paid force. In my opinion, every man should be able to take his position in defence of his country at any time of national strain.

Mr Johnson:

– Would the honorable member advocate conscription?

Mr KNOX:

– I have even gone so far as to believe that unless a man is able to stand up in defence of his country, he has no right to the exercise of the franchise. With the necessary exceptions dealt with in the Defence Act, every man in the Commonwealth should be compelled to acquire a knowledge of the use of the rifle, and of the routine company drill. He would readily acquire a sufficient knowledge of other necessary evolutions when the necessity arose from the example of the existing Permanent Force. In all these matters I feel that we must have the guidance of knowledge and past experience, and I say, with a considerable amount of regret, thatwe seem to be jumping from one defence policy to another. While I highly appreciate the statement which the Minister of Defence has circulated, and the greater elaboration of that scheme of defence in the speech the honorable and learned gentleman delivered, it does seem to me that we should have done well if we had given some trial to the scheme approved by this Parliament in the past. After all the efforts of the past few years, it is now proposed that we shall jump from one line of policy to another. I am not an expert in these matters, and I admit the necessity of experience to enable one to deal with them. I believe that in military matters we must have at the head a director possessed of knowledge based on the best experience of the past methods. Though he may have associated with him a Council of Defence, if honorable members please, he should really furnish the brain of the whole organization. The honorable member for Wentworth advocated that there should be a larger expenditure in connexion with the engineering corps in our chief harbors. What is our position in Victoria in thisrespect? We have a most excellent officer in charge of our Engineer Corps. I have been at the trouble to find out whether the honorable member for Wentworth was justified in stating that it would take from a fortnight to three weeks to properly mine our harbor.

Mr Kelly:

– To lay down the mines.

Mr KNOX:

– To lay down the mines ready for our defence. I have consulted an authority on the subject, and I find that the honorable member was absolutely correct in his statement. He is supported by the best authority on the subject in Melbourne.

Sir John Forrest:

– Who is that?

Mr KNOX:

– I am not at liberty to mention the name of my informant, but he is qualified by practical experience to express an opinion.

Sir John Forrest:

– Then he should say it straight out.

Mr KNOX:

– I repeat that I am informed, on the best authority, that to properly lay mines in Port Phillip Harbor for the defence of Melbourne would take from a fortnight to three weeks.

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

– With our present staff?

Mr KNOX:

– Yes, with our present staff.

Sir JOHN FORREST:
SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · PROT; WAP from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Could we not increase the staff?

Mr KNOX:

– I am sure that the Minister of Defence will bear me out when I say that the laying of these mines requires expert knowledge, and we should only jeopardize the lives of the men engaged in the work if, in case of emergency, we sent untrained and unskilled men to assist them.

Sir John Forrest:

– If the mines were ready they could be put down in three days, instead of in three weeks.

Mr KNOX:

– Perhaps, then, my informant “is wrong, and the right honorable member knows more about the matter than he does, though I do not think so. It might be easy to effectually mine the Fremantle Harbor, but Port Phillip is a verymuch more extensive sheet of water, and has numerous places where a landing might be effected, while the same might be said of the sea approaches to Brisbane and Sydney. I have resided for some time almost every year at Queenscliff, and have been struck with the small provision that we make there for harbor defence by our engineers. We require a large number of experienced officers and men for this work, and I plead with the Minister of Defence to consider the advisability of providing out of his contingency vote for a larger equipment and the employment of more men, since harbor defence must be our mainstay. If an enemy got past our forts we should be helpless, unless we could disable -him when within our harbors. What has happened at Port Arthur and elsewhere during the present war shows how great the reliance placed on mines and torpedoes in modern naval warfare. The honorable member for Bourke reflected on the late General Officer Commanding by the statement that in the organization of our mounted troops the object aimed at appeared to be rather work in foreign lands than work in the interests -of our Commonwealth. I do not think there is a scintilla of truth in that suggestion. We have to go very much further back than the late General Officer Commanding for responsibility in connexion with the organization of our mounted troops, it being Colonel Price to whom the honour is due of having established that most efficient arm qf our defences. In this country the distances to be travelled are so great that it seems to me important that our soldiers should be trained to follow the natural bent of Australians, and use horses to move from place to place. The South African war showed that Australians fight better when they have their horses with them. I shall not do more than allude to these few matters, because I do not wish to repeat what other honorable members have already said exceedingly well. The views which I have expressed have been advocated by me, both as a member of the State House and in this Chamber. Instead of a policy which is continually changing, we should try to achieve a definite purpose. We should rely on our citizen soldiery for home defence, and must build it up by training our boys. Then we must look to our rifle clubs to give every man an opportunity to learn how to use his rifle, while, in addition, we must have the various other branches of the military forces, by joining which men can give closer attention to the art of soldiering. It is, however, absurd to expect to be able to maintain a fleet which could protect our coasts from a foe; The experience of the Russo-Japanese war should eject that idea from the mind of every honorable member. Where should we be had we to protect ourselves against foreign aggression, if we had not the support of the British Fleet? It is, however, our duty to see that our, harbor defences are properly equipped, and that our ports and harbors are mined, or can be mined very speedily by an efficient body of experienced men. The basis of our land defence is the cadet force; then come the rifle, clubs ; and then such additional means for imparting a closer knowledge of soldiering as we mav see fit to provide for.

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

– I listened with great interest to the remarks of the leader of the Opposition in regard to the Swiss military system ; but the more I think upon the subject, the more I am convinced that we should be acting a very foolish part if we slavishly imitated the Swiss, or any other military system, in its entirety. Every system of defence must have regard to local conditions, and there is no analogy in that respect between Switzerland and Australia. To begin with, Switzerland contains only about 16,000 square miles of country, which .is not much more than the size of one of our large cattle stations- out back.

Mr Skene:

– It is one-fourth the size of Victoria. .

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

– Yes. It has, however, nearly as large a population as Australia, the population being 207 to the square mile. We might follow the example of Switzerland in the generous attention which she gives to the subject of defence. Although that country is so small, its system of defence, which is purely voluntary, costs ,£1,250,000 per annum, which would it has no Navy to support. I think that we might emulate Switzerland by adopting a more generous attitude towards our defence system. If we did so we should go a great way towards meeting the inherent difficulties of the situation. For many reasons it would be extremely difficult in a sparsely settled country such as this to adopt Swiss methods. In Switzerland every citizen has to go into camp when he is eighteen years of age, and to give up a fortnight to continuous training every year. Besides that, he is required to attend thirtytwo drills every twelve months, and all of this without remuneration of any kind. If similar demands were made upon our people, many men away in the interior would have to travel hundreds of miles every time they were required to attend a drill, and in the event of their being, compelled to spend a fortnight in- camp yearly, they would probably be absent from their homes for a full month. They would thus be compelled to lose fully £8 per annum in wages, to say nothing of the incidental expenses which they would have to incur in connexion with their journeys to and from the centres of instruction. Our military necessities have not reached such a point that we need make similar demands upon our people. Therefore, although the Swiss system is no doubt a very good one. it does not follow that it would suit our conditions.

Mr Knox:

– In Switzerland the authorities show great consideration to men who are far removed from the centres of instruction.

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

– Even so, it appears to me ‘that Switzerland does not present a case in point. We are far removed from the menaces to which Switzerland is subject. She is surrounded -by possible enemies, who are at her very gates, and, having regard to the aggressiveness of the great nations, she is compel led to strain every effort to perfect her defences. So long as we form a part of the British Empire - and I hope that we shall never be anything else - there is no such necessity laid upon us in Australia. I do not say that we are doing as much as we might or ought in the way of making provision for defence, or in bearing our share of the crushing, the staggering, burden under which the Empire is labouring. Whilst, on the one hand, I submit that our military necessities are not like those of Switzerland, on the other hand, I think that we are under all the greater obligation to adopt a generous attitude in regard to the defences of the Empire as a whole. It was stated at an earlier stage, in the debate that Napoleon said that every soldier carried a Marshal’s baton in has knapsack. Unfortunately, that cannot be said of our Australian soldiers. It seems to me that the better some of our men are the less chance they have of military promotion. I should have thought that when we were remodelling our defence system once more, some regard would have been paid to those men who have proved themselves to be good soldiers and troop leaders. I indorse every word that has been uttered by the honorable member for Kooyong with regard to the undesirability of constantly changing our system of defence, because I believe that such a course must militate against the efficiency and morale of our Forces.

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

– We are not changing our system; we are still groping.

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

– We are changing our system in the hope that we may grope our way. into a good one. An attempt has been made within the last few years to effect a reform in our Defence Forces, and one would have thought that efficiency would be a guiding principle in the selection of our officers. Yet, what are the facts? Those officers who have proved themselves the best of commanders in the field in South Africa are now engaged in civil occupations. We should have secured the . services of some of those soldiers, who, whether volunteers or not, proved themselves to be able commanders, and have appointed them to the command of our Military Forces. Yet, so far as I know, not one of these men has been placed in a responsible position.

Sir John Forrest:

– There were a crowd of officers of whom we could not get rid.

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

– Does my right honorable friend suggest that our Defence Force is to be an asylum for men of whom we cannot get rid? 1 hope such is not the case. If it is, there is something sadly lacking in our system. We ought to be able to get rid of men whom we do not require honorably, reasonably, and without making them suffer at all, and insure that the best soldiers shall fill the responsible positions in our Forces. If the best men we can find are volunteers, and have given their time to the service of their country at great personal sacrifice and expense, all the more credit is due to them, and they are all the more entitled to be appointed to some of our chief commands. I cannot put this point too strongly, and I submit it very seriously for the consideration of the Minister. Our soldiers, however earnestly and capably they may fight, do not even carry an officer’s commission in their knapsacks.

Mr McCay:

– Has the honorable member any particular case in his mind?

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

– Yes; there is a number of them.

Mr McCay:

– I wish the honorable member would mention them to me privately.

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

– The Minister has only to look at the records of men who fought throughout the war in South Africa. I know of one man who is to-day the junior captain in his regiment who won a colonelcy and a C.B. during the war, and fought successfully through the whole of it from start to finish.

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

– Shame !

Mr McCay:

– I am not questioning the accuracy of the honorable member’s statement, but I should be glad to be supplied privately with information regarding the cases to which he has referred.

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

– I am speaking from a purely disinterested stand-point, because I do not know that any of the officers that I have in my mind would accept a position in our Defence Forces ; but I think that the authorities should seek out the most efficient men. and induce them to enter the service.

Mr McCay:

– Unless information is given to me I can do nothing.

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

– I am quite aware of that.

Sir John Forrest:

– The services of the officers referred to are on record.

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

– These individuals should be sought out, and their ability utilized in connexion with the future defence of Australia. I hope that the time will speedily arrive when it can be truthfully said that every soldier in the Commonwealth may carry a Marshal’s baton in his knapsack. I do not know of any better way of encouraging that sort of thing than by getting our official environment into a more economical groove. At the present time some men do not aspire to be officers, simply because they cannot afford the expense which their promotion would involve. I do not think that there is so much wrong with our defence system as there is with Our general treatment of defence questions. Year after year we have been systematically cutting down the defence vote. Just prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth the defence expenditure in the various States was considerably inflated, but otherwise we know that for years past the greatest possible difficulty has been experienced in obtaining an increase of any kind in connexion with our defence establishments. Having regard to the developments which are taking place in the Far East, and seeing that the centre of gravity in connexion with the military systems of the world are rapidly being transferred to the Pacific, I saythat in Australia at the present time we are living in a fool’s paradise. When we reflect that we spend only£700,000 annually upon the defence of this huge continent, which possesses a coastline of 8,000 miles-

Sir John Forrest:

– We spend nearly £1,000,000 annually, if we include the cost of buildings, &c.

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

– £200,000 of that goes to the Navy. I say that that sum is very inadequate indeed. Instead of encouraging our Forces we have been carping at and criticising them until the heart has been taken out of the men. Having regard to the different conditions obtaining in Australia, to the inequalities in the areas of the various States, in their population and general environment, I do not think that it is advisable to put our Forces upon a dull, dead level of uniformity. The very essence of the fighting quality of the British Army - indeed, of nearly every European army - is to be found in the local ideals which its various branches have established for themselves - in the healthy rivalry that is begotten by different systems, different organizations, and different localities and different regiments. To-day we find that the Japanese Guards are specially selected for particular work. Similarly we know that the Russian Cossacks are striving with might to maintain their old standard. In connexion with the Imperial Army, we are aware that regiments are constantly fighting to maintain their old traditions. If, therefore, we insist upon a dead level of uniformity in connexion with our Defence Forces we shall strike a very serious blow at their efficiency. There is no necessity to initiate such a system in a country which is so sparsely settled as is Australia. I entirely agree with all that has been said concerning our cadet system. In this respect I think that we are building better than we know. I believe that the principal portion of this work is being done in our State schools to-day. The cadet system represents only a modicum of what is being accomplished in our State schools in connexion with the drilling of our boys and the inforcennent of requisite discipline. The cadets merely require to be picked out, because the lads are being drilled every day of their lives. I repeat that Australia is already doing a great work in this respect, and all we have to say to the Minister is, “ Well done ! Go and do more of it.” The honorable member for Franklin perhaps is not aware that in some of the States rifle shooting is distinct from the volunteer movement as such. In New South Wales our rifle shots are not drilled. They are rifle shots - nothing more.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– Are they not instructed ?

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

– No, unless they wish it. The honorable member for Cowper is most expert with his rifle, but he is not compelled to submit to drill.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– In Tasmania the members of the rifle clubs are drilled. They ate specially instructed.

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

– In New South Wales I understand that all possible facilities are placed at the disposal of members of the rifle clubs-

Mr Lee:

– They have to drill in order to become “ efficient,” and thus to obtain free ammunition, but a man can be a member of a club without engaging in drill.

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

– I am not arguing that we should transform all our Defence Forces either into volunteers or militia, pure and simple. The present mixed arrangement has worked admirably in New South Wales. It has created a healthy rivalry between the different branches of the service, and consequently the very best results have been achieved.

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

– But we do not desire to have a collection of rags and tatters.

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

– No, there is no such thing. Nowadays I do not think that there is very much difference in the matter of instruction between the Volunteer Forces and the Militia Forces. In fact, we might with advantage unify the instruction that is imparted. But I claim that we could do that whilst preserving local peculiarities. Our . great aim should be to provide an adequate sum for the efficient defence of Australia. I subscribe entirely to the argument of the honorable member for Wentworth, that we need to spend much more than we are expending upon our costal defences. I know that this will not be pleasant news to the Treasurer, but I do not think that any considerations of finance should be allowed to place us in the position of being unable to offer an effective resistance to any marauding foe which may desire to take advantage of our isolation.

Sir JOHN FORREST:
Swan

– There is a slight inconvenience in dealing with these Estimates at the same time as the proposals of the Government with regard to the future administration of the Defence Forces of the Commonwealth and the proposed amendment of the Defence Act. It would have been preferable to defer the consideration of the proposed reorganization, of the Defence Forces until the motion for the second reading of the Defence Act Amendment Bill which is now before the House ; but as those who have dealt with these Estimates have also devoted their attention to the reorganization proposals, I intend to follow the same course. As I said on a former occasion, there is not much room for criticism of the Defence Estimates, seeing that they have already been criticised so thoroughly during the term of office of three different Administrations. It would be unreasonable to place the responsibility for the Estimates now before us wholly on the shoulders of the present Minister of Defence, in view of the fact that he has been in office only for a short time, and that they were in print months before he took charge of the Department. With but one or two exceptions no objections have been offered, and I have none to take to them. When we look back at the defence administration since the Department was taken over by the Commonwealth on 1st March, 1901, and consider the difficulties that had then to be encountered, we must recognise that we have now, if not before, arrived at a time when we ought to expect any economies in administration that are possible. At the beginning we had to contend with a great many difficulties. The Estimates related to the forces of six different States, which had to be consolidated. In the absence of a Commonwealth Defence Act we had to rely upon the powers given under the Constitution and under the Defence Acts of the various States. There was no general organization, and no uniformity in regard to either regulations or pay: All these difficulties have been- surmounted. We have a Defence Act upon which we have reason

I to congratulate ourselves. The Bill was considered by ‘two sessions of the Parliament, and two years elapsed between the date on which it was introduced, and that on which it was passed. During this time opportunities were given to members of the Parliament to discuss it from end to end, and public attention was also directed to it, with the result that a measure was passed of which we may fairly feel proud. The Minister proposes to amend it. in order to allow of certain alterations in the administration of the Defence Forces; but the proposed alterations in the terms of the Act, when analyzed, are not as great as might be supposed at first sight. When we look back at the difficulties which confronted us at the outset, and realize our position to-day, we may fairly hope that we shall’ now be able to build our defence system upon a solid foundation, and that many economies, and many alterations that will tend to economies, may now be effected, which could not have been so well faced at an earlier date.

Mr Kelly:

– Can further economies be made without impairing efficiency ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– There is always room for economy. The financial system under which we are working, appears to be advantageous to the Commonwealth, and disadvantageous to the States, but when we analyze it, and” view the matter from a patriotic point of view, it is a dangerous system. I refer to the fact that those who have the spending of the money, have no pressure of responsibility in regard to finding it. We have to find a great deal more than we require, and are restricted under the Braddon clause to one-fourth of the revenue which we raise for the purposes of the Federal Government. Those of us who have held office as States Treasurers in days gone by, well remember the difficulty we had every year in what is commonly called “ making both ends meet.” We experienced immense trouble in so arranging our Estimates as to keep them within the means available. That difficulty does npt beset the Federal Government at the present time. The Federal Treasurer has more money at his disposal than he wants, and so long as that is the case, I believe we shall find it almost impossible to secure that strict economy which we all desire. I do not offer these remarks in any adverse spirit to the present Administration. They# apply equally to all Administrations, for unless those who air wearing the shoe feel the pinch, they will never be so considerate for those who do feel it.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– We are now getting up to the limit.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– There is still room for further expansion; we have not yet reached the limit. So long as we have plenty of money, neither this House nor the Government will ever exercise that enforced economy which those who have had anything to do with the administration of the finances of the various States must so well remember. In 1902 there was a great onslaught on the Defence Estimates, especially from the section in this House which is called the Labour Party. But I am glad to find that the experience and responsibilities of office have now induced, at any rate, the leaders of that party to moderate and change their views. Now we find- them quite as anxious as any other honorable member can be to expend money to place the defences of Australia on a satisfactory footing.

Mr Spence:

– We were always ready.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The party to whom I refer were always ready to expend money in the way they wanted it expended. They were willing to expend money in particular directions, but they were not willing to trust any Administration to work out a scheme. There can be no doubt that the action of that party in the first- Parliament in reducing the Estimates by a large sum, without saying exactly how it was to be done, did a great deal to disorganize and to hamper the Government of the day in placing the Defence Forces of Australia on a proper footing. The same economies would have been made without that drastic retrenchment which they insisted upon.

Mr Hutchison:

– That is not putting it fairly

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I think it is, and I also think that, as I was Minister of Defence at the time, I ought to know better than the honorable member, who was not even a member of the House.

Mr Tudor:

– The expenditure is too high now, and if any honorable member moves to reduce it I will vote with him.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– If the expenditure is too high, I hope that we shall be able to economize without doing injury, because the .haphazard, wholesale reductions insisted upon in 1901-2, nearly destroyed the whole defence of Australia. Some reference was made this afternoon to Australian officers who served in the South African war with great honour and credit to themselves and the country not finding a place in the Permanent Forces:

But I may remind honorable members that there have not been places for all of them. You cannot dispossess one man from his position in order to place another man in it, unless the one in possession is incompetent.

Mr Hutchison:

– Very, often the wrong nian has been put in a position.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– If there are cases of this sort, I feel sure, it has not been done intentionally. I think that the men who have served the country well in South Africa should, whenever opportunity offers - I do not know that their services are available - be placed in the permanent forces. I might refer to one or two men whom I have in my mind. The name of Colonel McLeish is honoured in Victoria as that of a good soldier. I do not know him personally, but I know that his record is a magnificent one. Then there is Colonel Rowell, in South Australia, and Colonel Tunbridge, in Queensland. There are many other, officers who might also be mentioned.

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

– There is Colonel Cox.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– There are, as I have said, many other valuable officers whose services in the Permanent Forces it would be advisable to secure. They would be an honour and a credit to the Commonwealth, and I hope before long to see them occupying places in permanent command. There is one question affecting defence upon which Ave have to make up our minds, and the sooner we do so the better. I do not think we have done so yet. I refer to the kind of local naval force that we’ intend to maintain. Last year the Commonwealth entered into a small partnership so far as our own share in it is concerned with regard to the Imperial Navy. The British Government have undertaken to maintain a certain force in Australian waters, with the understanding that the force at present maintained here is by no means to be the only force that will be maintained in times of necessity. The sum which we contribute is only about one- 150th of the total cost of the British Navy. Still it is a ‘good beginning. The British Government have undertaken to defend us from attack beyond the seas, which is the only kind of attack we have to fear. We have come to the assistance of the mother country to a small extent in the past, but the assistance which we have been able to render is trivial compared with the defence which Great Britain gives to us. My idea, as honorable, members are all aware, ‘is that the kind of navy which we require in the British Empire is not a separate small navy for Australia, a navy for New Zealand, a navy for the Cape, and a navy for Canada. What we require is a navy to which all parts of the Empire shall contribute, and concerning which we. shall have the feeling that it belongs to Us all. When we attain to that great idea, and see it worked out completely, we shall feel a satisfaction in the thought that we are protected by a navy which belongs to the whole Empire. If the British Navy lost command of the sea, it would be the prelude to the dissolution of the great Empire which has grown up almost iri our own day. But although the Empire’s Navy will protect us from enemies that may ‘come across the sea, I think that Ave might do this in addition. We should not only contribute towards the Empire’s Navy, but might also have out own system of ‘ A7 aval Defence to protect our cities from stray cruisers that might make raids in time of war. That, I think, is the idea which most of us who have thought over this problem have in our minds, and which we desire to see worked out. We might have torpedo-boat destroyers and submarine mines laid down at or near the entrances to our principal ports. My honorable friend the member for Wentworth tells us that it would take three weeks to lay down the mines required to protect the port of Melbourne. If that be the case, a shorter way must be found. We must have a means of laving down the mines in a few hours, and I am glad that my honorable friend has drawn attention to the point. Then we should have a Naval Militia and Reserves for our harbor defence, and a Naval Cadet system to be recruited for naval purposes. If we make up our minds to work out a plan on the foregoing lines, we shall know that we are doing, and shall not waste our efforts over the establishment of an Australian Navy with one ship here, another ship there, and a third ship somewhere else. By the time we had obtained a few ships, the first would be unserviceable. My idea is not disintegration, but consolidation. Let us pull together and stand shoulder to shoulder for the Empire; and do not let us call our Navy the English Navy, or the Navy of the British Isles, but the Empire’s Navy - that is, the Navy of Great Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and every other British possession. We are all agreed, I think, that we should have a land force which would be sufficient to prevent invasion, or, at any rate, to withstand an enemy which tried- to land upon our coast at any point. If we can make up our minds in regard to our naval defence, and cease to cry for something which is not obtainable, we shall be doing a good thing. I will now refer in a few words to the total expenditure on defence for last year, and the estimated expenditure for this year. Although these returns are very full, still it sometimes needs a little delving to find out the exact amounts. For last year the total expenditure was £742,531 “ on the Department, and £113,243 on works, buildings, rifles, and everything else outside departmental matters, ‘making a total of £855,774- Foi this year the estimated expenditure is £774:567 on the Department, and £179,774 on works, rifles, and other matters, making a total of £954>34I» which includes,’ ‘as honorable members are aware, £.(48,707 for the naval subsidy. Next year this will be £200,000 - the “amount agreed upon - but this year, owing to a re-arrangement of the accounts to suit the Imperial Treasurer, only £148,707 has been charged. So that for this year £954,341 is the estimated total cost of the defences of Australia.

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

– That would represent about £500,000 in Switzerland.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I have also noted the expense in each State. For this year the estimated expenditure is - in New South Wales, £324,115; in Victoria, £306,525 ; in Queensland, £144,913; in South Australia, £81,434; in Western Australia, £56,869 ; and in Tasmania, £40,485. That includes, as I said, in addition to ordinary departmental expenditure, all buildings, ammunition, rifle’s, guns, in fact, everything. Through letting things fall into disrepair prior to Federation, accoutrements became old and worn out, and rifles obsolete; and a great deal of expenditure has, therefore been necessary during the past two or three years which will not be required for the same purposes in the years to follow. We are now equipped with a better rifle; our arms and accoutrements are getting into good and efficient order; and therefore the result of the past neglect has to a very large extent been overcome. I think we shall find that we shall be able to limit our expenditure for the future to something like a regular sum for time of peace. If the Minister will carry out a definite policy our expenditure on defence should not be much more than it is now, and certainly, I think it should not under any conditions in time of peace exceed £1,000,000. I see no necessity for it to do so; in fact, I think it ought to be considerably under that sum, seeing that we are now buying so many things which will not be required to be renewed during the next few years. There is another factor which has increased our expenses a good deal, and that is the paying of the Forces. In the past we had volunteers and partiallypaid men. In New South Wales -the Light Horse - or, as they were called, the Lancers - were paid, while in Victoria they were not paid, and so on, all over the country. When we consolidated the forces it was impossible to carry out the system of paying the mounted infantry in some places and not in others. We are gradually evolving a system by which they will all be paid. Since the introduction of the partially-paid system, as it is called, I do not think it is possible to have volunteers working alongside men whose expenses are paid. When no one was paid it succeeded fairly well. If, at an Easter encampment, so many thousand men were receiving sufficient to defray their actual expenses for the camp, and the others had to bear their own expenses, it is not reasonable to suppose that contentment would result. Therefore, I think that we shall have to pay, except perhaps in the case of national regiments, such as, the Hibernians or the Scottish, who are fired with enthusiasm,’ and have magnificent uniforms. But even for the Scottish Regiment here, which was founded on the volunteer system, and did a good deal to cai ry out the promise of its members, an efficiency allowance of ,£2 10s. per man is provided on these Estimates. “T-he whole system of defence is gravitating to a partiallypaid system ; and we shall .not be able for long to continue the purely volunteer system. The only objection is the expense, and it certainly is preferable for all to be treated alike rather than that one should be paid and the other not. There is one thing about which we can congratulate ourselves, and that is that the same rate of pay prevails throughout the Commonwealth. Whether he is located in the North of Queensland, in Tasmania, or Western Australia, a captain, or lieutenant, or sergeant, or corporal, or private receives the same rate of pay. That, I think, should engender a spirit of contentment.

Mr Carpenter:

– It is not always equitable.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– It is as near to equity as can be got. I trust that the honorable member will not use that argument, because I do not believe that a man will work for less where things are cheap than where things are dear, that is, if it can be helped. This, however, is an honorarium, and it is not to be expected - it would be unreasonable. I think - that we should in one part of Australia pay rates different from those which we pay in other parts.

Mr Carpenter:

– It has been done, though. The same sum is worth more in some parts of Australia than in others.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The honorable member would not expect the Department to take that matter into consideration, seeing that the honorarium is only intended to recoup the men their out-of-pocket expenses on a certain number of days. I do not mean to say any more about the Estimates.

Mr McCay:

– The right honorable gentleman has dealt very lightly with them.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I am quite satisfied with the Estimates, which I know have received the greatest scrutiny. I now come to the other part of the matter on which I rose to address the Committee, and that is, the amendment of the Defence Act, proposed by the Minister.

Mr Mauger:

– Hear, hear.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports will remember that he led the attack last year, and rendered it somewhat difficult for me to prevent him from carrying what, to a large extent, is now being proposed.

Mr Mauger:

– The right honorable gentleman will come round to my way of thinking directlv.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I have not yet come round to the honorable member’s way of thinking. The present Act provides for an Advisory Board. It was always intended that the Board should be composed of persons connected with various branches namely, the Permanent Forces and the Citizen Forces ; and that there should be on it also some civilian with a knowledge of finance. The object was to have a really good working board, that would be able to control expenditure, and otherwise advise the Minister. It was never intended, for a moment, that the Advisory Board provided for in the present Act, should, in any way, interfere with the responsibility of the Minister in charge of the Department, or of the Ministry, as a whole; nor can the Council of Defence, now proposed, do so, unless we are prepared to destroy responsible government The difficulty in the administration of the Defence Department arises where the Minister comes in contact with the professional soldier on the question of financial control. We have heard a good deal about the difficulties which Ministers have had with General Officers Commanding, especially in Victoria in recent years, and the trouble has always been due to the fact that the professional soldier has desired to have control of theDefence expenditure.

Mr Mauger:

– And the control of everything else as well.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The trouble has arisen because the Minister has desired to control the finances of his Department, and the General Officer Commanding hasdesired to do the same.

Mr Mauger:

– That does not comprise the whole of the difficulty by a long way.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– A great deal of friction has occurred from time to time, but it has been principally due to a difference of opinion with respect to the financial control. I hope the day is far distant when the control of the finances of the Department will be taken from the civil administration. When Minister of Defence I inaugurated a system throughout Australia under which the control of the finances was taken out of the hands of the Commandants in the different States. Though they might have something to say in the matter, they had no control.

Mr Mauger:

– The right honorable gentleman is a better democrat than I thought he was.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I found that the Department could not be administered in any other way. In view of the large area ofAustralia, the important feature in any system of defence administration must be searching, and constant inspection. Without it no system can be successful. If the Defence Force in New South Wales, or any other State, is allowed, in, either the financial or the military branch, to carry on as it pleases without supervision from HeadQuarters, we might just as well have no

Federation at all. ‘We must have central control. But a difficulty, which has been very pronounced up to the present time, though I do not think it will be so great in the future, has been that we have had too much centralization. Nothing could be done during the last two or three years without reference to Head-Quarters. States Commandants had not sufficient power, or were afraid to exercise it, and the result has been that there has been far too much centralization. That can be easily avoided by giving greater powers to local Commandants, who must be good men, whom we can trust, and by having . a regular and systematic inspection. If such a system is carried out by the present Minister of Defence I see no reason why it should not be altogether successful. My objection to the plan proposed by the honorable “and learned gentleman is that I consider it unnecessary at the present time, and* that it is proposed to try a new plan before we have given a trial to the one introduced and approved last year. I have not heard from the Minister, or from any one else, any reason for the new departure, unless it is that the system has been adopted in the mother country.

Mr Mauger:

– And in Switzerland and America.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– They are dealing with very much larger masses of troops than we are dealing with.

Mr Mauger:

– All the more reason why we should begin early.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– There is such a thing as beginning “too soon. It seems to me that we shall lay ourselves open to the taunt of not knowing our own mind. We passed a Bill last session, and then expressed ourselves as opposed to the system which it is now sought to introduce.

Mr Mauger:

– No, we did not ; the right honorable gentleman compromised the matter.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– If the honorable member will wait he will find I am not speaking without authority. We expressed ourselves as opposed to the system now proposed ; and, without giving a trial to the system then approved, we are now introducing a new system. I wish to know what has happened since which should cause us to take this course?

Mr Mauger:

– Friction, trouble, and. dissatisfaction have happened since.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The Board of Advice provided for in the present Defence Act has not been brought into existence. So far as I know., no attempt has yet been made to bring it into existence, and it is now proposed to introduce a new system altogether. If I bring forward a scheme this year, and without giving it a trial, and without giving any reasons for the change, propose another scheme next year, I. must lay myself open. to the taunt that I do not know my own .mind.

Mr Hutchison:

– No; it is the unanimous opinion that the scheme was bad, and not worth a trial.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I suppose it is because that is the honorable member’s opinion that he considers it unanimous.

Mr Hutchison:

– It is the opinion of honorable members generally.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– It shows weakness and vacillation, it seems to me, to change our opinions so soon, when we have not given the system of which we approved last year a trial. I have not searched very deeply, as I had not the time this afternoon, but 1 have taken the trouble to find out what was said, as late as August of last year, by a few honorable members who take a great interest in these matters. I find that the present Minister for Defence

Mr McCay:

– Do not quote my speech of last vear. I have “owned up.”

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I must quote it ; we can have no “ owning up “ when the honorable and learned ‘gentleman has given no reasons for his change of opinion. He was as well versed in military matters then as he is now, and he had as much experience.

Mr McCay:

– I spoke without thought then.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– This is what the honorable and learned gentleman said -

I think a board, such as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has suggested, .would be practically unworkable, in view of the large area of the Commonwealth and its scattered population.

Mr McCay:

– I think so still.

Mr Mauger:

– The honorable and learned gentleman had not considered the matter in detail.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– If the proposals of the honorable member for Mel- bourne Ports were not exactly in accord with the Minister’s opinion then, it was competent for him to try and amend them. If in substance they had been such as he could have approved, the honorable and learned gentleman would never have spoken in this way. He went on to speak of the Victorian Council of Defence, which had been referred to, and he said this -

Unfortunately, the Council never possessed the power that it purported to exercise, because the Minister politically, and the Commandant on the administrative side, exercised the real control.

Mr McCay:

– Hear,. hear; that is quite different from the present proposal.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I could quote much more, but I do not wish to take up the time of the Committee unnecessarily. Senator Drake, on the nth September, said this -

The members of the Board would quarrel among themselves, and, instead of helping the Minister, wouldmake his position more difficult. I trust the Committee will not assent to the proposal of Senator Matheson, because I feel perfectly sure that, so far from assisting the Minister, it will embarrass him ; and, so far as I can see, it will not have theeffect which he says he is aiming at.

And the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, Mr. Higgins, speaking on the 14th October, 1902, said -

I would, however, provide only for a Board of Advice. … I certainly do not think that a force, such as ours, justifies the Council proposed by the Senate. Their proposal is unworkable. It would be better to even do without a Board of Advice than allow the financial policy of the Department to be reviewed by it.

Mr Higgins:

– The point was that I would not allow the finances to be controlled by a Council of Defence.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– They are to be so controlled under the present proposal.

Mr Higgins:

– I hope not.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The honorable member for South Sydney said -

The proposed Council of Defence would be similar to other bodies which have been created in connexion, not only with the Defence, but with the Mines and Lands, Departments, and which have always failed.

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

– I have never said a word in favour of the Council of Defence.

Sir JOHN FORREST. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who, I think, had recently been appointed Minister of Defence, made this declaration -

I do not see how any good result could follow from the appointment of a Council of Defence; but, on the other hand, I think a properly constituted Board of Advice would be of great assistance to the Minister.

Mr McCay:

– That was to be with a General Officer Commanding; this is to be without one.

Sir JOHN FORREST:
SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · PROT; WAP from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– What is now proposed is that there shall be a Board, but no General Officer Commanding. ‘ I am surprised at these lightning changes of opinion. There would be some reason for them if we bad constituted a Board of Advice, and had allowed it to operate for a little while, and it had proved unsatisfac tory.

Mr Crouch:

– Why was it not constituted ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I had ceased to be Minister of Defence when the Act became law, and I am not responsible for the Board not being constituted. I think that this proposal should be deferred until the system, which was so highly commended has been given a trial. One of the reasons why this scheme is now considered so necessary is on account of the centralization policy of the late General Officer Commanding. His desire to have all the power in his own hands - probably because he had not fully consolidated the forces, and placed them under the control which he wished to establish - has done all the mischief. The fact that hitherto everything has been centralized in Melbourne has been the chief lever in moving forward this change of policy, before a policy which was supported by so many honorable members has had a trial. In Australia, we are not unfamiliar with boards of management. The Victorian Railways Commissioners’ Board gives one a good idea of what the proposed Board would be like. That Board manages the railways of the State under an Act, and subject, in some respects, to the Minister. I do not suppose the proposed Board would work very differently from the Victorian Railways Commissioners’ Board, or similar boards, in the other States. I am of opinion, however, that in the desire to make this change imposing, it has been made much bigger and more showy than is necessary. I do not see why there should be a Council of Defence and a Board of Control as well. The Council of Defence would meet only on great occasions, though I do not know what its use would be. There are to be two Cabinet Ministers on it, but surely the Cabinet, with the advice of the professional and other officers in the Public Service, would be at least as useful in times of emergency as the proposed Council of Defence. In any case, the members of the Council could do nothing without the authority of the Cabinet, and they would have no power of initiative. I hope that when the Bill is introduced honorable members will vote against the clauses which provide for the establishment of a Council of Defence The Board of Managementis to take the place of the General Officer Commanding, under existing arrangements, and its members are to be paid in the aggregate what he receives, so as not to increase expense. I think that we shall find it difficult to obtain men of large knowledge and experience to control the different branches of the service. The proposed Board of Management will be a sort of Cabinet, each member of the Board having his own Department to control. It is very rarely that Ministers interfere with the departmental administration of their colleagues. With the exception of an occasional conference with the Prime Minister, other Ministers do not consult their colleagues very largely about matters of internal administration. So in the case of the proposed Board, each member will have to a large extent complete control over his own Department.

Mr Carpenter:

– The Minister will still be responsible.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The Minister can command the advice of any officer. I do not intend to oppose the scheme propounded by the Minister, but I shall endeavour to substitute one Council for .the two suggested. I do not think that we should attempt to introduce a change in our methods of administration until we have given the present system a fair trial. I object to pandering to outside writers in the press. Any one would think that the writers in the newspapers knew more about defence matters than the Minister and all the officers of the Forces put together. They assume that they were born experts in defence matters, and it appears to me that the Minister, with all his stoutness of heart, has not been strong enough to resist outside influence. Instead of yielding to the demands of irresponsible persons outside, the Minister should have said, “We have an Act already, and intend to give it a fair trial under a new regime. The General Officer Commanding, who has naturally kept a tighter grip over the administration than his successor is likely to do, will be away, and we intend to give the Act a fair trial under new control.” A disposition is being shown to tinker with our present system, and to obtain something that we do not possess at present. We have as good a.i opportunity under the present Act of ‘ soundly establishing our defence system under the control of a moderate General Officer, who will not want to centralize everything in Melbourne, as would be afforded under the proposed new Bill.

Mr Mauger:

– Would the right honorable gentleman be in favour of securing the services of a General Officer Commanding from England ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– No, because I think we already have an excellent man here. Meddlers outside are not content to leave well alone, but must be for ever making changes that are not always in the right direction. . It is proposed that the InspectorGeneral, who is to have all the talents, and be the most experienced and able officer available, shall have no executive functions. He is not even to be a member of the proposed Board, but is to be told what he is to do by officers subordinate in rank, knowledge, and (experience. He is to become a wanderer over the face of Australia, and is to have no rest. .That would be a fine position in which to place the most experienced officer we have. He would certainly have a nomadic life; he would be subordinate to officers having, nothing like bis experience, . and would have no direct executive authority. He would be subordinate to his own juniors.

Mr McCay:

– Nothing of the kind. He would be no more subordinate than is the Auditor-General.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The InspectorGeneral will be expected to travel to Thursday Island on the one side, and King George’s Sound on the other, to inspect the forts and troops, and to report upon what he sees and hears. He will not be able to give any instructions with a view to effecting improvements, because he will not have any executive authority. I have it on. the highest authority - higher than any in the Commonwealth - that that will not be a reasonable position in which to place a man with the attainments of the Inspector-General. He ought not only to have executive authority, but also to be a member of the Board of Advice, and I shall certainly object to any other proposal. Only when war is declared is the Inspector- Genera] to become the General Officer Commanding, or to assume the position he ought to occupy throughout the piece, namely, one of superiority over every other officer in the Commonwealth. The Government proposal is a showy one. There is no real need : for a Council of

Defence which would include two Cabinet Ministers. Any one would suppose that we had a very large army to control. It is proposed to have six Commandants, an Inspector-General, and two Councils of Defence to manage 22,000 men, nearly all of whom are citizens. The Government are attempting to follow out ‘ the plan which has been adopted - I do not know upon whose advice - in England, and which has not yet had a trial. The Council of Defence woul~d merely be a show body. The Cabinet should constitute the Council of ‘Defence in times of difficulty. Ministers could then have the advantage of the advice of all their most experienced officers to guide them. One board would be sufficient for all our forces, and if such a board is to be appointed, I suggest that it should consist of the Minister of Defence, the InpectorGeneral, the Adjutant-General, the Comptroller of Ordnance, the Comptroller of Finance, and the Secretary. If such a body would not suffice, I am sure that no better work could be done by the two Councils proposed.

Mr Deakin:

– Does not the only difference between the right honorable gentleman’s proposal and that of the Minister lie in the fact that he proposes to include ~the Inspector-General in the Council ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– No; I propose to appoint only one board instead of two.

Mr McCay:

– How would the right honorable gentleman under his proposal secure co-ordination between the Navy and the Army ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I do not wish to say anything about that matter, but unless the Minister intends to embark upon some larger expenditure in connexion with our Navy the less that is said about it at the present time the better. In my opinion our Navy should consist of vessels for the defence of our harbors - torpedo-boat destroyers - naval militia, and cadets. Under this scheme I fail to see that the Government intend to carry out in the States the same plan in regard to the control of the Forces as is to be adopted in the Commonwealth. My idea is that the same system should be carried out in the States as is carried out in the Commonwealth. The other evening I attended a great banquet in this city, and I was rather amused by an observation which was made by the Prime Minister. In speaking of the Gene- ral Officer Commanding the Military Forces, he said he admitted that Major-

General Hutton knew more about military matters than he did himself, and that consequently he allowed him to act as he thought fit. As a result, they had always been the best of friends. Personally, I have never known a case in which a subordinate quarrelled with his chief if he gave, him his own way. It is only when one comes to disagree with another that a difficulty arises.

Mr Reid:

– The great point is to persuade him that his way is your way.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– If the right honorable gentleman had assigned that as his reason the other evening, I should have said “ Hear, hear,” because I believe that is just what he meant. There is no doubt that if we wish to work amicably with any person the best means of accomplishing our object is to induce him to believe that he is giving effect to his own wishes. That, however, is not always easy, especially in the case of military men, who are naturally of an autocratic disposition. We must recollect that discipline is not to be maintained among a large body of men by forgiving every one his offences. Consequently, military and naval officers are of necessity very much harsher than they otherwise would be. I am strongly in favour of the civil control of the finances of the Defence Department being entirely separated from the military control. I understand that the plan proposed by the Minister will not in any way lessen financial control by the Ministerial . Department, and consequently by this House. In conclusion, I wish to say that I have not indulged in criticism merely from a desire to find fault. Probably I am biased in favour of the plan which was embodied in the Defence Bill which I submitted to this House, and for which I am wholly responsible. Certainly I am of opinion that that plan ought to have been given a fair trial before a new method was adopted, and it would have been time enough to effect a change when it was found to be defective. What is proposed under this scheme? Simply to do away with the General Officer Commanding, and to substitute four or five individuals, each of whom will be the head of a particular Department. These gentlemen will not interfere unnecessarily or unduly with’ one another. Their inclination will be to leave each to manage his own Department - as is the case with most boards. I do not anticipate any very great success from this new departure. I trust that the Minister will reconsider the matter, and will discard the idea of establishing a showy and useless Council. The Cabinet is the proper Council to deal with all matters of great concern. If the Minister will do as I suggest, and will provide that the Inspector- General shall be a member of the Board, he will command my support. More than one Inspector should be appointed. It is not necessary for the Inspector-General to visit every little outlying station. To call upon him to travel to the uttermost ends of Australia,and to allow him merely to submit a report upon his return, will be to place him in a wrong, undignified, and improper position. In Committee I shall endeavour to secure that the InspectorGeneral shall be a member of the Board, and shall advise that the proposed Council of Defence shall be abolished. I shall further make an effort to bring about some arrangement by which the same principle of control “upon a smaller scale,” will be adopted in the States as is adopted in the Commonwealth. If I am successful, although I am opposed to giving effect to this new scheme before the plan which I recommended has been tried, I hope to give the Government some assistance and support.

Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).It is with considerable diffidence that I address myself to this question, especially following an ex-Minister of Defence, who has approached his work with so much good sense and so much earnestness; but I feel that there is no part of the Estimates which needs such careful scrutiny as does that relating to the Department of Defence. It is the duty of honorable members to strictly watch any new development that may be presented. I regret that up to the present, after nearly four years of Federation, we have no defence policy ; we have no fixed idea as to the system on which we should work, or as to the obiect at which we are aiming. We are building, at present, without any foundation. We have not made up our mind as to what is the best system of defence for Australia, and certainly the creation of a Council of Defence is not a policy. There is a kind of uncertainty in the minds of honorable members and of the public as to what is the best system for the defence of Australia ; and they seek to get over the difficulty by saying, “ Let us create a Council of Defence.” I am willing to believe that the Council of Defence will be a useful body - that it will work better than the system which we have had hitherto ; but it is not in itself a policy or a system. We might as well say, when we wish to know in what direction a ship will go, “ We will alter her figurehead.”

Mr McCay:

– Who said that it was a policy ?

Mr HIGGINS:

– I cannot help recalling to mind that before the Minister outlined the proposals of the Government, statements appeared in the press which I presumed, perhaps wrongly, came from the Minister

Mr McCay:

– It is absolutely incorrect to assume anything of the kind. I did not say anything to any pressman.

Mr HIGGINS:

– It is the old storywe have been misled by the press. It was said, however, that the Minister was going to outline a new defence policy.

Mr McCay:

– When I spoke the other day, I expressly disclaimed trying to do anything of the kind.

Mr HIGGINS:

-I was npt present when the honorable and learned gentleman spoke. But I am not blaming him. He is altogether too sensitive. I repeat that we require a policy of defence. We want to know at what we are aiming, but as yet we do npt. Of course it is the line of least resistance to adopt a proposal which has been approved by two successive Ministers.

Sir John Forrest:

– Not two.

Mr HIGGINS:

– At least one; and I may say that the Minister of Defence in the Deakin Government approved of this proposal.

Sir John Forrest:

– He was working out a Board of Advice.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I am speaking now by the card. I think that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, as Minister of Defence, approved of this proposal, and I am quite willing to assume that these honorable members are better judges of the matter than I am. But I hope that we shall not lay the flattering unction to our souls that because we have created a Council of Defence in place of a Board of Advice we have solved the defence problem of the Commonwealth.

Mr Reid:

– It is only an experiment, and cannot be called anything else.

Mr HIGGINS:

– It will change to a certain extent the administration of the Department in time of peace. At the same time, there is no doubt whatever that if the Council be constituted as the Minister of Defence promises - although the Bill itself does not provide that it will - the Minister will “ boss “ the siltation. I hope I shall be allowed to use slang, for the moment, for the word “ boss “ is a very forcible one. My experience is that when a Minister is a member of a board the remaining members are subservient, must become subservient, to him. He is the man who finds the means ; he influences his colleagues ; he is the man who can act and do. The result of the experiment of having a- Minister as President of the Board of Land and Works in Victoria was, that he was like the wolf, and the other members of the Board were like lambs. He devoured them all. Theboardroom simply became a place where the Minister did what he liked, and put the responsibility on somebody else. The honorable and learned member for Corio has referred me to the memorandum circulated by the Minister which states that the “ final administrative authority will remain in the Minister; as at present.” I have assumed that as of course. It is our duty, and more especially the duty of the Ministry, to try to frame some policy in consistency with which we can act. We have first to ascertain what it is we wish to do. That, I suppose, will be. to make efficient provision for the defence of Australia. The next point is to ascertain how best to do it, and then to see how much it will cost, and whether we can meet the expense. We do not appear to be going in that direction. . Up to the present, we have been simply taking over different States systems, and trying to make them in some degree uniform, before we know what our purpose or system really is. I think that we are dealing with matters in the wrong order. We should first ascertain what we are aiming at, and then, endeavour to secure uniformity. The Constitution itself affords us some guide- in dealing with this matter. Section 119 very clearly lavs down our dutv. It provides that-

The Commonwealth shall protect every State against invasion and, on the application .of the Executive Government of the State, against domestic violence.

That is a limited, concrete, and distinct statement. Then, under sub-section vi., of section 51, we may make laws with regard to-

The naval and military defence of the Commonweatlh and of the several States, and the control of the forces to execute and maintain the laws of the Commonwealth.

These two provisions in the Constitution substantially refer to the same matter. We must defend Australia^ and compel the peace to be kept, and we compel it to be kept if we protect a State against domestic violence. We are limited, not only by the Constitution, but by the conditions of our national life. We have a coastline of 8,000 miles, and a small population living principally around .the coast ; and we find in an able minute submitted to the first Federal Ministry by the General Officer Commanding, who is now retiring, a statement of what it is necessary to do. Although he is a military man, and one who might be supposed to be- subject to some military prejudices, he put the case in the fairest and frankest way, showing, I think, that we are going absolutely in the wrong direction. In this minute, which is dated 7th April, 1902, he wrote -

It is, on the one hand, certain that the geographical position of Australia renders it less liable to aggression from any foreign power than most parts of the Empire ; but it is equally certain, on the other hand, that Australian interests outside Australia itself are peculiarly open to foreign interference and to possible destruction by an enemy in time of war. No expedition, whether despatched from an enemy’s base in the Eastern Seas or from Europe, could hope to reach its destination until the British Navy had been definitely worsted.

So far, it is perfectly clear that this officer, although a military man, and a linesman, too, believes that our main line of- defence is the British Navy. Having once got that, it may be thought that it is our duty to make provision against cruisers or war vessels coming into our harbors. What does he say about that? He first discusses the possibility of a large and well-equipped force, conveyed in numerous transports, and escorted by a powerful fleet, coming to Australia; and he says, first, that it is utterly impossible, having regard to the distance’ of Australia from ordinary naval bases.

Mr Ewing:

– And the presence of the British Fleet.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Even without the British Fleet, as things are, he says that it would be impossible to transport troops over that huge distance. Great Britain, with the largest, most powerful navy, and the largest mercantile fleet in the world, did a prodigious thing in the transport of troops into South Africa during the Boer War. I am told by experts that, looked at from a common-sense point of view, even apart from the British Fleet, the idea that

I there is any possibility of a large force coming to Australia in transports is out of the question. Major-General Hutton, therefore, says this> -

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

That is what we ought to provide against. Yet, here we are, creating Australian Light Horse regiments, and increasing their numbers. ‘ As we have a limited amount of money to spend, we should spend it in such directions as are calculated to protect our coasts from invasion and our cities from bombardment. Although a military man, Major-General Hutton places our naval defence first. But the unfortunate thing is that Major-General Hutton was allowed to frame his system, and to work out his arrangements under a false ideal. He was not corrected by the Ministry- who ought to have corrected him. He had the idea that it is permissible under the Constitution, and proper from the point of view of the Empire, for us to undertake the prodigious task of defending the interests of Australia in any part of the world.

Sir John Forrest:

– The Defence Act does not provide for that.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I am speaking of Major-General Hutton’s idea.

Sir John Forrest:

– He urged it as hard as he could, of course.

Mr HIGGINS:

– He has been allowed to work upon a system which was not devised for the defence of Australia, but for other purposes.

For the defence of Australasian interests, wherever they may be threatened, it will be obvious that the first essential is the sea supremacy, which is guaranteed by the Royal Navy, and that the second is the possession of a Field Force capable of undertaking military operations in whatever part of the world it may be desired by Australia to employ them. The Field Force above indicated could, if necessity arose, be made available for this purpose.

I do think that that is a fundamental mistake. The first thing that we have to do is to ascertain how, with the limited amount of money which we can afford to spend, we can best defend our coasts from a sudden raid. It is quite true that the best defence is very often offence. No one denies that. No one denies that Great Britain has, throughout her history, done more to protect her shores by offensive operations in other parts of the world than by staying at home. But that is not our metier; that is not our function. We cannot do it. It is utterly absurd for us to think of looking after our own interests or British interests in other parts of the world. We have not the money. We have not the men. We can only hope’ that in some future time, when things are riper, we may be able to devise some system under which the different parts of the Empire may work together” in common consultation for the common good. But as things are, it is laughable, it is ludicrous, for us, with so small a population, and with 8, 000. miles of coast-line, to talk of defending our interests over in Kamtschatka or in Greenland.

Mr Kelly:

– Cannot a country with a total trade of ^105,000,000 help Great Britain ?

Mr HIGGINS:

– That is a different thing. In course of time, we may be able, in consultation with Great Britain, and by a common system of taxation, to do something in that direction. That is not our course at present. Those who call the tune must pay the piper, and those who make wars will have to pay for those wars. We have no voice in the making of wars, and, therefore we cannot be asked to take any part compulsorily in them.

Sir John Forrest:

– The enemies of Great Britain would bombard our cities, though.

Mr HIGGINS:

– That is just what I am coming to. I want to prevent an enemy from bombarding us. We have a good country to defend, and we want to defend it. But when our shores are in danger - when that splendid breakwater at Fremantle and the harbor of that city are being attacked - we want to have power to look after our interests.

Sir John Forrest:

– When the old country is attacked we want to help her.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Certainly, but we cannot do everything ; and we shall render best service “to the Empire by looking after our own coastline, and by saving the British Fleet from the necessity of having to detail vessels for the defence of Australian shores. If we have to spend money for defence purposes - and goodness knows it is lamentable enough to have to do it - it would be much better, as we know the conditions and wants of Australia, and are acquainted with the local circumstances, to spend, all the money we can afford for the purpose of directly defending Australian shores, and saving the Imperial Government from being worried over our needs and dangers.

Mr Ewing:

– Would the honorable and learned member put all our money into coastal defence”?

Mr HIGGINS:

– I have not said “all,” but at the same time I say that it is of no use to have the recommendations of experts like our late General Officer Commanding and to ignore them. I do not profess to know much about these things; I am only trying to learn- but surely it is immodest for men who are not experts in these matters to ignore the recommendations of those who are experts. If a General Officer Commanding says, “I am a linesman,” or “I am a rifle brigade officer,” but for all that tells us that we have no danger to fear from attack, except in one direction, that we have danger to fear from occasional raids ; if he assures us that our first line of defence is the fleet, and his report recommends the defence of our harbors by means of new appliances, it is foolish for us to ignore what he says. As I understand the problem, within the last few years the new torpedo-boat destroyers have become of immense importance, and I believe that during the last few months the engagements at Port Arthur have shown that too much value cannot be placed upon submarine boats, as well as upon torpedo-boat destroyers.

Mr Kelly:

– -Have they had submarines at Port Arthur?

Mr HIGGINS:

– I understood so, though I may be wrong. I was one of those who voted against the Naval Subsidy of £200,000. I thought it was throwing away money which we could have spent much better with our knowledge of local conditions and requirements. At the present time the flag-ship, I understand, is away at Singapore. If that can happen in time of peace, what will happen in time of war, when, under the agreement, the ships can be withdrawn to any part of the world that the British authorities may require?

Sir John Forrest:

– She could get to Fremantle as quickly from Singapore as from Sydney.

Mr HIGGINS:

– That is right, but Fremantle is not the only port of Australia to be defended.

Sir John Forrest:

– The honorable and learned member was speaking of Fremantle harbor.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Sydney, which has one of the grandest harbors in the world, is to be left in the lurch.

Sir John Forrest:

– It is fortified.

Mr HIGGINS:

– If I am rightly informed, the other ships are utterly unfit to face a battle-ship. The only vessel which could really stand up to a battleship is the flag-ship.

Sir John Forrest:

– Ships would come down from Japan.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I am speaking of the terms of the’ Naval Agreement.

Mr Ewing:

– What good would it be to keep the flag-ship on the Australian station if there was no fighting to be done here, and there was fighting to be done elsewhere ?

Mr HIGGINS:

– The point is that we have no harbor defences worthy of the name.

Mr Ewing:

– That is another subject.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I think there was a good deal of truth in what I heard one honorable member say, and that is that men prefer the land forces, because they are more seen”, and their uniforms are more conspicuous. I know that those who have been investigating the condition of the British Army and Navy have been trying in the Army to copy the Navy, as far as they can. The officers in the British Army are being ruined by social functions. The men in the Navy have to go out on a three years’ or two years’ commission, and, therefore, are away from social functions. The Navy has -what is practically a Board of Control, and the same system is being introduced in the British Army, by the creation of a Council of War. The right honorable member for Swan has referred to the reckless reduction of the estimates for Defence. There is one interesting fact which I can tell without committing a breach of confidence. The right honorable gentleman had my personal sympathy when it was proposed, recklessly, as I thought, to reduce the Estimates. If we were to have a defence system, I wished it to be efficient, and I could not see how a Member of Parliament, without full facts and figures, and details mastered, could say, “ Oh, strike off £100,000, or £70,000.” I felt that it was a wrong way of doing things. But the General Officer Commanding informed me, after it was done, that the reductions had helped him in his re-organization of the Defence Forces very much.

Sir John Forrest:

– How did he make that out?

Mr HIGGINS:

– I cannot go into any details.

Sir John Forrest:

– He never told me that; he said it would ruin the Defence Forces.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I am not in a position to say how it was done. He was a man of phenomenal industry and loyalty to duty, and I have no doubt that when he was faced with the lower Estimates than he had been hoping for, he determined to make the best of the situation, as I think it must be admitted he did, from his own point of view. At the same time, it was a source of great gratification to me that he was able to effect economies in Ce Itain directions.

Sir John Forrest:

– It had to be done.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Yes, and it is oftentimes a convenient thing to be compelled to make economies.

Mr Kelly:

– But these economies were made at the expense of Sydney and Melbourne.

Mr HIGGINS:

– -There were other economies that were effected by the General Officer Commanding, but I do not intend to go into any details at present. I think that owing to the false ideal put before him, he gave too much attention to the Australian Light Horse. I do not think that they are a correct arm of defence for us. They” might be very useful if they were used in other countries for other purposes. With our extensive coast-line, vast territory, and limited population, I think it is our duty to confine our attention to Australia, and that is, I believe, the constitutional view, too. That would not in the least hamper or cramp the men who wished to volunteer for other service at other times. Although the Minister has stated in a memorandum what he intends shall be the constitution of the Council of Defence, still the Bill gives him an absolutely free hand- All it says, as I understand it, is that the Governor-General may constitute a Council of Defence, which shall have such powers and functions as are prescribed. It does not say who are to be the members of the Council, or what are to be its powers and functions.

Mr McCay:

– Exactly the same as the Defence Act leaves everything to be prescribed, except in regard to the General’ Officer Commanding.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I am not blaming the Minister.

Mr McCay:

– If we tied ourselves down to details, we, or some other Ministry, might find it desirable to modify them. As this scheme is tentative we do not wish to bind any Administration to details more than isnecessary.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I hope it will be borne in mind that in voting for or against this particular clause we are giving the Ministry of the day carte blanche to create a Council of a different sort from what is now contemplated ; that he is not really pledged to it at all, and what is more, that he may prescribe its powers and functions in such a way as to make it useless.

Mr Ewing:

– We have 1.0 leave the power somewhere.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I should give the Minister a free hand with regard to the selection of members, but I should like the Parliament to prescribe the powers and functions, because the clause gives the Council a tremendous area, from the point of view of the Minister.

Sir John Forrest:

– Perhaps the honorable and learned member would like to refresh his memory as to what he said last year.

Mr HIGGINS:

– The right honorable gentleman has been so good as to remind me of that speech. I have since looked at the scheme, and 1 find that the proposal of last year is very different from the proposal of this year. If the right honorable gentleman will look at the record of what was sent down from the Senate he will see that it was proposed to have a Council with, very different powers.

Sir John Forrest:

– The honorable and learned gentleman spoke of the Board of Advice that I proposed.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I admit that of the two proposals I preferred the Board of Advice ; and when the right honorable gentleman is rin charge of a Bill I always assume that he is right. But now, when I find another Minister, who is a warrior, in charge of the Bill, and he follows two other Ministers of Defence, who have approved of this proposal, it would be impudence on my part to say that this is not a satisfactory scheme. The point I desire to make is that it is the duty of any Ministry bringing down Defence Estimates, to state the policy of action towards which they will work. Of course, the members of the present Ministry have not had a very long time to deal with the question, but I did hope that, as they had shelved so many contentious matters, they would have had time to devise some scheme, and would be able to give the Committee some enlightenment upon this matter, which is not a party matter, but one which can be taken up by one Government as well as by another.

Mr SPENCE:
Darling

– No apology need be made for an ample discussion of the question of defence, particularly as the discussion we have had may lead to time being saved when we come to deal with the Bill which the Minister of Defence proposes to introduce, to give effect to the new machinery suggested for guiding the affairs of the Defence Department. So far, we have heard very little as to the way in which the new scheme will work, and we have had no declaration as to any proposed policy. The reason for this appears to be that under the scheme the policy is to be laid down by the Council of Defence. I do not complain of the Council of Defence declaring a policy, but we should be very clear as to the power which is to be given to the Council. Is it proposed that the Council shall decide the policy to be adopted, or is the policy when proposed to be approved by Parliament? The Defence “Department is very costly as well as important, but if it is effectively administered the more money we spend on the Defence Force the more effective it should become. We should never forget, however, that this is a spending Department, without any check on its expenditure, but that imposed by the will of Parliament itself. Parliament must continue to retain control of the Defence Estimates, and the policy laid down must be in keeping with the limit of expenditure imposed, and perhaps, also with general lines laid down by Parliament. The proposal which has been put forward seems to me to contain a number of good points. I had not the pleasure of hearing the address of the Minister of Defence, but I have very carefully read it. and I must congratulate the honorable and learned gentleman on the evidence it gives of a degree of unanimity amongst recent Ministers in charge of the Department. Of course, we are always getting some surprise from the right honorable member for Swan. I had thought that the right honorable gentleman would have approved of this scheme.

Sir John Forrest:

– The Government, of which I was a member, never proposed this.

Mr SPENCE:

– I have some recollection of the right honorable gentleman favouring a big reduction of ‘the Defence Estimates originally submitted in the last Parliament. The right honorable gentleman has told the Committee to-night that the Labour Party only favoured the expenditure of money after they had had experience of office. That is not correct, because the members of the Labour Party, before they secured office, advocated a sufficient expenditure. I remember an occasion on which the honorable member for Bland made it clear that the members of this party are prepared to vote the necessary money to secure efficiency. The attitude which the Labour Party took up in the beginning was supported by the Government, of which the right honorable member for Swan was a member. I remember that the then Treasurer agreed to a big reduction of the Estimates, but the Committee and the Labour Party wished to go further.

Sir John Forrest:

– Honorable members would not take our word.

Mr SPENCE:

– The Government, of which the right honorable member for Swan was a member, favoured a very considerable reduction on the original vote proposed. I claim that the Committee, by carrying a reduction in the original Defence Estimates submitted to this Parliament, did one of the best things that could have been done in the interests of the Defence Department, because it gave the General Officer Commanding a good start in the re-organization of the Department. Officers, who had previously been in charge of the Defence Forces in the various States were responsible for the existence of a state of great inefficiency throughout the Commonwealth. I do not think that anything could have been more discreditable to the military officers concerned, in so far as responsibility for the state of affairs could rest upon them, than the first report of the General Officer Commanding, in which he showed the state of unpreparedness which existed everywhere, though immense sums of money had been spent on defence. I think that the start given by the reduction of the Defence Estimates, to which I have referred had a very good effect, indeed. The party with which I am connected is unfairly blamed for being opposed to the spending of money on defence. We are opposed, as are all democratic people, to the institution of a. military caste system. This Parliament is evidently’ unanimous that we should not have a standing army of paid soldiers, but that, on the contrary, every citizen of the Commonwealth should be trained to defend his country. That is the view of the members of the Labour Party, and we have made it evident when the Defence Estimates have been- under consideration, that while we are prepared to treat the Department liberally, in order that the Defence Force may be kept in a state of efficiency, we are not prepared to waste money on mere show, and on the building up of any military caste. I do not claim to be a military expert, but the scheme proposed appears to me to be a good one, and I am in favour of it. It involves’ a good deal of detail, which has not yet been dealt with, and, perhaps, it would not be wise to go into that, but it does seem to me that the suggestions of the leader of the Opposition, in regard to what has been termed the building up of an Australian Navy, have not been given the consideration they deserve. It is admitted that if Australia were attacked, it would be by some power with which the Empire was at war, and the Empire’s Navywould as far as possible ward off trouble from us. .The Navy constitutes our first line of defence, and it is, of course, possible that no enemy would reach Australia. If we were certain of that, we should not need to spend money in maintaining land forces. But as we cannot be certain of it, we must be in a state of preparedness, more or less, having men trained to arm’s to defend our shores if necessary. The fact that we are thus prepared may have something to do, too, with keeping hostile forces away. But why should we not also provide for a coastal defence, in the way of batteries and mines ? lt appears to me that there is more in the suggestion that we should possess torpedo destroyers of our own than some honorable members seem to think. The British Navy will do what it can to keep our foes at a distance, but it could not protect our whole coastline, and it will be necessary for us to guard against the attacks of privateers or raiding cruisers which might evade the British Fleet and loot our towns. To do that we should require boats of the kind I speak of. The honorable member for Franklin has objected that such vessels would be out of date in a few years, but that objection applies to all warlike expenditure. If in Great Britain it were held to have force, the British Government would cease to build vessels of war. But while it is true that warships very soon become obsolete, we find that the great Empire of Russia is sending out to the East vessels so slow as to be capable of steaming only eight or nine knots an hour, in the endeavour to make use of them, although they are evidently out of date. We ought also to pay attention to the submarine engineers, so that we may have men who can lay mines efficiently and quickly. I was surprised to hear it said to-day that it would take a fortnight to mine Port Phillip, since I understand that less than a day would be sufficient for the mining of Sydney Harbor, and, in the event of an outbreak of hostilities, the enemy’s vessels would not give us much time for preparation. It should not be necessary to go to great expense in this direction, but ‘.we should make adequate ‘preparations. I would vote for the expenditure of money upon useful vessels for our coastal defence, to co-operate if necessary with the British Fleet. We ought also to have ammunition factories, though no reference was made to that subject by the Minister. We should be in a very helpless state if war broke out and we could not manufacture ammunition.^ It might be possible to provide a sufficient stock of arms for such an emergency, and I am glad that the Minister is ordering rifles and field guns of the latest pattern; but we might as well be without men and weapons as be without ammunition. This subject seems to have been overlooked. Major-General “Hutton, who is just retiring after some years of what I believe to be very good work, recommended in his first annual report the establishment of a small arms and ammunition factory, and we should insist upon that recommendation being carried out as soon as possible, because we shall never have any degree of safety until we can supply ourselves with ammunition. We should . also be able to make our own torpedoes and mines, and have a stock in hand large enough to be able to Hold our own should we’ be compelled to act on the defensive. We have no assurance, however, that we have sufficient supplies. With regard to the cadets, I think there should be verv full cooperation between the Defence Department arid the Educational Departments of the States, and some definite arrangement should be come to, so that the two authorities may work together in the training of our children. It has been suggested to me by school teachers and others who have to do with the drilling of cadets that boys who have attained the educational standard, and have left school, should be allowed to remain memBers of their cadet corps. ‘ In the last Parliament I supported the proposal of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney for the establishment of compulsory drill, and I am glad that there is an increasing number of persons who favour that idea. The honorable member for Parramatta to-night sneered at the proposal to adopt the Swiss system, as though it had been suggested that that system should be adopted in its entirety. Every person might be required to go through a certain amount of drilling without making the duty irksome to him by taking up too much of his time. At any rate, we should give all possible facilities to those who wish to obtain military instruction.

Mr Johnson:

– Does the honorable member believe in compulsory military training ?

Mr SPENCE:

– To a certain extent. In the United States they provide for a certain amount of it, and we might copy their methods in regard to the giving of free instruction. We need not establish too costly a system, but we should encourage our citizens to learn how to defend themselves. The leader of the Opposition advocated the adoption of the Swiss principle, but not of the. Swiss system in its entirety. It is not suggested that we should slavishly follow the example of Switzerland. It is recognised that our conditions do, not com- pare with those of Switzerland, which, being situated in the midst of the great nations of Europe, finds it necessary to maintain itself in a state of readiness for war. We need not do that in Australia. Our citizens are willing to take their share of responsibility, and only need to receive fair encouragement to furnish us with the material for a most effective Defence Force. The honorable member for Kooyong has referred to the fact that the rifle-club movement has not progressed in New South Wales to the same extent as in Victoria. The explanation lies in the fact that prior to Federation, great encouragement was given by the Victorian Defence Department to the rifle-club movement, whilst in New South Wales quite the reverse was the case. It was extremely difficult to induce the Defence Department in that State to take any action in the desired direction. Now, however, the rifle-club movement is growing rapidly. In my own electorate, very satisfactory progress is being made. Within the last fortnight I have received three applications from localities in which rifle clubs are being formed, and I feel sure that if reasonable encouragement be offered by the Defence Department, we shall soon have a very valuable adjunct to our Defence

Forces. A fine class of men in the country are eager to practice rifle shooting, and we should assist them in every way we possibly can to so occupy themselves. I should like to say a word or two in regard to promotions. It seems a great pity that the men most qualified should not have opportunities afforded them to come to the front. The same chances that are afforded to the well-to-do, should be given to poor men to become officers. Under our militia and volunteer systems, the cost of an officer’s outfit, together with the expenses attendant . upon the holding of a commission, has precluded many deserving men from obtaining commands. This has given rise to a great deal of jealousy and dissatisfaction. It should be our aim to afford every opportunity to the most enthusiastic and competent men to obtain commissions. Under such conditions, every soldier in our Forces might then carry in his knapsack what would be equivalent to a Marshal’s baton. In order to bring this about, we must reduce the expenses which have to be defrayed by those who ‘become officers. I am glad that we have from the outset insisted upon less tinsel, and greater efficiency. There is not much danger of our becoming imbued with the “ jingo “ spirit whilst we keep steadily in view the fact that our object should be, not so much to make soldiers of our citizens, as to fit them to take part in the defence of the Commonwealth if occasion should arise. As _ a people, we desire to maintain’ peace. The party to which I belong recognises that industrial development is the greatest during periods of peace, but at the same time, we recognise that under present conditions we must spend- a considerable sum of money every year in maintaining a Defence Force. Further, we realize that our relationship to the Empire imposes upon us obligations which’ would probably not attach to us if we were a people isolated on this island Continent. Whilst we may rely upon the British Navy to do everything possible to keep a foe from our snores, and to render it unnecessary for us to call upon our land forces to repel an invader, we must not lose sight of the fact that our citizen soldiers, if properly trained, might prove of the greatest value as auxiliaries to the Imperial Defence Forces in the event of the mother country getting into death-grips with a powerful enemy. Doubtless, in such a case, many of our citizens would volunteer for foreign service. Therefore, we should afford the fullest opportunity to our citizens, without distinction of class, to obtain the training necessary to fit them to play an efficient part in a time of emergency. We need not make the conditions under which training is imparted too irksome. We ought to aim at improving the social s condition of the people to such an extent that no great tax would be imposed upon our young men if they were called upon to go into camp for a fortnight or three weeks at a time. Some stress has been laid upon the sacrifice entailed when our citizen soldiers are required to undergo con tinuous training in camp. When I was a young man, and went through a course of training as a volunteer, I did not regard it as any great hardship when I was called upon to give up a week or two of my time for the purpose of training in camp. Our standard of living in the Commonwealth should be raised to such an extent that our citizens would be able, without serious loss, to fully discharge their duties as citizens in the matter of training for defence purposes. There is no necessity to contemplate the introduction of a system of compulsory service, such as has been adopted upon the Continent, but at the same time, we should require all our young men to go through a course of drill. Under such a system our young men would not only be taught to shoot straight, but the physical advantages of drill, and the moral effects of discipline would ^ confer benefits upon the community a’s a whole. The party to which I belong, whilst desiring to maintain peace, recognise that we ought to make every reasonable preparation for defence, and we are prepared to take our share of responsibility as citizens of the great Empire, which we all desire to see maintain her present proud place among the nations. We are prepared to agree to a reasonable expenditure upon our Defence Forces. I entirely approve of the idea of appointing an Inspector-General, and of the Minister keeping himself closely in touch with the details of our defence system. It was owing to lack of oversight by the Ministerial head in the past that some of our Defence Departments became disorganized, and I trust that we shall have no repetition of the conditions which existed in the New South Wales Defence Forces under which a great deal of leakage occurred. All kinds of allowances were made to officers, for which provision was made in the Estimates in such a form as not to disclose to honorable members the real nature of the expenditure. I believe that under the scheme proposed by the Minister complete control will be exercised over the administration, and that more satisfactory results will be achieved.

Mr LIDDELL:
Hunter

– I think that this question has been pretty well threshed out, and consequently I do not propose to detain the Committee at any length by giving expression to my own views. I disagree entirely with the honorable member for Darling when he advocates the adoption of a system of conscription.

Mr Spence:

– Of compulsory drill.

Mr LIDDELL:

– I should be exceedingly sorry to see any such system introduced into the Commonwealth. I claim that it is bad for a country when the flower of its manhood are torn from the bosom of their families to enter into a military camp for the purpose of undergoing a long period of training. There are one or two matters in connexion with defence to which I desire to direct special attention. In my judgment the naval defence of this country is a most important question. At the present time we are entirely dependent upon the’ protection which is afforded us by the Imperial Navy. Personally, I am strongly of opinion that our interests would be protected if we paid no subsidy whatever towards the maintenance of that Navy. But I claim that we are simply starving both our Military and Naval Forces. In this port we know that there is a vessel called the Cerberus. She is a good vessel, notwithstanding the years during which she has been in service, but she is very poorly armed. The large io-inch guns which she carries are entirely obsolete. They require to be served by men instead of being served mechanically, and they are very difficult ‘ to work. I am assured that we have guns in the country with which we could replace these obsolete weapons at a cost of not more than .£3,000 or .£4,000. Why is that work not carried out? Another point to which I wish to direct attention has reference to the Light Horse. In my own district there are a number of young men who would be only too ready to enrol themselves in that corps if they were afforded the opportunity to do so. T claim that our defence vote should be considerably increased, in order to encourage military enthusiasm amongst our young men. I quite agree with the previous speaker, that every man in the Forces should have a chance to rise to the highest rank in the service. Personally, I should be very sorry to see the system initiated here which has been adopted in the old country - the system under which the Army becomes a sort of social club in which the fools of families are sent to kick their heels, and to spend as much time as they canupon leave. Before entering our Defence Forces every individual should be required to pass an examination. By that means we should secure only the best men.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Division 42(Board of Advice and Special Committees), £500 ; division 43 (Naval Administration), £1,115, agreed to.

New South Wales Naval Forces : Division 44 (Royal Naval Reserve), £200; division 45 (Permanent Staff and Militia), £5,515, agreed to.

Victorian Naval Forces : Division 46 (Royal Naval Reserve), £200; division 47 (Permanent Force), £18,269 ; division 48 (Naval Militia), £1,665, agreed to.

Queensland Naval Forces: Division 49 (Royal Naval Reserve), £200 ; division 50 (Permanent Force), £8,890 ; division 51 (Naval Militia), £5,607 ; division 52 (Cadets), £100, agreed to.

South Australian Naval Forces : Division 53 (Royal Naval Reserve), £200 ; division 54 (Permanent Force), £4,619 ; division 55 (Naval Militia), £1,245, agreed to.

Division 56: (Head-Quarters Military Staff), £11,527; division 57 (Ordnance Department at Head-Quarters), £2,225; division 58 (General Services), £57, agreed to

Thursday Island : Division 59 (Royal Australian Artillery), £7,858 ; division 60 (Ordnance Department), £128; division 61 (Militia), £2,342 ; division 62 (Rifle Clubs and Associations), £50 ; division 63 (Camps of Training and Schools of Instruction), £260; division 64 (Maintenance of Existing Arms and Equipment), £306 ; division 65 (Ammunition), £400 ; division 66 (General Contingencies), £1,438; division 67 (General Services), £26, agreed to.

King George’s Sound : Division 68 (Royal Australian Artillery), £4,347 ; division 69 (Cotps of Australian Engineers), £200 ; division 70 (Australian Army Medical Corps), £100; division 71 (Maintenance of Existing Arms and Equipment), £174; division 72 (Ammunition), £200; division 73 (General Contingencies), £160; division 74 (Postage and Telegram), £30, agreed to.

New South Wales Military Forces : Division 75 (District Head-Quarters Staff), £3,890; division 76 (Royal Australian Artillery), £33,864; division 77 (Corps of Australian Engineers), £6,432; division 78 (Permanent Army Service Corps), £2,159 ; division 79 (Australian Army Medical Corps), £1,432 ; division 80 (Ordnance Department), £6,156; division 81 (Rifle Range Staff), £708; division 82 (District Accounts and Pay Branch), £1,769; division 83 (Instructional Staff), £16,150; division 84 (Militia), £49,010; division 85 (Volunteers), £7,187 ; division 86 (Cadet Corps), £180 ; division 87 (Rifle Clubs and Associations), £8,040 ; division 88 (Camps of Training and Schools of Instruction), £6,500; division 89 (Maintenance of Existing Arms and Equipment), £2,790; division90 (Ammunition), £10,313; division 91 (Warlike Stores), £5,150; division 92 (General Contingencies), £7;375 ; division 93 (General Services), £1,949 ; division 94 (Postage and Telegrams), £450, agreed to.

Victorian Military Forces: Division 95 (District Head-Quarters Staff), £3,181, agreed to.

Division 96 (Royal Australian Artillery, Victoria), £25,691

Mr CROUCH:
Corio

– There are one or two items in this division which I should like the Minister to explain. I find, in the first place, that it is only thought necessary to provide for eight musicians, at 6d. per day, for the Royal Australian Artillery Band in Victoria. I suppose that even the Minister will admit that that is not a sufficient number to constitute a reasonable band ; and division 76 makes provision for no less than twenty-four musicians for the Royal Australian Artillery in New South Wales - a number that is sufficient to constitute a fairly strong band. I have not the slightest objection to the Royal Australian Artillery in New South Wales securing their full number of musicians, but Ido not see why the Victorian HeadQuarters Staff Band should have to He maintained, as at present by contributions from the men themselves, while certain men have also to take such offices as district gunners, in order that they may be kept in Melbourne at the expense of the other members of the Royal Australian Artillery. Another matter to which I should like to refer, more especially as the Prime Minister is present, is the request which was recently made to him by a deputation which I introduced from the borough of Queenscliff. That was the first deputation that he received as Prime Minister, and, in consequence, he was naturally disposed to be specially gracious. He promised that he would favorably consider the application, and even went further, and said that the deputation had made out a very fair claim, and that he felt inclined to grant their request.

Mr Reid:

– The matter is not yet settled ; I am in correspondence with the council on reports which I obtained, and which gave a new aspect to the question. I do not, however, consider the matter settled by any means. I want to get an answer to the report.

Mr CROUCH:

– Does the Prime Minister state that he is giving favorable consideration to the letter which he received from the Town Clerk of Queenscliff?

Mr Reid:

– I sent on the reports to the council, and am awaiting a reply.

Mr CROUCH:

– I think it is desirable to briefly set out the facts of the claim, in order that the Committee may recognise the justness of it. Owing to the fact that the Queenscliff Forts are situated in one of the best parts of the borough, a large area of rateable property is lost to the municipality. In addition to that, the Government have, from time to time, purchased rateable properties, with the result that there has been not only a decrease in the revenue of the borough, through non-occupation in the first place of rateable property, but a decrease in the rates received from properties which were rateable when held by private owners, but in respect of which, as a result of the decision of the High Court, in the case of Roberts and Ahearn-

Mr Deakin:

– And the Sydney rating case.

Mr CROUCH:

– And the Sydney rating case. rates cannot be levied. The Court held that a municipality cannot levy, rates for services, in the form of the construction and maintenance of streets and drains and lighting to the Defence Force, at Queenscliff. The result is that the burgesses have to pay increased rates, whilst the borough revenue, as a whole, is decreased. That is an unfortunate position for a municipality to occupy ; but the presence of the forts at Queenscliff entails the further disadvantages, that the roads are cut up by the heavy ordnance carried through the streets, in order to serve the military, and that the ratepayers have to pay for the damage done to their thoroughfares by the traffic of the Federal Government. If we had the toll-houses, which existed in the olden days, the difficulty might be adjusted; but that system having been abolished the ratepayers expect the Government to grant them some consideration. All that the borough asks for is a grant of £[100 per annum. As the result, of inquiries, I find that the municipality, of which Watson’s Bay forms a part, as well as those of Fremantle an’d Thursday Island, are the only ones that are likely to make a similar claim, so that the demand on the Federal Treasury in this respect should not be large. I saw a copy of a letter sent by the Prime Minister to the Queenscliff Borough Council, in which he said that he did not feel inclined to make a grant, because the roads near the forts were not well lighted.

Mr Reid:

– The main consideration with me was that I received a report that the streets had not been cut up by heavy ordnance, That was what I thought worthy of special consideration; but my difficulty is that the military authorities deny that the roads are cut up by them, .as described. If they cut up the streets in’ the way alleged, I should have no trouble in giving consideration to the claim ; but the honorable and learnt,. member will see, by the report in question, that the statement is absolutely denied.

Mr CROUCH:

– I have received a copy of the letter sent by the Town Clerk to the Secretary to the Prime Minister, in which he states -

Referring to the statements contained in yours, I beg to state, that it was never asserted at the deputation that roads in Queenscliff were exclusively used by the Defence Department, nor was it claimed that at any particular time heavy ordnance was carried through the streets. It is, however, indisputable that all heavy ammunition, commissariat stores, including hogsheads of ale for the forts of Queenscliff, Swan Island, Franklin, and Nepean, are carted through the streets, necessarily involving much traffic and the use of the borough, and is largely added to when encampments are held .here at various times. In regard to street lighting, I have to advise that the streets in the vicinity of the fort are well lighted.

I can assure th2 Committee that this is a fact. I was at Queenscliff only yesterday, and saw that the roads all round the fort, as well as the pavements, were well maintained. I am surprised that any statement to the contrary should have been made in the report received by the Prime Minister.

I do not mean to say that these roads and pavements are as well kept as those of Collinsstreet, but they are as good as those of any other town, and are maintained as well as any provincial municipality could afford to keep them. There is also a statement in the report, to the effect that a large amount is paid, by way of rates, by the soldiers themselves. To the extent that they are rated, the men who live in outside cottages receive services for which they ought to pay. That is aU.

Mr Reid:

– I believe I shall be in a position to give some information to the honorable and learned member to-morrow.

Mr CROUCH:

– Perhaps’ the Minister of Defence will be able to give me some information as to the bandsmen.

Mr McCAY:
Protectionist

– I confess that I was not aware that there was the difference pointed out in the case of the two bands. I will promise to make inquiries as to why it exists, and let the honorable and learned member know.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Division 97 (Corps of Australian Engineers), ,£6,542

Mr LONSDALE:
New England

– I find that two storekeepers are provided for in connexion with the engineers. If there is one store, it seems to me that only one storekeeper should be necessary, but if .there are- different stores, they might be consolidated, and some of the expense saved.

Mr McCAY:
Protectionist

– There are two separate stores. One is for the Sub-marine Mining Engineers, and the other is for the Field Engineers. They are quite distinct, one body of men doing their work in the open air, and the other down at the Heads where the sub-marine mines are.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Division 98 (Australian Army Medical Corps), £[767 ; division 99 (Ordnance Department), £[6,480; division 100 (Rifle I? ange Staff), ,£772 ; division joi (District Accounts and Pay Branch), £[1,265; division 102 (Instructional Staff), £[9,035, agreed to.

Division 103 (Militia), £[47,071

Mr ROBINSON:
Wannon

– I desire to place before honorable members some information with reference to the discouragement that citizens’ of Victoria, who desire to assist in the defence of the country, have received at the hands of the Defence Department. For many years past the town of Portland, which is the oldest settlement in Victoria, has supplied a portion of the Defence Force of the State. The first establishment of an arm of the force in that town took place in the year 1859, and almost continuously from that time, until a few months ago, Portland participated in the defence of Victoria. For many years a battery of garrison artillery has been established there, which obtained a fair measure of success. Some months since, either at the end of last year or early in this year, the Defence Department gazetted the disbandment of this corps, to the great disgust and annoyance of the people of the district. Upon applying to the Minister of Defence for reasons why .the corps was disbanded, they were informed, on a report from the General Officer Commanding, that the battery was not considered to be in a satisfactory condition, through inefficiency, and was not required for local defence; and that the distance of the battery from the remainder of the artillery created difficulties of administration. With regard to the allegations of inefficiency made against the battery* I should like to say one or two things. First, I wish to point out that when the battery was supplied with proper instruction, it attained a high state of efficiency ; so much so, that the members of the battery time after time took a very prominent position in the various competitions for big-gun firing. But in the dark days of Victoria, from 1893 to 1 901, retrenchment was introduced, and the result was that the instruction which had been given to the battery /was reduced from something useful to practically almost nothing. The officer who gave the instruction had to come from Warrnambool or Port Fairy - generally from Warrnambool - and the train service was so bad that it was practically impossible to get proper opportunities for instruction. This neglect on the part of the Department - due it must be admitted, to want of money in the State of Victoria - contributed very largely to the fact that the battery was not kept up to . the proper state of efficiency. But now the Defence Department alleges that as a reason why the battery has been disbanded. That argument therefore ought not to be maintained for a moment. The argument that Portland is situated at a considerable distance from the remainder of the artillery is not a good one either. Portland is the first port on the Australian coast for vessels coming from the west. It is also a place which has historical associations, and it has done a great deal to maintain a proper spirit in reference to defence in the minds of the residents of the district. The Portland people would be satisfied, if they cannot get a continuance of a battery of garrison artillery, to have a half-battery of the field artillery. Port Fairy and Warrnambool have half -batteries o’f the same corps. I asked for the same privilege for Portland, considering its long services in the defence of the State, but I was not able to obtain a satisfactory reply. Even this second discouragement was not sufficient to entirely quell the military zeal of the inhabitants of the place. I was informed that a considerable number of the residents of Portland had signed a requisition, or a petition, to the Department, asking that the formation of a corps of rangers should be permitted as a last resort. This corps was to be formed of men who had served in the Defence Forces for many years past, and who were desirous of continuing to serve, and of other men who were fired by their example. Yet, strange to say, this more modest request was also refused - it is true, with a courtesy which marks all the communications of the Department, but nevertheless in a very unsatisfactory manner. The reasons given were that the Minister was advised that the Victorian Rangers was a complete’ infantry regiment, that it was up to its full strength, and that it was not recommended that a second regiment of rangers should be formed. It appears, therefore, that the Portland people, having once had a very good battery of garrison artillery, and having had that taken from them, having been refused permission to form a halfbattery of field artillery, have now been denied the right to form a volunteer corps of rangers. We profess to be anxious to stimulate the military instincts of the people of this country by encouraging them to join volunteer corps, but while we believe in that in theory we appear to discourage the people in practice. On the 1 st or 2nd October I addressed’ a further request to the Minister on this matter, but I was informed that it was still under consideration, and I suppose that it will never get beyond that stage. I think I am entitled to ask for more generous treatment for the town of Portland. At very great expense the Department erected there an orderly-room, quarters, and everything which was necessary for the complete establishment of an arm of the Defence Force. But it is all to go for nothing. Every request which the residents have made to be allowed to assist in the defence of the country has been refused. It seems rather an ungracious attitude for the Department to take up. The military spirit is so strong at Portland that the Boys’ Naval Brigade - I believe the only one in Victoria - has been allowed the use of the orderly room free of charge if they will undertake not to break the windows. That, I believe, is the sole concession which the district has been able to get from the Department, and it is only mentioned to show that the desire to do something for the defence of the Commonwealth is strong in that district. I hope that the Minister will give his sympathetic consideration to this matter, for I can assure him that the refusal of the Department is felt very keenly in the district, which, from 1859 up to a few months ago, has formed an arm of the defence of Victoria.

Mr WILSON:
Corangamite

– I rise to ask the Minister if he will favorably consider a proposal for removing the orderly room from Portland, where it is of no further use, to Colac, where there is established a very effective force of light infantry ?

Mr CROUCH:
Corio

– I have some knowledge of Portland affairs, and therefore I am able to support the request of the honorable and learned member for Wannon. Before the present Minister came into power a detachment of permanent men was sent down to remove the guns from the best port on the western side of the State, where the South African steamers can take in any quantity of freight when it is offering. It is most unfortunate that the battery which was erected there to prevent the landing of troops, has been removed. My honorable and learned friend’s suggestion about the ranger corps would not work in with the scheme of defence. It would be quite impossible for the ranger corps to be under separate control. The three western batteries, which used to be recognised as necessary for Victorian defence, have been removed. I have submitted to the Minister, in. the form of questions, a proposal which could work in with the .scheme of defence, and which I think he should seriously consider. I have here the papers showing that promises have been definitely made that a corps of that which is called the Australian Light Horse, but which used to be called the Australian Mounted Infantry, . should be established in Geelong. I am not asking for anything which has not been laid down by the General Officer Commanding in his scheme as necessary. Outside the garrison troops, which consist of volunteer corps for the defence of Melbourne, there is a corps called the Tenth Australian Light Horse, which will stretch from Sale to Geelong. The Geelong and Werribee corps were to be attached to the Gippsland corps. Brigadier-General Gordon got so far that he went down one night to the Geelong orderlyroom to see if the men were actually available, and no less than 150 good, picked men, who were really mounted rifles, and had formed an escort for the Governor-General, turned up. The scheme provides for seventy -two men in Geelong, where 150 good riders are available. BrigadierGeneral Gordon promised that he would communicate in a day or two with me, and I believe that my constituents are blaming me for not getting up this corps. According to the newspaper report, BrigadierGeneral Gordon said it would come off almost immediately -

He will permit the extra men to now volunteer as supernumerary to the establishment, and this will be largely done, as all the 150 men who handed in their names asked for no pay. It is proposed to pay the new men of the squadron £78s. a year, including horse allowance.

Everyman was quite willing to serve without pay, and although I understand that it is within a militia district, and therefore cannot come into a volunteer district which consists of garrison troops only, still I think the Minister should see if he cannot make some promise which will give these men who are almost tired of waiting some hope that their request will be acceded to.

Mr McCAY:
Minister of Defence · Corinella · Protectionist

– It is of course, unfortunate that under any scheme of rearrangement of Forces, a place like Portland, which,compared with the age of Victoria, is of historic interest, should find itself compelled to suffer by the abolition of the Forces there established. I think that the honorable and learned member for Wannon will see - of course it is not a matter for which I am responsible - that what happened was almost inevitable, in view of the fact that funds were limited; that only a certain number of troops were required under the scheme of reorganization ; and that districts must be suitably arranged, so that the troops may be as near as possible to some common centre, in order that proper training and instruction may be givenwithout too great expenditure von commissioned and non commissioned instructors. With regard to the suggestion made from Portland that a volunteer corps be established, it would not be desirable, in the interests of organization or of mobilization, which might be a more important matter, that a fragment of a corps should be established at Portland. We must have infantry troops near to each other, to enable them to operate together, and to mobilize together. Consequently I can quite understand the inability of the Department, since I came into office, to see its way clear to do what I have suggested. As regards the orderlyroom, as to which there is some competition, I understand, between the honorable and learned member for Wannon and the honorable member for Corangamite, I feel that it would not be wise to place any troops at the disposal of either while the present rivalry between them exists. I may say that I sent an officer down specially to inquire into that and other matters, and from the report I find that, as the orderly -room may be required for defence purposes hereafter, although it is not so required at present, it is not proposed to remove it, or to transfer it back to the State authorities, as was at first contemplated.

Mr McWilliams:

– What is the cost of the establishment of a volunteer corps?

Mr McCAY:

– The cost is about £3 per head, but this corps could not be established as a regiment.

Mr Skene:

– There are mounted rifles at Hey wood and Marathon, with which they might be connected.

Mr McCAY:

– Mounted rangers and rifles might find themselves separated before very long, in the performance of military duty. In that connexion, what the honorable and learned member for Corio has said bears upon the same point. The whole of Major-General Hutton’s scheme has not been completed ; that is to say, there are units and portions of units not yet raised, for the simple reason that no funds are available for the purpose. When I became Minister of Defence, two or three months ago, I found the Estimates already in print - although, of course. I take full responsibility for themis they appear now -and where my predecessor had not thought fit, unless in exceptional cases, to complete units, I did not think I should propose to complete them, and thereby increase the charge upon the public unduly, as I had been in office only about three weeks when

I had to have my Estimates ready. Further than that, the General Officer Commanding has on more than one occasion within the last three months, advised me that there are matters of greater urgency for the well-being of the Defence Force than the completion of the scheme ; that while there are portions of units still unraised, and it is desirable that they should be raised as soon as possible, these other matters should first receive attention. Consequently, I have not felt myself able, although pressed bv the General Officer Commanding to do so, to agree to the expenditure, considerable as a whole, though small in each particular case, required to make the details up. Honorable members will recollect that Parliament some time ago decided that until it gave further orders, the sum of £700,000 a year, or thereabouts, should be regarded as sufficient for the ordinary annual defence expenditure, outside of repairs, maintenance, new works, and warlike stores. I find that my estimates come to within £250 of that amount, so that there is not very much margin left. Honorable members will understand that, anxious as I am to complete all units and establish the scheme as a whole, I cannot, unless some military reason should render it more particularly urgent in one case than in another, complete one without completing all. There is no such special reason existing in any of the cases referred to. As to the promise made by Brigadier-General Gordon at Geelong, and the idea that the honorable and learned member for Corio is responsible in someway for the matter not having been proceeded with, I am able to clear the honorable and learned member’s character in that respect. It is by no means his fault that the matter has not been gone on with. On the contrary, the honorable and learned member has pressed it on my notice time after time, but I have had to give him the. same reply, that I could not see my way to provide the money on the present Estimates. It is not there because of any lack of ability or enthusiasm on the part of the men, or of zeal on the part of the honorable and learned member, that their services may be made use of, that the matter has not been proceeded with.

Mr SPENCE:
Darling

– I should like to bring under the notice of the Minister a matter affecting the payment of 6d. and1s. a day additional to those who have done ten or fifteen years’ service. The complaint I make is in connexion with certain officers in New South Wales. The pay was made to the Instructional Staff, and there are only eight officers, two belonging to the Army Service Corps, and six to the Ordnance Corps, who have not received this pay. The additional pay was to be given after twelve months’ service, and on favorable reports. The officers referred to communicated with the Secretary to the Department, and received a reply in June, 1903, when the right honorable member for Swan was Minister of Defence, that it had been decided to discontinue the pay in future, and that they had forfeited their right by protesting too late. I do not expect the Minister to deal with the matter now, but the point to which I wish to direct his attention is that these officers could not be reported on for twelve months. There are only eight officers who have not received this pay, and it does not seem right that, because of a technical formality with which they were unable to comply, they should be debarred from receiving the additional pay.

Mr McCay:

– I promise to inquire into the matter.

Mr TUDOR:
Yarra

– I desire to direct attention to a matter which was referred to some time ago, on the motion for adjournment, by the honorable member for Fremantle. I refer to the coaling of war ships.

Mr Reid:

– That matter cannot be dealt with on the vote for Victorian Militia.

Mr TUDOR:

– I am aware that this is not the proper vote on which to discuss the matter, but I hope that some opportunity will be given for its discussion, as the honorable member for Fremantle, and the honorable and learned member for West Sydney desire to refer to it.

Mr Reid:

– It can be referred to at any time on the motion for adjournment.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Division 104 (Volunteers), £2,998

page 6974

PAPER

Mr. McLEAN laid upon the table the following paper: -

Statutory rules under the Patents Act.

House adjourned at 10.31 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 November 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19041115_reps_2_23/>.