2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., arid read prayers..
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, with all kindliness and respect, whether, in view of all the circumstances, he yet recognises the paralysis of this House for the purposes of useful business? Does he see his way to take such steps as are in his power to enable the people to decide between us ?
– That is a matter which may at some future time ‘ be worthy of very pressing consideration, but,’ on the brink of the recess, it is simply cruel to make a suggestion of the kind. ‘.
– In this morning’s Argus, in the monetary and commercial column, it is stated that an arrangement has been made by the Government in referencetothe seigniorage on silver coined in London for use in Australia. I ask the Prime Minister if that statement is correct, and, if so, will he inform the House what arrangement has been made? It is also stated that the depreciation in the gold coinage minted in Australia will have to be provided forby the Commonwealth. Does that statement refer to the gold coinage in circulation in Australia only, or to all the gold coined in Australia ?
– I have information on the subject to which the honorable member’s question refers, but, as the question is a very important one, I ask him to give notice of it, so that I may make a more satisfactory statement than I could make offhand. I should like to remark that I have never known a House in which so many questions are asked without notice. It is scarcely fair to Ministers to expect replies offhand to questions which involve, at times, very careful consideration. It would be much more convenient to the Government, and, I think, more satisfactory to members asking questions, if, as far as possible, notice were given. Of course, there are occasions when the question is one of great urgency ; I do not allude to questions of that kind. My remarks apply to questions in obtaining ananswer to which the loss of a day is not of the slightest consequence.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he has yet obtained the papers in connexion with the refund of duty by the Customs Department to Mr. Sandford. He promised to lay them upon the table of the House, and I wish them to be made public as soon as possible.
– I regret that I overlooked the promise which I made to the honorable member, but I can tell him how the matter stands, and I shall be very glad to lay the papers upon the table. I had a communication from Mr. Sandford, pointing out that he was entitled to interest at 5 per cent on the money refunded, which was held by the Department for over threeyears. That claim wasallowed, interest at that rate having been paid in similar cases. I shall be glad to let the honorable member see all the papers.
– The Minister promised, the other night, to lay the papers upon the table. I desire that they be printed, or made public.
– I do not know that I need give an explanation now, but there is a history attached to this matter. As I said the other night, it is not in antagonism to the Government that I ask for the production of the papers.
– This Government has had nothing to do with the matter. It was a concern of a Government of which the honorable member was a Minister.
– The matter has been before two or three Governments. If the papers are not to be printed, they might be laid upon the table of the library. This is a very important case.
– I ask the honorable member not to debate the question.
– I do not wish to debate it, but I desire that the papers be made public as soon as possible.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral any objection to laying on the table the papers connected with the subsidy paid to the Union Steamship Company for the carriage of mails between Tasmania and Australia ?
– I will look through the papers, and will let the honorable member know whether there is any objection to laying them on the table.
– Sometime ago, I asked that the papers in reference to the enforcement of a bond in connexion with the construction of a telephone line to Warmatta be laid upon the table. When will they beready ?
– I will see about the matter.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella - Minister of
Defence). - I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Through the courtesy of honorable members, I was permitted, some weeks ago, to make a statement of the proposals of the Government in reference to the future administration of the defences of the Commonwealth, and I need not now weary honorable members with a repetition of what I then said. I shall therefore content myself on this occasion with reminding the House that this is purely an enabling measure. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne drew attention to the fact that it leaves the Administration at large ; but I think that those who administer the measure may, like those administering other measures, be trusted to carry out its expressed intentions. Seeing that these proposals are to a certain extent experimental, the Bill has been so drafted as not to prevent the Administration from meeting unforeseen contingencies. In that we have followed the example set in the principal Act, which merely provides that a General Officer Commanding and an Advisory Board may be appointed, leaving the exact allotment of the duties of these authorities to be determined by regulation and administration.
– No. It may be found in the course of two or three years, or even sooner, that it is not desirable to limit the tenure, and that, like other matters, is left to be decided by experience. Though I myself have a very strong opinion on the subject, experience may prove that I am mistaken in my view. The appointment referred to will certainly be made for a period not exceeding four years, but that will not prevent its being renewed, if, at the end of the term, it is thought desirable to adopt that course instead of making a change. If any questions arise, I shall conveniently be able to -answer them in Committee. If I may be permitted to do so, I would ask honorable members to assist in facilitating the passage of the Bill, in order that it may reach the Senate as soon as possible, because, until it becomes law, the hands of the Department will be tied, and, although I am ready to proceed, I cannot do so until we have the necessary legislative authority.
– I do not wish to prolong this debate, but I desire to reiterate what I have alreadystated to the effect that the Bill is unnecessary. The present Defence Act, and the powers conferred under it, would enable the Government to practically do everything that could be done under the Bill. The title of the General Officer Commanding is merely a name. He exercises only such powers as are intrusted to him by the Government. There is nothing to prevent the General Officer Commanding from performing, under the present Act, all those duties that it is proposed the Inspector-General shall discharge, and the proposed Board could do nothing beyond what could be accomplished by the Board of Advice provided for under the Defence Act. My principal objection to this hurried legislation is that the Act passed last year, after considerable thought and full discussion - with infinitely more deliberation than is being shown in connexion with the present Bill, because the subject was before us for eighteen months - has not been given a trial. The Minister himself has changed his opinion, and has given us no reason for it. He has stated, further, that this is not his proposal,, but that of his predecessors. I should like to know whether the Minister has really changed his opinion, or whether he has merely adopted the views of others. The Minister of Trade and Customs formerly expressed the opinion that a Council of Defence was unnecessary, and several other honorable members took up a similar attitude. I do not know what has happened to bring about a change of opinion, even before a trial has been given to the legislation which was deliberately passed last year. If -we had given the Act a trial, and it had failed to accomplish what was desired, I could understand an attempt being made to devise better means of administration and control. It seems to me that, because the late General Officer Commanding carried out his duties in a somewhat autocratic manner, and centralized the control to a greater extent than is considered desirable, it is held to be necessary to make a radical change.
– The undue centralization largely contributed to bring about the change of opinion.
– There is no doubt but that such is the case, but that is not a sufficient reason for the present Bill. The Government can limit or extend the powers of the General Officer Commanding, just as it chooses, and a Board of Advice could be appointed which would be equally as effective as a Council of Defence. I do not know upon whose advice the present proposal is being made. The late General Officer Commanding was opposed to it.
– The proposal originated in the Senate.
– Does the honorable and learned member mean to say that we are to follow the Senate in a matter of this kind.
– I have-already informed honorable members that a very high authority in the mother country considers that the Inspector-General should be a member of the Board of Management, and yet the Minister persists in putting forward a scheme under which the InspectorGeneral is to have no executive authority, and to have no voice, and to have no place upon the Board. As I have already stated, when the Bill reaches the Committee stage, I shall propose an amendment in this respect. I should like to know why the director of the Navy should have a seat on. the Naval Board, whilst the director of the Military Forces is to be excluded from the Military Board. The distinction made between the two officers appears to me to indicate that the matter has not been well considered. I was in control of the Defence Department for two or three years, and I am deliberately of opinion that there is no necessity for this Bill at present.
– Does the right honorable gentleman say that there is no necessity for any change?
– No; what I say is that the changes that may be necessary can. be made under the present law.
– But the Minister cannot carryout what he proposes under the present Act.
– I am of opinion that he can. The Inspector-General can be intrusted with as many or as few powers as may be desired.
M.r.” McCay. - I could not even appoint an Inspector-General under the present Act.
– The militaryhead of the ‘Forces could be called a General Officer Commanding, and could be clothed with such powers as would enable him to perform all the functions that it is proposed to delegate to the InspectorGeneral. The General Officer Commanding can exercise only such powers as are intrusted to him- by the Governor-General. I say, further, that all the powers proposed to be conferred upon the Board of Management could be exercised by the Board of Advice under the present Act.
– I do not think so. I should not have brought in the Bill if I could have done what was desired without it.
– I do not know about that. The Minister is not even, giving expression to- his own views, but is carrying out those of other people. I contend once more that the Bill is unnecessary at the present time, and that all the administrative changes necessary can be carried out without any alteration, of the existing law.
– For once I am in accord with the right honorable member for Swan. I think that he is perfectly right when he says that in effect all that is provided for in the Bill could be carried out under the present law. I cannot understand why the measure was introduced. If it is intended to adopt a system similar to that followed in Great Britain, I think that the proposal is ill-advised. Our conditions are utterly different from those which prevail in the mother country. We have only a small force, which could be controlled by one responsible officer. Under the proposal in the Bill it is intended to relieve the commanding officer of a great deal of the responsibility which should properly rest upon him. Then again it would be possible for the Minister to shelter himself behind the proposed Council of Defence.
– The late General Officer Commanding expressed the opinion that the present system precluded interference on the part of the Minister, and relieved him of responsibility.
– In all financial matters the Minister has a perfect right to interfere. He is, through Parliament, the representative of the people, and when I was Acting Minister of Defence, during the absence of the right honorable member for Swan in England, I insisted upon exercising control over the commanding officer in all matters where the expenditure of money was involved. Upon two occasions - in connexion with the establishment of schools of instruction in Sydney and Melbourne - the General Officer Commanding persisted in proceeding contrary to my directions, and I had to stop supplies in order to compel submission to the authority in control of the finances. The proposed Council would scarcely be an advisory body ; it would have much greater powers.
– It is to be an administrative body.
– And, to that extent, will relieve the Minister of responsibility. :
– It will increase the responsibility of the Minister.
– I do not think so. It seems to me that it is proposed to create very ponderous machinery for the control of a very small number of men. The Minister will probably tell us, as he has already told me privately, that it will be convenient to permit the InspectorGeneral to travel over the various States in order to see that defence matters are put in proper order whilst the Minister is sitting in Melbourne, and requires his frequent advice. The same result might be brought about, however, if the Inspector-General remained at Head-Quarters, and sent his principal staff officer to perform the work of inspection. I do not know what expenditure will be involved in connexion’ with the proposed Council. No provision is made for the fees or salaries that are to be paid.
– If the honorable member had read my memorandum, he would have found some reference to the question of cost.
– I have not seen the Minister’s memorandum. There is nothing in the Bill to indicate the amount of money which will be involved in the adoption of this scheme.
– Is there in the principal Act?
– I do not trunk there is. The fact that the late General Officer Commanding - able officer though he is - was frequently not in accord with the Ministerial head of the Defence Department, was responsible for a good deal of friction during the term of his appointment, and largely contributed to the state of affairs which exists to-day. In my opinion, this Bill constitutes ill-considered and ill-advised legislation. Then, I ask, why should the Naval Commandant be appointed to the Naval Board, while the InspectorGeneral is not appointed to ; the Military Board ? The Bill contemplates the constitution of two boards, and it seems to me that if the Naval Commandant is to be appointed to one body, the Inspector-General should occupy a seat upon the other. In my opinion, the principle which should be laid down in connexion with our Military Forces is that of direct responsibility to the Minister, and’ through him, to this House. I feel that the Bill is a step in the wrong direction. The right honorable member for Swan has pointed out that the Minister of Defence has given no reason for his change of opinion.
– I did not just now, but I gave reasons previously.
– The Minister gave no valid reason for his change of views’-
– That is a matter of opinion.
– I should like to know whether the Cabinet have discussed the question of who is to be appointed Inspector-General ? I notice that BrigadierGeneral Finn has been temporarily appointed General Officer Commanding the Commonwealth Forces. I interpret that fact .to mean that he will subsequently be called upon to fill the office of InspectorGeneral. I understand that an officer has been temporarily appointed State Commandant of New South Wales?
– Only temporarily. It is no secret that the Government propose to offer the position of Inspector-General to Brigadier-General Finn.
– I am very glad to hear that. It seems to me that he should be offered the position; but I think that the Government would be acting more wisely if they appointed him General Officer Commanding. If they did so, I am convinced that there would be very little friction between the military and the civil side of the Defence Department during the next three years, and that there would be no occasion whatever to pass a Bill of this character. In my judgment, the measure is a retrograde movement, and is a piece of legislation which may require to be repealed in three or four years’ time.
– I wish to congratulate the Minister upon the action which he has taken. I have had some slight connexion with the Defence Forces of Victoria for more than ten years, and during the period I was associated with the McLean Administration, I had an opportunity of becoming intimately acquainted with the work of the Defence Department.
– For how long was that?
– About twelve months. During that period, I took a very live and real interest in that Department. In my opinion the events which have recently occurred in Great Britain more than justify the action that is now proposed. The feeling pervading the whole British Empire is that it should possess a force which should be purely of a defensive character, and not for purposes of aggression. We must endeavour to educate our citizens up to an appreciation of their duty in this respect, and consequently must free ourselves from that military domination from which we have suffered so severely. The very strongest possible censure upon the very able officer who has just left our shores was uttered by’ the honorable member for Hume, who insinuated that if Brigadier-General Finn had filled the position of General Officer Commanding during the past three years there would have been no. necessity for this Bill. No more sweeping condemnation of Major-General Hutton could have been uttered by anybody, lt shows plainly enough that a man possessed of a strong personality in the position of General Officer Commanding can engender intense friction. We have great cause to feel thankful that we have at the civil head of the . Defence Department a gentleman who has so strong a desire to- serve the Commonwealth. In my opinion, the Secretary of Defence has rendered yeoman service to his country by the magnificent manner in which he has resisted all the attempts to place that Department in a position independent of this House, and of the country - a position which it should not occupy. I expressed that view very early in the history of the Commonwealth, when honorable members were not as conversant as they are now with the splendid work which Captain Collins has done in Victoria. The right honorable member for Swan declares that this Bill is unnecessary, and I join issue with him at once. I say, from my own personal knowledge, and it is patent to anybody who cares to inquire into the matter, and who has a due appreciation of the importance of the subject, that we must alter the system which has been in force during the past three years. The right honorable gentleman affirms that we could appoint a General Officer Commanding, and impose upon him the duties of Inspector-General. But why, I ask, is there any desire .to retain’ the title of General Officer Commanding? Merely to make it appear that the gentleman who occupies the position has a power which, under this Bill, he will not possess. I believe that the mistakes made by Major-General Hutton were due to his inability to understand the sentiments of Australians. He was absolutely out of touch with our aspirations. Having regard to the terms upon which he was appointed, and the magnificent opportunity afforded him to add the coping-stone to a life of brilliant service to his country, I say - as a strong Imperialist - that we were entitled to more consideration at his hands than we received.’ The right honorable member for Swan asks - “What is in a name?” I quite agree with him. In this Bill, we should clearly set out our intentions. I admit that Major-General Hutton has instilled into our Forces an amount of discipline to which they were previously strangers, and I am very glad that we have as Ministerial head of the Defence Department a gentleman who possesses an intimate acquaintance with defence matters. I believe that we have at last reached a solution of our present difficulties. We need, however, to foster and develop a truly national sentiment. Although I agree with the honorable member for Hume, that the gentleman indicated by the Minister ns likely to be selected for this high and responsible position will do his best in that direction, the fact remains that we shall not always have his services. The time will come when his place will be taken by another, who may perhaps make the disastrous mistakes which were committed by the officer who has just left our shores. In my opinion, the Minister has done well. During his brief term of office, he has acquired a better knowledge of this subject than he had before, and I feel sure that nothing but the results of his investigation have prompted him to propose this change in system. He is entitled to every credit for the position i has taken up.
– He has changed his mind.
– That is not quite accurate.
– I am not surprised that the right honorable member for Swan should object, because that is a trait of the party with which he has been so long and honorably connected; but I am certainly surprised that the honorable member for Hume should have offered the same objection to this material advance in the administration of the Department. I believe that the Department can be properly administered only when its civil branch is placed in capable hands, and due prominence is given to that part of our defence system. I should have” liked to speak at greater length on this subject, but I am verv anxious that the Bill should be passed; into law, and, as time is valuable, I recognise that I must necessarilv curtail my remarks.
– When the right honorable member for Swan, as Minister of Defence, introduced the first Defence Bill to the House, I made the suggestion that it should embody the principle of a Council of Defence somewhat analogous to that which existed in the Defence Act of Victoria. I believe that I was the first to make that suggestion in the House, and I remember that it received but scant support. The honorable and learned member for Corio was the only member who supported the proposition.
– I proposed a new clause providing for a Council of Defence.
– But that was in the second session of the Parliament. I cannot help contrasting the indifference with which my proposal was received thus early in the history of the Federation with the very strong support which is now being given to the principle.
– We have since had some experience of a centralized administration.
– I congratulate the House upon the change which has come o’er the spirit of our dream. It is a change in harmony with the principle which has existed in the Victorian Act, and which I understand worked well. The principle received the hearty support of the Victorian Military Defence authorities, and the late Lieut. -Col. Sargood was one of its strongest advocates. I had the honour of several conversations with him upon the subject, and from him I received strong inspiration in favour of a Council of Defence being provided for in the first Defence Bill. I have no doubt that this change in the sentiment and the opinion of the House is due - as the honorable member for Laanecoorie has somewhat delicately hinted - to the very extraordinary military administration under which Australia suffered while our forces were under the command of the military officer who has just left our shores. Of absent men, perhaps the least said the better, but I can ascribe the great change which has occurred in the opinions of honorable members only to the manner in which our military laws were administered under the recent regime. I strongly and heartily approve of the main outlines of the scheme which has been presented by the Minister. I approve, first of all, of the
Council of Defence, which is to be charged’ with the consideration of questions of military policy. I also approve of the proposal to create a Naval Board and a Military Board.
– The Council is not to be charged with the matter’ of administration ; that responsibility will be taken by the Minister.
– Then, let us say that it will be entrusted with it.
– It is to be asked to assist the Minister.
– I apprehend that the board of which the Minister will be a member, will have certain powers.
– The Minister will find that he is responsible.
– That may be, but if the Minister meets the various member? on equal terms-
– I hope that he will not do so.
-Is he to be endowed with the power of veto?
– I should say so.
– I am not aware of the details, but-
– The minute which I have circulated points out that Ministerial responsibility cannot be abrogated by any scheme.
– That is perfectly true. I would not, for one moment, suggest that it should be abrogated. The only criticism which I have to offer on the whole scheme is directed not to the essence of the Military Board, but merely to its composition. The Board should undoubtedly be composed of the most prominent military officers available, and, that being so, I cannot understand why so important an officer as the Inspector-General should be excluded from its deliberations.
– He is to be a member of the Council.
– As at present advised, I think it would be a great mistake to provide that the Board shall merely be advisory to the Minister. I wish to know why the Inspector-General is to be excluded from it? Prima facie he is to be a military officer. The very best military officer we can obtain in Australia is to occupy the post of Inspector-General, which is only another name for that of General Officer Commanding, and no doubt the functions exercised by him will be analogous to those of a General Officer Commanding. They certainly ought to be-
If we have so important an officer occupying this position, why should he be excluded from the Military Board? Even assuming that it is not to have supreme power - that it is to be only a board of advice - why should he not have a right to take part in its deliberations ? He might be brought into military contact with the board, and his advice and his information might be accepted and rendered available. It is said that because the InspectorGeneral, in England is excluded from, the Military Board, the same course should be followed in Australia. There is a great difference (between the positions and the functions of the two boards. In England there may be an abundance of military talent apart from the InspectorGeneral to advise the Board, but here there is a limit to it. On this point I wish to read an extract from a letter which has been received in Australia from a very distinguished officer, who was immediately associated with the Imperial scheme, and whose identity may be conjectured by honorable members. I should like to lay great Stress upon the following passage, which although it is merely an expression of opinion, is worthy of special attention : -
If you have a good Inspector-General, you rather require his presence and advice upon the Board. On the ether hand, he ought to be constantly away from head-quarters if he is to do his work properly.
Later on, in the same letter, this officer writes -
I do not think your Inspector-General can be outside the Board, which will need his administrative experience, but within his assigned domain he could exercise executive authority.
I would suggest that the matter of the appointment of the Inspector-General a member of the Board should be reconsidered. My own opinion is that his inclusion would be a decided advantage. Certainly, if the Naval Director is to be a member of the Naval Board, I fail to see on what principle of justice, fairness, or logic, the Inspector- General can be excluded from the Military Board.
– The honorable member for Hume has shown that for once he is in accord with the right honorable member for Swan, and I also am surprised to find myself for once holding views in harmony with those of the honorable member. I condemn the proposal to hand over the control of the Department to a Council of Defence. I have previously expressed the opinion that Parliament should retain control, through its responsible Minister, of the Department, as affording the best check against the very evil which those who support the Bill think it will prevent. I see no reason why we should place the administration of our defence system in the hands of a Council any more than we should hand over the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department to a like body. ‘ It may be argued that we may have Ministers of Defence who are not familiar with the work which the administration of the Defence Act involves; but it might also be said that, from time to time, we shall have Postmasters-General who could not be expected to be acquainted with all the details of the Postal Department. No one can say that the present Postmaster-General is a first-class electrician, and his knowledge of many other branches of his Department may also be deficient. But the honorable gentleman, and those who have preceded him, have succeeded in administering the Department, with its immense expenditure and its army of retainers, without any special knowledge. They have had to -rely on their ordinary business ability, and to avail themselves of the advice of their responsible officers. We certainly ought to retain control, through the Minister, of the Defence Department. I admit with sorrow the statement made by the honorable member for Laanecoorie, that our first experience of the system of having a General Officer Commanding was not satisfactory. But this was not because of any particular fault on the part of the gentleman who occupied that position. He is a renowned soldier of very great ability, but, as has been pointed out, he was lamentably out of touch with Australian sentiment. I have been surprised at the silence which has been maintained by honorable members regarding the great want of sympathy which the late General Officer Commanding displayed with Australian sentiment in the matter of defence ; but I do not think we should rid ourselves of the difficulty by adopting the proposal made in this Bill. To my mind, the new presbyter would be old priest writ large. With a Council of Defence we shall have to contend with greater difficulties than we have had, or would be likely to have again, with a General Officer Commanding. Whatever the Minister may say, such a Council would be, to a very great extent, a barrier between, if not him, at least some of his successors, and the Parliament. When honorable members complained of certain acts of administration, the Minister would be able to say that he had been strongly recommended by the majority, or the whole, of the Council, to adopt the course to which exception was taken, and that he did not see his way clear to go beyond it.
– The Council is not going to administer the Department.
– The charge has been made against the Minister that he has changed his mind, but I am not in a position to say that it is correct. No ohe but a perfect genius or a perfect fool remains without changing his mind on most subjects.
– I know that I am not the first, and I hope that I am not the second.
– The honorable and learned member is nearer the first than the second. He cannot, however, expect the rest of us, who have expressed opposition to his proposals, to change our minds for no better reasons than he has given. He and others have said that a defence of these proposals is contained in the Bill, but it is not a sufficient defence. The clause creating the Council of Defence, for instance, should be much more explicit. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has pointed out that the Inspector-General is not to be a member of the Council.
– Yes, he is.
– I did not understand that. The mistake emphasizes my complaint that the Minister has not put his case before us with sufficient clearness. The Bill itself should expressly state how many and what military and naval officers are to be members of the boards and council; and how many civil members there are to be. The measure is wanting in many details, and the Minister has not made up for its shortcomings by a statement sufficiently full to enable us to thoroughly understand it. Honorable members who support the measure have argued in favour of what they term the civil control of our defence system. I do not think we can obtain civil control more perfectly than ‘by having a General Officer Commanding, subject to such limitations as we may see fit to impose, and a Ministerial head responsible to this House for the policy adopted, and the manner of administration. I regard the introduction of the Bill as a retrograde step, because I think that it will to some extent lessen the civil control of our defence system, and the responsibility to Parliament of those intrusted with the administration of the
Defence Department. Therefore, I shall oppose the second reading.
– From the first I have been rather favourably disposed towards the appointment of a Council of Defence, and I have no great fault to find with the machinery provided in this Bill. There are certain parts of it, as I said the other night, such as those relating to the position of the Inspector-General, which might be altered ; but that, of course, is a matter for the Committee. I have, however, a good deal of sympathy with the view of the right honorable member for Swan, that it would be well not to proceed - too hastily in this matter. We know that there is gradually growing up in this country a feeling against bringing men, however able, from the old country to command our troops, because it is thought that we should begin to train our own officers for such positions. Some honorable members seem to hesitate about mentioning this fact, but I do not know why it should not be referred to openly. It was evidently recognised by the late General Officer Commanding, because, speaking in Sydney a few days before his departure, he said -
He had known Australians in peace and war _ for twelve years, and he knew the feelings of Australian troops better than any man in the Empire, and he would tell them plainly that Australians wanted to be commanded by an Australian, or a man with Australian sympathies.
– He also stated on several occasions that there is no one in Australia fit to command the Australian army. That was one of his main objections to the scheme.
– That may be his opinion, but it need not be ours. He has, however, recognised the sentiment to which I have referred, which culminated in friction between him and the Minister. It seems to me that we might verywell experiment with the present system a little longer under the new General Officer Commanding whom the Minister has in his mind, because I believe that BrigadierGeneral Finn is likely to get on well with the Australian troops, and before his term of office expires, we may have been able to adopt the system suggested by the Minister, of sending men to be trained where there are the best opportunities ‘ foi acquiring knowledge. I think that a good deal of the friction which has occurred has been due, not to the regulations; or methods of administration, but to the desire to which I have referred, to have an Australian at the head of the Australian troops, and if opportunities are given for the training of our own officers we may ultimately not find the proposed drastic change necessary. The Bill says that the General Officer Commanding and the Naval Officer Commanding shall have such powers as the GovernorGeneral may direct.
– Under the Act, what powers are taken away from the General Officer Commanding must be given to the Minister.
– There is a Board of Advice.
– That is not an Administrative Board.
– It seems to me that there are too many boards. I know that it has been proposed in the old country that the Commander-in-Chief shall have a seat in the Cabinet.
– Does the honorable member disapprove of the proposals which are being put forward in England at the present time?
– I have not sufficient knowledge in regard to them to be able to criticise them.
– Australia is the only place of any importance where the system now proposed is not being followed.
– That may be so; but the proposals in Great Britain are in an experimental stage only.
– The Admiralty has been governed for 200 years by the methods which it is now proposed to apply to the army.
– I agree with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, that it would be well for the Inspector-General to have a seat on the Military Board, of which I approve, though I do not see the reason for the Council. There seems no need for a buffer between the Military Board and the Naval Board, and the Cabinet. It is like employing too many cooks. I think that the Military Board and the Naval Board ought to report directly to the Minister, the civil authority who is supposed to have most information on the subject. I have risen chiefly to support the light honorable member for Swan, the honorable member for Hume, and others, who have expressed the view ; that we might defer this change for a little time, experimenting further with the existing system under a new Commandant, and, in the meanwhile endeavouring to train officers of our own for the command. I feel that I can not, under present circumstances, support the Bill, though I take no great exception to its machinery.
– We have not yet given the present system a fair trial.
– I agree with theright honorable member. It might be better if the Board of Advice were altered into something like a Council. It is difficult to realize the difference between the Board of Advice and the Council which is proposed.
– I acknowledge that I am a convert to the proposal of the Minister to create a Council of Defence. Having read the reports of the English method, I am satisfied that what is good enough for the old country is the plan that we should adopt, especially as we have a defence force only, and not an army of offence. All that we wish to do is to defend our hearths and homes. We have no desire to send our soldiers outside Australia. I cannot understand, however, why the Naval Commandant should have a seat on the Council, while the Inspector-General has not.
– The Inspector-General has a seat on the Council just as the Naval Director has. The Naval Director is a member of the Naval Board, because our Naval Forces are so small.
– Will the InspectorGeneral have the same powers under the present scheme as the General Officer Commanding has? Will he go all over the Commonwealth, instead of being confined to Melbourne?
– His business will be to go about.
– He will have no executive authority.
– If we have a Council of Defence, I do not think he needs executive authority.
– His business will be to report; that is all.
– That is all we really want. I am under the impression that the whole of our Defence Forces are in a state of chaos. I know that that is the case in Queensland, where greater dissatisfaction now exists than ever before. I do not wish to say any hard things about the late General Officer Commanding, but, in Queensland, officers and men alike agree that he was the most overbearing, Imperialistic man they ever met. He fairly struck terror into the hearts of the officers, and I feel sure that the honorable member for Laanecoorie struck the right nail on the head when he said that he was not in sympathy with Australian sentiment. We do not want to maintain a large army upon Imperial lines, but to have a citizen soldiery for purely defence purposes. In Tasmania, the utmost confusion exists in connexion with Defence matters. There are more officers than privates in the Forces there today. The Tasmanian officers and men who went to South Africa came out of the war with flying colours, and there is no reason why the Tasmanian Forces should not be put upon a thoroughly sound and effective footing. The honorable member for Grampians referred to the statement of the late General. Officer Commanding, to the effect that there was no officer in Australia fit to take command of the Forces here. That does not bear very high testimony to the efficiency of the officers whom we have obtained from the old country. They have been here for years instructing our Forces, and we have spent millions of money upon dur defences, and yet we are told that we have not any officers who are capable of assuming command. I am very favorably impressed with the proposal for the interchange of officers. I think that is the best of the’ ideas put forward by the Minister. Military science is a progressive one, and unless we send abroad for information we cannot possibly keep uptodate. I trust that we shall make liberal arrangements for the exchange of officers with the Imperial Army at home, in India, and elsewhere. If this be done, it will contribute as much as. anything to bring our Forces up-to-date and render them efficient. I desire to place before the Committee a few suggestions which have mainly been furnished by an officer of our Forces, of whom I have a high opinion. My ideas coincide, to a very large degree, with those expressed in the memorandum, which reads as follows : -
The Defence of Australia, viewed from its geographical position. 1st. It is the only Island Continent in the world. 2nd. Being one white race, one language, and one people, our only fear of war is from outside, therefore, our plan of defence must be suited to our requirements, and cannot possibly be similar to that of any other Continent.
Australia is now coveted by the overcrowded races of the East; the Japanese are equal to any white race on sea or land, and a very few years may make the Chinese the. same.
If we are to hold our own, defence must become with us as much a part of every citizen’s life as it is that of the Swiss, and in the same way as far as general training is concerned.
As an Island Continent, our first line of defence must be immeasurably stronger than our second line of defence, for with our large Continent and sparsely inhabited land, if once an enemy effects a landing and establishes a base in any one State, we can say good-bye to it.
Requirements of 1st line of defence : - 1st. A Navy, composed principally of small fast cruisers, to meet, check, and, if possible, stop, an invasion. 2nd. A Garrison Artillery, armed with guns equal to any that can be brought to bear against them from the sea; for, if outranged, they are silenced. 3rd. As perfect a system of submarine mining as is possible to prevent a fleet which may have passed the Navy and Garrison Artillery from anchoring or landing troops.
Requirements of 2nd line of defence, and its composition : - 1st. Light, long-range, quick-firing field guns to prevent a landing or disperse an enemy. 2nd. Riflemen, composed of the entire male population from 16 to 60, who are not employed in the above arms.
This young country cannot afford a large standing army, and yet it must be always prepared for invasion.
There is only one solution to this problem, and that is to train the entire population when at school.
This can be done thoroughly and effectively by making physical training and the small amount of drill now required a part of every day school work, and will cost in a short time, after training the teachers, not one extra penny to the country, and, at the same time, produce the most magnificent results to the boys themselves, for after life, and to the country, if need be, against invasion.
The senior boys, before leaving school, must be made good shots, which, with boys, is quickly done, and the problem of Australia’s defence is solved.
From the boys so trained, those wishing to join the Permanent Artillery and Navy will find they have to compete against the pick of Australia for admission, and so a corps d’elite of permanent officers and men is formed.
The present electoral divisions can form the regimental districts, each elector being available to be called out in time of war to represent his electorate in the battery or regiments of riflemenof his electorate. The polling booths to form mustering stations, and the entire nation could be called out in one day by keeping a proper system of records and a skeleton army in time of peace.
Each electorate must have a rifle range up to the full extent of the modern rifle, 3,200 yards, and not one fitted for the Brown Bess, to keep the boys, now men, in practice.
Five or six establishments of a Field Battery can be drilled in turn on the guns of a single battery, and so more than one battery of gunners can be trained to supply casualities, although fighting as riflemen.
When I was at the battle of Ingogo, in South Africa, the whole of the officers attached to the battery with which I was connected were killed or wounded, and all the gunners, except myself, were placed hors de combat. Some of the members of the Rifle Brigade were called upon to assist me, but they had no knowledge of big-gun drill, and the consequence was that the whole of the training of the guns, the sponging, loading, and firing was left in my hands. I had to do the best 1 could, and I did it with effect and saved the whole position. That is why I say that men should be drilled in the use of field-guns, and if not required as artillerymen utilized as riflemen. At the battle of Ulundi, when the men belonging to my battery were not required as artillerymen, Lord Chelmsford mounted them upon the artillery horses, and used them as cavalry in turning the enemy’s flank. The memorandum continues -
The Boers in their ordinary clothes were just as invisible as the British in their khaki uniforms. We could follow their- example, and so save expense, which can be but ill borne ; I propose that the outfit be limited to (1) rifle, the best going ; (2) a leather bandolier ; (3) a water bottle ; (4) a haversack; (5) a pair of leather leggings; (6) a hat ribbon (as in the Navy for each ship) bearing the name of the electorate.
Compare this scheme of universal defence, at a moderate cost, with that provided for in the Estimates which are submitted by the General Officer Commanding, 1905-6 -
Now, the Light Horse are not a cavalry regiment, they can only be used for land service. The States are not going to fight against each other. And it is far better for riflemen guarding the coast, or moving rapidly from point to point on the coast, to be transferred in trains. Yet this absurd transformation of Colonel T. Price’s Mounted Rifles into Australian Light Horse has cost thousands.
Honorable members can imagine the large number of horse-waggons that would be required for the transport of mounted corps, from, say, Brisbane to Adelaide. Four times as many foot soldiers could be conveyed in the same trains. The statement proceeds - ~*
And to what end; the first line of defence must take from one-half- to three-quarters of the entire vote to protect the country, say the Navy, G.A., and Engineers, account for ,£150,000, just one quarter. 12 c 2
The following are the figures in round numbers : -
Where is the balance? lt will be seen that more than half the total vote is spent upon frill and feathers.
The annual training should be carried out by the batteries and the regiments of Rifle Clubs, &c, on the march for a week, where they will learn tactics, outposts, advance, rear, and flankguards under service conditions (and cooking) - not in a standing camp, which is merely drill and a picnic.
The present style of encampment is looked upon as a mere picnic. What we require to do is to give our Forces training such as the Imperial troops undergo during their route marches. /They do not know where they are going, or when they are coming back, and they have to forage for themselves. I do not wish to detain the House any further.
– I shall not occupy five minutes in replying. I wish to refer to some remarks made by the right honorable member for Swan, to the effect that I had changed my mind without giving any reasons, and that perhaps I had not even changed my mind, but had adopted someone else’s opinions. I desire to read what I said a week or two ago upon that point. I remarked -
Some honorable members may recollect that 0:1 former occasions I rather leaned in the direction of maintaining a centralized system under a General Officer ‘Commanding. Speaking two years ago, I said that I did not think the time was yet ripe for inaugurating a new system. My leanings were decidedly in that direction. But, after giving the fullest consideration to the subject, and recognising the responsibility which rests upon me personally, as well as upon the Government, I frankly and fully admit that I am now a convert.
The right honorable member for Swan fastened upon the word “ convert ‘ ‘-
– I read what the Minister said.
– Perhaps the right honorable member will exercise a little patience, and allow me to .present my own case in my own way.
– The Minister is having all the say.
– I do not think that remark is quite fair. I have always displayed the. utmost courtesy towards the right honorable - member-
– The Minister should not lecture’ me.
– If I even appeared to lecture the right honorable member, I must express my regret, because I had not the slightest intention of doing so. I now propose to read what I said upon the question of the appointment of a Council of Defence, and I venture to think that when I have done so, honorable members will say that wherever I criticised the scheme proposed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, it was because it did not accomplish what the present scheme will accomplish. I said -
I hope the honorable member f,or Melbourne Ports will not press his amendment. I think that I may .fairly say that during the course of this debate I have not displayed any great subservience to military authority, or any great advocacy of the absolutism of that authority. I think a Board such as the honorable member suggested, would be entirely unworkable, in view of the large area of the Commonwealth and its scattered population. There is no parallel between the Council of Defence in England and the Council which it is now proposed to constitute. The English Council is really a semi-political body, which is intended to harmonize the” relations between the political and the military administrations upon all important matters of policy.
That is what this scheme, does. I continued -
One can understand the desirableness of such a Board, in view of the conflict that has existed between the financial and the executive branches of the administration. The proposal of the honorable member is modelled upon the Council of Defence which existed in Victoria up to the time of the establishment of Federation, and the wording of the new clause is practically the same as that of the section of the Victorian Act. The Victorian Council of Defence at times did great service; but, as a matter of fact, every member of that Council for many years past was a resident .of Me. bourne, and it was very easy to call a meeting of that body.
The proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports would have included as members of the Board persons residing all over Australia.
– Will not that be the case under this Bill?
– No, they will all be resident at the Seat of Government.
– It will practically be a Victorian Board. composed of the best available men. I proceeded -
Very often valuable suggestions were offered by the junior members of the Board, which proved of service’ to the administration, but during the term of one officer as Commandant, the Council of Defence simply served as a battlefield for the struggle which was waged between the Minister of Defence and the Commandant. Unfortunately, the Council never possessed the power that it purported to exercise, because the Minister on the political, and the Commandant on the administrative side, exercised the real control.
That criticism is not applicable to the measure which is under consideration.
It must always be so, unless Che command is put into commission as is the case with the Admiralty.
That is exactly what is being done in the present instance. The Admiralty precedent is being followed. I added -
I think that the Minister’s proposal fairly meets the case.
In other words, a Board of Advice was required in addition to a General Officer Commanding. I continued -
I am afraid that we have n,ot sufficiently developed our national life to be. able to tell exactly what form of .boards, and what methods of procedure, it will be best to adopt. In the meantime, I think we may well adopt the suggestion of the Minister. However strongly we may feel that a Council of Defence is desirable, we are not in a position to say how it would work or the best form which it should take. Personally, I do not see how it could exercise effective control unless all the members composing it were established at the Seat of Government while they retained their positions upon the Board.
I venture to say that in those remarks there is not a single word which does not absolutely confirm the position which I take up to-day. So far from contradicting my present attitude, the speech which I made more than a year ago - at a time when I never anticipated that I should be submitting this Bill to-day - absolutely indorses the views which I still entertain. Whether the proposals contained in this measure be good or bad, honorable members must recognise that I have no contradictory attitude to explain away.
– We did not give the other system a trial.
– That system has been in operation for three years.
– We have had no Board of Advice yet.
– But the Board of Advice was in:ended to mitigate the disadvantages of the system of having a General Officer in I ‘ command. I can assure the right honor- able member for Swan that this Bill implies no reflection upon the legislation which he introduced.
– The Minister is aware that in entertaining the views which I do, I am in very good company.
– The authority to which the right honorable member refers, declares that we ought to adopt the Council system, and not that of having a General Officer in command. The only question which he discusses is as to whether we should have an advisory board.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 (Short title and incorporation).
-As the Minister is aware, I was adverse to sending any Australian troops to South Africa to take part in the Boer war. At the same time, I desire to bring under his notice a great wrong which has been done to one of these men. The individual in question whose name I shall be glad to submit to the honorable gentleman, went to South Africa with one of, the contingents, where he served with distinction. Subsequently, he was sent to. England as a member of the Australian guard of honour. Upon his return to his country, he was gazetted as an officer of fairly high rank.
– Perhaps the honorable member will supply me with the facts privately ? If so, I will promise to investigate the matter.
– I do not see how the honorable member for Melbourne can connect his remarks with the clause which is under consideration.
– If the honorable member will see me privately about the matter, I promise to investigate it.
– Very well.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Section4 of the Principal Act is hereby amended by omitting therefrom the paragraphs defining “General Officer Commanding” and “ Naval Officer Commanding,” and by inserting in lieu thereof the following paragraphs : - “ Inspector-General “ means the InspectorGeneral of the Military Forces appointed under this Act. “Naval Commandant” means the officer in command of the State Division of the Naval F,orces.
– At this stage, I wish to inform the Minister that subsequently I intend to move the addition of a new clause prohibiting the sale of intoxi cating liquors in any camp or canteen. It is a provision similar to that which was proposed as a new clause in the Defence Bill last year.
– I desire to ask the Minister whether it is necessary to absolutely abolish the positions of General Officer Commanding, and Naval Officer Commanding. It is admitted that in time of war it will be necessary to appoint such officers.
– There is nothing to prevent any officer from being appointed to the command in time of war.
– I am aware of that. What I wish to know is why it is proposed to altogether obliterate these offices. Why should they not be allowed to continue as dormant offices? That would be preferable to leaving them to be created by executive act.
– In time of war, the position to which the honorable member refers would not be that of General Officer Commanding; but that of Officer Commanding in the field.
– Surely that is merely a distinction in name, because at the present time, the General Officer Commanding is the Commander-in-Chief.
– No. The Governor-General is the Commander-in-Chief.
– But he delegates his powers to the General Officer Commanding.
– The position is that the General Officer Commanding is, so to speak, the symbol of one system, whereas the proposals now before the Committee relate to a system of peace command and administration. The retention of the office of General Officer Commanding would not in any way increase the executive powers which would require to be exercised in time of war.
– What powers would the Officer Commanding possess ?
– All the powers vested in the Commander-in-Chief in the field under our Defence Act, and under the King’s Regulations.
– But surely we should have distinct legislation upon the subject ?
– I will promise the honorable and learned member to look into the question which he has raised regarding executive authority and law, and if I find that it is desirable to do as he suggests, I shall arrange accordingly.
– Is not the term “ General Officer Commanding “ attached to active duties under the Act?
– The section states that the Governor-General may appoint a General Officer Commanding, who shall exercise such powers, and perform such duties as the Governor-General may direct. Those powers could be exercised by the InspectorGeneral in time of war.
– I do not see the necessity for obliterating an office which’ would require to be re-created in time of war.
– I do not think thatthe honorable and learned member is strictly accurate in saying that the office would need to be re-created. We should merely have to create the office of General Officer Commanding the Forces in the field. However, I promise to look into the matter with a view to ascertain if the provision does limit the executive power in any way, and if it does, to provide a remedy.
– I would draw the special attention of the Minister to the necessity for providing that in time of war the Governor-General shall have power to appoint an officer to command the whole of the Forces. Many statutory powers would have to be vested in the officers appointed ; but that could not be done in . the absence of any express provision in this measure for his appointment.
– Can there be any doubt as to the power of the Executive to make such an appointment?
– The Executive would no doubt be able to appoint an officer to command the Forces of the Commonwealth, but it would not, I think, have power to vest in him the powers given by the Act to the General Officer Commanding. . Fromtime to time the Forces of the different States may be brought together to take part in a review or for military exercise, and I think it would be well to give the Inspector-General the power to command the whole Forces on such occasions. If there were a meeting of troops in Victoria, and troops from Queensland and New South Wales took part in it, there might be some friction as to who was to command.
– The senior combatant officer would take command.
– I think it would be better to provide that the InspectorGeneral when present shall take precedence of the District Commandants and all other officers.
– That point has come under observation, and the Government are taking steps to insure the result mentioned by the right honorable member.
– No doubt the Minister will submit a new clause providing, that, in time of war, the Inspector-General shall command the Forces, and I trust that it will also provide that that officer shall take command when the Forces of the different States meet in time of peace.
– The difficulty which the right honorable member has in mind can be overcome by giving the InspectorGeneral the necessary rank. That is the regular way.
– That system might not always be effective. It is unwise, I think, to leave everything to regulations.
Sir JOHN QUICK (Bendigo). - I accept the assurance of the Minister that he will consider the point I have raised; but I apprehend that, in passing this Bill, we should take care to provide for a fairly complete and workable scheme. The Government should not seek to get rid of any point that is raised, merely by sayingthat the matter will be provided for by an executive act. It does not do to depend too largely upon executive acts, and I am not sure that the suggestion I have made could be carried out in such a manner. By the Constitution the Command-in-Chief of our Forces is vested in the Governor-General, and it may be that by executive acts he may delegate his power to any particular officer. But it would require legislation to enable the Governor-General to be represented on the field by an officer occupying the position of Commander-in-Chief. The Defence Act, as it stands, provides for the office of General Officer Commanding. That I apprehend meansnot a mere Inspector-General fulfilling certain functions, but a General Officer Commanding to represent the command in chief of the Governor-General. It is proposed now to repeal that provision. I do not see any necessity to do so. It isnecessary to create the two new offices for which the Bill provides, but I know no reason for obliterating the connecting-link between the Governor-General and the General Officer Commanding; I decline to recognise that the Executive have the power to create this office, and say that it ought to he founded on an. Act of Parliament.
– If, on examination, the power does not appear perfectly clear under the Act, we shall introduce the necessary provision in the Bill.
– I am very glad to accept that assurance. The Minister will recognise, I hope, that I am not offering this criticism in anycaptions spirit, but simply from a desire that the scheme shall be a thoroughly workable one.
Clause agreed to. ; Clauses 3 to 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 (Substitution of Council of Defence for Board of Advice).
– I move -
That the following sub-clause be inserted : - “ 2A. The Inspector-General and the Director of Naval Forces shall be ex officio members of the Military Board and the Naval Board respectively.”
I trust that the Minister will accept this amendment, for I feel that it will be found advantageous to make the Inspector-General
– He will be a member of the
– But the Council will deal only with the larger matters of policy. It probably willnotmeet more than once or twice a year, and will have nothing to do with the ordinary administrative work of the Department.
– The Inspector-General will be able to act as special pleader for the policythat he favours.
– If he were a member of the Board he would be able to do so.
– We wish to keep them above these Boards. He will have to criticise them.
– What I am suggesting is supported by the highest authority.
– How often would the Board meet?
– It will not meet very often.
– Unless it does so, a. number of subordinate officers will carry on the administration of the various branches, of the Department, without supervision, save in regard to matters brought before the Minister.
– If the Board were to meet often the Inspector-General could hardly be expected to attend.
– When in Melbourne he would be able to attend.
– He will be travelling all over the Commonwealth.
– I think we expect too much from the Inspector-General in the matter of travelling.
– He must know what is going on.
– The PostmasterGeneral is supposed to be familiar with the work of his Department, but he does not travel from State to State, and visit post-office after post-office. Even a banking institution finds it necessary to have more than one inspector, and the InspectorGeneral will discover that it is necessary to have sub-inspectors to travel from place to place. Is it to be assumed that this officer will travel to. every out-station in Australia?
– : No.
– As the honorable and learned member for Bendigo has said, if we have a competent officer as InspectorGeneral his presence and advice will be required by the Board.’ He ought to become the General Officer Commanding in time of war, or when the forces from the different States are brought together in time of peace, and it will be his duty to supervise training and staff duties. Is such an officer to be directed by a subordinate? Is the officer supervising ordnance, the Chief of Staff or the Adjutant-General, to control his branch of the Department, and to issue orders to the. Inspector-General as to what he shall do?
– He will not do anything of the kind.
– He will for, ward his instructions to the Inspector; General.
– He will not do so.
– How is the Inspector-General to get instructions? Members of the Board will be subordinate to him, and yet they will be given a position of control over him.
– No; that is quite foreign to the new office.
– He will have no executive authority. If, for example, he goes to Thursday Island and sees anything of which he disapproves, he will have no power to say to the responsible officer there, “ This, is wrong, and you must at once put it right.” If he were to do so, the officer would at once reply! “ I regret I cannot take any instructions from you, sir.”
– If he made such a reply, he would prove himself unfit for his position.
– My point is that the Inspector-General would have no executive authority enabling him in such a case to at once give instructions regarding any matter that required attention. He could only make a report on his return to head-quarters. The proposed system may work well in England, where it is possible to travel from one end of the country to the other in a day, but in a vast continent like Australia we need an Inspector-General with executive authority.
– Does the honorable’ member think that Brigadier–General Finn would accept such a position as he would have us believe this will be?
– I am dealing with a public matter in an open way.
– But the principle is settled.
– The question whether the Inspector-General shall be a member of the Military Board has not been settled.
– But the right honorable member was speaking of the powers of the Inspector-General.
– I contend that I have correctly described what his position . will be unless the amendment be adopted. As a member of the Board he would have executive authority.
– He could not perform the functions of the Board for himself.
– The Board might intrust him with executive authority.
– The right honorable member’s proposal is that the Inspector-General shall be the Board, or, in other words, that he shall be another General Officer Commanding.
– It is an easy matter for honorable members. to cavil at my proposals, but I have very good authority for them. The inconsistency o.f the attitude taken up by the Minister is shown by, the fact that he proposes that the Director! of the Naval Forces shall be a member of the Naval Board, because he will not have much to do. If the principle is to be introduced in the one case, why should it not be observed in the other? If there is no place for the InspectorGeneral on the Military Board, there should be no place for the Naval Director on the Naval Board.
– I hope that the right honorable member will not press the amendment. In the communication to which he has referred the writer, an officer of great experience, says that he is not sure whether the Inspector-General should, or should not; be on the board. j Sir John Forrest. - He says, “ I do not think your Inspector-General can be outside the board.”
– These are his exact words -
The difficulty about a board in Australia is, as you say, to find the members. Here, under our scheme, every member administers a very large Department - quite enough for one man - and millions of money. With us, I thought it essential that the Inspector-General should be. outside, and controlled by the Council. If you have a good Inspector-General, you rather require his presence and advice upon the board. On the other hand, he ought to be constantly away from head-quarters if he is to do his work properly. He ought also to become a General Officer Commanding in war only, and when the State Forces are brought together for a common purpose. In peace time, he must, I think, in addition to inspecting, supervise training and staff duties, which I propose he should do. On the whole, I think the balance of advantage is in making the Inspector-General a member of the board -
That is not a very emphatic declaration - which need not often meet as a board, since questions of general policy cannot often arise, but will transact its business as a board..
Under the scheme proposed by the Government, the Inspector-General is a member of the Council of Defence, so that his knowledge and experience are at the service of the Government when important questions of policy arise.
– Only in regard to questions of policy?
– All big questions of administration are matters of policy. Policy does not mean merely war schemes, but anything transcending the mere question as to how parliamentary appropriations are to be expended.
– It does not include administration ?
– No. The InspectorGeneral will be too good a man to be engaged with routine administration. No one man can administer, inspect, and carry cn executive command and training. Australia’ is too big for that; and extent of territory is quite as great a factor in this matter as the number of troops to be controlled. The General Officer Commanding pointed out in his last report that, owing to the demands on his time made by his administrative duties, he was unable to carry out his inspecting duties. The right honorable member for Swan must have found - as I have found since - that the General Officer Commanding was often away inspecting when he was required ‘in reference to matters of administration. The individuals carrying on administrative work must be separated from the individuals carrying on inspecting and executive work, if both classes of duty are to be properly performed. I wish to take full advantage of the knowledge of the Inspector-General by putting him on the Council, and I do not wish him to be prevented from doing his essential work - seeing that the Forces have been properly trained - by keeping him in an office transacting administrative duties. If the Inspector-General were given a position on the board, which is an administrative board, what administrative duties would be assigned to him - because a member of an administrative board without administrative duties would be in an extraordinary position? If he were on the board to control it, he would be in the position of a General Officer Commanding having a Board of Advice, and one of two things would happen; he would dominate the Board, or the Board would dominate him. Sir John Forrest. - The Minister would be there.
– The Minister should not be made an arbiter between the Board and his General Officer Commanding. Besides being a member of the State Legislature, I occupied a position in the State forces at the time, and this made me fully cognizant of the fact that under the Victorian system the Minister sometimes had to resolve the battles between the Commandant and the Council, while sometimes the Council had to try to resolve the battles between the Minister and the Commandant, owing to the indistinctness of the lines which divided their duties. The work of inspection is quite enough for a good man, while others will be told off for the work of administration, and within their own districts the Slate Commandants will be the: executive officers. The system which we now propose is in force in every country of importance, and has been satisfactorily carried out in England in regard to the Admiralty for two centuries, so that every precedent is in our favour. It cannot be said that British experience in any of the wars of the last century has proved the value of the General Officer Commanding system. If thi In spector-General were placed on the Board ex officio, he would either dominate it or be dominated by it, and would, moreover, be reporting to himself. In reporting after an inspection, he would say, “ Soandso is going wrong,” and then, as a member of .the Board, would take his own report, and say, “This must be remedied in the way I suggest, or things will not go on properly,” so that we should get back to the General Officer Commanding system again.
– If the Inspector-General is not on the Board, we shall have officers of lower rank criticising his proposals.
– The honorable member does not seem to fully grasp what are the duties of the Board, and what are the duties of the Inspector-General. The Board is running the machine, so far as administration is concerned, and the InspectorGeneral is no more subordinate to it than is the inspector of machinery under the Mines Act to the engineer in charge of that machinery. The Inspector-General reports to the Board if he thinks that anything is going wrong, so that the Board may have an opportunity to put it right. The Minister will be a member both of the Board and of the Council. If the Board did not do what the InspectorGeneral thought should be done, he could bring the matter before the Council.
– Could not the InspectorGeneral be called in and examined by the Board?
– No. The Board is responsible for the administration, and it is the duty of the Inspector-General to observe the results of that administration.
– Surely, if the Board wishes to consult the Inspector-General, its members will be able to send for him.
– They may ask him to come, but they cannot send for him, because he is not under their administration. He is no more subject to the Board than the Auditor-General of the Commonwealth is subject to the Departments whose accounts he audits. The Government may be wrong in the view which they hold in regard to this matter, and the rest of the world may be wrong in having adopted this system ; but it is essential to our proposition that the Inspector-General shall have nothing to do with actual administrative work, which is left to the Board. I ask the right honorable member to give us an opportunity to see how the system will work.
– The Government is not giving the present system a fair opportunity.
– I hope that the right honorable member will not press his amendment, because,if carried, it would defeat an essential part of the system which the Government wish to introduce.
– I think that it is quite possible that I do not grasp the point which the Minister is trying to impress upon honorable members. It still appears to me that no man with any selfrespect would put himself in such a position as that contemplated in regard to the Board. The Inspector-General will have to report to the Board, which will be constituted of men inferior to himself in rank and qualifications. His report must be dealt with in one way or the other by. the Board. If it be accepted, well and good, but if not, the Inspector-General will in effect be corrected by his inferiors.
– He will audit their work.
– No; it appears to me that they audit his work.
– No, he will audit their work. If he were on the Board he would be auditing his own work.
– If he sends in his report to men who are inferior in rank, they will be auditing his work.
– No, they will not. Mr. SKENE. - I confess that I do not understand the position as put by the Minister. I am regarding it from an ordinary business man’s point of view, and I say that no officer who has any selfrespect would place himself in such a position as that contemplated.
– The Inspector-General will not occupy a position similar to that of a bank inspector.
– Brigadier-General Finn knows all about the position, and has practically accepted it, so that the honorable member’s argument falls to the ground.
– The Duke of Connaught occupies exactly the same position in England.
– The position is very different in England, seeing that there are any number of men equal in rank to the Inspector-General to constitute a Board.
– The position in England is exactly similar. Every officer on the Board is the junior in rank of the InspectorGeneral. There are four Major - Generals on the Board.
– If I understood theMinisteraright, he said that the InspectorGeneral would have executive power with, regard to training and instruction.
– I did not say that. TheInspectorGeneral is to inspect and report.
– To whom does he report ?
– The Board.
– Then, in his executive workhe is to be subordinate to the membersof the Board?
– The honorable member does not understand what executive command) means. In all matters relating to carrying out work in the field, the Inspector-General will be the senior officer in command.’ If the troops go into camp, for instance; the Inspector-General, if present, will be in supreme control.
– I can only say that I entirely fail to understand the position as put by the Minister.
– The honorable member for Grampians seems to be very much troubled about the Inspector-General: I would ask him, however, to consider the position in England. Lieutenant-General Lyttelton is, I believe, the senior officer of the Military Board, all the rest of the members being Major-Generals. The InspectorGeneral is a Field-Marshal, and yet he has to report to his inferior officers.
– I am not so sure about that.
– I have the names of the members of the Board. None are of higher rank than that of Major-General. Even the district commanders, lieutenant-generals, are senior to the members of the Board, and yet they are directly subject to the administration of the Board.
Sir JOHN FORREST (Swan).- The Minister seems to have been rather unfortunate in his attempt to establish an analogy between the position of the InspectorGeneral and that of the AuditorGeneral. The latter officer has a statutory appointment, protected specially by Parliament, and has also the right of report direct to Parliament in the event of his decisions not being heeded, whereas the Inspector-General will have no such privileges. The recommendations of the InspectorGeneral may be treated as the Board may think fit.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Amendment of section 99).
– I desire to know the reason for providing that reports of Court-Martials shall be sent direct to the Minister, instead of through the HeadQuarters administration.
– Formerly, the General Officer Commanding was merely a conduit pipe. The position of General Officer Commanding has been’ abolished, and, therefore, we have merely taken away the pipe.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Groom) agreed to-
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 1 1 a. In all copies of the Principal Act hereafter printed by the Government Printer, all repeals and amendments of the provisions of the Principal Act made by this Act or any Act hereafter to be passed, shall be omitted and inserted, as the case may be, and reference shall be made in the margin of the Principal Act to the sections of the Acts by which such repeals or amendments are respectively made.”
– I move-
That the following new clause be inserted : - “11b. From and after the date of the passing of this Act, the sale of intoxicating liquors by any person in any camp or canteen or army transport, or upon any premises used solely for Military purposes by the Commonwealth, shall be, and is hereby prohibited.”
I do not wish to make a speech upon this subject, because the clause is similar to that which was proposed when the Defence Bill was under discussion last year. I understand that it was then fully debated, and the arguments which then did duty will apply with equal force on this occasion.
– I would ask thehonorable member not to press his proposal. As he probably knows, no honorable member of this House is more in sympathy than I am with the object he desires to achieve. My career shows that I have consistently supported the views which the honorable member holds’ on the liquor question. This matter came before Parliament last year, and I then said, as a private member, what I now desire to repeat, namely, that it would be an unwise step to take in the interests of sobriety.
– The canteens in the United StatesArmy were abolished.
– The Adjutant-General of the United States reported one year that the abolition was a good thing, and the next year stated that the change had not worked satisfactorily.
-Other officers reported that the change was eminently successful.
– I would ask thehonorable member for Lang not to press his proposal. I can assure him that as the result of long experience and intimate knowledge, I feel convinced that the effect will be to substitute unlicensed and unchecked drinking for drinking under strict control. I shall make sure that the canteen regulations are so stringent as to ensure proper control. Where men have only to go outside the barrack gates or beyond the bounds of a camp in order to get as much liquor as they like, it is better that they should be permitted to obtain drink from canteens under propoer control. If the canteens were abolished, the men would be induced to smuggle liquor into their quarters, and sobriety would certainly not be promoted. I think that a grave mistake would be made if the proposed new clause were adopted.
– I trust that the honorable member for Lang will press his proposal. The Minister’s argument is tantamount to saying that because I do not permit intoxicants to be consumed in my ‘house, I am encouraging my children in habits of insobriety. It is exceedingly unfortunate that this proposal should be discussed upon Friday afternoon, when many honorable members are absent. There is no doubt in my mind that had it been brought forward upon any other day itwould have been carried. I do not intend to throw any obstacles in the way of getting this admirable Bill through Committee, but I must express regret that men who are in sympathy with me upon this great question entertain the same view as that expressed by the Minister. I trust that this question will not be made a Government one, because I hope to secure the support of the honorable member for Dalley. I know that he is loyal to the Government and to the Minister of Defence, but I am sure that he is more loyal to. his principles, and that he recognises that where there is drink there is danger. I hold that the greater the facilities which are offered for drinking the greater is the danger. May I express regret that you, sir, are in the chair at this particular juncture, because I am aware that you can speak from the stand-point, not only of a military man. but of a duly qualified medical practitioner.I do not proposeto delay the Committee, but I intend to press this matter to a” division.
Mr. KELLY (Went worth).- I think that I should be lacking in my duty if I did not place before the Committee one result t_ which will follow the adoption of this clause. The Victoria Barracks,, Paddington, are located in my own constituency. In those barracks the canteen business is run vary much upon the lines of the Gothenburg system. All the profits derived from the sale of liquor are invested in comforts for the men - in reading matter, &c. Thus the temperate thirst requirements of the troops are cared for, the profits accruing from the traffic being devoted to their material and mental comfort.
– They drink themselves into prosperity.
– Why should that excite the envy of the honorable member? If this clause be carried no drink will be sold within the barracks’ area. But I would point out that the authority of the Commonwealth does not extend beyond the boundaries of those barracks. Adjacent to them are numerous public-houses, over which we can exercise no control.
– Is the honorable member aware that the authorities could place every one of those public-houses out of bounds if they chose to do so?
– My honorable friend would outrage the feelings of the State authorities if he attempted anything of the sort.
– It is done at home.
– But in England the men are not forbidden to obtain liquor in the canteen.
– I do not suggest that these hotels cater for the Royal Australian Artillery. I know that they do not. In fact there is no more sober body in Australia than the Royal Australian Artillery. Its members are not thirsty men. They are content to satisfy their temperate requirements in the barracks with the best liquor that is procurable. If they are obliged to go outside the barracks they will resort to an atmosphere which is not nearly so. good, from a moral stand-point, as that which obtains inside. They will consume worse drink; and in so doing will also be spending their money in assisting to, swell the profits of the publican. That being the case, we should not think of adopting the proposal under consideration. It is premature in the extreme.
– During the interval for adjournment I had an opportunity to discuss this matter with Brigadier-General Finn., and consequently I have been enabled to reap the advantage of his thirtyfive years of military experience. I have also looked into the regulations, as they stand at present, and I may tell honorable members that I am willing that those regulations shall provide, in the first place, that the liquor consumed in the canteens shall be the property of the corps for whose benefit they are established, and that its supply shall not be farmed out to contractors. That will be equivalent to Government control.
– More Socialism.
– I do not care what the honorable member chooses to call it. I am prepared to do everything I can to insure proper supervision in connexion with the’ liquor traffic.
– Will the Minister’s proposal apply to camps as well ?
– Yes. It will apply to all canteen a.
– It will be very difficult to put it into operation.
– It has been done scores of times. In my own regiment I have put it into operation half-a-dozen times without experiencing any difficulty whatever. I am further prepared to provide that there shall be no sales of liquor except to those for whose benefit the canteens are established. In the third place, I am willing to see that boys and cadets are absolutely prohibited from obtaining liquor at canteens. The canteen sergeants will prevent them from entering these places. I will undertake to see that the regulations for all troops are so framed as to insure the carrying out of these conditions. Having made that offer to honorable members, I think they may reasonably accept it as one which goes a very long way in the direction which they desire, without causing the disadvantages which I fear will accompany the absolute prohibition of liquor in military camps.
– I think that the abolition of the canteens in military camps and barracks is a reform which might very reasonably be tried. From personal experience in England, I can say that the results which flow from the canteen system both in camps and barracks, are anything but favorable. I was present in camp at Aldershot and Dover, and I know that the canteen was not a. good thing for the members of those camps. We are also aware that the opinion of Lord Roberts is opposed to t’he canteen system.
– Does he wish to prohibit the sale of intoxicants absolutely ?
– He would prohibit their sale within the cantonment, or the camp, or the barracks.
– He would not permit them to be sold at all.
– That is so. There are other eminent military authorities who are just as emphatic upon the question. Their opinion is that the canteen is not a good institution for the soldiers, and certainly it is not a good one for the officers. Under these circumstances, I think that very stringent regulations should be framed in regard to the use of the canteen in military camps. I regard the offer of the Minister as a very fair one, but I should like to know how others, entertaining similar views to myself feel in regard to the matter: before consenting to give way. We should certainly control the liquor traffic in camps or barracks very strictly indeed if we are to prevent possible abuses.
– For once I am thoroughly in accord with the Minister of Defence. I think that he has suggested a course which will commend itself to everybody who is interested in the welfare of those who live in barracks or in camp. Before we give prohibition a trial, we should await the results, of a system of Government control, so far as the canteens are concerned. I congratulate the Minister upon his action.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa).- The honorable member for Wentworth seems to be very much concerned lest the members of the Royal Australian Artillery may go outside the Victoria barracks and obtain bad grog.
– Lest they shall be compelled to go outside the barracks.
– My experience at Woolwich and Aldershot leads me to differ entirely from the conclusions drawn by the honorable member. It is that nearlyall, the crime committed by men in barracks, had been the result of obtaining drink within those barracks. Out of the thousands of troops stationed at Aldershot and Woolwich the percentage of those who get drunk outside is very small indeed. At Woolwich and Aldershot Saturday was usually pay day, and every Sunday morning the guard-room was full of men charged with drunkenness and other offences, due to the drink they had obtained at the canteen, although it closed at 9 p.m.
– That might have been because of the quality of the liquor.
-Nocomplaint could be made on that score, for the spirits were sold as supplied to the canteen. According to the honorable member for Wentworth,! the Federal Government have no control over hotels. Let me tell him that in every garrison town in Great Britain certain hotels are placed out of bounds, and God help the soldier who is found in any one of them. If the Federal authorities thought fit, they might declare twenty, thirty, or forty hotels in the vicinity of the barracks out of bounds, and any soldier found in them would be liable, not only to imprisonment, but, if he had a good conduct badge, to a deduction of one penny per day. I think the Minister has gone a long way towards meeting the position; I certainly am satisfied with his proposal in regard to the supply of drink at camps and cantonments in different parts of the States. Last Easter twelve months I saw several boys lying about one of the camps in a drunken state, and made up my mind to do my best to render it impossible for strong drink to be supplied at such places. The Minister has told us that the supply of drink to cadets and civilians will be strictly forbidden, and that should remove the difficulty. We certainly ought to give the Minister’s proposal a trial.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Mr. McCAY (Corinel la- Minister of Defence). - I understand that the Senate has now no business before it. The Bill has passed through Committee with only one amendment, providing in effect that when the principal Act is reprinted it shall be as amended by this or any other measure. It maythus be said that the Bill has passed practically without amendment, and if honorable members would add to the favours they have already shown to the Government that of allowing the Bill to pass through its remaining stages to-day, we should be able to send it on to the Senate for consideration on Wednesday next.
– Shall we adjourn as soon as we have disposed of this Bill ?
– That does not affect the question before us. I wish to have the Bill sent on to the Senate without delay, so that I may set to work to put the new scheme in operation as soon as possible. If the House objects to the report being adopted, we shall simply have to deal with it on Wednesday next, and some other business will be taken this afternoon. By leave I move -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to allow the Bill to pass through its remaining stages this day.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that I put the question ?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear. Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move-
That the report be now adopted.
During the consideration of the Bill in Committee the honorable and learned member for Bendigo raised a point as to the legal position of the Inspector-General in time of war. I have promised to look into the question, and shall do so before Wednesday next. Unless I am satisfied that we can deal with the matter as an Executive act, I shall see that the necessary amendment is made in another place. With regard to the amended regulations relating to canteens, I may say that I shall have them drafted without delay, and shall be very pleased to submit’ them to any honorable members who may wish to see them before they are gazetted, in order that they may be satisfied that they carry out the promise I have made to the Committee.
– The Minister also promised to consider my point as to the command of the Forces in time of peace. If anything is required to be added to the Bill in regard to that matter, I presume that it will also receive attention in the Senate ?
– That also is included in my undertaking.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. McCay) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a. third time.
– I feel that I shall not unduly occupy the time of honorable members by offering some criticism on the third reading of this Bill. The House has resolved to accept a scheme which was decided upon by the last two Ministers of Defence, and adopted by the present administrator of the Department, so that even if I had spoken on the motion for the second reading of the Bill, it is improbable that I should have been able to influence its decision. What I shall have to say will be by way of protest, and largely in the nature of a prophecy. I am afraid that there is an ultimate danger in connexion with this Bill, and the criticism which I offer may receive the attention of another place, or of this House at some future time, when we find that the measure has not realized the anticipations of those responsible for its introduction. I recognise that the Minister is only performing a patriotic duty ; that he has done everything within his power to bring the Defence Forces into the best possible condition ; but I regret that the Bill passed through the Committee stage as quickly as it did. The Minister really made a secondreading speech, explaining the proposals of the Government, when the Defence Estimates were before us, and in consequence the remarks made by him this morning, in moving that the Bill be read a second time, were somewhat curtailed. When I arrived, I found that the motion had been agreed to, and that such good progress had been made in Committee that the proposed new clause, moved by the honorable member for Lang, was under consideration. In these circumstances, I feel that it is my duty to avail myself of this opportunity to put my views before the Minister, who I believe will give consideration to them, knowing that I have always taken a deep interest in defence matters, and have made them the subject of careful study. Whenthe Defence Bill of 1903 was before us, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports moved an amendment providing for a Council of Defence, under which the office of Commander-in-Chief was to be continued. I gave that proposal my support, but the present Minister of Defence opposed it.
– It was quite a different proposal from that embodied in this Bill.
– That is so. It is for that reason that I feel that, although I supported the proposal put forward by the honorablemember for Melbourne Ports for a Council of Defence, I cannot be charged with inconsistency in offering some opposition to the measure now before us. We have three lines of defence, but our Army still remains under our own control. The value of the Army depends first, on its fighting capacity, and secondly, upon its administrative organization. The Minister has attempted to supply the second essential to an army’s success by introducing this measure, providing for a Council of Defence - of which the Inspector-General, the Chief of. Staff, and other officers will be members - and also for a Naval Board and a Military Board. I understand that the amendment moved by the right honorable member for Swan to provide that the Inspector-General should be a member of the Military Board was withdrawn, and I certainly agree with the Minister that we require to have an independent critic outside the Board, and cer- tainly one who will not be called upon to criticise his own work. The difficulty which arises in regard to this Bill is one that has occurred in connexion with the forces of all the States. That is, a constant fight between the General Officer Commanding and the permanent head of the Department. We who have had experience of the. military forces in Victoria know that that difficulty, has existed in this State, and that the permanent head - that is, the Secretary of Defence - having the ear of the Minister, has usually been able to succeed. Now the struggle is to be shifted to a new set of combatants. We shall not only have the InspectorGeneral fighting for his own hand, and his own priority, but we shall have the Chief of the Staff and the permanent head doing the same. The Chief of. Staff will have this great advantage over the Inspector-General, that he will be not only a member of the Council of Defence, but also of the. Military Board, the natural consequence being that he will have two opportunities of getting his way, whereas the Inspector-General will have only one. The reason why, in 1903, I supported the proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was that, under his scheme, we should’ continue to have a CommanderinChief. The Minister could still have a Chief of Staff and an InspectorGeneral, in addition. Under whatever scheme we may adopt, there must be one man who will have the final word to say. In an autocratic body like an army there must be a head man, one supreme control. Otherwise the whole organization breaks down. If there is an organized body in the world, which is essentially autocratic in its character, it is an army. Therefore, I think that, as this scheme develops itself, we shall come back more or less to the oldsystem, and that there will be some person - whatever we choose to call him - who will develop into a Commander-in-Chief, and virtually take the position which the CommanderinChief occupies at the present time. Of course, in framing this scheme, the Minister is looking largely to what has been done in England, in consequence of the reorganization of the Army, consequent upon the South African ‘war. I believe that Mr. L. S. Amery is the author of a book’ upon the subject, The Problem of the Army, which will be found in the Library. He sketched out the lines on which, afterwards, the Military Board in England was appointed. Sir George . Sydenham Clarke was, with Lord Esher and Admiral -Fisher, made a member of that board. Upon this new system, the War Office is to be con ducted in the future. But there are difficulties in connexion with the administration of the Army in England, that do not prevail in Australia. In England, there are five ‘different authorities, whose transactions may lead the country into war. In Australia we have no such difficulty. Here our Army is small, and the area of possible combat is extremely limited, as compared with the enormous area over which the English War Office has to extend its authority.
– Does the honorable and learned member say that those authorities in England have power to make war ?
– They can exercise powers which may lead the country into war, but, of course, only the Crown can declare war. The five authorities are the War Office, the Admiralty, the Foreign Office, the Colonial Office, and the India Office. Any one of these authorities might bring about a state of war. But. a far different condition of things exists in Australia. Here, if a mistake were made in our military affairs, it would not be so disastrous. But I think that we may be going upon wrong lines in abolishing the office of CommanderinChief, for several reasons, which I shall give. I may direct the attention of the Minister to an article written by the Honorable j. W. Fortescue, which is published in the Nineteenth Century.
– I have read it ; it is a very interesting article. But who is Mr. Fortescue ?
– He is a constant writer on military affairs in English reviews. In this article he writes as follows: -
As the War Office itself, past experience seems to indicate pretty clearly the broad lines upon which reform should proceed. People talk vaguely of a Board, and point to the Admiralty, merely adding the words mutatis mutandis. But mutatis mutandis is in this case a large order ; the army is not the navy ; and a Board of to-morrow’s creation must be a very different thing from an ancient body with the tradition of more than two centuries of imperious independence. First, then, is a CommanderinChief necessary to the army? History teaches most emphatically that he is. Whenever the army has been without such a CommanderinChief - whenever, that is, its military Government has been in the hands of other than a single military chief - its discipline has suffered severely ; and an army without discipline is naught. The present time is no exception. There are too many symptoms of the spread of slack discipline in the army at this moment, symptoms which a student of our military history can trace directly to the degradation of the Commander– in-Chief’s position, and to the encroachments upon his independence. We are reverting to the state of things to which the Duke of York, with infinite industry and labour, put an end a hundred years ago.
It has to be recognised that the system of controlling the British Army by means of a board, is no new experiment. It was being pursued in England about 120 years ago; but the Duke of York, the son of the reigning King, saw that the Arm v. needed to have the administration of one vigorous mind, and in consequence, the system was changed. Mr. Fortescue goes on- to say -
A Commander-in-Chief, then, there must be ; but his title might, with advantage, be changed to that of Captain-General ; and he should be the effective head of the military government e the army, and nothing more. As the senior officer of the army, he should have a seat in the Secretary of State’s Council, of which presently; but he should not be the sole military adviser of the Secretary of State. His duties should consist in the maintenance of discipline and instruction, of expending the moneys allotted to him by the Secretary of State for current services of the army ; and he should be responsible for keeping the army up to the strength fixed by the Cabinet for the maintenance of its military policy.
When the right honorable member for Swan was criticising the proposed new system the other day, he remarked that the Board proposed to be appointed was on similar lines to the Victorian Board of Railways Commissioners. But ‘ as a matter of practice, there is a supreme head of the Victorian railway system. Honorable members who know the Railways Commissioners Act, will remember that there are three Commissioners of whom one, Mr. Tait, is the superior officer, and the Chairman of the Board. As a matter of fact, Mr. Tait really has the governing voice in the direction of affairs. Although he has two colleagues, he is able, under the law, to override their decisions, and if that happens, all that they can do is to enter their protest in writing against what he proposes to do. In a large business concern like a railway system, just as in an autocratic organization like an army, there must be some one ruling and directing mind. That is what our army requires, and what the Victorian Railways have at the present time. This desire to have a board to control our Military Forces, rather than a CommanderinChief has, to a large extent, arisen in consequence of what occurred in South Africa. The revelations during that war were sufficient to make the English people come to the conclusion that it was necessary to have a change in the method of organization. Consequently, they reverted to the system which we see in operation in the Board of Admiralty. They thought that the Board of Admiralty afforded a type which should be followed in connexion with the administration of the army. But does the Minister of Defence propose that the members of his board shall be similarly placed? Is he aware that the members of the Board of Admiralty are officers on -half-pay, and that they do not wear uniform, because they are regarded, while they occupy such positions, as civilians? Surely there is a divergence from the Board of Admiralty type in the scheme before the House.
– As to the power to wear uniform ?
– No, as to the officers being on half-pay while they sit on the Board of Admiralty.
– The rate of pay does not affect their position.
– Does the Minister intend that the officers on the Military Board shall receive half-pay, and be dissociated from other military duties?
– Among their military duties will be that of sitting on the board.
– As a matter of practice, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, under whatever name he is known, disguise, his position as you like, must be a member of this new body, whatever the new body be called ; there must be some one who will be paramount, and to whom the Minister can look as responsible for the Defence Forces.
– That is what the honorable and learned member desires, is it not?
– I regard it as necessary, and I desire what is necessary.
– If that is what is going to happen, what is the honorable and learned member complaining of?
– The Minister “has stated that this Board will mean divided control. There will be the Chief of Staff, an Inspector-General, and two other officers.
– The Chief of Staff will not be the Chief of Staff over the InspectorGeneral.
– To the extent that a one-man authority is established, the present system will be continued, and this Bill will be non-effective. Admiral Sir M. Culme Seymour wrote an article in a recent number of the Nineteenth Century, in which he shows that,, although the Admiralty Board nominally controls, the members are really under the First Lord of the Admiralty. That article contains the following: -
When, in December, 1868, Mr. Gladstone became Prime Minister, Mr. Childers, who had in a previous Administration been Junior Civil Lord of the Admiralty, was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, and knowing that he could not carry out Mr. Gladstone’s economies with the Board, in January, 1869, procured an Order in Council which abolished the responsibility of the Board, and made the First Lord’ solely responsible to the King and Parliament, and the Naval Lords responsible only to the First Lord for whatever work he allotted to them to carry out, and this system has been continued to the present day. The machinery of the Board was retained, in case the First Lord wished to call them together to ask for their advice, which he can take or not as he thinks fit ; but the Board, as a Board, are in no way directly responsible to the King and country. And the anomaly remains that, although they are appointed by Patent as Commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Admiral, they are prevented from doing so by the Order in Council referred to (January the 14th, 1869).
Referring to the War Office, the article proceeds -
How the organization I have sketched (purposely, briefly, and without details), would suit the War Office, it is for those who are more conversant with military matters than I am to judge. Personally, I feel sure that a Board on the lines of the present Admiralty, would not answer; the reason the Admiralty is more or less satisfactory at present is not because a civilian is solely responsible for its conduct, but owing to its old traditions, the extreme loyalty that pervades the Navy, and the fact that the procedure is carried on on much the same lines as previous to 1869, when the Board, and not the First Lord, was responsible. If the War Office is to be reorganized on the model of the Admiralty, it must be as the Admiralty was previous to 1869.
This and other articles are by experts of high rank in the Naval and Military Forces of Great Britain, and their opinions, deliberately given in the reviews, are worthy of consideration. Sir George T. Lambert contributed to the Nineteenth Century a criticism of Lord Esher’s note, which was the basis of the final proposals of the War Office, now followed in the Bill before us. In that article it is stated -
The equality of authority and of responsibility is absolute, and equal deference is required to be paid to all. It has been the custom, however, to give precedence to the Lords Commissioners, according to the order in which their names stand in the Patent, and the first name is invariably that of the Cabinet Minister who is to represent, the Cabinet at the Board, and the Board in the Cabinet. The position which he thus occupies as the representative of the Government makes the First Lord facileprinceps among his colleagues at the Board, and as, of course, their chairman. Under the Patent he cannot overrule, his colleagues, but, in the event of his differing from them, he has the Cabinet to fall back upon, and the decision of the Cabinet is, as in all matters, conclusive.
It seems to me, therefore, that the First Lord of the Admiralty is the one man responsible, while the others are allotted only certain duties, for the performance of which they are answerable to him, and not to the Cabinet directly. It was admitted by the Minister of Defence, in reply, I believe, to the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, that there must be a CommanderinChief in time of war, although an effort is being made to divide other duties amongst members of the Board.
– “ Admitted “ by me ! It was stated by me.
– If the Minister is so particular, I withdraw the word “admitted” and substitute “stated.” It seems to be the desire of the Minister, according to the Bill, to divide the duties previously performed by the CommanderinChief in time of peace. In his speech the other day, the Minister said his first idea - I do not know whether he intends to give the matter further consideration - was that the Inspector-General should be the Commander-in-Chief in time of war.
– I said that probably he would be the best man for the position.
– The Minister also said that the Inspector-General would not be responsible in time of peace for the excutive command, would have nothing to do with the training of troops, and was to be changed every four years. I should like honorable members to consider the position in regard to the Inspector-General.
– We have considered all that, and passed the Bill through Committee.
– And yet the Minister says that the Inspector-General is to be the Commander-in-Chief in time of war.
– The Inspector General need not, necessarily; be changed every four years.
– But that is a point on which the Minister is emphatic.
– I am strongly of opinion that the Inspector-General oughtto . be changed every four years, but I do not propose that the change shall be legally compulsory.
– There is the possibility of re-appointment.
– At any rate, it is the Minister’s present idea that the InspectorGeneral should be changed every four years.
– That will depend to a large extent on whether I am in office three or four years hence.
– At any rate, I take it that that is the present intention of the Minister ; and to that I do not object. The Minister went even so far as to say that at the end of four years the Inspector-General would be capable of taking another command. When the Minister was speaking, the right honorable member for Swan interjected to the effect that unless the InspectorGeneral were an old man, he would not be content to finish his military career at the end of four years; and to this the Minister replied that the Inspector-General could go to some other work - that he did nor see why such an officer should not undertake a State command, when he could be no longer Inspector-General. That is where we see the great defect of the scheme. The Inspector-General is not to be responsible for executive commands, nor for the training of troops and yet he is to take charge of those troops in time of war. That seems to me to be a fatal mistake; .and experience will prove that such a scheme must break down in time of war.
– All that does not inhere in the scheme; those are only expressions of opinion on the part of the Minister as to what should be done. In time of war, the best man will be appointed.
– But the Minister says that the best man will be selected as InspectorGeneral, and the best man in time of peace should be leader in time of war. According to the Minister, the man who has to lead the troops in time of war, will have nothing to do with their training.
– I did not say that the Inspector-General will have .nothing to do with the training of the troops ; what I said was that he will not have to do the training. The Inspector-General will have more to do with the training than any other man in the Commonwealth, because he will say how it has to be conducted. The honorable and learned member is cutting up my words as if they were pleadings in an action.
– Of course, if the Minister says that the Inspector-General will have to do with the training of the troops-
– He will have to inspect, and report.
– I take it that the Minister’s speech was deliberate, and I am not cutting up the words so as in any way to destroy the context. The Minister might be gracious enough to admit that in hi? opinion the Inspector-General will not have anything to do with the training of the troops.
– I do not know what the honorable and learned member means by “not have anything to do with.” The Inspector- General is not to do the training.
– The InspectorGeneral is not to act the part of a sergeantmajor.
– Or the part of a company captain, a lieutenant-colonel, or even of a State commandant.
– Or of a brigadiergeneral. But he is to act the part of a general critic, and .what Australian soldiers want is less criticism and more leadership. It is said that the Inspector-General should be the best man; but to make this scheme work we ought to have a series of best men.
– He may not be the best man four years hence.
– Quite so, and then this “ best man “ of to-day, as a young man still, will, according to the answer given to the right honorable member for Swan, have to take a State command under some other man who at the present time is second or third “ best man.”
– It would be more sensible to then send the Inspector-General home for a trip.
– Many things may then be done with the Inspector- General.
– No doubt, a lot may be done in four years. Of course, if the Minister is going to abandon his proposals
– I do not abandon anything, except the hope of the honorable and learned member finishing soon.
– The Minister can abandon all hope in that direction ; I have a lot more to say. The Minister of Def fence has put forward a scheme, and as soon as it is touched, he says, “ If it does not suit, we can alter it.” I do not mean to say that all those defects I have pointed out are in the Bill.
– Alleged defects.
– The Bill only provides a skeleton scheme, the details of which may be filled in afterwards; that is the Minister has said in effect, that the details need not be adhered to definitely. I want honorable members to see that if the Minister devises any other use for the InspectorGeneral, or any other way of abolishing the Commandership-in-Chief, his present proposal will have to be amended, and we shall then arrive at the one man who must be responsible. The scheme of having an Inspector-General who is to be changed every four years, will give rise to an extraordinary position. Throughout the debate there seems to have been a feeling that there is too much centralization in the Military Forces, but personally I think we should have more; and on this point I should like honorable members to listen to one or two figures. This might perhaps be thought a matter more for discussion on the Estimates, but I should like to lay the figures before the House, in order that it may be seen how many staffs we are maintaining. When Major-General Sir Edward Hutton left the Commonwealth, we had a Commandant in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland. South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. We have now an Acting Commandant for the Commonwealth - that is, seven Commandants in Australia - four Assistant Adjutants-General, three Deputy Assistant Quartermasters-General, seven Deputy Assistant Adjutants-General, two senior clerks, and forty-one military clerks. In other words, we have in the Commonwealth seven Commandants at a cost of £7,100, four Assistant AdjutantsGeneral at a cost of .£2,425, three Deputy Assistant Quartermasters- General at a cost of £1,600, seven Deputy Assistant AdjutantsGeneral at a cost of ,£3,090, two senior clerks at a cost of .£635, and fortyone military clerks at a cost of £6,666. We also have an Assistant Adjutant-General for Artillery, a Principal Medical Officer, an A.D.C., and a Secretary to the General Officer Commanding. The fact is that we need more, not less, centralization in connexion with the organization of the Military Forces. We. ought to abolish the States staffs.
– And States Commandants ?
– Yes, because one-half of the forty-three military clerks who. are employed in receiving, docketing, forwarding, and recommending things, are merely conduit pipes between the central office and the persons whose correspondence they deal with. Supposing that a sergeant in Queensland wishes to communicate with the Minister. The sergeant writes to his captain, the captain writes to the colonel of the regiment,, the colonel writes to the State Commandant’s staff officer, the State Commandant writes to the Chief Staff Officer, the Chief Staff Officer then obtains the recommendation of the General Officer Commanding, and then it goes to the Minister. What the Minister does is to set in motion the same machinery, only by the reverse process. Every one of these persons has to note his minute and forward it, perhaps putting a recommendation on it. Eight or nine men are employed in sending the letter from the sergeant to the Minister, and eight or nine men are employed in sending the Minister’s answer to the sergeant.
– Can the honorable and learned member suggest how a matter of that kind can be otherwise dealt with ? I am anxious to save circumlocution.
– If the Minister will wait I shall answer his question. I would abolish the States staffs and work through Head-Quarters. In each State I would allow one man - who might be the senior man, and who would be available for functions, and so on - to have charge of the whole of a similar arm throughout the Commonwealth. Supposing, for example, that Colonel Price were in charge of the Australian Light Horse. If he were in Queensland he would have to deal with the whole of the Australian Light Horse for the Commonwealth. In the same way, I should have an officer in South Australia to look after the whole of the infantry for the Commonwealth, an officer in New South Wales to look after the whole of the artillery for the Commonwealth, and an officer in Tasmania to look after the whole of the military miners. By that method we should be able to abolish the whole of the States staffs.
– Would not each man require a staff?
– It could be done with very much less assistance than at present.
– The honorable and learned member is wrong there.
– The Minister must know that it would be impossible for a man’s letter to reach the Minister except as I have stated. I am asked to say how the circumlocution could be saved. ‘It could be saved by having in each State capital one man to look after the whole of that arm throughout the Commonwealth.
– Will the honorable and learned member give his chain from the sergeant to the Minister?
– I should allow the colonel to write straight to the Commandant. I should allow no State Commandant to interfere with the right of the officer in charge of a brigade or regiment to approach, as he finally has to do, the General Officer Commanding, or afterwards the Minister.
– That is one step saved out of nine or ten.
– Yes; and the salaries of six Commandants and six secretaries are also saved.
– But . the honorable and learned member would have six departmental commanders instead.
– It means that the work of seven Commandants, four Assistant AdjutantsGeneral, three Deputy Assistant Quartermasters-General, and seven Deputy Assistant Adjutants-General’ could all be done by six men.
– No ; they would each want a staff. How could a Light Horse man in Sydney command the Light Horse in Western Australia without a staff?
– Does the Minister propose to re-open this question?
– Well, it looks as if the honorable and learned gentleman does.
– It is part of my duty to listen to the speaker.
– The House has practically affirmed that the Bill shall be passed.
– I cannot stop the honorable and learned member’s speech.
– No; it will be too valuable for future reference. The Kalgoorlie Bill must wait. The Minister continues to recognise a Commandant and a staff in each State. In order to get the proper economy which was promised prior to Federation, we should have a recognition in the Defence Department that the Commonwealth is in existence. We are really keeping up each State system which the people, when they voted for the Commonwealth Constitution Bill, expected to be wiped out, to a large extent, as a separate system. We need unification in our methods in Federal affairs. The only advantage which has been gained in this. Department has been the appointment of one Minister in .place of six
Ministers. In the same way we might have one Commandant instead of seven Commandants. It should be recognisedthat we have an Australian service and not six States services. I trust that the Minister will do his best to bring about that reform. The duty of the Chief of Staff, under this Bill, I consider, will be to prepare the schemes of defence and intelligence. The duty of a CommanderinChief in war is to possess a complete and detailed knowledge of the schemes of defence and intelligence, and the larger tactics, and to put them into execution. The Chief of Staff is the man who prepares the schemes of defence ; but under this Bill the Inspector-General, who will have nothing to do with the training of troops, and who will be a mere critic, like a company’s inspecting auditor, will take charge in time of war. I do not think it is possible at any time to work a military force by means of a Committee. In connexion with the Russian and Japanese war, a proposal was lately made in Russia to create a second army, under General Gripenberg, while General Kuropatkin, the present Commandant, was to retain charge of the first army. But all the military experts in Europe pointed out that such a plan would only lead to disaster. They urged that it meant that two men would have control instead of one. That proposal is very much like the Minister’s scheme of a Committee to guide and control the Defence Force. On the 28th September the London Standard published the following criticism of the proposal which had appeared in the Vienna Fremdenblatt : -
Now that a second man has been co-ordinated with General Kuropatkin, the old military rule must be cited that two good leaders at the head of an army are worse than one inferior .leader. Largely as the present arrangement contributed towards bringing about the disasters of the past, the new one is likely to lead to nothing but new defeats.
The critics recognise that with apparently the Minister does not recognise, namely, that an army cannot be carried on by a Committee, that it must be in control of one man, who will be resposible ibr everything. The Minister said that, under his scheme, the Cabinet is- to finally control, and I noticed that the House approved of his remark. That really mears that the Minister is to finally control.
– He will be practically the Commander-in-Chief.
– Yes ; there is no doubt that in these matters the Cabinet will take the opinion of the Minister of Defence. This really means that the Secretary of Defence, as the permanent head of the Defence Department, will control the forces in the future, as he has done in the past. I do not say that that control has not been to a certain extent beneficial. But there is no doubt that when a struggle arises between the Chief of Staff and the Permanent Head, and the Inspector-General, as to who is to control the forces, there will be a return to the present system. If the Minister, through the Cabinet, is to control, it means that the Secretary for Defence will have the largest, because the final, say. There is nothing more dangerous in an army than to have political control. It was only when Lincoln and the men in charge of the Civil Department at Washington ceased to try to control matters in connexion with military operations from which they were so far distant, that General Grant was able to succeed in his efforts against the secessionists. For that reason attempts have been made in the past to give the English CommanderinChief a place in the Cabinet. They do that on the Continent, where they are largely autocratic in their military ideas, and where there is generally a member of the Royal family who has acted as CommanderinChief.’ The English Constitution and the Australian Constitutions, however, have found it difficult to graft an autocratic department on to a democratic system. In spite of the proposed new organization, the Minister of Defence will continue to control matters as he does now. I have tried to show that the Council of Defence will not fulfil the intentions of its author. To the extent that it endeavours to do the work which the Minister intends it to do, it will fail. As a council of control it will be a failure. If the Minister had followed the lines proposed in 1903, which he then so strongly opposed, and had provided only for a council of advice, he would have provided a useful body. I wish now to discuss the assumption of the Minister that it is necessary to import an Inspector of Ordnance from England. If we do import such an officer, he should be the best man obtainable. The London Times, however, has described the English Army as the most costly and the least efficient which the mind of man can conceive, and those of us who have had experience of the organization scheme recently put forward know that .we have done no good by bringing out English officers, and would have been better off had we depended on Australian soldiers to do Australian work. That has been finally admitted by the late General Officer Commanding, though the idea was at first repudiated by him. In a public speech made about a week before he left Australia, he said that he could see that Australian troops would be best led by Australian officers, 01 by officers in sympathy with Aus-‘ tralia.
– I think that what he said was that he recognised that Australian troops desired to be commanded by Australian officers; but he has on several occasions stated that in his opinion there is no Australian officer who is fitted for the command.
– A man cannot prove his ability until he is given an opportunity to act. If young men know that the highest positions in the service will not be open to them, even though they may possess the ability requisite to efficiently discharge the duties pertaining to them, they will not adopt the military profession. We have trained some of the best medical men to be found anywhere in the world, men who when they went to South Africa showed that they knew as much about medical science as did the eminent surgeons from other parts of the Empire. Similarly we have trained our own Judges, who I think will be acknowledged to be good lawyers, and it seems to me a pity that we do not give Australians an opportunity to show what they could do in military matters. Until Australians are promoted to the highest positions, we shall never have Australian officers able to take command. If the scheme we are now discussing were to be worked by Australian officers, it would have a better chance of succeeding than it will otherwise have
– I have said that I do not think it will be necessary to bring more than one officer from abroad, but if the honorable and learned member can tell me of an Australian officer, who, in his opinion, is capable of carrying out the duties of a Chief of Ordnance, and on inquiry he proves a suitable man. I will not look further.
– I would make such officers capable, bv failure, as most men lean- by experience and by defeat. The only way to see what our men can do in certain positions is to appoint them to those positions. I will give the Minister privately the name of an officer who, I think, is suitable for the position to which he has referred. We shall never have a complete organization till every position in the service is open to men who have risen from the ranks.
– The honorable and learned member speaks as though I am preventing men from rising from the ranks.
– The Act provides that men may rise from the ranks, but, in point of fact, attempts are made to prevent that happening. Iri other professions, the ablest men have sometimes risen from the poorest beginnings. A man may have a good social or monetary position, and yet not possess high professional attainments. If the Minister says that there is a paucity of Australian officers for these positions-
– I have not said that.
– At any rate, the honorable and learned gentleman assumes that he has not an officer capable of filling one position, and the Acting General Officer Commanding is not an Australian.
– I have not said that.
– If we have not capable officers, it is because we have not given sufficient opportunities for men to rise from the ranks. If, in the future, we do that, it may be possible when another organization scheme is proposed,, to appoint such a man to the position of Commander-in-Chief. If it be necessary that we should secure from abroad an officer to act as Chief of Ordnance, we should endeavour to obtain the very best man in the world.
– Does the honorable and learned member think he would come?
– At any rate, we should offer him the position. I should not necessarily select an English officer, as the London Times has pointed out that the English Army has shown itself to be the most inefficient and costly the mind of man could conceive. .
– It is costly because the men are paid at a decent rate.
– Would the honorable and learned member select a Japanese?
Mr. -CROUCH.- The Japanese have given ample proof of their adaptability, and of their readiness to follow the best methods adopted by other nations. They found that the English naval officers were the best to train their seamen, and their recent successes ‘ upon the water were largely due to the sound instruction they received. German instructors, who are regarded as the most expert in military work, were employed to train and lead their land forces. In matters of finance, they enlisted- the services of Frenchmen, and in other Departments of the public service they sought the assistance of Belgians. ‘Now they have shown their ability to train and lead their own men. We should obtain the best man, regardless of cost and of the nation to which he may belong, whether he be an American, a Canadian, a Frenchman, or a German.
– I can assure the honorable and learned member that we do not intend to employ any one who does not belong to the Forces somewhere in the Imperial dominions.
– I should like to remind the Minister, who is showing a disposition to slavishly adhere to the methods of the Imperial Forces, that the British authorities were not above permitting a German to take charge of one of their most important Departments. I refer to Prince Louis of Battenberg.
– Is he not a British subject?
– He was not a British subject at the time he came over to England.
– He was a British subject at the time he -received his appointment.
– I assume that the Chief of Ordnance, if he were a foreigner, would become naturalized. If that is all the Minister demands, I have no objection to urge to such a condition.
– What is the use of talking like this upon the motion for the third reading of the Bill?
– Since the Minister has assumed office, he has become so intensely sensitive that no one can say a word without causing him to bristle up. I trust that he will exercise a little more patience, even though there may be a prospect of his scheme being delayed.
– It- is’ the scheme of the Labour Party.
– I do hot care whether it .is the scheme of the Labour Party or of any one else; I do’ not think it is a good one’. ‘I am dealing’ with- this matter ‘in a non-party spirit, and I intend to “speak quite freely. ‘ ‘
– This is all too late!
-It is not too late. This is not only a criticism, but a prophecy. Perhaps my remarks will prove effective in another place, and probably some honorable members, including the Minister, will again change their minds. Last year the Minister was opposed to the proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, which was upon rather similar lines to that embodied in the Bill.
– The honorable and learned member is quite wrong. This proposal is entirely different.
– The Minister admitted that he had changed his mind.
– I did not admit anything of the kind.
– I am not going to trouble the House by reading what the Minister did say ; but he opened his speech with a statement that he had changed his mind. I have no doubt that in twelve months’ time the Minister will realize that this scheme is unworkable, except under a Commander-in-Chief. I can foresee that under the system proposed there will be a constant struggle for supremacy between the Chief Staff Officer and the Inspector-General - a struggle compared with which the differences which have existed between the Ministerial Herad of the Department and the Military Commandant will be as nothing. I maintain that we cannot have a military organization without a definite autocratic head, and any attempt to work the Military Forces by means of a Committee will certainly lead to disaster. I trust that my remarks will carry some weight in another place.
– All the members of the Senate will read them.
– Even if they do not, the fact will at least be placed upon record that one protest was entered against the passing of this measure.
– I should like to obtain a little information from the Minister in regard to the constitution of the Council of Defence, When this matter was under consideration upon a former occasion, I emphasized the fact that the proposed representation of the NavalForces wasnot nearly so great as that of the Military Forces. I then endeavoured to obtain from the Minister some statement which would make the position clearer. By way of interjection, he said that due representation would be given to the Naval Forces upon the proposed Council of Defence. That may mean something, or it may mean nothing. I should be glad to know definitely the extent to which our Naval Forces are to be represented, because if the naval members of this important body are to be out-voted by the military members no adequate expression will be given to the need which exists for devoting more attention to naval matters. I feel very strongly upon this question, because it appears to me that we are subordinating the very first line of our defence to the least effective line. Upon a previous occasion I asserted that an attempt had been made to build up the Military Forces of Australia, not so much for the defence of our own territory, as for service abroad. Thereupon I was informed that there was no justification for my statement. I affirmed that the building up of our Light Horse regiments was not in accord with the true policy of Australian defence, and that the General Officer Commanding really intended those regiments for service abroad, rather than here in Australia. I now propose to show from an authoritative source that there was some warrant for my declaration. In a paper which was presented to Parliament two years ago, I find that Major-General Sir Edward Hutton deals with what he terms “ the two factors “ in connexion with Australian defence. He says -
Two factors, therefore, may be considered as. governing the future organization and administration of the Military Forces of the Commonwealth, namely : -
The defence of Australian soil.
The defence of Australian interests wherever they may be threatened,
For the defence of Australian soil “ there are two essentials, namely, garrison troops, hereafter styled the Garrison Force, for the protection of certain pre-determined strategical centres and places of commercial importance ; and field troops, hereinafter styled the Field Force, for those active operations which are, as has been shown, an essential element in conjunction with’ the Garrison Troops for the defence of such an extended area as Australia. It is not necessary that the troops for garrison duty, as a whole, should be mobile, but it is absolutely essential that the field troops be, not only well trained, carefully organized and well equipped, but also ready for active operations in the field at the shortest notice.
The next point, however, is that to which I desire to direct particular attention, as affording full justification for the remarks which. I made upon a former occasion -
It is not for active operations in “ any part of the world “ that we require our men to train ; but for effective local service. In permitting the present arrangements to continue, I hold that we are pursuing a wrong course, and, further, that unless adequate representation be given to our Naval Forces upon the proposed Council of Defence, we shall be making an irreparable mistake.
– I do not think that I can give the honorable member for Bourke any more information than I have already afforded him. Naval defence will be adequately represented on the Council by those whose interests and knowledge are specially connected with the Naval Forces; but I would not undertake to set down a definite numerical relation between, the number on the Council, who are specially familiar with military matters, and the number who are specially familiar with naval defence. I can only say that I shall see, so far as my power goes, that we have in the Council a body that will be able to consider the whole question of Australian defence, in regard to both its naval and military aspects. After all, these are only two branches of the one great question.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Coaling of War-Ships. Motion (by Mr. McLean) proposed - That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Government a matter similar to that which has already been mentioned ‘by the honorable member for Fremantle, in regard to the coaling of the war-ship Euryalus, at Fremantle. I refer to the fact that one of the vessels of the squadron, the Challenger. was recently coaled in the port of Melbourne by her crew, although it has been the in, variable practice to coal these vessels bymeans of shore labour. I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he can see his way to make representations to the ViceAdmiral as to the custom which has hitherto prevailed, and suggest that so far as possible it is desirable that it should be continued. I have been re quested by members of the union with which I am connected, to bring this case forward. Those who follow this avocation felt the matter very keenly. There is no particular reason why at this juncture there should be any departure from the usual practice. If it is considered desirable to teach sailors how to coal at sea, it is singular that this should not have been done before, and those to whom this work usually falls are at a loss to know why the usual course should not have been followed on the occasion to which I refer.
– It is quite correct to state that this matter has been brought under my notice on two occasions by the honorable member for Fremantle. . Although I have no possible concern in the matter - although the question as to whether war-ships are coaled by their own crews, or by shore labour, is a matter which is absolutely within the discretion and control of the Vice-Admiral - as a matter of courtesy, I suggested to the honorable member a day or two ago that he should address a letter to me on the subject, and said that I would not hesitate to forward it to the ViceAdmiral.
– That was in regard to the coaling of another vessel.
– The honorable member has shown me a draft of his letter, and it covers the question generally. I intend to send the letter on to the Vice-Admiral, but in doing so, I shalldisclaim the slightest desire to be a. party to any interference with that which is within his undoubted province. If I receive a reply, I shall certainly forward it to the honorable member for Fremantle for the information of the men concerned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.53 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 November 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19041125_reps_2_24/>.