2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the. chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK presented a petition from the Executive Committee of the Fruitgrowers’ Union of New South Wales, praying the House to amend the Commerce Bill, to prevent injury being done; to the trade in perishable produce.
– I desire to ask the: Prime Minister a question without notice.. Has his attention been directed to the discussion in the South Australian Parliament, reported in this morning’s; newspapers wherein doubt is expressed as to whether a pledge had been given by South Australia prior to federation that that State would permit the construction of the transcontinental railway through its territory? In view of the defective memory of certain South Australian politicians, will the Prime- Minister draw the attention of the Premier of the State to a letter, written in 1900, by the then Premier of South Australia to the then Premier of Western Australia, in the following terms : -
Adelaide, 1st February, 1900.
Following our conversation as to the possibleblocking of a construction of railway line from. Kalgoorlie toPort Augusta by the Federal authority, by South Australia refusing the consent rendered necessary by section 34 of clause 51 of theCommonwealth Bill to the construction of the line through her territory, Iregard the withholding of consent as a most improbable thing; in fact, quite out of the question.
To assure you of’ our attitude in the matter, I will undertake, as soon as the Federation is established, West and South Australia both being States of the Commonwealth, to introduce a Bill formally giving the assent of this province to the construction of the line by the Federal authority, and to pass it stage by stage simultaneously with the passage of a similar Bill in your Par- liament.
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient servant,
– I well recollect the letter, now that it has been read, and feel sure that when the Premier of South Australia consults the papers necessary for the consideration of this matter, he will have it before him.
– He appeared to know nothing of it last night.
– It might suggest a want of acquaintance on his part with the action of his predecessor, if he were asked.
– His own words suggest that lack of acquaintance.
– I have no doubt that the honorable member’s action in putting this question, and reading the letter, on the report being telegraphed to South Australia, will achieve the end he has in view.
– I wish to know if the. attention of the Prime Minister has been directed to an address, given by Mr. Syme, at the Adelaide Medical Congress, on the registration and education of medical men, and whether he will consider the advisability of taking steps, by preparing an amendment of the Constitution, or in some other way, to bring about a uniform system of registration and education for medical men, and the members of the legal and other learned professions throughout the Commonwealth? It seems to me eminently desirable to do so.
– The question is one upon which, as a layman, I feel incompetent to express an opinion ; but if the Congress and the medical profession throughout the Commonwealth prefer a request on the subject, it will receive the grave consideration which it will require.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to statements in the English newspapers which report sworn statements made in New York to the effect that an American life insurance society, whose name I do not wish to give, doing a large business in the Commonwealth, is practically insolvent? Is he further aware that the German Imperial Government have taken steps to impound the assets of that company, in order to protect German policy-holders? Has the honorable and learned gentleman given the matter consideration, in the interests of Australian policy-holders?
– I had not gathered that the statements were as serious as the honorable and learned member indicates. The Commonwealth Parliament has not yet legislated in regard to insurance, but an honorable member has given notice of his intentionto introduce a measure.
– No; a notice of motion affirming the advisability of legislation.
– The matter will receive consideration when that motion is dealt with, and in anticipation of the discussion I shall have the necessary information collected.
– The German Government is adverse to all American insurance companies.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Government intend this session to introduce a measure dealing with trade designs?
– If time permits.
Debate resumed from 24th August (vide page 145 1), on motion by Mr. Spence, for Mr. Thomas -
Parliament be appointed to make full inquiry as to the advisability of the Federal Government owning and controlling a fleet of steamers for the carriage of mails, passengers, and cargo between Australia and the United Kingdom. The Committee, so far as the House of Representatives is concerned, to consist of Mr. Glynn, Mr. Mahon, Mr. McDonald, Mr. McWilliams, Mr. Robinson, Mr. Sydney Smith, Mr. Thomas, Mr. Webster, and the mover, and to have power to send for persons, papers, and records. Four to be the quorum.
Upon which Mr. Deakin had moved, by way of amendment -
That the words “ of both Houses of Parliament,” lines I and 2; “the advisability of the Federal Government owning and controlling a fleet of steamers for,” lines 3 and 4; “so far as the House of Representatives is concerned,” lines 7 and 8; and paragraph 2, be left out.
And upon which had been moved, by way of further amendment,
That the words “Mr. Robinson” be left out.
That the words “ Mr. Glynn “ and “ Mr. Webster” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Mr. Chanter” and “ Mr. Gibb” ; and that the words “Mr. Starrer” be inserted.
That the words “Mr. McWilliams” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “Mr. Henry Willis.”
– I thank the House for having given me permission to continue my remarks on this motion to-day ; but I do not intend to occupy much time in doing so. When I last spoke, I referred to the need for some such inquiry as is asked for, and said that the report of the Commission appointed in Western Australia to deal with these very matters, as they affect that State, will be useful to the Commonwealth Committee, if it be appointed, as I hope it will be. I also mentioned the fact that it had transpired that on account of the existence of a certain shipping ring, or ring of shipping brokers, freights to Australia were very much higher, and that there appeared to be no means of dealing with the combination, whose operations were tending to increase the prices of commodities to the Australian consumer. I desire to make one further reference to the report of the Commission for the benefit of honorable members opposite, who are evidently inclined to) cavil at the appointment of the proposed Committee. Among other things, the Commission state, “ A large number of importers gave evidence in support of Government intervention.” I should like to commend those few words to the attention of honorable members opposite, who are supposed to represent importing and commercial interests in particular. It is clearly shown that the importers of Western Australia have got into the grip of the shipping combine to such an extent that, even with all their objections to Government intervention, they are compelled to state publicly that they see no other way of dealing with the evil. I could point out how the Government of Western Australia has been mulcted of thousands of pounds per annum through the operations of the shipping ring, but as that subject will fall within the scope of the work of the Committee, it is not now necessary to refer to it, and as I believe that the evil which exists in Western Australia is to be found in greater or lesser degree throughout the Commonwealth, I think the best thing that can be done is to arrange for a full inquiry.
– I wish to say a few words in support of the motion. The Queensland Government have taken some steps with regard to this matter, and I wish to quote from a letter recently written by Mr. T. C. Beirne, of Brisbane, who is now in London, to Mr. Frank McDonnell, a member of the State Legislature, describing the conditions under which he endeavoured to bring about an improvement in the arrangements of the shipping combine which has been preventing certain shipping firms from taking cargo from London to Brisbane. Under present arrangements, certain steamers are obliged to discharge their Brisbane cargo at Sydney, and to go on to Brisbane empty in order to load back cargo for London. Mr. Beirne called upon Mr. Hughes, and he. describes what took place as follows: -
We called on Mr. Hughes, who knows Queensland well, and is well known there by some. He is, or was, chairman of Geddes, Birt, and Co., South Brisbane. When Mr. Dobree introduced me, and shortly stated the object I had in view in calling on him, he said, “ What have I got to do with the Aberdeen steamers - what do I care for Queensland or for Queenslanders ? D - n Queensland ; I hate it. I hate the people ; they are unjust and unfair.”
– That was said by the chairman of the ring.
– Yes. Mr. Beirne writes further : -
I helped to open up your country, sent you steamers. I was not satisfied with this, but to still further help you I invested£100,000 on building refrigerating and cold storage works, and what return or what thanks have I got from you? My steamers always paid their dock and harbor dues, and are paying them now. We never got any rebate or consideration from your people or your Government; but directly a new fellow comes along you receive him with open arms and free docks. Is that right? Is that fair? Is that honest? And now I hear that your lovely Queensland Government are going to build refrigerating works and cold storage of their own at Pinkenba.
This shows the shamefully unfair attitude taken up by the ring, and I trust that an inquiry will be conducted by a Committee, with some satisfactory results.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I shall support the motion. I cannot see that any harm can result from the proposed inquiry ; but, on the other hand, I conceive that much good may be done.
During the time I was in charge of the administration of postal matters, I experienced a good deal of trouble with the mail shipping companies, and’ had great difficulty in arriving at a satisfactory arrangement with regard to the English mail service. Honorable members know full well how the Government were treated. Tenders for the English mail service had been invited before the late Government took office, but ho satisfactory response was made, and we were eventually compelled to enter into a contract for a service at ^120,000 per annum, although we considered that we should have secured what we required for a< considerably smaller amount. In view of the fact that the present contract expires in about two years - on 21st January, 1908 - it will be well for the Committee to inquire as to what steps should be taken by the Government’ in regard to mail services in the future. It will be necessary for the PostmasterGeneral to give notice two years before the expiration of the contract. I had no serious objection to that condition, because I felt that we could give notice of our intention to determine the contract without in any way prejudicing our position, in the event of our subsequently desiring to continue the arrangement. It was unfortunate that negotiations for a renewal of this service should have been deferred until the last possible moment. As honorable members are aware, tenders for the existing English mail service were called for only about three months prior to the expiry of the old contract. It was then practically impossible for the late Government to conclude a satisfactory arrangement for the carriage of our mails, because they were forced to limit their negotiations to one company. If they had had a couple of years in which to make inquiries. I believe it is quite possible that they might have entered into a better contract, from the stand-point of the Commonwealth. That remark applies, not only to the service for the carriage of our English mails, but to other service?. Honorable members will recollect that the contract for the Vancouver mail service expired about the same time as that with the Orient Company. The late Government also experienced some trouble with the Oceanic Steam-ship Company. These three services had practically to be renewed at the same period. It is not fair, either to the Government or the Parliament, that negotiations for fresh mail contracts should be deferred until within a few months of the expiration of existing contracts. I believe that there is a great deal to be said in favour of the Vancouver service. I recognise that the chief difficulty experienced in connexion with that service is the period that* is occupied in delivering the mails. But as trade increases we shall doubtless lie able to obtain a quicker service. At any rate, the Vancouver service is very much more likely to be free from complications than is that via Suez. ‘ I believe that . if a Select Committee be appointed to investigate this matter its members will acquire a fund of information which will prove of material assistance to the Government in dealing with our mail services in the future. At present we have no contract with the Oceanic Steam-ship Company. That company carries our mails upon the poundage system, “ and we have experienced a lot of trouble with its directors, who think that thev should receive a higher sum than that which it is at present being paid. I am of opinion that the proposed committee would be able to elicit from the shipping companies very valuable information, which it is impossible for any Government to secure. Consequently I welcome this proposal. No possible harm can accrue from the appointment of a committee, and I think that much good ought to result from its inquiries. Such an investigation should result in the acquisition of valuable information which will be of material assistance to any Government in calling for fresh tenders for our mail services generally.
– If it were intended to appoint the proposed committee for the purpose indicated by the honorable member for Macquarie, there might be something to be said in favour of the motion. But I would point out that its mover has expressed bis desire to proceed with the inquiry only on condition that the advisability or otherwise of the Federal Government owning and controlling a fleet of steamers for the carriage of mails, passengers, and cargo between Australia and the United Kingdom, be also investigated.
– The amendments proposed by the Prime Minister have been accepted.
– I quite understand that. But the honorable member for Barrier has distinctly stated that he would not persist in his motion unless the matter to which I have referred was also to be inquired into.
– Would the honorable member exclude an inquiry of that kind ?
– Yes; I think that it is altogether undesirable.
– One of the leading merchants of Melbourne recently declared that it was necessary to establish a line of State-owned steamers, in order to give the merchants a chance
– I am glad to learn that the honorable member for Bland is winning over to his side the leading merchants of Melbourne.
– They are coming over gradually.
– I congratulate the honorable member upon his conquest. Another objection to this motion is that it is inadvisable to appoint so many Select Committees and Royal Commissions. One of the most serious errors into which our States Parliaments fell some years ago was that of appointing Select Committees and Royal Commissions to inquire into almost every conceivable subject under the sun.
– They did good work.
– The fact remains that in many cases the result of their exhaustive inquiries is buried in the archives of the House.
– Did not the Butter Commission accomplish good work?
– I do not say that some Select Committees and Royal Commissions have not achieved great results. I admit that the Butter Commission , did admirable work, and that those who are interested in the dairying industry rejoice in its finding. We rejoice that the result of that inquiry was to expose the roguery which has been carried on in the trade. Those who are connected with the industry at its source were glad to have themselves cleared from all imputations of dishonesty.
– Then why not be consistent, and vote for this motion?
– To my mind the proposed committee would be a frivolous one. It would merely mean an increased expenditure on behalf of this Parliament, and therefore I protest against it.
Amendments agreed to.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
That a Select Committee be appointed to make full inquiry as to the carriage of mails, passengers, and cargo between Australia and the United Kingdom. The Committee to consist of Mr. Mahon, Mr. McDonald, Mr. Henry Willis,
Mr. Sydney Smith, Mr. Thomas, Mr. Chanter, Mr. Gibb, Mr. Storrer, and the mover, and to have power to send for persons, papers, and records. Four to be the quorum.
Motion by Mr. Deakin (for Mr.. Cameron) agreed to -
That a return be laid on the table of the Houseshowing the amount of trade in perishable products between the Commonwealth and the East during the three years before the Sea Carriage of Goods Act came into operation, the principal items to be specified, and to show for each month the quantity and value of each item ; also similar particulars since the Act came into operation.
– I move -
That, it being expedient to remove the erroneous and injurious impressions created by such misrepresentation, this House requests the PrimeMinister, pending the appointment of a High. Commissioner for the Commonwealth -
This motion is certainly one of the utmost importance ; but asI did not anticipate the failure of other honorable members to proceed with motions on the noticepaper having precedence of my own, I am not prepared to speak to it just now. In these circumstances, I would ask the Prime Minister to consent to the motion being discussed on a day set apart for Government business. Unless he is prepared to grant my request, I shall have to ask that the adjourned debate be an order of the day for 19th October next. In view of the importance of the ‘subject, and” the fact that the legislation and administration of the Commonwealth is constantly being subjected to misrepresentation, I think that the Prime Minister should endeavour to set apart an afternoon for its discussion at an early date.
– Rather than do that, as we are so pressed for time, I should be happy to accept the motion now, if the honorable member would agree to omit paragraph b and to slightly modify paragraph a. I think that in the form I have indicated the motion would express all that we desire.
– I submitted paragraphs a and b as alternative proposals, and am prepared to abide by the decision of the House in regard to them. I recognise that the Prime Minister has already done much in the direction suggested in paragraph a; but the alternative proposal is worthy of the attention of the Government. It practically extends an invitation to the newspapers that have been libelling Australia to send representatives here to investigate the position of the Commonwealth, and to inquire more particularly into the effect of our legislative and administrative policies. The passing of the motion will prove that Australia has nothing to hide, and that we welcome an impartial investigation. If the invitation were accepted, it would be a magnificent advertisement for the Commonwealth. While I feel grateful to the Prime Minister for the offer he has made, I certainly cannot consent to eliminate paragraph b from the motion, since it is, to my mind, the more important of the two propositions.
– It contains contentious matter, which would be argued, while paragraph a does not.
– That being the view of the Prime Minister, I ask leave to continue my speech at a future date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I move-
That whereas the command of the seas in time of war is essential to the security of the Empire’s vast interests on, and beyond, the seas; and whereas this command cannot be assured by separate squadrons acting independently on behalf of each section of the Empire; and whereas the United Kingdom, which has hitherto borne practically unassisted the burden of Imperial naval defence, will sooner or later be unable to continue to make sufficient provision against the rapidly increasing naval armaments of foreign powers, this House is of opinion -
That all naval expenditure by the Commonwealth of Australia should be towards an Imperial Navy, on the efficiency and adequacy of which in time of war will depend her security from serious danger ; and
That the Commonwealth of Australia’s contribution to the Imperial Navy should be doubled.
At the outset I express my regret that it has fallen to the lot of a private member to move a motion of such importance as that which I now have the honour to submit. It is the more regrettable, because, unfortunately throughout the country, and in certain sections of the press, the importance of a motion is gauged, not so much by the arguments used in support of it, as by the source from which those arguments have emanated. I do not wish to refer further to this phase of the question, except to again express my regret that if should have fallen to my lot to move such a motion. As I hold these views, I may he asked, “ Then why move the motion.” But, the fact of the matter is, that such a crusade of activity on behalf of the false principle of a separate Australian Navy has been inaugurated throughout the Commonwealth, in the course of the last few months, that it is absolutely essential that the other side - the truly national side - should be put, no matter how ineffectively, at the first opportunity.
– The honorable member’s motion means that he has no confidence in Australia.
– The honorable member will see before I resume my seat that I have every confidence that Australia can, and will, do her duty.
– This motion says the opposite.
– It certainly does not.
– I say that it does.
– Order ! The honorable member for Fremantle will have an opportunity to speak later on.
– My honorable friend perhaps knows so much about this subject that he may be able to decide what is in my mind, and what is not. If he will only remain quiet, he will hear that I have founded this motion on views which have been acceptable in all ages to military opinion, and are not likely to be upset on the mere ipse dixit of the honorable member for Fremantle. The motion does not’ attempt to deal with the question of what share Australia should bear in the obligation of Imperial defence; it merely lays down the principle that all naval contributions must be to one central authority.
– The second subparagraph goes further.
– It goes further, for a reason that I shall state towards the conclusion of my speech. I am not particular about that in the least. The main point is contained in the first sub-paragraph - that all naval expenditure should be made to one central authority, which should be made responsible for the protection of every member of the British family. Honorable members will see that one of the reasons given in this motion as to why Imperial naval defence is essential is the vast interests of the Empire, both on and beyond the seas. I shall first put very briefly the position of the Empire to-day, in relation to the interests it has on the seas, and in keeping command of them in order to be able to render help to various sections as occasion may arise. Our Empire has sprung from one parent stem, which, though geographically speaking, the smallest section, is still by far the most powerful section of the Empire. From that parent stem seedlings of the race to which we are all so proud to belong have gone over seas to every corner of the world, and wherever friendly fruitful territory has been offered have implanted themselves. Just as the British people have been ableto make their Empire by the mastery of the seas, so they have developed it under the same protection. It is only through this command of the seas that we in Australia have been free hitherto to devote ourselves to the development of our territories without consideration of the graver problems of national existence. If this national security is guaranteed for another generation, or for a couple of generations, there are no bounds to the possibilities of development in our great Empire. At the present time the United Kingdom, with an area of only 121,000 square miles, is able to carry a population of 42,000,000, and, including specie and bullion, an external trade of over £1,000,000,000, The self-governing Colonies - and these are the main buttresses of the Empire, and must be the first parts of it to accept their full obligations of partnership - have an area of over 7,000,000 square miles, with a population of less than 14,000,000, and have reached an over sea trade of over£290,000,000. It must be obvious to honorable members what immense development may easily come to the Empire if the essential for present security and future expansion - the control of the seas - is maintained. The question is whether this security is likely to be. maintained for the Empire on the basis on which it now rests’. The very trade which the self-governing Colonies have on the high seas, and on which they depend for national prosperity, must make it worth their while to pay a considerable insurance thereon. But, if this were not enough, the very existence of all our scattered peoples would demand that the seas shall be kept open in time of war, since otherwise it would be possible for whomsoever obtained the control of the seas, to concentrate, at his leisure, on whatever section he wished, and’ crush it. The principle that should actuate every section of the Empire in naval matters is first to insure a united effort: being put forward by every branch of the British peoples, if one section is no longer able to maintain unassisted that task, powerful enough to insure that this first supreme duty which the Governments of these different sections owe to their peoples - the maintenance of the control of the seas in time of war - shall be faithfully carried out. This consideration especially affects Australia. At the. present time throughout our territory we have persons who are either regardless of the fact that Great Britain will not be able to continue for all time to discharge unassisted her great Imperial responsibilities, or regardless of the fact that the defence of an island continent must be by a navy. These people - and a league was formed in Sydney only the other day - are now proposing some system of manhood citizen defence. But it is obvious that such a defence although a splendid one in well-populated countries, could be of no use in a sparselypopulated country like Australia. It is obvious that this citizen soldiery could not be concentrated on the points threatened’, that it could not, for instance, be moved to the defence of Western Australia or Port Darwin.
– Not without the railway.
– Not without the railway, or even with the railway.
– Give us the railway, and we will take the risk.
– Now our Imperial partnership of free peoples consists of the mother country, which is the key- stone of the whole Imperial fabric, six great self-governing Slates, of which the Commonwealth is one, the great Possession of India, with its dependencies, eleven important Possessions with partial selfgovernment, eighteen Crown Colonies, two territories administered under charter, and eighteen protectorates. That is the reserve upon which we should be able to draw for Imperial defence. Certain sections of that reserve, however, are obviously outside our reckoning. But after the mother country which has hitherto borne this high responsibility, there is not the slightest doubt that the six great self-governing Colonies have the biggest interest in the maintenance of our Empire and our individual freedom, and also the biggest capacity to contribute to the general security. The great majority of all these Possessions have extensive sea-boards. Almost all of them are faced by the ocean, and would certainly to an invader be most accessible from that quarter if it were not for the Imperial control of the seas. It is obvious, then, that any hostile expedition against any one section of the Empire could be attacked on the sea either at its point of departure or at the point of arrival. It is clear that if Australia, relying upon a navy “ for defence only,” were attacked, the attack would be in no way resisted by the navies “ for defence only “ of Canada or South Africa. It is, consequently, clear that if the Empire fails to present a united front to attack, each section will be taken piecemeal and destroyed at the enemy’s leisure. It is obvious, then, that our only hope of salvation is to attack the enemy when he leaves his own bases ; and the only chance to make such an attack fairly likely to succeed is by all sections of the British Empire combining together, contributing to one common navy under one control - one navy capable of blockading the coasts of whatever enemy or combination of enemies may threaten the existence or the security of our Empire. This fact has been acknowledged, and made clear by every one who has studied the subject. Even the advocates of an Australian Navy recognise the essentiality of making the enemy’s coastline our frontier in time of war. It is admitted, further, as Captain Mahan says, that-
The great end of a war fleet is not to chase, not to Sv, but to control the seas. When speed, not force, is a reliance, destruction may be post poned, but can be escaped only by remaining in port. . .- . Not speed, but power of offensive action, is the dominant factor in war.
This very self-evident truth has led to a classification of all war fleets into - first, ships destined to act in common, which are called battleships by every people; ships that sacrifice speed to offensive and defensive power within their own units.
– Speed is very necessary in the case of an attack by submarines
– Not very necessary, because no submarine has been able to exceed ten. knots, and even battleships steam nineteen. It is the necessity for “control1 ling “ the seas which has led to the designing of certain ships which are destined to act in common. It is admitted that those ships are the vessels which will decide the command of the sea. In addition to those, are other ships which are required to act as eyes and ears of the fleet, as may be necessary. Then other ships are required to protect our scattered floating commerce from the enemy’s commerce destroyers. The class of ships, however, upon which the control of the sea depends, is the battleships class - ships destined to act in common. It is universally admitted that only an Imperial effort can furnish us with battleships sufficiently effective to maintain the control of the sea. It has been recognised, however, that these Imperial battleships, that will in time of war make it their objective at once to move on the enemy’s bases and lock up his vessels in port, may be evaded by fast cruisers of the enemy slipping through this blockade with a view to afterwards preying upon our commerce. The Admiralty proposes to meet this contingency by an especially large construction of cruisers of different classes. It admits that an enemy’s ships will occasionally be able to get through, and that, therefore, it is necessary to protect our floating trade and the different naval bases of the Empire throughout the world; but it also says that these raiding ships will play the part of the hunted more than that of hunters. They will be kept constantly on the move. For every cruiser of a possible enemy we are to have three or four - presuming that we have only one enemy - doing the work of hunting them down. It is obvious then that the enemy’s cruisers would not be able to hold their own for more than a very brief period in any part of the world. Our own fleets are allotted so that an enemy’s ships can be marked off and tracked !down the moment war breaks out; wherever they appear word will be sent, and England’s ships will be despatched after them. Therefore, the only thing that is necessary for us - this is the idea of the Imperial Navy School of to-day - is to make safe harbors of refuge throughout the world, wherein on the advent of such raiding cruisers, and during the brief periods of their visits, our own merchant shipping may shelter for the time being. I should like to give the House a few figures to show that the Imperial authorities have not been uncognizant of their responsibilities in this regard. The United Kingdom has building and built at the present time. 42 first-class cruisers, as compared with 33 by the next three naval powers combined, namely, France, Germany, and the United States. Great Britain has building and built 38 second-class cruisers, as contrasted with 24 second - class cruisers by the next three powers combined. Great Britain has 69 third-class cruisers - these being the eyes and ears of the fleet - as contrasted with 68 by the other three powers combined. So that, as far as cruiser strength goes, Great Britain has made the most ‘generous allowance for the protection of her floating commerce in time of war. - Mr. Johnson. - They are cruisers built for speed, and for the special purpose of protecting commerce?
– The cruisers that will be mainly used in this business of hunting down commerce destroyers, are first-class cruisers specially built for that purpose.
– I presume that that number does not include mail steamers, which may be used in time of war?
– No. Other powers may also use converted mail steamers. The point which I wish to make clear is that a great preponderance, as compared with the strength of other powers, has been maintained by Great Britain’, in respect of cruisers which would be employed upon the dutv of hunting down raiding ships. England has now no less than 42 first-class cruisers, whilst Germany “has 6, France 14, and the United States 13. From this it is clear that the Imperial authorities are discharging their responsibilities in this regard in a way that is highly creditable. The Empire’s main objective, however, is not to seek to evade the pin-pricks of passing raiding cruisers, but to secure inviolability from invasion of the different sections of the
Empire throughout the world. That security can be maintained only by battle fleets. It does not matter how many cruisers there are on the high seas, because, wherever battle fleets appear, cruisers have to leave. It will be clear at once to honorable members that if we attempt to keep up communication by means of cruisers, without the aid of battle fleets, any battle fleet of the enemy, at the ports of destination, will be able to intercept all our commerce. That is only a reference in passing to the absolute necessity for battle fleets, on which the security from invasion of each section of the Empire inevitably rests. Having decided the objectives of the Empire, it is only reasonable to concentrate all our forces on those objectives, so that the Empire and her interests may be fairly secure whenever the crisis arises. Captain Mahan has said in this connexion : -
War cannot be made without running risks. When you have chosen your field for righting, you must concentrate on it, letting your other interests take their chance.
Then he goes on to justify the present discussion in the following words: -
To do this, however, men must have convictions, and conviction must rest upon knowledge, or else ignorant clamour and contagious panic will sweep away every reasonable teaching of military experience.
That is the position briefly, and, I am. afraid, rather ineffectively put, from the point of view of the Imperial Navy school. What do the Australian Navy advocates recommend? And in what do they depart from the principles just laid down? All Australian Navy advocates admit the essentiality of the control of the seas in time of war ; and they admit that that control can only be effective by an Imperial, or, as they wish it, a British, fleet acting off the coast-line of the enemy. They appear to think that this naval control can be assured by England acting alone in the future, just as it has been assured and maintained in the past. Is that presumption fair?
– The honorable member is the first one I have heard make such a presumption.
– The honorable member’s reading must, I think, have been singularly meagre. If he had taken the trouble to read, first of all, the series of articles written by the chief exponent of an Australian naval system, Senator Matheson, he would have seen that presumption throughout. And, further, the honorable member will find the same presumption in every report of Captain Creswell. I can only attribute the interjection to want of knowledge of the facts. What I ask now is whether this presumption is a true one. We know that the potentialities of naval armament depend on the commercial capacity of the people maintaining that armament. We know that England, all through the last century, enjoyed a trade security and confidence, first of all, through having possession of the seas, and, secondly, through not being subject to the wars, rumours of wars, revolutions, and invasions which harassed enterprise on the Continent from 1815 to 1870. Since 1870, however, foreign powers have been catching up by leaps and bounds the great lead which England obtained through enjoying local commercial security at the beginning of the steam age, when the great expansion of commercial enterprise in the world commenced. The immense advance recently made in this connexion by Germany and the United States has been the subject of very keen, and almost bitter, controversy in England during the last few years. It is not possible for England, with her small area of only 120,000 square miles, and her comparatively small population of some 42,000,000, to be always in a position to be richer than any two or three powers combined. How can England, with her small area and population, hope to be always in a better position commercially - and, therefore, materially and militarily so far as potentialities go - than Germany, with 211,000 square miles, and a population of 56,000,000, or the United States, with over 3,000,000 square miles, and a population that is possible of almost unlimited expansion? It is only a question of time when foreign powers will find it possible to outvie England for the command of the seas. What is the actual position of England’s naval efforts, as contrasted with the efforts of foreign powers? The estimated expenditure for the years 1894-5, 1899-1900, and 1904-5 - these are quinquennial periods, but the expenditure applies, of course, only to the single years - on the part of Great Britain, Germany, and the United States, are as follows: - The total estimated expenditure in Great Britain in 1894-5 was over i£i7, 360,000, as contrasted with an estimated expenditure in Germany of £4,137,000, and in the United States of £5,777,000 ; the estimated expenditure in Great Britain in 1899 had increased to £26,594,000, as contrasted with £6,485,000 in Germany, and £9,678,000 in the United States; and in 1904-5 the estimated expenditure in GreatBritain had increased to no less a burden than £36,889,000, as contrasted with £11,059,000 in Germany, and the extraordinary increase in the United States to £21,137,000. In the ten years, while the naval expenditure of Great Britain increased from £17,366,000 to £36,889,000, the increase in Germany was from £4,i37>°°° to £11,059,000, and in the United States it was from ,£5,577,000 to £21, 137.000. These figures show that England is being very rapidly caught up in the race for naval supremacy. Perhaps the figures are more significant if the contrast be made with the expenditure of the two great powers combined. While in 1894 the expenditure of Great Britain was £17,366.000, that of the two powers was £9,714,000; in 1899, while the expenditure in Great Britain was £26,594,000; that of the two powers was £16,163,000; and in 1904-5, while the expenditure of Great Britain was £36,889,000, that of the two powers was £32,197.000. It is very clear, from those simple figures, that foreign armaments are rapidly catching up the British armament; and unless GreatBritain is assisted in some way, the command of the seas must inevitably be wrested from the British Empire. In the matter of new construction, the figures will be found to vary in somewhat similar proportions. In 1894-5 Great Britain spent £4,8.14,000 on new construction, whilst the two Powers just referred to spent just over £3,177,000. In 1904-5 Great Britain spent £12,098,000, and the two Powers £10,922,102. In this there is a further indication that, England’s supremacy is by no means as assured as some honorable members seem to think. Now, how has Great Britain maintained her position in the matter of actual ships? I have already shown the House that superiority in battle-ships is the only test of actual power to control the seas. How has England maintained her position in this regard? England now has no less than 41 battle-ships, as compared with 41 battle-ships possessed by the next three Powers combined - France, Germany, and the United States. In 1905. therefore, the power of Great Britain in respect of battle-ships is equal with that of the next three Powers combined. Next year,1906, Great Britain will have 45 battle-ships, as contrasted with 50 battleships possessed by the next three Powers. She will, therefore, by that time, have dropped out of the running when opposed to a combination of the next three Powers. In 1907 the position will be still more alarming, because England will then have only 48 battle-ships, as contrasted with 63 battle-ships possessed by the next three Powers, and she will in that year have lost any hope of successfully coping with a combination of those three Powers. But ship for ship, she will be almost unable to cope with the next two Powers combined. Between them, in 1907, they will possess 46 battle-ships, whilst England will possess only 48. When honorable members recognise that it has been definitely laid down that it requires, generally speaking, at least six battle-ships to blockade four, it will be obvious to them that in 1907 it will be impossible for the “United Kingdom to maintain that blockade of the foreign ports of two combining Powers which is essential to the protection of the seacarried wealth of the whole Empire.
– The honorable member’s statements show what nonsense that doctrine is, when it is analysed.
– That may be the honorable member’s opinion. I now come to deal with what will probably concern the honorable member for Fremantle. If the facts to which I have been referring were not in themselves worthy of our serious consideration, we have, in this part of the world, a new problem to consider in dealing with the defence of Australia. We are now within striking distance of one of the world’s great naval Powers. Before the late war the naval armaments of Russia and Japan could not well be withdrawn from the far East from fear of the consequences to either of those Powers resulting from the absence of its navy from those waters. But now Japan has a very powerful fleet, and as it has no other fleet to watch in the Eastern waters, it can be sent anywhere, and it is capable of doing very much”, far more than we in Australia could ever hope to cope with. I hope that such a thing will never come to pass ; but let us suppose, for argument’s sake, that England and Japan, instead of being allied, will, in 1907, be at war. I select 1907, because that is a fixed date at which we are in a position to calculate the number and power of the vessels which each of these nations will have. Let us suppose that in 1907 England will be at war with Japan, and that there will be complications ensuing with several European Powers. England will have only 48 battleships, as opposed to 39 possessed by France and Germany. It is easy to conceive that, on such a set of circumstances arising as would promote complications between Great Britain and these two Powers, it would be impossible for any of England’s ships to be withdrawn from their supreme duty of watching the ships which it would be their duty to watch. They have to keep a watch on the movements of the fleets of European Powers, so that on any outbreak of hostilities occurring, they may be able, so to speak, to catch the needle - the enemy - before it gets into the haystack - the open ocean. In such a contingency as I have supposed, England would be unable to send sufficient, if any, of her battleships into Eastern waters, and that being so, it must be obvious that Australia would be absolutely at the mercy of the new Eastern Power. Australia would then know, as indeed she knows now, that she has not the slightest possible hope of coping with Japan unaided. We know that 4,000,000 of people cannot control or maintain a fleet of the magnitude and efficiency of that possessed by Japan.
– Then it is not a fact that we can beat the world?
– I am proving that it is not, and that it is now necessary that the Empire as a whole should provide for its defence, and that this supreme duty should not be left entirely to the United Kingdom. The people of the Australian Commonwealth know well that they ought to take, and should long ago have taken, a hand in securing Imperial defence. Our naval contribution is a proof of that recognition. Great Britain, I have shown, is becoming year by year less and less predominant from a naval point of view. I have shown that the United Kingdom cannot continue to bear unassisted the whole responsibility of Imperial protection, and that the moment Imperial protection collapsesthe Commonwealth of Australia collapses with it. Without looking to the East for possible enemies, we know that there are earth-hungry nations in the old world. One Power in Europeis hungrily looking for land for the expansion of her overcrowded millions. We know that that Power at one time looked to Southern Brazil for an area for this expansion. We know, also, that the “United States of America put into operation the Monroe doctrine, and in order to enforce it it has within the last few years built up a fleet that may now be safely referred to as the second fleet in the world. Germany, the European Power I refer to, then necessarily turned her view from Southern Brazil, and is now looking to the Dutch Colonies in the East for the extension of territory she requires. We know that if the opportunity offered, that Power would have no hesitation In taking such territory of this Commonwealth as it suited it to take. Nothing that we could do would prevent it. Therefore, we in Australia have to concern ourselves, not only with the powers of the East, but also with the powers of the old world. We have an immense territory which is sparsely populated, and practically undeveloped. Australia is waiting for population, and her territory would be taken possession of to-morrow by foreign powers if it were not for the Imperial protection which we enjoy. In view of all these circumstances, it is” obviously our duty to ourselves, as well as our duty to the Empire, to assist the United Kingdom in her Imperial responsibilities. Australia must take her true place in the Imperial partnership- Honorable members in the corner, who proudly assert the possibility of creating a local navy, can hardly deny that we are in a position to contribute our quota to Imperial defence, if it be proved to our interest, and be in accordance with our wish, to do so. The revenues of Australia at the present time amount to almost £33,000,000, and her sea-borne trade, wHich is protected only bv the Imperial Navy, to £86,000,000.
– Does the honorable member include the railway revenue?
– Certainly; the whole revenue. The honorable member must recollect that England has her public debt contracted, not for her own development, but to maintain the security of the whole Empire, a debt which at the present moment is only just short of £800,000,000 ; and on it she has to pay interest, just as we have to pay interest on our debt. Therefore, it would be unworthy of us to advance as an argument why we should refuse to shoulder our proper obligations, that we have to pay interest on our public debt - a debt contracted solely in the develop ment of our own resources. Australia, if she so wishes, can pay her fair share towards the defence of the Empire. But I hope that before anything is done in that direction, an effort will be made by the Commonwealth Government to bring about the adoption of a proper Imperial basis for contributions to naval defence, a basis upon which each of the self-governing sections of the Empire can play its part. The Prime Minister, at the commencement of my remarks, asked, in effect, “Why does your motion propose that our naval contribution be increased, if you do not particularly wish it to’ be done ?” I have moved in this direction because I think it very necessary that the attention of Australia should be at once directed to her obligations in this regard, and also to the new factor in defence considerations which has arisen by reason of the creation of a new first-class naval power in the East - a factor which makes us more than ever dependent on the Imperial Navy. I hold that the only way in which we can effectively direct the attention of our people to these matters is to make some such proposal as that of doubling the naval subsidy. The doubling of the subsidy would not appreciably increase the battle power of the British Empire, but the fact that some members of this House think it necessary to double the contribution will convince the public that there is a definite reason for considering anew the whole question of Imperial and naval defence. I have not the slightest fear that, when the people of Australia have had both sides of the naval defence question put to them, they will prove their common sense by having nothing to do with a system under which our naval defence will be controlled by two authorities. I wish now to say a few words about the arguments of the various advocates of an Australian Navy, who may be divided into two schools of thought. One of these is in no way irreconcilable with the general principles I have put forward as those which should govern the naval defence of the Empire. The other school seems more concerned in attempting to provide work for the excellent officers whom we have already in our employ than in establishing a local coastal defence. I will deal with these two schools of thought consecutively. The adherents of the first school, while recognising the need for the protection of the Imperial Navy, wish to establish local naval auxiliaries for coastal and harbor defence, as, for instance, torpedo boats or destroyers for use in waters such as the passage within the Barrier Reef, where, no doubt, they would be very useful if, indeed, the occasion ever arose for taking advantage, of their services. These gentlemen also wish to establish a body of Australian trained seamen, who would be of use afterwards in connexion with Imperial defence.
– Is not that a good thing ?
– It is an excellent thing, as I shall show later on. In dealing first with the proposition that naval auxiliaries should be created for harbor defence, I wish to quote the following conclusive sentence from page 287 of Captain Mahan’s Lessons of the War with Spain: -
For mere harbor defence, fortifications are decisively superior to ships, except where peculiar local conditions are found.
The peculiar local conditions referred to are the existence of entrances too wide to enable harbors to be properly defended by mine-fields. Captain Mahan concludes that fortifications are superior to ships for these reasons : It is the duty of a ship, he says, to go wherever she may be wanted to go. The first consideration in connexion with a vessel is her mobility - I do not mean her speed, but her power to go wherever she may be required - consistent with offensive power. At harbor mouths, however, where the enemy’s vessels must come to you, you can pile up an infinitely greater defensive power on land than it would be possible to provide on the sea. A ship has only a certain floating power. Her armour, for instance, must not be of more than a certain thickness if she is to float at all whereas, on shore, fortifications may be constructed of any strength that may be desired. Therefore, Captain Mahan concludes - and his conclusion is obviously founded upon common sense - that, for harbor defence, fortifications on land are superior to defences at sea, which have not a sufficient radius of action to make them truly naval in their operations, nor sufficient strength to make them equal t’o fixed land defences. Practically all that is required to bring that school of thought which desires the creation of an Austraiian Navy as an adjunct only to harbor and coastal defences into line with the Imperial naval school, is the recognition of the principle that “undivided control of naval effort is absolutely essential to the success of that effort.”” I think this fact will be readily recognised! when it is remembered that absolutely no class of vessel so rapidly becomes obsolete,, or requires such a highly-trained personnel, as that which is proposed for this schemeof naval defence, namely, torpedo boats, torpedo boat-destroyers, or submarines. The latter, of course, would be of use, not for defence, but merely for the purposesof attack.
– We are told that the test way of defending ourselves is by- attacking
– The Prime Minister misunderstands me. The submarines which are now being built for France are intended to be used in attacking English ports in the Channel.
– Or for attacking any vessels that might attempt a blockade.
– Yes, but I would point out that if ever any hostile fleet is able toblockade our Australian ports, it means: that command of the sea has been lost, and that the whole of our defences must collapse. If an enemy ever came here in sufficient strength to blockade our ‘ports, he must have previously attained command of the seas, and the moment he succeeded in that he could occupy our territory and do what else he willed. He could do whatever he liked with us if the British Navy once lost command of the seas. It is admitted that Australian torpedo-boat destroyers or vessels of that class would very rapidly deteriorate in efficiency if they were allowed to remain isolated for too long a period. It is well known in the British Navy - and we could select no better force for the purpose of comparison - that isolated ships are never so efficient asare ships of similar class on important stations. For instance, the Imperial force in these waters is not so efficient in discipline, or in any of the elements which go to make a fighting force, as are similar ships of similar power belonging to the Channel fleet or attached to the Mediterranean station.
– How does the honorable member account for that?
– For the obvious reason that where a large number of ships are gathered together keen competition exists between the various officers and crews, and a stronger esprit de corps characterizes each unit. Consequently, each ship becomes in the highest degree efficient. Where, however, a ship is shut off from all others, and the spirit of emulation is not encouraged, the vessel must lose in general efficiency.
– Would that not be to some extent due to the great distance from central control ?
– No, because the central control of a fleet is vested in the Admiral on the station. For instance, the Admiral on the Australian station has the control of the squadron, and is responsible foc its efficiency. The efficiency of the Australian squadron, although very high, is not quite so great as is the efficiency of the Channel or Mediterranean squadrons, owing solely to the fact that there is not the same scope for a strong spirit of emulation between the far fewer ships composing the squadron. Emulation is immensely strong in its influence upon efficiency. The view that I am putting forward would be supported by every executive officer on the Australian station.
– Would not the officers in putting forward that view be excusing themselves ?
– No. Those officers, if they were transferred to the Channel or Mediterranean squadron - and they are constantly being relieved in order to insure their general efficiency - would, in a very short time, bring themselves up to that high’ standard which is maintained among the officers who are now with the squadrons mentioned. I am merely stating the result of experience in connexion with isolated vessels, which have no opportunity of manoeuvring in company.
– Did not Kipling say that during the week that he was with the British squadron on the coast of Canada, very keen competition existed amongst the crews?
– There is keen competition among the men under any circumstances, but there is a difference in degree. Where you have very few ships upon a station the competition cannot be so keen as where there are a large number. On the Australian station, for instance, Ave have only one first-class cruiser, and there is no other ship for her to pit herself against). On the Mediterranean station there would probably be a number of firstclass cruisers of different types, and there fore great scope for the influence of the spirit of emulation.
– Do the men fire against each other?
– They fire against each other in the sense that competitions are held. The science of war, whether it be on sea or land, is one of the most progressive, and I think that honorable members will recognise that the only way -in which we can maintain high efficiency is by constantly exchanging the officers of such forces as the advocates of an Australian Navy propose, for other officers of the Imperial Navy, drawn from all parts of the world. In. other words, the officers of the Australian Navy, whether that navy be designed for coastal defence, or any other purpose - and I am sure it will never be of use for anything but harbor defence - must be officers of the Imperial Navy. We should be able to bring new men out every couple of years, and send those of our men who had become slack to the centres of naval activity, so that they might be brought back in due course in a state of the highest efficiency. That is the policy adopted in the Imperial Navy. The men are transferred from station to station, so that they shall not become slack owing to their remaining too long in one place.
– That is not saying very much for the officers.
– That is no reflection upon the officers, but upon human nature. The principle that has been adopted by the British Admiralty to insure efficiency all over the world must be followed by us, and we must have Imperial officers to man our ships, if we are to have a navy as an adjunct to our coastal defence. If the advocate of the coastal defence school which I have been mentioning once recognises this he will readily become reconciled to the idea of one control for naval effort in whatever part of the Empire it may be. I shall now deal with the type of Australian Navy advocate who wishes, I fear, to start an Australian Navy as a kind of asylum for his friends. I do not wish to say anything invidious or anything reflecting seriously upon persons who during the past six months or so have certainly shown themselves excellent political propagandists ; but I propose to deal first with one who has taken it upon himself to become the mouth-piece of this particular school of Australian Navy advocacy. I refer to a gentleman who has not even hesitated to lift up his voice in London in defence of the principles which he advocates. I allude to Senator Matheson. That gentleman has not scrupled to make all naval authorities his own, irrespective of whether they believe in the principles which he has laid down, or whether they do not. In this connexion I propose to read a quotation by Senator Matheson from a passage by Captain Mahan. I shall give the quotation in conjunction with its context, and I shall leave honorable members to decide whether or not that quotation was honestly made. ‘ I shall then ask the House to say whether a good cause would require to be bolstered up by the adoption of such methods. Senator Matheson, in a paper which he read some years ago, before the Royal Colonial Institute - so the matter was well considered - in advocating the establishment of a fleet of sea-going cruisers for use around the Australian coast, spoke as follows: -
If local defence is desirable at home and for the mother country -
Local defence of the type the senator wants for Australia is not desirable at home and for the mother country, and nobody knows that better than doesSenator Matheson - why should it be condemned when Australia is concerned? Why, what does Captain Mahan himself say on the question?
Senator Matheson then quotes Captain Mahan as follows : -
San Francisco and Puget Sound, owing to the width and great depth of the entrance, cannot be effectually protected by torpedoes, and, consequently, as fleets can always pass batteries through an unobstructed channel, they cannot obtain perfect security by means of fortifications only. Valuable as such works will be to them, they must be further garrisoned by coast defence ships, whose part in repelling an enemy will be co-ordinated with that of the batteries. The sphere of action of such ships should not be permitted to extend far beyond the port to which they are allotted -
Of what use would they be in Port Darwin, which is one of the places that Senator Matheson desires to protect? . Captain Mahan, it will be seen, was talking about a local vessel, which might be of service, perhaps, in Port Phillip Bay, if it could not be defended by mines. The quotation continues: - and of whose defence they form an important part, but within that sweep they will always be a powerful reinforcement to a sea-going navy when the strategic conditions of the war cause hostilities to centre round their port. By sacrificing power to go long distances, the coast de fence ship gains proportionate weight of armour guns - that is, of defensive and offensive strength. It further adds an element of unique value to the fleet with which it for the time acts.
That is to say if the fleet is to act immediately round the mouth of the harbor which these ships are designed to protect. Senator Matheson asks, what does Captain Mahan himself say about a fleet of sea-going cruisers to be used in or about harbor mouths, or around the coast of Australia, which extends for about 8,850 miles, and which constitutes as big a radius as a sea-going vessel is usually given? As the context shows, the quotation given from Captain Mahan was intended to be applied to localized defence, which was to be used only in conjunction with forts. Yet Senator Matheson wishes it to be used! in connexion with the defence of the country. We all know that in Australia there are very few ports, if any, which cannot be defended by mine fields, so that the quotation from Captain Mahan is not applicable to any port in the Commonwealth. It is a curious commentary upon the action of Senator Matheson that Captain Mahan himself had occasion to protest against this type of misrepresentation. In Current Fallacies Upon Naval Subjects, he writes as follows : -
So far does this (misrepresentation) go in the experience of the present writer that one of the most reputable journals in the country (United States), in order to establish a certain extreme position, quoted my opinion in one paragraph, while omitting to give the carefully guarded qualificationexpressed in the very succeeding paragraph ; whereby was conveyed, by implication, the endorsement of the extreme opinion advocated, which the present writer certainly never held.
We all know that certain senators representing Western Australia, who are outside of the ranks of the Labour Party, are compelled by the exigencies of their political position to prove to their constituents that so essential are they to the Commonwealth at large because of their advocacy, perhaps, of some particular academic subject, that that State cannot very well do without them at the next election. Senator Matheson has chosen an Australian navy as the subject of his special advocacy. I ask honorable members if he is to be allowed to make every naval authority his own, to quote them without giving the context, and to misrepresent the opinions expressed by writers upon naval subjects? I do not think that my words are a bit. too severe when I consider the effect which this quo- cation from Captain Mahan, the great naval authority of the past century, is likely to exercise upon the minds of people who read it, in the absence of its context.
– Captain Mahan has made his views upon the defence of Australia very clear in another book.
– Of course he has. I am merely dealing with the quotation which was made from that authority by Senator Matheson. Here is an opinion by Captain Mahan which is especially applicable to Australia at the present time. Honorable members are aware that for a time the United States went in for building coast defence monitors - vessels with a short radius, but possessed of comparatively greater gun power and armour capacity. Of these vessels, Captain Mahan says -
It is the opinion of the writer that no more monitors should be built, except as an accessory to the defence of those harbors where submarine mines cannot be depended upon - as at San Francisco and Puget Sound. It should be added that the monitor at sea rolls twice as rapidly as the battleship, which injuriously affects accuracy of aim ; that is, offensive power.
Yet the type of vessel which Captain Creswell recommends is one which would have such gun power as would make her unseaworthy in a heavy sea. Captain Mahan continues -
The general principle of the decisive superiority of offensive power over defensive is applicable throughout - to the operations of a war, to the design of a battle-ship, to the scheme of building a whole navy. It is to the erroneous belief in mere defence that we owe much of the faith in the monitor, and some of the insistence upon armour; while the cry that went up for local naval defence along our coast -
The cry that we hear in Australia. - when war threatened in the spring of 1898 -
That is the war with Spain - showed an ignorance of the first principles of warfare, which, if not resisted, would have left us impotent even before Spain.
That is the opinion, in unmistakable terms, of the authority quoted by Senator Matheson in support of his contention that these cruisers’ should be scattered round the coast-line of Australia on the very principle that Captain Mahan himself so scathingly denounced when applied to his own country,
– Captain Mahan was referring to the deficiency in battleships in America.
– Exactly. I have already shown that the Empire will shortly be deficient in battle-ships, and explained the necessity which therefore exists for all sections of the Empire to take a hand in securing battle-ship strength. So much for the mouthpiece in another place of the Australian Navy project. But we need not go further than the report to the Senate of the Naval Director, Captain Creswell, to show how absolutely fallacious is the principle of an Australian Navy for local defence. I do not like to say anything about a member of the Commonwealth service who, in the past, has proved himself a good officer. Such an officer has naturally much difficulty in replying ; but the misrepresentations put forward by the advocates of an Australian Navy are so extensive that I feel I must deal with the question in a straight-out, direct way, as directly as if Captain Creswell were present in the House to reply to my contentions. I deeply regret that he is not, because I welcome nothing so much as a complete elucidation of all these matters. In his report to the Senate, dated 7th February, 1902, Captain Creswell writes as follows: -
From the Imperial stand-point the caseis equally strong. The life of the Empire depends on the fleet; any strengthening of the fleet adds to the security of the Empire. Australia is the only considerable dependency that is . . . in a position to concentrate her attention on sea forces and add to the fleet strength of Empire.
And yet Captain Creswell knows as well as does any man that the few miserable cruisers, costing£300,000 each, which he suggests for local defence, could not add one iota to the fleet strength of the Empire, and would not benefit it in the slightest degree. That being so, why should he include such a statement in a report to the Senate? Captain Creswell also knows, as well as does any man, the necessity that exists for homogeneity in the construction of fleets ; he is undoubtedly aware that that is a principle which has been followed to the very letter by every naval power. He knows also that the creation of a separate Australian Force, while opposed to the opinions of all naval authorities at the present day, must inevitably lead to a want of homogeneity, and consequent depreciation in efficiency, in the Empire’s defence, which he himself admits seriously needs augmenting. As a proof of, the seriousness of the arguments which Captain Creswell adduced in this report, I propose to make a further quotation, showing the test which he gives of the efficiency of the force which he now has. under his command. I do not wish for a moment to impugn the efficiency of that force, because, if it be in
Any way lacking in that respect, it is not from want of enthusiasm on the part of those composing it. But this is the proof which Captain Creswell gives of the efficiency of the force he already commands -
The Protector, under this system -
The system which he proposed for an Australian Navy - -was manned and ready to leave for China in three days. On arrival in China, the CommanderinChief reported that the Protector was most useful, being an efficient and well-kept manofwar, reflecting credit on captain, officers, and men.
He goes on to say -
Her engine-room staff, largely made up of reserve men, steamed her 16,000 miles in four months -
That is exactly what the China Navigation Steam-ship Company’s vessels do all the year round without bragging about it - and she returned without defects. The system of reduced permanent crews and reserve has thus been fairly tested.
That may be very valuable information to embody in a report on this question, but to my mind all that it proves is that the Protector paid a visit to foreign waters, asked for an opinion, and was naturally complimented. It would be just as idle to treat nhat expression of opinion on the part of the British officer as a serious one as it would be absurd for a woman to boast, on returning from a visit to a chatty friend, that she had been told, in answer to an inquiry, that she was “ looking perfectly lovely, my dear” - or something to that effect. The opinion quoted by Captain Creswell in regard to the Protector can be of no real value as showing the efficiency of his force when compared with that of other powers. As Captain Creswell has told one story of the visit of the Protector to eastern, waters, I think it will not be inappropriate to tell another. When that vessel was in port at, I think, Hong Kong, the captain of one of the British ships there accepted an invitation to dine with Captain Creswell. When he came alongside the Protector, however, he found that there was no one to receive him. There was no one on duty, but after boarding the vessel, and seeking for some time to’ locate the skipper, he at last discovered some one who directed him to where he was to be found. Captain Creswell was naturally very distressed on learning of this not too courteous treatment of his guest, and apologised iri profuse terms. His friend, however, was in a generous mood, and contented himself with saying, “ Well, Creswell, why worry, about a thing like this ? It is not as if your ship were a real mano’war.”
– Who is the honorable member’s authority for that statement ?
– I have told the story to Captain Creswell, and he does not deny its accuracy. When I mentioned it to him he entered upon an extensive recital of how it happened that there was no one on duty, and no one to receive the British officer ; but he did not deny the main facts of this further incident in the history of the Protector. The next proposal in this report by the Naval Director is to increase the gun power of these vessels at the expense of their radius. He says -
Service in Australian waters would not (be at any great distance from a base.
Surely that is a very curious statement to be made by that officer ? He might have to move the ships, according to another advocate of an Australian Navy, round to Port Darwin, or to Western Australia at a moment’s notice ! If he had to take them to those points, he would have to steam at least 3,000 or 4,000 miles. Should we then find that this short service in Australia “ would not be at any great distance from a base “ ? Three or four thousand miles is as great as the normal coal capacity of most of our smaller criusers. Yet Captain Creswell proposes to curtail the radius of his proposed vessels because they would not be required at “ any great distance from a base.” Which of these arguments is the correct one? Is this fleet to operate in Western Australia or Port Darwin, or is it to operate in the harbors of Sydney and Melbourne, and not to go more than a stone’s throw therefrom? Let us have one definite statement made. If the ships are to be used round Sydney and Melbourne, we ‘have the authority of the best naval expert extant against the proposal. And if the ships are to be used at Port Darwin and Western Australia, it is obvious, on Captain Creswell’s own showing, that they could not go there when the emergency arose. In the same report, he says -
Any future naval war, it is certain, will be waged against a combination of naval powers.
It is most unlikely that any single power will undertake the task. Great and powerful as the British Fleet is, it will be taxed to the uttermost to cover and protect a world-wide commerce, which is the life of the nation -
I have already shown that the Empire is making adequate preparations to protect that commerce on the seas - and at the same time to carry on the heavy work of the major operations of war in Europe. The fleets of powers that have little or no commerce to defend, and maintained for purely aggressive purposes, are rapidly increasing. Absolute and complete dependence by Australia upon the British Navy, situated as we are at the extremity of the Empire, will add to that strain.
What argument could be better put, not for supporting a local navy - which could be of no use if the Imperial Navy failed in its object, and which could be of no help to the Imperial Navy if it did not fail in its object - what better argument could be put forward, not that Australia should create such a navy, but that it should forthwith take up her share of the responsibility for Imperial defence? As if that statement in itself were not sufficient to damn the whole scheme, we find that in the same report the Naval Director proposes that in time of war this Australian Navy should be put under the control of the Imperial Admiral on the Australian station. Why does he advise this? Because he realizes, as every sane man must, that confusion of command in war time breeds, as no other thing can breed, inefficiency. The soul of war, especially naval war, is action. Confliction of command entails inaction. Wherefore, Captain Creswell advises putting the Australian Navy, which he wants to see established in peace time, under Australian officers and Australian control, in time of war under the control of the Admiral of the station. But if divided effort in peace time is a good thing, why not in war? Are not our forces in peace supposed to be preparing for the sterner duties of war? If unity of effort in action is deemed to be essential for success, why is not unity of effort also essential in the preparation for that action? Certainly, Captain Creswell’s proposals would not seem to be based on logical considerations. And, again, the Australian Navy, which, in its preparation for war, would be under the control of some Australian - shall we say? - Admiral, would be responsible for its discipline and general efficiency to him, as he would be for it to the Commonwealth. Now, discipline and efficiency spell capacity for action, and we all know that every commander, to be successful, must know intimately the capabilities of the force committed to his charge. Want of knowledge of the potential limitations of the forces under his command cramps a commander. Over-estimation thereof precedes disaster in action ; under-estimation induces inaction - an alternative rendered equally disastrous bythe exigencies of our naval position. Generally speaking, the man who. should be in the best position in time of” war to direct the operations of the Australian Navy would be the man who had! supervised its preparation for war - and vet Captain Creswell advises otherwise. He recognises, as every one must recognise, that in war, as in everything else, too many cooks spoil the broth. I shall leave the House to form its own’ opinion as to why he does not think that too many cooks - or Admirals - would spoil the preparation of that broth.. Before I leave the question of dual control, I should like to give an instance of the danger which might result from the operation of that principle. Immediately after the unfortunate outrage on the Dogger Bank, at which time the Challenger happened to be at Port Melbourne, instructions were wired to the British Fleets, wherever stationed, as a matter of ordinary course, to be in readiness for all eventualities.
– When was that made public ?
– I am stating it now on my own responsibility ; and, privately. I shall tell the Minister my authority, which he will not refute.
– Are not the warships on the station always supposed to be prepared for eventualities ?
– There are some things which the honorable member will see, on reflection, have to be done. For instance, there is a certain amount of top-hamper which has to be taken off a week or two prior to hostilities beginning.
– That would take a very short while.
Mr.KELLY.- That is one of the things they were instructed to be prepared to do. By a curious combination of circumstances, within a few hours of the commander of the Challenger receiving that message, a torpedo boat was seen to approach the mouth of the Yarra. He at once signalled to the torpedo boat to stand off. She was flying no colours to show what she really was, and the warship had’ not been long enough on the station to identify her. In spite of that signal from the Imperial ship, the torpedo boat stood on. Whether she did not understand the Imperial signal, or was keeping no watch or look out, I do not know. But whatever the explanation may be, she stood on, and if it had not been for the common sense of the British commander, she might have been blown out of the water. His orders were definite - to be prepared for all eventualities. But he recognised, I dare say from the fact that his signals did not make much impression upon this local torpedo boat, that she must be a vessel belonging to the Australian service. Whatever the explanation was, he did not fire upon her. , It is rather an absurd incident, which should not have happened, but hav- ing happened, I think it is the best proof that this House could have of the absolute folly of having dual control in naval matters, either in the preparation for action, or in action itself.
– There should be no dual control in Australian waters.
– -Then who should control?
– The Admiral on the station, I suppose.
– If the Admiral on the station is responsible for the forces under his command, should he not be responsible for the discipline of the forces? That is very clear.
– One would expect that.
– One would certainly expect it. But that apparently is what Captain Creswell did not expect that this House would have the intelligence to perceive.
– That is too severe.
– I do not wish to take up much further time, but I should like to mention, before I sit down, that an Australian Navy argument has recently been founded on the withdrawal of the British battle fleet from the China station. That fact has been used to support the creation of a few small cruisers on the coasts of Australia. It has been represented as though’ the English battleships were withdrawn from the China station because, at the present time, Great Britain had no hope of coping with the power of Japan. I think that the people who put forward that argument must know full .well that ‘the reason why British battle-ships have been withdrawn from Eastern waters, is that it is now in European waters that they are required to watch the fleets which may in future menace the interests of the Empire. Japan is an ally of Great Britain - and I think that all people in Australia ardently hope that she will always remain our ally - and there is consequently no fleet in Eastern waters, now that the Russian fleet has been destroyed, for these British battle-ships to watch. Therefore, they have been withdrawn to other stations to which they have been allotted, so that they may, when the time comes, be brought into action at once against the forces with which they will be called upon to fight.
– The French Government still has. a China squadron.
– The British cruisers in China seas are quite capable of coping with the French or any other squadron in those waters.
– The British Admiralty has simply taken some British ships away.
– There are no battle-ships to watch, but there are cruisers to watch, and therefore the Admiralty has left British cruisers to watch them, and they are thoroughly capable of carrying out that duty.
– Vessels on which the British flag flies are generally capable.
– Exactly. Therefore, the argument for creating four small cruisers, because England cannot protect us against Japan, is simply ridiculous.
– Where was that argument seriously put forward?
– It was seriously put forward in Sydney by a brilliant exponent of the idea of the establishment of an Australian Navy, namely, Mr. E. W. O’sullivan, who. . I understand, sees the magnificent prospect of large loan funds being expended as the result of such an effort.
– One might have thought that it was a Sydney opinion !
– I only wish to say, in regard to this phase of the question, that if the Imperial Government cannot protect Australia, certainly an Australian Navy cannot protect her. Great Britain, at the present time, has, built and building, 48 first-class battleships, 11 second-class, and 6 third-class battleships - in, all, 65. She has, built and building, 42 first-class cruisers, and other cruisers making up a total of 149. She has 31 torpedo gunboats, 144 destroyers, and 189 torpedo craft of different classes. If Great Britain, with that immense armament, cannot maintain command of the seas, it is of no use trying to create such a force here as can compete with the forces that will have wrested it from her, when they afterwards visit these waters.
– Why should we pay a greater amount unless there is to be greater protection?
– There is greater protection. Every ship that is added to the Imperial Navy adds to the protection of Australia.
– What is the difference between adding ships in English waters and adding them here?
– The difference is, that if we have them here we have them where they are not most wanted. If the Imperial Navy is overwhelmingly successful, absolutely no hostile ship will be able to leave port, and there will be no ship in these waters for an Australian Navy to run away from. That is one position.
– The honorable member misses the point.
– Take the other position. Say that some of “the enemy’s cruisers are able to get away from the British Fleet, and say that those cruisers do not care to come to the coasts of Australia. Suppose that, from their own bases, they interfere with our commerce along its trade routes. Of what use for rooting out those hostile nests would be an Australian Navy, limited to Australian seas? It is Australian trade which would have to be protected, and the Australian Navy could not be utilized to protect it. Take it that the commerce destroyer of an enemy has been successful in evading the British Fleets, and makes a raid on the coast of Australia - I have already told the House that England has made preparation to meet such contingencies, and that, owing to the immensely preponderating strength of British cruiser strength, no enemy’s ship would be able to stay more than a very short time in any particular place. It would not be able to stay for any time whatever on the Australian station - qua Australian station. It would have to keep moving constantly. Let honorable members consider that British first-class cruisers will number in 1907 forty-two ships, as opposed to the thirty-three of the next three naval Powers. If we leave out of the reckoning the United
States - with which country I hope we shall never be at war - Great Britain has twentytwo cruisers over the strength of France and Germany - a preponderating strength of over two to one. There is not the slightest doubt that British ships would be able to hunt down every one of the enemy’s vessels which might get through the blockade. But I would go further and say that if we are not satisfied with that preponderating strength, should we not try to add to it, instead of trying to bring about an isolated new division which would be limited to Australian waters, and which could not, by its meagre radius, be utilized wherever Australian interests might be threatened ?
– The honorable member misses my point. If Australia is protected by ships she will be less liable to attack than if unprotected by ships.
– The whole course of my speech has gone to show that England cannot go on bearing, unassisted, the whole burden of Imperial defence. I have shown that whereas at the present day England is as strong in battleships as are the next three powers, she will, in 1907 - only two years hence - have but forty-eight such vessels as compared with sixty -three owned by those powers. If England were able to bear, unassisted, the whole burden of Imperial defence, the question would merely be whether we are small or mean enough to allow her to continue to do so. But I have proved that England is not able to go on bearing the burden alone; and, that being so, the self-governing Colonies, wealthy as they are, and with their vast interests, must come to her assistance, prepared to take part in a new scheme for Imperial naval defence. I do not wish for “ contributions without representation “ or anything of that sort, but simply urge that the whole matter requires readjusting,. My desire is that we should meet the mother country half-way, and say that we are prepared to consider the question of Imperial defence in the new light now shed upon it.
– - But the honorable member proposes a money contribution.
– I have already explained that I propose to double our money contribution in order to force attention to the subject. It does not matter whether we contribute £200,000 or £400,000, seeing that the naval expenditure of the United Kingdom is £36.000,000. Our contribution of £200,000 is no more than the price of a third-class cruiser ! My desire is, as I say, to force attention to a subject which is of supreme national importance to the Commonwealth. I much regret that I have occupied so much time, but honorable mem; bers will recognise that this is a subject which cannot easily be dealt with briefly. There are so many sides to consider that, if each point were comprehensively urged, I am afraid I should never finish. If I have been rather stilted in my method, it is only because I recognised that if I dealt
Avith the matter fully, I should require almost as many adjournments of the debate as the honorable member for Lang did on another occasion. I hope I have shown the necessity there is for Imperial defence, and that England cannot unassisted bear the burden. I deeply regret that a more capable person did not take up the work of pointing out Australia’s duty to herself. However, the matter has been touched upon “by the honorable and learned member for East Sydney and others, all of whom have expressed much the same view that I have laid before honorable members to-day. The honorable and learned member for East Sydney has said : -
I cannot wonder that the people of the mother country look to their children for further help. Some persons seem to think that this ,£200,000 n year we give the British Navy is a magnificent display of Australian generosity. I say, we are bound to look more squarely in the face our responsibilities to the British Empire.
And not only responsibility to the British Empire; but responsibility to the people intrusted to our charge ! The honorable member for Gippsland has said: -
The stupendous struggle in the East must awaken the people of Australia to the fact that we have been living in a fool’s paradise when we have assumed that our great distance from <he military nations of the earth gave us immunity from foreign invasion. We know that some of the great military nations are within a few days of us. Japan has astonished the world. If her example awakens China to adopt modern civilization we shall have hundreds of millions within a short distance of our shores. That shows the necessity of contributing to the British Navy, and of consolidating and strengthening the Empire by every means in our power.
Surely there is food for thought for the people of these vast empty lands ! The Prime Minister may cut off the proposed increase if he likes; all I wish him to do now is to take the first step towards a discussion of Imperial necessities, and of the Imperial adequacy of the preparation that has been made to meet them by those who now bear the whole responsibility. The Prime Minister has spoken on this question as only he could speak. In his presidential address, delivered to the Imperial Federation League of Victoria, the Prime Minister said -
Shall we be opposed in our own community?Certainly. At the very outset, we superimpose another demand on a community, many of whose members neglect to exercise the political privileges they have. One would not willingly press another claim upon them except on the ground of imperious necessity, but the necessity exists, and is increasing. While it is hoped that every member of the League - and I think the Prime Minister would say, also, every member of the community- continues to be a zealous ratepayer in his municipality, and an active elector in State and Commonwealth, we are obliged to remind him that the guarantee of his retention of each and all of these privileges, and of their free exercise by his children, very largely depends upon the fate of the Empire.
The Prime Minister, in a newspaper interview, which has since been printed, and circulated, further said -
But the march of events during the last few years has revealed the striking growth of three new naval powers - the United States, Germany, and Japan. The condition of their fleets, and the condition of those fleets which were previously in existence, oblige us to review the whole situation in the light of the possibilities now presented.
Those words are sufficient justification for moving in the matter. I cannot conclude without again expressing my deep regret that it should have fallen to the lot of a private member, whose political inexperience by no means fits him for a duty so important, to submit this motion. I hope, however, that now the question has been introduced, it will be debated in a fair and open way, and not, as some advocates of an Australian Navy, wish to debate it, namely, by misrepresentation, and the use of quotations without context. I hope that we shall endeavour in an honest way to arrive at the best solution of the problem. If honorable members address themselves to the question in the spirit I have indicated, I have no doubt that the position I have presented to-day will be deemed the only reasonable position in the interests, not only of the Empire, but of that section of it committed to our charge.
Debate (on motion by Mr. McCay) adjourned.
In Committee of Supply: (Consideration resumed from 6th September, vide page 1982), on motion by Sir John Forrest -
That the item, “ President,£1,100,” be agreed to.
– Just before the House adjourned last night I was referring to the remarks of the Treasurer with respect to the practice for some time followed by writers in the press of the old country of disparaging and misrepresenting Australia. I was pointing out that some of the restrictive legislation passed by this Parliament had, in my opinion, done more than anything else to disparage the Commonwealth in the estimation of the people of other countries. I referred more particularly to the contract section of the Immigration Restriction Act. I think that that section should be amended without any further delay, and if it were possible it ought to be amended during next week.
– Why did not the honorable member move the late Government to do something in the matter?
– I may tell the honorable member for Maranoa that when the Immigration Restriction Bill was under consideration in this House, about four years ago, I voted for the contract clause, in the belief that it would be applied only when a company or employers proposed to introduce a number of men at a low rate of wages to take the place of men on strike, and in order to prevent those men from securing redress of their grievances.
– Does the honorable member still believe in that?
– I do, and I still support the provision to that extent. But I cannot possibly support a measure which will prevent many of my own country people coming out here, under engagement for, perhaps, two or three years, at a rate of wages as high as the highest rate ruling in Australia. The section to which I refer was submitted by the leader of the Labour Party, and I remember that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne was very anxious indeed to find out how far the proposed clause would apply to men ordinarily coming out under engagement for two or three years, at the highest rate of wages. It was distinctly understood at the time that the clause was not to apply in such cases, but to men brought out here for political purposes, at a lower rate of wages than those ruling in. Australia, and to take the place of men on strike.
– That might have been understood in some quarters, but it was not generally understood.
– That was distinctly understood to be the object of the clause when it was submitted. I say that to put any other interpretation upon it is to place too much power in the hands of any person. I am afraid that if one or two Bills which are now before the House are passed as they at present stand, we shall find similar difficulties arising in connexion with them.
– There has been a good deal of slander and talk, but what harm has been done by the section to which the honorable member refers?
– There has been a very great deal of misunderstanding. As I said last night, there is an impression even amongst our own country people in Great Britain that no one is allowed to land in Australia unless he is able to write at dictation a sentence of fifty words in some European language, and that apparently the Customs officers always take good care that a man desiring to enter the Commonwealth shall not be asked to write a sentence in his own language.
– The honorable member knows that that is not true.
– I know that quite well, but I speak of the impression prevailing in the old country.
– An amendment of the contract section will not correct that impression.
– In my opinion, it is the duty of the Government to amend that section, and to make it known in the old country that we in Australia are prepared to receive people from Great Britain and from the Continent of Europe with open arms. The provision to which I refer is paragraph a of section 3 of the Immigration Restriction Act. which provides that-
Any person who, when asked to do so by an. officer, fails to write out at dictation, and sign in the presence of the officer, a passage of fifty words in length in a European language directed by the officer - shall be held to be a prohibited immigrant. It is ridiculous and contemptible that we should propose to prohibit people of our own race from coming into this country.
– Why did not the honorable member vote for my proposal to bar coloured aliens and leave others alone?
– The honorable gentleman will allow me to say that when I voted for this proposal I never imagined for a moment that it would be used to prevent or to place obstacles in the way of our own people emigrating under a contract to Australia.
– Has it prevented them ?
– There have been difficulties placed, in the way of some persons, and the provision has been the means of disparaging the Commonwealth. The very idea that people will be required to pass an examination in an European language has created a bad impression. Honorable members can scarcely be conscious that there is more than English spoken, even in Great Britain. Small as the country is, there are people in Great Britain who have very little knowledge of English.
– The Welsh, for instance.
– Just so. Would they be asked to write a sentence of fifty words in their own language? I ask honorable members to imagine the case of an Irishman, speaking and writing the Irish language, being asked to write a sentence of fifty words in the Italian or Greek language.
– It is my experience that a man who could write a sentence in Gaelic could write it in Italian or in Greek.
– I am afraid that the honorable member is acquainted only with the English language. I have had to learn more than one language, and a smattering of more than two or three, though I am sorry to say that I do not know one of them very well. However, I have no wish to find fault with what has been done, but rather to ask the Government to remedy the difficulty.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that any one from Great Britain has been stopped from entering the Commonwealth under the section to which he refers?
– I will not say that any one has absolutely been stopped, but the honorable gentleman must know very well that difficulties have been placed in the way of the landing in Australia of some of our own country people.
– Not under that section.
– I remind honorable members of what happened the other day in Hobart. A gentleman wHo was unfortunately blind, was chased from his ship to his hotel, and from the hotel to the ship again, and the agents of the steam-ship company were obliged to give a guarantee that this gentleman did not intend to remain for any length of time in our beautiful country..
– That was under the administration of the last Government.
– The authorities appear to have been afraid that this blind gentleman might have his eyes opened in our beautiful country and might decide to remain amongst us. He was said to be a well-to-do man on a tour with his daughter. We ought not to have on our statute-book a measure which may be interpreted in such a way as to produce such incidents.
– That case was not the fault of the law.
– It was the fault of the law.
– That gentleman was detained, I presume, not under the paragraph to which the honorable member is referring, but under that which prohibits the immigration of persons likely to become a burden on the Commonwealth.
– The people of the old country have good reason to interpret the law as I have said it can be interpreted, and to fear that difficulties. may be placed in the way of their landing if they come to Australia. Only the other day a groom who brought out horses from England had to obtain a ticket of exemption.
– The Prime Minister has said that that was not’ necessary.
– I can understand the people in the old country reading the provision in such a way as to make them doubtful as to whether they would be able to land in Australia after getting here. This man obtained a ticket of exemption through the shipping agents, to make sure that he would be allowed to land with his horses; but it provided that he could not remain here longer than six months.
– The Prime Minister has said that he can remain here as long as he likes.
– I still maintain that people in the old country have every reason to believe that difficulties may be put in the way of their landing here. I want these difficulties removed from the statute-book. I think the world should know that we are prepared to re- ceive in Australia, with open arms, all white persons of good repute. I received a letter not very long ago from a person who asked about the advisability of coming here, and I had to reply to him, “You cannot speak English, French, or German, and the language which you do speak may not be that in which the test will be applied to you, so that you may be looked upon as a prohibited immigrant.”
– Of what nationality was the honorable member’s correspondent?
– He was an intelligent man of the same nationality as myself, a Welshman.
– Then the honorable member misled him.
– I am sorry that I had to discourage him, but I was perfectly right in doing so, in view of the facts. After our experiencein connexion with the six hatters, land the Charters Towers bricklayers–
– That was an invention about the Charters Towers bricklayers. Any number of bricklayers were available there.
– Is the corner party to take possession of the Committee?
– It is time that we had more than one member of the Opposition’ here. [Quorum formed.]
– I have admitted that it was not the intention of paragraph a of section 3 of the Act to prevent our own people from coming here, but the wording of that provision justifies the conclusion that difficulties may be put in the way of immigrants.. In the Argus of Friday last, a leading article was published on this subject, part of which I wish to read to the Committee. It is as follows : -
What is the law with respect to the exclusion from Australia of labourers under contract? This question is raised by the case of the groom who came out with horses to New South Wales under an exemption certificate covering six months, by the action of Mr. Coghlan, AgentGeneral for New South Wales, in granting that certificate, and by the confused andcontradictory references to the matter made during the past week by the Prime Minister. Section 3 of the Immigration Restriction Act includes amongst prohibited immigrants - “ Any persons under a contract or agreement to perform manual labour within the Commonwealth ; provided that this paragraph shall not apply to workmen exempted by the Minister for special skill required in Australia.” “Mr. Coghlan, an officer of Australian reputation, sent to London as Agent-General for the special purpose of answering criticisms and refuting misstatements made respecting Australia, interpreted that provision to mean that William Gooderham, the groom in question, would probably be denied admittance unless he had an exemption certificate as authorized by regulations under the Act. He issued one accordingly, for six months, with an intimation that any person guilty of offence under the regulations is liable to a fine of £50, or, in default, imprisonment. William Gooderham may therefore be excused if he has gathered the impression that the one striking fact to an English workman respecting Australia is that he must obtain a special permit to enter it, and he must not remain in it more than six months on pain of fine or imprisonment. If Sir John Forrest should assert that in stating this much we are amongst those who, faring sumptuously every da)’, slander Australia, we must refer him to Mr. Coghlan, who, faring sumptuously - we may hope - in London, is the author of the slander. . . .
Surely nothing can disparage and discredit Australia so much as a provision of this sort, which skilled officials cannot interpret rightly, and respecting which the Prime Minister is evidently in a state of confusion. None of Mr. Deakin’s oracular refinements can do away with the impression which the experiences of that groom will make in Great Britain. Mr. Copeland, when Agent-General, reported that the man-in-the-street in England was talking about the six hatters case with strong resentment, and implored the Commonwealth to repeal the section which sanctioned such treatment as they received. Now the whole of that bad impression will be renewed and intensified. From various utterances made by Mr. Deakin we may conclude that he was willing to favorably consider an amendment of the section, making it correspond to the purpose of Parliament in passing it. That purpose was to prevent the importation of labourers to overpower Australian workmen in case of strikes arising out of industrial disputes. We have now Wages Boards, State Arbitration Acts, and a Federal Arbitration Act. Strikes should now, if we can believe the promoters of those Acts, be things of the past. Then why not boldly repeal the obnoxious and mischievous restriction altogether, since if there are to be no more strikes it will not be required? If Mr. Deakin has not courage enough to propose that course, he might at least amend the clause in the spirit of the suggestions which have been made, that the prohibition shall not apply to immigrants who are not hired to take the place of workmen on strike or engaged in defending what they may consider to be their rights. When the provision was inserted, on the motion of Mr. Watson, it was intended to apply to such cases only. It has been extended in. operation in a most injurious way. If it is to remain in the Act no time should be lost before inserting words to restrict it to its original purpose.
Last night I quoted from a leading article published in the Age, and I am pleased to say that the Argus and the Age are very much in accord in this matter. The sooner we repeal the section to which I have referred, the better it will be for Australia. I am very glad indeed that the leader of the Labour Party has expressed his willingness - and I take it that he speaks for his party - to modify the contract section. I regret that the honorable member for Bland is not sitting on this side of the Chamber. I am sure that he could do better work here than upon the Ministerial benches. He is a liberal-minded man, and if he were as free as I am he would be able to exercise a beneficial influence upon our legislation.
– I would not misrepresent the laws of the country.
– It was through the honorable member’s influence with the Barton Government that that contract section was adopted, and I am very glad that the honorable member now sees the error of his ways.
– Did not the honorable member support the Barton Government ?
– Yes; and I supported the very section to which I have been referring. It was then understood that it was only to be applied to the purpose of excluding men whom it was desired to bring here under contract, at low rates of wages, to replace workmen who were on strike. I never imagined for a moment that men like the honorable member for Newcastle and myself would have obstacles placed in the way of their landing here.
– That is not the fact.
Mi. R. EDWARDS. - The honorable member knows .that obstacles have been placed in the way of men landing here, and I need only cite the case of the six hatters, who were kept on board ship for a week before they were permitted to set foot on shore.
– They kept themselves there.
– Then I might mention the case of a certain blind gentleman, who was refused permission to land at Hobart.
– That was not under the contract section.
– That gentleman was refused permission to land, although he could have bought and sold the whole of Hobart. Judging from his case and others, there is very little liberty in this land of ours, and I think the contract section of the Immigration Restriction Act should be repealed without delay.
– If it is to be misrepresented in the way the honorable member is misrepresenting it, it had better be repealed.
– A very bad impression has been created, not only in’ foreign countries, but in our own homeland, and it is generally thought that any Englishman, Irishman, or Scotchman canland here only after experiencing considerable difficulty.
– That misrepresentation, has been made to a large extent by thosewho are paid to properly represent theStates.
– The groom towhom reference has been made will go back to England and tell Jus own story, which, will create a most unfavorable impression. If I were not interested in the welfare of Australia I should not bother myself todiscuss this matter, ff have been here for forty-two years, and I wish to remain as much longer as I can, and to doeverything possible to promote the prosperity of the country, which has treated me so well. Fortunately, when I came here in- 1862, there was no Labour Party, and noImmigration Restriction Act, with a contract section, and I was permitted to land’ and work out my own destiny.
– - The inference to be drawn? from the honorable member’s remarks isthat that could not be done now. That isnot fair.
– The honorable member knows that difficulties have been; placed in the way of persons desiring toland here, and I think we should endeavour to clear away any wrong impressions that have been formed. We should not retainany law capable of such an interpretation’ as would prevent legitimate immigrants from coming in here freely. The United? States already have an immense population.
– They are receiving moreimmigrants than any other country in theworld, notwithstanding the provision they have made against the introduction of persons under contract.
– Yes; but theUnited States did not endeavour to prevent any one’ from entering the United Stateswhen the population of that country numbered only 5,000,000.
– It was because of their experience then that they subsequently placed restrictions upon immigration.
– I can remember that when I was a schoolboy a man cameround to the parish in which I was born, and induced half the population to leavefor America. The children of some of those immigrants are now amongst the most prominent men in America. We should encourage people to come here from the old country, instead of placing difficulties in their way- I would impress upon the Government the desirability of removing all existing obstacles at as early a date as possible, and of making it known in the old country that we are ready to receive white immigrants from Great Britain and the Continent with open arms. I notice that provision is made upon the Estimates for the payment of £120,000 to the Orient Steam-ship Company for the carriage of our English mails. I very much regret that in the new mail contract Brisbane was not included as a port of call.
– The honorable member supported the Government which entered into that contract.
– Had that Government remained in power until the question of the mail subsidy came up for consideration, I might have been the means of displacing it.
– The honorable member voted for the late Government after the contract had been completed.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney knew perfectly well the treatment he might expect from me when the English mail contract came up for consideration in this House. I should have liked him to continue in office until that question was discussed, because I should have been glad of the opportunity to show honorable members opposite that, although 1 supported the right honorable member when I considered that he was doing what was right, I was prepared to condemn him when the occasion justified that action.
– Would the honorable member have ousted the late Ministry upon that question ?
– I do not care to reply to such a direct question as that, but 1 should have acted as I thought the occasion warranted me in acting. The present Government having taken over the responsibilities of the late Ministry, I ask them to do justice to Queensland in this matter. I appeal to them to place that State upon the same footing as the other States. I do not seek any favour for Queensland. If I did so, I am sure that the people of that State would promptly resent my action. Even if the Prime Minister is not officially aware of it, it is a fact that the Queensland Government have entered into an arrangement with the Orient Company, under which that company has agreed to send its mail steamers to Brisbane every fortnight in return for a payment of £26,000 annually. I ask the honorable and learned gentleman to seriously consider whether the Commonwealth cannot take over that liability, so that it mav be charged to the States upon a population basis. The existing contract with the Orient Company does not apply to the carriage of mails alone, but also to that of cargo. If the present service ended at Adelaide, Queensland would raise no objections. But the mails for the eastern States have to be brought on from Adelaide by arrangement.
– The honorable member means that the contract should be for the carriage of mails from the United Kingdom to Adelaide?
– Exactly. Of the subsidy of ,£120,000 which is paid to the Orient Company, Queensland contributes, roughly speaking, about £16,000, for which she obtains practically no value. Why should she not enjoy the same ad-, vantages as are conferred upon the other States? The existing contract stipulates that the mail steamers must be fitted with refrigerating chambers, and must call at Melbourne and Sydney. That, I contend, is unfair.
– At how many ports in Queensland does the honorable member suggest the mail steamers should call?
– At only one. The first steamer belonging to the Orient Company reached Brisbane on Thursday last, and loaded with butter upon the following day. Upon her arrival some jollification took place, and the vessel left again upon Saturday.
– The mail steamers visit Sydney to suit their own convenience.
– The contract distinctly provides that they must call there.
– The present contract expressly stipulates that the steamers must call at Melbourne and Sydney. I would not object to that, if they were paid only for the conveyance of mails to Adelaide : but the carriage of mails from Brisbane to Adelaide by rail involves Queensland in an additional expenditure of about £1,000 a year.
– Would the honorable member deprive Sydney of the advantage of being the terminus of the mail service?
– I merely desire all the States to be placed upon the same footing. I had intended to deal with the question of the transfer of the States debts, but in view of the very able speech which was delivered by the honorable member for Mernda last evening, I do not think I should be justified in occupying further time by discussing that important matter. Consequently, I shall content myself with urging upon the Government the necessity of taking some definite action with a view to the solution of that difficult problem at as early a date as possible. This afternoon, I was very pleased to hear the honorable member for Kooyong give notice of a motion in favour of the appointment of a Select Committee to formulate a scheme for the transfer of those debts. We are all aware that that subject was one upon which the advocates of Federation were accustomed to lay especial emphasis. It was urged that the Commonwealth would take over the States debts, and that a very material saving in the annual interest bill would thus be effected. That was offered to the people as an inducement to accept Federation. I remember availing myself of this point at the first general election, and pointing out that a saving of considerably more than £ I,COO,000 a year was likely to be effected by the Common wealth taking over the whole of the debts of the States. I told the electors that instead of the States having to pay, as at present, £8,300,000 a year, by way of interest on their loans, the transfer of the debts to the Commonwealth would mean a reduction of the interest bill to £7,000.000, and I ventured to hope that the saving thus secured would be devoted to a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions. Nothing has yet been done to this end, but I trust that action will be taken in the near future. I desire now to refer briefly to the question of the sugar bounty, which, honorable members must admit, is one of great importance to Queensland. Last year, the value of the sugar produced in that State was a little over £2,000,000, and there is every reason to expect that this year the output will be of even greater magnitude. I was pleased to learn that the Government had decided to extend the period for the operation of the bounty. In referring to this matter the Treasurer said -
In this connexion it is proposed to introduce Bills extending the bounty for five years after the expiration of the present time - that is, until the end of 191 r - upon the same terms as those contained in the existing Act.
Like those who are thankful for even small mercies, Queensland will not be otherwise than grateful for this slight measure of consideration, but I honestly believe that the policy of the present Government should have been to extend the bounty for a term often years. Even if they are not prepared to grant a ten years’ extension on the existing terms, they might well agree to an extension of the bounty, as at present, for five years, and to its continuation on a graduated scale during a second five years’ period. Such a proposition would be generally acceptable to the representatives of Queensland. I may say that, upon the whole, the representatives of that State are unanimous upon this question.
– There is a difference of opinion as to the method of continuing the bounty.
– That may be so. Sugar is not grown in some of the electorates ; but, upon the whole, I think that the representatives of Queensland are ali working together to secure to that State that to which, in our opinion, she is fairly entitled. It should be borne in mind that the sugar industry of Queensland was established and built up by the assistance of coloured labour, and that but for such labour it would not be in existence to-day. The Parliament has decided that the planters shall be deprived of kanaka labour at the end of next year, but it has not made any provision to supply them with other labour to take its place. In these circumstances, I feel that I shall be justified ‘in asking the Parliament, at the proper time, to extend the bounty for another term of ten years. Referring for a moment to a side issue, I believe there is considerable doubt as to whether the Commonwealth has the power to deport kanakas. This is a question of law with which I cannot deal authoritatively. I would point out, however, that the kanakas came into Queensland under contract to work on the sugar plantations for three years, and that at the end of that period they were free to renew their contract for a further period of three years. No agreement was made between the Government of Queensland or the planters and kanakas for the return of the latter to their islands, and in these circumstances some members of the legal profession are of opinion that the
Commonwealth Government, powerful as it is, has not the authority to deport these coloured labourers. . I have only to say before directing my attention to another subject that the sugar industry is of immense importance, not only to Queensland, but to the Commonwealth, and that those who have built it up deserve every consideration at the hands of this Parliament. They do not seek permission to employ coloured labour for all time, but failing the extension of the bonus for ten years, it would not be unreasonable to allow the kanakas at present in Queensland to remain, say, for five years longer.
– Was not that the cry raised by the planters in 1885 - “ Give us the kanakas for another ten years, and we shall then be prepared to let them go”?
– I think that the honorable member for Maranoa will admit that we have not the labour to take the place of that of the 7,000 kanakas who, it is assumed, will be deported at the end of next year.
– To what extent have the planters endeavoured to obtain labour in substitution for that of the coloured workers”?
– It is unlikely that the planters would seek to secure suitable labour beyond Australia in view of the fact that it would be a breach of the law to bring men into the Commonwealth under contract.
– Have they sought for other labour within Australia?
– I believe that a very large number of the planters have honestly endeavoured to carry out the Commonwealth legislation bearing upon the industry.
– I think that they have done exact lv the reverse.
– I would remind the honorable member for Kennedy that the difference between the wages of the kanaka and those paid to the white worker is very slight.
– The planters desire white men to work for kanakas’ wages.
– I repeat that there is but a slight difference between the wages paid to kanakas and white workers in the sugar industry. It may be said that the kanaka is simple-minded, but as a rule he is fairly wide awake. He has to serve an apprenticeship, and for the first twelve months is not of great value to his employer.
– But what about the conditions under which he is prepared to work ?
– My only desire is to point out that the difficulty in regard to the substitution of white for coloured labour does not relate solely to pecuniary considerations. I regret to say - and I make this statement without desiring in any way to be offensive - that the white worker is sometimes unreliable.
– r-The planters are afraid that he will be too reliable at the ballotbox.
– The white worker in the sugar industry sometimes forgets on Monday morning to return to his work. I repeat that I have no desire to hurt the feelings of the white workers, but, according to the evidence of the planters, the kanaka has been found more reliable.
– An Act was passed specially to prevent the kanaka from obtaining strong drink.
– It would be a good thing if there were an Act to prevent many others besides kanakas from obtaining strong drink. I hold that it would not be unreasonable to allow the kanakas in Queensland to remain for a. further period of five years, and long before that time, I hope we shall have a regular migration of reliable farm labourers to our shores. If the sugar planters could indent farm labourers for, say, three years,.- they would go to the expense of getting them - naturally, as many as possible, from’ Australia, but otherwise from other countries: The result would be that the men who came out and worked with the planters for three years would be learning the business of sugar-growing, and at the end of the period the majority of them would take up land, and become planters. In this way the planters would become immigration agents, and introduce persons at no expense to the Commonwealth.
– It did not turn out in that way when the Italians were introduced. Within three months they all left the plantations.
– I do not think our experience of the Italians is of much value in this connexion. If the payment of the bounty were stopped, the sugar industry would pass into the hands of Chinese and other aliens. Already a large number of Chinese are sugar-growers. Even with the aid of the present bounty, the planters will have hard work to coinpete with other countries, where cheap labour is in abundance. To give an idea of the alien population in the northern portion of Queensland, let me quote a small paragraph -
The number of Asiatics, including Japanese, Chinese, Hindoos, and Cingalese, in the State is estimated as being over 14,000. A large proportion of these are engaged in tropical agriculture. The Chinese are not satisfactory labourers in the cane-fields when working for farmers. They prefer working on their own account, and for this reason are always on the alert for a piece of land to cultivate for themselves. Hence a large number of these aliens are renting land from white farmers. They work well while interested in the land ; but as time goes on, and when the kanaka has gone, it will evidently be difficult for white farmers to hold the land, because when the Chinese find themselves masters of the labour situation they will not be slow in exacting to the fullest extent the value of their work, either as determined by the rent they pay the farmer, or as labourers in the cane-fields. This would be a very undesirable position to create. Therefore, if the farmers cannot get white labour, and are not permitted to use Polynesian or New Guinea labour, the Chinese element must, in the natural order of things, become a menacing factor in the maintenance of a White Australia. Chinamen are continually arriving in the northern agricultural districts, and the people generally are wondering where so many strange Chinamen are coming from. They are not arriving by sea, and it is concluded that: they are making their way overland from Port Darwin.
So that in that respect Queensland has to receive the refuse of other States. After the passing of the Pacific Island Labourers Act, hordes of Cingalese, Assyrians, and other aliens went up to North Queensland. These are far more objectionable than the islanders, because they compete with white men to a greater extent than do the kanakas. They become shopkeepers, and before their arrival they were tradesmen, many of them being quite equal to the tradesmen of our own country. These are the men whom white workers have to be afraid of.
– Would the honorable member, in order to put them at a greater disadvantage, be willing to increa.se the Excise duty, and also the bounty ?
– I should be willing to restrain .these men from doing the same work as our own countrymen. The fault I found with the Pacific Island Labourers Bill was that it imposed no restraint upon them. I remember telling the Prime Minister that if the Government would only include in its operation, Asiatics, such as those I have named, so that they might be deported, like the kanakas, I should support the measure. I suppose it could not be done. We can restrict the occupation of the people of any alien race, but we have not the power, I think, to deport Hindoos and Cingalese, though the kanaka is to be sent away. Occasionally my hon:orable friends in the labour corner see the error of their ways, and the time is coming when I think they will be crying out for the re-admission of the kanaka, as was done in Queensland some fifteen years ago, even by the labouring men themselves.
– That is not so.
– The labouring men found out that their occupation was becoming nil, and, therefore, they consented freely to the re-admission of the kanaka.
– It was the readmission of kanaka to Queensland which brought the Labour Party into existence there.
– They were in existence before that time.
– No ; I was elected after the re-admission of the kanakas.
– Within a few days’ sail from Queensland there are countries in which sugar is very largely produced. In Java, which is only about a week’s steam from Thursday Island, sugar rice, coffee, and other tropical products are grown to a very large extent. The Government deal with the planters in a most liberal way. There fs abundance of labour - Malays and Javanese - and the cost to the planters is, I think, a quarter of a guilder per day, which, in our money, would mean 5d. The planters receive every encouragement from the Government. They can lease, but not purchase, the best tropical land for ninety-nine years at a nominal rent. During the first five years no rent is expected to be paid. This concession is given for the purpose of enabling the planters to get in a crop and reap it. In Fiji, which is still nearer to Queensland, there is no restriction on the employment of coloured . labour. Although it is a British Colony, still kanakas and Indians work on the sugar plantations.^
– It is chiefly Hindoo labour which is employed.
– I think so. Then not very far from Queensland is the large and fertile island of Formosa, which, after the war between China and Japan, became the property of the -latter country. Immediately after its transfer, steps were taken to turn the island into a vast sugar plantation. In the near future, we shall have a large quantity of sugar brought to Australia from Formosa, and also J rem Fiji and Java. I ask honorable members to bear all this in mind, and to give every consideration to the great industry of Queensland. If it is destroyed, or if it is damaged, so far as not to be able to supply the requirements of the Commonwealth, we shall have to. import sugar which has been grown and manufactured with far more servile labour than ever existed in Queensland. The industry in Queensland is unable to secure a supply of reliable white labour. If we take away the 7,000 kanakas at the end of next year, where will the men to take their places come from ? The industry gives employment to a very large number of men. When the Pacific Island Labourers Bill was before the House, I pointed out that directly and indirectly it provided a living for no less than 50,000 men, women and children in Queensland, and Sir William McMillan interjected, “ Not less than 100,000.” I was speaking of Queensland only, and Ican quite believe that he was right, if he meant that in New South Wales and Queensland about 100,000 persons are dependent upon the sugar industry for a living. Of course that included the planters, their wives and children, and the men employed on the plantations, as well as those engaged on board ship, on the wharves, and in carting.
– The most liberal estimate I ever heard was 20,000..
– There are 20,000 on the plantations alone, but I included men indirectly employed in connexion with the industry. We must also include the farmers who supply horse feed to the planters in North Queensland, because though’ they have plenty of land, they usually purchase their maize. The sugar industry is only in its infancy, and if it receives reasonable encouragement, it will grow to ten times its present magnitude, and give employment to many thousands of our own people.
– What percentage goes to labour?
– I am not prepared to say,- though I may be able to make a remark or two on that subject later on. I know that some people for various reasons are opposed to the extension of the sugar industry. But if they look a.t the matter in a broad, liberal-minded manner, they will. I am sure, come to the conclusion [So)-:, . that Queensland is not asking for anything unreasonable. I hold in my hand a copy, of a leading, article which contains an effective reply to some of the arguments used by the honorable member for South Sydney, lt was published in the Brisbane Courier, of* Wednesday, 30th August, and is headed “ Queensland Traducers.” -
It would seem to require Sydney Smith’s surgical operation to. enable some of the Southern legislators to understand the real facts relating to the sugar industry and the bonus paid on the product of white labour. Thus in yesterday’s debate on the Budget in the House of Representatives Mr. Edwards, of New South Wales, made pathetic reference to the alleged burden which the other States have to bear on behalf of Queensland. He declared that the. people of Australia were now paying ^1,022,000 more for their sugar than they would if there were no sugar bounties, excise, or bonus. He also urged that if the sugar bonus were extended the greatest care must be taken not to injure other industries. Sugar was a raw material in other industries, and if six industries were to be perpetually injured to assist one it would be a very dangerous departure. The premises of this argument and the conclusion drawn from them are equally indefensible. It would have been more to the purpose if Mr. Edwards had taken the trouble to compare the Customs revenue derived from sugar prior to Federation with that paid under the conditions determined by Commonwealth legislation. If he had done so he would have found that in the case of the whole of Australia there has been an actual decrease of whatever burden was due to a duty of any kind on sugar. ‘What has free sugar to do with the sugar bonus? Long before Federation was made a question of practical politics the whole of the States had imposed sugar duties, and even in Mr. Edwards’ own State the free-trade Premier, Mr. G. H. Reid, was compelled to pause in carrying out his own” policy of reducing the Customs duty on sugar to the vanishing point. Yet the New South Wales sugar industry was only a fraction compared with that which has hitherto found an abiding-place in Queensland, and the labour difficulties of the south were trifling as compared with our own. When the sugar bonus has been added, it can be shown by comparison of facts that the adjoining State carries no heavier burden than was borne without complaint in the years when the triumphant boast was made about her being the only free-trade colony in the Empire. What industries have suffered from the payment of a bonus to revolutionize the labour conditions of a great national industry? Can Mr. Edwards give any specific reply, and, if he can, would he be able to show that the injury done to any small industry was at all proportionate to the injury which would be done by the destruction of an established industry which represents more to Queensland than the mining industry to New South Wales, wheat-growing to South Australia, and the dairying industry to Victoria? Would Mr. Edwards be prepared to sacrifice all the mining industries of his own State if such depended on the imposition of a Tariff which theoretically was not in accordance with the principles of freetrade? Yet this is the very thing he asks the Federal Parliament to do in the case of Queensland. Every petty industry in Sydney and Mel- bourne, employing, perhaps, a score of hands, is to be given protection, while an exception is to be made in the case of one of the greatest industries in the Commonwealth. ‘ It is a distortion of fact to say that Queensland is being paid for carrying out a policy decided upon prior to Federation. The payment so far has been nothing, and the policy now in force is solely that of the Commonwealth Parliament, which scorned even inquiry into subjects about which it was totally ignorant.
That is quite true. What we are asking for in the form of a bonus to sugar produced by white people, is simply protection . similar to that which has been granted to some of the manufacturing industries. It will be remembered that this Parliament positively refused to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the sugar industry and the conditions of labour connected with it. Even now I think that it has a claim for an inquiry, just as much as had those industries which were able to use enough influence to cause the appointment of a Royal Commission to investigate the operation of the Tariff. So far, only a small portion of the fertile lands of tropical Queensland have been utilized. There is an immense area that has not been touched. North of Port Douglas, right up to Cape Yorke, there are thousands of acres which could be cultivated for sugar production, and for the growth of coffee, rice, and other tropical products. That’ land will not be allowed to remain idle for all time. Within a few days’ steam, there are millions of people who could, if permitted, make good use, not only of the fertile lands of tropical Queensland, but also of the Northern Territory. Australia will have great difficulty in keeping clear of them.. It is our duty, as white men, to settle as many white people as we possibly can on these lands. We ought to take possession of the lands and utilize them, and not act the dog in the manger. If it be necessary to employ a limited number of black, labourers, I can see no objection to such a course, which, in my opinion, would not prevent the realization of the desire of everyone to have a White Australia - our own people for Australia.
– We do not know whatmay happen after that letter which was written by the honorable member to his friend in Wales.
– If the honorable member desires information, he had better ask a few questions on the subject. I should like to give the Committee the views of some men who have had many years’ practical experience in Queensland. In the Melbourne Argus of the 26th April, this vear, there appeared, under the heading “ Sugar Growing : Queensland Planter’s Views,” an account of an interesting interview with a planter, who said -
The rate of pay in our district to free aliens - Chinese, Japanese, and Hindoos - is 25s. to 26s. per week without rations. The indentured kanakas cost 18s. to 20s. per week with rations, and as there are only certain kinds of labour we can employ them at, we only get about eight months’ effective service.
– Does the honorable member say that kanakas are paid 18s. a week, with rations ?
– That is not true.
– I ‘am reading what was stated in the interview.
– Surely the honorable member knows that the statement is not correct ?
– The statement is correct in so far that some kanakas now under engagement in Queensland may have resided there for twenty years.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that kanakas are paid 20s. a week, with rations?
– We never heard of such wages . when the parliamentary party was in Queensland.
– No doubt those kanakas are as good as, or better, than the honorable member and myself would be at such work.
– The honorable member could not produce half-a-dozen kanakas who are being paid such a wage.
– Twelve shillings a week is the highest wage paid to kanakas.
– It must be admitted that some of the kanakas who have been working for years on the plantations do just as good work as any white men could do.
– We never heard of such “ wages, anyhow.
– The quotation I am reading I only came across to-day, and I hope I shall be allowed to complete it.
For the remainder of the year we have to employ them at work we could often do witHout, so that alien labour is by no means cheap. But it is reliable; that is the great point. It is there when it is wanted, and will do as it is told. Of all alien labourers the Japanese is the best and most intelligent - quite equal in his skill and adaptability to the white man. What I think will inevitably happen when the kanakas now in Queensland (about 6,500) are deported at the end of1906, will be that gradually cane sugargrowing in North Queensland will fall into the hands of the free aliens who are there - Chinese, Japanese, and Hindoos. Gradually the cane-fields will be leased to them, and as long as the labour lasts sugar will be grown by them, but the industry will not expand as it might do under wiser laws, and the white growers will become less in number.
There is a strong outcry on the part of the southern fruit-growers about the cost to them of bonused white-grown sugar. We want no bonus if reasonable freedom be given to our enterprise. These two great natural industries of Australia ought to be the necessary complement of each ether. North Queensland has been fitted by nature to produce for consumer and manufacturer, for every home in the land, and for every fruitgrower cheap sugar, and plenty of it. You can- not, however, introduce unnatural and unwise restrictions to bolster up one industry without injuring another. No one wishes to see the predominance of the white race in Australia threatened in the least degree.
Our complaint is that proper precautions could be taken to avoid this without putting in force laws based on an imperfect knowledge of the local conditions which govern production. The fruit-grower and the sugar-grower have common cause against legislation which has hit fruitgrowing badly, and will not advance, but in the end will destroy cane-sugar production in tropical Queensland.
– A tissue of misrepresentation !
– These are the views, I presume, of some sugar planter who happened to be on a visit to Melbourne.
– Is the name of the sugar planter given?
– I do not see the name of the planter in the report, but no doubt it could easily be ascertained.
– Dr. Maxwell is the best authority on that matter.
- Dr. Maxwell has distinctly stated that north of Mackay the sugar industry will perish if coloured labour be taken away.
– Dr. Maxwell does not say that.
– I shall produce Dr. Maxwell’s words at another time.
– Dr. Maxwell said it would be more costly to grow sugar by white labour than bycoloured labour, but he did not say anything about the industry perishing.
– From the 15th to the 17th May of this year, a conference of agriculturists was held at Cairns, and some very interesting papers were read on that occasion.
– Even Mr. Draper admitted at Cairns, in the presence of the honorable member, that sugar can be grown by white labour.
– I admit the truth of what the honorable member says.. The papers read at the conference to which I have referred contained the opinions of practical cane-growers, and I think some notice ought to be taken of their utterances. One of the papers on the subject, “ White Australia, and the Sugar Industry, in the Tropics,” by Mr. Edwin S. Waller,’ manager, of Herbert River, contained the following : -
Being a sugar-planter, and having lived for thirty-four years on the Herbert River, North Queensland, which is a truly tropical climate, I think I may justly claim to have had considerable experience of the climate, and that I should know something about its suitability for white labour for field work.
As this is a very critical time for the sugar industry in North Queensland, it behoves us to consider the matter seriously. I am anxious to place before this conference some of my views, and bring forward a resolution which, I trust, will be carried unanimously.
The important question at the present time (which concerns all interested in the sugar industry, especially in North Queensland), is : - “Is this industry to be allowed to die out?”
Sugar in this State last year was worth £2,000,000.
The people who live in the Southern States, New South Wales, Victoria, and even in South Queensland, have a totally different climate to live in, and, therefore, cannot understand what effect a very hot and moist atmosphere has on the European constitution. Those who, like myself, have lived here for a number of years, and do know, will tell you that malarial fever is at times very prevalent, the climate is extremely enervating, especially to women and girls, who are compelled to make periodical visits to southern and cooler climates in order to restore their health. The effect on the men is similar ; they must have occasional changes and spells. If the question were asked of medical men who have lived for a number of years in the tropics - “ What is the effect of the climate on a European constitution?” 1 believe that five out of six would say that the race would in time degenerate.
Mr. Waller does not say that the race would degenerate in a year, but that it would degenerate in time.
White men are able to do all the mechanical and skilled work, also the horse driving required for cultivation, but for other field work I have found them unreliable, and I maintain that white labour for field work in North Queensland has been fairly tried and proved unsuccessful. If the cane-growers in North Queensland are debarred from using coloured labour for field work, the sugar industry must collapse, or, as an alternative, the Chinese and Japanese will come and take the place ofthe European farmers. I ask, “Will this benefit the White Australian cause?” I would point out that in no other tropical part of the world is sugar grown without the aid of coloured labour; and, this being so, why should the Commonwealth Parliament try to go against the laws of nature, and expect Europeans to do the work they are not suited for?-
What is the answer to the questions : - “Why are all tropical countries peopled with coloured races ?” “ Can the Creator have made a mistake?” The answer is plain enough. They are adapted to the climate, and they were “created accordingly. Then why on earth should they not be allowed to help us to open the country and develop its resources?
This gentleman appears to have some doubt as to whether the Creator has not made a mistake. All I can suggest is that the Creator may have failed to consult the leader of the Labour Party in Australia.
– Did the Creator consult the honorable member for Oxley as to this little matter?
– That is an unfortunate oversight.
-What conference is the honorable member referring to?
– The conference held at Cairns.
– I have here the report of a conference held on the 20th February, at Townsville, at which quite the opposite opinion was expressed.
– The honorable member is aware that Cairns is about 100 miles further north than Townsville.
– There were delegates at the Townsville conference from the Johnstone and Mossrnan Rivers.
– The climatic conditions vary in different parts of the State. I have no doubt that in southern Queensland, sugar-growing could be carried on as a flourishing industry by white labour; but the sugar-cane suffers from frost in the southern districts. If we go further north to Childers and Bundaberg we shall find that it is not a very hard matter to carry on sugar-growing with white labour in those districts. But when we get as far north as Mackay, the climate is very much warmer, and there are some persons who say that it is impossible to carry on the industry in that part of the State with white labour alone. When we get as far north as Cairns, we find that it is very much hotter than at Mackay, and Port Douglas, another sugar district, is still further north.
– I do not think it is hotter at Cairns than at Mackay.
– Bundaberg has the record for the highest temperature in Queensland.
– I do not see how the honorable member can say that. It is surely reasonable to suppose that the heat is very much greater at Cairns than at Bundaberg, seeing that Cairns is several hundred miles further north, and is within the tropics.
– The honorable member will admit that there may be other conditions which will affect the climate.
– There may be in certain places, but I am justified in saying that the climate is very much hotter in the Cairns district than it is in any of the sugar districts south of Cairns.
– Does the honorable member desire that coloured labour should be: imported for the sugar plantations?
– No, by no means ; but I think that kanaka labour should be allowed until the period fixed for the payment of the sugar bounties has expired.
– The honorable member’s argument is that the industry should be allowed to die then?
– No. I think that it is possible that before the end of that time we might have a stream of reliable farm labourers coming to our shores every month from Great Britain, or from some European country, who would take the place of the kanakas.
– The honorable member admits that white labourers could do the work if we could get them.
– Do not all my. honorable friends contend that white men can do this work?
– The authority whom; the honorable member has quoted says that they cannot.
– That is so; but it is only fair that the views of those on both sides of the question should be given. The views of a man like the gentleman whom I have quoted should be of some value to us, though we may not swallow alt that he has to say. There cannot be the slightest doubt that the sugar industry is one of immense importance. The value of the sugar produced in Queensland last year amounted to over £2,000,000 sterling, and this year it is likely to amount to very much more. We ought not to do anything; which will interfere with the progress and prosperity of so great an industry. I have here another interesting paper, fromwhich I should like to make some extracts. In a paper on “The Continuation of the Sugar Bonus,” by Mr. R. S. Aiken, of the
Council of Agriculture, at Bundaberg, the writer says -
In introducing this subject of the bonus, at the outset, I wish it to be clearly understood that, in no sense of the word, have I any desire to enter into a controversy, whether cane be grown by white labour or not, and I hope subsequent speakers will adopt the same policy. The law at the present time is, that the bonus will expire at the end of 1906. That is the bald fact. This bonus, as you are aware, is paid, in the first instance, by the manufacturer, that is to say, there is an Excise duty of £3 a ton on all sugar manufactured; £2 of that is supposed to be repaid to the cane-grower in the shape of a bonus ; £1 is retained by the Federal Treasurer for the purpose of paying the cost of administration. Last year there were 145,000 tons of sugar manufactured in Queensland, which yielded an Excise of £435,000;£85,000 was refunded in bonuses, leaving a balance retained by the Federal Treasurer of£350,000. I maintain this : That either the Excise duty should be lowered; or else the whole of that£435,000 should be paid to the cane-growers in increased bonus. We had to pay at the rate of 6s. a ton on our cane towards the bonus, and we get 4s. 4d. returned. North of Mackay it is 5s., south of Bundaberg we get 4s. While we pay 6s. we get 4s. 4d. returned. I think the whole of the money that is paid in Excise should be repaid to the growers of cane, or the Excise should be lowered from £3 a ton to £1or £2, as the case may be. This money, which is retained by the Federal Treasurer, is divided amongst the State Treasurers, according to population, under the assumption that the consumer finds this£435,000 ; but I do not agree with that. It may strike the consumer that he does find it; but, in the event of the industry being snuffedout, is there anything to show that the consumers will be able to obtain their sugar at a lesser price than they now pay for it? The maintenance of the sugar industry is, in fact, the only safeguard that the consumer has that he will get his sugar as cheaply as he gets it now. There are a number of resolutions coming before this conference, which will enable me to have another say, but I would like to say now that I sincerely hope that the resolution for the extension of the bonus will be carried unanimously by this conference, more particularly when we have heard that in Melbourne a gentleman of the name of Peacock is advocating the abolition of the bonus. He is preaching to the fruit-growers of Victoria that if the bonus is done away with, he will be able to give the fruit-growers a higher price for their fruit. Is this the spirit we expected when we entered upon Federation ? Here we have a man advocating the killing of an industry in Queensland, which is one of the principal industries of the whole Commonwealth. We have this man endeavouring to destroy this industry, in order to build up the fruit industry of Victoria. He forgets we are large consumers of the article which he makes. I sincerely hope that we will pass this bonus question, because, in its wisdom, the Federal Parliament has expressed a willingness to pay a price for a White Australia. To be consistent, when the bonus expires in 1906, let our rulers re-enact it, and act as men to those who were induced to enter into the Federal Union. In this connexion, I have also been desired to bring up the matter of the unre stricted registration for cane grown by white labour. At the present time, if the cane-farmer has planted his cane with black labour, and wishes to sell or lease that land, the lessee or the buyer of that particular land would not be able to claim the bonus, simply because the cane was planted with black labour. I take it, if we want this white-labour policy to be a success, that we should open the door as widely as possible, so that every man who desires to grow cane by white labour may do so. At the present time, many of the restrictions regarding the bonus hinder a man from employing white labour. If cane had been planted by black labour, and it was only a plant cane crop, then the owner would require to plough it out, and re-plant by white labour before he could claim the bonus.
I now propose to read the resolution moved by Mr. E. Swayne, of Mackay, who saidI desire to move - “ That in view of the feeling of great doubt and unrest which exists as to the continuance of the bounty, the Federal Government be requested to introduce at once a Bill to extend the provisions of the Sugar Bounty Act of 1903 for a further period of ten years at least.” Mr. Aiken has spoken fully on the subject of the bonus, but I may point out, in addition, that this bounty, which was given us as a partial recompense for the labour taken away, does not really meet the increased cost of production. The resolution, therefore, contains no extravagant request.
I shall not read any of the speeches that were delivered in support of the resolution, which was carried unanimously, except that of Mr. G. A. Ball, of Killarney, who belongs to Southern Queensland, and cannot possibly have any interest in the sugar industry. He spoke as follows: -
I quite agree with Mr. Cameron, that it is very necessary that we should ask for a definite time, say, ten years at least. The financial aspect of the question must be looked at, and I happen to know that already a number of farmers propose approaching you, Mr. Chairman, on the subject of the erection of a central mill for them. As a reasonable business man, however, I do not think you will invest the funds of the Queensland Government in a venture which may only have a life of two of three years. If you put your money out, you will want a reasonable security, and I do not think this conference would be asking a day too long if it asked for an extension of the bonus for another ten years.
The chairman referred to was the Hon. D. F. Denham, Minister of Agriculture of Queensland. I hope that honorable members on both sides of the Chamber will consent to the extension of the sugar bonus for another ten years. I am sorry to say that Queensland has not benefited to any great extent as the result of Federation. No consideration is extended to that State, even in regard to the mail steamers. Queensland has lost £2,180.000 through the operation of the Federal Tariff, whereas Western Australia has benefited by the addition of £1,500,000 to her revenue.
– The sugar industry was built up in New South Wales without the aid of coloured labour.
– New South Wales would not be able to grow a sufficient quantity of sugar to meet all the requirements of the Commonwealth. If we have lands suitable for the growth of tropical products, we should put them to the uses to which they are specially adapted, even though we may have to employ a limited number of black labourers. What harm have the kanakas done to Australia?
– We do not complain so much of the kanakas as of other coloured aliens.
– And yet the kanakas are being sent away from Australia, whilst no attempt is being made to get rid of the more objectionable class of coloured aliens, or to restrict them in their employment.
– We tried very hard to restrict their introduction by means of the Immigration Restriction Act.
– Then that Act has apparently not been a success. As I have said, the people of Queensland have lost a very large sum through the operation of the Tariff.
– The people of Queensland have not lost that money, but the Treasury has lost it.
– The Treasurer told us the other night that the money was not lost, but was in the pockets of the people. But I would point out that whatever has been lost to the Queensland Treasury through the operation of the Tariff, has had to be made up through the medium of other taxes which have been imposed upon the people. I am sorry to say that the residents of Quensland have, speaking generally, had to put up with much reduced incomes during the last four or five years, whereas their expenditure has been increased by 50 per cent, owing to the additional taxation imposed upon them. I
– The honorable member is asking too much.
– I do not think so, because the industry is well worth preserving. It will be a disgrace to this Parliament if we do anything to interfere with the prosperity of the sugar industry.
– Then the honorable member must induce the members of the Opposition to vote for an extension of the bounty.
– The right honorable gentleman was not present this afternoon when I pointed out that the members of the Labour Party are beginning to see the error of their ways. The Immigration Restriction Act would never have been passed without their aid. Occasionally, hovever, they overreach themselves, and then they are obliged to retrace their steps.
– Every State in the Commonwealth, through its Premier, ‘promised to submit to its Parliament an Immigration Restriction Bill, and did so; but in some of the States it was not carried. In New South’ Wales and Western Aus tralia, however, the Bill became law.
– I will ask the Treasurer if the Immigration Restriction Act, which was operative in Western Australia, applied to such men as the six hatters ?
– I do not think that it did.
– That is my point. I also hold in my hand two letters from Mr. Hertzberg, one of the leading merchants of Brisbane, and a gentleman who has made a particular study of the relationship of the sugar bounty, to the welfare of that industry. I venture to say that those honorable members who have made up their minds to vote against an extension of the bounty, would do well to read what Mr. Hertzberg has to say in this connexion. The sugar industry is of so much importance to the Commonwealth that I feel abundantly justified in having trespassed on the patience of honorable members to the extent that I have.
– I agree with those who claim that the time which has been devoted to this debate has not been entirely wasted, although I admit ‘that neither the Estimates nor the Budget contain anything very novel or startling. It is true that in the Treasurer’s, statement we had some Scriptural injunctions interspersed with copious extracts from Coghlan’s statistics. We have also heard various dissertations from members of. the Opposition, who, by the way, are frequently conspicuous by their absence from the Chamber, regarding the ethics which should govern the conduct of our business. They are particularly desirous that the present Government should accept directions from them, as to the way in which the business of the House should be transacted. I venture to say that some of the speeches delivered during the course of this debate will well repay perusal on the part of anybody who takes an interest in the welfare of the Commonwealth. Without desiring to make any invidious distinctions in this connexion, I may be permitted to refer to the speeches of the honorable member for Mernda, the honorable member for Denison, and the honorable and learned member for Corinella. Having listened attentively to those deliverances, and particularly to the eloquent and able address of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, I have been forced to the conclusion that the Estimates, as submitted, are practically those of the last Government, and that they involve no grave question of policy, apart from the proposal to continue the sugar bounty for a further term of five years. I can quite understand the representatives of Queensland being particularly concerned in that industry. When an industry has assumed such vast proportions, it is incumbent upon us to see that by our actions we do not jeopardise its existence. At the same time, we must not forget the interests of the consumers. From what I have heard and read from time to time, there appears to be grave reason for doubt as to whether the cane-growers of Queensland get the full benefit of the assistance which the Commonwealth Parliament intended that they should have. I do not, however, purpose to deal at the present time with the sugar question in detail, because I realize that, no matter what may be said now, the whole matter will be discussed again in connexion with the Estimates. Coming to the question of the transfer of the States debts, which is one of vital importance, I would point out that, although the ex-Treasurer has devoted a considerable amount of attention to it, and the Premiers of the States have met in conclave to discuss it, we have had nothing further than mere abstract debating. We all know, especially those of us who have had experience in State politics, that our position in regard to the States is rather an unfortunate one. while it is also unfortunate for the Governments of the States that they should be dependent on the Commonwealth Government for a very considerable proportion of the revenue necessary for the conduct of their affairs. As was very ably pointed out last night by the honorable member for Mernda, the Customs and Excise revenue fluctuates considerably from year to year, because of unforeseen causes, and by way of illustration he recalled an experience of Victoria some years ago, when, in one year, the receipts from that source were diminished to a very material extent. I think, therefore, that it is incumbent upon this Parliament to insist, no matter what Ministry may be in power, on the settlement of the debts question at an early date. Instead of the Governments of the States being dependent on the Commonwealth as they are now, from year to year, for a considerable portion of their revenue, we should take over so much of their debts as would be equivalent to what they are entitled to receive from us. That might be a rough and ready way of dealing with the question, but I think that it would be more satisf actory to both the States and the Commonwealth than the present condition of affairs. With regard to the arrangement of details, the honorable member made a very valuable suggestion. We want the best advice on the subject that we can get. It is years since we were told by the leader of the Government of the day that an expert financier in Great Britain had been appointed to deal with this question. I do not know if the same fate has overtaken him as overtakes many who start out with a noble object in view, but for the last twelve months we have heard nothing further about the matter.
– He is unpaid.
– We cannot expect much from him if that is so. I was particularly pleased last night with the exhortation of the honorable member for Mernda to honorable members and the people out- side not to slander Australia or Australian institutions, and I was delighted to see the effect which his eloquent appeal had upon “ a speaker who had preceded him in the afternoon. It produced a feeling of astonishment in me to hear, within the walls of this Chamber, an honorable member seriously insist upon the absolute necessity of holding out inducements to people to come to these shores to settle on our rural land, to populate our cities, and to assist in production, and, in the same breath, say that no matter under what conditions they might live here, they would eventually descend to the level of ‘blackfellows. The honorable member, in that sweeping statement, included not only the residents of the back-blocks of Australia but also the factory hands employed in our large centres of population.
– He afterwards apologized.
– The apology was worse than the original slander; because I look upon his remarks as a .slander upon the people of Australia. I have had considerable experience in the back-blocks, both on the mountain ranges and on the plains of the western interior, and I have never seen, even as an exception, a person such as the honorable member described. I have been over the mountain ranges, which commence at the end of what is practically the suburban railway to Healesville, to Mansfield, King, River, the Omeo Plains, Monaro, and on to Gundaroo, and I say that you will not find anywhere a more sturdy and better developed race, both physically and mentally, than the inhabitants of those parts. Some persons are at times inclined to deride and ridicule those engaged in rural pursuits, but to make a success of such pursuits - and the greater number of those engaged in them have been successful - there is necessary not brawn and muscle only, but brain as well. Brawn and muscle alone would not have overcome the natural diffculties that hindered settlement in the western portion of New South Wales, or on the mountain ranges and tablelands of Australia. Forethought and perception were also needed. What has developed the country on the tableland between here and Sydney - and I refer more particularly to this country, because I know practically every inch of it? In my short lifetime enormous forests have been levelled, and comfortable homes built, not merely by the exercise of muscle, but by the application of brain power to the removal of all the difficulties’ of the work. For an honorable member, who has appa rently been reared in the lap of luxury, te* speak of those who have built up Australia, under conditions of hardship, as living like blackfellows, and becoming a degenerate race, is to slander our people. I have not a full knowledge of the condition of those employed in our factories,, but I have a slight .knowledge of factoryconditions in Melbourne, and I say that if” the honorable member had visited these factories, and had seen the people whowork there, he would know that his remarkswere a slander upon them. I admit that whenever large numbers of people live close together, as they do in some of thelarger cities of Australia, there is sure to be a certain amount of destitution and poverty.. But it is only where the bread-winners areunable to find constant employment, and. thus to earn sufficient to give their children a reasonable degree of comfort, that we find absolute destitution. It is when men living in large cities are unable to obtain employment in the factories of which thehonorable member spoke so slightingly that poverty and wretchedness arise. What proposal has he to make for the improvement of the lot of the workers of Australia?The honorable member poses as one whowould do much for the Commonwealth, and! yet he would expose our workers to unrestricted competition on the part of the black races of the rest of the earth. I wish for a few moments to direct attention to what I think is incumbent upon the present or any other Ministry actuated by an earnest desire to promote the welfare of Australia. Statements are persistentlymade that the first duty of the Government is to attract immigration toour shores. The honorable member for Hunter, and others of his fiscal belief, have again and again urged that this: should be done. It is certainly desirable that we should have a larger population, as the cost of government would then be distributed over a wider area, and would* fall more lightly on the people individually. I maintain, however, that it would be absolutely useless to encourage immigration unless we could provide those who come here with employment. The statement has frequently been made by honorable members of the Opposition that the labour legislation of recent years - and particularly the Immigration. Restriction Act - has beenchiefly responsible for the stoppage of immigration to Australia. I should like to know, however, how it is that practically before the advent of the Labour Party into the political life of Australia, and consequently prior to the passing of labour legislation, immigration to Australia had not only ceased, but we were unable to retain the population that we had. In support of this assertion, I refer honorable members to Coghlan. I regret that the conscientious representatives of New South Wales, who are constantly drawing attention to the absence of Ministers or their supporters from the House, are to-night conspicuous by their absence. They are the first to complain when any of the Ministerial supporters are not present to listen to their railings against the Government, because of some imaginary fault, and yet, when a reply is forthcoming to any of the statements which they are so prone to make, they are missing. If an honorable member on this side of the House leaves the Chamber to secure some much-needed refreshment, after listening to them for hours, there is at once an outcry, -while for a Ministerial supporter to enter the billiard-room while the House is sitting is little short of a crime. And yet these honorable members can absent themselves without question. What were the conditions prevailing in New South Wales before the establishment of the Commonwealth? If honorable members turn to Coghlan, page 154, they will find that in 1893 - years before the Labour Party in New South Wales could have done any damage, because they were then under the paternal care of the right honorable member for East Sydney, who retained office by means of their support - New South Wales lost, by emigration over Immigration, 1,560 persons. In 1896, when the leader of the Opposition in this House was still Premier of New South Wales, and there was no labour legislation, and not even an Immigration Restriction. Act in force, the number of emigrants from that State was 3,967 in excess of the Immigrants.
– The aright honorable member for East Sydney was then Introducing New South Wales to all the glories of free-trade.
– That is so. A still more remarkable fact is that in 1902 and 1903 - when the Immigration Restriction Act was passed by this Parliament - New South Wales had an excess of immigrants over emigrants totalling over 11,000.
– The immigrants came principally from Victoria.
– I am not referring to the places from which they came - that is for the moment an immaterial consideration.
– It is important having regard to the fact that the honorable member says that the Immigration Restriction Act was then in force.
– That may or may not be.
– If this immigration came from Victoria it had nothing to do with the Immigration Restriction Act.
– Quite so. As to the statement that they came from Victoria
– We were glad to have them.
– And Victorians are glad to go to New South Wales, for it is a splendid, although, in part, undeveloped, country. Coghlan shows that the population of Victoria; as compared with that of New South Wales, is practically congested. In Victoria we have 13.76 persons to the square mile, while in New South Wales the number is only 4.61 to the square mile. Those who have traversed the mountainous districts as well as the western plains of the two States know that there is proportionately a larger area of good land in New South Wales than there is in Victoria.
– But the honorable member includes all bad land.
– I include the whole area of each State.
– What is the proportion of bad land in. New South Wales ?
– Speaking from practical knowledge and experience, I can say that proportionately, there is a larger area of waste land in Victoria than in New South’ Wales. As a matter of course, the trend of population is from the more congested districts to country in which the population is sparse, and which offers opportunities for progress and development. There has been a constant stream of emigration from Europe to America, and for very many years from Victoria to New South’ Wales. Those who are engaged in agricultural and pastoral pursuits can account in a small manner for the aggregation of people in centres of population. Take farming as an illustration. The same amount of labour is not required on a farm to-day to produce any given quantity of grain or other produce as was needed twenty-five years ago. An enormous proportion of the work of production on the farm to-day is practically done in the factories in the city. Suppose that thirty years ago, when my experience as a farmer began, a man had a crop of one hundred acres of wheat. Assuming that he had a reaper, which was not commonly in use at that time, it would take ten men with a team of horses ten days to take off the wheat, and from twelve to fifteen men with a threshing machine two days to put the wheat into bags. What is the condition to-day? Two men, or, to use the general expression, a man and a boy, who is off-sider to bring a change of horses and sew the bags, now take off the same acreage and bag the wheat in ten days.
– If the farmer uses a stripper, but not if he uses a reaper and binder.
– Owing to the width of cut, he cuts it in less time with the reaper and binder than he did with the old reaper, and, with three men and a team of horses, he puts it in the stoop in seven days. The labour which was engaged on the farm thirty years ago is now employed in the factory making the machine. If it is not so employed there it has been displaced entirely, and the labour of America or Europe, or Great Britain, is employed to make the machine.
– Will the honorable member tell us the difference in the area under cultivation and the production to-day, as against twenty years ago?
– I have not the figures at hand, but they are to be seen in the Statistical Register. Given a normal harvest in Victoria, the production of wheat in the mid-eighties was practically just as great as it is to-day.
– Will the honorable member quote the figures for New South Wales ?
– It was the inability of the Victorian farmer to get land, the peculiar conditions prevailing amongst the pastoralists in southern New South Wales in the early nineties, and their utter inability to deal with foot-rot in sheep, that developed wheat-growing there, under a system of slavery.
– That is a new idea ! I never heard of that before.
– Wilh very rare exceptions, no man can successfully grow wheat on the share system in New South Wales.
– I know that it is grown very successfully in the constituency of the: honorable member for Bland.
– Successfully for the landowner.
– It is absolutely successful for the land-owner, and as a factor of production for the State generally ; butit is absolutely unsuccessful for the unfortunate producer.
– A number of Victorian farmers are doing well under the system to-day.
– I admit that a number of Victorian farmers went into New South Wales on the share system, imbued with the idea that at an early date the pastoral leases then about to expire would be made available for selection. But from one cause or another that ‘ was not done. When the seasons were good and pricesnormal, the men were able to get a fairreturn for their labour, but when the seasons became irregular and prices went below a certain level, they did not get their sustenance for the year. I know scores of men who went over to Southern Riverina with their plant, prepared to put in a cropand wait for an opportunity to get land of their own; but, unfortunately, in a great many cases, at the end of a few years the squatter had the plant, while the men hari the experience.
– And still they kee;v pouring in from Victoria.
– Yes, they keep pouring in, and a number have been able to-. acquire holdings of their own. My remarks apply more particularly to that partof the country lying between the Murray and the Mumimbidgee, and extending tothe Lachlan. Frequently when a block of land is made available there it is applied” for by from 300 to 500 persons, provingbeyond all doubt that sufficient land is riot available to satisfy the number of applicants. I am one of those who desire to. attract population to Australia. In the first instance, there is a divided duty. The Commonwealth has no land to offer. The land is directly under the control of theStates, but, unfortunately, no State has yetformulated a scheme by which it would be possible for men without means to get onto the land, and make a livelihood.
– Does the honorable member mean men in this country?
– I mean men in or out of this country. If there is a man in the world who can make a living on a bit of land with very little means to start with it is the Australian. If an Australian who has an intimate knowledge of local conditions, and who has been reared to rural pursuits, cannot succeed on land without money, certainly the man who comes from a foreign country will not do it, without undergoing a very bitter experience indeed. Some States Governments have made an attempt, by resumption, to make Crown land available; but as has been shown in New South Wales, the Crown land available is not equal to the demands.
– They cannot find land at present for the sons of their own farmers.
– No. The States Governments have made an attempt to resume private lands, but so far as 1 have been able to gather, the results have not been satisfactory. The Victorian Government has a scheme of land resumption for closer settlement, but up to the present time this has not been a success. There are many reasons which have contributed to that result, but perhaps it is not desirable for me to enter into a dissertation on them now, although I feel rather disposed to do so. Apart altogether from the price which is paid by a State Government to private owners, the first consideration should be to secure land suitable for closer settlement. It is absolutely useless for a Government to think that a man can take up a small area of poor land, and make a livelihood. If we are going to have closer settlement, we must have good land with a good climate. But there is one direction in which the Commonwealth Government can do much towards attracting people to’ Australia and keeping those who are here from going to other countries to find employment. I referred a few moments ago to the fact that, owing to mechanical contrivances and scientific developments, an enormous amount of .farm labour has been dispensed with’ as compared with twenty-five or thirty years ago - perhaps not quite so far back. That labour has practically been forced into the factories of the towns; and this does not apply to grain production only. It relates also to dairying. To-day it is an unknown thing for butter to be put up in a complete form for market on the farm where the cows are milked. Thirty years ago, under the old pan system of separating milk and working the cream up into butter, a considerable amount of labour was employed. To-day the grazing of the cows is, of course, conducted on the farms, and the milking is done there, but practically all the rest of the work is done in factories. Large quantities of the butter exported from Australia is made up in Melbourne or some other convenient centre. With regard to our meat trade also, the whole of the sheep slaughtering is practically done at large establishments at the ports of shipment. Labour is consequently displaced, and if employment is not found for it in some other direction, the result must be that you will have men adorning the street corners of the cities, besieging Parliament House, and asking the Government to start relief works. Unfortunately, in the past, instead of devoting ourselves to meeting our own requirements, and finding profitable work for our own people, we have contracted the habit of borrowing money for relief works. That is unfortunate in two ways. In the first instance, the country incurs indebtedness, for which we have nothing whatever to show. In the State of Victoria, I could point to” many works that have been carried out under those conditions, and I believe that the same remark could be made concerning some of the’ other StAtes. But the second effect is worse still - that the self-reliance and energy of our population is sapped to a considerable degree. What applies to Melbourne applies equally to Sydney. You have men beseeching Parliament to find work for them. No Parliament could, without a violation of humane principles, allow men to starve, who are willing to work. But it is not in consonance with a policy of progress and development that we should spend enormous sums of money on relief works.
– Must we not have a surplus working population? Otherwise, how are we to get in the harvest ?
– In a community such as ours - with a continent of over 3,000,000 square miles - with a few people dotted round a part of the seaboard - is it not absurd to think of having a surplus industrial population, merely for the sake of reaping a few million bushels of wheat at harvest-time, when there is practically little surplus labour required nowadays to take off such a crop?
– Is there not a disinclination on the part of people generally to go from the towns to the country to work?
– I have never observed such a disinclination. I can say as one who has been on both sides of the fence - as a labourer and an employer of labour - that I have never known any difficulty to be experienced in obtaining labour. But, unfortunately, I have seen, during the last ten or twelve years, a compulsory drift of men from the rural and pastoral districts, simply because they could not find employment.
– And could not get land for themselves.
– No, they could not. In the district in which I have been living for many years, a considerable number of men like myself, not altogether “ degenerates,” not frightened of a day’s work, not bearing any close resemblance to a blackfellow, claiming to have sufficient muscular force to hold their own in the race, and sufficient brains to know when it is raining-
– I believe that the honorable member for Hunter has a bigger muscle than the honorable member for Moira has.
– Last night I advised the honorable member for Hunter to make an examination of those on the front Opposition bench.
– I cannot stand this’.
– I ask the honorable member- not to retire to the billiardroom. I prefer that he should remain here. It is unfortunate, I say, that for many years past, in the agricultural and pastoral districts of Victoria,, there has been, for obvious reasons, a drift of population that should have been enabled to settle there, by the subdivision of holdings or some such method.
– I call attention to the state of the Committee. (Quorum formed.]
– I am delighted to see the’ honorable member for Hunter present, and to observe that he does not appear to be suffering, so completely as I thought from the aberration of intellect which he last night suggested prevailed in this Chamber ; though I do think there were some premonitory symptoms when he allowed his imagination to run riot in regard to the degeneracy of the people of Australia. I have already said that, in regard to our population, one (chief factor is entirely within the control of the States Governments. But there is another factor, of equal importance, within the purview of this Parliament. I allude to the possibilities of industrial development, more particularly relating to manufactures. In referring to this, I feel that there is a possibility of again raising the fiscal issue, and almost a certainty of a few more free-trade speeches from the Opposition benches when they are again occupied. However that may be, I venture, to say that the Commonwealth Government can do much to prevent the possibility of creating a race of degenerates, such as were referred to by the honorable member for Hunter last night.
– That is hardly fair, seeing that the honorable member for Hunter made a personal explanation.
– The persona] explanation was, if possible, a greater insult than the original statement. Production in the rural districts to-day is carried on with practically one-tenth of the labour that was required twenty-five years ago ; and if we are to maintain a population in the country, it is absolutely necessary to make the place attractive and self-contained as far as possible. We have heard glowing pictures painted-
– By whom can one hear a glowing picture painted?
– By a poet. We have had glowing pictures painted of the attractions held out in Canada and the United States to the people of the denselypopulated centres of the old world. But those who draw such pictures forget the fiscal policy which prevails in both of these countries. Those honorable members have never admitted, although the fact cannot be questioned, that in them their free-trade theories would be held up, to ridicule. Both in the United States and in Canada there are almost prohibitive Tariffs.
– And there are monopolies.
– The people of America and Canada, being self-governing, may control or suppress monopolies within their own borders; whereas we in Australia know that it is impossible to deal with monopolies which are beyond our borders. As an Australian, I am not afraid of the operation of any: monopoly in Australia while we are a self-governing community. It would be an admission of weakness ta say that when a monopoly became injurious, or unduly oppressed the whole or a large section of the people, this Parliament - which is practically a committee of the people - would be unable to meet the circumstances.
– There is a sugar monopoly and also a tobacco monopoly, and nothing has been done.
– The honorable member would, I think, be very loth to do anything to abolish the tobacco monopoly.
– Let me have the opportunity, and I shall show honorable members.
– I believe there will be an opportunity in the future. I am, however, being drawn off the thread of my remarks. While it may be admitted that Canada and America are easier of access from the populated centres of the world than Australia, the fact remains that there the advantages presented by those countries practically end. As regards the possibilities of agricultural or pastoral production, no author or authority has ventured to say that the advantages are in favour of Canada, where the people are practically snow-bound for months and months every year, when their stock has to be fed and. housed. Such conditions are practically unknown in Australia. The latest returns show that the industrial development of Canada is, as a matter of fact, a greater attraction than its agricultural progress. The exports of manufactures from Canada are greater than the exports of agricultural products. Is that possible under the conditions of the Commonwealth of Australia? When we in Australia desire any commodities for ourselves, apparently the proper thing to do is to purchase them from abroad.
– Is this the same honorable member who was talking fiscal peace last session ?
– Is fiscal peace possible while there is a remnant of the Freetrade Party in existence?
– We on. this side are a real majority ; there is only a coalition on the Government side.
– It is fortunate for the people of Australia that there is now a Government in power with an absolute majority. The honorable member for Wilmot does not constitute a Government majority to-day.
– When I did, the Government had security of tenure,which the present Government have not; they have to depend on the Labour Party.
– To-day, when a question is raised by the Government as to their future, they have not to say, “Yes, Mr. Cameron.”
– No; it is “Yes, Mr. Watson,” now.
– The Government, of which’ the honorable member for Wilmot constituted the majority, was held in suspension like Mahomet’s coffin, for a week, waiting for the sweet voice of the honorable member.
– I am glad to know my voice is sweet.
– There has now been a complete sweeping away of the old shreds and patches; and if the late Government majority will allow me to get in a word, 1 would point out that the present Government are here by the support of a majority of the representatives of the people of Australia in the Commonwealth Parliament.
– The Government have a working majority.
– The present leader of the Government is not responsible for the existence of the Labour Party, or for the presence in this House of any particular representative. Unfortunately, it has been a cause of distraction in public life in the past that leaders of parties, as parties are. constituted, do not recognise the handiwork of their masters, the electors. No one of us has any right to challenge the presence here of any honorable member, no matter whom or what he represents. He is here at the will of our masters. The only appeal which honorable members opposite can make against the existing condition of affairs is an appeal to their masters.
– Give us a chance.
– In spite of anything that any of us may do, we shall all have that chance. I speak here without any undue pressure, and I honestly admit, as I have told my constituents, that I am not consumed with any burning desire to go back to the public platform, and look into the. cold eye of the inquiring elector. But when the time comes, I will face the situation in good faith.
– The honorable member for Wilmot distinctly stated that he did not desire a dissolution, and therefore voted for the Reid-McLean Government.
– No, I did not.
– The present appeal to us to go before the electors is not business. The present Government and their policy are fairly established, . so far as I can judge. I may get a surprise; surprises have come to supporters and to leaders of Governments before, even when they have thought they had a trump card up their sleeve. But the sky is practically clear to-day. I was attempting to show that it is incumbent on the present Government to realize how essential it is that we should be a self-sustaining people. That is not raising the fiscal question.
– Does any one oppose that idea?
– Even in the present debate we have been told that we should subject our labourers, whom we are supposed to protect, and for whom we should secure a fair standard of comfort in living, to competition with coloured men, and with the sweated labour .of Europe.
– Do not our wheatgrowers already have to .compete with them.
– I am rather pleased that the honorable member has brought me to that point. In dealing with this question, honorable members opposite sometimes say, “‘Look at our primary producers. What assistance do they . ever get.” I am one of those engaged in primary production, and I represent a farming constituency. I say that, much as the producers do get - and I fully recognise that they get a very great deal in the shape of direct assistance from the State - they ought to get fair more. Let me give one illustration to show what the primary producers get, and it is not an illustration peculiar to Victoria. I take it from the last Victorian Budget. I may say that States Treasurers are becoming rather harsh in the matter of grants to rural industries. They are developing a brusque, nasty way of saying “ No “ when an application is made to them for assistance which the applicants think desirable. But the primary producer does receive considerable State assistance. The other day we were referred to the proceedings of a Royal Commission, which show that those who posed as the saviours of the farmers were, for their own greed, robbing the farmers. It is these dishonest men who bring honest traders and merchants to ruin. These are the men who howl most against the assistance given to the producers, and against what they call “ Socialism.” What is it but Socialism that a State should look after the welfare of its people. That is Socialism in its true sense. The honorable member for Hunter the other evening attempted to again raise the bogy of Socialism; but when in his own constituency the attempt was made, with a great flourish of trumpets and all the eloquence of the leader of his party, they could not band together one little league against Socialism. I take the last Victorian Budget statement for 1904-5 to show what has been done for the primary producer, and I find there a vote from the Treasury of £50,000 to the Railway Department to cover a loss on the carriage of grain.
– That is a very proper thing.
– The same thing applies to New South Wales.
– It should be continued.
– That is a case in point of State assistance given in the right direction. It is an instance of a specific vote from the State Treasury for the benefit of the primary producers.
– They are responsible for the carriage of goods, and must meet the loss, if any.
– I think the honorable member for Hunter should examine the honorable member. We hear honorable members on the other side telling the people of Australia that the primary producer gets no assistance from the State- The Victorian. Railways Commissioners have been appointed to manage and control the railways of the State, and to fix the rates for the carriage of produce. Under direction from the State Government, they were compelled to carry grain at a rate at which the Commissioners say it is impossible to carry it profitably. As a consequence, a loss is made by the Railway Department on the carriage of grain, and a sum of money is voted from the State Treasury as a recoup, the amount last year being £50,000.
– To help private individuals to make profit.
– And the honorable member calls, that Socialism?.
– Of course it is.
– The honorable member for Bland would take the farmer’s farm from him ?
– I would not. I am not a single-taxer, as the honorable member for Parramatta is.
– - -The honorable member is a double progressive land-taxer.
– The Agricultural Department of Victoria spends £10,000 a year in protecting the stock-owners of the State from the ravages of diseases in stock. The Department also spends £15,000 a year- in aid of technical education. I think that these are examples of State assistance in the right direction, arid for honorable members to say that the primary producer gets no consideration from the State is to talk nonsense.
– The object of all those votes is to build up private enterprise. .
– In Victoria the municipal subsidy is a vote of which the primary producers indirectly get the benefit. It is not granted to cities, towns, boroughs, or first-class shires, so that practically only the rural districts participate in the subsidy, which amounts to something like £1.00,000. But in addition to that and other indirect votes there are direct votes totalling over £100,000, to recoup the railways for losses on the carriage of grain, for technical education, to assist the viticultural industry, and. so on, all of which are a recognition of the duty of the State to help its primary producers. Therefore it follows, as a matter of course, that it is the duty of the Commonwealth in imposing Customs taxation to do all that is possible to establish industries to give employment to our people, so long as the duties would not operate in such a way as to prove a hardship to the consumers. But there is another direction in which this Government must move if it is to achieve some of the objects for which Federation was instituted. It has been pointed out that in the Northern Territory of South Australia we have an immense area of country which is to-day practically unpeopled and undeveloped. At the commencement of Federation we decided - in my opinion rightly - that we would have a White Australia ; but no man who regards the future with an unprejudiced mind can deny that it is impossible that we, although under the British flag, can continue to hold this country for ever if it remains undeveloped. The Commonwealth’ Parliament has had conferred upon it the right to grant bonuses, and the States have been deprived of that right. It was bitterly regretted in
Victoria that the States should have been deprived of that right, because we were attempting, just prior to Federation, to further the development of our agricultural production, which could be stimulated in many, directions unnecessary for me to enumerate. Among other industries we could assist the production of beet sugar, which has done so much for the nations of Europe.. Although we grow sugar cane in the north, it would be possible for us to grow beet in the southern States. I hope that I shall not arouse the wrath of the representatives of Queensland in making this suggestion.
– We should like to see it done.
– The production of beet gives immense possibilities for closer settlement ; yet the Commonwealth Government has not given it consideration.
– We have passed an Act providing for the granting of a bounty on the production oi beet sugar.
– The Government has not made any other proposal in that direction.
– The producers of beet could claim a bounty under the Excise Act.
– Apart from beet, we have the right soil and climate for the growing of flax, and I have heard the best authorities from the flax producing centres of the old world say that they have seen fibre produced here which is equal to any on the face of the earth. Practically, nothing has been done to develop that industry, though flax is another crop which’ may be grown on small areas, and lends itself to the encouragement of close settlement.
– Flax is largely grown in New Zealand.
– The New Zealand flax produces a coarse fibre suitable for twine making; but I have been assured by one of the best authorities in Australia that a fibre could be obtained from the flax grown in Australia which, for the making of linen, would be equal to any in the world. Then, nothing has been done to encourage the production of linseed, of which we use an enormous quantity. Tasmania has taken one of our flax-growers, a man whose name will live in history for his enterprise and his experiments,- which have proved that in Australia we can depart from the methods of the old world, and instead of pulling and retting the flax, and adopting other processes which are necessary there, can cut it with a reaper and binder, ret it in the open, and find a market for the fibre. But when we were dealing with the Tariff, honorable members opposite said that we should not manufacture a pound of twine in Australia.
– We do not talk like that.
– That is practically what was said. Here is an industry which is wholly a primary one, and yet honorable members, ‘when it was shown ‘beyond ashadow of doubt that users of twine would not have to pay more for it if an effective duty were imposed, refused to give any assistance.
– Is the honorable member aware that flax is a most exhausting crop?
– Yes ; and I am aware of a number of other things in connexion with agricultural production. The honorable member foi Mernda, last night, made a very valuable suggestion in regard to the Northern Territory, which is yet undeveloped. I think, with him, that it is incumbent upon the Government to move at a very early date to test the possibilities of that great country. We have not all reached the blackfellow level yet, and if it is proved that the development of that territory by white people is possible, there is sufficient capital and enterprise, sufficient brawn, muscle, and brain in the community to bring it about. I think that that territory could be developed on the lines suggested by the honorable member for Mernda. What are a few thousand pounds compared with the possibilities of the development of that country, and the danger to Australia if it remains long undeveloped ? I do not doubt th« righteousness of. the White Australia policy which this Parliament enunciated. One has only to read American publications of the day to know how difficult is the problem which confronts the American people in. the “big children,” or black population, of the United States, who although originally imported as slaves, are to-day free, and/ under the Constitution, entitled to equality with the whites. But is there equality? Will any honorable member say that there is ? I ask those who hesitate between a white and a piebald Australia to consider that problem in all seriousness. We have not to deal with it in Australia, and we should not, even as a last resource, make it possible here. But, at the same time, it is our duty and obliga tion to develop our territory, and if we do> hot perform it great danger will threaten Australia in the future.
– If we do not use the country it will not belong to us.
– That is the position* I take up. We are within such easy reach of the teeming populations of theEast that a handful of people could not hold our country against their avarice, should they be moved to possess themselves, of it.
– They are not going tocome into the Northern Territory.
– I am not speaking; of what may happen to-day or to-morrow,, for what is a generation in the life of .a nation? But if we are to fulfil our dutiesto Australia, we must look, not to the immediate future, but to the years that are tofollow. Has the Empire been built up in a. day, a year, a generation, or even a century? We pride ourselves on our ability to do this, that, and the other, and are jealous of the traditions of our race. Why then should we leave this great heritageundeveloped ? There is the germ of great possibilities in the suggestion of the honorable member for Mernda. The Government should formulate some practical scheme for selecting particular locations, having re,gard to variations of climate and soil, with a view to forming settlements to test the possibilities of the territory. They should not run any risk of failure for the sake of a few thousand pounds, because that country must be developed if we are to succeed. That is the view I take of the situation, and I trust that, instead of itsbeing said continuously that the matter is under consideration, some effort will be made to solve the difficulty, and that we shall accomplish results that will redound to the credit of this Parliament. There is one other matter to which I should like to direct attention, namely, the impression that appears to have been formed that the Federal Parliament is guilty of extravagance. I do not think that I ever knew of any institution that suffered from such impecuniosity. The ‘honorable member for Hunter adopted some harebrained system of calculation, by which he added up, in one breath, a number of items upon which about £2,500,000 was to-be expended in a year or two.
– I did not even allude to the proposed expenditure on the Federal Capital.
– Nothing will be clone in that regard for some time to come.
– I do not see much provision made for it in the Estimates.
– Strange to say, those Estimates were prepared by the Government of which the honorable member was a supporter.
– And which the honorable member also supported.
– Yes; consequently I have no fault to find with them. Even the honorable and learned member could not find any fault with the Estimates. He, first of al.1, charged the Treasurer with liberality and profuseness of expenditure, and then declaimed against him for his economy. The Treasurer had actually struck out something that the honorable and learned member did not wish to have deleted.
– I did not charge the Treasurer with extravagance, but said he had a reputation for extravagance.
– One might as well put a horse in pound for looking over the fence of a good grass paddock. We have to deal with hard facts. There has been an increased expenditure in some directions, and it would have been unreasonable to assume that no expansion would take place in the Post and Telegraph and Defence Departments. I have very decided opinions with regard to the question of defence, but I am always prepared to listen to the views of experts, and I desire to highly compliment the honorable and learned member for Corinella on his contribution to the discussion. I was really delighted to hear him speak as an exMinister, and as, in some degree, an expert, and I always listen with great respect to what he has to say. I do not propose to discuss the defence question further than to say that I think, in all. seriousness, that we should do a little more in the direction of defending our ports and harbors, and securing suitable bases to meet the requirements of the Australian Squadron.
– That is our first duty.
– Yes. Now, returning to the charges of extravagance that have been made against the Commonwealth, those who regard our expenditure as unreasonably large, appear to forget that this Government, whatever its faults may be, or whatever expenditure itmay incur, is living within its income - that when the bill is settled, there is no more trouble; there are no interest charges to meet and no indebtedness is. built up. It has been reported in the press that we have considerably increased the expenditure on certain Departments, arid I wish to mention one case by way of illustration. Those of us who were in the States Parliaments, do not forget that there seemed to be a burning desire, immediately prior to Federation, to increase salaries in the Departments that were about to be transferred to the Commonwealth. In Victoria, a special Act was passed just towards the close of the session with a view to provide increased salaries for the transferred officers. Some members appeared to think that the Federal Government would have to foot the bill; and it entirely escaped their attention that the Victorian taxpayers would be called upon to bear the burden. The extra expenditure thus provided for is now attributed to the extravagance of the Federal Government. The Tasmanian Parliament took somewhat similar action.
– One or two Tasmanian members opposed the proposal.
– Yes, but the majority carried their point. We are also charged with extravagance in connexion with additions, and new works and buildings in the transferred Departments. If honorable members will carry their minds back to the period immediately prior to the establishment of the Federation, they will remember that all the States Governments became “ severely economical in regard to the transferred Departments.
– They were more than economical.
– Exactly ; they became penurious. They thought that the Federal Government would have to fix things up;, they forgot that the States would have to bear the cost of any works that were carried out. I find that in the Customs, Post and Telegraph, and Defence Departments the expenditure on additions, new works and buildings, in 1901-2, amounted to £94,000. In 1902-3 the expenditure increased to £157,000. In 1903-4, only £3,400 was spent, whereas in 1904-5, the outlay amounted to £333>°°°- The estimated expenditure for the current year is £417,000. What I wish to emphasize is that every shilling of this money has been provided out of revenue. In looking^ through the papers which were circulated in connexion with the Budget of 1903-4, I find a table showing the condition of affairs that existed in the year prior to the transfer of the various Departments which are now under Federal control. That table shows that out of the total expenditure of £450,000 by the .States, on these very services, £412,000 represented loan money, the effect of the expenditure of which the taxpayer did not immediately feel. But what is the position to-day ? After five years of Federal control, these services are costing £417,000, every shilling of which will be paid out of revenue. I contend, therefore, that we have set a good example to the States. Ample evidence is forthcoming that the Commonwealth has been guilty of no extravagance whatever, and in addition we have established the great principle that whatever expenditure we incur must be met out of revenue. There is only one other matter to which I desire to refer. I wish to throw out a gentle hint to the Government in regard to future English mail contracts, because I am satisfied that they will be in office when a fresh contract requires to be made.
– When will that be?
– Two years hence.
– The same people may be upon the other side, but the same team will not be in office.
– The company is good; let the honorable member make no mistake about that. It was an outrageous action on the part of the late Government to sanction the existing mail contract under the conditions that they did. Altogether apart from the question of the employment of black labour, they appear to have entirely lost sight of the interests of the producers of Australia. It was within the knowledge of every member of that Government^ and of their supporters, that those engaged in the export of perishable produce from the Commonwealth were, from one reason or another, absolutely at the mercy of the shipping ring.
– Does not the honorable member know that the present Government propose to ratify that contract?
– I am giving the Ministry my view of the matter. Despite trie knowledge that the shippers of perishable produce from Australia were being charged exorbitant rates - chiefly owing to the action of the shipping ring, in which the mail companies are prominently interested - the late Government al lowed them to remain at the mercy of that ring.
– Order! Under the Standing Orders, the honorable member cannot discuss that question in detail, inasmuch as it already appears on the business-paper in the form of a notice of motion.
– I merely desired to make an incidental reference to it. The late Government have had justice meted out to them. When a subsidy is .being paid for’ any particular service, it is the duty of the Government to see that the interests of those who find the money are not neglected. We know verywell that in the past the shipping companies absolutely refused to carry butter to the old country for less than fd. per lb. ; but after a contract had been entered into with one of those companies far the carriage of our mails, the producers of Victoria banded together and succeeded in obtaining a weekly service from another company, which charged them only just one-half that rate of freight. Is not that conclusive proof of some dereliction of duty on ‘the part of the Government? Do we not also know that a member of the late Government was pestered by a representative of one of the companies which was anxious to secure the English mail contract, not only at his office, but even in the railway train?
– That was the time for the honorable member to speak.
– I did not have the opportunity to do so, because Parliament was not in session.
– Will the honorable member point out how the producer would- have been better off if the present contract had not been accepted?
– There would have been ,£120,000 in the Treasury which could have been operated upon for the purpose of inducing another company to undertake the carriage of our mails. I regret that my remarks have been somewhat disjointed. I am sorry that some of the results which were anticipated from Federation have not been achieved. Much has been done, but still more remains to be accomplished. It was anticipated that Federation would result in. economies that were previously impossible, and more particularly in relation to thework now carried out by the Agents General of each of the States. The London- offices of the States involve an annual expenditure of something like £30,000 a year, and the result so far as the Commonwealth is concerned is not very satisfactory. It is in connexion with these larger issues that I should like to see the Government take action, in order that some of the benefits which were foreshadowed as likely to follow Federation may soon be enjoyed by the people. I wish it to be “ understood that I am not disappointed with Federation. I have no fault to find with what has been achieved by it, but am still more hopeful for the future, and trust that the Government will devote their best efforts to the realization of the anticipations of enthusiastic Federalists.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Home Affairs
In Committee: (Consideration resumed from 24th August, vide page 1473) :
Division 1 (Trade and Customs), £2,164
– I think that the Treasurer should explain for what purposes the vote of £1,909, in subdivision No. 1, is required.
– Let the honorable member for Wentworth object.
– I regret that the Prime Minister should have pulled down my pugnacious friend with so much ease, for I think that we ought to have an explanation as to the purposes for which these moneys are required.
– The item in subdivision No. 1, “Custom House, Sydney, £1,909,” is a revote from last year to provide for improvements at the Customs House, Sydney, which is in a dangerous condition. Stairs and other accommodation have to be provided, and a contract is. now in progress.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 2 (Defence), £66,516
– There are a number of items in this division to which I do not object, because I desire the Defence Department to get all the money it can; but I would point out that, whilst many of the proposed votes in respect of rifle ranges, and so forth, are no doubt very necessary in their way, they are not so urgent as are votes required to bring the naval base of Sydney into a reasonable state of preparation for the work that may be required of it. I do not propose to go into this question again; but honorable members on all sides who have spoken on the defence question have impressed on the Government the urgency of proceeding at once to get our naval bases in a fit state of preparation. There is no vote in these Estimates to complete the provision necessary to place Sydney in this respect in a ‘proper state. I wish to emphasize the fact that, while the proposed expenditure in respect of rifle clubs is no doubt necessary, it is not so urgent as is that required, for instance, to bring up the ammunition for the guns in Sydney to a safe level, or to so increase the personnel of the forces as at any rate to give one gun’s crew to every modern gun we have in the fortress there, or to equip that fortress against torpedo-boat attack, which has. been definitely accepted as the most likely form of attack that it will have to meet. I wish to know whether the Treasurer will be prepared during the year, if he finds that savings can be effected in some other direction, to grant the money necessary to place Sydney in a fair state of preparation for all eventualities.
– I am not prepared to make a statement. Everything must depend on what is recommended by the Department.
– I know fairly well what the Department will recommend.
– Then the honorable member knows more than I do.
– Of course one must not expect the Treasurer to know much about his own Estimates.- I would remind him, however, that this is a matter of vital importance to half a million of people, and surely they are entitled to some consideration. It is not only Sydney but almost every port in the Commonwealth whichneeds to be put in order.
– These estimateswere framed by the late Government. .
– I am not complaining of any items on these estimates.
– The late Minister of Defence said it would take £800,000 to put” our defences in order.
– I quite agree with the honorable member. But I am not expecting the Treasurer to find that sum, but merely asking that essential matters which are required to put the defence system on a fair footing - not on a “safe” footing - should be attended to. In no other country could a Government stay in power when it became known that it was neglecting its responsibility to the extent of leaving the country’s most vital points open to immediate attack. All I am asking is that if the Treasurer has the money to spare, or can save this amount in other directions, he -will attend to these essential matters.
– If they are necessary and are recommended, we shall find the money right enough, whether we make savings or not.
– There are three matters which I think ought to be attended to. In the first place, there is a shortage in the personnel.
– There is no item on these estimates relating to the personnel.
– These matters are all connected with fortifications.
– The honorable member will be able to refer to all these matters when the Defence estimates come before the Committee.
– What I wish the Treasurer to provide is a few of the 12-pounder guns which every one recognises are necessary for the protection of Sydney. The cost with ammunition would be £2,000 a piece, and only a few guns would be required to enable the place to make some show of defence against a torpedo attack. If the Council of Defence recommend that such an expenditure is urgently necessary, will the Treasurer find the money during the current year? Surely that is a very small request to make?
– I am not prepared to answer the question off-hand, nor am I prepared to admit that anything the honorable member says is the case.
– I desire to draw the attention of the honorable member for “Wentworth- to the fact that these are estimates for new works, and include no provision for either ammunition or guns.
– There is definite provision made for two 7.5 guns and ammunition.
– That may be the case, but provision for ammunition is specially made in the Estimates-in-Chief .
– Provision for ammunition is also made in these estimates, and I submit, sir, that under the Standing Orders I have a perfect right to object to every item which is not so urgent as the one I wish the Minister to consider.
– The honorable member has a perfect right to object to every one of these items, but he has no right to anticipate a discussion which will take place on another part of the Estimates. He can call for a division, against every one of these items if he pleases, but he is npt justified in asking for information at an improper time.
– I think, sir, you are ruling at large. What my honorable friend is trying to do is to show that certain expenditure is much more urgently required than is this proposed expenditure.
– Who is to be the judge?
– Evidently the right honorable gentleman is not the judge, for he tells us candidly across the table that he knows nothing about the matter.
– I am not prepared to make a statement, any way.
– Whoever is the judge, the right honorable gentleman -is not, I regret to say. The custom is to have a person in charge of the Estimates, or in the vicinity of the Chamber, who knows something about defence matters. It is quite customary, when the Estimates are under consideration, for the Minister at the table to furnish explanations, and give information about any item upon which we are asked to vote. When information is asked for by the honorable member for Wentworth- he is met with a snap from the Treasurer, to the effect that he will not answer the question, because he does not know anything about the matter, and if he did he would not give an answer. That is not the way for the right honorable gentleman to conduct himself when he is asking the Committee to vote money.
– I did not say that.
– The right honorable gentleman said that my honorable friend was improperly asking for information, and that he had no right to get it.
– I said it was unusual to ask for information.
– The right honorable gentleman taunted my honorable friend with being the judge of these matters. If there is one honorable member who knows anything about the state of the defences of Sydney, it is the honorable member for Wentworth. He has made a special study of this subject, and his speeches here show that he is well informed.
– If the honorable member asks questions they will be answered. He has the usual opportunities of asking questions.
– My honorable friend has asked the Minister as courteously as he can, but can get no information from him. I submit that he is quite in order in showing that this money ought not to be voted for the purpose proposed, but ought to be applied to a more urgent purpose.
– I am very sorry, indeed, if I have misunderstood the full scope of these Estimates. The honorable member for Wentworth mentioned that provision is made for guns for Western Australia, and I should like to know on what page it is made.
– On page 255.
– And on page 246 provision is made for emplacement for guns.
– At the end of these Estimates provision is made for special defence material, but that is quite separate from the matters with which we are now dealing. I am only anxious that the business shall be conducted in an orderly fashion, and, of course, that it shall be expedited. I would suggest to the honorable member for Wentworth that if he desires to refer to these matters, he should wait until we are dealing with the vote on the subject, when he would be quite in order in urging that it is more necessary to provide guns at Sydney than at the place proposed.
– The course I adopted was intended to facilitate business as far as possible. I do not wish to object to any item on the Defence Estimates, provided that I can reasonably assure my constituents and the people of Sydney, who are vitally interested, that the Government seriously mean to take the first opportunity of putting the defences of that city in a decent state. The least I can expect from the Treasurer is a civil answer. I am not asking him to commit the Government to anything, but merely for information in order to facilitate business.
– If the honorable member will tell me exactly what he wants, I shall get the information from the Defence Department with pleasure.
– The Minister ought to have it here.
– I have not got it here.
– It is in the Department of Home Affairs.
– The honorable member for Wentworth is really asking for a declaration of policy on behalf of the Defence Department, and not for information! in respect to any item on the Estimates.
– Not exactly.
– As the Minister in charge of the items under the head of Home Affairs, I shall be pleased to supply the honorable member with information in regard? to any item he may mention. I understand him to say that he is quite satisfied with the items, and does not challenge them. They are estimates recommended by the Defence Department as being for necessary works. The honorable member will admit that it is somewhat unreasonable at this stage to expect information which can only be obtained after inquiry has been made.. It is unreasonable to expect that a certain policy shall be pronounced without an opportunity to look into the points which he has raised in connexion with the defences of Sydney. All that the honorable member can reasonably ask is that the important matters which he has brought forward shall not be overlooked, and that inquiries shall be made on the lines which he has suggested.
– The matter in dispute, as I understand it, is this : The Minister of Home Affairs, not the Treasurer, should be in a position to give any particulars that are wanted as to these votes. The course followed in regard to the Defence estimates was that, after the Commandants of the States made their recommendations, they were gone through item by item in the Defence Department. Then they were sent to the Home Department, which took its turn at them, after which conferences took place between the Home Affairs Department and the Defence Department, resulting in the estimates being settled in their present form. The Commandants asked for all that they thought was desirable; the Defence Department granted some of the requests; the Home Department, which always expects to cut £50,000 or £60,000 off the estimates of the Defence Department, went through them, and left what was thought to be essential in the recommendations originally emanating from the States. In regard to what the honorable member for Wentworth has stated, I should say that Sydney is really the best defended port in the Commonwealth.
– The best guns are needed to protect the fleet, which is always lying there !
– I merely state a fact, and the honorable member for Wide Bay flies at me for doing so. Sydney is, I say, the best defended port in the Commonwealth.
– Against torpedo attack?
– In respect of defence of all kinds.
– There is no defence against torpedo attack.
– I do not agree with that statement, but I do not wish to enter into the considerations involved in it.
– I can prove my statement from authority.
– The honorable member cannot fairly ask that all other forms of Defence expenditure shall be put aside in order to provide 12 -pounder guns for Sydney. With all respect to him, that is an unreasonable request. We all admit that 1 2 -pounder guns are desirable, but to say that it is impossible to defend a port against torpedo attack without them is rather a strong assertion.
– It is laid down in the standard artillery authority.
– I do not wish to discuss the question of torpedo attacks on a vote for rifle ranges and drill halls.
– They are closely allied, all the same.
– I think I may congratulate myself that I am not in charge of these estimates ! It is essential that we should provide repairs for fortifications, construct rifle ranges where troops exist, and drill halls, or, at any rate, store rooms; because very often the term “ drill halls “ means nothing more than that. Otherwise the forces that we have in existence could not be carried on. Consequently there must be a certain amount of expenditure for those purposes. No doubt all that the honorable member for Wentworth recommends ought to be done, but it must be remembered that we have only a certain amount of money to spend, and when that is the case it is necessary to leave undone some works which, to some people, may appear to be necessary. The honorable member wishes that money which is saved on one vote shall be spent in another direction. But it is impossible when money is saved on works to spend it on guns, without its being put in the Supplementary Estimates. That would certainly be a very unusual way to deal with Estimates. I sincerely hope that money will not be saved out of the vote for special defence material, because all that is provided for that purpose is absolutely essential. I remember going through these estimates very carefully. I cut down and cut down in various directions, because I wanted money for special defence material chiefly. I left nothing but what 1 regarded as necessary for theabsolute carrying on of the existing forces, and I think that every penny on the Estimates is required for that purpose. Everything is shown in the long schedules. Sums under £300 are lumped together, except in special cases; but other items are given separately. That is why there are general headings embracing large sums.
– I do not intend to oppose the item under discussion. What I object to is that it seems to me to be ridiculously small for any practical purpose of making the harbour fortifications of Sydney effective. Is it sufficient, for instance, to put the fortifications of Sydney into proper order - that is, if we are to take seriously the statement made by the Prime Minister some time ago?
– What is wrong with the fortifications of Sydney?
– That is just what I want to find out. Honorable members opposite are laughing a little bit too early. Perhaps they will not laugh when I have read what the Prime Minister said on this subject. He made a statement in regard to the defence of Australia which has been reprinted in a return laid upon the table of the House. I will quote his words -
Quite certainly we have no vessels belonging to the Commonwealth which could be used even to attempt to protect our coastal trade.
Then he goes on to say -
The forts, for instance, about our principal cities are, in the first place, most of them of antiquated design, and very dangerous to the garrisons who would hold them under the fire of modern missiles. Then the guns in these forts are, many of them, old in type, and some quite obsolete.
– Does the honorable member say that that applies to Sydney?
– The Prime Minister speaks of it applying to “ our principal cities.”
– As a matter of fact, does the honorable member say that it applies to Sydney?
– I take it that Sydney is the principal city of the Commonwealth. If the Prime Minister did not refer to Sydney, or include Sydney, he ought to have specifically said so. If our forts are in the condition described, it seems to me that the sum on the Estimates, which I suppose is for additions and repairs, is ridiculously small.
– There is no money on the Estimates for reconstructing forts.
– This is exposing our nakedness to the Japanese.
– It was not I, but the Prime Minister, who exposed our nakedness. The late Minister of Defence has told us of his efforts to cut down expenses, but he appears to have been cutting them down at the wrong end.
– That is a matter of opinion.
– I regard the Imperial Navy as our first line of defence outside of Australia ; but our own first line is the coast, harbor, and river defences. Therefore, if, as the Prime Minister has represented, our forts are more dangerous to the defenders than to the enemy, it is high time we set to work to put them in order, even if, for the time being, we have to cut down the vote for the military land forces, which constitute our last line of defence.
– I never heard before that forts are not military defences.
– I have no objection to a sum being voted in order to bring our forts up to date, if they are in the position alleged by the Prime Minister; but that work could not possibly be carried out for the sum set down in the Estimates,
– The cost of building emplacements for guns is reckoned by thousands, and not by hundreds. The sum set down is not for that purpose.
– I should like some information on the point from the Treasurer. Is it proposed to leave the forts in their present, antiquated condition, to be still served by obsolete guns, which, by the way, are very rarely brought into use for practice purposes.
– The forts of Sydnev have the most modern guns of any in Australia.
– The guns may be the most modern in Australia, and yet antiquated.
– Order ! We are now dealing only with the construction of fortifications.
– Do I understand you, Mr. Chairman, to rule me out of order in speaking on the subject of fortifications?
– I thought I had made the matter perfectly clear. We are dealing with fortifications only with regard to their construction, and not to their armament or fittings.
– I only mentioned armaments and fittings incidentally. We are told that the forts of our principal cities are most of them of antiquated design, and, if it be the case that they would be more dangerous to the defenders than to the enemy.-
– Does the document quoted bv the honorable member say that?
– That is practically the inference from what the Prime Minister said.
– I think not. Read the document again.
– The document states -
The forts, for instance, about our principal cities are, in the first place, most of them of antiquated design, and very dangerous to the garrisons who would hold them under the fire of modern missiles.
– But the honorable member said the statement in the document was that the forts would be more dangerous to the defenders than to the enemy’.
– That must be the ‘case if the forts are in the condition describedPerhaps the Treasurer will give us some information as to what this money is to be expended on. Is the money required to bring the fortifications into an up-to-date state ?
– I have listened with very great interest to the recent addition to the authorities on military matters in the person of the honorable member for Wentworth. While I agree to a certain extent with the observations of the honorable member, I do not see that he is now justified in repeating what he has said more than once during the last week or two on the question of defence. I refer particularly to the honorable member’s suggestion that money might be saved on the proposed expenditure on rifle clubs and rifle ranges. 1 trust that the Treasurer will not fall in with the suggestion of the -honorable member, which is certainly not in a direction I can approve. In the country districts the inclination is to rather extend the rifle club system, and it certainly ought to be encouraged, seeing that it does not cost a great deal, and that it will provide a strong arm of land defence.
– I am not objecting to these particular items in the Estimates.
– The honorable member for Wentworth has on two or three occasions indicated what he thinks ought to be the policy in the future, and with that I think he ought to be content, so far as the present debate is concerned. I would rather see the expenditure on rifle clubs increased than decreased ; besides I know that to carry out the ideas of the honorable mem- ber for Wentworth we should have to pass not merely an item on the Estimates, but a special Loan Bill.
– Is the honorable member for Gwydir in favour of a loan for that purpose?
– I was merely pointing out that to undertake the work desired by the honorable member for Wentworth would probably necessitate the raising of a loan. Personally, I have not been a student of military matters, and do not understand them ; and, as I do not represent an electorate where military information can be obtained, or is of special interest, I leave the details to the authorities and experts who have to guide Parliament. I do not pretend to understand a matter which is too intricate for an ordinary layman.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).The honorable member for Gwydir told us that he knows nothing about military matters, and that, I presume, is the reason why he has addressed the Committee on these items. The question raised by the honorable member for Wentworth is not one difficult to understand. It is, on the other hand, of the most rudimentary character, and I am certain that if the honorable member for Gwydir applied himself to it for ten minutes, he would readily understand what the honorable member for Wentworth wishes. I venture to say that the suggestion of the honorable member for Wentworth could be carried out without raising; a loan on the credit of the Commonwealth, and thus beginning a career of loan expenditure, such as the honorable member for Gwydir. and those associated with him. have been the first to discourage. I hope we are not yet going to borrow for such purposes as those under discussion. Neither is it necessary to borrow. As to repetition on the part of the honorable member for Wentworth, if the facts are as the honorable member alleges, and I have every reason to believe that they are, the more repetition we have of those facts in the House the better. They must be repeated until some remedy is found for the defects to which the honorable member directs attention.
– The late Minister of Defence denies that the expenditure suggested is necessary.
– I do not think the late Minister of Defence denies it.
– I say that what is suggested is desirable, but there are also many other things that are desirable, and the Commonwealth will not burst up if this money is not spent this year.
– The honorable member for Gwydir said that the late Minister of Defence denied that the expenditure is necessary.
– The honorable member for Wentworth says that this money ought to be spent before any other, and I deny that emphatically.
– I do not think it ought to be a matter of before or after.
– When you have £10 worth of work to do, and only £1 to spend, you must put off something.
– One cannot expect to get more than £1 if he does not ask for more.
– I do not agree that the vote for rifle clubs should be cut down, and, on the contrary, I think they should be encouraged in every shape and form.
– I do not say that that vote should be cut down.
– On the other hand, that does not do away with the necessity for providing a remedy for the defects which the honorable member for Wentworth alleges exist at the Sydney forts. Honorable members have asked, What isthe trouble ? . And because the honorable member for Lang could not answer right off a laugh went round the Committee, as though the honorable member had been covered with confusion. But, really, there is something to be said for the honorable member’s contention. It is a fact that there are guns in the forts in Sydney which have never been fired in practice, because there is no ammunition with which to fire them. I hope that honorable members generally are aware of that.
– It is not correct to say they have not been fired, because there is no ammunition to fire them.
– I understand that there is a certain reserve of ammunition, but it is not replenished, and therefore these in charge of the guns are not in a position to practice with them.
– The reserve of ammunition is being built up, and it is only cordite ammunition that they have not got, so far.
– That is what I am talking about.
– They can practice as well with black powder.
– They cannot practice with the quick-firing guns.
– I understand that black powder cannot be used with quick-firing guns, and there is no supply of the ammunition with which they could be used in practice. Consequently, while we have these up-to-date guns they are really of no use, because we are unable in time of peace to learn how to use them effectively.
– Then let us have our own ammunition factory.
– So far as the rifle clubs are concerned, I hope the Committee will always look on them with a kindly eye. For two sessions in this Parliament, I had a motion on the businesspaper proposing a very largely increased vote for the encouragement of rifle shooting. I believe that the course I suggested is about the only one which can be adopted to remedy our present comparatively backward state with regard to rifle shooting in Australia. Out of the huge defence vote passed each year, we ought to be able to furnish some first-class prizes for rifle shooting - prizes such as would make it a matter of pride and effort on the part of rifle shots in all parts of Australia to win them.
– Yet we refused to help rifle shots to go home to the Bisley meeting.
– We can do very much better with £2,000 than spend it on sending a rile team home to Bisley. That is the last thing to do with it.
– My own impression is that we should vote at least £10,000 a year for prizes for rifle shooting.
– We already give the rifleclubs nearly £6,000.
– I point out to the honorable member that this discussion can be more appropriately taken on the Defence Estimates.
– I apprehend! that the whole of these votes for rifleranges are for the purpose of facilitating rifle shooting.
– For the construction of ranges.
– But the object of the expenditure is to facilitate rifle shooting.
– Order ! I point out to the honorable member that the Committee is not now discussing the Estimates of the Defence Department; but really Estimates of the Home Affairs Department. When the Defence Estimatesare reached it will be competent for honorable members to discuss rifle clubs, prizes for rifle shooting, and the supply of ammunition and guns.
– And fortifications?
– No; we shall have dealt with the Estimates for new works by that time.
– I have no desire to pursue the matter in detail ; but I am pointing out broadly another method, ir> addition to that provided by these Estimates for the encouragement of rifle shooting. In addition to providing this expenditure for rifle ranges, sheds, grants to rifle clubs, and so on, we should, for the specific purpose of encouraging rifle shooting in Australia, furnish money for some big national prizes.
– Can the honorable member connect such a proposal with the Estimates for new works and buildings ?
– I have no wish to persist in this matter, as there will be other opportunities to deal with it. I should like to discuss the question very seriously, because I believe that, unless we adopt some such means as I have suggested,, our rifle practice will continue in its present backward state, and there will not be afforded the facilities for such practicewhich ought to be given in a country likethis.
– I desire briefly to refer to what would appear to be apathy on the part of officers intrusted with thecarrying out of the express will of thisParliament. Honorable members will have noticed the large amounts which it is proposed shall be revoted this year. The necessity for these revotes indicates either incompetency on the part of the officers who are intrusted with certain duties, or what is worse, an interference with the will of this Parliament by other bodies who have no right to interfere. We passed last year a large number of votes which appear again on the Estimates for this year. There should be some explanation given by Ministers as to why this kind of thing occurs year after year. The bulk of the money proposed to be voted on these Estimates for expenditure in South Australia was passed last year, and some of it was passed the year before. ‘ We have States members going round the different States and complaining that the work of erecting a certain post-office, or of completing an addition to a certain building, has not been taken in hand owing to the action of the Federal Parliament. I desire to know what is the real reason for these revotes. Have we not men under the control of the Federal Departments who are competent to carry out the work for which these votes are passed? Does it really take our officers two years to draw up specifications for a simple addition to a post-office? I think the practice followed is for this Parliament to pass Estimates, and the officers of the Departments then draw up specifications when the old method of how not to do it is followed, with the result that we have each year to revote a large sum of money. We are condemned by our constituents when works for which this Parliament has voted the money aire not carried out. My own opinion is that the States Treasurers “ pull the leg “ of somebody and prevent these works being gone on with. If that is so, we ought to know it. We ought to know who is behind the scenes preventing these works being carried out. I do not believe that the officers in the Commonwealth service are not competent to prepare the necessary specifications and get these public works in hand during the twelve months, and so obviate the necessity of revoting these amounts from time to time. I have noticed that a vote for plant for the .printing of stamps which appeared on the Estimates last year has been allowed to lapse altogether, and I should like to know why
– I point out to the honorable member that we have not yet reached that item, which will be found in the Estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department, South Australia.
– I merely wish to direct attention to the matter, that the Minister in charge of the Department may know that when we come to the item, I shall, in common with other representatives from South Australia, desire to know the reason why that vote has been dropped out. I believe I am voicing the general opinion of members of the Committee when I say that some reasons should be given for this continual revoting of amounts which appear on the Estimates. If the State Treasurer is responsible we should know, but if the fault lies in the inability of our own officers to carry out the specifications within the time available for the expenditure of the money, the sooner we replace them with men who will be competent the better. I do not believe that our officers are incompetent. In my opinion, the delay is due to efforts on the part of the States to discredit the Federation, so that they may complain when necessary work is not done, “Well, that is the fault of the Federal Parliament.” I trust that some explanation will be given as to why each year we are asked to revote money for works approved in previous years.
– I should like the Minister in charge of these Estimates to say whether, in every case in which the estimated cost is greater than the amount set down to be voted this year, information is given as to the probable total cost of the work when completed ?
– There is, in every instance, a foot-note giving that information.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs why, among the votes for new works in New South Wales, £600 is set down for “ Grants to rifle clubs for rifle ranges,” and then, underneath, there are other votes for rifle ranges at Richmond, Bathurst, and Singleton. Then, why is £1,000 put down towards the cost of a drill-hall at Newcastle, the estimated total cost of which is £2,000? Is the building going to be produced in penny numbers?
– £1,000 is all that will be required this year.
– The plans have been so drawn that the most urgently needed portion of the building can be put up this year, and the rest of it added next year.
– I should also like information regarding the proposed vote of £416 for land near Colah Railway Station, for which ,£500 was appropriated last year, and only £4 spent. This is an item which might be pointed out to the _ Premier of New South Wales, when next he accuses the Federal Government of extravagance.
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs- Minister of Home Affairs). - With regard to the complaints of the honorable member for Grey, the delay that he speaks of has been due chiefly to the fact that these estimates have hitherto not been passed until nearly the end of the session, and they are being taken earlier this year in order to prevent a recurrence of it. The cause is certainly not want of competency on the part of our officers. This year the getting out of preliminary designs has been expedited in anticipation of the passing of these Estimates at an early stage of the session.
– But in the cases of which I complained, the money was voted nearly twelve months ago.
– Yes, but delay was unavoidable in connexion with the calling of tenders, and the starting of the works.
– All the plans necessary cannot be got ready at once.
– That is- so, This year, however, everything will be done to press on matters as much as possible. As the honorable member says, delays are unfair to the Commonwealth and to the States, because they produce uncertainty in regard to the relation between the finances of the States and those of the Federation, and our Estimates appear undulyloaded by the piling up of revotes. The honorable member for Lang asked for information in regard to items 1 and 4. In regard to item 1, the total vote is £1,239, of which £674 is a revote for works approved of last session. The remaining £565 is to carry out a number of small works in regard to officers’ quarters, the Adamstown Rifle Range, West Maitland head-quarters, and others of which I have.a list. With regard to item No. 4, it is proposed to revote £360, and the balance of the amount is made up of a series of items to provide for the erection of a shelter shed and other conveniences at Adamson rifle range, and j for removing and re-erecting wire fencing, and so on. Certain work is also to be carried out nt the Victoria Barracks, the Garrison Hospital, the Drill Hall, and in connexion with a number of rifle ranges in various parts of the country. In connexion with item 5, the honorable member for Maranoa wished to know why it was proposed to make a general grant to rifle clubs for rifle ranges, whilst certain other ranges were specially provided for. The item referred to provides for ranges for rifle clubs under the regulations, on requests made during the year.
– When rifle clubs are formed some of them receive £20, and others £40, according to their membership, to assist them to secure ranges. As we cannot tell beforehand where the clubs are to be formed, thev cannot be specified.
– I think that the , Minister has shown that there was some justification for the criticism which has been passed upon these items, because he has explained certain matters upon which it was necessary that we should have information. We cannot possibly know anything about these matters, and, therefore, unless someone enlightens us, we are obliged to vote in the dark. The thanks of the Committee are due to the honorable member for Corinella for the very clear way in which he has placed matters before us. The amount provided for fortifications appears to me to be extremely small. I am not a military man, and I dc not understand these questions, but I should think that no fortifications worth speaking of could be provided for by means of the small sum set down here. For “ fortifications, barracks, rifle ranges, and drill halls,” the total sum appropriated is only £4,479, including revotes. If it is intended to erect new fortifications, the provision seems to me to be very small.
– It is not intended to build a new fortress out of that sum. If you wanted to build a wall 10 feet long as portion of a fortress, the work would come under item 4.
– It has been stated that the principal cities of the Commonwealth are not. adequately defended, and I think we should do well to concentrate our efforts upon making proper provision for the safety of our principal harbors and rivers. The defence of the most important points along our coastline is next in importance to the provision for naval defence. Our object should be to deal with our enemies before they can effect a landing on our shores. It is of no use to fritter away money in small amounts, and we might with advantage save up our funds for a year- or two, and then devote the whole sum available to some substantial and useful work.I was asking the honorable and learned member for Corinella which part of our coast required the strongest defences, and he appeared to indicate Sydney as the port to which our attention should be principally directed; but my idea isthat we might with advantage strengthen our defences at our outposts, with a view to preventing any descent being made upon the Commonwealth. Some criticisms have been offered with regard to the revotes, and the necessity for passing these Estimate’s as speedily as possible. It seems to me that all preparations should have been made long ago for proceeding with worksfor which revotes are provided. I trust that the Minister of Defence will formulate a scheme for the systematic expenditure of money on the protection of our various harbors, instead of paying too much attention to matters of detail.
– I regard the explanation given by the Minister with regard to certain revotes as unsatisfactory. It is idle for the Minister to tell the Committee that the Department cannot get the necessary plans and specifications prepared and the works commenced in less than nine months. If his statement be correct, that condition of affairs is anything but satisfactory. We know perfectly well that the Treasurers of the various States have been endeavouring to make their expenditure and their revenue balance. To accomplish this, they have been doing their best to persuade the Commonwealth not to expend certain sums of money. Only last evening it was pointed out that the Parliament of Queensland had actually gone so far as to revote out of loan funds the money expended by the Commonwealth on certain works in that State, and to pay it into revenue.
– That is illegal.
– Nevertheless it has been done at the instance of the heavenborn Treasurer who is in office there at the present time.
– It is a wonder to me that the Auditor- General would allow it to be done.
– The point is that it has been done. The States Treasurers are making, every possible effort to prevent money which is voted by this Parliament from being expended. I think that the Minister requires to give us some better explanation of the reason these amounts were not spent than that they were only voted towards the close of last session. I trust that he will causean inquiry to be made with a view to ascertaining what are the exact facts. If the Works Departments in the different States cannot proceed with these undertakings within the year for which the amounts are voted, it is time that we endeavoured to obtain the services of some person who is competent to do so. Last year, outof £170,000 which was voted for various public works, only £68,000 was spent.
Mr. KELLY (Wentworth).- Following; up the remarks of the honorable member for Grey, I would point out that under subdivision 3 revotes appear in connexion with: the re-erection of a drill-shed and defence buildings at Townsville, of a rifle range at Brisbane, and of cable and cable storage tanks for electrical communication between’ Goode Island and the mainland. In connexion with all these items, the votes for which I presume are urgent, we find that money has been lying at the disposal of the Department for a whole year, and has not been expended.
– Some of the contracts are in hand, and the work is being carried out.
– Why does not that fact appear on the Estimates? I protest against the dilatory methods which have been adopted by Departments.
– The honorable member is censuring the late Government, which he supported.
– I recognise that no Government can keep such a tight control over expenditure as to be seized of every penny which is spent or not spent. Nevertheless, I do hope that an earnest effort will be made to expend the amounts voted by us during the financial year for which’ they are voted.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa). - I wish to know whether the £1,000 which it is proposed) to expend on a rifle range at Brisbane is intended to be spent in the acquisition of a new range, or merely in putting the old one in order. At the present time, there is really no rifle range at Brisbane, nor has. there been one for a number of years. Both the members of the rifle clubs and the military are using a portion of the cemetery reserve on sufferance. I should like to know’ to what this expenditure of £1,000 is to be devoted ?
– It is to be spent in the acquisition of a new rifle range.
– At Sandgate.
– If it is voted for the purpose of obtaining a specific site–
– No site is mentioned in the Estimates.
– I should like to know what is behind this proposal.
– Any item of expenditure can be transferred to any other Department if the Executive so desire.
– That cannot be done under our Audit Act.
– It is very singular if it can be done
– No vote can be transferred except to another item, in the same subdivision.
– It is constantly done in the States.
– If this money is voted for the acquisition of a rifle range it must be -applied to that purpose.
– I wish the Government would get this matter decided as soon as possible. The matter has been hanging fire ever since the opening of the first Parliament. On each year’s Estimates there has (been a proposed vote for a rifle range for Brisbane, and yet nothing has been done. The range at present being used by the riflemen of that city may be closed to them at any moment, and I therefore trust that the Government will lose no time in securing a suitable site.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella).- The honorable member for Wentworth was rather unfortunate in referring to this subdivision as an example of dilatoriness on the part of the Department of Home Affairs, or of any other Department, because, with the exception of the amount for rifle ranges, every one of these revotes are in respect of contracts let before the 30th June.
– The works are in progress.
– That is so. I know a little about the question of a rifle range for Brisbane. Shortly after I took office, towards the end of last year, a site was fixed upon, but considerable opposition was raised to it in certain quarters, and I felt bound, in view of the representations made, to have a further investigation. I was also about to visit Queensland, and as the opposition continued. I thought it right to make personal inquiries on the spot. I caused special examinations to be made by officers who were sent to Brisbane for that purpose, and
I finally came to the conclusion that Sandgate was the only suitable place.
– Did the honorable member inspect the Woolston site.
– I cannot remember the names of all the sites. The direction of the proposed range at Sandgate was varied. It was proposed first of all that it should run from east to west. It was then suggested that it should run from north to south, and finally it was proposed that it should run from north-west to south-west. At last I wrote that the objections to the site might well be withdrawn, but unfortunately my connexion with the Department terminated rather suddenly. I understand that since then the Minister has definitely decided upon Sandgate as a site for the rifle range, and has taken steps to acquire the land.
– I shall explain that point.
– At all events, the matter ought to have been settled by this time, and steps taken to acquire the necessary land, because the objections made are no longer reasonable, in view of the way in which they have been met by the Department.
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs- Minister of Home Affairs). - In regard to the question of the rifle range for Brisbane, I may say that it has come before the Minister of Defence, and that as objections have been made to the selection of the Sandgate site, he has promised to look into the whole matter. It would not be right for me to let it go forth that he has arrived at an absolute decision one way or the other.
– This is an extraordinary state of affairs.
– The Minister has to take the responsibility of his position, and is entitled to look into the whole question.
– The papers are now complete.
– That is so, but the Honorable and learned member for Corinella has already said that the matter caused him considerable anxiety when he was in office.
– The papers were not complete when I took office, but they are now, and the Minister can obtain a grasp of the whole position in half a day.
– The Minister of Defence is seeking to obtain a thorough grasp of the whole position, but he has not the advantage of the personal knowledge of the several sites which his predecessor enjoyed. The proposed vote is intended, and I presume that it will undoubtedly be applied, to secure a site for a rifle range at
Brisbane. It is a matter of pressing urgency, for the absence of a proper range is having a discouraging effect not only on members of rifle clubs, but on the military forces generally of Brisbane.
– I wish to refer briefly to this question, because it has formed the subject of a good deal of correspondence between myself and the Department. I know that a range for the metropolis is a crying need, but notwithstanding that it has been a considerable time on the tapis, it seems that some time must yet elapse before it will be ready for use. So far as I understand it, the object of the proposed vote of £1,000 is to provide only for the purchase of land. A footnote sets forth that the total estimated cost, exclusive of land, is £5,000. I presume, therefore, that before the range is ready for use it will be necessary to have a further sum placed on next year’s Estimates and passed by us. As the honorable member for Maranoa has pointed out, the range at present in. use may be closed at any moment. If that happened, the result would be the disorganization of rifle clubs and associations, on the maintenance of which considerable sums of public and private moneys have been expended. I know something of the location of the suggested range, and am pleased to hear that, in the opinion of the Minister of Defence, there is now little reason for the objections that have been raised, having regard to the rearrangement of the Une of fire. Only last week, however, very strenuous opposition was offered to the establishment of the range at the site almost decided on, and another site which was in contemplation some time ago has been suggested.
– If it is the Darra site, it will cost a good deal more, for the country there is fairly flat, and the site is far less acceptable than is that of Sandgate.
– From either side, there are local trains run to within two or three miles of the site, besides through trains - that is, to Oxley on the one hand, and to Goodna on ‘the other, and the Commissioner of Railways has expressed his willingness to extend the running of the trains. I do not wish it to be understood that I advocate one site more than another. As I understand that the Minister is considering the objections which are raised. I shall not pursue the subject at this stage. . I wish to refer to the general facilities which are given to riflemen for practice. I do not agree altogether with the honorable member for Parramatta, when he says thatlarge sums should be given for prize money. I believe in stimulating rifle shooting by offering liberal inducements, and if there is any money to spare it ought to be used in improving rifle shooting, rather than in prizes. If ranges are not provided, the men cannot shoot for prizes. They could also be encouraged by being provided with more liberal travelling facilities.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa). - I wish to clear the air a little. The difficulty over the selection of a site for a rifle range near Brisbane was very nearly brought to a successful issue by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, when fortunately, the late Prime Minister committed political suicide.
– For the past three years, I have been persistently applying to the Defence Department to do justice to the residents of Bowen. Owing to the position of the rifle range, the line of fire is across a road which is used by a few persons who have no other means, of access to their home,s unless they pass, at the rear of the range. There have been one or two examinations of the range made - one by the late Commandant of the State - and I am credibly informed that they were of a most trivial and absurd character. The gentleman who is particularly interested in this matter has gone to considerable trouble and expense to point out to the Department a site for a range which would be .equally as suitable, equally as convenient to the riflemen, and perfectly safe to the residents. The commencement of the line of fire would be at practically the same base, but the men would fire in a different direction. A few mounds would have to be made for the men to shoot from. I have asked the Department continually to take up the matter, because it is a great shame that the lives of a man and his family, as well as his stock, should be endangered. It would involve a very small expenditure to the Department, and when done it might save a considerable outlay in the future. It is not so very long since the Department was called upon to pay a considerable sum as compensation to a man whose property was damaged by the firing from the rifle range at Randwick. The residents of Ayr have spent a considerable sum out of their own pockets in establishing a rifle range.
They have asked that it should be extended a little, so that there shall be no danger from the line of fire to either stock or persons.
– The difficulty in the way is that the Queensland Government want £8 an acre for land which is worth hardly as many shillings.
– I am informed that the State Government has offered to lease the land for practically as long as it may be required at a merely nominal rental, and that the Defence Department has seized upon that fact as an excuse for not acceding to the request of the residents. I am sure that the rent would be willingly paid by the riflemen themselves. It is very disheartening to these men, after they have spent their money and time in endeavouring to became marksmen, to find obstacles thrown in their way by the Department, which cannot see any reason for the expenditure of public money, except in and around Sydney and Melbourne. Outside localities receive no encouragement in this regard. I hope, however, that the request of the residents will receive early consideration.
– I shall make a note of the case
Mr. LONSDALE (New England).- It is an extraordinary thing that if the Department intends to spend £5,000 in providing a rifle range at Brisbane for the metropolitan troops, only £1,000 is placed on these Estimates, unless the further expenditure is to be put off for a year. The complaint is that ever since the Federation was established, this matter has engaged the consideration of the Department. It appears to me to be simply playing with the question, to ask the Committee to vote only £1,000 this year. I consider that if the rifle range is to cost £5,000, a larger sum should be voted. The request made by the honorable member for Herbert is a very small one, and I think it should ‘be granted.
Mr. KELLY (Wentworth).- There are two items under the heading of Western Australia that require explanation. There is a re-vote of £800 for the drill-hall at Boulder, and a fresh vote of £75 for a site for the drill-hall. Was the money for the hall voted before the site was acquired ?
Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs - Minister of Home Affairs). - A building was being rented at £58 per annum, and the Defence Department strongly recommended that a new one should be erected.
– Is this the whole cost of the site?
– The £75 is for the land, and the remainder of the money is for the drill-hall.
Mr. POYNTON (Grey).- I should like to have some information with regard to the Western Australian expenditure. Under the new arrangement, whereby payments are charged on a -per capita basis, the fullest explanations ought to be made. For instance, I should like to know the estimated cost of the land for the fort at North Fremantle. If the land was acquired from the State it is a fair thing that, as Defence works are- being carried out, it should be granted to the Commonwealth.
– It is not State land; it is private property.
– I understand that Government property was acquired in one instance, and that the State charged four times as much as it was worth.
– That was in Queensland ; the Arthur Head fort is at North Fremantle.
– I know it is useless to protest against the per capita basis, but items of expenditure that are to be so charged need to be watched very carefully. Otherwise, there will be great extravagance. The moment a State gets to know that the cost of the construction of works is borne by the Commonwealth it will go in for having the best of buildings and spending more money than is necessary.
– The per capita basis applies only to defence matters, I think.
– No; it .applies to all things. 1 I know of some magnificent buildings that are being erected for the Post and Telegraph Department. The Treasurer ought to explain this item.
– One site at North Fremantle has to be purchased; but the most expensive one, at Arthur ‘Head,: belonged to the State Government. There were a good many buildings upon it. They have been removed. The estimated value of the land was excessive, in my opinion - £18,000. t I had some correspondence on the subject with the then Premier of Western Australia - Mr. James - and eventually he agreed to treat it as transferred property.
– We shall have to pay for it later on.
– If we adhere to the balancing arrangement we shall have very little to pay. No payment in money will be made now. When the question of the transferred properties is settled, this site will be included.
– What is the area?
– I think it is about an acre.
– What is the, price agreed upon ?
– No price has been agreed upon. It will have to be de- termined by valuation.
– Last year when we were discussing the construction of new works, I brought before the then Ministerof Home Affairs the matter of contract as against day labour. I urged him to adopt the day labour system in connexion with the Fremantle forts. In some States, if not in all, there have been cases where works of this kind, which ought to be faithfully built, have been scamped by contractors for the sake of making large profits. No matter how careful the inspection may be, an unscrupulous contractor- will contrive to get in cheap work ‘and prevent proper value from being obtained for the money. The Minister expressed his readiness to adopt the day labour system if the work could be as well done as under contract, and at my request he opened up negotiations with the Western Australian Department of Public Works, with the result that the latter consented to carry out the. work with their own officers and men. At that point, however, the Minister of Home Affairs sought to impose impossible conditions, asking the Western Australian Government to give a written guarantee that they would makegood any extra cost over the estimate. This, in my opinion, was a most unreasonable request.
– I think it was very desirable.
– I agree that every precaution should be taken, but the personal guarantee of the State Minister that every care would be observed should have been enough.
– Did not the Western Australian Department decline to bind themselves in any way to their own estimates?
– I am not aware that the Western Australian Department made any estimate. I understand that they simply took the plans and estimates of the Commonwealth. Department. At first the Minister of Home Affairs desired the Western Australian Public Works Department to tender along with private contractors; but that, of course, the Western Australian Minister properly declined to do. When, at last, the Minister of Home Affairs decided to call for tenders, he sent to the Western Australian Department plans and estimates which were so carelessly drawn that the Western Australian Minister declined to take any responsibility until certain alterations were made. As one who knows something of work of this kind, I judge from what I saw of the estimates that the contractor could have cheated the Commonwealth out of a large sum of money. Surely the Department of Home Affairs ought to have officers capable of drawing up proper workable plan’s and estimates. There should be no invitations to contractors to enrich themselves at the expense of the taxpayer. I ask the present Minister of Home Affairs to consider this question of day labour once again. It is always understood that fortifications should be constructed with as much privacy as possible, and surely that is a very reasonable view. Calling for public tenders and constructing the forts publicly ought not to be tolerated for one moment, and the best means of insuring privacy is to have the works done by the States own officers.
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy). - I desire to support what has been said by the honorable member for Fremantle. There is another matter into which careful inquiry should be made. I understand that, in order to secure a sufficient elevation from which to fire the guns, it was found necessary to either go behind the town and fire over the buildings, or to fix the site almost in the heart of the town. Military authorities say that if the fortifications are completed at the present site, the big guns, when fired, will do great injury to the buildings of Fremantle - that, at least, they will certainly smash every window in the place. This matter ought to be thoroughly inquired into before another penny is spent. It was stated to-night by the honorablemember for Parramatta that there are magnificent guns in Sydney which cannot be used for want of suitable ammunition, and it would appear now that we are going to spend £87,000 on a fortification, the guns of which will, every time they are fired, cause damage to the extent of some hundreds of pounds. Has there to be no gun practice until the enemy comes, when, of course, the risk would have to be taken ? I think some better arrangement could have been made, and I feel inclined to divide the Committee on the question whether any further money should be spent under the circumstances. I hope the Minister will promise that there shall be a thorough investigation.
–There is an item on Which I should like to get some information. I see that last year there was a vote of ^2,200 for non-recurring expenditure, and only £511 of that amount was spent. I should like to know why there’ is no money put down for this purpose this year, when so little of last year’s vote was spent? We had last year a vote of £960 for expenditure at Hobart, and only £50 of that amount was spent. There has been no great outcry about. Hobart having no .guns at all, whilst a good deal has been’ said about the defective defences of Sydney. I may say that ‘ I consider that Hobart possesses the best harbor in Australia, and that city certainly requires to be defended as much as any other in the Commonwealth. I have been informed that the old battery there was removed be-, fore the new appliances were received in Tasmania. I should like to have some information as to why it was necessary to pass a large sum of money on last year’s Estimates, and so little on this year’s Estimates, although so little of last year’s vote was expended in Tasmania.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I should like, in deference to the honorable member foi Bass, who put a question regarding a certain item in the Estimates, to say that the explanation he required will be .given at the earliest possible stage to-morrow. There was no intention to overlook what he stated iri the neglect .to reply to his remarks tonight.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.25 p.m..
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 September 1905, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19050907_reps_2_26/>.