2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if he has seen the statement in this morning’s Argus, that a proposal has been made to alter the law with respect to the admission of Japanese to the Commonwealth? If so, I should like to know whether there is any truth in the suggestions put forward by the writer of the newspaper article to which I refer? Will the honorable and learned gentleman state what are the intentions of the Government in this matter?
– The newspaper article referred to is largely built up of an historical account of what has already happened. Reference is made to the old correspondence between Mr. Eitaki, when Consul-General for Japan, and Sir Edmund Barton, which has been laid on the table, and part of it is correctly re-printed. The statements of what has taken place recently are not so correct. I may mention, in passing, that Mr. Eitaki ceased to be Consul-General for Japan two or three years ago, the present’ acting ConsulGeneral being Mr. Iwasaki. Towards the end of the article, it is stated that -
The negotiations have been conducted by correspondence and personal interviews, and it is understood that they are to some extent based upon a concession which the Commonwealth authorities made to Indian subjects some months ago.
That statement is only partly correct. When Minister of External Affairs, on a former occasion, the Government of which I was Prime Minister communicated, of its own volition, with the Japanese Consul-General, in order to arrive at some understanding whereby visitors from Japan, whether tourists or traders, could be received into this country for the purposes of their visits without being subjected to the education test. It was arranged that passports might be issued to such persons by the Japanese Government, on presentation of which they would be freely admitted. Those negotiations were completed bv the Government of which the honorable member for Bland was the head, and the arrangement so entered into has since been in force. During the whole of that time on only two occasions - so far as we know - have passports teen abused. Inquiry is being made in regard to both cases, the acting ConsulGeneral for Japan showing every anxiety to prevent the arrival in Australia of persons of doubtful character.
– The passports are given only to traders and visitors, and have force only for a reasonable time.
– Yes. They are not given to persons who wish to reside in the Commonwealth.
– How long may those who have passports remain in Australia?
-That depends on the purpose of their visit. Having originated this arrangement, I lately re-opened negotiations - not with the Govern ment of Japan, because matters have not yet reached the stage in which that Government have come. into touch with us, but with the ConsulGeneral for Japan - to see if it would not be possible to extend the passport system to classes of persons other than those to whom it now applies, so that there might be no obstacle to persons of either nation visiting the country of the other. Of course, I desired to preserve the existing law, and to make no change of policy in regard to Japanese wishing to become permanent residents of the Commonwealth. My aim was not as stated to extend to the Japanese an arrangement already made .with the Government of India, because facilities for the issue of passports to the people of both Japan and India were given under the same conditions, at precisely the same time, and the people of Japan have been in enjoyment of the arrangement for the last twelve or sixteen months. It is not correct to say that we are now thinking of applying to Japan any arrangement which we have made with the Government of India. The next statement in the newspaper article is that -
The negotiations have disclosed a desire upon the part of the Japanese Government to limit the number of immigrants from Australia.
No such proposition has been submitted to this Government, either directly or indirectly, by the Consul-General for Japan.
– The Government of Japan has always disclaimed any desire for immigrants from Australia.
-That is quite correct. The newspaper article makes tHe converse assertion, but I have never heard’ of any such suggestion from Japan. With regard to the declaration that -
The Prime Minister desires to remodel the Act * so as to avoid hurting the susceptibilities of the Japanese, by not insisting that immigrants from Japan shall be able to “ write out at dictation, and sign in the presence of the (federal) officer, a passage of fifty words in length in an European language directed by the officer “ - that is quite correct, so far as it applies to a possible extension of the passport system to visitors coming here as students, tourists, or traders; but it is true only to that limited1 extent. The facts, therefore, are that the Government is not yet in a position to inform the House, or even to arrive at any decision in regard lo this matter, because the correspondence -so far has been only between myself and the Consul-General of Japan;
– Are not the Opposition in this ? The Prime Minister is addressing his remarks entirely to one corner of the Chamber.
– When a question has been put to me, it is my habit in replying’ to address principally the questioner.
– The honorable and learned gentleman is addressing his lords and masters.
– I address my lords and masters, the people pf the Commonwealth, amongst whom, to the extent of about a four-millionth part, the honorable member is included. I have not yet been able to come into touch with the Government of Japan, but it is true, as I have more than once informed the House, that, in considering the amendment of the Immigration Restriction Act, it is not merely the contract labour section which has been under review. I have made that clear by three or four answers to questions given in this Chamber, and by statements which I have made elsewhere. If it be found possible, as I think it is, to restate the general principles of our immigration restriction policy in another form, without altering their substance, so as to avoid hurting the susceptibilities of the people of Japan, or of any other people, I, for one, shall be only too happy to propose it. That, however, can be done only with the consent of Parliament.
– The honorable and learned gentleman is making an endeavour to do it ?
– Yes. I may inform the House that in the very first letter directed to the Consul-General of Japan, re-opening the subject, I took occasion to point out to him that I held out no prospect of an alteration of the policy of the Commonwealth embodied in the Immigration Restriction Act; that what we are willing to consider is the form in which effect shall be given to that policy. I trust that in any legislative embodiment of Commonwealth policy we shall always endeavour to express it in such a form as not to convey any reflection on those whom it may affect.
Mi. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I wish to make a personal explanation in regard to the report in to-day’s Argus of. the deLate yesterday on my motion in favour of Home Rule. In regard to the splitting of the motion into three parts, the Argus says -
Mr. Watson suggested that the three paragraphs of the motion should be put separately. Mr. Higgins objected to this, but when a division was taken, it was decided by 37 votes to 18 that the Speaker should split up the motion.
Any one reading that statement would think that I had voted against the splitting up of the motion, whereas I voted for it. I think it was a good idea, and the best thing that could have been done under the circumstances, so that I am under an obligation to the honorable member for Bland for having suggested it. With reference to the vote on the second paragraph, the Argus says that it was only after the second paragraph had been dropped out that it dawned upon -
Mr. Higgins and his supporters that they had voted against portion of the motion which they wished to pass.
I need hardly tell honorable members that the reverse of that statement is true. When I found that I was not able to substitute a motion for a petition, in order to meet the views of some honorable members who were friendly to my proposal as a whole, I determined to go for a petition, but to drop out the second paragraph of ‘the motion in deference to the wishes of certain honorable members, and I voted for that. As my friends and I crossed to the left of the chair, in order to vote for the striking out of the second paragraph, our opponents by mistake crossed to the right of the chair. Several of them found out their mistake, and recrossed the Chamber in time to rectify it, a noble quartette stubbornly adhering to their first decision. This same journal has thought fit, during the present week, to say that I appear in the Chamber day after day at the beginning of the sittings of the House, and leave directly afterwards. I wish to say that that is very often quite true. I, in common with a number of honorable members, do not feel it incumbent upon us to sit here listening to debates which are meant merely to waste time.
– The honorable and learned member is entitled, in making a personal explanation, to deal with his own actions, but «he is not entitled1 to reflect, even impliedly, upon those of other honorable members.
– I reflected upon no honorable member ; I named no one.
-The honorable and learned member reflected on the House.
– No. Honorable members will always turn up in good numbers if there is solid work to be done.
– When the honorable and learned member suggested that the debates are not worth listening to, as he certainly did, he was implying a reflection upon other honorable members.
– It is the excuse of a man who systematically neglects his duty.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– If you insist, Mr. Speaker, of course I withdraw it.
– I say,in, justification of my own conduct only, that I am in the library, and available for work when required. Rightly or wrongly, I hold the view that a great many speeches - I will not say made by what honorable members-
– Is this a personal explanation ?
– The honorable and learned member is again proceeding in a direction in which I have ruled he may not go-
– Then I will say no more.
– By way of personal explanation, I desire to refer to the remarks made by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne.
– The honorable member is not entitled to discuss the remarks made by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. He must confine his explanation to matters relating to his own conduct.
– The honorable and learned member suggested that, according to my vote yesterday upon the question of Home Rule, I did notunderstand the position. I claim that I thoroughly understood what was being done, and that if any one was mixed it was the honorable and learned member. You, sir, submitted the question - That the words “ We have observed with feelings of profound satisfaction the evidence afforded by recent legislation and recent debates in the Houses of Parliament in the United Kingdom of a sincere desire,” proposed to be left out, stand part of the question. I voted with the “ Ayes,” because I desired that those words should stand - that we should recognise the sincere desire manifested by the British Parliament to do justice to Ireland.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General whether he has had brought under his notice a newspaper paragraph, in which it is stated that in the South Australian Parliament, yesterday, attention was directed to the disgraceful state of the telegraph posts in the Adelaide suburbs. I would ask him, further, whether he will inquire into the matter, and cause necessary repairs to be effected ?
– I have not noticed the paragraph referred to, but I shall make inquiries into the matter.
– I notice in a report on the subject of the Fremantle Forts a reference to “ Fort Forrest.” I should like to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence upon what date that fort was christened?
– I am not aware of the date, but I have some knowledge of the occurrence. The fort was thus christened as the result of a spontaneous desire to perpetuate the name of a great and glorious statesman.
– Can the Minister say whether the fort was christened during the term of office as Minister of Defence of that same “ great and glorious statesman “ ?
– I shall make inquiries.
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed from 19th October, vide page 3853) :
Division 42(Central Administration),
– It has been the practice ever since this Parliament was instituted for the Minister in charge of the Defence Estimates to make a general statement for the information of honorable members. I know of no reason why that custom should be departed from. It appears to me that the need of such a statement is as great to-day as it ever has been. A number of details, as well as questions of policy connected with the Estimates, require explanation, and I should like to know whether the Minister intends to exhibit the courtesy which has hitherto been extended to the Committee. By following the usual practice, the Minister will facilitate business considerably. I desire to be made acquainted with the Ministerial view of a number of matters, and I was much surprised at the failure of the Minister to open the discussion in the usual way.
– I also invite the Minister to make a statement with regard to the intentions of the Government upon defence matters. I venture to say that if he takes the Committee into his confidence, and treats honorable members with consideration and courtesy, he will make much better progress with the work before him than did his more stubborn and unreasoning colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs. I can conceive of no more serious obligation than that which rests upon the Minister in charge of these Estimates to make known the intentions of the Government in regard to the important question of. defence. Speaking in the Town Hall, Sydney, recently . the Minister indicated that the Government intended to Bring down an entirely new scheme of defence, which he hoped would prove acceptable to all parties in Australia. Although I fully appreciate the capacity of the Minister to ingratiate himself even with his opponents, I doubt whether ‘he will be able to satisfy all parties concerned by means of any new scheme. I wish to know whether the Government contemplate a complete overturn of the Defence Department. If so, I must enter my protest against any further tinkering. It is no wonder that the public are disgusted with the Defence administration. We are inaugurating a new system every twelve months, and changes occur so frequently that no scheme can be fairly tested. No system could withstand that constant tinkering.
– The same thing is happening in every country.
– No, it is not. In other countries broad lines of policy are laid down, and there is change and adaptation and open-mindedness with regard only to the great military, political, diplomatic, and scientific changes that are taking place in all parts of the globe. These changes do not affect the fundamental principles of defence. I desire to know whether the Ministry contemplate the elaboration of an entirely new scheme, or intend to more speedily perfect our present system, which, I understand, was inaugurated by MajorGeneral Hutton, and which is admitted to be an effective scheme of land defence.
– As far as it goes.
– Exactly. I submit that it contains the nucleus of as perfect a scheme as we are likely to be able to afford for some years to come. We were told by the honorable and learned member for Corinella that, in order to carry out Major-General Hutton’s scheme, we should have to spend ^800,000 upon armaments, and in other directions, and I think that it would be a scandalous thing if before that work were completed the Government were for mere purposes of popularity to bring down yet another new-fangled plan. If the Minister is able to challenge the present system, and say that it neither meets the wishes of the people nor the necessities of Australia, we are open to hear his arguments, but I think it is time that we set our faces against any changes for mere, political or popular purposes.
– A change for popular purposes may be justified.
– I have no* noticed any special public demonstration in favour of a change except a ‘ vague general appeal for the training of Australian soldiers. That wish might be gratified without bringing down an entirely new scheme to replace that which is now in process of development. I invite the ‘Minister to make clear the intentions of the Government. My own opinion is that instead of going on as we are doing with regard to our land defences, we should pay special attention to our coastal defences.
– I hope that we shall be able to give attention to both branches.
– But financial considerations may render it necessary to deal with one part of the problem at a time.
– The necessity for making provision for coastal defence is pressing, and there are no insuperable financial difficulties.
– I quite agree that we should give our attention to the very important subject of coastal defences. We have already provided for an army of 25,000 men in peace and 40,000 men in war time. I think that if we are able to send out a thoroughly equipped army of 40,000 men against any force which is likely to come here, we need have no anxiety as to the sufficiency of our land! defences. A well-equipped army of that size would, in my judgment, be able to meet all the contingencies that are likely to arise in Australia for some years. Therefore, I think that- we should do well to put. our coastal defences in as perfect a state as possible consistent with the resources at our disposal. I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council to make an explicit statement as to what the Ministry propose. Such a statement has been rendered all the more necessary by the remarks which the Prime Minister has constantly been making of late, indicting our present system. We ought to be informed whether it is proposed to entirely supersede that system.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella).- When the Works and Buildings Estimates were before the Committee, they were passed - so far as those relating to defence matters were concerned - with very little debate upon the Prime Minister undertaking that before the session closed a complete statement would be made as to what was intended in regard to warlike stores. I hope that the honorable and learned gentleman will redeem that promise to-day.
– That, matter cannot come up for discussion here, but it must be discussed when any change that we may propose is submitted to the House.
– Will the Prime Minister promise that it shall be brought forward before the close of the session?
– I trust that the Minister will deal with the question of our defences somewhat exhaustively before we are called upon to pass these Estimates in detail. The Defence Department is one of the most important under the control of the Commonwealth. A considerable expenditure is incurred- in’ its working, and it cannot be regarded as a revenueproducing department in any sense. As a matter of fact, it involves a huge drain upon the resources of the Commonwealth. What I desire to know is how the money which we vote for defence purposes is being expended? The Minister has intimated that a revision of the existing scheme is now under consideration. Recently, various officers of the department have indulged in a good deal of criticism of that scheme. Statements are being constantly made which are in no way complimentary to it. Under existing conditions the possibility of extending that branch of the service which is known as the Australian Light Horse - a branch which is very popular indeed - is exceedingly limited. The Department, it appears, is not open to consider any further applications to extend that arm of our defence. In the town of Condobolin, in my own elec- torate, a volunteer company has been working for the past two years. That town is the centre of a large agricultural and pastoral district, which contains a number of young men who are very proficient horsemen. Some of them served in the Boer war, and one of their number was sent home from South Africa as a representative volunteer to the King’s Coronation. These men have formed a company with a view to securing their enrolment in the Light Horse. But although they have made repeated applications in that direction during the past two and a half years, the Department declares that under the present system they cannot be enrolled, because the limit fixed for that arm of the service has already been reached. All that it can do is to enrol this company as a rifle club. It seems to me that that is not a satisfactory position. We ought to endeavour as far as possible to encourage the development of a citizen soldiery. I hope that in any revision of the present scheme the embargo of which I complain will be removed, and that’ every, encouragement will be given to the formation inland o.f companies of Light Horse. I do not think that the adoption of such a policy would add materially to the expense of the Department. Apparently a conflict has arisen between the permanent branch of our defence force and our citizen soldiers. Because this Parliament in its wisdom insisted that the permanent staff should be reduced to the lowest limit compatible with efficiency, and that our citizen soldiers should be encouraged, a scheme has been formulated which requires the number of permanent officers in the service to be increased proportionately to the increase in the number of citizen soldiers.
– The scheme does not laythat down.
– It looks very like it. One of the big objections urged against the enrolment in the Light Horse of the company to which I “have referred is that the Department cannot entertain any application for a further extension of that arm of the service until provision has been made for an increase of the permanent staff. ,
– If we increase the number of Light Horse, we must have more sergeant-majors to instruct them.
– I admit that. I recognise that a certain amount of supervision must be exercised. But surely the expenditure involved in the supervision of a few extra corps of Light Horse would not be of such a character as to place an embargo upon their establishment.
– They cost about £15 per head.
– I have been authorized by the members of the company to which I have already alluded to submit to the Minister a proposal under which - if their application be granted - they shall not be granted any pay. But the Department is not prepared to entertain even that proposal. The most that it will do is to consider whether it will register the company as a rifle club. In doing so I think it is moving in the right direction, because such clubs undoubtedly encourage efficient marksmanship. Indeed, if we are to judge by the utterances of leading military authorities in the old world - such men as Lord Roberts - this branch of defence should receive more attention than it has hitherto done. The matter referred to by the deputy leader of the Opposition- that of our naval and harbor defences - is an important one. Whilst it is desirable that we should instruct and equip our able-bodied men with a view to securing as efficient an army of citizen soldiersasis possible, we should be acting very unwisely if we neglected to make provision for the protection of our harbors and for naval defence. Our danger, it must be recognised, is an external one. I trust that the Minister will place before the Committee a full statement of the Government intentions in respect to any contemplated improvements in our system of defence.
-I should like the Vice-President of the Executive Council to give us some idea of the intentions of the Government concerning the appointment of an inspector-general of our Military Forces. I would suggest that in making a permanent appointment to that position they should, if possible, select an Australian in preference to an imported officer. I think that an opportunity should be afforded Australians to rise to the highest position in the Military Forces.
Mr. HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh).There are a good many matters which have not been touched upon by previous speakers, not merely regarding the reorganization of our Defence Forces, but the administration of this Department. A great many in justices exist which demand the strictest investigation. Officers who are held in the highest respect by every one who has served under them, and who have also had long service, are often most unjustly treated by their superiors. Among these is an officer who has had nearly 20 years’ service, and has proved himself one of the most capable men in the South Australian branch of the forces. I have known him to be given command of a company composed entirely of recruits, even the non-commissioned officers being without military training, and notwithstanding this handicap, to raise it to the very highest standard of efficiency within a comparatively short period. Some officers often find it very difficult to secure an opportunity to submit themselves for examination for promotion. Then again, I have known others to be called upon at a few hours notice to undergo a very stiff examination, the desire apparently being that they should fail, and thus present an opportunity to get rid of men who, despite their popularity with some commanding officers, have incurred the displeasure of others. These are matters that should be inquired into before we agree to a large expenditure upon the reorganization of the defence system. Whilst in camp at different times, I saw enough to satisfy me that officers had been guilty of offences for which they should have been summarily dismissed ; but they were shielded. It should be our endeavour to establish a tribunal to which any officer or man may appeal, without fear of incurring the displeasure of his superiors. I do not wish to delay the’ passing of the Estimates, hut I think that, as has been suggested, the Minister shouldmake a full statement of the policy of the Government, and intimate whether, under the new scheme, steps will be taken to prevent both officers and men being unfairly treated. Reference has been made by the honorable member for Canobolas to the position of instructors.I have known instructors in South Australia to be quite unnecessarily overworked. I have known an officer to be called upon to drill a number of recruits night after night, and when his duties required him to remain so late that he had to take a cab home, to be called upon to pay the fare out of his own pocket.
– That was some time ago. The honorable member knows that steps were taken to prevent the recurrence of such a practice.
– I do not, I do know that many grievances were redressed by the honorable and learned member during the short time that he was in office; but many others still remain to be remedied. A system of favoritism obtains throughout the whole of the forces. Ample evidence of this would be forthcoming if officers knew that they could speak without fear of damaging their position by incurring the displeasure of their superiors. I should like to know what provision has been made to prevent instructors from being overworked. The trouble is that most of the grievances1 under which subordinate officers and men suffer never reach the head of the Department, the men being afraid that if they complained to head-quarters, they would be punished. I should like the Minister to say whether steps are being taken to enable the humblest officer or private in the ranks to bring his grievance before the head of the Department, when he cannot obtain satisfaction from his superior officer? It would be interesting also to learn whether a capable officer may now, without fear, criticise a superior officer who is utterly incapable. I have known an officer to be in command of a regiment, although utterly incapable of taking command of a section of a company. Men of this stamp are entirely dependent upon the knowledge of their subordinate officers, and vet, if one of the latter dared to offer any criticism, he would receive- punishment out of all proportion to the offence. I trust that the Minister will be able to assure the Committee that under the new system there will be no danger of favouritism. I have known officers to be placed on the Unattached List simply to make room for more favoured men.
– -That must have been since the present Ministry came into office.
– Cases of the kind have occurred at various times during the last few years.
– I make the positive statement that no such case occurred whilst I was in office. I never passed a list without making inquiries. In every case where an officer did not apply to be placed on- the Unattached List, I inquired the reason for the proposal to add his name to it.
– I know of an officer who has been placed on the Unattached List, but he would be the last to complain to the Department, because he hopes at some time or other to be again put upon the Active List. I have known an officer to be placed in command of a regiment, although he could not be sure of his seat in the saddle for half-an-hour ; and I have also known of another officer who was incapable of giving ordinary commands. Owing to the blunder of a superior officer, I have been kept thirty-eight hours continuously on duty, and when I havehad the temerity to complain to my superior officer, the latter has complained to his superior, who in turn has complained to some one else-
– When was this?
– About four or five years ago; but my object in nef erring to the matter is to impress upon the Minister that under the new scheme a recurrence of such incidents should be impossible. Is it not absurd that a clerk, or a man employed in a warehouse, who is unused to heavy work, - should be kept twenty-four hours on guard duty, and then called upon to walk about twenty miles and take part in a sham fight?
– I have done it myself more than once.
– So have I, and have done it with pleasure; but there are many men who are not fit to undergo such a strain. I have known a man, after ‘being continuously on duty in this way, to be incapable of walking half-a-dozen yards, because of the state of his feet.
– When a man is doing guard duty, he is two hours on and four hours off.
– But think of the walking that he has to do.
– Not when he is on guard. He has only to walk up and down for a short distance, -and may stop whenever he pleases.
– In South Australia, I have known men on guard to be instructed not only to keep walking to and fro, but to walk briskly. I have received instructions to see that these orders were carried out, and have not hesitated to tell the men what I thought of them. There aire scores and scores of substantial grievances in connexion with the Military Forces which ought to be investigated, and if the Minister will give me his assurance that these will be remedied, I shall be pleased to assist him in passing the Estimates of the Department. We have spent enormous sums of money on the Defence Forces, without securing anything like an adequate return. When the present PostmasterGeneral held office as Minister of Defence, I pointed out to him that when the staff in South Australia was only a third of its present size, the men experienced not the least difficulty in obtaining what they required ; but quite recently I have known officers of the Military Club to waste half a day in securing a few rounds of ammunition, the delay being due to the stupid circumlocutory methods adopted in the staff office, which costs four or five times as much as it used to do.
– That is the object of circumlocution- to spend money.
– Exactly. In South Australia, we had a larger force, which was better managed in every way, by a smaller staff. I give the honorable and learned member for Corinella credit for having allowed the States Commandants a great deal more latitude than they used to have. At one time if they required even a pencil, they had to apply to headquarters, and to wait a week for a reply. That was the kind of thing that went on for years under the organization of a great general from Great Britain, of whom the military authorities of South Australia, with the exception of those who come from the old country, hold almost unanimously the opinion that it is a good thing that his autocratic rule is ended. No doubt he is a good and brilliant soldier, and full of capital ideas; but his ideas do not fit in with those of the people of the Commonwealth. I hope that the Minister will give us his assurance that he will see that no member of the Military Forces, from the highest to the lowest rank, need suffer injustice, and that every man will be afforded an opportunity to petition the Minister himself, if need be, to hare his grievance remedied.
– I wish to make a few remarks on the general question, but, before doing so, should like to pay my tribute to the ability displayed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella when Minister of Defence; I believe that, during the short time that he had charge of the Department, he initiated very many necessary reforms, and I hope that his successor will follow his good example by carrying out the good work which he started, because there is still need for reform.
– In some cases, at any rate, the Department is not keeping to the arrangements made by the honorable and learned member for Corinella.
– In what way?
– In regard to the Tasmanian defences.
– That matter has been threshed out.
– I should like to emphasize the fact that companies in the outlying portions of the Commonwealth suffer in comparison with companies situated nearer head-quarters, through not being able to get their representations placed before the Minister. At any rate, they cannot do so without passing them through many hands. I was pleased to hear the honorable and learned member for Corinella say that he Knew of no representations having been made by members of the force which did not reach him. But it is the complaint of companies in Queensland, and I have no doubt a similar complaint has been made bv companies in other outlying portions of the Commonwealth, that it is with the utmost difficulty that they get anything done. If, after having exhausted every other means of obtaining redress, an appellant reaches the ear of the Minister, he probably finds that, in the long run, it would have been better for him not to have troubled to do so, because, while he may gain his immediate object, he will be made to suffer for it afterwards, and his last case, owing to the persecution which goes on, will be worse than his first. I could adduce instances in support of this statement, but I think that it would be unwise to mention the names of the individuals. I have been informed of several cases in which it seemed to me that considerable injustice had been done, without there being a chance to remedy it, though I believe that in one or two cases the matter has come beforethe Minister. In a case which I have in mind, there were certain non-commissioned and warrant officers, trained in Australia, who held the same rank and were doing in all respects the same work as certain non-commissioned officers imported from the old country, but, when an opportunity for promotion came, the former, while being promoted in rank, received no extra pay.
– How long ago was that? In April last the whole of the instructional staff was classified, in accordance with a considered scheme.
– I believe that a good many of these matters have been redressed, buf in the cases to which I refer the complaint was made that, owing to the lateness of the period at which the changes were made, these men lost a considerable amount in arrears of pay which were never made up. Some of them were entitled to increased rates of pay from July, 1902. The Imperial officers were given ,£184 a year, while the Australian trained officers received only £143 a year.
– The Imperial officers came out to Australia at certain salaries.
– Yes ; but I have been informed that since they have been here they have been given preference over Australian-trained officers, in regard to both promotion and pay. I do not wish to refer to individual cases openly, but I regard my information on the subject as authentic. Another matter to which I wish to refer is this : Six horses are considered necessary to move field artillery; but the Department does not keep horses for the purpose. When an encampment is to take place, tenders are called for the supply of horses, and animals are hired for. a certain period. At the last encampment of the Queensland forces held in Brisbane, through some want of foresight or blundering, only four horses, instead of six, could be obtained for each gim, and they were horses of such a heavy breed that it was impossible to get them to trot.
– In all ‘the States it is found exceedingly difficult to obtain suitable artillery horses. The contract for supplying them is made for a year, the horses to be available when required.
– If the men are not properly equipped on the only occasions which they have for meeting together and learning military manoeuvres, the money spent on these annual encampments is largely wasted, and any attempted saving which destroys the effectiveness of the training is false economy. ‘ I am also informed that for the last two years the Queensland forces have not been provided with great coats. I believe that tenders were invited for the supply of such clothing, but that the cloth submitted was too thick and heavy, it being material better suited for an Arctic climate than for a tropical region. At any rate, no contract was let, and at the end of the financial year the vote lapsed. That, however, is not a sufficient reason for keeping the men for two years without a necessary portion of their uniform. Another matter to which I wish to refer has to’ do with the reorganization of the forces by the late Commandant. One of the.
Queensland companies - an Ipswich company - which was the first to be disbanded, was complimented by Major-General Sir Edward Hutton upon having made the best appearance at a certain encampment, and yet immediately afterwards they were marched off the field without their arms. The men had received notice that the company was to be disbanded, but a mistake was made in. treating them in that manner, and they felt very hurt at what they conceived to be the slight which they received. This treatment, however, has not quite killed their enthusiasm, and they are anxious to form another infantry corps.
– Was the matter dealt with by the Minister?
– The recommendation of the General Officer Commanding was carried into effect, and the company was disbanded. Several of the trained officers who are now on the Unattached List, and a large number of young men who were formerly with the company, are willing to again enrol themselves. I believe that many of them are content’ to serve without pay, and I think this spirit -should be encouraged. I desire to once more refer to the subject of the greatcoats. I understand that board after board has considered the question, and that, the money voted in this direction would probably have- been sufficient to defray the cost of the garments required.
– The -vote which lapsed last year is being re-appropriated and ample provision will be made for the future.
– How often are greatcoats supplied - every year, or every two years ? .
– Greatcoats ought to last about seven years.
– The members of the Defence Force in Queensland ought not to require any great coats.
– Such is the geniality of the Queensland climate that no doubt soldiers and other persons can clothe themselves very much more comfortably, and at Less cost than can the residents of most other parts of Australia. At the same time, we have our winter as well as our summer, and in some parts of Queensland, it is very cold at times. I suppose that during my stay in Melbourne I am as lightly clothed as any honorable member. I wear no heavier clothing in Melbourne than I do in Queensland, and I have felt the cold in some parts of Queensland more severely. than I have done in Melbourne. I have experienced hotter weather in Melbourne than in any part of Queensland. Provision has been made by the Department for the issue of overcoats to members of the Queensland Defence Forces, and I presume that such garments were considered necessary.
– The trouble has been due to the fact that the States authorities did not supply overcoats. In that regard, the Commonwealth has had to start from nothing in the case of Queensland, whereas there were stocks of overcoats in the other States.
– I am glad to know that the Commonwealth is doing something more for the Queensland Defence Forces than was done by the States authorities. The general impression, however, is that the forces have suffered under the Commonwealth administration.
– The rifle clubs are better off than they were under the State administration.
– I agree with the honorable and learned member, but other persons hold a different view. I am. informed that in some of the States the members of the Australian Light Horse are provided with saddles.
– No; the Commonwealth has not provided any saddles, but I understand that in N ew South Wales some of the men have saddles which were provided by the State authorities.
– I do not think it is desirable that we should require the men to supply their own saddles. At present one man may appear on parade with a buckjumper’s saddle on his horse, whilst another may have to be content with a jockey’s saddle. I understand that the members of the Australian Light Horse have to provide their own horses, for which an allowance is made, and I think that we should give every encouragement to the young men who so willingly offer their services, and who represent such a useful branch of our defences. I wish to say a few words in reference to a matter which I regard as one of the most important that can engage our attention. I refer to the question of establishing our own small arms and ammunition factory. This is a subject upon which most of us are agreed, but upon which we are very slow to take action. However careful contractors may be. mistakes will occur, and the series of accidents which have recently occurred have given rise to a very uneasy feeling amongst riflemen. At present we can bring no one to account for the defects in our ammunition supply, but if we manufactured our own we should be able to place the responsibility on the right shoulders. It has been stated that some of the cartridges turned out in 1904 contained two bullets instead of one, and manyold riflemen have objected to use the ammunition supplied to them without a . guarantee that it is free from any such defects. I do not think there is very much to fear in this connexion, particularly since an order has been given for the recall of the old ammunition. Neither do I think it would be very difficult to pick out the defective cartridges by subjecting them to aweight test. The difference in weight between a cartridge containing one bullet, and another containing two, would be readily noticeable to any person handling the ammunition. I trust that the Minister will have something to say upon this question which will allay the fear existing in some quarters. I do not propose to say anything with regard to rifle clubs, and the travelling allowances to members, because I believe it is the intention of the Department to act generously in that regard. The honorable and learned member forCorinella, during the time he was Minister of Defence, took action in the right direction, and I trust that his good example will be followed by the present administration.
– The allowance for travelling expenses has beennearly doubled.
– I trust that the members of rifle clubs will be encouraged in every possible way to improve their skill as marksmen by engaging in contests among themselves.
– Hear, hear; I think the vote for travelling expenses should be still further increased.
– With regard to the proposed importation of 5,000 rifles of the new pattern, I desire to point out that the condemnation reported to have been passed on the new weapon has, to some extent, been discounted by the approval of the Indian military authorities, who consider it is superior to the long magazine rifle. I have used all classes of modern rifles, from the Snider upwards, and speaking as a rifleman, I do not hesitate to say that the short magazine service rifle is the best we have had yet. I would suggest that the Minister should obtain a report from the experts connected with the
Department as to the possibility of fixing upon the long magazine rifles, sights similar to those which are attached to the short rifle. I believe that if this change were made, the long magazine rifles, which are by no means bad weapons, would be very much handier, and prove sufficient for all our purposes for a considerable time. Marksmen would then have attached to their rifles everything necessary to enable them to do good shooting. I cannot understand why such a prejudice exists in favour of fixed sights, because in these days of sharp-shooting and “sniping,” a man who is accustomed to calculating elevation and windage, might fire much more rapidly if, by the turn of a screw, everything necessary could be secured. The alteration - if it can be made - should not prove a very coStlY one, and, in my opinion, the amount of lead that would be saved by it if the forces of Australia were ever called upon to engage a foe would be very considerable. There are some thousands of these long magazine rifles in the Commonwealth, and I believe that they will be very effective weapons for many years to come. With regard to a metropolitan rifle range at Brisbane, I may say that two sites are suggested.” Personally, I have not seen either of them, so that all my information in this connexion has been gleaned at second-hand. Apparently, the range which the Defence Department has decided to adopt is that “which is situated at Nudgee, near Sandgate. This range, it is urged will interfere very greatly with the fine institution known as the Nudgee Orphanage, which has been established in that district. The authorities of that institution complain that the establishment of a rifle range in its vicinity will seriously interfere with its working and the privacy of its grounds. I do not suppose that the Department would sanction the resumption of this area without first having given the matter very careful consideration. The other range which has been suggested is located at Woolston. Colonel Bridges, one of the experts of the Department, has already inspected both ranges. From a report which I saw in the Brisbane Courier, it appears that that officer, prior to the meeting of the Rifle Association there, favoured the selection of the Woolston site. When, however, he submitted his report, he recommended the Nudgee or Sandgate range.
– Colonel Bridges is not the sort of man to be influenced by anybody when he is forming an opinion.
– I am not attributing any vacillation to him. I am merely giving the Committee the benefit of certain information which I have gleaned from the press. The Orphanage authorities hold that the selection of the Sandgate site will have the effect of very largely curtailing the area used by the inmates of the institution.
– It is very urgent that a rifle range should be provided at Brisbane.
– There is no doubt about that, and I trust that there will be no more delay than is absolutely necessary in providing it. But, before any decision is arrived at, I hope that the fullest consideration will be given to the representations made by the institution to which I refer,.
– The present Minister of Defence has, so far, exhibited a desire to make our Defence Force as efficient as possible. It was a good thing for the Commonwealth when it had. in charge of the Department a Minister of the calibre of the honorable and learned member for Corinella - a man who understood” his business, and who was not always prepared to unreservedly accept the opinions of his officers. His military experience probably informed him whether they were “pulling his leg,” or whether they were informing him accurately. There are many matters connected with this Department which require serious consideration. I cannot understand why riflemen insist upon having a fixed sight on their weapons. The new magazine rifle is, in my opinion, a very efficient one, and I speak with some experience of various types of rifles. I note that it has been condemned by the British authorities ; but, before accepting their decision as final, I should like to see it subjected to a thorough, practical test. I am confident that if such a course were adopted, the verdict would be in favour of the new weapon as against the old. Some honorable members want an effective Defence Force, but are disinclined to vote the money that is necessary for the purpose.
– Does the honorable member think that the expenditure of money will make it effective?
– We cannot make it effective without money.
– Do we not require brains also ?
– Certainly we do. It would be a very good thing for Australia if England were to say to the people of the Commonwealth, “You had better defend yourselves; you must show that you are prepared to take upon yourselves the burden of defence.”
– I hope that that day will never come.
– It is only just to England that we should undertake that task. We have in Australia a people who have always shown themselves ready to incur any reasonable expenditure upon defence. It is not long since a petition was presented to this House, bearing 500 signatures, asking for the establishment of a battery, but, in reply, the Minister stated that no. funds were available for the purpose. There are hundreds of men in Australia who are perfectly willing to take up arms, but we have not the money with which to equip them.
– Why, we cannot secure enough men for the Permanent Artillery !
– The honorable member is referring to a specific branch of the Forces. He must recognise that a man may be a very good cavalry officer, and a very poor artillery officer.
– We want soldiers - not men who play at the game.
-We have many men who can- not,devote the whole of their time to military affairs,andif we wish them to devote themselvesexclusively, to defence matters, wemust paythem adequately for it.Byadoptingthatcourseweshallvery soon secure the services of the men that we require. If, we want efficiency we must, pay for it. Some honorable members appear to think that this, as well as many other things,canbedonewithout money. Sofarasprovisionsforrifleclubsandrifle ranges is concerned, a ruleofthumb seems tohavebeenadopted.Ithinkthatwe should appoint an inspector., whose duty it would be to examine these ranges, and reporton them go that, wemightvoteasum proportionatetothenecessitiesofeachcase. Iknow,forinstance, of a case in which a rifle range was established in the, bush, and acertainsumofmoneyvotedforit, althoughtheamountwasutterlyinadequate for the purpose. I submitthat whenariflerangeisbeingestablished,it should be completed, and notleftinapartiallyfinishedstate.Icanpointtoone rifle club which numbers seventy-fivemem- bers, who have only one target between them.
– Some men desire the Government to do. everything, and are prepared to do nothing for themselves.
– These men give their time gratuitously. Personally, I have helped to dig the trenches in which to fix the targets. I am very pleased to know that we are now voting a larger sum for rifle clubs than was formerly appropriated for that purpose. I believe the Minister recognises that these matters require investigation. If we take steps to secure an efficient Defence Force we shall have full confidence in our ability to defend ourselves in an emergency. We should rejoice in the knowledge that the British flag floats over Australia, and that she is defended by the British Navy ; but we must not forget that it is our duty to do something in our own defence. England has done much for Australia, and we ought to do something for her.
– I was glad to hear the Vice-President of the Executive Council say that he recognised the value of rifle clubs, and Intended to afford them every assistance.
– I said that that was. the intention of the Minister of Defence:
– It is idle to talk about the value of a citizen soldiery unless we are prepared to practically encourage the movement. Many riflemen in my electorate find that it is a severe tax on their resources to be called upon to pay their railway fares every time that they visit the rifle ranges. It is not fair to ask them to do so. They give their time and their money to the service, and yet all sorts of obstacles are placed in the way ‘of their becoming experts. Why should we waste money on head-quarters and red tape whilst the members of our rifle clubs, who form an important branch of our citizen soldiery, are hampered in every way? I wishnow to direct attention to the naval side of the question. An attempt ilsbeingmade in Victoriato develop the trainingof naval cadets, but itreceives no encouragement at the hands of’ the Department!Like the members of the rifle, clubs, the officers who are training the boys have to pay their own’ railway fares to and from the places at which instructionis given. Thisiscon- traryto the true Australian policy. We constantlytaokofthedesirablenessofsecur ing an Australian Navy; and yet officers who by training naval cadets are really engaged in forming the nucleus of such a force receive no encouragement. When the Naval Agreement Bill was before Parliament a distinct promise was made by the Government of the day that efforts would be made to develop, if onlyin a small way, an Australian Navy, and, ultimately, an efficient system of Australian naval defence.
– It should be done.
– Will the Minister exercise his great personal influence to that end? I hope that he will make a note of my complaint, and that the Government, in maturing their defence scheme, will pay attention to the naval side of the question. The Naval Forces of Australia - and especially those of Victoria - are deteriorating instead of improving. Every impediment appears to be placed in the way of the development of this branch of our defences. Will the Minister assure us that in considering a comprehensive scheme of defence the Government will not lose sight of the naval side, and especially the Australian part of that side of the question?
– What does the honorable member desire?
– I hold that our naval brigades, instead of being strengthened, have been weakened and hampered in every way. I hope that the Government will carry but the promise made by their predecessors, and that by encouraging the naval cadets and naval brigades, as well as by establishing a system of harbor defence, they will initiate what may ultimately become a complete system of local naval defence. We often speak of what the mother country has done for us, and I for one appreciate all that she has done, but we ought to encourage a spirit of selfreliance.
– Does not the honorable member believe in co-operative effort?
– Most decidedly; but surely all the effort should not be on the one side. The best way to develop selfreliance is to establish a naval system which, while affording protection to ourselves, will at the same time be a tower of strength to the mother country. Adequate defence cannot be secured by our depending entirely upon the Imperial squadron.
– Of what assistance would our naval forces be to the mother country ?
– If we could defend, or even partially defend, ourselves against foreign attack we should greatly assist the mother country. I know that the VicePresident of the Executive Council recognises the importance of this matter, and I have only to say, in conclusion, that the truest form of Australian patriotism is that which recognises the need of self-reliance, and the necessity of developments along the line of local naval defence with the intention of ultimately establishing a navy of which we may be truly proud.
– I do not think that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports desired to cast a reflection on any other member of the House when he asserted that the best way to show our patriotism was to evidence our self-reliance in creating an Australian navy. It is not my intention at this stage to deal in extenso with the subject, but I would point out that, although the honorable member who has just resumed his seat told ‘us that he was in favour of an Australian Navy for the naval defence of Australia, he declined to explain what he meant by that term. In his concluding remarks he spoke also of “coastal defence.” Which did he mean? An Australian Navy, properly speaking, or torpedo craft for local use? If he meant the latter, I may tell him that authorities such as Captain Mahan have laid it down that, for the defence of certain fixed points, forts on land are infinitely better than moving forts on water.
– Captain Creswell has been urging that this should be done till his patience has been almost exhausted.
– This shows the absurdity of the position. Captain Creswell, who retired from the Imperial Navy as a lieutenant, is now prepared to advise, not only in relation to matters of which he has special knowledge, but of practically everything relating to naval effort. He is prepared to advise as to armour plates, projectiles, guns, and absolutely every specialized subject within a wide military science.
– That is unfair criticism.
– The highest officers in the Imperial Navy will not advise on specialized subjects of which they have no particular knowledge.
– Does the honorable member affirm that Captain Creswell has no knowledge of Australian defence?
– I affirm that the reports which have been made by him to this House show that if he has, he did not thoroughly consider, the subject before presenting them. He has spoken of the possibility of using small cruisers, which could be designed unusually strong for their size, both in offence and defence, by circumscribing their radius.
– Does the honorable member set himself up as an authority against Captain Creswell ?
– I am not setting myself up as an authority, but before I venture to express opinions on this subject I go, not to the writings of ex-lieutenants in the Imperial Navy, but to world-wide naval authorities. I go to the works of writers who are recognised throughout the world as sound authorities. I do not for a moment set myself up as an authority, nor do I propose to follow blindly and unintelligently the opinions expressed by any officer of the Commonwealth. If the statement made by Captain Creswell as to circumscribing the radius of his proposed ships be correct, he must admit at the start that his cruisers would be useless for the defence of Australia, or Australian interests, outside their unusually circumscribed radius. I wish to know what the honorable member for Melbourne Ports means by his references to an “ Australian Navy.” If he has in mind a navy of the class suggested by Captain Creswell, how does he propose that it shall protect the vast interests of Australia floating on the high seas?
– Does the honorable member believe in the development of an Australian Navy?
– I believe in the development of Australian naval effort in cooperation with that of the mother country and every other section of the Empire.
– Who proposes anything else?
– The honorable member proposes a scheme which would do away with unity of effort in naval action. While he can talk magniloquently when before his constituents about the value of unionism, he is prepared to deny that very principle, in defence matters, to the Empire of which Australia forms a part.
– I have denied nothing of the kind. The honorable member might as well say that the Australian Military Forces would not co-operate with those of other parts of the Empire.
– I do not recognise the same necessity for the Australian Military Forces to so co-operate with those of other parts of the Empire. I have never advocated a force which could be taken out of Australia to co-operate with the forces of other parts of the Empire. Our Military Forces are designed to meet local requirements and local conditions ; but conditions on the high seas are the same all over the world. All authorities are agreed that Naval effort, to be successful, must be offensive - off the enemy’s coast. The honorable member, in his closing periods, assured us that we could best show our patriotism by establishing an Australian Navy for Australian defence. In saying that, he was trying to provoke prejudice against those who believe in co-operation with other sections of the Empire in naval matters, and was using clap-trap to meet what are irrefutable arguments. In my opinion, he has unworthily reflected on the opinions and intentions of honorable members who do not support the particular form of naval effort which he suggests. I, personally, wish to see our Naval Brigades given a field of training ; but what better field can they have than the British Navy?
– An Australian Navy.
– Does the honorable member make that interjection seriously ?
– There is the Cerberus.
– Yes. I understand that it is almost as out of date as are Captain Creswell ‘s numerous reports. There is also the Protector.
– Has the honorable member ever been on board the Cerberus ?
– Like other honorable members, I have been asked to go for weekend trips, but I do not think it right to put; one’s self in a position which may curtail one’s right of criticism.
– I have never been asked to go for such trips, although the Cerberus lies in my constituency.
– Before an honorable member demands the establishment of an Australian Navy, he should tell the Committee What he means by that phrase. Otherwise it is idle for him to advocate what obviously would not yield useful results.
– I am beginning to despair ofany practical advantage from debates of this kind, so far as our rifle clubs and cadet systems are concerned.
One Minister after another has sat at the table, and told us in general terras that he believes the cadets to be the basis of our Military Force, and wishes to give assistance to the rifle clubs. Certainly, this year a little more encouragement is being given to the rifle clubs in New South Wales than has been given in the past; but the rifle club movement is not receiving the enthusiastic support which it should get. In Victoria, the result of concerted effort was to increase the membership of the rifle clubs from 3,000 to 21,000.
– The present membership is 16,293.
– I knew that the membership had fallen to 18,000, and I am sorry to hear that it is now only a little over 16,000. This falling off is due to the discouragements which the men receive. We ask them to give up their time to go to the ranges, and make themselves efficient in shooting, and then put all sorts of obstacles in their way. Expert officers in Great Britain are pointing out that the time is rapidly approaching when it will be absolutely necessary for every grown man to be able to serve in defence of his country.
– The honorable member and I will go together.
– At the time of the Russian scare, I got my stripe in the old East Melbourne Artillery, and if the necessity ever arose, I should be prepared to enlist again in defence of my country. But I ask, what will be the result of all this talk ? The Vice-President of the Executive Council will take a few notes of our remarks, and communicate; them to the Minister of Defence, and there will be an end to the matter. I should like to know what is being done in regard to the practical report distributed by the late Minister of Defense?
– The late Minister of Defence promulgated a scheme which has been fairly accepted by the Government.
Mr. Wilks. - Is the Minister in order in interjecting ? Other honorable members are prevented from doing so.
– The Minister is simply answering my question.
– It is a common thing, in Committee, for a Minister to give information to members in this informal way.
– Do I understand that, after lunch, the Minister will make a state ment of the intentions of the Government in regard to the cadet movement?
– I know that nothing satisfactory can be arranged until the cooperation of the authorities of the States has been secured; but we do not need the assurance of high experts to be aware that the very best basis of our military system is the proper training of our boys in a knowledge of drill and the handling of the rifle. Apart from this special advantage, the country will gain greatly from the cadet system by its effect on our young people in inculcating respect for authority and the observance of discipline. This is a training which the Australian boy very urgently needs. He is apt to think that he knows at least as much as his father, and to deprecate instruction from that quarter. But if he once becomes a member of a cadet corps, he is made amenable to discipline, and, in addition to thegood effect that it has upon his character, obtains military training. I was allowed by the late Honorable Sir Frederick Sargood to co-operate with him on one or two occasions in regard to the cadet movement which was so close to his heart, and one of the last injunctions which I received from him on leaving the Legislative Council of Victoria was to keep this subject constantly in the foreground, until the end in view had been accomplished. One of the last acts of that honorable gentleman was to join with me when one of our Defence Bills was under consideration in calling together the heads of the public schools of Victoria to obtain their advice and recommendations in regard to it, and these were transmitted to the Minister of Defence of the day. It seems to me, however, that we are merely beating the air and wasting time in making speeches on the subject, because no practical result follows. The public of Australia are getting tired of this Parliament, and are asking when practical work will be done by us. This is a matter in regard to which something practical may be done, and if the Vice-President of the Executive Council will tell us that the Department of Defence intends to submit proposals for the encouragement of the cadet movement and the support of the rifle clubs, every honorable member, without respect to party, will be glad of the announcement. If we get some such promise from the Minister, this discussion will not have been altogether fruitless.
– I shall support the remarks of the honorable member for Kooyong. I believe that the cadet movement is capable of being of the greatest advantage to the Commonwealth, both because of the military training which it can give to our youth and because of the physical and moral training which are inseparable from martial exercises and attention to discipline. There is nothing like physical training for smartening up young men, and, moreover, military discipline will inculcaterespect for authority. I do not believe in anything approaching servility, but we should aim at developing true manliness, associated with due respect for authority. If we keep these ends in view, and encourage our rifle clubs and the volunteer spirit generally, we shall secure all that we need in the direction of our defences. Any attempt to carry out. a system similar to that in vogue in Switzerland would entail an expenditure that the Commonwealth could not possibly bear, and the idea of conscription, or compulsory military service, is utterly repugnant to the spirit of a free people like ours. I am surprised that the leading members of the Labour Party should be inclined to favour conscription.
– The honorable member is now speaking of something which is not provided for in the Estimates.
– I am speaking of the general military policy, and of suggestions which have been made for the introduction of changes.
– No provision is made for conscription, and it would not be in order for the honorable member to make any more than an incidental reference to the subject at present. If the Government decide to introduce conscription, they will have to obtain legislative authority. The honorable member can discuss only such proposals as are covered by the Estimates.
– The subject of conr scription and other matters has been alluded to by other honorable members, and I claim the right to place my views before the Committee. We have adopted a system of voluntary enlistment, and I prefer that to anything in the shape of compulsory militarv service. The working men would suffer more than any others under a system nf conscription, because they would have to serve their full time, whilst others in better circumstances might, upon various pretexts, escape their responsibilities . I am quite in accord with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that we ought to cultivate self-reliance, but I differ from him as to the means to be employed to that end. So far, the honorable member has shown that he believes in relying upon the State, and the self-reliance he speaks about is altogether different from that which I have in my mind. The honorable member proposes to tell the mother country that we can do without her help in the direction of naval defence, and that we can provide a Navy of our own. I should like to know what position we should occupy if we had to rely upon our own Navy to repel an attack by a foreign nation? Instead of setting up a sham Navy of our own, which would be absolutely useless, it would be far better for us to contribute a fair share towards the maintenance of the British Navy, and develop anAustralian Squadron under the control of the British Admiralty. It is not sufficient for us to provide vessels to patrol our shores. The war-ships detailed for our defence must do the main part of their work on the broad ocean. We should never allow an enemy to approach our coasts, if we can meet and fight him elsewhere. We shall best conserve out interests in the matter of naval defence by contributing more largely to the support of the British Navy.
– The Naval Subsidy is not now under discussion.
– I am merely replying to the remarks made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports merely referred to the Naval Brigade, for which provision is made in these Estimates.
– On a point of order, I would direct attention to the fact that the honorable member forMelbourne Ports brought under the notice of the Minister the advisability of incurring considerable outlay forthe purposes of Australian naval defence, and I submit that hethereby opened up the whole question of making sufficient provision in that direction.
– The honorable member ought to know that no honorable member can open up a discussion in the way he suggests. .
– I should like to ask you whether in the event of one honorable member introducing a subject into the discussion, and not being ruled out of order, it is competent for another honorable member tb refer to the matter?
– No. Not if the remarks are irrelevant to the matter before the Chair.
– I have no wish to transgress ; but it appears to me that it will be necessary to watch the discussion carefully, and raise a point of order immediately any honorable member goes beyond the strict lines laid down by the Chairman. All honorable members must enjoy the same privileges. I congratulate the VicePresident of the Executive Council upon having attained his present position. I quite realize that he will be amenable to the representations of honorable members, and that he will not-like some of his colleagues - refuse information when a reasonable request is made to him. By treating honorable members with courteous consideration, he will achieve far greater success than by following the bad example which has been set him by other Ministers.
– There seems to be some doubt as to whether the authorities intend to supply the Australian Light Horse regiments with saddles. If they decide to make such provision, I trust that they will exercise a reasonable discretion in calling for tenders. The 15th Regiment of Light Horse, whose head-quarters are in Rockhampton, are distributed over a district which extends from Biggenden to Townsville. This regiment will require 350 saddles and sets of leather equipment, and I would urge upon the Minister the desirability of calling for tenders locally, and providing for the delivery of the goods at the head-quarters of the regiment in Rockhampton, instead of requiring them to be sent to Brisbane. If delivery in Brisbane is required, the tenderers in Northern and Central Queensland will be seriously handicapped, because they will have to pay the freight upon the materials from Brisbane northwards, as well as the freight upon the finished article from the place of manufacture to Brisbane. The saddles required for the Mounted Rifles, which were sent from Northern Queensland to South Africa, were manufactured in Rockhampton, and proved to be highly satisfactory, and there is no reason to suppose that the local saddlers will not meet present requirement’s. I trust that theMinister will give this matter his serious consideration, and that, instead of calling fortendersfortherequirementsof the whole State, he will,asfaraspossible distribute the work.
– It has been inferred by honorable members - not without justification - that before these Estimates were considered in detail, I would, on behalf of the Minister of Defence, make a statement as to the intentions of the Government. In the first place, I desire to say that the Estimates were accepted by the Government - as the Committee are aware - after they had received very careful consideration at the hands of the late Minister of Defence, the honorable and learned member for Corinella. I am prepared to extend the fullest credit to him in that connexion. A great deal of the work which he initiated, and almost brought to a termination, has proved invaluable to the Government, which, consisting, as it does, of a number of laymen, requires the generous helpof every honorable member in dealing with this question. No fault can be found with the speeches which were delivered this morning. They were all reasonable and to the point. Honorable members are unanimous in their belief that’ the defence of our country is of more importance than is the delaying of the progress of these Estimates or the heckling of a Government. With regard to the honorable and learned member for Corio, we recognise that he possesses a knowledge of military affairs, and if he will loyally assist us in dealing with those matters. I shall be very glad to allow bygones to be bygones.
– Then the Government will consent to the appointment of the Select Committee for which I have asked?
– That is a matter for future consideration. I am now dealing with the past. I am quite prepared to do what the deputy leader of the Opposition has suggested, namely, to take theCommit- teeinto the confidence of the Minister of Defence and of the Government. That,a Minister should always be prepared to do! My experience of representative institutions is thata Government might just as well inform the House, in the first instance, of the views they entertain upon any question, because honorable members are boundto discover what they are at a later stage. Consequently, anyMinistry might just aswell gain the credit of being perfectlyfrankwith honorable members. I propose now to tellthe Committee what is, the position ofthe Government in regard to thequestion of defence. With thepermission of the Committee - I am aware that no discussion can take place on the whole subject - I intend to disclose exactly what we intend to do, so that honorable members will be duly prepared to agree with the Prime Minister, when he explains the Government proposals upon la future date. I know that these Estimates with the exception of one or two minor details, have the approval of honorable members of the Opposition. In the speeches which were delivered this morning it was made perfectly clear that honorable members generally appreciate the difficulty which exists in carrying out any scheme for the defence of Australia. They realize fully that any scheme upon which we embark without a full recognition of the end in view must inevitably fail. The Minister must clearly understand what work he has to perform before he undertakes to do anything definitely. In the past, considerable difficulty has been experienced by reason of one Government purchasing a certain class of arm., and another Administration ordering a different type. Again, one Government has pinned its faith to torpedoes, another to forts, and still another to our land forces. In the opinion of the present Minister, any scheme for the defence of Australia must be a comprehensive one, and he has determined not to undertake any work, the value of which is at all open to question without searching investigation. To do so would probably involve a waste of public money, and, as the honorable member for Parramatta has remarked, a continual alteration of our Defence system is disastrous to the country, and inimical to the efficiency of oar forces. I now come to the question of naval defence, in which the honorable member for Wentworth exhibits such a persistent and - when he agrees with me - an intelligent interest. In this connexion, the policy of the Government fs to stand by the Naval Agreement. That agreement was made to cover a number of years, and there it remains. Whatever our views may be in regard to our harbor defences, and however much we may appreciate the valour of our citizen soldiers, we recognise that the strength of the Empire as a sea power rests in the British Navy. To further emphasize this subject is not permitted by the rules of debate. The next question to which I desire to direct attention is that of our harbor defences. In his speech this morning, the deputy-leader of the Opposition mentioned the various in- struments of destruction, the use of which has to be considered in this connexion. In endeavouring to deal with any scheme for the protection of Australia, this is the problem which confronts the Government. Our harbor defences constitute our second line of defence. Frankly speaking, I am not in a position to say in detail what the Government intend to do in regard to this aspect of the matter. A few days ago the honorable and learned member for Corinella pointed out that a sum, variously stated at from ^500,000 to £1, 000,000, was required to put our forts alone in order. The question of type of guns must be considered. In the opinion of the Government it is essential that for the protection of our shipping there should be, at every great centre - at such places, for example, as Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart, Adelaide, Fremantle, Brisbane, and perhaps Townsville and Thursday Island-
– And Newcastle.
– I am dealing with the matter in general terms. Leaving out of consideration the protection of our coastal cities, the Government desire that, at intervals all along our coast, there should be harbors in which shipping would be absolutely safe. Then the question arises, “ How can we insure its safety ?” This perhaps can be best accomplished partly by means of forts - the guns of which will control the sea for a certain distance - partly by means of mines, and partly by the employment of torpedo boats or submersibles and submarines. All these things are interwoven. For instance, by employing a few torpedo boats, we might obviate an enormous expenditure upon our forts, and by laying mines we might avoid a considerable outlay upon our fixed defences. The Government is composed of laymen, and will welcome suggestions from whatever source they may come. How can we best protect our coastal shipping when it is in port? That is one of the problems which the Minister has to solve. In attempting to solve it, he has to consider the guns which we should employ, the nature of our fixed defences, the class of boats that we shall use if it is necessary to augment these, and the protection afforded by mines. No Government which has only had at its disposal the time available to” the present Administration could possibly have dealt with the details of questions of this character.
– Surely there are experts in the Department who can advise the Government?
– While fully recognising the ability of a number of officers of the Department, I think that a question in which so many aspects of land and naval defence are thus intermixed may be in addition dealt with by one or two supreme intellects before we ask the country to accept any particular scheme. In the course of a few months the Minister hopes to have solved this problem, which I am sure honorable members will admit is an exceedingly knotty one. If the Government assure the Committee that they will expedite the solution of the details of this problem, and submit proposals to Parliament immediately -full information is obtained, that is ali that we can be asked. In the meantime, the Minister proposes to keep our Permanent Forces together, and to continue as at present, although we deplore the fact that the state of our coastal defences is not satisfactory. Whilst I was in Sydney I made a statement which has been productive of considerable debate. The question which has been agitating my mind is, “Are the representatives of the .people satisfied with the existing position in regard to our land forces?” At the present time those forces consist of the instructional staff, the field force, and the garrison, force, and aggregate about 22,442 men. What we have to consider is whether Australia is to be primarily dependent for her land protection upon this force.
– How much per man does our present expenditure upon it represent?
– The average annual cost per member is as follows : - Militia - Australian Light Horse, £16 18s. iod. ; Field Artillery, .£19 16s. j Garrison Artillery, £13 19s. ; Engineers, Field Company, £ 2 9s. ; Engineers, Subminers £16 os. 90”. ; Infantry, ^13 os. nd. ; Signallers, ^13 os. nd. ; Army Service Corps, ^17; Army Medical Corps, ^16; Volunteers - Infantry, £fi 8s. 6d. ; rifle clubs, j£i ros. 3d.
– The rifle clubs cost more than that.
– The average annual cost of rifle clubs is given in the statement presented to me as being .^45 each.
– The rifle clubs cost about £2 2s. per man per annum.
– I am putting before the House the figures as they have been presented to me. When I was interrogated by the honorable member for Parramatta, I was asking the Committee whether the land defence of Australia rests on the 22,242 men of the forces, or upon something more. The vast majority of the people of Australia believe that it rests upon something widely different - that it depends upon the numerical strength, the valour, and the character of the training of the Australian people themselves.
– And the capacity to transport them to different points of attack.
– But it would be idle to arrange for the transport of men who had no knowledge of how to use a rifle. I have already mentioned that we have 35,000 magazine rifles, worth approximately ^150,000, but in addition to that number, we have 20,000 of a pattern which, rightly or wrongly, has been discarded by. the British Army.
– Can the honorable gentleman give us the number of single-loaders in the possession of the Department?
– There are 26,591 M. E. 303 rifles. I find that there are 1,000,000 male electors on the rolls in Australia, and that we have in addition 200,000 lads between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one years. It will thus be seen that there are in Australia 1,200,000 males, a considerable proportion of whom would be in a position, as citizen soldiers, if properly trained, and taught the use of the rifle, to defend the country in time of war.
– They need facilities foi that training, but these are not forthcoming.
– They need to be trained, and also to be supplied with rifles. Some honorable members have referred to the necessity to make arrangements to transport our troops from point to point in time of emergency. After all, however, the knowledge of strength means the preservation of peace. To take a homely illustration, a sound, vigorous, healthy-looking man, would be the last upon whom an attack would be made. And so with the nations. The [knowledge that -we had 1,200,000 men, a large proportion of whom were acquainted with the rudiments of drill, and able to use the rifle effectively, would cause a nation to hesitate to bring war into our midst.
– The knowledge that we had that number of men with leaders.
– Of course.
– How would the honorable gentleman protect the Northern Territory from invasion with 1,200,000 men in the southern part of Australia?
– I appreciate the value of the British Navy to Australia as the first line of defence, and to that extent, at all events, my views coincide with those of the honorable member; but every man in Australia ought to have a sense of responsibility to his country, and should be in a position to defend it if the occasion arose. That is the corollary of democratic institutions. The figures I have quoted show that we have about one modern magazine rifle to every thirty men on the rolls, to say nothing of the 200,000 males between fifteen and twenty-one years of age, many of whom would be available for defence purposes. That being so, it must be conceded that our supply of modern rifles is insufficient.
– What attack is this designed to meet?
– I have no desire to deal with problematical cases. The view taken by the Government is that the defence of Australia in a final resort depends upon the intelligence, the patriotism, and the arming and training of a citizen soldiery. I propose now to draw attention to one of the flaws in the Estimates, as framed by the late Minister of Defence. The honorable and learned member for Corinella, whose ability I have always recognised, did not propose to make provision for the purchase of any new rifles. The present Government took the view that such an omission was a serious mistake, and has determined that a sum of£34,000 shall be expended in that direction. By the expenditure of this sum we shall secure a further supply of about 8,000 modern rifles. It is idle to talk about the value of a citizen soldiery unless we can arm them. A number of honorable members have spoken of the need of securing saddles.. The Government appreciates the importance of uniformity of dress and equipment, but when it comes to making achoice between purchasing articles: for which substitutes may be obtained locally in time of war, and security those forwhich substitutescouldnotbe found in such an emergency we feelthat the preference must be given to thelatter. If we are ever called on to go to war weshall not hurl saddles at theenemy; we shall seek to destroy them with our guns.
-dothegovernment propose to increase the small ammunition’ reserve in proportion to the increase in rifles?
– Yes. Speaking from memory we have;about40,000,000 rounds of ball cartridge on hand and a local factory working double shifts can turn out about 24,000,000 rounds per annum. The Minister has now under consideration the question of whether it is not possible to bring the factory more in touch with the Government - to bring it more directly under Government supervision and to increase its output. It is essential that we. should have cordite ammunition, and, if possible, rifles, manufactured in Australia,
– To what extent do the Government propose to increase the reserve of ammunition ?
– It will be increased in proportion to theincrease in rifles. It is absurd to imagine that the Government would add to its store of rifles without purchasing ammunition for them. The question which has been raised in regard to the need of securing a full supply of saddles illustrates the difference between the view ‘of the present Government, and that of the late Minister of Defence. The honorable and learned member for Corinella, by reason of his long association with defence matters and his identification with military service, has a tendency to prefer the finished soldier. It is obvious, however, from the figures which I have quoted, that we cannot afford the finished article.
– The honorable gentleman is not suggesting that I prefer the permanent soldier?
– No. The point I wish to make is that the militia man costs more than the volunteer, and the volunteermore than the rifleman. Each succeeding grade requires more drill, and a better acquaintance with military duties, and we pass from one to another . until , at last we reach the permanent soldier, the cost of whose maintenance amounts to somethinglike£120 a year.
– No one. asks, for a large number of permanent soldiers.
– We cannot afford them. The Government policy isshown by its action in regard tothepurchase of cordite and arms. If war broke out We should not be able to-obtain rifle’s orcorditelocally, but supplies of saddleswould be forthcoming. . Although perhapsthesupply might not be uniform, incidentalscouldbe obtained in such an emergency, but not so with the essentials of war. We therefore laydownthegeneralprinciplethatwemust havesuppliescorditeforguns,and of riflesandammunitionforourmen, sacrificing those things for the present which could be obtained locally in time of war to those essential things which might not then be procurable. That is the fundamental difference between the position taken up by the present Minister of Defence and his predecessor. The honorable member for Kooyong and several others have referred to the cadet movement, holding that it is valuable not only from the point of view that it enables our boysto acquire a knowledge of military training, but because it inculcates in them habits of obedience and a recognition of their national responsibility. Every one understands it to be desirable that the minds of our youth should be imbued as early as possible with these principles, and, therefore, the cadet movement must meet with general approval. At present there are 150,000 boys over twelve years of age attending school in Australia, but of that number only 10,000 are cadets. In other words,nine out of every ten pass through our schools without any military training, and without any true appreciation of their responsibility with respect to the defence of their country.
– Those are the children who are now at school ?
– Yes ; boys over twelve years ofage, still at school.
– What is to be done in regard to boys who have left school ?
– I will refer later on to the establishment of’ senior cadet corps. The honorable and learned member for Corinella was fully seized of these matters, and had a scheme with regard to cadets almost completed when the present Government took office. We are continuing his good work.
– Why did not the present Government accept the Estimates which he prepared for the Tasmanian forces? The honorable member for EdenMonaro, when Minister of Defence, gave me . a written promise in regard to that matter, which has been deliberately broken.
– Any promise madetothe honorable member by this Government will be kept. The school children of Australia are under the control of authorities appointed by the Governments of the States, and therefore no scheme for a cadet force can take effect until it has been accepted by the States.. Within a. week or two, however, there is to be a meeting in Sydney, held at the suggestion of the Minister of
Defence, of representatives from all parts of Australia, who will deal with the subject, and when the details of the proposed scheme have been agreed to, and received Cabinet approval, it will be submitted to Parliament. In the meantime, the Minister proposes to increase the vote for cadets by £7,000, making it £10,000, to provide for the carrying out of the work. Replying to the question of the honorable member for Moreton, the Government realize that the senior cadet is the connecting link between the school cadet and the adult volunteer.
– Get the junior cadet force established before doing anything in regard to the senior cadets. In my scheme, I pointed out that the senior cadet force would not come into existence for two or three years after the junior cadet force had been established.
– The Minister will have plenty to do for some time to come in organizing ajunior cadet scheme for the 105,000 school boys of Australia; but we regard the establishment of a senior cadet force as the necessary connecting link to which I have referred.
– Why not reduce the age at which young men are allowed to join rifle clubs?
– I do not see why that should not be done. There are 30,000 members of rifle clubs in the Commonwealth, of whom New South Wales has 4,800; Victoria, 16,298; Queensland. 2,961; South Australia, 3,385; Western Australia, 2,493;and Tasmania, 310.
– Does the Department propose to do anything in the direction of increasing the Australian Light Horse?
– Let me finish what I have to say in regard to the rifle clubs before I deal with another subject. The Government felt that it was absurd to try to increase our citizen soldiery without increasing the arms available for them, and the Minister has, therefore, set aside £34,000 for the purchase of rifles. It is the policy of the Government to do everything possible to encourage our citizen soldiers by offering inducements to join rifle clubs, in giving travelling allowances in connexion with matches, in granting aid for theerection of targets and the improvement of ranges, and in all other legitimate ways. The man who is prepared to voluntarily devote his time and energies to the service of his country should be encouraged in every way possible. If men are also prepared to find horses for a mounted corps, the Government should be ready to accept their assistance.
– The Geelong and Werribee men have been offering themselves for the last three years, and cannot get the Government to accept them.
– That ought not to be.
– Then why do not the Government alter it?
– We are making alterations as rapidly as we can.
– Every Minister says the same thing.
– Every Minister has not done all that the present Minister has; and, in saying that, I do not lose sight of the work of the honorable and learned member for Corinella.
– Does the Minister say that whenever offers of service are made for any arm of the Force they will be accepted, irrespective of any Departmental scheme?
– No’; he could not say that. The Government are ready to give every encouragement to those who are prepared to devote their time to obtaining practice in rifle shooting, volunteer service, and drill.
– For the past three years every application for the establishment of a rifle club has been granted without delay.
– That policy will continue to be followed. The Minister is making the conditions more liberal, though we are desirous that some small knowledge of drill shall be obtained by the members of these clubs. The honorable member for South Sydney has said that in battle it takes a man’s weight in lead to kill a combatant. No doubt there is a great deal of truth in that statement, and it is due, to a great extent, to the fact that many of the men engaged are not marksmen. If we could make all the members of our rifle clubs marksmen, and instil into them the rudiments of drill, without creating irritation or interfering with their ordinary vocations, we should have a vast force to draw on in time of trouble, which would be an infinite menace to any power offering to interfere with us.
– What is the use of “skiting” like that? What is the percentage of marksmen” in our forces now ?
– It ought to be greater than it is. But everything cannot ‘be done in a day or two. If the present Government remain in power for any length of time, the honorable member will see a great improvement.
– A statement of that kind means nothing. . It contains no pronouncement of system.
– The Government propose following a definite system in regard to rifle clubs and cadets, have increased the vote for the support of these bodies, and set aside .£34,000 for the purchase of rifles. Whatever I may say, it will be objected that the scheme is not complete. The honorable and learned member has admitted the difficulties in regard to the establishment of an efficient coastal or harbor defence.
– I have never denied them.
– He has also admitted that the scheme of defence propounded by Major-General Sir Edward Hutton is not sufficient. Will he not also admit that the organization of a cadet force and the popularizing of the rifle clubs will be a step in the right direction, in familiarizing our people with the use of arms?
– I am not likely to quarrel with my own proposals. What I wish to know is, how are the Government going to do these things?
– The honorable and learned member for Corinella asked how we are going to get competent officers.
– I said leaders.
– It might as well beasked how are we going to get competent members of Parliament. We must avail ourselves in both cases of the best material offering. In time of war, every nation has had to pay, and will continue to have to pay, very dearly for the incompetence of its officers. That is a trouble which all countries have to face. The Minister, however, is determined - and this is evidenced by the alterations of the defence regulations - that the position of officer shall not be closed against any class of men. Wherever ability is to be found, no matter how humble the origin of its possessor, it will be recognised. The Minister of Defence is determined that merit alone shall be the ground for promotion.
– The honorable gentleman does not suggest that that is a new determination ?
– No. But I am satisfied that the honorable and learned member will agree with me that we are taking the proper course in this matter. The honorable and learned member for Corio brought a large number of matters under the notice of the Minister of Defence, and I think the answers which he has received have shown that the desire of the Minister is as indicated. In the . past the examinations have been of such a kind as might allow the mature soldier to be beaten by a boy from the University or from school. Obviously that was wrong. In the future, everything will be done to enable the ranker who possesses the necessary qualifications to rise to the position of officer, and every one who loves his country, and wishes for competent management in military affairs, will insist that able men must be employed wherever they may be found, irrespective of their social status. Does not history afford us numberless examples of men who have sprung from the ranks and rendered noble service? I have explained as far as possible the views of the Government ; none of the matters regarding which promises have been made shall be left unattended to. I know the difficulties that lie before the Minister. I am prepared to admit that, possibly, in our Naval and Military Forces there are men who ought not to be occupying their present positions, but the remedy cannot be applied by any Government in a week or two. Honorable members say there is an incompetent man here, and another there, and we all recognise the disastrous results that would overtake our Military Forces if they were led by incompetent officers in time of war; but the Minister has to obtain some knowledge of the officers before he can make provision for securing thorough efficiency in all branches of the service. I trust that honorable members will be prepared to pass the Estimates in their present form, and leave the rest to the honour of the Government.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - I suppose that the Minister has said scarcely a word with which we do not heartily agree; but my complaint is that he has confined himself to pleasant generalities, without giving us any specific information.
– He has told us about the proposed purchase of rifles.
– And also regarding the expenditure upon cordite..
– Neither of those matters are vital to the defence of Australia. I had hoped that the Minister would have faced the real problem, and that, recognising that we have only limited funds at our disposal, and cannot do all the things we want to do, or even those which are well-nigh essential, he would have indicated how the difficulty was to be met. Every one agrees that the rifle club movement should be extended. When I had the privilege of occupying the position of Minister of Defence I issued instructions that every application for the formation of a’ rifle club, in regard to which the necessary requirements had been complied with, should be approved, irrespective of the actual amount of funds available. If there was a deficiency, I was prepared to take the responsibility of securing the approval of my colleagues and of Parliament. There has never been any hindrance to the formation of rifle clubs, and I venture to hold the opinion, that, under the regulations as they now stand, rifle clubs are very fairly treated, and have no real ground for complaint. The Minister is sanguine if he believes that there is going to be any sudden enormous enrolment of riflemen. At the height of the enthusiasm resulting from the South African war, when everything was done to encourage the formation of rifle clubs in Victoria, we enrolled some 22,000 men out of a male electoral population of 300,000 or more. When the Minister talks to us about there being 1,000,000 male electors and 200,000 lads of ages ranging from 15 to 21 in Australia in juxtaposition with the defences of Australia and the provision of arms, does he wish us to understand that the Government propose to begin - I do not suppose they will do it during the current or the next financial year - - a policy which will result in providing rifles and an adequate supply of ammunition for every male capable of bearing arms in Australia?
– That is the ideal, if the men are fit for it.
– Then I ask what is the particular danger the Government apprehend ?
– Does the honorable and learned member object to rifle clubs?
– I do not think that is a reasonable or just interjection on the part of the Minister. I am speaking at present of the prospect of a million of men being placed under arms in Australia.
– We shall never see that.
– I want to know what is the apprehended1 danger for which these preparations are being made. I want the Government to remember that their first duty is to provide against the dangers we may reasonably apprehend. They should decide. in the first instance, as to the danger to be apprehended, and then provide for meeting it. The most imminent danger should be the first provided against. I have no objection to rifle clubs. On the contrary, I have both publicly and privately committed myself to a strong support of them ; but rifle clubs should not be encouraged at the expense of equally, or possibly more, necessary branches of our defences. The first business of the Government is to place us in a position to defend ourselves, not against imaginary huge attacks in the future, but the probable attacks of the present and the immediate future. We are not in that position at the present time. No one recognises that more fully than I do. General high-sounding statements about great policies are not what we require. We want to know what preparations are being made - they have been begun, and have been in the course of development with more or less satisfactory results for many years - to enable the Government to say to the country, “ We apprehend certain possible forms of danger to Australia, and we have made our preparations to meet them. We have not gone “three-fourths or seven-eighths of the way, with a vague force behind us, but we have completed our preparations, and we are now in a position to encounter all probable dangers.” If that were done, and the money’ were available, the Government might fairly propose to undertake a larger scheme. Australia is not in danger of attack in force by an army of occupation. I do not think that within our lives we are likely to see an invasion of Australia by a huge army with the intention .of territorial occupation. There is only one power - I need not name it - from which such a movement towards any part of Australia could possibly be anticipated, and the probability is that that power .will not for a ‘generation carry out such an enterprise, even though it may think of acting in such a manner. Therefore, to my mind, the Government proposals suffer from the defects, first, Of vagueness, and secondly of not being consciously directed to the dangers to be met. I am not referring to such comparatively small matters as whether we should obtain 10,000 more rifles before we procure 5,000 more saddles, or vice vrsa. Such matters can Have little effect upon the development of our defence policy. As’ regards rifle clubs, I say that we should by all means’ give them every encouragement, but we should not share the illusion which unfortunately possesses so many of the people of Australia - that if we have plenty of rifles and plenty of men and ammunition the country will be safe: Even under such conditions we should not have progressed very far along the road towards complete defence. The only time at which such a force would be of use would be in the final resort, with the whole population under arms, fighting against an invader. But that is not the real and immediate danger that lies before us. I do not wish to speak at any great length upon this occasion. I had the privilege of addressing the Committee during the debate upon the Treasurer’s financial statement, and I prefer to reserve any further remarks I may have to make until we have some definite proposal before us regarding which” we can speak in something more than general terms. The Minister, in the first part of his speech, answered the observations he made later on. He fell into an error iii speaking of our land forces as something quite apart from our harbor defences, because, to my mind, the existing land forces of Australia are nothing but harbor and coastal defence forces. We have no forces for the protection of the inland portions of the Continent. Such forces would be necessary only’ in the last extreme, after a huge army had successfully landed on our shores and had occupied bases from which the enemy could develop a campaign of occupation. The whole of our land forces are designed for the purpose of protecting the coastline of Australia against a raid - an invasion On a small scale - and it is a great mistake to speak of our land forces and our harbor defences in different breaths, instead of in the same breath. They are part of the one scheme for the protection of our coast-line, and especially of our centres of commercial life, our harbors of refuge, and our bases of action. Until our armaments, the equipment of the forces necessary to support those armaments, and whatever auxiliary naval support may be required, are complete, our system of defence against immediate danger cannot be re- garded as perfected. We must not forget that our real’ protection against an army of invasion, whilst Australian territory remains isolated, and our population, is small, rests with the Imperial Navy. If we were not a part of the British Empire, or had not an alliance with the mother country, we should be helpless against any of the great Powers.
– I think we all recognise that.
– Yes; but I venture to think that the Government proposals, so far as one can understand them, do not recognise it.
– In my opening remarks I admitted that.
– But the Minister went on to indicate lines of development which, if pursued to the full extent that his remarks would make possible - because he placed no limitations on his proposal - might interfere very seriously with the development of the scheme necessary to meet the requirements of the case. In the same way, with regard to our cadets, we shall never place our sea or land forces upon a sound basis until we begin with the compulsory training of boys at school, and provide for their further training in senior cadet corps, and later on as members of the Defence Forces proper. Switzerland recognises that in her new proposals, which begin with the compulsory training of her boys at school, and which very effectively prevent them from shirking that training by providing that if they do not undergo it whilst at school, they must submit to it when they are young men, without receiving anything in the nature of payment. I am satisfied that we shall never put our defence system upon a perfectly sound basis until we insist upon the compulsory training of our boys at school, so that they may afterwards be enrolled in the senior cadets. I do not say that all service should be compulsory. I do not say, for instance, that there should be compulsory service on the part of those who are engaged in industry. But in the meantime we have a more urgent duty awaiting us, and that is to establish that system of defence which is necessary to complete the protection that is already afforded by the Imperial Navy - the defence which is required to secure us against raiding attacks upon a comparatively small scale, and to render Australian ports harbors of refuge.; I was glad to hear the Minister speak to-day of harbor defence in contradistinction from coastal defence, because a. great deal of confusion often arises from the loose use of the latter term.. Harbor defence is an entirely different matter from coastal defence upon the high seas. I do nipt want the Government to postpone expenditure necessary to provide against immediate; danger, in. order that they may develop a policy for the distant future. That is the point that I wish to urge upon them. The
Minister is courteous enough to speak to me frankly upon these matters, whenever I approach him, and in spite of the jocular mood which he sometimes assumes, I know that he has the question at heart just as much as has any honorable member, and that he is as fully seized as any one of the dangers of the present situation. There is only one other word that I have to say, and it is that honorable members who appear to take an excessive interest in these matters are ‘ not inspired by any feeling of militarism. In the very first speech which I made in this House’ upon defence matters, I pointed put that the fundamental principle underlying any effective system should be a citizen soldiery. Our present force is a citizen force. From what we sometimes hear, one would almost be led to believe that it is not. There are 23,751 men provided for upon these Estimates, of whom only 1,300 are members of the permanent “forces. As compared with last year’s Estimates, there is an increase provided of 1,500 men, of whom only sixty represent an addition to the permanent staff. The whole of the remainder are either citizen soldiers or sailors.
– The administrative staff is low.
– Yes. I wish honorable members to recognise that we must have permanent officers to assist in the instruction of the citizen forces. To take men into a campaign without first having done what is reasonable in the way of providing them with proper leaders - and in the term “ leaders,” I include a corporal just as much as a general - is nothing more nor less than murder. War teaches no lesson other than that men who are well led, perform their work with less loss of life than do troops who are indifferently led; indeed, the great loss of life which has occurred in many battles has been directly due to bad leadership. I do not draw any distinctionbetweencommissioned and’ noncommissioned officers as regards the responsibilities of leadership, except that the former have a greater measure of responsibility, Iclass them all underthe term “leaders.” Consequently, I would urge the Governmentnot to starve the instructional staffof the Citizen Forces in any shape orform. Whilst I Wasatthe head of the Defence Department, I made some small increases intheinstructional Staff,which, I am glad to, see that the Government have retained. They constitute the minimum ofwhatisrequired.
– We propose to increase them.
– I am very glad to hear that, in view of the keen scrutiny to which increases in that staff are usually subjected. Whilst I was in office I visited every State for the purpose of inquiring into the conditions which obtained, and I decided upon the spot what was the minimum, increase necessary in the case of the Instructional. Staff. In regard to the cadet movement, I conferred personally with the Minister of Education in each State, ‘and I am very sanguine that much good will result from those conferences. At the same time, I think that any proposal in regard to the cadet movement must provide for compulsory training at school. The adoption of that system need not interfere with the existing cadet force at all. I am1 aware that a number of cadet officers imagine that such a course would injure existing organizations. There need not be the slightest apprehension on that ground. Instead of injuring them, it would extend their scope. At the present time there are between 12,000 and 13,000 cadets in the! Commonwealth, including 4,000 in Victoria, an equal number in New South Wales, between 2,000 and 3,000 in Western Australia, about 1,000 in Queensland, between 1,300 and 1,400 in South’ Australia, and 200 in Tasmania. All that we desire is to increase that number. There was no intention on my part - and I do npt think there is ora the part of the present Government - to put an end to the work that has been done, already in connexion with the cadet forces. In Victoria, and in nearly all the other States, those forces are under State control. In New South Wales there are 4,000 cadets under State control, and we desire to extend that system throughout all the schools. But to this end it is essential that the Commonwealth’ should secure the co-operation of all the States. The Commonwealth has the instructors, who can impart information to the teachers. A wry small . additional expenditure would suffice for that. Then the teachers would instruct the boys at school, and finally the Commonwealth would step in and ascertain the results of that instruction. Each would use the instruments which it had at hand. That is the only way in which the work can be carried out cheaply and effectively. Co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth is absolutely essential. The great advantage of the system of compul sory training which I am advocating is that, instead of taking young men, who are earning their livelihood, away from their work for purposes of instruction, we should take that instruction to the boys at school. As I said before, I want to see the “ three R’s” in our public school curriculum changed into four, namely, reading, writing, arithmetic, and rifles. Therein, I think, lies the secret of the future development of our Defence Forces. I do ask the Government to remember that they must not sacrifice the present for the future, any more than they should sacrifice the future for the present. My complaint against the Minister is that he did not tell us the methods by which these excellent objects ,are to be attained. We all agree as to the ends in view, and there is no quarrel with the desire to attain them. The trouble is not “What do you want to do,” but “ How are you going to do it ?” It is these methods of procedure which have chiefly to be considered, and in regard to which it is most necessary that we should receive information. I intend to wait till I have the Government proposals in- a specific form before venturing to offer any criticisms upon them. So far as I am concerned, this is not a party matter, and ,if my assistance is thought worth having, it is always at the disposal of the Government. I must confess, however, that in some respects I am sorry to observe the course of administration in the Defence Department during the past few months. I should like to say that army organization^ - whether citizen or otherwise^ - is not consonant with the democratic idea of government by majority, and it cannot be so in its essence. The very essence of the organization of a fighting force is the maintenance of proper subordination, and of the chain of responsibility and authority. With every respect to the Minister and to the democratic principles which the Vice-President of the Executive Council vaunted a few minutes ago, I do say that it is necessary - I do not wish to see injustice done in order to achieve this result - to preserve the spirit of subordination and discipline in our forces. I do think that the Government have done two or three things recently which, instead of tending to preserve that spirit, are calculated to be subversive of discipline and of subordination. I have no desire to mention names, but I will take one specific case which has aroused considerable interest. I refer to the case of Major Carroll, wEb was recently replaced on the instructional staff in Victoria. I have no desire to go into the merits or demerits of his case. He has been returned to duty by Executive authority, and I do not intend to say anything which might in any way interfere with his usefulness, or which might appear derogatory to him. 1 will neither say that his return to duty constituted the remedying of an injustice, nor that it did not. That is a matter of opinion amongst those who have read- the evidence taken before the Select Committee which investigated his complaint. In passing, I may say that I doubt whether the Minister himself has read that evidence. He may have read the report, but I doubt whether he has read the evidence. Major Carroll, I venture to assert, was restored to his present position contrary to the administrative advisers of the Department. Such a course of action must inevitably lead to the conclusion that, right or wrong-
– The honorable and learned member would not reinstate him.
– I may say at once that I informed Major Carroll that I did not propose to reinstate him.
– There is a kind of discipline which can be purchased at too great a price.
– I have no desire to see discipline purchased at the price of injustice. But the honorable member must admit that the case to which I am referring is one in regard to which very wide differences of opinion exist.
– In -the preliminary stages of the inquiry there was “no room for difference of opinion.
– I twice read the whole of the evidence taken before the Select Committee, and, having done so, I notified Major Carroll in the terms I have mentioned. But my point is that we must not create in the force a feeling that, if a member can exert sufficient political pressure, he can achieve his object. That is a danger which we must guard against, and that, I fear, is what has already taken .-place to some extent. I quite admit that this Parliament is the court of final appeal to remedy injustice. Nevertheless, we must not create the feeling that it is only necessary for an officer to bring sufficient political pressure to bear in order to attain his object. The proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corio in regard to the appointment of a Select Committee to investigate the Defence regulations would, if adopted^, have ,a similarly disastrous result.
– A lot of abuses exist which ought to* be remedied, and the honorable and learned member himself is responsible for some of them.
– The honorable and learned member for Corio is now making another of his personal attacks. His hostility to me dates from a very well-defined period. I do not wish to say anything more in regard to that matter.
– I have no personal hostility towards the honorable and learned member, and am sorry that he should think that I have.
– I shall leave the Committee, who have observed the, honorable and learned member’s attitude “from time to time towards myself and my administration, to form their own conclusion as’ to whether or not he is an impartial critic. Whilst I fully admit, as I have said, that it is not only the right, but the duty of the Parliament, as the court of final appeal, to remedy wrongs, I wish to point out that there is one connexion in which that right must be exercised with the utmost caution, and that is where parliamentary action might produce an opinion that political pressure will secure its own reward, quite irrespective of the merits of the particular case.
– That is a reflection upon honorable members.
– I am not reflecting upon any one. I say that we must take great care that such an impression is not produced. In my opinion, one or two things which the Government have done lately, and the way in which they have done them, have been calculated to produce, and have to some extent given rise to, that impression. I hope it will always be remembered, whilst justice is being done to individuals in the Forces, that justice should also be done to the community by preserving that spirit of discipline and subordination which is the first essential of a citizen force.
– The danger lies in the- fact that that spirit of discipline might not be preserved.
– It does ; and to make that assertion in a perfectly friendly spirit, and without arrogance, is not in my opinion to cast a reflection upon any one. I am afraid that in zeal for well-doing in individual cases, a Minister who does not quite realize to the full the necessity for subordination, and for the maintenance of a proper spirit amongst the Citizen Forces, may unintentionally go too far, and do more harm than good. I therefore, in the most friendly spirit possible, offer these few suggestions to the Ministry. I find in the Estimates a proposal to grant sums of money to two commissioned officers, both of them being very excellent men. These are not the only men who have retired from the Forces under similar circumstances during the last year or two ; but the whole point is that they have brought influence to bear.
– No. We are informed that of all the officers they are the only two in anything like the same position.
– Non-commissioned officers have also been retired.
– I do not think that the two to whom the honorable and learned member refers are on exactly the same footing,.
– No one will deny that they are the two who’ have brought influence to bear.
– I never saw an honorable member in regard to either of them.
– I do not suppose that the honorable gentleman did ; but I repeat that they are the two who brought influence to bear.
– The honorable and learned member will have an opportunity to discuss that point when we reach the division in which the item appears.
– Surely, Mr. Chairman, I may point out that, in making provision for gratuities in these Estimates, the Government have selected some officers and excluded others? We are allowed upon the first division of the Estimates to enter upon, a general discussion with regard to the administration of the Department.
– That is so; but the honorable and learned member, whilst at liberty to refer incidentally to particular items in other divisions, may not now discuss them..
– I wish to refer to the items in question, in order to give point to my argument that there is a danger of a belief arising that political pressure can be brought to bear to advantage.
– That is tantamount to a charge of corruption.
– It is not.
– Did I understand you to rule, Mr. Chairman, that we axe not at liberty to discuss any item in these Estimates ?
– Then I should like to know why the honorable and learned member for Corinella was not allowed to refer to two special items.
– I would remind honorable members that we are now following the practice adopted in the House of Commons with regard to the Army and Navy Estimates. There a statement is usually made by the Minister upon the first votes that are proposed to the ‘ Committee, and a general discussion then takes place. It is at that stage, and at that stage only, that such a debate occurs, and whilst particular items may be referred to by way of illustration, they may not be discussed. I will quote a paragraph appearing in May, on page 584, which deals with the point -
In accordance with general usage, the main principle which governs debate in the Committee of Supply is relevancy to the matter which the question proposed from the chair submits to the committee. To this rule a necessary exception is made. The expenditure on the army and navy services, though spread over various sources’ of outlay, is expenditure devoted to one object. By established usage, therefore, the Minister in charge of the army or navy Estimates makes a general statement concerning the services for the year upon the first votes that are proposed to the committee, namely, the votes which determine” the number of the land forces and seamen that shall be maintained, or for their pay ; and a general discussion upon the army and navy services is taken thereon.
This power , of general debate does not, however, sanction discussion in detail upon special subjects, which must be reserved until the grant for that special service is before the committee, such as the re-organization of the controlling authorities over navy expenditure, or the tactics adopted during naval manoeuvres.
It is upon this ‘practice that I base my ruling. I wish honorable members to clearly understand that they will not lose anything by being prevented at this stage from discussing a particular item in detail. They will recognise that if they were “allowed to do so, they ought also to be allowed to propose an amendment relating to the item, and that, if that were done, it would anticipate a vote on a particular division, of the Estimates. I feel bound to add that, up to the point at which I interrupted the honorable and learned member for Corinella, I do not think that he had transgressed, but it appeared to me that he was proceeding to discuss the merits of a proposal which would come before the Committee later on.
– I do not wish the impres-sion to go abroad that those who bring in- fluence to bear fare better than those who do not. In 1902, the Parliament practically declared that gratuities should not be given to officers upon their retirement.
– And yet we gave some.
– We gave them to men who were being retired in pursuance of a retrenchment scheme upon the distinct understanding, as pointed out by the honorable member . for Hume - then Acting Minister of Defence - that this was not to be taken as a precedent, and that gratuities were not in future to be given. I find that the Estimates now before us make provision for gratuities to two persons, while no provision is made for others, who have retired from the Department in circumstances not distinguishable from those of the two to whom I refer. I do not know what is the reason for this, unless it be that the two in question have represented their cases more actively than the others have done. If such be the position, it is calculated to produce a bad impression. There are noncommissioned officers - at all events, I know of one non-commissioned officer - who retired towards the end of last year under circumstances identical with those of at least one of the men to whom it is proposed to grant a gratuity. When I was in office I obeyed the decision of Parliament, and provided gratuities for no one. I now find that selections are being made. I do not think that is desirable in the interests of the forces or of the public. Either every man should receive a gratuity, or no one should receive one. That is the position I wish to put, but it is not the course followed by the placing of these amounts on the Estimates. When Minister of Defence, I declined to provide any gratuities, because I understood it to be the will of the Parliament that none should be granted. Not because I do not feel as keenly as any one mightthe harshness of the circumstances under which some persons have had to retire from the Commonwealth Public Service, on account of illness. It seems to me, however, that selections are being made, and I consider that very undesirable.
– Did not the honorable and learned gentleman say, in this Chamber last year, that if Parliament showed that it wished these gratuities to be given he would grant them ?
– No ; I said that if Parliament showed a desire to that effect I would ask the Cabinet to reconsider the matter. The honorable member for Bland asked me what the exact position of the
Government was, but, although he tried to lure me into saying something more, I would not go beyond the statement I have just repeated.
– I was not then convinced of the wisdom of giving these gratuities, and I should like to hear further argument on the subject now.
– After the debate referred to by the honorable and learned member for Corio, I went into the whole matter again, and found that I must adhere to my first conclusion ; that it would be contrary to my duty to recommend the payment of these gratuities. What I say now is that selections are being made, and I disapprove of that course. There should be a general rule, applicable to every case, instead of allowing consideration to be given to those who represent their claims most strongly. I do not wish it to be understood that I am in any way opposed to the development of the rifle club movement, because I am one of its warmest friends, and my actions have shown me to be so. I agree with the Minister that every facility should be given to allow the best men to become leaders, either as commissioned or non-commissioned officers, without regard to their social position, or any consideration other than qualification for the work demanded of them.
Mr. HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh).There are a number of items in separate divisions, providing . for grants in different States, which are unequal, and I wish to refer to this inequality. Shall I be in order when the first of these divisions is before the Committee, in referring to the items in the other five divisions?
– Certainly ; if the itemsare connected with each other.
– I feel it my duty to reply to the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, who says that since a certain occasion I have shown personal antagonism towards him. I have not approved of his administration at all times, thoughI think that he displayed a great deal of energy when Minister of Defence, but I am absolutely unconscious of having displayed any personal antagonism towards the honorable member. However, my practice is not to allow personal matters to be discussed openly in a Committee, or in the House, but to go to the honorable member who has raised them, and straightforwardly ask Kim the meaning of whathehassaid. That I shall do in this case.
An Honorable Member. -I have not seen evidence of personal antagonism.
– I am not conscious of having displayed any. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has explained these Estimates under considerable difficulties, because he does notknow very much about the working of the Defence Department, and can only echo the opinions of the Minister at the head of ft. The position shows clearly the need for having the Ministers in charge of the three great spending Departments of State - the Customs Department, the Defence Department, and the Post Office - in this Chamber. While I should be sorry for our valued and democratic friend, Senator Playford, to leave the Cabinet, I should like to see a rearrangement of portfolios, which would enable the Vice-President of the Executive Council to speak to us with authority on defence matters. At the present time whenever a question is asked in this Chamber of the Minister of Defence, the honorable gentleman puts us off by saying that the matter will be considered. I think that if our records were examined it would be seen that most of the questions which have been asked of the Minister of Defence have been answered by the Vice-President of the Executive Council in that way. Seeing, however, that this Chamber has the power of the purse, we should be able to get direct information in regard to the administration of a Department like the Defence Department.
– The honorable and learned member suggests that the Vice-President of the Executive Council is only an understudy to the Minister of Defence.
– I do not think that he will deny that.
-He is a good understudy.
– Yes; but his position is one of difficulty. I should like to know what we are to understand by his statement that the Government intend to bring to Australia two officers of great ability and intellect to inquire thoroughly into the position of our defences.
– What I said was that, notwithstanding the ability of our advisers, the Government must be perfectly assured of their ground, and that it might therefore be necessary to get some supreme intellect to review the position, so that we may be satisfied that we are placing the right scheme before Parliament. While I said that that might be necessary, I did not say that it would be necessary.
– Are we to take it that itis the intention of the Minister of Defence to import one or two experts ?
– The Government has come to no determination on the matter. I speak of this only as a possibility.
– I understand that it may be necessary that two experts of supreme intellect should be brought out.
– Would the honorable and learned member agree to become one of them?
– I am an Australian, and ready to hand, so that I could not be brought but, though perhaps 1 have sufficient confidence in myself to take any position. If honorable members will listen to me, they can have the benefit of my experience and advice at any time. I should like the Government to remember, however, the mistakes of the past in the matter of bringing out experts.
– It is not proposed that any one shall be brought out.
– The Minister may know the circular mound near the entrance to Port Phillip, which a very great expert advised the Government to convert into a fort. The place is known as the Pope’s Eye, and about £10,000 were expended in depositing rock and other material there to carry this advice info effect. Then another supreme intellect came along, and suggested that nothing should be done. Consequently the money already spent has beenwasted, and the islet is gradually being washed away. The place is of no value for the defence of the port, but might in time of war be used by the enemy against our own defenders.
– Has the honorable and learned member represented this state of things to the Government?
– I am doing so now. The facts are all on record in the Department of Defence.
– There is no danger of the Government being in a hurry to import an expert.
– I am glad to hear that, though I am surprised at the statement, in view of the recent announcement of the Minister of Defence that he would not reemploy Imperial officers now in our service, but would make use of Australian officers. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has slightly enlarged upon the scheme which the Prime Minister put before honorable members a little while ago in speaking of the alterations that the Government propose to make in the scheme of defence prepared by the late Minister, the honorable and learned member for Corinella. I do not wholly agree with either the present scheme or that of the late Minister, because each rejects what I regard as essentials. The late Minister of Defence made no adequate provision for the purchase of rifles and cordite, while the present Minister of Defence makes no proper provision for other matters to which the late Minister considered it absolutely necessary to give attention. Neither of them appear ready to face the real necessities of the situation, and to ask the people of the Commonwealth to provide the funds, required to make our defence absolutely effective. The present Minister admits that, in his opinion, our harbor defence is not satisfactory; but the Estimates contain no provision ibr making them sp, and, in presenting such Estimates to Parliament, he is really passing a vote of censure on himself. There ifc really no great difference between the scheme of the present Minister and that of his predecessor. The latter really gets down to the proposals of Major-General Sir Edward Hutton, and the present Minister is adopting those proposals. No doubt, so long as we depend on the British Navy for protection as the basis of our defence, all that Ministers can do is to fill in subsidiary parts or gaps in our scheme of defence. Under Major-General Hutton’s scheme we are dependent upon the Imperial Navy as the first line of defence. His purpose was not only to serve Australia, but the Empire, and the provision which he made for Light Horse regiments was designed to place at the disposal of the Empire in time of war a useful body of men ‘ who would be available for service abroad. To that extent his scheme went beyond what was absolutely necessary. The Minister said that it was proposed to largely increase the suppi v of cordite and ammunition.
– I said that it was intended to increase our stock of ammunition for immediate requirements, but that it was de sired to make provision for the local manufacture of all the ammunition we required.
– On the 15th September, the Minister of Defence said that he did not think it was practicable to arrange for the local manufacture of cordite, because two proposals had been submitted to him, neither of which he could accept.
– That merely indicated his temporary attitude towards the subject. It is a matter of money.
– This matter has been under the consideration of successive Governments for a long time, and yet we appear as far off a settlement as ever. In connexion with the manufacture of cordite in Australia, it must be recognised that the whole of the requirements of the Commonwealth for twelve months in times of peace could be manufactured in one factory in eighteen working days. The Government could not afford to incur a large initial outlay in procuring machinery and plant, for which they would have only a limited use. Therefore, it seems to me that it will be necessary to associate the manufacture of cordite with some commercial enterprise. I understand that the Defence Department are now paying 2s. 8d. per pound for the cordite they require, and that the Australian Ammunition Company has offered to lay down the plant necessary to enable them to manufacture cordite here if the Government will agree to purchase from them 50,000 lbs. annually at 3s. 2d. per lb. The Government are being asked to pay a price only 20 per cent, in advance of that at which they are now purchasing the article, and it is a question for serious consideration whether it would not be in the best interests of the Commonwealth to accept these terms. The company would be able to supply all the cordite required, even under the stress of war, and we should thus be rendered independent of supplies from abroad. I desire to impress upon the Committee the serious importance of this matter, and I trust that it will not’ be lost sight of by the defence authorities. In regard to the cadet forces, I understand that the late Minister of Defence has propounded a scheme under which the cadet training would be restricted to lads above twelve years of age. Such’ a system might be applied with advantage to the grammar schools and similar institutions, but it must be remembered that the great majority of lads leave the State schools when they are between the ages of thirteen and fourteen. It appears to me. to be necessary to provide for at least three years’ training in the case of cadets, and if twelve years is to beregarded as the age at which the trainingshould commence, it will be necessary to require lads who had not, up to the time , of leaving school, passed through the three years’ training to attend drill afterwards until they had completed the fullcourse. Personally, I do not think that we can commence too early to drill school children. In considering this matter the Minister will have to look to the drill-books that are supplied. At present we have a drill-book which was issued three years ago, after the close of the South African war. That replaced a system of drill which had been in use since the days of the battle of Waterloo. I understand that it is now intended to issue another new drillbook entirely different from that now in use. Constant changes in the methods of drill will interfere seriously with the continuity of the training of our cadets, and it appears to me that we should adopt some permanent form. What is’ the use of training either boys or men in a form of drill which in three years will become obsolete? The Minister has pointed out that there are in the Commonwealth1,200,000men and boys over the age of fifteen who would be available for military service. That number would include many individuals who are considerably below the standard height adopted in connexion with our Defence Forces. It has always seemed to me rather hard that men who are of less stature than 5 feet 6 inches should be debarred from taking part in the defence of their country. In England the standard is 5 feet i inches, and in some continental countries 5 feet1½ inches, and I think that in these days when a soldier needs primarily to exercise his intelligence we should ‘cease to follow the iron-bound methods of the old country by which we have been trammelled for so long. If we do so, we shall have made available to us a large quantity of useful material.
Mr. EWING (Richmond- VicePresident of the Executive Council). - Aconsiderable number of honorable members have expressed their desire to take part in this debate, and although I had hoped that these Estimates would have been disposed of this afternoon, I am willing to agree to an adjournment at this stage. I trust that honorable members will assist me to finish the Estimates on Tuesday next.
Site : Flogging in the Navy.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
It is proposed on Tuesday next to proceed with the Papua (British New Guinea) Bill, and to afterwards continue the consideration of the Estimates.
– Some little time ago I asked the Prime Minister a question with regard to flogging in the Navy. He has been good enough to give me a reply, from which it appears that flogging or birching is not practised upon youths over the age of eighteen. As I am informed that the contrary practice has sometimes prevailed, I should like to have the fact placed upon the official record. Therefore, I should feel obliged if the Prime Minister would announce to the House the reply that he has received.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I desire to ask the Prime Minister if he is. yet in a position to inform the House what steps have been taken to bring about a settlement of the Federal Capital dispute?
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister of External Affairs). - In reply to the deputy leader of the Opposition, 1 wish to say that the only new development in the matter to which he refers since it was last before the House, is that the Attorney-General of New South Wales has received ere this the letter to which I referred yesterday, and to which I hope to receive a prompt reply, which will close the correspondence.
– Why not let us know the contents of that letter?
– I have not a copy of it with me now, otherwise I would lay it upon the table. I will, however, do so on Tuesday.
– I think the Prime Minister is treating the House with contempt.
– It is a most extraordinary idea that in the course of correspondence
– That we should get all our information from a neighbouring State.
– I follow a different practice from that adopted in New South Wales, and it seems to me that it is not in accordance with the usual procedure to publish correspondence before it is fairly complete.
– This is essentially a matter upon which the public should be informed stage by stage.
– I do not pretend that my view of the question is so obdurate that 1 would refuse - if only to meet the wish of the honorable- member - to publish the correspondence day by day. But it seems to me that it is beneath the dignity of honorable members to have such correspondence’ laid before them in scraps. However, I am perfectly prepared to oblige- It is purely a question of taste. In answer to the honorable and learned member for Corio, I wish to say that the Naval’ Commander-in-Chief has replied as follows : -
Inquiries have been made in regard to this matter, and it’ is learned that 11 flogging,” by. which term is. meant corporal punishment with the cat, is no longer carried out in the Navy. The only form of corporal punishment in vogue in the Navy is the birching and caning of youths under 18 years of age, and the former of these two punishments is only inflicted for grave offences, which, in the case of men, would ‘ probably entail a term of imprisonment with hard labour.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.3 p.m.–
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 October 1905, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19051020_reps_2_28/>.