2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have a petition from the New South Wales Country Press Association relating to a proposal in the Copyright Bill regarding cablegrams and messages used for press purposes.
– Do I understand the honorable member to say that the petition refers to a measure that is not before this House ?
Mr. BROWN__ The measure is not before this House at present.
– Then I would ask the honorable member to withhold his petition until the Bill reaches us - it would not be in order at present.
– I desire to make a personal explanation arising out of the discussion of the Estimates of the Department of Trade and Customs last Thursday. The honorable member for Wentworth then made a . statement with regard to certain action which was taken by him and myself, in order to investigate the circumstances relating to the recent seizure of Panama hats by the Customs Department. In following him, the honorable member for Paramatta is reported at page 3848 of Hansard as having stated-
Although the Customs Department are willing to sell a thousand hats in one line, they would not permit two honorable members to purchase a couple which they required for the purposes of fair investigation.
The Minister then remarked -
They would assist to defraud the revenue.
It is in regard to that observation that I desire to make a statement. When my attention was called to the statement which was published in the Age, I described it as a foul and contemptible lie. I am not permitted to use such language to the House, but I will say that the assertion of the Minister was grossly inaccurate. The honorable gentleman was fully aware of the action I had taken in conjunction with the honorable member for Wentworth. ‘ I now desire to make ray position perfectly clear to honorable members. First of all, I should state that all that was said by the honorable member for Wentworth as to our action in interviewing Messrs. Henty and Company and proceeding to the Customs Department, was perfectly correct. The honorable member and I entered upon the investigation for the purpose of proving, or otherwise, the statements made on both sides. We had no personal interest in the matter, and were impelled merely by a desire to ascertain the real facts. When I first interested myself in the matter I had a conversation with the Minister, and I was satisfied in my own mind that the Customs Department had acted rightly.
– The price received would indicate that.
– The price indicates nothing. I do not wish to reply to interjections, but; to lay the ‘facts before the House. As I have stated, when I entered upon this investigation, I had a conversation with the Munster, and was satisfied, from what he stated, that the Customs Department had acted quite rightly; but, on going down town with the honorable member for Wentworth in connexion with another matter, I asked him to go to Messrs. Henty and Company and obtain a statement of their side of the question. I believe that, in all these matters, it is right, in the interests’ of truth and justice, to have both sides thoroughly stated. As statements made by Messrs. Henty and Company were somewhat at variance with those of the Minister, I felt that it was necessary to go still further, and I asked the honorable member for Wentworth to accompany me to the Customs House and see the consignment of hats. The honorable member for Wentworth has accurately described what took place there. After seeing the hats for the first time, in- the company of one of . the attendants, we subsequently inspected them in the company of the Collector of Customs, and found that instead of two qualities of hats there were at leas’t five. We had a short discussion, and selected two hats, for which we were prepare3 to pay the full tender price, and asked to be allowed to take them away with us. Our desire was to test the question whether or not the hats could be bleached. Mr. Smart said that he could not act without the consent of the Comptroller, and that officer, on being consulted, said that he could not act without the consent of the Minister.
– Quite right.
– I do not take exception to that. I then saw the Minister, and, after proffering my request, offered to pay for the hats which I said I desired for thepurpose of making an experiment in the interests of truth and fair play. The Minister replied that he could not let rae have the hats then, but that he was perfectly willing that I should have them at the tender price when the matter was settled.
– Where are the hats?
– I suppose they are at the Customs House. Neither the honorable member for Wentworth nor I took any hats away with us. I think I have shown that the action of the honorable member for Wentworth and myself was perfectly bond fide, and that we are perfectly entitled to ask from the Minister of Trade and Customs an apology for having made a statement which reflects upon our honour. If the Minister fails fo make an apology, all we ask is that he’ will repeat his statement outside of the House, so that We may be enabled to take some other action.
– I desire to make a personal explanation in reference to a statement appearing in this morning’s Age. The Minister is reported as having stated with regard to the sale of Panama hats -
There was a ring formed to prevent tendering, and so boycott those who tendered, and the tactics nf Mr. Kelly and the rest of the Opposition were designed to aid them.
He also observed -
Had it not been for this ring, aided by the Opposition, we would have got more for the hats.
The Minister had .-previously made the same charge in this- House, and had been met with an immediate denial. ..Honorable members may recollect that the Minister referred to the matter upon the motion for the adjournment on Thursday last in the following words : -
I do not wish to say anything hard in respect to what has taken place to-night, but it. does seem to me that there is a combined attempt to depreciate these hats before the expiration of the time allowed foi the submission of tenders.
Further on he said -
Honorable members have taken certain action to-night for a certain purpose, and, although I have no desire to attribute motives, I shall not allow the sale of the hats to be injured if I cao avoid it.
In reply to that I said -
In the course of his remarks, the Minister has said that honorable members who referred to the presence of moths in the consignment did so with the express object of damaging the sale of the hats. That statement is absolutely incorrect. Until this evening/I do not think that any honorable member, or any member of the outside public, knew that I would say this evening that there were signs of moths in the consignment. I think it due to the honorable member for Corangamite to make this statement.
In the face of that denial, I can only characterize the repetition of the Minister’s statement as a gross and deliberate misrepresentation on his part.
– In view of the statements which have been made by the honorable member for Corangamite and the honorable member for Wentworth, I think I may be permitted to say one or two words in reference to the report published in this morning’s Argus. The report assumes such a shape that it does not really convey what I said.
– I was quoting from the Age.
An Honorable Member. - The reports are the same.
– I never said one word with reference to certain firms having stated that the goods were Panama hats. That statement w.as apparently made by mistake. What I wished to convey was that I thought that whilst this matter was pending owing to the action which had been taken by the Customs Department, and was practically sub judice, it was not right for the honorable members referred to to take the action they did.
– Are we to sit by and see injustice done without endeavouring to prevent it?
– Order !
– I wish to say that I had no intention to impute motives such as the honorable member for Corangamite has suggested.
– The Minister has done it right through.
– Order !
– I would not impute anything dishonorable to the honorable member for Corangamite or the honorable member for Wentworth - I should be very sorry to do so.
– The Minister has done it.
– Order ! I am very sorry to have to remind the honorable mem ber for New England that I have already twice called attention to his interjections, and that he must not repeat his observations after he has been called to order.
– I thought that the action of the honorable members for Corangamite and Wentworth would probably prejudice the sale of the hats, but I did not suggest that they were doing anything that might be considered dishonorable. I hope that both honorable members will accept my assurance that I did not wish to reflect upon their character in any way.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. Speaking on the 5th instant, the right honorable member for East Sydney made the following statement: -
The honorable and learned member for Corio, who, I believe, nearly mowed down a whole column of his fellow citizen soldiers, because they happened on one occasion to go a few inches beyond an artificial line in_ Albert Park,
I do not know whether his remarks were intended for characteristic buffoonery, but if he meant them seriously I would like to say that his statement is utterly untrue.
– Order ! The honorable and learned member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, and I will say that his statement is as inaccurate as usual.
– I wish to make an explanation, in reply to the statement of the honorable and learned member for Corio. He is perfectly correct in saying that no one was mowed down, because, as a matter of fact, the troops refused to follow him.
– I wish to ask the Minister if he was correct in stating just now that the matter connected with the seizure of the Panama hats was at the time referred to sub judice. My impression is that the Customs authorities had seized the goods, and that their’’ action practically amounted to a dosing of the question of Ministerial discretion. I understand that the law provides that in certain cases the Minister may seize goods, but when he does so he seizes them at a certain valuation, and the matter then ceases to be sub judice, the goods becoming the property of the Crown.
– I may inform the right honorable member, who was not - present when I made the statement previously, that when the goods in question were first seized I knew nothing whatever about the matter. When, however, the fact came to my knowledge through the press, I asked for information regarding the circumstances of the seizure, and I stopped the sale of the goods for a day or two, in order that I might be enabled to consult the Attorney-General as to whether there was any evidence of fraud. At that time, I was not aware of the name of the firm concerned, and I did not know that that firm was only acting as the agent for another firm. I consulted the Attorney-General, and after he had gone through the papers I was thoroughly satisfied that no attempt had been made to defraud the revenue. It was at that particular stage, and before the hats were sold, that this trouble arose. When I said that the matter was sub judice, I was somewhat put out by the action of certain persons who apparently wished to depreciate the value of the goods, which were to be sold within a few days.
– I wish to ask the Minister whether the duty payable upon this shipment of hats is included in the tender of £108 received by the Department?
– The total sum received for the hats, inclusive of duty, was
– In the course of his statement to a press representative this morning, the Minister is reported to have said -
The successful tenderer has got the hats cheaply, but we have made a profit, and I consider that the result has fully justified my action.
In view of his statement, I wish to ask the honorable gentleman whether it is not a fact that the question at issue was not whether a profit could be made locally, but whether the invoice value of the goods was their fair market value at the port of shipment? I also wish to know if the Minister, under section 161 of the Customs Act, will always purchase goods on which the Department think they may make a profit by selling wholesale or retail in Australia?
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions, I wish to say that the point at issue was whether or not the invoice value was correct, and I say that it has been absolutely proved to be incorrect. In addition to that, I told honorable members previously that I could not use the names of the five experts from leading houses in Melbourne, whose valuation of thegoods - before any action was taken - showed that the invoice price was a long way below their actual value. In reply to the secondportion of the honorable mem ber’s question, I merely wish to, say that the Customs authorities have no wish to take possession of any goods. They merely desire to protect the revenue. The provision under which action was taken by the Department is somewhat similar to the provision which is included in the New Zealand Land Tax Act. There the law provides that if any person undervalues his land the Government may purchase it at the owner’s valuation, with a percentage added. The object of the Department is to make importers value their goods accurately, and in default of them doing so, to place them in the same position as that which is occupied by the land-owners of New Zealand. The Government will then be able to purchase their goods at their own valuation.
– The Minister, I think, has misunderstood my second question, and therefore I wish to repeat it. Will the honorable gentleman always purchase under section 161 of the Customs Act goods on which the Department think they can make a profit by selling them wholesale or retail in Australia?
-I will not bind myself to take one course or the other.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of his impressive discourses upon the subject of immigration as a matter of vital consequence, and the Ministerial announcement that it was so regarded, he intends to submit a policy on that subject to the House before it goes into recess?
– In reply to the right honorable member, I may say that so soon as the States, or a sufficient number of them, are in a position to offer definite lands for settlement, I am prepared to submit a proposal to this House, asking for a vote of money with a view to attracting suitable immigrants for those lands.
– Is that the immigration policy to which the Prime Minister referred ?
– That is one immediate and practical part of it. but necessarily the efforts that we are willing to put forward - if we are offered the means of making an attractive advertisement in the mother country - are by no means limited to that proposal.
– Is that the reason why the thing which can be done at once is to be postponed until the thing which cannot be done until the States come to our assistance is in a ripe condition for action ?
– Not being practised in answering conundrums, I give that up.
– In view of the promises made by the Prime Minister, that a proposal for an amendment of the Immigration Restriction Act would be submitted this session- ,
– ls this a crossexamination ?
– Surely I am entitled to address questions to the Prime Minister?
– Upon both sides of the Chamber trie conduct now Being pursued is distinctly irregular, and must tend to diminish the respect in which this House is he’d. I must ask honorable members to refrain from interjecting.
– In view of the promise made by the Prime Minister - a promise which has been repeated more than once - does he intend to submit to Parliament during the present session a proposal to amend the Immigration Restriction Act?
– The answer is “Yes.” I may say, for the information of the right honorable member, that during the past fortnight the pressure upon the Parliamentary Draftsman in connexion with business which is before the House, and certain departmental matters, has been such that, although he has passed two or three drafts of my proposed amendments to me, I have been unable to obtain a sufficient share of his attention to permit me to complete the measure to which reference has been made. I may add that almost the whole of the Bill is now ready for submission to the Cabinet, and thereafter it will be brought before the House without delay.
– I learn through the news, papers that the* Prime Minister said yesterday that he thought Parliament would be prorogued within a. few weeks. In view of that statement, will he consider the propriety of taking the House into his confidence soon regarding the nature of the business with which he proposes to deal during the remainder of the session?
– I stated last night- unfortunately at an hour which did not permit of it being reported in this morning’s newspapers - that I hoped to be able to make such a statement soon; and that, while I see no reason why this House should not rise within a few weeks, I am not sanguine that we shall be able to do so.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister if he can inform the House when the Sugar Bounty Bill is likely to be introduced ?
– I hope that it will be introduced next week.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
If he can give the House any information regarding the movements of His Majesty’s ships of the Australian Squadron, in visiting the ports of Melbourne, Brisbane, &c. ?
– I have received a communication from the Naval CommanderinChief, the material portion of which is as follows : -
No definite rule can be laid down as regards the movements of His Majesty’s ships of the Squadron, but I have always endeavoured to arrange for the principal ports to be visited at least yearly by the flagship, and oftener if possible, by other ships of the Squadron, and I feel assured that my successor will follow the same principle. I have, during the current year, visited Melbourne, Brisbane, Hobart, and Adelaide in my flagship, and I am shortly visiting Fremantle. During the previous year my flagship twice visited Melbourne.
H.M-S. Katoomba, shortly to be relieved by H.M.S. Psyche, spends about six months of “each year in Hobson’s Bay, and other vessels visit the Bay whenever practicable.
M.S. Challenger, unless unforeseen circumstances render it impossible, will spend the greater part of November at Melbourne, but as I have to leave Sydney about 14th November for Fremantle, I shall be unable to visit Melbourne in my flagship, as I should otherwise have been pleased to do.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is payment made to the States’ Railway Commissioners by the Department of Defence for the conveyance of members of the Defence Force over their railways on orders issued by the Department, or its authorized officers?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
– I wish to know whether the Prime Minister is yet in a position to furnish an answer to the question 1 asked last week as to whether the Imperial authorities furnish the Commonwealth Government with copies of the treaties and alliances entered into by them. I would ask, further, whether he has received an’ official copy of the Treaty entered into with Japan, and, if so, whether he earn, say’ that (hat Treaty’ binds England to join. Japan in wars of an offensive character ?
– I find that copies of British treaties and alliances are obtained regularly from the Colonial Office, and are filed in the Department of External Affairs in connexion with the papers to which they belong.
– Are they sent as a matter of course?
– Apparently so. The particular Treaty to which the honorable and learned member has referred is known to me only through the information published in the press. A copy has not yet been officially forwarded to us.
– I have received the following message from His Excellency the Governor-General : -
In accordance with Section 58 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, the GovernorGeneral returns to the House of Representatives a proposed law intituled “ An Act relating to Assurance on the lives of Children by Life Assurance Companies or Societies,” which has been presented to him for the King’s Assent, and transmits, herewith, the following amendments, which he recommends to be made in the said proposed law.
Government House, Melbourne, 25th October, 1905.
Clause 1, page 1, line 7. After the words “body of persons” insert the words “corporate or unincorporate.”
Clause i, page r, lines 7-8. Omit the words “ incorporated or regulated or enabled to sue and be sued by any charter or Act and.”
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to - That the message be taken into consideration forthwith.
In Committee :
– The amendment which has been made in this Bill is purely verbal. It was discovered in the Act - which was a private one, and was not framed by the Parliamentary Draftsman - that in the third line of the definition of “Life Assurance Company,” the word “Act “ was employed, evidently with the idea that it would cover both State and Commonwealth Acts, whereas our Acts Interpretation Act attaches that meaning only to Commonwealth Acts. Consequently, to that extent, the definition would have been defective. What is proposed is to insert after the words “body of persons” the words “corporate or unincorporated “ and also to omit the words indicated in the second amendment. By that means we shall get rid of the word “ Act,” and the ambiguity which its use would create. I repeat that the amendment is a purely verbal one, and does not affect the purpose of the Bill. I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
– I should like to know whether under this Bill it is intended to extend these powers and privileges to any life assurance company, irrespective of whether it is incorporated under any Act of the Commonwealth, or under any Statute of the Empire or of foreign countries. The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, who introduced this measure, is not present, but I think that it was intended to confine these powers to British and Australian life assurance companies. I shall not seriously oppose the amendment if some check be placed upon it, but without proper safeguards it would certainly be objectionable. I do not know whether the Bill provides for power to examine the affairs of any of these companies. If it does not a foreign company might commence business without any of the guarantees associated with British societies in British countries. For instance, in some foreign country - say in one of the States of South America - a companymight be incorporated without any proper security, and might commence business in Australia on a basis utterly devoid of the safeguards that we attach to British and Commonwealth companies. It would thus come into competition with’ those institutions in a way that would scarcely be equitable. The stability of these companies is, however, the vital point, and I ask the Prime Minister to say whether it would not be well to consider the effect of the amendment in the sense that it might throw open the door to a class of company over which we might have no special control.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister of External Affairs). - The matter is certainlyworthy of consideration. I would remind the right honorable gentleman, however, that a motion relating to insurance companies doing business in the Commonwealth, that are neither Australian nor British, has appeared for some time on the noticepaper in the name of the honorable member for Herbert. With a view to being prepared for; the consideration of that motion, and for the possibility of legislative action being called for, I have been for some time in communication with what may be termed foreign companies doing business in Australia, and have received from them information relating more particularly to the stability of their business here. This information, and certain other particulars are being laid before the Attorney-General with a view to the preparation of a Bill relating to insurance, designed to meet the objection to which the leader of the Opposition has called attention. The necessity for insurance legislation has become more and more evident, owing to recent events, and I hope that we shall be able, next year, to submit a measure applying to foreign companies and giving us those necessary and proper securities to which the leader of the Opposition has referred. As to the particular amendment now before us, I would point out that, as the Bill is a private one, the Law Department has been consulted only in regard to its legal effectiveness, not as to policy, and that, therefore, the question did not come before me in my Ministerial capacity.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - I would strongly suggest to the Prime Minister that, as we now see that the amendment is something more than a verbal one-
– So ,far as the object of the Ball is concerned, it is only a verbal one.
– But its effect will be farreaching. Under it only a British or Australian insurance company would be subject to those safeguards with which we are familiar. A company could be formed in some outlandish place - where a loose law of corporation is in operation - without any provision as to its stability, and under this amendment it could trade here. Mr. Deakin. - Subject to the law of the State in which it operated.
– But there might be no lawbearing on these matters in the particularState.
– There is an insurancelaw in each State, although I admit that they are not all that we desire.
– The explanation that another Bill dealing with the question is to be submitted is, a very good one, but I do not think that we should, set up a loose condition of affairs in anticipation of a measure that may be subsequently passed. I would suggest to the Prime Minister that the matter is of sufficient importance to demand’ further consideration.
– Very well, I am prepared to agree that progress be reported.
Ministers laid upon the table the following papers : -
Report by Dr. Maxwell on the Sugar Bonus.
Amendment of Public Service Act regulations Nos. 263, 264, 265, 266, and 267A, relating to Boards of Inquiry. Statutory Rules, 1905, No. 64.
In Committee of Supply (Consideration ‘ resumed from 20th October, vide page 39i8):
Department of Defence
Division 42 (Central Administration), £19,087
– I have to express my disappointment with the statement made on Friday last byl the Vice-President of the Executive Council. When the honorable gentleman made his famous speech in the Town Hall, Sydney, amid the plaudits of an admiring throng, he promised, in effect, that he would subsequently “ a tale unfold,” in relation to defence matters, that would put all previous Ministries to the blush; he assured the meeting that he would evolve! a scheme which’ would be satisfactory to all concerned. That was his confident promise. It struck me that the scheme which he propounded on Friday last ought to have been satisfactory to all concerned, because he was careful to address himself to every recalcitrant member of the House. . To every honorable member who had a grievance - whether it related to the scarcity of rifles, the manning of forts, or discipline of the Forces, he promised relief instanter. The honorable gentleman made it perfectly clear, however, that he has no new scheme, and -that he intends to go on marking time in the fulfilment of that submitted to the Chamber by the late Minister of Defence. Therein he showed his discretion. He suggested no new scheme of mobilization or organization; and no new scheme of coastal, or harbor, defence, but applied himself to the hundred and one grievances for which the debate on the Estimates invariably affords an outlet. I congratulate the honorable gentleman upon the result of the four or five, months which he has spent in investigating the affairs of the Defence Department. We all know how. laboriously he has addressed himself to the great task of his,- life-; but it appears that he thinks it better to content himself with dealing with the details of the scheme propounded by the late Minister of Defence, and, from time to time, to take steps towards its completion. That was the impression I gathered, at all events, from his speech. I do not know< whether it contained any medicament for the wounded spirit of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, who is enthusiastically in favour of compulsory military- service,, and I should like to know what the leader of the Labour Party has to say in answer to the speech?
– It is unanswerable.
– Not long ago the present Prime Minister made an elaborate statement to the Australian press in reference to the subject, and it was of so complete and important a character that it, led the then Prime Minister, the right honorable member for East Sydney, to reply immediately. I should be glad by-and-by to hear my chief on this question. I should like to know whether he is satisfied with the present meagre defence of Australia 7 At the time to which I refer, he was not. He fell loyally into line behind the present Prime Minister, who pointed out that our coastal and harbor defences were wrong, and that, in short, nothing was right in connexion with the system-. He drew pictures of another Armageddon looming up in the distant future, of the difference that Japan had made in the international situation, by* coming into the company of the powers, and of all that that, fact portended to Australia. What has the Prime Minister now to say ? He is in the position of supreme . authority, and one would think that he would address himself to this problem.
– He addresses himself to everything, but nothing comes of it.
– That is my complaint. Notwithstanding the position of extreme responsibility which the Government occupy in regard to this problem, all we got from the Vice-President of the Executive Council on Friday was a statement which was well summed up by the exMinister of Defence as containing no new proposal. I hope that the various bodies interested in defence throughout Australia will be satisfied with his speech ; but, had he told the meeting which he addressed in Sydney on the subject that the Government’s scheme contained not a single fresh proposal, his reception would have beenvery different from that accorded him. I presume that his only object in addressing that meeting was to tickle the ears of the audience. He flew beautiful kites in the political sky, and disported himself oratoricall v to please the fancy of his hearers; but he had nothing practical to say on the exceedingly vital problem of the defence of Australia. I should like to know what the perfervid utterances of the leader of the Labour Party on the subject of defence amount to, in view of his quietude in reference to the announcement of the Government.
– What are the practical proposals on which the honorable member desires my criticism?
– They :are contained in the Estimates.
– There is no change in these Estimates, so far as I know.
– I am complaining that “no change is forecasted in the speech of the Vice-President of the Executi ve Council.
– When the people have been worked up a bit, we shall soon have a change
– What the honorable member is) doing is to fly kites, as the Prime Minister has been doing.
– I am trying to persuade the people to take the matter up, and, if I am successful, they will soon shift the honorable member.
– The honorable member will find that I need no shifting on this matter. I have an open mind for the reception of any practical proposal, but I feel contempt for the airy statements which are being made all over Australia by -men like the honorable member, who have not a practical proposal in their brains. I am tired to death of hearing from the honorable member for
Bland, the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, the Prime Minister, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council, of the urgency of remedying the tremendous defects in our defence system, because I know that what they say amounts to nothing. They attend public meetings, and receive the plaudits of the crowd, but all the while they are really gulling the public. If the honorable member has a scheme for meeting the requirements of Australia in the matter of defence, let him bring it forward here, so that we can analyze it, and see whether we can afford to carry it into effect. Nothing is ever said about the cost of systems of defence when honorable members address themselves to the subject at public meetings. It is all very well to speak of compulsorily placing under arms the whole of the adult manhood of Australia, and to make vague and e)ib references to what is done in a country like Switzerland ; but the fact is never mentioned that, although that country has a smaller population than we have, it spends £2,500,000 per annum on defence, an expenditure which would be equivalent to an expenditure of about £5,000,000 here, making allowance for the difference in population, and the higher prices and rates of pay obtaining in Australia. How much are honorable members prepared to increase the Estimates by to adopt the Swiss system? It would be a big jump to increase our military expenditure from £700,000 or £800,000 per annum to £5,000,000 per annum.
– It is not proposed.
– Then what is proposed ?
– The’ right honorable member would know if he had heard my speech on Friday last.
– The honorable gentleman would tell his tale in the most effective way by embodying his proposals in the Estimates. Judging by the present Estimates, he merited the criticism of the ex-Minister of Defence that his scheme contains no fresh proposal. The total additional expenditure for next year is only about £30,000. Surely the defence of Australia cannot be transformed by means of such an .expenditure. The leader of the Labour Party and the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, who is one of the secretaries to the Citizen Defence movement, sit quietly behind the Government, although no new scheme has been put forward, and although they know that they have power to compel the Government to obey their wishes in this matter. It was all very well for the honorable member for West Sydney to gibe at all and sundry who had dared to criticise his proposals, and to speak qf the manner in which he was baulked two years ago when he placed them before Parliament ; but why is he not here to state them again now ? This is the place in which to make practical proposals - not the Town Hall hu Sydney. The Prime Minister and other honorable members talk of the defence of Australia with their tongues in their cheeks, knowing that they have no practical proposal to make.
– Perhaps the honorable member also has his tongue in his cheek.
– The honorable member had his tongue in his cheek last week, and has not got it out again.
– He is a tame cat now.
– It seems to me that he has realized the political ambition of his lifetime, and ought to be satisfied to leave us these few crumbs.
– I am getting very tired of the honorable member.
– No doubt. But some one must criticise the proposals of the Government. We cannot all be Jeremiah Dumbdogs like the honorable member.
– It is only a question like Home Rule for Ireland which interests the honorable member. Nothing that relates to Australia is of interest to him.
– Yes ; but we cannot all follow the example of the honorable member and the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne in this matter. Apparently it does not concern either honorable member, or some of their colleagues, notwithstanding their blatant prating on the subject all over Australia. If they have proposals to make, let them make them here, where they can be submitted to searching criticism. We should hear from the Prime Minister something of that fanciful scheme which he elaborated so artistically some time ago, foreshadowing an expenditure running into millions. He declared the matter to be of pressing importance then, and we have had similar declarations from his allies, the leader of the Labour Party, and the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. I invite them to tell the Committee what they propose should be done, and what the cost of their scheme would be.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I should like to take the opportunity presented by this debate to elicit some information as to the policy of the Government in regard to defence. It seems to me that the matter is being allowed to drift, and that no policy is being promulgated for the guidance of the Commonwealth. We have never had a policy of defence. The VicePresident of the Executive Council told us on .Friday last that the Government will stand by the Naval Agreement. He might as well have told us that they will stand by the law of gravitation. The Naval Agreement is binding upon the Commonwealth for a period of ten years. The honorable member for Parramatta has paid the Labour Party the compliment of suggesting that’ it is they who ought to state in definite terms what the scheme of defence for the Commonwealth should be, although they are not weighted with the responsibilities of office.
– I appealed to them as, in my judgment, the supreme power in politics.
– I think that the statement of policy should come from the Ministerial benches.
– So it would, if the Labour Party said that it must.
– I do not think that’ any practical scheme of defence for the guidance of Australia has yet been promulgated in this Parliament.
– I do not know about that.
– The right honorable gentleman was at the head of the Defence Department for a long while, but he promulgated no scheme of defence, although he introduced a Defence Bill,
– And carried it.
– I think that we have approached the problem in a topsy-turvy spirit.
– The honorable andi learned member does not know.
– I admit that I do not know ; but I wish to learn. Some persons are so wise that they will not accept information, even when it is offered to them. I wish to know from the Minister of Defence in chief what the policy of the Government is in regard’ to defence? Whatever his policy may be, it will doubtless be the policy of the Empire. It seems to me that we are approaching the matter in a topsy-turvy manner. Speaking purely as a layman, I think that the importance of land: defence in Australia h*s been grossly exaggerated. Our attention has been devoted almost wholly to land defence, upon which we expend over ^500,000 per annum, apart from works, whilst our expenditure upon naval defence does not amount to ^,’50,000 per annum. If we are to have any defence at all, we ought to reverse the proportions of these amounts. I desire to direct the attention of honorable members to the speech made by the Prime Minister of England on nth May last, and also to the reports of the late General Officer Commanding, Major-General Hutton. At page 22 of the copy of Mr. Balfour’s speech, which I have obtained from the library, he is reported as having said -
In truth, the general question of colonial defence against European aggression is purely maritime, and presents no special difficulties as long as we retain command of the sea.
When people speak of the Swiss system of defence, they may be referring to an excellent scheme so far as land operations are concerned ; but Switzerland has not a drop of salt water near her borders, and we must bear in mind that what may happen to suit a little country like Switzerland, with only a few mountain passes available as means of access, will by no means be adaptable to the circumstances of a country in which all the capitals are situated on the seaboard, whose trade is seaborne, and any attack upon which must come from the sea. Honorable members aTe probably aware of the reassuring effect which that speech of the Prime Minister had upon the people of Great Britain and of the Empire at large. He was dealing with the possibility of an invasion of England, and he showed that, in order to effect a landing in England, at least 70,000 men would be needed, and that the nation to which such troops belonged would have to provide a corresponding number of transports. He assumed, for the purpose of argument, that the Channel Fleet, the Atlantic Fleet, and all the other fleets were for the moment away in some distant part of the world. He pointed out that France was within seventy-five miles of the British coast, and that that country was the nearest from which an army of invasion could be despatched. He asked what were the prospects of invasion from France, and ‘ he showed that it was simply laughable to talk about an invasion of England so long as England had coastal defences in the shape of torpedo-boats, destroyers, and sub marines. He is reported as having said - 1 . Let us, however, assume that this huge convoy lias escaped attack on its voyage, and has reached Our shores in safety ; what then ? Disembarking 70,000 men on a coast such as that between Portsmouth and Dover, is not an easy operation ; above all, it is not a quick operation. I do not believe anybody will estimate the time it would take at less than forty-eight hours. My advisers informs me that such an estimate is sanguine for Calm weather, and that in rough weather the task would be impossible. Forty-eight hours means two days and two nights ; two opportunities, that is to say, for the submarine and two for the destroyer. How does anybody imagine that this fleet of undrilled transports, unprovided with nets (since nets can only be used by ships which are structurally devised to carry them), how is it possible that this helpless mass of transports could escape the attacks of these coast-defence vessels, even if unsupported by the force of battleships, cruisers, and other craft always to be found in our ports? The thing is surely impossible. Conceive the position of the invading soldiers - the pick, no doubt, of the invader’s army. They would not be asked to fight for glory on a stricken field. But, close packed in transports, commanded by captains ignorant of war, not knowing when, or where, or how the threatened attack would take effect, knowing only that if it did take effect they could not strike a blow in self-defence, these helpless battalions would be required to await their fate. I do not know whether we have the right to measure the Courage of our opponents by our own, or the readiness of their leaders to take resp’onsibility by that of British officers; but I am .certain there is no admiral in our Fleet who would willingly undertake a task such as I have endeavoured to describe. No British admiral would regard the Convoying of vessels carrying 70,000 men across at least seventy-five miles of sea, and their subsequent protection for two days and two nights in_ positions not only fixed, but perfectly ascertained, in waters swarming with torpedo craft and submarines, as other than the enterprise of a lunatic. And what a British admiral would regard as insane is scarcely likely to be considered as practicable by sailors of other nations.
The point is that round the English coast - and very properly too - they have torpedoboats, destroyers, and submarines,
Crafts which will not be sent into distant waters, but which are permanently stationed on the English coast for purposes of local defence. Australia has no defences of that kind.
– Does the honorable and learned member recognise that a submersible would cost £150,000?
– I shall deal with the question of cost later on. At present, I am directing the attention of the Committee to the importance of providing for our coastal defences, as a matter of . the first and last importance.
– Our objects are the same;
We differ only as regards methods.
– We are hardly providing for our coastal defences when we spend £510,000 upon military forces, and only £48,000 upon naval defence.
– All our existing forces and works are for coastal defence. They are on land, but are intended for coastal defence purposes.
– I do not care what they are called ; but what we require to do is to protect our ports and harbors, and those lines upon which our commerce proceeds westward towards Cape Leeuwin, ,and northward towards Thursday Island. These two lines of commerce must be protected. Of what use would be all our artillery - either field or garrison - and all our riflemen, if a cruiser or two stood about twenty or thirty miles outside of Port Phillip or. Port Jackson, and attacked our merchantmen as they approached1 or left those ports ? All our rifles and our artillery are of no use for the purpose of defence against such attacks. The dominant fact of our defence is that we have the British Fleet supreme upon the seas, and long may it remain so. At the same time, we have been warned again and again, that the British Fleet, including the vessels of the so-called Australian Squadron, may be drawn away from Australia for the purpose of attacking an enemy in other places. It is well understood that, whatever squadron may be stationed in these seas must be mobile for the purpose of offence as well as of defence, and that the enemy must be struck wherever he can be found. We recognise that the vessels of the so-called Australian Squadron must be removed to any part of the world where they are likely to prove most useful ; and we must provide for some means of defence for our harbors and main lines of trade along the coast. We have been well described as occupying a position similar to persons who enjoy police protection, but who at the same time have to employ a night watchman to safeguard their own premises. We have a very efficient police in the British squadrons stationed in various parts of the world ; but, at the same time, we should not be prevented from employing an efficient night watchman, at our own expense, to guard our premises. We provide a night watchman in the sense that we have a number of men with rifles, and others to work our heavy guns, but I say that that is not sufficient. An enemy will strike us where the rifles and guns .are not. If an enemy had the choice of going to Bri’sbane, where the rifles were not, he would probably select that as a point of attack, and leave severely alone Melbourne and Sydney, where the rifles were. It is our duty to see to the defence of our ports, and of our two main lines of commerce. I would include Hobart as a place which needs special attention. If an enemy were established on the Derwent River it would be a! most serious matter for the Commonwealth. It is most important that we should have the means of defending ourselves against hostile cruisers which might attack our commerce. I desire to read one or two passages from the report of Major-General Sir Edward Hutton, dated 7th April, 1902. He is an experienced military man. He belonged to the 60th Rifles, and his natural tendency would be to decry naval defence and to exalt military defence. He said -
It is on the one hand certain that the geographical position of Australia renders it less liable to aggression from any foreign power than most parts of the Umpire.
He also said -
But it is equally certain, on the other hand, that Australian interests outside Australia itself are peculiarly open to foreign interference, and to possible destruction by an enemy in time of war. No expedition, whether despatched from an enemy’s base in the Eastern seas or from Europe, could hope to reach its destination until the British Navy had been definitely worsted.
I hope that we shall realize that it is merely as an insurance against risk - the risk being small - that we have any defences at all. It is stated by MajorGeneral Hutton that no expedition could hope to reach its destination -until the British Navy had been definitely worsted. He says also -
Oversea aggression could only be attempted (r) by a raid of two or more cruisers with a small striking force for the purpose of landing; (2) by a large and well-equipped force conveyed in numerous transports, and escorted by an enemy’s fleet.
We can have these two pictures in our minds, namely, that of a sudden raid, or of invasion by a large force such as is indicated. He continues -
The latter attempt may under existing conditions be considered difficult in the extreme, more especially in view of the military spirit which animates the inhabitants of Australia. No commander would venture to land small bodies of troops on the shores of this continent, knowing well that it would mean but to court disaster and consequent loss of prestige in the nation attempting it. Any force destined for aggression would have to be. of sufficient strength to conquer and hold either an important strategical post, or a considerable portion of territory under the certain condition of jeopardising, if not losing completely, its communications by sea. To enable an enemy to undertake with any hope of success, such operations on Australian territory, a large expeditionary force of all arms, fully equipped, would be required.
He has pointed out that his second alternative - the transport of a large force for the purpose of occupying Australian soil - is practically impossible. I ask honorable members to reflect for a moment upon the position - of course it would not land in any deserted portion of the Commonwealth - which a hostile force would occupy in any part of Australia. What a very hot time it would experience, and how difficult it would be for it to get away again. Major-General Hutton continues -
The small landing force available even from a strong fleet of cruisers would find such a task impossible. Efforts at oversea aggression upon Australian soil will in all probability therefore be reduced to raids by an enemy’s cruisers based on his defended ports. Such raids might be undertaken to extort an indemnity under threat of bombardment, or to destroy commerce, or to obtain coal.
Having regard to the fact that even a military man has pointed out that the chief danger which we have to apprehend is from raids upon our commerce - in other words, attacks upon our ships, either going from or coming to Australia - or a sudden dash upon our ports, with, a view to securing an indemnity or to obtaining coal supplies, what course should we adopt to meet that danger? Surely we ;should adopt the shortest and cheapest course-
– We should increase our contribution to the Imperial Squadron.
– No; the position is that the ships of that squadron will not be in our waters when their services are most needed. We ought to do what is being done in England - and, indeed, in every civilized country in the world - make provision for our coastal defence as well as for a mobile navy.
– If we purchased boats, thev would become obsolete in a few years.
– So would a navy. The developments of the past few years have shown that battleships - which may cost a million pounds each - become obsolete in a very short time. The same remark is applicable to cruisers. It is only within the past few years that submarines have become an important factor in naval warfare. I recollect the period when English’ newspapers used to sneer at submarines. Now, however, they are employed in the British Navy.
– They are still very dangerous to the men who are on board them.
– We ought to endeavour to meet the danger which we have most to apprehend, and we cannot do that by purchasing a large number of rifles and modern artillery. Instead, we ought to provide along the lines of our coastal traffic, and at our ports, such submarines, torpedo boats, and torpedo-boat destroyers as we can afford.
– What does the honorable and learned member think they would cost?
– As far as I am able to gather, an expenditure of. about ^1,600,000 would be required to provide an adequate and fully equipped flotilla ‘of torpedo boats and torpedo boat destroyers and a cruiser or two for the whole coast of Australia. I do not say that we should undertake such a large expenditure at once. We ought rather to gradually build up our fleet, especially in view of the fact that in these matters the fashion is rapidly changing. We ought to be perpetually discarding the old and obtaining the new, but we ought not to pile up any huge expenditure in this connexion in any one year. If we are to provide for the defence of Australia, we had better make provision in that direction rather than supply a large number of men with rifles, which will only be of service to them upon Royal birthdays, and occasions when manoeuvres are carried out. I admit that some splendid work has been done by our militia and volunteers. A number of the officers and men of those forces have given their time and services gratuitously. But I do not like to see them wasting their time. I do not wish their numbers to be increased, or the idea to be encouraged that they are rendering good service to the country,, when, as a matter of fact, we should develop the naval part of our defence, and not the military side of it. During the past few years a body has been created which is known as the Australian Light Horse. Are its members likely to prove of any service to the Commonwealth? Any one who has thought over the matter must conclude that they are not. The key-note of the position is to be found at the end of the report supplied by Major-General Hutton in 1902. I venture to think that that officer falsely conceived the duties of Australia in regard to defence matters.
– I do not think so.
– I believe that MajorGeneral Hutton advised the construction of the transcontinental railway for defence purposes. At the end of his report for 1902 he states -
For the defence of Australian interests wherever they may be threatened, it will be obvious that the first essential is the sea supremacy, which is guaranteed by the Royal Navy, and that the second is the possession of a field force, capable of undertaking military operations in whatever part of the world it may be desired by Australia to employ them.
Major-General Hutton wished to raise in Australia a force of spirited young fellows accustomed to handling horses, so that they might be transported to India, Afghanistan, Africa, or, indeed, anywhere that their services might be required. I doubt whether the Constitution allows us to make provision for other than Australian defence. It is quite true that this Parliament will be only too glad in just causes to assist the mother country whenever occasion may arise, but it is. our duty to say that we will not allow Australia to be exploited for the purpose of adding to the militarism of the Empire. Major-General Hutton organized the Australian Light Horse, not for the defence of the Commonwealth, but for purposes quite outside of Australian defence.
– Surely the honorable and learned member thinks that that force is a suitable one to employ in a country like Australia ?
– I admit that we have young men who are able to ride as well as do those of any part of the world. But from the point of view of our defence, such a body is absolutely useless, because .however good our militia, our cavalry, or ‘our light horse might be, they would not be called into action. We are informed by experts that what we have to apprehend is an attack upon our ports by raiding cruisers-
– Then where would the honorable and learned member get our mobile military force?
– I do not think that we want one. At any rate, such a body is of secondary importance to any force we may employ for the purposes of general coastal defence. I do not deny that if we are to have a land force, one of a mobile character will be better than anything else. But before we provide for light horse, or for artillery, or indeed for anything else, we ought to take steps to secure ourselves against the attacks which are likely to be made upon us. Sir William Jervois, Major-General Hutton, General Edwards, and others, have all declared that our chief danger is attack, not from a military force, but by hostile ships. Yet we continue to imitate the old country by maintaining volunteers and militia, instead of at once going to the vulnerable part of our defences and putting it right. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has frequently spoken scornfully of the Aus- tral i’an Navy-
– I did not speak scornfully of it.
– The honorable gentleman has always advocated that we should expend our money in assisting to maintain the Imperial Navy.
– I have said that the British Fleet is our first line of defence.
– The Minister never seems to realize that what is in the minds of those who speak of an Australian Navy is not a mobile Navy, but the kind of coastal defence which is retained in England.
– What is the honorable and learned member’s authority for that statement?
– All the naval experts of Great Britain are of the same opinion.
– I should like to see those opinions.
– I am not quite sure whether the Treasurer was present when I quoted extracts from the speech delivered by Mr. Balfour.
– I am talking of Australia, and not of England.
– The case of Australia is an a fortiori one. If it is practically impossible for an invading force to secure a footing in England1, which is only a few miles distant from France, Germany, and Holland, it is still more impossible in the case of Australia, where the hostile base would be so much further removed from us. I do not forget that, owing to recent developments, the Pacific Ocean and Australia are likely to become more and more objects of interest. I quite recognise that we may be dragged into quarrels, the end of which we cannot see. I admit that, as members of the Empire, we ought to recognise that we are liable to the attacks, of her enemies.
Especially might an enemy claim an indemnity of ,£500,000 or £1,000,000 from, Melbourne or Sydney if it found our coast clear. We are glad to share the burden, as well as the benefits, of Empire. With me, however, the question is: “ How can we best take upon ourselves our share of that burden?” I think we can best discharge our obligations by showing the Imperial authorities that we make provision for the safety of our own household. We can do that by relieving the Imperial Squadron of all apprehension for our safety, should it leave our shores. Those vessels would ‘ then be able to go to distant places, because their commanders could say : “ Oh, Australia is all right. No cruisers will venture to attack her, on account of her submarines, torpedoboats, and torpedo-boat destroyers.’.’ The question at issue is merely one as to the best way in which we can expend our money. As honorable members are aware, I opposed the payment of an annual subsidy of £200,000 to the Imperial Navy. I did so, for the reason that I thought that we could spend the money here to greater advantage in the interests, not only of Australia, but of the Empire. It seemed to mie that we could obtain better value for our money, and that impression has been strengthened by a speech made recently by Mr. Balfour, in which he has shown that England has that which we do not possess - that she has valuable submarines and torpedo boats in her harbors, and indeed all round her coast’. I make this slight contribution to the debate as one who is inexpert, as one who claims to have no particular knowledge of defence matters, and has not yet shouldered’ a rifle. ‘But so far as I have been able to bring my mind to bear upon the problem, I have been amazed by what appears to me to be the left-handed way in whicli we deal with the question of defence.
– I said on Friday last that the Government were perfectly in accord with those who urge the importance of coastal and harbor defence, but that the problem required more consideration than we have yet been able to give to it.
– The Ministry of the day did not require time to consider the advisableness of entering into an agreement to pour £200,000 per annum into the bottomless pit of the Admiralty; but the present Ministry require time to consider whether we ought to improve our coastal defences. I should be glad, if it were in my power, to give notice to terminate tl-> naval agreement at the earliest possible date ; but I recognise, of course, that we must adhere to it. One of the principal difficulties that we experience in carrying out an effective scheme of coastal and harbor defence lies in the fact that under the naval agreement we are already spending such a large sum of money.
– I think that the honorable and learned member who has just resumed his seat has made a very welcome contribution to the debate. I welcome it all the more, because iti is the first sign of a realization on the part of honorable members sitting in the Labour corner of the dangers which we have to meet.
– The honorable member only came’ here practically the other day, and does not know what has been said on this subject by the Labour Party.
– I reiterate that the defence proposals which honorable members of the Labour Party have put before the country clearly show that they have not such a clear conception of the dangers with which we are likely to be confronted, as has the honorable and learned member who has just resumed his seat and who, although closely allied with the party, has never seen fit to become a member of the caucus, and so to reduce his intelligence to the common level. Whilst the general tenor of the honorable and learned member’s arguments seemed to me to be right, he made some quaint deductions from his data. “He told us, first of all, that the proportion of our expenditure on Australian naval defence proper, and the rest of our defences, should be reversed, and went on to say that the sole defence in which Australia was called upon to take a hand was that of coastal defence. He seemed to ignore the fact that the whole of our expenditure is really designed in the interests of coastal defence, for the late Minister told the House so only a few weeks ago. The honorable and learned member admitted, however, that that is the defence which is required, and that is the most valuable admission we have yet had from the Labour comer. The honorable and learned member took the view that a localized naval defence was the best form of coastal defence. He held that such a system of defence was better than a stationary defence on land at certain fixed points. He also dwelt on the necessity of making certain closed waters about the coast of Australiasuch as the closed waters of Bass Strait and those inside the Barrier Reef - absolutely untenable by any enemy ; and in connexion with this argument he laid special stress on the strategical importance of the North. Coast of Tasmania. The honorable and learned member has assumed as the basis for his argument that England will be able to maintain command of the seas. It would almost necessarily follow, therefore, that, if the assumption on which he bases his whole argument be correct, no foreign power will be able to seize either the Northern Coast of Tasmania or any part of the coast of Queensland, so as to permanently interfere with the free passage of our commerce through these waters, since it would have to win command of the sea to -be in a position to do so. I think that is a fairly effective reply to the honorable and learned member’s deduction that, even, if England retained ‘command of the seas - the axiom of his argument - a foreign power would be able to seize .territory on the coast-line of Tasmania with a view to interfere with the free passage of Australian shipping through the neighbouring waters. The honorable and learned member may say that, although ships of the enemy might not be able to seize territory in, any part of Australia, yet, by maintaining themselves within these closed waters, without landing any party, they would bet able to interfere with our shipping.
– How. long could they remain there?
– That is the point to which I was coming. Honorable members will recognise that no ship of the enemy would, be able to remain long in these closed waters. In the first place, considerations of fuel - and as liquid fuel has not yet proved a success, coal would probably be required - would render it impossible for one of them to remain long in those’ waters, which are so far removed from their bases. Then there is the consideration - of first importance - that a foreign cruiser - and the honorable and learned member indicated that that was the class of ship he had in mind - would play the part of a hunted ship just as fully as she would play the part of a hunter of commerce. Such cruisers would come here with a view to make sudden dashes upon our coast. But at the same time their commanders would know that the moment their whereabouts had been communicated to the naval authorities, there would be two, and even three, ships of equal power following in the wake of each of them. These ships, therefore, would necessarily be constantly on the move.
– Is the honorable member’s inference that there is no danger of invasion ?
– No, but it is not our chiefest. The only; way in which one can argue on matters of defence is by taking a common assumption, and I have taken, as the basis of my argument the honorable and learned’ member’s assumption that command of the seas is secure.
– If there be no danger of a cruiser attack, there can be no danger at all.
– That is not so. I have already shown in this House that the essential for control of the seas is possession of battleship strength - the possession of a class of ships designed to act in common. I have all so shown, in another debate, by facts and figures, which cannot be refuted, that I am by no means satisfied that the mother country’s battleship strength is such as to assure the universal command of the seas for which we hope, and upon which we base our arguments.
– Would the honorable member have the Commonwealth pay the cost of constructing battleships?
– No; but I woul’d have Australia co-operate with other sections of the Empire in building up battle-fleets. So far as cruiser attacks on Australia are concerned, it is an incontrovertible fact that England has made such generous provision in cruiser strength that she would be able to meet every ship of the enemy by three ships.
– The honorable member is speaking contrary to the views of the expert authorities. We are told that the only danger to be feared is an attack by cruisers.
– -Quite so; but we are not told that there is a danger of their remaining on the coast
– The Colonial Defence Committee point out that our danger lies in the possibility of cruiser attacks.
– I am not attempting to controvert that point. I am merely showing that the visiting cruisers of the enemy would have to keep on the move, because the moment their whereabouts was made known there Would be a more powerful force in pursuit of ‘ them. I admit that’ foreign cruisers would be able to come here; .and, like the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, I have devoted all my thought in this connexion to art effort to evolve the best means of meeting their attacks. The only difference between us isone as to method. We assume the same danger - we rest our arguments on the same basis- and I shall explain why I think the method which I favour is better than that suggested by my honorable and learned friend. We are both agreed as to the necessity that England should hold command’ of the seas, and we are both now basing our arguments on the assumption that she will be able to do so - although I am not so satisfied as some honorable members appear to be that that command will be retained. The danger we are both seeking to meet is that arising from raiding expeditions, which, I contend, must be of a fugitive nature. We are both agreed that these attacks are likely to be made either by individual cruisers or very small squadrons. Knowing that these ships might come to Australia! in time of war, our first necessity is to provide for the safety of our harbors, of refuge, for it would be obviously an impossible matter to protect our floating shipping if we could not give them a safe haven somewhere. Of equal, if not greater, importance is the duty of protecting our naval bases. The necessity for. this lies in the fact that a navy cannot safely leave its base to carry out its principal operation in war - that of attacking the enemy - unless assurred that that base is secure. Harbors of refuge are necessary, because we must have some place where our commerce may lie in safety. I agree with my honorable and learned friend that after these things it is necessary, so far as may be possible, to protect our floating trade. Having decided what is our duty to ourselves, and the order of importance of what should be done in pursuance of that duty, we should concentrate our efforts to carrying it out in the most effective way. We should endeavour first to make secure our naval bases, and after them our harbors of refuge. When those works have been completed, we should make as secure as we may think necessary the routes of ‘our floating trade on the’ coasts of Australia. We are agreed as to what ought to’ be done, and as to- the sequence of urgency ; but the honorable and learned member for Northern ‘Melbourne holds that, for the protection of naval bases and harbors of refuge, which are fixed points, a floating naval defence by means of torpedo-boat destroyers and submarines would be more effective than fixed defences on land. This is where he and I disagree. In the first place, there is the question of cost to be considered in this connexion. Let us compare the cost of a torpedo-boat destroyer with the cost of anti-torpedo boat, or antiship armament for a fixed land defence. The business of a destroyer is to meet and destroy torpedo boats, and such a vessel would cost in Australia about £40,000 or £50,000. A quick-firing 12-pounder gun of the kind that would crumple up a torpedo boat with] the utmost ease would cost, with ammunition, £2,000.
– How far would such a gun carry effectively ?
– I am now discussing the defence of naval bases or harbors of refuge, which are fixed points to which the enemy must come if he means to attack them.
– I think that the honorable member is making a mistake in thinking that. A cruiser or two, lying twenty miles outside Port Jackson or Port Phillip Heads, could inflict very great damage on the craft lying within them.
– I have admitted that ships laying off the port might prevent the free ingress and1 egress of our shipping ; but I am showing that in the sequence of urgency, what we have to consider is first the protection of our naval bases and harbors of refuge, and after that the protection of our coastal shipping. If we have a safe place where our shipping can retire, the presence of a cruiser or two on the coast will not for the moment matter so much, since such vessels could not stay long in Australasian waters. I am now concerned with the protection of fixed points, and the honorable and learned member cannot deny that the enemy must come to those points if he wishes to do them any damage. If he wishes to assail a harbor of refuge, he must come to it and attack it, and it does not matter for that operation whether the defences of the harbor of refuge are on land or on sea. The only question is, which kind of defence would be the more effective for the money we have to spend for this purpose. A destroyer to meet torpedo boats would cost between £40,000 and £50,000, and an anti-torpedo boat gun of the latest and best type, which could crumple up a torpedo boat with the utmost ease, would cost, with its ammunition, some £2,000.
– I think that the honorable member is getting away a little from the Estimates before us.
– I do not think so;
The -CHAIRMAN. - There is no provision in the Estimates for the supply or maintenance of torpedo-boat destroyers, for instance.
– The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne made an appeal for the protection of our floating trade by an Australian Navy. Surely I can reply to his remarks. I understand that we are now discussing the whole policy of the Commonwealth in reference to defence.
– I have pointed out before that matters affecting the policy of the Commonwealth in reference to defence should have been discussed during the Budget debate. I think that the honorable member addressed himself rather fully to the question on that occasion. This is not, in my opinion, the time to discuss questions of policy. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne was strictly in order, because he addressed himself to the question whether the amounts provided in the Estimates for land defence should not be reduced.
– I am showing that they should not.
– It is the custom to allow the presiding officer to make a statement without interruption. In my opinion, the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne was justified in attempting to show the Committee that the amounts set down in the Estimates for land defence should be reduced, and the saving thus effected applied to another purpose. The honorable and learned member would not have been in order if he had gone into details in regard to the purposes to which the saving should be applied. We have already had a Defence debate on the Budget proposals of the Treasurer and on the Works Estimates; but now that we are dealing in detail with the Defence Estimates, honorable members must confine their remarks to those Estimates. I recognise the importance of the question on which the honorable member for Wentworth is speaking, and I am anxious to allow every latitude to honorable gentlemen. But I do not think it would be fair to the
– The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne addressed himself to the question whether we should not reverse the proportions which we pay for the land and naval forces of our coastal and harbor defence. He endeavoured to show that, instead of devoting a large proportion of our funds to land coastal defence, we should devote it to sea. coastal defence.
– I did not understand him to do that.
– You yourself, sir, have just given that ruling. He showed that the proportion should be altered.
– What does the honorable member mean by sea coastal defence ?
– Torpedo defence for local coastal purposes.
– Harbor defence?
– No. The honorable and learned member referred to the protection of closed waters, such as Bass Straits.
– He mentioned cruisers.
– Incidentally. He did not go into the question in detail. ‘
– I am endeavouring to show that the changes in the proportion of our expenditure which the honorable and learned member advocates should not be made. I am showing that coastal defence on land is more economical than coastal defence on the water. If I cannot do that, I submit that I cannot exercise the right of free speech which every honorable member should enjoy in this Chamber.
– I understand, Mr. Chairman, that you are giving the same ruling in connexion with the Defence Estimates that you have given in connexion with the Estimates of other Departments, which is that questions of policy cannot be entered into, although you allow the discussion of questions of administration. I understand further that, if the salary of the Minister of Defence had to be voted in the Estimates of this Department, you would feel it your duty to allow the discussion of questions of policy. May I point out to you that there is a great difference between the Estimates of the Defence Department and those of other Departments. I ask
– I am of the same way of thinking as the honorable and learned member for Corio. It is hard to draw a distinction.
– I find it very difficult.
– I askyou, sir, however, as. a special favour to the Committee, not to adhere too closely, while we are dealing with the Defence Estimates, to the ruling which you have given in regard to other. Estimates, as the Defence Department requires the keenest discussion, and I, with; other honorable members, feel bound to take the fullest advantage of my rights in this respect. As “the honorable and learned member for Corio has wisely pointed out, the Board of Advice and Special Committees deal largely, with questions of policy.
– No money is proposed to be voted for them.
– It is proposed to vote £4,810 in connexion with the Naval Agreement. Surely that is a question of policy ?
– That is the sum voted last year. It is not proposed that it shall be voted again this year.
– Surely we may argue that the amount should be provided again this year ?
– Finally, there are the items affecting Thursday Island and King George’s Sound.
– There is nothing extraordinary about them.
– There is nothing extraordinary about any of these items ; we wish to discuss what should be done out of the ordinary. I recognise that it is hard to determine’ what we should and what we should not discuss; but if you, Mr. Chairman, were a little deaf at times, I think it would get over the difficulty.
– I am very anxious to meet honorable members in this matter, and have already pointed out that the Defence Department stands in a position which is different from that of the other Departments. It is the only Department in regard to which exception is made by the House of Commons to a very rigid rule. There a general discussion is allowed on the Naval and Defence votes; but the Defence Department is the only one on which a genera! discussion is allowed. There is very good reason for that distinction. I understand the difficulty of honorable members, and my only desire is to conduct the proceedings in an orderly fashion, and conserve the time of the Committee. I put it to them, therefore, that they should assist me to do that, by refraining, as far as possible, from repeating or elaborating statements which they have made within the last few weeks. I ask honorable members to assist me in this matter, and in return I will allow as much latitude to them as is possible, recognising, as I do, as fully as any other honorable member, that the Defence Department is a very important one, and stands in a position different from that of all the ether Departments.
– In the course of your ruling, Mr. Chairman, you have just invited honorable members not to devote themselves to the elaboration of subjects on which they have spoken within the last few days. I have never previously devoted myself to a comparative statement of the cost of local naval as contrasted with fixed coastal defences.
– The honorable member had an opportunity of doing so in connexion with the debate upon the Budget.
– I did not think it necessary to do so at that time. The argument so clearly put by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne had not then been presented, otherwise I should have then devoted my attention to the subject. I venture to say that the consideration of these questions is of vital importance to the country. It is our desire to arrive at the best and cheapest way of providing for our defence, and if the merits of two rival proposals designed with the one object are not permitted to be discussed, I donot think the interests of the Commonwealth will be conserved. I wish to show the difference in cost between one torpedo-boat destroyer and one antitorpedo boat gun. I admit that more than one anti-torpedo boat gun will be required for the defence of any port against torpedo boat attack. At least six of such guns would be required for the defence of a port like Sydney or Melbourne, and these would cost about £12,000. . On the other hand, more than one torpedo boat destroyer would be required for the defence of Sydney or Melbourne. Nothing would be more easy than for a hostile vessel, after having; dropped her torpedo boats outside a port, to wine a destroyer if she ‘was at all rash. Each destroyer would cost between £40,000 and £50,000. Therefore, I maintain that so far as the defence of harbors is concerned, anti-torpedo boat armament on shore is more economical, and therefore better than anti-torpedo boat armament afloat. .It must also be remembered that a port defended only by destroyers would be by no means secure against large attacking vessels. A torpedo boat or a destroyer is of no use against large ships in the day time. A large ship could, in broad daylight and clear weather, easily crumple up the whole of a torpedo boat armament such as the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has suggested.
– I think that the honorable member disregards the element of uncertainty which is a great deterrent to an attacking force. If, a defence is fixed, it can be provided against, whereas if it is not fixed, the enemy will not. be so easily able to deal with it. .
– I am now dealing with the protection of our harbors of refuge and our naval bases, to which the enemy must come to do them damage. The next point to consider is the question of submarines. The submarine is usually employed as an engine of attack, and not of. defence. Mr. Holland, the inventor of the submarine which is now being used very largely in the Imperial service, states that that class of vessel is of no use for the defence of a port in the ordinary sense, although it would be no doubt valuable for use against blockading vessels.
– They have a number of submarines stationed at English ports.
– Yes ; and they are- so stationed in order that they may be employed for the purpose of interfering with the enemy’s ports upon the other side of the Channel. The best means of defending your own ports is by worrying your enemy in his ports, and the submersibles - not submarines, by the way - to which the honorable and learned member has referred have been built specially to enable them to undertake a journey of, say, 200 miles, and launch themselves against the naval bases of the enemy. The idea is to keep the enemy so busy at hie own ports that he will not be able to make any serious attack upon British ports
– Does the honorable member mean to say that submarines would not be used for the defence of the Bristol Channel ?
– Yes. They would be used against a blockading force, but they would be of no value as ‘against moving ships. Does the honorable and learned member know that the quickest of submarines cannot travel faster than about ten knots ?
– Does the honorable member contend that submarines, if available, would not be of use to us against an attacking squadron?
– I have already endeavoured to :show that a hostile vessel would not be able to lie off our coast - that was my first argument’ in reply to the statement of the honorable and learned member - and consequently no blockade would Le possible. I may be wrong in that regard, but if I am right, and a blockade is not possible on the coast of Australia, submarines would be of no use to us for the purposes of home defence. A submarine or a submersible would be useful in close waters, such as those of Sydney harbor, by deterring a big ship from entering a port in which she could not manoeuvre at her ordinary speed, and therefore could not avoid a submersible. I would point out, however, that a submarine per se would afford no means of defence for that port, because nothing would be easier than for a large ship to send in a torpedo-boat in her stead. A torpedo-boat could manoeuvre inside, the harbor at the same speed as if she were outside, and would so be fairly safe from the very slow submarine. All the different means of defence suggested by the honorable and learned member, whilst excellent in their way, would, I contend, be neither economical, nor the best adapted, to the defence of fixed points.
– Is not France making up for the deficiencies of her navy by using submarines for the purpose of defending her ports?
– Only as a means of defence against blockade. Our position is entirely different from that of France. The whole of the naval forces of England are so disposed as to enable them to blockade the French ports, and submarines are intended by the French to be used in making blockades more difficult. Their presence in the blockaded ports will keep the blockading ships on the move* and thus make difficulties of coal supply, &c, all the more difficult for them. Submarines, whilst they may be useful in France, would be of no value to us, because we have no reason to fear a blockade whilst England retains command of the seas. We belong to a paramount’ sea power; and the nations that are making the greatest provision for submarines are not paramount on the sea. They will have to play the part of being blockaded, and their aim is to make the position of the blockader as difficult as possible. In that respect the submarine is a very useful engine. As regards the floating trade about our coastline, destroyers would no doubt prove a very valuable adjunct to our defences ; but 1 submit that.they are not so urgently needed as are proper defences for our naval bases and harbors- of refuge. ‘We have not. yet made sufficient preparation in that direction, and until we have done so it will be wasteful for us to load ourselves up with additional expense, in order to make provision that is not so urgent.
– Could the honorable member, if he. were a Minister, bring out a scheme dealing with a matter of that kind within a few weeks?
– I have never suggested that the Minister could do any such thing.
– A great many things have to be considered.
– -I readily admit that. I am merely answering the arguments which have beni very clearly set forth by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, ind which I consider well worthy of attention. There is one matter in which we may with advantage interest ourselves at the present time, and that is the introduction of economies in - I do not mean the lessening of - the cost of our defences, in order to secure greater efficiency. I think that that end could be assisted by making a few simple changes. For instance, the Royal Australian Artillery could easily be made the means of creating a large reserve of highly-skilled gunners for manning out fixed defences. Honorable members may know that the tendency to-day is to convert a.11 ordnance into quick-firing weapons. France claims to have quick-firing ordnance up to, I think, 9.5 calibre. Tt has been generally conceded that for quick-firing weapons of this class we must have men who are either permanently employed as gunners, or who have been so long engaged in handling guns that their hands will never forget their cunning. The whole difficulty, so far as our fixed artillery is concerned, arises from the want of a sufficient reserve. Why I have already shown that we have not a sufficient number of gunners - permanent and militia’ combined - at Sydney- and some other centres to man the guns we have ! Now I believe that, without appreciably increasing the cost of the establishment, we could build up a large reserve of efficient men. It is well known that throughout Australia men are very anxious to enter the Civil Service, and my idea is that we should take advantage of this fact in order to strengthen our Defence Forces.
– Hear, hear.
– I proposed to provide for that in the Public Service Act, and the honorable member’s leader voted against it.
– The honorable member is not responsible for what his leader does. I am not his master. He is an independent member, and I wish that the honorable and learned member would also learn to become one.
– Wc know that ten applications are received for every vacancy in the Police Force, and in other Departments of the States services. In Victoria the authorities have endeavoured to make use of this fact. After a man had served in the military force lor some time he was given priority over other applicants for appointment as a member of the police force, or as a prison warder, and so on. No real quid pro quo is offered to the Commonwealth. The result is that, although a very good class of men join the Defence Forces in Victoria, they are anxious to use their position merely as a stepping stone for appointments in the States services. I suggest that an endeavour should be made to arrange with the States Governments that men who have served in, say, the Royal Australian Artillery, shall have priority over other applicants for employment in certain States Departments.
After he has served five years in the Royal Australian Artillery a man should have a prior claim to an appointment in the police force, for example. But every man so enlisted in the police should” remain on, the Royal Australian Artillery reserve; and every subsequent year he should be called upon to undergo a week’s training, in order that he might be kept up to the mark. Mr. Page. - That scheme is based upon the militia system at Home.
– Yes. The only difference is that under it a man would be called upon to do five years’ hard, solid work in the Royal Australian Artillery. This could be very easily accomplished without imposing increased work upon the States Departments. In the first place, the training could be so arranged that no ‘Department would be subjected to an undue strain by being called upon to send too many men to undergo a course of training at any particular time. At certain intervals a fortnight’s training might perhaps be necessary, but for general purposes, I am informed that four days’ - I have said a week, to be on the safe side - continuous training in each year would be ample to keep the men efficient. If such an arrangement were in force, the States Governments would be materially benefited. At the present time, perhaps-, they might object to converting soldiers into policemen. They might be’ disposed to say that a soldier does not make a good policeman.
– In’ England they like to get soldiers as policemen.
– I am quite aware of that. I think that would be the case here, if the experiment were tried, notwithstanding that, at the present time, there is a disinclination in certain of the States to use soldiers as’ policemen. I feel convinced that when it was understood that priority of employment would result from service in the Royal Australian Artillery, the man who now wishes to enter the police force would be eager vo enrol in the Royal Australian Artillery as a stepping-stone to it. Thus, within a very short period, we should create in the Commonwealth, a reserve of over 5,000 gunners of a highly efficient type, without adding one penny to the cost of our defence system. The next point I wish to make is that we must not go to the length to which the authorities in Victoria have gone of giving a preference to employment in all Government Departments. The Departments which we should use in conjunction with the Defence Force are those which can be very easily recruited in time of war from the ranks of our .ordinary citizens. Take, for instance, the police force. In time of war, no great loss would ensue to the country by recruiting special constables. These would very soon learn to discharge the ordinary police duties. On the other hand, it is important that the railways - our communications - should be as well managed in time of war as they are in time of peace. Consequently we should not build up a reserve in the Railways Department.
– The honorable member is suggesting that we should adopt a practice different from that which obtains in Germany.
– But in Germany the services of the railway men are utilized to facilitate transport arrangements. In Australia I wish to create a reserve in various Government Departments, so that in time of war we may draw upon it for the defence of the country. In every country it is essential that the railways should be well manned in time of war; and consequently we ought not to use the railways as a recruiting ground for the Royal Australian Artillery.
– We want to place men where we can readily avail ourselves of their services.
– That is so ; and the body which is most accessible to us is the police force of Australia. I understand that in New South Wales alone there are about 2,400 police, and I should think that in the Commonwealth the number would be about 6,000. At the present time we have absolutely no reserve for the first line of our local land defence. We have not enough men to man the guns at our forts. The adoption of my suggestion would call into being a reserve of at any rate 5,000 men within a very few years.
– We have sufficient men for the guns, but they are not distributed as they ought to be.
– What would happen if they were shot?
– I am speaking of the necessity for a reserve. Of course, there are positions, such as King George’s Sound, and, perhaps, Thursday Island, where these conditions do not obtain. That fact, however, merely means that the Commonwealth must keep a permanent reserve in those places under any circumstances. I trust that the Minister will seriously consider my suggestion, and I should be very glad if honorable members who understand the Victorian defence system - especially the honorable and learned member for Corio - would express some opinion upon it.
– I brought the matter forward in connexion with the Public Service Act, but my proposal was defeated by one vote in the Senate.
– The police are not members of the Federal Public Sendee, so that the honorable and learned member’s proposal could not possibly have applied to them.
– The adoption of the scheme which I have outlined need not interfere with the present conditions of service. From inquiries which I have made. I do not think that any opposition, would be offered to it by the various police administrations in Australia, provided it were made clear that the class of man whose enrolment in the Military Forces we desire is the type of individual who now endeavours to obtain employment in the police. I hope that something will result from my suggestion, which I maintain would provide a good reserve for the Commonwealth, without involving it in any increased cost. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has made a most valuable contribution to this debate by his criticism of the conscription proposals which were recently put forward throughout the Commonwealth. He asked, “What is the danger which conscription service is intended to meet “? He showed what were the dangers that we chiefly had to apprehend ; that they did not include invasion ; and that a conscript force could not meet them. I propose to advance his argument a stage further, and to show that even as regards invasion, conscription would be of no avail for the defence of the Commonwealth. Let us assume’ that we have lost command of the seas - that that upon which we base all our defence calculations has been overthrown. What would be the position of an enemy seeking; to invade the Commonwealth? He would not come here for our benefit, but for his own. He would not seek to occupy and to keep the lands that we have already populated under subjection. He would come with the object of occupying territories that we have not occupied. That being the case, even if we had 1,000,000 men armed with rifles, they would constitute no defence against such an occupation. Take the position of an enemy who is anxious to invade Western Australia or the Northern Territory : Assuming that we had lost command of the seas, and that we did not possess strategic railways to those distant parts - undertakings which in themselves would involve an outlay of from £10,000,000 to £12,000,000 - it would be a superhuman task for us to transport troops there.
– Why should there not be 10,000 riflemen in Western Australia?
– The suggestion that 1 0,000 riflemen would constitute an adequate force to repel such an invasion is absurd. Let us assume that these strategic railways, which members of the Swiss school desire to see established in Australia, were already in existence. It would cost us, for argument’s sake, about £10 per ton to send supplies over them to the Northern Territory, or to Western Australia, whereas it would cost an enemy who had command of the seas, only 12s. 6d- per ton to forward goods from, say, Germany to the same places. That means, roughly, that 4,000,000 people in Australia would have to carry on a war over lines of communication, at an expenditure of £10 for every ton of supplies that they forwarded, against a nation of 50,000,000, who would be waging a war over lines of communication at a freight expenditure of only 12 s. 6d. per ton for their supplies. Who would win in such a case? It is obvious that it is useless to attempt to defend Australia by the creation of a citizen force of conscripts. The impossibility of moving our troops to the- positions in which we should require them, is .as severe an indictment upon the common sense of that proposal as one could put forward. At the same time, I welcome it, because all these considerations of local defence only serve to prove more and more clearly our absolute dependence upon the Imperial Navy. For that reason - if for no other - I welcome all these theories and fads, no matter how easy! it may be to controvert them. I now come to a prosaic matter concerning the Royal Australian Artillery. Speaking of the force as a whole, it is a very excellent’ and efficient body. But, unfortunately, it is efficient only despite the endeavours of the Central Administration. The members of that force are called upon to perform all sorts of outside work - I do not object to them doing a fair share - to such an extent that they cannot devote sufficient time to their gunnery courses. In England the Royal Garrison Artillery attend only to artillery duties. They are detailed for nine weeks in every year for special gunnery courses. The Royal Australian Artillery, however, have only twenty-eight days laid down for these courses. In other words, our men are supposed to be able to do in four weeks what cannot be done in less than nine by the Royal Garrison Artillery.
– At Home every battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery goes every year to Shoeburyness, where it undergoes a nine weeks’ course in mounting and dismounting guns, repairing disabled guns, making pits, and so forth.
-Most of those duties have to be carried out by the Royal Australian Artillery at Sydney.
– But .they do not form part of the twenty days’ training.
– I cannot say that they do.
– The twenty days are devoted to firing practice.
– I think that the honorable member is right; but I believe that in England the special training to which he has referred is not confined to the nine weeks spent at Shoeburyness, but takes place also in the different garrisons. The course at Shoeburyness partakes more of the character of an examination than anything else. The Royal Australian Artillery has to provide men to discharge a great many outside duties. I have again and again shown that the Royal Australian Artillery at Sydney, even allowing for the militia, is not sufficiently numerous to provide for the manning of the guns there. Notwithstanding this fact, the men have had to provide relief parties- for work outside their ostensible duties during 300 days out of the 365.
– There must be something rotten there.
– There is something very wrong. I propose to read a list of a few of the duties which the men have been called upon to perform. Instructional drill parties, which may be regarded by many honorable members as being useful, have had to be provided for various schools of examination, and for all sorts of corps. Instructional parties in loading and unloading ammunition have also had to be provided. It is only reasonable, however, that this work should be allotted to them, because it is difficult to secure among a citizen soldiery that expert knowledge which is absolutely necessary in connexion with so dangerous a work. Then I find that the men have been called upon to provide parties for striking and pitching camps. Why should the Royal Australian Artillery be taken from their own duties, which are of supreme importance to the Commonwealth, in order to strike and pitch camps?
– That is fatigue duty.
– But it is rather rough, when it has to be performed, perhaps, twenty miles out of Sydney.
– I agree with the honorable member.
– Then they have had to provide men for staff rides.
– They would’ be drawn from the mounted cadre, which is a branch of the Royal Australian Artillery.
– My information is that men have had to be provided for staff rides not only by the mounted cadre, but bv the Royal Australian Artillery. On 300 out of the 365 days of the year, these men, on whose efficiency in time of war the defence of Sydney and Newcastle will depend, are asked to provide fatigue parties. I do not think, that the Minister of Defence is to blame, but there is something wrong in relation to the administration’.
– Why not have. the Army Service Corps to do this work?
– That is the point. The Royal Australian Artillery is a highly trained body of men.
– I do not like to see them doing such work ; but whom else should we obtain ?
– Calling upon these highly expert men to pitch and strike camps, and iso forth, is like paying a general manager £2,000 per annum to lick stamps. If all this outside work has to be attended to by the Royal Australian Artillery, there must be something wrong with the administration, and I hope that the Minister will inquire into the complaint.
– I have made a note of it.
– . These are the only points which I wish this afternoon to put before the Committee. When I entered the Chamber I had no intention’ to make a speech, and, in view of my unpreparedness, hope that honorable members will forgive me for the undue length of mv remarks.
– This is the first opportunity I have had, since the exMinister of Defence submitted his .defence scheme to the House, some few months ago, to congratulate him upon the admirable speech which he then made. As a humble member of the House, I wish to heartily congratulate him upon his great effort. In a speech extending over an hour, or an hour and a-half, he gave us more information with respect to defence matters than we have had either before or since that occasion. I am very sorry that,” under the system of party government which prevails, 1-is retirement from office was imperative on the defeat of the late Government. He had a great grip of the Department, was fully seized of the value of military training, knew exactly what was needed, and, to my mind, was on the right track. The many changes of Ministry that have occurred are responsible for the present unsatisfactory “position of our Defence Forces. I’ was told, when I first entered this Parliament, that I might appeal for reform as often as I pleased, but that the heads of Departments would wear me out, and that I should have to give up in dismay. I am beginning to think that that prediction was not ill-founded. I am almost tired of appealing for reform, but am led to hope, by the remarks made on Friday last by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, that the present Government intend to make an earnest effort to effectively grapple with the defence problem.
– The attempt will be made.
– I wish to emphasize the remarks made this afternoon by the honorable member for Wentworth with regard to the position of the Royal Australian Artillery. An artilleryman belongs to the scientific branch of the service, and is certainly not made in a day. When I was serving in the Horse Artillery we had a colonel who, I am sure, would have refused to allow his men to pitch or strike camps for volunteers or militia. He would have considered it infra dig. for them to perform such services. The work should be carried out by the Army Service Corps. I wish now to refer to the coastal and harbor defences of Australia, and generally to the position of Australian naval defence. Having carefully considered the matter and read various works bearing upon it, I have arrived at the conclusion that there is no possibility of our having an Australian Navy within the next fifty years. It has been “the ambition of every honorable member to keep down taxation, and we all know that the Defence Department is a spending and non-earning one. Even if we added £1,000,000 to our present Defence vote, we should not, in my opinion, obtain a better service. In this connexion, I would draw attention to a report relating to the guns of the Fremantle Fort, which has been issued by command of the Senate. Two military experts were called upon to furnish this report, and I find that Colonel Bridges went very carefuly into the matter, and discussed it with extreme candour. But another officer, who is supposed to be Chief of the Ordnance Department, instead of making an independent report, simply read that made by Colonel Bridges, and added a foot-note, “ I concur with Colonel Bridges.” If we had had an uptodate administration, surely a report would have been obtained from each of these officers. We have highly trained men, receiving large salaries, and we should secure some return from our expenditure in this direction. I agree with the honorable member for Wentworth that if we are to have a7 coastal defence, it is well we should at once obtain the best that can be secured, rather than go on year after year tinkering with the system. Each succeeding Government submits new proposals in regard to our defence system, but we find that the policy of laissez faire still prevails. Something must be done to effect an improvement, and if the Government will not take action the House will have to frame a defence policy of its own. I wish now to read an extract from a speech made by Mr. Arnold Forster in the House of Commons, and reported in the Daily M.ail of 29th March last, as bearing on the position of the Commonwealth. The remarks made by this gentleman in regard to the invasion of England would apply with even greater force to the position of Australia, because we are in a far more isolated position. England is within a few hours’ sail of Belgian, French, and other foreign ports, and yet it is said that it would be impossible for an enemy to successfully invade her. That is a fact which I wish to impress upon honorable members. Mr. Forster said: -
We have done something to test it. We have had an object lesson. I think it is very strange we have not had one before. During last year we had a landing in force on the coast of England. I wish sometimes honorable members who discuss these matters from a purely Army point of view would try to realize them from a naval point of view also. I wish they had been with me and seen, off Clacton beach, eight ships of war and a number of transports trying to land 13,000 men - which they did in two days - and embarking them again in four days. I wish they had tried to picture, as I did, what would have happened - with the Medway flotilla of destroyers 15 miles in one direction and the Harwich flotilla of destroyers 15 miles in another - with these great men-of-war and transports swinging at anchor one hour after dark. I do not think I misinterpret the belief of any single officer, naval or military, who has thought of this question when I say there would not be a single one of those ships at anchor or upon the sea. next morning. (Hear, hear). Either this is true or not. I expect the House to accept the conclusion one way or the other. Both conclusions cannot be right. If we are really preparing for invasion in force by a great Continental army, we must prepare for it. If we believe we are right in expending this enormous sum upon the Navy, I think we may consider the Prime Minister is right when he relieves us, at any rate, of’, the contemplation of that particular danger.
The statement applies to Australia quite as much as to the old country. I believe in, and have always advocated, the establishment of an Australian Navy ; but I have come to the conclusion that it is practically impossible at the present time. To cope with an enemy at sea, up-to-date cruisers are necessary, and the least number we could do with would be two at Thursday ‘ Island, two at Brisbane, two at Sydney, two at Port Phillip, two at Adelaide, and two at Fremantle. It would require an immense expenditure to provide all these vessels, and in five years they would be obsolete, and would need replacing. Where can we find the money to meet such an expense? To keep pace with the times we should have to be constantly providing new ships, as they do in the old country, where only last year a great number of battleships and cruisers were sold at the price of old iron. What the Government should do is to make our coastal defences as effective as possible, by providing torpedoboat destroyers and guns such as the honorable member for Wentworth spoke of as costing £8,000 each. If our forts are properly manned, and equipped with the right sort of guns and plenty of ammunition, I feel sure that we shall give a good account of ourselves when the time comes to do so. I have no fear of the landing of a hostile force in Australia so long as our first line of defence is the Imperial Navy. I have so much faith in the vessels of the Imperial. Navy that I think we could do away1 with our land forces, with the exception of the artillery manning the forts. We have, however, the nucleus of a really good naval defence force under Captain Creswell. No doubt he means well in recommending the establishment of an Australian Navy, but what we should rather do is to prepare to co-operate with the Imperial Navy in time of danger by providing effective coastal defence. Mr. Balfour, in the debate from which I have just quoted, spoke of the need for having more torpedoboats and destroyers on the coast of Great Britain, ready to sally forth like so many mosquitoes if the vessels of a hostile power were hovering near. Let us act on similar lines. Although we must go slowly at first, the sooner the Government begin to provide the necessary guns and boats the better it will be. Coming now to the question of rifle clubs, I wish to say that I believe in every man being able to shoulder a rifle. Every true man should be ready to take up arms in defence of his country whenever his services may be needed. The rifle clubs are the best means for creating marksmen. The Vice-President of the Executive Council on Friday last said that it was the ambition of the Government to make every man a marksman.
– That is our ideal.
– That is one of the greatest: ambitions which the Government could: have, and I applaud them for lt. But I; do not think that the honorable gentleman, when he spoke, knew the percentage of marksman in the infantry regiments at Home or in our own Defence Forces. I told him at the time that he was simply 1 “ skiting.” Had he been possessed of that information he would not have spoken so rashly. The rifle clubs, however, should be given every opportunity to en-, courage marksmanship. I think, too, that boys should be allowed to join at an earlier age. At the present time a boy cannot’ join a rifle club until he has reached the age of eighteen, though many of the clubs in Queensland have younger members. What is the use of training a boy as a cadet from the age of twelve to the age: of /sixteen and then losing his services between the ages of sixteen and eighteen? If boys were allowed to join the rifle clubs at the age of sixteen it would be a great improvement on the present system.
– Can the honorable member see any objection to it?
– I see no objection to it. Two or three members of the Longreach Rifle Club became champion marksmen between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. The Government, however, will’ not knowingly allow youths under eighteen to use the rifle ranges.
– The clubs get nothing for such members.
– They are punished for ac’cepting them, and have to deliberately misstate facts in order to keep them. I hope that the Government will take this suggestion into consideration. It would be a fine thing if a boy went direct from the junior cadet force, through the senior cadet force, into the volunteer force, or into a rifle club. It, makes my heart glow to see the interest which the boys at Albert Park take in military matters.
– I should like to see them play cricket.
– They play cricket, too, and come out on top. Discipline cannot be imposed too soon. It is all very well to speak of the boys playing cricket ; but there is a time for everything, and I suppose that the honorable member would not have them approach an invading force with cricket stumps and bats, inviting1’ them to have a game.
– Drake was playing bowls when the Spanish Armada came in sight off the coast of England.
– Yes, but he very soon afterwards bowled over the Armada. The cadet system gives us a splendid opportunity to form a fine citizen soldiery, and the- States are willing to co-operate with the Commonwealth in the training of the youngsters, while the eagerness of boys to join the cadets is very great. But, if an attempt is made to start a cadet corps in connexion with any Queensland school, the military Johnnies in Brisbane put every obstacle in the way.
– Then- get rid of the Johnnies.
– I wish that we could. I wish that I were in power for twelve months. I would then give some of them their marching orders very quickly.
– For that reason the honorable member will never have the chance.
– Perhaps the honorable member will have the chance. If he is ever Minister of Defence, I am sure that he will shake up things, and see that merit gets its reward. If the Government are in earnest in regard to the cadet movement, I hope this time next year to congratulate them on the improvement that has taken place. The military art is a progressive one. When I left the service, twenty-four years ago, I was a first-class gunner, having carried the gunnery badge on my arm for four years. I must have known something about guns then, because I passed through a long course of gunnery at Shoeburyness. But when I visited Queenscliff last year, everything in the fort was as new to me as if I had never before seen a gun. I could understand the machinery for lowering, backing, and filling, but the guns themselves, and their ammunition, cartridges, charges, time fuses, and everything else were completely new to me. Honorable members who are volunteer officers know that even the military drill alters in some respects from year to year. Even the ordinary drill that was in vogue when I was in the Army has been completely altered, and I should be even more astray than an ordinary recruit if I were to submit myself for training to-day. I see that provision is made for £600 to defray the cost of sending military officers to England in order that they may obtain a further insight into military matters’. I do hot think we should be niggardly in this matter. If we desire to secure the best possible services from our officers we shall have to make more liberal provision for their training. If we do not send our officers to England or India they will neve] become thoroughly efficient. I should prefer to see them sent to India, because the Imperial Forces there are always kept up to field strength and ready for service. Not a year passes by but that they see some service amongst the hill tribes, and officers are thus afforded an opportunity of judging of the effectiveness of the guns and rifles, and also of the various military formations adopted. That is the “only means by which they can become thoroughly efficient and up-to-date. If we desire to secure a constant succession of thoroughly efficient officers, we must enable them to obtain practical experience, and immediately the term for one batch of officers expires another should be ready to take its place. I am very glad to see that ar’rangements are being made for military examinations in connexion with the Sydney University. That seems to me to be a very desirable departure. We have just, as brainy men in Australia as elsewhere, but unless we place proper opportunities in the way of our officers we shall be found unprepared when the time of trial arrives. What chance has an Australian officer of acquainting himself with the latest developments in tactics in connexion with the service here? I am sorry to say that merit alone has not operated in connexion with the appointment of some of our principal officers. Some of them are not up-to-date, but on the contrary are very much behind the times. I do not wish to see Imperial officers brought out here, but we shall either have to resort to that means of effecting the necessary improvement or train Colonial officers.
– That is the right thing to do.
– It would be the right thing to do, not only for the officers, but for the Commonwealth. We shall secure the best service from our officers if we afford them every encouragement to make themselves efficient.
– Is it not a fact that the Boer leaders taught the British officers how to fight?
– They taught them a good deal about guerilla warfare, in which every man has to act on his own initiative, and- in which drill is not of the first importance. But let me tell honorable members that in the event of an invasion of Australia there will be . no guerilla warfare ; one fighting machine will have to be met by another. Untrained men will, in such go down. When I was on service in South Africa, the men belonging to the battery with which I was connected were converted into cavalry, whilst we were awaiting reinforcements at Helpmakaarte after the battle of Isandhula. We were employed in making raids in Zululand, with the regular cavalry, and with Boers and others, and I can assure honorable members that the men who did the most effective work were those who had had military training. We went out in’ forage parties of five or six men, under an officer or a senior noncommissioned officer, and every one of the sections composed of trained1 men did good work. The irregular forces went out on foraging expeditions on their own account, and came back empty handed, whereas we .returned laden with stores, sometimes after having killed a number of the Zulus. I desire now to submit a grievance in connexion with the Victorian Rifle Association, which has not been treated well by the military authorities. The association have spent a good deal of money upon the rifle range at Williamstown, and have incurred a liability to the bank, which they have no present means of liquidating. The Government have assumed possession of their rifle range, but have not taken over the incubus of debt attached to it. I never deemed them capable of doing such a tiling. All the association ask is that the Government shall give them a square deal, that they should recoup them any money which they have spent on the range, or take over the bank overdraft, for which the association is liable, and compensate them for the work which they have done. The council of the association state -
The Council of the Association for many years has consisted of the Military Commandant as President, the Commanding officers of corps exofficio, and a number of representatives elected by the members. From its inception it has been intrusted with the management of the rifle range, formerly at Middle Park, and latterly at Williamstown, and has promoted and encouraged rifle shooting throughout Victoria, principally by the facilities given on the ranges, and by the holding of prize meetings every year. It has received from successive Governments grants of money in aid of the prize fund, subject to the programme and prizes being submitted for the approval of the Minister of Defence, and it has maintained the ranges and paid all the expenses connected therewith up to 30th. June, 1904.
That was the time the range was taken over by the Government -
In 1875 the Victorian Government, finding that the rifle range at Middle Park had become very valuable, and desiring to sell the land, purchased an estate at North Williamstown, and vested the same in trustees, who subsequently requested the Victorian Rifle Association to undertake the management thereof as a rifle range. The targets and range equipment were transferred to Williamstown, and a sum of money was placed at the disposal of the Victorian Rifle Association for the purpose of erecting a pavilion and the necessary adjuncts. The Government also agreed that all members of the Defence Force should be conveyed by rail free of charge to and from North Williamstown, for rifle shooting. In 1883 this privilege was conferred as a legal right by the Defence and Discipline Act, and was extended to all rifle ‘ ranges in Victoria. The original agreement has recently been broken, the State Government now demanding payment for travelling to the range either from the Defence Department, or from the men themselves. In 1884, when the militia system was introduced into Victoria, it was felt by the Council of Defence that by giving facilities for musketry instruction, the Victorian Rifle Association would be put to additional expense in order to provide and maintain the extra targets required, and it was decided to pay the Victorian Rifle Association annually a capitation grant of is. 6d. per head for every effective member of the metropolitan militia forces using the rifle range for this purpose, and the legal right thereto was conferred in permanence by a regulation passed by the Governor in Council. In 1903 this effective allowance was suddenly discontinued by the Commonwealth without notice to the Victorian Rifle Association, by omitting this provision from the regulations made by the .Governor-General in Council.
The association has had its capitation grant cut off, and possesses no means whatever of meeting its liabilities.
– Why was not the request of the association supported by the late Minister of Defence, who was a member of the Council?
– I do not know. A number of the members of the association put the position before me, and I thought that it was scandalous that they should be treated ‘ in such a way. »
– I do not think that the Minister of Defence can know anything about the matter.,
– The authorities must know all about it. They have allowed the members of the association to pledge their credit for a certain amount of money, and they have denied to them the only means by which their debt can be paid.’ The members of the council have given up the whole of their lives to rifle shooting, and now they have been left to shoulder a debt for which they ought not to be held responsible. They go on to say -
Prior to 1900 the Victorian Rifle Association was able, with the assistance of the effective allowance, to maintain the range without unduly trenching upon its funds, as the equipment consisted of steel targets involving but little expense for repairs, &c, but with the advent of the .303 rifle, canvas targets were necessary, which entailed a serious increase in the expenditure. Not only was the wear and tear greater, but the damage by wind and weather and the extra cost of labour incurred in the daily erection of those targets, and their removal after use, caused an increase in the yearly expenditure from £267 to ^480. (Steel targets had become dangerous, and the use of metal had to be universally discontinued). In reply to an obvious question - Why did the Victorian Rifle Association continue to carry on this work under such conditions? 1st. Having controlled the ranges for over forty years, the Council considered it a duty to prevent a dead-lock, more particularly during the time of the South African war. 2nd. The Council felt justified in expecting that, with the advent of Federation, the Government grant would be allotted on a population basis, by which the Victorian Rifle Association would receive ‘ a very much larger grant than previously. 3rd. That as the Commonwealth Defence Department paid all the expenses of every other range in the Commonwealth, it was natural to suppose that the North Williamstown range would be similarly treated. Randwick range in New South Wales cost the Department about ^1,000 per annum for maintenance, but North Williamstown, which is a larger range and equally important, being maintained by the Victorian Rifle Range, received nothing from the Government.
I wish to direct the special attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to that paragraph. The Randwick range costs the Department about £1,000 annually for its maintenance, whereas the Williamstown range, which is a larger one, received nothing from the Government. The statement continues -
The financial position of the Victorian Rifle Association, and the deficiency due to the increased expenditure, were repeatedly brought under the notice of the respective Ministers of Defence, and it was pointed out that the Victorian Rifle Association could not carry on the range unless it received a grant for that purpose ; but it was not until after the matter was brought up in the House of Representatives by LieutenantC’olonel McCay that the claim bv the Victorian Rifle Association for Consideration was entertained in 1904.
The Victorian Rifle Association was then notified that the ‘North Williamstown Rifle Range had, by operation of law, become Commonwealth property on the ist March, 1901, and that the Department would assume control of the ranges from ist July, 1904. As a matter of fact, this was not done until ist January, 1905, but the Defence Department has since refunded to the association nearly all the money expended during that’ half-year; but nothing has been received by the Association for the main tenance of the ranges from ist March, 1901, to ist July, 1904.
In August, 1904, at the request of the Minister of Defence, a statement was submitted by the Victorian Rifle Association, showing the amount of money expended by them on the Williamstown range during the period mentioned to be ,£2,000, and in response to a subsequent request from the Minister, a balance-sheet was submitted, showing a debit in the accounts of the Association on 31st December, 1904, of j£449 .I”. idOwing to a recent change of Government, the Victorian Rifle Association has now practically to go over all the arguments again, and the object of this statement is to ask public support in affirming the principle “ That the Victorian Rifle Association should receive from the Commonwealth Department the same treatment extended to every Rifle Association within the Commonwealth from the ist March, 1901, so far as it relates to the maintenance of rifle ranges.”
An examination of the balance-sheets of the Association will show not only that the whole of the Government grant has been expended in prizes every year, in accordance with the intention of Parliament, but also very much larger amounts, whereby the prize moneys have been more than doubled. The Victorian Rifle Association has spent its funds in maintaining the range, and in permanent work, such as mounds, trenches, &c, since the date at which the range was stated to have become Commonwealth property. It is claimed by the Victorian Rifle Association that the moneys expended during that period should be refunded to the Association, seeing that the Commonwealth should have taken over its own property at the time, and maintained it, and that the works and improves ments effected by the Victorian Rifle Association, being of a permanent nature, would have had to be done sooner or later bv the Defence Department. If the Victorian Rifle Association had not continued to maintain the ranges, metropolitan rifle shooting would have come to a stand-still, and the rifle club movement would have received a serious check. No consideration is asked- for either moneys spent or work done prior to ist March, 1901.
The association asks - I think with all justice - that since the Commonwealth assumed control of the range, it should be called upon to pay for its upkeep. The statement concludes -
The Victorian Rifle Association is still burdened with a heavy overdraft, caused by this expenditure, aid as no relief has yet been granted, it has been decided to bring the whole question under the notice of the Federal Parliament, in order that it may receive consideration as early as possible.
It cannot be denied that the association has done a lot for rifle shooting in Victoria ; and I venture to say that had the military administration left it alone, it would have been in a much more effective condition than it is to-day. “Upon every occasion that the Deparment has interfered with the rifle clubs, it has made a hopeless mess of things. In this connexion I might recall an incident which occurred only a few years ago. In Brisbane, the Department held a sale of old tents, cordage, and equipment, which were purchased by a Jew. A little later - in February or March - the Department advertised for camp equipment, and the Jew then re-sold the Department, at an advance of about 400 or 500 per cent., the goods which he had purchased.
– When did that occur?
– About two years ago. I have in my possession a letter from a Minister in Queensland informing me of the facts. I must frankly confess that I am getting tired of the promises which are made each year in regard to reforms in the Defence Department. Every time that the Estimates are under consideration, the Minister of the day says - “ I will see that such and such a thing is altered before next year.” But somehow or other Governments are displaced, and nothing is ever done in the direction promised. The same thing, has occurred in regard to the last three Administrations. The present Government have a very able advocate in the person of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. He is prepared to promise us heaven itself and steps to get there, if we will only pass the Defence Estimates. I can tell him that he will experience a very rough time when the items are under consideration. The statement by the council of the Victorian Rifle Association concludes -
Let every citizen realize that he has a personal duty to perform. At the very least it is his business to learn to shoot with a rifle, and to help others to do the same. If once we become a nation of riflemen, we shall have advanced a long distance in the direction of military salvation. We shall, in our opinion, have actually reached it if we make physical training of a military character, including the use of the rifle, as strictly compulsory on all boys, as we now make a literary education.
That is the whole secret of success in connexion with a citizen soldiery for the Commonwealth. If we train our boys to ‘ the use of the rifle, and teach them how to conduct themselves on parade - not forgetting that obedience is the first duty of a soldier - we shall have nothing to regret in having introduced a universal cadet system. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has told us that the Government believe in ideals. I wish to ask him if the establishment of a citizen soldiery on the lines laid down by the ex-
Minister of Defence, so far as cadets and rifle clubs are concerned, is one of their ideals ?
– Upon general principles we agree with the proposal outlined by the ex-Minister of Defence.
– I did not expect to receive that answer.
– I know that in connexion with the cadet system there will be some minor alterations, but generally speaking we agree with the scheme in question.
– If we secure the smallest advance in connexion with our cadet system, we shall be on the right track. I ask the honorable gentleman if he will investigate ‘the claim of the Victorian Rifle Association ?
– If what, is stated by that body in the pamphlet from which I have quoted be correct, I am sure that the Minister will see that they receive a fair deal.
– It is idle to deny that at the present time great dissatisfaction exists in regard to our expenditure upon defence matters. Military men are continually heard protesting that the Department’ cannot be efficiently conducted - , in short, that the whole service is going to the dogs; whereas civilians point to the very large amount that we spend upon Defence. Curiously enough,, there is a consensus of opinion that our defences themselves are not in a satisfactory condition. There seems to be an amount of mismanagement which cannot be beneficial to the service. It seems to me that Parliament ought not to blame military men for desiring to see this Department rendered as efficient as possible. They naturally desire to .raise it to the highest possible standard, and consequently they cannot be blamed for urging a large expenditure upon it. In fact, if an officer did not believe that further expenditure was necessary to improve the Department, he would expose himself to a charge of complete stagnation. There is no doubt that the military are more severely criticised in most”’ English-speaking countries than they are in any other part of the world. But I would point out that it is only in countries like. England and America, where the necessity of .retaining a large standing army has never been felt - where, in fact, the most effectual bulwark has been a strip of sea - that Governments have not been forced to fall back upon conscription. It seems to me that, in discussing this matter, we entirely ‘overlook the question of what our first and almost our last line of defence would be in case of war. Viewing the position from, the stand-point of a civilian, it seems to me that our first defence must rest upon, the Navy, and it is clear that we shall have that defence as long as we enjoy the protection of the mother country. It has been argued that the Commonwealth should bear its fair share of the cost of the Imperial Squadron on the Australian station, but some of the ablest statesmen in England, and certainly one or two of the great political economists, entirely dissent from such a view. If I remember rightly, John Stuart Mill, writing some fifty years ago, expressed the view that the Colonies could not reasonably be asked to contribute to the cost of the Navy, inasmuch as they had no voice in determining whether there should be peace or war. If we are to spend money on defence, we must recognise that our contribution to the Imperial Navy ought to be a substantial one, especially if we wish one or two of the vessels of the Navy to be continuously retained in Australian waters. At the same time, I do not see why we should desire their constant presence here. It has been pointed out that during the American-Spanish war Captain Mahan retained three or four of the warships of the United States in American waters, so that it might not appear that the coastline was left absolutely unprotected. It is, perhaps, from a like consideration that the recommendation has been made that some warships should be kept constantly on the Australian station. The Admiralty have consented to that being done, and to my mind have dealt very liberally with us. I suppose that our contribution under the Naval Agreement is not sufficient to provide for more than the wages of the men, and the maintenance of the warships on the Australian station.
– It is by no means equal to the expenditure upon the Squadron.
– Therefore, the statement that we contribute to the cost of the Imperial Navy is a misuse of terms. If it were not for our connexion with Great Britain, we could not secure such a magnificent service as that with which she provides us, for less than about the whole of our present naval and military expenditure. We should be thankful that the British Government are content to furnish us with this protection, as part of their larger scheme for the defence of the Empire. In view of what has been said in favour of a larger contribution being made by the Commonwealth to the cost of the Imperial Navy, I wish to make a quotation from Brassey’s Naval Annual for 1903. At page xxxiii we find the following statement:’ -
When Navy Estimates are in preparation, we do not look to the Colonies. We consider the expenditure of other Powers, which we must be prepared to meet. Our programme of shipbuilding is based on such comparisons. The subject of Colonial contributions for the Navy was discussed by Earl Grey in his volumes on the Colonial policy of the administration of Lord John Russell. His words may be quoted :
– I do not think that it is competent for the honorable member to discuss that point in connexion with the division now under consideration. There is no item in these Estimates in respect of the Naval Subsidy.
– Surely one may refer to the Naval Agreement in connexion with the consideration of the Defence Estimates ?
– On the first proposed vote, a general discussion of the Estimates is allowed, but I would remind the honorable and learned member thai when; I interrupted him he was proceeding to discuss the Naval Agreement, which is the subject of special legislation, and for which no provision is made on these Estimates.
– I merely wished to deal with the contention that in the matter pf defence our principal expenditure should relate not to land but to sea forces. Including the amount of Naval Subsidy we are now expending nearly £900,000 per annum on our military and naval defence system. We must necessarily, in criticising these Estimates, take into consideration the sum spent under the Naval Agreement.
– The honorable and learned member must not discuss in detail the provision made elsewhere under the Naval Agreement.
– I was pointing out that in the opinion of some we ought to decrease our land expenditure and increase our naval subsidy, and, in that connexion, was about to show what are the views of soma English statesmen on the subject. Earl Grey has stated that we cannot be asked to contribute any more than we now contribute for naval defence, because if the Colonies did not exist the expenditure of Great Britain on her Navy would probably be greater.
– That is no argument from our point of view.
– It is an argument of which we are entitled to take advantage. Sir Cornewall Lewis has expressed a similar opinion. With regard to the ordering of rifles and arms, care must be taken that we do not place our orders so far ahead that the supplies when they arrive will be obsolete. The tendency of all great Departments of State, whether naval, military, or civil, is to become stereotyped. Officials do not like to depart from lines followed by their predecessors, and the larger the Department the slower it is to employ any new invention, or to adopt any new method. I do not say that this is entirely wrong, but Mr. Herbert Spencer has pointed out, as an instance of what I refer to, that the Naval Department of Great Britain was allowing the crews of its war-ships to die of scurvy 100 years after lime-juice had been adopted in the merchant service as a preventative of that disease. Similar instances might be given in regard to other Departments, including even the Postal Department.
– Not the Postal Department.
– I arn glad to say that my remarks have not so much application to the Postal Department. Of course, Departments are, necessarily, slow to adopt changes, because of the vast expense thereby involved.
– The Postal Department moves faster than any office controlled by private enterprise.
– I do not think that that can correctly be said of any Department.
– In England the control’ of the telegraphs had to be taken out of the hands of private persons and given to the Postal Department.
– Under the War Office management, muzzle-loading rifles were being used by British soldiers twenty-five years after breech-loading guns, and even magazine rifles, were in common use by sportsmen and others ; and the English Navy did not use steel for the construction of hulls until long after steel ships were common in the merchant service. It seems to me that we are asked to spend a very large amount on our defences in proportion to our resources, . and that we do not get a sufficient return for our expenditure. I shall always be glad to support the cadet movement. The mind of youth is exceedingly plastic and receptive, and the training received by boys in a cadet force is of value not only to the State, but to the boys themselves. No large body can be successfully marched from place to place unless it observes certain rules, and I have been told by those connected with the marshalling of processions that it is of great advantage to have the assistance of persons who have been trained as cadets or as members of the military forces in the business of marching properly. Of course, nowadays warfare is conducted very differently from the manner in which it was conducted a few years ago. Men cannot Le marched on to the field of battle in close order because of the deadliness of concentrated fire on compact masses. Consequently, the field of battle nowadays covers twenty times! the area that would have been covered fifteen or twenty years ago. Nevertheless, it is still necessary for officers to know how to handle large bodies of men, and for the men to be instructed to obey readily the word of command. In procuring armament and supplies, it is very necessary that our officers should see that what is obtained is of good quality and up-to-date, and I ‘do not think that the supplies should exceed present requirements, because warlike material ‘becomes obsolete so quickly. I. think, too, that each order should be well within the control of the Minister for the time being. No doubt the present Government will Le in office ‘ when the next set of Estimates is presented to Parliament; but I should like to see the Minister take on his shoulders all responsibility for supplies that are ordered, and not make huge orders in advance, so that his successor can say, “ I am not to blame for anything that is wrong, because everything was determined for me by my predecessor.” I have a word to say against the attacks which have, been made in this Chamber against some of our military officers. It seems hard that they should be subjected to virulent criticism before they have had an opportunity to state their side of the case. No doubt, when officers have done wrong they should be punished; but surely in the first instance the member to whom a complaint is made should apply to “he Department for a report on the subject, and * bring the case before Parliament only in the last extremity. When we select men to control the affairs of a Department, we should allow them to spend the money allotted for their branch of the service as they think best, and to have full control of those under them. Perpetual interference must destroy an officer’s interest in his duties, and, by weakening discipline, lessen his power to do good work. Continual interference must show that we do not place sufficient reliance on our officers, and that we consider them incompetent. I think that the tendency is to devote too much money to the purposes of military defence. I am, therefore, very anxious to see the military vote cut down to as small a figure as would be consistent with sound administration. Our chief line of defence must always be a naval force. Whilst we have the power of England at our back - and if we comport ourselves reasonably, we shall always have the assistance of the mother country to the very fullest extent - we need not anticipate anything more than a raid by, perhaps, one hostile ship upon one of our chief ports. Such an attack could only be delivered at one of our ports such as Brisbane, Sydney, Newcastle. Melbourne, Adelaide, or Perth. It would not be worth the while of an attacking cruiser to devote its attention to any of the smaller settlements, because it would only be able to hastily levy a contribution, and get away again. Any marauding vessel of the type that is likely to come here, could not bring a large force, for the purpose of effecting a landing very far away from the object of attack. If a hostile force were landed ten or twelve miles away from one of our cities, thousands rather than hundreds of men would be required to make an effectual attack;. We need not hold ourselves in readiness to defend any of our smaller coastal towns, because in the first place they are not accessible to large ships, and moreover the amount of booty they yield would be comparatively small. If we only have to guard against some marauding excursion such as I have indicated, our land forces will not be of any great assistance, and, therefore, the question arises, whether we . are not expending too much money on the preparations we are making. It seems extraordinary that we should be asked to provide for fortifications at Thursday Island, whilst we have no naval forces. Of what possible use would such fortifications be to us if we once lost command of the seas? The expenditure referred to appears to me to be so much waste of money. Then, again, there is hardly any necessity for inland forces, such as our Field Artillery. It may be desirable to strengthen the main corps of garrison artillery by means of volunteers in the big cities, but it is essential that we should have a body of highly trained men to work our big guns. Sufficient provision has already been made in that direction, but it is proposed to go still further. The Naval and Military Estimates amount to ^1,020,000 ; and, deducting the £200,000 which represents our contribution towards the maintenance of the Australian Squadron, we are preparing to spend £820,000 upon military defences which are not likely to be called into operation for another generation. Therefore, I think that the money we are now spending in this direction could be devoted to better purposes. I feel that I cannot give my full support to the Estimates as they are now presented to us, and when the proposed vote for the maintenance of the forts at Thursday Island and items of a similar character come on for discussion, I shall deem it ray duty to vote against them. I have been informed by one or two military men with whom I have had conversations that if the present system of perpetual interference and hectoring is to be continued, it would be as well to do away with our Defence Forces altogether. I largely share that view. I have found myself extending a certain amount of sympathy to military officers who have from time to time been subjected to unfair criticism. If we intend to spend £820,000 per annum upon a purely military force, let us hand that sum over to the commanding officers, and give them an opportunity to prove their fitness for their positions. If we consider a less sum would prove sufficient, we should decide upon the lowest amount that would meet the requirements of the case, and cease that perpetual interference which is destroying the esprit de corps of our forces, and otherwise doing harm. We cannot afford to go on as we have been doing. We are paying too much for our insurance, and when we discuss the Estimates in detail I shall take every opportunity to reduce or strike out the items which I regard as unnecessary
– I am sorry that, owing to the desire of honorable members to adjourn early on Friday last, I was precluded from concluding my speech. I am rather surprised that no criticism has been directed to the Council of Defence and the Military Board, which have now been in existence for nearly twelve months. The Minister has kindly furnished me with a statement showing the numbers of officers and men in the permanent, militia, and volunteer forces for the three years 1903-4-5. These figures convey some useful lessons to those who look at our military forces from a statistical stand-point. In 1903 there were 95 officers; in 1904, 90; arid in 1905, 86, connected with our permanent forces. In 1903 the militia forces numbered 701 officers and 1 1 1803 men, as compared with 938 officers and 13,568 men in 1905. In 1903 the volunteer forces numbered 524 offcers and 8,148 men. In 1894 the numbers had decreased to 280 officers and 5,386 men.
– That was largely owing to disbandments.
– In 1905 there was a still further decrease - which, so far as I know, was not owing to disbandments - of 68 officers and 904 men. I do not know whether the Military Board, or the Council of Defence, or the Minister is responsible for this state of things. It seems to me that, under existing conditions, it is practically impossible to fix responsibility. When it was proposed to establish a Military Board, and to create a Council of Defence, I foresaw that this condition of affairs would arise. When we had one officer in supreme command of the forces, we knew that he was responsible for any deficiencies which might be disclosed. But under the present system nobody appears to be responsible. The Military Board sits with the Minister, and the Minister also occupies a seat upon the Council of Defence. The result is that if he is willing to subordinate himself to the military authorities, there is a good chance that the Council of Defence and the Military Board will dominate him. I venture to say that that is what has occurred during the past twelve months. Last Friday, in the course of some interchanges of a purely pleasant character the ex-Minister of Defence stated that Captain Crouch might teach the honorable and learned member for Corio a lesson in subordination. I might retort that if the honorable and learned member for Corinella - when he was Minister of Defence - had taught independence to Lt. -Col. McCaw the position to-day would have been” much more satisfactory. We do not expect the Minister to subordinate himself to his officers, or to be so thoroughly impregnated with military ideas that it is impossible for him to get away from his” military training. I regret that during the past twelve months the military Board has not been dominated by’ the
Minister, but that the Minister has to a large extent been dominated by the Military Board. He has been merely a creature of regulations. That is a very unfortunate position for him to occupy. If there is one Department more than another in which the Ministerial head should be absolutely independent, it is the Defence Department. I am glad to say that, although I was almost charged with a desire to delay business because I ventured to speak upon the third reading of the amending Defence Bill, a very important announcement, which confirms the position that I then took up, has since been made by Major-General French. Within the past few weeks he has condemned the stupidity of appointing a Military Board and a Council of Defence. He further remarked that under the existing system the opinion of the InspectorGeneral of the Forces can be entirely disregarded by the Military Board. In spite of anything that may have been said condemnatory of Major-General Hutton, the fact remains that we have had to adopt his scheme. It is unfortunate that Major-General Finn does not occupy a seat upon the Military Board, especially in view of the fact that recently we had, in the position of Minister of Defence, a gentleman who is more military than the most military, and more official than the most official. I wish now- to refer to a local matter. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has stated that wherever a group of men could provide their own horses, he was quite willing to form corps of Australian Light Horse.
– Wherever- it is reasonable to do so.
– Then I propose to claim the Minister’s assistance on behalf of a squadron and portion of a squadron at Geelong and Werribee respectively. Captain Percy Chirnside - an enthusiastic military man, who once paid for an Easter camp in Victoria - himself proposes to defray a large portion of the cost connected with the Werribee Corps. About two or three years ago, knowing that this corps was to be formed, 180 men in the Geelong district and a proportionate number in the Werribee district, indicated their readiness to join it. These men were addressed by Brigadier-General Gordon, who emphasized the patriotic services they were rendering to their country, and dwelt upon the particular advantages that would result from the establishment of such a body. So far, however, the corps has not been called into being. I now wish to make a few observations in regard to overdrafts on rifle ranges - a subject which was mentioned by the honorable member for Maranoa. In this connexion, I may mention that some time ago the Geelong District Rifle Clubs spent a large sum of money on its rifle ranges. Its members formed themselves into an association, and procured from the bank an overdraft totalling £22. Subsequently the Minister sanctioned the establishment of another organization called the Geelong Rifle Club Union, which superseded the former organization. As a consequence, the source of income of the former body was cut off, and its members were left with the overdraft in question. That is the result of the administration of the Military Board. When some of the members of this rifle club waited upon the Minister I accompanied them. What did I find ? Colonel Hoad, the Chief Staff Officer of the Military Board, was present, in addition to Colonel Lee, to represent, the State Military authorities. These officers represented the military side of the Department. In addition, there were present the Secretary of the Defence Department and the shorthand writer. These represented the civil side of the Department. It did seem to me the acme of want of administration that so many officials should be required to receive a deputation in regard to a simple matter, involving a question of only £22. I should like to refer to the effect which the Japanese alliance will exercise upon Australia, but I understand I shall not be in order in so doing. I may, however, be permitted to remark that ‘ that treaty affords us a ten-years’ breathing space, and to that extent it may be valuable. For that period we are secure against any possibility of attack from the north. But we should utilize those ten years to perfect our system of defence. In this connexion, I wish to say that the Minister has reports in his Department setting forth that outside of Point Nepean there is an area which is not commanded by the Queenscliff guns. As a matter of fact, when the Japanese Squadron visited Melbourne a few years ago, the vessels comprising it actually formed themselves into battle array and steamed for three miles towards the Queenscliff forts. I should like to read a report which the Herald published from its Queenscliff correspondent on 18th January, 1904 -
It is said that there is an area of ocean outside Point Nepean which is not under the command of any of the guns placed at the Heads, and from which the forts could be successfully attacked and silenced. It was in this particular part of the Bay the Japanese fleet “ lay to,” whether designedly or not can only be surmised.
When at Portsea officers of the fleet paid a visit to the officer commanding the eastern portion of the artillery positions on the Nepean peninsula. This visit of the Japanese officers_ was highly interesting. They produced a chart of the Bay, which is stated to have been more complete in respect to channels and surroundings than any in possession of the local military authorities.
The Japanese remarked that as they came up the Bay the previous week they had been able to identify all the forts excepting that of Fort Franklin battery, and informed an officer, much to his surprise, of the number of guns and equipment of each.
They then asked the officer to be allowed to see over Franklin Fort. He replied that he would be glad to do so, but would have, under the regulations, to get the permission of the Commandant, and wired to Melbourne for authority. Major-General Hutton’-s reply came two hours later. It was to the effect that he was too well aware of the distinguished rank of such guests to allow them to be escorted over the battery by a junior officer, and that he would reserve that honour for himself upon a future visit.
With this the Japanese visitors had to be satisfied, but they asked many questions from the officer in charge upon his visit to their ships, to which he gave diplomatic answers. Then they laughingly informed him that they knew he was only amusing himsel’f with them, and gave him full and correct information as to the guns, strength, and military details of the defences.
The facts were well known here at the time, and created some interest in military circles, as evidence of the keen knowledge and surprising curiosity of the- visitors in the subject of Australian defences.
– Any one who is not a member of this House may find out anything relating » to the forts in Melbourne and Sydney.
– Or a member of the military forces. When in Sydney last January I wished to go over La Perouse fort, but was refused admission. I thought at the time that the rule was a proper one, but was considerably surprised when !I learned of the ease with which other persons had been able to obtain access to the fort. I was able, however, to obtain a fair view of it from a small tower close at hand. Not long ago, some men connected with the local Military Forces desired to be shown over the Queenscliff fort, but were told that they could not be admitted without an order from head-quarters. I then took them to the lighthouse, close by, from which the position of most of the guns can readily be determined. From this point of vantage T was able to show my military friends everything within the fort that they were interested in seeing. Another point is that there is a postal shipping station inside the Queenscliff fort, and any one who is refused admission has but to visit this postal station’ in connexion with shipping business in order to be admitted into the very heart of the fort. As the honorable member for Wentworth has pointed out, the arrangements relating to some of our fortifications are, to say the least, extraordinary ; but I must say that since the advent of MajorGeneral Hutton the regulations relating to the admission of strangers are much more stringent than they were. We have a happy-go-lucky way of dealing with defence matters. If I may be permitted to say so, I was much impressed by the speech delivered this afternoon by the honorable member for Wentworth. I have endeavoured to read up these questions, but must confess that the honorable member has led me along new lines of thought, which I intend to follow. I am inclined to think that his views have much to commend’ them. If I could accept his conclusions - and at pre-J sent I cannot - I should not hesitate to express the opinion that a large part of our military expenditure was wholly unnecessary, and that as long as we took care to secure the efficiency of the garrison artillery, and to make our harbors of refuge safe, we might well devote to more useful purposes the rest of the money which we are now expending on our military system. It must be recognised that our constituents are anxious that we should keep down expenditure, and that the Parliament itself is extremely nervous in regard to the outlay on the defence system. That being so, we should be very careful to see that our expenditure in this connexion is wisely made. Many people in Australia would like to see an Australian Navy, an adequate system of harbor defence, a large permanent military force, and an efficient rifle club system, but at the same time they are not prepared to approve of the necessary expenditure. If the people of Australia desire an efficient defence system they must be prepared to pay for it. If a disaster were to occur to-morrow it would at once be said that had the defence system remained under the control of the’ States it would not have happened, and yet the fact remains that the people generally are not prepared to approve of the Commonwealth making the expenditure necessary to place the defence system on a sound footing. If I were satisfied that we had been .spending too much on the military side of our defences, and that the expenditure of an even larger sum was necessary in’ other directions, I should be prepared to vote for such a change. I may perhaps at times speak hastily and unwisely, but I think I can claim that I speak with courage. My experience is that whenever I have told my constituents that a certain thing is necessary, and that I intend to vote for it, they have usually been prepared to support me. If the Ministry took up the stand that the Defence Department must not be starved, and that more money must be provided for this branch of the Commonwealth service, I am sure that the people would readily indorse their action, and sanction any expenditure necessary to preserve Australia in the hour of danger.
– I think that the Opposition should acknowledge with gratitude the able assistance they have received, in dealing with this important and interesting subject, from no less than three honorable members sitting on the* Ministerial side of the House. We have been compelled for some months to take upon ourselves the sole burden of endeavouring to discuss and improve Government propositions; but I am very glad to find that to a certain extent honorable members opposite are prepared to assist us in dealing with the very important question of national defence. I address the Committee under a serious disadvantage, because I had not the pleasure of listening to the exposition of the defence policy of the present Administration, which was delivered on Friday last. Unfortunately, the official report of the utterances of the Vice-President of the Executive Council is not yet available. I have made a number of inquiries as to the nature of the statements which he made, and the reforms which he advocated, but the only result is that mv mind has been thrown into a state of ‘hopeless confusion. I was one of the Svdney public who read with gratitude and admiration the magnificent address which the honorable gentleman recently delivered in that city - on a very wet night - upon the subject of national defence. I was. unfortunately,’ absent in the country at the time, hut the news was flashed along all the wires of the mother State, that at last a Minister «f Defence had arisen - the press representatives apparently did not know that the honorable gentleman was not Minister of Defence - and boldly announced to the Aus- tralian public that he was prepared with a scheme of national defence, which would meet the approval of all persons in the community. 1
– Does the right honorable member think I made that statement? ~Mr. REID - I know, at all events, that the honorable gentleman was capable of making it. If he did, he was simply acting in conformity with the style with which he indulges the House when questions are addressed to him. I have never yet met a Minister, even among the older parliamentary hands, who displayed a greater capacity for giving answers to questions which seem at once, full, frank, and courteous, but signify less than nothing. I amI told that the Minister, instead of gratifying the awakened interest of the Australian public by submitting another system of military defence - and I think that we have had two or three new systems every year since the establishment of Federation - simply intimated that the masterly achievement which the Defence Department proposes is that of depriving the mounted forces of their saddles, in order to supply some persons with additional rifles. For some year’s we have been wisely making a speciality of a mounted force which will combine the particular qualities of a cavalry force with the valuable qualities of an infantry force. That, I think, has been dictated by the result of the best experience in modern warfare, especially when, carried on in countries such as is Australia. We now find that the very force which is looked upon by all experts as an ideal one is to be starved of its saddles in order that more rifles may be procured. I do not object to the procurement of additional rifles, but I do object to this constant changing of our military administration. Such a policy would be ruinous to the smallest shop-keeper in Bourke-street or Collins-street, and it is doubly ruinous when applied to a military force. i What is the supreme necessity in a military force? It is, that it shall be founded,, first of all, upon right principles of administration, and control, and that those principles shall be rigidly and consistently carried out. If we are to have vacillation, change of policy, and change of view in the very heart of our military system, the whole of our military expenditure will .be thrown away, and we might devote it with infinitely better results to a thousand other useful objects. I strongly censure the present administration for their desire to create in the public mind the idea that they are going to advance a new defence policy when they have not the slightest, intention to do anything of the sort. Are they going to alter the administrative system which we established by Act” of Parliament not long ago? I confess that as a civilian I had, and still have, considerable misgiving as to the new system of control adopted. My most able colleague in the late Government, the exMinister of Defence, had no such fear, and, having myself no competency, but knowing the recent changes adopted in the mother country in the control of the British Army, I deferred to his opinion. He administered the Department of Defence in a way which, I think, commands the admiration of honorable members on both sides, and it must be a subject of congratulation to all that a young member should so soon prove himself so eminently fitted to- take control of a large administrative Department. He displayed no mean or narrow spirit in his administration. He did not proclaim that he was bringing in a new system. He did not delude the public into the expectation of some new proposal of his own. He had the manliness to give his predecessors the fullest credit for what they had done, and I think that I am correct in saying that, to a large extent, the system which he carried out was thought out before he entered the Department. But, instead of coming before the public as a heaven-born Minister, who, on his own motion, was about to do something wonderful, he had the good sense and manliness to work on the lines of his predecessors, which he thought sound,’ and to give them full credit for what they had done.
– And he has received the fullest credit from this Government on every occasion. No one has been treated with more generosity.
– I have not charged the present Government with want of generosity towards me, though I think that justice would be a better word.
– It would indicate a better appreciation of the facts. The most efficient officer and administrator who ever entered the Department of Defence, instead of endeavouring to build up a fictitious reputation for himself as the discoverer of a new system, took up the system of his predecessor, in which he concurred, and, instead of making sensational speeches, addressed himself honestly to the solid work of the Department. The result was that the House, realizing the correctness of his attitude, and having full confidence in his capacity, followed his lead, and adopted his proposals. Now what do we find ? Our military system is to be turned upside down. There is to be an entirely new departure. We know that the old system was radically different from the present system. Under it, the main responsibility was in the CommanderinChief, who was called the General Officer Commanding, because the GovernorGeneral is nominally the CommanderinChief of our Military Forces. The General Officer Commanding was not subject to military boards of any kind. It is rather singular that, in the great dependency of India, where military operations are conducted on a colossal scale, and where there is, I- suppose, one of the most efficient military systems in the world, there was a contest the other day as to the authority of the military adviser in the Viceroy’s Council and that of the Commander-in-Chief, with the result that the latter has become the supreme military authority there. The system which we have established, however, abolishing the General Officer ‘Commanding, is entitled to a fair trial, and I have no doubt that Parliament will see that it gets it. That being so, w’hat is the use of talking of a new military policy? What is the use of clouding this great national question? It is of enormous urgency, costs us a large sum of money, and in connexion with it a clear line of policy is essential. How absurd, .then, it is to endeavour to amuse the public with dazzling visions of “wonderful changes which are never to take place, and are not even conceived. We have been banqueted by the Ministry, in the most generous fashion, with any number of elegant and delicious courses of words. The Prime Minister lives in an atmosphere of saving his country on a colossal scale every moment of his life. . There is never a public question attracting passing interest, or which some newspaper has taken up, in regard to which he cannot rise to the most sublime heights in inventing policies for the salvation of the country. These policies remain mere Niagara-like discharges of words, and never lead to anything practical. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has caught the infection. Before he joined this Ministry, he was distinguished by his solid harmlessness.
– When he was supporting i the right honorable member. :
– That was one of the. best things he ever did!. But I am not alluding > to his solid support of me, which was unsatisfactorily brief ; I am alluding to the ‘ whole course of his career in the Federal Parliament. Now that he is within reach of this constant stream of excited peroration, on all sorts of subjects, as to what has to be done, but is never done, or proposed to be done, he has caught the contagion, and has begun to indulge in the most impassioned flights of unaccustomedeloquence, which almost rival his wonderful description of the beauties of Tooma. He has thrown round this seriously important subject of national policy a dense atmosphere of humbug. But it is too big a subject for treatment of this sort. If one turns to the Estimates, to see some evidence of this imperious necessity for an entire revolution of our military methods, he finds that the appropriations for defence for the year 1904-5 amounted to £592,000, and that the sum asked for the present year is £57-2,000, or ,£20,000 less. That is no indication of a Napoleonic departure, revolutionizing our system of defence. But we may be told that lower down the page the total expenditure for this year is set down as £824,000, as against £774,000 for last year - an increase of ,£50,000. That increase, however, is accounted for” by the fact that last year the amount paid in connexion with the Naval Subsidy was only ,£148,000, while this year £200,000 has to be paid. There is no absolute increase of expenditure proposed.
– If the Minister made these changes at once, there would no longer be’ a reason for keeping him in office.
– If he made them at once, there would probably Le no chance of his remaining in office. The Estimates contain the item, “ Increase on expenditure, 1904-5, £91/274,” and no doubt the’ pub-, lie may think that the Government are increasing the expenditure on our military system by that amount. Over £50,000 ofit, however, is accounted for by’ the fact that this year we are paying the full Naval Subsidy, and the rest is the difference between the appropriation and actual expen:diture last year. Probably when this year is over we shall find that some £50,000, less than the amount voted has been spent.
– Here is the Prime. Minister’s last statement on the subject. ,
– It is very important to get his last statement. I find that on the 17 th instant, speaking on the military system, he’ said -
The honorable member may call it what he pleases, but the system requires remodelling to make it more effective than it is at present.
What are the remodelling proposals of the Government? They are going to purchase more rifles and more cordite, and fewer saddles for the mounted infantry. This abuse of expression, which is constantly leading simple-minded people to believe that some new wonder of reform is about to burst upon the astonished gaze of Australia, is becoming sickening. If there is to be any remodelling let us know what direction it is to take. No remodelling is necessary if we are to have nothing but talk and peroration; the same old model will do. But if there is’ to be some practical change, let us know what it is. The Government are full of pious wishes for improvements in the military system, as we all are. When I had something to do with the Military Department of New South Wales, many years ago, I strongly encouraged the formation of a cadet force; and, although the military authorities’ did not like it, I gave the control of that force to the Military Department. The training of the boys in our public schools is no new idea. The Minister of Defence in the late Government submitted a most able paper on the subject to the Hobart Conference, suggesting that the boys in the schools throughout Australia should be given therudiments of military training. He, however, put forward no new proposal. He simply promulgated, on a broader scale, a proposal which has been familiar to the minds of most people for many years. .
– Was the right honorable member the first in Australia to mention it ?
– It is quite possible that I was, because the action to which I have referred was taken many years ago; but I should not like to say that I was, because I do not know. I regard the period of school time as the proper period for giving our future men military training. I should not be sorry if universal military training could be given to our grown young men. I think it would be a grand thing if it were possible. From my knowledge of Australians, however, I am compelled reluctantly to come to the conclusion that universal conscription is impossible here. It is a thing foreign to the genius of the British people.
Even in the mother country, where there is an enormous pressure of imminent danger, owing to the diversified interests possessed by Great Britain in every quarter of the globe, conscription is objected to. If there is one spot on earth where’ military responsibility should be intense, it is the mother country - in view of the enormous ramifications of her interests, extending to every quarter of the globe, and touching the affairs of every nation. I believe that any attempt to force the young men of Australia to take part in a system of military training that would be worth anything would be futile. Of course, if they were asked merely to attend a picnic, the movement would be most popular - in just the same way as a Sunday-school treat is popular among the younger members of the community.
– The British Government spend a good deal annually upon a picnic for the militia forces.
– That is not a picnic.
– The right honorable gentleman speaks of training for the military forces as if it were a picnic.
– Nothing of the kind. I do not speak of the right kind of military training as a picnic. I do not think there could be any more attractive sight than the spectacle of the young men of Australia voluntarily giving up their time in order to perfect themselves in the art of national defence. I admit that that, would be a noble object, and the more young fellows we could induce to join in such a movement the better it would be. But I believe that by introducing the element of compulsion we should destroy the very soul of citizen defence, namely, the inspiration of patriotic men to come forward and fight for their country. My strong objection to compulsory military training is that it is impracticable, and that if any attempt were made to enforce it our military system would become less popular and less efficient. But to the fullest extent to which military training is practicable, I should certainly not discourage it. A man does not need to be a statesman, or even an orator, to recognise that the golden time for implanting in the nation the knowledge of the art of defence is the period of boyhood, when military exercise is a pleasure, an amusement, and an exhilaration. Military training for the young affords one of the best means of imparting useful lessons and of forming national character.
– But it is time that it was carried into effect.
– Yes, of course.
– And we are going to do it.
– The Minister says “We are going to do it.” Every one has been going to do it since the creation of the Federation. But may I point out that the Minister cannot do it. He is talking of something he cannot do. If it is done at all, it will be carried into effect by the wisdom and patriotism of the States Governments.
– Combined with the wisdom of the Commonwealth Government.
– But the patriotism must be in the hearts of the States authorities, and they must have the wisdom to carry out an effective scheme. The late Minister of Defence took the most practical steps possible by bringing the matter before the assembled States Premiers, who cordially agreed to his recommendations, and were ready to co-operate with him. We can only hope that the present Government will use their utmost efforts to forward this great reform. There is nothing sensational in it, and there is nothing new, and the Government can do nothing unless the States Governments come to their assistance.
– It will be a good work to accomplish.
– Will the right honorable gentleman give us his assistance?
– I should hope so; but I must say that I do not see much provision made upon the Estimates for carrying the scheme into effect. Just think what the Minister proposes to do. How many pennies are placed upon the Estimates to carry this great cadet system into effect?
– Whose Estimates are they? The right honorable gentleman’s Government prepared them.
– Then this wonderful Ministry with its wonderful Napoleonic policy has begun by taking our Estimates.
– That has been claimed by the members of the right honorable gentleman’s party.
– That is a good way for the right honorable gentleman to escape from the fact that he is criticising his own Estimates.
– I would ask honorable members not to interrupt, and I would remind the right honorable gentleman that the relations of the Government to other parties in the Chamber are not under discussion.
– Here we have a revelation. After the wonderful oratorical deliverance of the Minister about a grand new system of national defence that is being introduced by the present Government, we find’ that the foundations laid by their predecessors were so perfect that Ministers have adopted them without the slightest alteration. The “ barrackers “ for the Government–
– I do not think the use of such terms is in order.
– Then may I refer to the honorable member as the “ dry nurse of the Government?” He was once the leader of a great party in Australia. He once sat either on the Treasury benches at the head of a Ministry or upon the Opposition benches as the head of the second party in the State, but he has now fallen to the humble position of a hanger-on of the Ministry.
– Order ! I would ask the right honorable gentleman not to continue in that strain.
– The honorable member’s interruptions reminded me of his fallen estate, but I shall make no further reference to the matter. In connexion with this vexed problem of military defence, I wish to deprecate all these oratorical, emotional, and sensational promises of things that are not dreamt of, much less thought out. These Estimates cover a period of twelve months - that is no short term in connexion with a great reform, of which we all ap- prove, and yet not the slightest proposal has been made to spend a shilling to found a cadet system upon a national basis.
– The vote has been increased by £7,000.
– Was that provided for on our Estimates? Mr. Ewing. - Yes.
– That is exactly my point. I did not know anything about it.
– l have informed the House of the tact three times within the last two weeks.
– If the Minister says the same thing three times, no one can be expected to understand him. If he had contented himself with stating it once, honorable members might have arrived at a clear conception of his meaning. It was due to the forethought of the late Minister of Defence that that increased vote was provided for, after he had conferred with the States Premiers at Hobart; and yet the Minister sits at the table full of self-satisfaction, and says, “We have got £7,000 extra, on the Estimates.” If I had not dragged out of the Minister the fact that we had provided for that increase, he could have coolly appropriated the result of my late honorable colleague’s statesmanship. I have no doubt that the Minister will spend the money very well. I do not disguise my full confidence in the present Government as a spending ; Administration. But I should like to point out the demoralizing effect of these Ministerial statements. We have incurred large expense in remodelling our military system by substituting for a Commander-in-Chief a Naval Board of Administration, a Military Board of Administration, and an Administrative staff, whilst under the head of the “Inspecting Staff” we find that the principal post is filled by the leading soldier in Australia, who occupies the position of Inspector-General. That system was adopted by the Deakin Government, the Watson Government, and the ReidMcLean Government. It has no sooner been established - in fact, I am not sure that it has yet been brought into working order - than we are told by the Prime Minister that it requires to be remodelled. In the name of all that is sensible, how can a military system 6e worked out satisfactorily if it is to be subject to these rapid changes, or, to what is quite as bad. these announcements of contemplated changes? What stability can there be in the administration of these boards if they are to
be told that they are appointed only for a short period, until the whole military system can be remodelled ? We have had any number of apprentice hands to remodel our military system, not one of whom had the slightest knowledge of the subject, if we except the honorable and learned member for Corinella, who, fortunately, with praiseworthy zeal, had devoted himself to a study of military matters for a number of years, and had risen to a high position in our Defence Forces. With that exception, who have filled the office of Minister of Defence? The present Treasurer has done so. I admit that he is a gentleman who is capable of writing the most extraordinary minutes upon military subjects. I do not believe that Nelson himself ever wrote an abler despatch than did the right honorable gentleman in regard to Australia’s contribution to the Imperial Navy. He may be a born soldier, but what practical knowledge has he of military matters? Then there is the Postmaster-General, who, in a political sense, is about as good a scout as can be found anywhere. In South Africa the work of the National Scouts was a mere incident compared with the operations of the honorable gentleman. Whatever he does he does very efficiently. I never knew an honorable member who says less arid does more, so far as underground engineering is concerned. He was Minister of Defence, and I believe that his administration was a distinguished success, because I do not understand that he did anything whilst he filled the position. Senator Dawson succeeded him. During his term of office a number of things happened to which I need not now refer. Then I come to the present Minister, Senator Playford.
– Was not Senator Drake Minister of Defence ?
– But he is a military expert, and I am eliminating military experts from my observations. At the present time we are in this unfortunate position : the Defence Department is one of the largest spending Departments of the Commonwealth, and its Ministerial head occupies a seat in the Senate. I have every reason to believe that his views are diametrically opposed to those which have been expressed by the Vice President of the Executive Council.
– Does England always select its Minister of Defence from officers of the Imperial Army?
– I do not know that Senator Playford would be selected to control the British Army.
– He would be a very good specimen.
– For the light brigade no doubt he would be.
– I would back him against the right honorable member.
– The honorable member might do so. But if we were to indulge in similar comparisons we should have to place the honorable member himself in the Cadet Corps. I deprecate these mere rhetorical attempts to unsettle the public mind in respect to our military system. I suppose that the honorable member for Maranoa knows more about practical soldiering than even the honorable and learned member for Corio, although the former never had an opportunity of endangering a brigade as did the latter upon one occasion. So far as the honorable member for Maranoa is concerned, his life was always being endangered by somebody else. At any rate, he probably knows more about military matters than do all the members of the House; yet what did he say this afternoon? He said that constant change and tinkering was fatal to any military system. It cuts into every prospect of efficiency. If the VicePresident of the Executive Council had risen and said : “ We are a new Ministry, and this is a most difficult subject to deal with. In the meantime we must follow the lines laid down by our predecessors,, but during the recess we intend to give the matter attention, and to place some wellconsidered proposal before the House next session,” it would have been a perfectly business-like speech. But I would point out the difference between a speech of that character and these catch expressions which are so easy to coin, which create so much public expectation, and which have no foundation even in thought. When the Prime Minister declared that the military system was to be re-modelled, I will undertake to say that he had no more é,dea of what that remodelling meant than has the Vice-President of the Executive Council himself. I deprecate the exercise of false economy in cutting off the supply of saddles to the mounted rifles. The only justification for a. mounted force is that it is specially suitable to the circumstances of Australia. It is to be regretted that after we have built up these regiments of mounted men, a new Government should come into office, and, in a moment* or two, should arrest the current of development by proposing to cripple the most efficient force we have in Australia. They say that they want more cordite. A clerk could order more cordite. We have a factory here-
– But we have to bring the cordite from England.
– I quite understand that. I know that cordite is not produced locally. We import it, and hand it over to this factory to work up into cartridges. There is nothing in that feature of these Estimates to excite particular admiration.
– It would be a very serious matter if war broke out and we had not a sufficient supply of cordite.
– But to order a little cordite to be worked up into cartridges is not a sign of military genius. This subject of cordite was gone into by the late Minister of Defence. The present Vice-President of the Executive Council has not had a vision in regard to it. Does he suggest that it was a subject of Ministerial inspiration ?
– The Government have not been in office very long, but they have done three things which strike at the very root of the efficiency and discipline of our military forces. Take the case of Major Carroll as an example. I have no desire to go into confidential matters, but as head of the late Government, I know that in his case the grossest political pressure was brought to bear with a view to securing his reinstatement. The most painful political pressure was put’ upon us in that connexion, but we declined to yield to it, despite any consequences that might ensue from the fact that that officer has in this House a large number of friends. Major Carroll, under military administration, was removed from the forces, and his reinstatement is one of those things which must be fatal to all discipline.
– I never approached any Minister with a suggestion that he should be reinstated ; but I think that he is a most efficient officer.
– Then the honorable member sets himself up in judgment against the military advisers of the Government.
– The man’s record is an extraordinary one.
– May I ask whether the Council of Defence recommended the reinstatement of Major Carroll in the Military Forces ? We have established a board to advise the Government in these questions, in order to prevent them being made the subject of political influence. Was Major Carroll reinstated under the advice of that Board ? If he was, I have not another word to say.
– Was not his case investigated by a Select Committee?
– The moment we appoint Select Committees to sit in judgment upon military affairs, we might as well take over command of the military forces ourselves. Surely we do not require to be soldiers to know ‘ that if the actions of those who are absolutely responsible for the discipline of the forces are to be reviewed by members of this Parliament no discipline can exist. If Major Carroll was restored to the service upon the recommendation of the nonpolitical board, which we appointed to advise the Government, I have nothing more to say in regard to his case. But if the Government have yielded to constant, desperate appeals such as were made to the late Ministry, they have acted in a way that I deeply regret.
– In my opinion it was a political officer who secured Major Carroll’s retirement.
– I am very sorry to hear that statement, because I am not in a position to contradict it.
– In fairness to Major Carroll it should be stated that he was retrenched, and that when he was restored to the service he was appointed to a vacancy. Consequently his re-appointment displaced nobody. .
– He was retired from the service under proper authority, and if he was restored to it under similar authority I have not a word to say. But it is worse than -wrong that Parliament should establish a board to settle all these military questions, and then go behind its back - in response to insistent pressure - to reinstate this officer.
– After it was shown that he had been wronged?
– I should be very sorry to say one word against Major Carroll-
– The right honorable member should read the evidence taken by the Select Committee.
– If we are going to sit in judgment upon military officers, the whole system becomes farcical. It is an utter farce that we should have any hand in the government of military affairs. Under such circumstances, what is the use of our Public Service Act? We passed that Act for the purpose of taking out of our hands the power of using political influence in connexion with appointments. It is a very proper Act. But if it embodies a proper principle in the case of our public servants, it is one which is a thousand times more proper in the case of our military officers.
– The Public Service Act does not apply to the military force at all.
– I am profoundly indebted to the honorable member for that brilliant discovery. Did he imagine that I thought it did apply to the military force?
– It is hard to know what the right honorable member thinks.
– The honorable member’s perception is defective. I have mentioned one of these matters, and wish now to refer to two others. Honorable members will recollect that when the Commonwealth took over the Defence Department, some items were placed on the Estimates in respect of gratuities - based upon one month’s pay foi each year of service - to officers who had been retrenched. The Minister in charge of those Estimates distinctly informed the Committee that the items were inserted, not as the foundation of a system of military pensions, but because, owing to the changes made by the Federal Administration, the officers to whom they referred had been retrenched before the time for their retirement had arrived. I think I am correct in saying that since then no such items have been put on the Defence Estimates as those relating to two officers which appear .in the Estimates now before us.
– I would point out that it is not competent for the right honorable member at’ this stage to deal in detail with items that will be reached later on.
– I wish to call the attention of the Committee to the conduct of the Secretary to the Department - for whose salary provision is made in the division now before us - in allowing these items to appear, even on the printed Estimates for submission to the Minister.
– We are not really discussing the salary of the Secretary of the Department. In accordance with a practice which has been adopted in the House of Commons, a general discussion is taking place upon the first division of the Estimates. It is distinctly laid down by the authorities that in .connexion with a general discussion upon the first division of the Estimates of a Department, a detailed reference to items which will be subsequently reached is not permissible.
– I have some serious observations to make with reference to these gratuities. We have now a Military Board, whose duty it is, amongst other things, to report to the Minister upon claims for gratuities and recognition of services, and in the Estimates, in which provision is made for the first time for that Board, we find a proposal to grant gratuities to men highly placed in. the military forces, although similar treatment has been refused right through to the non-commissioned officers. When we agreed to the appointment of this Board, did we imagine that it would recommend colonels for gratuities, and refuse to recognise the righteous claims of non-commissioned officers? I could understand a new Board coming into office, and recommending a system of pensions. Such a recommendation might be right or wrong ; but I cannot understand why, under the new system, By which we have appointed a non-political Board, officers high in the service, whose time for retirement has come, should be granted a gratuity, based on a month’s pay for each year of service, when hundreds of non-commissioned officers have to retire without obtaining a shilling. Is this one of the results of the democratic influences which control the present Government?
– Is that the only ground for the gratuity ? If it is, it does not seem to justify the grant.
– I do not wish to make a target of a colonel, simply because he is a colonel. If the system of granting gratuities is a good one, let it apply all round ; if it is not, why ‘should a colonel be picked out for special treatment, while a non-commissioned officer is sent out into the cold without a sixpence? I thought that, under the new system, we were to have reform. The Prime Minister last session championed the cause of one of these officers on the floor of the House, and a number of other honorable members also implored the Government of the day to make provision for them. I think that every one holds these officers in high esteem ; but the Government of which I was the head felt that it could not grant a gratuity to an officer high in the service when it refused the same consideration to the non-commissioned officers of the forces. We should have been very pleased to make provision for a gratuity for Colonel Price, or, indeed, for any captain or sergeant who> had been retired had the practice been general; but there is something rotten, in our military administration whenwe find two highly-placed officers singled’ out in this way for ^gratuities, whilst the great mass of the non-commissioned officersare altogether forgotten. Colonel Bayly is, I believe, one of the best officers we everhad in the forces.
– One of the best that we ever had in New South Wales.
– I believe that he has broken down in the discharge of his duties.
– His case is a very sad one.
– It came under my notice when I was in office, and I never felt more reluctant to say “ No “ than I did in connexion with the proposal to grant him a gratuity. But as the late Minister of Defence pointed out at the time, we had given him all the leave that we could. We had given him what consideration was within our power, and we could not justify a proposal to grant him a gratuity if we were not prepared to take the same course in regard to other men.
– In like circumstances.
– There are other cases in like circumstances.
– There are not, and the honorable and learned member knows it.
– There may be some difference of opinion on the point, but I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will not insinuate that the honorable and learned member for Corinella is consciously making a mis-statement.
– Certainly not. I withdraw the latter part of the remark that I made.
– The item to which the right honorable member refers was not on> the Estimates as framed by the late Government.
– I am aware of that.
– Order !
– I appeal to you, sir, as the guardian of the rights of this House, toallow me to criticise the operation of the recently established Military Board.
– The right honorable member would be in order in doing so, but he is now proceeding to do that which I have already pointed out is not permissible.. I have prevented other honorable members from discussing items in detail at this stage, and it would not be fair for me to make an exception in the case of the right honors able member. I would point out that he will not be debarred from speaking as often as he pleases with regard to the item in question when it is immediately under consideration.
– Do I understand you, sir, to rule that in the course of a general discussion we may not point to particular items to illustrate our argument?
– -The honorable member has quite misunderstood me, if he thinks that I have given such a ruling. I have said again and again that, in the course of the general discussion on the first division, it is not competent for .an honorable member to deal with items in detail.
– I should like to point out, sir, that you allowed the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne this afternoon to talk for an hour on such matters of general policy as the British Fleet, and our system of coastal defence.
– Those are matters for which no provision is made in the divisions yet to be dealt with. The practice of the House of Commons, and which we are following, because our Standing Orders ;ae silent on the point, is to permit a general discussion upon the first vote of the Army and Navy Estimates. It is expressly laid down in May, page 584, that -
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.
That would limit the discussion strictly to the division now before the Committee ; but May goes on to point out that -
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 subject. By established usage, therefore, the Minister in charge of the Army and 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.
– In obedience to the principle which you, Mr. Chairman, so correctly lay down, the leader of the Opposition is now proceeding to criticise the administration of the Department, and to point out that it should always be dominated by a desire to mete out equal treatment to the whole of the members of the service. I cannot conceive of anything more apropos to the very point which you raise.
– I am sorry that I cannot look at the matter from the point of view of the honorable member. The leader of the Opposition, when I interrupted him, was proceeding to discuss in detail an item which, according to May, should not be so discussed until it is actually reached.
– I would draw your attention, Mr.. Chairman, to the fact that in 1902 the Committee deliberately adopted a practice of its own in dealing with Estimates. If you turn to Hansard, Volume IX., page 12049, you will find that. when the Estimates of the Department of External Affairs, Division 10, subdivision 1, came up for consideration, the honorable member for Bland said -
It has been the practice in the New South Wales Legislature to allow a general discussion of the administration of the Department upon the first item in the Estimates of that Department, and unless that practice is followed here, I am afraid that it will be very difficult to bring before the Committee in connexion with the military Estimates a comparison of the administration of the Defence Department under the new order of things, with its administration under the old order.
– The Ministry are ready to fall in with that suggestion. If it be understood, as an honorable arrangement, that the discussion of the general administration of a Department is to be confined to the debate upon the first item on the Estimates of that Department, that will avoid the necessity for the discussion on the following items of anything beyond the actual inadequacy of the salary proposed for the duties to be performed in connexion with the office to which it is attached.
– With the concurrence of the Committee, I shall adopt the course suggested by the honorable member for Bland.
The honorable member for Bland was the first to proceed, under that new practice, to discuss the general administration of the Department. I submit that we have initiated a practice quite distinct from that laid down in May.
– It does not entitle a member to discuss details at length.
– When a member is discussing what methods of administration should be followed, he is entitled to refer fully to the items in the Estimates which do or do not accord with the views which he is expressing.
– Only incidentally.
– The word “incidentally” seems as comforting an expression to some honorable members as the blessed word “ Mesopotamia.” If the right honorable member for East Sydney wishes to discuss the propriety or impropriety of the system of selecting individuals to receive gratuities, surely he is at liberty to refer to the cases in the Estimates of which he approves or disapproves. When the Department of Defence was reached during the discussion of the Estimates of 1902, the then Minister of Defence, the right honorable member for Swan, in pursuance of the procedure deliberately adopted by the Committee, with the sanction of its official head, delivered on the first item a general address, in which he discussed matters of policy, and referred to items in support of his statements.
– That practice has been carried out ever since.
-Yes.. I would also remind you, Mr. Chairman, that last year, in Committee of Supply, anticipating the Defence Estimates, but still following the practice to which I am alluding, I had the privilege, as Minister of Defence, of explaining the new system of administration. I submit that we have a much wider range of discussion under the practice established at the instigation of the honorable member for Bland than under that laid down by May.
– The width of range is not questioned.
– I think that it is.
– We have had general speeches throughout the discussion of this Department.
– If in making a speech on the general administration of the Department we must not discuss what is in the Estimates, we surely should not discuss what is not in the Estimates. It is, however, impossible to discuss questions of administration without referring to the cases that raise a dispute as to the principle to be adopted.
– I am afraid that the honorable and learned gentleman has missed the exact point which I took. I have not objected to a reference to items appearing in the Estimates, because I feel the necessity for allowing’ the fullestreference. The rule which I feel very strongly should be observed is that, in the general debate, which, in accordance with the practice of the
House of Commons, we Have agreed to take on the first item of the Estimates; honorable members shall not go unnecessarily into detail. We have no warrant for this general discussion in our Standing Orders. They provide only for the relevancy of debate, and if they are strictly applied, when the question before the Committee is whether a certain sum shall be voted, honorable members will have to address themselves to that question. When the right honorable member commenced his speech, I interposed only by way of warning. It was only when he began to discuss the merits of two officers, for whom special votes are provided–
– I avoided discussing their merits.
– I think that the right honorable member went further than that. He referred to the physical condition of one of the officers.
– In a sympathetic way.
– Certainly. The only reason why I interposed was so that the proceedings of the Committee may be strictly in order, and that time may be saved. I ask the right honorable member, in discussing matters of administration, which it is quite within his right to discuss, not to make more than incidental references to items which will come up for discussion at a later period.
– The words of the honorable member for Bland, quoted by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, exactly support the view you, Mr. Chairman, have taken -
It has been the practice in the New South Wales Legislature to allow a general discussion of the administration of the Department upon the first item in the Estimates of that Department.
I am not expressing any opinion upon the action of the right honorable member for East Sydney, which is within the discretion of the Chairman, but I wish it to be understood that the Committee has not departed from the practice of the House of Commons, and has not started out on any new line. The reply of the then Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, to the honorable member for Bland, was that -
The Ministry are ready to fall in with that suggestion. If it be understood as an honorable arrangement that the discussion of the general administration of a Department is to be confined to the debate upon the first item on the Estimates of that Department, that will avoid the necessity for the discussion on the following items of anything beyond the actual adequacy of the salary proposed for the duties to be performed in connexion with the office to which it is attached.
That is exactly the principle laid down in May,, and the practice which the Chairman has intimated his intention to enforce. I rose to say that it must not be thought that we have in any way departed from the general practice of the House of Commons as laid down in May. »
– I should like to indorse the view just expressed by the Attorney-General as to what is the correct practice, and I do not wish to go beyond the accepted limits. I would, however, point out that the system which we have adopted has hitherto worked admirably. Last session there was a general discussion on the Estimates of the PostmasterGeneral, which lasted for, I think, a couple of sittings, and then the whole of the Estimates were put through. To have a general discussion of the administration of the Department on the first item has the effect of clearing the air, and results in the more rapid despatch of business later on. I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, that it would not be in order at this stage to deal at great length with any items. But in referring to the general administration of a Department, allusion must be made to specific acts of the administration, and an honorable member cannot be prevented from referring to any flagrant case to which he wishes to direct attention. I wish to very closely follow your ruling, because I desire to keep within the proper limits of debate; but, at the same time,. I am very jealous of the rights of honorable members in this connexion, because every member of the Committee should have the fullest freedom in dealing with Estimates. Returning to the subject which I was discussing when interrupted, I say that the object of appointing a Military Board was to remove the element of political patronage and favoritism, and to get rid of a system under which a Minister might do something for some one which he would not do for some one else. How is it, then, that special cases are provided for in these Estimates, in which the treatment of one man is distinguished from that of another? Why is a colonel to receive a month’s pay in respect of a certain term of service, while sergeants and other non-commissioned officers are to be sent out into the world without sixpence? Have the Government put these items into the Estimates without the recommendation of the Board ? Are we, after the enormous trouble which we have had to arrange a non-political system, to be thrown back to the evils from which we desired to get away ? If we are to be thrown back to those evils for the sake of a colonel, let us go back to them for the sake of all other officers.
– Common privates are not worth noticing.
– I .do not think they get ihe best of it in the Military Forces. I do not wish to cast any reflection on the officers provided for in the Estimates; my remarks would apply to any other officers in the same position. I desire now to refer to some remarks which have been made by the honorable member for Bland and the honorable and learned member for West Sydney in the excellent speeches which they delivered in the Town Hall in Sydney. I noticed in these speeches, and I have noticed elsewhere, a tendency to refer to a citizen soldiery as if we have not at the present moment a citizen soldiery. No man who has the slightest knowledge of the constitution of our Military Forces can be ignorant of that fact. I do not suppose that there are more than 1,200 or 1,500 soldiers in the regular pay of the Commonwealth, so that at least 23,000 out of the 25,000 men who carry arms for Australia are citizen soldiers.
– Not in the sense in which the honorable member for Bland uses the term.
– Surely the honorable member for Bland would not dream of distinguishing between the volunteer who devotes his own time to obtaining military training and a citizen soldier. Surely the citizen is a citizen, whoever he may be. I wish to correct the growing idea that ours is not a citizen force. At least 23,000 of the 25,000 men who form our Military Forces are citizen soldiers. But if we desire to have an efficient military defence we must be prepared to pay for it. I believe iti a citizen soldiery, partly because it is the cheapest way of providing for the national defence. “A standing army of 25,000 men would be an intolerable burden. But, on the other hand, I am opposed to the idea that to secure a perfect army we must get rid of all experts. That is the silliest notion in the world1. How absurd it would be to try to run a man-of-war with the help of amateur engineers ! It ils equally silly to depend wholly on amateur generals, colonels, and sergeants.
– The amateur generals in the Boer war did very well.
– They were not amateurs; they were trained men.
– The idea that the great Boer generals were men who suddenly came on the field of battle without military training is an absurd one.
– They had had more training in the particular kind of warfare in which they were engaged than the officers on the other side.
– They were seasoned soldiers, many of whom had had to fight their way to get where they were, and to stay there.
– They had not gone through military colleges.
– That, no doubt, is correct. I have observed the statement in one of the newspapers that the Government have announced that they are going to employ no more Imperial officers in connexion with the training of our forces. Can the honorable gentleman say whether that statement is correct ?
– No; but I will make inquiries.
– I think that the Minister could tell me a little more than that. The statement has been made, and I want to point out the utter futility of such a position. The efficiency of our Forces is a vital matter. If we could secure the’ services of a local man to make them’ thoroughly efficient, well and good; but if such an officer had not great military experience, he might, although he were a born genius, lead the whole of our Forces to sudden death.
– Let us secure an officer from Japan. The military men of that country have had great experience.
– If a Japanese officer came over here, I am afraid the present Government would be turned out, and, moreover, I expect that he would be put through an examination in another language than his own before he would be permitted to land here.
– He could get a passport.
– T admit that my honorable friend’s visit to Japan has been productive of many good results, including the issue of a very excellent work which I have not yet read. At the same time I thank my honorable friend for his courtesy in sending me a copy, which I hope to have the pleasure of reading later on. I wish to place the strongest emphasis of condemnation upon the idea that you can get a home-bred military genius in Australia. I think that it would pay us well to procure the services of the best half-dozen men in the world - be they English, French, German, or American. Sometimes I am told that it is. possible to secure, at a very small rate of pay, non-commissioned officers who are among the best soldiers in the British Army.. They have in the Imperial service sergeants of vast experience in matters of war and administration who would be of immense value to us. This idea of having a brandnew Australian Army, without any expert officers from other countries, is one of the most idiotic pieces of insular prejudice of which I have ever heard. I know that the Government is a protectionist Administration, but I would ask them not to carry their policy of protection into matters of military administration. I believe that in actual warfare Australian officers would develop into as good generals as any other men, but the leadership of such men, unless based upon experience and the knowledge that conies ‘from the control of military movements upon a large scale, would prove absolutely fatal to our Forces. Some time ago a project was communicated to us by Mr. Chamberlain, when’ he was Secretary of State for the Colonies. I believe that a further proposal of a similar character was made later on. The idea was that a certain number of Australian officers should go to the mother country to be attached to the British Forces, and that a certain number of BritisH officers should be sent out in exchange, to be attached to our Forces. I thought that that was an admirable proposal. Our officers, upon being attached to the Imperial Army, would acquire greater knowledge and experience, and the British officers coming here would assist very much to promote the efficiency of our Forces. I do not know whether that project has died out, but I thought that it was ah exceedingly good one, and I trust that the VicePresident of the Executive Council wilt persuade his honorable colleague the Minister of Defence to take it into his serious consideration.
– We must send more men abroad for instruction. The Government have not sent away one man since they havebeen in office.
– Yes, I quite agree withthe honorable and learned member, and I think that the other feature of the proposal that British” officers should be attached to our Forces is also an excellent one.
– I have every reason to know that the project will be favorably regarded in official quarters if it is pressed toy the Commonwealth.
– I hope that the Minister will loot into that matter and use his valuable influence in favour of the proposal. I think it will be an excellent thing for our officers to be attached for a short period to the British Forces in India or at Home.
– It is a splendid idea.
– Yes, but the worst of it is that whereas we are ready to break all our rules in order to provide for a gratuity or something of that kind, these useful projects never get any further. The honorable andlearned member for Northern Melbourne seems to have a perfect craze with reference to the British Navy. He seems to think that we should do well to abolish our contribution, and spend the money upon our own coastal defences. After the views which have been expressed by the honorable and learned member upon other subjects I can understand the peculiar trend of his thoughts, but I should like to ask why he should desire to treat the British Navy in a worse manner than he would deal with the meanest man in his employment. I will guarantee that if any man did the honorable and learned member a service he would be the first to honestly and even liberally recognise it.
– What other part of the Empire makes a contribution to the Navy?
– If other parts of the Empire do not recognise their responsibilities that is no reason why we should follow their bad example.
– New Zealand makes a contribution to the Navy.
– If we were influenced in our actions by those of the majority of other people, we should not get along as well as we do.
– Natal has also made contributions to the Navy.
– They give no annual tribute.
– I think it would be just as sensible to call the pay that we give our policemen an annual tribute. Our policemen cost us hundreds of thousands of pounds annually–
– But we get their services in return for our expenditure.
– And do we not get the services of the British Navy?
– The extraordinary thing is that we not only have the British squadron in these seas to protect us, but the whole of the vast and magnificent naval strength of Great Britain - every man and every gun - is pledged to our defence. And whilst the people of the mother country, whose circumstances are indeed straitened compared with ours, can ill afford to support these vast armaments, honorable members are objecting to a paltry contribution of £200,000 on our part. £35,000,000 per annum has to be contributed annually for the maintenance of the Navy by the 41,000,000 people of the United Kingdom, of whom, I suppose, a very large proportion are in comparative poverty. There are no gold-fields there, and none of those opportunities for enterprise which we have here. The VicePresident of the Executive Council, before he took his place in the team which is being driven by my honorable friends below the gangway was a red-hot Imperialist. He went off like a torpedo if any one spoke in the way that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has expressed himself this afternoon. But now he sits like a well-fed horse in the shafts, and takes no notice of any observation with regard to the discontinuance of our contribution to the British Navy. Considering the fact that we are a young country, and have vast works of colonization to carry out, our contribution of £200,000 represents prettynearly all that we can afford ; but it is as nothing compared with the value of the protection that we receive from the fleets and the flag of the mother country. I cannot understand how any man can get up in this Chamber and speak of this £200,000 as if it were not honestly due. If our contribution were placed upon a business-like basis, instead of being made the subject of a friendly arrangement between the grand old motherland and this grand young daughterland, the amount we should be called upon to pay by way of insurance would run into millions before we knew where we were. When we think of how much is spent upon politics, for which we obtainvery little return!, we need not begrudge a contribution of £200,000 towards the Navy, for which we get such good value. We do not receive in return for our expenditure in that direction a lot of muddled policies and political failures, but we get excellent value for our money. There never was service more faithfully rendered, or reward less adequate. I do not reproach this Parliament. I think that £200,000 is a mere drop in the bucket of Imperial expenditure, and the insistence of the Home Government upon our paying the subsidy is the worst policy in the world. The Imperial Government spend £35,000,000 annually upon the British Navy, which guarantees the integrity of every inch of the British Empire, including Australia, and a contribution of £200,000 towards such an immense outlay is so contemptible that all the diplomacy and conferences and Acts of Parliament which have been associated with the transaction represent, I think, the worst phase of English statesmanship - not because we do not owe the money, or that the service rendered is not fully worth it, but because the contribution is a mere farce, if it is to be regarded as a fair payment for services rendered. The real strength that the old country derives’ from Australia is not represented by our contribution to the cost of the Navy. The real strength that she derives from us, and which we derive from her, lies in the tie of affection which would bring the mother to the assistance of the child, or the child to the assistance of the mother to the last drop of blood. That is the spirit which makes the Empire strong, and I trust that, whatever may be our political views, we shall never forget the marvellous service which the British people, the British fleet, and the British flag render to the democracy of Australia.
– I am sure that honorable members heartily welcome back the right honorable and learned member. for East Sydney.. His. breezy cheerfulness and debating power are always appreciated. They certainly afford us some relief from the grim determination of the honorable member who leads the Opposition in his absence, although even that is to some extent tempered by the genuine good humour and enlivening speeches of the honorable member for Dalley. The right honorable gentleman was very severe in his criticisms upon what turned out to be his own Estimates, and, in order to extricate himself from the difficulty in which he found himself, he complimented the Government upon having adopted his figures. I understand that it is the practice of Ministers, upon coming into office, to take up the administration of their immediate predecessors.
– They never take up their Estimates unless they approve of them. .
– In some instances that I can recall, Governments have had to adopt the Estimates of their predecessors, in order to keep faith with the paying-out Departments. I admire the clever manner in which the right honorable member got out of the impasse in which he found himself. But to my mind he laid altogether too much stress upon the point that, to properly fill the portfolio of Minister of Defence, a man ought to be a military officer. His remarks in that connexion did not appeal to me in the slightest degree. Can he cite one single instance in theold land of a Minister of Defencehaving been an officer, either of the volunteer or the permanent forces? Can he point to any military officer who was Minister of Defence in any State in Australia when the con tingents were despatched to South Africa? I do not believe that he can. Consequently, it is the height of absurdity for him to urge that the Minister of Defence should be an officer of the Military Forces. I was extremely sorry to hear him take up the position that he did in regard to Major Carroll. I do not know that officer, but I have read sufficient of the evidence taken by the Select Committee which inquired into his case, to induce me to believe that he was a much maligned and wronged man. Surely if an individual be wronged, even bya Military Board, it is the province of this Parliament, as the final court of appeal, to see that justice is done. I am glad that Major Carroll has been reinstated. He was not dismissed from the forces, although one would imagine from the remarks of the right honorable member that he had done something despicable and dishonorable.
– On the contrary, I did not express the slightest opinion upon the merits of his case.
– That was the impression which I gathered from the observations of the right honorable member. He led us to suppose that, simply because the Military. Board had dismissed Major Carroll, he must therefore remain out of the force for all. time. Surely the democracy of Australia will not allow itself to be overridden by a military tribunal. The right honorable member must be aware that the wisest Judges sometimes fall into error, and that occasionally men are unjustly sentenced. To my mind that is what occurred in the case of Major Carroll. He rose from the ranks. He was an officer who had seen active service, but because he was not a swell–
– How many swells are there in the service, and what pay do officers receive to “ swell “ upon ?
– I repeat that Major Carroll is a much-wronged man. If we go back to the time of Oliver Cromwell, we shall see that military training is not absolutely indispensable. We all know that Cromwell in a little more than two years and without any military training whatever, rose to be a colonel, and we are all familiar with the way in which he “ smashed” the highest military authorities of his time. In the same way, the Boers were not trained men. They were trained shots, and that is what we wish our men to become. We do not want what the honorable member for Darwin calls “gilt-spurred roosters,” one of whom informed me the other day that he could not get a suit of clothes made to fit him either in Melbourne or Sydney, adding, that he had been compelled to get a uniform from Home, and that “it was a damned shame it was not admitted free of duty.” Iri reply, I told him that Australia required soldiers, not men to dance about in gorgeous feathers. Prior to the outbreak of hostilities in South Africa, had any one asked my opinion of the British Army, I should have said that the Imperial authorities could place in the field 250,000 trained and disciplined troops, who were able to face those of any other country in the world. Unfortunately, events proved otherwise, for - including the contingents which were despatched from Australia and Canada - it was necessary to send a soldier for every man, woman, and child in the Transvaal. The British Army, when it was tried’, failed, and it’ requires no great stretch of imagination to conceive that, in assuming the British Fleet to be equal to any two fleets, we may make a similar mistake. If one link in the first line of bur defence - the Imperial Navy - were to fail, how long could we hold out against the North ? I have no fear of any European nation ; but I have a fear of another nation. It has exhibited a perfect genius in applying the most advanced ideas obtainable from other countries, and it has done so in a way that the world has never seen equalled. At the time of the Crimean war, France was leagued with Great Britain, the Kingdom of Sardinia, Turkey, and Circassia, and yet what did the allies accomplish ? They captured a paltry little place called Sebastopol - a fortress which had not one-tenth of the strength of Port Arthur. If one link in the chain of our first line of defence were to give way, how long could Hong Kong, the second port in the world - the seat of the British Navy in the East - hold out? There are only 3,500 defenders there, in addition to a paltry force of 375 volunteers. Therefore,- it requires no wide stretch of imagination to conceive that the British Navy may fail us in a moment of need, just as the Army did. Consequently, it behoves us to .do all that we possibly can to make our men efficient shots. The honorable and learned member for Corio has already told the House how the Japanese Squadron steamed towards Port Phillip in battle array, taking the only course which could not be commanded by the Queenscliff guns. I am also credibly informed that a J apanese, who was employed as cook at one of the hotels in Queenscliff, secured a number of photographs of the fortifications there, showing how the guns are placed, and how they can be used. I am glad that party considerations do not enter into this question. Apart from the desire of the right honorable member for East Sydney to thrash those in power, he entertains as strong a desire to provide an efficient defence for Australia, as does the Minister at the table. At the present time, I am informed that we have about 35,000 rifles which are nominally fit for use, but which in reality are not so. In England to-day it is held that the average life of a rifle is about twelve years; but if we ask any man who is keen at the rifle ranges, and who, by dint of practice, is seeking to win prizes for marksmanship, how often the barrel of his weapon requires to be renewed, he will probably reply, “About twelve months.” Recently I was informed by one individual that he had had to have the barrel of his rifle renewed in a little less, than two years. We all recognise that the higher explosives which are now used render the life of a rifle shorter than it was formerly. In the days of the “ old Brown Bess,” I have seen a rifle which was in good order after fifty years of use. At the present time we have 5,000 rifles in stock with which’ to replace those that become obsolete. In other words, it is calculated that the average life of a rifle is seven years - a calculation which is absurd.
– The late Government wanted to fight with saddles.
– I say that we ought to establish a factory, in which we can manufacture our own arms and ammunition. We are already able to bore cannon at the Government workshops at Newport.
If we were to establish our own factory, we should obviate the possibility of bad ammunition being supplied to us. In the recent South African campaign, the ordnance of the Boers out-ranged the British cannon, but did not prove more effective because of the poor quality of the ammunition which was supplied to them by private firms. It may be urged that if we established our own factory, it would be employed only for a small portion of the year. But I would point out that if we founded engineering works we could do more with them than manufacture cannon and other weapons of defence. I do not suppose that honorable members will deny that there must be a central authority in the management and direction of the Navy. In a splendid article, which was published in the Age this morning, that newspaper showed that if the Australian Squadron were withdrawn in time of emergency, a small fleet of cruisers could almost paralyze our trade. If such a fleet were to appear off Newcastle, the news would be flashed by telegraph to Sydney, Melbourne, and other points. But after our forces had been entrained, the vessels might disappear, and thus we might be kept constantly engaged in transporting them from point to point in anticipation of the cruisers making their reappearance. The coal-fields of Newcastle ought to be impregnable. Magnificent as was the effort of the Russian squadron to reach Japan, we know that no fleet is safe when far removed from a base where supplies of coal are available, and I hold that we should endeavour to adequately protect the coal mines of Newcastle, and so preserve them for our own use. National works must be carried out. Under the Constitution the Commonwealth has power to impose taxation, and I hold that a land tax should be imposed to raise the money necessary for the adequate protection of the country- The men who are willing to fight should not be taxed to defend that which in many cases they do not possess. In many instances they _ hold no land until they finally occupy a six by two block. I am glad to say that some of the brightest officers in the service of the Commonwealth - and notably an officer in New South Wales - agree with me that we should, as far as possible, adopt the Swiss system. We know that the country which spends the most money in perfecting its military system does not always possess the test soldiers. In The Swiss Confederation, a standard work by Sir Francis
Adams, K.C.M.G., C.B., late Her Majesty’s Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary at Berne, and C. B. Cunningham - who, I understand, is a great authority on military questions - ii> is pointed out that approximately the annual cost per man in the principal armies in Europe is as follows: - Great Britain, £64 10s. 4d. ; Spain, ,£56 2s. 4d. ; AustroHungary, ^52 12s.; France, ^46 13s 6d. ; Germany, £46; Denmark, £45; Italy, ^43 18s.; Belgium, £40 10s. ; Holland, £51 ; Russia, £22. 16s.; Switzerland, £j. Some honorable members may imagine that it would be utterly impossible to establish .an armycomplete in every detail by means of so small an outlay as is that made by Switzerland. But Sir Francis Adams, having made a careful study of the question during his long residence in Switzerland, states in the work to which I have referred that -
The Swiss army is absolutely complete in every detail; the medical, commissariat, and veterinary departments are thoroughly organized; there is the proper proportion of cavalry, artillery, engineers, and transport ; the battalions are kept up to their full strengtH and all in readiness for service. In fact, all the adjuncts for making an army a mobile factor in the field, are with the Swiss system of administration, complete and in thorough working order. We on the other hand have a regular army -
I may say that this was written before the Boer war - composed of close upon 200,000 men, and 330,000 militiamen and volunteers, which has not been inaptly called a “ conglomerated mass of unconnected atoms.” In the opinion of many of our distinguished military men, our enormous force of auxiliary troops “ could not be maintained in the field for three days; they are without the right proportion of artillery, almost destitute of cavalry, and without the nucleus of those departments by which alone an army can be maintained effective. It is a subject for reflection to us, a great and powerful nation, that a little country, not possessing a tenth part of our wealth, can put into and maintain effectively in the field between 150,000 and 200,000 men, a feat which we, in spite of our enormous budget are incapable of achieving.
– They have a citizen soldiery
– That is what we need.
– Our troops are a citizen soldiery.
– I am aware of that. I am thoroughly in accord with the criticism levelled by the leader of the Opposition at the proposal to grant gratuities to two officers. I do not mean to suggest that the officers in question may not be deserving of assistance, but my complaint is that the proposal is a complete departure from the general practice. I appreciate the remark made by the honorable and learned member for Corinella that either gratuities should be given to every member of the forces, or to none of them. It seems somewhat strange that two officers of high rank should be selected for special treatment. It is proposed that one should receive a grant of £800, and theother a gratuity of £591.
– A year’s salary.
– That is so. I have a keen recollection of the treatment meted out to an unfortunate man who had fought in South Africa, and fought well. Upon his return to Melbourne he was attacked by measles, and while still in a weak condition desired to obtain a free pass to Sydney. I gave him a letter, in which I stated that he was in a state of debility, following upon the disease from which he had suffered, and desired a free pass, and I advised him to take this letter to the barracks. What was the answer which this poor private received to his request? He was told to walk to Sydney ! That was the way in which the country thanked him for his services.
– When was this?
– About four or five years ago. No one would be so foolish as to imagine for one moment that the two officers to whom it is proposed to grant gratuities are alone deserving of consideration. There must be many similar cases. In time of war the pay of the CommanderinChief of the Swiss Army would be only £2 per day, and yet we are asked to vote these large gratuities to retiring officers. I shall vote against the item, believing that the proposal argues the selection of officers of high rank for special treatment, whilst those of lower rank are left uncared for. If it be necessary to give something to these officers, let them have a pension, but byall means let us decide that all shall be treated alike”. Whether a man be a colonel or a private, he has only one stomach to fill, and can occupy only one bed at a time.
– The granting of gratuities is opposed to the whole military system.
– Certainly it is. If it were not so, is it likely that men who took part in the charge at Balaclava would have been allowed to die in the English workhouses? As a student, I went round with a subscription list to raise money to purchase a wheeling chair for a man who had lost his two legs while in the service of his country at Balaclava, but it was not long before he went to his last home. I am for a Citizen Army, and I hope that we shall establish one upon the lines of that of the Swiss Republic. The newspapers are doing a good work in rousing the people of Australia to a sense of the danger which confronts them. The ease with which armies can be transported from one point to another when once the command of the seas has been obtained should satisfy us that unless we make our defences secure we shall be living in a fool’s paradise. Let us sink all party considerations in dealing with this question, and determine, regardless of who may be in office, to promote the welfare of the Commonwealth. If by our united efforts weinduce the Government to put the Defence Department on a better footing, and to purchase more rifles with which to arm our young men, we shall be able to say that we have done some good in this session of 1905.
– I wish to support the able argument advanced by the honorable member for Maranoa regarding the claim made by the Victorian Rifle Association in respect of work done by it on the ranges taken over by the Commonwealth. Honorable members who have read the statement of the case put forward by the council of the association are aware that some years ago it received a grant of lands from the State, and that certain obligations entered into by the State Government in respect of those lands were taken over by theGovernmentof theCommonwealth . The association continued to carry out work on the ranges, even after the Department had been transferred, and between the 1st March, 1901, and 30th June, 1904, expended £2 , 000 in this way. They now ask to be reimbursed this amount, as their funds have reached a low ebb, and more particularly as the expenditure was incurred in respect of work which should have been carried out by the Commonwealth. A detailed statement of the expenditure has been furnished and I trust that the claim will be favorably considered. It seems to me to be an eminently fair one, especially having regard to the fact that the number of members of rifle clubs connected with the Victorian Association in June, 1904, was 16,275, as compared with only 5,290 in New South Wales. Notwithstanding that the number of riflemen in Victoria is largely in excess of that in New South Wales, we find that the grant to the association is only ,£1,673, as against a grant of _£i,86i to the Rifle Association of New South Wales. On the basis of membership, the Victorian Association should receive £648 more than is given to that in New South Wales. In these circumstances I think that the claim is worthy of favorable consideration. I wish to heartily indorse the remarks made by the leader of the Opposition with respect to the cadet movement. I remember how, thirty years ago, our masters used to drill us one or two days a week, and with what pleasure the boys entered into the work. Many of them have since risen to high positions in the military service.
– Was this at a school in Victoria ?
– Yes ; at a school in West Melbourne. I indorse what has been said by the right honorable member for East Sydney in regard to the unwisdom of allowing the deficiency in saddlery to continue. The equipment of our light horse is sadly deficient, especially in regard to saddlery, and I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will bring the matter before the Minister of Defence. The light horse i’s one of the best arms of the militia service in Victoria. The young men who belong to it sometimes travel eighteen or twenty miles to attend drills, and they furnish their own horses. They form as fine a body of men as could be found in any part of the world, and ought to be encouraged at least to the extent of providing them with suitable equipment. The Department is also retrenching in the matter of instructors. At Warrnambool, for instance, one man has to instruct both the light horse and the artillery, which seems to me, as a non-military man, an almost impossible task. I hope that this parsimony will not be pushed further. With regard to what has been said about the payment of gratuities, I think that all members of the service should be treated alike; but I believe that there are special circumstances which warrant the payment of the gratuities provided for in these Estimates. ‘
– There are special circumstances in dozens of other cases.
– If honorable members know of other cases in which the circumstances justify the payment of gratuities, and will bring them forward, I shall vote for whatever sums are considered necessary, because I wish to be fair all round. I know that the items contained in these Estimates are entirely justified.
– It is not my intention to delay the Committee, but there is one matter which I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister. I sympathize with what has been said as to the treatment of the Victorian Rifle Association, but it is not the only case of injustice which can be brought before the Minister. I wish to refer to a matter which I am sure is not known to the honorable gentleman. In South Australia a man who earns his living by supplying targets, attending to rifles, and so on, supplied, about twelve months ago, three targets for the use of the South Australian Military Forces, at a cost of £30 each. Up to date he has not received payment, although he has, of course, applied for his money. It is disgraceful that a working man should be asked to supply materials necessitating a considerable outlay, and then be kept waiting so long for payment. I blame the staff office in South Australia for this. I believe that there are many matters which do not reach Head-quarters. I hope that the Minister will inquire into this case, and have the man’s grievance rectified.
– As we sat here until 4 o’clock this morning, I think” it a reasonable thing that we should adjourn now. I have no doubt that honorable members opposite will support my request. It will not expedite business to force us to continue the present sitting. The Opposition have been- very forbearing, but I shall not again submit as tamely as I did last night to a sitting lasting until 4 a.m. Honorable members are not now in the right physical condition for work.
– Perhaps«.some other honorable member is ready to go on. The Government wish to meet the Committee in every reasonable way, and reported progress on these Estimates last Friday afternoon on the understanding that the debate would be considerate and -amicable. No doubt I have received very fair treatment to-night in return.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa). - Surely the honorable gentleman believes in the eight-hour day, and does not wish to work the soul- case out of us. No doubt if he will let us get home now the Estimates will fly through to-morrow.
– Will the leader of the Opposition help us to get business through ?
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - I will do my best; but no leader of a party can answer for honorable members who are absent, and who are not under military discipline. My influence, however, will be used1 to secure the closing of the general discussion tomorrow night.
– Do I understand that honorable members generally will endeavour to finish the Defence Estimates to-morrow ?
– The general debate.
– We have already been two days on these Estimates. If honorable members will honestly attempt to finish this Department to-morrow night I shall be satisfied.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).The Opposition has no desire to lengthen the discussion, and, in fact, some of the longest speeches which have been delivered on these Estimates have come from the other side. The honorable member for Maranoa made a very important contribution to the debate, and gave us a good deal of information. This is a subject which is of great interest to all honorable members, and upon which they feel the need of information. We should, therefore, be grateful to honorable members possessing special knowledge who will lay .it before the Committee. I am willing to co-operate with the leader of the Opposition in ending the general discussion to-morrow night.
Mr. EWING (Richmond- VicePresident of the Executive Council). - I am willing to overlook all the unjustifiable statements which have been made by members of the Opposition with regard to the Government, and I am prepared to recognise that each side owes to the other reasonable consideration and fair treatment. I accept the offer of the leader of the Opposition to do the best he can to expedite the business, and, if he reasonably can, close the discussion on the Defence Estimates to-morrow night.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- All I can say is that so far as I am concerned, my attitude will be one of benevolent neutrality. If honorable members desire to discuss the Estimates, I cannot prevent them - that would be exercising an authority which even a Prime Minister could not exercise.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Isaacs) read a first time.
House adjourned at 10.33 P-m-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 October 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19051025_reps_2_28/>.