2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. BROWN presented a petition from the New South Wales Country Press Association, praying the House not to give copyright in news.
Petition received and read.
– I wish to make a personal explanation in reference to the following paragraph, which appears in this morning’s Argus -
At yesterday’s meeting of the Federal Cabinet Mr.Bamford (Q.), M.H.R., was appointed a member of the Old-age Pensions Commission, in the room of Mr. Page (Q.), M.H.R., resigned. It was in the early stages of the inquiry that Mr. Page declined to leave his Parliamentary duties and travel with the Commission. Since that time the vacancy has remained’ unfilled, and as the Commission is nearing the end of its labours, it seems as if the appointment is made to allow the full representation of the Labour Party in the recommendations.
That statement is not accurate. I will tell the House the real reason why I resigned my position as a member of the Commission. The members of the Royal Commission were last session members of a Select Committee, appointed to take evidence and inquire generally on the subject of old-age pensions. The Select Committee met several times, and, after the prorogation, was, early in the present year, converted into a Royal Commission. I was waiting in Queensland for months to be informed of a meeting of the Commission, but no notice was sent to me on the subject I feel very strongly in regard to old-age pensions, and if it would bring about the establishment of an old-age pension system, I would willingly travel from one end of Australia to the other. I left the Commission not because of the travelling involved, but because I felt that the question referred to it was being shelved.
– This case shows what a farce Select Committee and Royal Commission inquiries are.
– In this instance the inquiry seems to be a farce. It is well known that every honorable member favours the establishment of an old-age pension system, and I cannot for the life of me see why the matter should be hung up any longer. The first meeting of the Royal Commission was held in April last, and, although we are now about to enter into the month of November, only six meetings in all have been held. If that isnot evidence of a palpable hanging-up of the matter, I do not know what would be. I am sorry that any Labour representative is having anything to do with the Commission, and that the honorable member for Herbert has accepted a position on it.
– Is the Prime Minister in a position to give the House any information as to the intentions of the Government in reference to the business to be completed this session? If he cannot do so to-day, will he give us the information on Tuesday next ?
– I have scanned the notice-papers of both Houses, and at present think it unnecessary to announce that any of the business there set down will be abandoned. There are some disputable questions whose discussion may occupy a certain amount of time, but of the measures coming to us from another place, although two are rather formidable in appearance, one - the Copyright Bill - is purely technical, while the other - the Electoral Bill - is based on the recommendations of a Commission, and deals with a subject with which honorable members are fully conversant. The principal business which we have to transact is, therefore, that which appears on our own notice-paper, with the addition of Bills to amend the Immigration Restriction Act, another to deal with the Federal Capital Site, and, perhaps, a third which has yet to be introduced. I see no reason why we should at the present time cease to hope to pass all those measures.
– And a Tariff Amendment Bill, as well, to fill up the time.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been called to the slanderous statements about Australia which have been made by the editor of the South Australian Register? Will he follow the example of the Premier of South Australia and send a cablegram to the New York Herald, in which the statements appeared, denouncing them as incorrect?
– I have read the statements, and the denial of their accuracy which has appeared. While we appreciate the enterprise of American newspapers in not only obtaining but decorating information, I do not think we need encourage their enterprise by paying them the compliment of contradicting their effusions from this side of the world.
– In view of the ap prehension which exists as to the unsuitability of the gunsat Largs Bay Fort, will the Vice- President of the Executive Council obtain a report on the subject, and place it before honorable members ?
– The Prime Minister yesterday stated that the guns there are not obsolete, and that a communication has been sent to the Government of South Australia on the subject; but I shall have a report, giving the fullest information, laid on the table.
– All the information is at hand inthe Department, so that it could be obtained within half-an-hour.
– That being so, there will be no difficulty in complying with the honorable member’s request.
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council lay on , the table the minute written by Senator Dawson, when Minister of Defence, upon the retirement of Colonel Price?
– I have the papers here, and the honorable member can see them if he wishes to do so.
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed from 26th October, vide page 4194):
Department of Defence
Division 42a(Gratuities), £1,450
– The gratuities, equalling a year’s pay, proposed to be given to Colonel Price and Lt.-Col. Bayly, on their retirement from the Military Force’s, were not provided for in the Estimates prepared by the late Government, and are being proposed under the responsibility of the present Government. By the courtesy of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I have been permitted to peruse the official file in connexion with this subject, and, although a hasty glance through it has not disclosed any minutes relating to these grants, possibly there are such minutes among the papers, and I have been unable to discover them. I wish to place before the Committee the reasons which led me to refrain from recommending the late Government to place this item on the Estimates, and to do so I must give a chronological statement of certain events which took place in 1902. Honorable members will find the dates I am about to give of material importance in assisting them to arrive at a judgment on this mat ter. On the 1 st May of that year, the Committee resolved that the Defence Estimates for the following year should be reduced by £130,000, which placed upon the Defence Department the task of finding opportunities for retrenchment. On the 5th May, four days later, and before any scheme of retrenchment could be formulated, Colonel Price was offered1 the position of Commandant of Queensland. On the 14th May, 1902, he accepted it, and went to Queensland. At that time he was in his sixtieth year, and, under the regulations, would have retired in the ordinary course in the following October. When he was offered, and accepted the command in Queensland, he asked for a five years’ extension of service, which, if granted, would have, enabled him to continue in active employment until he had reached the age of sixty-five. On the 15th May, still within a fortnight after the decision of the House, the General Officer Commanding wrote -
Please assure Colonel Price that I can only regret that under the regulations of retirement for age it will be impossible for him to hold any active command under the Commonwealth after the age of 62, which he will, I understand, attain on the 21st October, 1904.
I propose to recommend Colonel Price as a special case, to be retained in the service for two years, from the 21st October next, when he, in accordance with date of his birth given in the gradation list, attains the age of 60.
That is to say he was then granted a special extension of two years in consideration of his services. In June or July, 1902, Colonel Price actually proceeded to Queensland, and the Commonwealth Gazette of 1 8th July, 1902, contained the notification of his appointment as dating from 1 stJuly. About that time - and I wish to state whatever tells either way, because I desire that the Committee shall be made acquainted with the whole of the facts - the question of granting gratuities to those who were compulsorily retrenched’ in consequence of the decision of the House to reduce the defence expenditure, came under consideration, but it was not until the 1 8th August, six weeks after Colonel Price had entered uponhis command in Queensland, that the honorable and learned member for Corio asked the honorable member for Hume, who was then acting as Minister of Defence, a question) as to whether any compensation was to be granted. The acting Minister replied that he was then considering the question. The importance of this fact lies in the circumstance that at the time Colonel Price went to Queensland the most that could have taken place was that Major-General Hutton - and Colonel Price alleges that this is so - had said that the retiring officers were to receive gratuities. I may add that MajorGeneral Hutton contradicts that statement, and asserts that what he promised was that he would do his best to obtain the gratuities, but that the question of granting them would depend upon Parliament. It was not until the beginning of October, 1902, that the proposals for gratuities were submitted to the House. The honorable member for Hume had stated, between August and October, that the retiring officers were to receive compensation, but that nothing could be determined until the House had approved of the proposal. In October, as I have stated, he proposed the special gratuities, which were paid, and in the list then prepared the name of Colonel Price appeared as one of those who were to be retired, and to receive gratuities. That was the first time that the actual lists were prepared, or that it became a formal Government proposal that the gratuities should be given, and this was some time after Colonel Price had gone to Queensland. In consequence of this proposal, Major-General Hutton, on the 15th October, 1902, communicated with Colonel Price, and said that he regretted that in consequence of the retrenchment proposals, making it necessary to retire certain officers, Colonel Price’s name, amongst others, had been submitted for retirement. That was the first that Colonel Price knew about his retirement.
– And it had just cost him £300 to remove his family and his belongings to Queensland.
-I am perfectly aware of that, and I shall leave no material fact unstated. On 22 nd October, 1902, Colonel Price replied, and pointed out that he had gone to Queensland on a promise of two years’ extra service, and that he had been put to expense in moving, which he estimated at about , £150.
An Honorable Member. - Was it not £350?
– Colonel Price began by mentioning £350, but his estimate was in the same letter boiled down to about £150. He stated also that he had taken a lease of a house, for the rent of which he was liable. He then said that if he was to be retired he should receive, in addition to the £1,170, some hundreds of pounds more to make up for the special expense he had beet* called upon to incur. He was entitled to £1,170 on retirement, but his two years’ appointment gave him £1,600 extra in salary.
– Yes, but he had to work for that.
– I am not taking up a partisan attitude. I am stating the facts as I know them. Afterwards I shall indicate that I am forced to a certain conclusion, but I shall not urge honorable members to decide one way or another. A reply was sent to that letter to the effect that the right honorable member for Swan, who had again taken charge of the Department, would in the meantime confirm MajorGeneral Hutton’s promise to Colonel Price, but it was added that Major-General Hutton must not make any more promises without his consent.
– I do not think I said that.
– On the 29th October the right honorable gentleman wrote in his own hand the following minute: -
I consider that, so far as the Government is concerned, Colonel Price’s case is the only one in which the Government is committed, and in his case only to a limited extent. In order to avoid any misunderstanding in cases like that of Colonel Price, it is absolutely necessary that the General Officer Commanding should not make any promises to recommend officers for advancement, &c., until he has obtained the approval of the Minister.
– That is a general statement.
– The right honorable gentleman confirmed Major-General Hutton’s promise, but said that the General Officer Commanding must not make any more promises to officers without first obtaining the Minister’s consent. An answer was sent to Colonel Price, which said neither yea nor nay with respect to his special expenses, but mentioned that it was considered inadvisable to interfere with his present tenure, unless he preferred to take the proposed compensation and retire on the 31st December then approaching. The then Minister added -
I am unable to make any promise as to whether any gratuity will be paid to him on his retirement, as the present appropriation of gratuities to retiring officers and men was made on the distinct understanding that it should not form a precedent.
Up to this time no other retiring allowances had been paid. Then on the 30th October Sir John Forrest wrote : -
A copy of my minute should be sent to Colonel Price, so that there may be no misunderstanding on the retirement question.
That was communicated to Colonel Price, “who, on the 5th November, said : -
I also note that I am given the opportunity of retiring on gratuity on 31st December. From a sordid point of view the latter would have 4>een the course which I should have accepted, but careful consideration has caused me to feel that so long as I am able to give my service to my country pecuniary considerations (unless extreme) should not weigh against the clear call of duty. … I further note that your telegram informs me that the Minister iis unable to make any promise as to gratuity on retirement at any future date, but I am constrained to believe that services, such as I have rendered to the country, will not be - allowed to pass unrewarded, because I do not voluntarily give up my appointment at the present time.
The then Minister wrote on 16th November : -
I have told him that no promise can be made - so that he can have no cause for grievance with me if his hope is not realized.
It has been said that the phrase “ so that lie can have no cause for grievance with one” should be read with special emphasis on the word- “ me.” Colonel Price replied : -
Noted. - I shall have no cause of grievance df I do not get compensation on retirement, but seeing how small the addition to my salary has been, I retain the hope that when my time comes to retire I may receive generous treatment for my past services.
Colonel Price was due for retirement on 2 1 st October of last year. In April of the same year a Medical Board had reported that he was unfit, and would be unfit for at least nine months, for the active duties of his command, and he was retired in July of last year. His salary, however, was paid until the date upon which he would, in any case, have been required to leave the service. That was done, and, I think, very properly so, by the Watson Administration. Therefore, Colonel Price did not suffer pecuniarily as’ the result of what I may term his premature retirement. Major-General “Hutton, on 20th April, 1904, wrote as follows : -
The appointment of Colonel Price and the extension of his period of service under the special circumstances was approved, although it was at the same time clearly stated by the Minister (Sir John Forrest) that there could be no promise “ As to whether any gratuity would be paid to ,him upon his retirement, as the present appropriation to officers and men was made on, the distinct understanding that it should not form a .precedent.”
He went on to say - and I mention this in fairness to Colonel Price : -
There is a moral liability on the part of the Government to grant Colonel Price the gratuity of ,£1,600, to which he was entitled, and which he would have received if his services had not been retained in order to meet the necessities of the occasion.
– Upon what facts did he base that statement ?
– I do not know. The amount of £1,600 is wrong, because Colonel Price was entitled to only £1,170. There was another ,£400 in respect to an accident, as to which the Watson and the Reid-McLean Governments had decided that they could not recognise the claim. The Queensland Government, which was consulted by the Watson Government, also said that it could not admit that Colonel Price had any right to receive the amount mentioned. The Watson Government could not see its way to grant Colonel Price any gratuity, and the Reid-McLean Government came to the same conclusion. Except for these special gratuities, no officers have been granted any retiring allowances. A number of officers and non-commissioned officers of several years’ service have applied, but-their applications have not been granted. I do not wish to do anything more than state the facts. I desire specially to avoid anything in the way of adverse criticism, for this reason: - In December of last year, when the matter was brought up in the House, all I would say on behalf of the Government was that if it was the general desire of honorable members the Government would reconsider the question. There was, however, no general desire expressed ; but, nothwithstanding that, the Government did reconsider it. I have been through the papers at least four or five times. 8
– A resolution was carried by the Senate.
– I am referring to the case of Colonel Price ; not to that of Major Carroll. After going, through the papers several times, I could find no just cause for altering my opinion. I regret” to say that, as a consequence, Colonel Price impugned my honour. However, I can understand the feelings of an angry man, and I do not attach much importance to that circumstance. I wrote civil letters to him, and he wrote some uncivil letters to me, which I used to read in the press before they reached me. But the main facts are that Colonel Price was due for retirement in October, 1902, that Major-General Hutton granted him an extra two years’ service - which was indorsed by the Minister - that he accepted an appointment in Queensland within a fortnight after Parliament had reduced the Estimates ; and that he ‘ had actually gone to that State before the Government had entered into any undertaking to ‘grant gratuities to any officer. Consequently, viewed in the most favorable light, he could have gone to Queensland only upon the promise of Major-General Hutton that the latter would do his best to secure a gratuity to him, amongst other officers, upon his retirement. No promise of a gratuity could have been made to him, because the Government had not approved of that principle when he left for Queensland, and the question of such a gratuity did not arise until he had been in that State for some months. ‘ In consequence of the decision of Parliament that these gratuities should not be continued, I declined to sanction them in every case which came before me, as did my predecessor *in office. But I know that strong representations Have been made in the cases of Colonel Price and Lt. -Col Bayly, and, unfortunately, it seems that the individuals who can bring the most pressure to bear obtain the most consideration. I told the late Government that we could not grant a gratuity to any man unless we gave gratuities in all cases. There are men who retired whilst I was in office, and others who have retired since, whose cases are on all-fours with the worst of the two which are now before us. I know that one non-commissioned officer, whose name I cannot recall, retired under circumstances very similar to. those surrounding Lt. -Col. Bayly’s case. But he did not ask for compensation; and, no pressure was brought to bear upon me In that connexion. Consequently, I hold that I was justified in refusing to make a selection of Lt. -Col. Bayly and Colonel Price. I feel bound to vote against these items. I admit that Lt: -Col. Bayly’s case is an exceedingly hard one, and if we are going to make any exception whatever, I think that it should be done in his case. But I contend that it is unwise to make exceptions. The facts of his case are, that in August last the Medical Board reported that he was threatened with a serious il 1 - ness, and recommended that he should be immediately granted leave of absence. I may say at once that it proved to be an’ aggravated attack of locomotor -ataxia, which will probably render him a helpless invalid for the rest of his life. But I know of another man who has been retired under very similar circumstances.
– Why did not the honorable arid learned member tell us about his case ?
– Why did not the VicePresident of the Executive Council ask me to do so? I at once granted Lt.Col.Bayly three months’ leave of absence or* full pay. When that period had expired, he asked foi a further extension in order that he might continue the treatment which he was undergoing. I then agreed to allow him three months’ further leave upon half pay, but upon inquiry I learned that if only half pay were granted he could not afford to continue the treatment; and as the doctors advised that there was a reasonable prospect of such treatment proving successful , I! reviewed my decision, and gave him three months’ leave of absence upon full pay. That bringsus up to February of the present year. There had-been an acting Commandant in South Australia for some time, and it seemed rather hard to continue to thrust extra work upon him without additional remuneration. Accordingly, the Medical Board having reported in the interim that Lt. -Col. Bayly would not be fit for duty again, and there being no evidence as to how his infirmities had been caused, although reports have since been made that they were the result of service in South Africa, I granted him a further one and a half-month’s leave of absence on full pay, and then retired him. It will thus be seen that Lt.-Col. Bayly had seven and a half months’ leave upon full pay. In view of the decision of Parliament, and of the fact that he had been treated quite as liberally as any officer who had ultimately been retired, if not more so, I felt that I could not reasonably be asked to do any more.
– Is that the honorable and learned member’s idea of justice to a man who has sacrificed his health for the good of the country ?
– I have already said that whilst I was Minister the Medical Board reported that there was no evidence as to the cause of Lt.-Col. Bayly’s illness.
– The honorable and learned member subsequently stated that there was.
– I did not. Whilst I was in office there was no evidence of whether or not his illness was the result of active service in South Africa. But after I had ceased to be Minister medical reports were furnished, alleging that it was due to his service there. I repeat, however, that there was no such evidence before me. I say at once that if a proposal ils made to establish a rule that officers who are retired through ill-health shall be granted gratuities I shall support it.
– Gratuities to officers and men.
– “Officers” includes noncommissioned officers. But I object to the principle of selecting individuals and granting gratuities to them whilst denying similar consideration to others. Upon these facts I did not feel justified in asking the late Government to place a sum upon the Estimates to compensate Colonel Price and Lt. -Col. Bayly, and I do not see how the present Government can justify their action in so doing, unless later reports in connexion with the case of Lt.-Col. Bayly - reports which I had not before me - put a different complexion upon the matter. But in that contingency the Government, instead of selecting individuals, should apply the same rule to all cases, without respect of persons. Under these circumstances, I feel bound to maintain the position which T previously took up in regard to this matter.
– The honorable and learned1 member for Corinella has made a statement which ought to have considerable weight with the Committee. If the Government were to select cases for special treatment, as the result of political influence, and if they failed to recognise a general principle in their action, he would stand upon firm ground. I can assure the Committee that if there are other cases similar to those which we are discussing the Government will be prepared to deal with them. Honorable members are prepared to make their views known upon most subjects, and if any honorable member knew of any case of hardship, in respect of either officer’s or privates, he was in duty bound to inform the Government of it. If any member of the Forces - no matter how humble his position may be - has not been honestly treated by the present Government, I will undertake to bring the matter before the Minister, and have his grievance redressed. Now I propose to deal with the case of Colonel Price. As the honorable member for Corinella is aware, the retirement of Colonel Price was not included in the original retrenchment scheme of 1902, but he was subsequently offered an opportunity to come under it.
– It was included in the papers laid on the table in October, 1902.
– That was subsequently. In the meantime the Department had informed Colonel Price that it desired him to proceed on service to Brisbane. He went ‘there in July, 1902, and on 15th October of the same year was informed that he was to be retired on 31st December following. Colonel Price then pointed out that his transfer to Brisbane had involved him in considerable expense. He held that it was hardly fair that the Department, instead of retiring him when he was in Melbourne, should have allowed him to proceed to Brisbane, incur the expense of setting up a new home, and then, a month
Or two later, inform him that his services were no longer required. He pointed out, further, that the gratuity of ^£1,169 to which he was entitled, would be reduced to the extent of £350, or, at least, by some considerable sum, by reason of the expense that he had incurred in establishing himself in Brisbane. The honorable and learned’ member for Corinella has suggested that the change of front, so far as Colonel Price’s retirement is concerned, was due to the decision of Parliament that there Should be further retrenchment. It was a change of front on the part of the Government, and Colonel Price could not be held responsible for it. I .wish the Committee to remember that Colonel Price was first sent to Brisbane, and then called upon to resign. He said, in effect, that compared with the officers who were retired under the original retrenchment scheme, he was called upon to resign under a disability. The right honorable member for Swan, who was then Minister of Defence, maintained that the promises of the Government must be respected, but told Colonel Price that if he did not accept retrenchment when it was offered to him there was no certainty that he would receive a gratuity. The fact remains, however, that Colonel Price was not definitely informed at any time that he would not receive the allowance of £1,169 if he remained in the service for the further period of two years, in respect of which his appointment was made. I am satisfied that honorable members desire that every man in the service, whether he be an officer or a private, shall be fairly dealt with. Colonel Price took up the position that the precedent created by Parliament in granting gratuities to officers who were retrenched, entitled him to believe that an officer with a favorable record would be treated on his retirement in 1904 in the same way as those who were retired in 1902. But the several Ministers at the head of the Department from time to time did no more than decline to guarantee that a gratuity would be granted to him. They said they did not know what Parliament might do; it might or it might not agree to his receiving a gratuity, but they could not guarantee the payment of one to him. Colonel Price then said, in effect, “ I believe that Parliament, having held that it is right to grant gratuities to officers retired under the retrenchment scheme of 1902, will grant me one in 1904.” What justification had he for that belief? He was led to this conclusion by the knowledge that the General Officer Commanding - Major-General Hutton - who had advised the Government in these matters, thought that he ought to receive a gratuity. It is only reasonable to assume that an officer holding a subordinate position, knowing that his commanding officer believed that he should receive a gratuity, would come to the conclusion that the influence of that commanding officer would be strong enough to insure his receiving it. Reference has been made by the honorable and learned member for Corinella to the action taken by MajorGeneral Hutton. On 10th April, 1904, that officer maintained that the Government ought to grant Colonel Price a sum of £1,600.
– I mentioned that.
– On 16th June, 1904, Major-General Hutton again impressed upon the Government as strongly as he could, that, in his opinion, Colonel Price should receive that amount. This fact alone should dismiss from the minds of honorable members any idea that political influence has been exercised in the interest of this officer. Honorable members opposite have been telling us that we should follow the advice of our departmental officers - that a Minister should never take anything into his own hands.
– We have not said that.
– Honorable members of the Opposition have at all events declared that the Minister should look to his responsible officers for advice, and I say that the advice tendered to the Government of the day by the General Officer Commanding; was, that it was obligatory upon them either to pay Colonel Price £1,600, or find some good reason for not doing so.
– The Government should not take his advice with respect to matters of finance.
– I am not finding fault with honorable members opposite; all Oppositions are much in the nature of driven snow. I have sat in Opposition, and know that every Opposition thinks that the Government of the day is corrupt.
– It is the first time that I have heard that such a belief is entertained by an Opposition.
– At all events, the Government of the day found themselves in this position, that they had either to pay Colonel Price a gratuity of£1,600, or to give some good reason for ignoring the opinion of the General Officer Commanding.
– Why was the recommendation made? That is what we wish to know.
– I know nothing but what the papers disclose. When the officer in charge of the Forces informs the Government that he has arrived at the conclusion that an officer should receive a certain gratuity, they are in honour bound to consider the case. I wish to impress upon the Committee the fact that the action taken by the Government was based upon the report of the General Officer Commanding, appointed by Parliament to deal with all these matters, and that it had no political initiative. Honorable members must therefore dismiss from their minds the suggestion that political influence has been at work. The honorable and learned member for Corinella will admit that Major-General Hutton took the initiative, and that the proposal was not brought into existence by this Government, nor by any member of it. Further, whilst proceeding to Brisbane in the discharge of his duty, Colonel Price met with an accident.
– What was the nature of the accident?
– The papers disclose that Colonel Price was proceeding to Brisbane on duty.
– He was supposed to go by train, but went by boat.
– He obtained permission to travel by sea, and therefore the Department accepted the responsibility of his proceeding to Brisbane in that way. Whilst on board ship he heard that his horse had fallen in its box, and on going below to inquire into the matter met with the accident in question. The Department recognised that it was sustained by him whilst on duty, and the Medical Board, after investigating the matter, recommended that he should receive a grant of £500. There was no political influence so far as that recommendation was concerned. It was made long before the present Government came into office, and, so far as I know, no politician had anything to do with it.
– Had the Medical Board the power to make such a recommendation ?
– It had. Reference has been made to the action of the Watson Government in this regard., Senator Dawson, who was Minister of Defence in that Administration, felt that something should he done for Colonel Price in respect of the injuries he had received, and I think that the honorable member for Bland will agree with me that the papers disclose that his Cabinet was prepared to grant Colonel Price a sum of £400 by way of compensation. Senator Dawson submitted the proposal to the Queensland Government, and it broke down only because of a technicality. To put the matter shortly, we find that, in the first place, Major-General Hutton recommended the payment of a gratuity of £1,600 to Colonel Price. The Medical Board recommended that he should be granted £500 in respect of injuries sustained in the discharge of his duties. That was the position of affairs when the Government: took office, and it must be recognised that it was incumbent upon us to deal with the case.
– Did the proposed gratuity of£1,600 include the suggested grant of £1,169?
– I think that the Treasurer was correct when he stated that it embraced the two amounts of , £1,100 and £500. In view of all these facts, we felt that we could not do more than submit the proposal to the Committee. If Colonel Price had retired under the original re trenchment scheme, he would have received a gratuity of £1,169. But he went to Brisbane, and incurred expenditure in establishing his home there, believing that Parliament, having granted other gratuities, would grant him an allowance at the close of his term of service. Then we have the fact that the Medical Board recommended, as I have said, that he should receive a sum of £500 in respect of the accident which he met with on ship-board, and that Senator Dawson, as Minister of Defence in the Watson Government, arrived at the conclusion that £400 should be paid him by way of compensation for the injuries he received. The Queensland Government did not see why they should pay the money, and thought that the Commonwealth should pay it if justifiable. The payment of this money to Colonel Price was recommended by MajorGeneral Hutton and other trusted officers of the Department, and approved, at least in part, by a previous Minister of Defence long before the present Government came into office. So far as I can see, no political influence has been exercised in the matter. The Government took the position that it is necessary that the case should be “closed, and determined to recommend the proposed gratuity strongly to Parliament. We deplore the want of uniformity which exists, but, seeing that there is no recognised system in existence for dealing with these cases, we feel bound to do what we consider fair under the circumstances, being guided therein by our common sense and justice. Therefore we have asked, not for £1,600, which Major-General Hutton recommended, but for £800, an amount which is equal to a year’s pay. With regard to Lt.-Col. Bayly, again I ask the members of the Opposition to do me the justice to say whether they can trace the exercise of the slightest political influence in his case. He entered the service in 1883, and went to South Africa in 1899; after which he fell permanently ill, and since has been practically unable to do any work.
– Whendid he fall ill?
– The doctors dealt with him first in London, immediately after his South African experience.
– The statements to which the Minister is about to refer came to hand after I left office.
– I grant that.
– If Lt.-Col. Bayly was ill, and unable to work, why was he made Commandant of South Australia?
– There may have been unwisdom in appointing him to that position, but it was done before the present Government took office, and need not be considered in connexion with this matter. He found himself, at the age of forty-five, dying of locomotor ataxia.- The question in the mind of the honorable and learned member for Corinella was, had the illness been contracted while on duty ? In a minute dated 24th December last, he wrote -
It must be distinctly understood, however, that this involves no recognition of the plea put forward by Colonel Bayly, of which there is no medical evidence.
The non-existence of medical testimony to the fact that Lt.-Col. Bayly had contracted his illness while on active service was the weak spot on which the late Minister of Defence at once put his finger. Since the honorable and learned gentleman left office, however, the Medical Board has declared that Lt.-Col. Bayly did contract the disease while on public duty, and I am inclined to think that, if that information had been available earlier, the honorable and learned member for Corinella would himself have recommended this gratuity. We find ourselves bound to accept the opinion of the Medical Board.
– But why is a gratuity recommended ? Is not such a case provided for by. the regulations?
– It does not matter under what name the payment is made, so long as Lt.-Col. Bayly gets the money.
What’s in a word? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as . sweet.
I am sure that honorable members do not think that the Governmnet have been actuated by political motives in regard to this case. They knew that the Minister would not willingly do wrong at the instance of a member of Parliament or of any one else. I had never seen Lt.-Col. Bayly until I saw him in Melbourne, but I was not afraid, because of the possibility of being charged with political collusion., to hear his statement. I promised to look into the case, and I found that he had contracted a fatal disease in the service of bis country, and that the fact was vouched for by Departmental officers. That being so, how could the Government take any other course than that taken. A man in Lt.-Col. Bayly’s position requires no friend ; every honorable member is his friend. There is! not a man among us who, if he found an old servant dying after twenty years’ service of illness contracted when on service, would turn, him out into the streets. Parliament will not treat this officer in that fashion, after hehas spent his money in fighting this dread disease; but will be controlled by the sense of humanity which would affect any one of us in dealing with our own employes. If there are other cases of the kind, and- honorable members will bring them forward, I can pledge the honour of the Government for their fair consideration.
– I do not know why the Vice-President of the Executive Council should have had so much to say about political influence. I did not hear the honorable and learned member for Corinella suggest that political influence had been used.
– No ; but the honorable and! learned member did not hear what was said! on a former occasion.
– I have not heard it suggested in any way that the Ministry havebeen induced by political influence to placethese gratuities on the Estimates. If political influence had been used, it might be thought possible that’ it would have had some effect on the members of the Opposition, some of whom were also approached” by the friends of these officers. While I do not think that we should sanction a rigid rule which would absolutely prevent all claims of this kind- from being considered by Parliament. I think that it is only under the most exceptional circumstances that such claims should be considered. I overlook the impassioned appeal of the honorable gentleman to our humanity, and intend to deal solely withthe facts of the case. He bases the claimfor the payment of a gratuity to Lt.Col. Bayly, solely on the ground that the medical board found, after the honorable and learned member for Corinella had’ left office, that this officer contracted a fatal disease during service in South Africa. I wish to know if it is not a fact that the regulations provide for thepayment pf compensation in such cases: What is the procedure?
– -The board meets, assesses the injury, and, if a man is totally incapacitated from further duty, he receives an allowance of three years’ salary.
– He receives that as <* right.
– Not as a strictly legal right, but as a customary right.
– The recognition of many of the claims allowed under! States Acts is nominally optional with the Executive, but custom has made it come to be regarded as obligatory. The item before us, however, is for the payment of a gratuity. It must be remembered that Lt.-Col. Bayly has had1 two commands since he is said to have contracted the disease from which he is suffering. He was for a time Commandant of South Australia.
– His appointment to those positions may have been a mistake, and perhaps was due to bad administration.
– It is not good administration for the Minister to ask Parliament to grant a gratuity if he is absolutely certain that Lt.-Col. Bayly contracted his disease in South Africa, because there is another procedure provided for dealing with such cases. No doubt we all sympathize with the unfortunate position of this officer and his family, but, in view of pre.vious decisions of the House in regard to gratuities, we cannot make an exception in his case. I’ looked into the matter at the instance of those interested in Lt.-Col. Bayly. I saw a medical man in South Australia who had a pretty good knowledge of his case, and interviewed the Minister to see if he could throw further light on it, and I was convinced that the decision not to give more than seven and a half months’ full pay was a perfectly just one. I intend to abide by it when the vote is put to the Committee. With, regard to the case of Colonel Price, the Vice-President of the Executive Council has’ told us that that officer trusted to the generous consideration of Parliament for compensation similar to that allotted to others. I am not aware, however, that compensation was given in any case in which a man’s term of service was extended by two years. That is really the point. If the Minister could tell us that there were any other cases similar to that of Colonel Price, there might be some justification for asking us to consider his claim. In view of the fact that Colonel Price accepted two years’ extended service in lieu of the gratuity which would have been granted to him on his retrenchment, I do not see why we should reopen his case. A decision of this kind may seem hard upon the individual, but we cannot prevent votes of this kind from being regarded as precedents, merely be cause we say they are not to be so regarded. I inquired personally into the facts of Lt.-Col. Bayly’s case, and I regret to say that I shall also have to vote against the proposed grant to him.
– It seems to me that there is a wide distinction between the two cases which are being lumped together in this discussion. In the first place, I do not see that Colonel Price has any claim for a gratuity. When I was in office Colonel Price made several requests for compensation, which were indorsed by the General Officer Commanding, but, after going through the papers, the Cabinet came to the conclusion that there were no equitable grounds for the claim. Colonel Price had the option of accepting either immediate retirement with a gratuity, or an extension of service. He exercised the option by retaining his position in the service, no doubt with a lingering idea that when the actual time for retirement arrived Parliament would be persuaded to make some concession to him. After having given a great deal of consideration to this case, I cannot see that there is any justification for the claim of Colonel Price, so far as the retiring allowance is concerned. This officer, when he found that he could not obtain a, gratuity, made a claim for compensation for injury received whilst on duty, and I must say that I look upon a matter of that kind as something very different from a claim for a pension or retiring allowance. If any one in our service, whether he be an officer, a noncommissioned officer, or a private, or, for that matter, an officer in any Department of the Public Service, is, whilst on duty, injured in such a way as to incapacitate him from earning his living, or to materially affect his chance of doing so, the obligation rests upon us to give the most generous consideration to any claim put forward on his behalf. That is the view I have always held with regard to the responsibility of employer to employe. When Colonel Price put forward his claim for compensation, the then Minister of Defence, Senator Dawson, asked that the Medical Board1 should investigate the matter. They did so, and recommended that the sum of .£500 should be granted to Colonel Price by way of compensation for the partial loss of the’ use of his right arm, as a consequence of an accident which occurred whilst he was on board ship on his way to Queensland. This recommendation was supported, not only by Surgeon-General Williams, but also by Major-General Hutton. The Cabinet were disposed to make some arrangement, and eventually decided to grant £400, if the Government of Queensland would approve of such a vote. The necessity for consulting the Queensland Government arose from the fact that the right honorable member for Balaclava, as Treasurer of the Commonwealth, had laid down the salutary rule that in regard to any charge which was not the result of a statutory obligation, the State Government concerned should be consulted. That rule was laid down with respect to every claim for gratuities or compensation affecting the transferred Departments, and, in accordance with that general policy, we decided to consult the Queensland Government. Mr. Morgan, the Premier of Queensland, was communicated with, and stated that he could not see that Colonel Price had any claim under the Queensland Defence Act. It was under that Act that he was serving when the injury was caused, because the Commonwealth Defence Act had not then been passed. The Queensland Act provided that compensation might be given for injuries received whilst on active service, and Mr. Morgan contended that that provision could not be held to cover injuries received whilst ‘on ordinary duty in time of peace. That being so, he objected to take the responsibility of recommending the payment of the £400. I do not see that we should be justified in paying £800 to Colonel Price; but if,, on reviewing the situation, the Queensland Government can, at this stage, agree to the payment of the smaller sum previously referred to, or any other reasonable amount, by way of compensation for injuries received, I should raise no objection to a grant being made. It was laid down by the Government in 1902 that the scheme of gratuities then adopted was to be confined absolutely to those who were the subjects of retrenchment at that period ; and it was distinctly stated that the grants were not to be looked upon as an indication that gratuities would be paid in the future. All sections of the House agreed at that time that the gratuities should not proceed further.
– That is not binding upon us.
– I admit that. But I contend that we should open up a very wide vista indeed if we encouraged the belief among the members of the permanent Military Forces throughout Australia that, upon the expiration of their term of service, they would receive gratuities. We might as well start a system of military pensions at once.
– That would be the only honest way of dealing with the matter.
– Yes ; but I am not prepared to approve of anything of the kind. If Colonel Price can make out a claim for compensation on account of permanent inquiries received whilst on duty, he has a right to consideration in the same way that any, other member of the Defence Force would have. We have, under the Commonwealth law, passed since the accident occurred to Colonel Price, laid down regulations in respect to compensation for injuries received whilst on duty - and quite a number of gratuities have been paid under that provision. Therefore I am not inclined to place any bar upon Colonel Price merely because he happened to be injured before our own Act came into force. That was the reason why the Government, of which I was the head, came to the conclusion that it was justified, subject to the approval of the Queensland Government, in asking Parliament to vote £400 by way of compensation. Other cases have arisen in other departments of .the Public Service. In one case a man was killed through falling from a telegraph .post in New South Wales, and his widow approached the Commonwealth Government. In accordance with the practice that was established by the right honorable member for Balaclava, we had to ask the New South Wales Government whether they would object to a certain, grant being made. I forget now whether they consented. Now the case of Lt.-Col. Bayly appears to me to be upon a footing entirely .different from that of Colonel Price, and I trust that honorable members will not confuse the two. I have had an opportunity of looking through the papers, and I do not see how the late Minister of Defence could have arrived at any other conclusion ‘than he did. Since he has left office, however, medical opinions have been obtained, and recorded in the Department, which to my mind, put a rather different complexion upon the matter. In one minute the late Minister stated that there was no medical evidence that Lt.-Col. Bayly’s condition was due to exposure in South
Africa, and therefore he refused to give any compensation. That was the proper attitude to take. But, afterwards, medical evidence was furnished, and upon that I think that Lt.-Col. Bayly is honestly entitled to some consideration.
– The Medical Board has the right to recommend, but I think that, finally, the Cabinet would exercise its discretion.
– Yes. In the case of Colonel Price, the Medical Board made a recommendation, but, although we agreed with the idea underlying it, we did not indorse that recommendation, as to the amount involved. With regard to Lt.-Col. Bayly, I understand that he went to South Africa as a special service officer. There he contracted enteric fever. Dr. Hood, under whose care he was placed by the Imperial authorities, certifies that he suffered from exposure in 1900, and, as a result, developed enteric fever. He was under that doctor’s care for some two or three months.
– In Australia, to-day, there are hundreds of men with ship-wrecked constitutions, who cannot get a cent. in the form of compensation.
– I will deal with that aspect of the matter presently. In 1902, Lt.-Col. Bayly had to place himself under medical care here, where he developed - as the honorable and learned member for Corinella has stated - paraplegic ataxia. I do not know whether there is any difference between that and locomotor ataxia. It is a fact that two of the best experts in nervous and spinal diseases in Australia - quite apart from the medical officers in the military service - certify that, in their opinion, the present condition of Lt.-Col. Bayly is due to the exposure that he suffered in South Africa. Their testimony, I understand, is supported by members of the Medical Board - certainly it is by the chairman of that body, Colonel Ryan. The two medical men to whom I refer, are Dr. Maudsley, of Melbourne, and Dr. Rennie, of Sydney. There can be no doubt as to Lt.-Col. Bayly’s condition. He is only forty-five years of age, and, therefore, ought to be fit for active service for many years, were he in robust health. But the fact is that his constitution is absolutely shattered, and it is impossible for him to do anything by way of earning a livelihood. To my mind, the only question which we should be called upon to consider is, whether his present condition is due to the exposure which he sufferedwhilston duty in South Africa. If honorable members are convinced that it is, it is theirbounden duty to make some provision for him. Coming to the point, which was mentioned by the right honorable member for East Sydney, I wish to say that we are under an obligation to provide for all those who it can be proved are suffering as the result of service in South Africa. We should not be dealing fairly with any man who went there upon our invitation, and who, as a result, is, to-day, suffering, if we did not extend generous treatment to him. It is for honorable members to convince themselves from the papers that are available, whether the medical evidence is sufficient to establish the connexion between the present condition of Lt.-Col. Bayly and his experience in South Africa.
– Was he sent to South Africa by the Commonwealth?
– He was sent originally by New South Wales, but,of course, the Commonwealth has taken over the responsibilities of the States in that connexion. Lt.-Col. Bayly went toSouth Africa as a special service officer - that is, an officer who is despatched for the purpose chiefly of gathering information for the use of those whom he represents. It is a testimony to Lt.-Col. Bayly’s ability that as a comparatively young man - he was then only about forty years of age - he was selected for this work.
– The Imperial Service is under no obligation to him.
– No. The obligation - if there be any - in connexion with his case rests upon us. There is no doubt that he was an energetic, painstaking, and highly intelligent officer. I do not propose to detain the Committee at any greater length. In my opinion the responsibility for Lt.Col. Bayly’s condition lies at the door of the people of Australia, because it was in their service that his injuries were contracted. I am not particularly concerned as to whether we recognise our responsibility in the way that is now proposed, or by some other means, but I think that a sufficiently strong case has been made out to justify us in granting Lt.-Col. Bayly, as a. matter of right, some compensation for the injury which he has sustained in the service of his country.
– I strongly object to the form in which these items appear upon the Estimates, because they practically amount to the establishment of a military pension system. If we sanction the expenditure of a single sixpence under the heading of “ Gratuities on Retirement,” we shall commit ourselves to gratuities on retirement to all the men who are now in the service, as well as to these particular officers. In what a monstrous position we should place this Parliament ! It is proposed here that a colonel and a lieutenantcolonel should be granted £1,400 in the form of gratuities on retirement. That is the manner in which this vote appears upon the Estimates, and I say that if we agree to it we shall practically establish a pension system in its most obnoxious and vicious form by selecting one or two distinguished officers for retiring allowances whilst ignoring the claims of the great mass of officers and men. If the Government wish to establish a pension system, it ought not to be done in this way. They are practically inviting the Committee to sanction such a system, because if we vote any sum whatever under the heading “ Gratuities on Retirement,” no future claim by any man who retires can be negatived by this House.
– What form does the right honorable gentleman suggest that the item should take?
– I am not responsible for the framing of the Estimates. All I say is that if, under the heading of “ Gratuities on Retirement,” we sanction votes to these officers equal to one year’s pay to them,we shall be establishing a system of pensions. Surely that is obvious to the Vice-President of the Executive Council. Since an understanding was arrived at some years ago in regard to retrenched officers no similar item has appeared upon the Estimates.
– Upon that occasion we stated that our action was not to be regarded as a precedent. But that is no reason why we should not establish one.
– Not at all. But it is no reason why we should begin to grant gratuities in the case of colonels. Let honorable members think of the number of men who have been retired during the past two or three years without getting any consideration.
– I do not know that there are any similar cases to these.
– There has been a great deal of log-rolling over this business, and an enormous amount of pressure has been used. I have the utmost appreciation of the services rendered by both these officers, but in the spending of public money we cannot allow ourselves to be influenced by, considerations of personal intimacy and personal sympathy. Those are not the lines upon which we should administer a great public Department. These gentlemen have opportunities of seeing honorable members which are denied to the great majority of members of the Defence Forces. I think that the proposal is the most monstrous one that I have ever heard of.
– Would the right honorable gentleman vote for the expenditure in another form?
– Of course the Treasurer, when he occupied a commanding position in his distant dependency, could do anything that he chose. I maintain that if we vote these two amounts in the form in which they now appear, we are honorably bound to grant similar gratuities on retirement to every officer and man in the Defence Forces.
– Would the right honorable member vote for the amount under some other heading?
– I shall consider any proposal upon its merits. We are asked to adopt a most unusual course of procedure. This morning I have heard for the first time of certain papers connected with these cases. Why were the papers in question not laid upon the table of the House some days ago? I spoke strongly enough about these cases then.
– I sent for the papers immediately they were asked for.
-The case of Colonel Price was discussed lastyear.
– And that officer has so many friends in this House that if we do not grant him this compensation it will be discussed to all eternity. There is no getting rid of the claims of officers if they are men of influence.
– I do not think that.
– Nobody knows better than does the Treasurer that opportunities for coming into close touch with honorable members are enjoyed by the higher officers ; whereas that privilege is not available to those of humbler rank. I have had a great deal of experience in connexion with the framing of Estimates, and I know that if we commit ourselves to a single vote for a gratuity to any individual it will be regarded as a universal precedent. We ought not, in an isolated case, to establish such a precedent. I suggest that if. the item read “Compensation to Colonel Price and Lt.-Col. Bayly, in respect of injuries received while on duty,” we should have a definite case presented to us. Then, when another individual came along and said, “ Colonel Price received so much upon his retirement,” we should be able to point out that that compensation was granted for injuries received.
– Would not the right honorable member grant a private who was injured any compensation in excess of a 3’ear’s pay?
– All that I desire is that these cases shall be put in such a way that we shall not commit ourselves to a pension system. If we do as I suggest, and a man afterwards comes along and says, “Colonel Price received ,£800 upon his retirement,” we can point out that that amount was voted to him for injuries received in the performance of his duty. The way in which those men who went to South Africa to represent Australia in the Boer war have been treated since their return, is simply disgraceful. When they departed from our shores to risk their lives for the mother country, and to vindicate the loyalty and valour of the Australian people, we know that all the leading Ministers as well as the Premiers of the different States gave them the most generous assurances as to the way in which they would be treated upon their return. Tremendous demonstrations took place in connexion with the departure of the troops. They were told when they were sent off that if anything happened to them, their families would be provided for, yet nothing has been done for the hundreds who came back with ruined constitutions. I believe that Colonel Price sustained his injuries whilst attending to a horse on a steamer bound for Queensland. Is there! any comparison between an accident of that kind and the loss of health by volunteers from injury sustained upon the field of battle?
– He was on full salary.
– There is a vast difference between the position of an officer who, whilst travelling with some horses to Brisbane, meets with an accident, but continues to draw ai high salar)’, and that of volunteers who, receiving no military salary, go to South! Africa to fight the battles of the Empire, and return with ruined constitutions, quite unfitted to follow their usual avocations. What has been done for the latter? ‘ Surely this matter ought to be put before us in a straightforward way. If one man is entitled to a gratuity, every one ought to be. The item is put before the Committee in a most odious light. If it were presented in a proper way we should be able to consider it on its merits.
– Would the right honorable member’s objection be met by the omission of the words “on retirement”?
– Surely I have said enough to indicate that I desire a great deal more to be done. The matter should not be put before us in the shape of a proposal to grant a gratuity.
– Would the right honorable gentleman prefer the use. of the word. ‘ compensation ‘ ‘ ?
– There is not much’ difference between the meaning of the two words. We have the proposal put before us as one to pay “ gratuities on retirement, equal to one year’s pay.”
– Suppose those words were omitted ?
– In that event, all that would remain would be the words “ Colonel T. Price, ^800,” and so forth. What an extraordinary item it would then appear to be. It would convey the idea that £$00 was to be paid to Colonel Price as agift.
– The merits of each case appear in the official papers. They cannot be shown on the Estimates themselves.
– But why should not the special grounds for an extraordinary act of consideration be stated? I would ask the Vise- President of the Executive; Council to think of the hundreds of officers, of whom he knows nothing, who have retired into oblivion, but who, if gratuities are to be paid on retirement, and not for special reasons, are as much entitled to receive them as are these officers?
– There are very few of whom I know.
– If they were colonels the right honorable gentleman, might know them all.
– I do not think any one can say that I have ever been inconsiderate to those in humbler positions.
– There is no one in gold lace in Australia whom the right honorable member does not know. So far as the case of Lt.-Col. Bayly is concerned, I may say that one of the most painful duties I have ever been called upon to perform was that of declining to accede to the proposal to make him a special grant. When I saw that officer: - a man whom; I knew to have the highest reputation for men - broken down in health, I felt that if it were permissible for one occupying a public position to give way to his feelings, nothing could give one greater pleasure than to deal liberally with such a case. I understand that he has now submitted evidence which brings his case under one of the regulations.
– The Medical Board has reported that he received his injuries while on active service, and that certain action ought to be taken.
– Then I think that a grave injustice is being done him by putting his case before the Committee in this way. The proposal is presented as if it were one to grant a gratuity; on retirement. It is unfortunate that it should have been put in such a way. We all desire to do what is right in these matters, and I would suggest to the Minister in charge of the’ Estimates that he should agree to the omission of the item, with a view to the Ministry placing the two cases before the House in some special form based on the grounds upon which these allowances are recommended. As the proposal now stands, I feel that we must reject it.
– Why not vote on the matter now?
– It is unfair for the Government to put the matter before us in a form that must compel us to reject it, whereas if it were submitted as a special proposal to make a grant to these officers on account of injuries received in the discharge of their duties, the position might be different.
– Would the right honorable member agree to such a proposal without laying down a general principle?
– I should agree to it only if the House were prepared to treat every one of our non-commissioned officers and men who were injured while on active service in South Africa - every man injured while serving in the forces - in the same way.
– I am with the right honorable member.
– If we do it for one man, we must recognise our moral liability to do the same for every other man who proves his claim for consideration.
– So far as I am aware, we have done so. I have always said that we should look after every man. who was injured in the South African war.
– lean assure the right honorable gentleman that there are a number of cases in which that has not been done. I hope that his statement that, as far as he is aware, every case demanding consideration has received attention will be published by the press of Australia. If it is, I guarantee that within a month the Government will have submitted to them’ the cases of hundreds of men who have been absolutelydeprived of any hope of compensation.
– Did we not promise our troops before they left for South Africa that they would be fairly treated ? I know that we did in Western Australia.
– The Prime Minister of the day distinctly said that they would have no claim upon the Government.
– Most of the troops despatched from Australia to South Africa left before the Federal Government came into existence. I remember, at a time when> I was not in office, attending a great meeting in connexion with the movement in Sydney. The Premier of the State, the Chief Justice, and most of the prominent officials of New South Wales were present, and the most generous promises were made to the men before they left. I distinctly assert, however, that hundreds and hundreds of these men returned to Australia with shattered constitutions, but never received1 a shred of consideration, either in the way of being granted temporary or permanent employment or monetary consideration. I do not think that any man in Australia, has a kindlier feeling than I have towards Lt.-Col. Bayly, but I am not prepared to place this Parliament in- an odious light by selecting one distinguished officer for consideration, and leaving out all others. I shall not be a party to such legislation.
– I have listened with considerable interest to the reasons that have been offered for the inclusion of this item in the Estimates, and am satisfied that the proposal to grant a gratuity to Colonel Price is a monstrous one. In the first place he refused a gratuity, preferring in lieu thereof to accept two years’ service as commandant of the forces in Queensland. On accepting that position, he wrote many letters showing that he had carefully considered the situation, and I hold that he should now abide by his own decision. It is difficult to understand why the Government were induced to place before the Committee a proposal to grant him a gratuity of £800. I should like to know whether the Military Board was asked to consider his case.
– Major-General Hutton recommended that he should receive a grant of £1,600.
– But has any recommendation been made by the Military Board?
– Hundreds of men have been recommended for consideration, but no item has been placed on the Estimates in respect of them.
– I do not know of such cases.
– The official correspondence discloses on the part of MajorGeneral Hutton a fickleness, .as General Officer Commanding, that has lowered him in my estimation. If the Military Board has not recommended the granting of this gratuity to Colonel Price, the Government have no justification for asking the Committee to approve of it. I shall be no party to the granting of gratuities. I am satisfied, from a perusal of the papers, that Colonel Price has not a strong case for consideration ; if it can be shown that he has, a grant should be made to him, not as a gratuity, but as a right.
– Under the regula’tions he would be entitled to three years’ pay as compensation for injuries received while on service.
-As he accepted two years’ service as State commandant in Queensland in lieu of a gratuity, and as his term of office had almost expired when he met with the accident, he could claim but a very small sum. On the other hand, I am fairly well satisfied, from a perusal of the papers, that Lt.-Col. Bayly has made out a very strong case for consideration. I certainly object, however, to a grant by way of gratuity being made to him. Colonel Bayly went to South Africa as a special service officer.
– If he was permanently disabled while on active service he is entitled to three years’ pay.
– He is an officer of special aptitude, and served in South Africa to the complete satisfaction of those who sent him there. We have it on the evidence of an Imperial surgeon, as well as upon that of Australian medical men who are specialists in the treatment of spinal diseases, that he contracted the disease from which he is now suffering whilst on active service in South Africa. He is forty-five years of age - in the very prime of life - and yet it is proposed to give this officer, who was struck down while on active service, a mere gratuity. Under the Act he is entitled to compensation based on three years’ service at -C650 per annum, or £1,950 in all. He is entitled to receive that amount, not as a gratuity, but as a right. If Lt.-Col. Bayly can prove to the satisfaction of the Military Board, which is composed of honorable men of sound common sense and business capacity, that his illness is the result of his service in South Africa, he will be entitled to receive, not as a gratuity, but as compensation, the sum of £1,950.
– Parliament has voted many gratuities.
– In the military Estimates?
– In connexion with all Departments of the service.
– I should like the right honorable gentleman to refer me to another case like this.
– It is to the credit of the leader of the Opposition that he has had something to say on .behalf of the men in the prime of life who were incapacitated by wounds or stricken with disease in South Africa. We sent out to that country the very flower of our manhood, and, in. view of the right honorable gentleman’s speech, if those who were injured by their service abroad can prove, to the satisfaction of the Military Board, that they were so injured, they should be regarded as entitled to compensation. I think that this discussion will do a lot of good, because of that fact having been made public. The Government will be bound to receive and to inquire into the claims for compensation submitted by all- who served in South Africa, and full justice must be done to all applicants, so that the promises made by the Premiers of the States at the time volunteers were asked for may be made good. I know that many of those who volunteered, and left their wives and families, comforted those whom they were leaving with the assurance that their future would.be provided for if they themselves were cut down or incapacitated. Australia was pledged by the Governments of the day to compensate all who might be injured in the war, or to make provision for those dependent upon them.
– The lives of our soldiers were insured.
– Yes; but the insurance did not cover illness or wounds. Lt.-Col. Bayly, for instance, has no claim on the insurance fund to which the honorable member refers, because he is still alive, although incapacitated for work. I look to the Treasurer to see that full justice’ is done to all. I hope that the Government will withdraw the item, and deal with the matter on the Supplementary Estimates, after the board has considered Lt.-Col. Bayly’s case, so that no opportunity may be given in the future for favoritism, and no encouragement offered for the sticking up of members of Parliament and appealing to their sympathies. I wish to say, however, that no such appeal has been made ‘to me. I had not looked into the matter until this morning, when I went through the papers. I am satisfied that Colonel Price has no case at all. He said that he would accept the position of Commandant in Queensland for two years in lieu of a gratuity.
– He’ did not say that he would accept it in lieu of a gratuity.
– The correspondence speaks for itself.
– He was warned that hewas risking his gratuity, but he nevertheless accepted the position.
– He was warned, and he said in effect : “ I think that I shall be able to bring sufficient pressure to bear to get a gratuity.” He decided his own case, and accepted the position of Commandant of Queensland for two years, and took the pay attaching to the post. His case should not be heard of again.
– He performed the duties incidental to the post.
– No doubt.- I have nothing to say against him as an officer, because I assume that he was a capable man, and did good service. Still he was paid for that service, and has no further claim on us, except in respect to the gratitude which the country owes to every man who has capably and faithfully served her.
– It has been sought to make capital out of the form in which this item is presented to the Committee; but I may tell honorable members that gratuities have been given in several instances, not to officers who had fought for their country ora the field of battle, but to poor widows of public servants, who had no legal claim! for compensation. The Government of which the right honorable member for East Sydney was the head, recommended the appropriation of money for the payment of gratuities to widows in certain special cases, which were, I believe, supported by the Governments of the States. But that recognition of exceptional hardship does not form a; precedent by which every widow of a public servant has a right to a’ gratuity.
– Does the right honorable gentleman say that these officers have no right to compensation?
– It is my opinion that Colonel Price has no legal claim to a gratuity on retirement; I do not, of course, refer to any right he may have in respect to the injury which he claims to have sustained.
– He can obtain a recognition of that right under the .regulations.
– No doubt. The widows to whom I have referred had no legal claim to consideration, but the late Government, and previous Governments also, recognised the reasonableness of paying them compensation.
– The votes in those cases were differently worded. The payments to which the right honorable gentleman refers were not gratuities on retirement.
– I do not believe in quibbling about words; it is the principle about which I am concerned. It has ‘been customary in the States to give gratuities to widows of public servants in exceptional cases. I know that it was often done in Western Australia. Surely the Committee will not say that because these cases are not provided for bv statute, Parliament should take no action in regard to them. Colonel Price is acknowledged by every man to be one of the bravest of the brave. He has served his country on the field of battle, and it is recorded of nimby those who served under him that he was always first where there was danger and difficulty. Is he not to receive consideration, when others who have not seen similar service have been considered?
– What about the men who followed him?
– They are deserving of consideration, too.
– Then why was it not given to them?
– I have never refused to give them consideration.
– The late Minister of Defence says that a number of cases were refused.
– Perhaps they were refused by him, and I am in no way responsible for what the late Government did. When I was Premier of Western Australia at the time of the South African war, I told those who were volunteering for active service, that if they fell by the way or became injured, those near and dear to them would be looked after, and I feel sure that the State will keep the promises made on behalf of the whole of its people. Of course, when men fall ill years after a campaign, and allege that their sickness is due to their privations in South Africa, it is difficult to deal with their claims for compensation. The facts in the case of Colonel Price have been set forth by the late Minister of Defence, but I altogether take exception to the statement of the honorable member for Robertson that that officer accepted two years’ serice as Commandant of Queensland in lieu of compensation. He had taken up the position of Commandant in Queensland, and had removed to Brisbane at some expense before he was given the option of retiring with a compensation of £1,172. He believed that when the two years were up, Parliament would do him justice, and that he would be treated as those who were retired in 1902-3 were treated, many of whom had no war service at all.
– But he held to his commandantship.
– He was enentitled to, and was offered, £1,172 as compensation on retirement ; but he said, “ I prefer to remain at my post, and I feel sure that the country will deal justly by me.” I told him that he would have to take the risk of that, because I had not the power to promise him anything. It seems to me, however, very illogical to say now that, although we would have given him £1,172 then, we will not pay him that amount now that he has given two years more to the service of the country.
– Was he not offered an extension of five years?
– No. He could not get an extension of five years, because he was sixty years of age at the time the changes were made.
– At any rate, he received a concession in being allowed to serve another two years, because he was due for retirement at sixty.
– The Act gave the Government power to extend the term.
– And they extended it to avoid paying him compensation.
– The question is : Does that two years’ service bar his claim to compensation ?
– I think it is illogical to say that it does. It is, in fact, saying, “ We were willing to pay you compensation at that time, but as you remained in Queensland an additional one and a half years we will not do it now.” I think that he should be given the same treatment as has been given to others who have not served an additional term.
– We have had his services for a further eighteen months, and the promise still operates.
– Exactly. We have had the advantage of Colonel Price’s extended service, and although there is nothing to actually bind us, it is reasonable that we should pay the proposed gratuity. We gave the retiring allowance to other officers who had no legal claim upon us, and who had not served with so much distinction as Colonel Price had done. It would be unreasonable to say that Colonel Price should not receive any gratuity, because he elected to serve us for another eighteen months, in the belief that Parliament would not treat him any less generously at the end of that period than upon his retirement in the ordinary course. I should like to see provision made for the payment of the full amount of £1,172. The vote has been reduced, apparently, as a penalty upon Colonel Price for having remained in the service for another two years. I do not think that that is reasonable treatment to accord to an officer who has done valuable work. Military men follow a dangerous calling, and should be treated in a generous spirit. I do not think we show sufficient consideration for the men who fight the battles of the Empire. Our great Empire has been built up by the strong arms of those who have gone to the wars, and if we treat our soldiers ungenerously how can we expect the best men to come forward for service in the Army and Navy ? Military men are always at the beck and call of the country, and not only their services, but their lives, are at our disposal in time of need. I have been quite ashamed of the way in which some of our soldiers have been spoken of. I have been reminded of the words which Bulwer Lytton put into the mouth of one of his characters - De Mauprat. Richelieu, in order to test De Mauprat when he appeared before him, referred to him as one who “ cut throats for hire,” and the young soldier replied, “ If you would deign to speak thus to your armies ere they march to battle, perchance you might have the pain of the throat-cuttingto yourself.” If we mete out ungenerous treatment to those on whom we depend in the hour of danger, or get into the habit of speaking disparagingly of them, we shall demoralize the whole of our Defence Forces. I contend that we are morally bound to make this grantto Colonel Price. It is not desired to create a precedent ; but I hope that honorable members will do full justice to both Colonel Price and to Lt.-Col. Bayly, the latter of whom has been struck down in the prune of life by a terrible disease.
Mr. EWING (Richmond - VicePresident of. the Executive Council). - Although the Government regard both the proposed votes as justifiable, they have no desire to create any special precedent, or to place honorable members in a false position. We are actuated by an honest desire to act fairly and reasonably towards the officers referred to, and also towards honorable members. We are, therefore, prepared to withdraw the proposed votes for the present, and to bring them forward at a later stage in such a form that honorable mem- bers, if they agree to make the proposed grant, will not incur any inferential obligation to pay other gratuities. Some honorablemembers appear to have a bee in their bonnet upon the subject of Major Carroll, and I will undertake to make a statement with regard to his case. I think that, under the circumstances, honorable members might allow the Estimates to be passed without any further delay. If there is any matter dealt with in these Estimates with regard to which honorable members have any special representations to make, they will be treated in the same way as if they were the subject of a special resolution on the part of the House.
– I was very pleased to hear the Minister say that he would withdraw the proposed votes, because, I think that, in their present form, they are objectionable. I trust that the Government will give due notice to honorable members before they re-submit these matters. Gratuities such as those referred to by the Treasurer are granted only after the Treasurers of the States concerned have notified to the Federal Treasurer that they approve of them. A case occurred in my district in which a telegraph line repairer was killed by a fall from a telegraph pole. He left a widow absolutely destitute, but the Federal Treasurer positively refused to grant a penny by. way of compensation, and the funeral expenses were deducted from the small amount of pay due to the man. We have heard a great deal of talk about the dangers attached to the calling of military officers, but there are many trades in which the rate of mortality is higher than among soldiers. Those who follow dangerous occupations, and render good service to their country, are as much entitled to credit for courage as are soldiers. I do not for one moment wish to say anything derogatory to Colonel Price. No doubt he is a very courageous man, and a good soldier; but the question for us to consider is whether we should grant him a gratuity whilst hundreds of others who may be equally deserving are regarded as having no claim upon our consideration. If gratuities are to be granted they should be paid according to some scale agreed upon by this Parliament, and no special consideration should be extended to persons of high rank.
– I am pleased that the Minister has agreed to withdraw the proposed votes, because if they had been passed we should have created a bad precedent. I have listened carefully to the speech of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and I have come to the conclusion that Colonel Price has no real claim to the proposed payment. A case similar to that cited by the honorable member for Wide Bay occurred recently in Sydney. A telegraph line repairer was found dead at the foot of a telegraph pole. No one knew how the accident occurred, but although there was no doubt that the man was killed whilst in the discharge of his duty, the Department refused to extend any consideration whatever to his widow and family. If such treatment is to be accorded1 to the relatives of a working man in receipt of only a few shillings per week, I do not see why special consideration should be extended to an officer who was exceedingly well paid for many years. I trust that we have heard the last of Colonel Price’s claim.
– I hope that the Minister of Defence will give to Colonel Price’s claim consideration different from that extended to it by his predecessor. When the late Minister promised that’ the matter should be reconsidered the impression conveyed to honorable members was that it would be regarded favorably. ^ He made the following statement: -
The Government’s position is this : They are the custodians of the public funds, and, as such, it is their duty to preserve them. They did not feel that such a case was made out as would justify them in giving compensation to Colonel Price, and asking Parliament to vote the necessary money. They thought the question was more one of generous treatment than one of strict fairness. On behalf of the Government, I may say that they aire not in any way unsympathetic towards Colonel Price, and that if it is the general wish of the House that we should extend generous treatment to Colonel Price in consideration of his past services, we are quite prepared to consider the whole case.
In view of that statement, I was astonished when the honorable and learned member came here to-day, and made a strong attack upon the proposed vote. I trust that the promise of the Minister has not been given on this occasion with the object of deceiving the Committee.
Proposed vote negatived.
Divisions 43 to 52 (Naval Forces), £47,609, agreed to.
Divisions 53 to 62 (Thursday Island), £iS»981-
– It seems to me that if there is one place along the coast of Australia for which ample provision should be made in the way of, defence it is Thursday Island. Yet I am assured that the guns which are mounted there are obsolete, that they have not sufficient .range, that no protection . whatever is afforded to the men who have to work them, and that the fortifications themselves are in a most disgraceful condition. No provision has been made in these Estimates for mounting new guns, or for strengthening the defences of the place. During the general discussion which took place upon these items, it was urged that the 7. 5-inch guns in the Fremantle forts should be replaced by 9. 2 -inch guns. The same remark is applicable to
Thursday Island. That place is in close touch with the East, and owing to the trend of recent events we know that international complications may arise at any moment. We are also aware that Germany is strongly fortifying portions of New Guinea, anc? that fact in itself) is a sufficient reason why we should strengthen the defences of Thursday Island. I repeat that the guns which are mounted there have not a sufficient range, and that the whole fort requires remodelling and reorganizing. I hope that the Minister will immediately let us know the intentions of the Government in regard! to this matter.
Mr. EWING (Richmond- VicePresident of the Executive Council). - I think that the honorable member is perfectly, justified tin directing our. attention to the important matter of the defence of Thursday Island. Probably he had in his mind something more than the fortification of that place, namely, the defence of Goode Island. , I have not yet had an opportunity of looking through the papers, but agree with the honorable member’s remarks in reference to Thursday Island. I will take him into my confidence in the near future, and discuss with him any reports which we may have upon that subject, with a view to dealing with it comprehensively, and possibly finally.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 63 to 69 (King George’s Sound) £5,104 agreed to.
Divisions 70 to 89 (New South Wales: Military Forces), ,£169,736
– I should like to call the attention of the Minister to a very glaring inequality in regard to the grants which are made to the rifle associations in the different States.1 For instance, I find that in New South Wales a grant of £2,000 per annum is made, in Victoria £1,337, Queensland £1,500, Western Australia .£350, and South Australia only .£200. The reason for this inequality is that these amounts, represent the grants which were made by the various States prior to the Defence Department being transferred to the Commonwealth. In this’ connexion a very great injustice has been done to South Australia, because in that State the Rifle Association formerly received free ammunition, in addition to the grant of £200. The result of the small grant to that State has been to seriously interfere with the annual rifle matches there. The association has had to cut out all the principal prizes from the competitions, and to abandon some matches altogether. I notice that Tasmania only receives a grant of £100 per annum. There is a consensus of opinion amongst the rifle associations that these inequalities should not be continued. What I suggest ‘is - and I may add that the idea meets with the general approval of the organizations in question - that a sum of £200 or £250 should be granted to each association, and that the balance of the vote of .£5,520 should be distributed upon a per capita basis.
– Why not vote a lump sum per capita ?
– To conduct a rifle competition, a minimum sum is absolutely necessary, and £200 is insufficient for the purpose. The small grant which the Rifle Association in South Australia is receiving has greatly militated against rifle shooting there, because the best shots in that State refuse to travel long, distances, and’ to pay their own expenses, for the sake of winning only a small prize. Had the late Minister of Defence remained in office a little longer, this matter would have been put upon an equitable basis. I do hope that it will receive immediate attention.
– Upon the face of the statement of the honorable member - the accuracy of which is borne out by the Estimates - it must be apparent that there is a remarkable inequality in the grants received by the various rifle associations. That inequality is due to the fact that those grants represent the amounts which the associations received prior to Federation. I think that the time has now arrived when we should do away with this want of uniformity. I have taken notice of 1 the various items, and next Wednesday or Thursday T hope to Have an opportunity of discussing this matter with the honorable member. I am quite satisfied that we shall then be able to arrive at some just arrangement.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).The matter which has been mentioned by the honorable member for Hindmarsh is a very proper one for our consideration, and I think that an annual grant of ,£300 might at once be made to the South Australian Association. But to ask the other States to agree to accept a sum of £250 each, and to allow the balance to be dis bursed upon a per capita basis, would be unfair. It would confer upon the smaller States an advantage over New South Wales - a condition of things that I am sure the honorable member for Hindmarsh does not desire to bring about.
Mr. EWING (Richmond- VicePresident of the Executive Council). - The honorable and learned member for Corio has just informed me that the Federal Council of Rifle Clubs has concluded that it would be wise to do what the honorable member for Hindmarsh suggests. Seeing that the Government have the rifle associations behind them in this matter, we may justifiably hope to arrive at a satisfactory result. Tt appears that these associations are with us, and that probably equity lies along the lines I have indicated.
– It seems to me that the Minister’s proposal, if carried out, would place Victoria and New South Wales at a disadvantage. A sum of £200 or ,£250 would be granted to each association, and the balance of the vote would be disbursed on a per capita basis.
– If they agreed to it.
– The honorable gentleman said that that was the basis that he proposed to adopt.
– The honorable member is mistaken; I did not make that statement.
– A much .larger sum should be devoted to the encouragement of rifle clubs. It seems to me that the present and previous Governments have discouraged riot only the rifle clubs, but the volunteer movement generally. In the first place, the volunteers were disbanded, and those who could not buy horses and equipment to enable them to serve as mounted troops were compelled to join the rifle clubs in order that they might maintain their efficiency. One of these, who resides in my electorate, carried off the first prize in a shooting competition against all comers, his achievement being a most meritorious one. So parsimonious were the Government in their dealings with the volunteers that they actually refused to grant long-service medals to those who had served for twenty years, and would have been willing to put in the remaining twelve months to entitle them to that distinction had not the volunteer regiments been disbanded. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has pointed out that whilst prior to Federation the rifle association in South Australia received a grant of only ,£200 a year, free ammunition was served out to them. It now appears that they have to pay for everything.
– No alterations have been made in that respect.
– The alteration to which I refer was made whilst the honorable gentleman held office as Minister of Defence. During his term of office the service was disorganized, and volunteers who for twenty years had devoted much of their time and money to the work of preparing themselves to defend their country in the hour of need were called upon either to join rifle clubs or to purchase their own horsesand equipment and become members of the Mounted Forces.
– The honorable member knows that he is stating what is absolutely incorrect.
– When the honorable gentleman held office as Minister of Defence I had several interviews with him, in the presence of Major-General Hutton, with respect to the unfair treatment meted out to volunteers who had served twenty years, but who, because of the facts I have already mentioned, had been refused the long-service medal. Many of these men have now joined the rifle clubs, and my complaint is that the movement is not receiving the encouragement it deserves. I trust that an increased grant will be made. The present Postmaster-General, while Minister of Defence gave the volunteer movement a serious set-back by forcing those who had served their country well either to retire or purchase their own, horses and equipment. He was governed by the General Officer Commanding. I trust that justice will be done to the rifle clubs of South Australia, and that the grant of£200 a year will be increased by at least 50 per cent. At the same time, I do not desire to see the Victorian or New South Wales clubs called upon to accept a reduced allowance in order that this arrangement may be carried out. To my mind, an additional grant ought to be made.
– I agree that it is desirable that increased encouragement should be given to the rifle club movement, and wish to bring under the special notice of the Minister the unfair treatment which clubs in some of the remote parts of the Commonwealth have received. In the Gulf country, in the north-western part of Queensland, there are several rifle clubs whose position has not been fairly taken into consideration. Some time ago a regulation was issued providing that passes should not be issued to riflemen to attend rifle matches more than fifty miles from their head-quarters. As most of these clubs are considerably more than fifty miles apart, the result was that their members were unable to take part in any of the competitionsunlesstheypaid their own fares. The matter was brought under the notice of the Minister, and ultimately the regulation was withdrawn. But the fact that such an order was issued proves my contention that the officers at headquarters give very little attention to the position of clubs in the remote parts of the Commonwealth. I wish now to draw attention to the supply of ammunition at Normanton. I do not know whether the trouble is due to an objection on the part of the State authorities to store ammunition there, but the fact remains that at the present time the rifle clubs in the Normanton district have to send to Townsville for their supplies, and that three weeks must elapsebefore a reply can be received to an application. Prior to the issue of the recent regulations, they were able to obtain what ammunition they required at Normanton; but under the new arrangement it will be necessary for them either to expend a considerable sum in providing a storeroom locally, or to wait until supplies come to hand, from time to time, from Townsville. I believe that the Department is of opinion that it is desirable to exercise better control over the distribution of ammunition ; but, in the absence of suitable provision at Normanton, the ammunition should be sent to Thursday Island, where there is a garrison, and where it could be safely stored. Such an arrangement would certainly be more convenient than is the present one. Two or three of the clubs in the Gulf country are completely isolated, and it is their desire to form a rifle association of their own, but their applications for some little assistance to this end have been invariably refused by the Department. I trust that the Ministry will take this matter into their favorable consideration.Many of the clubs to which I refer have spent considerable sums in improving their rifle ranges. The men who visit these ranges often come from mining camps twenty miles or more away and it costs them from 10s. to 12s. for their meals and a night’s lodging. When they are prepared to bear these expenses merely for the sake of making themselves efficient marksmen, I think that the least the Government should do is to grant them increased supplies of ammunition, and to improve their ranges. An application was made by the Golden Gate Rifle Club for z. sum of £26 to erect a shed at their range, but the answer given was that they ought to build .a sort of bough shed. They had already done so, but needed a building in which they might safely store their ammunition, and so forth. The Government, however, has so far declined to grant their application. It seems to me that some little assistance might well be given to these struggling clubs, and I trust that the Minister will give special consideration to those in the outlying districts. Close to the big cities every convenience is given to the members of rifle clubs, but very little notice is paid to those in outlying districts. I hope that the Minister will take more definite action in regard to these clubs in the future.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 90 to 107 (“Victorian Military Forces), £162,096.
– -Yesterday I asked the Minister if it is proposed to have a presentation of military colours at any function on the 13th November, if so, whether it is to be accompanied by a religious or consecration service, and, if so, what will be the denominaton of the person or persons conducting that service? To those questions he replied that there is to be a service, and that steps have been taken to arrange, if possible, for the attendance of chaplains representing the Protestant and Romain Catholic denominations. I also asked him if permission will be given to all troops present at the military function to absent themselves from the religious service, to which his reply, was, “ No, because it is considered that the form of prayer to be used will be acceptable to all denominations.” He further informed me that the form of prayer to be used will be that used last year. I know that on that occasion considerable trouble was caused by. the decision to have a religious service in connexion with the parade. The matter was referred to in the Congregational Union- of Victoria; Archbishop Carr addressed a letter to his people, in which he stated that, in his opinion, the service was a serious attack on their religion, and asked Roman Catholic soldiers not to attend1; and’ Dean Phelan, preaching at St. Patrick’s Cathe dral, on 13th -November, the Sunday before the ceremony, said that it .was a great injustice to expect the attendance of Roman Catholics, and advised the members of that denomination to absent themselves from the ceremony. At the time I asked - and I think the request was a very reasonable one - that those who were compelled to attend the military function should be allowed to absent themselves from the religious ceremony. Personally, I ‘have no objection to the form of prayer arranged to be offered, and it does not matter to me what the religion of my men is; but I consider it unfair that any man should be asked to attend a religious service in regard to which he may have religious, scruples.
– It is only when a man is compelled to attend knee-drill that he is affected by a religious service.
– The honorable member for Dalley is so anxious to work in a joke that he fails to realize at times the seriousness of the matter under discussion.
– I think that the honorable and learned member’s objection to this service deserves to be ridiculed.
– I have great diffidence in bringing the matter forward, but I desire that the religious scruples of those under military command shall be respected, and as I have shown, at least two large religious denominations object to their members attending a service of this kind. It must be remembered, teo, that the general taxpayers who contribute to the cost of our Military Forces do not belong exclusively to any one denomination, but comprise Roman Catholics and! Protestants, Christians and non-Christians.
– Does not the honorable and learned member think ,that prayer1 is good for all men?
– Yes ; but every man wishes to approach God in his own way. The form of prayer to be adopted, .which is attached to the answers given to my question yesterday, in so far as it invokes Jesus Christ, must be objectionable to non-Christians. It also contains a petition - that asking that “ Our most gracious Sovereign King “ may be replenished with grace, and so on - which was considered so objectionable at the time the royal headship of the church was established that 4,000 ministers of the Church of England deliberately left positions of pay and honour to join the ranks of the Nonconformists and suffer all the penalties attaching to that course. Furthermore, there are not chaplains of every denomination connected with the forces. In Queensland, there is no Presbyterian chaplain, and there is neither a Presbyterian nor a Roman Catholic chaplain in South Australia or Western Australia. There is no Baptist, Congregational, or Jewish Chaplain in the Commonwealth, while ArchBishop Carr said last year that there is no Roman Catholic chaplain in Victoria. What then is meant by the statement that steps are being taken to arrange, if possible, for the attendance of chaplains representing the Protestant and Roman Catholic denominations? I think that the Minister should meet the difficulty in the way I suggest, by allowing those who do not wish to attend the religious service to absent themselves from the parade, or to parade on some other part of the ground while it is in progress.
Mr. EWING (Richmond- VicePresident of the Executive Council). - It is not possible at the present time for me to give the honorable and learned member any information on the subject beyond that which he received in the answer to his questions yesterday, but if he will bring up the matter again on Wednesdaynext I shall, in the meantime, discuss it with the Minister, and endeavour to obtain some satisfactory reply. I frankly admit that, personally, I do not see why any one should be forced to attend a religious service against his will.
– Is the major provided for in sub-division 1 of division 91, Major Hawker, of Queenscliff?
– Then I move-
That in division 91 the item “ Major, £500 “ be left out.
I consider that this officer is one of the worst in our service, and as the House refused yesterday to appoint a Committee to inquire into his conduct I take this opportunity to get satisfaction in regard to him. He has been guilty of creating a mutiny in New South Wales - the commanding officer there has stated that fact - and his conduct should be inquired into.
Mr. EWING (Richmond- VicePresident of the Executive Council). - Even if Major Hawker be an undesirable officer - and I am not called upon to discuss that question now - we must have a major for the Royal Australian Artillery.
Mr.Page. - Then appoint another officer. If no money is voted for this officer we shall soon get rid of him.
– The result which the honorable member wishes to achieve will not be brought about by omitting the item. I promise him, however, that any representations which he or any other honorable member likes to make in regard to any. officer will be brought before the Minister. It will be much more effective to make representations about Major Hawker through me to the Minister than to omit this item.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa). - I cannot give the honorable member more information than he has already received from the honorable and learned member for Corio. If I had anything to do with this officer I would get rid of him at once. He is not a fit person to be in command of othermen. If he had been in the Imperial service, and had caused a mutiny, he would have been dismissed, or sent out into the wilds of India, where he would learn more sense. Several members of the Opposition objected to a fishing inquiry, and I think that an investigation had better be conducted by a Committee of the whole House. The present time is the most fitting, and the opportunity is at our hand. If any honorable members wish to defend Major Hawker, let them do so now; otherwise I shall divide the Committee in order that we may ascertain which honorable members are disposed to shield martinets.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- I was not able yesterday to present to the Minister all the evidence that I desired with regard to the case of Bombardier Webb, who has been so shockingly used by his superior officer in the Garrison Artillery. Webb stated his own case in a letter, which appeared in the Melbourne Herald, of 12th October last, as follows: -
In reference to the statements of Mr. Ewing, M.P., in the House of Representatives last Thursday, that I made a number of baseless charges, please do me justice to permit me to state my own case. With the exception of a slight inaccuracy that my child was born six weeks instead of five days after my discharge, all Mr. Crouch’s statements were true, and the Minister has, without hearing me, or communicating with me in any way, refused to believe my case.
It is for simply not seeing Colonel Le Mesurier, and saluting him, I was made to live in barracks permanently; my wife, who was nearing her confinement, having therefore, to live outside in our home by herself ; my leave was. stopped for a month; my bombardier’s stripe was removed ; and I lost a job which meant extra pay.
Even if Webb had seen the officer on the occasion referred to, the punishment meted out to him was altogether too severe. He goes on to say -
I did not see Colonel Le Mesurier. I was standing, reading a notice board, when he said, “Why didn’t you turn round and stand properly to the front when an officer was passing?” I -said, “ I didn’t see you, sir. I stood properly to attention as soon as I saw you, sir.” Major Hawker said, “What’s your name? You’ll be a prisoner. Go and report yourself to the SergeantMajor as a prisoner.”
For a month my plain clothes and leave were stopped. I waited some time, and then saw Major Hawker, and told him my wife was living by herself, was. unwell, was expecting her first child, and asked for permission to live out. He refused, on the ground that according to the regulations, ns I had no children he could not permit me to live out of barracks, and I had not taken my punishment in a soldierly spirit. I then saw my company officer, Lieutenant Innes, and told him my wife was too ill for us to be separated, and would he recommend my discharge.
I have seen the report of Lieutenant Innes, which confirms this statement. Webb proceeds -
This I obtained, and left on 31st July. My wife was very ill several times, and I did not know the day the child, our first child, would be born, and it was unsafe to leave her in the house by herself at night alone. I had consequently to give up my home, store my furniture, and she returned to her mother’s home and care.
The child was not born till 14th September. Before I obtained my discharge I asked Major Hawker to be allowed to see the Commandant, and, later, the Minister of Defence.
I was not allowed to write to the Commandant, but Major Hawker told me he had written to Colonel Ricardo, who replied that I should have shown more appreciation for my privileges when I had them. I had written out my own complaint for the Commandant, but Lieutenant Innes, to whom, as my Company officer, I had to hand it, said I was not allowed to address him in writing. I have never heard of any man being permitted to -forward his own written complaint. I am quite ready to go before the Minister or any Board as to the truth of all my statements.
I have here the document which Webb wished to send on to the Commandant of the Victorian Forces. It reads as follows : -
On the 14th April I was made a prisoner for inattention to orders, my crime being neglecting to salute Colonel Le Mesurier. On the following day I was, for this crime, reverted by Major Hawker to the rank of gunner. In addition to this punishment, I was deprived of the privilege of wearing plain clothes, and al- lowed no late leave for a month. The privilege of living out of barracks, which had been granted me by R.D.O. the previous week, was also taken from me as part of my punishment, and I ,was compelled to break up my home, send my wife away, and come into barracks for an indefinite period. I respectfully contend - 1st. That this punishment is unduly severe, considering that it is not denied by the evidence on either side that my offence was purely accidental. 2nd. That under Part -V., paragraph 85, Australian Regulations, I have been improperly punished, as this paragraph distinctly states that when an acting non-commissioned officer is reverted to his permanent grade he shall not be subjected to any minor or summary punishment in addition.
Perhaps the honorable member for Maranoa can tell me whether that is a correct statement.
– Hear, hear. It is perfectly true.
– The statement proceeds -
I therefore respectfully appeal against this decision, and request that the minor punishments which have been inflicted should be cancelled’. I also wish to add that on parading Major Hawker and stating my intention to appeal to you against his decision in my case, I was warned by him that he “could make things very rough for me,” and that, in the event of my persisting in making this appeal, he “ could transfer me to another company^ and send me to South Channel.” Witness to this threat - Capt. Christian, Lt. Innes, S. M. Parry.
J. Webb, Gr. R.-A.A.
Major Hawker was allowed to send in any statement he might please, but Webb was not permitted to put his own case in writing before the Commandant of the Victorian Forces. Upon Major Hawker’s representations - goodness knows what they were - Colonel Ricardo said that he could not ‘ grant the appeal, because Webb was not taking his punishment in a soldierlike manner. The threat made by Major Hawker was heard by Sergeant-Major Parry, and J should like to know why that noncommissioned officer was not called? SergeantMajor Morris, who was called to give evidence, said that he was present on one occasion, but did not hear Webb make certain statements. Sergeant-Major Parry was not called. Why was Webb not permitted to bring forward his own witnesses ? Now I desire to know from the Minister whether it is intended to continue the practice of summoning the intended wife of a gunner before the commanding officer.
– I told the House that that was not to be permitted in the future.
– That is the first statement we have had to the effect that the practice is not to be continued. On a former occasion the Minister defended the action of Major Hawker, and said that it was perfectly right that the men should be required to obtain leave to marry, because, although there were no quarters for married people at Queenscliff, the men were liable to be transferred to other stations where quarters were provided for married people.
-i said that that was the justification that had been furnished to me. If the honorable and learned member will read the context of my remarks he will see that I did not attempt to justify the proceedings of Major Hawker. I think that I said the practice would be discontinued. At any rate,I say so now.
– Will the Minister undertake to say that the regulation which makes it necessary for a man to appear before his commanding officer and obtain permission to marry shall be abolished?
– Any action such as that of parading a woman is certainly objectionable. But I should not like to say that a commanding officer, who knew that one of his men was about to enter into an unwise alliance-
– What has it to do with him?
– I would apply it to the case of any man.
– Do I understand that the Minister will not permit any woman to be paraded before an officer again?
– That is so.
– But the old regulation is to be continued, and soldiers will be required to parade before their commanding officer before they get married.
– I should think not. I do not think there is any regulation that prevents a soldier from choosing as his wife any woman he thinks fit. But the point is that there is only limited accommodation in barracks for married couples.
– I want the Minister to state that the present regulation will be done away with. Honorable members know perfectly well that in a certain case Major Hawker required that a young lady should parade before him, and that his action was justified by Colonel Ricardo, who, in a newspaper interview, said -
When I was in Western Australia, a man under me asked permission to marry, and feeling satis- fied that the girl, whose father I knew, was not
Aware of his financial position, I asked him if he would have any objection to my meeting the young lady. He said he had none, and would bring her to the barracks. But he failed to do so, and I left without granting permission. Subsequently, another officer met the young lady, and, in the course of a conversation about her lover, the officer said, “ I suppose you know he is getting only 3s. 6d. a day ?” “ Indeed, he is not,” she replied indignantly, “ he gets 10s. a day, and 2s. a day signalling allowance.” The officer eventually convinced her that the actual amount was 3s. 6d., and the result was that she said that entirely altered the matter, and she broke off the engagement.
However, I wish to allow Major Hawker to make his own defence in regard to this matter. Over his signature to a report made to the Minister, on the 20th September last, he says -
I consider it my duty, before giving my consent to a marriage, to ascertain if the intended wife fully understands the position of the man she has been asked to marry, as I am sorry to say it is not an unusual occurrence for a man in the Royal Australian Artillery to induce a girl to marry him, and in a few weeks leave her to shift for herself, the pay of a gunner being little more than enough for a single man’s needs.
I say that that statement is false. If there is anybody who has an opportunity of knowing what is the general behaviour of the Queenscliff gunners when they are off duty, it is myself.
– How much pay do they receive?
– They receive from 2s. 6d. to 4s. 6d. a day.
– Does the honorable and learned member think that that is a sufficient sum upon which to keep a wife and family ?
– If it is not, it is a disgrace to this House. It is the duty of the Commonwealth Parliament to see that these men are in a position to marry if they so desire. Major Hawker adds: -
I have always treated the intended wife of any man with proper courtesy and respect.
I wish now to refer to another matter to which I was led to refer in replying to an interjection. Hitherto the only matters to which I have referred have been those affecting my own constituents. I conceive it to be my duty to bring such questions before the House to insure that no injustice shall be done. If it is my misfortune to be a member of the Military Force, I cannot help it. As long as a constituent of mine has a legitimate grievance, the House will hear of it, no matter upon whose toes I may have to tread. I repeat that, in replying to an interjection, I was induced to mention a matter which did not affect my constituents. I refer to a mutiny which occurred at Middle Head, Sydney. I have been informed that whilst Major Hawker was there, a mutiny occurred amongst the men under him. The statement was referred to that officer, and he admits that upon one occasion a certain number of men refused to parade. Colonel Stanley declares that these men were in consequence withdrawn from the company in which they were then serving, and distributed amongst other companies. In addition, the colonel says that he found it necescary to warn Major Hawker not to impose unusual drills or treatment upon these men, but to treat them in exactly the same way as they were treated by other officers. I may add that the gunners at Queenscliff labour under a number of petty injustices which I have hitherto refrained from mentioning. For instance, they are not allowed the same facilities to visit the library on Sundays. In fact, there is no individual in the community who is more tied down than is the soldier. Some of the men in the Permanent Forces, unless they have the good fortune to possess a reasonable commanding officer, lead veritable dog’s lives. Of course, I admit that there are officers and officers. Some officers allow those under them as much liberty as is consistent with proper discipline. But since Major Hawker has been at Queenscliff, a state of things has existed there bordering upon mutiny. Had a Select Committee been appointed to investigate the defence regulations, I am satisfied that numerous injustices, anomalies, and scandals would have been: exposed, which some persons are very anxious to suppress. These exposures would have been of such a character that the public would have insisted upon the conversion of that Select Committee into a Royal Commission. Instead of the Vice-President of theExecutive Council opposing my motion he should have assisted me in every possible way. It was his duty to help me to let light into a number of dark places. I know very well that we cannot reduce these Estimates, but I do say that some protest of that sort ought to be made. Ifwe can strike out Major Hawker’s salary,we shall be doing the right thing.
Mr.EWING (Richmond - Vice-President of the Executive Council). - I am sure that honorable members merely desire to secure efficiency in the service, and fair play all round. We shall gain nothing by striking out Major Hawker’s salary, because a major will be required at the Queenscliff forts under any circumstances
– Let the Vice-President of the Executive Council say that he will remove Major Hawker, andwe are content to allow the £500 to remain upon the Estimates. ,
– The Minister of Defence states that if any injustice is being done, he is quite prepared to remedy it. He is perfectly willing to meet the honorable member for Maranoa, the honorable and learned member for Corio and any other honorable members who believe that any particular officer is incompetent or unjust, and to discuss the matterwith them. If honorable members so desire, I am quite willing to be present at the interview. If they can establish their case,the Minister will do what is right in the matter.
– That is the sort of promise, which is always made.
– But the honorable member must recognise that Senator Playford has been in office only a month or two. If A orB is an unsuitable officer, do not honorable members credit the Minister with being just as anxious to secure efficiency in the service as they are themselves? I am sure thatwhen they know him better, they will find that under no circumstances will injustice be tolerated. If they will put their case before the Minister, I am confident that he will dowhat is proper.
– Of course, I recognise that the Vice-President of the Executive Council is not speaking as the Minister of Defence, but I do say that, if I were in his place, Iwould take the document which is in the possession of the honorable and learned member for Corio - the documentwhich Lieut. Innes refused to forward to Head-quarters - and lay it before the Minister. However, he has not chosen to do that. A definite statement has been made, andwhy does not the Vice-President of the Executive Council say, “ I will put that document before the Minister, and have an, inquiry made as to why it was not despatched to Head-quarters “ ?
– Will the Minister promise to inquire into Major Hawkers conduct ?
– Iwill promise to suggest to the Minister that the charges made against Major Hawker shall be inquired into.
– Will the Minister take the documentwhich is now in the pos- session or the honorable and learned member for Corio and forward it to Headquarters ?
– I will. If the statements of honorable members are correct, it is my duty to the country to do that. If honorable members satisfy me that any injustice has been done, I am quite willing to use all my powers to get it remedied.
– If Major Hawker is convicted of having uttered untruths, will he escape punishment because he occupies a high position ?
– No. I will see that he does not.
– Regarding the case of Gunner Sheehan, I wish honorable members to understand that Major Hawker stated that the regulations were read over to him. That statementwasabsolutely false, as is proved by the document which I hold in my hand. But, to bolster up his case, Major Hawker was prepared to stoop to deception. Any officer who does that should not be retained in the Defence Forces of the Commonwealth. The document to which I have referred is addressed to the honorable and learned member for Corio, and reads -
Department of Defence, Melbourne
July 12, 1905
Dear Sir. - With further reference to your letter of 29th ultimo, relative to Gunner W. T. Sheehan, I am directed to inform you that on further investigating the case, it appears to the Minister that the regulations were not read to Sheehan, and under the circumstances, Senator Playford thinks that the request for a discharge should be granted. Instructions have therefore been given to this effect.
All honour to the Minister for what he ‘did in that connexion. I have too much faith in Senator Playford to believe that he will tolerate the humbugging nonsense and insulting impertinence of a military cad. What is the record of Major Hawker?
– If the Select Committee for which the honorable and learned member for Corio moved had been appointed, I know a gentleman who was prepared to come forward and state what is that officer’s record. I refused, however, to listen to what he would have told me. Now let us see what the sweet Colonel Ricardo says. In the course of an interview published in the Argus, on the 15th ultimo, he said -
Assuming that Captain Crouch’s charge is correct, I feel that Major Hawker acted rightly in letting the girl know the position of the man she intended to marry. The way that Captain Crouch described the interview made it appear as if Major Hawker had had the different girls brought up in line and inspected.
– I never suggested anything of the sort.
– Even if he had ears as big as a donkey’s, this officer, had he been present when the debate took place, would not have heard anything from which such an inference could be drawn. We must take care that every man who enters the ranks is justly treated. From a physiological point of view, I can detect little, if any, difference between an officer and a private. Both have arms, legs, teeth, eyes, and brains, and if a private has the heart to care for one of the other sex he will make a good husband. As a married man, Mr. Chairman, you will recognise the brutality of separating a man from his wife at a time when her first child is about to enter the world. Even if this man had been guilty of the offence of which he was charged, surely the first punishment should have been sufficient. The unfortunate fellow was crushed again and again, until he had finally to leave the service. I should like either to see him reinstated or the officer in question compelled! to leave the forces. It seems almost inconceivable that an officer should have dared to call upon a soldier’s sweetheartto parade before him. I am sure that the honorable member for Maranoa, who is the only member with practical experience of a soldier’s life, never knew such a thing to happen in connexion with the British Forces. Why should a second officer have interviewed this girl ? Were there any ulterior motives? A swagger officer is generally a “ lady-killer,” and likes to shine as the winner of a woman’s charms. Possibly the two officers who insulted the girl and caused her to break off her engagement are “ lady-killers.” I do not wish to harshly judge her, but I cannot understand why, merely upon the representations of two officers of such sublunary ideas as those who had the impertinence to insult her lover, she should have given up the man with whom she was previously willing to ally herself for life. I shall vote for the amendment, believing that if it be carried it will be an indication to the Government that in the opinion of the Committee the officer in question should be censured and dismissed from the forces.
– I am glad that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has promised that a full inquiry will be made into this case. I should not like him to be under the misapprehension that, because a majority of honorable members voted yesterday against the motion submitted by the honorable member for Corio, for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into this and other cases the House is of opinion that the incident should be closed. That was not by any means our intention in voting as we did. I believe that honorable members were induced to reject the motion because, in their opinion, the case had not reached a stage at which it could not be dealt with by the Department, and punishment meted out to those deserving of it, however highly placed they might be. To my mind, it was the desire to give the Minister a freer hand to inquire into the whole matter that led honorable members to vote against the motion for the appointment of the Committee. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council represents to the Minister of Defence that it was only because of that consideration that the motion was rejected, Senator Playford will recognise that in our opinion the honorable and learned member for Corio was well justified in bringing the case before the House. I, for one, however, should be very sorry, before hearing both sides of the case, to sit in judgment upon these officers, and therefore I do not feel disposed to vote for the amendment.
– It was only by moving such an amendment that we could draw attention to the case. .
– The honorable member was quite justified in submitting his amendment as a means of directing attention to the matter. But to give a vote which would be a direction to the Government to dismiss Major Hawker-
– That would not necessarily be the inference to be drawn from the passing of the amendment.
– At all events, I for’ one am not disposed to vote for the amendment, because I have no means of ascertaining what are the facts on the other side. I should like the Minister, to inquire into the career of Major Hawker in the various States.
– He has a record in South Australia.
– I am inclined to believe that he is identical with the Captain Hawker who, while stationed in South Australia, nearly caused a mutiny, and barely escaped being dismissed from the forces. I ask the Minister to inquire into the whole record of this officer, with a view of determining whether he ought to be intrusted with the control of a number of men.
– Major Hawker is identical with Captain Hawker, formerly of South Au s t r 3p 1 1 1
– If that be so, the fact that trouble has so frequently arisen among the men under him would appear to indicate that he is not a fit person to be placed in charge of others. I therefore think that the_ Minister would act wisely and carry out the desire of the Committee if he caused a most thorough inquiry to be made.
– I think that the honorable member for Maranoa was perfectly justified in submitting his amendment with a view to the ventilation of this case. His action has certainly led to the Committee being placed in possession of particulars of which I was not aware, and which have occasioned me considerable surprise. It is only reasonable to assume that honorable members would not make such statements unless they believed they had good grounds for doing so.
– If the charges are not based upon substantial grounds there should be an official denial.
– Quite so. Statements have been made by several honorable members, who must have felt that they had good ground for putting them before the Committee.
– I do not know Major Hawker.
– I recognise that the honorable member for Maranoa realizes the importance of maintaining discipline, and having regard to that fact, it seems to me that the statements which have been put before the Committee should be very carefully; considered. I am glad that the Ministry has agreed that a searching inquiry shall be made. I realize, however, that if the amendment were carried it would practically mean the dismissal of this officer. We have a right to see that every man receives fair play.
– If the charges made against this officer be true, he should not remain in the service two hours longer.
– I do not wish to prejudge the case, but the statements that have been made certainly show that an inquiry ought to be made. If as the result of the inquiry these charges are proved, it will be the duty of the Minister to seriously consider whether such an officer should be permitted to remain in the service. I trust that we shall be apprised as early as possible of the result of the inquiry, and that steps will be taken to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.
– We have no direct promise that an inquiry will be made.
– I will give the honorable member a promise.
– The honorable gentleman has merely promised to suggest to the Minister of Defence that a certain course of action be taken. I think that he should be prepared to take the responsibility of saying that there will be an inquiry.
– I understand that he has made that promise.
– No. The honorable gentleman merely said that he would suggest to the Minister of Defence that an inquiry be made. This matter was discussed in the House on a previous occasion, when the Vice-President of the Executive Council who had received his instructions from the Minister of Defence, made a number of statements, in refutation of all the charges that had been made. He is now prepared, however, to admit the truth of many of the allegations, and recognises that the attitude which he took up was based upon insufficient evidence. The fact of the matter is that the Government have heard one side of the case, and have made no attempt to elicit the facts on the other side. There must be something very wrong with the Department, and a definite promise ought to be given by the Government that a searching inquiry will be made. Is the Minister prepared to state distinctly that there will be such an inquiry ? If not, we ought to thresh the matter out this afternoon.
– I have listened, with interest to the debate, and am inclined to take up a position very similar to that adopted by the honorable member for Kennedy. I do not think, however, that the Vice-President of the Executive Council could definitely pledge the Minister of Defence to the holding of a searching investigation. Indeed, I should resent a proposal that the honorable gentleman should make sucha pledge without, at all events, the consent of the Prime Minister. Al though the assertions that have been made this afternoon are sufficiently alarming to arrest attention, I trust that the amendment will not be carried. So far, we have but an ex parte statement of the case, from which it would appear that Major Hawker has a most unenviable record, but to carry this amendment would be to condemn him before he has had an opportunity to reply to the charges made against him. I trust that the VicePresident of the Executive Council, having consulted with the Prime Minister, will now be able to give the Committee an assurance that a searching inquiry will be made.
– In no instance will the Minister sacrifice an officer without full knowledge of all the circumstances surrounding his case, and I am satisfied that the honorable member for Maranoa would not desire the dismissal of an officer before the charge against him had been proved.
– Have I ever asked that anything of the kind should be done?
– I am sure that the honorable member would not make such a re- quest. Our position as representatives of the people requires us to be manly and straightforward in all. that we do. It is a difficult thing to make promises on one’s own account, but I am in the still more unfortunate position of having to make promises for another. The Minister of Defence, however, has informed me, with the approval of the Prime Minister, that a searching inquiry will be made - that he feels it to be his duty to order such an inquiry now that the matter has been brought under his consideration.
– At once?
– Yes. Honorable members must remember that the business of the Senate is now very heavy, so that they cannot fairly expect that the inquiry will be commenced next week.
– We should know before Parliament prorogues what the Minister’s decision in this case is.
– I hope that honorable members will know that. The Minister says that he will cause an inquiry to be made promptly, but I cannot bind him to take action next week.
– There are two distinguished visitors within the precincts of the Chamber, one of whom has held, and the other still holds, the position of His Majesty’s representative in one of the States. I move -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair, report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
Motion agreed to; progress reported.
– I move -
That seats on the floor of the House be accorded to His Excellency Admiral Sir Frederick Bedford, Governor of Western Australia, and to the Right Honorable the Earl of Jersey.
Honorable members will recollect that Lord Jersey, since he was Governor of New South Wales, has in recent years rendered great services to Australia, as well as to New South Wales by . his acceptance of many onerous duties attached to honorary appointments on our behalf.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed) :
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council stated, in reply to an interjection, that if he were satisfied that Major- Hawker had made a false official statement, that officer would be punished.
– I think that he should be punished, if he has done so.
– I can show the Minister, by a reference to the records of the Defence Department, that he has done so. The Committee will remember that some time ago I brought up the case of a man named Sheehan, who complained that he had been wrongly enlisted, and, in consequence of my statement, a report on the subject was obtained bv the Minister of Defence, inquiry being made as to whether certain regulations had been read over to Sheehan. Major Hawker stated positively that they had been read over to Sheehan, and I have seen that statement, signed- by him, in the records of the Department. On the 1 2th July, however, the present Minister of Defence expressed in a minute the opinion that the regulations were not read over to Sheehan. Therefore, the Minister himself believes that Major Hawker has made a false official statement. That alone should be a reason for a thorough inquiry.
– The honorable and learned member for Corio has spoken of the punishment meted out by Major Hawker to a certain non-commissioned officer, .and, as one who for several years served in the Imperial Forces, I wish to assure the Committee that to be deprived of his stripe is one of the greatest degradations to which a non-commissioned officer can be subjected. This non-commissioned officer was, moreover, deprived of extra pay, and confined to barracks for a month. In the Imperial service, where the discipline is most strict, an officer commanding a battery cr a regiment inflicts such a punishment only for the most serious offences. Surely it was not necessary to impose it in the case to which the honorable and learned member has referred. I moved the amendment only because we were denied an opportunity for an investigation by means of a Select Committee, but, as an inquiry has now been promised, I should like to withdraw it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 108 to 125 (Queensland Mili tary Forces), £71,660.
– I should like to know why the appropriation for rifle clubs and associations in Queensland this year is only £4,679, while last year £8,91.5 was voted. In New South Wales the appropriation last year was £8,040, and this year £13,405 is proposed to be granted.
– The difference to’ which the honorable member refers is accounted for largely by the items -
Free ammunition, to be paid into Trust Fund Small Arms Ammunition Account, £1,274 (‘9°5-6), £3.820 (1904-5).
Loss on sale of ammunition, to be paid into Trust Fund Small Arms Ammunition Account, £2,000 (1904-5).
There is no reduction of the vote, which is likely to decrease the effectiveness of the rifle clubs and associations. No doubt honorable members will hear more about rifle clubs before the session closes.
Proposed vote agreed to.
– In division 126 a military clerk is provided for at a salary of £170. I wish to draw attention to the way in which the young fellow who occupies this position has been advanced.
In 1903, he was receiving £52 a year. Then his salary was increased to£110, and a little later to £135. Now it is £170, and apparently it will eventually go up to £210.
– There is no proposal to increase the salary this year.
– £210 is set down as the maximum for his class. It is very singular that this officer, who is a comparative lad, should be given so many increases when.it is difficult to obtain even the minimum wage for some others in the service. I would also point out that in division 132 no specific amount is set down for the captain of the instructional staff there provided for. The maximum for his rank is stated to be£450, but I should like to know what he actually receives.
– Then he is getting an increase of £25.
– He is doing remarkably well. His salary has been increased by£75 in two years, and I do not know that he has shown any special ability, although he struts about like a peacock, and has a very great regard for himself. His pay is now almost as large as that of the officer who is second to the Commandant, and who has very much more to do. As an instance of the slip-shod way in which these South Australian Estimates have been prepared, I should like topoint out that in subdivision 2 of division 132 the total horse allowance for four warrant and non-commissioned officers at £30 each is set down at £150. These are simple matters, but they indicate the slovenly way in which the Estimates have been framed. I desire to show that whilst great liberality has been displayed towards some officers, others, who are apparently equally deserving, have not received any consideration. In division 141, provision is made for a caretaker of the Adelaide parade-ground, who receives the magnificent salary of£91. He is a man of forty-one years of age, has a family to support, and devotes the whole of his time to the duties of his position. He has received no consideration in the way of increased pay, whereas the salary of a boy has been increased within three years from £52 to£170. The caretaker should be receiving at least£110, the minimum wage fixed by this Parliament. I trust that the Minister will give his attention to this case, and see if some in crease of pay cannot be provided for. Last night I expressed the opinion that the military clerks should be brought under the control of the Public Service Commissioner, because it appears to me that there is absolutely no method in the present arrangement. Some men receive increases at an alarming rate, whilst the salaries of others remain stationary. I think we should’ have a tabulated list of officers, setting out the salaries in each case. The Minister himself had to confess to me that he was unable to make head or tail of the South Australian Estimates. Take, for instance, the items relating to the salaries of a captain and lieutenant under division 132. It is impossible to ascertain from the figures whether those officers are receiving £450 and £350 per annum respectively, or any less sum.
– I shall look into the whole of the matters referred to by the honorable member.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions, 143 to 158 (Western Australian Military Forces), £31,029, agreed to.
– There is a matter which I have so frequently brought under the attention of the House that I dislike to again obtrude it upon honorable members, particularly as it affords evidence of a clear breach of faith on the part of successive Governments. In connexion with the re-enlistment of the Tasmanian Artillery Corps, it was distinctly promised by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro when he was Minister of Defence that the payment for the men should be provided for from 1st June, 1904. I took to Tasmania a written pledge from the Minister to that effect, and handed it to the men, with whom everything was arranged, and the full battery agreed to go back into the service.. That arrangement was not carried put - but hot owing to any fault on the part of the Minister, who, unfortunately, left office before he could give effect to his promise. Before his successor could do anything practical, he also had to leave office. The late Minister of Defence gave us his assurance that if the Estimates were passed he would go to Tasmania, and personally inquire into the whole matter. He did more than keep his promise. He went over to Tasmania, and met the men, and a distinct arrangement was made that the pay of the men should commence as from the ist June last Seventy-five men were then ready to join the service in the full reliance that that promise would be carried out. Now, I find that the Estimates have been so altered that the pay is not to come into operation until the ist January next. Honorable members may understand that owing to continual changes of Ministers, pledges given under the circumstances I have mentioned cannot very well be carried out ; but the men think, and I share their opinion, that when a Minister gives a definite pledge, his successor should, unless there is some good reason to the contrary, see that it is fulfilled. I would ask the Minister, in order to fulfil the pledge of his predecessor, fo provide for the payment of the men as from ist June last. As some time will be occupied in the process of enlistment, and the arrangements for training cannot be made for . some weeks to come, I do not think any extra expenditure will be involved. If the members of the battery were re-enlisted, we should secure the services of a number of highly-trained and experienced men, some of whom have been in the Imperial service, or in the local Defence Forces, for twenty-five years. I do -not care to go back to Tasmania, and tell these men that this Parliament is not prepared to carry out the pledges given by its Ministers.
– Knowing, as I do, and understanding full well what happened in Tasmania in regard to the artillerymen mentioned, I think that - the Minister of Defence, might very well accede to the request of the honorable member for Franklin. It is improbable that the men will be ready to enter upon training before the ist January, but even though a little extra cost might be involved, I think that provision should be made for their pay, in accordance with the promise of the late Minister of Defence.
– I cannot give any promise ofT-hand, but I will lay the matter before the Minister of Defence, and send the honorable member for Franklin information. I think that promises made by one Minister ought to be carried out by his successor. I realize that some time will be occupied in enlisting the men, and that at the most only a few weeks’ pay will be involved. I cannot mallee any definite promise, but I shall en deavour to adjust matters to the satisfaction of the honorable member.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa). - Before the Chairman leaves the chair, I should like to refer to a statement which was recently made by Brigadier-General Gordon, District Commandant- in New South Wales. Upon that occasion a football match took place in Sydney, and as I happened to be one of the spectators, I was one of the unfortunate 40,000 loafers referred to by Brigadier-General Gordon. I think that that officer ought to be very careful about making such rash statements. I know that a number of members of the. Defence Forces were upon the football ground upon the day .referred to, and I believe, further, that Brigadier-General Gordon was there himself. I am sorry that I was not in the Chamber when that officer’s salary came under consideration, or I should certainly have had something to say regarding his conduct.
House adjourned at 4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 October 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19051027_reps_2_28/>.