3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Printing of Bills and Statistics
Report (No. 5) presented by Mr. Hut chison, and read by the Clerk, as follows -
The Printing Committee have the honour to report that they have met in Conference with the Printing Committee of the Senate.
The Joint Committee, having considered all the Papers presented to Parliament since the lost meeting of the. Committee, make the following recommendations with respect to such Papers as were not ordered by either House to be printed, viz. : -
Motion (by Mr. Hutchison) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– I think that the Acting Prime Minister should ascertain from the Minister of Home Affairs if it is not possible to have the statistics which are issued to members from time to time printed in the smaller size in which they will appear in the annual volumes instead of in the size of our business papers. It seems to me a waste of energy and of money toprint these statistics on paper of a large size, and then to re-set them to print them on paper of an octavo size. Why is not the same course followed in regard to the Commonwealth statistics that is adopted by the Victorian Government Statistician’s Department, which prints the information which is circulated from time to time on paper of the same size as is used for the annual volumes? Then, the copies of Bills which are put before us are printed on sheets much larger than the pages of the sessional volumes of Statutes, and probably considerable expense could be saved by printing them on paper of the same size. No doubt if more thought were given to the printing of documents much expense could be avoided.
– I understand that the information referred to must be published in the Gazette from time to time, and, therefore, is printed in the first instance on paper of the size of the sheets of the Gazette.
– There would be a saving in cost if only one size of paper were used.
– I am informed that the whole question of cost was thoroughly gone into, and that experts agree that the most economical method is to first publish this matter as it is now published, so that it can be used in the Gazette, afterwards issuing it in bound volumes of royal octavo size.
– I would point out to the House that the size objected to by the honorable member for Kennedy is the size of the Blue Books which are issued periodically, and that the printing would be doubled if a smaller size were insisted upon.
– The chief papers with which the House deals are Bills and notices of amendments, and although they are printed on a large-sized sheet, the printed matter itself occupies only the same amount of space on the sheet as it subse- sequently occupies on the pages of the bound volumes of Statutes, so that no reprinting is necessary when the bound volumes come to be prepared. The difference between the size of the sheets used in this Chamber, and the pages of the bound volumes, is accounted for by the wideness of the margins which are allowed in the first instance, but these margins are found by honorable members to be convenient for the making of notes and memoranda. An attempt is made to follow one pattern in all our printing, so that there may be no re-setting of matter. The statement of the honorable member for Robertson, that the size of the paper used in some cases is that of the pages of the Blue Books issued at the end of our sessions is correct. A return relating to Customs has been circulated amongst honorable members which will have to be overrun to reduce its size, but the fact that it does not conform to the ordinary rule is, I imagine, due to the haste withwhich it was prepared. A constant endeavour is made to save expense by printing documents in such a way as will suit all kinds of publication.
.- There are many directions in which savings could be effected, so far as the printing office is concerned, and among these might be mentioned the saving which could be made in connexion with the publication of Commonwealth statistics. At the present time monthly bulletins are issued which are got up in a very expensive manner, and are printed on the best paper. The information contained in them is, I think, of no practical utility to honorable members, the press, or the public generally, and if they were issued quarterly instead of monthly the convenience of Parliament would be amply met. To issue these bulletins monthly is a pure waste of time and of money. I had intended to call the attention of the Minister to the matter previously.
– I have no hesitation in saying that to print statistics and other information in forms of different sizes is exceedingly costly. It should be a standing rule that only one size shall be used for all printing. This would prevent over-running, and would allow matter which had to be kept standing to be stereotyped. The reprinting of tabulated matter is especially costly if it has to be reset. The subject is one to which the Printing Committee might well give attention. There should be a standard size, especially for tabulated matter, and it should be strictly adhered to.
– I notice that the Estimates contain an item for proposed expenditure in connexion with the Government Printing Office, and I should like to know what the Government intend to do in this matter. Until the Capital is fixed in its proper place, expenditure of this sort seems premature. There is on the - Estimates a sum of£2,000 or £3,000 for expenditure on machinery or in some other way in the printing office, and I wish to know what are the proposals of the Government in connexion with printing?
– Replying to the honorable member for Kennedy, I do not know what course is adopted in connexion with the printing of the papers referred to, and the size of the sheets used, but I shall take an early opportunity to consult the Minister of Home Affairs, whose Department has charge of the matter, to ascertain what is being done. If it is possible to reduce expense by requiring that all printing shall be done in the same form as regards size, I shall not hesitate to bring about that reform where possible. With regard to the question asked by the leader of the Opposition, I know that there is a sum on the Estimates, but I am not sure what it is for. I think it has been proposed in connexion with the printing of stamps; but I shall ascertain, and let the right honorable member know as early as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Seizure of Wire Netting : Duty on Cases : Duty on Electric Equipment : Duty on Paints.
– I wish to know from the Acting Prime Minister whether he has any further information to give the House in reference to the difficulty which has arisen between the New South Wales and Commonwealth authorities in connexion with the seizure of wire netting in Svdney.
– There is no further difficulty, so far as I am aware. I have not been advised to-day that any fresh action has been taken by the Premier of New South Wales, but, so far as this Government is concerned, a demand has been made upon the State for the return of the goods, and instructions have been sent to Sydney for the immediate issue to-day of a writ for the recovery of the property wrongfully taken from the control of the Customs authorities, and for an injunction to restrain the State autho-. rities from disposing of the property.; Instructions are also being issued with reference to the recovery of penalties in connexion with the removal of the goods. I expected that I should have been able to inform the House when it met, that the writs had been issued and legal proceedings commenced.
– It will be a good thing for the lawyers.
– It was a lawyer who commenced the trouble, and I venture to say commenced it in a way that will not be supported by the people of Australia. I desire to take this opportunity - because the matter relates to the question which has been asked - to make a statement regarding the history of this case from the beginning. I have a long statement here in reference to it, some portions of which, perhaps, it would not be judicious to publish, in view of the fact that legal proceedings have already been instituted. But I should like to read to the House ‘a summary of that history.
– Does the Acting Prime Minister propose to lay the paper relating to it upon the table?
– I will lay a portion of it upon the table, but not the whole of it. I have only had an opportunity of glancing through it, and I want a little more time to consider it. Perhaps it would not be wise to lay the whole of it upon the table at the present time.
– Is it wise to give any of the information which it contains?
– I think that I am quite right in doing what I propose to do. The document reads -
At the Conference of Premiers held at Hobart, in February, 1905, the matter of Customs duties on State imports was brought up, and the following resolution was passed - “That, in the opinion of the Conference, it is desirable that the matter of Customs duties on State property should be finally tested.”
The Commonwealth representatives promised to facilitate the decision.
The present position is that, for the last three . years and upwards, the Government of New South Wales has been depositing duty under protest, and sending to the Commonwealth a statement in respect of each shipment,, which, by agreement, was accepted in lieu of the statutory requirement that action should be brought within six months; it being mutually understood that the State would, at its convenience, bring an action in the High Court to test the matter ; but no such action has been brought.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether any person representing the State of New South Wales communicated with the Minister of Trade and Customs, or with any other Federal Minister, intimating that the Government of that State intended to seize certain goods if thev were not admitted free of duty?
– In reply to the honorable member’s question, I may say that no such notice was given to any Minister.
– If it had been given, the
Acting Prime Minister would have had the military there.
– I am not quite so stupid as to do that. There would have to be a very extreme case before the military would be called out, but there is no doubt that some persons would have liked to see that step taken.
– I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether the Government admit that wire netting is an importation which comes within the scope of the decision given against the Commonwealth by the Supreme Court of New South Wales?
– The importation of wire netting has nothing whatever to do with that decision.
– I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister a question as to the matter in dispute between himself and the Premier of New South Wales.
– Between the Commonwealth and the Premier of New South Wales, surely?
– I am speaking of the Acting Prime Minister as representing the Commonwealth. I hope that I am not wrong in doing so. I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether the Commonwealth Government - during the four years which have intervened since the question of the taxation of State imports was decided . by the Supreme Court of New. South Wales in favour of the Government of that State - have taken any steps to bring the question before a higher Court?
– The whole history of the negotiations between the Commonwealth and the Government of New South Wales is in type. The understanding arrived at was that the Government of New South Wales and not the Commonwealth authority, should bring the matter before a higher Court. I have just read a summary of the history of the case which has been prepared by the Crown Law officers, and it shows that the facts are as I have stated. The reason why trouble has been experienced in this connexion is that, at the time the case was tried bv the Supreme Court of New South Wales’, the High Court was not in existence. The history of the case shows that the New South Wales Government have been endeavouring to get the matter before the Privy Council, instead of before the High Court. The Commonwealth Government have declined to accede to that proposal, and have urged that the matter should be brought before the High Court.
– I hope that the Acting Prime Minister will not consider that I am putting questions to him in a captious spirit. I wish again to put to him the question which I previously put, and which he has not answered. He has told us what the New South Wales Government have endeavoured to do in the interval which has elapsed between the date of the decision given by the New South Wales Supreme Court and the present time, namely, to take the matter to the Privy Council. My question is, “ What has the Commonwealth Government done in the meantime to bring the issue before the High Court?”
– I have already told the honorable member that there has been a long correspondence, and many interviews upon the subject, and that the Commonwealth Government have declined to take the matter to the Privy Council. It was arranged that, in the event of another test case being decided in the same way as the former one, the Commonwealth should take action to bring the matter before the High Court.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Acting Prime Minister to a paragraph which appears in the Sydney Morning Herald, of Tuesday last, and which relates to the enormous increase in the cost of electric equipment caused by the duty which is being levied under the new Tariff. The paragraph reads -
It was stated at a meeting of the City Council to-day, with regard to the contracts now current for the supply of electrical equipment, that the extra duty would raise their price from £3,203 to £7,440, or an increase of over 133 per cent.
I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether the foreigner will pay this dutv?
– I really,cannot understand the question put by the honorable member. I do not know whether the equipment to which he refers is of foreign or of British manufacture.
– I was referring to. imports.
– But those imports mav come either from Great Britain or from foreign countries. I do not take the slightest notice of most of the statements which appear in certain sections of the press concerning the duties imposed by the Tariff. If the goods to which the honorable member refers are of foreign origin, the importing foreigner or the foreigner who sends the goods here-
– Importing foreigner?
– Yes. There are some gentlemen in our midst, like one whose name I could mention, who are importing from foreigners for foreigners, and in such circumstances probably the importer would have to pay the duty in the first instance, although he might have some arrangement with the exporter for a refund.
– I do not think that the Acting Prime Minister quite grasped the meaning of my question. The paragraph to which I have referred states that the effect of the duty imposed upon electric equipment has been to increase the price of existing contracts from- ,£3,203 to ;£7.440.
– How can it have that effect?
– The Melbourne City Council find that the duty will increase the price of contracts into which they have already entered to that extent. Will the Acting Prime Minister say whether the City Council will have to bear this extra cost orwhether the foreigner will pay it?
– I think that the honorable member’s question is one of which he should give notice. .
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he will take into consideration certain representations contained in a circular which has been distributed amongst honorable members that the effect of increasing the duty on paints from 4s. to 6s. per cwt. will be that ships will” not be docked and cleaned in the Commonwealth? If he finds that there is any ground for the allegation in question, will he consider the advisability pf making a rebate of the duty paid upon paints used in connexion with , over-sea ships ?
– I shall be very glad to look into the matter to which the honorable member has directed my attention. Of course, as he is aware, the policy of the Government is, as far as possible, to get all work that can possibly be undertaken, performed in the- Commonwealth.
– In regard to the seizure of wire netting, I should like to know from the Acting Prime Minister whether any legal difficulty has arisen in applying the provisions of section 35 of the Judiciary Act, which was specially passed to meet this and other cases? The section, which is a very long one, provides that the appellate jurisdiction of the High Court is to apply to, amongst other judgments, the judgments of the Supreme Court of a State, including “every and amy such judgment given or made before the commencement of the Act.” That section was inserted in order to cover this amongst other cases held over.
– I am advised by the Attorney-General that there are difficulties, and that it is advisable to have a fresh case in the local Court, from which there may be appeal to the High Court. Had it not been for those difficulties the matter would have been settled long ago.
– The Acting Prime Minister has stated what has taken place in regard to the seizure of wire netting, and has referred to the question whether or not the goods are dutiable’. But does the Acting Prime Minister not consider it quite immaterial to the present question whether the goods are dutiable or not? Is not the Department of Trade and Customs, in his opinion, entitled to have the goods returned irrespective of whether they are dutiable?
– I think the honorable and learned member is quite correct in the suggestion he has made ; and the short memorandum I read a little while ago shows that we are taking action in a judicial way to have the goods returned ; and also to have the action taken by the Premier of New South Wales against the Commonwealth decided as quickly as possible. If further proceedings are taken it may be necessary to apply for- an injunction to restrain the State Premier from disposing of the goods, and to prevent him from touching any further goods io charge of the Customs.
– Seeing that the Acting Prime Minister is a representative of New South Wales in this Parliament, will he, before he applies for those writs and injunctions of which he has spoken, have Mr. Carruthers medically examined in order that it may be ascertained whether or not he is a lunatic?
– I am sure the honorable member does not expect an answer to that question.
– I should like to know from the Acting Prime Minister, in reference, to the suggested appeal as to the payment of duty on goods imported by the States Governments, whether, since the judgment of the Supreme Court, there- have been imported any supplies on which the States Governments have paid duty?
– Yes ; on the very morning on which the seizure of the wire netting took place, the New South Wales Government cleared out goods in the ordinary way and paid the duty ; in fact, duty has been paid ever since the decision of the Court.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether it is not possible for himself and the Prime Minister and the Premier of New South Wales to come to some arrangement by which the wire netting seized yesterday may be allowed to be sent to places Where it is very badly needed to stop the progress of the rabbits; they are devastating the whole country ? The action at law could be proceeded with afterwards ; and no good can come of replacing the wire netting in the charge of the Customs authorities.
– At the present stage I have to take another course, and I shall not complicate matters by adopting a suggestion of the character made by the honorable member. I remind honorable members that it is three-quarters of an hour since the House met, and the whole of that time has been occupied in asking questions without notice. I hope that honorable members will restrain themselves, and not compel the Government to insist on notice being given. We endeavour to meet honorable members as far as we can in their desire for information, but the time occupied in asking questions without notice is now very considerable.
– It appears that dutv is charged on cases at the same rate as that imposed on the contents of- cases. A specific instance was mentioned to me in which a case, which had cost £2, arrived contain ing goods which were subject to duty at 30 per cent, and on that case the Customs charged 12s., although its actual value was only about 2s. in Australia. I ask the Act-; ing . Prime Minister whether it is possible for him to direct that only the actual value of cases shall be considered in charging the duty.
– If the honorable member will give notice of the question I shall inquire into the matter.
– Surely a question like this can be answered without notice?
– In the meantime I shall make inquiries.
– I desire to ask the . Attorney-General whether he has any knowledge of the truth or otherwise pf the statement made by the leader” of the Opposition in the Victorian Parliament, and reported in to-day’s newspapers, that the Victorian coal companies are discharging miners who have made application for registration under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. If the statement be correct will the Government bring in a Bill to amend the Act so as to afford protection to the Association of Employes and to employes applying for registration ?
– It has not been officially brought under my notice that it is a fact that men who are members of a union applying for registration under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act have been dismissed from their employment, but an allegation has been made to that effect. The alteration of the Act is a matter of policy which. I shall have to submit to the Prime Minister for his consideration.
– In view of the reply of the Attorney-General, and of the fact that men have been discharged when they attempted to register under the Commonwealth Act, I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he will bring, in an amending Bill to give protection to men in such circumstances? It is plain that the Act must fail if men are summarily discharged the moment they attempt to register.
– I am sure the honorable member will scarcely expect me to give an affirmative reply at once to a question of this kind asked without notice. I shall be quite prepared to consider the question if he will give notice of it.
– I wish to ask a question arising out of the answers which the Minister of Defence gave yesterday to a question put bv the leader of the Opposition,having reference to the actual battles and engagements in which certain military officers have taken part. One of those answers related to the conversion of a certain number of infantry forming part of the first Victorian Contingent in South Africa into troops of mounted rifles. I desire to ask the Minister whether he will make himself familiar with, and afterwards submit to the House, the names of the officer or officers who performed the actual duty of drilling those men and preparing them for mounted work ?
– In replying to the leader of the Opposition yesterday I stated that there was a good deal of extraneous matter involved in the answer. I simply furnished him with extractsfrom the Imperial War Book, and informed him that if he required further information I should be glad to supply it. With regard to the definitequestion put by the honorable member for Laanecoorie I shall endeavour to acquire the desired information and submit it to the House.
– Has the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs been directed to the following resolution passed by the representatives of the ‘ Friendly Societies’ Medical Institute and Dispensaries’ Association of New South Wales -
That this meeting of accredited representatives of 25,000 members of Friendly Societies, representing 100,000 souls in Sydney, Paddington, Redfern, Balmain, Newtown, Parramatta, Marrickville, North Sydney, Leichardt and Petersham, whilst congratulating the Federal Government in its attempt to control the importation and sale of pernicious drugs, &c, desires to enter its emphatic protest against the Customs authorities’ regulation restricting the supply of opium for medicinal purposes, when prescribed by legally qualified medical practitioners, as, in its various forms, the drug is frequently administered both internally and externally, in relieving the intense sufferings of the membership.
I ask whether the Acting Prime Minister will so amend the Tariff that, while resticting the indiscriminate use of opium, he will allow the supply for medicinal purposes when prescribed as mentioned in the resolution I have read?
– I ask the honorable member to give notice of that long question. I should like to say that the sale of opium by chemists has been brought under my notice. Chemists sell opium by virtue of the licence they hold ; and when I find that, in sparsely populated places, they sell as much as 2 lb. weight in onemonth, it is time we inquired more closely as to the purpose for which thev sell it.
– I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs to endeavour to soarrange matters that, while the abuses to which he refers are suppressed, there shall be no injudicious limit made, affecting, medical prescriptions for the relief of human suffering.
– That is exactly what we are trying to do.
– I should like the Acting Prime Minister or the Minister of Trade and Customs to say whether, in view of the enormous quantities of opium which are being smuggled into Australia, stepscannot be taken at the earliest possible date to so amend the law as to make the penalty imprisonment instead of a fine.
– Th The Minister of Trade and Customs has already replied to questions having reference to the sale of opium; and I shall require to consult him and the departmental officers before giving a promise of the kind requested. I am certainly not prepared to introduce a law providing for the decapitation of offenders, as has been done in China.
– I should like to ask the Postmaster-General whether it is within his personal knowledge that, in view of the intention to establish a new exchange in Melbourne, firms, which for the last thirty years, in some cases, have had certain numbers attached to their telephones, have been dispossessed of those numbers in order that they may be given to new subscribers? One firm, with which I am acquainted, has for the past twenty-four years had the city number of 378; but during the. last few days that number has been transferred to the Electoral Office inthe Department of Home Affairs. . These changes cause a great deal of inconvenience to firms; and I ask whether something cannot be done in the matter?
– The changes that havebeen made are necessitated by the force of circumstances. The demand for telephones is so great that temporary arrangements have to be made.
– That answer has been given for ten years !
– That cannot be; because it is only now that a new switchboard has been provided to meet the pressure of business.
– Why are the numbers of old subscribers taken away?
– Because the electrical engineers say that that is the cheapest and best way of meeting present demands, pending the erection of a new exchange.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether it is a fact that a charwoman is dominating the General Post Office?
– I am not aware of a charwoman dominating any one except, perhaps, the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister of Defence whether it is within his knowledge that damaged ammunition is being supplied to the Cadet Forces in New South Wales?
– Obviously such cannot be the case - it is not possible, or, at any rate, it ought to be impossible.
– I should like to know whether the Minister of Defence is aware that the Sydney Grammar School cadet corps has been disbanded in consequence of defective ammunition having been supplied to it?
– I have seen in the press a statement to the effect that the cadet ammunition supplied to the cadets was not carrying as well as it ought to do. I had inquiries made into the matter, but am not yet in a position to put before honorable members the result of the investigation. Iam quite sure that the Sydney Grammar School is not likely to take the step suggested by the honorable member.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions, I have to state -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
The Daily Mail to-day publishes the results of some inquiries amongst British manufacturers and exporters into the probable effect of Australia’s new Tariff upon British exports to the Commonwealth.
The Premier Cycle Co. replied stating that it had already received cablegrams from Australia cancelling large orders. Messrs. C. and E. Morton stated that they were in receipt of similar messages, cancelling orders for hundreds of cases of olive and castor oils.
Messrs. Marshall, Sons, and Co., implement, makers, of Gainsborough, replied : - Should the Tariff be maintained, colonial industries will, doubtless, be built up, and in time we shall find it difficult to compete on the old lines.
Messrs. Ransomes, Sims, and Jeffries, engine and machinery makers, of Ipswich, stated : -
Any increase in the Tariff would very prejudicially affect our trade.”
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : - 1 and 2. The comments referred to are probably due to a misapprehension as to the ultimate effects on British trade by the operation of the proposed Tariff.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
-.- In reply to the honorable member’s questions, I have to state -
Colonel FOXTON asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What was the total value of such goods manufactured during the six months ending 30th June,1907 -
Debate resumed from 1st August (vide page 1289), on motion by Mr. Hughes -
That, in order to effectively defend the Commonwealth against possible enemies, it is imperative that all able-bodied adult males should be trained to the use of arms and instructed in such military or naval drill as may be necessary for the . purpose.
– It was my intention in the first instance to allow honorable members generally to give expression to their opinions upon this question before submitting at any length the opinions that I hold in regard to it, and which have been known to the House, and, as far as was necessary, to the country, for some considerable time On further considering the matter, however, it appeared to me that a statement, at this stage, of the information which I had gleaned during my occupancy of the office of Minister of Defence might probablv aid honorable members in arriving at a conclusion upon this question, and, perhaps, stimulate the debate.
– Is this to be a reply to the Age?
– No; the Age never needs a reply. I propose briefly to put before the House what, in my opinion, are the real facts in regard to the question of defence, and. what action I think should be taken. Honorable members recognise that this motionhas been submitted by a private member, and is neither a party nor a Government question. I trust that it will’ never become a party matter, but that in thenear future it will be made a Government question. I make this statement in orderthat it may be perfectly clear that although my colleagues are anxious - and I am sure every honorable member of the House is - with regard to the future of Australia, and feel that the future depends upon the measures taken for the defence of the Commonwealth, they will not be compromised in any way by the views I shall express to-day. They fully appreciate the vast importance of the issue, but it is their due that I should first submit to them in detail an expression ofmy views before they are asked to commit themselves in any way.
– Is the honorable member now speaking as Minister of Defence?
– I should hope so.
– But the honorable gentleman has just said, I understand, that he is simply putting his own private opinions before the House.
– We wish to deal with this question in the broadest possible manner. ‘
– If the Acting Prime Minister has told the honorable member to say so, it is all right.
– I do not think that honorable members expect from me at the present time anything more than a statement of the actual position, and what in my view should be the steps taken by us to improve the defences of Australia.
– The honorable member is going to give us the views of the Minister of Defence?
– I am now giving expression to my own views.
– Will they not be the views of the Government?
– He will leave the Government if they are not adopted, and would be the first to do so.
– The House will recognise that it is my duty, first of all, to place fully before my colleagues a statement of the position as it appeals to me-
– Surely the honorable member ought to be the mouthpiece of the Ministry, so far as this matter is concerned.
– If the House considers that it is not my duty to make any statement upon this question until we are prepared to submit a scheme in detail for the consideration of honorable members, then it must lose the benefit of such information as I desire to give at the present moment.
– So many conversa- tions are taking place in the Chamber that it is almost impossible for the Minister to make his speech. I wish to ask, in the first place, that the conversations taking place be carried on in much lower tones, and, in the second, that the honorable member may be allowed to make his speech in his own way. He has doubtless mapped out what he proposes to say, and should be allowed to adhere to his ownplan.
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I wish to know whether an honorable member is at liberty to inquire in what capacity the Minister is speaking? I interjected only because I wished to ascertain whether the Minister was giving expression merely to his own views or to those of the Cabinet.
– What is the honorable member’s point of order ?
– I wish to’ know whether I was in order in putting that question to the Minister ?
-I heard the honprable member inquire whether or not the Minister was speaking as a member of the Government, and I offered not the slightest objection to his interjection.
– My desire is that there should be no misapprehension in regard to the position I am taking up. The question of defence is of vast importance, and I am sure that every honorable member recognises the difficulties which must necessarily confront the Minister for the time being, whoever he may be, in endeavouring to grapple with it. My statement today must be regarded as an individual expression of opinion, dependent to some extent upon the experience I have gained during the last few months. Whether or not the Government will eventually accept my views on this question is a matter yet to be determined.
– What will the honorable gentleman do if his colleagues decline to indorse them?
– That point is immaterial ; I am sure that, in any event, I should do what was right.
– The Minister is accustomed already to compulsory service.
– I wish this question to be discussed as far as possible without the introduction of any party feeling.
– In a broad, national spirit.
– Although the interjection made by the leader of the Opposition was intended to be cynical, I believe that at heart noone is more apprehensive than he is with regard to the future of Australia. I know that he is. not because the right honorable gentleman says so - for such a statement by him might not amount to much - but because underlying his light-heartedness there- is to be found a broad basis of patriotism and reasonableness.
– I never knew the Minister to compromise himself, even when answering a question.
– I am not here to compromise my colleagues; that is no part of my responsibility. I do not desire to labour the consideration of this question from the view point of its importance to Australia, for every one fully recognises its significance in that regard, but I will endeavour to deal with the principles which the motion involves. The history of Australia is so well known that it is sufficient to state that a hundred years ago it possessed no wealth, whilst to-day its wealth amounts to 000,000,000. Australia to-day is one of the richest plums that, metaphorically speaking, could fall into the mouth of a nation’ capable of taking it, and, unless we were part of the Empire, there are many nations which could to-day become possessed of that plum. If a public man in Australia today has occasion, when addressing a public meeting, to refer to the wealth of Australia, he is greeted with rounds of applause, and when he speaks of the defence of Australia, his remarks are likewise greeted by the plaudits of his audience. This indicates that the public is apprehensive of our position, and desires that 0 change for the better should be made. That being so, it is not necessary for me to do more to-day than to state what the Government has done, and the end T have in ‘view. I again desire to remind honorable members that I am not speaking in my Ministerial capacity. Honorable members ask what the Government have done. We have done a great deal towards improving the defences of Australia, and every step we have taken will be regarded by the House generally as being in the right direction.
– The honorable gentleman is not now speaking in his Ministerial capacity?
– When I refer to what we have already accomplished, I am speaking Ministerially. We have increased the strength of our Cadet Corps from 18,000 to nearly 40,000 members. I have seen in the press the statement that we are not going to defend Australia by means of our Cadet Forces. That is perfectly true, but every one recognises that the minds of our boys are receptive, and that they are capable of obtaining a better idea of their national responsibilities and more readily assimilate ideas and training in their youth than they are likely to do if their training be left until later in life. If Australians knew the game of war as well as they understand the games of football and cricket, we should not be troubled very much about our de- fences. I should like to make cadet work and rifle shooting the great national pastimes of Australia. That is one object we have in view, and every one will agree that it is a step in the right direction. A further forward movement ‘is the formation! of new rifle clubs. The strength of our rifle clubs has increased to between 40,000 and 50,000 men. No doubt the members of our rifle clubs are excellent marksmen - as good probably as any in the world ; but they are undisciplined, and need to be taught the kind of work which they should be required to perform as part of a defence force. A scheme has, therefore, been perfected for the drilling of the rifle clubs, and probably of the 40,000 to 50,000 men who belong to these clubs not less than 25,000 will prove themselves able to render good service in time of need in the defence of the country. We have not yet made any changes in regard to the militia, and a little later reference will be made to the difficulties which have to be met in considering such changes. But provision has been made on-the Estimates for the filling up of a few units, and the manning of batteries which, hitherto, have been undermanned, and arrangements have been made for some increase in the light horse. The inquiries which it was necessary to undertake before these changes could be made showed me the seriousness of our present position. The Government has submitted to Parliament a proposal for the local manufacture of small arms, such as bayonets and rifles, thus anticipating a motion of which the honorable member for Maranoa has given notice. It must appear very strange to the ordinary man that Australia commenced her preparations for defence . without making a serious attempt to become self-supporting in the matter of the munitions of warfare. It is incomprehensible that decade after decade noth- ing has been done towards the local manufacture of small arms and ammunition.
However, a sum has now been placed on the Estimates to initiate this work. To show how necessary it is that we should be in a position to make our own small arms, I would point out that Sir Frederick Borden said at the Imperial Conference that, when, in 1900, Canada needed 1,500 rifles, she could not buy one. If Australia really needed rifles, she would probably not be able to obtain one. Every one knows, too, of the difficulties experienced in obtaining cordite during the South African war. Without factories for the manufacture of small arms and ammunition, our scheme of defence may, in time of trouble, dissolve into thin air. We must be able to manufacture the munitions of warfare, because we shall not be able to procure them in our time of need. Those are two of the definite steps which the Government have taken in the direetion’ of improving Australia’s defence. A sum of £50,000 has also been placed on the Estimates for the improvement of forts and lights, as well as £250,000 for coastal defence. Most Governments would have been satisfied with the advance made, which has been considerable. Had it been determined that the defence of the Commonwealth was to be permitted to remain as it was, I could not have retained my present position. My colleagues have the fullest sympathy with the defence movement, and I have endeavoured to place before them none but sensible and moderate proposals. We are all antagonistic’ to war, because weknow what a horrible and dreadful thing it is ; but the misery and despair of defeat and national destruction are worse. Ministers, therefore; feel that we must prepare for war in order to avoid national extinction, and the only time in which to make these preparations is in time of peace. If I were able to inaugurate a system of defence which would be accepted by, and sufficient for Australia, T should be glad to leave the Defence Department to-morrow. It is no pleasure for a layman to be Minister of Defence, because, in addition to the serious responsibility, much of the work of the Department concernsmatters of which he has no knowledge, and he is beset with difficulties and perplexities, and continual apprehensions. I do not, however, think it is necessary to publicly complain of work which was freely undertaken. Every sane man in Australia knows that, if this country is to remain the home of the white man, it must be held, not by the power of Australians alone, but by the might of the white man in all parts of the world. In years to come, it will take the white man all he knows to hold New Zealand and Australia. Therefore, we must not break the link which binds us to our fellow countrymen in other parts of the world. By consideration, generosity, and a broad appreciation of our responsibilities and dangers, we must seek to knit together the white men of this and other lands in preparation for that last deadly conflict which will assuredly come upon Australia. The fact that Australia desires to accept her responsibilities, that she feels that she is no longer in swaddling clothes, but has grown up, and ought to stand up in her mother’s house, does not brand her with disloyalty. In the discharge of our responsibilities, we must work with the Empire. In proportion to our population and our wealth, we should do as much as the Britisher is doing. At the present time, Great Britain spends nearly £63,000,000 a year on her war machine. F rance spends £42,000,000, Germany £46,000,600, Russia £50,000,000, and the United States £44,000,000, whilst Australia spends only £800,000 a year. What sort of a war machine can we hope to get for so small an expenditure? Per headof population the countries which I have mentioned spend from 12s. to 30s., and Australiaonly 4s. The attitude of Parliament has always been that it does not mind spending money legitimately, but objects to wasteful expenditure. If it be made plain (hat money is propose’d to be spent wisely and intelligently on defence, Parliament will be ready to vote it.
– But the expenditure must not be beyond the risk.
– Exactly. Australia could not spend anything like as much as is spent by the nations which I have mentioned; but she must undertake necessary preparations.
– Comparisons of national expenditure are worthless unless the question of risk is taken into consideration.
– I desire to inform the House briefly what we are getting inpersonnel for our expenditure. Our Permanent Force consists of1.328 men of all branches of the service, including the Roval Australian Artillery. The Militia consists of 15,445 men, and’ the Volunteers of 5,137 men. That is our fighting force, leaving out of consideration the naval branch and members of rifle clubs and cadets.
– Are all the volunteers effective ?
– They are not altogether satisfactory, as I shall show when the time comes for a closer consideration of these matters. The facts which I shall then place before honorable members will convince them that the action which I shall propose is justified. Is not our position obviously weak? I have had a large number of requests for extensions along the existing lines, but have endeavoured not to accede to more than were rendered imperative by the exigencies of the situation. I have taken this stand because of the great cost of the present system. The individual members of the permanent staff cost, taking the average cost of the different branches, from £169 to £408 a year. Australia will not find money for an extension of the present system on those lines.
– What men get £408 a year ?
– I am dealing with the average cost of the Head-quarters Staff, lumping all together. The average annual cost per man, including food and clothing, of the Royal Australian Artillery is £119, of the Submarine Miners £167, of the Army Service Corps £160, and of the Army Medical Corps £144.
– The question before the House is the motion of the honorable member for West Sydney. It may be that the Minister intends to connect his remarks with that motion. If he does so, I shall be content.
– The honorable member for West Sydney suggested a change of system. I am endeavouring to explain why I agree with him that a change of system is necessary. I am endeavouring to show the expenditure under the present system, and that the House would not tolerate any considerable extension of that system on account of the increased cost which would be involved.
– That system is quite inefficient.
– I grant that. I come now to the militia. The Light Horse Corps costs £16 18s.10d. per man annually ; the Field Artillery, £19 16s.1d. ; the Garrison Artillery, £13 19s. ; the Engineers (Field), £12 8s.10d. ; the Engineers (Submarine Miners), £16 os. 9d. ; the Infantry, £13 os.11d. ; the Corps of Signallers, £13 os.11d. ; the Army Service Corps, £17 os.5d.; and the Army Medical Corps, £15 19s.1d.
– All this information, I presume, is contained in the actual returns ?
– It is all available to honorable members-. I wish to show the House that if we extend our forces under the present system, we shall speedily be submerged financially. The maintenance of 100,000 men at £19 per head would involve an expenditure of approximately £2,000,000. A force of 100,000 men in training is not too many for the protection of this continent, but when honorable members realize that the cost of their maintenance would represent about £2,000,000, I know that there will be doubt as to obtaining parliamentary sanction. Then it may be asked, “ Why not proceed along the lines suggested by the volunteer movement?” The infantry portion of our volunteers costs £6 8s. 6d. per man, the rifle clubs cost £1 10s. 3d., the cadets (senior), £1 16s. 6d., and the cadets’ (junior), £1 3s. I will eliminate the last three branches of it, and confine my remarks to infantry volunteers, whose maintenance costs £6 8s. 6d. per annum.
– That is the average of all ranks?
– Yes. I am merely making a general statement - it is not possible to go into details. Honorable members understand that when the militia man enters camp he is paid for undergoing his course of training, whereas the volunteer is not. Under these circumstances, neither in Australia nor in any other country, can the volunteer movement succeed.
– Why not?
– In the first place, it is not succeeding. The reports received from the Commandants in the States all point to a great “ slackness “ in connexion with our volunteer forces. There are demands from Tasmania, and from other States, to convert volunteer forces into militia. The reason is not far to seek.’ Let us suppose that two men are working together in a foundry, and that one is a militia man, and the other a volunteer. The former will receive 8s. per day for attending camp, while the latter will receive nothing. Consequently the volunteer does not go into camp unless it suits him to do so.
– Does not the Minister know that the attendance of volunteers at camp represents a very high percentage?
– I have in my possession a full tabulated statement in regard to their attendance at camp, and I can assure the honorable member that it is more than unsatisfactory.
– I think that we ought to have that return.
– I will furnish it to the House.
– Has the Minister any information as to the percentage of persons who volunteer?
– Yes. Great trouble is experienced in keeping up the volunteer regiments. Indeed, the only way in which they can be kept up is by foregoing the medical examination-of recruits.
– Does the Minister allow that?
– The practice obtains in the volunteer forces at present.
– In South Australia the men have always been obliged to undergo a medical examination.
– The honorable member for Maranoa is not more astonished .than I was when I first heard of the practice.
– For over ten years I acted as medical officer to a volunteer regiment, and I say that” the statement is absolutely incorrect.
– We will not discuss the matter now, because if we did so we should arrive at no conclusion. I have been officially informed that the practice to which I have referred obtains in connexion! with the volunteer forces, and will furnish the House with information in regard to it.
– It is obvious to any person who looks at the average volunteer regiment. Many of its members are quite unfit for service.
– In dealing with the question of volunteer versus militia, one is forced to this conclusion - that if members of the latter body receive 8s. per day for undergoing a course of training, whilst members of the former forces get nothing, every man will naturally endeavour to join the militia. Obviously unless a man is fired with enthusiasm, he will not undergo - without reward - a period of service for which his co-worker is paid. In this connexion, Mr. Haldane, the British War Minister, has elaborated a scheme which is a reasonable one, provided that men will volunteer. But many able critics maintain that the scheme is hopeless, because men will not volunteer. If war broke out tomorrow Australians would rise as one man. No trouble would be experienced in obtaining volunteers at such a time. There has never been any doubt as to the valour and. patriotism of Australians, and there never will be. But it is not only valour and patriotism in time of war that is required. We want those qualities to be asserted in time of peace, and in the absence of those special conditions which seem for the time being to elevate a man beyond his manhood.
– We do not want patriotic spasms.
– No. Patriotic spasms simply mean a rabble in time of war. If men are to fight, they must be drilled and disciplined, just as men have to be trained to play football. What I am concerned with is not the honour and patriotism of Australians, but the fact that in times of peace. they are playing football and amusing themselves, and that consequently when the dark day arrives they may not be prepared for war. Therefore we must make it obligatory on the manhood of Australia to accept this portion of their national responsibility.. Of the school boys as cadets we have 15 per cent, under training, of the senior cadets, only 2 per cent. With regard to our troops, militia and volunteer, if we set down the number at 20,000, that represents - in proportion to the number of men between r8 years and 60 years of age in Australia, namely, 1,135,662 - only 1.9 per cent. The total number of males in the Commonwealth between 12 years and 60 years of age is 1,410,000, so that at the present time undergoing some form of military training, there is one schoolboy in every seven, one youth (under 19) in every fifty, and one man in every fifty-two. -In other words, there is one Australian being trained for defence in every 112 of our male population, or less than 1 per cent. That is the position. Less than 1 per cent, of our population are being trained for defence. If any honorable member is satisfied with that state of things the ‘ Government are not.
– What .percentage is being efficiently trained?
– I cannot make a definite statement, but obviously not all that 1 per cent, is efficient. Some of our officers can boast less than two years of service. The length of service performed in the volunteer and militia forces averages but two or three years. Officers and men enter those forces, and leave them just as they see fit. The acceptance of the motion of the honorable member for West Sydney in its entirety would involve expenditure in the training of 500,000 men per annum. Of course, it is beyond our power to shoulder such a burden. I am quite content that the House should pass the motion even in its present form, recognising that it embodies merely the contemplation of an ideal. It must be years before we shall be able to work up to that ideal. Upon that understanding, I would be prepared to see the motion accepted by the House. But to imagine that we can incur the expenditure to train 500,000 men annually at the present time is absurd. What then can we do? In the first place, we can deal with boys and young men till they reach 21 years of age. If we do that, we shall have! a great body of men who have been properly drilled and trained-
– I did not contemplate including any person who was over twentyone years of age at the time of the passing of the Act giving effect to compulsory service.
– Does the Minister intend to allow youths to continue as senior cadets? % Mr. EWING.- My idea is briefly thisand I am sure that the honorable member will be generous enough not to identify any of my colleagues with it - that at present youths continue cadets up to a certain point. They become smart and possessed of a knowledge of drill. But under the present system, we lose them at fourteen or sixteen years of age. My idea is that we should control them till they have attained twenty-one years of age. If we did that, the lads would never forget what they had learned.
– In Switzerland, a lad would only be required to serve eighteen days every second year.
– Exactly. If we contemplate the training annually of 100,000 men, armed with 100,000 rifles, together with the necessary instructors, the problem becomes an important financial one. If we retain our control over youths till they reach 21 years of age, we shall have made a progressive step. But even when we have caught our men, we shall not have solved the whole problem. We have the men, but there is a doubt as to the military training of our officers. An officer requires to be a man of ability, of resource, and stamina. But when we want to choose an officer, under the existing system, instead of selecting him on type we examine him in algebra. The whole proceeding is farcical.
– He is examined as to hissocial position.
– Men suitable for officers must be obtained, and whether they reside at Toorak or Footscray is immaterial. Noloyal person would pause to consider where a man came from.
– Why does not the Minister carry out the system which he advocates ?
– It is obvious that the whole system of the selection of officers must be altered.
– It should have been altered long ago.
– I cannot secure alP necessary alterations in a day, or even in> a year.
– It would be a very simple matter, if the military did not rule.
– They do not rule. Good progress is being made. If a man requires a mate to go With him to the Gulf of Carpentaria, or anywhere else, what does he do? He does not select an individual who has a receding chin, and who may, however, not be afflicted with tuberculosis or some other disease. He chooses one who is physically fit to accompany him. But we make applicants for commissions in our military service, if their health be not impaired, submit to a test in hydrostatics or trigonometry. The honorable member for. Wide Bay has asked who is to choose our officers. It is suggested that if one authority selects them, unless a candidate has the odour of Toorak upon him,, he will not be accepted. But, again, another man may come from Footscray, and other authorities will not have him. We must have some selecting authority and if any honorable member will show me. how to get that authority, he will solve one of my most serious problems.
– How did the Boers select their officers?
– I am sure the honorable member for Fawkner would not care where a man came from, if he were suitable.
– We want a man with experience of war on a large scale for our chief position, and we have not got him yet.
– I am but new to the business, and I am informing the House frankly how the question appeals to me. I am sure that honorable members will tell me, when I submit a proposal, that caution is required, and caution is also required on the part of honorable members. We must not” dragoon the people; we must have consideration for the circumstances in which they are placed, and for the vocations which thev are following. There is just one point more. It would be an easy matter to pass a law saying that the people must be trained; but we must have some school of instruction for the officers who are to train the men. I have done what .is possible in this connexion with the Sydney University, and trust that similar steps will be taken by those in authority at the Melbourne University. I have done as much as is feasible with the system and methods at hand. But if we are to have men to train our citizen soldiers, those men must be educated professionally, and there must be an educational establishment of some description.
– Experienced men of thirty-five years of age, and Australian born, have been told that they are too old for the service.
– No Minister can cure all defects at a moment’s notice.
– The best and most distinguished men in Australia, with experience of war, are all out of the big positions - they have been shunted, half-a-dozen of them.
-I am afraid Mr. Speaker’ would not permit me to make any reference to what has happened in connexion with officers who took part in the Boer war. That war, in any case, took place years ago.
– We had splendid men in that war, and their services are not being utilized in Australia.
– I am only responsible for what I have done myself. I have looked into the question referre’d to by the right honorable member for East Sydney, and I believe that, in many cases, the services of officers were not properly appreciated.
– By the Government.
– The question is surrounded with difficulties. At as early a date as possible - though it must take time - I will submit to my colleagues a scheme in the direction suggested by this resolution. It will be reasonable, and will, I believe, receive their approval, and the approval of the House.
.- The House owes a debt of gratitude to the honorable member for West Sydney for submitting this motion. I am quite sure that the honorable member, when in England, not only did good from an Australian point of view, but showed the people there that, although we are so far away, we still desire to remain part and parcel of the Empire in ill-fortune and trouble as well as in peace and prosperity. I am accused, in Queensland particularly, of being Imperialistic. If to be loyal to my country, to the land that gave me birth, is to be Imperialistic, I plead guilty to the soft impeachment. It is the primary duty of every citizen to defend his country ; and all, of whatever station or position in life, must acknowledge the truth of that declaration. Only a few years ago, in the Transvaal, people, practically untrained and fresh from their work on their farms, on the roads, or in the mines, ably defended their country against overwhelming odds as represented by men and money. If such a creditable defence could be made so inexpensively, I cannot see why some similar system- to that of the Burgher Forces should not be introduced here. The nearest approach to a suggestion to that end is contained in the motion of the honorable member for West Sydney.’ The desire is not to make every man a soldier, or to fill us all with military ardour and spirit. Ali the motion affirms is that every citizen, of the full age of twenty-one years, and entitled to the franchise, should be prepared to defend his country. There is nothing wrong that I can see in such a proposal. As to compulsion, if we are to enjoy the benefits of citizenship, we ought to take part in the defence of our country in time of danger. That is a personal duty Which cannot be delegated - to delegate the duty is to neglect it. This question was referred 10 by Mr. Hughes in an able speech which he delivered in London, when there were some notable gentlemen on the platform from which he spoke. I am pleased to say that, although the honorable member was in the society of Dukes, Duchesses, Lords, and Ladies when in England, he has returned to us the same “ Billy “ Hughes. That, however, is by the way. The Labour Party, and, I believe, the whole of the people of
Australia, believe in a citizen soldiery. I am satisfied, as the result of my travels throughout the Commonwealth, that there is no prevalent military spirit. I am further satisfied, however, that should the hour of danger arise, the whole of the men of the country would rise as one in its defence. But we do not wish the men of Australia, in the hour of danger, to rise as assembled mobs; we wish them to be scientificallytrained, armed, and drilled, and subject to discipline.
– And, especially, able to shoot.
– That goes without saying. What is the good of putting a rifle into the hands of1 a man unless he is able to use it ? We might as well arm cattle and horses as arm untrained men. I have known them accused of not being able to hit a bell tent with the door shut, when it might be thought that a miss was impossible ; but, unfortunately, it often happened that the shot hit the ground. There is no doubt that ability to shoot is indispensable. There is only one way of obtaining a citizen soldiery. The’ Minister has told us of the enormous cost of the present system of defence; and I say, with all the fervour of an Australian, that we are living in a fool’s paradise. . The man in the street thinks that because we have muddled along for so many years, we, a peaceable people, who do not desire war, will continue to go on swimmingly in the future. But when the time comes, who are the people who are the most prepared ? Those who have been trained, drilled, and taught to shoot. In order to see the value of citizen soldiery we have only to read the life .of “ Stonewall” Jackson. The book was lent to me by the Minister of Defence,- and I can assure honorable members that it was a revelation to me. I had always believed until then, that a man could be made into a soldier in a few weeks. I find, however, that it took years of the Civil War to render the “ Stonewall “ Brigade as efficient as it proved itself. It required drill and discipline, marching and countermarching in the presence of “ Stonewall “ Jackson himself, for long enough ; and, but for this close training, the Southerners would have gone down badly many a time. Those men in the “.Stonewall “ Brigade saved the position times out of number, simply owing to their steadiness and ability to shoot straight, consequent upon long drill, discipline, and training. After reading the book to which I have referred,
I could see that I had been on the wrong track. There is no desire to have a standing army, but merely to bring our citizens into a state of efficiency for defence ; and the system proposed is the best and the cheapest. I think that the honorable member for West Sydney, when he submitted this motion, must have had in his mind Rudyard Kipling’s Army of a Dream, but, at the same time, I am satisfied that it would be a good thing for Australia if the dream could be turned into a reality. The system suggested is so simple, compact, and efficient, that it could easily be got into working order. I well remember, as a lad, seeing the annual recruiting for the militia in the East End of London. I never saw such a rabble as used to be taken away to Hounslow Heath, there to be trained and drilled. No one would have supposed that by any system of training they could be turned into soldiers ; but when they came back after their thirteen weeks’ continuous military discipline, their wives, mothers, and sisters did not know them.
– How does that agree with the honorable member’s previous statement in reference to the “ Stonewall “ Brigade?
– I do not say that these militia men had been turned into perfect soldiers, but a wonderful difference had certainly been made in them. Why, we have only to see the people who attend gymnasiums, to realize the. beneficial effects of physical training. As a matter of fact,, many of those militia men got so imbued with the military spirit, that usually 50 per cent, or 60 per cent, of them enlisted in the regular forces for three years. Life in the regular forces cannot be so’ bacl as some people would have us believe, otherwise so many men would not hanker after it. When I was at Woolwich, . a number of militiamen from Lincolnshire joined the battery of horse artillery to which I was attached, and, within six months, one could not distinguish these recruits from those who had seen long service. This shows the value of the training which the militia receive.
– Has the honorable member read an article which appeared recently in a London newspaper in regard to the six months’ test?
– I have not.
– It bears out the honorable member’s statement.
– My experience satisfies me of the value of the training which the militia receive. When I was at Woolwich, a number of men from’ the East End of London joined our battery. They were a very rough lot, but, in order to qualify for service in the artillery and the engineers, they had to put in six months as recruits, and they were very soon knocked into shape. It is only in connexion with the’ infantry forces that three months’ service as recruits is required. In many cases, militiamen from London and its suburbs, who joined the artillery at Woolwich and the engineers at Chatham remained in the service for years, and proved themselves very good soldiers. In times of war the regular soldier is the national hero, but he is not so regarded by many people in times of peace. Shortly before I left the old country, two Lifeguardsmen and a man in the. Coldstream, Guards were refused admission to the Criterion Theatre. The War Office authorities could not compel the manager of the theatre to admit privates in uniform, and the authorities then said, in effect, to him, “ If you will not admit a private into your theatre, you shall not* admit an officer.” They overcame the; difficulty by declaring various theatres in the West End of London “ out of bounds,” in the same way as houses of assignation or streets which it is thought the troops should not frequent are treated. This action on the part of the authorities soon relieved the tension, and privates in uniform were soon admitted to the theatres. Prior to this action, managers of theatres in the West End of London did not wish to admit common private soldiers; but such a state of affairs could not possibly arise under a scheme such as that now before us. If it be adopted, every adult male - rich or poor, old or young - will have to submit to compulsory service. As the Minister has said, every man, whether he comes from Toorak or Footscray, will have an equal opportunity to serve his country. The honorable, gentleman; was right when he said that the success of our defence system does not hinge on the shooting capacity of our riflemen ‘ and militia. My experience leads me to indorse that view. At the battle of Ingogo, in Natal, in 1881, the marksmen of the different regiments were ordered to the front, to act practically as sharp-shooters. Other men, who were merely ordinarily efficient marksmen, how ever, did more execution- than did the picked marksmen. The reason for this was that the sharp-shooters had to go nearer the enemy than the rest of the forces were called upon to do, and naturally they were in a little bit of a funk. They recognised that they were not shooting at mere inanimate targets - they were shooting at men with rifles who returned their fire. The consequence of this was that their firing was not so steady as it would have been had they been practising on a rifle range. We found during the campaign that pot-hunters were no good in active service. It is right that our riflemen should acquire proficiency with the rifle, but it is still more important that they should become amenable to discipline. A body of riflemen who are not amenable to discipline in active service would become a mere rabble. The “ machine V in their case would not act. The high esteem in which Tommy Atkins is held by military authorities is due to the fact that in action he is a mere machine. At the battle of Ingogo, with the exception of myself, every one of the gunners attached to my gun were shot down. As soon as members of the Rifle Brigade saw that I stood alone they came out to assist me. Fortunately for me I had not been hit, but had it not been for the disciplinary training I had received I should doubtless have bolted. long before I did get a chance to leave.
– How did the enemy manage to miss the honorable member?
– I was not then so big as I am to-day. Apparently I led a charmed life, and was saved to enter the Parliament of the Commonwealth. As a matter .of fact my officer had told me to stand by the gun, and I did so.
– I suppose the honorable member would have stood there till to-day had he been called upon to do so by his officer?
– I dare say that I should have done. At all events I had no thought of deserting the gun as long as mv officer directed me to stand by it. Unfortunately he was wounded, and I was left alone, but I am glad to say that I brought the gun out of action. In connexion with that fight we had an irregular force known as Beddington’s Horse acting ‘as a cavalry escort for our battery. The King’s Dragoon Guards were doing the vedetting and scouting, and the irregular force to which I have referred was left to protect us. As soon as the rifle fire began to get hot Beddington’s Horse became somewhat scarce. The Rifle Brigade, however, stuck to us until it was able to take us out of action. There again we experienced the difference between a disciplined and an undisciplined force. I would commend to honorable members the August number of the Call, which is replete with interesting information relating to military matters affecting the Empire. I propose to read a few paragraphs from an article on The Battle Value of Marksmanship, by Colonel H. J. Foster, R.E., Director of Military Science at the Sydney “University. The article is a very able one, and I am sure it will be read with interest by honorable members. Colonel Foster states that Moltke in his Notes onthe Effect of Improved Firearms on Tactics says -
Under ordinary circumstances and in the pitched battle the decision will be gained not by fine marksmanship, but by mass fire.
He continues -
Hoenig, again, in his Inquiries into the Tactics of the Future, has a chapter on “ Psychological Matters,” page 162, which is worth reading, especially page 182, where the effect of severe fire and losses on good infantry is vividly shown. No aimed fire could be delivered by men in the state described. He says (page 166) : -
I do not hesitate to acknowledge that the fire at Mars-la-Tour affected my nerves for months. Troops exposed to anything similar are demoralized for some time. Nor am I alone in holding this opinion : General Skobeleff, whose force and rare personal courage no one will deny, said after the third battle of Plevna. . . . the terrible fire has demoralized officers and men. . . .
I can vouch for the accuracy of that statement, for I know that the whole of our forceswere demoralized after the . severe fight with the Boers at Langs Nek. We retired back on our camp at Mount Pleasant, and for some days were wont to imagine that the enemy were firing over the camp, when in reality they were not doing so. Colonel Foster goes on to point out that-
Mayne quotes another French writer, on page 477:-
It would be easy to show that a great accuracy of individual fire has no practical value on the battle-field, for one simply seeks to cover with bullets the zone of ground on which the enemy moves. . . The fire of bad shots may be more efficacious than that of good marksmen. Besides, in order that the latter, who form a small minority, may continue to fire well, it is necessary that they should have the same presence of mind and calmness as they have on the practice range, which is impossible.
– There are authorities on the other side.
– The honorable member will have an opportunity to put those authorities before the House. Surely an article by the Director of Military Science at the Sydney University should be worthy of some consideration, notwithstanding that the honorable member may not approve of some of the views expressed in it.
– Hear, hear.
– The extract from the French writer, quoted by Mayne, continues -
Thus, a greatprecision of individual fire has but little value in battle. It is sufficient if the men can rapidly adjust their rifles in a given direction. The French Musketry Regulations recognise the small importance of great accuracy for individual fire.
The writer goes on to show that -
General Pilcher, well known in the Boer War, said in a lecture at Aldershot, where he commands a Brigade : -
It is not bullseye shooting, but the correct tactical application of massed fire, which forms the ultimate aim of all musketry training. A captain who gives wrong ranges and fails to appreciate the fire situation will inflict less loss on an enemy with a company of marksmen than with a company of third-class shots.
Then again, we have the statement -
In his work on the Evolution of Infantry Tactics, page 125, he (Colonel Maude) says with regard to “ Points of detail laid down in Musketry Instructions” : -
Unfortunately for those who hold the opinion that rifle clubs alone will suffice to make us a nation of soldiers, it is precisely these points that in these clubs are most frequently neglected. To attempt to insist on them would make attendance unpopular, and the men must be kept in a good humour; so every man is allowed to shoot as he pleases ; to twist himself into impossible attitudes, to dwell on his aim for 50 to 60 seconds - I have often timed them - and generally to acquire bad habits it would take months of hard drill to eradicate.
Many honorable members who have been on the rifle ranges will recognise that this statement is perfectly true -
If, for the Volunteers, I had to choose between unlimited cartridges and no drill, or all drill and no cartridges, I would unhesitatingly choose the latter, for with good drill one could bring the men up to their full standard of shooting in a few weeks ; but, as I said before, it would take months of drill to eradicate the tricks of the rifle clubs. The Boers themselves are the best proof of my contention, for, though the best shooting race in the world as individuals, as a body their practice, judged by previous experience, has been worse than second rate. If, in spite of all their advantages, the scoring was about the slowest on record, the inference in favour of my contention that individual skill with the rifle counts for very little in decisive fighting would be very strong indeed.
Another statement made by Colonel Foster is that -
It is worth noting that Colonel Maude says : - The civilian failsto grasp the enormous difference which exists between shooting at a target which does not shoot back and which stands out squarely against a . contrasting background, at a more or less well-known range, and one which not only shoots back, but uses every effort of human ingenuity to combine its fire in the most telling manner and to hide its point of origin.
My own experience teaches me that these views are perfectly correct, and that we should do well to combine military drill with rifle practice.
Debate interrupted under sessional order.
Notices of motion Nos. 1, 2, and 4 postponed, and notice of motion No. 3 withdrawn.
– The Government is on the right track in its endeavour to assist the cadet movement. I give the Minister credit for doing the right thing in providing that the young idea shall be taught to shoot and to drill. When in Brisbane last Saturday, my heart swelled with pride to see the zest with which the youngsters entered upon military manoeuvring. Each corps tried to excel the others, and they put many of the militia and volunteer corps to shame. The Minister has increased the -expenditure on cadets from ?18,000 to ?40,000, and I, and the members of the party to which I belong, will assist him in every way to increase their efficiency. But we should be careful not to lose our grip of these youngsters when they leave school. They should become part and parcel of our Defence Force under some such system as ‘that proposed by the honorable member for West Sydney. Parliament will have to adopt some such scheme as he proposes ; we cannot go on as we are going. The Minister pointed out this afternoon that, under our present system, very little result would be obtained from an extra expenditure of ?200,000, and that, under that system, ?2, 000,000 would be heeded to provide efficiently “for our defence. Every sane man knows that Australia could not afford to expend so much on defence. But if some such system as that which the honorable member for West Sydney has introduced is adopted, and the people are made to see that conscription is not “what is intended, they will rally round and support it. I represent an electorate which is as largeas New South Wales, but in that immense territory there is only one battalion of mounted infantry and one company of cadets, although there are many men who desire to obtain military training. In Western Queensland we have the finest material for mounted infantry that it is possible to get, and the cost of training the men there who are desirous of becoming part and parcel of our Defence Force would be practically nothing. Most of them are skilled marksmen, and nearly everyone of them possesses a rifle and a horse.
– Under the present system it would cost about ?17 per head to maintain a corps composed of such men. It therefore behoves us to devise a cheaper scheme.
– The cost would be very little under the scheme of the honorable member for West Sydney. As he told us; three weeksago, those who in Switzerland are rejected, return downcast, and even burst into tears, because they have not been allowed to enroll for the defence of their country. As members of the British race, we have an equally strong desire to be ready to serve in the defence of our country. I am surprised to hear from the Minister that at the present time men are being taken into the ranks without medical examination. I am surprised that he allows that.
– I have dealt with the svstem as I found it.
– I am satisfied that the honorable gentleman will remedy it at the earliest opportunity. I again impress upon him the need of keeping a grip upon the members of our cadet forces after they leave school. That can be done by providing places where they can meet together, drill, and play at soldiers, as many of them 3o now in the parks. Let them train themselves for defence, as the members of football clubs train themselves for their games. In this connexion, I should like to read an interesting paragraph in the Call, which is headed, “ The Army of a Dream “ -
Lt.-Colonel Underwood (late 4th Hussars) : There is a school of about 300 boys there- (Vevey), and I went one Saturday afternoon to see them at their games. I did not know what they were going to do. Their game, instead of being “ rugger “ or “ soccer,” was a game of a regular field day. There was a shed from which they pulled miniature field guns, which they had made specially for themselves. They had shelter trench, drill for one company, and other companies attacking, and a march past afterwards before the head-master, who was a major in one of the militia regiments. I do not know whether it is done in other schools, but at this school at Vevey there were 300 boys whose games were sometimes of an entirely military nature, and they struck me as being rather more important and useful for their country than the games we have.
That is the spirit I should like to see engendered here. Instead of being mad over football, let our boys show their skill in attacking and defending trenches. The knowledge which is instilled into them while they are young will increase as they grow. Their brains are more active than those of older men, and they enter into things with more zest. Military training is something out of the ordinary to them, and they enjoy it. Of course, we do not wish to create the military spirit, but we wish to imbue them” with the desire to be ready to defend their native land. When I was in Brisbane on one occasion, a little boy of my acquaintance told me that he was a lance-corporal. I said, “ When you are a sergeant, I shall give you a sovereign.” About a couple of months afterwards, he wrote asking me to send the money. I saw him on the school -ground in South Brisbane drilling a squad. Although he is only twelve and a-half years of age, he put his fellows through a series of marches and countermarches in a way which would have put many an older man to shame. I am .very pleased that the Government has stolen my thunder and propose to start an ammunition factory.
– What does the honorable member think of the proposal to establish a military college?
– I believe in the establishment of a military college in which every student will be treated alike, no matter what his parentage. I agree with the Minister that military promotion should not depend on social influence and position, but upon military fitness. Of course, we cannot, do everything at once, but I feel sure that if the honorable member for Richmond remains in office for any length of time he will bring about great reforms in the Defence Department. The Call contains a frontispiece, copied from the Bulletin, to which I think attention should be drawn. It is a picture showing a struggle in the football field, between the blacks and blues, with over 50,000 persons looking on with the most intense interest, while beyond, at the rifle butts, are half-a-dozen men shooting, with a deadbeat lying up against a post in the vicinity. The half-dozen men who are trying to fit themselves for the defence of their hearths and homes are not watched or cheered by anybody, but at the football match 50,000 persons are shouting themselves hoarse in encouragement of men who are merely booting a ball. Those pictures vividly illustrate the blindness of the Australian public in regard to the defence of the Commonwealth, and show that something is amiss. In like manner, the Romans engaged in their games when the Goths were at the gates. Honorable members, instead of committing the Call to the waste-paper basket, as some of them do, should study it, because it is ably edited and well written, and contains the best statement of our defence needs that I have seen.
– How does the honorable member propose to pay for these reforms?
– Men are not paid for sending their children to school.
– No; and they must not expect to be paid 8s. a ‘day for training themselves for the defence of their homes. I think that the scheme of the honorable member for West Sydney could be carried into force if our military expenditure were increased bv, say, £400,000. Further, I am prepared to vote the money to give the system a trial.
– Is the honorable member prepared to levy a special tax for that purpose ? c,
– When I get on to the Treasury benches in the capacity of Minister, if the honorable member will ask me that question, I will answer it.
– The honorable member ought to advocate the imposition of a Federal .income tax.
– It will be time enough to bid the devil good-morrow when I meet him. The honorable member, with his military knowledge, must realize that at present we are living in a fool’s paradise. The question of defence is a most serious one, and it should be treated seriously. I am just as fond of a jest as is the honorable member, but in my remarks upon defence matters I am very much in earnest. “ Speaking upon this question during his recent visit to London, the honorable member for West Sydney said -
Those who oppose universal training may say that the very name of conscription is repugnant to the British people. No doubt it is. But we do not advocate conscription, and those who imagine that universal military training and conscription are one and the same thing confuse two things entirely and fundamentally distinct.
These are the words which the honorable member addressed to the people of- England, at a meeting held in London, which was presided over by Lord Roberts. He went on to say -
It is perfectly true that in conscription, as we know it on the Continent, every man is liable to be called for service and has to present himself ; and it is quite true, too, that under universal training every able-bodied man of suitable age would be called upon, but there the similarity in the two systems ends. Conscription produces militarism ; universal training destroys it. Conscription produces a caste ; universal training deals with the nation and places all men on one level. Conscription keeps a man long enough in the colours to make him primarily a soldier; it takes him from his civil employment for three, four, or five years at a critical period of his life ,- it withdraws him from production ; it often ruins him for any civil calling.
To pay taxes is not pleasant, yet it has to be done, and no man would dare get on a platform and say that any State could be governed without taxation.
We say that every man who does not insure his life and property is a fool, or worse, and yet here we are, as’ a nation, wickedly neglectful of our National Insurance. For that is what an inefficient scheme of defence surely is !
Universal training should have regard only to the defence of one’s own country, and not to foreign service. No doubt the Volunteer system is the best for that. A man should not be asked to leave his country if he does not wish it. But as to the duty of defending one’s country, no one who enjoys citizenship can have, or ought to have, any doubt about that.
I desire to enlarge upon that aspect of the question. I am of opinion that every man who claims a vote is in duty bound to fit himself for the defence of his country. I say that in the Commonwealth we should adopt the plan which is followed in Cape Colony. There, as soon as a man claims the franchise, he is handed a rifle and a bandolier of cartridges, and told that his name has. been placed on the field cornet’s register, and that the field cornet requires his attendance so many days a month until he has been passed by the Commandant of the corps to which he belongs. Every male at the age of twenty-one years should be prepared to defend his country, otherwise he should be denied the franchise. I would male every Government servant shoulder a rifle.’ I would not exempt even members of Parliament. So long as Australia needs my services in her defence, I shall be prepared to go to the front.
– Would the . honorable member make every £600 a year man an officer ?
– I should not like to be under the honorable member even if he received only £100 a year. The honorable member for West Sydney continued -
The training would not interfere in any way with- the usual duties of his civil life. On the contrary, he would be better fitted to perform them, while civil liberty and national safety are to be obtained by this method alone.
Be prepared to fight and you will never be called upon to fight. “If you were ever called upon, you would be able to give even the most determined of those who seek to spoil us of our prestige, our trade, and our very national existence such a reception as would serve as a salutary lesson to the world.
The right to vote ought to be corollary to the performance of civic duties, and amongst the chief of these is the duty of effectual defence against foreign invaders. We enjoy many privileges, and this duty ought to be performed as a condition precedent to their enjoyment. A friend of mine suggested to me that no man should have the franchise, that no man deserved the franchise, unless he was ready to defend his country. Unless a man is prepared to perform not only that duty, but every duty that belongs to a citizen, he has no right to vote at all. There is the incentive. Every man wants a vote in the country, and no man ought to have it until he has fitted himself to perform the duties of citizenship. Let us see that he deserves these things.
These are noble sentiments which fell from the honorable member for. West Sydney in the old country, and I applaud them. They are my sentiments from the bottom of my heart. I should like to see an efficient Defence Force in Australia - a force upon which we could expend our money, and be satisfied that we were getting value for it. I wish now to quote the remarks of Lord Roberta, in proposing a vote of thanks to the honorable member for West Sydney. These remarks are extracted from the Call newspaper for August of the present year. It says -
Lord Roberts, in thanking Mr. Hughes for his address, said his only regret was lhat Mr. Hughes’s words of wisdom and warning had not been listened to by thousands of their fellowcountrymen. Especially did he regret that they had not been heard by all the leading members of the Labour party. Mr. Hughes spoke with the authority and knowledge of a man who had held office under a Labour Administration in one of the freest and most democratic communities in the world. He would like to think that his clear and unhesitating declaration on the duty of every man to undergo a certain amount of military training would have some effect on the Labour party in this country. It was to the Labour party chiefly that the members of the National Service League looked for assistance in carrying out the great reform for which they were working, and he confessed it surprised him how intelligent and sensible men could be misled by catch phrases and bogeys about militarism and conscription, and could view with disfavour a scheme based on the principle that it was the duty of every able-bodied man, whatever his birth, position or wealth, to be prepared to take his place in the defence of his country. ( Cheers.) The object of the National Service League was essentially a national one, and had nothing whatever to do with politics. He looked forward to the time when the question of personal training for national defence would be accepted by all parties in the kingdom as the most fundamental duty of citizenship. This was the end for which the National Service League was working, and he regarded that meeting as a great step forward in the achievement of their aims. (Cheers.)
Those are noble sentiments from a noble son of Britain - from a man whose veryname we all revere. Lord Roberts is seventy-five years of age, and in the winter of life is sacrificing his personal comfort in an attempt to bring the nation to its senses. Every one of us must applaud him for his action. As an old soldier, I think that he is the finest man in the world. It would be easy enough for him to sit down and say: “ My days are few in the land. Why should I not seek peace and comfort?” But no. He realizes that the nation is drifting in the wrong direction, and seeks to stem the tide. He is looking to Australia to take her place in the van of this reform movement. If the Government are not prepared to go all the way that the honorable member for West Svdney proposes, I am satisfied that they will go a portion of the way. In conclusion, I wish to quote an extract from an article in the Call contributed by Captain E. Digby, of the Unattached List. It is headed “ Armed Australia,” and reads -
No law is operative in Australia without an executive behind it, and that executive cannot act without a policeman. , The ultimate sanction of all human acts is the “ mailed fist.” Australia is not safe from attack. To be ready to meet such attack should be the ever-present anxiety of each and all, and from this anxiety will spring true patriotism. Australia must take her place as an equal among nations. Her people should remember that she “. . must either serve or govern Must beslave or must be sovereign, Must, in fine, be block or wedge, Must be anvil or be sledge.”
.- The honorable member for Maranoa always speaks upon military questions with extreme fer vour, and his utterances are usually of such an ultra-British character that I like in some measure to echo them. The motion under consideration is a specific one, and in replying to the speech of the honorable member for West Sydney, the Minister was practically content to expose many of the weak spots in the defence of Australia today. It was only towards the fag end of his address that he answered the contention of the honorable member for West Sydney that all able-bodied men should be thoroughly drilled in the use of arms. He also declared that his utterance was not a Ministerial deliverance, but a private one. Certainly it was a mysterious one, and for some time I was unable to understand which side of the question he intended to take. While the honorable member for Maranoa was making his fervent appeal, I nut a very simple question to him. I asked him who. was to pay the additional cost which the adoption of the system which be advocates would involve. I am one of those who believe that a very large sum will have to be provided in the near future for the military and naval defence of Australia. When the scheme forecasted by the Prime Minister is dealt with, means will have to be devised to obtain the necessary revenue to carry it out. Of course I am aware that there is an inherent dislike amongst Britishers and their descendants for the principle of conscription. In continental countries the practice is to remove men from their industrial pursuits for three or four years for the purpose of making them undergo a course of military training. The motion which is now under consideration does not contemplate that, but it does contemplate that our able-bodied males shall devote a certain portion of each year to military drill, and to training in naval warfare.
– It may be possible to provide men with that drill without interfering with their ordinary avocations.
– I am satisfied that Australia will never be’ content to adopt the continental system of conscription. For naval purposes, a man is trained for four years; but it is well known that, having regard to the scientific apparatus on board a modern warship, it is impossible to impart a complete training within that time. This has been proved in Great Britain, where there is the greatest reluctance to allow a trained man to escape from long service. When a man has been in training; in Great Britain for three or four years, he is not allowed, unless under exceptional circumstances, to buy his release ; and the result is that the men in the British Navy are the most highly-skilled of gunners. In Germany, the men have a choice between the land forces and the naval forces, but, owing to the shorter period of training, their man-o-warsmen are not nearly so efficient as those of Great Britain. The honorable member for Maranoa several times spoke of Kipling’s Army of a Dream; and I should like to point to the great change that has come over the spirit of the dream of this Parliament in reference to defence. Five or six years ago the Labour Party, to which the honorable member for Maranoa and the honorable member for West Sydney belonged, were so anxious to destroy the military vote, that on ‘one occasion they reduced it bv £120,000.
– That was in order to destroy a vicious system.
– The Minister of Defence has admitted that there has been a good deal of viciousness in the system. When that vote was under consideration, I said that, while the people of Australia never begrudged a big military bill, while the money was spent in order to secure efficiency, they did begrudge large expenditure for merely ornamental purposes.
– Then the honorable member admits that the Labour Party were justified in their action.-
– Exactly, because it was directed against the viciousness of the system which was then in vogue. In our schools there is what is called the Junior Cadet Force, and my own opinion is that the boys should go straight from the Junior Cadets into the Senior Cadets when they leave school. I am no believer in a complete knowledge of barrack-square drill and manoeuvring. There are many men who are capital drill masters, but who would be of no use in the field ; and I do not think that the young people of Australia should have their time wasted by such training. Here I should like to suggest that the annual encampments might be made movable. It is very easy to find a volunteer or militiaman quite conversant with company drill, but it is very difficult to find one with a working knowledge of the topography of Australia, although such knowledge would be invaluable in time of invasion. To-day we have a volunteer and a partially-paid system of service. My opinion is that the Government must either abolish the partially-paid system and have all volunteers, or abolish the volunteer system, and have all pax-, tially-paid men. We cannot have men in the same walk of life working in camp under diverse conditions; nor can we expect the partially-paid man and the volunteer to have the same enthusiasm under such circumstances. Our volunteer system is successful only in time of danger. Let there be a rumour to-morrow of trouble between the Empire and some other” power, and within a month the volunteer ranks would be greatly swollen. After the danger is over, however, the Volunteer Forces dwindle, and nearly all the regiments are incomplete. The volunteer is useful only while his enthusiasm lasts, and he is enthusiastic only in time of trouble and danger. At the time of the Boer war, the difficulty was to prevent our young men from going to South Africa; and they did not care whether they went as ‘volunteers or as partially-paid men. The volunteer regiments of Australia were never stronger than at that time ; but we cannot expect success in that direc-‘ tion in times of peace. The Minister of Defence, in his remarks to-day, expressed more advanced views and even radical ideas than any of his predecessors have done. In my opinion, the school is where the defence movement ought to start. It is not only for the sake of inculcating feelings of patriotism, and a desire to defend the country, but also for the sake of the health of our young boys that the cadet system ought to be encouraged. In my opinion, the age of twentyone is too high for compulsory drill. My own idea is that the training ought to be compulsory up to eighteen years of age, and then allowed to be voluntary. If a boy at the age of eighteen is not imbued with patriotism, he never will be. At that age, however, character is fairly well formed ; and I believe that practically 90 per cent, of those who had been compulsorily drilled, would continue under the volunteer system. The senior cadet system is admirable, not only as providing discipline for active service, but also as providing discipline for the purposes of everyday life. I do not desire to enter upon an ethical discussion, but I know from my own experience, that young Australians of seventeen or eighteen are mostly of an energetic disposition, and have a great desire to be “ on the move.” It is my belief that, if we had a good system of senior cadets, much of” what is known as larrikinism - which, after all, is often only energy in the wrong place - would be prevented. The force of the example of steady comrades would be sufficient for the youth who was too restless. I make no apology for larrikinism, but I do say that my countrymen, who readily adapt themselves to circumstances, would greatly benefit by the training and discipline’ afforded by service in the senior cadets. The youths would be inspired by a desire to attain a higher standard of conduct, and the discipline would have great effect in -fitting them for the duties of citizenship in times of peace, while tending to remove what must be admitted to be -a present weakness, namely, the want of love of home life. This characteristic may arise from our salubrious climate, inviting, as it does, to outdoor exercise as a pastime. Many a young fellow, with the makings of an excellent man in him, has gone astray for want of good comrades, such as he would meet under a proper system of senior cadets. My idea is that the junior cadet, under a compulsory system, would be moulded physically, and that, as a senior cadet, he would receive what would be more in the nature of a moral training. It is undoubtedly true that, except in times of danger and excitement, the average private in a volunteer regiment has to bear the derision of his fellows as he walks abroad in his uniform. Any one who has had to do with the volunteer movement must acknowledge the truth of what I say. These men who are nobly performing the duties of citizenship receive, instead of respect, the ridicule of those who ought to be following their example. I do not say that every young man does so, but certainly a large percentage of our young men “look down” on a volunteer, and it is about time that this feeling was removed. The honorable member for West Sydney has done good work in submitting this motion ; but I can inform him that there is still an idea current that what he means is conscription. The system, if my suggestion were acted upon, would mean compulsory training until the age of eighteen years, but, after that, the system would be absolutely voluntary. Australia is sadly in need of an increased number of naval brigades. Land forces are more readily equipped and recruited than are naval forces.
– The field for recruiting iri the case of the naval brigade is more limited.
– That is so. I believe that Port Jackson, Port Phillip, Newcastle, Fremantle, and various other Australian ports, afford a fine recruiting ground for the naval brigades. The young men in our various ports would take more readily to naval than to military drill. In this regard, the Commonwealth has a splendid opportunity to do good work for the Empire. We could not do a greater service to the Empire than we should by drilling for naval service the thousands of men available in our ports. Great Britain can find the ships and we should be able to provide thousands of properly drilled naval brigade men. So far, the attention of honorable members has been devoted chiefly to a consideration of the necessity for raising more land forces, but I think that we might well consider the propriety of strengthening our naval forces. I am pleased to learn that the Minister is not satisfied with the system under which our officers are trained to-day. If we are to have compulsory training for adult males, we should also provide a system by which the humblest man in the ranks may fit himself for the highest office in the service. At the present time, officers in our volunteer or partially-paid forces have to incur considerable expense in respect of uniforms and mess-room charges, and the result is that they constitute, a distinct caste. We cannot afford to allow the training of our officers to proceed upon such lines. We need to obtain the best available material, regardless of where it may come from, and we should give every man an incentive to work his way up from the ranks to the highest post in the service. I heartily approve of the Minister’s suggestion that we should establish a College of Military Instruction. We know what has been accomplished by the MilitaryCollege at Washington, and we might well found an Australian college upon similar lines. At the same time, it would be well to provide for exchange of officers with Great Britain from time to time, in order that the military accomplishments of our staffs might be extended. The honorable member for Maranoa is able to speak with great force on this question, since he has seen, active service. I have followed the military and naval movements of other nations, and when I consider that the Boers, without any special training, were able for three years to resist 250,000 trained soldiers from Great Britain-
– The Boers, prior to the South African war, used to engage in military evolutions.
– Only in extended order. They did not indulge in any of the fancy evolutions that we witness sometimes in our barrack yards.
– They went in for practical work.
– For field exercises?
– The Prime Minister has hinted at a military and naval establishment involving a very large expenditure. I hold that if we are going to subject all classes to a system of conscription, such as that proposed by the honorable member for West Sydney, we should call upon the wealthy sections of the community to contribute something to the cost. It is well that Australia has awakened from her lethargy in this respect. There is no doubt that the successes scored by Japan against Russia during the recent war awakened Australia to a knowledge of her true position. Within thirty years Japan has stepped from a position of comparative obscurity to that of an almost first-rate maritime power. All classes in Japan take an interest in naval and military work, and the patriotism of the people has been largely responsible for her successes. The laws we have passed for the preservation of the purity of our race are calculated to arouse the animosity of nations with whom the Empire is at peace to-day, and it is at a time when there is ho spot on the sun that we should prepare to defend ourselves. I was under the impression that the Minister of Defence would announce that the Government had decided not to take any further step towards the abolition of the Naval Agreement.
– Many of the Naval authorities at Home favour this proposal from the stand-point of the British Navy as well as from our own point of view.
– I intend to deal presently with that point. I have no desire to discuss at this stage the Naval Agreement Act, but I am surprised that the Minister, after expressing his appreciation of the protection afforded us by the British Navy, was not prepared to say that the Ministry had determined to refrain from asking Parliament to repeal the Naval Agreement Act.
– I should have been out of order had I referred to that matter.
– The Minister would have been out of Cabinet order.
– No. I am inclined to think that we shall not hear much more from the Cabinet in regard to the abolition of the Naval Agreement. I believe that they will be prepared to allow it to run its course. While our annual contribution of £200,000 to the British Navy can be defended, I am not prepared to say that the withdrawal of that contribution would inflict any serious injury on the Navy or lead to Australia losing its protection.
– The idea at Home is that we believe we could put the money to better use in Australia, and that we should soon find that £200,000 was not by any means sufficient for the purposes of our coastal defence.
– I believe that the British Government were prepared to agree to the cancellation of the Naval Agreement because they thought that the Prime Minister on returning to Australia would formulate a scheme of naval and military defence of much greater proportions than the present one, and requiring an infinitely larger expenditure.
– I do not think so.
– In my opinion, the British Government believe that if the Agreement were cancelled, the money now paid under it to the British Navy would be devoted by Australia to a more comprehensive scheme of naval and military defence. If we are alive to the necessities of our own situation, we ought to show the mother country that we are prepared to do for ourselves far more than has been done for us in the past. It is necessary that we should have in Australia a small armsand ammunition factory. Atpresent we have to depend upon outside supplies, and in the event of an outbreak of hostilities in the South or Eastern Pacific, we should experience very serious difficulty in obtaining the arms and ammunition that we required. If we are to adopt such a scheme as that now before us, we ought to lose no time in establishing a small arms and ammunition factory. I gathered from the speech made by the honorable member for West Sydney that his desire in submitting this motion was to show that it was the duty of every adult male to be prepared to defend his country.
– To fit himself to defend his country.
– I do not understand that he desires that Australia shall become a military nation.
– No. My object is the very reverse of that.
– I am pleased to have that assurance. Whilst I should be prepared to encourage the system proposed by the honorable member, I should be the last to foster the idea that Australia should seek to become a military power. The great danger of this proposal is that if we fit every adult male for service in the country, he will be anxious for war in’ order that he may see active service.
– How can we hope to maintain a White Australia unless we fit every adult male to fight for his country?
– I have always urged that we could not hone to enforce the White Australia policy in the absence of the protecting arm of Great Britain or the capacity of our people to defend the country from invasion. My experience is that many workers in Australia to-day are not ^Familiar with the details of the .scheme submitted by the honorable member. They’ have a vague notion that if we adopted it, it would involve their being dragged away from their industrial occupations to engage for some time in military service. They do not know that the proposal is really an adaptation of the Swiss system, designed to suit Australian conditions.
– Let us look for a moment at the position of the workers in Balmain. Do not the industries there experience slack times ; and ‘should we not, under this scheme, take advantage of those slack times ?
– - I was not suggesting that the workers believe that they would be forced to leave their ordinary occupations during the busy season.
– I referred to Balmain only as a concrete illustration. We may take the position in my own electorate if the honorable member pleases.
– There is much in common between the electors of West Sydney and those of Dalley ; but I think that the ‘ majority of the adult males in the firstnamed constituency would prefer naval to military training. It is necessary that the people should understand that this is not a proposal to establish conscription on continental lines, and that under it men will not be asked to serve two or three years in barracks.
– We should distribute the Call among the people.
– The continental’ nations which have conscription are in favour of the Swiss system, involving only six weeks’ training each year.
– I am glad to get these admissions, not so much to serve my own purpose, as to serve the honorable member’s. I am with him except in regard to the age at which compulsory training should cease. I think that it should cease at eighteen instead of at twenty-one years of age. If at eighteen a lad does not realize the duties of citizenship, he wilt never realize them. Furthermore, the system will be more popular if my suggestion be accepted. A number of electors now regard it as the introduction of the thin end of the wedge of conscription ; but if it were proposed that compulsory training should cease at the age of eighteen the system would be more acceptable to them. I think that the members of the junior cadet corps should pass into the senior cadet corps, and ultimately into the militia. But we must abandon either the volunteer system or the partially-paid system.
– If the Minister initiates his system gradually, it will be some years before those who are above the age of eighteen will be brought in, and by that time the public will have been familiarized with the scheme, and the prejudice against it may have ceased.
– The Britisher is not less desirous of serving his country than is the German’ or the Frenchman ; but we have seen that in Great Britain even so popular and able a man as Lord Roberts cannot break down the hatred of conscription. Therefore I suggest that we should gild the pill, and better sooner than later. Some scheme of the kind suggested by’ the honorable member will have to be adopted. I am glad that Australia is awakening to the need for defence preparations. In the past, when military Estimates came before the Parliaments of the States or before this Parliament, there was either a cutting down of votes or a fusillade of jesting remarks. The honorable member for Maranoa, as well as myself and other honorable members, has played a part in these discussions. Nights have been occupied in ridiculing the volunteer system. No doubt much of the derision which was expressed was justifiable, because large salaries were being proposed for officers whom we knew to be mere toy soldiers. But Parliament having jested with this matter for so long, we cannot expect the people to regard it as serious all at once. The leader of the Opposition made a very good suggestion when he asked the Minister of Defence if he would not in the near future obtain as Commanding Officer a man who had had experience in actual warfare. I do not know how that suggestion appeals to other honorable members, but it appeals very strongly to me.
– It appeals to me.
– Australia should obtain the best military talent that Great Britain can spare, and Parliament should give a comparatively free hand to the officer appointed. The honorable member for Maranoa made a plea for discipline, but we must recognise the need for the strict observance of discipline amongst all ranks, Tight up to the Commander-in-Chief. Parliament, of course, must always be the supreme authority, and control expenditure, but, having made up our minds to spend so much a year on defence, and having appointed as Commanding Officer some one whom we “know to be competent, we should say to him, “ There is the money; see that we get a suitable return for it.” The only practical test of military ability is actual warfare. We have never had a war to test the practical qualities of our officers, and we do not want one. Therefore we must’ get a man from Great Britain, and having obtained the best that Great ‘Britain can send us, we should repose confidence in him, and, laying down a policy, leave the details of management to him. It would be better to put details unreservedly into the hands of a strong man than to interfere in matters of administration.
– We should do what is done in connexion with education. In that case a policy is laid down, and the schoolmasters are allowed to carry it out.
– Quite so. In ‘the past, however, honorable members have wished to interfere in matters of detail. There cannot be proper discipline when such interference takes place. The honorable member for Maranoa gave us an illustration from his own experience of the advantages of discipline, and spoke of the British Tommy Atkins as the best fighting man in the world. I believe that the soldier of the future ‘will depend more on his mental powers and his education than the soldier of the past - who has been content tobe merely part of a machine, possessing no initiativeshas done. The Australian soldier in South Africa showed the advantage of using men possessed of initiative.
– We require initiative, intelligence, and strict discipline as well.
– Yes. But Parliament must be careful not to. break down discipline by its criticism of details. I do not think that any military man worth his salt would consent to remain long in command of our Forces if he found himself subjected to criticism whenever a member of Parliament was egged on by discontented constituents to pull him to pieces. I should not like to hold the position if I were to be subjected to such criticism. While I shall always be as sturdy a1 fighter for the rights of Parliament as you, Mr. Speaker, knowing that Parliament must be supreme, and have full control of matters of policy, I think that details should be left to the man who is put in charge of our Forces. I have made these remarks without preparation, and may, perhaps, be able to say more on the subject when the Military Estimates are under discussion. I am glad that” the honorable member for West Sydney has brought the proposal forward, and that the members of the Labour Party support it. I hope that the Minister of Defence will give every encouragement to the senior cadet corps, and as soon as possible make arrangements providing military training for youths under the age of eighteen years.
– I regret that the Minister was not permitted, as I am sure he would have liked to do, to give us in detail the Government’s schemes for the defence of Australia in the immediate future. I recognise that since he has been in office he has devoted much time and energy, and, if I may say so, a great deal of intelligence to the consideration of defence questions. I am disappointed that he has found himself so seriously hampered by existing conditions. When Parliament agreed almost unanimously to the scheme embodied in the Defence Act, providing for the representation of civil power, we thought that we had solved a great problem; but we now find that we have made confusion worse confounded. At the time, an officer of distinction, who had been brought from the old country, was endeavouring t’o carry out to the best of his lights a system which he had evolved, tout which, I think it will be generally admitted, he had not in any degree perfected. The Defence Act provides for the constitution of a Military Board, and quite another system of military government, under which the valuable time of a second distinguished officer from the old country was occupied in inspecting rifle ranges and similar work, which could have been equally well done by a man who was being paid £150 a year.
– It was the greatest mistake ever made.
– We are suffering from these mistakes; but I hope that we shall take advantage of them, and that experience, which is the most valuable of teachers, will, in this instance, prove a successful monitor. It is suggested that we should again import from the old country an officer who would be competent to take command of our Defence Forces In this connexion I ask honorable members, to bear in mind two things. The first is that in the old country military matters are in a condition of flux. They have no real adequate system of defence there. Ideas are changing, as was pointed out by the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. Lord Roberts, the greatest authority in the Empire, has discovered that he has a very hard row to hoe in the old country in endeavouring to bring about a more effective system of defence and of offence, if that be necessary. Under these circumstances, until we have decided upon the system which is to be administered it would be folly to appoint an Imperial officer to evolve order out of chaos. My second point is that it constitutes a grave reflection upon the distinguished military officers who have visited Australia during the past quarter of a century, that they should have made so little use of their opportunities as to fail to leave behind them a single pupil who is considered competent to take charge. In any great business undertaking the first necessity is that there shall be a good manager, and the second that he shall have a good assistant - a person to whom can be confided the entire conduct of the business, should the manager for any reason be unable to carry it on. We have not secured such an assistant. We have been content to import officers from the Old Country - in some instances seven or eight have been simultaneously brought out to the different States - and, it is said, they have failed to leave behind them a single person who is competent to carry on their work.
– Does the honorable member, of his own knowledge, know of any officer who is fit to carry on?
– No. The reason is that as soon as these officers have reached our shores they have surrounded themselves with such barbed wire entanglements that they were quite unapproachable. They have not merged their personalities in the military affairs of the various States. They have been too inaccessible. The same state of things exists to-day. We have a Military Board which is composed of the senior permanent officers of the Commonwealth. There were provided certain consultative members who are intended to represent the Militia Forces. But, as was shown by an answer given to a question which I put the other day, these consultative members, who are required to attend meetings of the Board only when requested, have not attended a single meeting during the past year. I complain that in this matter Parliament has not been treated fairly. When we passed the Defence Act it was understood that advantage would be taken of the services of these officers to assist the Military Board.
– That was expressly stipulated by Colonel McCay.
– That is so. It was expressly stipulated by Colonel McCay, who filled the position of Minister of Defence, and under whose administration the Board was created.
– Does not the honorable member think that we might go a good deal further in that direction? Suppose that the services of an intelligent staff of militiamen were always available. That would be a very good step.
– I am glad to hear the Minister say so. But instead of offering suggestions, I wish that he would take action. If he did so he would find that he would have backing throughout the country such as no other Minister has received. What we want is an effective system of defence in which every able-bodied man shall take part. Apparently it has been thought by those in authority that it is quite sufficient to pay men a few pounds a year in order to insure their absolute fidelity to a particular system. In effect we have said to them, “ We do not require your enthusiasm, because it will mean that you will want effect to be given to vour enthusiastic projects. We want to dispense with enthusiasm, and in the case of captains, for example, we will give them £16 a year for the work they are doing.” There “ is nothing more inconvenient to a permanent officer than the enthusiasm of the militia officer. The former prefers that the latter should be a mere registering machine. What the permanent officer requires from the militia officer is nicely -written minutes upon the various., recommendations despatched from head-quarters, and constant attendance upon him–
– He also wants the militia officer to concur in his recommendations.
– Exactly. Inthe early history of this Parliament I took a very lively interest in the proposed abolition of thevolunteer principle. For many years I belonged to the old Victorian Mounted Rifles, the officersand men of which expressed to me again and again their great regret that they had been converted into a militia force. I stated what I had been told in the House, and the. Minister of Defence, the right honorable member for Swan, accordingly caused an order to be issued asking many of the officers who had spoken to me whether my statement wasin accordance with fact. Not a single reply to that communication was in accordance with the views previously stated, but every one of these officers concurred in the opinion of the Commandant, BrigadierGeneral Gordon, that it was very much better to dispense with the volunteer system. Since then I have absolutely refrained from expressing opinions in regard to the matter.
– The honorable member got badly left.
– Yes, and I amnot likely to be left again. We must regard the system of defence which we hope to see established in Australia from a different stand-point than that from which it is. regarded by the people of the United Kingdom. We must recollect that ours should be a defence system . pure and simple. We do not desire men who are prepared to serve in any quarter of the globe, but men who will be ready to defend Australia. That must be the groundwork and basis of our defence system. If the people thoroughly understand that, I feel that the same objection will not be urged to the compulsory aspect of this proposal which might otherwise be urged:
– We cannot do without compulsion. Unless wemake the system universal we shall get no good from it.
– I quite agree with the honorable member that, in the absence of a thorough appreciation of one’s duty to one’s country, compulsion must be exercised. But I hope that we shall be able to place our defence system upon such a basis that the compulsory aspect of it will resemble the compulsory section in a certain celebrated Lands. Acquisition Act-that; in other words, it will represent merely a danger signal. I feel sure that we do not intend to sanction the creation in Australia of a military system which would of necessity : involve the withdrawal of a number of persons from their industrial avocations. The Minister, in his reply, quoted a number of figures which are very valuable, but which.; will be more valuable when he adds to them the conclusions to which he has been, driven.
– The honorable member should not talk about the Minister in that; way.
– The Minister does not mind being driven by the force of figures. The logic of figures always appeals to him, and I am sure that he will not feel any degradation in being driven to a conclusion by it. I agree with those who have spoken of the admirable work done by the Call newspaper in educating the people of. Australia upon the question of national defence. The first step which mustbe taken in. that direction is that of educating the youth of the country. A college of instruction, to which reference has been made, would be a valuable adjunct to our military system. . If we are to have a thoroughly effective defence system, we must provide for the education of those who are to carry it out. I agree with those who deprecate the establishment of any military caste. I feel that in Australia, perhaps more thanin any other country in the world, there is an utter indisposition to establish caste distinctions. The native born Australian does not care twopence about such distinctions. I feel sure that if the youth of our country can be given the necessary education to fit them for responsible positions in our Defence Forces they will avail themselves of it without exhibiting that disregard for others which unfortunately has followed the establishment of similar institutions elsewhere. I agree with the gradationswhich the Minister proposes to adopt in starting with the training ofour cadets, and in retaining control of them until they become merged” intheordinary military ranks. Inmy opinion our rifle clubs should be regarded as a great reserve of the future army. Should we ever tie required to take the. field, it will be found that the great majority of the members of our rifle clubs have been through some course of military training; and have been subjected to some sort of discipline. In my own district, where troops of Mounted Rifles and Light Horse have been established for twenty years, there is scarcely a young farmer or storekeeper who at some time or other has not been a member of those forces. He has not. remained in them for more than two years, perhaps, but, nevertheless, he has acquired a knowledge of military discipline during the most, impressionable period of his life - a knowledge which will be of incalculable benefit to the country should his services ever be required in its defence. These men do not forget their drill. It is marvellous how quickly they recover lost ground, in that regard.
– The honorable member must not forget that militarism, is a science, and that as it progresses the men who are not constantly in touch, with it must lag behind.
– I know that alterations are constantly being made in the drill instruction imparted. But, nevertheless, the root of all military training remains, namely, discipline, obedience, and steadiness. These are the things which have to be learned by men, and they are the things which take the longest to learn. But when once they have been learned barrackyard evolutions are comparatively easy. Under these circumstances we need entertain no fear of the future so long as we place . at the disposal of our people the opportunities which the country demands should be placed within their grasp. The naval side of our defence system is a most important one. The establishment of naval cadet brigades constitutes a step in the right direction. I saw a number of these youths quite recently.
– Lads will not be permitted to join if they are under sixteen years of age.
– There are only six hundred, of them at present.
– Some of them seemed to be very much under sixteen years of age. They were marching through the streets of Melbourne in the evening, and they looked remarkably well. There- was. no mistake about their entering into the work with enthusiasm; and this augurswell for future success.
– There are quite a largenumber under sixteen years of age.
– I think so. When L speak of the training given to the cadet’s,, the senior cadets and the militia, I realize that there is a certain training which must be most careful, and, in some arms of the service, continuous. For instance, we cannot make a horse artilleryman in a few weeks. He has to- deal with intricatemachinery, and receive constant tuition,, not only in regard to present conditions, but. also in regard to improvements which maybe brought about from time to time. If we can, we should provide a system which will be sufficient for the kind of force we require - a force which is entirely for defence purposes. I have had very manyyears’ experience of camps; and it is= painful to see men arrive in the middle of the night, or in the early morning,, after an extremely long and trying railwayjourney, on which they have been treated more like cattle than human beings,, pushed into sidings whenever there is; traffic which may be considered of more importance. These men are scarcely recovered from their exhaustion when they are called upon to enter upon active camp work ; and the result is that for two or three days they are at high pressure, with nervous energy very much depressed. This is rendered necessary by the brevity of the period of encampment. The period should be longer, and the work done should be of a more leisurely character. The reason for the brevity of the encampment is, of course, first, the expense, and, secondly, the limited time at the disposal of the men.
– We cannot get the men for a longer time.
– I understand that men cannot leave their employment; but it: should be the duty of an employer to see that every able-bodied man in his employ shall be fitted for) not only the protectionof the Commonwealth, but the protectionof his employer’s property, because, after all, that is what it comes to. There isanother question in regard to which I have a notice on the business-paper, and to which, therefore, I cannot refer more than incidentally. Encouragement should be given to all ranks in the service to perfect themselves in order that they may rise higher. At present it is impossible, for some men, at any rate, to get beyond their present status ; and that is not right. There should be means whereby, in the first place, those who have, rendered full service shall be passed into the reserves, and that those from below shall have an opportunity to show whether they are capable of carrying out higher duties. Then there ought not to be a barrier between the militia and permanent appointments’. A man in the militia, if he shows himself fit for a permanent appointment, should have an opportunity to fill it ; he should not be debarred simply because he is a citizen soldier. In regard to a small arms and ammunition factory, we have been promised such an establishment for a considerable time, but the project seems to be hanging fire. A little over ‘six or seven years ago- the Government of Victoria, then a separate Colony, collected some very valuable information in connexion with the establishment of a cordite factory. At that time, of course, Victoria had to consider only its own requirements. The information was collected by Mr. Hake, whose services are at present being availed of by the Commonwealth Government, and who is one of the best authorities on explosives, not only in Australia, but in the Empire. I am. sure that information would be made available for the consideration of the Minister of Defence.
– I do not see how we can go more quickly in reference to this project. The necessary money has been placed on the Estimates.
– I am not reflecting on the present Minister, but on those who preceded him, and who kept the word of promise to the ear and broke it to the hope. When these inquiries were made on behalf of Victoria, we were assured that there was a prospect of supplying considerable quantities of cordite to India, where, it appears, that, on account of the temperature, it is impossible to manufacture high explosives satisfactorily.
– At certain times of the vear.
– At any time of the year, unless the work be carried out on the hills. There- was a chance of India becoming a good customer and I ask the Minister of Defence to. remember that there is not only Australia to supply, but also the warships- which visit these shores, and British settlements which are nearer to Australia than to England. It is the hope on all sides of the House that’ we shall have the Government scheme of De- fence in detail and, we hope, perfected and laid before Parliament within the next two or three weeks.
– That is impossible !
– I hope the Minister is not going to trade on his personal popularity in the Chamber, or take advantage of the estimation in which he is held, in order to further shelve or postpone this matter. Before we deal with the Estimates we are entitled to have before us the Ministerial proposals with regard to our system of defence. The present system has to be radically altered, because it is unsatisfactory in all respects. Even if the Ministerial scheme be a hastily formulated one, and, perhaps, not effective, we are prepared to take the risk, if the Minister will only’ submit it. As a well wisher, I tell the- Government that, in my opinion, grave responsibility rests upon them in regard to this matter. They are not entitled to allow this country to remain in its present admittedly defenceless condition. Nothing gives me greater pain than to utter these words. During fifteen years I have done my best, in my own way, to fit myself for defensive service, and, by showing an example, te get others to do the same: and that, perhaps, is the best course one can take.
– If we are able to have the scheme ready by Christmas we shall do well.
– I do not think so. The Minister will not have done himself, the House, or the Government justice if he does not bring down his scheme long before Christmas.
– Consider how short a time I have been in office !
– The Minister has the advantage of all the mistakes of his predecessors, and he knows all the shoals and shallows which wrecked their projects. He is, therefore, not in the same position as they were; and he is not entitled to ask for an indefinite period of time in which to prepare a scheme. I am speaking seriously, and T ask the House and the Government to take the matter into immediate consideration. If the Government desire to retain the confidence of the Chamber in the Minister of Defence, they must not be prepared to give honorable members answers which fill us with admiration, and, sometimes, make us chortle with joy, but which, after reflection,’ always give us- cause for. serious- regret and disappointment. The Government must 1be prepared to come down with a clearly-defined and properly formulated scheme, which will remove once and for all the fears which, I am sorry to say, are only too well founded regarding our defences.
.- I do not pretend to have anything very new or valuable to say, but I do not like the motion to pass without a few words in support of what has been said by two honorable members who have given a great deal of time and attention to that which appears to me a most important matter, namely, .the proper defence of our country. I, to a great extent, agree with the honorable member for West Sydney in the scheme which he has submitted. The honorable member proposes that every man ought, to be trained to the use of arms and in proper drill, so that he may be prepared at .any. time to assist in national defence. The fact that there are .some 670,000,000 of alien peoples within sixteen days’ steam of the Australian coast ought to make anybody, however dense and stupid, or however absorbed in his affairs, wake up to the necessity for some measure, even if it does cost a little money, to protect ourselves against foreign occupation or invasion. We have been drifting along’ for six years as a Commonwealth, and we do not seem to have got “ much forrader.” However, I hear from all sides very good accounts of what the Minister of Defence is doing. The honorable gentleman has spoken a little diffidently about his powers to deal with the technical requirements of a very technical Department, being, as he says, only a common-sense ordinary man of business. I ‘remind honorable members, however, that the best Defence Minister Great Britain ever had was a similar type of man - a business man. I refer to the late. W. H. Smith, who, it mav perhaps be remembered, was depicted iri Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pinafore^ as a great stickler for polite language in the Navy. My idea is that, as a rule, the common-sense man of business is the one to have at the head of affairs, however technical those affairs may be. The alternative, of course, is to have an expert; and we all know that a mining expert, for instance, is about the worst possible man to manage a mine. I recollect that when there was a technical gunner at the head of the French military forces, and the troops were assembled for manoeuvres, it was found that, while the guns were in. splendid order, he had forgotten that troops drink water. The result was that there was no water on the field; and so this highly technical gunner made a complete mess of the’ organization. We have only to remember the Boer war to realize that we do not require a very highly technical man as the absolute head of the Department. .Of course, we must have the very best technical direction we can get, and m’ust interfere with it, in its proper performance, as little as possible. The Minister, therefore, ought not to be” diffident. We require to apply experience and ordinary common-sense principles to these circumstances; but hitherto we have lacked those essentials. We have not been sufficiently alive to the fact that we may some day wake up to .find that we have to fight for our lives. I hear very alarming reports as to the way in which the Chinese are awakening to a sense of their power.
– They are merely waiting for the death of the Dowager Empress.
– That is so. Very soon we may find ourselves at death grips with the teeming millions of that country. The Chinese will recognise that in the comparatively uninhabited lands of Australia they may live in comfort, and they may seek to spread over our territory. We often justify the removal of the aborigines by asserting that they were making no use of the country. As a matter of fact, they were a mere handful of people, and were utilizing the lands of Australia in their own primitive way. Are we doing very much better? I can imagine a Chinaman’ sitting on Princes’s-bridge - just as Macau-, lay depicts, the New Zealander on Londonbridge
– That is too great a stretch of the imagination ; we should soon push him over.
– He might before that have hurled us over, and have seen us drown. It is a rather vivid stretch of the imagination, but in fancy I picture him sitting on the bridge, and saying, “ We wiped out the Australians, because they were not using their country.” Such a dream is possible of realization. If we do not take measures - even measures involving the expenditure of a fairly large sum of money - to prepare ourselves to defend Australia from attack, we shall run a serious risk of invasion. At all events, no self-respecting nation ought to allow itself to drift into a position in which it may find itself some day rushing into, panic. The great question is, .how . we are to properly defend ourselves? The Minister has referred to the fact that enormous crowds attend our football and cricket matches, and that it is almost impossible to work up any enthusiasm in defence undertakings. It seems to me, however, that it should be possible to make both the military and naval service attractive. I have always taken a great interest in athletics, and I feel confident that had the game of war been the fashion when I was a young man - and after all we like, to follow the fashion - I should have enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed a day on the river or any other pastime. I trust that the Minister will think out some scheme by which the people may be led to take an enthusiastic interest in our defence system. I am totally inexperienced in military matters, but it seems to me that we might, for example, have attractive displays in the Albert Park, where two regiments could be drilled before the public, and a spirit of friendly rivalry engendered amongst the’ men. There must be a way of inducing the people to take an appreciative interest in this work. If a popular scheme were devised, we should see our young men hastening to join the different militia regiments instead of running off, as they do now, to football, cricket, and other competitions, where they have an opportunity to display their prowess. The desire to excel is a natural ambition. A young man naturally desires to try to do well - to be the hero of the hour - and to be held in esteem by his fellows.
– Could we not give a big national prize ?
– I dare say that the Minister is in a much better position than is a private member to devise a workable scheme, but the suggestion made by the honorable member for Kennedy, that we should offer a big national’ prize for competition amongst the regiments, is a good one. It seems to me that we should endeavour to make our military and naval system so attractive that it would obtain a grip on the people. . If regiments were drilled before the public, and evolutions were so conducted as to attract public attention, military feeling, which is now dormant, would be stimulated. One of the most important matters to which the Minister has referred is the training of officers. Many are inclined to think that the Boers who took part in ‘the South African war were entirely devoid of proper leaders, training, and equipment. That was not by any means the case. Such an impression is likely to stimulate the idea that we could, in “a few days, gather together a force’ capable of holding its own against any that might be brought against it. It is an utterly wrong and dangerous presumption. Without good officers, we cannot expect a really capable army. I have read with great interest Sir Charles Dilke’s work on the Franco- Prussian war, in which he shows that the success of the German troops was due largely to their better leading. The German officers, when occasion offered, did not hesitate to take the initiative. They displayed great wisdom and a pliability that did much to secure success.
– Except that the Crown Prince was sent to the rear for three months for getting ahead of time.
– Quite so. I believe that they won many a battle owing to the action of sub-officers, who took the initiative, and brought up their troops without waiting for orders. The French officers, on the other hand, never acted without instructions. They seemed to be afraid of their position, and their training had evidently been different from that of the Germans. Sir Charles Dilke, at all events, attributed much of the success of the German troops to the superior training of their officers. We shall have to provide colleges for training our young men. As an honorable member has said, it is immaterial whether young men seeking commissions in our forces come from Toorak or Footscray ; our only desire should be to secure the best possible officers. This is a matter which deserves the fullest possible attention. I am very glad also to learn that a practical step is to be taken towards the establishment of an ammunition and small arms factory in Australia. It goes without saying that, regardless of what it may cost, we must have such a factory. If. we do not establish it, then in time of war, when we shall require weapons and ammunition, we may find ourselves devoid of them. . I am pleased that Mr. Hake has been sent to the old country to inquire into this question, for I am sure that he will make valuable suggestions to the Department. He is the only civil servant who to my knowledge has made a Department pay.
– What is his Department?”
– He is Chief Inspector of Explosives in Victoria, and devised a scheme under which a small charge was made by the Government for the storage of explosives owned by private individuals. In this way, he made his Department pay. I do not wish to attack public servants generally, and I freely admit that Mr. Hake in this respect had opportunities which many other civil servants do not enjoy. His administration of his Department, however, shows that he has brains, and I think that, as the outcome of his visit to England, he will be able to make proposals for the establishment of an ammunition and cordite factory in Australia on lines which will be eminently satisfactory. As the time set apart for private members’ business has almost expired, I should like leave, Mr. Speaker, to continue my remarks on a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN laid upon the table the following paper -
Tariff - Statement embodying the Tariff, and showing the rates previously in force (Tariff of 1902, and Amending Tariffs), the Recommendations of the Tariff Commission, and the Importations and Duty Payments for year 1906.
Ordered to be printed.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 7.4.5 p.m.
Consideration resumed from 21st August (vide page 2178) of motion of Sir William Lyne -
That duties of Customs and duties of Excise be imposed according to the following Tariff (vide page 1648).
– I propose to-night to continue my remarks on the Tariff from the point at which they were interrupted last night by the reporting of progress. I have no desire to unduly prolong them, and shall confine them within reasonable limits, having regardto my duty to my constituents. I represent a free-trade constituency, and am expected by the majority of my constituents, in view of my personal convictions on the fiscal question, tomake as forcible a stand as I -can against the Tariff. But I am as desirous as Ministers have expressed themselves to be to have it dealt with as speedily as possible, because I recognise the disturbing effect upon trade and commerce which our discussions and the present uncertainty must have, and also because I am of opinion that when the Tariff has been disposed of the last remaining prop of the Government will be knocked away, and the days of the Ministry numbered. As an Oppositionist and a freetrader, I hail that prospect with feelings of satisfaction, although I have no personal enmity towards the Acting Prime Minister or his colleagues. In view of the great friction in the relations between the Commonwealth authorities and the States”, and the irritation which exists, and which in some of the States has almost culminated in a general desire for secession, it is a singularly unfortunate thing that the Government has brought forward so drastic a Tariff atthe present time. Instead of tending to allay irritation, its action is intensifying it. That is shown by “the representations of public bodies, by the letters which have been published in the press, by the speeches which have been made at public meetings, and by other methods in which public opinion has been expressed. Evidently the Tariff is a source of intense irritation, annoyance, and disgust to a great majority of the people of the Commonwealth. To such a pitch has this annoyance reached, that I believe if the electors in some of the States were given an opportunity to vote “ Yes “ or “No” in regard to Federation,most of them would be in favour of seceding from the Union. That opinion has been expressed, in some cases in language more forcible than elegant and polite, in Tasmania, Western Australia, Queensland, and New South Wales.
– The honorable member must not believe all that he reads in regard to the opinions of the people of Western Australia.
– I do not pretend to speak with authority in regard to the public feeling of Western Australia, but judging by the resolutions which have been carried at public meetings in that State, and the attitudeof municipal councillors towards this Parliament, some of whom have gone to the length of suggesting that senators should be drowned and members of the House of Representatives shot, it is not friendly to Federation. The honorable ^member for Bendigo last night denounced ;the action of the Government in . placing high duties on raw materials, and spoke ^strongly against the duty on cotton piece goods, which, he said, was prejudicially affecting many industries. I agree with him so far as he went; but had he gone further, he would have seen that many other duties on raw materials are affecting local manufactures. During the sittings of the Tariff Commission it was amusing to see how the makers of printers’ ink hailed with delight the prospect of a heavy import duty on that article, while those who have to buy it, and use it as a raw material of trade, emphatically protested against any increase. What is the finished product of one trade is, in innumerable Instances, the raw material of another. Leather is the finished product of one trade, and the raw material of many others. So, too, is iron to innumerable other things. If the honorable member for Bendigo had followed his argument. to its logical conclusion, lie should have suggested the reduction of many duties in addition to those which he specified, and I hope that when we are dealing with the Tariff in detail he will recognise the applicability of his reasoning to other duties besides that on cottonpiece goods. The duty on wire netting has occasioned an outcry throughout Australia, because it is a serious imposition upon those engaged in agriculture and in stock raising. It must be remembered that, not only have the producers to use it to protect their land from the devastation caused by rabbits, but that in some of the States they are compelled to do so by law, under heavy penalties. While the State law compels them to use this netting, -the Commonwealth law compels them to pav a “heavy impost upon it. Last night the honorable member for Bendigo referred to the manufacture of wire netting as a New South Wales industry, and referred to the desire to benefit one solitary factory there as proof that the Tariff was not brought in primarily for the benefit <of Victorian manufacturers. He. seemed surprised that I, a New South Wales representative should be prepared to vote against the duty on wire netting. He evidently does not recognise that the location of a factory should not affect our principles. But to-day I received a let ter in which it is stated in regard to the local manufacture -
The only Australian makers of netting are Messrs. Lysaght, Sydney, and it is well known to the trade that they have always been able to obtain higher prices for their netting than rules for the imported. They make a first-class article, and the netting being loose rolled, it is preferred by many buyers, although the price is from 5 to 10 per cent, higher than the imported. For many months they have been unable to cope with their orders, and advertise daily for workmen and boys. When the New South Wales Government called for tenders last year, Messrs. Lysaght were unable to tender, having too much work in hand. When the new duties were announced they raised their price 25 per cent., being the amount of the duty, but have since gone back to the old figure. It is thought they found they made a blunder in putting up price so quickly, as it showed the public what they could expect if duty was passed at 25 per cent.
That statement contrasts strongly with what we heard from the honorable member for Bendigo last night, and shows that the duty was -riot needed. The Acting Prime Minister himself told us that the local firm was turning out 200 miles of wire per week, and that it took 600 miles to supply the local demand. The natural protection given to the local manufacturer by the cost” ‘of transport, insurance, commission, ‘and so on, ‘in connexion with the importation of wire netting made in other parts of the world amounts to about 10 per cent, and added to this he is able to charge from -5 to 10 per cent, more for his goods than is charged for the imported article, which proves his actual protection, apart from the proposed increase of duty, to be from 15 to 20 per cent. Surely that should be sufficient. I hope, therefore, that, later .on, the Minister will reconsider this duty, especially since it so vitally affects those engaged in our primary -industries. Another matter which was brought under my notice to-day by two members of a deputation which came from Sydney, is that the duty on paints for painting ships’ bottoms is prejudicially affecting docking operations in Australia. Reference was -made to this matter in a question asked to-day by the honorable member for Bendigo, and it is stated in a memorandum drawn up by several firms that the duty will have the effect of throwing many Sydney dock operatives out of employment. Tenders have been sent in at the lowest figures, based on the old duty of 4d. per gallon, with a view to bringing about the -docking of over-sea vessels in Australia, and negotiations .which . were -almost completed have been suddenly interrupted, if they have not entirely fallen through. The effect of the dutv, I am assured, will be to compel a number of vessels to be docked away from Australia. It has been pointed out that the steamers of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, which are engaged in the Eastern trade, will dock at Singapore, those of the E. and A. Company, trading to China, will dock at Hongkong ; while the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company’s steamers, as a matter of course, will dock in the old country, and other steamers will dock elsewhere. Generally speaking, the effect of the increased duty will be to prejudice one of the most important industries that we hope to have in operation in the immediate future. -I would further point out that the duty will not encourage any local production, because the composition used in painting these vessels is very carefully prepared, consists of expensive materials, and involves a trade secret which is not known here. The composition which has been manufactured locally, I am informed, does not answer the purpose to which it is put nearly so well as does the imported composition. I do hope that the Acting Prime Minister will reconsider this matter. ; . He has already admitted that there are many duties which will have to be altered.
– I did not say many.
– I think the honorable gentleman will find that there are many which will require alteration if industries are not to be prejudicially affected. As there is. a very influential journal in this city which is constantly advocating the submission to the peopleof important ques tio’ns pf finance, and as : that journal recently singled out one special measure upon which it urged a referendum should betaken, may Isuggest thata similar. course should be adopted in’ regard to the Tariff? I sup posethat the newspaperin question can offer no reasonable objection to arefereridum being taken upon the’ Tariff, seeing thatit so intimately affects the pocket’s of every individual in the community.’ fi will be interesting to notice what it has to say to aproposition of this kind: Yesterday the honorablemember for. Bendigo made somereferences td the recommendations of the Tariff Commission. ButI noticed that all his remarks had reference to the recommendations ‘of “the protectionist section of the Commission, which he invariably referred to. as the reports of the: Commission instead of one-half of the Commission. We heard . nothing whatever about the recom mendations . cif the free-trade portion of that body.
– In some . instances the Commission recommended higher duties than those which have been adopted by the Government.
– I do not intend to discuss the details of their recommendations, but I do propose to refer to some of the salient features of the official report, No. B31, in which most of their findings are summarized. They say -
We find that a large proportion of complaints emanated from the manufacturers in one State. There was no general complaint from manufacturers throughout Australia.
I think that very little difficulty would be experienced in guessing the name of that particular State. The second paragraph of their final report reads -
It was demonstrated conclusively that InterState free-trade had enormously increased the output of manufactured goods within the Commonwealth,with a corresponding diminution of the revenues of some of the smaller States. It is further evident that in this wider area of competition those manufacturers who were lacking in equipment, capital, or energy, had fallen behind. Many of them appear not to recognise the real cause of their failure, and many looked for their re-habilitation in the form of increased duties. . .
It is very evident that in the case of these manufacturers increased duties are required! to bolster up decaying industries.
– To bolster up decaying portions of industries. .
– No Tariff will cure the evils from which these manufacturers suffer. They can Be remedied by the manufacturers themselves. The only effect of increased duties will be to induce them to continue to be lacking in energy and equipment. In regard to the. question of employment, wages, and labour cost; the report’ says -
It is clear from the evidence, and confirmed by official records, that, as a whole, employment inthe secondary industries has. greatly increased since theCommonwealth; Tariff has been in operation, although in particular directions it may have fallen off. There has also been less short time worked, and wages on the average have materially increased. TheTe has, however, beena disproportionate increase in boyand female labour.
Generally speaking the result of. a reduction in the duties imposed under the old Victorian Tariff has been an increase in em- ployment and in wages.
– Under any fiscal policy would not the honorable member expect such an increase to take place seeing that during the past three or four years we have had increased prosperity throughout the Commonwealth ?
– Exactly. The honorable member’s statement agrees with the contention which I put forward last night. I stated then that our prosperity was not attributable to the operation of the Tariff, but to the bountiful seasons which we had enjoyed - that we had prospered not as a result but in spite -of the Tariff. If the duties levied under the old Tariff had been still lower, I believe that the improvement would have been more marked. If the protective incidence of the present Tariff could be entirely swept away and a 5 per cent, revenue Tariff could be substituted for it-
– Does the honorable member advocate a revenue Tariff now ?
– No. But if we must have a Tariff I advocate a Tariff which will approximate as closely as possible to free-trade.
– There was a time when the honorable member stood more for principle.
– I am standing for principle now. The nearer that I can get to absolute free-trade conditions the better pleased I shall be, and a 5 per cent, revenue Tariff more closely approximates to that ideal than does a 30 per cent, or a 40 per cent. Tariff. Dealing with the alleged disability under which Australian manufacturers laboured in regard to the standard of wages paid, and the number of hours worked by their employes in comparison with the employe’s of their oversea competitors - a matter into which the Commission particularly inquired - the free-trade section of that body says-
It is to be regretted that complainants either could not or were extremely unwilling to supply the Commission with definite evidence in this connexion. Statements were freely - even recklessly - made, as to the wages current in the Commonwealth and elsewhere, and also, as to the proportion of the wages’ cost in production. Upon investigation there was scarcely any proof of the alleged difference in wages, although doubtless there is some, while the proportions of labour cost given in -almost every instance proved on cross-examination to be exaggerated.
– In that case there is no necessity” for any Wages Boards in Australia.
– I do not say that, but I dosay that there is no necessity for misrepresenting the actual condition of things.
There was no necessity during the last Parliament for the statements which were freely made by the supporters of the present Government regarding languishingindustries and the deplorable condition of the workers in those industries. Honorable members will recollect that a gentleman who formerly occupied the seat now occupied by the honorable member for Indi - I refer to the present Mr. Justice Isaacs - actually told the House that he felt serious compunction about eating his Christmas dinner when he thought of the number of homeless, ragged persons who would have no dinner on that day. Upon one occasion the House was counted out because of the absence of some of my honorable friends opposite, who were engaged in stirring up an agitation in favour of an immediate amendment of the Tariff on account of the alleged widespread ruin and desolation that existed in and around Melbourne as a result of languishing industries.
– A different kind of agitation is being stirred up just now.
– I think there is. But the agitation to which I refer is very amusing, in view of the fact that, when the Commission investigated the matter, it was found that there was absolutely no ground for the assertion, but that instead all were doing remarkably well.
– One section of the Commission finds that.
– I refer the honorable member to the evidence. I have spent a good deal of time in reading the evidence, and I cannot find- any to justify the assertion as to widespread suffering and loss.
– The evidence is a bit dry .
– I dare say it is abit dry and flat to the Postmaster-General after all the fervour he wasted in conducting the agitation. The whole of the magnificent structure which he and others were engaged in building to try to justify a heavier Tariff has fallen very flat. The report proceeds -
Under cross-examination, however, admissions were made by a sufficient number of representative witnesses to enable us to find that the existing Tariff has not prejudiced employment, and is in all cases sufficient to cover any disability in the matter of wages and labour cost ; while, inmany, current duties are more than equal to the entire cost of production. This position has been clearly set out in most of our Progress Reports.
– Who says that?
– Members of the Tariff Commission who, I suppose, are entitled to belief equally with other members.
– I do not dispute that, I simply asked who made that report.
– I have mentioned the report from which I am quoting; and if the honorable member has been asleep it as not my fault.
– Who signed that report ?
– The report, I have 110 doubt, is in the possession of the honorable member. Is it possible that these reports have been printed and circulated at great expense only to be put in the wastepaper basket? However, since the honorable member asks, I may say that the report is signed by J. S. Clemons, J. “M. Fowler, G. W. Fuller, andG. W. Wams- ley, all men” who are held in the highest’ esteem, both inside and outside of the House, and whose recommendations will be received with the deepest respect. At any rate, I have a very high appreciation of those gentlemen and the work they did, just as I have a high appreciation of the other members of the Commission and the work done by them. While I am compelled to disagree with the conclusions arrived at by some members of the -‘Commission, I recognise that they are actuated by no less worthy motives than are -those who signed this particular report. I am not one who believes in stirring upthe dregs of one’s mind in the endeavour to discover unworthy motives for the actions of opponents; I “believe in giving my opponents credit for being anxious to do the best they can from their point of view. Because I happen to disagree with that point of view, it does not necessarily follow that I desire to cast aspersions on them or attribute to them unworthy motives. With regard to competition the report states -
In the majority of industries, where equipment was at all modern, it was proved that goods could be, and were, profitably produced and sold at prices below those of like over-sea goods.
As to distribution -
There was a manifest reluctance on the part of witnesses to disclose the difference between the manufacturer’s selling price of goods and that charged to the public, but sufficient was elicited to enable us to express the opinion that the mar: gin is frequently so large as to seriously prejudice the public.
– That applies to all distribution, whether the goods be imported or manufactured here.
– That is perfectly true ; and I am not defending the practice. The next paragraph is -
It is frequently the distributor, not the manufacturer, who controls the situation ; while the consumer suffers by the heaping up of expenses and intermediate profits.
Of course, I suppose that some of my friends of the Labour Party will say that that is an argument for Socialism.
– What is Socialism?
– The honorable gentleman can inquire from some honorable members in theLabour corner. During the last Parliament we heard allegations, almost daily, of the immense amount of dumping going on in Australia. In a moment of panic, legislation was introduced, ‘ in the form of an Anti- Trust Bill and a Commerce Bill, for the purpose of checkingwhat was described as a great evil, which threatened our local industries with extinction. Yet the report states -
Although many allegations were made that the practice described as “ dumping “ obtained, your Commission has practically no evidence before it -that over-sea goods are shipped for sale in Australia except in the usual way of trade, in execution of orders despatched by buyers in the Commonwealth. It is, however, a Tegular custom of trade for shipping prices for large quantities of goods to be a shade lower than the prices for local distribution, and several manufacturers in the Commonwealth admitted that it was a system in which they themselves indulged.
It is shown, it will be seen, that no dumping was taking place, so far as oversea imports were concerned, but that itwas admitted by Australian manufacturers that they sometimes indulged in the practice, which honorable members opposite, who are always championing the manufacturers, so roundly condemned. I shall just read one more quotation, in reference to preferential trade- in all cases witnesses, while suggesting the imposition of higher duties on the -productions of foreign countries, desired that the minimum Tariff should be sufficiently high -
Whether against Great Britain or any other country - to assure local industries the bulk of the requirements of the Commonwealth.
Here we have in a nutshell the hollow insincerity of those professions of a desire to give preference to British goods. _ In the list of articles which are supposed to be singled out for the purpose of giving Great Britain preference, there is not one item in the direction of a reduction of duties. In all cases the only action has been to leave the duties high enough against the mother country to hamper it in its trade with Australia,to secure local protection, and to make the duties higher still against foreign countries; and most of the articles singled out for this left-handed kind of preference are articles which are not sent in any large quantities by British manufacturers to Australia. I do not know what the people of the old country must think of us. They must look on us as a particularly mean, sordid, grasping, greedy, insincere community ; at any rate, we must be regarded in a most unenviable and unjust light in consequence of the clumsy efforts of the present Government and their supporters to try to persuade the British community that they are to have preference, -while, at the same time, every effort is being made to block trade in British products. We know that the whole motive behind these proposals is to secure the Australian marketsfor Australian manufacturers. The Government might, at least, be honest with the British public and statesmen, andsay, “Well, gentlemen, while willing to give you an apparent advantage over the foreigner to the extent of raising the duties against the latter, our real object is to Veep you out of our markets if we can by means of a. high Tariff against your goods, so long as we can have similar goods produced by our own people.”
– Hear, hear !
– Is that what I under-‘ stand thehonorable member thinks is the correct thing to do?
– Let us make what we can for:ourselves, independently of the result to other countries.
– Ah ! I am glad to have elicited that admission. The honorable member does mot really want to give any British preference. Then why not make that plain ?
-i did not draw up the Tariff - I wish Ihad.
– The honorablemember will probablysupport the Tariff.
– We are supporting this Tariff because we cannot get anything better.
– It wouldbe better to kick this Tariff into the gutter if we cannot get one better,because it misrepresents the public feelingin Australia towards the mother country. I amprepared to give preference to British -goods and trade throughout the Empire, but I would do so in the directionof reducing duties. What do the Sheffield and Birmingham manufacturers, who were possibly beguiled by the Acting Prime Minister into the belief that we desired to extend preference to them, thinkof these Tariff proposals from a preference point of view? I think we have a very clear indication of their feelings in the cables which recently appeared, and to which I have already made reference, in the press.
– Does thehonorable member think that the Tariff ought to be drawn for England or for Australia?
– I think we should treat our people of England as part of our own family. We ought not to go to them and pretend that we are anxious to give them some particular benefit, while our real desire is to secure all we can for ourselves.
– Let the English people come out here.
– By all means, but let their goods also come.
– Honorable members opposite will not let the English people come here except under stringent conditions.
– Yes, all sorts of barriers would be raised against their admission.
– No one has ever been refused admission.
– The Acting Prime Minister, when he was delivering his Budget speech, spoke very hopefully about the large increase of revenue he expects to receive the ensuing year. The revenue received last year was£12,832,266, and the estimated revenue for this year is £13,745,200, an increase of£902,934, or. roughly,£1,000,000. In view of the fact that some of the largest importing firms have already cancelled immense orders placed by them on oversea markets, I doubt very much whether, in the event of this Tariff being passed, the Treasurer will receive half the revenue he anticipates. Passing away from that subject, I wish to refer to a statement made yesterday by the Acting Prime Minister in regard to the duty on harvesters. I gathered fromthat statement that the honorable gentleman intended at an early date’ to introduce a Bill to amend the Act relating to harvesters, under which local manufacturers are not permitted to charge more than£65 each for their machines. The Minister told the Committee that he had been interviewedby representatives of one of these firms, who stated that they found it impossible to produce harvestersat that price, andthat it would be necessary to secure a modification of the terms. I have gone to the trouble of looking up the Tariff Commission’s evidence as to the cost of manufacturing harvesters, and, by reference to page 1826, have ascertained that the actual cost of manufacture is stated not to exceed£30 per machine. If we add to that the charges incidental to selling, which at a very liberal estimate cannot exceed £15or £20,wefindthattheactual cost of making and delivering one of these machines to a customer is from£45 to £50. This shows that McKay Brothers make a clear profit of from £15 to £20 on every harvester sold by them. Surely that should be a sufficiently high profit to satisfy any reasonable man, especially when their immense output is taken into consideration. We saw the other day a report of speeches made at a gathering to bid farewell to one of the members of this firm, who is proposing to visit the Argentine in order to expand his oversea trade. He may rest assured that he will not sell his machines there at £65 each. There he will have to compete with importations from Canada and elsewhere, and, whilst he will be charging the Australian farmer£65 for his harvesters, he will be getting much less from the farmer outside. In other words, we are called upon to pay high duties in order that farmers in other lands may obtain Australianmade machines at a lower price than that at which Australians are able to secure them. ‘ Coming to the increase in the duty on woollens, I would point out that it has already been demonstrated that the woollen factories in Australia. are absolutely unable to cope with the present demand, notwithstanding that, they are in full swing.
– Is it notpossible to extend them ?
– If the woollen manufacturersare doing such an immense business; theyshould be prepared . to extend their factories without any extraneous aid.
– Is not the Parramatta Woollen- Mills Company going to extend its factory?. .
– Let the. company do so. If they are doingan enormous trade withoutany increased duty-
– They are going to enlarge their factory simplybecause of the new Tariff.
– That -is an absurd statement. If the honorable member had a rapidly expanding business, - and saw an immense trade opening: out ‘before him’, he would not wait for the passing of a higher Tariff before proceeding to extend his factory.
– The honorable member said just now that a number of importers orders had been cancelled. Where are the goods to which they relate to be made?
– Those orders have been cancelled because of the high Tariff. It has been demonstrated that the local factories cannot meet the demands now being made upon them; consequently many people who want these goods will be unable to obtain them.
– Then we may have to wear fig leaves ?
– That is what we shall fast be coming to if matters go on as at present. Would the honorable member care to see himself and his family clothed in fig leaves? A statement by Mr. E. D. Williams, published in one of the newspapers the other day, was to the effect that so far as this year was concerned, the Castlemaine mill would not be benefited by the increase, as orders had already been accepted which would keep the mill fairly busy for a considerable period ahead. Although this mill has booked orders for some time ahead, we are asked to impose a Tariff, that wilt have a crushing effect on the poorest classes of the community. This is to be done in order that the profits of those engaged in these lucrative industries may be still further increased. Those who have to depend upon the husband’s or the father’s wage to provide themselves with clothing will have to suffer under this increased Tariff. In many cases they will have to go without sufficient clothing, and this state of things is to exist in order that well-to-do manufacturers may secure increased profits. It is monstrous ‘that these “ hunger and pinch “- -duties should be still further increased. I hope that there will be something like a unanimous endeavour oh the part of honorable members to bring down the Tariff on the food and. clothing required bv- the poorer classes of the community. We free-traders do not want to see food taxed. Our object is to insure that the necessaries of life shall be as free as’ possible. We want a free breakfast-table in Australia, and as far as possible we want the clothing worn by the masses of the people to be sold at a price so low that every one mav have an abundance of proper raiment. Unlike some honorable members, I am not prepared to see -any of the people of Australia clothed in fig leaves. I do not view such a pro’spect with any degree of equanimity ; but if this Tariff be passed in its present form we shall see people in Australia reduced almost to that condition. I hope the day is far distant when we shall be so lost to all sense of our responsibility to the people that we shall be prepared to allow such high duties to prevail. The only other matter affecting the Tariff to which I. desire to refer has been brought under my notice by a firm engaged in the importation of a blacking or dressing for leather. lt has been pointed out to me that this dressing is included in item 230, and is subject to a duty of 40 per cent. T,t is of a special, character, and has the effect of greatly minimizing the wear and” tear on machinery belting. It does not in any way come into competition with local productions, and is specially suitable for use on belts since it causes them to run smoothly and accurately, and with less wear and tear on the machinery.
– Cannot we make it in Australia ?
-We have to remember that there are trade secrets and special processes relating to many of these preparations. The most that could be done under this Tariff would be to make inferior imitations of these superior articles, with the result that the unfortunate people of Australia would have to pay higher prices in some cases for articles which do not in any way answer their requirements. I regard the whole Tariff business as a humbug, and as the least scientific method of encouraging settlement and production, more particularly -in a new country. We have a magnificent territory, possessing a variety of soil, and almost every variety of climate”. It has natural opportunities waiting for the hand of man to develop, and untold wealth beneath the soil. In this magnificent country, comprising something like 3,000,000 square miles we have a population of slightly less than 4,250,000. It must be patent to any one who gives the matter a moment’s consideration that what we need is not a Tariff, but an earnest effort to free our’ lands and settle them with millions of primary producers. We should co-operate with the States with the object of securing, the passing of liberal land laws designed to encourage settlement, and we should then endeavour to establish a proper system of immigration so that we may -have a- .sturdy’ yeomanry on the :soil. If pos sible that yeomanry should be brought from the British Isles. It is unlikely that we can obtain from Great Britain all the men we want, and when we have exhausted that source of supply we should go, not asthe Prime Minister has said, to the southern countries of Europe, but to the north, where we may obtain a virile people to settle on our lands - to Norway, Denmark, and -Sweden whose people - industrious, thrifty, sober, an’d law-abiding - make splendid settlers.
– The people cannot get’ on the land.
– I have already said that the first essential is the liberalizing of our land laws. No amount of spoon feeding of secondary industries will bring permanent prosperity, because no great nation was ever bred up in the slums of a city. We should open up the. lands of the. country, and settle our rural districts. If we do that, we may safely leave the cities to look after themselves. Every additional man who is settled upon the land will increase, the demand for goods produced in city factories.
– In New South Wales 5,000 families have been settled on the land within the last three years.
– Yes. An enduring and vigorous nation cannot be built up solely by the development of manufactures j primary industries must first receive, attention. If we remove all restraints upon production and exchange, and give legitimate encouragement to primary production, we will be able to face the world’s competition, and we shall thus base our prosperity on permanent economic lines. But if we neglect our primary resources the , coddling of city manufactures will not build up the nation. One can conceive of a fair degree of comfort and prosperity amongst a community composed entirely of farmers, but who ever heard of or could imagine a community of tailors, or of any. other branch of secondary industry?- As primary production increases, wealth increases, and by encouraging persons to cultivate the soil . and develop the latentwealth of our -natural .resources, we are providing for the rearing of . a virile , race, whereas if we encourage our people to live in the cities, and allow children to* grow up in city slums, the result, two . or three generations hence, will not be such as Australia should be proud of. Having, concluded this portion of mv remarks,. I I shall add a few words in regard to ‘the1
Budget. I shall make this part of my speech as short as possible, because I realize that details can be referred to during the consideration of the Estimates, and I do not wish to detain honorable members unnecessarily. I notice that universal penny postage is again proposed by the Treasurer, who tells us that the change is estimated to produce. a loss of £117,000. But we are also informed that the revenue of the Department last year was ,£3, 1 29,000, while it is. estimated that this year it will be ,£3,190,900, allowing for the estimated loss of £117,000. Without committing myself absolutely to the- scheme,. I acknowledge that, in my opinion, it is nearly time that the people of the other States enjoyed the advantages of cheaper postage which Victoria has enjoyed for so long.
– Victoria pays for it.
– If the Commonwealth finances will’ allow of the introduction of uniform penny postage, I think, it will be a good thing to remove the disparity to which I have alluded “if a due regard to our financial liabilities will admit of accepting the proposal. Another matter to which careful attention should be given is the extension of the telephone system, and the improvement and cheapening df the telephone service, so that it mav be brought within the reach of as many, persons as possible. I am at a disadvantage in referring to naval defence, because the Minister whose Department is concerned is absent. I wish to ascertain from him whether it is the intention of the Government to replace the 9.2 guns in the forts- at Sydney Heads and other important positions with 6.7 guns, and I desire also to know what the attitude of the Government is to be in regard to the Naval Agreement. Do Ministers intend to propose the cancellation of that Agreement, or will they intimate to the British authorities that they misrepresented public opinion on the subject? It was Stated by the Treasurer that a number of Australians who were trained on the warships on this station have been sent home for a course of two years’ instruction to fit them for higher positions in the service, and in this connexion I wish to draw attention to a very serious statement by Lord Tweedmouth in reference to the educational attainments of Australian cadets.
– Not of Australians only, but also of South Africans and New Zealanders.
– On page 471 of the report of the Colonial Conference, Lord Tweedmouth is stated to have said: -
I ought to say a word about the question of” cadets. I think that in the Agreement of 1902; an arrangement was made by which there should: be a certain number of cadets from each Colony.. There were, I think, eight from Australia.
– You mean cadets coming intothe Royal Navy to become officers?.
Lord Tweedmouth. - Yes. There were eight for Australia, two for New Zealand, two for the Cape, one for Natal, and two for other Colonies; a total of. fifteen. I think the: arrangement with regard to that has not beenaltogether understood. It has. been imagined, that the cadets were to be. taken in anyhow. Really it only comes to this, that there arenominations given to that number of cadets, and!1 then some of them are examined in Australia. Some come to schools in England and are examined here. So far as the Colonial cadets are concerned, I think it is only right- for me to’ say that those, who have been examined out in- Australia are found- not to be up to thestandard of education which is prevalent amongst the same boys in England, and a good manyhave been rejected. I think the idea is thatthis number is given without consideration of” the qualities of the boys, whereas in fact a-. good many boys, have been rejected on examination.
That is a serious statement, to which I . wish to call the attention of the Acting Prime Minister. We should endeavour to see that the young fellows sent home possess the education necessary to pass the examinations required of them’, so that: they may not suffer by comparison with English lads. Personally, I feel somewhat ashamed of the statement which I haveread.
– What is the method of selection ?
– I hope that a bettermethod, will be adopted, and that boys having more chance of passing will be selected. With regard to the sugar bounty. I wish to point out that the Commonwealth finances suffer unfairly under the present: , arrangement. Whereas the Commonwealth pays the whole of the bounty, it does not retain the whole of the Excise, threefourths going to the States. That is a. most unfair arrangement in view of the increasing liabilities of the Commonwealth,, which will presently require us to keepall the money that we can legitimately lay our hands on. I had intended to say something about the mail contract, but I shall defer my remarks on that subject. I wish, however, to point out that no provision is. made for ocean lights, buoys, and beacons.. I do not see any provision upon the Estimates to meet expenditure under this head- ing. Perhaps the Acting Prime Minister will tell us whether he has provided for that expenditure?
– What expenditure?
– I am referring to expenditure in connexion with ocean lights, beacons, and buoys. We must take over these services very soon.
– We have not taken them over yet. I discussed the matter with my colleagues, and we arrived at the conclusion that we were not justified in providing for expenditure in that connexion until we had actually taken over the services.
– I would point out to the Acting Prime Minister that in the Estimates financial provision is made for twelve months ahead.
– If necessary provision can be made on the Supplementary Estimates.
– At any rate; I hope that he will not lose sight of this matter. Further, no provision has been made for taking over the Northern Territory or for meeting payments in connexion with transferred services, and in connexion with the Federal Capital.
– That is the grievance.
– In answer to specific questions, put by myself and others, honorable members were assured that an early opportunity would be afforded them during the current session to arrive at a definite settlement of this question. I think, therefore, that provision ought to have been made upon the Estimates to meet the expenditure which will be entailed when the Federal Capital site has been dealt with.
– The honorable member for Batman proposes that it shall be located in Sydney.
– Whether the permanent Seat of Government is located in Sydnev or elsewhere, a certain amount of expenditure will have to be incurred, and not the slightest provision has been made for it on these Estimates.
– What is the use of making provision upon the Estimates? The honorable member will not let us go to the Federal Capital.
– I am sure that I should be the last to prevent honorable members from going there.
– We have already selected the site - Dalgety.
– That selection does, not represent a final settlement of the question. The fact that another trip has been arranged for to-morrow to allow honorable members an opportunity to inspect a. couple of eligible sites, demonstrates that the Government themselves do not regard the. matter as having been finally settled. But. the absence of any provision upon the Estimates to meet expenditure under this heading justifies the conclusion that the Government are not sincere in their professed desire to settle the question. I have already spoken somewhat longer than I had intended, but when honorable members are called upon to consider such a Budget and such a Tariff they must recognise that even to indicate the various headings which we might reasonably be expected to debate must occupy at least a couple of hours. I do not think that honorable members can. say that I have unduly prolonged discussion or that I have wandered away from my subject. I thank them for the patient hearing which they have afforded me, and I promise that I shall extend to those who follow me an equal courtesy.
.- My object in rising to-night is not to discuss in. detail or to critically review either the Tariff or the Budget. I rise mainly for the purpose of drawing attention to what I conceive to be the very serious state of affairs which exists in one of the large public Departments under the control of the Commonwealth. For a very long time complaints have been made by the employes in the General Post Office, Sydney, of the treatment meted out to them. Many attempts have been made, by deputation and otherwise, to induce “the powers that be” to remove the administrative difficulties which have become so very objectionable to these servants of the Commonwealth. From time to time, questions have been asked in this House regarding the sweating of these employes, and we have heard explanations given by different Ministers as to the provision which was to be made for the removal of this stigma from the Postal Department. “ But up to the present time, there still prevails in the General Post Office, Sydney, a condition of affairs which if it were known to the public would bring the blush of shame to the cheeks of every honest man. For a Jong time, the postal employes have endeavoured to obtain the ear of the Minister and to secure justice. Their action in this connexion has culminated in a number of reports being called for by succeeding PostmastersGeneral from the heads of that Department. It is from these reports that I intend to bring proof of the actual condition of affairs existing there, rather than from the allegations which have been made by individual members of the staff. I. venture to say that when these proofs have been made public, honorable members will at least demand that some steps shall be taken to relieve these employes from the inhuman treatment to which they are subjected. I find that on the 30th of October, 1906, Mr. Arndell, who was then Acting Deputy Postmaster-General, in Sydney, was called upon to answer certain allegations made by honorable members of this House in the form of questions. Accordingly, he furnished the Department with a report upon that date. The first statement made was that since the Postal Department was taken over by the Federal authority, the number of officers in the employ of the General Post Office, Sydney, hadnot been increased, notwithstanding that the revenue of the Department had increased by£1,000,000, and that the work had increased by one-third. The position is as follows : - Before Federation was accomplished, in 1901, there were 242 employes in the General Post Office, Sydney, whereas in 1906 there were only 228 employes - a reduction of fourteen - despite the increase which had taken place in the business and in the revenue. That fact indicates either that the Department when under State control was overmanned - which I cannot believe - or that at present it is so grievously undermanned as to necessitate the sta’te of affairs which I am about to picture.
– Why does not the honorable member think that the office was overmanned prior to Federation?
– I have no evidence to show that it was. In fact, the reports of the officers indicate that the contrary was the case. Mr. Arndell, in his report, makes’ the following statement regarding the patriotic services rendered by the officers in the General Post Office, Sydney -
Although in many instances officers have for . a considerable period toiled long beyond the regular hours, no complaint of overwork has reached me, each striving to carry his burden while his strength lasts. There must, however, . be a. limit to the power of endurance of. even the strongest, and’ unless substantial relief is shortly forthcoming not only the health of the officers but the efficiency of the service must’ suffer. The pace at which the work has to be rushed through is productive of mistakes, which, I have.no hesitation in saying, would not occur if the staff were maintained at its legitimate strength.
There ‘ is one reason why this state of affairs has been permitted’ to continue so long. It appears that an officer high in authority there has developed a scheme known as the “ amalgamation scheme,” the putting into operation of which has been postponed from time to time in the hope that these difficulties would eventually be overcome. This scheme was to have been introduced last year, but, owing to the pressure to which the employed were then subjected, it was found necessary to postpone action till January last. Mr. Arndell further says -
I can therefore only repeat that unless substantial relief is speedily afforded the health of the officers and the efficiencyof the Department must suffer. ‘
These are the warning words which have been addressed to the Postmaster-General by a responsible officer of thirty-three years’ standing. Mr. Arndell then refers to the reports of the heads ‘of the Departments throughout the General Post Office, Sydney. In order to fortify himself with a thorough knowledge of the actual condition of affairs, he called for a report from the head of every sectional Department within the Post Office. These reports were furnished before he made the observations which I have just quoted. In referring to these reports, Mr. Arndell makes this startling statement : -
I may mention that the extent to which the working efficiency of the staff has been reduced since the transfer of the Department to the Commonwealth cannot be gauged from a comparison of the figures quoted in the first para- . graph of this report, inasmuch as apart from the actual diminution in numbers there has been a large exodus of experienced senior officers by retirement, death, transfer, &c, and of smart juniors who have been selected because of their superior ability for positions in other Departments, while on the other hand there have been no corresponding importations from the other Departments to this Department.
It will be seen that not only has the office been worked short-handed, but it has been robbed of superior senior officers, and of smart junior officers, who have not been replaced. That is impoverishing the efficiency of the Department to a degree which will not be approved by any honorable member; “sweating” is no name for what has prevailed in the General Post Office in Sydney. The report continues -
Several of the clerks in the higher positions and heads of branches have to not only work late, but to take work home and labour late into the night to complete the same. .
Officers have not only been sweated by having to work overtime in the office and at home to an unreasonable extent for no consideration whatever, but they have not been able to obtain their ordinary leave in order to recuperate their jaded energies. That is a degree of sweating which, in my opinion, does not prevail in any manufacturing industry in the Commonwealth.
– Unless the Public Service Act be amended, the conditions must continue, because the Department cannot get the officers required.
– No Act should stand in the way of Parliament and the Government doing their duty towards the people whom they employ, and who are performing honest service. Here is another effect of the conditions that prevail -
There is a very decided disposition on the part of officers to leave the service before reaching the statutory age limit, as is evidenced by the retirements that have taken place during the last few years, and the remarks that have been made to me from time to time by officers approaching the age at which they can voluntarily retire.
In other words, instead of the service offering every inducement to able and experienced officers to remain, the conditions are such that they take the earliest opportunity to escape from their thraldom. There is even a worse feature. Men who desired to retire are not permitted to do so, because they have not reached the statutory age, while in other cases men have been retired, not of their own free will, but because of the action of those in control. I shall quote instances to show the extent to which this evil has grown -
Re no adequate remuneration for overtime. Major portion of such has been performed by officers who have sought no remuneration (beyond tea-money in some cases) for their extra work. Tea-money and time off is, if claimed, now being allowed, re telegram of 5th September, 1906.
That telegram, I may say, referred to the question of overtime only in relation to the Telephone and Telegraph Branch, and not’ to the clerks or other employes of the Department. In the reports of the officers are some startling revelations.’ The head of the Miscellaneous Branch, in a report to his superior officers, says -
In this way, and with such aid as the chance services of any of the relieving staff available from day to day the Branch has dragged along as best it could.
There is a statement made in regard to the conduct of the business of a great Department of State !
I very rarely have a night free, my work is a continuous rush ; my nerves are all to pieces, and I fear that the pressure, not only in my case but in others must, if continued, inevitably result, sooner or later, in the collapse of the individual.
I can speak from personal observation as to constitutions having been shattered by the overwork. It would appear that that report was prophetic, because instances have since occurred where the individual has collapsed, and left the widow to plead with the Commonwealth for compensation.
– The report speaks further of the refusal to afford officers a little respite from the everlasting grind of their work -
Of the fifteen officials of the Branch, twothirds have not as yet been accommodated with their current annual leave owing to the necessities of the Department, and several have not had their last year’s leave.
– What is the date of that report ?
– The 30th October, 1906, and there has been no improvement yet.
From the foregoing it will be seen (1) the numerical strength of the nominal staff of the Branch is less by one clerk (an officer of classified salary£275 - work done for £260 per annum) than in March, 1901.
Although the work of the Department has increased, and the revenue has increased by £1,000,000 sterling in the six years, this branch is being worked with one man less.
– Do they get through their work?
– I - I have told the honorable member how these officers get through their work - in a way in which he would not care to get through his. The second portion of the report says -
In order to show that these grievances are not merely sectional,but general, I may say that in the Correspondence Branch even the lunch hour has been encroached on in order to comply with the departmental requests for express speed in order to complete the work. On this point the report states -
Correspondence Branch : John S. Richardson a charge. Almost entirely carried out by -five officers. W. H. Swire edits Postal Guide, scarcely ever available ; Messrs. Miller and Ramsay, nominally members, perform no duty for the Branch.
It will be seen, that there are only five officers performing the whole of the work necessitated in the Correspondence Branch of the General Post Office, Sydney.
– I see that according to the Estimates there are 270 officers additional for the year.
– Yes. Just before Parliament met there were rushed into the Department a number of temporary hands. This proves up to the hilt the statement of officers that there has been no methodical replacing of experienced officers by permanent appointments. We all recognise that in such a Department temporary hands are almost a bigger curse than no extra hands. Efficiency can only be attained by having permanent hands, who rise step by step to the top of the ladder. No one knows better, than the honorable member for Parramatta that there is no bigger incubus, or no greater cause of delay in the work, than the. introduction of temporary men who have had no previous experience.
– My own opinion is that there is somethingwhich requires looking into.
– The report’ proceeds -
Officers are obliged (though going at express speed all day) to avoid delays, to devote almost daily a portion of the lunch interval to departmental duties, besides working after hours, and at times taking work home.
Can we imagine a more grievous example of “ sweating ‘ ‘ than the trespassing on an officer’s private time by depriving him of his lunch hour so that he cannot even maintain his strength with necessary food, while compelling him to take work home and occupy himself with it until the small hours. Such conditions ought not to be permitted in any Department of State. This appeal for relief was made as far back as October, 1906, and yet no relief has been granted.
– Whom does the honorable member censure?
– I am simply pointing out the facts, and will leave the honorable member and the Committee generally to form their own conclusions as to what step is necessary to remedy the state of affairs of which I complain.
– Is the honorable member quoting from the latest report?
– There were two reports sent in in 1906, and one this year by the Deputy and Acting Deputy PostmasterGeneral. Reports have also been furnished by the head of every branch of the Department. The general conclusions arrived at bv the Deputy Postmaster- General are based upon impartial evidence supplied by the heads of the various branches. It was reported that -
Several of the staff have not yet had their recreation leave for the present year, and unless a relieving officer can be arranged for their private time will be further encroached upon.
This refers to the state of affairs in the Correspondence Branch. I come now to the Records Branch, the head of which reports -
The work of the branch is still at high pressure, and is rapidly on the increase. Much extra time has to be put in to keep pace with the work. Very often no luncheon period is taken, in addition to overtime before and after official hours and taking the work home.
– According to the honorable member, the Department is a sweating shop.
– It is absolutely the worst sweating shop in Australia. In no industry affected by the Tariff is the condition of affairs anythinglike so bad. The report continues -
Refusal to send relieving officer prevents expeditious action, and causes much irritation and explanation of delays.
Nothing is more calculated to take the heart out of a man and to make him feel disinclined to give to the service the best that is in, him, than is the knowledge that his superior officers are not in sympathy with him. The original staff in the Mail Branch comprised five officers. Since March, 1904, however, although the work has largely increased, only four officers have been provided. In this branch a 20 per cent, reduction in the strength of the staff has been made simply because the Department does not desire to appoint a successor to the senior officer who died some time ago.
– Because the expenditure of the branch would be increased.
– The Estimates provide this year for an increased expenditure of£159,000
– That expenditure may relate to various works connected with the Department.
– I should like to tell the honorable member that we have made provision for 600 new hands to be permanently employed in, the Department throughout the Commonwealth.
– According to the Estimates, only 270 new hands are to be put on.
– No, we have provided for 600.
– I am in a position to say that the condition of affairs of which I complain still prevailed in the Department in New South Wales a day or two ago.
– Who is responsible ?
– If the present system is allowed to continue, every honorable member will be responsible for it.
– No. There is such a thing as responsible government.
– The report before me shows that in the Inland Mail Branch the staff has been reduced by 20 per cent., although the work has been largely increased. The staff is assisted from time to time by any casuals available -
Casuals remain for one day or a week, being replaced by persons utterly ignorant of the work required.
That is the type of men sent to. relieve the strain on the officers engaged in the branch -
Mr: Clarke was on electoral work from September to December (tender work) during 1905 ; one or other of the officers assisting.
It will thus be seen that the staff was not only reduced by 20 per cent., but that the chief was called upon for four months to attend to electoral work, and subsequently to deal with work relating to tenders, in connexion with which one or other of the officers had from time totime to assist him. Two or three men were thus expected to carry on the work of the branch with expedition.
– Hear, hear. This is what happens when the Labour Party support the Government.
– The honorable member cannot side-track me. This is not a question affecting the Labour Party or the position of the Government, but one of common humanity.
– Who is supporting the Government?
– This is not a party question. I would remind the honorable member that when another Government was in office the same state of affairs prevailed in the Department. The question we have to consider is whether we are treating our public servants as we ought to treat them. The report continues -
The strain was very great. Impossible to get through current work of branch. Papers frequently taken home at night - Saturday night and Sunday -
What have the Sabbatarians to say to the statement that members of the Public Service are compelled to labour on Sundays in order to cope with the work falling to their lot?- until relaxation was impossible, and leave of absence not to be dreamt of, at least it has been so’ in my case; I have been several days away with ill-health.
Then we have the striking case of an officer who, in my opinion, was done to death by theDepartment. I knew the gentleman in question, and many a time saw him working when his health was such that he ought to have been at home.
– And yet the honorable member complacently supports a Ministry that allows this state of affairs to continue.
– Surely the honorable member is able for the moment to drop party politics, so that we may deal with something of far more importance than the mere loaves and fishes of office. If he cannot, then I am sorry for him. The gentleman who succeeded the officer to whom I have referred wrote -
Of the late Mr. Clarke I fear to speak in the matter of over-work.
– Did he die?
– Yes; he practically dropped down at his work.
-I would remind honorable members that, as we are in Committee, they will have ample opportunity to reply to the honorable member for Gwydir if they desire to do so. I must insist upon their refraining from interrupting him so frequently.
– When interrupted, I was reading the report sent in by Mr. Clarke’s successor, in which he wrote -
Of the late Mr. Clarke I fear to speak in the matter pf over-work. I have been closely con- nected with him in this branch for nearly twentyfive years, and during the past three years was an eye-witness of the fearful mental strain to which he was subjected, and have, with others, in the branch, on many occasions, witnessed his collapse.
These attacks would, perhaps,, only last for a few days, when he would return apparently well, showing that his brain and heart needed rest, if even for a day. The work could certainly have been accomplished satisfactorily and without any dire effects had the element of immediate urgency in many cases been eliminated, but when a small staff, with untrained casual hands (one of whom for about three weeks was a poor demented lad who, is since an inmate of an asylum) was supposed to cope with it, little wonder it was unsatisfactory. The effect of reducing the personnel of a branch such as this, wherein machinery of the mail services is so intricate, has been indubitably to impair its efficiency, and has a deleterious effect upon those responsible for its ‘proper management.
Then we come to the Telegraph Branch, where matters have been remedied to some extent, but not sufficiently. The staff of that branch has not been required to take work home, because it would be impossible to do so, but it has worked at high pressure, and occasionally for overtime, though not so much as other branches. The Comptroller of Stores Branch does not appear to have worked much overtime, but the officers in it have had to work at high pressure to prevent the overtime system which has prevailed in other branches. Coming to the Senior Inspector’s Department, I would point out that last year a re-arrangement was made, whereby there is now one senior inspector at the General Post Office, the other inspectors being located in different districts. Therefore, work at the head office, which was formerly divided amongst several inspectors, is now left to one man. This is what he says -
Since 1905 I have not had the services of an experienced inspector, except Mr. Blackstone for a few months. Since then I have had no less than five men without experience, whom I had to train to their duties. Only by working night and day, and almost every Sunday, could I keen work within limits. Obviously every personal, domestic, and social obligation had to be sacrificed in the public interests, and I have severely felt the strain.
I know the Senior Inspector, who possesses a constitution as robust as that of any member of this House.” If he has felt the strain, as undoubtedly he has felt it, what must it have been on other men whose con-‘ stitutions are not so good?
– There is not a man in the service who is not. glad to leave it on reaching the age of sixty years.
– That is so. He continues -
I consider the Work, if properly carried out, is beyond myself and a fully qualified inspector. An additional junior inspector to assist generally in the work, to be available for relief is, I consider, necessary.
In his opinion, a qualified inspector and an assistant inspector, in addition to himself, are required to cope with the work which he has been doing for the last eighteen months. It is no wonder that when we make complaints on behalf of our constituents we have to wait days and weeks for a reply, and do not get the expeditious treatment of our correspondence that we have a right to expect. In another Branch an officer reports -
I have been compelled to work at high pressure daily from 9 a.m. to about 5 p.m. (Saturdays excepted), and to work at home on an average of about three or four hours on four nights a week in order to keep the work up to date. This affects my health.
At the time of writing this report he was suffering from influenza, and the Acting Deputy Postmaster-General had recommended him to take three days’ leave, so that he might recover, one of those days being Sunday. But the most startling report comes from the officer who occupies the position of Acting Chief Clerk in the State, Mi. R. T. Russell, who says -
It is of paramount importance to fill all vacancies from the Deputy Postmaster-General to the minor offices.
He proceeds to enumerate the offices in New South Wales in which men were acting, showing the disorganization of the Department. There has been no expedition in fill-‘ ing »the places of those who have retired, other men having been appointed temporarily. This is evidence of incapacity somewhere. Mr. Russell says that there were an Acting Deputy Postmaster-General, an Acting Chief Clerk, an Acting ClerkinCharge, an Acting Senior Clerk in the Miscellaneous Branch, and an Acting Appointment Clerk, who had been acting for four years. When a man is doing good service for the country, he should not be kept in an acting position for four years, but should, if qualified for the position, be appointed to it permanently, and, if not, it should be given to some other person. There was also an Acting Telegraph Manager, an Acting Assistant Telegraph Manager, an Acting Assistant Electrical Engineer, an Acting Cashier, an Acting Distributor of Stamps, and two Acting Inspectors. On the 31st October of last year there were more acting than permanent officers in the higher branches of the Department in New South Wales. Is this state of affairs creditable to those charged with the administration of the Public Service Act, whose business it is to do justice to the servants of the State, and to see that the Departments are worked to the best public advantage ? In my opinion that Department has not fulfilled the functions which it was created to discharge. There were also an Acting Superintendent of Mails, an Acting Telephone Manager, scores of acting officials in minor positions, an Acting Postmaster at Tamworth, who had been acting for three years, an Acting Postmaster at Bourke, who had been acting for three years, an Acting Postmaster at Newcastle, who had been acting for over one year, and an Acting Postmaster at Goulburn, who had been acting for about a year. Amongst lower grade officials were scores of men who were only acting, but who, as faithful servants, should have been permanently appointed to their positions. According to Mr. Russell, it would take too much time and paper to quote the scores, and possibly hundreds, of cases in which “officers, in junior positions were acting only. This practice of appointing officers temporarily was adopted for the purpose of reducing expenses, because the officers who were acting received lower salaries than were paid to the permanent officers, whose places they filled. Mr. Russell asks -
Is it not surprising that the public business and traffic have been carried on so satisfactorily and efficiently under such make-shift arrange- 1 ments ?
They may truly be described as “makeshift.” He says -
These results have been achieved by the loyalty and self-sacrifice of many of the staff silently toiling into the night and on Sundays without fee or reward, or even commendation.
That has been the lot of many officers in the New South Wales branch of the De- partment Mr. Russell says -
They sacrificed their time and health. It is sincerely hoped this widowed condition of the Department in this State is nearly at an end.
No doubt he uses the word “ widowed “ to signify that’ the officers are estranged from their true position. He is speaking of the many permanent offices which are filled by substitutes.
– Perhaps he meant that the better half was missing.
– The better half of the service was missing - the better half of the permanent staff. Mr. Russell continues -
Revenue has increased nearly 000,000 a year. The work made more elaborate by boards of inquiry, necessitating the absence of four officers and others as witnesses, boards of appeal, preparation in triplicate., of returns, &c, preparation of précis and history of cases instead of the simple process of former years.
These are all new methods which have entailed a large volume of work beyond what had to be done in 190*1, but no additional assistance has been given, and vacancies have been filled by officers drawing lower salaries than were paid to those whose work they have been called on to do. There has been no increase, but rather a decrease in the staff -
The Postmaster-General and Deputies may well be pleased at the sacrifice of private time and leisure day after day, week’ after week, and month after month. Had such officers ceased work at the regulation hours disorganization and chaos would have been inevitable.
In other words, had the employes in the office gone upon strike as a protest against the sweating to which they were subjected, the whole work of the Department would have been plunged into chaos. He then proceeds to refer to other aspects of this, question. He says -
After a hard day, I found at 4.30 p.m. on Friday last 122 separate papers awaiting attention. Dealing with one paper per minute it would take me two hours’ overtime to wipe off these arrears. It took me till 10.30 .p.m. to clear them away. At 11 o’clock next day (Saturday) another large collection, and on Monday matters were worse than on Friday, and so on.
That is the lot of this officer. The system is indeed a deplorable one. Later on the same officer says -
Fortunately, most senior officers hare been blessed with good physical constitutions and endurance. If Mr. Richardson or Mr. Anderson, having no understudy, since the death of Mr. Donaldson and the resignation of Mr. J. M. Campbell, had to be absent, it would be hard to find a substitute under the unfortunate handtomouth system prevailing.
What sort of a condition is that to obtain in a great and important office like the General Post Office, Sydney?
Many experienced and capable officers have within the last three years left the Department, and voiced their pleasure on entering upon the pension list, and expressed deep sympathy with those left behind to bear the serious responsibility of carrying on the public . services under the present unenviable conditions. Others rer maining, would also be glad to retire if eligible.
That is the feeling throughout the Department. The officers are tired of serving it, because it is not worthy of the service of a faithful officer. With regard to appointments, Mr. Russell says -
Positions should be- permanently filled before outgoing occupant enters on furlough. This should apply to officers right down the line.
At the present time the practice is not to make an appointment to a higher office until the officer filling that position has gone upon furlough.
– It is alleged that the Sydney General Post Office is one of the biggest sweating dens in the Commonwealth.
– That is exactly what I am saying. Mr. Russell continues -
If the law does not permit such being done, then as the idea is followed by all regulated banks, companies, and business houses, the amending of the law might be considered, especially as such would tend to greater efficiency, organization, control, and discipline.
He proceeds -
Several senior officers admitted that the service had been maintained through the energy, free overtime, interest, and loyalty of the staff.
Mr. Arndell was asked for a report, “which he presented to the Department on 18th June, 1906. In that report he says -
Although possessed of a good constitution - as is evidenced by the fact that during my thirty-three years of service I have never had occasion to ask for sick leave - I am beginning to feel the natural effects of the long-continued strain of over-work, as many others are doing.
I say that any man who would overwork such a diligent and painstaking officer is acting in an inhuman fashion. In the case of Mr. Anderson, who is the head of one of the sectional branches in the Sydney office, his report was actually written upon the Sabbath day, because he was denied an opportunity to write it upon any other day. Mr. Arndell continues -
With regard to the Appointment Branch, the additional work is the outcome of contract post offices, the condenser telephone system, fidelity guarantee, advertising and insurance, with very varied details ; also the natural growth of the Department.
– The Postmaster-General ought to be present to listen to the honor- able member’s remarks.
– Perhaps the PostmasterGeneral knows more about this subject than he cares to acknowledge. With regard to overtime, the Comptroller of “Stores says -
From the experience gathered during the last few years, I think, on consideration, that chief officers will agree with me that continuous work ing overtime is detrimental to the Department, and conduces more to inefficiency than otherwise.
I wish we had a man at the head of the Postal Department who would regard the matter from that stand-point. . Mr. Young, the present Deputy Postmaster-General in New South Wales, was asked to furnish a report upon Mr. Arndell’s report, and upon the reports by the various heads of the sectional branches. There is clear evidence throughout Mr. Young’s report of a desire to minimize the charges which have bee’s made by these officers.’
– How did that report come into the hands of the honorable member ?
– When I undertake an inquiry of this kind I make it a practice to go to the head of the Department, from whom I can obtain reliable information. The reports from which I have been quoting are available to any honorable member. I applied for them, since the present session opened, in order that I might corroborate the statements which I have heard. They have since been laid upon the table of the Library, and are accessible to any honorable member. Mr. Young practically indorses the statements of the officers in the following words -
Overtime ranging from 1,180 hours 55 min. for four months, performed by fourteen officers in the Appointment Branch, averaging 84 hours 21 min. to 179 hours 10 min., performed by twelve officers averaging 16 hours 17 min. Overtime worked by the manager of telephones is not included in the latter figures.
The present Deputy Postmaster-General admits that overtime to the extent I have indicated has been worked by officers in the Department within four months. He continues -
In some cases work performed by officers at home is included in the amount of overtime worked, but in other instances only that actually performed at the office is given.
So that the 1,180 hours do not represent the total overtime worked by these officers. One officer, for instance, said that, owing to the number of official papers demanding his urgent attention, he not only had worked at high pressure from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but had to work on an average between three or four hours on about four nights a week. This is the statement of the Deputy Postmaster-General in reporting upon the condition of affairs which exists in the General Post Office, Sydney. He says -
Overtime work performed by heads of the Departments as distinct from sub-branches, either at the office or at home, which particularly in the case of the Electrical Engineer, would, if added, no doubt swell the total amount worked in his branch very considerably, has not been included - no particulars having been given.
Even the- statistics of the Deputy PostmasterGeneral do not indicate anything like the sweating that is actually going on in the Sydney Post Office -
The statement that officers have been overworked as a consequence of the reduction of the numerical strength of the staff of clerks as compared with March, 1901. In’ the Appointment Branch the numbers are the same as in 1900, and in the Correspondence, Records, Accounts, Money Order, Electrician, and Telephone Branches the numerical strength of the staff is in each case shown to be greater than in 1900.
How much greater? I undertake to say that the report of the Deputy PostmasterGeneral does not show any additions to the staff -in any of the branches, excepting perhaps the addition of incompetent temporary hands -
There is a reduction of one in the Miscellaneous Branch, where overtime to the extent of 953 hours 6 min. was worked during the four months already specified, but of which the Acting Clerk-in-Charge (Mr. Anderson) worked 231 hours 25 min.
Is that not sweating? I call it worse than sweating - I call it hounding a man to the last ditch, and practically leaving him to die, as the officer Clarke was left.
– What is the honorable member going to do about the matter ?
– I wish we could place the deputy leader of the Opposition in the position of Postmaster-General, to see whether he could not. remedy the present conditions of affairs by the system he recommended from time to time. The officer to whom I referred as working this inordinate number of hours of overtime, has done good service from year to year. The Deputy Postmaster- General in his report, states that in the Receiver’s Branch there has been a reduction by one officer, although overtime is being worked.
– It is the same in the Melbourne Post Office.
– I desire representatives of Victoria and other States to ascertain whether the conditions I have described prevail throughout Australia ; because, if they do, they should be altered at once. The report of the Deputy PostmasterGeneral proceeds -
In the Receiver’s Branch, where much overtime has been worked, there is a reduction of one shown.
This is the branch in which an officer was done to death. The officers who are left have to bear the burden of an inhuman system. In the case of the officer, Clarke, his widow applied for compensation for the overtime which had been worked by her deceased husband. In this case there was inhuman treatment of a worthy officer; and no other name can be applied to the compensation which has been asked for, than blood money for the loss of a husband. I do not know whether Mrs. Clarke has been paid any money ; but I believe she was informed that there was much accumulated leave due to her husband - leave which he could not obtain, because he was working overtime. Mr. Clarke was thus deprived of an opportunity to recuperate his strength, and so fit himself, perhaps, for the task which was set him. On several occasions he was denied his annual leave, but I presume that that leave will now be paid for by a humane Government. The Deputy Postmaster-General continues -
On the 17th December last, in connexion with an application from the. late Mr. Clarke’s widow for payment for the overtime performed for the Department by her late husband-
The Deputy Postmaster-General then goes on to deal with a number of other matters; and practically bears out what I have said in regard to the officers of the Department. I do not propose to deal with those quotations now; but will direct attention to one or two other matters connected with the Department. I- was one who strongly urged the adoption of the telephone toll system. I went to some trouble to look up the history of telephoning throughout the civilized world, and to ascertain the systems which have been adopted in other countries. I urged the toll system as the most equitable, but what has been the result of its adoption. I was deprived of my opportunity to deal with the Estimates of the Postmaster-General in the last Parliament owing to the close of the session ; and I should like to say a few words on the subject now. In the adoption of a system of this kind we have to consider equity, not only as between users and the Department, but as between the public, who are the owners of the telephones, and the public who take advantage of them. The PostmasterGeneral knew very well at that time that no toll system in the world allowed a larger number of calls per year than 750, and that, in some cases, the charge for additional calls was a penny, and in other cases a half-penny. But, when the honorable gentleman announced that he proposed to make the maximum number of calls the same as prevails elsewhere, and to charge a half-penny for each additional call, the whole of the metropolitan press and the commercial classes of Sydney rose like one man, and howled against the proposal, which it was said, would have the effect of depriving them of privileges they had enjoyed for years and years under the inequitable flatrate system.. The Postmaster-General, instead of sticking to his guns, backed down and introduced a system which, to my mind, is as inequitable as the flat system. The toll system should really mean a charge according to the service rendered ; and yet city men are allowed a telephone service worth, perhaps, £90 a year for £8 a year, while others are permitted to have 2,000 calls per annum for £6, with a charge of only a half-penny for subsequent calls. The public, who are the owners of the telephones, have not reaped the benefit which they ought to have reaped from the adoption of the toll system. If the system means anything it means a fair charge for services rendered within the metropolitan areas of the Commonwealth- and a fair charge to those who have hitherto had the use of a socialistic machine for their own benefit and advantage. Owing to the PostmasterGeneral giving way, £1 is paid where otherwise £5 would have been paid ; and the additional revenue from the metropolitan areas could have been used for the extension of telephones in sparsely populated districts in order to encourage settlement. The Postmaster-General neglected his opportunity, and the present policy has my absolute opposition. I cannot, for a moment, understand how it was that such a concession was made, when I know that when the system was inaugurated it was not in the mind of the then PostmasterGeneral or the Department to have a maximum number of calls as now arranged. The work in the Telephone Branch has increased greatly of late. In the Sydney office the attendants are working- until 9 o’clock every night, and although additional hands have been called in, it is found impossible to keep up with the work. There is much .disorganization in the branch ; and it is detestable to have to listen to the legitimate complaints of overwrought officers who express a desire to escape from their bondage. The Acting Prime Minister said that 600 odd permanent hands would be appointed and I am very glad to hear that that is the case. I will now quote some tabulated information extracted from the report of the Deputy Postmaster-General of New South Wales -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 August 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070822_reps_3_38/>.