3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer, who, I understand, is acting for the Minister of Trade’ and Customs, whether he intends to fulfil the promise he made to me in this Chamber on the 4th December last, that medicated plaster should be admitted into the country free of duty. I have been informed that, notwithstanding his promise, the Customs officers are collecting duty on this plaster. May I, to refresh the honorable member’s recollection, quote the Hansard account of what took place in Committee on the Tariff. It is as follows -
– I think that plasters should be placed upon the free list. Of course, we all know that there are varieties of plasters. I bold in my hand a book, a copy of which has been forwarded to every honorable member. It shows how important the matter must be if the agents of Messrs. Johnston and Johnston, manufacturing chemists, will incur that expense.
– I will agree to the omission of the word.
– I move-
That the word “ Plasters” be left out.
Amendment agreed to.
– I want to move that plasters be made free.
– So they will be.
– Under what item will plasters fall now that they have been removed from this item?
– I want to have no dubiety about this matter.
– I will see that the article is made free.
– Since the honorable gentleman has given me thatbinding promise, I am satisfied.
– The honorable member is mistaken in thinking that I am acting for the Minister of Trade and Customs; it is the Prime Minister who is doing so. No doubt I made the statements which the honorable member has read, though. I do not remember the occurrence; but I shall take the earliest opportunity - probably to-morrow - to see the Prime Minister in reference to the matter, so that whatever promise I made may be carried out.
– I wish to know from the Treasurer whether it is not a fact that, in connexion with the expressed desire of the Government to have the coinage of silver done in Australia, the Premier of Western Australia has offered to make the Perth Mint available for the purpose?
– I forget the exact wording of the communication from the Premier of Western Australia, but the Government think it wise not to disturb existing arrangements until we can make a permanent change by setting up a Mint in the Federal Capital.
– Are we to understand that the Government intend that silver shall not be coined in Australia until there is a Commonwealth Mint in the Federal Capital?
– I should like the honorable member to wait until tomorrow for an answer tohis question. I shall then tell him everything he wishes to know.
Wages of Workers
Mr. HUGHES__ I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether the inquiries which he has caused to be made as to the application of the Australian Industries Preservation Act to manufacturers who are not’ paying the rates of wages prescribed by Mr. Justice Higgins have been completed. If so, what course is to be taken in connexion with the matter?
– The question is a mixed one of law and fact. The law has been examined; the facts are being inquired into.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer a question in reference to the following statement contained in a letter published in this morning’s Argus. Speaking of our proceedings on Thursday in reference to the selection of a Capital Site, the writer says -
Mr. Deakin is too simple. Sir William Lyne, who should have warned him, was only too pleased for another shuffle for his Tumut. He had nothing to lose, but everything to gain, as a venture, to not only placate his constituents, but also to enhance the value of properties he has personal interests in thereabouts.
I wish to know whether the latter statement is true. If it is not, does the Minister intend, seeing that corruption is implied, to take action in the matter?
– So many insinuations of this kind have been made against me that I now take no notice of them. I have read the statement referred to, but, as a matter of fact, I do not own an acre of land within hundreds of miles of Tumut, and never did. The nearest place to Tumut at which I own land is Katoomba, where I have two or three allotments, and that, as honorable members know, is hundreds of miles away. In no other place have I any interest of any kind.
– Last week the Prime Minister promised to lay on the table to-day a memorandum embodying the Government policy in reference to the new. protection. Is the paper ready?
– It has not been possible to complete it to-day, and I am not sure that it will be ready to-morrow, but hope to present it then, or on Thursday, at latest. Its preparation has proved difficult.
– Has the Prime Minister seen an article in to-day’s Age regarding the state of the cotton sock and hosiery manufacture? Is it not possible to afford relief to those whose industry has been so seriously injured by the action of this House ?
– My honorable colleague fought strongly for the continuance of the old duty, and was supported by most of the members on this side of the Chamber ; but as the proposal was rejected on more than one occasion, nothing can be done until the Tariff is once more under consideration.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether there is any justification for the rumour that the Government intend to send a number of men to England to enable them to gain experience in the manufacture of small arms, so that they may be in a position to perform similar work in connexion with the smallarms factory which it is proposed to erect in Australia?
– Up till the present time the matter is purely a departmental one. It has not yet become a Cabinet question. But it occurred to me that in carrying out work of this description it might be wise to send competent men who possessed a considerable training in this particular branch of industry to Great Britain, in order that they might perfect themselves in it, rather than to import too many workmen in connexion with the small-arms factory which it is proposed to establish. This is the basis of the rumour, and the position will remain unchanged until further investigation takes place, which will not be for some little time. Before any steps of that kind are taken the House will be informed of them.
– I wish to ask. the Prime Minister whether he is in a position to make any further statement in regard to the Federal Capital site. Last week he promised that he would make such a statement.
– The statement will be made without fail to-morrow afternoon.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Whether he will inform the House -
What is the total amount of salaries lost by the 5th class Victorian officers, through the class examination for telegraphists, before being allowed to advance beyond£120 per annum, which was introduced in 1905, and abolished in 1908?
What is the largest amount lost by any officer up to date?
Have any of these officers been transferred to clerical positions and found incapable of performing those duties satisfactorily ?
– The Public Service Commissioner reports: -
– I wish to know from the Minister of Defence whether his attention has been directed to an article in yesterday’s Sydney Evening News headed
Cadets Camps Throttled
Consternation in Military Circles.
The article then goes on to state that instructions have been “ issued from Melbourne to the effect that all arrangements in connection with the proposed Cadet camps in New South Wales are to be suspended,” and that “ work in connexion with the proposed camps, so far as November dates are concerned, has now been practically abandoned,” to the great detriment of the Cadet movement. Will he say whether this is a correct presentment of the position ; and, if so, what are the reasons for this action ?
-I found that the military authorities in the various States were accepting responsibilities - among them the conduct of Cadet camps - for which Parliamentary sanction had not been given, and, believing it to be unwise to spend money which Parliament had not voted, I directed, in general terms, that the Commandants should be informed that very good reasons must be given for the anticipation of Parliamentary votes to insure the approval of expenditure. That instruction may have had some bearing on the state of things to which the honorable member has called attention; but I shall read the newspaper paragraph in question, and, having in formed myself more thoroughly in regard to the matter, give the honorable member a more definite answer later.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
What will be the difference in total annual cost between a militiaman, under existing regulations of pay, accoutrements, arms, &c, and. the proposed cost of a National guardsman under the new proposals, and how is the difference in detail made up ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The cost per head of militiamen, excluding arms and accoutrements, but including administration and instruction under the present system is about£20 per annum. The cost under the new system of a member of the National Guard is estimated at about £5 per annum. These figures in both cases exclude stores, field artillery, ammunition (reserve) works and buildings, and repairs. The cost per head of arms and accoutrements remains as at present. The existing rate of pay for a militiaman (Infantry private) is £6 8s. per annum. The great saving, under the proposed scheme, becomes obvious from a comparison of the two systems, in one of which, as proposed, the men are dealt with locally in large bodies, and in the other, as at present, in small detachments widely scattered over the Continent, or, by reason of the small numbers in each centre, in concentrations which entail bringing men and horses excessive distances. Instructors at present spend a large proportion of their time travelling to scattered units. The cost of administration, travelling expenses, instruction, and such like will under the proposed system be reduced per head to a minimum. For further information, see Han sard, page 449.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Militia Light Horse,
Militia Field Artillery,
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions , are as follow : - 1 and 2. The right honorable member will find a statement with regard to this on page 450 of
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
A moment or two ago the right honorable member asked me across the chamber whether pay was included in the amounts which I have quoted.
– In the £5 I meant.
– An answer to that question would necessitate my making a much fuller explanation. It would also require my statement to be qualified.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. Yes.
Such an important matter as the establishment of an efficient system of Australian Naval Defence demands full consideration, and, though the last Admiralty despatch is an important contribution to that end, even now a good deal remains to be defined before complete proposals can be submitted to Parliament.
The Government have not felt called upon to make an announcement with regard to part only of their Naval policy, preferring to wait until it can be dealt with as a whole.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether his attention has been drawn to the following statements, made before the Tariff Commission, by Mr. J. P. Jones, of . Melbourne : -
If the Minister has seen the statements, does he propose to take steps - (I.) To protect the users of Australian-made cloth from the 331/3 per cent. tribute wrung from them by the Flinders-lane middlemen ; and (11.) To enforce the local cloth manufacturers to arrange for a more economical method of distributing their products?
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
I may add that I learn from a fairly authoritative source that the suggested experiment has been made in Victoria upon two occasions - once by a hat mill, and on a second occasion by a woollen mill - and in each instance the endeavour failed.
Debate resumed from 9th October (vide page 1027), on motion by Mr. Ewing -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. W. H. Irvine had moved, by way of amendment -
That all words after the word “That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words - “ in the opinion of this House, the defence of Australia depending primarily upon control of the sea, it would be unwise to commit the country to any scheme of compulsory universal military service until Parliament is in a position to determine the naval policy of the Commonwealth.”
– I must thank the House for the courtesy extended to me on Friday, in permitting me to continue my speech this afternoon, and for paying me the further compliment of stating that some of my statements were very informative. I do not often transgress by making a long speech, but I feel that there are some matters in this Bill on which I may be able to give Parliament some special information. I fear that on Friday I may have done the Minister an injustice by omitting to point out what occurred on 2nd April, 1908, when I brought before him in this chamber certain of the regulations which I had previously referred to. I then pointed out that under those regulations it was simply impossible for men in certain corps to obtain promotion from the ranks. Hansard, page 10089, reports the ensuing discussion as follows -
– The intention was to make the regulations as broad as possible, and to give ample opportunities to rankers as well as a preference to those who had served for three years. If the regulation does not carry out that intention, I shall see that it is amended.
– The officer instructed by the Minister to draw up this regulation has evidently induced the Minister to cause the GovernorGeneral in Council to pass these provisions, in the belief that they give effect to his expressed intention.
– The officer may be under the impression that he has carried out our intention.
– Then the officer does not know his work. Will the Minister, before his salary in the Estimates is reached, give us the name of the officer who drew them up?
– Is it not a Board business?
– Once again we find it impossible to sheet home the responsibility for these matters. The offender is a committee, not a man.
– I repeat that if the new regulation does not carry out the intention of the Act, I shall see that it does.
So the matter was brought fully before the Minister at that date, and he gave that definite promise, in consequence of which I caused to be sent to him within a week draft regulations which would carry out the intentions of the Act, and which he himself, in a subsequent discussion, admitted would’ fulfil the intention of section 11 of the Act of 1903 to permit men to rise from the ranks. Yet those regulations have not been altered, and so I again point out that the Minister’s desires, and the will of Parliament, have not been carried out, although the Minister has officers who are responsible for seeing that that is done. The Minister seems to be served by his Board very badly. I tried also to show that regulations framed under the present system are absolutely incomplete. I will give instances. I suppose that during the last fortnight all honorable members have received a circular from certain religious organizations with regard to the position of conscientious objectors, complaining that it is very unfair that any man whose religion forbids him to bear arms - such, for instance, as the Quakers - should not receive consideration. I replied to that circular by pointing out that section 61 of the Defence Act met that position -
The Governor-General may, by regulation, declare what persons shall be exempt from service in the Defence Force, provided that persons whom the doctrines of their religion forbid to bear arms or perform military service shall be exempt upon such conditions as may be prescribed.
Yet, although that Act has been in force for five years, and the Military Board has been established for four years, and although the Board have prescribed pages and pages of dress regulations, they have not prescribed a line to provide for conscientious objections to service. Consequently, unless we can induce the Minister to get the Board to do their work, every conscientious objector will be forced to bear arms under the Government scheme, although there is a provision in the present law specially framed to meet their case.
– Do not the members of” some of those bodies object to vote ?
– I have not attended any of their meetings, but if the honorable member says that is so, I see no reason to doubt it. The Minister, in his secondreading speech, spoke of the cost of uniforms. I refer to this matter more particularly because the Prime Minister, in December last, when bringing the Government scheme before the House for the first time, expressed the opinion that the expense of uniforms was far too great. LieutenantColonel Legge, who, I understand, drafted the memorandum on the land defence of Australia, discusses in it the cost of. uniforms. I hear that some honorable members have expressed the intention of seeking to have khaki specified in the Act itself, seeing that the regulations are so absolutely ineffective. But its insertion in the Act will render impossible some simpler and perhaps more suitable uniform, if discovered in future. Eighty pages of these regulations, which I hold in my hand, apply to questions of dress only, in spite of the statement that a simple khaki uniform was to be adopted. Both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence dealt with this question, because, they said, it was impossible for some men to take commissions on account of the expense involved in obtaining uniforms. Under the heading of “ Infantry Officers,” I take the following as an example of these regulations : -
Tunic. - Scarlet cloth, with white cloth collar and cuffs (except as specified below). The collar ornamented with5/8-inch lace along the top, and gold Russia braid at the bottom. Regimental “badges as described in Appendix IX. (a). The cuffs pointed with5/8-inch lace round the top, extending to 7½ inches, and a tracing in gold Russia braid1/8-inch above and below the lace, forming an Austrian knot at the top, extending to9½ inches from the bottom of the cuff, and a small eye at the bottom. Eight Commonwealth buttons (39 lines) in front. The skirt close behind, with a plait at each side, and edged with white cloth¼-inch wide. The front and collar and skirt plaits edged with white cloth¼-inch wide, twisted round gold shoulder cords, lined with scarlet; Regimental buttons (26 lines) at top.
We get pages and pages of that sort of thing from the Military Board, while they neglect to submit a scheme of defence, or a. proper system of military organization for the Commonwealth. Apparently they have no time to waste on things of that sort. The regulation was issued on 12th November, 1906, under the hand of the Secretary to the Military Board, and is practically made compulsory in the following terms : -
Officers will, however, be permitted to continue to wear the uniform at present in their possession, which should be gradually replaced by the uniform now prescribed. Commanding officers will be responsible that the clothing and necessaries of the soldiers under their command are complete and in good order.
– When the Act of 1903 was passed, was not permission given to officers to retain their old uniforms?
– I understand that it was promised that a change should be made, but this regulation says that the uniform shall be “ Gradually replaced by the uniform now prescribed.” This shows distictly that instead of there being an endeavour to meet what was the desire of the Parliament at the time when the Act was passed, an altogether different state of things has been permitted.
– What is the object of all this?
– I believe that the Minister is completely blocked by a number of “ passive resisters “ who simply refuse to carry out what he has expressed his intention of having done, and what is the desire of this House. The people of this country do not want this sort of rubbish. They want our soldiers to be clothed in a simple kind of uniform which shall be inexpensive, and the officers to wear a uniform which will be fit for field work, and will give good service. I do not say that the Minister is responsible for what I have described, but if Parliament gives a distinct indication of its wishes it is time that the men who are employed to do the will of Parliament see that practical effect is given to them.
Colonel Foxton. - Surely the Minister is responsible for the regulations?
– But the honorable member must surely know that unless the Minister has technical knowledge he has to accept the advice of his subordinates. I am sure that the Minister has tried to comply with the wish of Parliament in regard to officers’ commissions. He was good enough to get the Inspector-General, the Chief of the Military Board, and the Secretary of the Department, to meet me, and it was agreed that every man should be given the right to rise from the ranks, and that the cumbrous system of competitive University examination should be done away with.
– Has the honorable member a seat on the Board?
– I wish I had.
– What was the honorable member there for? What position did he occupy?
– The position of one who was asking on behalf of certain members of the permanent force that effect should be given to the Act of 1903, which was passed at the instance of the right honorable member.
– Was the honorable member a witness’ before the Board?
– I was not a witness, but I was the representative of certain men interested in this matter.
– The interjections of “the right honorable member show that he has no sympathy with me in this matter.
– I was wondering why the honorable member was there.
– I shall continue to be there until I secure what I want in the matter.
– If the Minister will permit, the honorable member will be there.
– With the Minister’s permission. The next question to which I wish to refer is the marriage regulations. It will be remembered that about two years ago a case was brought up in Parliament in which a man was not allowed to get married until he, and the lady whom he wished to marry, had been paraded before an officer. At that time the Minister promised to see that the practice was altered. Things have improved, although, at the present time, a member of the Permanent Forces may be married and may be a man of good conduct, but yet he is not allowed to live outside the barracks. He is not allowed to go home to live with his wife, and to sleep with his wife at night. I think that is very wrong indeed, not only to the man, but to the woman. The Minister will see on page 171 of the Regulations, Regulation 71, the following provision : -
Soldiers are not to be allowed permanent passes to sleep out of Barracks except those (1) who are on the married establishment and who arc of good character ; and (2) widowers with children if approved by the Commanding Officer.
The marriage establishment consists of 10 per. cent. only. That is a very bad state of things, and one of which the’ House should take notice immediately. It is a matter that one does not care to speak about, but the Minister should not only issue an order, but, if matters are not improved in two or three months, he should see that what he desires is done.
– We must have some one in barracks.
– What I desire would only affect about twenty-five men.
Colonel Foxton. - If what the honorable member desires were carried out, all the men would get married.
– That would be a good job.
– I agree with the Minister that it would be a very good thing indeed. Another matter to which I wish to allude relates to the regulation with regard to the practice of saluting when in plain clothes. I believe that, as a matter of discipline, it is right for men to salute when they are in uniform. But it is wrong toinsist that a soldier in plain clothes, when he meets an officer in the street, shall becompelled to salute, particularly in this community., where all citizens are equal before the law.
Colonel Foxton. - Is the honorablemember speaking of the Permanent Forces ?
– Yes. There is nothing to compel a member of the CitizenForces, in plain clothes, to salute an> officer ; but the practice in regard to thePermanent Forces is really one that degrades the uniform. I say so for this reason - that if a member of the Permanent Forces in plain clothes does not salute anofficer, the punishment may be that he is. not permitted to wear plain clothes for oneor two months. Therefore, the wearing, of the uniform becomes a penalty instead of being a source of pride. Every soldier ought to be proud of his uniform. But, although the regulation does not apply tothe Citizen Forces, I can tell the House that not very long ago I was attending a military class, where the main point of the lecture was that, if one met a senior officer when in plain clothes, one ought to salutehim. The advice given by this officer wasthat if one did not desire to salute, one should stand aside, or look into a shopwindow until the senior officer had passed. That seems ridiculous, and of course I amnot going to give names ; although it would be a good . thing to do, soif the Minister desires to have them. But in this community, where every man has equal rights before the law, we do not want to import ridiculous practices of that kind. What I have said shows that the pages of the Book of Snobs seem to require an appendix. Another matter to which I wish to refer is ‘ the right of members of the Forces to express their views in the press. I know there is a good deal of jealousy in this House as to the right of a member of the forces to speak or write about matters connected with the service. In my opinion, however, if there is no breach of confidence, or if what is said is not prejudicial to the service, all members of the forces should have an equal right in this respect. It appears that any officer at head-quarters may write to the newspapers as much as he pleases ; so much so, that It is scarcely possible to take up a Sydney newspaper without finding an interview, for example, with Brigadier-General Gordon. I should like to know whether the Minister is responsible for the following statement by that officer, and whether the scheme there outlined is to be included in the expenditure on account of the proposed new state of affairs? -
That is not all. We are putting the wages in the hands of the people. I consider the Government should build model buildings for their workmen, as private firms - the great gunmaker, Krupp, of Germany; Lever Brothers, of Sunlight Soap; and Cadbury, of the chocolates - have built them. Then they should build a model town of little homes and gardens within the limits of the municipality of Lithgow, so that their employes should enjoy the best condititons of living possible. I would have the Government make no profit, but just get from their tenants the interest they have to pay on the capital borrowed. You see, they will be quite sure of their tenants and of the best class of tenants. In that way the Commonwealth would be in possession of a set of employes who would not be at the beck and call of any rise in the value of land, or in rents, caused by any circumstances that may happen. They would be satisfied that they had good homes, sanitatation, gardens - yes, and even amusements - playgrounds, and swimming baths - provided at a reasonable cost; and I think that if that is the case there will be very little trouble with the employes in the future. If any did not care for those conditions they could go elsewhere.
That interview was under the heading of “ The New Arsenal - Garden City for Workmen.” My own hope is that the suggestions there offered will be accepted by the Minister; and it must be remembered that the words quoted are those of the head of the State forces and the representative of the Department of Defence in New South Wales. It would appear, indeed, as though one particular officer could scarcely change a button on his uniform without the fact gaining publicity in the newspapers, if we may judge from the following extract relating to the Victorian head-quarters staff -
Major B ruche now has complete charge, under the State Commandant, Colonel Stanley, of the following matters : -
The honorable member for Dalley the other day said that, in the case of an outbreak of war, he and I would find our place in a hollow log; but this officer, apparently, i: to have an even safer position in the Victoria Barracks. The extract continued -
I have no objection to such information being made public, but the same principle ought to apply from the top to the bottom. A little while ago I suggested that every man in the forces should be permitted to send in a written report containing his opinion of the Government defence scheme. That suggestion was acted upon, but we find that the reports, instead of going direct to the Minister of Defence, have to be sent through the District Commandants. Any criticism, therefore, on the District Commandants, or on the present system of administration has to pass those officers; and we can well understand what would be the result of any adverse comments. The honorable member for Adelaide has several times asked for the production of those reports without success; and, although there is a deep feeling of dissatisfaction throughout the forces, I should be very much surprised, indeed, to find any adverse criticism in the ones which were forwarded. Honorable members may remember that I made a request some time ago that the regulations under the Bill should be submitted for consideration by Parliament in order to ascertain whether they are drawn and administered in the democratic spirit we desire. As a matter of fact, however, we find that the whole of the work done by Parliament in passing a defence measure is rendered absolutely nugatory by regulations which are prepared and administered by bureaucratic officials. For that reason I am sorry that the House will not appoint the Committee which I suggested, and which I shall make anothereffort to have brought into existence. I should now like to draw the attention of honorable members to clause 4, wherein it will be seen that the word “garrison” is struck out, meaning that the Field Artillery will in future be permanent. The Minister ought to remember that, according to the proviso in sub-clause 58B, clause 8, the Field Artillery may be trained for a term not exceeding twenty-eight days.
– That is as much as we can hope to get.
– I call attention to this matter because, when the original Act was before us, I strongly opposed the introduction of the word “ garrison,” and the honorable member for Maranoa recently quoted what I said on that occasion. There is no doubt that in the case of the Field Artillery, which means scientific knowledge, it will be impossible to make men efficient with sixteen days’ casual attendance for training.
Colonel Foxton. - As a matter of fact they will train a great deal more.
– Suppose they even train the full twenty-eight days, I still say that the Field Artillery is the weakest spot in the defence system of Australia ; and I am quite of the opinion of the InspectorGeneral, who says -
The personnel of the Field Artillery is good, and much interest is taken by all ranks, but without increased opportunities for proper training and practice, it cannot be expected that they will reach that high standard of efficiency which modern Field Artillery should attain.
The Field Artillery have good guns and ammunition, and yet they are not a success; and they will not be a success until the provisions of the Bill are carried out, and we have permanent men for a Field Artillery as well as for Garrison Artillery. In view of the limitation of the training to twenty-eight days I remind the Minister of Lord Wolseley’s comments on the fact that, under the territorial scheme in England, the Field Artillery was to be trained for only forty-two days. On the 20th May last I asked the Minister if he had noticed a cable relating to Lord Wolseley’s criticism, and whether the Government agreed with it, and he replied that he approved of Lord Wolseley’s remarks.
– The territorial army has not anything like forty-two days’ training.
Mr.CROUCH.- For the Field Artillery, under the territorial scheme, the training is forty-two days or six weeks.
– The training prescribed for artillery under the Bill is greater than that under the scheme of the territorial army in England.
– Not for the Field Artillery. In any case, if Lord Wolseley thinks that forty-two days yearly isnot sufficient surely we may take it that twenty-eight days is not by any means long enough to meet the requirements of this very much neglected arm of the forces.
– The period of the training for the territorial army is fifty-seven days in two years.
– That has been altered. It is further proposed in clause 7 of the Bill that-
The regulations may prescribe -
That members of the Defence Force voluntarily serving with the Imperial Forces outside Australia shall be subject to the Army Act;
That is quite unnecessary, because, according to a decision of Chief Justice Higinbotham, of Victoria, the Army Act applies in Australia. Section 176 of the Army Act includes amongst the persons under the Act, all non-commissioned officers and men serving in forces raised beyond the limits of the United Kingdom or India. I consider, therefore, that paragraph a of the proposed new section 54A is unnecessary ; but I must state my objection to paragraph b which reads -
Subject to any Imperial Act - that members of the Imperial Forces serving in Australia shall be subject to this Act.
I venture to say that we are not disposed in Australia to have persons serving in the Commonwealth Forces subject to an Imperial Act. Under section 51 of the Constitution we have the absolute right of control over the Naval and Military Forces in Australia, and should we agree that Imperial officers and men serving in the Commonwealth Forces may be subject to the Imperial Act, we should be giving up a right which it would be very unwise for us to yield. I am very sorry that such a proposal has been made in the Bill, as I consider it involves an abrogation of our rights under the Constitution. I should like the Minister to say what is meant by the word “personally “ in the proposed section 58 j -
No person shall be permitted to serve personally in the Defence Force who is found by a prescribed Court -
to have been convicted of any disgrace ful or infamous crime, or
Is it intended that there shall be exemptions from personal service? Is there to be in our forces personal service and substituted service? Is a man to be permitted to buy himself out of his national obligation?
– There is no intention of the kind. I shall consider the use of that word “personally.”
– I direct attention now to sub-section 2 of the proposed new section 58L dealing with the allotment to corps. It reads -
Such a number as are required shall first be allotted for training in the Naval Forces.
Does that mean that the first 18,000 or 20,000 men offering are to be drafted into the Naval Forces?
– That is not the intention. If the Naval Forces required 5,000 men, for instance, I suppose the honorable member would not object to their being enrolled.
– I should allow every man to choose his own arm of the forces. Many would not personally care to. serve in the navy at all. Is it intended that if a lad of eighteen years is the first to come forward and offer his services, he is to be enrolled in the Naval Forces?
– That is not the intention. I shall note the use of the word “ first.”
– I shall be glad to have the matter considered at a later stage. I wish now to direct the attention of the House to the last annual report of the InspectorGeneral of the Military Forces. I find from it that he has submitted two reports which have not been presented to Parliament at all. He says -
I enclose -
Appendix A - copies of my interim reports (these give in full detail the comments and criticisms which I considered it my duty to make)
Appendix D - report of Inspector of Ordnance and Ammunition (interim reports with my comments, have been forwarded during the year).
Has the Minister any objection to lay these interim reports on the table?
– I do not remember what they are exactly. I shall look them up.
– I am informed that the present disorganized condition ofthe forces is not the fault of the InspectorGeneral, and that in one report he has strongly advised the Minister that one of the District Commandants should be immediately retired. Is the Minister in a position to deny that?
– I have no knowledge of it.
– Then we may assume that the Inspector-General has made no report in which he has advised the Minister to retire a District Commandant?
– I do not think it can be a fact. I have no knowledge of it, and if such a report had been submitted, I should certainly know of it.
– I should like the House to understand that the InspectorGeneral of the Forces has condemned the scheme of a Council of Defence. As a matter of fact, he says that the Council of Defence is not doing its work. He reports, under the heading “ General Staff “-
I consider that the time has now arrived for the organization of a General Staff similar to that which has recently been instituted in Great Britain. The duties of the General Staff Officers would primarily be -
Study of Military Schemes.
To advise on strategical distribution of Forces.
To advise on general Military Policy. . That includes exactly the work prescribed for the Council of Defence appointed under the Act of 1904. The InspectorGeneral of the Military Forces points out in one of the first paragraphs of his report, dated 28th February, 1908, that the Council is not doing the work it is paid to do, and is supposed to do. Otherwise he would never recommend the creation of a new body for the purpose. He sends in reports, and I should like to know who takes any notice of them. I have quoted from his report the recommendation in favour of the appointment of a General Staff to perform the work which the Council of Defence ought to perform, and does not. It should be remembered that I am quoting from the report of the senior officer of our Military Forces, the man who would have to lead them in time of war. Under the heading “District Head-Quarters Staff “ he reports-
I have devoted much time to inquiring into the work of the Administrative and Instructional Staff, and found that there was a great deal too much office work being done. Much of this could be dispensed with. This would permit of the services of the District Staff Officers being more fully utilized for instructional purposes, particularly in the theoretical and practical instruction of senior officers.
That still remains the same. On the subject of inspections by Commandants, he recommends that these inspections should be carried out independently of the inspections by the Inspector-General of the Military Forces. But the practice is still continued of carrying out their inspections at the same time. He further reports -
Some months ago I recommended that the posts of Deputy Assistant Quartermasters-General in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland be held by officers of the Citizen Forces, whose duties would be mainly in connexion with camps of training, and that the routine work now carried out by the Deputy Assistant QuartermasterGeneral’s Department be distributed amongst the remaining Departments of the District HeadQuarters, the Senior Ordnance Officer, and the District Paymaster. The three officers of the Administrative and Instructional Staff now holding appointments as Deputy Assistant QuartermastersGeneral in these Districts could then give the whole of their time to instructional work, which would include forming and conducting Classes of Instruction to prepare Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers for examination and promotion. I consider that the time of these three permanent officers is to a great extent being wasted.
These officers still hold their offices, and 1 presume their salaries will appear on this year’s Estimates. I suppose that the salary in each case is hundreds of pounds, and yet the Inspector-General of the Military Forces reports that the time « f these three permanent officers is, to a great extent, being wasted.
– Are they not out of the Commonwealth most of the time?
– I know that the Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General in Victoria is not out of the Commonwealth. I have nothing to say against these officers personally. If a man is given a soft job at a good salary, I do not think he is under any obligation to make a public struggle to get out of it. The point I make is that the Inspector-General of the Military Forces, who is paid ^£1,500 a year to- go round and point out these things, does that ditty, and no action is taken. Dealing with Instructional Staff Officers, the criticism is that they should do less office work’ and more instructional work. We have a good many Instructional Staff Officers in Australia, and the one thing that some of them cannot do is to give military instruction. I have read out a list of the duties imposed upon Instructional Staff Officers, and I have shown that it appears to be one of their duties to get hold of the newspapers. We know that in the case of one of these officers, instead of his time being devoted to instruction, it was devoted to the organization of the recent review. I have .not referred to the matter publicly before, but I was very glad to hear what the honorable member for Laanecoorie had to say as to the way in which that review was - not organized, but disorganized. Nothing which the honorable member said was too severe. Men were kept hanging about for hours; they were told to parade at 9.30 a~m. for a march past at 2.30 p.m., and were compelled to stand for hours on sodden ground. Then again the arrangements for the supply of food to the Americans went wrong. There was no programme. The experience gained by the review at Sydney should have enabled the whole arrangements to be properly carried out, but as it was a state of disorganization prevailed. On the following day, however, the usual “office puff” was published. We were told that the review had been magnificently carried out and that its success proved that there were in the Commonwealth forces at least two officers who knew how to organize troops. It was probably written by one of them.
– Who was to blame?
– I am not going to say.
– Colonel Watson ?
– He was not to blame.
– The man who was praised in the newspapers was to blame for the trouble.
– Another point that I wish to make is that the Instructional Staff carries out its instructions in an extraordinary manner. A short time ago a whole day was given to an examination of militia officers who wished -to pass for the rank of lieutenant-colonel. The candidates were called on to handle a ‘large body of troops at Heidelberg, and the examination was a very severe and thorough one. Three months later an examination of two officers of the Permanent Staff took place. A hastily gathered parade on a Saturday afternoon took place nt Heidelberg; only a few troops were taken out, the proceedings lasted about an hour, and the orders given, to those who heard and understood them, were simply ridiculous. That is the sort of thing that is going on. Is it any wonder that militia officers are dissatisfied when they find different standards adopted at examinations of permanent and militia officers? instead of the permanent officer having to undergo the move severe examination he is passed through a very simple test by his own friends.
-Is it a fact that some of those who present themselves at competitive examinations are coached by the examiners?
– I am told that it is; but that matter can be dealt with more effectively by my honorable friend. Another complaint that I have to make is that this House does not obtain straightforward information. I have already shown that the Minister is very badly served by his officers. Statements are made to him, and not being conversant with technical details he accepts the information that is placed in his hands. When he makes a promise in this House it is reported in Hansard and some one in his Department reads that report. That, at all events, is the practice in other Departments.
– And that man, I suppose, is the only one in the Department who does read Hansard?
– No. The honorable member would be surprised to learn how many men in the Defence Department read Hansard. They put in a great deal of their time in that way.
– Some one reads it for the Minister, and there should be in the Department an officer charged with the duty of seeing that promises made by the Minister in this House are carried out. Instead of that, we find that, as I have shown, a promise made by him as far back as mid April last has not yet been fulfilled. I also wish to show that the House has been frequently misled by information supplied in answer to questions, and I am glad to be able to quote chapter and verse in support of my contention. Two or three days after the opening of the present session I asked the Minister of Defence the following question -
That was a straight question, and the reply I received was reported as follows -
– The District Commandant has furnished me with the following replies in the matter -
The District Commandant is Colonel Stanley. I have here a copy of “District Order, 1908, No. 35, by Colonel J. Stanley, Commanding,” issued only a few days before my question was put, and in paragraph 5 of which the following statement appears -
And so on. Under this order a junior officer of the Permanent Forces would take precedence over a senior officer of the Militia Forces - over men who were in many cases senior to the District Commandant himself, and it caused a great amount of offence amongst the militia and volunteers.
– Is not all this question of precedence mere humbug?
– That is not the point. The point we have to consider is whether the information supplied to this House in answer to a question put by rue was true or false.
– But was there anything wrong about the order?
– If a false statement were made it was decidedly wrong.
– But was there anything wrong with the procedure? The permanent staff passed the Governor-General in a bunch, and the. officers of each corps followed in their order.’
– There may be nothing wrong about that, but if the answer supplied to my question was false we have good cause for complaint. On another occasion I asked the Minister, as reported at page 435 of Hansard for the present session, whether a circular had not been issued by which a right enjoyed by men under the regulations, to complain in writing to the final military authority, had not been varied. I quoted a circular issued by the chief staff officer, refusing to permit warrant, non-commissioned officers, and. privates to minute papers, and I inquired, “ Is this practice still continued in the Department.” To the last inquiry the Minister replied, “ Not that I am aware of. Further inquiry will be made.” A further inquiry was made of the Minister as to whether this had not been the practice in his Department during a definite time, and it was denied. I have the minute here -
Correspondence as to case initiated by a N.C.O. To Col. Pleasants, 8th A.L.H. Regiment. 13 - In regard to minutes 10 and 11 (of the N.C.O.) attention is called to circular No. 7 dated 29-8-04, with reference to the signing of minutes by W.O.’s and N.C.O.’s of Instructional Staff. By order, (Sgd.) J. H. Bruche, Major, D.A.A.G. “ By order “ means by order of the District Commandant, and I venture to say that the Minister has not looked into this matter. The point we have to consider is not whether the question involved is trifling or important, but whether the House has not a right to receive truthful answers to questions put to Ministers. If my complaint is not further considered I shall have to bring it forward as a question of privilege. The rights of Parliament are infringed when false information is given to it by an officer through the Minister.
– I shall consider it my duty to look into all these matters.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that the Minister condones the offence of untruthfulness on the part of officers?
– No; but if a Minister finds that untruthful information is supplied to him, it is time that some one was retired. Because we ought to get truthful answers to our questions here.
– That applies to all Departments.
– Yes. If an honorable member receives from a Department a reply which is intended to suppress, instead of to give, information, it is his duty to bring the fact before the House, as a matter of privilege.
– Some of the replies are intended to be facetious.
– All these officers “bulldose “ the Minister.
– The Minister might refuse to reply to a question, but if he does reply the answer should be accurate.
– Exactly. I desire now to refer to a criticism which the InspectorGeneral has made on the present system of administration by a Board. If honorable members will carefully read his statement, they will see that he wants a general staff “to advise on general military policy.” That is not included in the duties of the
Military Board, but it is included in the functions of the Council of Defence. It is set out on page 30 of the Regulations that the general policy of the Naval and Military Defences of the Commonwealth has to be administered by the Council of Defence.
– The honorable member will see that administration by the Council of Defence and the Military Board, is one method, and that administration by a general staff would to some extent become another method. It would introduce great complication.
– There is not the slightest doubt that if the InspectorGeneral thought that the Council of Defence was doing its work, he would not want to create another body to do similar work.
– According to one of the regulations -
The Council of Defence inquires into, discusses, and records an opinion on matters submitted to it by the Minister affecting the general’ policy of the Naval and Military defences.
The Inspector-General says that he wants a general staff “ to advise on general military policy.” What is the difference between the two?
– If it is appointed it must do a great deal more than that. Probably it would render unnecessary a great deal of our present administration.
Colonel Foxton. - It will supersede that.
– I think so.
– Do I understand from the Minister that he intends to revert to the system of a general officer commanding, and a general staff.
– No; I say that the question of a general staff is under serious consideration, but it is a much bigger question than that to which the honorable member refers.
– Having regard to the second duty of the general staff, it will mean wiping out the Council of Defence.
– I do not say that definitely, but it is worth consideration.
– It will have to be a staff to somebody. Is it to be a staff to a general officer commanding?
– How is a general staff going to run with the Board?
– They will not run together at all. I welcome the creation of a general staff - if it means the abolition of the Board -and administration by one man. I do not care whether he is called inspector-general or general officer commanding, or what he is called so long as we get one man who will be responsible for something.
Colonel Foxton. - I do not think that it would. The general staff would simply take the place of the Board and do the work of the Council and the Board.
– It will have to be a staff to somebody. There is to be one chief of staff.
Colonel Foxton. - So there is now.
– Who is chief of staff now? The chief of staff - against whose abilityI say nothing-on the Military Board has only one special group of subjects to attend to. He has not a general purview of the whole Department, and if he had he would take the place of a general officer commanding. So long as we get some person who will be head of the Department, I shall be satisfied.
– There is no chief of staff at present?
– Not in the German sense. May I point out to the Minister that even the English system with which there was general satisfaction when the Defence Bill of 1904 was brought in, and of which our system is a far too slavish copy, is breaking down. Writing on the 16th August, 1907, the military correspondent of The Times says -
There is thus much which appears to cause the new command to be regarded as one of doubtful wisdom, and we have to seek the real motive and excuse for the creation of the new appointment in other considerations. The Duke of Connaught was appointed Inspector-General of the Forces on 1st May, 1904, and his duties were regulated by an Order in Council a few days later. In a higher military sense the appointment has not given the results expected. His Royal Highness has not been invariably well treated.
Nor has our Inspector-General.
He has not been kept sufficiently in touch with the proceedings of the War Office. His reports, reputed to be of much value, have not seen the light and the public has no knowledge whether the recommendations which have followed his inspections have or have not been carried out. There has been little or no visible influence upon the organization and administration of the Army arising from his inspections and reports. One Minister, no longer in office, went so far as to suggest that the Duke should alter one of his reports. The presence of the Inspector-General, of the Chief of the General Staff, and of the General Officer CommandinginChief at Aldershot at the Essex manoeuvres in 1904 led to such confusion of authority that we have been practically unable to hold great
Manoeuvres ever since.
It is clear that, when a new Inspector-General is appointed, his duties must be revised and his sphere of influence be more accurately delimitated. Here we come at once into a region of conflicting opinions upon the higher governance of the Army. The Secretary of State’s colleagues of the Army Council should be the first chiefs of the Army ; they should combine authority with patronage and power, and delegate inspection to one of their own members. An Inspector-General with a seat on the Council would strengthen this governing body and would speak and act in its name.
There is evidence that in England the system that we followed is already producing results which show how unsatisfactory it is. Our conditions are widely different from those of England, but because it adopted a Council of Defence, we followed its example without having the same conditions or the same ability to draw upon. The late Minister of Defence experienced the same trouble. Shortly before he left office, he expressed his opinion on the systems existing in the Department. With reference to the Ordnance Department -
He expressed considerable annoyance at the tardy manner in which his instructions have been attended to respecting the local construction of 36 ammunition waggons for the new 18½-pounder field artillery guns. Heremarked,” We have a sample waggon here, and I pointed out some modifications that could be made, and ordered the work to be proceeded with as soon as possible, but apparently nothing has been done. I must find out what is responsible for this delay.”
I do not know whether the present Minister has found that out.
– A number have been built.
Colonel Foxton. - When did Senator Playford make that statement?
– It was made by Senator Playford about four or five days before he left office - at any rate, ata time when he was able to speak freely. Now I desire to draw the attention of the House to the condition of the Ordnance Department, and to the way in which a quantity of work which could bedone in Australia is given to England. I would like to see a Committee of the House on the control; status, and pay of the members of the Ordnance Department. An authority on this subject writes from Sydney in these terms-
Nearly all of the work that goes to England could be carried on by the Defence Department in a properly equipped workshop. The Victorian Railways do not want defence work, as correspondence from that Department, signed by the Secretary, gave instructions for it to be stopped as long ago as 1897. Notwithstanding that the difficulties were smoothed over, and the work continued. The fitter in charge of defence work at Newport received 2s. 6d. per day from the Defence Department in addition to his railway pay for supervising defence work. Yet all this work was supervised by the Defence Department’s own officer, the I.O.M., whose salary is £540.In1898, machinery to the extent of about £700 was purchased and placed in the Victorian Ordnance Stores in order to do all departmental work, but even then, and even now, it is continued at Newport, whereas if the Department were to do its own work, all cost for” supervision, use of tools, &c, could easily have been avoided, by engaging one or two extra men by the Defence Department. The only extra cost would then have been their wages. One list of work, that of alterations to sights, cost £577, while an outside contractor, Mr. Galopin, offered to do it for £160. As a matter of fact, Newport people did not want the work, and they suited their own convenience with reference to charges.
– Is it suggested that the State Government charges more for the work than it is worth?
– Yes, and three and a half times as much as the price at which it was tendered for by an outside contractor.
– I had not heard of the matter before, but shall have the case looked into. The instruction is that the requirements of the Department, both for the present and for years ahead, must be met here, so far as that can be done.
– The writer continues -
The following English orders could easily have been made in Australia at a merely nominal advance on English prices -
Control gear, breech mechanism, 9.2, cost £1,000. Automatic sights,8-inch breech conversion, Chase-hooping 6-inch guns, 9.2 inches, 8 inches, and 6 inches; spare breech blocks, conversion of eighteen 12 pr. guns, cost about . £8,000.
Stores, comprising fuze-keys, tube extractors, magazine hammers, chisels, &c, &c.
Manufacture of shell.
Manufacture of eighteen pr. gun carriages.
Here, in Sydney, a number of 6-inch guns have been converted into quick-firers, and all were sent to England to be done, while a similar gun for Tasmania was converted into a Q.F. at Newport, another proof that this class of work is well within our capabilities with a little addition to our present equipment. The engineering work for the Defence Department is at present suffering through being so much decentralized, and that which we are doing in Sydney is nearly all on guns which have been condemned as obsolete by the Defence Committee and the Military Board. There is work now being done at Newport for Western Australia and Queensland. If all Defence work could be centralized in a proper establishment where the manufacture of small arms ammunition could be carried on, also the manufacture of stores, heavy gun ammunition, gun carriages and all other gear required by the Department, not only would there be a great saving possible, but there would also be a great gain to the
Department in having its own officers gaining experience in that direction. The Defence workshops have been criticised by a retiring officer as an expensive luxury, but when the Newport accounts, and the English orders are taken into consideration, this so-called expensive luxury could easily be converted into a commercial and active industry, giving more than value for any outlay incurred. It would be hard to break down opposition, as there are people in the Department whose interests are best served by orders going abroad. I see from the press that Armstrong’s representative in Australia is a Col. Stanley. I don’t know if that is our Col. Stanley, but, if so, how can we expect to manufacture our own material when such men are representatives of English firms? It would be interesting to know if there are other firms, such as Vickers, Maxim, &c, with representatives in Australia. One point with reference to the conversion of the Tasmanian gun may be worth mentioning, and that is, that the extra remuneration given for supervision to the fitter in charge of the work was £36. This amount could have been saved had the work been done in the Defence Department’s own workshop.
If we are having done in England work which could be done in Australia, we are making a great mistake. I am also informed that the carpentering and engineering branches of the Ordnance Department are largely employed upon private work for officials. For instance, it is stated that - I shall not give the. names mentioned in my informant’s letter as to which, if the Minister refers the matter to a Committee they can test its truth carefully -
A got a Colt’s gun overhauled. He brought this from South Africa. He seems to have disposed of it to Sir Rupert Clarke. A man, named Henderson, was engaged on this for several days.
– How long ago?
– Very recently; since Federation.
B has had a lot of work done, the principal item being an umbrella stand made of shot, swords, ramrods, &c.
C got a dust truck made - about three days’ work. D, candlesticks, ink bottles, &c. E, brass tube with centre spindle for book case ; also, from Ordnance stores, cedar, &c, for ditto - about £2 10s. Carpenter’s vyce repaired.. Original cost about 5s., repairs cost about 30s.
It will be found that there has been a far greater abuse in the civilian branch. I noticed one job being done last week. A disreputable old saddle was brought in and repaired for F. The repairs done would have cost at least 50s., outside.
I do not want to mention names, but it is right the Minister should know’ of the statement.
– I had heard that this was happening, but, on making inquiry, was definitely informed that the statements were untrue. I have warned the Department that, if any officer uses Government workshops in the manner complained of, his services may be dispensed with.
– I am very glad to hear that.
– I cannot think that any officer would be such a fool as to risk dismissal.
– Does the honorable member for Corio consider that the information which he has given the House is reliable?
– Yes. I believe that the statements can be proved up to the hilt.
– The honorable member trusts his informant?
– I do.
– Then the Minister must look into the matter.
– I shall do so.
– I have been told that, if the Minister inspects the time-sheets of the Ordnance Department in Sydney and Melbourne, he will find these jobs recorded there.
– The time-sheets of present date?
-Of recent date. In conclusion, may I further ask the House to consider the danger which confronts us ? The honorable and learned member for Angas, addressing a farmers’ league in South Australia, is reported to have said-
He was no alarmist, as he said before, but they must recognise the awakening of the East ; and while strengthening local defences, think of their obligations to the Imperial Fleet. With Japan alert and vicious and armed, the control of the Pacific to be yet asserted ; China, answering the call of the West to test its latent strength ; India made restless by the weakening of traditional faiths, and the fertilization of’ the native mind with Western thoughts and ideals, there were possibilities that might make a deep draught upon their undoubted reserves of strength. If the East ever became the centre of conflict and power, it would be for them, who represented the Northern races in strange seas, the civilization of Europe some 12,000 miles from its source, with the spirit and devotion of their forefathers, to guard the sacred fire.
I have also been supplied with a paragraph from Sir Tollemache Sinclair’s work, Russia and Japan, in which the writer says that, during the negotiations with reference to the Japanese treaty -
Our British Government sent one of their best soldiers to visit Japan, and after a considerable stay there, and a thorough inspection of their military system, he made a report, of which a copy was given to the War Office in London, in which it was stated that the tropical portion of Australia was considered by Japan as her natural heritage, and that in every school the soldiers from their earliest enlistment were educated to view this position as their inevitable possession, and that all were taught the necessary military methods to acquire it, if ever an occasion arose.
Such statements make it appear that that section of the Labour Party outside which is attacking the Bill, is making a great mistake. Although labour meetings may, on May Day, pass resolutions against militarism, it is because of the protection of the military that they are able to do so; and to that they owe their industrial supremacy.
– The honorable member says that the Labour Party outside is attacking the Bill; where?
– In the Labour newspapers. I have not seen one in which the scheme of compulsory training contained in the Bill has not been strongly attacked.
– In what newspaper has it been attacked?
– It has been attacked in the Brisbane Worker, and in the Melbourne Labour Call.
– The honorable member has not seen attacks in other labour organs ? I wish him to be specific.
– I have seen attacks in the two newspapers named. There is a movement among Victorian labour leagues tobring about another conference to discuss the resolution of the Brisbane Conference relating to military training. I could give the names of three leagues which desire that. They are trying to get the Political Labour Council of Victoria to bring about a new Commonwealth Conference for the reconsideration of the Brisbane resolution, which approved of the scheme.
– The honorable member is wrong. .
– It supported compulsory drill.
– The Brisbane Conference affirmed the desirability of a “citizen defence force, with compulsory military training, and an Australian-owned navy.”
Mr.Roberts. - But the resolution of the conference and the scheme embodied In the Bill may be as wide asunder as the poles. The resolution may differ widely even from the scheme of the Prime Minister, which differs materially from that in the Bill.
– It differs only immaterially.
– The members of the conference which met in Brisbane in July last of course had no knowledge- of the Bill; but they knew the contents of the speech delivered by the Prime Minister in December last, which might have had for its heading. “ The establishment of a Citizen Defence Force, with compulsory military training.” The purpose of his speech could not agree more exactly than it does with the resolutions of the Brisbane. Conference.
– The honorable member may be doing it inadvertently, but he is endeavouring to commit the Labour Party to the Ministerial scheme of defence when as a matter of fact there is absolutely nothing upon record to justify his action.
– I am not acting inadvertently. I am doing it wilfully.
– Then the honorable member’s conduct is deplorable.
– I am glad to have the actual report here. On page 16 of the official report of the fourth Commonwealth Labour Conference, which was held in July last, I learn that Mr. Watson submitted the following resolution -
That this Conference approves of the principle of compulsory military training for all males, irrespective of class or consideration, as the only method of giving effect to the plank providing for a Citizen Defence Force, and he followed it up with remarks, in which Mr. Deakin’s scheme was greatly praised. With a few exceptions, the scheme laid down by the Prime Minister was approved by that body.
– Who were the exceptions ?
– The honorable member for Darwin was one, Messrs. McGowen and Holman, of New South Wales, and Mr. Anstey, of Victoria, comprised the others.
– It does not matter how much the honorable member may quote, he will find nothing in that report to justify him in attempting to commit the Labour Party either to this Bill or the Government scheme of defence.
– The honorable member has already declared that my conduct is deplorable, and He cannot go much further than that. In outline the resolution which has been made a plank in the platform of “the Labour Party since the Brisbane Conference is in agreement with the scheme proposed by the Prime Minister and embodied in this Bill.
– What about the labour leagues which wished to reverse that decision ? ‘
– I think there are three bodies in Victoria which have already sent proposals to the Political Labour Council asking that the Federal Conference be reinstituted for the purpose of reconsidering the scheme which provides for compulsory military training.
– They want their men to go back upon their military commitments.
– The organization is a live one, and if the representatives of the Labour Party wish to change their opinions they are perfectly entitled to do so. But to those who are endeavouring to change the platform of that party I should like to commend the following words by General Ian Hamilton, in speaking of the barriers which exist between the workers of the east and the west, between a white nation like Australia and the people of the Orient -
What, then, are these barriers? They are the safeguards imposed by fleets and armies, by what is called militarism. What but the army and fleet serving under the Stars and Stripes lends any significance to a declaration by American labour leaders that Chinese Coolies must be excluded from the States? But for those military forces the least that even a pacifically inclined China could do to retain its own self-respect would be to retaliate by ordering every American ship, concessionaire - merchant, missionary, and globe-trotter to disappear from the middle kingdom within twenty-four hours. If a generation hence China found herself faced only by Europeans and Americans who had beaten their swords into policemen’s batons, she would then be free to set to work and starve them to death with Celestial serenity. Under conditions of perpetual peace and that industrial and social inequality of all men, without which perpetual peace is a fantastic dream, the Chinaman, as I have seen him in Manchuria, is as capable of destroying the white working man of the present type and driving him from the face of the earth, as was the brown rat of destroying and driving out from England that excellent but less strenuous, less omnivorous black rat who had preceded him. The Socialists who gaily flaunt the words “Unity of Labour” on their banners little dream where their theories would lead them to in practice.’ Is it, then, to be the fate of the white man ultimately to sink and disappear? It depends, in my humble opinion, on whether he has the good sense to close his ears to those who tell him that wars and preparations for wars are pure evil, and that pure unadulterated commercialism would be an earthly paradise instead of the Limbo of dead souls which I personally should conceive it to be. It is heroism, self-sacrifice, and chivalry which redeem war and build up national character. What play do the heroic qualities find in the ignoble struggle between nations for commercial supremacy with stock exchanges and wheat pits for their battle-fields? It seems to me that the working men must take their choice. They must, as the world seems at present constituted, either accept the militarism, with its occasional wars, or else elect for one long, cruel, lifeanddeath struggle against a rival worker who will certainly ruin them in the end.
I feel that the attempt by America to exclude the Chinese is largely paralleled by our own efforts in that direction. The United States only partially exclude the Chinese and other Oriental races, whereas we exclude them completely. America is a strong nation, Australia is a weak one, and if the words I have quoted are true of the former they are doubly true of the latter. I regret the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Flinders. A German pastor who recently returned from England has declared his conviction that if Germany desires peace she will have to build ships, and there is not the slightest doubt that if Australia desires peace she must prepare for war. Although I believe that the attack by the honorable member for Flinders is largely prompted by party feeling - that it is an attempt to injure the Government and to block this Bill-
– I do not think that .the honorable member is justified in saying that.
– There was one manSamson - who, in order to injure his enemies, pulled down a temple, but in so doing destroyed himself. The honorable member for Flinders should heed that warning. To those honorable members who vote against this measure and who thereby attempt to prevent the initiation of a national system of defence, the people of Australia will yet have much to say.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [4.43]. - The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has occupied the attention of the House for a considerable period, but even those who, like myself, are unable to arrive at his conclusions, will admit that he has given the House a considerable amount of information which cannot fail to be of value in the further discussion of this Bill. I do not propose to follow the honorable member in his excursions into the domain of administration by the Military Board.
– Such criticism is useful.
Colonel FOXTON.- It is somewhat foreign to the discussion of a Bill of this kind ; but it would be most useful if indulged in when the Estimates of the Department were under consideration. Before dealing with the Bill itself, I propose to refer to one or two matters mentioned by the honorable member - matters of which I have some slight knowledge. He declared that the Field Artillery - with which I have been connected for nearly forty years - has been proved to be the weak spot in our defence system. With that statement I shall deal when I come to speak of the existing Defence Force. I shall then give reasons why that branch of the service is weak, and I shall suggest what I conceive to be the remedy for that weakness. I regard the charge of misfeasance which the honorable member has made in connexion with the Ordnance Department as a most serious one.
Several Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– And the Minister must act upon it.
Colonel FOXTON.- It is only right that the fact should be recorded that honorable members regard that’ charge as a really serious one.
– Either the honorable member for Corio has said too much or too little.
Colonel FOXTON.- Quite so. The man upon whose authority the statement was made is either telling the truth or he is a gross libeller. If he is employed in the workshops and has supplied false information, he ought to be summarily dealt with. If, on the other hand, his statements are true, the officers who have privately benefited by making unjustifiable use of the Ordnance workshops ought to be severely dealt with. In the interests of the public service and of the Defence Force, the matter ought not to be allowed to rest where it is.
– The honorable member knows that, about three years ago, it was proved that an officer had misappropriated a large quantity of coal belonging to his men. But what was done in that instance?’ The offender was merely removed to Sydney, where he has since been treated with the greatest leniency and consideration.
Colonel FOXTON. - I do not see that that circumstance affects this question at all. I could quote instances of a similar character which have occurred in Queensland. The honorable member also emphasized thedesirableness of getting all work connected with the conversion of guns in Australia undertaken- locally, and he quoted reasons- why this course should be adopted. But I would point out that there are two sides to every question. It has come under my notice that the cord used in the manufacture of breeches for the Queensland mounted forces is of very poor quality indeed.
– Where is it manufactured ?
Colonel FOXTON.- In Sydney, I understand. Though it requires to be passed by an expert, it is a fact that after only four days’ wear it is possible to almost see through it.
– It is of no use leaving work of that sort to military officers.
Colonel FOXTON. - I am told that one officer has been compelled to expend -£i6o of the funds of his corps upon this cord, most of which is now useless.
– Will the honorable member see that I get a definite statement with regard to it?
Colonel FOXTON. - The statement is in the Minister’s office, and also a pair of breeches, as a specimen which was sent after four days’ wear, although I believe’ it was erroneously alleged that it had had only one day’s wear. It was sent, I think, to Sydney, and the answer received was that the damage appeared to have been done by a man falling down and tearing it. However, the whole regiment did not fall down, and I understand that this was only a fair specimen of the whole of the cord after being worn. Consequently, there is a converse side to the question. If this work is to be done in Australia it ought to be most carefully supervised, and thorough experts should be employed to check it. The honorable member for Corio also referred to the privilege that he would confer on members of the Defence Force of communicating with the press, and being allowed a freedom in criticising their superior officers, which is certainly not usual in any Government Department. Nothing could be more subversive of discipline than such a procedure. As to saluting, my own impression is that in a military force, at all events, where discipline is one of the most essential factors for success, no man should be above saluting his superior officer whenever he sees him. There is no degradation in it. It is merely a recognition of the other’s superior rank.
– It is rot.
Colonel FOXTON. - Has the- honorable member ever served in a military force? Mr. Frazer. - No.
Colonel FOXTON. - I thought not. If he had he would know better than to talk of saluting as rot.
– Surely the honorable member would not have one salute the other when both are in mufti?
Colonel FOXTON. - I should if they belonged -to the regular forces. In the case of the citizen forces I certainly should not insist on it. I draw the line at that. I do not hesitate to give ray opinion from a fairly extended experience in the defence forces. I began as a gunner thirty-six or thirty-seven years ago, and from then till now, whenever I have met my superior officer in the street, I have never hesitated to take off my hat to him as a mark of respect. I have suffered no indignity by it.
– Why should the honorable member do it?
Colonel FOXTON.- As a mark of respect, and as an acknowledgment that he is my superior officer, and that I am not ashamed of it.
– He is when on parade, but when off parade he is a fellow citizen.
– Why does the honorable member for Kalgoorlie bow to the Speaker ?
– Because he is the Speaker. I bow to him in the chamber, but I do not necessarily do so when I meet him outside.
Colonel FOXTON.- The principle is the same. It is a mark of respect. It may be regarded broadly as a matter of mere courtesy, as from inferiors to superiors in rank in a military organization. This Bill is one pf the most important that has come before this Parliament. It deals with two subjects, which have been probably as fertile as, if not more fertile! than, any others in provoking controversy and dissension, or, at all events, discussion, for centuries. One is the question of the defence of the country in which the disputants happen to reside, and the other is the great question of the liberty of the subject. Federation was accomplished very largely, I might almost say principally, for, the purpose of adjusting and bringing to a better state of organization our military and naval forces. That was urged as one of the leading reasons why Federation should be brought about. Prior to that we had, comparatively speaking, efficient forces in all the different Colonies, as the States were then called, but they were under separate Acts, different Governments, and different military commands, entirely independent of one another, and the systems varied more or less. But, roundly speaking, the system was practically the same throughout Australia, having been arrived at through experience by the various Governments and Parliaments as the one best adapted to the conditions of life in this continent. That men nt the development of what has since been called the militia from the old volunteer forces. The fusion of the States commands took place immediately after Federation, and then came the present Defence Act, based, as were also the Defence Acts of nearly all the Colonies, upon the Act passed in Queensland in 1884, at the instance of Sir Samuel Griffith, with the assistance of Sir George French, who was then Commandant. That was the first occasion, so far as I know, upon which,’ in any British community, the principle of compulsory service, as we have hitherto understood it, was. passed into law. Happily it has not been necessary so far to put that law into force, and, I believe, it never will be. I allude, of course, to the sections of the various Defence Acts, and of the present Commonwealth Act, which make every adult male between certain ages, in case of danger of war, compellable to serve his country in the ranks. Most thoughtful men agree with that, although there are exceptions, such as those referred to by -the honorable member for Corio, who have addressed honorable members by circular, urging that they have conscientious scruples against bearing arms. We know that certain religious bodies have such scruples, but, excepting them, and excepting, also, thorough “ wasters “ - I do not wish it to be understood that I am classing those religious bodies with the “ wasters,” by whom I mean certain people who are utterly careless of these matters, and who would shirk any responsibility for the defence of their country if they could, quite irrespective of conscientious scruples - most thoughtful men will agree with the axiom laid down by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence, that every able-bodied man in the community should be compellable, in case of emergency, to assist in the defence of his country.
– That is so under the present Act.
Colonel FOXTON. - Yes. Of course, it may be said that both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence have gone a good deal further, but a man cannot actually join in the defence of his country unless there is an attack upon it, so that, after all, they are stating nothing more than” what appears in the present Defence Act. The next axiom which I think most people accept - at all events, those do who accept the first - is that it is necessary to train the adult male population, or, at all events, to see that they have been sufficiently trained, before they reach manhood, to enable them to bear their part in the defence of the country when called upon, in such a way as not to go into the ranks as the merest raw recruits.
– Under this Bill, hundreds of thousands of them will have to go into the ranks without tuition in case of emergency.
Colonel FOXTON.- Of course that would be so under the present Act also in the event of war or invasion. I shall show later on that a very large proportion of the present adult male population would be in exactly the same fix.
– But that would not be so five or six years hence, if this Bill were passed.
Colonel FOXTON.- They cannot all be killed off in five or six years.
– But it is absolutely impossible to train the whole population of Australia at once.
Colonel FOXTON. - As the Minister said, the man behind the gun is useless without training. Many men, and I believe many members, think that- if a man can shoot well he is just as good whether he has had military training and been taught his company drill as if he has not. That is an absolute fallacy- Such men would be a mere horde. They must be organized. They must understand their duties in the field, and be able to carry out intelligently the orders they may receive.
– And they must have commissioned and non-commissioned officers.
Colonel FOXTON.- Quite so. The whole force must be a complete military machine or organization based on what has been found to be best by the experience of centuries. Although it is most desirable for the sake of national safety that all adult males should be trained to as great a degree of efficiency in military affairs as is possible, there are certain limitations. Theoretically, the best way to obtain the most effective results would be to make every man a soldier. That would afford the best means of defence for any country, but it cannot be done. ‘ Respect must be had for our industries. The business of the country must be carried on, and so most nations have solved the difficulty by establishing standing armies of paid soldiers. The Prime Minister - I cannot lay my hands on his exact words - laid down the principle that it was undesirable that a certain selected set of men should be paid for doing work - that of defending the country - in which everybody should share. The Minister of Defence, elaborating that argument, spoke of only 20,000 men in the Defence Forces doing the work of 800,000.
– I distinctly said “ undergoing training.”
Colonel FOXTON.- Is it necessary that the 800,000 should be all trained? If it came to a question of actual warfare they could not all be put into the field. Every able-bodied man in the community cannot be made a soldier.
– We may have to make as many of them soldiers as the Boers did. They took the bulk of their men.
Colonel FOXTON. - The Boers in the field did not amount to anything like 800,000. When it comes to actual fighting, admitting that we cannot put our whole population into the field, we must adopt the principle of paying certain men ; for I do not suppose that any one wants a soldier to fight for the defence of his country without being paid. So that it is merely a question of degree - of the extent to which any community is willing to make sacrifices for the purpose of having a portion of its male population specially trained for defence purposes.
– How would the honorable member select the men?
Colonel FOXTON.- In my opinion the voluntary system will answer, supplemented by certain early military training. If we train every man in the community inthe manner in which it is proposed under this Bill that men shall be trained, we shall undoubtedly have a very large number of men away from their civil occupations, whilst, in my opinion, a sufficient amount of training can be secured without such sacrifices. It is generally accepted as a principle that preparations for war should be governed by the reasonable probabilities of the immediate future rather than by remoter possibilities. That is especially true in regard to armaments. Not much more than a decade elapses before armaments in any branch of the service become obsolete. Every ten years or thereabouts, we get a new pattern of gun, and a new drill. The same remark is also true to a very large extent, in regard to personnel; because, although we cannot train our men sufficiently in a short time, still a few years’ training is quite sufficient to enable a number of men to become very useful soldiers. The Bill before us deals both with naval and military matters. The salient feature of it is compulsory service. A little later on I shall draw a comparison between the designation “universal training “ given to the system proposed in this Bill, and “compulsory service.” The Minister of Defence has described the relative cost of the scheme under which we now work, and that which it is proposed shall become the law. I cannot imagine how so large a number of men as it is proposed to train, can be trained for the outlay indicated by the Minister. Of course, I have no means of checking his figures. It must be purely a matter of speculation from my point of view. But the question of cost is not confined to the actual outlay by the Treasury. We have also to add the value of the labour of the men who are to be taken away from their civil avocations to attend camps for three weeks in each year. Even if they were paid 17s. 6d. per week each, to arrive at the cost to the country, we have to add to that amount the sum which they would have earned had not their services been required for military training.
– Probably they would have been playing football.
– There is not a factory in Australia that is not closed for about a month everyyear.
Colonel FOXTON. - But can the honorable gentleman guarantee that the training will take place at the particular time when the factories are closed ?
– It can take place at Easter and Christmas time, when nearly all factories are closed.
Colonel FOXTON. - We musttake into consideration some factors of considerable importance which have not been sufficiently dwelt upon. First, we must consider our geographical position. Every one knows that the insular position of Great Britain has been the greatest protection she has had against attack in the past, and it will be so in the future. We are much more insulated than Great Britain is. It would be far more difficult to conduct an oversea invasion of Australia than of Great Britain, owing to the enormous distance that would have to be traversed by the attacking power, and the extensive line of communications’ that would have to be kept up. It also has to be remembered that we are an integral part of a great naval Empire. It seems to me to be inconceivable that during this generation or the next there should be the slightest fear of an invasion of Australia.
– Then why bother about defence at all?
Colonel FOXTON.- T do not advocate that. T should like to quote from the report of the Committee of Imperial Defence upon a scheme of defence for Australia - page 5-
In considering this subject, it is necessary to draw a clear distinction between hasty raids dependent for success on surprise and rapidity of execution rather than on the number of troops employed, and larger operations aiming at a prolonged or permanent occupation of Australian territory.
– The Committee of Imperial Defence postulate four cruisers and 1,000 men j but I direct the honorable member’s attention to the fact that there is such a thing as national existence.
Colonel FOXTON. - I will come to that point. The report goes on -
The oversea conveyance from a distant base of operations of a military expedition if strong enough for the latter purpose, and its continued supply with munitions of war when landed, would only be possible to a power which was mistress of the seas, and was able to destroy or mask all the hostile ships that: might at any time be in a position to interrupt the communications of the expeditionary force.
The attacking power would have to be absolute mistress of the seas. As long as our connexion with “Great Britain lasts, and we remain under her aegis, we can rely upon it that so long as she had ships which could roam the seas they would intercept the line of communications of any invader. So long as Great Britain maintained the command of the seas, no power would have the temerity to attack us.
– But suppose that Great Britain failed to retain that command?
Colonel FOXTON. - If the British Navy were wiped off the face of the earth - be cause that is what it comes to - I do not know what would Happen. But so long as there are’ British ships to intercept a line of communications, no armed occupation could be maintained.
No such expedition has ever been carried to a successful conclusion unless this condition has been fulfilled, and some of the greatest military disasters recorded in history have resulted from failure to secure or retain the assured sea command which is essential for the prosecution of an oversea campaign.
I will go so far as to say that if the Boers had had a fleet which the British Navy had failed to wipe off the seas, we could never have carried on the campaign in South Africa, because we could not have relied upon supplies coming forward. The campaign would have had to be abandoned. It is not necessary that the protecting squadron should be in any way commensurate with the invaders’ naval force as regards strength or numbers ; but as long as the protecting power has ships on the sea which are at liberty to intercept the line of communications, any continuance of an occupation of Australia would be impossible. If the Empire were engaged in war with a European Power, or with two Powers, what should we haveto provide for? Assuming for the sake of argument that, instead of the British Fleet having blocked up the fleets of the hostile powers, the latter had overcome and rendered the strength of the British Navy to such an extent inoperative that they were able to make an invasion, still, if Britain could keep ships afloat, and at liberty to roam the seas, the enemy’s lines of communication would unquestionably be disturbed and interfered with, and, as I said before, a continuance of the invasion would be impossible. Can any one conceive it possible that during this generation or the next, no matter what advance may be made by other European powers in naval construction - even though Great Britain were to be utterly outbuilt - the British Navy will get so far behind, relatively speaking, as not to be in the position I have described?
– Why should the whole defence of Australia rest on Great Britain?
Colonel FOXTON.- I am not saying that it should. And the converse of what I have indicated holds good. A hostile power may, notwithstanding the present enormous preponderance of the British Fleet, still be able to avoid the British cruisers, and to make raids on our shores ; and for that we should be prepared. But an invasion in force is almost inconceivable within the life of any living man. No nation would dare to risk it. I do not suggest for one moment that we should depend entirely on the British Fleet for our defence.
– What ought we to do?
Colonel FOXTON. - I do not know whether the honorable gentleman has ever borne arms?
Colonel FOXTON. - I have done so for a great many years, thus giving, at all events, an indication of my personal feeling that it is desirable for Australia to be in a position to take part, not only in her own defence, but in the defence of the Empire. We are aware that no Australian militiaman, or, for the matter of that, no member of the permanent forces, is compelled to serve outside Australia; but, in the event of Great Britain being involved in war, and there being any necessity for such a step, I am quite sure the manhood of Australia would flock in tens of thousands, as they have done before, for voluntary service of the Empire elsewhere.
– How long would it take to train an average Australian bushman, and make him a good soldier?
Colonel FOXTON.- A very much shorter time than would be necessary in the case of almost any other man on the face of the earth.
– How long would it take to make competent officers ?
Colonel FOXTON.- A good deal depends on the man; and I am afraid that the Minister has unwittingly touched the weakest spot in his Bill.
– Very Well; then make the period longer.
Colonel FOXTON. - Are officers to be taken away from their vocations for a longer period than three weeks at a time in each year? I am afraid I shall have to ask the Minister for a good deal of information on points of that kind. There is another factor we have to consider in connexion with the training of Australians - a factor already touched on in the interjection of the honorable member for Barker - and that is their natural aptitude for military exercises. I have never met an officer or non-commissioned officer brought from the Old Country for instructional purposes in Australia, but who has said - and I have made a. point of asking questions on the subject - that he was astonished at the facility with which Australians appeared to grasp instructions. Whatever the reason may be I cannot say - it may be that it is a superior education, or the freer life - but in my experience the testimony is unanimous that in six weeks, or not much more, an average Australian can be trained to as great an efficiency as would require twelve months in the case of an ordinary English recruit.
An Honorable Member. - Australians are more resourceful than the average Englishman.
Colonel FOXTON.- There may be something in that, but, whatever the explanation may be, the fact remains. To revert for one moment to the British Fleet, I desire to point out that, although there has been a redistribution, which has been commented on by the Minister of Defence, and also by the honorable member for West Sydney, as indicating a weakness on. the part of the Admiralty, the leading members of both the great political parties in- Great Britain have declared, and continue to declare - and Mr. Winston Churchill reiterated only two days ago - that the British Government are determined to maintain the two-power standard. And, in my opinion, it is no indication of any weakening of the naval strength of Great Britain that the fleet has been concentrated in the North Sea and the neighbourhood of the English Channel ; the movement is for strategical purposes, and with a view to increased strength for the purpose of striking. The only two naval powers in the Pacific at this moment worth considering, from the British point of view, are Japan and the United States, one of which is our close ally, and the other, though, perhaps, not actually an ally, is on the most friendly terms with Great Britain.
– A big brother !
Colonel FOXTON. - A younger brother, if he is big. According to the policy which has been laid down by all great commanders, fleets are for the purpose of “wiping out” or “bottling up” the enemy’s ships in order, for the one reason, if none other, that our own transports shall have free access to the enemy’s shores. Where can the naval strength, of which Great Britain could possibly have reason to take notice, be said to lie at the present time? Is it not in the North Sea and European waters? Difficulties with Japan are impossible at the present time, and the same may be said of the United States; and, therefore, the British Fleet is taken where it will be able to strike most effectively against any possible enemy.
– Has it only recently been found out that the North Sea is the place where the fleet will have to strike?
Colonel FOXTON.- That was not the only place until the conclusion of the treaty with Japan and the crippling of the Chinese fleet. Formerly there was a powerful Chinese fleet, and a Russian squadron at Vladivostock, and we were not on the best of terms with Russia; but now it may be said, for all practical purposes, that there are only two great naval powers in the Pacific, with each of which Great Britain is on the most friendly terms.
– And yet Great Britain is concentrating her naval forces !
Colonel FOXTON. - Naturally, not as I conceive, for the purpose of merely protecting Great Britain from invasion, but for the purpose of striking early and crushing blows at the fleets of possible enemies. Now I come to a question, which is undoubtedly somewhat delicate, but which -I do not propose to shirk. I have already -said that I cannot conceive that, during this or the next generation, we shall be in any danger of invasion. So far as one, humanly speaking, can see into the future, our connexion with the Mother Country will certainly last that period, and we shall have the benefit of the protection of the British Fleet, or, as it may become known later, the fleet of the Empire. But we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that we in Australia have decided on -a policy which may, and, in my opinion, not improbably will, raise one of the most . difficult questions which the British Empire has yet to face - the great race question. We have declared that we shall have a White Australia - that we shall have no Asiatics here - and there is no probability of our abandoning that policy. On the other hand, Great Britain has teeming millions of subjects in India, and alliances and friendly relations with other great Asiatic nations; and we have already had an instance in South Africa of the delicate nature of the negotiations undertaken in connexion with the coolie question. Whatever the future may, have for us, it seems to me that there might be an endeavour on the part of, let us say China, for the sake of argument - not next year., in the next ten years, or even the next forty years, but possibly- later - assuming that that nation wakes in the sense that Japan has awakened, to force its way into Australia in exactly the same way as Great Britain forced its way into China in the past. Therein lies the necessity for our taking strong measures for the defence of this country. It might be difficult for the Mother Country to recognise and give complete effect to our desire in regard to such a matter. One cannot possibly foretell what might happen. We can only imagine the possibilities, and it is the possibilities, even though they may be very remote, with which we have to deal, or to make provision for. Coming to the Bill, let me say that the Prime Minister in December mentioned that the details of the Government scheme when it appeared would be fully made known to honorable members. Has that prediction been fulfilled? I think not.
– What does the honorable member wish to know ?
Colonel FOXTON. - I wish to know a great many things. 1 wish to know what the regulations are going to be. So far as I can see, the honorable member for Corio has very aptly said that this Bill may be regarded as a blank cheque to be given by Parliament, to be filled in according to the sweet will of the Government. I am disposed to regard the Bill as a framework on which to hang a uniform. There is a great paucity of detail in the measure, and if the honorable gentleman who introduced it will permit me to say so, there was paucity of detail in the speech in which he mo’ved the second reading.
– It was two hours long.
Colonel FOXTON. - I know it was, but it was mostly “ hifalutin.” Believing, as I do, in compulsory training within certain limits-
– What are those limits?
Colonel FOXTON.- I propose to tell the honorable gentleman before I sit down. Believing, as I do, in compulsory training within reasonable limits, 1 am disappointed with the lack of detail in this Bill. I think that a great many more principles might have been embodied in it.
– It is not a Bill, it is only a placard.
Colonel FOXTON.- The system proposed is called universal training, but for my part I am unable to distinguish it from compulsory service. In the Bill itself in some clauses the training is called service, and in others the service is called training. The speech of the Minister was characterized by the same peculiarity. In the first place, whether training or service, what is proposed is certainly not universal, because should this Bill become law there would be an enormous number of exemptions; and, in fact, the residents of whole districts might be exempted.
– Not necessarily.
Colonel FOXTON.- That is what we do not know. No principle is laid down governing the exemptions. The GovernorGeneral is to be given power to make regulations by which, if he chose to do so, though of course he would not, he might render the measure inoperative by exempting the residents of nearly every district in the Commonwealth. Undoubtedly under this Bill the exemptions will be very extensive. Any one who knows theconditions of the sparsely-populated districts of the interior must be aware that it would be almost impossible to carry out the principles of this Bill in, a very large number of those districts, unless it is proposed to bring men many hundreds of miles to some place at which they could undergo their training. That would involve an enormous expense, and I should like to know whether the time occupied in travelling to and from the place at which the training is given would have to be taken out of the three weeks provided for? Difficulties of this kind are best illustrated by extreme instances, and I could mention districts in Queensland where it would be impossible for a man to travel from his place of residence to any place at which it would be possible to assemble a sufficient number of men to justify the holding of a camp of training, and return in very much under the three weeks allowed.
– What would the honorable member do with that man?
Colonel FOXTON.- I suppose that he would be exempted under this Bill.
– Then why object to exemptions.
Colonel FOXTON.- I do not object to exemptions. I object to this being called universal training, when it is not universal training.
– The honorable member objects to the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill.
Colonel FOXTON.- I am, indeed, so disappointed with it that I shall have to vote against its second reading.
– The man to whom the honorable gentleman has referred might be better able to afford the time required for his training than the resident of a city.
– That sounds well.
Colonel FOXTON.- What is the difference between training and service ? I understand that all military service embraces military training, because a man is being trained while he is serving. I should like to know what is meant by the training which does not amount to service, and which, apparently, is intended to be the kind of training provided for in this Bill. Failing anything in the Bill, or in the second-reading speech of the Minister of Defence, to indicate what is intended, each member is obliged to adopt his own method of arriving at the correct interpretation. If a man is enrolled in a body fully officered and equipped as a fighting machine and made up or divided into companies, battalions, batteries, and so on, and is subject to military law and discipline, he undoubtedly belongs to a military organization. Serving in it, his service is military service. If, on the other hand, we are providing in this Bill merely for training, and enlistment and enrolment do not mean enlistment and enrolment in a military organization intended to engage in fighting as an army, what is being provided for is merely a school of instruction. Which of these two forms of service is intended ? Is it proposed that there shall be a complete military organization in the usual acceptation of the word, capable, as it stands, of entering upon a campaign, or merely that there shall be established a school of instruction? Neither the Bill nor the speech of the Minister has been definite on that point, and I am still in the dark as to what is intended.
– What is the organization to be established for? It is to be a going concern - a military organization.
– The present is a going concern.
Colonel FOXTON.- The present concern has, apparently, nearly gone. I am glad to have the Minister’s assurance that it is intended to establish a military organization under this Bill, because it would be a farce to suppose that members of a mere training school could be called out for service unless they were properly organized on military lines. “Since it is intended to provide for a military organization “ a force equipped and ready “ for active service, I say unhesitatingly that, so far as one can gather from the principles and details comprised in the Bill, it will entirely fail to be of value as a defence force for sudden emergency. Although the establishment provided for may be called a military organization, it would still, practically, have to commence its organization if called upon for active service.
– That is a strong argument for training every one.
Colonel FOXTON.- Yes, but can we afford to train every one in a proper way? The country cannot afford to train all its citizens as soldiers in the proper sense of the term. No, nation in which all the citizens were soldiers could hope to continue to exist.
– Does the honorable member think that 12,000 “efficients” are enough for Australia?
Colonel FOXTON.- I shall deal with that when I come to consider the position of the existing Military Forces. I think that the Minister ought to have hesitated before he attempted to say that our present forces are confined to 12,000 men.
– I said 15,000.
Colonel FOXTON. - Or to 15,000 men. But the honorable gentleman’s interjection has anticipated what I propose to say..
– The honorable member for Corio ridiculed the condition of the present forces.
Colonel FOXTON.- No, the honorable member attacked only the administation. That has nothing to do with this Bill, for the same administration might be continued under this measure. If this Bill is intended to provide for service, it is undoubtedly compulsory service, and why not say so? Why should the Government shy at the words “ compulsory service “ and, by speaking of “ universal training,” seek refuge in something which bears very much the appearance of a subterfuge? I have shown that the training proposed would not be universal. I should have added that all bad characters are to be exempted. Under the proposed new section 581, a man would only have to prove that he had been convicted of any disgraceful or infamous crime–
– Such a man would not be allowed in the British Army.
Colonel FOXTON.- What is a disgraceful or infamous crime? A man need only show that he is a bad character to’ be exempt from training under this Bill. The training proposed is not universal; but it is compulsory, and we have it now from the Minister of Defence that it is also intended that, it shall be service. There are only two important points in which what is proposed differs from the compulsory service of the Swiss nation. ‘ First of all it is not intended to pay our men, whereas the Swiss do pay their men.
– They call it pocket-money. They do not call it pay. It amounts to 7½d. per day.
Colonel FOXTON.Sevenpence three farthings, as a matter of fact. First of all, the Swiss are paid, and in the second place the Swiss service is very much more irksome and a greater tax upon the individual than that proposed in, this Bill. Those are the two main points on which the systems differ, and, ‘after all, it is only a difference in degree. The service in each case is practically the same, the only difference being that in Switzerland the men are now called out for sixty-eight days a year, whereas here it is proposed that they shall be called out for eighteen days per annum. In all other respects the Bill provides for compulsory service.
– Not the compulsory service of the Continent.
Colonel FOXTON.- Certainly not; but it. is only a difference in degree. Why should not this scheme be described as one for compulsory service? Why have not the Government so described it? Is it for political reasons? Is it because the Government do not care to face the country with a scheme described in those words?
– What does it matter? Compulsory service is mentioned in the Bill.
Colonel FOXTON.- The Bill . provides for what is described as “ universal training,” and on the authority of the Minister, who states that this organization will be a going concern, I say that compulsory service is what is aimed at. Let us see if this’ organization would be sufficient for the purpose for which it is intended. What about the officers? And here we find a weak point in the Bill. An officer is expected, I presume, to serve three weeks in every year just as the men in the ranks are called upon to do. The Minister has told us, by way of interjection, that it will be possible for the officers to undergo longer terms of service.
– Hear, hear; an officer cannot become educated in the science of war unless he does more than eighteen days’ training per annum.
Colonel FOXTON. - I quite agree with the honorable member, and here I repeat we have a weak point in the Bill. What is to be an officer’s compensation ? Are we to contine our officers to men who can afford to leave their employment in order to devote three months, instead of three weeks, in each year to military training?
– Officers will have spare time and nights off, during which they may train.
Colonel FOXTON. - But, as the honorable member for Corio has most justly pointed out, it is constant intercourse between an officer and his men that makes a corps. When an officer meets his men once or twice a week, he comes to know the respective capacities of his non-commissioned officers, and, through them, to know practically the whole of his command. If we are going in a case of emergency to put a new staff of officers over men whom they have never seen before, we shall not have an efficient force.
– Where is such a proposal to be ‘found in the Bill? Colonel FOXTON. - Under it, a youth of eighteen will undergo his training for three weeks, in, say, December. He will then leave c:;mp, and nothing more will be heard of him for eleven months. He is not asked during that period to report or to attend drills. He goes away, and the officers under whom he served during his three weeks in camp may not be in training when his next term of service comes round.
– What about the militia in the Old Country with their six weeks’ drill?
Colonel FOXTON.- That system has not been a success.
– The militia was a splendid body of men.
– A most unsatisfactory body.
Colonel FOXTON. - Most unsatisfactory. The British militia has provided splendid material for the army, but I would prefer our own militia under the present system, since during the whole year the officers are in constant touch with their men. lt is assumed by a great many people that a militiaman puts in only sixteen days’ drill, but, as a matter of fact, in some branches of the militia, the men and their officers are constantly together ; the officers benefiting by this frequent association, and the men benefiting by the instruction which they receive at weekly drills and at week ends.
– There is nothing in the Bill to prevent that still going on.
Colonel FOXTON.- No; but that is not the proposal now before us. The existing system is alleged to be too expensive, and we are told that we should get rid of it. If the weekly drills of the present day ave to be substituted to any extent for the three-weeks’ camps, we shall fail largely to get rid of the alleged expense of the existing system. The aggregation of men in a camp for three weeks is said to be far more inexpensive in the matter of training than would be a continuous training throughout the year., as under the present system.
– That is very questionable.
– Take the Swiss authorities on the point.
Colonel FOXTON.- The Prime Minister has said that the system for which this Bill provides has been found, to work well in a country the physical conditions of which vary in a most remarkable degree from those of Australia. He could have gone much further, and have said that the physical, political, social, and economic conditions of Switzerland are vastly different from those prevailing here. The fact that this system has been a success in Switzerland does not argue that it will be successful here.
– The Prime Minister was not depending on the experience of Switzerland.
Colonel FOXTON.- But the honorable member has just referred us to the experience of that country.
– Only on the point as to concentration in camp.
Colonel FOXTON. - Is it not easier to form a camp in a district of the extent of, say, the Wimmera, than it is to form one in a continent so vast as is Australia?
– We are depending on the intelligence and the patriotism of the people and not on the experience of Switzerland.
Colonel FOXTON.- We must do that under any scheme. One of the chief items of expenditure incurred under the present system is said to relate to the cost of travelling to and from camps in connexion with the Easter manoeuvres. That expense will still be incurred to a large extent under the new system. The men cannot always manoeuvre over the same ground. It is even urged in the memorandum issued by the Government that in the course of time this force will be able to undertake movable camps. We have already done that in Queensland, and I believe that the system has been followed in other States.
– It has been followed in South Australia.
Colonel FOXTON. - Two years ago I was in command of a camp - and I mention this only to show that this scheme would not result in any great advance so far as the question of economy is concerned, since the men would have to move from place to place. The force of which I was in command was set loose on a railway line thirty miles from Brisbane which we were to attack. For eight days we struck camp every morning, and on only one occasion did we re-encamp where we had pitched our tents the previous night. By seven o’clock every morning camp was struck, baggage packed, and everything ready for the march.
– What was the strength of that force?
Colonel FOXTON.- About 1,000 or 1,200 men.
– That was good training.
Colonel FOXTON.- Excellent. The same system would be followed under this Bill, and the same expense would have to be undergone in order that the forces might be adequately trained. I fail to understand how, under this scheme, the officers are to be trained. If a man is not to see his command, or a portion of his command, during eleven months of the year, it is unreasonable to expect the corps to which he belongs to prove efficient when called upon. I was. hopeful that what was really intended was training, and not service - in other words, that we were to have an organization such as we have at present, and that the new system was to be something in the nature of a recruiting ground for our present force. That, I believe, is the true solution of the difficulty. The Minister suggested something of the sort, but was not definite as to the time during which the present force was to be continued. I come now to the question of arms. We have been told by the Prime Minister or the Minister of Defence that every man will retain his uniform. It will be his own property, and he will not be permitted to wear it during eleven months of the year. What sort of uniform will it be at the end of the eight years’ period? A man is to wear his uniform for three weeks, and then put it away for eleven months to be moth eaten. At the end of that period he will take it out and wear it again for three weeks, after which it will once more be given over to the moths. Then, again, during this intermittent training extending over eight years is each soldier going to retain his rifle ? If not, how is he to practise rifle shooting, how is he to become a proficient marksman ? If he is to be allowed to retain his rifle, then I prophesy from my experience of the way in which arms are kept by men who hold them free from inspection, that at least 50 per cent. of the rifles distributed will be found useless when they are brought up in connexion with the next annual training.
– That is a very conservative estimate.
Colonel FOXTON. - I made a conservative estimate, believing it quite possible that there would be provision for some inspection during the eleven months’ period. But that inspection would not be as complete as is the inspection which officers are able to exercise under the existing system.
– Does the honorable member suggest that rifles would rust out so quickly ?
Colonel FOXTON.- If a rifle is used for firing, and is put away without being carefully cleaned and oiled, the locks grow rusty, and it becomes absolutely useless.
– Only wasters would use a rifle in that way.
Colonel FOXTON.- There are wasters in all walks of life. A good many men who are not soldiers are rather careless with Government property placed under their control.
– The Government would look after its own property.
Colonel FOXTON. - I wish to look at this matter from a practical standpoint. Is every man to retain his rifle so that he may practise shooting, and become an effective shot, or is he not to do so?
– Are the rifles supplied to members of rifle clubs inspected?
Colonel FOXTON.- I understand that they are. In that case, is not the rifle the property of the man?
– I do not think that many members of rifle clubs buy their own rifles.
Colonel FOXTON.- I think that they do.
– Does not the rifle belong to the club?
– The club is responsible, except for fair wear and tear.
Colonel FOXTON.- The Minister will have menover whom there will be no military control for eleven months. That is the difficulty I see.
– Can the honorable member state the Swiss practice in regard to rifles ?
Colonel FOXTON.- I do not remember it at this moment.
– Under the Swiss system all rifles are kept in good order by the men themselves.
ColonelFOXTON.- In Switzerland it is a simple thing to inspect the whole of the rifles, because they are within what we should call a very small district; but here, where an inspector would have to travel long distances, perhaps 200 miles in some instances, we should need an army of inspectors to see that the rifles were kept in order, else they would be comparatively useless when required.
– If we found that the rifles were gettinginto bad order we should simply send them into the arsenal. There is nothing in that.
Colonel FOXTON. - There is a great deal in it, because if we intend to say to one man, “You shall have a rifle because you want to learn to shoot,” another man will ask, “ Why have I not a rifle?’’ We cannot deny a rifle to the latter.
– There is a great deal in it if we are counting upon 500 effective rifles, and in an emergency we find that we have only 100.
Colonel FOXTON.- That is a difficulty which is inherent in this intermittent training, and I do not see how it is to be got over. Either a man must have his rifle, or it must remain in the ordnance store. If it remains in the store, the good man who desires to use it, and perhaps take great care of it for the purpose of improving his shooting, will be deprived of that privilege for eleven months of the year. The men will have their rifles for only three weeks.. If, on the other hand, every man is to retain his rifle, we cannot get away from the difficulty of inspecting the rifles, and thealmost certainty that more than 50 per cent. of them will have become useless at the end of the year when the men have, to go up again. I desire now to refer to the present force. I quite agree with the Minister that since Federation there has been a distinct improvement in the Defence Force. For a great many years I served in the volunteers, and since 1884 I have served in the militia. I can unhesitatingly say that there is a distinct improvement. The knowledge of manoeuvres and tactics, exhibited at the annual camps, is distinctly superior to what it was eight or ten years ago.
– Is that remark limited to Queensland experience?
Colonel FOXTON. - I am speaking entirely of my Queensland experience.
– It is not the experience of New South Wales.
– Nor of the southern States.
Colonel FOXTON.- I must be understood to be speaking only of the State in which my experience has been gained. The administration under the Military Board hasbeen at least as satisfactory as it was when there was a General Officer Commanding. To my mind, things have worked more smoothly since the advent of the Board’ than they did previously. Of course, there are, as there always have been, and, I presume, always will be, complaints of administration in military matters. Undoubtedly a great organization of that kind cannot be carried on without some mistakes. So far my experience is that the Board is more approachable, if I may use that expression, than was Major-General Hutton.
– I should think so indeed. Anything under the sun would be more approachable than he was.
Colonel FOXTON.- Honorable members can see that that is a great step gained.
– I do not think that the honorable member ought to judge the system by a General Officer Commanding like Major-General Hutton.
Colonel FOXTON.- I certainly have had happier times under other men. Still he is the only General Officer Commanding: whom we have had under Federation.
– But did not each State have a General Officer Commanding before that?
Colonel FOXTON. - Yes ; and my experience with them was satisfactory. I confess that there is a great deal to be said on both sides. But the honorable member advocates the appointment of a responsible General Officer Commanding. One is naturally inclined to cast his memory back to the dissensions and the difficulties which arose out of disagreements between the General Officer Commanding and the Minister. It goes without saying that a Defence force, whether it be naval or military, must be under the absolute control of a Minister responsible to Parliament. It required a great deal of tact on the part of the various Commandants as they were called in those days, and probably also on the part of the General Officer Commanding, who preceded the institution of the Board, in order to avoid - though in some instances they did not avoid - conflicts with their Ministers. One notable instance was that of a naval Commandant in Queensland who, because his vessels - two gun-boats and a torpedo boat - had authority to fly the white ensign, defied the Minister, and was going to take them to Sydney, and report himself with them to the Admiral.
– How long was it before he was hanged ?
Colonel FOXTON.- Mr. Morehead, the Premier of the day, who was administering the Defence Department, sent a posse of constables on board, and arrested the whole lot; the civil arm prevailedagainst the naval arm. That was the end of Captain Wright. That is an instance of what some men placed in a position of that sort will assume to themselves. If those constables had arrived an hour later, the vessels would have left Moreton Bay, and would not have shown up again until they appeared in Sydney Harbor. I do not know what would have happened to them. I believe that the Admiral very properly condemned the whole proceeding. It ended all right for everybody except Captain Wright.
– Wright was not afraid to take the responsibility.
Colonel FOXTON. - Wright was wrong in that case. One criticism which the honorable member levelled at the present sys tem and the control of the Board was the absence of schemes of defence for the various States. I was on the Council of Defence for Queensland. Every year we met and prepared a scheme of defence which was marked “ secret.” A sealed copy of it was kept by each member of the body under lock and key. That system probably obtained in other Colonies too. Does it not occur to the honorable member for Corio that the fact that I do not know anything of any scheme of defence for Queensland now is no indication that there is not a scheme in existence? He must remember that the whole system of the administration of our defence has been concentrated in Melbourne, and I take it for granted that something analogous, only on a very much wider scale, to the scheme of defence which used to be drawn up in each Colony is now drawn up for the whole of Australia.
Mr.Crouch. - The Minister says that he is doing it ; but it is not done.
– Presumably not, because in his last report Major-General Hoad suggests the appointment of an officer for that particular purpose.
– But the Minister can easily settle that point now. Ask him.
Colonel FOXTON.- Is there a scheme of defence in existence?
– I am not satisfiedwith the scheme in existence.
Colonel FOXTON.- There is a scheme of defence in existence, then?
– Not one that satisfies me, certainly.
Colonel FOXTON. - Now we are on the horns of a dilemma. Apparently there is in existence a scheme which has been drawn up by experts; but the Minister, who is not an expert, is not satisfied with it. Is that the case?
– That is not the case. What I intended to convey was that the preparations are not, in my opinion, so complete as they should be.
Colonel FOXTON. -Who draws up that scheme of defence?
– It is done by one of our officers.
Colonel FOXTON.- Is not that what the Council of Defence was created to do?
– No, not to prepare a. scheme of defence.
– Yes, according to the regulations that is part of their duty.
Colonel FOXTON. - As regards appointing one officer to do it, that is absurd.
– The regulation says, “ Measures necessary for the defence of the Commonwealth in time of war.”
Colonel FOXTON.- I should say that it would embrace the drawing up of a’ complete scheme of defence.
– It is done under the Chief Intelligence Officer. The work is, of course, carried out under departmental control.
Colonel FOXTON. - A complete scheme for the Commonwealth such as each Colony had before Federation is what is wanted.
Colonel FOXTON. - Undoubtedly that ought to be in existence to-day, and ready in case of emergency to be circulated. The reason why it is kept secret must be obvious. It should not be disclosed in order that possible enemies might know as much about it as we do.
– Who had possession of this secret document in Queensland ?
Colonel FOXTON. - A copy was, I think, furnished to each member of the Board, the Governor, the Minister, and the Commandant.
– It was recorded in the Department somewhere?
Colonel FOXTON. - Undoubtedly.
– Or perhaps they might not be able to find it.
Colonel FOXTON. - It was kept very carefully, and it was a very admirable system. Undoubtedly some such method as that ought to be adopted for the Commonwealth. I quite agree with one remark of the Minister, and that was that, in regard to volunteers, the experience of the Commonwealth has been the same as was that of each Colony before Federation. The establishment of a militia system killed the volunteers. I served for twelveor fourteen years in the Volunteer Force, but, in Queensland, on the establishment of the militia, all, or nearly all, the volunteers became militiamen. In the Queensland Act of 1884 provision was made for the establishment of new volunteer corps, and a good many were established, but not one of them can be said to have teen a success. The Minister has stated that only one in three of the volunteers throughout Australia attend the annual camps. I should imagine from my experience that that is a very liberal estimate. Probably less than that proportion attend.
– What is the rea son?
Colonel FOXTON.- The reason is that the volunteers are not paid, whereas the members of the militia are.
– The latter want the pay.
Colonel FOXTON.- The fact is that any man who can afford the requisite time to become efficient as a militiaman will probably join the militia, whilst the one who cannot afford the time, will probably join the volunteers.
– Does the honorable member admit that the voluntary system has failed ?
Colonel FOXTON. -The volunteer system has failed, but not the militia.
– But the Scottish regiments in Victoria are all right.
Colonel FOXTON.- There are exceptions in this State, if one may judge of regiments by their attendance on parade. Speaking generally, however, it must be admitted that the volunteer system has not thriven since the militia system was inaugurated.
– What does the honorable member suggest? Would he disband the volunteers altogether ?
Colonel FOXTON. - I would make them all members of the militia. In fact, I was a member of a Committee two or three years ago which made the adoption of that course one of its specific recommendations. I am referring to the recommendations of the Committee of officers which was appointed to consider the report of the Imperial Defence Committee.
– Do not some men prefer to be volunteers?
Colonel FOXTON.- They do. Some prefer to join the volunteer regiments, because they consider that as volunteers they are a little bit higher in the social scale than are the members of the militia. They regard themselves as volunteers, and not as regular soldiers, and they can, perhaps, afford to do without the pay.
– How many are there of that class?
Colonel FOXTON.- It is difficult to say. Throughout Australia the volunteers are not the successful body that they ought to be, nor are they as efficient as they should be.
– What about the Field Artillery ?
Colonel FOXTON.- In that connexion I canspeak only of those batteries in my own State, of which I have a thorough knowledge, because I commanded them for many years, although I am not in immediate command of them now. The one great disability under which the Field Artillery of Queensland labours is the want of proper horses. Prior to Federation, and largely as the result of representations made by myself to General French - who was the Commandant of Queensland at the time, and who himself was an artilleryman - the Government of that State purchased a number of horses for this arm of the service. As an officer in command of a battery, I felt that the responsibility was thrown upon me of avoiding the danger to life which was caused by the very unsuitable horses provided under the hire system. I wrote very strongly upon the matter, with the result that the Queensland Government purchased a number of suitable horses. They cost, I think, from £800 to£1,000. The change was a marked success. The horses became as well drilled as the men, and understood the words of command.
– How many horses were supplied? It was thirty-six, I think.
Colonel FOXTON.- I believe that we must have had about eighty horses altogether.
– They were purchased for £800?
Colonel FOXTON.- Yes, theycost about£8 per head, or a little more, on an average.
– Then horses must have been much cheaper than now.
– They cost a lot for forage and looking after.
Colonel FOXTON.- So do the horses obtained under the hire system.
– But when horses are purchased by the Government the animals have to be maintained throughout the year.
Colonel FOXTON.- I know that that is a difficulty in some States. But in Queensland the experiment worked admirably, because only a few miles from the spot where the batteries were drilled there was a large paddock in which the horses could be run.
– Is it the present practice to hire horses for the field artillery ?
Colonel FOXTON.- Oh yes. All the field batteries are horsed in that way. There are a few horses, belonging to the instructional cadre, which are usually handed over for use by the medical corps.
– In view of the amount that we pay for their hire the horses sup. plied to the Defence Forces are a very inferior lot.
Colonel FOXTON.- They are infinitely better in Victoria than are the animals supplied in Queensland. Horses which had been in use by the field artillery of Queensland for ten or twelve years realized more than their original cost when they were brought down to Sydney and Melbourne.
– That operation could not be repeated.
Colonel FOXTON - I am not so sure about that.
– Has the honorable member ever used mules for field artillery work ?
Colonel FOXTON.- No. Mules are good when used for mountain batteries; but for field artillery work they are not heavy enough. What happens under the system of hiring horses? A parade may be called for 2 o’clock in the afternoon, but before the animals can be got into the street owing to the “jibbers” amongst them, probably an hour and a half has been wasted.
– And the horses have previously done a day’s work.
Colonel FOXTON. - Yes.
– Some of them do tetter work than do the trained horses.
Colonel FOXTON.- Last Easter I ordered the force under my command to parade at 7 a.m. But the field artillery did not move out of camp till 10.30 a.m., because the horses were untrained, and instead of arriving at our destination fourteen or fifteen miles distant before noon, some of the guns did not reach there till 11 at night.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
Colonel FOXTON.- I have referred to the disabilities under which the Field Artillery labour in regard to horses under the present system, and have instanced a case in which a whole day was lost by two batteries as the result of the poor quality of the horses supplied to them under contract. This sort of thing happens constantly : A parade is called, say, for 2 o’clock. Very often the men do not get out of the drill yard for an hour or an hour and a half. That is so much time lost, and militates against the training of the men. Over and over again a request has been made that a different system should be adopted, and that the horses for the field batteries should be purchased, at all events in some of the States. It is impossible for me to say where the fault lies, but the fact remains that a recommendation to this effect has been made and has not been carried out. The Minister of Defence is aware also of a disability applying to the Field Artillery in Queensland on account of the lack of an artillery range, at which the annual practice and instructional and competitive practices can take place. For two years the Queensland batteries fired no shell whatever. It can scarcely be expected that satisfactory results can be obtained under such circumstances. A proposal has been under consideration for many years for the acquirement of a range on Crown lands on the north coast line, at no very great distance from Brisbane. The scheme has been reported on very favorably, and the land has been reserved from alienation by the State Government. I understand that the matter is still under consideration.
– The honorable member is thinking of the Beerburrum site.
Colonel FOXTON.- Yes. I urge that that, or some other site, for a range should be acquired. I heard recently that an officer had been sent up to Queensland- and had furnished an adverse report on the ground that there is a small house within the danger zone. Having regard to the fact that the land can be acquired for something like ios. to 15s. an acre, and that it is admirably situated for a manoeuvring ground and for an artillery range, I think that the fact that a small farmhouse is within the danger zone should not prevent the acquisition of the property by the Commonwealth. It can also be acquired by resumption. The honorable member for Corio has mentioned the omission of the word “garrison,” from clause 4 of the Bill, which leads one to believe that it is the intention of the Government to have permanent field batteries. That is not a policy which has hitherto been favoured by the Defence Department. So far as I am aware, none of the expert authorities have recommended that there should be a permanent Field Artillery.
– The officers are in favour of training by means of cadres.
Colonel FOXTON.- If that is all that is intended, I have no objection; but if the Government launch out into the establishment of a permanent Field Artillery they will involve the Commonwealth in an expense which they can scarcely realize.
– The problem has to be faced, even if it is expensive.
Colonel FOXTON.- With an additional period of training, which is to be provided, I understand, this year - the period being twenty-eight days, instead of sixteen days, as has hitherto been the case - proper horsing of the batteries, and suitable ranges, I feel confident that the Field Artillery will be all that could be desired. The Minister of Defence has told us that one-third -of our militia forces are recruits. Now the period of service is only three years. I do not know what he means by a “recruit,” but I assume he speaks of ‘ .those who have done one year’s service or less. But when we remember that the period of service is only three years, and that in the ordinary process one-third of the men retire every year, it will be seen that we are constantlyaugmenting the number of men in the country who have undergone some amount of training.
– They are not lost to Australia.
Colonel FOXTON.- Exactly ; and that is where I take exception to the Minister’s figures when he alleges that we have only 15,000 men upon whom we can rely. I recollect that when I commenced to enrol men in a field battery under the Queensland Act of 1884, after the lapse of about five years, the numbering on the roll had risen from one - I myself as commanding officer being the first one - to about 350. I should say that from 80 to 90 per cent, of the men who had passed out of the ranks during a period of about six years were trained men. Most of those men were thoroughly well trained and, in case of emergency, would be available. Scarcely any additional training would be required to make them efficient again.
– How many thousands of men of that kind “ are there in Australia ?
Colonel FOXTON.- One might almost reckon upon a hundred thousand men who have passed through the ranks, have undergone training, and are available.
They would rejoin their old corps if it -were suddenly desired to increase the strength from a peace to a war footing. These men are a valuable reserve, which we -always have in Australia as the result of our present system. I venture to say that with a little extra training they would be -as efficient as almost any of the men who Are now serving in the ranks. A very large number of them perhaps served three or four or more years, and would return to the ranks at once in a case of emergency. So that it is a mistake to say or argue that those who attend camps are the only men who can be relied upon for the defence of Australia.
– It is absolutely a fallacious argument.
Colonel FOXTON.- I think the Minister mentioned that about 80 per cent, of *he men in the ranks attend camp. The remaining percentage is largely made up of men who are probably thoroughly efficient, but who are absent through illness 01 through being engaged on some distant employment, or who for some other reason are unable to attend a particular camp. They lose their efficiency for the year, but that does not say that they become inefficients. It must not be assumed that they are inefficient because they are technically non-efficient. They may actually be the most efficient men in the corps.
– But they have not done their training.
Colonel FOXTON.- They have not <3one the whole of their training for the year, but probably they have attended drills and parades throughout the year, and for several previous years, being unable to attend camp through some incident which they might regard as a misfortune. I venture to say that a considerable percentage of those who fail to attend camp can he classed in that category.
– Does not the honorable member think that a considerable number of men drift in and out of the regiments, and a;re of the casual sort? .
Colonel FOXTON. - There may be many of that class. Some men go through a part pf the recruit course, and then drop out, perhaps, because they do not like the training as much as they thought they would. But I desire to emphasize the fact that the statement that we have only 15,000 practically efficient men in the Commonwealth is altogether misleading,. I should rather place the number of trained men at 100,000.
– The honorable member has no justification for that estimate. He has no figures.
Colonel FOXTON.- Unfortunately, I have not. I do not know that it would be possible to obtain official figures which would be reliable. To obtain them would involve turning to the records of the States for the last fifteen or twenty years or more. Only in that way could we obtain a record of the services of the men who have been passed out of the various corps of the Commonwealth, and who have become thoroughly efficient during their period of service. With a little extra training these men would be brought right up to date.
– Suppose ,we have 15,000 men whom we train for three years, and who drop out at the rate of one-third every year; that is only 5,000 a year - a very small proportion of the population of Australia.
Colonel FOXTON.- If 5,000 trained men drop out every year, the number very soon mounts up. In ten years 50,000 men will have passed through the ranks.
– In that period the drill will have changed several times. There’ have been three complete changes within the last decade.
Colonel FOXTON. - Tactics have changed, but company drill and battery drill remain very much the same. Besides, within a week, a man who has been through the ranks can be made as efficient as ever he was. A few drills will put him right. He will be quick to draw comparisons, and probably will recognise the improvements which have been made. The honorable and learned member for Corio knows that scores of movements - at all events, it is so in field artillery drill - have been abandoned as useless, everything being now in the direction of simplification. The Minister said that it will not be possible to largely increase the strength of the militia if provision is made for it on the Estimates; but if certain changes, which, I think could be made with advantage, are adopted, it will not be difficult* to increase, and, possibly, double the present force. We could certainly maintain as many as ft is desirable that we should have under arms, having regard to our needs or surroundings, and the possibilities of the immediate future. The Committee which sat in September, 1906, recommended, at my instance, as the result of experience in Queensland, that the continuous training, that is, the annual camp, should last for a period of eight days, and that eight days’ pay, not to be otherwise earned, should be specially allotted for attendance at camp.
– Is that eight days’ pay over and above what is at present given ?
Colonel FOXTON. - No. At present, if a man does not go to the annual camp, he can, by attending extra drills at other times during the year, earn the camp pay of eight days ; but if attendance at camp is to be a crucial test of his technical efficiency, camp pay should be ear-marked, so as not to be earned in any other way than by attendance at camp.
– A man is not classed as efficient if he has not attended theannual continuous training.
Colonel FOXTON.- It should be enacted that if a man does not attend the annual camp he may not, by attending extra drills, earn the eight days’ pay ; but that he may attain efficiency by attending an equivalent of extra detached drills. In Queensland a man could not earn the camp pay except by attending the camp, with the result that 90 per cent. went into camp for the eight days. Such a regulation as I suggest would, I think, remove the difficulty which now exists in Victoria of keeping the men together for more than a four days’ camp. It may be said that employers object to a camp of eight days, but, if so, that is largely owing to the fact that the employes are satisfied to go for only four days. If they were deprived of camp pay, unless they attended for eight days, they would bring to bear a moral suasion on their employers, with the beneficial result which we have had in Queensland. Of course, if a man says to his employer, “It is not of much importance to me whether I go to camp for eight days or for four,” the employer replies, “ I cannot spare you for more than the four Easter holidays.” But if the employe finds it to his interest to attend for eight days, he will, in the great number of cases, as the Queensland experience shows, arrange with his employer to0 let him get away.
– Would the honorable member pay for the remaining drills in the year?
Colonel FOXTON. - Yes. I would pay for them the equivalent of eight full days’ pay.
– At present our forces no sooner get into camp than they have to strike tents and leave again.
Colonel FOXTON. - Yes. A four days’ camp is an absolute farce; but a fair amount of training can be done during an eight days’ camp, which, so to speak, “ tops-up “ the training of the year. There is, however, a waste of time in crowding the whole year’s training into the period spent in camp as now proposed. A great deal ofthe training can best be done in the drill sheds, or drill yards, or open reserves, where the men can attend for half a day at a time. Instruction given in that way, week by week, is gradually absorbed by the men. While on the subject of camps, I wish to refer to a practice which, I understand, is the result of a resolution passed by this House, making Sunday a blank day.
– The matter has never been discussed here. The practice referred to was brought about by a previous Minister, as the result of a resolution passed by the Council of Churches.
Colonel FOXTON. - Every day spent in camp is of inestimable value in the training of troops. At present, on Sundays only a church parade is held, the rest of the day being a blank.
– The men are paid 8s. for the Sunday.
Colonel FOXTON.- That is an additional absurdity. My experience is that more mischief and drunkenness results from the want of employment on that day than occurs on any other during a camp. Without being a bigoted Sabbatarian, I favour as strongly as does any one the setting apart of a day of rest each week ; but common sense should be exercised in the matter of Sabbath observance in camp. When 1,000 or 2,000 men are left idle in camp, some of them” are bound to get into mischief. Many merely sit about telling yarns of a questionable character, or skylarking. Of course, they cannot be prevented from playing games, and otherwise amusing themselves; but’ they would benefit more, and their time would be spent more to the profit of the country, if they were engaged in ordinary military exercises. I have been assured by an’ officer who was recently present at a camp where two clergymen held services that, on being questioned, they informed him, separately, each without the other’s knowledge, that their opinion was that it was a huge mistake to leave the men unexercised on the Sunday; and all who have attended camps will bear out that view. I hope that, in the interests of the forces, and even of morality, the present practice will be discontinued. Every one, from the senior officers down to the recruits, object to it ; but they are compelled to observe it. The Minister of Defence and the honorable member for Corio laid great stress upon the cost of officers’ uniforms. According to the Minister, an infantry officer pays£39 16s. 6d. for his uniform.
– That does not include mess dress.
– If the tunic, white helmet, and waist sash are added, the cost is increased by £14.
Colonel FOXTON. - Whatever the amount stated by the Minister may include, £26 5s. can be deducted from it for items which’ are entirely optional, or which should nothave been included in it at all. For instance, boots at 15s. a pair are specified, I do not know why. Men must have boots, which will not wear out quicker in camp than anywhere else. It may be assumed that the officer is not bootless before he goes to camp.
– He has to wear a special make of boot - square-toed tans - which he never wears on ordinary days.
ColonelFOXTON.- That all depends on whether a man is a dude or not. If a man buys a pair of boots of a particular pattern, that does not seem to be a great hardship, and they should not be included as one of the items that he is compelled to buy. Then there is £8 for a mess uniform, which is optional. He need not get dress boots -£1 - unless he likes. There is a great coat at £4 10s. All he has to do is to have his next great coat of a particular pattern. It is a very serviceable article, whether worn for military purposes or. otherwise.
– It has military buttons, and if he wears it with His plain clothes he is guilty of an offence.
Colonel FOXTON. - Many do so, nevertheless. The same remark applies to the waterproof cape; while full dress, £9 15s., is also optional. Those amounts deducted from £39 16s. 6d. leave the reasonable sum of£1311s. 6d. which also includes £4 for a sword. I gave only £2 5s. for my sword. Why has the price risen so much since that time?
– Those are the InspectorGeneral’s figures.
– There is another pattern ordered now. My old sword is obsolete. Jn fact, I have about £50 worth of obsolete uniforms. They are changed about every three years.
Colonel FOXTON. - And they propose to change them again. As the Minister said, some men do not like to be seen without the full kit, but if men are so thinskinned they had better not attempt to join the commissioned ranks. So far as my experience goes, very few men are deterred from taking commissions on the ‘score of expense in this direction. A man’s first year’s pay will practically pay for his uniform.
-It will not have much gold braid on it.
Colonel FOXTON. - It will not; but if a man wantsto indulge in that, his next year’s pay will go a good way towards it.
– If an officer does not take in the whole lot, he is sent to Coventry from the start.
Colonel FOXTON. - My experience is quite the reverse.
– A man who did not buy them all would not be comfortable himself if the others did it.
Colonel FOXTON.- I know many young fellows who join in that way, and’ their uniform costs them nothing outside their actual pay. They get it gradually, and their first outlay is not more than £12 or £13. The Minister appeared in many of his remarks to have given himself a brief to belittle and disparage the present forces. 1 admit that he did say that the country owed much to the members of the present forces. He praised them, sometimes almost to an excessive degree, but he marred it all by many of his references to the inefficiency of the forces and their paucity of numbers.
– -Those are facts.
Colonel FOXTON.- I do not agree with the honorable member. He may be perfectly correct as regards the official figures put before him as to the number of men who are technically efficient for a given year, but to say that all those who are non -efficient are inefficient is . incorrect. There are also a large number of men throughout the country who, having passed through as efficient, are available at any moment for the service of their country should the need arise, and would gladly rejoin their corps. I come now to a more serious complaint against the Minister. I was surprised and disappointed that he should indulge in language such as he used with regard to the wearing of uniforms. He said -
Honorable members who had an opportunity of seeing the gorgeous spectacles on the occasion of the visit of the American Fleet, must have been struck by the view of decent, respectable, inoffensive gentlemen, appearing arrayed like escapees from the Mahdi’s harem. It is astounding to me that men should desire to get into such uniforms. I can understand men in China, in times gone by, assuming great masks in order to frighten the enemy, or gorgeous costumes being resorted to by savages, or the rain-makers of Africa; but I cannot conceive that any respectable, middle-aged man, who has lost his waist, can desire any such costume. ! do not know whether the reporting staff have been kind to the honorable member by omitting from his speech something which was still .more offensive, 1 or whether he himself, feeling that he had overstepped the bounds of good taste, expunged it from the report; but, as a matter of actual fact, he went so far as to say that in doing so officers were “making asses of themselves.”
– Cannot the honorable member appreciate a little humour now and then ?
Colonel FOXTON. - The honorable member again anticipates me. The honorable member for Flinders said he had been unable to find much information in the Minister’s speech, but that he had found that the Minister had been humorous. If that was the humour referred to by the honorable member for Flinders, it is very simple and easy to be humorous at the expense of individuals who have not the right of reply, and to hold them up to ridicule.
– It was at the expense of the system. The individuals do not come in.
Colonel FOXTON.- The public can judge what the honorable member intended from his own words.
– It was at the expense of the officers under his administration.
Colonel FOXTON.- That is so. Every honorable member must, of course, decide for himself the degree of good taste that he will employ in any speech he makes in this House, because, provided that he does not transgress the Standing Orders, he is distinctly within his rights in holding outside people up to ridicule. In that respect, the Minister was entirely within his rights.
As to whether his remarks were in good taste, that must be a matter for his own judgment.
– Will the honorable member finish the quotation ?
Colonel FOXTON.- Certainly. I did not know that there was anything mere bearing on the subject -
I am quite sure these men do not desire to wear such uniforms, but only do so because it is customary - they are just as sensible as any of us, and would not appear in costumes of the kind if it could be avoided.
– Exactly. Was it the individual or the uniform that 1 was dealing with ?
Colonel FOXTON. - I do not know how a uniform can look like an ass. It must be the man inside it. It would be much more to the credit of the honorable member if he said that he regretted having used such language. Personally, it does not affect me. I am a politician,’ and am not sensitive to remarks of that kind. >
– Does the honorable member think the present uniforms right or wrong ?
Colonel FOXTON.- If they are wrong, the honorable member is at fault .for allowing them. They are worn in pursuance of regulations for which he as Minister is responsible. The worst feature of the attack is that it is made on men, some of whom have written to me - -
– - I have made no attack on men.
Colonel FOXTON.- At any rate, they have taken it to themselves. It bears that construction, and has caused a considerable amount of feeling.
– Then they are. too thinskinned for warriors.
Colonel FOXTON. - The honorable member can call it that, but they are sensitive gentlemen, and feel that they have been insulted. The reference to escapees from a Mahdi’s harem is particularly insulting, because, so far as I am aware, the only two classes of people who may be so called are women, to whom these remarks could not apply, and certain males, who may be regarded as the least desirable type of humanity on earth.
– The honorable member is putting on my remarks a construction which is totally unjustifiable.
Colonel FOXTON. - The honorable member, being a Minister of the Crown, and with his kindly disposition, should have thought twice before he used such language about officers of his own Department who have not the right of reply.
– There is no reference to officers at all. It is the clothes.
Colonel FOXTON. - The honorable member is quibbling. It would be interesting to know whether he has secured for the adornment of his own person the uniform that he is entitled to wear as an Executive Councillor.
– No. But I ought to.
Colonel FOXTON. - Possibly the honorable member will do so after this. I have seen some of his colleagues displaying their figures in that garb, and two of them at least had lost their waists, to use the graphic language of the honorable member. Had he them in his mind’s eye when he referred to escapees from Mahdis’ harems? The honorable member told us that the only calling in the world that required no training was that of critic.
– I am not responsible for that. It was said a long while ago.
Colonel FOXTON. - The honorable member repeated it the other night. I thought he might have added politicians ; but, at all events, it seems that critics, like poets, are born and not made. The only consolation I can give those men, who very naturally take exception to the reference to them and their uniforms, is that the Minister of Defence, as critic, was “ born that way,” and cannot help it.
– I hope we have now come to the end of the clothes question, any how !
Colonel FOXTON.- The Minister is, undoubtedly, a very eminent critic of clothes, but I hope that, when he deals with the question again, he will not use language of the kind. I have already said that I am in favour of compulsory training within reasonable limits, and the Minister very naturally asks what I conceive those (limits to be. Having regard to the intelligence and special aptitude which the Australian youth has for military exercises, I suggest that his training as a cadet should commence, say, at the age of twelve, though the exact age is not very material, and continue day by day and week by week until the age of sixteen. Then he should be given three or four weeks’ training annually - and we ought not to shirk the word “ compulsory “ any more than we do in connexion with education in its ordinary branches - from sixteen to seven teen, and from seventeen to eighteen, following as nearly as possible the idea which permeates the Bill. The youth will then have arrived at an age at which he will be eligible to enrol himself in the militia, as we now have and understand that branch of the force.
– The honorable member would make the training compulsory up to the age of eighteen?
Colonel FOXTON.- Yes; and my belief is that under such a system there would never be any scarcity of militiamen. Doubtless a large number of the young men would regard themselves as having given enough of their time to military service, but, as I have said, a very considerable proportion would have become so imbued with the military spirit that they would desire to continue.
– How many militiamen would the honorable member suggest?
Colonel FOXTON.- That is a matter for the Minister to deal with in connexion with his Estimates.
– But how many would the honorable member regard as a fair number?
Colonel FOXTON.- I should say that 20,000 would be ample.
– For the whole of Australia?
Colonel FOXTON.- Yes, on a peace footing. Under such a system as I have outlined, there would always be applicants waiting for enlistment, especially if, as was done in Queensland prior to Federation, there was a small amount of deferred pay due after three years’ service - an arrangement which proved a great attraction. The Department could then afford to discharge any man who did not display all the necessary qualities, or neglected his drill and general training. With a peace footing of 20,000, the Minister of Defence could, by a mere stroke of the pen, raise the number to war strength, the whole of the machinery being already provided.
– What does the honorable member suggest as war strength?
Colonel FOXTON.- That would depend, of course, on the regulations, but the strength could be practically doubled.
– Not more than doubled !
Colonel. FOXTON.- I do not think it would be advisable or practicable to more than double the strength.
– Where would the officers come from for the additional 20,000 ?
Colonel FOXTON.- One advantage of the scheme I am suggesting is that practically no more officers would be required than those in the militia at peace strength. The rank and file could be increased, and some additions made to the noncommissioned ranks; but, practically, the same officers would serve for the increased strength.
– Whatever the strength, there is required 5 or 7 per cent, of officers.
Colonel FOXTON. - Yes. For instance, if a battery of 75 were increased to a strength of 130 or 150, the same officers would suffice; and that is really, in my opinion, the true solution of the difficulty i’n regard to military organization in Australia. With such a system, we should always have an effective militia, providing it were properly equipped; and I must say that, so far as my experience in Queensland goes, the equipment at present - and the credit for this is largely due to the Minister - is infinitely superior to that under the control of the States. I see that Senator Dobson has pretty muchthe same idea as I have expounded ; but, apparently, he favours the continuation of the senior cadet training, under compulsory service, to the age of nineteen. 1 should retain the militia in its present, or some similar form, and recruit it, as I have said, from the youths who have been trained up to the age of eighteen.
– The honorable member does not object to the compulsory principle ?
Colonel FOXTON.- No; I am entirely in accord with that principle up to a certain point; and its recommendation to me is that, between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, the labour of a youth is not worth so much to himself or to the country as it is between the ages of eighteen and twentyone, and, therefore, his civil avocation in life is ‘not interfered with to the same extent. The extra training of one week per annum during the following five years, up to the age of twenty-six - years in which a man may have taken on himself the burden of matrimony, and have other mouths to feed - would not seriously hamper his civil and industrial life. By such means there would gradually be created, in the course of fifteen or twenty years, just as the Minister desires, a reserve of partially-trained n?.en, who would be most valuable as recruits if it were deemed necessary to raise the strength. These men would be a re serve, as I say, though not practically recognised as such; at any rate, at the end of a generation, the whole of the male population would be trained up to a certain point, and such a force would prove extremely useful, though . years might have elapsed since the actual training.
– Could not those who did not voluntarily go into the militia be enrolled as a reserve?
Colonel FOXTON.- That is a matter of detail, but, I have no doubt, could be done, though I do not see what would be gained.
– It would be known where the men were.
Colonel FOXTON.- I do not think it would, because there would be no incentive to keep the authorities informed.
– It would be their business to keep the authorities informed.
Colonel FOXTON. - It would be if they were paid for it ; but if it were an honorary duty, at least go per cent, would not take the trouble. An honorable member made a similar suggestion to me a little time ago, and pointed out that members of trade unions constantly apprise the secretaries of any change of address, but I reminded him that it was to the personal interests of die men to keep the officials informed, seeing that otherwise they would doubtless place themselves under some disability. If we remove all personal incentive, we shall find the reserves’ to be simply reserves on paper, though I do not think it would matter much, seeing that, under the present Act, in case of war or danger of war, a man may be called upon to serve wherever he be found.
– Why should there not be penalties, just as there are for nonregistration of births, deaths, and so forth?
Colonel FOXTON.- I am afraid that the work of collecting the penalties would be very difficult.
– We are arranging to keep a list of that description, just as a list of reserve officers is kept.
Colonel FOXTON. - The plan was tried in Queensland, and was not a success, though the population there may be more nomadic than elsewhere in Australia.
– The reserve in Victoria was always a reserve on paper, under a similar system.
Colonel FOXTON. - I was not aware that the plan had been tried in Victoria.
One objection I have to the Bill is that referred to by the right honorable member for East Sydney, namely, that all youths over the age of eighteen are to be entirely exempt from the eight years’ service–
– A start had to be made at some age.
Colonel FOXTON. - If it is desirable to commence the training of the whole of the male population as soon as possible, why not make the youths of nineteen serve seven years, and the youth of twenty serve six years, and so forth?
– That would be financially impossible, because it would mean 250,000 young men, between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six, to be trained the first year.
– We propose to start with 27,000 or 30,000 men, and whoever is in office will have a big job before him.
– We have 122,000 men between the ages of eighteen and twentyone.
Colonel FOXTON.- I admit that there is something in the point raised. But those numbers in training will have to be faced in later years, and it does seem to me to be anomalous that a lad who is nineteen years of age when this Bill passes should be exempt from, the whole of the military service required. However, as the honorable member for Adelaide says, we must begin somewhere. I have still another objection to the Bill, which would remain, even if I were prepared to go as far f.s the Minister, or as the honorable member for West Sydney, in the matter of compulsory training. What have the public to say on this question?
– They are almost unanimously in favour of the principle.
Colonel FOXTON.- Are they?
– I cannot find any one who is against it.
Colonel FOXTON.- I can. The Minister of Defence and the honorable member for West Sydney, who are advocates of the principle, have described it as revolutionary.
– They will find that it is so if the attempt is made to put it into practice.
– I did not say that it was revolutionary, but I admit that there is plenty of work to be done before the principle can be given effect.
Colonel FOXTON.- Whether the honorable gentleman said so or not, it undoubt edly is revolutionary. It means the introduction of a principle which the Minister certainly admitted that, so far as he is aware, has never hitherto been introduced in any British community.
– That is so.
Colonel FOXTON.- As I said in opening my speech, one of the greatest principles with which the proposal would interfere is that of the liberty of the subject. It is proposed, under this Bill, to impose disabilities and onerous duties upon the individual, under very serious penalties for default, and to that extent to deprive him of his liberty. In the circumstances, I say that the Bill should not be passed until the people at a general election have been given an opportunity to express an opinion upon it.
– They have already spoken upon it.
Colonel FOXTON.- They have not spoken upon it any more than they have spoken upon the increase of the salaries of members. Neither of these questions was before the country at the last election. I do not know whether the other States of the Commonwealth have had a similar experience, but before the principle, of compulsory education was adopted by the Queensland Legislature - of which I was a member - appeals were made to the people at elections and in other ways to say whether the principle was one which should be adopted. The matter was discussed for years before the principle was finally given effect to by law.
– How is the liberty of the subject recognised in that connexion?
Colonel FOXTON. - The honorable gentleman has missed my point, which was that the principle of compulsory education was freely discussed, was submitted to the people at several elections, and wa*s not finally passed into law until they had returned members in favour of it. I believe that the principle has been adopted in every State in the Commonwealth, but it has been as a result of appeals made to the people answered in the affirmative in each case.
– Why should not a man be allowed to remain ignorant if he so desires ?
Colonel FOXTON.- That is another question which I must leave the honorable gentleman to answer. If it was necessary, and in the past it was admitted to be necessary, to ask the constituencies to speak out on such a question as the compulsory education of children up to the age of fourteen or fifteen years, how much more necessary is it that we should ask the people of Australia to speak out on this question of compulsory military service for adults before we attempt to deal finally with it? The Prime Minister, in his utterances prior to the last general election, gave no hint that it was the intention of the Government to submit a scheme for compulsory military service. The honorable member for Batman has said that this principle was before the people of Australia, and I should like him to indicate in some way how and where it was put to them. I never heard it mentioned in any election address in Queensland. The electors of Batman may have spoken on this important question, but I venture to say that the people of Australia were not asked to vote upon it. If I were asked conscientiously to say whether the majority of my constituents are in favour of compulsory military training, such as is proposed in this Bill, I candidly admit that I should not be able to say whether they are or are not.
– The honorable member might safely say that they are.
Colonel FOXTON. - That they are in favour of this Bill?
– Not perhaps of this Bill, but in favour of universal training.
Colonel FOXTON. - I believe that they would be in favour of such limited compulsory training as I have myself indicated, up to the age of eighteen. But having regard to what I consider the nonnecessity of going further at the present time, I do not believe that they would say they are desirous of having compulsory military training extending from the age of eighteen up to the age of twenty-six years.
– During the last five years it is proposed only to keep the men in touch.
Colonel FOXTON- And that very ineffectively - to know where they are one week in the twelve months.
– But the honorable member would have nothing at all done.
Colonel FOXTON.- I beg the honorable gentleman’s pardon. I say that we can do all that we require by enforcing training up to the age of eighteen years. Lads who join the militia at the age of eighteen, and who have been through cadet training, and especially those who have been officers or non-commissioned officers of cadets, are found to require little more training except, perhaps, in the technical branches of the service. They are well up, even in tactics, and their training has been excellent up to that point. I have in mind at the present time many young men who, joining the militia forces from the cadets, immediately took a prominent ‘ place in their corps, and very soon attained to commissioned or noncommissioned rank. Training up to the age of eighteen years could be made very effective indeed. I sincerely hope thai the Government scheme will be modified in the way I have indicated. Surely we can. rest where we are for the present, and advance by steps to the ideal proposed in this Bill, with all the onerous duties and penalties it would impose on a family man if it should really be found in practice that it is necessary to go so far? Surely we can see how a less advanced scheme would work first, and have this as our objective for twenty-five or fifty years, hence if necessary, adopting in the meantime something which will be a step in the direction in which we desire to go, without imposing onerous burdens on the adult population ? We could thus maintain a militia numbering 15,000 or 20,000 which we could always increase to a war strength of, say, 40,000, which Major-General Hutton estimated as all that would be required for the defence of Australia in any possible circumstances. Whilst I am in favour of compulsory military service and training, though not, as I have explained, to the extent advocated by the Minister, I feel certain that if the second reading of the Bill is passed there will be very little prospect of modifying its provisions in such a way as to commend them to me, and I shall therefore feel bound to vote against the second reading.
– Although the honorable member approves of the principle?
Colonel FOXTON.- I approve of the principle up to a certain point, beyond which I do not at present think it necessary to go. There is another objection. I foresee as plainly as possible that if the Bill’ gets into Committee an effort will be made to introduce into it a provision that the men serving or being trained in the proposed organization shall be paid for their services. Can we afford that? If that principle were introduced the expense would amount to twice as much - as the existing militia forces cost us, and would be prohibitive. My suggestion is that just as we do not pay a boy while he is attending school to receive the ordinary scholastic instruction which is provided for by the State-
– But not beyond the age of fourteenyears.
Colonel FOXTON.- Just so. But as we say it is necessary in the interests of the community that a boy should be educated up to a certain point, which is provided for by the State authorities, soIsay it is quite competent for the Commonwealth Parliament to step in and say to the same boy when he has reached fourteen or fifteen years of age that it is necessary that fie shall receive further instruction in military training in the interests of the community at large, and he must therefore continue his compulsory education which for Commonwealth purposes is not’ yet complete until he has reached the age of eighteen years. That appears to me to be a perfectly fair proposition, and obviates entirely the difficulty of paying for the services rendered. The proposal would then be one purely for training up to the age of eighteen years, and up to that age those undergoing the training would not be members of any military organization, but merely persons attending a training school to learn what would be required of them when they joined the military organization.
– It would be filling in the time during which they would otherwise be loafing around the country.
Colonel FOXTON.- As the honorable member implies, the proposal would affect the time, which is the turning point with many lads, when they become either respectable citizens or larrikins, and when a little care, discipline, drill, and attention from the Commonwealth might prevent their becoming the latter.
– And it would involve no disorganization of business.
Colonel FOXTON.- That is of course most important. As I have said, up to the age of eighteen the work of a lad would not be of the same value to himself or to the community as it would in later years. I should like, in conclusion, to put myself right, in case anything I may have said in my allusion to the Asiatic question and our danger from that quarter, implies that I have doubts as to the protection upon which we might rely from the
Mother Country for many years to come. I hope and believe, and I suppose it is a belief shared in by every member of this House, that we have laid the foundation, if we have not already made some advance in the building up, of a great nation. We have definitely determined, as I have said, that this nation shall be a white one. ‘
– And we are to leave it to somebody else to protect us?
Colonel FOXTON. - No. I do not think that that is a fair inference to draw from my speech.
– That is the position. We have either to do it, or we have to getit done for us.
Colonel FOXTON . - Surely it is sufficient that we propose to do if.’ I challenge: the Minister to show figures to the contrary.. Surely the fact that in Queensland we, in a typical corps there, passed through the books 350 men in six years, when the strength was only sixty-five, is an indication that there are thousands of men who are. competent to step into the ranks at any moment and assist in the defence of the country. But to suggest that anything I have said implies that we desire to depend upon others for our protection is distinctly to misrepresent me.
– In this Bill there is no guarantee of anything better.
Colonel FOXTON.- At all events, we have determined that our nation shall be a white one. And, although, as I believe, the destinies of this country are bound up with those of the Mother Country, and will be for generations to come, still we must recognise the fact that in the distant future we may have to fight for the policy to which I have referred, and the purity of our race. To be in a position to dothat, we must take steps to train ouryouths, within reasonable limits, to the use of arms. But that is not all that we should do. There is a great factor in the defence of Australia to which no reference has yet been made, and that is that we must encourage as many white persons as possible to come to our shores for the purpose of throwing in their lot with us, and so strengthening us. We must school ourselves to the knowledge that by so doing we shall add, not only to our strength, but also to our wealth and our material prosperity. We must overcome all “narrow objections to the adoption of that policy. Butwhatever steps we may take in that direction as a means of defence,and whatever methods may be finally adopted for the purpose of qualifying our manhood to maintain that high ideal, we must always bear in mind that, belonging as we do to the greatest combination of nations, the most powerful confederation of peoples that the world has ever seen, it is to our honour, as well as to our interest, to maintain and strengthen the integrity and the pre-eminence of the British Empire.
.- After the number of speeches we have heard, I approach the consideration of this question with some timidity. The leader of the Opposition has told us that we are quite safe under the British flag, that so long as we remain part of the British Empire there is no need to fear, and that the consideration of this question should be delayed, as there is no need to take any action. And the honorable member for Brisbane has said that he practically agrees with that statement. In the first place, I want to point out that one of the two questions before the country was that of defence.
Colonel Foxton.- Of compulsory training?
– The question of defence was before the country.
Colonel Foxton. - It always is.
– The scheme of the Ministry has met with general approval, not only throughout Australia, but throughout the world. I shall now quote my authorities for that statement. In February last, the Aberdeen Free Press wrote -
An invasion of Australia is not a far-fetched idea.
That is not the opinion of the honorable member for Brisbane or the leader of the Opposition. In March last the Pall Mall Gazette wrote -
Australia is more exposed to danger than any other part of the Empire.
In February last The Times wrote of the scheme in these words -
Australia is at last set on the way to a selfrespecting manhood.
In March last the Standard wrote about this scheme as follows -
They will have every reason to be proud of their National Guard. We offer the people of the Commonwealth our hearty congratulation on this noble project. While we are pottering feebly with a sham territorial army, the Australians are about to organize a genuine “ nation in arms.”
– That is evidence of what the Standard knows about this Bill.
– That is the honorable member’s view. The Times wrote -
If Mr. Deakin “and his colleagues succeed in passing this great measure they will win imperishable renown, and will give the old country a lead that is badly wanted.
– Every newspaper which the honorable member has quoted is a Tory one.
– Now, just to come into line with the honorable member, let me quote from certain of the Sydney newspapers of which he thinks so much. In November last the Sydney Morning Herald wrote -
Australia has never fostered a desire to evade her share in the scheme of national defence, and still less is there any tendency on our part to make hard bargains with the Mother Country, and so secure cheap naval protection. We are willing, and even anxious, to do our share, and we object very strongly indeed to the charge that we in any way seek occasion to do otherwise. Such tactics on the part of wellmeaning people, who would like to see the naval contribution raised, have done enough mischief already, and it is time to put them aside and face the naval problem.
On the 30th September the Sydney Morning Herald wrote -
Little exception will be taken, we think,, to this side of the Government’s proposals. Indeed, the principle of compulsory service, as now defined, will be generally acceptable.
In February last the Sydney Evening News wrote -
But the principle of compulsory service is a sound one, not only from the point of view of defence, but for many other reasons. It is democratic because it applies to all, rich and poor, without any distinction.
I have shown that this scheme is approved in the Old World as well as in the new. I did not quote the Age or the Argus because they are Victorian newspapers, I turned to the newspapers of Sydney just to see what they thought of the present scheme. . I desire to refer now to the question of the supremacy of the British Empire. The leader of the Opposition has told us that it is as strong to-day as ever it has been. While I believe that that statement is correct, at the same time we have to recognise that other nations are falling into line, and that in the Old Country there are those who, like the leader of the Opposition, believe in the good old policy of free-trade.
– I thought that that would come.
– In my opinion we cannot separate Tariff proposals from- Defence proposals; they are interwoven, so much so that Mr. Lloyd-George stated at Manchester a few weeks ago that the present policy of Great Britain would result in the beating of their swords into plough shares and their, spears into pruning hooks.
– The honorable member is raising the fiscal question.
– That is the position. That is what the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated only in March last. But we see that the fiscal policy of the Old Country has not had that effect. For sixty years it has prevailed. If we compare another country, say Germany, with Great Britain we find that so far back as 1884 Lord Beaconsfield visited Berlin, and on his return stated that that country was a hundred years behind Great Britain. It is of no use to disguise the fact, that to-day every nation is arming for either offence or defence. .’ No one can shut his eyes to the fact that Germany bids fair to become one of the mightiest nations in the world in the very near future. We may be asked if she is in a position to do it. The leader of the Opposition stated the other day that Great Britain, with a population of fortyfour millions and with twelve million persons on the poverty line, is contributing about £70,000,000 annually for her army and navy. Is Germany able to compete in the same direction? What is the actual position to-day? Germany pays more money ira insurances to her workmen than Great Britain spends on her navy. Last year, for instance, she spent £35,000,000 for that purpose. These are the men who are to stand behind the guns, and they are being protected and cared for. The recruits of the German army are not taken from the unemployed, but in England, last year, out of 84,000 who presented themselves for examination, no less than 23,000 failed to pass the test. In Germany the workers are fully employed, but in Great Britain, under a policy which throws men out of employment, it naturally follows that a large proportion of them will not be equal to the demand made upon them in the battles of the future. The working classes of Germany are in a far better position than are those of England. Men there are being trained and educated in such a way that, according to Mr. Percival Hislam, when war takes place, the German will be able to hold his own with the Britisher on land or sea. That being so, we have a difficult position to face. If Great Britain becomes involved in war, we, as a part of the Empire, must also be involved. It is to its manhood that a nation has to look for its defence. We find that the people of Germany are soprosperous that in seven years the deposits in the Savings Banks there have increased’ by over ,£200,000,000, whereas, during the same period, the ‘deposits in the Savings Banks of Great Britain increased by only £18,000,000. Last year the deposits iri the Savings Banks of Great Britain increased by only £400,000, whereas the deposits in the Savings Banks of Germany increased by over £30,000,000.
– It is wonderful how the honorable member is always ready to see good in the foreigner.
– I am not saying one word against the Britisher. I am simply pointing out that Great Britain’s fiscal policy is not fitting her manhood to take its part in the battles of the future. I think that I have made that fact clear.
– It .would be made clear if a British battleship got alongside a German one.
– I am not dealing with that phase of the question. No Britisher, whether in the Old Country or in Australia, can afford to shut his eyes to the great progress that Germany is making in all walks of life, lt was only in 1889, less than twenty years ago, that a Naval League was formed in Germany/ with the avowed object of bringing about the supre- macy of the German Empire on the sea. In that year, the League had a membership, I think, of 883, and the Minister of War then sought, without success, to pass a Bill providing for an expenditure of £10,000,000 on battleships. Shortly afterwards a new Minister of War took office, and his first move was to make use of the Naval League, with the result that its membership soon increased to 250,000, and it was not long before the vote of £10,000,000 for naval purposes was agreed to. Ever since then, the League has been agitating for. an increased naval expenditure, and its efforts have been attended with so much success that it is intended during the next nine years to expend £192,000,000 on the German navy.
– And yet taxation is decreasing.
– Every one knows that local taxation in Great Britain is 150 per cent, higher than it is in Germany. The
German Naval League now has a membership of 800,000, with a revenue of something like ,£50,000 per annum, which is devoted to an agitation to awaken the people to the necessity of building more battleships, and so improving the navy that in the very near future Germany will be able to hold her own against any other naval power. This question has been raised, not only here, but in the Old Land. In the course of a debate in the House of Commons in March last, Mr. A. J. Balfour stated that in 191 1 Germany would have twelve of the most modern battleships, whereas Great Britain would have only eleven.
– Four more have since been ordered by the British Government.
– What is the position in regard to British battleships that have been “scrapped”? No less than fifty-two of them have recently’ been condemned. Some vessels costing something like £550,000 have been sold for -£19,000. Among the list were several that were on the Australian station.
– Has the honorable member the exact figures?
– The Katoomba, which cost £1 16,993, was sold for £8,500; the Mildura, which cost £n5,974i was sold for £7,200; the Skylark, built at a cost of £9,906, was sold for £1,120; and the Ringarooma, another vessel of the Australian Auxiliary Squadron, which cost £128,738, was sold for £8,500. The Tartar, which cost £84,457 to build in 1887, was sold for £5,45°-
– That shows how quickly warships become obsolete.
– Some of these vessels were built a good many years ago. The German Reichstag recently passed a Bill providing that battleships should be cast aside after twenty years’ service. The position of Great Britain to-day is one that every Britisher must look at fairly and squarely. It is idle to disguise the facts and to think that Great Britain, 12,000 miles away, could protect us from the attack of a nation within only fi*e days’ or six days’ steaming from our shores. Japan, with a population of 47,000,000, is within five or six days’ steaming from our shores, and while some honorable members have laid stress on the point that she is in alliance with Great Britain, w° must not forget that she is building warships more rapidly than she has ever done. She pos sesses to-day the largest battleship afloat, and stands fifth on the list of the naval powers of the world. What is our position? Are we, as the leader of the Opposition suggests, to stand idly by, and to agree to a policy of drift? Have we not said to the people of certain nations : “We will not allow your goods to come here?” Have we not imposed a Tariff against their goods, and said to them: “We will not even permit you to land here?” In these circumstances, are we going to do nothing to protect our shores? The time has arrived when we should do something. The delay advocated by the leader of the Opposition, and also bv the honorable member for Flinders, who opposes the second reading of this Bill simply on the ground that a column of figures given by the Prime Minister was not correctly added up, should not. be tolerated. In his first speech in this House the honorable member for Flinders said that the question of defence was the most important with which this House would have to deal. He was not prepared to say what an adequate system of defence would cost, but urged that it would exceed £1,000,000 per annum. I am pleased that the Government are looking the position fairly in the face, and are determined to do something to protect our shores. Let me hark back for a moment to Germany and her ship-building. Last year the German Minister of War instituted inquiries to ascertain how many firms in the German Empire were prepared to lay down ships. He found that there were fourteen, and that each was capable of turning out a vessel in about two years and four months. According to the report which the Minister of War has received, there are something like 40,000 skilled workmen in the ship-building yards of Germany, and they are capable of turning out ships equal to some of the finest vessels afloat. Whilst Great Britain is protecting her coastline at a cost of £7 50 a mile, Germany is protecting her coastline at a cost of £2,980. Then, again, Great Britain is protecting her shipping at a cost of £2 ros. per ton, whilst Germany is protecting her shipping at a cost of £4 15s. per ton. These figures show the rapid strides that the German Empire is making, and I venture to say, without fear of successful contradiction, that its progress is due to its fiscal policy which is that of protection. I wish now to refer to the proposal for compulsory military training. The honor- able member for Brisbane said that he is not prepared to entirely support the Bill, because this provision goes farther than he thinks is necessary. He seems to think that eighteen years is too early an age at which to commence military training.
Colonel Foxton. - No ; not early enough.
– Then the honorable member wishes to commence at an earlier age, so as to catch every one. He argued that at eighteen training should stop. That, however, is the most important age for the inculcation of military principles. He also said that he is not in a position to assert that his constituents favour compulsory military training.
– It would be difficult for any one to assert that. The question was not submitted to the electors.
– Every candidate had the opportunity to put before the electors the political questions which he thought important.
– Was compulsory military training a plank in the platform of any party ?
– In some of the platforms there are now planks which were not there a couple of years ago. Australian defence was a plank in my platform. The honorable member for Brisbane could not find any leading man of large experience in military affairs opposed to compulsory military training.
– How many leading military men can the honorable member quote in favour of this scheme?
– If the honorable member for Brisbane had a good authority against compulsory military training, he should have quoted him.
Colonel Foxton. - I preferred to rely rather on my own arguments than on the opinions of others.
– A Select Committee of the House of Commons appointed to inquire into military matters, after holding eightytwo sittings, and examining 134 witnesses, came to the conclusion that for the effective defence of Great Britain some system of compulsorily training every citizen of military age and sound physique should be adopted to prepare for emergency. Lord Roberts, who, I suppose, will be regarded as a high military authority, favours compulsory military training, and so does Lord Milner. Lt.-Colonel William Plumer, speaking at Kensington, England, a little time ago, said, respecting the proposals of the Deakin Ministry - I take the report from the United Service Magazine -
Should the proposals foreshadowed by Mr. Deakin become law then Australia is bravely facing its responsibilities to itself and to the Empire. In showing their willingness to be in front of the Mother Country in their manner of taking a man’s part in the protection of their homes and in the endeavour to help maintain the great Empire to which we all belong, they are setting a worthy example, not only to the Mother Country, but to the whole of the British Empire.
Let me now quote an Australian opinion. Bishop Stretch, speaking at the annual gathering of the clergymen of the Anglican diocese of Newcastle, in March last, said -
While, then, to some it looks as though compulsory training were a hardship, to me it presents itself thus : the community expects that in time of danger all able-bodied men will rally to their country’s call, and I feel sure they would. It becomes the duty of the country to give to all men a training in arms which shall save courage from being the mere suicide of ancient Greece. It is said that gymnastics of some sort were rendered almost obligatory by the liability of every citizen to military and naval service at a moment’s notice. August Bebel, the German Socialist, is quoted as saying that home defence is a duty for all who are capable of fulfilling that duty. Mark the word “ capable.” It means now a good deal. I regard it not as a duty forced upon men, but as a training given them in anticipation of a duty which I know, and you know, they would gallantly accept, even though it spelt death. But our desire is that it should spell victory and national safety. Every one not under a physical disability should know how to ride and swim, shoot and trench, and also know some trade. I believe the training could be so planned as to do away with larrikinism, and to add to the physique of our race. It could be combined with valuable technical education and agricultural knowledge. Though we pray earnestly against war, we do not wish, if war comes, to see our manhood die for lack of knowledge. It seems to me universal training in the use of arms may well be regarded by Christians as the strongest assurance that we shall not be lightly attacked.
– Is the Bishop one of the honorable member’s leading military authorities ?
– I have quoted his opinion as a Bishop and not as a leading military authority.
– So far the honorable member has quoted only one authority who is in favour of “ some “ scheme of military training. There is a vast difference between such an avowal and a declaration in favour of the scheme that is embodied in this Bill.
– If we are to have any scheme of compulsory military training it must be one which will go to the very root of this question. I believe in a scheme which will compel every man to qualify for the defence of the country.
– The impression which the honorable member seeks to convey is that such a high authority as Lord Roberts is in favour of the scheme that is embodied in this Bill. That is scarcely fair.
– I am endeavouring to convey the impression that such a high authority as Lord Roberts is in favour of the principle of compulsory military training.
– For a particular and subsidiary purpose only.
– Why, Lord Roberts is unqualifiedly in favour of compulsory military training.
– If it be the duty of one man’ to prepare to defend his country why is it not the duty of every man?
– Is it the duty of every man to become a policeman?
– Some authorities in the South African war emphatically declared thai: a number of the troops who served in that campaign were unfit for service because they lacked the necessary training. One authority has stated that no less a sum than £100,000,000 might have been saved in connexion with that war.
– Who said that?
– It is the statement of one of the leading authorities in connexion with the South African war. What is the objection to compulsory military training? So far as I have been able to gather, ux people who are under that system to-day are amongst the best citizens in the world. Even such a learned authority as Mr. Harold Cox, the Secretary of the Cobden Club, of whom the deputy leader of the Opposition knows so much-
– I have never met the gentleman.
– But the honorable member has read of him. Upon his return from a visit to Switzerland some little time ago Mr. Cox spoke most favorably of the military system in operation there.
– He has spoken in favour of other principles of which the honorable member does not approve.
– Upon this question I accept him as an authority, but upon others I do not.
– What does Mr. Cox say?
– On the spur of the moment I cannot find the exact quotation to which I alluded. But Mr. Cox makes one statement concerning the compulsory military system with which I do not agree. He adopts an attitude somewhat similar to that of the leader of the Opposition - a sort of ‘ ‘ Yes-no ‘ ‘ attitude. He affirms that it is the duty of every man to render a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage, and that it is the duty of every citizen to pay the taxes legally imposed upon him. But he adds that if its citizens do that, no nation need have any apprehension as to its future, quite irrespective of whether or not those citizens can handle a rifle. Upon that point I disagree with him. As a humble member of this House, and as one who took an active part in excluding foreign goods from the Commonwealth with a view to providing employment to the artisans within our borders, I have felt it my duty to emphasize the desirableness of erecting a fence around Australia, »o that our people ma,y be permitted to dwell in happiness and security.
.- I rise to offer a few observations upon this important question, and I shall at once define my attitude towards the amendment of the honorable member for flinders, which has my cordial support, and reads thus -
That all words after the word “That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words - “ in the opinion of this House, the defence of Australia depending primarily upon control of the sea, it would be unwise to commit v the country to any scheme of compulsory universal military service until Parliament is in a position to determine the naval policy of the Commonwealth.”
– The honorable member is going to follow his leader?
– If that leader be a good and wise one, surely I am to be commended for so doing. By universal consent the Navy is our first line of defence. Under the Government scheme, and according to the figures quoted originally by the Prime Minister and repeated by the Minister of Defence, the proposal is to spend £260,000 on naval defence’ as against £1,545,000 on military defence. If the Navy is our first line of defence, obviously there is a striking contrast between the amounts which it is proposed to allot to the two branches of the service. We propose to spend practically £6 upon military defence for every £1 on naval defence.
– Great Britain is spending the money on the Navy.
– I shall come to that point directly. In adopting a scheme of defence we must be more than careful that we shall accomplish something more satisfactory than has obtained in the past. The primary object, of course, is not the training of young men - although that is an important secondary consideration - but is to secure that measure of defence which will give us a sense of security and safety against any foe that is likely to attack us. It is laid down among the obligations of the British Empire towards us that the British Fleet guarantees Australia against invasion in force, and against attacks by any considerable squadron of armoured vessels ; that, in the third place, the exigencies of war may require the withdrawal of the Australian Imperial Squadron, while, fourthly, Australia cannot be guaranteed against attack by unarmoured commerce raiders up to four in number but the loss they would inflict would not be of more than secondary importance. Consequently, according to the statement of fact thus put before us by the official Year-Book, we have simply to prepare ourselves against attack by unarmoured commerce raiders up to four in number. I discover in the Prime Minister’s speech some fallacies, which appear on the face of them to be obvious. He said -
We propose a system of universal training. Each young man will be called upon to spend an average of sixteen days per year, not in drill rooms or on parade grounds, but in local camps.
Later, he said -
What we must and do trust to are not titles and rewards, but voluntas service freely given, a patriotic discharge of a duty to his country,
That appears to be a contradiction of what the honorable gentleman first said. He speaks of a compulsory universal training and in the next breath says that the Government trust to a voluntary service freely given. I find it difficult to reconcile those two statements. How can a service be compulsory and voluntary at the same time?
– Do not people send their children to school freely, patriotically, and cheerfully, under a compulsory education system ?
– If a system can be both compulsory and voluntary, the age of miracles is not past. The Prime Minister, dealing with another most important aspect of the case, said -
The proposals of the Government will, it is calculated, give an establishment of at least 83,000 always in training, supplemented each year by 30,000 men, an equal number passing into the reserve. In the eighth year this will mean over 200,000 men available.
How are those 200,000 men who are to be available for service to be maintained at anything like the sum which the Prime Minister mentioned ? He went on to say that-
The total cost of this is estimated at less than ^250,000 more than is at present expended.
I give the Prime Minister credit for not having made this mistake himself. He was misled by the figures placed before him. Had he been furnished with the correct figures he would have shown that that would be accomplished, not for £250,000 more than we pay at present, but for something like £600,000 or £700,000 more. However, that mistake was made.
– The honorable member’s estimate is nonsense. That mistake was not made.
– Those 200,000 men are all to be properly equipped, for the Prime Minister says further that they will be available - with full provision for arms, ammunition, and equipment for field artillery and cavalry, organized for service within the Commonwealth. The total cost of this is estimated at less than £250,000. . . .
He should have said between £600,000 and £700,000 - more than is at present expended.
– That was explained by the Prime Minister to be a mare’s nest, discovered by the honorable member for Flinders.
– lt is no mare’s nest for me to assert, as a practical thinking man, that it is impossible to increase the 15,000 men who are now said to be properly equipped, to 200,000 men, properly equipped and officered, and provided with all the munitions of war, in less than eight years, for a paltry increased cost of £250,000. Common sense rebels against such a suggestion. Another most important question is whether men who have possibly wives and young families dependent upon them can be taken away from their homes, and from their daily avocations, where they are earning 8s., 9s., or 10s. a day, and compelled to serve their country in this way for eighteen days a year, without beinggiven some payment for it. There would be a howl of indignation if I made the suggestion which fell from the honorable member for West Sydney. He said that in Switzerland the men were paid 7&d. per day, but he thought Australia could pay more, and, therefore, in the magnanimity of the Labour man’s heart, he would give them is. 3d. a day.
– The honorable member has altered that since iri Hansard. He now says “ at least 10s. a week.”
– He said that at the time.
– If men are compelled to serve their country in this way, especially as it is absolutely impossible to apply the compulsory clauses’ to any but a small section of the community, it is only right rp give them a fair day’s pay for the services they render. If those 83,000 men were to be paid even a beggarly pittance of 5s. a day for eighteen days every year, it would mean a payment of no less than £373,000 per annum.
– Those who want to pay men only isd. per day are a lot of sweaters. ,
– There are thousands of men in the least-populous parts of Australia who, for reasons of convenience and from pecuniary considerations, it would be impossible to lay hold of under this scheme. It would be impracticable, because too expensive, to mobilize them and drill them even in the ineffective manner proposed. One of the difficulties surrounding this matter is suggested in the speech, of the Prime Minister. He said that the British Admiralty were not satisfied with the contribution made for the upkeep of the British Navy, and that a section of our people were not satisfied with the bargain from our side. That remark applied to the Naval Agreement of 1902. The” Prime Minister’s statement was correct in one respect. The agreement was not satisfactory, inasmuch as the evidence contained in the report of the Colonial Conference shows that the Admiralty expected a larger contribution from us than they were getting under the previous Naval Agreement. It was, however, ultimately settled that the payment by Australia should be £200,000 per annum. The Prime Minister having submitted that aspect of the case, the question arises whether the measures which have been outlined by the Government embody such proposals as are likely to be more satisfactory to the British naval authorities and to the British people themselves than were the conditions previously existing. We naturally assume that as the Cabinet contains such a large amount of wisdom, its members have carefully considered this matter in the drafting of a Bill which is to be submitted to Parliament for the express purpose of giving a larger measure of satisfaction to the naval authorities in Great Britain, and also to the people in Australia. The Prime Minister in his speech went on to say that -
It was intimated in the clearest terms that so far as the British Parliament is concerned it would make no further demands of any kind upon us in connexion with the Imperial Naval defence. The statement of the Prime Minister, Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman, that naval defence and foreign affairs must go together, was made at the opening of the Imperial Conference in April last. That axiom exactly summed up the effect of the debate in the Commons.
But what were the facts leading up to that determination? When that statement was made the Prime Minister had intimated that the people of Australia were not satisfied to continue the payment of the subsidy of £200,000 per annum. I should like to know what authority the Prime Minister had for making such a statement. I believe that the Australian people were proud to make the contribution. It was not so much as we felt we were entitled to pay, but it was something respectable in proportion to what other portions of the Empire were contributing. We have to remember in this connexion, that if Great Britain is to continue to maintain a two-power standard navy, it is absolutely essential that the various parts of the Empire should come together and assist the British people to carry the great burden of expenditure which such a policy involves. I venture to say that the proposals which have now been made to this House will not be more satisfactory to the British people or to the naval authorities. The Prime Minister sought to justify his position in these words -
At the very outset of the recent Colonial Conference in London, the Prime Minister of Great Britain met us with a frank avowal that the British Government preferred no claim for money in relation to naval defence, and went on to add the extremely pregnant statement that the control of naval defence and foreign affairs must always go together. If honorable members appreciate the force of that .axiom, they will see that it implies much both now and in the future. It implies that, for the present, seeing that we have no voice in foreign affairs, we are not obliged to take any part in Imperial Naval defence.
Now, I ask honorable members seriously to consider this position. The Prime Minister says that because we have no “ say “ in the foreign policy of the Empire, therefore we are under no obligation to continue to contribute towards the Navy. But he ignores the fact that our relationship to the British Navy arises from our dependence upon it as our first line of defence, and that we make our contribution, not on account of any foreign policy with which Great Britain may be concerned, but because of the protection which Great Britain is in a position to afford to us. In the circumstances we recognise that it is our duty to pay a fair quota towards the maintenance of the British Navy.
– What would the honorable member consider to be a fair quota ?
– Let the honorable member give notice of the question.
– That is a very fair proposition.
– We should pay a great deal more than we do, at any rate.
– The matter is one of the greatest national importance ; and it does seem to me to be almost mean for us to seek to evade paying for our own protection because Great Britain will not give us a “ say “ in matters in which we have only an indirect interest.
– It is not that she will not, but that she cannot, under present circumstances.
– Perhaps I have used the wrong term; she cannot. It appears to me that this argument of the Prime Minister was one of those disingenuous pleas which a clever man is able to put before an audience with a view of misleading them, or of directing their thoughts- into a wrong channel. But that kind of argument does not- always succeed, and it has not succeeded in this instance, because we shall not be misled. Then the Prime Minister said -
The question of defence, as seen from Australia, falls naturally into three parts. The first relates to the command of the high seas, the next to the protection of our coasts, and the last, to our power to hold our own territory against invaders.
There the. Prime Minister comes back to the old position that the very first line of defence is the command of the high seas. Can it be satisfactory to Great Britain that we now propose to withdraw our contribution of £200,000? Of course, I know that the Prime Minister will argue that, as we have no control over the British Navy - that because the ships may be withdrawn to the Indian Ocean or the Bay of Biscay - we are not protected as we should be. But one of the arguments contained in the Prime Minister’s speech, in relation to. military defence, is that it may be necessary to take our men more than 1,000 miles away from the settled portions of the country in order to defend the Australian shores; and the same line of argument that holds good in the one case must hold good in the other. I venture to say that the proposals will not be satisfactory, at any rate to the people of Great Britain, who will feel that we are not treating them fairly. Man for man, we are richer than are the people of Great Britain ; and those who can afford to pay are under obligation to do so. The people of England, when they find what is the determination of this Parliament, as expressed in this Bill, and in a Naval Bill yet to be introduced, will be more than restive, seeing that the intention is to withhold the dole we have hitherto contributed. My own opinion is that if we showed a disposition to increase the naval subsidy to a limited extent, it would be worth a great deal from the point of view of the solidarity of the Empire. The honorable member for Batman has stated that the question of compulsory service was submitted to the people at the last elections. Was there a single leader in Parliament who ever mooted the question at the last elections?
– The ex-leader of the Labour Party did so.
– If so, he is the only one who did. Certainly the question was not before my constituency, and I venture to say that it was not mentioned in half the constituencies of Australia as likely to come within the range of practical politics. I repeat what has been said from this side, that we had no more warrant for introducing the measure which increased the pay of members of Parliament than we have for introducing this measure. Every proposal involving a great and important departure from existing conditions ought to be submitted to the country, embodied either in the platform of the leader of the Government, or in the platform of the leader of the Opposition.
– What about the leader of the Labour Party?
– I recognise the Labour Party, although I do not know why they should be specially recognised, seeing that almost every nian in this country is a labour man.
– Did those who went to the country as protectionists come back and carry out their promises?
– These observations are ungenerous, unnecessary, and unworthy of a reasonable thinking man. Is the Bill likely to be satisfactory to the people of Australia? The Melbourne Age has been assiduously educating the people to the advantages of an Australian Navy ; and I believe that all the agitation on this question, particularly in Victoria, originated in that journal. I wonder what will lae the feelings of the foreign gentleman - who presides over the destinies of the Melbourne Age when he sees what we are going to get iri the way of a navy.
– Is he a foreigner?
– I am speaking of the foreign gentleman who presumes to sit in judgment on Britishers day after day. The policy outlined in the Prime Minister’s speech does not purport to give us a navy, but merely improved harbor defence. A great many people in Victoria - I do not know so much about the other States - have been carried to the seventh heaven of enthusiasm by the expectation that we are going to form the nucleus of a navy. But is it practicable to establish even the nucleus of a fleet? What are the feelings of the people likely to be when it is discovered that, not a fleet, but only an improvement in harbor defence is to be accomplished? As to compulsory service, I venture to say that, when it comes practically before the people, and it is known that the young men throughout the land are to be compelled to serve until twentysix years of age, there will be such a revulsion of feeling that the present Government, if in power, will have very short shrift. I may be right or I may be wrong in my conjecture, but that is the opinion I hold as to the reception that will be given to the measure when the people rightly grasp its meaning and import. The policy, if carried out, will mean enormous ex pansion and increased taxation, so that it will be almost impossible to pay old-age pensions. And besides, it seeks to bring about a condition of things which has never yet been successfully adopted by British-speaking people. I have already dealt with the question of pay in the military service; but there is a most important proposal in the speech of the Prime Minister having reference to the pay to be given to those who enter the naval service. The Prime Minister said -
The wages for a complement of thirty-three men at naval rates, including a colonial allowance of 3s. a day, but without victualling, would amount to ^4,500.
The question is whether we can adopt a different rate of pay from that in the British Navy, and still carry out the project which the Prime Minister placed before us. That is really a most important question; and the honorable gentleman pointed out that a small navy is bound to be a failure - I have not the exact words before me - that in the British. Navy the men are transferred from ship to ship, and serve under different conditions, so as to get a thorough grasp and knowledge of the work generally. In our small navy, we could not do that, and consequently it is absolutely necessary for the perfection of the training of our naval forces that our men shall be from time to time transferred from the ships of our fleet to those of the Imperial Navy, there to receive a measure of training which we could not give them ourselves. We will suppose that for their services in our fleet they are receiving Australian rates of pay, and that it is something in excess of what they would get in the Imperial Navy. Honorable members will admit that there is likely to be some grumbling on their part if, when transferred to .the Imperial Navy, they are asked to accept less than they receive while in our service. On the other hand, if it is proposed that they should continue to receive the Australian rate of pay while serving with the Imperial Navy, what is likely to be the feeling of British sailors when they know that men infinitely inferior to themselves in naval training are receiving for the same work a higher rate of pay?
– The honorable member overlooks the fact that what he refers to has been in operation for some time.
– Just so, and let me tell the honorable member what is the view of the Lords of the Admiralty on this matter. They say -
The experience of the present agreement has convinced their lordships that any attempt to combine a higher rate of pay in Australia with the ordinary conditions of the pay and service prevailing in the Imperial Navy must be abandoned.
– They wish us to sweat our men as they do theirs.
– I am offering no opinion 011 that matter. I am merely stating what the position is. The Prime Minister iri his speech on the subject led honorable members to believe that there would be Australian rates of pay, and he went on to say that, in order to perfect the Australian Navy, our seamen must be transferred from- time to time to the ships of the Imperial Navy. I have pointed out that it cannot be satisfactory to the sailors of the British Navy that our transferred men should be receiving a higher rate of pay. That must be obvious, and I am backed up in the opinion I have expressed by what I have read from what may be regarded as the latest and final despatch of the Admiralty authorities, that it is impossible to give our men transferred to the ships of the Imperial Navy a higher rate of pay than that prevailing in the Imperial Navy.
– I do not think the honorable member has read the Prime Minister’s speech clearly. He did not say that the transfer would be an obligation, but merely that it would be of advantage.
– I do not think I have misrepresented what the Prime Minister said. I certainly have no desire to do so. I now have the quotation I desired to make, and I give honorable members the exact words used by the Prime Minister. He said -
I have grown more and more deeply to realize the risks of our attempting to create a small force solely of our own, in which the men and officers would have no hope for experience or advancement except within its bounds. A small flotilla of that description would remain a thing apart, not directly committed to the high standards of the Imperial Navy.
In the Imperial Navy, as honorable members are aware, the men and officers on every station are changed at short periods. Elaborate provisions are made to prevent them becoming hidebound, sit-at-ease, indifferent, or mechanical. They are transferred from ship to ship. They are put regularly through fresh courses of training. They have to return periodically to learn the latest methods in their particular Depart- ments. The consequence is that the Royal Navy is a most progressive weapon, always up to date, and its men constantly in practice.
That is the Prime Minister’s statement, and if it does not involve an opinion that the proposed transfer is a necessity, I do act understand the English language.
– It does not point to an obligation. It merely suggests that the transfer would be of advantage.
– Does the honorable “ member venture to say that we can afford to maintai’n a navy and staff of men who are incompetent because we have not the means to give them proper instruction?
– I am not making any suggestion of the kind.
– I venture to say that the honorable member would not make such a suggestion, although that is what is implied in his question. It is clear that he gave the matter no consideration when he propounded his question. We cannot possibly hope to exchange with the British Navy, if we are going to adopt a higher rale of pay. Common sense rebels against such a proposal, and I have shown that the Lords of the Admiralty are distinctly against it. I venture to say that on that point their pronouncement, as I have read it, will be final. Turning to the question of cost, the Prime Minister told us -
There is about to be created by ourselves at an expenditure of ^250,000 a year, a force towards which the Admiralty will not contribute and over which they can claim no control, except that which this Parliament may be pleased to give them.
The Lords of the Admiralty, in their latest despatch, mention - and they give details - that the annual cost, instead of being £250,000 a year, will ^amount to £345,000. This is another very considerable increase upon the estimates placed before us by the Prime Minister. In all probability we shall find that the annual cost will mount up to over £400,000, or more than double the subsidy which we are now paying to the British Navy. I believe that the great bulk of the Australian people are thoroughly loyal to the Empire, but I can well imagine the very small number who are disloyal, and desire to cut the painter, dancing with joy when the Prime Minister said that we were about to create a force over which the Admiralty could claim no control. In their, latest despatch the Admiralty go on to say -
My Lords will be ready to co-operate in the formation of such a flotilla subject to a satisfactory understanding being arrived at in regard to the general administration of the force.
Then the despatch contains some very carefully thought out instructions indicating how far the control of the Admiralty is likely to extend. Instead of our having a force which we shall be absolutely free to do what we like with, and which will be absolutely under our own control, we find that it will be subject to a good many directions which the Lords of the Admiralty lay down as essential in order to secure that oneness which is necessary, because, as the sea is one, and the Empire one, the Fleet should be one, and under command of one authority. If our ships venture ‘out a certain distance beyond our territorial waters, they are to be immediately placed under the command of the senior naval officer upon the station. So much for our own control. It may be true that the present system of defence is not as effective as we could wish it to be, but I venture to say that it is not carried out to the best advantage. It is certain that, for lack of funds, men who were willing to enroll themselves in our militia, have not been enrolled. There has been in the past an evident dread of incurring any increased expenditure to make our Military Forces efficient. That is one of the reasons for their inefficiency, but when the inefficiency is discovered, we have people who say, “Let us burst up the whole thing, and go in for an entirely new arrangement,” although the new arrangement proposed will cost us four or five times what the existing system is costing. . Are people prepared to face that position? I come now to another consideration, When, under this Bill, we have taken our men in hand, and drilled them for the prescribed number of days, are we then likely to have a very efficient force? They will scarcely become a consolidated whole, as we are not likely to import the rifles and ammunition necessary to thoroughly equip an army of 200,000 men. What would be the use of the men without proper equipment? It is obvious that in that respect the scheme is likely to fail. But is it necessary, from an Australian point of view, that we should attempt to do anything like that which is proposed in this Bill ? I am thoroughly in accord with those who say that we should be in a position to defend ourselves ; but as Great Britain guarantees to defend us’ from an attack in force, all that we have to dread is a raid on the part of some cruisers that may attempt to land here a> comparatively small body of men. To meet such an emergency what we need is not a huge, unwieldy army of partially trained men, but a few men so thoroughly drilled that if necessary they could take up the role of instructors and drill the additional troops required for our defence. We all remember how rapidly the men whom we sent to South Africa were brought under discipline. True, that- discipline was not perfect ; no one imagines that the members of our contingents were drilled like Tommy Atkins. The training to which they were subjected was very imperfect, but the verdict of the officers in charge of the Australian contingents in South Africa was that they were a most useful body of men, and useful, more particularly because they had not been over drilled, but had been educated to take the initiative to an extent that made them a most valuable arm of the service in the Boer war. If there is to be an attack in force upon our shores, the class of warfare will be somewhat similar to that which took place in South Africa. The tactics that were so successfully adopted by our men there will be followed here, and in such an emergency I have confidence that our men will prove their worth. I have very great faith in the bravery of Australians, and believe that with comparatively little drilling they would be able - because of that initiative which has become characteristic of Australians - to play a worthy part in driving back any force that might escape the lynx eyes of the Imperial Navy, which is our first line of defence. I hope that the amendment will be carried, for, to my mind, it suggests the right mode of procedure. Realizing that the Imperial Navy constitutes our first line of defence, let us consider, first of all, what expenditure will be necessary to enable us to support it. Having determined what that expenditure is likely to be - and I venture to say that it will be considerably more than even the .Lords of the Admiralty have laid down - we shall have some idea of what we can afford to spend on the military side. In that matter, the Government have not left us entirely without a lead. In 1906 the Prime Minister said that an expenditure of £1,650,000 per annum was altogether beyond our means. We now have before us a scheme which, at his own low estimate - an estimate which common sense rebels against as being inadequate - means an expenditure, not of £1,650,000, but of £1,740,000 in the first year, and in the third year, of £1,800,000. If the Prime Minister was on sound ground when he said that we could not possibly face an expenditure of £1,650,000 per annum, what justification can there be for a proposal to expend £1,800,000 in the third year of the operation of this scheme? To what extent is that expenditure likely to increase when in the eighth year the number of men available will have gone up to 200,000? That is a conundrum which cannot be mathematically worked out, but it is worth consideration. If the people only ponder oyer it they will obtain some indication of the taxation they are likely to be called upon to bear’ in order to carry out a scheme which, in the first place, is unnecessary, and, in the second, is likely to lie ineffective and inequitable in its operation.
Debate (on motion by Sir John Forrest), adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.37 P-m-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 October 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19081013_reps_3_47/>.