3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m. , and read prayers.
NEW WORKS AND BUILDINGS EXPENDITURE AND ESTIMATES.
Mr. GLYNN. - I understand that the bookkeeping provisions of the Constitution, which have not been altered, govern the return of revenue to the States, but that a few years ago the practice was fixed of charging the States, for new works and buildings, per head of population, the result being, according to the Budget papers, page 87, that in five years New South Wales has had to pay , £177,000, and South Australia £14,000, more than the actual expenditure. Does not the honorable gentleman think this method of charging unfair?
Sir WILLIAM LYNE. - The question is so important - its intricacies revealing themselves more and more as one sets himself to grapple with it - that I do not wish to give a reply off-hand. I shall have the matter considered.
Mr. Glynn. - I drew attention to it twelve months ago.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE. - I know that the honorable member did, and I hope to be able to tell him to-morrow exactly what the position is. I believe that there is a slight discrepancy.
Mr. MAHON.- Is it not a fact that, during the first three years of Federation, the actual expenditure on new works and buildings incurred in a State was debited to that State, but that Sir George Turner, recognising the unfairness of it, obtained the sanction of Parliament to a new procedure, under which this expenditure is debited per head of population?
Sir WILLIAM LYNE. - As this is a very important matter, I do not wish to reply until I can give a full answer.
Mr. Mahon. - It is a question of fact.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE.- I believe that the honorable member is correct in his statement of what occurred, but as when I give an answer off-hand advantage is sometimes taken of it by honorable members opposite, I wish to defer my reply until to-morrow in order to have an opportunity to prepare an accurate answer.
Mr. BAMFORD. - It has been customary, during the past three years, to deal with the Works and Buildings Estimates in advance of the General Estimates. Can the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs say when those Estimates will be dealt with?
Mr. HUME COOK.- The practice of recent years will be followed again this time. These Estimates will be the first matter to be considered after the Budget debate has been concluded.
– Is the memorandum regarding the new protection, which the Prime Minister has promised, ready yet?
– Owing to the absence of the Attorney-General in Court during the past two days, the memorandum, although all but complete, has yet to be finally considered by him.
– When shall we get it?
– This afternoon or tomorrow.
– As the Treasurer has stated that the House would be invited lo go on with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill as soon as the Budget had been delivered, I ask the Prime Minister when that measure will be proceeded with.
– The second-reading debate on the Defence Bill - a very important measure - has not yet been concluded, and we have also to deal with the Budget, and the Works and Buildings Estimates, together with this Bill. I shall endeavour to meet the convenience of honorable members. I am desirous that an early opportunity shall be given for the consideration of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, now that it has been restored to the noticepaper.
– Does the Prime Minister intend that that Bill shall not be discussed until the debates on the Defence Bill and the ^Budget have been completed?
– No j the Government wish to press on the discussion df all four measures. The order in which they will be taken will be adjusted for the convenience of “honorable members. I hope that within the next few days we may be able to make time for the consideration of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, which is very urgent.
– Does the Prime Minister mean that he is open to receive suggestions from this side of the House as to when the Bill should be proceeded with? If so, we are prepared to offer them.
– While always prepared to receive suggestions, I have not intimated a desire for them in regard to this measure. We shall make a proposal for the conduct of business which, I hope, will meet .with the approval of honorable members generally.
– The Prime Minister led the House to understand, some time ago, that the cost of repatriating the Pacific Islanders is being refunded to the Commonwealth by the Government of Queensland.
– In part.
– Then I ask on which page of the Budget papers the payments p,re shown ? I cannot see evidence of such payments during the last three years. ^
– The arrangement with the ‘ Queensland Government was that the ^5 per head paid to them on the arrival and registration of the Kanakas should be: paid to us towards the cost of returning them. That, I understand, has been done ; and I will obtain particulars as to the manner in which it has been accomplished.
– When does the Prime Minister intend to bring in a Bil! dealing with the Northern Territory?
– I cannot fix a day, but hope to introduce and explain the measure about a fortnight hence. Honorable members will probably then need an interval for its consideration.
Mr. HUME COOK laid upon the table the following paper -
Lands Acquisition Act - Premises at Balla Balla, Western Australia, leased to Mr. H. K. Sleeman.
Debate resumed from 8th August, 1907 (vide- page 1619, vol. XXXVII.) on motion by Mr. Frazer -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Mr. HUME COOK (Bourke- Honor of the motion to remit the question of insurance, including fire insurance, to a Royal Commission for inquiry, I had hoped that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie would consent to the postponement if not the withdrawal of this measure.
– That being the honorable member’s desire, I wish first to indicate the views of those interested on the other side as to the proposals in the Bill, and then to state the Government’s attitude. The Bill proposes to substitute for the present form of policy what, in the insurance world, is termed ‘ ‘ a valuepayable policy.” In other words, instead of paying, in the event of a fire, the amount of actual loss, the company insuring the property or goods would be called upon to pay the whole face value .stated in the policy. So far as I am able to gather, this is an entirely new principle in insurance, and has not been adopted anywhere else.
– The honorable member is misinformed. It has been adopted by many of the American States.
– Maybe that is so; I am open to receive information oil the subject. I am sure, at any rate, that a similar proposal to the present one has been considered in a number of places and by a number of extremely reputable companies, and in the majority, if not in all, of the cases, which have come under my observation, it was eventually rejected. The grounds of the refusal of those interested are many, and amongst them is the confident assertion that it would involve such increased premiums that the public would eventually complain, and there would be even more trouble for those who have to insure their goods than there is at present, lt is significant that the New Zealand State Fire Insurance Department, which is probably regarded by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie as a model, has never put forward or adopted any such principle. As a matter of fact, the policies issued by the Department contain exactly the same clauses as those issued by ordinary companies elsewhere. I believe that this proposal, if put before the Department, would be rejected, In the Bill itself some exemptions are proposed from the principle which it seeks to lay down. For instance, clause 4 provides that - “ Policy “……. does not include a policy of marine insurance; or any policy of insurance so far as it insures against loss or damage to goods, wares or merchandise, owned or held for the purpose of Trade or Commerce ;
It is asserted that those exemptions would’ lead to so many complications as would make it almost impossible for companies,, even if they accepted the principle, to honestly carry out the provisions of the measure. The conditions appertaining to fireinsurance generally are so complicated, and the owners of goods and merchandise, to say nothing of household furniture, wearing apparel, and so on, are so- related to oneanother in the general conditions of policy,, that it would be a matter of extreme difficulty for the companies to carry out thelaw faithfully and fairly, even if they were most anxious to accept the principle in itsentirety. The proposal that the assured/ should get the full sum for which he insures seems, on the face of it, equitable and proper, but it must be obvious upon, inquiry and consideration that it involves a departure from the basic principle of insurance generally - indemnity against the actual loss incurred. It has never yet beer* held by any reasonable person that the assured should make a profit out of a fire. The object has always been to recoup him the amount of the loss which he actually sustains. It is asserted that people whoinsure now never get back the full loss that they make, but that statement is distinctly arguable. The companies are in keen competition with one another in all the States.
– They have a union.
– The union operates only as to the rates of premium, but the companies are in keen competition with one another to get the business.
– That union, as to rates of premium, is everything.
– By no means. A combination of companies, with respect to the rates to be charged, does not prevent them from entering into the keenest competition with one another, on the basis upon which they have agreed, to get all the business that they can. The companies live on the profits that they make, . and a company that got no business would have no profits to distribute.
– Are they in competition ?
– Certainly, except as to the rates. Theirs is not a combine in the sense that they pool the profits.
– That form of competition is absolutely disadvantageous to the public.
– I do not wish to be understood to be advocating or defending the principle of combination even as to ;the rates to be charged ; but what I say is, that there is no combination in restraint of trade or business competition one with -another.
– Do not the companies share the risks?
– I think they do very often.
– What the companies do is to reinsure one with another; “out that- system exists amongst reputable well-conducted companies all the world over, even where there is no combination.
– Then there is no competition, of a kind beneficial to the persons insured.
– On the contrary there is, and I was about to point out that that competition arises out of the desire to secure business. There are some sixteen companies operating in Australia; and) so far as Victoria is concerned, I can say with absolute knowledge that the only agreement amongst them is an understanding as to the rates to be charged - they all charge the same. Whether that applies to the rest of Australia I am not in a position to say.
– Where does the competition come in?
– The companies vie with one another in getting as large a volume of business as possible ; and one of the methods naturally adopted lies in the liberal treatment they mete out to those insured persons who have the misfortune to have a fire. Obviously, if a company were to be harsh or unfair, or endeavour to beat down or cheat, or in any way seek to overcome the conditions of a policy, the insured would, on the next occasion, go to some other company, and, further, would do his best to prevent any business going to the company which had badly treated Wm. This competition prevents the companies, in some measure - though I do not say it does so from every point of view - from adopting those practices which it has here been asserted are adopted in cheating insurers out of the sums to .which they are entitled.
– On the Minister’s own showing, the insurer has to indulge in a fire before he can enjoy the benefits of competition.
– The honorable member only emphasizes, if he does anything, the unfairness of a combination as to the rates charged; and that is another matter. I am not defending any combination entered into to keep rates on a level ; but, apart from that, there is a competition which, in some sort, is of benefit to the public. That very competition, at any rate to a great extent, renders the unfair treatment of clients almost impossible. The case referred to by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie seems a hard one;, and if it be true, as I ha>ve no doubt it is, it was most improper on the part of the company.
– The man concerned has made the same statement outside the House, and there is no doubt as to the truth.
– I do not doubt the statement, but I say that such ai method would be sufficient to condemn a company in the minds of all honest men.
– That case shows that the competition of which the Minister speaks does not exist.
– It shows that the fear of competition of which I speak can, on occasions at any rate, be left out of account, and, further, that at least one company; and, perhaps, more, is willing to take advantage where it thinks advantage may be gained. That case, however, does not in the least detract from the fact that there is amongst a number of companies very keen competition. On this matter I speak with knowledge, owing to the fact that for fifteen or sixteen years I have been an agent for two companies ; and I know the pressure which other companies have brought to bear on me in an endeavour to induce me to take up their business. So keen is this kind of competition that companies offer every inducement to agents to accept agencies for other or additional companies.
– There must be a scarcity of men !
– That is not so; but the companies are so keen for_ business, and anxious to get. good men, that they offer pretty fair inducements, though, of course, the rates fixed must be observed. The companies’ case is that if the principle proposed by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie were adopted it would be offering a kind of premium to the dishonest insurer - to the person who makes a loss, not as the result of accident, but because he hopes to make a profit. Such a principle is foreign to that which has hitherto obtained in connexion with fire insurance the world over; there has hitherto been no such thing as encouragement to the making of a profit out of a fire. The companies admit that it ‘would be quite possible to adopt the principle proposed, but they say that schedules would have to be instituted, inquiries made from time to time, and a system of constant revaluation adopted; and this, it is believed, would be the means of increasing so greatly the premiums as to render insurance’ unpopular and unprofitable.
– The Minister means that if the companies were called upon to meet the obligations they have undertaken, ‘ they would have to charge more?
– No; the companies now, except in very isolated cases, meet the obligations which they undertake, to meet - that is to say the actual loss incurred. But if the companies were to undertake to pay the face value of the policies in all cases they would require a system of constant inspection and revaluation. This would necessitate increased cost in the office management and so forth, and necessarily mean an increase in the rates of the premiums. If premiums were to be increased in. the manner suggested, fire insurance would, it is alleged, become unpopular and unprofitable ; and the public interest, so far from being served, would fail to be served. That is the argument of the companies, and it is worthy of consideration. The basic principle, as I have already asserted, is at present to pay for the actual loss incurred ; and that loss is ascertained in one of two ways. The person incurring the loss is himself asked to assess the value of the damage done ; and, if it appear to be fair and reasonable to the company, the amount is paid at once. On the other hand, if the amount does not appear to be fair and reasonable, the insured may have the question settled by arbitration.
– That is a nice arrangement ! Arbitration means delay for months.
– I believe that, so far from arbitration meaning a delay for months the limit of time for settlement - I speak from memory, and without very great authority - is sixty clays. However, in how many instances can it be shown that any great injustice has been done? The honorable member for Kalgoorlie, who has made a study of the question, and has had this Bill before Parliament for two or three years or longer - who has investigated the balance-sheets of the companies, and probed1 the matter almost to its very depths - was able to cite only one instance in support of his theory.
– Is it not sufficient that I demonstrated that more than 30 per cent, of the total losses in Australia for one year, stand on the books of the companies as unsettled ?
– That fact is quite possible; but a very slight examination of the circumstances of insurance business might convince the honorable member that that may be purely in the way of business, and not because the companies are endeavouring to evade payment.
– How does the Minister reconcile his statement with the fact that in New Zealand there is only 3 per cent, of unsettled losses.
– Because in New Zealand there is State insurance.
– I must accept the honorable member’s figures, because I have not investigated them for myself.
– The honorable member, who ought to have studied the question before replying, admits that he has not done so.
– I do not. What I said was that I must accept the honorable member’s figures, as I had not seen them. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has referred with a good deal of enthusiasm to the position of the State Insurance Department of New Zealand. In the speech which he delivered on this subject, in August last, he quoted from a balance-sheet with the object of showing that that Department had so conducted its business as to cause a very material reduction in the premiums charged in the Dominion. It is true that, in consequence of the competition between .the State Department and the fire insurance companies, there has been a reduction of rates ; but in the very balance-sheet from which t the honorable member quoted there is ai statement that the competition has been so keen that the premiums now charged are too low, and that consequently the Department, during the period under revision, made £12,000 less than it ought to have made had fair rates prevailed. The honorable member said that for the year in question the Department made a profit of ^699. An examination of the balancesheet, however, shows that of that amount ^481 in respect of the premiums held was brought forward from the previous year.
– And was credited to the previous year.
– Exactly. Looking a.t the statement of assets and1 liabilities appearing in the balance-sheet, we find set clown as an asset office furniture valued at ^653 - an amount nearly equal to the total profit said to have been made during the year. In addition to that, there is another item which I cannot quite understand - the item of “ Preliminary expenses, .£1,268 ros. 3d.” That is also set down as an asset of the Department.
– Such an item often appears in a company’s balance-sheet. It represents the cost of flotation, and appears in the balance-sheet until it is gradually worked off.
– Can a debt incurred be reasonably set down as an asset? There may be an explanation of the item, but at present I am unable to find one.
– It is a matter of custom.
– Whether it is or is not, I confess that such an item does not appear to me to be a legitimate asset. I do not wish it to be understood that in quoting these figures I am seeking to condemn the system of State fire insurance; but I think it only fair to point out that a statement, which “might lead the House to believe that a good profit has been made, is not founded on fact, and that in the report and balance-sheet from which the honorable member for Kalgoorlie quoted appears a statement that the manager of the State Fire Insurance Department considers that the premiums charged, as the result of the war of rates in New Zealand, are too low.
– A State Insurance Department does not aim at profit-making.
– Such a Department does not aim at making profits in the sense that a proprietary company does ; but if it makes no profits, it can accumulate no reserves, and, in the event of a serious calamity, I do not know how it would be able to meet its losses. It is part of the business of a State Department of Fire Insurance, just as it is part of the business of a fire insurance company, to accumulate sufficient reserves to provide for contingent losses.
– The Department in New Zealand has always done that.
– Even so, the manager of the State Fire Insurance Department of New Zealand is not quite satisfied with the present position, and considers that the rates ought to be increased. That, at all events, is my inter,pretation of the paragraph in the report and balance-sheet to which I referred. On 1st March, 1907 - the very year in which the honorable member for Kalgoorlie introduced this Bill - an important paper, entitled Some Present-day Problems of Insurance Business, was read before the Insurance Institute of Yorkshire by Mr. Samuel J. Pipkin, general manager of the Atlas Insurance Company. In the course of that paper, Mr. Pipkin, after dealing with a number of matters of interest to the insurance world, said in regard to the question of valued policies -
Some time ago I had occasion to treat of this subject at a meeting of insurance men, and I ventured to point out, first of all, that there was no general desire for this class of policy; second, that if it were granted it would not remove the whole difficulty of proving claims; third, that it would be costly to the insured, directly or indirectly, as no company could possibly pay the expense of a valuation of all the property which it insured ; fourth, that it would be unsafe from the companies1 point of view; and fifth, that’ it was against public morals, inasmuch as a certain result would be to suggest to impecunious persons, not overweighted with honesty, an easy method of realizing a fixed sum of money.
Those remarks are in line, with the observation I made a few moments ago when I said that this principle seems to offer an inducement to policy holders to seek to make a profit rather than merely to cover themselves against loss in the case of fire.
– Where is the immorality in making a claim for an amount in respect of which premiums have been paid ?
– There are some men who are prepared to do that which is improper in this connexion. We have heard of men insuring, say, £100 worth of goods for ^200, and subsequently having what is described as a fire “ caused accidentally,” which results in their obtaining the substantial profit of £100.
– A man might pay a premium on £200 in respect of property valued at £100 for all time, and not have a fire.
– Does not a company accept a risk with its eyes open, so to speak ?
– The management of the fire insurance companies assert that under this system they would have constantly to make valuations and revaluations, although they have accepted risks with their eyes open. For instance, I might make to the company with which I am assured a proposal for a policy of £1,000 on my household furniture and effects, and when the company through its officer made an inspection I might have furniture to the value of £1,000 or more in my home. A week or a fortnight later, however, I might have only £500 worth in my house, and a fire might then occur.
– The honorable member would be guilty of fraud if he surreptitiously removed a portion of his furniture in such circumstances.
– Who would prove the fraud?
– Who proves any fraud ?
– In the circumstances it would be extremely difficult. A company might accept a risk in good faith after inspection, but could not know, if a fire occurred, what was on the premises.
– The onus of proof is on the insurer.
– Yes. The insurer, when a fire has occurred, is asked to assess his damage, and, if the company is satisfied with the assessment, the amount claimed is paid.
-How can a company be satisfied that certain furniture claimed to have been burnt was really in the building?
– I presume that witnesses would be forthcoming to testify that it was there shortly before the fire. The honorable member is more familiar with the law of evidence than I am.
– I do not know of any way to demonstrate that something alleged to have been burnt was actually in the fire.
-There are smart, unscrupulous men who would be prepared to pay premiums on double the value of the contents of a building, and arrange for a fire, if they could be certain of getting: the policy paid.
– Only scoundrels would do that sort of thing.
– I do not object to such persons being referred to as scoundrels; I am criticising the contention of the honorable member that a company.’ which isreceiving premiums on a risk valued at, say, £200 should, if a fire occurred, pay on the face value of the policy instead of, as at present, only on the actual’ loss.
– If a company has suspicions it can cancel the policy at any time without being liable to a penalty.
– Thousands of risks are accepted on the good faith that exists between client and company. The conduct of business would be almost impossible if the average standard of honesty were not high. Companies and business men have to be on their guard against, not the average man, who is honest, but the occasional man, who is dishonest. I wish to quote again from the interesting address to which I have already referred. The speaker said further -
Fire insurance would not be so popular as it is if there were any general feeling that the companies treated their customers unfairly. It is against common reasoning to assume that forty or fifty companies, in keen competition with each other, could afford to be niggardly or unjust in the settlement of their losses.
Here where we have only fifteen or sixteen companies, instead of forty or fifty, clients are treated as handsomely as circumstances will permit. The honorable member proposes to exclude from the operation of the measure certain classes of risks. This will leave the measure to affect almost solely what may be called “ domestic risks” - household furniture, and the like. On this subject the lecturer made the following observations -
So that it comes to this, that the private householder is to be the only one who is to have a valued policy, and for him it is argued it is most suitable where he has a collection of pictures or valuable jewellery which does not change in value rapidly. But is there such a thing as unchanging value? How often one sees pictures knocked down to-day at one-third or one-half the prices at which they sold a few years ago. The same applies to jewels. A stone is fashionable to-day and eagerly sought after. It is unfashionable in a few years time and a drug on the market, and it is in the times of depreciated values that the temptation to fraud and arson would be most pressing. . . .
I do not think we have much to do with public morals - at any rate, not as insurance- men ; but if it is pretty clear that a system of valued policies would lead to arson, would increase the number of fires, and increase their severity, it hardly seems the right thing for the managers of a respectable business to conduct it on methods calculated to bring these results.
Those remarks show the opinions held in Great Britain, but much the same view is taken in Australia. For instance, The Trustees’ and Investors’ Review, in its issue of the 26th August, 1907, says -
Fire insurance could not possibly be carried on at present rates if the companies were forced to issue valued policies. The expense of making valuations alone would exceed in many cases the premiums at present charged.
Apropos of the Bill, it adds -
One feature of the Bill is almost “ Gilbertian “ in its topsy-turvyness - that is, that where a partial loss occurs, the estimate of the loss shall be made, and the value of the salvage shall be deducted from the sum insured. So it follows that where chattels or buildings worth £200 are insured for, say, £100 and a loss of £100 occurs, the insured would get nothing, though under the existing method he would get the £100 he had obviously lost.
– That may be their reading of the measure, but it is not the intention of the framer.
– I am certain that it is not the intention of the framer.
– There is no proof that their interpretation is correct.
– It devolves upon the honorable member responsible for the Bill to show that it is incorrect. As to the attitude which the Government take in this matter–
– This will be interesting. Ministers have been two and a half years making up their minds about the Bill.
– The honorable member is continually repeating that statement. One would imagine, to hear him, that Ministers had no views upon anything, and that he only has fixed conclusions on every subject under the sun.
– Have the Government yet expressed a definite opinion for or against the Bill ?
– I do not know; but I am going to express such an opinion now. I have never hesitated, in connexion with any measure of which I have had charge, to express a view–
– On both sides.
– Unlike the honorable member, I do not face both ways, and do not fear to be definite. Undoubtedly the Bill is within the Constitution ; that is, the Parliament has the right to deal with fire insurance. But it is an exercise of only a small part of the powers of the Parliament in reference to insurance. When this matter is dealt with, it should be legislated upon in one comprehensive measure, not in a number of Bills. But, before that can be done, there must be an analysis of the laws of the States, and an attempt at their codification, so as to frame one law for the whole Continent. Consideration should also be given to the advisability of having a standard policy. Therefore, I think the honorable member will be well advised to wait until the Royal Commission, which is to be appointed, has reported. That Commission, it is hoped, will consist of gentlemen sufficiently versed in insurance matters to make a report within the time allowed ; and it is intended that they will indicate to Parliament the proper steps to take, and the scope of the measure with which we should deal. Therefore, the Government cannot consent to the passing of the measure at this stage, and we ask the honorable member, if he will not withdraw it, to agree to the adjournment of the debate until Parliament is in a position to legislate comprehensively on the whole subject.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time- put. The House divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from ist October (vide page 661) on motion by Sir John Forrest -
That, with the object of securing to a much greater extent than at present a representation in the Senate of members personally known to and identified with the electors they represent, and in order to terminate at once a system which must be found more inequitable and impracticable, especially in the larger States, as population increases, the time has arrived when, under the powers given to the Parliament by section 7 of the Constitution, the system hitherto in force of having one electorate for the whole of each State, for the election of Senators, should cease, and that the following be substituted : -
That for the elections for Senators, each State be divided into three electorates, each electorate returning two Senators, in the case of a general election in which the whole six Senators are to be elected, and one Senator each, in the case pf the periodical elections for the Senate.
.- I seconded this motion, for the reason that in large States, with many industries and interests scattered over wide distances, candidates for the Senate have no chance of even travelling over the whole area. The extent of a State like Queensland, South Australia, or Western Australia is altogether too great to allow of one man representing the whole of it. In the case of small places like Victoria, which bears to the larger States somewhat the relation of a cabbage leaf to a paddock, a man could run all over the State in a very little while. Of course, the population is concentrated on a smaller area, but comparing the extent of Western Australia or Queensland with that of Victoria, one cannot but be impressed with the magnitude of the task of any man who undertakes to represent the whole of either of the former States.
– A man does not have to travel across the whole area.
– If he wishes to represent a State he must know something about it, and he cannot know anything about it without seeing it. I know a little about Australia, and have been in most of the States. I have been for a number of years in Western Australia and probably have seen as much of it as any man carrying out the undertakings that I have carried out there could be expected to see. For any man who has been in the State only a year or two to turn up in Melbourne as a senator to represent the whole State, or pretend to know all about it, is absurd. Such a man cannot represent Western Australia or any other State of that size. He can only misrepresent it.
– He cannot come here except by the vote of the people.
– I am allowing for .lt that. No man with a slight knowledge of a country gained within a month or two can represent any State as large as Queensland* South Australia, or Western Australia. A different system obtains in the United States. The State Parliaments are elected by the people, and senators are elected by the ‘ State Parliaments. Under that system there is certainly a chance of obtaining the best representatives of the States as senators, but in Australia, an industry may crop up in a State for a few months before the Senate elections, and be able k> saddle it with senators whom the bulk of the people do not require. I have figures to prove my statement. The agricultural, fruit-growing, and stock-raising portions of Western Australia are covered by the Swan, Perth, and Fremantle divisions. If the last Senate election had been decided by the polling in those older parts of Western Australia, Mills, one of the candidates who was not elected, would have been at the head of the poll, Pearce, who was elected, would have been second, and Clarke would have been third. Consequently, two who were not elected Would have been elected, but that result was counteracted by the polling on the goldfields. I claim that the gold-fields should be well represented, but they should not dominate the representation of the State. No gold-fields member would claim that he should represent Agriculture. The right honorable member for Swan proved that 200,000 out of the 270,000- people in that State reside within the area that would have returned those other two candidates as senators, had’ the State been divided in the manner now suggested. It was never expected whenwe entered Federation that one party should dominate a State. Any system that will allow one party, whether it be theLabour Party or that to which I belong, to completely dominate a State, is wrong. Some system of electing State representa- tives both to this House and to the Senate should be adopted which will allow all the people to be represented. Probably the result of the poll in Western Australia is to be accounted for in some degree by the small percentage of electors who went to the poll. In the Fremantle division only 37.47, in the Perth division only 29.96, and in the Swan division 44.97, of the electors voted* for Senate candidates. If this reform required an alteration of the Constitution, I should not advocate it; but the contingency was certainly contemplated, because there is already a provision in the Constitution .to meet it. There is provision in the Constitution that a State may be divided, if it be so desired.
– Do similar circumstances prevail in the other States?
– In every State; and we see that New South Wales has no labour representatives in the Senate. I am sure that no one will say that labour interests should not be represented ; and I claim that no system which does not allow representation to all parties is right. In Western Australia the mining industry - gold-mining, tin-mining, and so forth - is, of course, of great importance, and employs a large number of men for the time being; but the future prosperity of the country must depend on agriculture and the older industries. Those engaged in the latter will be responsible for the public debts; and yet industries which have sprung up, and may last only a few years, now govern the State. While it is quite right that those engaged in these industries should have a voice in the Parliament, I do not think that the representation of the whole State should be handed over to them, either in the case of this House or the Senate. I did not expect to have to speak on this motion, and, without going further, I have only to say that I shall be pleased to see it carried.
– I move -
That all the words after “ force,” line 10, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ should be abolished and the Hare system of election adopted.”
The Hare system was used in the first Senate election in Tasmania, and, from my stand-point, was very successful. The result was the return of a pronounced freetrader, a protectionist, a labour man, one who was looked on as a military expert, a commercial man, and a general politician, who had been in the State Parliament and is now a member of the Senate. It will be seen that all parties were represented. But although at the last election the Labour Party received a large vote, they have no representation ‘ in the Senate at the presenttime, whereas, if the Hare system had been used, they would ha.ve had at least one. The Labour Party of New South Wales, who returned so many members to this House, have not one in another place. I have always been against the block system of voting, because, under it, half-a-dozen may ta.ke the whole of the seats, to the exclusion of all other parties. I am not very keen on party politics, but, at the same time, I believe that every party should be represented in a deliberative assembly, because that leads to all views being laid before the country, and a better basis is provided on which representatives may form their judgment. What has happened in New South Wales may happen in all the States.
– I think that in New South Wales all the senators were returned bv an absolute majority.
– That may be, but we know that a large number of labour members have been returned to this House, and that the votes in favour of their’ party largely increased that year. This shows how the public feeling is going; and yet, as has been pointed out, New South Wales has no labour representation in the Senate.
– Until the Labour Party get three representatives for New South Wales we shall have none.
– That is so. I do not think it is necessary to make at long ‘speech in support of my amendment, and therefore, I content myself with simply moving it.
.- The motion of the right honorable member for Swan does not commend itself to me. It would put the representation in this House, and in another place, almost on the same franchise and basis ; and that is not in accordance with what I believe to be the spirit of the Constitution, which, rather, provides that the Senate shall represent the States’ interests, as, perhaps, sometimes opposed to the majority interests, of the people of the Commonwealth. This has been the case in almost every Federal Constitution up to the present; and it has always been recognised as necessary to have special representation of the States’ interests which are involved in any partnership of the kind. Therefore, in my opinion, the arrangement made by which a State shall vote as one body is one which better reflects the opinions and wishes of a State as a State than if there were different electorates, as in the case of the House of Representatives. The fact that the present system has not worked as some honorable members would wish it to work in one State or another, is no reason why the present arrangement should be altered, providing the principle itself is a sound one. The fact that one particular party may have got more representation than some honorable member may desire, or another party in another State may have got less, is not to my mind a convincing argument or reason why the principle laid down in the Constitution should be annulled. At the present time, we have, in each State, whether it be of comparatively small area like Tasmania, or of large area like Western Australia, Queensland, or South Australia, a representation elected, at all events, by the majority of the people voting as a whole. The honorable member for Fremantle pointed out that the three electorates proposed in the motion for Western Australia would have returned two members of one- party and one member of the Labour Party, instead of three members of the latter, as at present. But, from the figures the honorable member quoted, it seems to me that the result of the Western Australian election was not due .so much to the system as to the fact that in the pining districts the electors chose to come to the poll, while in other electorates the people did not avail themselves of their right to the same extent.
– I did not say that. There was the same percentage throughout.
– I apologize if I misunderstood the honorable member, but that is certainly what his figures led me to believe. In any case, it seems to me that we get a fairer reflex of a State’s interests and wishes by the present system than we could possibly get by that proposed in the motion. It was recognised, when the Constitution was framed, that it was necessary to have the present system, partly because some of the States would otherwise probably be swamped. It was, therefore, provided that the smaller States should have more representation in this Chamber than was actually their due on the basis of population, and, further, that the Senate should be able to conserve the interests of the States in two ways - one by giving each
State, irrespective of area, population, and other considerations, the same representation, and another by making the Senate electorates extend over the whole of the State, in order that there might be, as I said just now, a reflex of a State’s interests and wishes. The present ‘ system has not worked altogether satisfactorily ; the Senate has not, to my mind, been the custodian and guardian of the interests and rights of the States, as it thought it would be. But, at the same time, I do not think that the motion, if carried, would make any difference in this respect. It would mean, if anything, a change for the worse, and would certainly make the Senate more than ever a duplicate of this House. To my mind, the proper system has been followed under the Constitution, and in the scheme of electorates adopted, and I shall, therefore, be reluctantly compelled to vote against the right honorable member’s motion.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Hume Cook) adjourned.
– - I move-
That, in order to obtain the full realization of the benefits df the Citizen Defence System, this House is of opinion that the Defence Acts and Regulations framed thereunder should provide opportunity for the promotion of any member of the Commonwealth Defence Forces to any position which, by reason of adequate qualifications, he is competent to fill.
In presenting this motion for the acceptance of the House, I do not feel that any apologyis required, since it really embodies the spirit of Australia with regard to positions in, not only the Defence Forces, but the Public Sei vice of the Commonwealth generally.
– As honorable members are aware, the resumption of the debate on the motion for the second reading of the Defence Bill appears on the noticepaper as a later order of the day, and I should, therefore, like to know from the honorable member whether his motion in any way covers the ground traversed by that measure. _ If it does, I cannot permit him to move it at this stage.
– I was very anxious, sir, that nothing should intervene to prevent the consideration of this proposition ; and I took the precaution of examining the Defence Bill very carefully, with a view of ascertaining whether there was anything in it that would make the discussion of the motion at this stage an infringement of our Standing Orders. I am glad to say that I have found in the Bill nothing that would prevent the discussion of the motion.
– The honorable member may proceed.
– I was remarking thatI did not feel that any apology was necessary for the introduction of this motion, because I am sure honorable members’ will agree that the principle for whichit provides should obtain in connexion with our Defence Forces. There may be in the minds of honorable members an impression that all that I ask for is already contained in the Defence Act and the regulations framed thereunder ; but Iwould point out that although section 8 of the Act provides that the GovernorGeneral may amongst other things, appoint an officer to be commandant of any military district, and appoint and promote officers of the Defence Force, and issue commissions to them, it does not provide that it shall be incumbent upon the Governor-General, or the Commandants whom he may appoint, to select officers upon considerations of merit, as overriding all other qualifications. In these circumstances. I feel that it is necessary, since the question of seniority is allowed to have, not merely an undue, but an absolute influence on all promotions, that we should place in the very forefront of our defence legislation the principle that merit should have more influence upon appointments and promotions than any other factor. What is the position? We endeavoured to provide in the Public Service Act that merit should govern promotions, and went very much further than I propose to go in the direction of placing in clear language in that measure our desire in that regard. We find, however, that the dead hand of seniority controls the situation, and that length of service has a paramount influence upon appointments and promotions, which we specially desired should be governed by merit. Any honorable member who has inquired into this question will be satisfied that the spirit of the Public Service Act has been set at naught by those who should have been its most cordial and sympathetic administrators. When we find that the desire which we have so clearly expressed in that Act is being to a very large extent ignored, we have additional reason for inserting this neces sary provision at the earliest possible moment in our Defence legislation. When a. vacancy occurs under present conditions, what is done? Practically the first and the last step taken is to ascertain who is next on the list in order of seniority. The officer determined to be next on the list is then appointed to the vacant position. That is not in accordance with the principle that should govern our Defence Force. We have determined that we should have what is known as a Citizen Defence Force, and that we should not rely solely upon a number of permanent men, more or less highly paid, for the defence of Australia. We prefer rather to rely upon the patriotism, industry, energy, ability, and capacity of our people as a whole. That being so, we ought to insure to those who take up the very necessary work of fitting themselves for the defence of their country every possible means, not only of perfecting themselves in their profession, but of reaching the highest positions in the service. As I have already indicated, when a vacancy occurs the consideration of seniority is allowed to have absolute sway in determining how it shall be filled. The question which an officer asks before he makes a recommendation is invariably the same. It is not, “ Is this the best man available for the position?” but “ Is this man good enough for the position ? “ That question ought to be varied. We should have appointed to any vacancy the very best man available and qualified to fill it. We should allow the. officer charged under the Act with the power of making a recommendation to make a choice, after a proper examination, both theoretical and practical, of the man best fitted to fill the vacant position. The present Minister of Defence has, to a larger extent than has any of his predecessors; shown his sympathy with the citizen defence system. He has displayed that sympathy in connexion with the interchange of officers, having decided that the system shall no longer be a sort of close corporation for permanent officers. He has provided that militia officers shall have an opportunity to go to other parts of the Empire to obtain information and training that will be valuable to Australia, and he has also provided that the Military Board, which has presumably the control of out Defence Forces, shall include members of the militia. In the first place, he determined that militia officers should be consultative members of the Board ; but finding that that was not sufficient, he directed that militia members should be fully appointed to the Board. The result, although it is. only a brief period since the change was made, has more than justified his action. The members of the Defence Forces throughout Australia owe a great deal to the Minister for his action in that connexion. Passing from the officers to the non-commissioned officers, the honorable gentleman provided that they too should have an opportunity of effecting exchanges, and that the men of the rank and file should have greater facilities for obtaining training than they had before. In these circumstances, I feel that in the Minister I shall have a very ardent champion of my proposal - that he will be found willing and anxious to have placed upon record the decision of the House of Representatives tha’, merit should have full and perfect play in the making of appointments and promotions, and that the best available man, irrespective of his rank or status, should be selected for any vacancy. The terms of the motion are surely wide enough to include all that can be desired by any who wish to see our Defence Forces working more efficiently than they are st present. Honorable members may feel that it is a very large order to ask that a departure from such an established practice should be made. Under the present system, on the office of State Commandant becoming vacant, it would follow as a matter of course that the officer next in order of seniority on the permanent staff would be appointed. ‘ We have in Australia a number of militia officers who have been in the Defence Forces for many more years than members of the permanent staff, and who would, under the circumstances I have just mentioned, be ineligible for appointment, although they have had the conduct of the business of State Commandant, and have discharged the duties of such a position with credit to themselves and advantage to those under them. We are not getting the best out pf the Defence Forces by excluding such men from the chance of being appointed State Commandant. In Victoria recently we had to fill such a vacancy, and the officer chosen was acting in a very responsible position in another State. During the whole of his military career, however, he had been connected with only one arm of the service - the artillery - and had had absolutely no experience as an acting Commandant. I do not know that I am justified in mentioning mere hearsay, but I think that I am entitled to say that I have heard that it was very much against his own will that he was taken from si position in New South Wales to fill that of State Commandant of Victoria. Whether that be so or not, I know from personal experience that the senior militia officer in Victoria at the time, although a business man, had for years filled a very responsible position in the forces, and was prepared to accept the duties of Commandant. Indeed, he had acted as Commandant on more “than one occasion, and had proved himself in every way fitted for the post. But, owing to the ridiculous, stupid, and wasteful policy of the past, whereby the best material at hand was not used, the position was not offered to him, but an officer of the permanent staff was appointed. I believe that, under the Act and regulations, the Minister could have appointed him, but I recognise that to have done so would have been a marked departure from existing practice, and as such, would have required a great deal of courage. Such action, however, would have been the beginning of a new and better era for our Defence Forces. One thing that has acted detrimentally in the past has been the existence of so many different grades and divisions on different footings. The line between permanent and militia officers has been rigidly and arbitrarily drawn, and it has been impossible for militia officers to cross it. I do not think that that was contemplated by. Parliament when the Defence Act was passed. Had the matter been raised then, I think that Parliament would have taken the view which I am now expressing, and we should have had made plain in the Act the intention of the Legislature that at all times the man best fitted for a position should be appointed to it, whatever his previous classification. However, until now there has been this line, which militia officers may not cross, with the result that our Defence Forces are not anything like so efficient as they might well be. We have largely killed the natural enthusiasm, of men who desire to do their work well, and advance themselves in the service, and the result is that proposals for vital aire:ations, to which I may now allude only in passing, have been put forward. Had the Minister seen fit to make the departure of which I have spoken, there would not be so much to say about the unsatisfactory condition of the forces. I feel that each and every part of the service is doing its best to fit itself for the discharge of the most important duty of citizenship, and is therefore entitled to the utmost consideration. But no barrier should be placed in the way of the militia officer who aspires to the highest positions. While the Inspector-General started at the bottom of the ladder, his rise has been phenomenal, his being the only appointment of which I have knowledge not in accord with the bad old practice of considering merely seniority.
– He is an Australian native.
– I do not agree with all that he has done, or is doing, or with all that has been done in regard to him; but he has proved himself a capable administrator, and has performed as well as he can the work for which he is selected. He is a credit to Australia, though I am not prepared to discuss now whether, in appointing him, the best selection was made. Still, whatever success has followed his appointment is to be attributed to the action of the Governor-General, in departing from the rule that seniority alone must be observed. Had the senior officer been appointed, the Director-General of the Medical Staff would have been given the position.
– Was the best man available appointed?
– It would not be right to discuss that question now ; the principle we should follow at all times is to appoint the best man available. This is the only case, so far as I arn aware, in which an appointment has not been dictated by reasons of seniority. I do not wish to occupy more time than is necessary in putting the motion before the House, because I feel that honorable members are in sympathy with it. Since it has been on the notice-paper, no honorable gentleman has expressed any considerable objection to it, and I do not think that even the Minister will strenuously oppose it. 1 am desirous that the principle which it embodies shall be affirmed. Although much has been accomplished by the present Minister, he would have done much more had he acted upon that principle. Opportunities for doing so have occurred time and again, but, unfortunately, he has not seen his way to avail himself of them. The passing of the motion would be a direction to the Government that the principle must be embodied in any amending Defence Act, and in new regulations regarding promotion. In my opinion, considerations of merit should transcend all others. We must get the best material available, and use it to the best advantage. In a body like the Defence Forces, there are always men wh’o are content to be carried along by the years to the goal which they ultimately hope to reach, and other men who will employ every spare moment, and grasp at every opportunity, to fit themselves, not only for the better discharge of their immediate duties, but foi: the performance of the greater responsibilities which they hope to be called upon tq bear. It is those of the latter class whom we should encourage. Under the present system, they are not sufficiently’ encouraged. The right honorable member for Swan, when Minister of Defence, made many desirable reforms - although I was opposed to his changing the volunteer into a partiallypaid system - but he would have done still more than he did to give satisfaction to the Defence Forces had he provided that merit and capacity should be the chief factors in determining appointments and promotions. I commend the motion to the House with confidence, feeling sure that honorable members are in accord with it. Although merit may be recognised under the existing law, Parliament has not said specifically that that should be done, and, consequently, promotions are governed almost wholly by seniority.
.- The honorable member for Laanecoorie may well submit, with confidence, a motion embodying so much abstract good ; though I fail to see that the carrying of it will have much effect on what he has at heart. He asks us to affirm the principle of promotion according to merit. I do not think that the Minister would admit that the Board responsible for promotions is guided broad.lv by any other consideration.
– The honorable member’s complaint is that while at present only permanent officers are promoted to positions in the Permanent Forces, abler militia officers, if available, should be called on.
– The point on which the honorable member laid most stress, just prior to resuming his seat, was that merit should take precedence of seniority in determining appointments. His other point was that citizen soldiers should be given an opportunity to obtain promotions in the Permanent Forces from which he says they are at present debarred. If the honorable member desires to give citizen soldiers permanent appointments, the motion does not advance himvery much, because the greatest qualification of all is the qualification that the officer concerned can give the requisite time to the transaction of the duties of the position. Undoubtedly the Promotion Board will still be able to say of a citizen soldier :” He is an excellent officer in the field, but we do not think he is able to give all the time required to the work, and consequently we recommend such and such a permanent officer for the position.”
– Would not the officer himself be the best judge as to whether he could give the time or not?
– If a man is appointed to a position to the work of which he states beforehand that he thinks he will be able to give all the time and attention necessary, and finds afterwards that he cannot do it, would the honorable member suggest the infliction of pains and penalties on him ?
– He should be retired.
– If that were provided for, the proposal would be perfectly safe. But under present conditions, in any case, the Board that deals with promotionsgenerally would be the first to recognise the capabilities and enthusiasm of such officers of the Citizen Forces as wished to occupy for a certain time permanent positions. There is in the forces to-day an ex-member of this House, occupying one of the most important positions in connexion with Australian defence. He is a citizen soldier, and is responsible for the collection of a great deal of the intelligence concerning the whole of the forces, so that, under the present system, it is fair to state that a citizen soldier who wishes to give the time and has the ability to occupy a position will be promoted by the Board. I rose only to point out that the honorable member’s motion, however laudable its general purpose, is not altogether necessary., because, under the present practice, competence and adequate qualifications are amply recognised.
– The officer to whom the honorable member referred is doing that work as a militiaman. The proposal of the honorable member for Laanecoorie is that a militiaman who is doing that sort of work should be allowed to become a permanent man.
– Does the Minister mean that, under the general spirit of the motion, if a militiaman takes promotion, he should ipso facto become a permanent soldier?
– Not ipso facto, but he could do so.
– I presume only while he occupied that position ? If so, my argument is not altered by what the Minister says.
– The officer whom the honorable member quoted as in charge of the intelligence staff could not, or would’ not, be made a. Commandant under the present system.
– There is nothing to prevent him being made a Commandant.
– Yes, the practice.
– It is hardly fair of the honorable member to accuse the present Board in effect of unfair dealing in the case of promotion, by saving that, because nobody among the Citizen Forces has, so far, been deemed to be competent and qualified to become a Commandant, the Board have therefore determined that nobody ever shall be. I have no doubt that if the Promotion Board discovered a citizen soldier with the requisite knowledge of all arms of the service, and of the supply of all arms of the service, he would gladly be appointed to the position of Commandant.
– That officer had those qualifications, but he was not appointed.
– He had them only in the honorable member’s opinion, perhaps.
– No; that was the opinion of the Board. He acted for a considerable period as Commandant with great success.
– Does the honorable member mean to. say that the Board deemed him the best man for the position ?
– No; I said that they deemed him quite capable of filling it.
– But not so capable as the man who was finally appointed?
– They appointed a man who had never done anything but artillery work. The honorable member himself said just now that a Commandant should have a knowledge of all arms of the service.
– I do not think that our Commandants do, as a rule, know all arms of the service, but in that regard our citizen soldiers are in no better position than are the permanent soldiers. The honorable member has not advanced his cause by that particular instance. The officer was admittedly competent to fill the position, but the Board is charged with the duty of saying who is the most competent to fill it.
Because they thought that officer competent to fill it temporarily, it does not follow that he should have been appointed for all time. The moment that citizen soldiers show that they possess the requisite knowledge and can give their whole time to the work - and these high positions require a man’s whole time - the Board of Promotion will, under existing circumstances, and without any further direction from the House, see that they receive the reward of their merits.
-34J– “When I noticed this motion on the businesspaper, I wondered that the honorable member for Laanecoorie had .brought it forward, because I was under the impression that what he desired wa.s already provided for by regulation. I find, however, that that is not so, although my memory was correct this far, that it was the law at one time. On 8th August, 1903, shortly before I relinquished the position of Minister of Defence, 1 wrote a minute which, if it had been in force now, would wholly meet the honorable member’s wishes to the following effect -
Having fully considered this matter, I approve of all officers of the Militia and Volunteer Forces being equally eligible for transfer to the General and Instructional Staff as those already permanently employed, provided that in other respects they satisfy the conditions other than that of age of entry and comply with the regulations as to examination. It would be grossly unfair to debar officers of the Militra and Volunteer Forces from being eligible for appointments to the Permanent Force on account of age.
That minute was converted into a regulation, was gazetted on 3rd October, 1.903, and remained in force until 1st October, 1905. It was then left out of the regulations, for what reason I do not know. It clearly shows, however, that at that time I was of opinion, seeing that those upon whom we had to rely in time of difficulty and clanger belonged to the Militia and Volunteer Forces and rifle clubs, that to debar them from promotion was to strike a blow at the very root of the welfare of the service. For that reason I framed the minute, and the regulation was approved by the Governor-General in Council. I am altogether in accord with the object of the honorable member for Laanecoorie, if I understand his contention to be that the whole of the positions in the Commonwealth Naval and Military Forces should be open to every one in the forces, whatever position he may occupy, so long as he complies^ with the conditions which I laid down. It was the rule that if an officer were required for the Permanent Forces he could not be selected from those who were over the age, although such an officer might have been in the service for years as a volunteer or militiaman, having, perhaps, entered almost as a boy. If he had passed the age at which the Permanent Force is recruited, he was debarred even although he had been in the Defence Forces for all those years. He could become as old as he liked once he got into the Permanent Force, but he must not get old in the militia or volunteers. That anomaly needed only to be pointed out to be altered. The proviso which I made was that in other respects he should satisfy the conditions and comply with the regulations as to .examination. There would, therefore, be no danger of having placed in permanent responsible positions persons who were illiterate or who lacked the due qualifications. We cannot afford, in order to please anybody, to trust the lives of our soldiers to persons who are not in every way qualified. Consequently, if officers in the militia or volunteers desire appointment to the Permanent Forces they must take care to qualify themselves so that they may be quite a? competent in every respect as are those who enter in any other way. It ought, indeed, to be understood that the best way to get into the Permanent Force was through the militia and volunteers. Such a man would have more claim than would a person who had not done any service at all. If I am in order, I should like to express the hope that the present Minister will do what I have often advised him to do, and what I always intended to do if I had remained longer in the Department - to appoint some of the best qualified militia officers as Commandants of the various States. Such a plan would raise the” status of the militia at once ; and there is no reason why men, who are known to be” good officers - who have fought in war, have been honoured by the King, and have come back with their breasts covered with medals - should not be selected. We must uphold, of course, the permanent professional instructional staff, but we must also make it clear .that the fighting force of Australia, consisting as it does for the most part of the militia and the’ volunteers, must also have the fullest’ consideration. There are not 1,000 permanent troops altogether, and if the Minister has his way, that number is to be reduced to about a third. The proposal is, and I do not approve of it, to reduce the expenditure by about one-half, and that can only be done by reducing? the number, because soldiers are very badly paid as it is, and I do not see how any economy can be expected in this connexion. Our permanent soldiers, as a matter of fact, are both badly treated and badly paid ; and, in this House, are subject continually to adverse criticism to which no man should be open. There is too much personality in the criticism levelled at our officers; and I think that we ought to be able to attack the system without descending to attacks on individuals. I regret that since Federation* there have been so many personal attacks on individual officers in our forces, though I am glad to say the criticisms have in the main come from a few members. We shall never have discipline, or place the officer in the position in which he ought to be, if he knows that every single action of his will be criticised, not in general terms, but as an individual matter. I hope that the motion will be carried. I believe that I was Treasurer in 1905 ; but I had no idea that this regulation was not in force all the time; and I am sorry that it should ever have been annulled. I do not think that we shall find any one to say that this rule is not on the right lines, and should not at once be re-enacted.
.- The fact, as indicated by the right honorable member for Swan, that a regulation, which facilitates the introduction of members of the irregular forces, if I may so call them, into permanent positions, has been quietly dropped, emphasizes the necessity for this House giving expression to its opinion on the subject in a very emphatic way. And I am quite sure that the opinion expressed will be emphatic, and practically undivided. I regretted to hear the speech of the honorable member for Wentworth, which, although not very openly indicating his intention, appeared to be a piece of special pleading for the retention of those particular privileges which have been enjoyed by the permanent forces in Australia. T know that in the Old Country a very rigid line has been drawn in the past, and still exists, between the officers of the volunteer service and the officers of the regular army. I feel sure that this tradition of the regular troops of the Old Country has been carried into Australia, and continues here, in spite of the efforts made to put an end to it. If the defence of Australia is to be placed on a proper basis, embodying the principle of a citizen force, we must allow of the freest access to the higher positions, even in the permanent service, by men who belong to the less regular portions of the troops. I have known men of the volunteer branches of the service, who, by reason of ability and enthusiasm, were well fitted to take very high positions, but, by reason of this peculiar conservatism, that seems almost to be inherent in military matters, they were carefully blocked from taking that Tank to which their merits and enthusiasm entitled them. I hope the Minister will take what I believe will be the unanimous direction of this House, and will see that no obstacle is placed in the way of officers belonging to the non-permanent forces getting equal facilities with others for attaining to the higher, better-paid, and more responsible positions. If that be done, it will prove an effective method of popularizing the proposal for which the Minister is responsible - the system of universal service. It will be an incentive to many of our young men to study and take their position as members of the Defence Forces in earnest. I believe that the quality and enthusiasm of our young men is such mat we can rely on them to attain the very best levels ever attained in the regular service. I hope the motion will be carried unanimously, and will be regarded as a direct indication to the Minister of the desire of the House to make this the principal feature of his scheme of national defence.
– This motion was brought under my notice only last night, and,, therefore, I have not had the opportunity of giving the subject the mature consideration to which it is entitled. But I have no. objection to place before the House my views for the time being, and give Honorable members the benefit of any knowledge’ and experience I have in regard to the matter. I understand that we must not trenchon the question that has previously been discussed in connexion with a cognate subject ; but a day or two ago I emphasized thefact that anything regarded as preparation for war and presumed to be military service, unless in time of 4 war it rendered the army fit to discharge its responsibilities, was circus work. We are only triflingwith the question, unless we place the forces in such a position that, when war breaksout, they will be fit to discharge the obligations and duties of defence. Thequestion before us now is not that of thetraining, but of the selection of officers..
I further pointed out a day or two ago that the training of the cadets, although valuable and important, was simply an initial step in the creation of the army, because we cannot have an army without officers and proper direction. I endeavoured still further to make clear that bodies of riflemen, no matter how competent or valorous, were of much reduced value as a means of defence, unless properly organized and officered, because an army is a complicated, and must be a going machine. We have, therefore, first of all, to get men competent to run the machine. Such men cannot be obtained amongst the cadets, or amongst the riflemen, however essential those arms of the service may be as feeders ; for they are not trained to discharge such duties, and the work is incomplete unless, in case of war, proper organization and control is provided.
– Has the honorable member forgotten the service of the bushmen in South Africa?
– In that case Great Britain had organized the machine of which they were made a part. That is very different from having no machine. I have been, rather struck by the German description of what an officer should be ; that is, he must be qualified by knowledge, experience and strength of character. That is almost identical with the idea of Buckle, the great historian, of what a man ought to be. Buckle says that one man is better than another, not by virtue of his birth, environment, or fortuitous circumstances, but only by reason of his morals, intelligence, and knowledge. It will be seen that the German ideal portrays almost the same qualifications for a good officer. We quite apprehend how heavy an officer’s work is and ought to be. He has great responsibilities, requiring tact, respectability, and decision of character - all those qualities which make a man estimable in everyday life. Although it has been said that some of our permanent officers do not do enough work, there is plenty of work for every man ; and I am glad to say that a large number of our officers most meritoriously perform their duties in time of peace. We have it on the authority of Napoleon that in time of war no human being in prominent control can stand more than five years of active campaigning; the work and responsibility is so heavy, and the drain on fi man’s vital force so great, that few could bear it for even that time. We have it on fee faith of history that even the great Napoleon was, fortunately for us, when Waterloo was fought, physically and mentally much below his zenith. The question of competent officers lies at the base of the whole problem of defence. I presume a considerable number of honorable members have attended1 school at one time or another, and may remember the poem regarding a child who,, when conditions were stormy, was perfectly satisfied as to her safety so long as her father was at the helm. The same idea prevails in the control of an army ; the men feel perfectly safe when the man at the top is competent to carry on his work. Ir> shooting the rapids in Canada, the occupants of a canoe feel safe if they know that the man with the steering paddle understands his business. Once the same idea permeates our forces the whole system will be revolutionized. If we could discover a system under which we should be able to secure 10,000 or 15,000 competent leaders and officers in Australia, nine-tenths of our trouble would be at an end. What does history teach us? What was the chief factor in the successes of Napoleon ? He succeeded not only because of his innate ability, but because’ his men believed in him and were prepared to follow “ the little corporal “ anywhere.
– And because every one of the rank and file carried a marshal’s baton in his knapsack.
– Certainly ; every man hoped that there was the possibility of promotion before him. An incident of the Peninsula war which I read many yearsago made a great impression upon me, and may well be recalled in this connexion. The armies of Wellington and Soult lay face to face, and Soult, taking advantageof the temporary absence of Wellington, who was engaged in obtaining a fuller knowledge of the class of country inwhich he was encamped, precipitated a battle. The British troops were depressed. Their great captain - the man upon whom they depended - was absent. They felt that without him they could not win,” and weregreatly dispirited. But suddenly on a distant hill-top the figure of a solitary horseman appeared against the horizon. It was that of Wellington, who had outridden hisstaff in his haste to return to the command of his troops, and the effect of his appearance was electrical. The troops- felt that there had returned to them the man who could lead them in only one direction - the road to victory - and they were not wrong in their conclusion. I desire to impress upon honorable members that the essence of the whole case for this proposal is that we should have controlling our troops men who are best fitted for their positions. Take one more illustration of the influence that a competent resolute man has upon a body of soldiers. Let us go back to the battle of Lake Regillus. The story may be mythical, but it embodies the idea that I have been trying to present to honorable members - the idea of “my father is at the helm.” The Romans at a particular part of the battle were failing. They determined to send for a good fighting man - Herminius. Macaulay describes the effect of his arrival -
Eight glad were all the Romans
Who, in that hour of dread,
Against great odds bare up the war
Around Valerius dead,
When from the south the cheering
Rose with a mighty swell : “ Herminius comes, Herminius,
Who kept the bridge so well !”
That quotation should appeal to every class of intellect and every phase of want of intellect.
– Does the honorable member say that he is satisfied that all the men occupying high positions in the Commonwealth Defence Forces have the confidence of those whom they command?
– I am satisfied that every member of the Federal Parliament has not the confidence of the people.
– The honorable member need not be nervous about that ; I am simply asking a question.
– I am prepared to give the House what information I possess without being questioned. The honorable member for Laanecoorie rightly suggests that we ought to obtain our officers wherever we can get them, making ability the main qualification. Except, perhaps, in the case of the Engineers, there is no difficulty with regard to the entrance of militia officers into the Permanent Forces, provided that they can pass the necessary examinations. The honorable member further desires that when there is a vacancy in any branch of the Military Forces, and there is a competent, able militiaman more suitable than all others, wherever they may be, to fill the position, it shall be given to him.
– Even if he has temporarily left the forces.
– That may not be very material. We are to obtain the ablest man available for every position wherever we can get him.
– The regulations at present preclude that.
– I was surprised to find that there had been a process of obliteration mentioned by the right honorable member for Swan. The House is practically unanimous in the belief that we should set ability wherever it can be obtained, and that we should use it. A man would be little less than a murderer who, in time of war, placed in charge of troops - merely because he was a permanent or senior officer - one who was incompetent to lead them.
– And we should select the best man irrespective of whether he is an Australian or a Britisher.
– An Australian preferred.
– The real Australian sentiment is “ Ability all the time, but do not shut out your own countryman because you are familiar with him.” An idea entertained by many is that nothing is good unless it has had a sea voyage.
Colonel Foxton. - There is a good deal of the converse.
– I leave some one else to state the converse. Goods that are sent from Australia across the ocean to acquire a sea flavour and another label are sometimes accepted with great avidity on their return. There is another point to which I wish to direct the attention of honorable members.Whilst ability must be obtained wherever it is, and regardless of who may be injured by the adoption of that course, 1 cannot imagine that a permanent officer with training and experience could possibly be outclassed, unless under very special circumstances, by a militiaman with only limited training. I have before me what may be described as the stud-book of the Australian Forces. It is a publication showing the seniority list. This question of seniority has caused me more trouble than has even the Opposition. Seniority is always worrying some one. If we out A over B or C over D the British Empire is immediately in danger.
Colonel Foxton. - There are certain fixed rules which must be followed.
– Why any one outside a kindergarten should worry over such a question I fail to understand. To a layman unaccustomed to attach much importance to seniority the devotion shown to the principle is one of those inscrutable matters that the Opposition may be left to explain. Even with our own Permanent Forces we have very great trouble, and I should like, with the consent of the honorable member for Laanecoorie, to move an amendment that will have the effect of slightly extending his proposal. If it is wise to obtain able men from any part of the forces, itis surely wise, in the case of the Permanent Forces, to secure able officers wherever we can find them. To do that, we must destroy the controlling influence of seniority. I was askedjust now whether I should be prepared to support the extension of this principle to the Public Service generally. What happens now in the Public Service of the Commonwealth is that which occurs in the Defence Force. If a position is thrown open, and Jones is the next in order of seniority, he secures it, unless he is absolutely unfit for it. Smith, another man in the service, may be singularly brilliant and able, but he will not be selected because Jones can, passably, discharge the duties of the position. We can well understand the reason for this. Those charged with the duty of making a selection probably say, “ If we have regard to seniority in making an appointment, we shall have nothing to explain, provided that the person appointed can do the work ; but if we pass over to the man next in order of seniority, we shall have to explain a good deal to Parliament.” The same thing happens in connexion with our Defence Forces. We therefore arrive at the conclusion that it is absolutely necessary to do away, as far as we can, with the dominating importance of seniority, and select the able man wherever he may be found. If the selecting Board and the Minister have a direction from Parliament to pay no special attention to seniority but to select on merit, the position will be greatly improved.
Colonel Foxton. - That would open the door to patronage.
– A Board, like Parliament, is composed of men who do their duty, but live along the curve of least resistance. If a man is to be chosen for a certain position, a Board says in effect : “Jones is fit for it; he is next in order of seniority ; if we appoint him not a word will be said. But if we make an appointment from the junior officers Parliament will want to know a good deal about the matter.” I should like Parliament to sustain the
Board by adding to the motion the provision that, primarily, merit must be considered. The motion speaks of providing opportunity for promotion to any position which, “ by reason of adequate qualifications,” any member of the Commonwealth Defence Forces may be competent to fill. We agree with that in the abstract; the difficulty is to determine what are adequate qualifications. If I disregarded seniority in making a promotion, the question would be asked, as it is continually asked in minor matters, if the advice of my experts had been followed. Frequently a Minister cannot do other than adopt the recommendations of his advisers. Therefore, although, if the House passes the motion, a method to give effect to it: must be devised, it will be difficult to determine what that method shall be. But, while agreeing with the honorable member for Laanecoorie in general terms, it is necessary to add that care must be taken that the militia men are not given a preference over permanent men. They should be given a fair opportunity, and if their qualifications surpass those of the professional. men available, should be selected. I do not desire to criticise the Promotion Board or Military Board, whose members perform these duties. But it will hearten them to know that Parliament expects them, not merely to consider seniority, but to see that the best men are promoted.
– Seniority should have consideration ; merit must also be considered.
– Yes ; but the main factor should be merit.
– Seniority should decide where merits are equal.
– That is all very well as a general observation, but does not assist in solving the difficulty.
Mir. EWING. - Everything in life that is worth doing is difficult to do. The solution of this question is worth undertaking, but it will be troublesome; just as the defence scheme, which presents difficulties which cannot be surmounted without trouble, and in connexion with which we need the assistance of the whole community. With the approval of the honorable member, I should like to add to the motion, “ In all future appointments, merit and adequate qualifications shall be specially considered.”
– I have no objection to that.
– Then, I move-
That the following words be added : - “ In 0.11 future appointments merit and adequate qualifications shall be specially considered.”
The passing of the motion, amended as I propose, will let any Board see that if, in recommend ing a promotion, merit and not seniority dominates the question, Parliament will approve the action.
– Will the honorable member again put into force the regulation of two years ago?
– It seemed to me, when the right honorable member was speaking, that it may be a good regulation to re-adopt, and I shall consider the matter.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) (5.18]. - The Minister has this afternoon given expression to many a truism. He has repeated what has been said over and over again in this Chamber ; that we should try to get the best men to the top. _ All ire agreed as to that, our concern being to learn what steps he has taken to get the best men to the top, and to dislodge incompetence. That is the question to which the Minister should have addressed himself, instead of, as usual, confining .himself to generalities having no practical bearing. Seeing that he knows his duty so fully, 1 ask what has he done to give effect to the admirable principles which he has enunciated. Suppose the motion, as he proposes to amend it, be carried, what will the Minister do? He says that it will hearten the members of the Board. I have known some singular happenings in connexion with that precious Board. In my opinion, its creation has not proved an advance upon the General Officer Commanding system which preceded it. We have not to-day a control superior to that which obtained in the past. All are agreed that we should try to bring military ability to the top, and that to-day it is not on the top. In many instances, it is a long way flown. What we wish to learn, therefore, is what steps the Minister is taking to bring about the control of our Forces by the best military ability available, not merely in Australia, but within the Empire. If in one thing more than another, we should strip ourselves of prejudices and predilections, it is in dealing with the safety of the Empire. In such a matter our concern should be, not whether men are Australians, Canadians, or Britishers, but whether they are the best for the positions which we wish to fill. Where ability is equal, I would give Australians the preference, because there is no need to go abroad unless it is necessary to do so to obtain greater ability, skill, and experience, than is available here. But who is to prescribe the standard of merit? The Minister says that he cannot do so. If we solemnly enact the propositions before us, we shall be no nearer the solution of that vexed question. Should it be proposed to entirely ignore seniority, I am not in accord with the amendment.
– That is not the desire.
– Other things being equal, seniority must count.
– What I propose is that ability and fitness shall be specially considered.
– That cannot be done without the appointment of a special tribunal. Who prescribes the present standards for our military officers? Other officers, who have never been in war. After all, text books are not everything. A man may study them until he Has grown grey, and yet know little about military practice. Warfare is an aptitude and an art as well as a science. I have been told of a series of questions that were put to an officer high in command a little while ago. He answered them in the light of his South African experience, and, needless to say, he went down. They were all questions relating to the disposition and movement of troops, arid this officer, who had come from South Africa with the greatest qualifications and tributes to his capacity as a troop leader, failed when hauled up before people who had never seen a war. Consequently, we get back to the great trouble as to who is to prescribe the standard of efficiency and ability. If the Minister can solve that difficulty for us, there will be nothing further to say but I venture ‘ to assert that this amendment will not bring us one. step nearer the solution of that vexed problem.
– I said it was only a kind of suggestion to the Baird.
– I know that the Minister wants the suggestion to go to the Board, but a prior question to be considered is this : Is the Board itself the embodiment of all the ability and skill in the service? Are your best men on your Board ? If so, we may very well send them these indications of the intentions and wishes of the Government-. But if the Board is to go along as before, and questions of ability are to be determined by gentlemen who themselves do not possess the best ability in the service, shall we be nearer in the end to a higher state of efficiency than we are to-day ? I do not think we shall solve the difficulty by laying down any hard and fast lines in the way now proposed by the Minister. I infinitely prefer the motion as originally moved.
– I have no objection. I am willing to withdraw the amendment.
– The Board could place on the amendment only one interpretation - that they were to discard all questions of practical experience and seniority. That ought not to be. When the examiners put any officer through a test, they ought to consider equally his seniority and his ability. He has no right to promotion if he has not ability as well as seniority, but if he has both, if he is efficient, I do not see that he ought to be told to step down in favour of another who has the ear of the examiners in a way that perhaps the man who has done his duty for many years has not. That is the danger that must be avoided in making all these prescriptions as to tests and standards. After all, a Minister can do much in a Department like this to see that equity prevails, and that the administration of the Department, altogether apart from its technique, is just and fair to all the officers of the service. Much, therefore, depends upon the Minister. You may get as many experts as you like, but a Minister can still exercise useful functions- in those directions. The Minister might well let the motion go as proposed, as it would meet the circumstances of the case much better than if amended ns he suggests.
.- I do not think that the Minister’s amendment carries the motion much further.
– Allow me to withdraw it first.
– At the same time it cannot be objected to on the grounds given by the honorable member for Parramatta. The whole question is governed at present by regulation No. 108, page 48 -
When recommending an appointment or pro-‘ motion by which an officer will be superseded the commanding officer will state the circumstances which have induced him to make this recommendation, and also that the officer to be superseded has been informed.
Consequently, if a junior, for merit or other reasons, is put over a senior officer, the special circumstances governing the case have to be set out distinctly to the Promotion Board, and the senior officer superseded by the promotion has to be informed.
So if merit does obtain - as it should obtain, and we shall never get an efficient force until it does obtain - its proper recognition, seniority has still under the present regulations to be definitely and pertinently considered. If A, who has merit, is junior “to B, and is recommended to the Promotion Board, the fact of his being junior to B has to be pointed out before the Promotion Board can act. Consequently, although the Minister’s amendment does not carry .the motion [much further, it is not open to objection on the ground taken by the honorable ‘ member for Parramatta, which is already fairly met by the regulations. I am glad the honorable member for Laanecoorie has moved the motion, although it is a great pity for civilians to interfere too much with the military forces. We have had examples of that in history. When Lincoln decided as a matter of policy that Washington had to be defended, against the best advice of his generals in the field, he caused a tremendous loss to the Federal forces. Going further back in history, Oliver Cromwell won the battle of Dunbar simply because certain Presbyterian ministers advised the generals on the other side that that was the time to attack the Puritans. When Cromwell, who had previously been in the tightest corner of his life, saw the attack coming he said, “ Let God arise and His enemies be scattered,” and sailed in. In that case the advice of the Presbyterian clergymen, which would have been very good in the kirk, was most ill-advised in the field, and gave Cromwell the victory. Instances like that show that the less civilian interference there is with the military arm the better. But that does not in any sense affect a- policy motion like this. I like the motion for this reason : The Minister knows that men in the militia or volunteer forces who win their commissions by service and examination - and some of those examinations are superior to those set for the Permanent Forces - if transferred to the Permanent Forces lose all their seniority and rank, and have to start again at the lowest level. If a captain or major in the militia having professional enthusiasm decides to enter the Permanent Forces, and passes the examination, he must start again as a subaltern. That is not right. He should be transferred at his present rank. The present practice deters a lot of good men in the citizen forces from joining the Permanent Forces, and they are really the men who will finally govern the Military Forces of Australia. To show the inconvenience that sometimes arises from that system, Major-General Hoad publicly said not long ago that in the time of war the forces of Australia would have to depend more and more upon the militiamen and volunteers for leadership.
– That is obvious.
– At present our leader is a permanent man, although there is a militia officer in Victoria senior by service, and I might even say by ability. I refer to Colonel Robertson, who has the confidence of the whole of the Military Forces of Victoria, and was, I understand, willing to take the Commandantship of the State; but he was passed over because he was a. militia officer, and a permanent officer was selected. That sort of thing makes the militia officer feel that he has no chance of selection for the -best commands in the service in spite of all his study and work. I may further quote the case of an artillery officer who has retired - Colonel Hall. Colonel Bingham was brought out from England to train the artillery forces of Victoria before Federation. He himself told me, and in this he is supported by high garrison artillery officers, that as a matter of fact it was quite unnecessary to bring him out, except for purposes of discipline, because we had in Colonel Hall a man who was theoretically more competent to teach the artillery forces of Victoria than he “was. I thought that was a very generous admission for Colonel Bingham to make. Colonel Hall made a life-long study of artillery, and his opinion on that subject was sought by officers of the Permanent Forces. When he went to ‘Easter camps to take charge of the fighting detachments at the forts at the Heads - the station of the Garrison Artillery in time of war - it was always found that every man, permanent and militia, in the camp had had a large increase in training after being under Colonel Hall. Yet Colonel Hall was not selected. An English officer was brought out, and other permanent officers were promoted, while the militiaman, who had made the subject his special life study and was an enthusiast, was passed over, just as Colonel Robertson has been. If this motion can cure that sort of thing and the Minister supports it and actually puts it into practice, he will be doing a great service, because the effect will be to make citizen soldiers feel that they will not be passed over for the highest commands if they like to make an enthusiastic study of their work. A citizen officer deals with citizen forces. He has grown up with them, and possibly has been right through the ranks. He has got to know the men, to understand exactly what tire citizen forces desire, and how to deal with- them tactfully. That is why the _ citizen officer can succeed, where the permanent officer frequently has not such tact or ability. I am glad, indeed, to find that the Minister has lately made a great advance in this connexion. There has recently been established an Intelligence Corps, and a militia officer has been- put in command, not only in a State, but over the whole of the Commonwealth. I think those who know that officer will be proud of the selection, and the more so because this Intelligence Corps is being placed on a basis which will be a credit, not only to its military head, but to the Minister who instituted the innovation. Some of the best men who have gone into war have not necessarily had the training of permanent officers. The great Cromwell, who, I suppose, was the greatest soldier England ever produced, was a country gentleman with only a little training in the Yeomanry ; but he was a born leader of men, and his is by no means an isolated example. It is not necessary for a commander to have the confidence of the people that he should have been cooped up in barracks all his life; and the Commonwealth need not at all fear placing a citizen officer even in the highest position. I should like to draw the attention of the Minister to the circumstances and conditions of the examinations of officers and point out that there is a different standard in different States, whereas there should be a similar test for all.
– The honorable member may have some special case in his mind, but, for some time past, the examinations have been carried out mostly by the Public Service Commissioner.
– That is on the theoretical side, and applies to purely educational qualifications, whereas I am referring to the practical tests. In a month’s time an examination for officers is to be held and a number of officers, non-commissioned officers, and men have become candidates. As I have already pointed out, there is a different standard in each of the States, and, under the circumstances, I do not see how it is possible to have equality of marks.
Colonel Foxton. - There ought not to be different qualifications, seeing that it is one service.
– The honorable member is quite right. I do not like to mention names, but the Minister knows that what I say is true; and I desire honorable members to appreciate the honorable gentleman’s difficulty.
– It is a very big problem.
– Money is at the root of most of our military difficulties, and it is so in this case. If, as is probable, there are three candidates from Western Australia, two from South Australia, nine from “Victoria, eight from New South Wales, and others from Queensland and Tasmania, it is very difficult to see how they can all be subject to the one examination. All the candidates might he brought to one central place, but then there would be danger of men entering merely for the sake of the trip. The other alternative is to have a shifting Examining Board, consisting of, say, three; but that- would mean a great expense, and the examination would occupy at least a couple of months.
Colonel Foxton. - What is tq prevent the examination being standardized ?
– That is easy enough in the case of a theoretical or educational examination, but the test to which I am referring now is practical, and is applied in the field ; and we all know that different examiners have different standards.
– The difficulty is that if there be fifty or sixty candidates, it would cost about £20 each to bring those from Western Australia, and then it might be found that their only desire was to have a trip.
– Then let there be a travelling Board of three to visit each capital ; but there must be fairness, whatever the cost.
Colonel Foxton. - A Board of two would be sufficient.
– The Board might consist of one, if we had sufficient confidence in the man selected ; but I do not like single Boards of the kind. Another difficulty is that there are different standards set for permanent officers as compared with militia officers. Since 1903, majors, in order to obtain promotion to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, have had to be ex amined, promotion having come as a matter of course prior to that year. The other day I cited the case of several militia and volunteer majors, who, in order to undergo examination, were taken out to Heidelberg, and there confronted with almost a full brigade. On that occasion the examination was thorough, and occupied nearly the whole of the day. There were two permanent officers who had to undergo the examination, and I understand that they were taken to Heidelberg by the 3 o’clock train - arrived there about 4 o’clock - reached the ground at twenty minutes past 4 o’clock, and left within one hour, having completed successfully their examination. I may further say that ohe of these officers was given duty at outposts, and he was in a difficulty, when he was told, “ The best thing you can do is to say ‘move.’” The officer followed the advice, and the regiment was so well trained that it did the work, and he passed his examination. The 400 or 500 men there knew the facts, and the relationof them must have given rise to a sense of unfairness. The whole subject is tempting, but I have no desire to talk the motionout, and, therefore, conclude by expressing the hope that it will be carried.
.- Themotion must commend itself to the House, only I am perfectly sure it will impose new difficulties on the already harassed Minister of Defence. It cannot be gainsaid that the men best fitted to occupy certain positions should be open to selection, but the Minister, by the amendment which he has proposed, and ‘in which he suggests that merit should be considered, shows that he appreciates the difficulty to which the motion gives rise. I have no hesitation in saying that the Promotion Board, which is to be appointed, will .have their task greatly increased if seniority is not to beregarded as the primary consideration amongst candidates who may otherwise beequal. Unquestionably promotion should be open to men who show particular ability, and, for that reason, it seems, to me that the motion’ will commend itself to honorable members. I rose, however, for the purpose of referring to the Military Forces List of the Commonwealth of Australia, which was published on 1st August of this year, and which, I am sure, would prove most interesting if the Minister would supply copies to honorable members. The volume gives a great deal of information, including much on the question of seniority.
But what appeals to me is the fact that this book is issued at the time when the Government are proposing a revolutionary Act for the practical disestablishment of the whole of this great service, the building up of which has taken so many years. The list is carefully and thoughtf ully compiled; and honorable members will be astonished to observe the number of able officers we already possess - men who are privileged to put before their name the crossed swords, thus indicating that they have seen active service.
– I remember when the Victorian list contained only one officer with that privilege.
– The number of our officers who have seen active service is really surprising. I shall support the amendment of the Minister, because, in all departments of every-day life there are men whose abilities and enthusiasm justify their promotion, so long as that is not inconsistent with the promotion of others who have shown serviceable qualities in higher positions.
– I ask leave to withdraw the amendment, in the belief that the end I had in view has been achieved.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
. -I think there is some misapprehension in the mind of one honorable mem- ber as to the action of the Minister in regard to the Militia. I have been in communication with the honorable gentleman during the whole term of his office, on the subject of greater recognition being given to this branch of the service, with the result that the Minister, in the first place, appointed consultative members of the Militia to act on the Military Board, and, when he found that that was not sufficient, he made them full members. He has also provided that militia officers shall have, with regard to exchanges, the privileges that are enjoyed by permanent officers, and that non-commissioned officers in the militia shall participate in the same concessions. He has directed further that militia officers shall have special instruction at universities and schools of training. In addition to that, he has created a medical reserve for the whole of Australia, a body which the Director- General of the medical service, General Williams, had sought for years to induceother Ministers of Defence to establish. The consequence is that we now have enrolled, without any cost to the Commonwealth, the most highly-trained surgeons and physicians in Australia, who are prepared, when called upon, to give their services. The honorable gentleman also chose for the position of head of the Intelligence Corps, which extends all over Australia, a militia officer of very high qualifications. I refer to Colonel McCay, of Castlemaine, a former member of this House, who, I think, is one of the most promising militia officers that we have. This is the first time that a militia officer has been chosen for the supreme command of a Commonwealth force. The Minister’s action in this regard is quite in keeping with the interest that he has always shown in the development of our militia system. I have now only to thank honorable members for the sympathetic manner in which they have discussed this motion. My sole desire is that we shall have an opportunity to obtain the best material that the Commonwealth can provide. I have had for a considerable time in my mind’s eye a number of energetic, able, self-sacrificing, and patriotic officers who have spared no effort to qualify themselves to carry out their duties, and who will regard the passing of this motion as a partial discharge of the debt which the country undoubtedly owes them. From my own personal knowledge of them, I can assure honorable members that they will most heartily appreciate the action of the House in agreeing unanimously, as I believe it intends to do, to this motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Colonel Foxton) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Representation Act 1905.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Johnson, for Mr. Bowden) proposed -
That a return be prepared and laid on the table of the House showing -
The telephone connexions and extensions in New South Wales that have been approved by the Department of the Postmaster-General, and are delayed.
The reasons of such delays.
The amount of money required to complete such connexions and extensions.
– I have no objection to the return being prepared. The fact that a very large number of these smaller works, which have been hung up for a little time, are now being pushed on will very considerably reduce the work involved.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 14th October (vide page 1153), 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 tlie 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.”
.- After the debate to which we have listened this afternoon on an aspect of defence not covered by this Bill, we can have some sympathy with the Minister of Defence in the difficulties which he experiences in administering his very important Department. I wish, at the outset, to say that my criticism, whilst levelled at the scheme for which this Bill provides, does not involve any personal attack on the Minister himself. Notwithstanding that he has seen fit to change his views on this question during the last few months-
– I have not changed my views.
– The honorable’ gentleman must have done so, since the Bill embodies principles diametrically opposed to those which lie declared to be essential to the effectiveness of our Defence Force when he was not in office. It is necessary that the Minister’s scheme should be subjected to the most searching criticism, since it involves immense interests, and any grievous mistake regarding the principle by which our Military and Naval Forces are to be governed would be attended by far-reaching consequences. Reference has been made to the manner in which the forces have been treated, andthe Minister ,himself has complained that they do not” take the trouble to make themselves efficient. The wonder is, after listening to the “statements that have been made as to the treatment of members of the forces in the matter of promotions, instruction, and equipment, that there is any desire on the part of any section of the community to offer their services in a military capacity. But as I showed yesterday when speaking to this motion, the report of the Inspector-General indicates that he takes a most optimistic view of, not only the present condition of the forces, but their future development, if the present system receives anything like proper encouragement. I propose to relate to the House a case that I have already brought under the notice of the Minister, ‘ since it shows the lack of encouragement offered to those who desire to serve in a military capacity. The case is that of a man who has served with distinction, has an excellent record, is well spoken of by his former officers, and who is admitted to be one of the best qualified instructors that we have had in Australia. He left the service temporarily to engage in private business, and is now precluded by regulation from re-entering the service unless he submits himself to an examination. There is also a provision which debars him on the score of age, although he is a comparatively young man, still in the full vigour of manhood, and anxious to render service to his country. He has made application for positions that have become vacant in the Defence Forces, and for which he has special qualifications. Nevertheless, he is absolutely debarred from re-entering the service, except at the discretion of the officers charged with the making of appointments, who may waive certain regulations. . Some of the regulations impose unnecessary restrictions on, and place unnecessary obstacles in the way of, men who desire to serve their country, and whose services would be of extreme value to us. I shall not mention the name of the man to whose case I have referred, for I know that the Minister is familiar with it, and intends to inquire into the matter. As to the general question of defence, this Bill does not take into account the naval side of our Defence Forces. That we are told is to be dealt with at a later stage. To deal with the military arm before we have settled the naval policy of Australia is to ,put the cart before the horse.
– The Naval Defence Bill is to be proceeded with almost immediately.
– It should have been dealt with before we were called upon to consider this measure. On the naval policy of the country should depend our military policy. The naval side of our defence is of paramount moment to Australia, but die Bill does not make more than passing reference to it. Under certain clauses its provisions are applied to the Naval as well as to the Military Forces. In clause 3, for instance, it is provided that -
The active Citizen Forces - to be known as the National Guards shall consist of those undergoing training under sections 58a and 58b of this Act, together with the officers, soldiers, petty officers, and sailors serving. . . . and so forth. We find in the Bill only passing references to the Navy. I am in agreement with the amendment moved by the honorable member for Flinders, and think that it correctly sets forth what should be the attitude of the Government in dealing with the question of defence. The people have been told that Australia needs to be self-reliant, and to have a navy of her own. We are told that Australia must no longer look to Great Britain to protect her, and that the time has arrived when she must strike out for herself, and assume a more or less independent attitude. But even should it be at any time advisable for Australia, while forming part of the British Empire, to take such a step, the occasion for it is not yet ripe. To do so would involve the country in immense expenditure and consequent greatly increased taxation.’ The socialistic members of the party on which the Government mainly relies tor support may hail with satisfaction the prospect of establishing an Australian navy, not because they regard it as requisite for our defence, but because it will assist in the realization of their socialistic aspirations, by increasing expenditure, and necessitating the imposition of heavier taxation. That they dearly love to impose taxation upon the people was shown recently in the discussion of the Tariff. If we build a navy, we shall have to impose extra taxation to provide the money directly, or to pay interest and to meet loans, should it be borrowed. This would give them an excuse for imposing further taxation on property.
– Is not this rather silly?
– It is true. The socialistic members of trie party look upon the possession of private property as an evil which must be met by the imposition of taxation, and think that the frittering away of money on an Australian Navy would afford a reason for increasing taxation, and thus getting in a blow against owners of property. They seem to forget that defence of the lives of the citizens isthe primary consideration, .protection of property merely a secondary one. If we have a navy, it must, in time of war, be under the control of the British authorities. Ever since the Prime Minister surprised this community by declaring at the Imperial Conference that we were not favorable to the continuance of the contribution under the Naval Agreement, he has inisisted in his negotiations with the Admiralty, first, that we must have a navy of our own, or the nucleus of one, and. secondly, that it must be ‘controlled by the Australian people. To that the Admiralty has replied, “ We do not ask for a change in the existing arrangement ; but, even if you cease to subscribe towards the cost of maintaining the British Navy, we shall recognise our responsibility to safeguard and protect Australia in common with every other part of the Empire.” The Prime Minister has made diplomatic efforts to get the Admiralty to fall in with his views, but it has refused to be led into so false a position. It has taken the attitude that it will not object to the discontinuance of the subsidy, and the substitution of some other arrangement for the present agreement ; but it will not ask for or suggest a change, and insists that even if the Commonwealth Government decide to terminate the existing Agreement, and -build an Australian, fleet of her own, vessels of war must, in time of trouble, be under British control. In this connexion I should like to read one more extract from a speech of the Minister in 1903 on the Naval Agreement Bill - Hansard, volume XIV., page 2053 -
I see no difference between Imperial and Australian interests in this case. I regard the future of Australia, except as part of the British Empire, as absolutely and utterly hopeless.
– I hold that view now.
– The honorable gentleman’s chief does not. The Honorable gentleman continued -
Those who are unwilling to agree to this contribution, and tell us that the money should be used to build an Australian Navy, are talking absolute rubbish.
That is a severe condemnation of the Prime Minister’s present attitude. Has the Min- ister of Defence abandoned his original views, and adopted those of his leader? He went on to say -
Nothing can be done with ^200,000 in the ^building of war vessels. This is how the case stands : Great Britain has spent ^200.000,000, -at least, in building her navy. Australia has made, and is to make, no contribution to the initial cost. But if our interests are bound up with those of Great Britain, if it would mean ruin to us if Great Britain went down, ought we not to contribute to the maintenance of the navy ?
– Those are still my views.
– I am quoting this speech because I think that in doing so I save time, since the Minister then put the arguments against the present scheme as succinctly and clearly as it was possible to do. A little later he said -
Now, let me turn to what appears to me to be the vital, and perhaps the most plausible part of the argument of the honorable members who opposed the Bill. They claim that an Australian Navy would be always on the spot. The honorable member for Bland referred to that aspect of the case. It is therefore reasonable to ask, in what part of Australia will the Australian Navy always be found? The people of Sydney have visions of it destroying the enemy right against Port Denison. The people of Melbourne imagine that a bloody battle will be fought on the pellucid waters of the Yarra. The South Australians expect that an engagement will take place in Largs Bay, adjoining the precincts of the evangelical city of Adelaide, while the Western Australians imagine that the squadron will always be found off Fremantle, at the month of that magnificent streamlet, the Swan. Every coastal village and seaport town has the fantastic notion that the naval battles of the future will be fought on the adjoining ocean. Are honorable members aware that Australia has a coast line 8,000 miles in extent, so that to circumnavigate the Continent is to travel as far as one-third of the distance round the world, or two-thirds of the distance to England? Before” an Australian Navy could steam once round the Continent war vessels could arrive from Africa, from India, from China, and from the Mediterranean.
If that be so, we should need a navy which could intercept the fleets of foreign powers wherever they were converging upon Australia. But what is proposed is merely the construction of a few vessels, to be kept mostly within our harbors. Such a fleet, if these vessels can be so dignified, certainly could not be sent to sea to intercept a.n enemy.
– The Government propose merely an improved coastal defence, not tha building of a navy like that of Great. Britain.
-The Prime Minister calls it a navy, but what is proposed is, of course, not a navy at all. And such a small flotilla could be used, if at all, merely as an adjunct to the British Fleet. According to the Minister, the proposed Australian Navy is to be merely a flotilla of small vessels, -which will be bottled up in our ports.
– It will consist of torpedo destroyers and boats of that class - not a ship in it.
– Exactly. And how will such a flotilla protect our shipping and commerce at sea, where the greatest danger lies? This is what the Minister said in 1903 about that aspect of the question -
If the vessels of an Australian Navy are to wait behind fortresses, and to remain in the vicinity of the coastal cities, how many shall we require? How many will there be to protect Sydney? How many will lie oft Port Phillip? How many will be required to protect our coast and trade? It is obvious that, to keep open the highway of the sea, our ships must not wait for the enemy. Our Navy must be strong enough to seek out the enemy and destroy him wherever he may be found. That is the difference between having a Navy and having a few torpedo boats or cruisers to protect our ports. What is essential is to control the sea by destroying the enemy.
A little later he said -
Obviously this notion of an Australian Navy remaining in port rests upon a rotten foundation, and need only be dealt with in the most casual way for the whole argument to evaporate.
There is the Minister’s own condemnation of the present .harbor and coastal defence scheme. Captain Creswell, in a report on the defence of Australia, furnished in 1905 in reply to questions asked by the then Minister of Defence as to what the Commonwealth should have in the way of a Navy, specified three ‘ cruiser-destroyers, sixteen torpedo boat-destroyers, and fifteen torpedo boats, first and second class. He states the estimated cost of the vessels at ^1,768,000, with ^532,000 for the maintenance of the vessels, commissioned and in reserve, during seven years, or a total of ,£2,300,000. He adds for the cost of upkeep j£ 120, 000 per annum in peace time, ‘ ‘ including an addition of 456 to the Permanent Forces, and 466 to the Naval Militia,” but he does not call this a fleet for the effective protection of Australia. All he says is that -
This will provide a defence not designed o as a force for action against hostile fleets or squadrons, which is the province of the Imperial Fleet, but as a line necessary to us within the defence line of the Imperial Fleet - a purely defensive line, that will give security to our naval bases, populous centres, .principal ports, and commerce.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
– The British Admiralty also made certain suggestions, not of their own volition, but in response to an invitation from the Prime Minister that they should propound a scheme of Australian coastal and harbor defence, with an estimate of its cost. They said that there should be six destroyers, nine submarines, and two depot ships. The cost of these would amount to ,£1,277,500, with an annual maintenance cost of £186,000, and total annual charges of £346,000. The initial outlay for such a flotilla would therefore be large, there would be those annual charges to meet, and all for what? It is not that the Admiralty think that those ships are really necessary, but in their desire to meet the wishes of the Prime Minister and the Commonwealth Government, they are prepared to give an estimate of the cost of providing such a flotilla. They practically say : “.We do not think that the vessels are necessary, but as you appear to have set your heart on having them, we suggest the kind that we think might, in certain circumstances, be of some service.” Bud they do not seem very enthusiastic as to the advantage to be derived by Australia from possessing such a flotilla. I can see no substantial reason for adopting this scheme, and the sum is a large one to pay for the mere gratification of a whim. Personally, I have’ no objection to Australia providing some such means of defence, so long as it really will mean defence, and be serviceable, and also be an adjunct to the British Navy, should the necessity ever arise for calling the services of so small a flotilla into requisition. But I cannot help looking at the cost of what is, at best, an experiment of extremely doubtful practical utility. Most naval experts agree that the one control is necessary in all such matters. The Admiralty are right to insist that in case of war those vessels shall automatically pass under the control of the British Admiral. RearAdmiral Beaumont, when in command of the Australian station in 1901 furnished, in reply to a minute by the Prime Minister, asking for his opinions on the subject of the naval defences df the Commonwealth, a report to the following effect -
T can now in general terms indicate what should result from the examination of these conditions, that is, in other words, I can give what, in my opinion, are the obligations of the Federal Government in respect of die Naval Defence of the Australian Commonwealth.
They should cause to be maintained on the Australian Station, as defined by the Admiralty, a squadron of at least six cruisers in commis sion, two of them first class cruisers of 7,000 to 8,000 tons displacement, and the others second class cruisers of the improved Highflier type.
The vessels should be under the Admiral in Command of His Majesty’s ships on the station, the crews subject to the Naval Discipline Act, and embarked under the same terms of engagements as in the Royal Navy. The head-quarters of the squadron ought to remain at Sydney owing to the repairing facilities and convenience of the existing depots there, but the ships should be attached in turn for ordinary peace service, when not required for fleet exercises, to suitable ports in each State, where the Federal Government should give facilities for the gradual establishment of the secondary naval bases which- will be essential in war as regards coal, stores, and repairs. . . .
It follows, therefore, that such a force can only be acquired and maintained by arrangement with the Imperial Government, and I believe that if this course was adopted it would also follow that the greatest amount of good would be maintained at the smallest possible cost. .
The future may see the creation of an Australian Navy, but for the present the safety and welfare of the Commonwealth require that the Naval Force in Australian waters should be a sea-going fleet of modern ships, fully equipped, fully manned, with trained crews, homogeneous as to type and personnel, and under one command.
That is the crux of the whole question -
For the Federal Government to form out of the existing naval organizations a permanent force as the nucleus of the Naval Defence Force, the main body of which would be derived from Naval Brigades, as suggested in your Excellency’s letter, would not be sufficient unless the force is only intended to supplement the crews of His Majesty’s ships in war; if not, then modern ships would have to be provided and maintained by the Federal Government for the officers and men of the Commonwealth Naval Force, in which they could be trained at sea, and a part maintained at all times in a state of efficiency and readiness for war, a system which would be much more costly and less efficient than if the ships and men were provided by arrangement with the Imperial Government.
Rear-Admiral Bridges, dealing with localized defence, wrote -
If the recent Russo-Japanese war did not show us much that was new, it at least confirmed some old lessons. One of these was the weakness of a localized and defensive system of defence. Defence in naval warfare has always been most effective when it assumes an “ offensive “ character. The Russian torpedocraft in the Yellow Sea kept within a short distance of their ports, and stood on the defensive. They effected nothing. The Japanese torpedo-craft, no doubt, did less than some of the advocates of that class of fighting vessel expected ; but they did a great deal more than the torpedo-craft of the Russians. These Japanese craft acted repeatedly at a considerable distance from their own shores, and always on the offensive. Yet, what is proposed in the report under notice is to adopt the Rus- sian method. . . . It is practically certain that the system of defence recommended would do very little to protect Australian interests from their depredations.
He refers to raiding cruisers -
That system would be like the militia of Dryden’s day - “ In peace a charge, in war a weak defence.”
Sir Edward Fremantle says
So far as I have studied the report, I can, I think, see that the proposals made by Captain Creswell are, in the main, sound, as while local defence will always be necessary, and receive popular favour, he recognises that the true defence for an island, with an important oversea trade, must rest in the “ command of the sea,” which must depend, not on local effort, but upon the up-to-date strategic fleets of a strong maritime power. A defeat of the British Fleet in the Mediterrannean or Channel would mean far more to Australia than even the bombardment of Sydney or Melbourne.
All these experts are in agreement on the two salient points - the ineffectiveness of a small local naval force, and the necessity, if naval defence has to be considered, of having an up-to-date sea-going fleet, prepared to go thousands of miles, if necessary, into other seas to deal with the enemy. Only recently the London Daily Chronicle, in a leading article, had the following -
The. Admiralty very properly stipulates that in war time its control of the Australian Navy must be absolute. Nothing is more certain than that Australia will be unable for many years to assume the sole responsibility of naval defence. Her safety depends 011 the British Navy, and will continue to so depend.
Then we have Admiral Bridges saying -
It was commonly believed that the ships would be well employed in the defence of particular localities, but this was opposed to all well understood naval stategy, and completely refuted by every page of British naval history. There is only one position in war time for the British man-o’-war to occupy, and that is, in close proximity to the enemy’s ships. The Australian Squadron could not be considered a social institution, to steam from port to port, but had imcomparably higher functions to perform. In past history badly managed naval combinations had invariably been due to interference by shore-going people to be effective in the wrong direction.
These are the opinions of naval experts, and I quote them in order that the arguments I have advanced against the Government scheme may not be declared to b* those of one who, having had no practical experience, cannot claim to be an authority, and whose utterances, therefore, are not worth serious consideration. In regard to the much lauded local effort at defence of coasts, harbors, and rivers by means of a small flotilla of destroyers, torpedo boats, and similar craft, the experience of the RussoJapanese war shows that torpedo boats are of practically very little effect. They have but little chance against a vessel in proper fighting trim, even under cover of darkness, for the searchlights would betray them, and they would be exposed to fire. In rough weather, they are of little use. and in the recent war, they only operated in smooth water with destructive effect upon ships already crippled by gun-fire. Special reference is made to this point in some of the reports by those who were en gaged in the struggle between Russia and Japan. Captain Klado, late Flag-Captain for Admiral Rozhdestvenski, in his account of the battle of Tsushima, speaking of the attacks by torpedo craft, states -
Such attacks on ships unharmed by gun-fire, and having room to manoeuvre, have little chance of success. This was proved in the battle. . . . The torpedo craft of the enemy played the role assigned to them - to attack and sink ships already damaged by artillery. This they effected, and under most favorable circumstances. At night, when the sea became calm, they sunk four or five ships amongst those which -were the worst battered by gun-fire during the day.
Our (these) vessels could neither see “the approaching vessels nor fire upon them; and, in addition to this unenviable state, they were already half-full of water through the damage caused by the enemy’s guns. In my opinion, if the Japanese really had from 70 to roo torpedo boats they should have destroyed more ships - the situation was so favorable to them. This though did not happen, and the difficulty of attacking a ship (by torpedo craft) which has preserved its power of repelling attack, was fully demonstrated by the fact that those of our ships that were saved from destruction were the ones least damaged by gun-fire during the day.
Similar testimony is given by Captain Semenoff, who was one of the officers on the Russian flag-ship at the same battle, showing the modest success of torpedo craft, even in these most favorable circumstances. Sir G. S. Clarke, in his preface to Captain Semenoff’s book, says -
A few isolated successes obtained by torpedoes in exceptional circumstances have given rise to exaggerated claims on behalf of this weapon which can only end in disappointment.
I need not quote any more, though I have other authorities equally reliable. It is proposed to spend an enormous amount of money on a line of defence which has been proved quite recently to be anything but up to the standard of efficacy which many claim. As to submarines, they move slowly in the. water, and their reliability has yet to be demonstrated. It would be foolish for us to spend money on the acquisition of vessels which are only in their experimental stages, and have not proved of any value in actual warfare. What we have to consider is the nature of the attack we are expected to repel, and the quarter from whence it may come. The danger certainly does not lie within our own borders. If the States were separate communities, speaking different languages, with different aims and objects, and actuated by mutual jealousies and desire for conquest, we could understand the necessity for a standing army of some kind. But we are one people, very few in number, scattered over a large continent ; and we have dividing lines only to the extent that is necessary to give each State a system of local self-government under one common flag. Although, as a matter of precaution, it is wise to have a land force of some kind, and to have it fully equipped and ready in every respect, still we do not need a force sufficiently large to repel that kind of invasion which we might expect if we were distinct communities, with antagonistic designs, separated only by imaginary lines. The only attack we may expect is from over the sea; and we “have to ask ourselves, what are the probabilities of attack, and with which nations are we most likely to come in conflict. Some people have an idea that our only fear is of invasion by Asiatic, races ; but I regard that as a mistake. Those who think the Japanese, for example, may swoop down on our shores, overlook the fact that the Japanese have much to do now in developing their internal policy, and that they have sufficient land in Korea under their control to accommodate any surplus population for some years to come.
– Now is our time to prepare.
– Are we going to prepare against invasion by a country with a population of 46,000,000?
– We ought to prepare for invasion, no matter by whom.
– If there is fear from that quarter, should we be able to meet the enemy with any land force that we could put in the field. Are we to prevent such an invasion with the little flotilla which the Prime Minister speaks of as the Australian Navy?
– We are to do nothing, according to the honorable member.
– We might as well do nothing as .spend millions on a scheme so futile as that proposed. There is also to be taken into account the existence of the
British-Japanese alliance, which, while it continues, precludes any idea of Japanese invasion. It is interesting to remember in this connexion what is the strength of the fleets of the naval powers in the Pacific at the’ present time, and to consider what chance Ave should have of dealing with any- of them, if we were unfortunate enough to become embroiled. .In the Pacific, Japan hits thhirty-one large armoured ships, including two Dreadnoughts and two inflexibles now building, each of which is as powerful as any of the ships of the American Fleet which lately visited Australia. In addition, Japan has two huge battleships, the Aki and the Satsuma, which are the most formidable of the kind in the Pacific. Those six vessels are practically of the effective fighting force of six Dreadnoughts, and added to them there are ten other first-class battleships, twenty-five cruisers, 112 torpedo craft, besides fi>e river and gunboats. If Japan is a country from which we have to fear invasion, I ask the honorable member for Macquarie what chance we should have against such a fleet, and all the hundreds of thousands they could’ bring to our shores?
– That Japanese Fleet Avasgot together in twenty-three years,
– Yes; “but they did not attempt it Avith a population of four and a quarter millions of people, nor had: they a British Navy behind them. AsI have said, ten or fifteen years hence will be soon enough for us to consider the desirableness of establishing an Australian Navy, but if Ave are todeal with a country possessing a navy so strong as is that of Japan, Ave must have an equally powerful one to defend us. It is in this respect that we have to relyon Great Britain. As long as her fleetsremain we need have no fear, and there is no occasion for us to spend money in this direction. Great Britain has expended’ over £200,000,000 on her navy, whilstthe naval expenditure of Japan must ha7erun into tens of millions. Are Ave prepared to saddle the taxpayers of Australia with the cost of providing such a] navy, and is. it necessary in any case for us to do so?’ I do not think that Ave have any fear of” invasion from America, but I would point out that the United States have in thePacific - chiefly in the Philippines - fifteen, large armoured ships, six cruisers, and seven torpedo boats. I exclude, of course,, the visiting Armada which has to return. to the North Atlantic. I need not refer to the British Fleet on the China station or to the Dutch Fleet at Java, which is only a small one. Nor is it necessary for me to refer to the navy of Chili, for we have nothing to fear from that direction. The navies of China and of Russia will take some years to become formidable in comparison with those of other naval powers in the Pacific, and there is no serious ground to apprehend trouble from those quarters at present. Where we have to look for the possibility of aggression is from England’s greatest commercial rival. That there is a probability in .the more or less distant future of Great Britain coming into collision with Germany we have some evidence. We have, for example, only to trace briefly the history of the rise of German naval power. Until 1888 Germany had no navy to speak of. She had a. great army, and was chiefly concerned with internal affairs and with the task of keeping her neighbours from crossing her borders. With that object- in view she maintained si large and efficient standing army. It was only on the accession of thi present Emperor of Germany fo the throne, in 1888, that the Germans “began to develop a new naval policy. That that policy was not developed for the purpose of home defence I shall be able to prove by quoting from the utterances of many notable German authorities. Germany’s new naval policy was initiated by LieutenantGeneral Von Stosck, and afterwards continued by his successor, Von Caprivi. Let us see the progress made during the few years of the reign of the Emperor William II. In 1888 the German Navy had a tonnage of 189,136, with 182,470 horse-power, and 15,573 men. In 1905 the tonnage had increased to 500,893 tons - an advance of 311,757 tons - with 682,670 horse-power and a complement of 40,862 men. In that short period Germany practically trebled her naval strength. It was in 1884-5 that she entered upon her oversea colonizing expeditions. She first began to assert herself and to acquire territory in South Africa, South-West Africa, East Africa, New Guinea, the Marshall Group, the New Britain Group, and other portions of the Pacific. We now see that she has naval bases stretching round Australia some thousands of miles, to the coast of South America, and these will afford her convenient coaling and refitting stations. In support of my belief that the German
Navy has been built for offensive and not for defensive purposes, I shall quote a few extracts from some notable statesmen. Since the eighties the naval policy of Germany has been directed mainly to wresting from Great Britain the supremacy of the seas. In Mardi, 1897, the Secretary of State, Admiral Hollman, declared -
We require no navy for coast defence; our coasts defend themselves.
On 24th April, 1897, the Emperor William II., speaking at a banquet at Cologne, said, pointing to a figure of Neptune, “That trident must be in our fist.” On another memorable occasion he said, “ Our future lies upon the water.” That has been ever since the watchword of Germany. On nth December, 1899, Prince Von Bulow declared in the Reichstag -
We must create a fleet strong enough to exclude attack from any power.
Admiral Terpitz, who was Minister of Marine, a few days later said -
We do not know what adversary we may have to face ; therefore we must arm ourselves with a view of meeting the most dangerous conflict possible.
Then, again, the preamble to the German Naval Bill of 1900 reads -
Germany requires a fleet of such strength, that a war against the mightiest naval power would involve risks threatening the supremacy of that power.
What does that mean? I do not think that Great Britain has aggressive designs on any power. That has not been her policy for many years. The object of the British Navy has been to preserve the peace of the world and to safeguard the commerce of the Empire, to keep open the ocean highways of trade, and for that purpose alone does it aim at retaining supremacy of the seas. Great Britain is constantly adding to its navy merely for the purpose of self protection. Having in view the increasing armaments of its great commercial rivals - especially those just across the Channel - it realizes the necessity of keeping up its naval strength to at least a two-power standard. That is the sole reason for the present new expenditure on Great Britain’s Navy. The utterances I have quoted on the part of prominent German statesmen and by the Emperor of Germany himself cannot be overlooked. They are not made in a haphazard fashion, and they carry a significance to which due importance must be attached. It is necessary, therefore, for
Great Britain to have her fleets always in such a state of preparedness and efficiency that she may be able at the shortest notice to withstand any onslaught. She has no hostile designs against any other nation, but she has a large Empire to defend against aggression and immense responsibilities of an international character to discharge. The supremacy of the sea is, therefore, a vital question to her. Monsieur M. E. Lockroy, who was three times French! Minister of Marine, in a book which he published, made the following significant declaration -
Germany will be a great naval power in spite of her geographical position and history. Her claim to rule the waves will bring on a war with Great Britain, earlier or later. That war will be one of the most terrible conflicts of the twentieth century.
We cannot afford to ignore statements of this kind made by statesmen of experience, whose business it is to know what is going on, not only at home, but abroad. We have to look the possibilities in the face and to realize what they mean to us. We must recognise how puny, after all, are the efforts indicated in this Bill to meet the contingency foreshadowed in these utterances. I propose to summarize my views on this question by saying that my chief objections to the Bill are that there is no need for a change in the present system, no present necessity for an Australian Navy, and no occasion for a large army ; that there is no need for conscription, but rather for encouraging the system of voluntary service which should be paid for. What we really need is to endeavour to help the Mother Country in her efforts to protect us in the only way in which we can be effectively protected, and that is by guarding our commerce on the sea. We can best afford that assistance, not by wasting money on small flotillas and experimental fleets, or on a large standing army - by whatever name it might be called - but by increasing our contribution to the cost of the British Navy. We should make our contribution more commensurate with the measure of protection we receive than is the subsidy that we are now paying.
– How much would the honorable member propose?
– -We could, without hurting ourselves, increase the amount to £500,000. Looking at the matter even from a mercenary stand-point, it would be cheaper and better to do that than to spend the large amount proposed for the construction of a small flotilla of questionable utility. The work which the proposed vessels are to do could be much more effectively and cheaply accomplished by land batteries. As to the proposed conscript army, while the Minister deserves credit for his attempt to improve the efficiency of our forces, I think that it would have been better had the recommendations of the Inspector-General been followed, and, our existing forces placed on a more satisfactory footing and brought up to their proper strength and equipment, as proposed by the Prime Minister before the last general elections. More encouragement should be given to the partially-paid Militia Forces and the rifle clubs, and more attention to the training of the junior and senior cadets. But I do not see any need to go to the extent proposed by the Bill, and, as I think that the amendment expresses the true position, I shall support it. I am sure that in time of need Australians will be found ready and willing enough to offer voluntarily service in defence of their country.
.- It is not my intention to wander through old numbers of Hansard, or to hunt up returns or statements, which others can find and read for themselves, and form their judgments upon. By abstaining from doing this, I shall save both time and expense in printing. The speech of the honorable member for Corio was one of the most practical on defence questions I have heard in this Chamber. He went to the root of the many evils of the present system, showing that it has largely failed because there are in charge persons who are not competent to perform their duties. I was sorry to notice that one of the morning newspapers referred to his speech as though the honorable member had spoken of the InspectorGeneral as a square peg in a round hole. As a matter of fact, he paid a compliment to the Inspector-General, who, in my opinion, is the best-qualified officer in Australia for the work he is doing. He has shown an immense amount of energy and intelligence in the discharge of his duties, and, in many cases, has taken upon himself work which should have devolved on others. When we, in Tasmania, want anything done, it is always to him that we appeal. A great deal has been said about compulsory service. I hold that our present Act provides for that. What the Bill aims at is the establishment of a system of compulsory training. To apply this system to the people of Australia would be the best thing that could happen to them.
– Why not .apply it to our boys ?
– The honorable member for Lang said, a short time ago, that the attacks .of an enemy are not to be looked . for within, perhaps, fifteen years. But it is the unexpected that generally happens. Perhaps it is the unexpected1 which may happen to-night that has caused so much of the talk in the Corner party. Nations, like individuals, must be ready to defend themselves. Replying to the honorable member for Fremantle, I have no objection to the compulsory training of our boys; we cannot afford to wait until they grow up. I spent a good many years in the ranks as a volunteer, without receiving or expecting remuneration, and I should be ready to do the same thing again in the service of my country. It is the duty of every one to be prepared to defend his hearth and home. But to send untrained men into battle would be almost equivalent to murder, because a force so composed would soon become a mob, and be incapable of doing what should be done. Reference has been made to the good work of our men in South Africa. They did noble work there, but they might have done better work had they been better trained. However, they were not wholly untrained. They were given- a certain amount of training before they left, and got a little more on board ship. Besides, the sort of fighting they had to do enabled them to apply their special abilities as experienced bushmen, while here the warfare, if it -ever comes, may be under quite different conditions. It would be a good thing for our young men to be taught discipline and drill. Those associated with me thirty years ago were better citizens than those who merely loafed about the corners of the streets. An united force such as is proposed would do much for the safety of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Brisbane says that we need not expect an enemy until next century. If that be so, why are we spending money on defence? If it be necessary to spend any money in this way, we should see that we get die best value for it. It has been objected that the age of eighteen is not the proper one to commence at ; but, as one honorable member interjected, some age must be fixed. If we made it compulsory to all between the ages of twelve and twenty-five to attend drill, we should, have under arms more than we could afford to maintain. In my opinion, the age of eighteen is a good one at which to make a start. Should circumstances require, we could call upon all men to bear arms, but that is not now necessary. I should like to know -from the Minister whether the eighteen days’ drill referred to in clause 58, paragraph b, is to be continuous, or to be made up by so many drills of, say, one or two hours a week.
– That is to be prescribed.
– We, who make the laws for the good government’ of Australia, should know exactly what will be the effect of them. No doubt, arrangements will have to differ as the conditions of the people differ. In cities it will be. better to ha.ve a drill once a week, for so many weeks, and so many days in camp. Boys going to school would learn more if they went Only one day a week for fifty-two weeks than if they went for fifty-two days continuously ; and, similarly, I think” it better to distribute the drills throughout a year. In country districts, however, since there the population is scattered, and mer. have to travel long distances to get to a centre, the drills might be made less frequent and longer. Clause 58, paragraph f, imposes certain disabilities upon those who refuse to attend drill, but penalizes to the extent of £100 employers who refuse to allow their employes to go. It seems to me that employers and employes should be similarly treated in this matter. I have had volunteers and cadets in my employ, and have never stopped a penny of their pay when they have been away drilling, even though their absence has extended over a week. I consider that it is in the interests of the country, and in my own interest as a property-owner, that they should fit themselves for warfare; and I have never known another employer to refuse leave of absence to those in his service who wished to attend military drills. All who own property should be prepared to make sacrifices for the country in which they live. It has been said that the Bill will greatly increase our expenditure, but I do not know that that is- so. In Tasmania it often happens now that an inspector has to travel, perhaps, 40 miles to drill fifteen or twenty men in one country town, and then make a similar journey to drill a few more men somewhere else. But 100 men could be instructed as cheaply as twenty.
– Fifty is said to be as many as one instructor can drill.
– That applies to mere manual movements, like shouldering arms ; but an instructor can drill 100 men in company evolutions better than he could drill twenty. If it were made compulsory for men to be trained, they would attend drill in larger’ numbers, and the cost of drill instructors would be no greater than at present, except that in towns where no drill is now held new companies would be formed and extra instructors provided. In Tasmania, we have had as good companies and drill instructors under the volunteer system as we could have had under any other system. It was not until the militia system was introduced on the mainland, and the Tasmanians became dissatisfied at not being “paid, although they were connected with the Commonwealth Forces, while those on the mainland were paid, that we had any trouble in that direction. Some people ask, “ What is the reason for taking any more action towards defence than we did some years ago?” Every year we are advertising Australia more fully. We did so by means of the visit of the American Fleet ; our commerce is increasing, as is shown by the gratifying expansion of our imports and exports ; we are growing in importance, and people who’ have not heard of us in the past will hear of us and of our increased wealth in the future. The fame of our goLd mines will go forth, and if there is trouble with other nations, no doubt they will have an eye on Australia, lt is, therefore, our duty to prepare to defend ourselves. With regard to the amendment of the honorable member for Flinders, whether we have a navy of our own or depend’ on the British Navy it is our duty to have land forces in order to be able to give a fitting reception to any force that escaped the navy and sought to land on our shores. We must therefore undertake, not only naval, but also military defence, and, in providing a strong land defence, we shall only be carrying out our part of the agreement, which we have not yet carried out to the full. The right honorable member for Swan said two or three years would elapse before this force could be brought into operation. We have been told that the present force is not to be interfered with, and therefore it is quite right that we should begin the new scheme as early as possible. I do not favour the expenditure of a large sum of money for anything but the supplying of the troops with uniforms, rifles, and ammunition. I do not believe in paying men to defend their own country. We pay no man to defend his own home, and it is no more necessary to pay a man to learn to protect himself and his country against an enemy. One honorable member has been referred to as a sweater because he suggested the payment of is. 3d. per day. I believe there is sufficient spirit in the men of Australia to make them ready to defend their country when called upon. If training were made compulsory, more men would be willing to attend drill when they saw that all the citizens were in the same position. At present, while the working classes go to drill, they see members of another class of the community going about their pleasures.
– What would a farm labourer do if he had to be away from his work for practically a month every year, without any payment for it?
– I would not ask any man to leave his work for eighteen days. I would ask men to attend drill for two or three hours a week. That would be more useful and profitable. Camp life could be quickly learned. Men who live in the country do not require a great deal of instruction in that sort of thing. People who live in towns need it more, while those in the country would perhaps need more instruction in drill. The honorable member for Lang referred to rifle ranges and shooting practice. It is easy to shoot, if one has a good eye and a steady hand, knows the distances, and is aided with all the paraphernalia for sighting the target; but in actual warfare men need the faculty of judging the distance of the enemy. Men in the country are better judges of distances, because that is part of their daily life. Men who live in the towns should be taken into the country to learn range finding. Some time ago I went to Williamstown, and saw a number of riflemen shooting at the new head-and-shoulder targets at unknown distances. When the figures were examined, we found that very few had been hit. That was because the men had not been trained to judge distances, and the conditions were new to them. If they had been trained in that kind of work they would probably have scored a much greater number of hits. I found this out as a rifle shot myself years ago. When I went into the country and tried my hand at judging distances, I made mistakes, and had to measure off before I could effect good shooting. There is great need for legisla- tion in the direction proposed ‘by the Government. Some honorable members are always opposed to new legislation, not because they have looked into it, but simply because they do not want to give the necessary time and attention to discover whether it is better than what has gone before. They are content to let things go on in the quiet old fashion ; but I like to look into new proposals for myself and to adopt, anything that I find to be good. 1 believe that the adoption of compulsory training for the young men of Australia will be one of the best things that could happen here. That system is adopted in Switzerland, and has been commended by other nations, but some honorable members are inclined to oppose it because it is foreign to us. It is advocated by some of the newspapers, and altogether would be a good thing for Australia. I hope the Bill will pass, and that we shall have a strong and effective Defence Force at no great expense to the community. If that is achieved, it will be as distinct gain to the community. I trust that the Minister of Defence, whoever he may be at the time, will see to it that young, vigorous, energetic officers are selected, who will insure that drill and all other details are carried out to the letter. It will be better to put many of the old men on the retired list, and let them pass their remaining days in comfort, than to have them as stumbling blocks m the way of those who are energetic, and who wish to do what is best for their country. I hope we shall have a force which will be a credit to us and that many of the drawbacks of the present system will disappear. The right honorable member for Swan regarded it as a reflection on the people of Australia, - although it is unfortunately true - to state that a number of men join the forces for a little while in order to take part in a big parade, or some expedition to a distant city, and then drop out of the ranks again. I do not say that those men do it for the sake of the money, but they do it for the sake of the trip. I have seen it happen over and over again, and sometimes have thought that it has brought discredit on the forces. Under a strict system of discipline those men would not be allowed to take part in the trip. They sometimes come in before a big parade and destroy the good marching of those who have been drilling for a whole year. The others are disgusted, and will not attend drill again. Men should not be allowed to participate in these trips unless they have attended a certain number of drills, and thoroughly qualified themselves for their duties.
.- I do not pose as a military expert, or as one who can. give much scientific advice on these matters, but I have read a great many of the opinions advanced by experts, including the Minister. I heard him, ana read his speech afterwards, but not twice, as the honorable member for Flinders did, and I think I have fairly got the hang of the situation. It is difficult to criticise a measure dealing with the defence of Australia; when only half of the complete scheme is put before us. We are told that Australia is an island continent, and that the Navy ought to be our first line of defence. But the Bill does not deal in any way with the naval question, and it is difficult to pronounce an opinion upon the land defence proposals while we are kept entirely in ignorance of the intentions of the Government with regard to naval defence. I must, therefore, support the amendment of the honorable member for Flinders. First of all, we have to consider what are the dangers against which we have to provide. We have been told by experts that there are not any very great dangers ; but I am not one to belittle dangers, of All V sort. I do not like to mention names, but one has been mentioned so commonly, that it can now make little difference; and I point out that, with an enormous country like Germany, containing an increasing population of 62,000,000, thoroughly drilled, there is a menace which the people of the Old Country regard as very serious. If we were to place ourselves in the position of the German people, and we found our people emigrating to foreign countries, we would, I think, take any measure we could to obtain some portion of the earth’s surface, where we could colonize under our own flag. I cannot, therefore, say that Germany is doing anything that she should not do in vieing with Great Britain in producing a navy, which, in a few years, will be a menace to the navy of the Old Country. We see that over 80 per cent, of the vessels of the British Navy are gathered around the British coasts in order to watch for and ward off any attack upon the heart of the Empire.
– It is no use having the vessels where there are no foreign ships.
– In that I agree; and there are so many foreign ships close to the heart of the Empire, that very few of the British Fleet are available for service abroad. I would be the last in the world to belittle the British Navy. The question with us is how we can best help it; and so far as I can judge, the best way is for us to form harbors of refuge. I see that that is the recommendation in the report of the Committee of Defence ; and I think it is a point on which we are all agreed. The Committee indicate Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Fremantle as the places where such harbors might be provided. In my opinion our own oversea defence must always be undertaken by the British Navy; and all that we can expect to do is to assist that navy by such means as I have indicated, and, perhaps, by providing a small fleet of torpedo destroyers, and submarines, and so forth, in the way suggested by the Government. At any rate, such a step would be in the right direction. A point which, I think, deserves attention is disclosed in the Prime Minister’s correspondence with the Admiralty, namely, that the Australian Commonwealth could never expect to have complete control, in time of war, of its own navy. I do not need to go into strategic reasons’, but. the law of nations provides that there can be only one control of the forces in time of war, and that control must be in the hands of the King and his officers. There could be only two motives underlying the desire for Australian control of an Australian navy. One motive would be an exceedingly unworthy one, namely, the eventual breaking away of Australia from the Empire; and I do not think there are many people in Australia who have any desire in that direction. Another motive would be the feeling that the Commonwealth should have the power to decide whether or not the navy should be used in any part of the world, the idea no doubt being that there might be a panic in the Old Country, and that the Australian Navy might be taken off to the British Channel, or elsewhere, leaving the Australian coast unprotected. But, independently of such motives, we have to make up Our minds that, unless we can change the law of nations, we cannot have the control of the Australian Fleet in the hands of the Commonwealth. That being so, there is removed any possible motive for the creation of a sea-going navy ; and I feel sure that honorable members agree that the British Fleet ought to be helped in every way possible. In the agreement with the Admiralty, under which Ave pay the moderate sum of £200,000 a year, we have a very good bargain. Far more than £200,000 is spent annually in our towns by the vessels of the British Navy, and there is also the indirect advantage that we have some 500 Australians trained in the finest naval school in the world. It would, therefore, be most illadvised to in any way alter the present Naval Agreement, or withhold the paltry sum of £200,000, for which we receive such a splendid return.
– There never was a better bargain in the world !
– It is the best bargain that ever was made. I now turn to the land forces, which are exclusively dealt with in the Bill. For myself, I favour a certain amount of compulsory training if it can be brought about. There are many arguments in favour of such a policy ;’ but we have, of course, to consider, first, whether the present management is right, and whether the finances of the country can bear the strain. The management of the great Department of Defence is principally in the hands of the Minister, although there is a Board of Advice, which has a certain amount of power.
– The Minister has supreme power as a final resort, and takes the responsibility.
– Ever since I have been in public life, I have preached that there must be a permanent official or Board to do departmental work from year to year. In the short life of the Commonwealth, there have already been nine Ministers of Defence. In business circles, it is said that three moves are equal to a fire; that is, if furniture be moved from house to house three timeo, it might as well be burned. The honorable member for Richmond is an excellent Minister, and attends closely to his work ; but how long is he going to occupy the position? We cannot expect a man, who occupies a precarious seat - who is the creature of a . day, or of the breath of public opinion - to do his work like a man who knows that he is engaged upon the work of his life. I have had much to do with business, and -I am sure that if any large enterprise were conducted as has been that of defence by both Commonwealth and States, nothing but failure could be expected. If the present Min- ister were allowed to have his own way, and had a tenure of office, fixed for ten years, there is no one I would sooner trust.
– Let us have elective Ministries, and a Minister will be kept in office so long as he justifies his choice.
– I have enough to do to keep pace with practical politics, without devoting any attention to theories of that kind. However, if elective Ministries would cure the evil I have indicated, they would certainly find in me a supporter. If this enormous enterprise of the defence of the country as to be intrusted, as at present, to a fluctuating responsible head, then, the less we do the better for the country. The Bill ought to have contained a clause clearly defining the responsibility, and not have left so much to the Minister. Just imagine for a moment what would happen to any business which had had nine different managers in seven years ; and it must be remembered that defence is a most intricate and complicated business. At one time, it was the fashion to choose the most ornamental and least useful Minister as Minister of Defence; but that time has gone by, and we now have a useful Minister in regard to whose capacity for ornamentation honorable members may form their own opinion. I had hoped that when this measure was laid before us, the Minister, as a man of business, would see that the great defect I have referred to in the organization was remedied. I have heard that the best Minister of Defence that Great Britain ever had was the Right Honorable W. H. Smith, of bookstall fame, who had been trained in business and brought an admirable business capacity to bear on his administrative work. I had hoped that some such choice might have been made possible by means of the Bill.
– This Bill only lays down a principle.
– I am glad to hear that; because the defect I have mentioned forms one of my main objections tothe measure. I feel that we are not managing the defence business as we would our own private business.
– What would he the use of introducing all the details now?
– I think the whole question is one of detail. Genius has been defined as an infinite capacity for taking pains ; and if the Bill had con- tained greater evidence of details in management, I should have been more inclined to support it.
– Until the main principle is adopted, it is hardly worth while making all the detailed arrangements.
– The Minister would have been much more likely to get the main principle adopted if he had supplied us with details.
– There is a lot more to do yet.
– There is. One reason why I should like an attempt to be made to grasp the details is that “we should thus discover what gaps we had to fill. 1 am glad that the Minister agrees with me that we are not managing the Defence Forces as we ought to do. The same remark will apply to every Department of Government. When the railways of Victoria were under Ministerial control, a drift set in until they began to lose £1,000 per day. We then appointed a Board with a capable man at its head, and the result is that to-day our railways after paying interest are showing a considerable profit per annum.
– If Parliament determines upon a policy the Minister must carry it out.
– I hope to secure the support of the honorable member for an amendment that will compel the Minister of the day to carry out the policy determined by Parliament. To my mind, a Board of three is the best managing body that one could have over any large Department or business concern. We should have a permanent Board of three men of ability and from such a system of management we should be likely to obtain the best possible results. I desire to look for a moment at the financial aspects of this measure. There are two financial considerations - the direct cost resulting from the passing of the Bill itself and the indirect cost to those who will be called upon under it to give up their employ for three weeks every year in order to go into camp. Dealing first of all with the indirect loss, I do not think that it would be very material. The indirect advantage that would be gained from the discipline imposed - the improvement in the character and morale of the young men - would largely compensate for it. I am confident, however, that the Minister will find that the young men who will be called upon to leave their employment in order that they may receive instruction will have to be paid. I have been making inquiries lately from a number of young people, and have learned with suprise e that a great many families are supported by young men of eighteen, nineteen, and twenty years of age. I find that in many cases where the head of the household has died, young men are supporting their mothers, brothers and sisters. I am sure that this Parliament would not be prepared to inflict upon those young men the hardship of serving three week.s every year without any remuneration. In these circumstances the direct cost of the Bill must become a heavy tax. 1 think that the Minister said that the ‘new system would cost £200,000 in excess of the expenditure on that now in operation. If the young men have to be paid that cost is likely to be increased.
– What would the honorable member consider a fair payment?
– We may have to refer that question to a Wages Board.
– Some honorable members in the Opposition corner put tho same question to the honorable member for West Sydney.
– And he replied that he would favour a grant of is. 3d. per day. Had 1 made such a proposal we should have heard throughout the length and breadth of Australia of “ Fairbairn and Walpole’s one-and-threepenny soldiers.” One and threepence per day is a wage that is unknown in any industry with which I am familiar. I do not feel disposed to say off hand what the payment should be. We may need to appoint a Military Wages Board to settle the question. Since my honorable friends of the Labour Party ha.ve been questioning me on this point, may 1 remind them of the suggestion made, I think, at the Brisbane Labour Conference that the cost of this Bill should be provided by a property tax. Was a more absurd suggestion ever made? Are honorable members going to compare the value of life with that of. property? Have we not been told from time to time in connexion with agitations for broadening the franchise for the Legislative Council that property counts for nothing, and that life is all in all? In this connexion life is all important, and surely our people are not going to shirk their responsibility and endeavour to place upon the shoulders of a few the cost of an adequate defence system. Think of the Australian homes involved. Is the property of Australia to oe compared with the lives of the people ot Australia? I hope that we shall’ hear no more of such a suggestion. Another point that has been discussed during this debate is what will be the position of the present forces under this measure. If this scheme breaks down we shall be in nothing less than a state of chaos, unless the present force is retained. We should find in such a contingency that we had got rid of the old love and were without the new. I hope that the Minister will see that, under this scheme, if it comes to anything - and I have my doubts about its doing so - the present forces are maintained until the new system has been put into something nice working order. We have in Australia some splendid troops, and it would be a matter for regret if they disappeared before we had in readiness the defence machinery to take the place of that now in existence. I have said nothing about the cadet movement, because I take it for granted that we are all agreed that it must be encouraged to the utmost capacity of the nation. In the training of our school boys in the science of war, we have set an example to the rest of the Empire. Whether this Bill becomes law or not I am sure that our cadets will be well trained and equipped, and that everything will be done to facilitate their becoming good soldiers. In order to have anything like an’ adequate defence we must have a proper measure of immigration. Immigation is of vital importance to us. We are a small community. Australia has a population of little more than 4,000,000, and if any great stress were laid upon us to provide an enormous quantity of war material for our own defence or for that of any other part of the Empire we should break down. Unless the Government are prepared to tack on to their measure a proposal for the encouragement of immigration we are only playing with the question of defence. I thought that one of the first questions with which I should have to deal on entering this House would be a bold, vigorous effort on the part of the Government to bring here some of the teeming millions of the Old World and to settle them on the waste lands of Australia.
– Where are those waste lands ?
– I shall tell the honorable member. Let me say in the first place, that if I were charged with the duty of elaborating an immigration policy I should arrange first of all with the States to find land for those already here, leav- ing to the Commonwealth the oversea part of the undertaking. Organization in this connexion is absolutely necessary.
– The States will not allow us to take up the work in the way the honorable member suggests.
– If my proposal were adopted the Commonwealth Parliament could not be blamed for failure to take an interest in the question of immigration. If, for instance, Victoria were unable to provide land for those already here who were desirous of going on the land, the blame would rest, not with the Commonwealth, but with the State. The Commonwealth would be charged with the duty of settling on the land those coming from abroad.
– We had, the other day, 500 applicants for a block of land near Balranald.
– The honorable member knows that many such applications are not bond fide.
– In the case to which I refer, there were a great many bond fide applications.
– I have inquired into this question, and have found that a farmer often lodges an application in the hope that he may secure a block at a price that will enable him to dispose of it at a fair profit. In Queensland, under the grazing-farm system, thousands of applications used to be lodged for blocks. Amman who succeeded in having one allotted to him’ was able at once to sell his right to it for £1,000 or £2,000. The whole system became a great lottery.
– The honorable member said just now that he was surprised the Government had not made a bolder effort to tackle this question of immigration. Was he really surprised?
– I am sure the Government would have made a bolder effort had the Labour Party said to them, “ You must push on with the question of immigration.” I certainly am not one of those who would dump people from abroad in Australia without making any provision for them . I was asked a few moments ago by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports where I would settle immigrants. There is a large area in Western Australia possessing a good rainfall and only sparsely settled.
– I ask the honorable member not to discuss in detail the question of immigration.
– I hope that I shall have another opportunity to deal with that phase of the question. It is one of the questions of the day, though not one which can be dealt with in detail now. The Government should give as much attention as possible to the training of cadets, and should provide for the efficient control of the Defence Forces. My idea is that we should give them £200,000, in addition to the sum ordinarily voted, and. say, “ Take what compulsory powers you like.” The young men of Australia are desirous of having military training. They belong to a spirited race, and wish to prepare to take part in their country’s defence, and in the work of the world, if need be. They would be willing to bear a hand in India, or elsewhere, if their services were required by the Empire. We are members of the British race, whose fathers came across the seas, and we shall be willing to cross the seas ourselves again, should that be necessary. Our young men will not object to the slight curtailment of liberty which military training involves. But I think that our military expenditure should not exceed by more than £200,000 the present appropriations. We must also help the British Fleet in every way we can. Impregnable harbors of refuge must be made, strengthened with the most recent guns, and defended with torpedo-boat destroyers. There should be a proper continuance of the Naval Agreement, too, so that our oversea commerce may be protected, while encouragement should be given to a proper system of immigration. If we do all this, I feel sure that, to adapt the words of our old Scotch poet, Burns -
If Austral be to Austral true,
Among ourselves united,
Then never but by Austral hands,
Shall Austral wrongs be righted.
– I indorse the mainfeatures of the Bill, and have been . rather surprised at the general trend of the opposition to the measure. Those who have opposed it seem to consider that we should rely ever on the British Navy, and that we are under no responsibility to provide for our own defence. So much stress having been laid upon the impregnability of Great Britain’s position, and the certainty that the British Navy could sweep the seas of its foes, I have gone to the trouble to ascertain, from the data available, what the position of the navy is, and what is the financial strength of the country which supports it. According to official figures, Great Britain spent £14,302,000 upon her navy in 1892-3, and has increased the expenditure since by about £2,000,000 annually. In 1903-4 the expenditure thus increased to £35,709,477, in1904-5 itwas £36,859,681 - the highest on record - and in 1905-6 it dropped to £33,151,841. That showed that the strain was being felt by the British taxpayer, and that the Government was compelled to relieve the tension. In 1906-7 the expenditure was £31,869,500, while the expenditure for 1907-8 has been estimated at £32,911,046. During the last five years the tendency has been to decrease naval expenditure. Now, in 1891, when the naval expenditure was about £14,000,000, Great Britain had a population of 38,000,000, but to-day when the population has increased to 44,000,000, an increase of about 16 per cent., her naval expenditure is about £32,000,000 - an increase of 133 per cent. It is significant that, not only has her naval expenditure decreased of late years, but the military expenditure has also been reduced, the number of men under arms being now less than it was. At all points Great Britain is feeling the strain. In connexion with the figures just given it must be remembered that the estimate of the paupers - that is, those who are actually indigent, as distinct from the merely poor - who required help in England, Scotland, and Wales last year was 1,030,072. The statistics for Ireland are, perhaps wisely, suppressed; at all events, they are not obtainable. In 1906, £15,456,751 was spent on poor relief in England, Scotland, and Wales. On poor relief and the navy Great Britain is now spending £47,000,000, and another £30,000,000 on her army, or,altogether, £77,000,000 out of a total revenue of only £144,000,000. Those figures are appaling. More than half of her total revenue goes in defence and for poor relief. No wonder reductions are being made. The figures prove that Great Britain’s position is not invulnerable. There are signs of weakness, not only financially, but in the matter of trade, though I have not the figures to support the latter statement, and do not intend to enlarge upon it. The facts which I have stated justify us in doing what we can for our self-defence, instead of relying solely on the British Navy. In Scotland, the only country from which I could obtain these figures, the poor relief expenditure increased from £956,815 in 1894 to £1,406,489 in 1906, an enormous increase in only twelve years.
– Those figures show an increase, not in the number of the poor, but merely in the expenditure for their relief.
– That is immaterial. I have shown that since 1891 the population of Great Britain has increased by only about 6,000,000, but that the poor relief expenditure has increased at a much greater rate, and so, too, has that upon the navy. I have given the figures relating to poor relief expenditure to show that Britain’s position as a revenue-raising nation is not what has been claimed, and her fighting strength must depend entirely on her financial strength. As the general prosperity of the country is apparently diminishing, that being shown by the increase in poor relief expenditure, we are justified in doing what we can to make ourselves more self reliant in the matter of defence. There has been a great deal of oratorical loyalty expressed in this debate - particularly by the right honorable member for East Sydney, who had a great deal to say about the grand old Mother Country, speaking of the English people of to-day as though they ape our immediate forbears. I have every respect for Great Britain; but the grand Old Country that mothered us, mothered the present population of the British Isles, who are not our patrons, but our peers. I decline to subscribe to the maudlin sentiment which has characterized the addresses of some of the members of the Opposition. I do not wish to be misunderstood. Loyalty to Australia is essential to loyalty to Great Britain. We are part of the Empire, but not the sons of the present British people. If we have not attained our majority as a nation we are, at least, in a position to do something for ourselves, and need not depend utterly on the Mother Country. I do not repudiate the parentage. The England that mothered us was not the England of to-day but the England of the past.
– Are a mother’s children less loyal to themselves if they are loyal to the mother?
– Are sons less loyal to the mother if they are loyal to themselves?
– Not in the least. I ask the converse question.
– My question answers the honorable member’s question. The obliga- tions for defence are mutual. We are not defended by Great Britain in the sense that a big brother defends his little brother. Our relationship is of a much more practical nature, and those motives hardly operate at all. It is really a matter of conserving trade. The man in the street in Great Britain knows little, and perhaps cares less, about the defence of Australia. The people concerned are the captains of commerce, the financial magnates of the world whose home is London, whose interests are at stake, whose ships girdle the globe, and whose cargoes are risked on every sea. Those are the concerns that are operating practically and almost entirely in the matter of defending Britain’s oversea possessions. Simple sentiment, which is very fine and large in its way, and of which I am just as capable in its proper place as is any other man, is not a factor in the equation when it comes to a matter of defence. It is a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence with the people who practically constitute the British Empire to-day. It is the concern of the financial magnates and those who have large vested interests all round the world to protect the commerce of the Empire. They are more concerned about commerce than about protecting us. Mere sentiment may be indulged in at mothers’ meetings, but this is no place for it. We have to deal with matters of fact, and one of the facts, as I see them, is that those who practically control the movements of the British Empire, and are principally concerned in its defence, are interested, not so much because of love of us, as because of love 06 money. That is the main issue with them. We are, of course, under a mutual obligation. I ‘do not repudiate our obligation in any way, but I do repudiate the assumption that all the obligation is on our side. To those people who are mainly concerned in the protection of Australia and its commerce, the matter is one of interest rather than of mere sentiment. Sentiment goes down before business interest every time.
– It was not sentiment, then, that took our young men to South Africa?
– What actuated many of them was that they could not get a decent living here, and they took the first opportunity of going to a new country with new prospects before them, although, of course, many were influenced by the desire to share in the fight.
– They went for business purposes to shed their blood !
– The right honorable member is very apt at mouthing pretty platitudes when he wants to hide bald facts, but we are here to deal, not with platitudes, but with facts as they are. The right honorable member has asserted that the British taxpayer has to foot the bill for the navy, but that individual does it more or less unconsciously. He does not realize all that he is doing. The rank and file of the wage-earners who are helping to foot that bill are placing the moneyed classes of Great Britain under a greater obligation to them than they are placing us, because it is mainly the interests of those moneyed classes that are being conserved. If the trade of the Empire that we hear so much about were run in the interests of Great Britain as a whole, there would be greater justification for the general imposition of taxation to sustain it. If the huge profits rolling in to Britain were shared by each section of the community, the wage-earners of Britain- would be in a much better position than they are in to-day. If the burden of taxation to maintain the defence of that trade were borne by each section of the community in proportion as that section participates in the profits, the wage-earner would have very little to pay towards Great Britain’s huge outlay on its trade protection and its pauper population. I realize that we are vitally interested in the upkeep of the navy. I admit that the obligation to see that the navy is paramount is mutual. But, after all, our part of it does not begin and end with the contribution of £200,000 a year towards the support of the navy. It is because I desire to do more, because I more fully realize our responsibility than do honorable members who are merely opposing the Bill for the sake of opposition, that I take my present stand with regard to Australian defence. We must do something better than the payment of a sum which is a mere bagatelle, as compared with the £32,000,000 required for the maintenance of the British Navy. It is the first line of defence, as we all admit; but the integrity of this Commonwealth is just as essential a factor in the protection and maintenance of British trade and British interests, as is the upkeep of the navy, so far as this section of the Empire is concerned. I cannot dissociate Australian defence pure and simple from that of the
Empire, nor do I wish to; but surely our obligation begins at home, and we are really conferring a greater benefit upon Great Britain, and relieving her of the responsibility of defending us, by insuring that we shall be in the position to defend ourselves, if only upon the land, than by merely contributing £200,000 a year towards her naval expenditure. It is assumed that we cannot afford a navy at the present juncture ; but I am not altogether satisfied that we cannot afford something in the nature of a navy. Admitting, for the sake of argument, that we cannot, we can still afford a Citizen Defence Force. An effort on our part to qualify ourselves as soldiers will cost us nothing in comparison with the building and maintenance of ships. And so, seeing that it is our duty to do something, let us do what we can most easily accomplish at the outset- - found a Citizen Defence Force, which I hope will be the beginning of a complete system of defence. The British Navy is at present fully efficient ; but let us assume that its efficiency is by force of circumstances impaired in any way. , Should we not then be in a much better position, if our people are trained as soldiers, than if all our support had gone when the efficiency of the navy went? Should we not be in a much better position than if we were dependent entirely upon the outcome of that contribution of £200,000 a year ? There is no guarantee that the line will never be broken. The pressure on the Government at Home has been so great as to force it to retrench in its defence expenditure, and there is not the invulnerability about the navy that some honorable members would have us believe. It is, therefore, quite on the cards that the first line of defence may some day be broken. Where, then, should we be if our men could not shoulder a rifle? If we cannot have a navy here, surely we are justified in establishing a well equipped Citizen Defence Force. I do not at all under-estimate the value of a navy. Personally, I should be prepared to support the raising of as much as £10,000,000 to found one, so long as the sinking fund to liquidate the debt could be provided in a way that appealed to me as just and right, and provided also that we could arrive at some satisfactory arrangement with the British Admiralty as to the control of the ships. It is quite possible to make some amicable and- satisfactory arrangement for the con- trol of an entirely Australian Navy, because the Admiralty, so far as I can judge, has shown itself more than gracious in its treatment of these proposals. An utter dependency upon the British Navy is not to be tolerated bv a self-respecting community nor is it justifiable on the part of a country with such limitless natural resources as we have. It is undignified and unbecoming, and the attitude of honorable members who preach it is on all fours with that adopted by the ancient Romans who were satisfied to hire aliens to fight for them, with what disastrous results the pages of history show. The moral standard of those who advocate that position for Australia is comparable with that of the mediaeval Christian who was prepared to buy indulgences in order to avoid the honorable obligations of life. As an Australian, I resent that attitude. I feel that in being truly loyal to Australia, by doing what it is within our power to do - to cultivate a citizen soldiery - I shall be more truly loyal to the Empire. Those who have such faith in the navy should be reminded that faith without works is dead. When an attempt is made to secure greater immunity from works by money payments, the position is still more deplorable. I believe in the principle of this citizen defence proposal-. There are some provisions in the Bill which must be altered, but I believe that it can be licked into shape. The principle itself is beyond all question. In the first place, because it is much more within our means to establish this form of defence than to establish a navy. We are told that we cannot immediately afford a navy, but, even if we could, there is, at any rate, not sufficient support for us to attempt it. As we must do something, it behoves us to do the thing nearest at hand. In the second place, this proposal will secure for the Commonwealth a system of physical culture that would be otherwise utterly impossible. It . will bring the youth of the Commonwealth under medical review at the most opportune period of their lives, with great benefit to the community. It will, I believe, engender a knowledge of the general laws of health, and assist in building up a people who will indeed’ te strong and self-reliant. It will give a knowledge of nature’s laws, sufficient to teach avoidance of the pitfalls of youth ; and that, in itself, is a feature of the Bill,, quite apart from the question of defence,, which should recommend it to every one, if only because it means selfprotection by better regulated lives. Then it seems to me that the military can do just as good service for the Empire as any navy we might be able to found. One would think, to hear some honorable members, that all the wars of the past have been on the sea, while, as a matter of fact, it is many years since Great Britain had a naval conflict. British battles of late have been on land; and if ever the Old Country wants assistance it would most likely be in the shape of land forces. We are not, therefore, placing ourselves beyond reach of rendering assistance to Great Britain, but rather the reverse, because we shall be able, if desired, to furnish soldiers of better quality. It will be seen, therefore, that the contention that we are trying to dissociate ourselves from the Empire, falls to the ground, because we are really placing ourselves in a better position to assist, than we are in by paying the paltry sum of £200,000, or, according to the suggestion of the honorable member for Lang, increasing that to the magnificent sum of £500,000 a year. The system of universal training appeals to me as preferable to amy sectional system of defence, because the latter has a tendency to foster a caste socially, and a faction politically, which would not conduce to the general harmony of the Commonwealth. We know what a standing army means ; and I contendthat an army apart from the people - an army fit and really spoiling for a fight - is a constant menace to the community, whose influence and weight are more liable to subversion, than could possibly be the case if the whole community constituted the army. The broader basis, the wider control, and the larger interest in defence which universal training gives, are in themselves added securities for peace. We have then a further precaution against any declaration of war, because every man knows that he will have to fight. Under universal training there can be no caste, with possible prejudice against the civilian; and there will not be the power on the part of any Government or individual to “let slip the dogs of war,” because, it may be, certain interests are in jeopardy. That is a result to be desired; and it can only be attained by a universal system of defence. In addition, it seems to me, that when all are equally responsible for the laws we make - when we chose to establish a White Australia, or lay down certain laws regard ing shipping entering our ports - it is incumbent on all to defend those laws. It is only a natural corollary that, when we take a stand which may appear antagonistic to other nations, every man should be responsible for defending that stand; he should know that, when he mates a law which may be regarded as a sort of threat, he has to maintain that law. In this, as I say, we have a sate and wise check.
– Then why take only young men of eighteen, who have no vote?
– Would the right honorable member be prepared to shoulder arms and go for a few weeks into camp? The right honorable member knows what chance there would be of passing a Bill which would make such a thing possible; and he also knows that we must adopt expedients in order to get legislation through. The Opposition have raised a bogy in regard to the question of finance. They declare that we ought to “ know where we are “ before we enter upon this scheme of defence ; but it would be too late to “ know where we are” when we had possibly to pay an indemnity. I have not become subject to a scare, and I do not say that an invasion is imminent; but we do not know what may happen, and when things are quiet is the time to take the necessary steps for our defence. The safety of the Commonwealth is at stake ; and the paltry excuse that we have not the necessary money, or cannot get it, should not be introduced; there is no room for such an excuse, because these steps must be taken sooner or later. It is obligatory on every nation to defend itself ; and we know the burdens that are borne in this respect by England, Germany, and other countries. Of course, no man will approve such a state of things per sc, but it is one that is inevitable. And the bogy of expense that has been raised does not reflect the patriotic sincerity of the House. It is a question of whether we shall hire our fighting men, or learn to fight for ourselves ; and there is no question as to which is the nobler course. As to the amendment of the honorable member for Flinders, I admit the fact that land defence is subsidiary to naval defence. But even if the naval defence isas good and impervious as we are led to believe, does it not behove us to supplement it by a subsidiary land force?
– The honorable member will admit that we cannot settle our subsidiary defence properly until we have settled our main defence.
– The honorable member for Parramatta has been very loud in his praise of the navy and its invulnerability ; and, if the navy is so perfect, we may regard our first line of defence as attended to, and turn our minds to the second line of defence. The idea of adding to an already efficient machine is simply ridiculous ; and we ought to devote our attention, if the honorable member be right, to subsidiary lines of defence. The attitude of the honorable member for Parramatta is beyond my comprehension. Seeing that Great Britain has attended to the first line of defence, an Australian navy may be left for the present, in the belief that in the future a more satisfactory arrangement will be come to in this regard. We have been told by the right honorable member for Swan that we are, as it were, in the ‘ position of a son in his father’s house - that we are utterly dependent on the British Navy, and that all we have to do is to further finance that navy. That is a view which, I think, is lamentably circumscribed. The right honorable member for Swan regards Great Britain in a paternal light, while the right honorable member for East Sydney regards the Old Country in a maternal light - she is the mother of the one, and the father of the other. I can understand the right honorable member for Swan, with his childlike and bland manner, desiring to hold his father’s hand all the days of his life; but we here have reached maturity, and it is our duty to do something for ourselves.
– Would the honorable member steal the £200,000 from the “ old man “ after promising to give it to him?
– I would put the money to much better use. At present it is a mere bagatelle, compared with the millions spent by Great Britain, and it is practically wasted. Let us spend a million or two if we like on the second line of defence, which would be just as useful as anything Ave could furnish in the shape of q. navy. I cannot, for the life of me, see how the right honorable member for East Sydney can advocate our putting all our eggs in one basket ; because, if the first line of our defence were ever broken, Ave should fall an easy prey to any marauder on the high seas. I should like to refer to only one or two points of the Bill. In the first place, I regard eighteen days as hardly sufficient for the necessary training, and’, secondly, I think that those who go into camp ought to be paid a sum equivalent to the wages they lose. How.ever the money is raised, such pay is inevitable. Again, if the Bill is so framed as to affect only settled parts of the country where central control is possible, in other parts of the country it will simply have to go by the board.
– That is, the poor man in the city will be compelled to serve where the rich squatter’s son will escape.
– There will be no compulsion felt by those who are willing to serve; as most will be. There is no legitimate ‘ comparison bet-ween the proposed universal training, and compelling a man to do something which cannot be defended on broad patriotic grounds. The honorable member is adopting an undignified attitude in seeking to disparage the justifiable efforts that are being made to compel a patriotism on the part of a few - -the majority of_ the people, I am sure, have sufficient patriotism to serve without any compulsion - -who must be forced to fit themselves for the defence of their country. There are other laws which are unnecessary so far as such men as the honorable member for Parramatta is concerned, but he has assisted in making them compulsory, because it is essential that they should be. It has been contended that the cadet service should also be compulsory. It seems to me that under the automatic operation of this measure, it will be so. It provides that if a certain service is not rendered by lads as cadets, they must devote a longer period to training when they reach a more mature age. That in itself, I think, will be sufficient to secure an effective service on the part of all who are fit to render it. I sincerely hope that a truly patriotic spirit will guide the House in dealing Avith this Bill, and that even if it is not passed in its present form it will become law in a shape that will be productive of great good to Australia.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Kelly) adjourned.
Bill returned from Senate without request.
.- In the ordinary course of business, it will be my duty when the House meets to-morrow to give notice of a motion of a character affecting to some extent the position of the
Government. I wish to meet the convenience of honorable members, andwould point out that it will render it unnecessary for them to attend here to-morrow morning only to disperse a few moments later, if, by consent, I may give notice of motion tonight.
– Hear, hear.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the right honorable member have leave to give notice at this time ?
Honorable Members. - Hear,hear.
– Leave is granted.
– I desire to give notice that on Tuesday next, I shall move -
That the financial proposals of the Government are unsatisfactory to this House,
– I understand that the right honorable member considers it essential to the proper presentation of his case that this adjournment of the House should be for the period of two months for which provision is made in the Supply Bill just passed. Reminding him that this is intended to be a very short session, and that it is desirable that we should dispose as rapidly as possible of not only Government business, but any intervening motions, let me urge him to alter his mind, and to be ready to proceed on Tuesday.
– The debate on the motion may do away with a good deal of debate on the Budget.
– I move-
That the House at its rising adjourn until Tuesday next.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Leadership of the Opposition.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I understand that the Prime Minister regards the motion of which notice has just been given as one of want of confidence. I should like him to ask, seeing that the leader of the Opposition and the deputy leader of the Opposition are said to have stood aside, whether it meets with the approval of the acting leader.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.16 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 October 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19081015_reps_3_47/>.