3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
SUPPLY BILL (No. 2).
– Is it intended to employ civilians to assist the police in collecting the names for the new electoral rolls in Western Australia ?
– The question was asked some three weeks ago, and I then replied that none but the police would be employed in the compilation of rolls.
– Will the Minister provide for the appointment of additional police, so that the rolls maybe collected more quickly?
– Arrangements have been made with the Premiers of the States for the service of the police in the compilation of rolls, and it has been agreed that the work shall be finished in time to have the rolls completed by the 31st December.
– In view of what is stated in to-day’s newspapers about the difficulty in finding land for immigrants who have just arrived here from Siberia, will the Government, in spending the Vote of£20,000 for advertising Australia, advise intending immigrants to make sure before coming here that they can get land ?
– In referring to land available, the Commonwealth advertisements merely repeat particulars officially supplied by the States. Although read by a large number of persons, I doubt whether they have been fortunate enough to reach the town of Tomsk.
– I wish to bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General a matter to which I directed attention some time ago. By permission of your predecessor, Mr. Speaker, the words, “ If not claimed within seven days, return to the House of Representatives,’ are printed on the envelopes used by members. Notwithstanding that notification, and the fact that my name was also written outside the envelope, I have had returned to me a nondelivered letter which has been opened by the Department. Will the PostmasterGeneral give instructions that in these cases letters shall be returned unopened?
– This morning a similar case came under my own notice, a letter being returned to me which had been opened unnecessarily by Departmental officers. I have caused instructions to be issued to the Deputy Postmaster-General that under no circumstances is a letter to be opened if the identity of its sender can be known without opening it.
– Is the Treasurer aware that the complaint has been made by a number of persons that obstacles are being put in the way of old men who are inmates of homes in Western Australia, and wish to obtain pensions?
– I am not aware. If the honorable member will give me specific cases I shall cause an inquiry to be made.
– The honorable member voted against allowing such persons to get pensions.
– On a point of order, I take exception to the statement that I voted against allowing old men who were inmates of asylums to obtain pensions.
– My statement was quite true, and is borne out by the division list.
– There is no point of order. A statement such as that complained of should not be made by way of interjection. It should be made only in such a way as to give an opportunity for its refutation.
– There were no divisions on the Old-Age Pensions Bill, so that neither I nor any other honorable member can be charged with having voted to prevent inmates of asylums from getting pensions.
Mr. FULLER laid upon the table the following paper : -
Public Service. - Fifth report of the Commissioner, upon.
Ordered to be printed.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the delay which has occurred in the payment of public servants’ salaries, owing to the Government bringing in the Supply Bill authorizing the same at so late a date that, even with the suspension of the Standing Orders and the passing of the measure in one day through each branch of the Legislature, the necessary authority could not be obtained until the payments were overdue, the Treasurer will, in future, so arrange the business that Supply Bills shall be introduced early enough to enable the ordinary forms of parliamentary procedure to be followed, and authority obtained to enable the Government to meet its financial obligations to the Public Service?
– I shall be glad to do so. In this case, notwithstanding that the next day but one was grievance day, the whole sitting was taken up in discussing grievances.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
Officers’ Examinations - Examination Parades. - Selection of Mechanics for Small Arms Factory
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are: -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : - 1 No. Even if an officer had not qualified in accordance with the regulations, he continues to perform the duty pending examination.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are: -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
Bill presented and (on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook) read a first time.
– I should like to move the second reading of this Bill, if the House will give me leave to do so.
– I shall not agree to that.
– The Minister of Defence desires leave to take the second reading of the Bill forthwith. Is it the pleasure of the House that he have permission to do so?
– I object.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
– I have had no consultation with any one on this subject, not anticipating an objection, but think it is my duty to move the suspension of the Standing Orders., in order that the second reading of the Bill may be dealt with at once.
– It is the Prime Minister’s duty to give notice of such a motion.
– I move-
That the Standing Orders be suspended in order to allow the second reading of the Defence Bill to be taken forthwith.
.- Mr. Speaker-
Honorable members interjecting -
– I appeal to honorable members to allow the Leader of the Opposition to address the Chamber and to give him the attention which his position deserves.
– Evidently this is playing to the gallery.
– In what way?
– What is playing to the gallery ?
– The speech of the Prime Minister and the action of the Minister of Defence.
– In what way?
– It is six weeks since the Minister obtained leave to introduce this Bill.
– And still honorable members opposite are not satisfied.
– Now the Government come down, after six weeks’ cogitation, and endeavour to violate all the principles on which Parliamentary procedure is founded by proposing a suspension of the Standing Orders in order to discuss the Bill forthwith.
-And without notice.
– Without any notice at all.
– To make a statement to the House.
– Am I to take the Prime Minister’s words literally?
– That is all that the moving of the second reading of -a Bill is.
– I understand that it is the intention of the Minister of Defence, in moving the second reading to discuss the whole of the principles of this Bill. This is the most important Bill which has come before the House this session.
– I am taking the usual course. Perhaps the honorable member is not aware of that.
– No; the Government propose a most unusual course in asking for the suspension of the Standing Orders in order to proceed with a Bill which honorable members have not yet seen.
– I do not refer to that. That is unusual, I admit.
– It is; and it is most unusual also to find the press throughout the Commonwealth stating that if honorable members are unanimous the Minister of Defence would like, when introducing the Bill to be able to make his secondreading speech upon it, because it is a skeleton measure, and the Government might be placed at a disadvantage unless their views on defence are presented with the Bill. Do the Government really believe that they can deceive the people and put the Opposition at a disadvantage in this way? Do they believe that they will forward the measure in any way by securing the suspension of the Standing Orders?
– It will forward it by exactly one day, and no one will be placed at a disadvantage.
– Nonsense. What is the honorable gentleman talking about?
– I should like the Prime Minister to be good enough, in order to assist me, because I shall be quite ready to allow the matter to go on, to say whethe he intends to proceed with this Bill to ; finish.
– No, it will be put aside with all the other Government business.
– Does the honorable gentleman suppose that the Bill is not to be proceeded with ?
– I should say so, if it is to be treated in. the same way as the rest of the Government business.
– The honorable member will find that it will be proceeded with.
– I am glad to hear that. It is most unusual to ask for the suspension of the Standing Orders in this way in connexion with a Bill which has not yet been circulated amongst honorable members, and I should like to know whether the Minister intends to proceed forthwith with the consideration of the measure?
– The Minister of Defence will make his speech, of course, directly the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders is carried.
– And then the debatewill be adjourned.
– If honorable members are ready to proceed with the debate, they may do so.
– If a day is to be saved, as suggested by the Prime Minister, it can only be by the Government proceeding with the’ second-reading debate forthwith. If the second reading is to be superseded, and other business gone on with, it is obvious that there will be no saving of time. Doe& the Prime Minister honestly believe that this is an ordinary proposal by the Government ? Has this matter not been readied up? Is it not clear, from statements which have appeared in the press, that the Government have come today prepared for this? -I say that this Government are degrading Parliament. I have seen Fusions - they were previously called “coalitions “-behave in exactly the same manner as the Government are behaving, combinations of reactionaries who endeavoured to cast upon their opponents the odium of preventing business from being transacted when, as a matter of fact, they themselves did not desire to transact business. Under ordinal y circumstances the Standing Orders ought not to be suspended in the absence of notice; indeed, it is very doubtful whether they ought ever to be suspended, except upon notice. Otherwise a Government might put anything or nothing upon the businesspaper. They might confront the House with an absolutely blank business-paper, and straightway proceed to deal with measures of which no honorable member had previously heard.
– And they might push those measures through all their stages in this House in one day.
– So far from desiring to prolong discussion upon this motion, I think that we might very well come to a vote upon it. I have never in my political experience witnessed such “hypocritical action as that which has been taken by the Minister of Defence and the Prime Minister this afternoon.
– The Leader of the Opposition has just been indulging
– I rise to a point of order. Seeing that the Prime Minister has appealed to the Standing Orders, I desire to call attention to standing order 407, which- reads -
In cases of urgent necessity, any Standing or Sessional Order or Orders of the House may be suspended for the day’s sitting, on motion, duly made and seconded,’ without notice : Provided that such motion is carried by an absolute majority of the whole number of the members of the House.
You, sir, will observe that a motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders without notice must be “ duly made and seconded.” On the present occasion, the motion has not been seconded. I submit, therefore, that the standing order to which I have directed attention, has not been complied with, and - as Ave may only fall back upon the practice of the House of Commons or of this House when the Standing Orders do not expressly provide the course of procedure to be adopted - the proposal of the Minister of Defence must be ruled out of order.
– Standing order No. 1 provides that where our Standing Orders are not explicit, the practice of the House of Commons must be followed. I hold in my hand the Manual of Procedure of the House of Commons, which is the work of the Clerk of that House. At page 106. he says -
See May, 277. In case, however, of a. “ front bench “ motion, a seconder is usually dispensed with.
– The Leader of the Opposition has just been indulging in language which is unworthy of him and of his position. It is perfectly evident that defence is not a party question.
– It ought not to be.
– I admit that it ought not to be, but the honorable member may judge of whether it is or not from what has taken place to-day. An attempt has been made to deny to me the ‘courtesy which has hitherto been extended to the Minister of Defence in this Chamber. One would think that on this occasion the Go- vernment were asking the House to do something that is quite new. As a matter of fact, we are merely following precedent.
– The course which the Government desire to follow has only once been adopted in this Chamber, and I protested against its adoption then.
– The honorable member would protest against anything.
– I protest against the Minister of Defence all the time.
– Though the honorable member may not be aware of it, his statement is really a compliment to me. When the honorable member for Richmond introduced his Defence Bill, he followed precisely the practice which I sought to follow to-day. He asked for leave to introduce that measure. Leave was granted, and the Bill was read a first time.
– But it had been previously upon the business-paper.
– It had not. The honorable member should not make such statements on the off chance that they may prove to be true. Then by leave it was ordered that the second reading should be made an Order of the Day for the same day, and the honorable member for Richmond thereupon moved “ that the Bill be read a second time.” That courtesy was extended by my honorable friends upon the occasion in question to the former Minister of Defence. But it has been denied me to-day amid protestations that the question of defence is not a. party one.
.- I have no desire to treat this question with any degree of heat, but I have been a good many years in political life, and I have never known the course proposed by the Government to be adopted after leave to move the second reading of a Bill without notice had been objected to by an honorable member. The point which I wish to emphasize is that, save in very extreme cases, it is essential that the Legislature should follow certain well-defined rules. For days I have been closely scanning the business-paper for the purpose of ascertaining whether the Minister had given notice of his intention to move the second reading of the Defence Bill. It was only bv accident yesterday that I learned of the course which the honorable gentleman proposed to adopt. I submit that that is not the way in .’which honorable members should be treated. This Bill has been mooted for months past, and the proper and simple course for the Minister to have followed was to conform to the rules of the House by giving notice of his intention. The same objectionable procedure was followed in another case a week or ten days ago. Honorable members cannot always be present, and if they are not afforded an opportunity of grasping the provisions of Government measures before the second reading of those measures is moved, they cannot follow the remarks of Ministers in charge of them, and are thus placed at a great disadvantage. I do not know where we shall find ourselves if we continue to abuse the forms of the House in the way that the Government ate abusing them. Only the other day, when I was not present, private members’ business was dispensed with for the remainder of the session. I had not an opportunity of speaking upon that occasion, and probably the result would have been the same if I had been present. I cannot understand why notice of the Minister’s intention to move the second reading of this Bill was not given in the ordinary way. Had that course been adopted, we might have been considering the measure to-day. Surely it is not proper to habitually break the forms of procedure which have been laid down for our guidance. It is very much better that we should follow established practice ; by doing otherwise we shall not enhance the dignity of the House. The Prime Minister need not tell the Treasurer to be quiet. I am quite willing to accept any interjection from the right honorable member ; but a protest should be entered against the action proposed by the Government. I am .not objecting to the Bill itself; for I do not know what its contents are, and so far as I am aware, it has not seen the light of day ; but inroads made into the Standing Orders should not be allowed! to pass without protest. If the Ministry had not had time to give notice I should not have objected, but I object to the forms of the House being made subservient to the whims of Ministers, and, if I may say so, without offence, to their being used to shelter the neglect of Ministers. Apparently that is what is being done in this case. No great harm may arise from the suspension of the Standing Orders in this instance, but Heaven only knows what may happen if such a procedure be persisted in. There is nothing on the business-paper for to-day to indicate that the Government had the slightest idea of submitting this motion. If the Standing Orders are to be set aside in this way it will be open to a Government <o meet the House with a’ blank sheet, so far as the notice-paper is concerned, and then to proceed with important business in the absence of honorable members who had no knowledge that it would be brought on. I speak as a politician of long experience, trained in a school - the Legislative Assembly of New South. Wales - where veteran politicians were at pains to show the younger members the danger of unduly departing from the forms of the House. Some of our Standing Orders, which are, for the ‘‘most part, based on precedent established by the House of Commons, may seem unnecessary to the younger politicians amongst us, but there is a reason for every one of them. They enable a check which is absolutely necessary, in some cases, to bc kept on the desire of Ministers to rush through Parliament certain business; but if an absolute majority of the House says that in this case we are to suspend our Standing Orders it will be a case of “might is right.”
– At the best the Government are straining the Standing Orders.
– They are. If this course is to be pursued no Opposition will ever be safe. It is unwise for the Ministry to use their power in a way that may bring contumely upon the Parliament. There is plenty of business on the noticepaper, and I therefore urge the Ministry to withdraw this motion, to give notice in the ordinary way, and to proceed with other business. I make this appeal in no factious spirit, but simply because I believe that it is not right to do that which we are asked to do. The Defence Bill has been under the consideration of Ministers for some time; they have had ample opportunity to give notice, but instead of doing so they desire now to rush on the second-reading stage. I ask Ministers to consider this appeal, and to allow the second reading of the Bill to come on in the ordinary course to-morrow.
– I ask the honorable member to treat me as I treated him when I was in Opposition.
– The honorable member always treated me as badly as he could. I never got any concession from him. -
– The honorable member knows better than that.
– I have no desire to import any warmth into the debate ; I am simply outlining what I think is a fair and reasonable observance of the
Standing Orders. What is their use if we are constantly to disregard them ? This haphazard procedure will break down our Standing Orders and deprive us of all that we have held dear to us as a Parliament. It will deprive us of the shelter and protection that a minority ought always to have, and in justice I may reasonably ask that the motion be withdrawn and the usual notice given.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. A few moments ago the honorable member for Fremantle complained, by way of question to a Minister, that certain persons in benevolent institutions were meeting with difficulty in obtaining the old-age pension. By interjection I intimated that the honorable member had voted against a proposal to enable persons in benevolent institutions to be paid the old-age pension, and the honorable member was pleased twice to deliberately contradict my statement. The denial was cheered, almost vociferously, by honorable members on the Ministerial side of the House. I desire, therefore, to explain that when the Bill to amend the Old-Age Pensions Act was before us a few weeks ago, I moved for the repeal of section 47 of the principal Act, which provides inter aiia -
No payment on account of pension shall be made to him -
That is a benevolent asylum inmate - so long as lie is an inmate of the asylum or institution.
I moved the repeal of that section, indicating that my desire was that such persons should receive and be paid a pension just as if they were outside a benevolent institution. At page 1602 of Hansard will be found the division list and the names of the honorable member for Fremantle and the Treasurer appear there among the “noes.” In other words, they” distinctly voted against the repeal of that section.
– Why does not the honorable member read the whole section ?
– He has read enough to “ show up “ the Treasurer.
– Since the Treasurer desires it, I will read the whole section. It is as follows : -
If a successful claimant of a pension is aninmate of a benevolent asylum or other charitable institution, the pension shall become payable as from a date not more than twenty-eight days prior to the pensioner being discharged’ from or leaving the asylum or institution, but no payment on account of pension shall be madeto him so long as he is an inmate of the asylum or institution.
I moved the total repeal of that section; and my motion, if carried, would have permitted such persons to obtain pensions, and have removed the difficulties complained of by several honorable members opposite, and particularly to-day by the honorable member for Fremantle.
– I desire to raise a point of order on the motion moved by the Prime Minister. Standing order 407 is as follows : -
In cases of urgent necessity, any Standing or Sessional Order or Orders of the House may be suspended for the day’s sitting, on motion, duly made and seconded, without notice ; Provided that such motion is carried by an absolute majority of the whole number of the members of the House.
– The majority is the safeguard.
– Order ! What is the point of order ?
– The point of order is that it is necessary to show that this is a case of urgent necessity. The Prime Minister simply rose and said, “ I move the suspension of the Standing Orders “ ; he did not show that he was complying with the standing order. It cannot be suggested for a moment that it is a matter of urgent necessity for the Standing Orders to he suspended in order that this Bill may be discussed now.
– The vote of the House will show whether there is urgent necessity.
– The vote of the House is a subsequent matter. If it rested on the vote of the House, the words of the standing order are absolutely meaningless, and there would have appeared instead, “ If, in the opinion of the majority of the House, the Standing Orders ought to be suspended,” they may be. The standing order, however, is definite and in plain English ; and it has not been contended by the Prime Minister that this is a case of urgent necessity. I, therefore, ask you, Mr. Speaker, to rule the motion out of order?
– With respect to the question of urgent necessity, the occupant of the chair must always be guided very largely by those who are for the time being the leaders of the House ; and I take it for granted that the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth would never submit a proposal of the sort unless he were satisfied that it was well within the standing order. In addition, I may say that it has not been the custom of the Chair to call on an honorable member to prove urgency when a formal motion of adjournment is moved by a private member ; and it would place the Speaker in a very invidious position if he were called upon to do so in each case. I, therefore, rule that the motion is in order.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. It is well known that I advocated and voted for old-age pensions, on the platform and in this House, long before the honorable member for Adelaide was known or heard of here. I even went further, and advocated old-age and invalid pensions ; and I think that on a’ quibble–
– The honorable member must confine himself to a personal explanation.
– I say that I have been misrepresented.
– Here is the division list !
– The section read by the honorable member for Adelaide really proves nothing. The inmates of these homes are kept by the State ; and the question is whether theyareto be paid twice or not. My own opinion is that they are entitled to be paid once, and’ that I have always advocated. I am in favour of such people receiving pensions, in order that they may leave the charitable institutions; but they ought not to be given pensions while they remain inmates.
– In order not to delay business, the only question being whether or not the motion should be accepted, I move -
That the question be now put.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority … 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The suspension of Standing Orders is limited in its operation to the particular purpose for which such suspension has been sought.
Standing order 407 provides -
In cases of urgent necessity, any Standing Or Sessional Order, or Orders of the House, may be suspended for the day’s sitting, on motion, duly made and seconded, without notice.
You have ruled that the urgent necessity need not be shown when the Prime Minister moves for the suspension of the Standing Orders. But under standing “order 409 the suspension must be limited in its operation to the particular purpose for which it has been sought, and I submit that no particular purpose has been mentioned by the Prime Minister. Consequently no motion under standing order 407 is before the House, and no question can be put as a result of the carrying of the motion, “That the question be now put.” There is, therefore, nothing before the Chamber, and if the Prime Minister wishes to bring the question before the Chamber he must limit the operation of the motion which he moves under standing order 407 to the specific purpose for which it is required, as directed by standing order 409.
That the House dissents from the ruling of Mr. Speaker that the motion moved by the Prime Minister, namely, that the Standing Orders be suspended, was a motion within the meaning of section 407 of the Standing Orders, and that consequently there was before the House a question upon which the motion “ That the question be now put “ could be based.
That motion will be a subject for debate on the next day of sitting.
Question - That the Standing Orders be suspended in order to allow the second reading of the Defence Bill to be taken this day - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I desire to say, at the outset, that I approach my task this afternoon with some diffidence. I do not pretend to be an expert in Defence matters. I shall be largely guided, as far as details are concerned, by the experts of my Department, bringing to bear upon them such powers of observation and common sense as I myself possess. I am the more diffident in that I have only been in the Department for the short space of three months, and have not yet penetrated the whole of the mysteries surrounding the work of that very complex branch of our service. But I have. been there sufficiently long to know how urgent this matter of defence reform really is. I venture to say, also, that however short may have been the period of my administration, I have been at the Department sufficiently long to know that there are a great many things which want righting. In saying so much, I believe that I shall have the cordial concurrence of the public at large. I venture, also, to say that the public will not much longer brook delay in connexion with reforming the defence of Australia. Australia is not the only country which is anxious in regard to the subject. The whole civilized world seems to be anxious in reference to this question, and appears to ‘be straining every nerve to make itself as efficient and scientific in all those engines of war which make for the destruction of human life; all are impelled by one motive - the safety of its several races and peoples. Every nation is arming to the teeth, and there seems to be a mad race between the nations of the world as to who shall get the best engines of destruction and who shall be able first to be in the field when the great arbitrament of war is resorted to. I need not trouble the House with figures proving this to be the case so far as the Continent of Europe is concerned, because honorable members are well aware of what is taking place there. With all this turmoil and trouble going on in every part of the world, there arises the question of our own obligation in respect of the defence of Australia and the great Empire of which it is a part. We are grown to manhood now, and it is time that we looked the question of defending ourselves fairly and squarely in the face. Within the last few years the point of view has changed for us. It has changed equally for the Mother Country ; indeed, for every portion of the British Empire. Hitherto Great Britain has settled for us all questions of peace or war, all questions of foreign relations, while we have been left in security to develop the national estate, to pioneer and people this great continent of ours. We have developed an immense trade, and grown rich. So far we have never had to carry a gun on any boat ; we have only had to fly the flag for the trade to be absolutely secure. Whilst this has been proceeding we ha.ve been enabled to build up a financial and racial fabric which, I hope, in the future will be, as the honorable member for Wentworth pithily put it the other day, a buttress to the Empire, instead of a burden upon it. Naturally, we have to go to every part of the world to find markets for our enormous trade. Our Empire is a world-wide one ; our trade has world-wide ramifications; and wherever we touch a point to discharge our goods and find a market, there for us is a point of possible friction - a point which may affect profoundly the dispositions we have to make regarding the defence of Australia. While we have been enjoying within our borders all those excellent social conditions which make our state the envy of the world, Great Britain has been largely footing the bill for their preservation. It is time that that condition of things ceased. It is not creditable to us. It is not ministering to our selfrespect. We have set up a White Australia ideal. I hope that that ideal will always be looked to and guarded by all those who have to do with the government of this country. But we are depending for its maintenance upon a country which is not able to close its doors to the coloured labour of the world as we do. We are depending upon a nation which opens its doors wide to the world. I question very much whether we have a right to continue to depend absolutely upon that protection alone while we pursue the ideals that we are able to do here - ideals of a very different character from theirs. We have the eight-hours’ system. That does not obtain in Great Britain nearly so generally as it obtains here. Must we longer depend upon the protection of Great Britain for the maintenance of the eight-hours’ system while the people of that country are not able to win it for themselves? I have said frequently that the question of the defence of Australia is essentially a question for working men. They of all others should take a keen interest in all matters which have to do with the guarding of our coasts. It is time, as I’ have already said, that we stood up to our responsibility in this matter. How stands the case at present? While we have been enjoying all the freedom which has enabled us to build up the prosperity we have, other nations have been busily engaged in multiplying their engines of war and perfecting their war machines generally. In particular three nations call for notice - the United States, Japan and Germany. Each of those nations has developed a powerful navy of its own. The two former are not very far away from our own doors, whilst the latter is causing very much anxiety at Home. Honorable members cannot direct their attention to the Pacific in particular without being struck by the forces which are developing in those waters, and the unequal distribution of those forces. Of course, it is all accounted for by reason of Great Britain depending upon its treaty with Japan. Here is the disposition of the forces in the Pacific so far as I can ascertain. Of battleships Great Britain has none; Japan fifteen, and America one. Of armoured cruisers Great Britain has four, Japan twelve, and the United States eleven. Other types of ship are in proportion. As a matter of fact, we are dependent absolutely upon the treaty with Japan, which I believe will be loyally honoured so long as it continues.
– So long as it suits the parties, as is the case with every other treaty.
– No nation depends entirely for its security upon treaties, and that is our position at this moment. Having regard to the disposition of armed forces in the Pacific it is time for us to see what is our duty as an integral portion of the Empire. So far as I can ascertain, the waters of the Pacific are now as important from a naval point of view as are the waters of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. I need not multiply quotations from the best authorities to show this. They all concur on this point. I have here a. quotation from Captain Mahan, with which perhaps I need not trouble the House, and which shows that we must look to the Pacific for naval developments of a very serious character indeed. In discussing, just prior to our offer, the New Zealand offer of a Dreadnought, Sir John Colomb is reported to have said -
Much as he hoped that amity with the United States would be long continued, he declined to base the British naval policy upon pious hopes. With every hope for continued amity they could not ignore the development there, and they must have regard to their own position in the Pacific. Take for another example Japan. . . . He asked his honorable friend not to shirk this question of the future of the Pacific. The Pacific formed one-half of the world of water, and British interests in trade and commerce, and out hopes and aspirations for the future, were hugely in excess of those of every other nation in the world, and yet they were expected to hold that hemisphere with no primary base. The Power that controlled the Pacific one day, would control the Indian Ocean the next.
It is to be feared the golden opportunity of facing the question of the British maritime position in the Pacific, and initiating a policy of co-operation to provide for its maintenance will bc lost. What is needed there, is a primary naval base for producing and sustaining British predominance of maritime power in that hemisphere. It will take long years to establish, and that is all the more reason for making a real beginning.
There are many other statements to the same effect; but I do not wish to multiply quotations. Another fact which we cannot ignore is the existence, not far from our shores, of 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 of the best trained troops in the world. They belong to a nation whose ideals are, in many respects, as unlike our own as it ispossible for them to be. Outlying territories, unless adequately defended, are, in a sense, a source of weakness. Australia is the most distant, the richest, and, at the same time, the most vulnerable part of theBritish Empire. Half-a-dozen mighty kingdoms could find accommodation on this continent, and we are surrounded by nations hungering for room and breathing space. British commerce is world-wide, and the protection of our trade must therefore give us great concern. Many persons have attempted to forecast the strategical necessities of the Empire, and have expressed most confident opinions as to what ought to be done in its defence; but the greatest anxiety on this score obtains in the highest quarters. Mr. Haldane, than whom Great Britain has not had a better War Minister, spoke in this way on the subject, only a little while ago -
I once very rashly said in the House of Commons that I did not know how to forecast the strategical necessities of the Empire; I should not have said it. I meant to speak ironically, but then I am a Scotchman, and the House of Commons does not always understand a Scotchman. They said, “ Poor man ; if he would only ask the soldiers.” Well, I had asked the soldiers; and it was under a deep sense of depression from the result of my communications that 1 made the incautious remark. I have since considered that question, and I again say to-day, after two years’ further consultation with soldiers, that I do not know how to forecast all the possible strategical necessities of this Empire. It is so vast; the permutations and combinations that are conceivable against us are s’> manifold, that I can conceive of a dozen things in which I believe that not even all the resources to which we might attain could cope with the situations that might arise.
The right thing has been done by those at the seat of the Empire in consulting as to future action with representatives of its other parts. Sir John Colomb, before the Imperial Defence Conference was held, wrote as follows : -
The’ true answer to New Zealand seems to be this : - We, in islands in the north of one hemisphere, are equally prepared to co-operate with you dwellers in islands in the south of the other, and the best form of expression of such cooperation is by joint action and mutual sacrifice, to establish what is essential to safeguard our mutual interests in the Pacific Ocean, by the creation of means necessary to sustain the means of discharging that obligation, and we ask you to confer immediately with us to arrange for this being done. The cost of ships you express your willingness to provide represents the equivalent of an amount enabling a substantial commencement in the joint undertaking we propose, and having regard to the development of the war power of nations indigenous to your hemisphere, we think it would be more wisely applied in pursuit of the purpose we suggest. We assure you of our readiness to do our part of the project.
Those opinions found expression in the invitation to a Conference, issued by the British Prime Minister. It is bootless to discuss now who first suggested the holding of such a Conference. Were it otherwise, I might say that I did so, publicly, many months ago, and that the honorable member for Wentworth first made the suggestion to me. The fact remains that the Conference was called to discuss the future relations of the Empire. In other words, there was a family council, and a hearty and cordial response was made by all the oversea members of the family. The honorable member for Brisbane was sent to sayfrankly that Australia is desirous of taking a larger responsibility for her own defence. He was sent to London to concert with the other representatives as to the best measures to be taken to meet a common menace, particularly in the Pacific, where there must always be an outlet for our trade, the success of our industrial enterprises depending on our supremacy there. I am sorry that I cannot inform the House as fully as 1 should like of the determinations of the Defence Conference, but, broadly, we accept the position that the burden of defence must in the future be borne, not by part, but by the whole of the Empire, and our plans and preparations are to have the safety of the whole in view. We accept the position that a fuller Imperial partnership, particularly in regard to defence, is indispensable to the future security of the Imperial fabric. Accordingly, a definite place in the Pacific has been allotted to us with the other members of the Empire. It is there that our naval destiny would appear to be. so far as the future is concerned. I venture to express the hope that the Conference has evolved, -not a plan suited merely to the needs of the hour, but one which may be capable of steady and progressive evolution ; a plan which will lead to systematic and efficient combination. If that is done, we may be able to look the future in the face, not caring for aught that may be brought against us. I repeat that I have not the particulars of the proceedings of the Conference with which I should like to be able to acquaint the House j but, so far as we can ascertain, our obligations in the immediate future will be something like the following : We are to provide an armoured cruiser of the Indomitable class. We are also to provide three unarmoured cruisers of the Bristol class ; six destroyers of the improved “River” class; and three submarines. We are to provide also for this complete unit the necessary auxiliaries, such as docks and depot ships. This is accepted as the alternative of our Dreadnought proposal.
– Rubbish !
– I am accustomed to hear such expressions; but I can only rely upon the best experts of the Empire for what I have to say. They say that, to all intents and purposes, these new cruisers of the Indomitable and Indefatigable class, are simply swifter Dreadnoughts
– Are we going to provide one?
– We are; at a cost of .£1,800,000.
– Of borrowed money
– This will be so similar to the proposed provision for a. Dreadnought, that we need not greatly cavil at the difference. Our fleet will be one of the three divisions of the Eastern Fleet. The armoured cruiser, which will be the first large ship built in the formation, of this unit, will be of the Indomitable or Indefatigable class. When fully armed and equipped, the cost of the vessel will be considerably over £1, 800,000. The construction of the remaining vessels will proceed, so as to provide for their completion at the same time as that of the armoured cruiser. The three destroyers now in hand will form the first instalment of the unit to arrive here. The third will arrive in parts, to be put together in Australia, where we hope the remaining three will be constructed by our own workmen.
– We have heard something like that before.
– These vessels will fly the White Ensign. ‘ The cost of construction at English prices will be about £3,750,000. It is estimated that the annual cost of our unit will be £750,000. The Imperial Government will for some time contribute , £250,000 on this basis. That is to say, they will contribute £250,000 of the £750,000, on the assumption that that will be the annual cost of the unit. The Commonwealth will contribute at first at least £500,000 a year, the amount gradually increasing until it covers the whole of the annual cost of the unit. Our responsibility will almost certainly amount to over £750,000 per annum.
– That is ultimately?
– The upkeep of this unit, when complete, will involve us in an annual expenditure of that amount.
– The honorable gentleman has said that £750,000 will be the total annual cost, and that of that amount the Imperial Government is to contribute £250,000.
– That will be almost at once - as soon as the vessels are built.
– D - Does the estimate include provision for a sinking fund?
-It includes everything. It is not quite clear whether this Fleet unit for which we are providing will be all the Fleet we are to possess. As that is not clear, I shall not pursue the matter further.
– Not quite clear, to whom?
– To us. It is not quite clear whether the Imperial Government will not provide something on their own account, in addition to this Fleet unit. So far as I can ascertain, I have stated the total obligation of the Commonwealth in respect to this unit. While on this station, the ships will, of course, be under the exclusive control of the Commonwealth, both as regards movements and general administration, in time of peace. The personnel will be subject to the regulations for similar forces under the King’s regulations, and under naval discipline. The unit, of course, will pass under Imperial control whenever required for war service.
– Will that be automatically, on a declaration of war?
– I am unableto say yet exactly how it will be done. It will be available for combination with the other two fleet units constituting the Eastern Fleet in time of war, and the senior officer, whether Australian or Imperial, will then take command. The unit will.be manned as far as possible by Australians, supplemented by Imperial officers and men. In the training and education of Australian officers and men, local resources will be availed of as far as possible. That is to say, that we shall need to have our naval college, and must bestir ourselves in earnest for the development of - those standards which will enable our officers to take their place side by side with those of the Imperial Navy. It is estimated that the personnel required for these vessels will be about 2,300 officers and men. The standards of efficiency will be the same exactly as for the Royal Navy. It is expected, also, that our men and officers will be interchangeable, and, indeed, that they will be interchanged, throughout the British Navy. We expect to open up a career for our officers and men equal to that of the officers and men in any other part of the British Empire. In other words, we intend to provide for them opportunities of advancement equal to those open to officers and men of the Navy in Great Britain. There is also a desire on the part of the Imperial Government, and I may say that it is cordially shared by this Government, that the ships as well as the men shall be interchangeable. Some of our ships will go with their Fleets and some of theirs will come to join ours, so as to give the requisite common training.
– That is more important than the interchanging of the men.
– All this, of course, will involve very great preparations on our part- I mean in the establishment of docks and facilities for repairs and for the manufacture of all requirements of this unit. In the meantime, the Admiralty will supply stores, ammunition, and ordnance for the unit at the same prices as those at which they supply the Royal Navy. The present naval subsidy will continue to be paid until we take over our full obligation for the complete unit.
– Until the Imperial Government cease to contribute the £250,000 a year ?
– The naval subsidy of £200,000 a year will cease to be paid as soon as we take over the larger obligation. The work of controlling the western Pacific within the bounds of the present Australian Station will be divided between the Australian unit and the New Zealand section of the China unit, as may be arranged from time to time. These are all the particulars I am able to give the House at the present moment. No doubt when Colonel Foxton arrives - or it may be when despatches arrive from him other than by cable - we shall have fuller particulars regarding this unit.
– Must we wait till then?
– We must wait until we get further particulars. I hope that those particulars may reach us next week. As soon as we are in possession of them we shall acquaint the House. This scheme opens to us a new chapter in naval affairs and defence. It throws upon us a very onerous duty and a very serious responsibility. The idea dominating the whole unit will be that of complete interchangeability, which means that our standards must be those of the Royal Navy. The same methods of education and training must be followed.
– That is Lord Beresford ‘s idea.
– It is the idea of most of the naval experts at Home. I think effect has been given by the Imperial Conference to Lord Beresford ‘s idea of protecting the trade routes and of providing for the interchangeability of vessels. In the future we shall have to so train our naval officers as to make them the equal of any in the world. They will require to be trained in Australia up to that standard. This means that they will possess all the characteristics of British officers, that in swift mastery of circumstances, quickness of decision, the possession of resource, of the power of initiative, of courage, and of the ability to mould men, they must be proficient - in other words, that our officers must attain the same standard as British officers in respect of all those qualities for which those officers are conspicuous to-day. Our seamen will also be trained to the same standard of efficiency as has been attained by the British blue-jacket, which again is a very high one indeed.
– The Australian naval men beat the British every time that they meet them. The standard reached by the British blue-jackets is not in any way higher than that attained by our own men.
– I am not discussing the question of whether the standard reached by British blue-jackets is higher or lower than that reached by our own naval men. If our men are the equal of the British men, so much the better. I believe that our naval men .are the equal of any to be found elsewhere, so far as their opportunities for training go. That is all that I desire to say. I believe it will be found that the Australian seamen will develop all those characteristics which have made the. seamen at Home famous. It has been said that the Australians do not take kindly to the sea. I do not believe that statement for a moment. What is lacking in Australia is opportunity and encouragement - the acquirement of that training which has furnished the inestimable material of which the British Navy is composed to-day. I believe that we shall develop similar material when we provide our boys with similar opportunities. Under this scheme the great advantages which we shall reap are that we shall see our ships, that they will be our very own, and that there will be one standard of naval efficiency for the whole Empire. I hope that - as in the case of the army - Ave shall eventually develop an Imperial Naval General Staff for the Empire. Only the other day a. pressman steaming through eighteen miles of these ships in Great Britain declared that they constituted “eighteen miles of wellchosen arguments for peace.” I believe that when we have assimilated our standards Avith those of the Royal Navy, our own fleet will prove the most potent argument for peace in the Pacific Ocean and upon our coasts that we could possibly devise. I dismiss this part of my subject by quoting the language employed the other day by a writer in one of our local newspapers -
The seas are one to us; the flag is one for us; let the fleet be one by us.
Those words outline the aim of this naval unit.
– What about a naval reserve force?
– When the full particulars are to hand Ave shall require to deal Avith the question of naval defence perhaps in a special Act. In the meantime things will go on as they are going. I come now to the question of our land defences, and here again I approach the subject Avith the greatest possible diffidence, relying for all the particulars upon which my (Statements are founded upon the expert opinion of the Department. In the first place Ave may inquire - indeed, Ave must do so before we can hope to co-ordinate a well-ordered defence scheme-
– When the Minister says that he is relying upon expert opinion, does he wish honorable members to understand that his statements do not contain a declaration of Ministerial policy?
– Certainly not. My statements are a declaration of Ministerial policy. All that I have suggested is that upon matters requiring expert knowledge I have adopted the expert opinion of officers .of the Department. What is the probable danger that we have to meet so far as our land forces are concerned? What forces have we at our disposal with which to meet it, and what is the condition of these forces at the present time? In regard to the first question - the probable danger that we have to meet - I find that there is a considerable amount of misconception. We are generally told that we shall probably be attacked by four unarmoured cruisers landing 1,000 soldiers in Australia. That is one view of the probable danger that we have to face, but it is not all of it. I propose, out of the mouths of Imperial experts, to make the House familiar- with another aspect of this question. We have to do very much more than provide for meeting a danger of that kind. In this connexion I may be permitted to say that experts vary their views from time to time - indeed, defence seems almost to be the one indeterminate science. A military expert must vary his views as circumstances may require, and we must vary our means of defence as the circumstances of the world may necessitate. That is why we find experts to-day expressing an opinion on matters of defence which they shortly afterwards vary, and with very good reason. As an instance of this, I may quote the statement made by Major-General Hutton when he undertook to organize the defence of Australia in 1902. Upon that occasion he said -
It is on the one hand certain that the geographical position of Australia renders it less liable to aggression from any foreign Power than most parts of the Empire.
Only two years later the same distinguished soldier, in his annual report of 1904, said -
The principle in view in thus laying down the above minimum numbers for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth is that a hostile invasion of Australia, with intention to effect permanent territorial occupation, would never be attempted with a less force than from 20,000 to 50,000 well equipped, well trained, and well organized troops.” It is obvious, therefore, that a force at least equal to that proposed is required to insure any reasonable hope of success. The security by’ land of Australia as a whole cannot, moreover, bc considered assured without a complete inter-communication between the States, and especially between those vulnerable points on the long coast line of Australia, for which land defence is provided. It is to be hoped, therefore, that as soon as the complete organization and equipment of the Military Forces of the Commonwealth are determined upon the direct communication by railway between Western Australia and the Eastern States may be carried into effect. It may be as well to state at once that a force of the requisite strength organized and capable of taking the field does not at present exist in Australia, and that there are at present no local means of equipping such a force. The organization is incomplete; the Departments necessary for a mobile army have yet to be created ; and there are neither sufficient guns, arms, equipment, nor ammunition available. It will therefore be seen that the construction of a Trans-Continental Railway would under existing circumstances confer no satisfactory advantage upon Australia in its present condition of military unpreparedness. The most that could be expected from the military situation at present existing would be the concentration of a certain number of armed men, who, without adequate Administrative Departments or the required equipment, would be quite incapable of coping with even an inferior number of an invaders troops, carefully trained, organized and equipped with the latest modern appliances, as they unquestionably would be. It is impossible to view the military situation in Australia, in face of the momentous changes taking place in the balance of power in the Fast without grave misgivings.
It will be seen, therefore, that as far back as 1904 this distinguished soldier saw the changes which were taking place in the Eastern aspect of the International situation, and recognised those changes as being of a very serious character. But I should like to quote an even higher authority upon this question, not as containing a direct statement as to what our theory of attack should be or anything of the kind, but as bearing on the general character of the preparations of Australia for her defence. As late as 1906 the Imperial Defence Committee, while approving of the .general lines of the organization which had been laid down for the defence of Australia, went on to advise that -
At the same time it is necessary to extend opportunities of elementary military instruction in various forms to as large a proportion as possible of the population, with a view to rendering military training as universal as circumstances may for the time being permit. . . . In considering this subject it is necessary to draw a clear distinction between hasty raids, dependent for success on surprise and rapidity of execution rather than on the number of troops employed, and larger operations aiming at a prolonged or permanent occupation of Australian territory. . . . The influence of sea power may prolong the period available after the outbreak of a great war for the expansion and training of land :!forces, and may transfer the scene of the decisive land battles to foreign soil, but it cannot by itself decide the issue of a war for national existence -
That is to say, we may not depend alone upon the navy in a war for national existence - which must in the last resort depend on the action of fully developed citizen forces. The main object of a field force organization of part of the Militia in Australia is to supply the basis for expansion in case of grave national emergency.
These are weighty words, and they have not only been uttered for our benefit, but have been acted upon by Great Britain herself. Lately we have seen a complete reorganization of the army, both at Home and in India - a reorganization proceeding upon the advice which the Imperial Defence Committee gave us in the passage that I have just quoted. Not only is this so, but Great Britain is most anxious also that our forces should be coordinated as far as is possible, that we should have the same standards of arms, ammunition, education, and equipment, and that there should be one Imperial General Staff shaping our war preparations upon a common basis, so that they may be at once available should the Empire as a whole be challenged. In view of the statement that I have read to the House, I think that our paramount duty at the moment is to be adequately prepared, and to recognise all the contingencies consequent upon our being part of a world-wide Empire. This Bill aims at providing, as far as we may possibly do, for all those contingencies. I lay emphasis upon the matter of preparation because “ adequate preparation is the one essential factor in securing rapid and successful decision.” That again is a quotation from the report of the Imperial Defence Committee. “Adequate preparation,” as honorable members will readily see, means long and careful effort in time of peace. The creation of the personnel of the army must necessarily occupy a great deal of time. We may readily make good a. deficiency of material. That, after all, is only a matter of price. If we offer a better price in the markets of the world we can buy war material to replace that of which we may be lacking, but we cannot in that way obtain the personnel of our army. It must be formed and moulded during years of patient and careful working, guided by the best experts that we are able to bring to the task. Let it be granted that a raid is the most probable form of attack on Australia. What then is wanted to meet that raid? Clearly in the first place we need forces to garrison our forts, and we need in addi- tion a field force to attack without delay the head of an invading force. That means that we must make our forces capable of immediate mobilization. It means also that we must have officers, noncommissioned officers, and equipment, continually at war strength - which is not the position to-day - and that we must be wanting only iii men to complete the organization, whenever the need for mobilization arises. If we are to meet such a raid successfully we must have in our own reserves trained men to fill any units that may be ordered out. To obtain the best results, therefore, our troops must be trained on a war footing - which has not been done up to the present time - and our reserves must be organized. Every man must know what to do, and where to go in a time of national emergency. Then, again, behind these, there must be a general trained reserve to meet the immediate wastage of war which, I am told, amounts, in the first six months of a conflict, to about 80 per cent. In this general reserve I am hoping that we shall find in the future a sound and useful place for our rifle clubs - a place which, through no fault of their own, they do not and cannot fill adequately to-day. In a word, the Government, through this Bill, will aim at the creation of a national army, well balanced in all its parts, and complete, so far as human ingenuity can make it. It will aim at an army that will have its infantry, artillery, light horse, engineers, signallers, telegraphists, army service corps, and army medical corps in their due and proper proportions. All these again must have their ammunition columns, their transport and supply columns, their field ambulances, and, in the near future, I think, their wireless telegraphy, their aerial navigators, and their telephonists. We must have, in short, all the appurtenances necessary for the successful conduct of war in these modern -days, and they must be welded into a mobile, flexible army, ready to move with precision and decision to the attack. We want a homogeneous organization in which every part shall fit into its appointed place, and Parliament will require to back that army, as I am sure it will, generously and fairly. The question arises, “Have we such an army to-day ?” I do not know that I need ask it, but the answer is that we have not. Indeed, we have nothing like it. I have been anxious to learn in this connexion what would be likely to happen supposing a raid were an- nounced to-morrow, and an immediate mobilization had to be made. So far as I can ascertain the position would be this - I find that we have about 10,000 garrison troops ; that is to say, the establishment provides for that number, though they are usually about 1,000 short. We should require at once an additional 6,000 for the manning of the garrisons on a war footing ; and we should have to obtain them from the Field Force until they could be supplied in some other way. Those 16,000 men, organized on a war footing, would have to defend nine separate fortresses and defended ports, and they would also have to see to the land side until the Field Force could be got ready. In the meantime, the Field Force would have to be mobilized. This Force is about 15,000 strong and is, also, usually 1,000 short; and, as 6,000 would have been lent to look after the fortresses, there would be left 8,000 distributed in six different places. This force would be busy drawing and distributing arms, ammunition, and equipment, gathering in waggons, horses and harness, and inspecting rifle-club men and allotting them to units, and so forth, and would be three or four weeks converting itself into a fighting force.
– There would have to be an adjournment until the force was ready !
– I do not know as to that; I am merely telling honorable members what I think would happen, according to the best information furnished me, supposing a raid occurred to-morrow, and immediate mobilization was necessary. When this mobilization was complete, what force should we haveto meet the enemy at our gates? When we had collected the rifles from the rifle clubs, and completed our personnel by putting into the ranks of the militia the rifle-club men of to-day, what force should we have, counting all in, to meet the enemy? We should have 16,000 garrison troops, and they would be tied down to the defence of nine separate places, from 300 miles to 2,000 miles apart. We should have 35,000 rifle-club members left over after completing the units ; but there would be no officers, no equipment, and no organization. We should have 32,000 men in a field force as the only available troops to strike at the head of an attacking force ; but that force would be distributed in no less than six bodies over a line about 6,000 miles long. It is, therefore, practically certain that we could not oppose, to the successful march of an invader, an army more than 20,000 strong, of such material as it would be ; and there is no provision for any further units under our present system. We have no organized reserves ; we have no organization in which to fit the men, and make them ready for any emergencies. These are the conditions we have to meet, and at the earliest possible moment. We have no modern defence organization, practically speaking, in Australia to-day; and the sooner we set about creating a proper organization, the better it will be for our self-respect, and for the safety of our country. Another question arises ; with so much to do, and with, besides, the development of this great continent on our hands, how far ought we to proceed with our defence preparations? The Bill which I am introducing provides that we shall take only a portion of the manhood of the country for the purposes of defence. This continent is so huge that we cannot hope, for many years to come, even if we wished, to grip the whole of its manhood ; and we must therefore begin with only a section. So far as we can, we propose to begin the work by means of this Bill. We propose to take the youths and young men of soldier age, representing about 60 per cent. of the total of those available and eligible for service, and organize them generally for the defence of the country.
– It is the boyhood, and not the manhood !
– If the honorable member waits, I think he will find that I deal with something more than the boyhood of the country.
– We might have had a copy of the document to which the Minister is referring.
– It is usual, of course, to deliver one’s speech into the hands of the Opposition. The aim of the Government is, first, to render our existing organization as complete as we can make it ; that is the first point of departure as contrasted with other schemes. We propose to continue the existing organization of the militia, and to make it our first or striking line - to equip and make it fully ready to march against the enemy. We propose, also, to recruit this fighting line to war strength from the reserves of the young manhood of Australia; that is to say, we propose to train young men compulsorilyup to twenty years of age, and from these we hope to get enough to make the militia the first fighting force, equipped at , war strength, ready to met any emergency that may arise.
– Another Liberal plank given away.
– I am not at present talking about planks or platforms, because I have much more important business on hand, though it would be interesting to show what is proposed in the various platforms. At any rate, the honorable member will find that, before I have finished, I shall honour the profession I have always made before the country, and in this House, namely, that efficiency, is our first requirement. We propose to create a second line, composed of trainees who have gone through compulsory training for four or five years, officering them with militia officers and sergeants of the present force, and keeping the militia up to its full strength as at present. Under these proposals we shall have a first line field force consisting of the existing militia, but increased to war strength and with much improved organization. One of the purposes of the Government is to terminate the present volunteer system, and convert those forces into militia. The forces themselves desire the change, and the requirements of the service necessitate it. As I have already said, the young men of twenty years will ‘be part qf our first fighting line; and the second line will consist of young men of nineteen years who have undergone four or five years’ training, and have been organized into units similar to the first line or field force.
– When the Minister speaks of young men of nineteen years, does he mean young men who will be twenty on their next birthday?
– No; in their nineteenth year. We further propose a third line composed of men who are not required for the completion of the militia, and who, when they have undergone their compulsory training, will pass into the general reserve. They again are to be organized in units and to have their personal equipment with them ready for any emergency. Out of this general reserve the first and second lines will, of course, be completed. The Bill aims at beginning with the cadet in his young and tender years. We propose to begin with those twelve years old - two years later, I think, than my predecessor determined. Here let me state that during the delivery of my speech 1 do not wish to do anything but recognise the good work of my predecessor and his predecessors. I find that a great deal has been done in the Department, and I venture to say that any Minister getting an inside view of the Department will agree that things are even better than outsiders believe them to be. There has been an heroic struggle since Federation to get a., force together at all, but the utmost lias been done with the means at command. I believe that each Minister in turn has grappled seriously with this problem, and has done his best to meet the difficulties. But to-day the one outstanding requirement is more money. With more money Parliament may hold the Department responsible for an efficient force such as will be requisite for all purposes.
– And better officers, too.
– We shall get better officers, and I shall show the honorable member how as I go on. We begin, then, with the cadets at twelve years of agc, training them chiefly by way of physical exercises, with simple marching drill, and perhaps miniature rifle shooting. They will not be organized in any military sense. Indeed, we shall hope that the schools will do all that is requisite with the junior cadets. One of the good things that my predecessor did whilst in office was to convene a Conference of the State experts, who met the experts of the Department and concerted a scheme which I hope may prove to be efficient for all our requirements.
– The rifles and belts have been taken away from the junior cadets, and that is killing the movement.
– I venture to say that we shall have very shortly under this scheme, if it is carried out, plenty of cadets wearing belts and carrying rifles. That is all we propose to do - and it is educational in the best sense of the word - so far as the young cadets are concerned. After they attain the age of fourteen years they will enter upon more advanced military training, and from the ages of fourteen to eighteen a number amounting in the aggregate to 75,000 will be organized uniformly in battalions, with officers and non-commissioned officers, and will get elementary military training and rifle shooting at point blank ranges. Then we hope to get them a point beyond this. The question presented itself very seriously to my mind as to what ought to be done with these eighteen-year- old cadet’s. They will have had a thorough drilling and setting up, but it will have been only a personal drill and a personal discipline. We take them only up to battalion drill, and I venture to say, without consulting any theories of compulsory training or anything of that kind, that it would be a waste of material to leave the cadet at that stage. All your preparation has been with a view to making him fit for higher and combined training in the field. The interests of efficiency, therefore, apart altogether from any theories, require that something more should be done with the cadet when he comes to the age of eighteen years. Accordingly, we propose to brigade him in the higher formations, and take him into the field and into camp, and compel him to train for another two years under these better conditions. That, again, would give us about 37,000 adult trainees from eighteen to twenty years of age. Beyond these we should have our present force, as I have already stated, filled up to 29,000 strong. I shall explain how that will come about. Our present establishment all told is a little over 25,000. We propose to take 2,000 officers and sergeants from that force for the purpose of officering and training the second line. This, therefore, would require that our militia force should be increased by 2,000 so as to make those officers available, and in order that our militia force may remain 27,000 strong. In addition to all that, honorable members may not be aware that we are deficient in artillery, this most important arm of the service. We have only a little over two guns per 1,000 men in Australia, whereas Great Britainhas five guns per 1,000 men. Therefore, to complete our proper proportion of artillery, we need from forty-six to forty-eight more guns, and the same proportion of personnel.
– We should want very much more artillery, in case we ever had our back to the wall.
– I am speaking of the minimum requirements that this scheme would meet. We should have a militia force at least 29,000 strong when these defects have been remedied, and then we shall hope to get a reserve of men who have gone through their training, and who will be between the ages of twenty and twenty-six, amounting to another 80,000 strong. After the age of twenty-six, when men have passed out of the reserve, we shall have them going into our rifle clubs - thoroughly trained, well-drilled men, all good materia] from a military point of view, and all able to be of service in time of emergency. . That is estimated to give us another 60,000 men, expert with their rifles, besides being thoroughly drilled and disciplined. At the end of the period, therefore, we shall have a first line about 48,500 strong, ready to take the field on an immediate mobilization. We shall have a second line 17,000 strong, consisting of first year trainees, officered as I’ have before indicated. In other words, by the time the scheme has reached its full completion, our army will consist of the following numbers : - Adults undergoing compulsory training between eighteen and twenty, to the number of 37,000; existing establishment to the number of 29,000; trained reserve, 80,000; and rifle club members over twenty-six years of age, 60,000; or a total of 206,000 well-drilled and thoroughly trained men.
– When does the Minister estimate that that situation will be reached ?
– In seven or eight years from the time the Act begins to operate. As I said in the beginning, it is impossible to make an army efficient, so far as the personnel is concerned, in a year or two. It takes a great deal of time, patience, and skill. The advantages of the organization and training under this scheme would be, roughly, these : A striking force would be provided, consisting of a field force and garrison troops, immediately ready for war, and that is the thing I am aiming at in all the preparations I hope to undertake. We provide for a reinforcement of the field force, namely, a second line, which could be mobilized in equal numbers, in from one to two weeks later. That is another of our objects. Both lines will have a full complement of officers and non-commisioned officers, and both will be equipped for war. Half of the first line will have had over six years’ training; the other half over five years ; and the second line will have had over four years’ training. The officers and sergeants will be men of over seven years’ service. The training of the first line will be on war establishments; and I again emphasize the necessity for that, and the advantage of it, so far as concerns the ability of the men to meet any emergency. You cannot train men in a skeleton force as efficiently as you can train them if the force is on a war strength. Consequently, the trainingof the first line, I say again, will be on war establishments, and will therefore be pro- ductive of much greater efficiency. Those who have passed through their training, and themembers of the rifle clubs, will be organized in units as reserves for war, and arms and equipment will be provided for them. I am determined that every man who has been through his training shall have his rifle and equipment, which will go with him into the reserve, so that he may be ready for service in time of emergency. Another advantage of a force like this would be that the men would all be recruited at one time, instead of in dribs and drabs, as they are now, under our present haphazard system. Honorable members will see at a glance what an advantage that will be to the sergeants who have to train them, and put them through their drill. This system will also provide experienced officers and non- commissioned officers, and half the rank and file of this first fighting line will consist of experienced and mature soldiers - a matter of very great importance. The general reserve, also, will contain a very large number of officers and non-commisioned officers; and the rifle clubs of Australia will find for the first time a sound and useful place as defensive units in our army. The Bill will provide us also, if necessary -I hope we may never have to do it, but one aim of this organization will be to provide an expeditionary force for immediate despatch oversea or elsewhere whenever the Government of the day feel themselves under an obligation to send a force.
– Would that mean reswearing the men?
– I am going to get the men ready. All these special matters can be considered afterwards.
– An expeditionary force would be required even for some parts of Australia.
– But the Minister spoke of a force to be sent outside Australia.
– An expeditionary force in every sense of the term would be required if we had to send troops up North. Our scheme in this respect is capable of systematic expansion.
– Does the honorable gentleman mean that the men could be sent abroad without being re-sworn?
– I tell the honorable member candidly that if these men are wanted for oversea service, in the defence of the Empire, no Government of the Commonwealth worthy of the name would hesitate to send them.
– Without re-swearing them ?
– This Bill recognises that an’ organized whole is the only thing which is entitled to be called an army. 1 have to supply the House with a few more details concerning this Bill, and then I shall have done. The application of it, as I have already said, is only to a section of the young manhood in Australia. We can take only 60 per cent. of them and deal with them efficiently, and in any way economically. We propose to mark out certain city and town areas. A town area for the purposes of this Bill will consist of a radius of five miles. Within each radius would be a population of at least 3,000. That is as much as we shall be able to manage for a long while to come, at any rate.
– The honorable member alludes to those between 18 and 20 years of age?
– That number includes the cadets, and represents all that we can hope to grapple with for the purposes of compulsory training at the present time. These town areas are of course the least expensive to work, and they are easily organized and easily registered. We propose to make a beginning in this way. The Bill will not apply to youths who are in the eighteenth year of their lives at the time when the Bill comes into operation. We shall exempt those. It is not worth while to bring them up for three or four months’ training. But the scheme will commence with the youths who attain their seventeenth year in the year when the Bill commences to operate..
– What period of compulsory training will apply to those between eighteen and twenty years of age ?
– We propose to train them in the last year in the same units with the militia and in the nineteenth year in corresponding units, and they will have the same amount of training per annum. They will have eight days in detached drills, and eight days in camp, as is the case with the militia. I may also tell the honorable member something more. We propose to pay them reasonably while they are in camp. We shall expect them to do their detached drills in the two years without payment. But when they go into camp, side by side with the militia, to get the higher train- ing, I shall hope to pay them what I think will be a reasonable amount, having regard to their ages.
– How much?
– I propose to give those who are in their nineteenth year 3s. per day, or 21s. per week, and rations. I propose to give those who are in their twentieth year 4s. a day, which will be 28s. a week, and rations. I think those are reasonable amounts to pay to these young men. I do not think they are too much. I believe that this country is rich enough to pay its young men while they are undergoing training for defence purposes.
– Will they go into camp only far eight days in the year?
– They will go into camp for eight clays, except in regard to the technical arms of the service. A proposal is made on the Estimates this year to enable the technical arms of our present Forces to be trained seventeen days in camp. I am providing for twenty-five days’ training for the technical arms of the service. That term, is little enough - -it is too little, if anything. All the experts agree that these compulsory trainees, when they have selected the technical arm to which they will be attached, ought to be required to spend seventeen days in camp, at least. We always have a number of young men offering themselves for service in these more difficult and technical branches. We never have any difficulty in recruiting our artillery -personnel. It is an attractive arm, perhaps on account of the difficulty of the work, and the higher technical training required. All the world over there is a consensus of opinion that nothing short of the training that I am suggesting can be of the slightest use.
– Will not the five miles’ limitation lessen the chance of getting good men from the country districts for cavalry regiments ?
– We hope to recruit the good men from the back districts, either as volunteers or as militia men, as we do now. We hope to largely draw our mounted infantry from the country precisely as we do at present.
– I understood that the volunteer regiments were to Be abolished?
– The present volunteers are to merge into militia, but they may be necessary hereafter. We cannot provide for every contingency, and this phase will have to be left to develop itself. If the need should arise there will be no trouble so far as I can see in instituting a corps of volunteers in the back parts and so getting this invaluable material for all war purposes. It is here, I think, the argument for paying compulsory trainees arises. We cannot grip these young men in the back parts to compel them to train. Many of them, shall I say most of them, who can most easily bear the cost and sacrifice of compulsory training, will be left out of account altogether. It seems to me therefore fair that those whom we gather from the city and town areas to do this training shall receive fair remuneration for the time they spend in camp, and loss of service.
– Why does the Minister allow a rich man to buy out his son? He has a provision for a penalty of £5 toallow a man to get out of the service. .
– The honorable member, if he will read the Bill a little further, will find that we do not allow that man to get out at all. We make him do his training, rich or poor.
– And in default a penalty of £s-
– We propose to drill the junior cadets for 120 hours a year. That will be roughly half-an-hour a day of their actual school training. The others we propose to train as I have already said to an extent which will be the equivalent of sixteen whole days. Of course, it will be largely occupied by night drills, namely, twenty-four, a drill of half a day once a month, and a whole day’s drill four times a year, say, on holidays. That is how we propose to train the senior cadets. But the young men from eighteen to twenty years of age will be trained unit for unit with and in all respects as the militia men, and during the time they are in camp for higher training they will receive the pay I have indicated.
– Does the honorable member know of any expert who says that eight days’ full training in a period of two years will be of much value in time of battle?
– There will be eight days camp in each year. I know that all experts agree that it will be an invaluable training, and, moreover, that it will not only increase the efficiency of these young men in themselves, but by combining them with the militia and training on a war footing, we shall immensely increase the efficiency of our present force. They have never had that advantage before.
– Do not all the experts say that the time is too short?
– Experts I have no doubt will differ on this as on many other matters. I consider that I am doing what will be necessary for the development of an efficient citizen force for Australia, and the honorable member will find that I have a pretty decent war bill. I have already said that at the age of eighteen years these young men will pass into the adult force. For the first year, that is, until they are nineteen, they will form the second line, as I have indicated. There will be complete equipment on a war footing for all these at the camps of training, so far as technical vehicles and all things necessary for war equipment go. The only articles which we shall not have, and which will require to be mobilized in time of war, will be ordinary transport vehicles. In this respect we intend to follow a good example, which has been set in connexion with the Territorial Forces at home. They have an advantage over us, however, because they have an expeditionary force equipped at war strength, ready to march instanter wherever it may be called, and that equipment is available for peace training every year in the Old Country. But we propose for our ordinary transport to register the vehicles of the country which are necessary for the purpose. We propose to make arrangements with private individuals, and, if necessary, to take power to impress into the service of the army private vehicles in time of war. Colonel Legge and Colonel McCay are now working out a scheme, and doing it, I think, with every prospect of success. I venture to say that they are doing excellent work in the organization of this transport, and a sum of £3,000 is already provided on the Estimates for making a test of this kind of reorganization in connexion with our next training’ camp. . We shall see there what defects it develops, whether it is necessary to continue the organization, or whether we shall have to take to some other. The House, I hope, will vote the £3,000 necessary for making the test. In the meantime those two officers - and they are two of our most brilliant officers - are working indefatigably at this very problem, and with, I think, every hope of success.
– Is that system of transport to apply to the horsing of the artillery ?
– It is to apply to transport generally, as far as organization is concerned. After these young men have been trained to their twentieth year, the way will be open for them to pass into the militia. We shall require about onethird of the militia strength to be recruited every year; that is our experience so far. There will, therefore, be 8,000 or 9,000 vacancies in the militia every year for these young men if they decide to enter it, and get the fuller pay which a militia man will receive. All my advisers tell me that, in their opinion, there will not be the slightest difficulty in filling up the militia ranks with twenty-year-old men. They tell me that the lads, after completing , their compulsory training, and doing part o? it for nothing, will be glad to receive the higher pay with the better conditions attached to the militia force. There will be abundant opportunities for promotion, I hope, with a scheme of this kind. For the second line alone we shall want 2,000 officers and sergeants from the militiamen. Opportunities will be open for young men in a direction which hitherto has not obtained. I venture to say that as the result of it all there will be a better spirit, a better training, a better equipment, and a better feeling throughout our forces than exist at present. Of course, the lads who do not go into the militia will pass into the reserve, and will be called upon to register themselves. The difficulty with our voluntary system has been that we have not been able to follow young men when they leave the militia service. In a country like Australia, where there is so much migration from one part to another, it is most difficult to follow men. It is, therefore, made compulsory upon young men that between twenty and twenty-six years of age (hey shall register themselves once a rear at the place where they reside. That is all that we would require them to do. In the meantime they will be organized in units as a reserve. If they leave one district and go to another, they must register, and attach themselves to the force there. Registration must take place at least. once a year, as may be pro,vided. There is an alternative which we may employ. We may require them all to turn out once a year on a given day, so that we may know where they are, and that their rifles and equipment are in pro-. per trim. It is only in this, respect, except in cases of emergency, that the compulsory provisions of the measure will apply to men over twenty years of age.
– Is it proposed that the rifles of the reserves shall be inspected only once a year? They could be ruined in three weeks !
– The Minister has been questioned upon quite a number of details. Honorable members forget that, on the motion for the second reading of a Bill, only principles may be discussed, details being left for Committee. I ask them not to hamper the Minister by questions, or cause him to prolong his speech unnecessarily.
– Except for the men in the back country, where there may be a certain number of rifle clubs, the members of rifle clubs generally will, when the scheme is in full working, have had some training. We hope that in the future the rifle clubs will be composed of those who have been thoroughly trained and disciplined, making a valuable reserve against a time of war. The honorable member for Corio has referred to the penalties provided for in the Bill. This has been a difficult matter to deal with, and I do not know yet that we have obtained the right solution of the problem. It is a matter upon which we must keep an open mind. Should the provisions imposing penalties be regarded as too drastic, the Government will lae ready to review them; but at present we regard our proposals as fair. It is provided that if a boy does not do his training in the first year, he must do it in the second, in addition to the second year’s training. If he does not do it in the second, it accumulates in the third ; and, finally in the fourth year, when, if it is not done, he is to be regarded as incorrigible, and put into a barracks, or some other place, where he can be compelled to do it under duress. Every man must train, and if he will not do so voluntarily, must be compelled to do so. Penalties such as were provided in Ihe previous Bill have been generally looked upon by honorable members as useless. We must compel our youths to go through the prescribed course of training, even, if to do so, we have to place them under arrest.
– What about the Quakers?
– We must deal with that difficulty as we meet it ; but the Government have no wish to do violence to their conscience or to their faith. . Regis tration will take place for the first time at the beginning of the year 191 1, and training will commence in July, 1911, in the winter months. The sum of £150,000 is provided in the Estimates of this year to meet expenditure preparatory to bringing the scheme into force, and next year we hope to spend about £225,000 more to complete the preparatory equipment and arrangements. For the year the total expenditure will be £1,407,000. The Estimates for the next year, with the balance of the preparatory expenditure, will be £1,529,000. These figures provide only for land defence, and do not include naval expenditure. The training and upkeep of the permanent and citizen troops, and the rifle clubs, will cost £1,142,006, that of the junior cadets £25,000, the senior cadets £136,000, and preparatory expenditure for adult’ training, £226,000. In the following year, it will be £1,627,000, and i’1 the nest vear £1,720,000, while in 1914-15, when the scheme will be in fu!! working order, the cost will be £.1,742,000. The scheme is more costly than that of either of my predecessors ; but I am advised that every penny expended will add to the efficiency of our organization as a fighting force, which has been the main object kept in. view. The estimate of cost includes arms, ammunition, and pay, which will be increased by about £50,000. The extra cost means added efficiency, plus more men.
– Does the estimate include the cost of the small arms factory?
– It includes everything. I have referred to the conference of the educational experts of the States and our military experts, called together by my predecessor last year. lt recommended compulsory physical training for boys between twelve and fourteen years of age, and, in addition, physical training for all boys and girls in all the schools of the Commonwealth, so far as it may be possible to provide for it. Experts in physical culture gave evidence, some of them with practical illustrations, and they recommended that there should be a supervisor of physical training for the whole of the Commonwealth. In addition, they recommended that there should be experts appointed and permanent training centres established in each State. They recommended also that a manual on the subject of physical training for all Australia, to be approved by the best military and educational authorities should be published.
Copies of this report have been sent to the various State Premiers, and by them are being distributed to the schools in their States. At the next conference, which we propose to convene soon, we hope to have the secondary as well as the primary schools represented. The idea is to standardise physical culture, to meet our own requirements, and then to leave the schools as free as possible to carry it out for us. I hope it will not be long before that further step is taken. The first course, therefore, will be purely educational, and will be a preparation for the military’ duties to follow. The necessity for this is being recognised in almost every country in the world today from a military point of view. Great Britain last year, for instance, rejected 27,000 men out of a total of 71,000 offering for her army. Italy had 360,000 offering, and of this number 76,000 were rejected. Russia rejected 32 per cent., and Germany 35,000. .1 am glad to be able to say that we were obliged to reject for medical reasons only 10 per cent. I am sure that we all recognise ‘ that no amount of patriotism and training will, of themselves, make a narrow chested weakling into a stalwart soldier. Our lads must be physically well set up if they are to bear arms properly. Therefore, the first step to be taken is to establish a physical standard, and to strive to attain it as best we may. As I view it, money expended in this way will be expended for educational purposes purely and simply. Money spent cn gymnasia, drill halls, and playgrounds will be money well spent, and I think that there will be no cavil at what is proposed on that score. I should like to mention, in passing, the great amount of really patriotic work that is being done in all the States in connexion with our boys’ brigades and our boy and girl scouts. If anything will contribute to their physical well-being it is the training they are getting on this purely voluntary basis as the result of the efforts of devoted and patriotic men in the various States. In regard to the senior cadets, their training will begin in the school, and will proceed until they are absorbed as young soldiers in our forces. They will finish up by being prepared for the higher training in the field with the militia forces. I have already spoken on the question of pay, and need not dwell further upon it. I say that pay for these young men can, and will, be justified the more we investigate the subject. Now, on the question of efficiency, to which reference has been made, I wish to say a word or two.
The efficient training of our forces is of the utmost importance. Referring to the Territorial forces at Home, Lord Roberts said -
You may treble the strength of the Army, but so long as it is not trained and so long as it does not have officers who know their duty it is of no use.
The teaching of the officers, of those who in their turn must teach the young manhood of Australia, I venture to say, is the first essential of efficiency. The army as a whole must ‘be what its officers make it, arid efficiency means much more than drill and training. Naval efficiency depends not only upon an efficient personnel, but on the construction and use of efficient ships and guns and all those things which make up the equipment of the navy. So it is with our army. There may be individual efficiency, and at the same time there may not be organized efficiency. The necessary combination of both will call for the greatest skill of the best men we have. I have already referred to our artillery. Since the advent of quick-firing guns the essentials of efficiency in that arm of the service have completely changed. To-day greater skill is required, and we know that so far as success in field operations is concerned an army with obsolete weapons might just as well stay at home. Our army must be mobile and as perfect in quality as we can make it. These conditions can only be brought about bythorough organization and training. Here we have to consider the absolute and overpowering necessity of an efficient General Staff for the army. Here is the beginning of all efficiency. It must begin with the thinking part of the army, with the General Staff. The various parts of the army can be successfully combined, controlled and directed only by an efficient General Staff. It is the Staff that will have to do the planning and thinking, while the field forces will do the executing and performing. If our General Staff is an efficient one we shall be a long way on the road to having secured an efficient army. I am very’ glad to say that” a beginning has been made here in Australia. We have just set up an Australian section of the Imperial General Staff. The Chief of that section had been already appointed by my predecessor. When I took office I had the honour to fill up all the other positions vacant, with the exception of one. One of our most scientific soldiers, Colonel Bridges, has been sent to England to be attached to the General Staff at Home. He is at this moment in Germany attending the German Army manoeuvres. He is filling in his time there until the British Army manoeuvres begin. In his place we arc to get a Director of Military Organization. We have another young officer who has come out as an exchange officer. I refer to Captain Wilson, whom I have appointed Director of Training on the Australian section of the Imperial General Staff. Then I have appointed as Director of Intelligence, one of our most brilliant militia officers, one who has done yeoman service, and who to-day is working might and main to surround himself, first of all, with the best officers to be gathered together in Australia, with a view to the performance of the work pertaining to his Department in the most efficient way. I think I was under an” obligation to appoint on the Commonwealth section of the Imperial General Staff a man from our Militia Forces. We must keep the citizen character of our forces in mind in all we do. So long as we can find militia men to take these higher duties connected with the General Staff it will always, I think, be obligatory upon the Minister of Defence to select some of them, so that the Citizen Forces may be adequately represented. I have therefore appointed Colonel McCay as Director of Intelligence in connexion with the General Staff. The General Staff will be confined for the moment to Head-quarters. Later on we hope to be able to extend it to the provinces, and call in the services of some of our best officers in that way. It must continue to expand until, as has been said, we create an organism whose arteries shall spread through the whole army, doing all that is requisite for its advancement. Our aim is the standardization of our men, our arms, our system of education, and our equipment. In other words, it is to provide for complete interchangeability of the army as well as of the navy - interchangeability of every part of the Empire war machine, naval as well as military. That is the ultimate object which we have in view-. Provision for the establishment of a military college, and also for a school of musketry, has been made upon the Estimates. Of course, these institutions will be tentative at first - we cannot hope to at once equip them as they ought to be equipped. Moreover, in a land of vast distances, such as Australia, we shall require to travel with our training and instruction. We shall need to. take it to our citizen forces in the various centres of Australia. We cannot drag all our forces down to one or two big centres. As opportunity offers, our instructors must take this training to them at their very doors. Then we have invited one of the best soldiers of the Empire - perhaps the Empire’s most celebrated organizer - I allude to Lord Kitchener - to visit us and advise us as to the lines upon which we ought to proceed in reference to all matters making for the organization and efficiency of our army. He will come here, and we shall ask him frankly to look at us as we are, to tell us freely what are our defects, to suggest remedies, and to do everything that is necessary to put us upon the right track to thorough army efficiency.
– There is a hot time in store for the ‘Central Administration when he comes.
– I do not care for whom there is a hot time in store. Lord Kitchener’s advice will be welcomed.
– Will it be followed ?
– I hope that it will be followed.
– Then all the officers of the Central Administration will have to go.
– If Lord Kitchener’s advice is followed, all the officers of the Head-quarters Staff will not have to go. There are brilliant men upon that staff, despite what may be said to the contrary. At least, that is my experience, and I do not think that I am wrong in my statement. . Lord Kitchener’s advice, I repeat, will be most valuable to us, and I hope that it may be followed.
– What will happen if his advice is adverse to the Head-quarters Staff?
– The honorable member, as an old Parliamentarian, knows that it is not usual to answer hypothetical questions. I have already spoken generally of the cost of this army. I will only add that the cost of the armies of the world is increasing every day, not merely in its total, but in its per capita amount. For instance, the cost of the British regular army has increased from £49 ros. per capita in 1900 to £66 18s. per capita today - an enormous advance. But that additional expenditure also means that there has been an enormous advance in the efi. ciency of that army. The expenditure of money coupled with skill means efficiency. We cannot secure efficiency without both money and skill. The possession of the cash is necessary as well as the possession of brains. One is to a great extent useless without the other. Thus it comes about that every country in the world is increasing the cost of its army in order to increase the efficiency of that army. In Great Britain, the Territorial army costs about £10 IOS. per head per annum ; whilst our present force costs £15 7s. 3d. Our total expenditure will increase largely, and our war bill must increase by more than 100 per cent, within the next few years. I anticipate that during the next three or four years our defence bill for naval and military purposes will be about £2,500,000 per annum. Even then, I submit, it will be a bill of modest dimensions compared with that of other countries of the world. It will represent about los. 6d. per head annually, as against 27s. id. per head which is expended by Great Britain. The scale and range of the interests to be protected must determine the extent and cost of our preparations, and viewed from that stand-point, our defence bill, even then, will be very small indeed. On the basis of the value of the trade to be protected, we should have to spend very much more than that. We should have to expend £5,500,000 if we paid as much per head for defence as does France, £4,500,000 if we expended as much per head as does Germany, £7,500,000 if we contributed as much per head as does Japan, and ^£5, 000,000 if we expended as much per head as does Great Britain and the United States. For this additional expenditure we shall get a navy that will fight well upon the sea and an army that will be fit to fight upon the land. That is the purpose of this Bill, and these are the propositions of the Government. We propose to perfect our present force and to build upon it, adding to its numbers and efficiency by steady and continuous accretions, remembering that it is the trained troops of the world whom we shall eventually have to meet in the great struggle which seems destined to come at some time or other. The only thing which will prevent it - the only thing, in my opinion, which will delay it - is timely and adequare preparation for it. The main idea of this organization is not conquest, not greed, not the fulfilment of mere ambition, nor yet the domination of peoples who pursue different ideals, who worship, it may be, at different altars and whose” outlook generally, differs from our own. Rather is it to preserve what Ave already possess, to guard our freedom, and to maintain our social standards - to safeguard our coasts without while within we make every effort - perseveringly and always - to lift the race to higher planes of life. This Bill means more than that. It represents a worthy and adequate - though perhaps belated - contribution to that great fabric of Empire which. to-day, is the main guarantee of the world’s peace.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fisher) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– I regret that the Government saw fit to apply tlie closure on the motion for the second reading of this Bill. Personally I am not opposed to the use of the “ gag.”
– The honorable member must not discuss that matter.
– Can I say nothing about the closure? Am I not at liberty to say that I regret its application on the occasion in question ?
– A standing order, with which I think the honorable member is acquainted, provides that an honorable member shall not reflect upon any vote of the House except on motion.
– I had no desire to reflect upon anything done in the House. I wished only to express my regret that the closure had been applied on the motion for the second reading of the Bill, and I alluded to it only to explain that the action of the Government had rendered it necessary for me to speak to a motion which, as a rule, is passed without debate. As I
Avas denied the opportunity to speak on the motion for the second reading, I desire now to observe that I am in favour of the Bill, and think that the sooner Ave have a High Commissioner appointed the better. I take it that the Government are in earnest, and that they applied the closure during the debate on the second reading for the reason that they were anxious to have the measure passed by both Houses, and a Commissioner appointed, as soon as possible. I trust that the Ministry will seriously take into consideration the point that a member of Parliament should not be appointed to the office.
– Then what is to become of the honorable member for Darwin ?
– He would make an excellent High Commissioner, notwithstanding that he is a member of Parliament, but since he is a member of the Opposition, I do not think he would be likely to secure the appointment. I object to the appointment of a member of Parliament for the reason that a man may be selected - not because of his qualifications, but merely because of political exigencies. I do not say that that is likely to occur at the present juncture, but those who have been members of State Legislatures well know that in many cases men have been appointed Agents-General, not because they were the most desirable, but to serve some party purpose.
– Would the honorable member propose the same limitation with regard to appointments to the High Court bench ?
– I have before me the official report of a very interesting debate which took place at the Adelaide sittings of the Federal Convention on a proposal made by Sir George Turner - whom I am sure we all hold in the highest respect, and who entered the Convention as a State politician of ripe experience - that a member of this Parliament should not accept an office of profit under the Crown, either while he was a member or within six months of his ceasing to be a member.
– There is a similar provision in the Victorian Constitution.
- Sir George Turner admitted that, and said that he desired to omit from his amendment appointments to the bench and to the office of High Commissioner. The general trend of the discussion was, however, that it was advisable that members of Parliament should be debarred from accepting an appointment to the High Court bench, to the office of High Commissioner, or to any other office of profit under the Crown, but that such a provision ought not to be inserted in the Constitution. It was thought that the matter should be left to the Federal Parliament itself. Sir William Zeal, who was a member of the Convention, felt so strongly on the subject, that he moved an amendment providing that no member of Parliament should, unless he had ceased to be a member for six months, be qualified to accept any office of profit, not even a Judgeship, under the Crown ; and, from the records of the Convention, that amendment appears to have been carried by a majority of one. Amongst those who voted in favour of the amendment were Mr. Brown, Sir Hector Carruthers, Dr. Cockburn, and Mr. Deakin ; while amongst those who voted against the amendment were Sir Joseph Abbott, Sir Edmund Barton, Mr. Clark, Mr. Dobson, Mr. Douglas, Sir John Downer, Sir Philip Fysh, and Mr. Glynn. I desire to emphasize the fact that the question was not whether members of Parliament should have the right to accept such appointments immediately on ceasing to be members, but whether a provision dealing with the matter should be made part of the Constitution. I presume that this amendment must have been negatived in some way, subsequently ; because there is no section to’ that effect in the Constitution.
– Under such a provision, history shows that some men of the highest ability would not have found their way to the Bench.
– I notice that that very point was raised in the course of the debate by Sir Edward Braddon, as shown by the following extract from the report : -
There might be a member of Parliament admirably suited to some post - more fitted for it, in fact, than anybody else available - and yet the Government of the” day would be precluded from appointing that gentleman for six months, which might mean they would be precluded from making the appointment altogether.
Sir WILLIAM ZEAL. If such an event as that mentioned by Sir Edward Braddon occurred, it would be competent for the Government to introduce a measure dealing with it.
– Not if it is in the Constitution.
I admit that a very strong case was made out by those who were opposing such a provision in the Constitution ; because, as Mr. Isaacs pointed out. an Act of Parliament would not have been sufficient to achieve what Sir William Zeal anticipated. The report proceeds -
Sir WILLIAM ZEAL. If it is meant to apply to general cases, as it does in Victoria, it should be made to apply to gentlemen aspiring to seats on the bench. If it is a source of danger to appoint members of Parliament to positions of profit under the Crown, is it not a hundredfold more dangerous to appoint a member of Parliament, he being an active, partisan, to the office of Chief Justice? The exemption should be carried out in its entirety, and the clause made to absolutely prevent all members of Parliament from accepting offices of profit. I move the addition of words to carry out that object.
– In South Australia, an Act was passed to enable a member of Parliament to take a position of .profit under the Crown.
– What Sir William Zeal pointed out is the Victorian law.
– Quite so; and the AttorneyGeneral has told us that there was a case of the kind in South Australia. Seeing that the Prime Minister voted for Sir William Zeal’s proposal, I think it would be wise, now that he has the power, to provide that no member of Parliament shall accept the position of High Commissioner. I do not mean to say that there are not members of Parliament fit for the position, because one of the three gentlemen, whose names have been mentioned is, if not the ablest, one of the ablest public men in Australia. The Other two gentlemen, however, would, I venture to say, never have been suggested had they not been members of Parliament. Under such a provision as I have mentioned, we might lose valuable services now and then ; but, on the other hand, it must be admitted that, in the case of the Agents-General particularly, although some very able men have held the position, we have again, and again seen appointments made solely on political grounds.
Sitting suspended from 6.JO to 7.^5 p.m.
– Among those who voted at the Convention in favour of the appointment being a non-political one, were the present Prime Minister and the honorable member for Bendigo. Many State AgentsGeneral have been appointed as the outcome of the needs of political parties, and I am prepared to admit that the appointments have often turned out well. I do not mean to say that because a man is a member of Parliament it necessarily follows that the appointment would not be a good one. In many instances capable men were appointed, but we ought not to tlo a thing simply because of happy accidents. We should rather lav down a general rule which would be for the benefit of the Commonwealth. I regret that a fuller opportunity was not given to us to discuss the matter on the second reading, so that the feeling of the House might have been tested in Committee by means of an amendment. The House will have no opportunity at this stage of showing by a vote whether it favours this proposal or not, but I trust that the other House will insert it in the Bill, so that when it comes back we may have an opportunity of discussing the question fully, and of voting upon it.
Mr. KING O’MALLEY (Darwin; [7.49]. - I also regret that the “gaggerites” destroyed our opportunity to talk on the second reading of the Bill. I regard this as one of the most important measures ever brought before this House. I do not think my honorable friends on the Government side have taken it seriously enough, or grasped its wonderful purport. It provides for the appointment of a man who will have control, not merely of £250,000,000 of debts, but eventually, perhaps, of £500,000,000 or £600,000,000 because if it has taken £250,000,000 of debts to place here a population of 4,300,000, it will take over £500,000,000 to put a population of 8,000,000 in Australia. That is a serious matter, which Australia ought to have it* ablest financial man to manage. I am sorry the Australian people do not look at the matter from a different stand-point, because there is no doubt that you can get so heavily into debt that it will eventually mean liquidation. There is no difference in that regard between a Government and an individual, for the Government is only a multiplied number of individuals. I recognise that in this country the less you know about doing anything the better qualified you are to be in Parliament. However, I urged the House some time ago to establish a building in London that would be the centre of Australian trade and commerce. I wanted a structure, something like some of the American States have in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, to be a sort of rallying place for Australians. I wanted, not a little building of two or three stories, but one of twelve or fifteen stories high, with the right honorable member for East Sydney installed in it, because when he was in London in the Jubilee year, he was, according to the American papers, one of the great attractions of the whole universe. When the Government proposed last year to purchase a building, they went to Trafalgar Square, away from the financial centre of London. Australia must be in the financial centre of London, and not in the theatrical part. We do not require to build where the theatres are. I know that the Prime Minister was not responsible for that proposal, but unfortunately in Australia public men talk about being guided by the experts. My experience has taught me that the expert is a man who knows nothing about anything. Only to-day I have heard that we are to spend £3,750.000 on an army and navy, or a navy alone. I do not know what it will run into, but just imagine that amount, and not a word about a financial institution that will enable us to finance all these obligations! I wanted to have in our building in London a branch of the National Postal Banking System. We Americans like to have a basis on which to finance these things.
– The honorable member is an Australian, not an American.
– I - I love Australia, and I chose it after looking the earth over. Every one of the great millionaires of America started by buying a bank. Mr. E. H. Harriman, the American millionaire, who died the other day, owned one of the greatest banks in New York, and was a partner in other great banking concerns. Why? Because he recognised that it is impossible to operate any great potential activity without having control over a banking institution. . Look at the history of Australia and think of the men who have jumped into the Himalayas of finance. They have done so because they have had great banking corporations behind them. Let us have no doubt about this matter. Hundreds of men in Australia have failed to reach the pinnacle of financial fame, although they have struggled to do so, because they were unable to control a bank. If men in America have become millionaires through securing control of banking corporations, why should not Australia have a banking institution of her own, and so operate her great potential activities?
– What has all this to do with the question?
– It It has a great deal to do with the question. Here we have a country with a population of 4,300,000 and a debt of £270,000,000, includingthe debts of the municipalities, those for waterworks, and everything for which the States are responsible to English and Australian lenders. I maintain that of that £270,000,000 which has been borrowed by the Australian States, £75,000,000 has been a genuine “fake” - a “fake” that would make a blackfellow blush if he knew that his seven-year-old boy had carried out finance on the same basis. I hold that £15,000,000 has been utilized to pay interest on the debts; £15,000,000 has been utilized to eke out revenue; £15,000,000 more has been utilized in buying back land after selling the assets of this great Commonwealth at a low price and treating the receipts as revenue. And this is called finance ! God help Australia if its financing is to be like that in the future !
– These remarks would be more appropriate in connexion with the (Financial Bill.
– I - I shall not allow an opportunity to pass without saying a word on these matters unless the gag is put upon me. Honorable members opposite can gagme down if they like. The crowd cried out for Barrabas, and crucified our Saviour. At certain seasons of the year millions of Australian money are sent to London by means of time drafts and bills of exchange. This money is taken out of circulation in Australia, and is lent out upon call loans; because it must always be ready to be sent back to the Australian banks when the)’ want it. If we had our own institution in London instead of having our . stock operated by a bank that has no interest in us, we should inscribe our own stock in our own bank, and could sell it in denominations as low as £5or £10 to the public. In the past, when the Australian States have floated loans at a lower rate of interest than their organized credit warranted, in nine cases out of ten they have had to suffer huge discounts, which really became part of the permanent debt. ‘ Say that the unorganized credit of the States was only sufficiently strong to float a loan at 3½ per cent. at par. If a State floated at 3 per cent., it must take £93 cash for £100 worth of stock. That would mean that on a £2,000,000 liability, the State would receive only £1,860,000; and the £140,000 discount would be added to the principal amount on which interest would have to be paid. Therefore, while the State would pay £3 4s. 6d. on £1,860,000 which it borrowed, it would pay the remaining 5s. 6d. on the £140,000 ; which would really mean that it was paying 3½ per cent. for the loan. I thought that the High Commissioner in London would operate a bank and would look after Australian loans. Having a deep interest in his own country, he would see that our financing was done to the best advantage. This House makes it a great boast that we have here business men of experience, and I thought that they would be willing to help me to put something in this Bill that would mean business. But, no. The curse of ancient Egypt has fallen upon this House. It reminds me of the emblematical coffin at an Egyptian feast. One might as well try to swim Niagara Falls in a hickory nut shell as talk finance in this House and expect to do good. One has as much chance of swimming thefalls and passing Goat Is land as of carrying anything useful in &fin- ancial direction here. The matter is not worth bothering about any further.
– I admit that it may be thought that remarks made upon this Bill at the present stage might very well have been made on the motion for the second reading. But most honorable members are aware, as is the country, that reasonable time for discussion was not allowed on this important question, because the Government applied the closure at an unreasonably early stage.
– The time was monopolized by other members of the honorable member’s party.
– If the honorable member were to get up and talk half as much as he talks while he is sitting down, he would occupy about an hour of each day’s sitting.
– That would be wasting time also.
– The honorable member is continually talking while other honorable members are addressing the House, but he rarely rises to enlighten us. Unless we are to secure a concentration of the business of the Australian States in London as a consequence of passing this Bill, the measure ought not, in my opinion, to be allowed to pass. I believe that it is in the highest degree important that we should have a High Commissioner in London who will speak in the name of Australia. But I do hope that as a consequence of the passing of the Bill, and of the appointment that will follow, ‘we shall secure a corresponding decrease in the amount expended by the individual States in London. There is not the slightest doubt that when we entered into Federation and assumed the responsibility of establishing an additional Parliament most persons anticipated that there would be a corresponding decrease in State expenditure ; but that anticipation has not been realized. If this Bill is simply to be passed in order to allow another appointment of a high character to be made and thereby increase the existing expenditure in London, the House ought to pause. The second-reading stage of the Bill was the proper time for the Government to reveal the nature of the negotiations which were proceeding with the States in order to secure what, in my opinion, is 3 most desirable objective. Apart from the mere statement that such negotiations were proceeding, the Minister of External
Affairs did not give any indication that as the result of the appointment of a High Commissioner there would be a decrease of the State expenditure in London.
– What I said was that the correspondence showed such an indication on the part of certain of the States.
– That, in my opinion, is the flimsiest justification which we could have for sanctioning an appointment of this kind. If it involves the expenditure of £40,000 or £50,000 a year in addition to the present expenditure upon the representation of the States in London, the Bill ought not to pass. If it means that Australia will be able to speak through one mouthpiece instead of six mouthpieces, the Bill ought to pass. But if it means the establishment of an additional expensive institution in London, then in the interests of Australia’s financial prospects it ought not to be permitted. At the second-reading stage of the Bill we ought to have had an agreement on this subject and a statement from the Government, but instead of that we got the gag - that burglarizing method which is applied to the Opposition by the Government not only to put through important proposals of this description, but even to stop a discussion upon the question as to whether or not the Speaker had given a correct ruling.
– Beautiful conduct!
– There is not the slightest doubt that it was beautiful conduct.
– We get too many statements from theother side.
– Majority rule.
– It is a fortunate thing for this country that there is an Opposition which is prepared to speak out fearlessly here in defence of the rights of the people. There is not the slightest doubt that as soon as they get an opportunity they will approve of our action. The honorable gentleman has done his best to see that there shall be no election.
– Order ! That is not the question before the House.
– I admit that, sir. Honorable memberson the Government side are always inclined to lead a speaker on this side away from the question under consideration. I think that I am justified in making this protest, even though it is late. I put it to the representative of the Government that if he is piling up the already considerable burden upon the people, in London, without any reasonable prospect of the State expenditure there being reduced, he is doing an act with the people’s money which should not be tolerated by a majority of the members of this House. That opinion will, undoubtedly, be indorsed by the great bulk of the people throughout Australia.
– The honorable member’s point is that we should not make this appointment until the States have first made an agreement.
– There should be an agreement with the States.
– And if we cannot get an agreement with the States, there is to be no High Commissioner?
– If the honorable gentleman cannot get such an agreement, then he should indicate to the House the urgent necessity for making this additional appointment.
-I think that the Minister will agree to consult the States if honorable members will pass this Bill.
– Unlike the honorable gentleman, I want the States to be consulted before authority is given to the Commonwealth Government to make this additional appointment. If it is not the intention of the States to reducetheir expenditure in London, it is theduty of the Commonwealth Government to indicate the necessity for incurring an additional expenditure of £40,000 or £50,000 a year. The public debts of the States aggregate £250,000,000, bearing interest to the amount of about £9,000,000 a year. If those debts were transferred by the States, then the Commonwealth might have some justification for making an additional appointment; but failing that transfer what will the High Commissioner have to do?. There will be no public debt to control, because, so far, the Commonwealth has refrained from borrowing. If we agree, as proposed by the Government, to pay to the States 25s. per head per annum for all time, the Commonwealth will never have control of their public debts. Unless we are to have some authority of that description, or unless there is an urgent public necessity for appointing an additional officer in London, there is no justification for this Bill having reached its present stage. When the Leader of the Opposition gave his assent to the passing of the measure the other day, he made a strong point of the control of the public debts of the States by this Parliament. But evidently that is not likely to materialize. If the proposal of this Government to pay the States 25s. per head in perpetuity is adopted-
– The honorable member must not discuss that question.
– With all due deference to your ruling, sir, I think that you should allow one of the justifications for making this appointment to be debated,
– Order ! The honorable member is not discussing that question, but a matter which is set down on the notice-paper for future consideration. In my opinion, it has nothing to do with the Bill.
– I was about to point out that one of the justifications of the Government for the appointment of an additional representative in London, would be the fact that he will control the renewing, and subsequent handling, of the public debts of Australia.
– My recollection of what the honorable member said is perfectly clear. He was discussing the per capita distribution of Customs and Excise revenue, with which the High Commissioner will have nothing to do.
– The statement which you have just repeated, sir, coupled with my previous one, expresses the line of argument upon which I was proceeding. I ask you whether the fact that the State debts will not be controlled by the High Commissioner, is not a reason that can be advanced against the passing of the Bill ? 1 am saying why I think they will not be under his control. However, the point is immaterial, though I believe that I was strictly within the rules of the debate.
– The honorable member must not reflect on the Chair.
– I said that I believed that I was within the rules of debate. You, sir, ruled otherwise.
– Will the honorable member proceed ?
– Certainly. I rose for the purpose of making a speech. As the Government is not prepared to say that the High Commissioner will have this immense responsibility, and be the means of effecting so large a saving on behalf of the States, what justification is there for his appointment, and the consequent spending of £50,000 per annum ? Ministers do not reply to questions. They are satisfiedto have the numbers when they want to apply the gag, with a view to adjourning as soon as possible.It is reasonable to expect that the party with which I am associated will, at a future time, form the majority.
– We shall then remember with generous consideration the treatment we have received in connexion with these important questions.
– Will the Labour party then apply the gag?
– The honorable member will know if, as is possible, he has the privilege of being here.
– I do not think that this has much to do with the question.
– Very likely it has not.
– I ask the honorable member to obey the directions of the Chair, by confining his remarks strictly to the question, and I ask honorable members not to interrupt him, and, by drawing him off the track, bring him into conflict with the Chair, a result which I am sure he does not desire.
– I shall do so, sir, and am glad that you have made your remarks applicable to others, whose interjections have caused me to get away from the subject under discussion. The views which have been expressed by Ministers and others in the past regarding this appointment are of some importance. When the Federal Convention was sitting, the Prime Minister voted’ for the proposal that no politician or Parliamentarian should be made High Commissioner until he had been out of office for six months. I doubt if he holds that view to-day. The Minister of External Affairs, when working in conjunction with the Labour Party on this side of the House, thought that Parliament should appoint the High Commissioner. The Ministry of the day was led by the right honorable member for East Sydney, the one man now seriously spoken of as likely to secure the appointment ; but he was then not considered by the present Minister of External Affairs as a person who could be trusted to make a proper appointment. No doubt the Minister of External Affairs will say that it is five years since he held that view, and, probably, the Prime Minister will say that it is twelve years since he expressed the opinion which I have attributed to him. But the position is the same. The Minister of External Affairs was keenly anxious to have it one of the articles of alliance with the Labour Party that the High Commissioner should be chosen by the Parliament, but now that he is in power, he thinks the choice a matter for Executive action. I should not have so much objection to the making of the appointment by the Ministry, were it prepared to make it immediately on the passing of the Bill, but it is not. The appointment of a High Commissioner was considered urgent six months ago. Indeed, so urgent was it the other night that the gag was applied in order to pass one clause of the Bill. But when the Minister was asked if the Government would make an appointment at an early date, he said only that it would be made within a reasonable time, and no affirmative reply was givento the question whether the appointment would be made before the close of the session.
– An amendment to require that to be done was negatived.
– The honorable member for.Dalley, though not a member of the Ministerial caucus, perhaps, is associated with the party to some extent, and possibly better acquainted with the intentions of the Government than those on this side. Yet he wished to insert in the Bill an instruction to the Ministry to make this appointment before the close of the session, in order that it might be answerable to Parliament for what it had done. Apparently the intention is to hold up this billet until the recess, when it will be a plum for some Ministerial supporter.
– It would be better to describe it as a bunch of carrots.
– Possibly. It is a bunch of carrots which will be offered to some donkey on the other side of the House. I have never known a gift of this kind to be offered to a member of a minority. I have not known any member of a minority to secure an appointment of any kind. That ‘ is one reason why I object to the selection of the High Commissioner by the Executive. It is always found that there is a sufficient number of intelligent supporters of the Ministry of the day to enable them to fill any billets that may be offering. If it is not the intention of the Government to make this appointment until we go into recess, action might very properly be still further delayed until the people have had an opportunity to express an opinion as to which party shall rule in this country. The passing of this measure has, in the opinion of some honorable members, been urgent for eight years, and it might very well be permitted to remain urgent for another five months until the general election has taken place. If honorable members opposite are more interested to learn what the honorable member for Mernda has tosay on the financial proposal than to hear a few home truths in connexion with this Bill, they can apply their usual device for bringing a debate to a close. They will hear no squealing from me it they do. This Bill is likely to involve the ‘Commonwealth in an expenditure of £50,000 a year for all time ; and to that must be added the considerable expenditure by the State Governments on the representation of the States in London. The Bill is being forced through without any arrangement having been made for the reduction of State expenditure at the heart of the Empire. Seeing that the object of theGovernment in passing the measure is that they may be in a position to offer a “ plum “ to some faithful supporter at the conclusion of the session, the Bill should not be permitted to pass until honorable members are given some statement of their intentions with respect to the method of appointment, and the arrangements to be made for the future representation of the States and of the Commonwealth in London. We should also consider what is to be done in connexion with the establishment of Commonwealth offices in London. That might well be the subjectof considerable discussion. I was not anxious to speak on this Bill until we had heard the views of honorable members who have spent years in London, and some of whom have acted as Agents-General for the States. We should have been given an opportunity to hear the views of such honorable members on the second reading of the Bill.I believe that £250, 000 will be required to secure a building in which to house the Commonwealth High Commissioner. In connexion with the last proposal of this kind submitted to this Parliament, it was estimated that the cost would be about £230,000.
– The honorable member does not think that the appointment of a High Commissioner involves the purchase of Commonwealth offices in London, without consulting Parliament. The High Commissioner will have power only to make a recommendation in the matter.
– That is so ; but the recommendation of the High Commissioner will have great weight with honorable members.
– And very properly so.
– I think that the establishment of Commonwealth offices in London, and the part of the city in which they should be located, should be. discussed in connexion with this. Bill. But the Government apparently wish to bludgeon the measure through as they have bludgeoned this other proposal they have submitted to the House. Honorable members opposite, with their tongues in their cheeks, are prepared to pass to-night any measure submitted by the Government, and they are frightened to get up and express their views. The Bill is to be passed by the will of the majority for the time being ; but the day must shortly arrive when we shall be able to get an expression of opinion from a power superior to this Parliament. The sooner that day arrives, the better it will be for the people of Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 17 th September (vide page 3596) on motion by Mr. Deakin -
That leave be given to briny in a Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution relating to finance.
.- I desire, in addressing the House on this occasion, to express my sense of responsibility in connexion with thisvery important subject. 1 feel that it is the most important subject that could occupy the attention of this Parliament. Politics is finance, and finance is politics, as the Prime Minister has told us. The success of all legislation we pass must depend on the adoption of a policy of sound finance. During the earlier part of the day, our attentionhas been occupied by a consideration of the question of defence, and it appears to me that whetherwe shall be able to provide the necessary money for an efficient defence of the country, or whether we shall land ourselves in serious financial difficulties in connexion with defence, must depend to a very great extent upon the way in which our financial affairs are dealt with. I should have preferred had it been possible to speak on the second reading of this Bill rather than on the motion before the chair. The difficulty I have experienced in dealing with the matter arises from the fact that we are discussing a Bill which has been foreshadowed, but which. is not yet in the hands of honorable members. We are consequently thrown back in considering this very important matter uponthe terms of the arrangement entered into between the Government of the Commonwealth and the representatives of the State Governments. Dealing with that arrangement it is due to the Government that I should say that I have no sympathy with those who allege that in entering into negotiations with the representatives of the States at the recent Premiers’ Conference they lowered in any way the dignity of this Parliament. I agree entirely wilh the Prime Minister that the State Premiers and the State and Commonwealth Parliaments are alike the servants of the people. It is desirable that both parties should recognise that it is their duty fo promote the interests of the country by every means in their power, and that they should co-operate with each other with that end in view. I consider that the Conference which has resulted in the agreement laid on the table of the House by the Prime Minister has borne most satisfactory fruit. I recognise that the Government have not pleased all sections of the House, or of the -public, by doing what has been done. But they have gained much. For the first time they have gained that genuine feeling of cooperation, that spirit of accommodation between the State Premiers and the representatives of the Commonwealth, which, on former occasions, was so conspicuouslyabsent.
– It is all a political game.
– I will not discuss the question of motives. I am told that “ it- is al! a political game.’’
– So it is.
– At any rate, it is satisfactory to find that the representatives of the States and of the Commonwealth have been able to arrive at certain definite conclusions. Much has been gained by reason of the fact that for the first time the representatives of the States have unanimously subscribed to proposals which the Prime Minister has recommended to this Parliament for acceptance. We thus know the minimum amount which the State Premiers think it is necessary ‘ that the Commonwealth should annually return to them from Customs and Excise revenue. These are great gains, and the proposals are such as will provide the basis, at least, of a satisfactory settlement of this intricate question. I do not say that we can accept those proposals in their entirety, but at least they provide us with a starting point from which we may be able to formulate an acceptable arrangement. It has been urged on many occasions that the method of settlement of the financial relations of the Commonwealth to the States provided by the Constitution is unsatisfactory. Every one must admit that. But the reason of this is plain. When the Constitution was framed, there was an absence of data on which to base any scheme which would be satisfactory alike to the States and the Commonwealth. The indebtedness of the various States, in proportions per capita which differed so widely one from the other, rendered it almost impossible to determine how those debts could be consolidated without unfair conditions being imposed upon some States as -against others. With all the wisdom commanded by our representatives at the Federal Convention, it was impossible for them to formulate .1. satisfactory scheme for all time, and one which would meet the varying conditions of the States. That fact is recognised in the agreement which has been submitted by the Prime Minister. Its preamble states-
That the financial relations of the Federal and State Governments, which under the Constitution were determined only in part,- and for a term of years, should be placed upon a sound and permanent basis.
That is an admission that the financial relations of the Commonwealth and States had been determined only in part, and were still open to consideration. The first clause of the agreement is an acknowledgment that it is the intention of the Constitution to provide for the consolidation and transfer of the State debts. This is an admission which is of infinite value, because it has now been placed upon record by all the parties to the proposed agreement that the intention of the Constitution is that the State debts shall be assumed by the Commonwealth, and shall thereafter be managed by the Commonwealth on behalf of the States. I have already remarked that the difficulty which confronted the framers of the Constitution was due to the uncertainty which then existed, and that as a result the financial provisions of the Constitution were incomplete, and, in some respects, unsatisfactory. It seems tome that the duty now devolves upon this House of completing the work which was begun by the framers of our Constitution, but which, owing to the circumstances,, they were unable satisfactorily to complete. The question of determining the future financial relations of the States and the Commonwealth is not one which should be- regarded from a party stand-point. It is a matter which should be dealt with by the House in the spirit which was manifested by the delegates to the Convention - by each supplying his quota towards the settlement of this intricate problem. Unless it is so treated, there is grave danger that unsatisfactory results may ensue. I have heard it stated that the Braddon section of the Constitution imposes upon the Commonwealth the duty of recognising for all time the claim of the States to participate in the revenue collected from Customs and Excise. Let us for a moment review the history of the financial provisions of the Constitution, and especially of the Braddon section. In 1891, the first Federal Convention was held, at which a Constitution Bill was drafted, mainly, I believe, by Sir Samuel Griffith and some of his colleagues on the High Court Bench. Sir Samuel Griffith then pointed out that-
The great difficulty….. is that the
Customs revenue of the Colonies in all cases forms a very large share of the means of meeting the expenses of the Government, and as we should take over only a very small part of the expenditure, the Commonwealth would start with ‘an enormous annual surplus of many millions which it could not retain or expend, but must return to the different Stales.
Sir William (then Mr.) McMillan, who was on the Finance Committee of the Convention, said-
The Convention recognised that the Federal Parliament, with experience of the working of the Federal Tariff, would have a solid foundation to build upon which was lacking to the Convention.
Speaking at the Adelaide Convention in 1897, Sir William McMillan also said that he believed the only way to settle the problem of distribution was to leave it to the Federal -Parliament as “ the great negotiator.” The right honorable member for East Sydney said -
He objected to fixing any minimum return or to loading the Commonwealth with the debts. New South Wales was prepared, with the odds against her, to trust the fiscal question to the Federal Parliament, but she was not prepared to give to. the Commonwealth burdens which would compel a high Tariff.
During the sittings of the Convention at Adelaide, and elsewhere, there was always manifested a feeling that so long as the States were responsible for the interest on their debts, and that interest formed a part of their expenditure, they must necessarily obtain from the Commonwealth Government a large amount. That was the dominating idea, and the remarks which I have quoted were made on the assumption that the debts were still to be retained by the States, and that they would have to find the interest payable upon them, as they had done prior to Federation. At the Adelaide sittings of the Convention, our late Speaker proposed the adoption of a sliding scale. He urged that a per capita distribution of revenue and expenditure was the fairest and the most federal system to adopt ; and that it was necessary to protect the States as long as they had obligations in connexion with their debts. In proposing a sliding scale and the adoption of the per capita system, however, he never for a moment attempted to limit the expenditure of the Commonwealth. He left the question perfectly open. It was not until the last day of the sittings of the Convention in 1898 that the matter was finally disposed of. The old difficulty then presented itself once more. Jealousy between the States, as well as on the part of Free Traders, on the one hand, and of Protectionists on the other, caused a feeling of uncertainty, and, above all, of distrust of the Commonwealth, to prevail, with the result that Sir Edward Braddon moved his famous clause. The clause as originally proposed provided that out of the net Customs and Excise revenue not more than one-twentieth should be spent by the Commonwealth in the exercise of its original powers; and not more than fourtwentieths on the transferred services, the remaining three-fourths to be distributed among the States. That astounding proposition was carried by 21 votes to 18, and later Sir Edward Braddon consented to simplify the clause by omitting the provision distinguishing between the different kinds of expenditure, and enacting that the Commonwealth should receive one-fourth of its net Customs and Excise revenue to provide for all its services. That is the history of the Braddon section. It was on the face of it a most crude and incomplete arrangement. It could not work satisfactorily, since it placed the Commonwealth in the position of having to impose taxation to the extent of £400 to secure for itself revenue to the amount of £100, and to give to the States the remaining £300, which possibly they did not require. It has been alleged, both in the press and in other quarters, that the Braddon clause was passed by the people, and that it was subsequently amended, so that its continuance was limited to a period of not more than ten years, by a Conference of Premiers who had no authority to make that alteration. That is a widely entertained opinion.
– It is a fable.
– It is. A prominent State politician argued the question with me from that point of view quite recently, but the facts are that after the clause had been passed by the Convention it was put to the people at the first referendum and was adopted -
– Not entirely. It was not adopted by New South Wales.
– It was adopted by a majority, but not by the required majority, of the people of New South Wales.
– It was not adopted by the people of Queensland ; it was not submitted to them.
– Those who have interjected are right, and so am I. It is true, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, that the question was not submitted to the people of Queensland at the first referendum, because that State was not a party to the Convention. It was adopted by the people of New South Wales, but by an insufficient majority. After the poll in that State, however, the right honorable member for East Sydney proposed that the Braddon clause should be deleted from the Constitution Bill. He convened a Conference of Premiers at Melbourne, and there the question was discussed, with the result that the Conference agreed to allow the clause as it stood to remain, but with the proviso that it should have a currency of not more than ten years. With the clause as so amended the Bill was again submitted to a referendum of the people, and was unquestionably accepted. The fact that the Braddon section, limited in its duration to ten years, is in the Constitution by the will of the people, and that it has been left to us to complete the work which the Convention, because of the want of data, was unable to satisfactorily carry out, should induce us to approach this subject as I believe the members of the Conference approached it, with a desire to make an arrangement which will be just and acceptable to the States on the one hand, and to the Commonwealth on the other. How far does this arrangement enable us to go in that direction? I listened with interest, as I think most honorable members did, to the Prime Minister’s opening address. The honorable gentleman struck the true note when he said that the Commonwealth and the States have only one interest in common, and that is the interest of Australia ; and, so far as I can see, that interest has been conserved up to a certain point, by the arrangement which has been come to.’ The arrangement, so far as it goes, is satisfactory, but it does not go far enough. The first clause of the agreement contains the following -
That to fulfil the intention of the Constitution by providing for the consolidation and transfer of State debts, and in order to insure the most profitable management of future loans by the establishment of one Australian Stock a complete investigation of this most important subject shall be undertaken forthwith by the Governments of the Commonwealth and the States. This investigation shall include the question of the actual cost to the States of transferred properties as defrayed out of loan or revenue moneys.
That, it seems to me, is not consistent with the introductory clause. It deals with the part of the Constitution that is imperfect but does not propose to remove the imperfection, and only proposes that it be referred for further investigation by the Governments of the Commonwealth and the States. The imperfect part is that dealing with the transfer of the debts, because there is no adequate provision made to that end. The next clause deals with another subject -
That in order to give freedom to the Commonwealth in levying duties of Customs and Excise, and to assure to the States a certain annual income, the Commonwealth shall, after the first day of July, One thousand sine hundred and ten, pay monthly to the States a sum calculated at the rate of One pound five shillings per annum per head of population according to the latest statistics of the Commonwealth.
That is a portion of the Constitution which, I hold, is, under the Braddon section, settled. After 1910 this Parliament, as representing the Commonwealth, has a perfect right and freedom to levy duties as it may see fit, and to assure the States an annual income without any alteration of the Constitution. It seems to me that the agreement in one respect goes too far, while in another respect it does not go far enough ; and the question I put to myself is, “ Now that the Parliament has. this matter in its hands what can it do to perfect the proposal, and make it attain the object, which, I am sure, we all have in view, namely, a satisfactory and permanent settlement of this knotty question?” I may be permitted to refer in this connexion to the propositions which I had the honour to make in this House in 1906. I then proposed a scheme which, on the face of it, seemed complicated, but which, under- stood as I believe a number of honorable members now understand it, is simplicity itself. I am not going to waste time or trespass on the patience of honorable members by going into the details of the proposed scheme ; but I shall remind the House of a few points, and show what it proposed to do, and what it would have done had it been adopted. So far as my observation goes, the scheme has stood the test of criticism for three years ; but, unfortunately, it apparently did not commend itself for some reason or other to most of the Premiers of the States. I may say, however, that immediately after the delivery of my speech I received an approving letter from Mr. Kidston ; and, a few weeks later, he also sent me a report of his Budget speech. In that speech, referring to my proposals, Mr. Kidston said : -
He has proposed certain provisions which make his scheme worthy of careful ‘consideration, both by the State and Federal Parliaments.
After describing the scheme pretty fully, he went on to say : -
There-* aic many other matters involved in such a settlement of the financial problems of the Federation, -which need not be discussed now, but whatever difficulties Mr. Harper’s scheme may present, it has at least this to recommend it - it would end the feeling of insecurity which now prevails,- and restore financial stability to the States. Even the great disparity which now exists between the fer capita indebtedness of the various States, would largely disappear during the twenty-five years of the operation of this scheme.
Mr. Kidston and others expressed approval ; but my id*a was not adopted. What would that scheme have done? It would have secured a fair settlement of the obligations of the States to the Commonwealth, and of the Commonwealth to the States, by doing what? It assumed for a starting point a return to the States of £6,500,000 annually, as three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue based on four years’ average returns. The difference between the amount, which had been payable to the States, but which would be retained by the Commonwealth, and the interest on the debts, which the States themselves were paying, was £1,800,000. We were then in 1906; and up to 1910 the States had to make that interest good. After 1910, and for twenty years, the amount of the difference was to be diminished annually by the cumulative rate of 5 per cent, per annum, so that in 191 1 the States would pay £90,000 less, in the next year £180,000 less, and so on, until at the end of the twenty years the Commonwealth would have assumed the responsibility for the payment of the whole of the interest on the debts, the States would have possession of their railways and other public works represented by their debts, and the Commonwealth would have practically endowed the States for all time with £230,000,000, the annual value of which, at the rate of interest they were paying their creditors, was £8,500,000. That is to say, the payment by the States for twenty years of the interest they would have had to pay to their creditors for all time if there had been no Federation, would leave them free from any further charge, and in possession of their railways and public works. Could there be anything more liberal or fair? The point, which seems to have bulked so largely from time to time in the minds of many of the representatives of the States - that they were entitled, owing to increased population, to a larger share than, the sum I have fixed to start with - I had conceded because the rebate annually of 5 per cent, cumulative was just about the amount that would he contributed by three-fourths of Customs and Excise by the anticipated additional population based on the experience of the average of the last thirty years. So that practically at the end of the time they would have had the financial benefits of the Braddon section for twenty years, although it would have been repealed. They would have had their properties For nothing, the debts would have been assumed by the Commonwealth, and no friction whatever would have been caused with regard to the States’ income or expenditure Honorable members will see that it makes no difference to the States whether they get £6,500,000 or £5,500,000, as is now proposed to be paid to them under the new arrangement, and pay the difference out of their resources to their creditors, or whether the Commonwealth retains the ‘£6,500,000 or £5,500,000, assumes the debts, and obtains from the States a sufficient sum annually to make up the difference. It is a mere matter of accounts. This proposal to take over the debts, which is spoken of everywhere as a matter of enormous difficulty and importance, is simply a transfer of bookkeeping - a transfer from one account to another. That is to say, the Commonwealth would assume the obligation to meet the interest on the debts, on the other hand it would retain whatever proportion was to be paid to the States, and that amount would go towards the payment of the interest. The States would have to make up the balance for a given time.
– Would that restrict the States from borrowing afterwards?
– That is a separate question, _ with which I shall deal later. Had that arrangement been carried out at the time it was proposed, we should by this time have had it in working order. The principle of the scheme I then proposed was adopted by the honorable member for Hume when Treasurer of the last Deakin Government. He accented the arrangement in its entirety, with certain changes which he thought it necessary to make. He felt that the Commonwealth would require a larger amount of money for its own purposes in the early years than would be provided for if the figures in my scheme were adopted. I had informed the Government that the scheme I proposed dealt with .the condition of things thai existed at the time the proposal was made, but that any increased demands on the part of the Commonwealth would have to he taken into account, and that they could modify the figures without in any way injuring the framework of the scheme or altering its principles. The honorable member for Hume, therefore, brought in his proposal practically in every respect on the lines laid down by me, but he deferred for five years the time at which the States were to begin to get relief annually, he extended the period from twenty to thirty years so as to give a longer time and allow a smaller amount to be rebated to the States annually, and he also substituted 3! per cent, for 5 per cent., which was’ just the equivalent of the extension of the time. That proposal was ‘ submitted to the Premiers’ Conference, and was rejected. Why it was refused it is difficult to say.
– It was considered.
– I do not know how it was dealt with. Perhaps the better way to put it is to say that it was not accepted. I think it is desirable in this discussion that we should speak with respect of the representatives of the States. I am not going to cast upon them any imputations as to motives or reasons for their actions. 1 shall assume that, having responsibility to their own States, they are, to the best of their ability, as I trust we are, carrying out their duties to the public, and that they have no ulterior or improper motives in any action that they have taken. I can only regret that they did not attach more importance to this proposal when it came before them in a concrete form. Of course, when I suggested it in 1906 as a private member, I perhaps had no right to expect that those gentlemen would take notice of it, but when it had the imprimatur of the Government of the Commonwealth it would have been well if they had given it a larger measure of attention than they appear to have done. However that may be, we are now in the position of having something to deal with that they a.re agreed upon. That has come about through the action of the Government. My effort since these documents came into my hands has been to see how far 1 could accept the new proposals and at the same time attain the object which the proposals which I made previously would nave brought about. I think it is possible to build up on this proposal something which will lead to a satisfactory settlement. I s:.id before that the difficulty was about the starting point. I started at £6,500,000 as the annual return to the States, the honorable member for Hume started at £6,000,000 and took a longer time, and this scheme starts at £5,500,000 on the present population basis. I feel that it is an immense gain to have the States committed to a sum which they are prepared to accept without any question, and I am willing to accept that sum on conditions which I shall presently foreshadow. In dealing with this matter, we have to look at the position of the States. If I may be pardoned for saying so, I think that the representatives of the States and their officials have never really gone into this question as it should have been gone into. They have never gone back to first principles. They profess tha their object is to induce the Commonwealth to take over the debts, and yet they argue and bargain with the Commonwealth as if they were still to retain the debts. That is to say, they argue as if their requirements, including interest on their debts, had to be met. What are their requirements? I have prepared, as an illustration, a collective balance-sheet of the States’ income and expenditure, taking the figures from Knibbs’ ¥ ear-Book. I do not propose to read it, but by the direction of Mr. Speaker, it may be published in H Hansard
– It should be. Read the principal items.
– It is too long to read in full. It deals collectively with the whole of the revenue and the expenditure of the States for the year 1907-8 - the last year for which it is possible to get figures. It shows the grand total of revenue to be £34,867,646, of which £8,884,596 is money returned by the Commonwealth as the three-fourths of the Customs and Ex cise revenue. On the expenditure side appears £9,634,026 as interest on public debt.
– T - That is the whole debt?
– It is the figure given by Knibbs, and represents the interest plus some small amounts for sinking fund which are included in it.
The reason for the disparity between interest on State debts and Commonwealth contribution is that the States paid off something like £700,000. I am not dealing with this matter for the sake of the amount, but to illustrate the opera tion of the amount paid by the Commonwealth to the States, and the amount paid by the States to their creditors. In this case, they got £8,884,596 from the Commonwealth, and they passed over to their creditors £9,634,026. That was a boom year, so far as the Commonwealth revenue was concerned. It was the biggest year we had. Of course, the amount received was much above the average. It was so large as to be almost equal to the amount of interest paid. But, taking the revenue amount of £8,884,596, and putting on the other side the interest on State debts, £9,634,026, that makes the balance ‘ £749,430, which the States supplied from their own revenues. But the net balance . is the same in. both cases. The reason is, of course plain : that the States, ever since the Commonwealth hasbeen established - and I suppose before that time - have been mixing up their money, just as many people do; and those who do so generally get into a fog. The money which they have been receiving from public works, such as railways, has been mixed up in their general revenue ; and the amount received from the Commonwealth has been mixed up in the same way. Out of the total, they paid so much to their creditors ‘ for interest. But, as a matter of fact, if they had reduced the matter to simple elements, they would . have found that they could have said to the Commonwealth, “ You owe us £8,844,596, and we owe our creditors £9,634,026 ; we will send you a cheque for £749,430, and you will pay the creditors.” That is what might easily have been done. All through these years, the States, so far as concerns their ordinary expenditure for education, police, law, and all internal administration which they were carrying on, have not been benefited one penny by what they got from the Commonwealth, because it all went to pay their creditors, and generally out of their other resources something additional had to be paid in the same direction.
– Something out of land sales.
– In New South Wales that was so. That being the position, I think honorable members can see that our task should be comparatively easy. I do not think there is any doubt, if one reads the history of the negotiations, as to what the intentions of the Convention and the people were - that in granting to this Parliament the absolute, supreme, and exclusive control of taxation by means of Customs and Excise, the obligation was implied that we should see that the needs of the States were properly attended to, and that their obligations were fairly met. There being no question about that, I say that it is our duty on the one hand to see that the obligations of the States are fairly met, and that it is their duty to make no demands that they ought not to make upon the Commonwealth. Therefore, I have no “difficulty in saying that, so far as the arrangement made by the Government is concerned, I am perfectly prepared to support the second reading of the Bill ; but I shall propose certain alterations which will carry out the principles, and bring about the results, which I sought to attain by the scheme submittedby me in 1906 - that is to say, that the States shall be relieved of every shilling that they are entitled to be relieved of; that the Commonwealth shall assume the entire obligation for the debts of the States, and that at the end of a certain period, the States will be in possession of an endowment, not of £233,000,000, but of £249,000,000 ; and, therefore of a permanent annuity of something like £9,000,000. That can. be done by the very simple expedient of accepting the 25s. per capita as an obligation upon this Commonwealth until such time as the number of people of the Commonwealth will, at 25s. per head, return £9,000,000, which is about the amount of interest payable.
– There is no need to put that obligation in the Constitution.
– Such an arrangement could be carried out without amending the Constitution ; thoughI am prepared to amend it, and I think the argument of my honorable friend the Prime Minister is right, that if we are going into an arrangement of this sort, we are entitled to satisfy all parties of our bona fides, and to make sure that this question shall not come up again if we can avoid it. Unfortunately, we have not the Bill before us ; and I do not know exactly what its form will be. But this is my first suggestion : We should, I think, grant to the States 25s. per head from the 1st July, 1910, and until such time as the population of the Commonwealth amounts to 7,200,000.
– That is a time limit in another way.
– It is and it is not ; because the time is uncertain.
– Another Braddon section.
– I - I would sooner have the Braddon section.
– There is no Braddon section about it. The proposal has this effect : that it winds up the business, because it provides the money, at 25s. per capita, to meet the obligation which the Commonwealth would then have assumed.
– What would the honorable member do in regard to the debts of the States accumulating in the meantime ?
– I am not dealing with that question just now. One problem at a time is quite enough. I may deal with the question of future borrowing later on. ] am dealing with this matter as a concrete entity. There is a certain amount of indebtedness existing at the present moment for which the States are liable, and on account of which they have to pay, in round figures, £9,000,000 annually, in the shape of interest. My problem is to meet their position by taking over that debt, the Commonwealth assuming the debt and giving to the States all the public works and all the other amenities that they have obtained from the use of the borrowed money ; because £170,000,000 of the debt is represented by railways, and the rest is represented by a variety of other works. We give all these assets to’ the States, and assume the whole of their debts, and wc say to them, “We will allow you 25s. per head of what we collect as revenue, and we will allow you that amount until such time as the population of Australia is sufficient to yield the amount necessary to pay the interest on your debts.” Then we would cease to make any further contribution, because the Commonwealth would stand in the position in which the States are now. It would have the debts and they would have the assets worth £350,000,000. If the States are started with an endowment of £250,000,000, which is of the annual value of £9,000,000, they must have very extraordinary ideas indeed if they think that they have a right to demand anything more. I would be content to leave the matter to posterity, but if this Parliament, in its wisdom, either now or later, says that at the end of the time it will give the States so much a head of their population it can do so. My own opinion is that the States are not entitled to make the request, but there may be some reason, of which I am not aware, why some consideration should be shown to them beyond the marvellous proposal to give them practically an endowment of £250,000,000, and a permanent annuity of £9,000,000. The Commonwealth will have the debts,, and they will be left with all the properties. If that is not a sufficient endowment,. I do not know what is. 1 may refer here tcthe very different treatment meted out by the Dominion of Canada to its Provinces. In that country they have a very smaltdebt because they have no railways.
– They are now making a big railway.
– I am dealing with the position as it exists. At present they have private railways, the capital of which is about £300,000,000. The debt of Canada is less than £100,000,000. A little while ago the honorable member for Darwin referred to the position of Canada and the United States, and talked about the States of the Commonwealth owing £250,000,000. Reckoning our debts in the same way as Canada’s, we only owe £80,000,000 whereas Canada owes £90,000,000, and the capital of our Government railways amounts to £170,000,000.
– Canada has anenormous canal system.
– I am desirous of avoiding anything which is extraneous to my subject. I am dealing with the question of railways. We have no canals, but we have railways, and I am -comparing railways with railways. When the four Provinces united in 1867 the Dominion took, over all the debts amounting to something under £20,000,000, and acquired the exclusive’ right to levy Customs and Excise duties. So far it has not imposed any taxation other than Customs and Excise duties. What arrangement did it make with the Provinces ? It gave the Provinces 80 cents, that is, 3s. 4d. per head of the population. That is all that it has paid. During the period of forty-one or forty-two years, for which the accounts are made up”, the total _ amount paid by the Dominion to the Provinces was £33,573,172, being an average of £800,000 per year, and they live, and prosper.
– Has not the Dominion taken over the debts?
– Yes, but the debts were very small. All the Dominion gave to the Provinces was 80 cents per capita, and in addition sums ranging from £10,000 up to £40,000 to establish Government houses and conduct the government. This arrangement was unaltered till 1907. A change was made ‘ in that year because Provinces which, like British Columbia, joined the Union later, had received only 80 cents a head, and that was limited to a population of 400,000 persons. They could get no more with a population of 600,000. Naturally they felt annoyed, and a new arrangement was made that they should receive 80 cents a head up to a certain margin of population, and 60 cents, a head afterwards. Until 1907 the amount paid annually to the Provinces in all forms by the Dominion was £1,356,000, but under the new arrangement the amount is £1,831,000, being an. advance of £500,000. At the present time the Dominion is paying to the Provinces 3s. 6Jd. per capita.
– Did the Dominion have to alter its Constitution to do that ?
– The Canadian Constitution is altered differently from ours. The Dominion Parliament makes a representation in a certain way, and the British Parliament passes an Act carrying it out. What I want honorable members to get into their minds is that a per capita payment of 25s. on a population of 7,200,000 amounts to £9,000,000; that the interest on the existing debts of the States amounts to nearly £9,000,000, but is made up to that sum by banking charges and exchange ; and that when the population increases to 7,200,000 the Commonwealth would be free. One great difficulty I found when I made my former suggestion was - that the representatives of the larger States, particularly those of New South Wales and Victoria, persistently refused to entertain a per capita arrangement. Now they have accepted it, and I am prepared to deal with them on that basis. A State whose population increases more rapidly than that of its neighbours will, under this arrangement, enjoy the full advantage of the increase. But when the population of the Commonwealth has become 7,200,000, the subsidy should cease. Until then, the States are to bc credited by the Commonwealth with 25s. per head of population, the money being either paid to them directly, or used to meet the interest on their debts.
– Does that arrangement deal with the States as a whole, or with each one separately ?
– We must deal with the States individually, because the per capita return will be received by them individually. Should the population of New
South Wales increase more rapidly than that of Victoria, the total sum paid to New South Wales will be greater than that paid to Victoria ; but when the population of the Commonwealth has become 7,200,000, the per capita payment will cease automatically. New South Wales may have received more than the other States, but that will be her good fortune; while if Victoria’ or another State has received less than its neighbours, that will be its’ misfortune. The Commonwealth will have nothing to do with it. If the States continue to deal separately with their debts, they must, whatever their revenue, meet their obligations. When, prior to Federation, they could impose revenue duties at will, they could make up a deficiency in that way. Under this arrangement, each State will receive 25s. per capita until the population of the Commonwealth having become 7,200,000, the payment reaches £9,000,000. As we have fixed upon the sum which the representatives of the States regard as a reasonable amount -with which to credit them, there should be no difficulty about providing for the taking over of their debts. This will at once free them of their paramount obligation. Their expenditure on police, education, and other services is within their own control ; but they must find the money necessary to pay the interest on their debts, if they are to retain their credit. There is a Bill providing for the taking over of the debts of the States.
– Of the balance of them.
– The Bill to be introduced is to provide for the per capita payment. Why should it not complete the scheme by providing machinery for the taking over of the debts of the States? The honorable member for North Sydney has asked once or twice how future debts are to be dealt with? That aspect of the subject was treated in my former paper, but I am prepared to discuss it again now. The honorable member seems to consider the making of provision for future debts as having some connexion with what is done regarding debts already incurred ; I say that the latter, having been disposed of, should be put out of sight.
– Future debts concern the future interests of the States in the Customs and Excise revenue.
– Under the Constitution, this Parliament alone can impose Customs and Excise revenue. The States have hitherto lived on their income, apart from what they have received from the Common- wealth in the form of Customs and Excise revenue, all of which, and more, has gone to their creditors. If my honorable friend thinks that we should provide for future debts, let him make a proposal for the payment to the States after the population of the Commonwealth reaches 7,200,000 of so much a. head, such as was made in the Canadian scheme. I, however, prefer to leave that to those who come after us. Wisdom will not die with us. Those who will govern the country thirty years hence will, I trust, be as fair-minded and as reasonable as we are, and will have a knowledge of the then existing facts. We cannot read the future, or foretell what changes may arise twenty or thirty years hence. We do not know what is in front of us. We do not know what will have to be spent on naval and military defence, or on old-age pensions, which this year will cost about £1,500,000; and, according to Mr. Knibbs’ calculation, will cost vastly more should the population increase to the number I have mentioned. The Commonwealth will have to provide for these pensions, and at the same time return 25s. per capita to the States. I am content with that, because the State and Commonwealth Governments are servants of the one people. There is a debt which involves an outlay in interest of £9,000,000 a year. It will make no difference to the people whether it is paid by the Commonwealth or by the State Governments, but in the practical working out of our financial affairs it is all important and absolutely necessary that the Commonwealth should take over the debts and be responsible for the payment of the interest on them. In doing that we should be giving the States for all time a permanent endowment of £250,000,000, and they would have no cause of complaint. Referring to the point as to the time when the per capita allowance of 25s. per head shall cease, the Treasurer, at page 6 of his paper, dealing with the Conference, sets out an estimate made by the Treasury Department. Starting with an estimated population in i9to-iT of 4,435,000, and in 1920- of 5,238,000, that allows, as the honorable gentleman explained, for an advance of about 2 per cent, per annum. I consider that a low rate of advance. For some time we made an advance in population of only 1.50 per cent., but in the eighties, up to 1890, our advance was as high as 3.80 per cent, per annum. It might easily again become as high as 3 per cent. I have carried on the right honorable gentleman’s calculation on the basis of a 2 per cent, advance, and I’ find that in 1930-31 our population would be 6,186,000, and in 1 940-1, it would be 7,300,000. It would, therefore, on that estimate, be thirty years before this change would take place. That is to say, the States would have 25s. per capita assured to them until 1940. I have also worked out the calculation on the basis of an advance of 3 per cent. I should say that immigration almost ceased for a time, and from 1868 up till last year the balance of immigrants over emigrants for all the States was only 750,000. That is the net increase due to immigration that we had in forty years. We had in the same period a natural increase of population of 2,200,000. We are looking forward to an increase in our population from immigration, and I think that an advance at the rate of 3 per cent, per annum might easily be accomplished. Should that be the case the desired time will arrive in 1 930-1. We shall in twenty years, on the basis of a 3 per cent, advance in population have a population of 7,624,000 ; or, in thirty, years, if our advance were only 2 per cent., 7,300,000 as estimated by the Treasurer. That is what we must look forward to. Now, with regard to the future debts, I think honorable members will agree that it is axiomatic that if the ‘Commonwealth takes over the debts of the States it must take over all their debts. Having done so it must be self-evident that we cannot allow the States to go on borrowing independently as they have done in the past.
– They would not go free; they would bear the same burden as before.
– If they were to continue to borrow as they chose without any restriction, they would not only increase their indebtedness, and of course, thereby diminish the Commonwealth security, but they would also enter into the money market against the Commonwealth Government, who would have to renew all their old debts. It. is a self-evident proposition that if we take over the debts of the States - and they admit in this document that that is the intention expressed in the Constitution - we must have some arrangement as to future borrowing, We cannot, in dealing with the Governments of these sovereign States, say “ You are not to bor- tow.” It would be madness to suppose such a thing. The States are only beginning their development, and State Governments must borrow. That is one consideration which makes me all the more anxious that we should arrive at some sound system of finance. Seeing that, I believe for good and not for evil, in Australia, we have decided that all such means of communication as railways shall be constructed by and continued under the control of the States, if the State Governments were to go on! as in the past, borrowing and never paying off any debt, a time would arrive when they would no longer be able to borrow or would have accumulated a greater indebtedness per head of population than almost any other nation in the world.
-The railway debt of England is £1,500,000,000.
– I am aware of that, but that is not a debt debited to the State. If in Canada the railway indebtedness were added to the indebtedness of the State, the people of the Dominion would be a very much more heavily indebted community than are the people of Australia. I am dealing now with what we have to look forward to. My proposal was, that in future there should be an arrangement made by the constitution of a body absolutely independent of this and of the State Parliaments, as independent of either as is the High Court, and with a similar tenure of office. The members of this body might be called Debt Commissioners or Finance Commissioners ; the name is immaterial. Such a body should be constituted of capable reliable experts, who should have imposed on them not only the duty of renewing all these State loans as they fall due and arrange for the payment of interest, but also of finding the money required by the State Governments for reproductive purposes in future. They should have no right to refuse money to a State Government. A State Government, in making application for a loan, should make themselves responsible for the payment of interest to the Debt Commissioners, and for the establishment of a sinking fund, say, of one-half per cent., so that in time the new debts would be automatically paid off. Under my scheme I would make any new debts which the State Governments incur repayable to the Commonwealth by terminating annuities over a period of years. The money would be borrowed for the State Governments by the Commonwealth ‘Commission at cost, and they would have all the advantages of the market. If, for instance, it were proposed to float a 3 per cent. loan for Victoria at £96, which would be £4 short of par, the Debt Commissioners would borrow the money, and would get repayments of interest at 3 per cent. on each £100 from the State Governments, plus one-half per cent. towards a sinking fund, which repayments would run over sixty or seventy years, or whatever period was necessary on that basis to work off the loan.
– I - It would depend on the investment.
– -Of course. The Commonwealth interest would be fixed at 3 per cent. If the money were borrowed for the construction of a railway the State Government might say that the railway, as part of its working expenses, should be responsible for 3) per cent. per annum, and the annuities would be based on such a payment and run over sixty or seventy years, or whatever the exact period might be according to an actuarial calculation. These remarks apply to debts incurred in future. As to the redemption of the existing debts taken over by the Commonwealth, these would, I anticipate, be provided for in time by a saving of, say,½ per cent., which I anticipate we should be able to make if we took over the State debts. Money is now costing the States on the average 3.6 per cent., so that if we borrowed at par at 3 per cent., we should be able to establish a sinking fund for the extinction of the existing debts from the difference. The States would provide the Commonwealth with a sinking fund for the liquidation of their future debts, and with savings in interest on past debts, it might be that in years to Gome we would have £500,000,000 worth of public works, without any material addition to the debt at present existing.
– Does not the honorable member think that the saving of½ per cent. is rather too much to expect?
– I donot. With the increasing population that we anticipate, our public works oughtto become immensely remunerative. In this connexion, I would remind the honorable member for North Sydney that the New South Wales railways ought to pay handsomely as the population increases.
– Would the honorable member mind touching uponthe saving that might be effected by the conversion of the debts?
– The idea entertained when the Federal Convention met, and which was a disturbing element when the financial arrangement embodied in the Constitution was arrived at, that we could convert the State debts by one huge operation, is an absolutely impracticable one. We must wait until they fall due. The Treasurer, while in London, found - and the Agent- General for New South Wales also wrote a paper to the same effect - that after the Commonwealth stock had been fairly established, we ought to be able to procure money at par for 3 per cent. If we succeeded in doing that, we should effect a saving as compared with the rate which is now being paid by the States of .6 per cent. If the money thus saved were re-invested, it would - in sixty-four or sixty-five years - be sufficient to wipe out the whole of our indebtedness of ^240,000,000.
– When I made that statement the other evening, honorable members opposite ridiculed it.
– Let us assume that the saving which can be effected represents £ per cent.
– Then, if that money were re-invested, it would take about 100 years to liquidate our indebtedness.
– About eighty-seven years.
– However, these are contingencies. Of course, any saving effected by the Commonwealth would represent an advantage. During the next twentyyears, loans aggregating ^148,000,000 will have to ‘ be renewed, and the States may, if they retain the responsibility of their debts, not be able to reborrow upon such good terms as they borrowed originally. In other words, they may not be able to renew their loans even at the present rates, and the rate of interest, instead of averaging 3.6 per cent., may go up to 4 per cent. But if the Commonwealth creates a body which will have this Parliament behind it, and arranges for the conversion of the debts as they fall due, it will be able to effect that conversion on the best possible terms, lt will have no competitors from Australia in the money-market, whereas for many years there have been six competitors from this country. The Commissioners will have the money in hand, and will be able to say to our bondholders, “ You have been receiving interest at the rate of 4 per cent., but we can now borrow at 3 per cent. We will issue Commonwealth stock to you at 3 per cent, with,
perhaps, a half-year’s interest in addition; but if you do not choose to accept it in lieu of your present bonds, we will pay you off.” Under such circumstances, the probability is that the bondholders would accept the Commonwealth stock. The arrangement would be a purely business one; and it is the duty of the Commonwealth to adopt some such plan. Of course, the Parliament would have no veto over any new debts contracted by the States in conformity with such an arrangement. The Commissioners would have laid upon them the statutory duty of finding loan moneys for the States, consistently, of course, with the condition of the money market at the time. But an independent body, such as I have outlined, would have no feeling in this matter. They would have to find the money for the States, which, in turn, would have to guarantee interest upon the moneys so raised. In formulating this scheme, I recognised just one other difficulty. I foresaw the possibility of one State considering _ that the Commissioners were disadvantaging it for the purpose of advantaging another State. Accordingly, I provided for the creation of a very high tribunal, whose duty it would be to arbitrate in such cases. Briefly, the substance of my scheme is that the Commonwealth should take over all the State debts, and that, concurrently with that operation, it should make a per capita grant to the States. I think that by so doing the Commonwealth would be behaving very liberally to them. I do noi think that in the near future the States’ share of the Customs and Excise revenue will exceed ,£”6,500,000. But it must be recollected that during the current year, old-age pensions will absorb ^1,500,600. It will thus be seen that the Prime Minister and his colleagues have gone as far in the direction of liberality to the States as they could safely go.
– They have gone a bit too far.
– I do not think so. We are practically completing the work of the Federal Convention, which, necessarily, had to leave it incomplete. The honorable member for Gwydir has interjected that the Prime Minister has agreed to give the States too much. In the circumstances, I do not think that he has, provided that the agreement terminates when the Commonwealth is receiving from Customs and Excise only a sufficient sum to meet the whole interest upon the State debts.
– That is not provided for in the Government scheme.
– I do not think that the honorable member can have followed me.
– I have, but my point is that the limitation to which the honorable member refers is not provided for in the Government scheme.
– I am practically proposing a limitation based upon a principle which must commend itself to business men. As such, I think, the Premiers of the States will admit its fairness. It would secure to the States a per capita payment of 25s. per annum for twenty, or it may be thirty years, or, in other words, as long as they had any obligation to meet in the shape of interest on their existing debts. I propose that the Commonwealth shall say to the States, “ We will take over your debts and pay the interest. We have agreed to give you annually £5,500,000. We will put that against the amount to be paid as interest and you will make good the balance. When that has been done for twenty, or it may be thirty years, von will have been freed of the whole of your existing debts, and you will not have paid more than you are paying your creditors now bv way of interest.”
– And the States will have all their assets left to them.
– That is a point which I think the representatives of the States have failed to realize. I hope that the Commonwealth, by reason of its superior financial powers will be able, without adding one penny to the existing burdens of the people, to pay off the whole of the transferred debts in time. Such an arrangement would be beneficial to all. The States would retain their railways and other assets resulting from their expenditure of loan moneys, and by paying interest for a certain number of years on the transferred debts - interest which they would pay for all time unless they were relieved in the way I propose - the whole of their existing liability would be paid off, because we should be able to effect savings which they could not possibly make. It seems to me to ‘be as simple as the rule of three, and I fail to see why the States, if they are prepared to allow their debts to be transferred to the Commonwealth, should raise any objection to some regulation and control of future borrowing on their part. When I use the word “control” I do not suggest in any way that they should be prevented from borrowing when they desire to do so. I propose only that their borrowing shall be regulated and systematized, their loans being floated on Commonwealth credit instead of on their own.
– That will mean another Conference.
– I think not.
– There would have to be another Conference in regard to the control of future borrowing.
– We have before us an expression of opinion on the part of the State Premiers that a per capita return of 25s. per annum is fair.
– That is not their proposition. It is what they have agreed to.
– I was not present at the Conference.
– The right honorable member means to say that the State Premiers wanted more.
– The Treasurer wishes us to understand that a compromise was arrived at. The State Premiers wanted more, and the representatives of the Commonwealth desired to make a smaller return, but this compromise was arrived at.
– That is pawnbroking.
– It is compromise. The State Premiers have agreed, at all events, that a per capita return of 25s. per annum is a fair sum to hand over to the States from our Customs and Excise revenue, and I propose, that we shall return that amount to them for twenty or thirty years.
– How would the honorable member regulate “ their borrowing in the absence of an agreement with them?
– The necessary provision would have to be inserted in the Constitution. We have before us a Bill which will enable us to take over all the debts, and we have in the agreement before us a statement that it is the intention of the States that the debts shall be taken over. We propose to take over the debts, and the corollary to that surely is that we cannot allow the States to go on borrowing, in competition with the Commonwealth, in the money markets of the world, without power on our part to regulate and control them. The Treasurer of New South Wales told me some time ago that his great objection to my scheme was that under it the Commonwealth Parliament would control and prevent borrowing on the part of the States. I replied, “ You have never made a greater mistake. It would be the duty of the independent body which would be established under my scheme to find money for the States and for the Commonwealth when they desired to borrow. The Commonwealth would be treated just as the States are. If it desired to raise money it would be subject to the same arrangements as the Commissioners made in the case of the States.” These are, after all, only matters of detail, but I wish to make it perfectly clear that my proposal is not in any way to hamper the States. I have devised a scheme which is fair., and intensely liberal. My fear, indeed, was that it was too liberal. 1 have never been able to understand why the representatives of the States have shut their eyes to that fact and have not seen that their interest lies in accepting such a proposition.
– Does the honorable member consider his scheme to be compatible with the agreement that has been entered into?
– I do, unless my honorable friend suggests that this agreement, made in good faith, by our representatives, with the Premiers of the States, is to be binding upon independent members of this Legislature. It is not an ordinary question to which Ministerial responsibility applies.
– And we have no mandate from the people in regard to it.
– It would rest with the people to carry it out.
– It goes without saying that we can do nothing in this regard without the. consent of the people.
– But it would be necessary to have a second Conference.
– The Prime Minister and his colleagues as responsible Ministers were invited to the Conference by gentlemen who were representative of their States, but their potential abilities to legislate to give effect to the agreement are no greater than are those of any one outside. It is this Parliament that must legislate. The State Parliaments cannot pass any law that will affect us; and the Prime Minister, as a responsible Minister, was negotiating with people, some of whom may be in power six months hence, and some of whom may not - there may be great changes. The last paragraph of the agreement is -
That the Government of the Commonwealth bring before the Parliament during this session the necessary measure to enable an alteration of the Constitution (giving effect to the preceding paragraphs, Nos. 2, 3, and 4) to be submitted to the electors.
I am going to vote for the second reading of the Bill, because I believe the arrangement made to be a good one, as far as it goes, though it does not cover the whole case. Does any one say that my liberty of judgment, as a representative of the people, is to be impaired because a certain arrangement has been come to between certain gentlemen outside? Some of those gentlemen are influential and potential ; and I commend the Prime’ Minister for his eminent wisdom and tact in working with them ; but surely this Parliament is the place in which to decide the question so long as it is within our power to do so. The second reading ought to be carried for the reasons I have stated; but I shall hold myself perfectly free in Committee to deal with the matter in such a way as to make the arrangement fair and more acceptable to the people of the country.
– According to the Prima Minister, it will kill the arrangement if we alter it in Committee.
– Does the honorable member mean to tell me that this arrangement, about which we could not, in the nature of the case, be consulted-
– That was what I gathered from the Prime Minister’s speech.
– The Prime Minister is bringing this matter forward for the consideration of Parliament.
– The form in which the Bill is introduced indicates that the House is invited to discuss the whole subject on its merits.
– Precisely. I should feel myself to be in a difficulty if I thought’ that the position of the Government was in any way impaired by their having entered into this arrangement subject to Parliamentary sanction. I have not told the Prime Minister a word of what was in my mind in regard to this matter ; indeed, it is only within ‘ the last two days that I saw my way clear. I accept this arrangement for twenty or thirty years ; and I think that the Premiers would be very foolish men not to accept it. None of the present Premiers will be alive thirty years hence - though, perhaps, that is not a reason why they should sacrifice the interests of posterity, as they see them, or why we should do so in effecting an arrangement which, if not final and satisfactory, may become an awful bone of contention. When the population reached 20,000,000, the Commonwealth would have to return £25,000,000; and there might be an enormous strain. This payment of 25s. per head practically means more than all the Customs and Excise revenue from stimulants and narcotics, and is practically a mortgage for twenty or thirty, years on such revenue. Curiously enough stimulants and narcotics are the most stable items in the Tariff ; our income f rem other items fluctuates in the most remarkable way, but I find that, for five years, the revenue from whisky, tobacco, and so forth, ranged from 22s. to 23s. per head. Honorable members ought to realize what that means, If the arrangement is an indefinite one, it means that, so long as the duties on stimulants and narcotics are maintained, and the habits of the people remain the same, there will be a mortgage of that revenue to the States. The other part of the Tariff is, as I have said, variable and uncertain, and could be supplemented in any way this Government think fit. There was one passage in the Prime Minister’s speech with which I am afraid I am not sufficiently optimistic to agree. The honorable gentleman said that, if the proposed arrangement were made part of the Constitution, the latter could be altered by the same power that had entered into the agreement. I do not think, however, that the Prime Minister, when he fully considers the matter, will maintain that an alteration would be easy under such circumstances. It might be felt that the arrangement imposed a great strain cn the Commonwealth, and that a reduction of the payment to the States was desirable; but we must not forget that immense interests might have been created. The expenditure of the States would doubtless be built on the subvention; and we all know how hard it is even for an individual who has been in receipt of £500 a year to adapt himself to a reduced income of £300. Will the Prime Minister say that, under such circumstances, the necessary majority of the people in the necessary majority of the States could be obtained to alter the Constitution? Would ic not be maintained by those interested, and who, perhaps, were less Australian than provincial, that there was a breach of faith? I feel confident that that would be the result; and, therefore, I think it would be the much easier way to adopt my suggestion - to let the States have the payment on their own terms of 25s. per capita, with the proposed limitation. There would be time for all parties to adjust themselves to the conditions. The States would never have got into extravagant habits, because, as I pointed out, up till now, and always during the arrangement, they would practically be reaping no benefit from the per capita allowance so far as their ordinary expenditure is concerned. If, at the end of the time, they got the 25s. per capita, with no deduction, the natural result would be extravagance, and, in addition, those who imposed the taxes would have no power, over them. Thus we should have the extraordinary result of one body imposing taxes, and another body spending the money so raised. Looking at the matter from every standpoint, I say, “Let us act as wise men.” It would be a matter of much regret to me if this House considered that I was embarrassing the Government in any way.
– The honorable member was quite right when he said that this should not be regarded as a party question.
– It is not a party question, and I do not treat it as such. Let us clearly understand the position. The Government had to accept the invitation to the Premiers’ Conference. They were wise; and have done good work. They have brought the question perceptibly nearer settlement, and my proposals deal with their arrangement and say “ Yes, we accept that arrangement, with the further proviso that, instead of treating the’ taking over of the debts as a matter for further inquiry, we complete the transaction in one act.” I think I have shown good reasons for saying that there is no need for further inquiry, once the amount which we have to pay to the States has been -fixed. Let us, therefore, complete the transaction and put it all before the people by submitting new sections to supersede the old financial sections of the Constitution. In that way we shall complete this business and have done with it for all time.
– The honorable member might deal with the point that it is most difficult to alter the ‘ Constitution, because three of the lesser States might have only one-fourth of the population, and yet might prevent the majority from securing an alteration.
– I do not see how I can deal with that.
– And what States are going to be the lesser States twenty-five years hence ?
– If the honorable member for Wide Bay refers to the present, I think the surest way to secure the support of the people is to enter into an arrangement which would be so conspicuously fair that, whatever interested politicians or others might put before them, the people would feel that it was an arrangement which was for the benefit of Australia, and all the more so if both sides of the House deal with the question as would a Convention, and not as if it were a question of party politics. Let honorable members not oppose the arrangement, either as proposed or as suggested to be amended, simply because it comes from the other side of the House; but let us all, as members of this great Parliament, which has the fortunes of Australia in its hands, act together in this matter, which is the most important of all, and put aside for the time being all party feeling, saying “ Come, let us reason together ; let us settle what is the right thing to be done, what is fair and liberal, and what will be the best for Australia.” If we do that, I think we shall have done our duty. I had considerable misgivings at first as to the position I should be compelled to take up, but I have seen my way clearly to aid the Government. My object is to aid and not to embarrass them. I want to help them to settle these great questions. If mv opinions and my influence have an effect in settling the question as I should like to see it settled, good ; if, on the other hand, this House and the Government and the country take a different view pf the position, T shall bow to their decision and feel that I have done my duty.
Debate (on motion bv Mr. McDonald) adjourned.
– 1 have obtained from the honorable member for Mernda a statement of figures from which he made some quotations to-night. It appears that those quotations are not sufficient to make the whole statement perfectly clear, and that it was inconvenient at the time for the honorable member to read all the figures, or for other honorable members to have to listen to them. In the circumstances, I propose to follow the course which I adopted previously, and to order the figures to be embodied in Hansard.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I desire to inform honorable members that a reply has been received from the Lords of the Treasury with reference to the proposed inscription upon- Commonwealth coinage. The suggestion of the Lords of the Treasury is that we should adopt for future Australian coins the wording already adopted on the Australian sovereign and half-sovereign with which we are familiar. That meets the wishes of honorable members since it contains the abbreviation “Ind. Imp.” which, however it may sound, means Emperor of India. In these circumstances, a happy solution has been reached.
– - I wish to call the attention of the Attorney-General to the action of New South Wales and Victoria with regard to potatoes. I shall quote from an article which appeared in to-day’s Age, in order to show that the Commonwealth Government have made, a mistake in not administering the Quarantine Act in such a way that the States shall not quarrel and fight each other. The Age says : -
Some mild comments were made by the Minister of Agriculture yesterday respecting the unsatisfactory reply of the New South Wales Min*ister to his telegraphed inquiry as to when New South Wales would remove the prohibition against the admission of Victorian potatoes to that State. In his telegram Mr. Graham stated that merchants were much concerned about the retention of the prohibition, and that Victoria had complied with all the provisions agreed to at the recent conference. Mr. Perry, the New South Wales Minister, in reply, telegraphed : - “ Not concerned about merchants. Have not yet completed investigations in this State. So far have found blight in Clarence and Richmond River districts, and have traced seed to Victoria and Tasmania. Am of opinion that investigation in all States should be complete, and that each should be in a position to declare districts absolutely clean before it is advisable to remove prohibition.”
Commenting upon this, Mr. Graham points out :
The prohibition is blocking business altogether. All the potatoes sent to the Riverina go into consumption, and are not used for seed at all, so consignments might have been admitted there at any rate with safety.
This shows what happens when a State can exercise the power of prohibiting the products of other States. I trust that the Attorney-General will at once look into the matter, and will insist that the Commonwealth shall exercise its absolute sovereign power, and not permit a State to interfere with Inter-State trade and commerce. 1 also wish to point out to the Commonwealth Government that in the United States, when a great disaster has overtaken the producers of a certain portion of the country, the Federal Government places a certain amount on the Estimates to be distributed amongst the sufferers. That is to say, the Government grants a limited amount of compensation. I can remember when great floods came down the Ohio valley and destroyed the crops of a great number of people. The United States Government sent special trains from Kansas, Missouri, and other States, laden with corn, seeds, and material to enable the producers to start again. I think the Commonwealth Government ought to put an amount on the Estimates to compensate the Tasmanian producers who have suffered from the unfortunate trouble that has overtaken them. If Federation does not mean the strong helping the weak, what is the use of it? At any rate, the AttorneyGeneral should insist that this miserable, parochial, provincial interference with trade and commerce shall be stopped at once.
.- The difficulty in regard to the matter mentioned by the honorable member for Darwin has arisen in consequence of the fact that when the former Deakin Government brought forward a provision in the Quarantine Bill relating to animals and plants, they were not allowed to carry their proposal. But now that the Prime Minister has a considerable majority behind him, I trust that he will bring forward an amendment of the Quarantine Act, taking full power to the Commonwealth in regard to the quarantining of plants and produce. Federation was brought about for the purpose of establishing Inter- State Free Trade. At the present time, we have not Inter-State Free Trade, but Inter-State prohibition. The crops of one State are prohibited because there is a surplus of produce in other States. The pretext is that diseased potatoes must be prohibited ; but, as a matter of fact, the importation of absolutely sound potatoes is being stopped.
– A State must prohibit the spread of disease.
– I quite agree that the spread of disease must be checked ; but
I venture to say that if there was a case of small-pox in Melbourne, this city would not be completely isolated, and Melbourne people would not be prohibited from travelling to other States. Inasmuch as we have hundreds of tons of good potatoes in Tasmania, I do not see why they should be excluded from Victoria and New South Wales markets. We have, in fact, hundreds of tons of potatoes produced in districts where there is no disease whatever. Yet they cannot be sent to Victoria at the present time. In my opinion, these States have taken up their present attitude simply because their own producers have a full crop, and do not want to have their monopoly broken down.
.- I regret that I was not in the chamber on Friday last when allusion was made to the death of the late Sir Thomas Kent. I was at the moment receiving a deputation of my constituents outside. Otherwise, I should have added my quota to the memory of a great Australian. I knew Sir Thomas Bent - or rather Tom Bent, as Ave always called him - for over twenty years. With the exception of the Prime Minister, I think that my intimacy with him extended over a longer period than did that of any other member of this House. He was a man of great decision of character. Let me give an instance. At the present time, we have admission cards, by means of which citizens are accommodated in seats in the galleries of this Chamber. They were introduced while Sir Thomas Bent was Speaker of the Victorian Legislative Assembly ; and the system was very soon adopted all over Australia. I endeavoured to introduce this method of admission during the Speakership of a previous occupant of the chair ; but he could not see the advantage of it. I became familiar with the system years before in London. When Sir Thomas Bent became Speaker, I showed it to him, and in less than five minutes, he had decided to adopt the card method. He sent for the late Mr. W. V. Robinson, then Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, and ordered 1,000 cards to be printed forthwith. The same decision of character enabled him to face many great difficulties. Shortly before the crash of the boom came, he had been injured by a stone which fell from a portion of this building, which is now being supported by timber. He was involved in difficulties which clung to him throughout the greater part of the remainder of his life. At this period, I went to him on behalf of a woman who had purchased a property. 1 explained her case to him, and he at once arranged matters so that the unfortunate woman did not lose a penny-piece, although I know that things were hard for him at that time. When there was a danger of his being made insolvent, he was urged to take advantage of the Act which allowed a. person to compromise with his creditors. But he said, “No; if I go insolvent, I shall be compelled to do so, but I will not of my own accord. I will do the best I can to pay off my creditors.” When I was leader of the unemployed for close on twelve years, I often went to TomBent for help. On one occasion, he sent up 10 tons of potatoes, of which I superintended the distribution amongst the unemployed. Another fact that has to be mentioned in his honour is that he was one of those who prevented the Melbourne Tramway Company from securing a monopoly for all time. In this matter, he acted in conjunction with the late Mr. Godfrey Downes Carter. Through their instrumentality, the lease of the company was restricted to thirty-three years. Mr. Carter lost his seat ; but, nevertheless, the Tramway Company was prevented from securing a monopoly over the streets of Melbourne, from which only a revolution could have shifted them. Another’ thing that should be mentioned is in relation to the Brighton Tramway. When he asked me for my vote in connexion with it, I said, “ I will give it, if you will secure to the workmen eight hours a day, six days a week work, and a minimum of £2 a week pay.” He said, “ I will not do it. I think that every man engaged on that work is worth 7s. a day. I will agree to the insertion of a clause providing for the payment of 42s. a week for six days of eight hours each.” The clause was carried, and when the Legislative Council wanted to throw it out he said, “No. I gave my promise that the Bill would contain the clause. If you will not pass the Bill with the clause, drop it.” That clause enunciated - for the first time in the history of the world, I believe - the principle of six working days of eight hours each at 7s. a day. Well do I remember the time when I was making a collection for a member. Knowing how severely Mr. Bent had been hit I would not ask him for a subscription, and passed him by. Having learnt from the conversation of other members that I was making a collection, he said, “ Maloney, why did ‘ you not ask me for a contribution?” I replied, “Mr. Bent, I knew that you bad been hit too hard, and, therefore, I would not ask you.” “Look here, my boy,” he said, taking a sovereign out of his pocket, “ you must take this to the man,’ and if I were not placed as I am, you could have £100 as easily as £1.” I want to impress upon you, Mr. Speaker, that it was with the greatest difficulty that I obtained a cast of the features of the late Mr. Duncan . Gillies. I had to insist upon the coffin being opened in order to. get the cast taken. When men loom largely in our Australian firmament, whether it be in the far west or on the sun-dried plains of the centre, or in the northern part of New South Wales, there should be some means by which we could take a cast of their faces so that in the future if it is desired to raise mementoes to them we should have casts available, and the sculptor could prepare for us works which would live much longer than any products of the art of the portrait painter. Words are useless I know to express one’s feelings, but I could not allow this opportunity to pass without paying a tribute to the memory of Mr. Bent. As a personal friend, I loved him ; as a man, when he once gave his word he kept it, and I canonly say of him as a real good Democrat, “ Peace to his ashes, and may God rest his soul.”
– If I had been in my place in the House last week it would have been my melancholy duty to have expressed our sentiments in regard to the sudden decease of the late Premier of Victoria ; but that duty having been fully and admirably discharged by my honorable colleague, any further tribute would be merely personal. May I say to the honorable member for Darwin that the Quarantine law which is merely exclusive and prohibitive in its character, even if extended, would not affect his particular case, ‘ but that all the proceedings in regard to it are receiving the closest attention of the AttorneyGeneral. We have put ourselves in communication with the States, and are keeping in touch with the matter at every turn. Whenever it is possible that any influence can be exercised, even, as he is aware, were it only a personal influence, I shall endeavour to exercise it on behalf of any who are suffering without justification.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.47 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 September 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090921_reps_3_51/>.