3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took thechairat 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Minister of Home Affairs say when he is likely to submit to the House the report of the officials of his Department on the voting machines which they are examining?
– As soon as the Board has had an opportunity to examine an improvement which is now being perfected, it will report on the machines which have been brought under its notice, and the report will be laid on the table.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether it is the intention of the Government to be represented . at the Conference to be convened by the President of the United States to consider the conservation of the national resources of the world?
– No greater proposal has vet been submitted, or is likely to be submitted, to any Conference. The Government is considering the representation of Australia.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Leprosy - Report by Dr. Bull respecting tbe International Conference held at Bergen, Norway,16th19th August, 1909.
Transcontinental Railway, Kalgoorlie to Fort Augusta - Instructions to the Engineers-in-Chief in connexion with the Trial Surveys; Ministerial Approval of the sum of , £20,000, adoption of route, viâ Tarcoola, &c. ; Report by the Engineers-in-Chief.
Ordered to be printed.
TelephoneBranch : Instruments : Complaints re Service : Ora Banda Connexion : Erection of Lines, New South Wales : Perth Post Office.
– It is stated in this morning’s newspapers that the PostmasterGeneral has asked for tenders for the supply of 20,000 telephone instruments. Dees the honorablegentleman propose to inquire thatthe instruments shall have fixed transmitters?
– There are no rigid conditions regarding form or pattern. Tenderers may offer the best machines which they are in a position to supply.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral account for the long delays which take place when subscribers wish to communicate by telephone? One has often to wait a long while to obtain a reply from an attendant, and throughout New South Wales the service is generally inefficient.
– I am not prepared to admit the general inefficiency of the service. There may be ground for occasional complaints of delay, but it is due chiefly to the pressure of business. The attendants try to serve the subscribers as rapidly as possible; but in such a large business slight delay is occasionally unavoidable.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made in Western Australia, and the desired information will be supplied as early as possible.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made in New South Wales, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Has a report yet been submitted by the Departmental Commitee appointed to inquire into the question of a new post-office for Perth; and, if so, what conclusions, if any, have been come to?
– The apswer to the honorable member’s question is -
Yes. A report has been furnished by the Departmental Committee appointed to inquire into the question of a new post-office for Perth, recommending that the General Post Office be removed to a new building specially designed for the purpose on a suitable site to be acquired, apart from the Telephone and Stores Branches (which it is suggested should be in separate buildings). These recommendations are subject to the State Government agreeing to accept retransfer of the existing premises.
As some considerable time must necessarily elapse in securing a site and erecting the new building, the Committee has suggested various alterations and re-arrangements of rooms in the meantime, involving an expenditure of between £200 and £300.
These recommendations have been approved by me, and referred to the Department of Home Affairs.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
With further reference to the operations of the Newcastle Coal Vend in restriction of trade - 1. Has he seen statements in the press to the effect that-
Only a short time ago the s.s. Beulah was refused a cargo of coal ?
That the “colliery proprietors of Australia charge ns. per ton f.o.b. Newcastle for their coal for consumption in the Commonwealth and New Zealand,” while they are “ selling for foreign shipment at about 8s. per ton f.o.b. Newcastle, under the cloak of a c.i.f. price.”?
That a “ gentleman from England (controlling a large fleet of steamers), whose arrival in Sydney was recently heralded in the newspapers, is now here with the object, in conjunction with a Newcastle firm, of obtaining the sole right to charter for and sell the coals from the collieries controlled by the’ Vend ‘ for foreign shipment. Thus, if the agreement is consummated, it will be done at the expense of the consumers of coal in Australia “ ?
Will he endeavour to ascertain the truth or otherwise of these published statements, with a view to taking such steps as may be necessary to protect the public from being victimized by unnecessarily high prices for theircoal, and insuring that there shall be no interference by the “ Vend” with the trading rights of any member of the community?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are
Debate resumed from21st September (vide page 3630), on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- Happily, before the end of the third Parliament, defence, which was considered one of the important questions to be dealt with, by the Commonwealth, is being undertaken seriously. It is not a partymatter, and will not be made so by the Opposition. My remarks will be exceedingly brief, but, at the outset, I should like to say that the present position of affairs is largely due to the honorable member for West Sydney. Those who remember the first Parliament will recollect that, like a voice crying in the wilderness, he then declared that our defence system was inadequate, and so faulty in principle that it must in the long run fail. He advocated the establishment of a citizen defence force, which is practically what the Government now propose.
– That was provided for in the Act of 1902.
– The Treasurer will not get much support if he endeavours to discredit what the honorable member for West Sydney has done in this matter. It is true that the members of the first Parliament were generally in favour of the creation of a citizen defence force, but the Minister of Defence, when moving the second reading of this Bill, declared that we have no real defence system. Had the existing legislation been effective, there would be no need for the Bill.
– Parliament cut down the Defence Estimates’ at the start.
– The right honorable gentleman claimed that the existing Act would be effective if we had plenty of money to ‘expend on defence. I do not agree with that contention. I should be glad to be able to agree with the honorable gentleman. Nothing would delight me more than to know that we could defend Australia effectively by the adoption of a volunteer system. That has always been my hope and desire, but the military experts have told one Federal Government after another that the volunteer system has absolutely failed. It is no longer a matter of money, but a question of principle. It is now a question’ whether every citizen of the Commonwealth should not undertake the first duty of a citizen of any country, and be prepared to protect its honour and its interests.
-Order! The loud hum of conversation must be distressing to the honorable member addressing the House, and it makes it difficult for me to hear what he is saying. I trust that honorable members will not continue to carry on conversations in such a loud tone as to interfere with the honorable member addressing the Chair.
– I intend to say what I have to say despite the conversation. Speaking generally, the principle of this Bill is not in question, and any contentious features of it can be discussed in Committee. However, the proposed departure is one of such importance that it will not be entirely out of place at the present moment to give it some attention. Speaking for the party I have the honour to lead in this House, I should like to say . that it must be understood that in supporting a measure of this kind we have no desire whatever to assail, in any way, the interests of people of other countries. I should like it to be understood that we regard the measure as making provision only for defence. Undoubtedly, the fate of the
British Empire must be of interest to us in Australia.
– It includes us.
– Of course it does. But our primary and almost our sole duty is to provide for the defence of this great island continent and the territories under its control. I wish for a moment to refer lo the naval side of the question, on which the Minister of Defence was most interesting, in the speech in which he put the measure before the House. The honorable gentleman delivered a carefully-prepared speech. So carefully prepared was it that on one occasion, when he proposed to depart from his manuscript, his chief suggested that he should “ read on.”
– I do not recollect that.
– I made a note of the incident at the time. I congratulate the honorable gentleman upon having prepared his speech so carefully. I asked him on one occasion to say whom he was quoting, and, looking at his manuscript, the honorable gentleman, said that he was quoting himself. i
– I made the remark attributed to me at a time when honorable members, by interjection, were endeavouring to draw the Minister of Defence off the track.
– I do not complain of the care which the Minister of Defence took in. preparing his speech ; in fact, the more carefully such a speech is prepared the greater the commendation due to the honorable member who prepares it.
– But if the honorable member means to suggest that the speech was written, he is quite wrong.
-I am glad to hear that. It was necessary that the honorable gentleman should carefully prepare his speech, because there were many pitfalls which he was obliged to avoid. He must have recollected his own previous statements on the question. He must have remembered that earlier in this year he had condemned the very principle he had to adopt’ in this Bill. Speaking at various places in Australia earlier in this year he condemned the principle of the naval policy he has adopted in this Bill.
– The honorable gentleman has the audacity to say now that he did nothing of the kind. The evidence that he did so is everywhere, and it is unnecessary for me to make specific quota-‘ tions to prove that again and again he stated that the proposals put forward by
Senator Pearce as Minister of Defence in the Government which I had the honour to lead were bad in policy and in principle.
– The honorable gentleman is speaking of naval defence now.
– Does the honorable gentleman wish me to say the same now ?
– I am not complaining. On the contrary, I congratulate the honorable gentleman upon his conversion.
– Not at all.
– The honorable gentleman compliments the Minister of Defence upon the rapidity of his conversion.
– I think that I can say for honorable members behind me that they are delighted to find the Minister of Defence so complacently agreeing to what he had previously condemned.
– The honorable member is quite wrong, but that does not matter.
– It is only just to the honorable gentleman that I should say that he condemned our policy without understanding it’. He is therefore to be excused if, after ‘ he has had an opportunity to understand that policy, he has seen fit to adopt it.
– Does the honorable gentleman imply that the Minister of Defence approves of the policy now, because Le misunderstands it?
– I do not say that. The Minister of Defence must remember that he denounced the proposals of the Labour Government with regard to torpedo boat destroyers;. He referred to these as vessels that were useful only for river defence. The honorable gentleman made an unfortunate slip, and because these vessels were described as of the “ River “ class, he assumed that they were intended only for river defence.
– It is strange that the honorable gentleman’s remarks should have impressed the representatives’ of the press and myself in the same way. The honorable gentleman will not deny that time and again he condemned this class of vessel, and that his distinguished predecessor in the office of Leader of the Opposition, the right’ honorable member for East Sydney, spoke of them as constituting a “tin-pot navy.” The honorable ‘member for Lang, whom I do not see present, said that the proposals of the Fisher Government were not really for the defence of Australia, but were intended . primarily to secure the separation of Australia from the ‘Mother Country.
– So they were. That is the ultimate object of the step by step process.
– What can be said of honorable members who obtain seats in this House and can hold such ideas? No national progress can be made when men have minds of that kind. Honorable members upon this side could in many instances attack the Bill submitted by the present Government because it is not upon all fours with their ideas, but they con-
Rider the national defence of Australia as of far more importance than mere differences of opinion regarding details. It is for that reason that we accept the principle of the Bill, because we believe the scheme will work out ultimately for the good of Australia, and, if passed into law, help to safeguard the best interests of the Empire. I am entitled, in those circumstances, to draw attention to statements made by honorable members. I thought at first that there was only one man in this House who could lower himself to make such an assertion as that made by the honorable member for Lang, and yet we find it repeated by another honorable member. Do the principles of a scheme alter simply because they are brought in by another Ministry? Let me read our proposals. On the 30th March the programme of the late Government was announced as follows : -
Turn now to the Imperial Defence Conference scheme, which has been practically adopted by the present Government. Here let me interpolate that I think the time has come when the Government ought to be in possession of some report from that Conference to place before honorable members. I do not know whether the Minister of Defence has received it yet, but it ought to be in his hands by this time. At any rate, I have information that the Con- ference practically suggested, if it did not formally recommend, the following proposals : - 1 armoured cruiser of the Indomitable class, 17,250 tons, 27 knots, war complement 731. In this case the total annual maintenance cost and the total capital cost of all the proposed vessels are grouped together, showing that the annual cost of the whole is to be £750,000, and the actual capital cost £3,750,000. In addition to the armoured cruiser of the Indomitable class-
– A cruiser of the Dreadnought type.
– The honorable member may call it what he pleases, but in the official statement it is called an armoured cruiser of the Indomitable class.
– The honorable member knows that the Indomitable is only ‘ a modification of the Dreadnought, with improvements.
– I assure the honorable member that I have heard that already. ‘
– Then why does the honorable member harp on the -name of the ship ?
– I am in this case a stickler for official etiquette, and I call the vessel a cruiser of the Indomitable class, because that is its official title.
– Do say that it is like a Dreadnoughtl
– To please the Minister of Defence I will say that it is called an Indomitable, but that it also, in his opinion, should be called a Dreadnought. There are to be also three second-class protected cruisers of the Bristol class, and six destroyers of the improved River class - the very class of vessel which the present Minister utterly condemned as inadequate and unsuitable for Australia. The Prime Minister and others also went ranting about the country stating that the idea of getting ships of this kind for Australia had arisen in the minds of incompetents, and that only a Labour Government would suggest such a thing. Yet the experts of the Empire, after discussing thematter, approved of the very class of vessel which the Labour Government advised the people to adopt. Nobody would be silly enough to believe that the members of the previous Government were better informed individually on the question than are the members of the present Government. They had, like sensible men, to take the best advice available to them at the time.
– In any case, it is only a Departmental scheme.
– The only difference, as the honorable member for Dalley will agree, is that we had the courage to do a new thing, and take the responsibility of it.
– And also the courage to say that you would have them built in Australia. That is what I want the others to say.
– In that respect we did all that we possibly could. I have been as strongly in favour of having our early ships built here as is any member. But as regards the initiation of a system of construction here, I think Senator Pearce’s suggestion, which was adopted by the Government - to have two of the destroyers built in Great Britain by a first-class firm, recommended by the Admiralty, and the other built in parts to be put together out here - constituted the very best method of starting ship-building of that class in Australia.
– We ought to build them all here if we can.
– It was the policy and intention of the previous Government to have the ships built in Australia. But there are a great number of people who talk about having them built here, but who have no intention of giving effect to their professions. Since we left office there has been no real effort even to find a place at which to put the third destroyer together. We hear of dock facilities-
– I can name a good place - Cockatoo Island.
– It is a matter of perfect indifference to me at what place in Australia the ships are constructed. It is more important that we should begin to do it. Even if we wasted £500,000 in initiating a building scheme in Australia, it would not be a loss in the true sense of the word.
– We should have a bounty on ship-building.
– That is not the question. The point which we have to bear in mind is that until we enter upon the construction of these vessels in Australia, we shall suffer a loss of prestige, and miss an opportunity to have men trained for the work. Many people think that because such vessels have not been built in Australia they cannot be constructed here.
– The honorable member’s Government could not obtain the necessary specifications unlessthey agreed to have at least one of the vessels built in the Old Country.
Mr.FISHER.- That is correct. We thought that if it were possible we should have the vessels of the fleet proposed by us constructed here. We accordingly made application for the necessary specifications, but were politely informed by the firms concerned that they conducted their business in order to make a profit, and not on a purely sentimental basis. Like every one else they were prepared on occasions to crv out for the defence of the Empire, but they desired to deal with us on a business footing. They informed us that they had the specifications of the class of vessels approved by the Admiralty, and should be glad to build them for us. We were able, however, to make an agreement under which two would be constructed in the Old Country, and the third would be brought out in sections and put together here. The following table sets forth the history of Australian naval proposals -
I am more than pleased at the attitude taken by this Government, and am delighted that the recommendations made to my Government are shown to have been on the soundest possible lines. I desire now to refer to the proposed gift of a Dreadnought. It was alleged in April last - and by none more emphatically and repeatedly than by the Minister of Defence - that the defence of the Empire lay, not in the Pacific, but in the North Sea. The honorable gentleman said that the small vessels that we proposed to construct were useless for the defence of the Empire, and that the Commonwealth should present Great Britain with a Dreadnought or nothing. I can well understand the eagerness of the honorable member for Parkes and others to induce the people to believe that the armoured cruiser which is now to be constructed for service in* the Pacific - and which is to form part of the Commonwealth naval unit - will be equivalent to the gift of a Dreadnought. That, however, is not in keeping with the views expressed by the honorable member in the early part of this year. The Minister of Defence at that time said that Australia ought to give the Mother Country a Dreadnought and so assist her to keep pace with her European competitors in the race for naval supremacy.
– Hear, hear !
– The honorable member admits the correctness of my statement. I had the temerity then to say that the prestige of Great Britain was not in danger, and it is now admitted that no naval power can seriously menace her. It is doubtful, indeed, whether any two naval powers could do Great Britain much damage at the present time. And yet Australia, which had not a warship of its own, was asked to give a Dreadnought to the Mother Country - well equipped and capable of looking after her own affairs as. she was - before we took any steps for our own defence. In the circumstances it . is only fair that the present Government, and especially the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs, who said at the time that the conditions were such that the gift of a Dreadnought to the Mother Country was absolutely essential, should admit that they were in error, and were amongst the many who then suffered from mere hysteria.
– Never !
– It is a humiliating fact that of recent years Britishers have shown that they can be as hysterical as some other people whom I need not name.
– It was a mere political dodge.
– I shall not go so far as to make that assertion. No doubt political considerations were largely at the root of the agitation, but I certainly did not believe that they were responsible at the outset for it. I sincerely regret that some people are not prepared to deal soberly and seriously with the great and important question of defence, and to advocate a policy to be proceeded with steadily in times of aggression as well as in times of peace. The late Government, while declining to have anything to do with the Dreadnought proposal, took occasion to communicate to the Imperial authorities their view regarding Australia’s connexion with the Empire, and stated what they were prepared to recommend the Commonwealth Parliament to do. So far from refusing to take part in the protection of the best interests of the Empire, we said that, whilst our policy was designed primarily and almost wholly for the protection of the shores of Australia, in time of war or national emergency, not only should we risk the promise of a Dreadnought, but would offer the Mother Country the whole of the resources of Australia to support her. That is the real position that we took up, and it is the view that I hold today. In moving the second reading of this Bill, the Minister of Defence did not make quite clear his view as to the extent to which the Imperial authorities would have control of our naval unit. I should like now to ask him whether the Imperial authorities, by reason of their contribution of £250,000 per annum towards the upkeep of the Australian Navy, will have’ any real control over it while it is in these waters or when it goes beyond them. That is a delicate question. There must be a link between the Imperial and the Commonwealth authority. The last Government had a definite idea upon the subject, and we put it into writing. We held that the sole control of the fleet must be with the Commonwealth. I can speak more freely on this question because I have never favoured the view that the fleet should not fight outside Australian waters. But there should be a clear and definite understanding. I wish to know whether the contribution of £250,000 provides for Commonwealth control?
– I shall make that clearlater.
– I am glad to have that promise. The matter must be handled with delicacy, because co-operation with the Imperial Fleet is absolutely necessary.
– It is a matter distinct from this Bill.
– As this Bill provides for the naval and military defence of Australia, we should know what is in the minds of the Ministers who will give effect to it.
– We wish to know what is to be the directing policy.
– Yes. There may be emergencies which will require our ship’s to fight elsewhere; but, generally speaking, they should not be taken to remote seas without the express authority of the Commonwealth.
– Yet they are to be for Empire defence ! Under such an arrangement they will be a source of weakness rather than of strength.
– The strength of the Empire will depend upon the ability of the five self-governing nations which compose it to provide for their own defence. If they can do so, the Empire will be better protected than by the assembling of its fleet at any point. I congratulate the Government upon having abandoned its Dreadnought proposal, and’ adopted the more sensible policy which was recommended to the country earlier. Strongas the Bill is, it fails in many ways to provide for the efficiency which is desirable. The Minister told us that we have practically no defence now, and he gave reasons why we should have an effective defence system. In my opinion his proposals do not go far enough to be wholly effective Many years ago, I did my part as a member of the Defence Force, and have always hoped that the volunteer principle would provide for the defence of the country. In deference to expert opinion, I have now abandoned that idea. The question is, whether it is not in the best interests of the community that every person capable of bearing arms should be properly trained. I think that the Minister has failed to provide for a sufficient amount of continuous training; though I do not intend to anticipate a more capable discussion of the matter by the honorable member for West Sydney. I do not see how members of the militia and the trainees associated with the militia can be expected to serve together satisfactorily while the former are receiving 8s. and the latter 4s. a day. The last Government was charged with having proposed to pay only 15s. a week.
– Does the honorable member suggest that we propose to pay too low a sum?
– The men must be paid adequately, or not at all. We did not propose to pay for military service, but estimated that 15s. a week would be sufficient to allow for expenses. Individuals lose nothing if they are trained at the expense, of the Government for the protection of their country. But if it be thought advisable to pay those so trained, they should be paid adequately. The Minister, to conciliate the honorable member for Corio, or some one else who has demanded that the men should be paid, suggests the sum of 4s. or 5s. In the meantime, the militia are to receive 8s., which will lead to mischief and trouble. In the South African war, trouble was caused because the Colonial troops were receiving a larger remuneration than was being paid to the Imperial troops.
– The arrangement does not lead to trouble here. Our volunteers are not paid.
– The volunteer system broke down twenty years ago. In my time - so long ago as 1886 or 1887 - the volunteers could not be got to go into camp in force.
– I recognise that difficulty ; but there are successful volunteer corps which have worked side by side with paid militia.
– The volunteers deserve credit, but, nevertheless, they cannot be compelled to go into camp, because they are not paid, and there is no penalty for non-attendance. My view is that the volunteers desire to become militia.
– That is so.
– As an individual citizen, I am glad that this measure has been brought forward, and I am sorry that it was not introduced earlier. Its administration will involve a large expenditure, but the Commonwealth is capable of providing for it. In my opinion, the physical training of our youth, and the teaching of our young men the arts of war, fitting them for the defence of their country, instead of making them aggressive will make them even more desirous of peace than they are now. Lord Roberts has stated that his ex- perience of war has taught him the value of peace. A great many of my friends have said to me that, had our people been trained to arms, and been armed, when the Dreadnought scare occurred, they would have been ready to enter upon a war, but, in my opinion, that is not so. I think that military training will teach them, as it has taught Lord Roberts, the value of peace, and that -they will not be unduly desirous of coming into conflict with other nations though ready to accept the responsibility of resisting offence. The Opposition will not make this a party measure, our desire being to promote the defence of the country, with a view to the protection of the best interests of the Empire, and the securing of the continued peace of the world.
.- The Leader of the Opposition has congratulated the Government upon the Bill, and I think that the House and the country were with him in doing so. He has also congratulated the Ministry, and particularly the Minister of Defence, on their conversion. When I contrast the present views of the Minister with his past utterances, I am convinced that no differences of opinion can permanently separate one man from another. I cannot recall a case in which, in so short a time, an honorable member has so completely altered his views as the Minister has done. I am glad that he has been converted, but I could have wished that in his speech he had given some indication of the fact, and of his recognition of the fact. Reading his speech, as I have done, very carefully, I find not the slightest indication of this monumental change of opinion on the part of the honorable gentleman. I should rather say’ that the speech appears to be the utterance of a man who from childhood upwards held to his belief with unwavering consistency and enthusiasm. When I remember that it was only a few months since . at the outside that the views set forth in his speech on this Bill were denounced most unsparingly, and that during the past six years there has scarcely been an occasion on which the honorable gentleman and myself have been uttering opinions on one side in this matter, I cannot help calling the attention of the House and the country to this extraordinary conversion. It is the more extraordinary by reason of its silent and unostentatious character. The honorable gentleman makes no boast about his conversion at all. He does not ask us to look at the effect of the climate on the Ministerial benches. He does not invite us to consider that a man holding, when on the Opposition benches, opinions heterodox to those he has now- expressed, has in the space of four months contrived to acquire an entirely new set much more congenial, much more useful, .and, circumstanced as he is, much more convenient than those which he has abandoned. The honorable gentleman does not say that. He is not a boastful man. He simply- goes on his way rejoicing, and I admit that he has every reason to do so. I congratulate him upon having adopted the principle of compulsory service. I do not propose to expatiate upon that principle to-day, because it is useless to speak of the excellence of that which most men now accept. But I cannot call to mind any proposal of such a revolutionary character which has so speedily’ found acceptance by the people. When we remember that on many occasions we have been told by the honorable gentleman, and by his late leader, the right honorable member for East Sydney, that this compulsion is repugnant to the genius of the British people- r-whatever . that may mean - and that the Minister of Defence, only last October, declared himself the implacable enemy of the compulsory system, and of the proposal that we should establish an Australian Navy, and when we see the one gentleman having, at least, the candour’ to declare his recantation on. the floor of the House, and the other, without such a preface, making a direct appeal on behalf of this policy, we cannot refrain from noticing and marvelling at the change. There must be a cause for this conversion, and we axe forced to attribute it to the wave of feeling outside.. Whatever may be said of the right honorable member for East Sydney, or the honorable member for Parramatta, no one has ever accused them of being fools. I suppose that no man has a more precise idea, or keeps a more lifting eye on the shifting wind of public opinion, than the right honorable member for East Sydney. And although the two honorable gentlemen referred to are not alike in many respects, I do not think the honorable member for Parramatta is much behind the right honorable member for East Sydney in this particular. We must therefore assume that we have converted, not only the members of this House, but the people of the country, to an opinion which six years ago could hardly find two supporters- in this
House. The Minister of Defence, like all converts, is very enthusiastic. But yesterday, and everything went well with the, Defence Department, or, at any rate, the defects disclosed in it were of a character not inherent, but only accidental. They could easily .be remedied without recourse to this system, which was in its very nature repugnant to the genius of the British race, and imposed an intolerable thrall upon the people. But when the honorable member for Parramatta gets into office, he declares, in the most positive way, that we are in a parlous state. He declares this to the House in a manner which would lead honorable members and the country to believe that it was something in the nature of a revelation - a revelation, I mean, vouchsafed to him only - that before his time it was unknown and that he has been selected as the vehicle to declare to the people of this country the views of the Imperial authorities in this respect. He says that he proposes to tell us that, so far from this country being open only to danger from a raid, it is open to danger of a very different kind altogether. He proposes to quote the opinions of Imperial authorities, so that the people and the members of this House may become aware of the gravity of the situation. It is doubtless a very good thing that the honorable gentleman should inform this House in any way of matters that have come to his knowledge for the first time, but I cannot help directing the attention of honorable members to the fact that, in October of last year-a time well in advance of that period of temporary hysteria in March or February of this year, that arose in connexion with the proposed offer of a Dreadnought - I pointed out, at considerable length, the position of Great Britain in the matter of naval supremacy as compared with Germany. I quoted from authorities as widely separated as Mr. Hyndman, the Socialist, Mr. Blatchford, the editor of The Clarion, the correspondent of the London Times, Lieutenant Dewar and men of that type, and Lord Roberts, to show conclusively that, at that time, it was perfectly well known to those in authority in Great Britain that this danger did exist, and that if no notice was taken of it. it was because the exigencies of the political situation did not then demand it. When this was declared in this House at that time, the right honorable member for East Sydney and the present Minister of Defence pooh-poohed the matter and de- clared there was nothing in it. Now the Minister of Defence accepts it as gospel, without any inquiry - and it is a curious feature of the honorable gentleman’s attitude that a man whose very nature is opposed to accepting anything without argument, and without plunging through a very world of waters, should accept now, without question, anything the Imperial authorities may say with regard to naval or military defence. I shall have something to say about his pliability in regard to naval defence in a moment. The Empire is in a bad way, but, thank Heaven, the honorable gentleman has arrived in time to at least insure its stability on this side of the world. He contemplates now the possibility of an invasion of this country of a very serious kind, and, being an eminently peaceful character - peaceful to such a degree that he is impelled to destroy everything within reasonable distance if he cannot secure peace in any other way - he has inquired into the matter carefully and has come down with a scheme for land defence. But the honorable gentleman has not had time even to familiarize himself with the question of naval defence, and has taken his policy on this subject, in the most obliging way, entirely from the Imperial Defence Conference, and, as he admits, without in the least degree knowing what it is. I think that is a most extraordinary admission, and it is an admission which was extorted from the honorable gentleman in so many words in reply to an interjection by the honorable member for Adelaide. Being asked to what we were committed, the Minister of Defence replied, that he did not know precisely what we were committed to, but that to what we were committed he was perfectly willing to agree. I shall now very briefly review the position with regard to naval defence. Contrasting the Government’s scheme - if it be a scheme at all, which I venture to question - with the Fisher scheme, these salient points of difference emerge. The Fisher scheme was a scheme for the defence of Australia. It was the first concrete scheme for the purpose that was put before the country. It was a scheme which recognised the unity ,of the Empire, and Australia’s duty as an integral part of it. It declared that the most effective way in which Australia could defend the Empire was by defending herself, and thus liberating the rest of the forces of the Empire for service in other directions. I thought then, and I think now, that that was an excellent plan. It was Imperial in its nature and yet patriotic. It appealed to the patriotic fervour of the Australian, which sadly needs kindling, and which, I venture to believe, this dampening of Imperialism which the honorable, gentleman contemplates will check rather than fan into flame. We proposed to establish what the honorable gentleman described as “ a tin-pot navy.” Nothing could have been further from the honorable gentleman’s thoughts at that time than the advocacy of such a scheme as this. Curiously enough, the Minister did not confine his criticism to the nature of our navy, but extended it to the proposed locale. He said the battle of the future was to be fought in the North Sea, and all our puny efforts in the Pacific Ocean would be thrown away. There was only one place in which a battle could be fought on which the welfare of the Empire would depend, and that was in the waters round about Great Britain. I feel sure the honorable member will not deny that he said that. Very well, what are the facts? The facts are that it is perfectly true, as 1 pointed out last October, that the Fleets of Great Britain have, owing, to the emergence of Germany as a great naval power, been withdrawn from the outer seas and concentrated in Home waters. But, while that is a fact, it does not at all lessen the responsibility of <-he Empire to its outermost portions, nor the danger from attack to those portions. We can see clearly enough that the equilibrium of Empire and Imperial interests is slowly shifting. The Pacific is now - or will soon be - a centre no less important than the North Sea. To-day, according to the honorable gentleman’s own showing, the Pacific is policed and guarded by fifteen battleships of Japan, by, I think, one battleship of the United States, by a number of armoured cruisers of Japan and of the United States, and by four armoured cruisers of Great Britain. Obviously, save for our alliance with Japan, never were people in such a parlous position as we. But that state of things is not a new one. It has not arisen since the honorable gentleman took office. It was equally, aye, it was more true last November, because at that time trie relations between the United States and Japan were so strained that, had it not been, for the statesmanship and diplomacy of the President of the United States, and some restraint exercised in high quarters upon both sides, there was likely to be precipitated in the Pacific a struggle the ripples of which would have washed these shores. The present position of things in the Pacific is as I have stated, and the Imperial Defence Conference has recognised the necessity for stationing a fleet in those waters. The honorable gentleman then has gone back first on his opposition to compulsory service, and secondly on the necessity for centering the whole of the naval power of the Empire in the North Sea. I can conceive of no two opinions more important than those, nor recall one occasion where there has been such a complete abandonment of opinions equally important in so short a period. With regard to the Navy proposed by the Government, one or two things may be said. The honorable gentleman quotes the dictum of the Imperial Defence Conference of 1906 to the effect that the influence of sea-power can not by itself decide the issue of a war for national existence. As that opinion was uttered in 1906, it was perfectly open to the honorable gentleman to have noticed it before, but he never did so. There is no policy with regard to the cost of this Navy. None has been declared and none has been formulated. There is no principle underlying it. We do not know who is to control the Navy; we do not know where it is to be located, nor the sphere of its operations. We do not know even whether the men who are to be drafted into it are to be provided on a volunteer or a compulsory basis, or partly on both. We do not know what they are to be paid, or whether they are liable to be taken from these ships and transferred willy-nilly to British ships in another .part of the world. We do not know whether the ships of the squadron, which are called Australian ships, are to be liable tobe transferred toother parts of the world. We do not know whether the fleet is to be partly reinforced by a British squadron in these waters. We do not know whether, if that is the case, the British Vice-Admiral will have command of the whole squadron, including the Australian ships. In “fact, we know nothing at all about it. But we are told in the honorable member’s speech - and perhaps the honorable member will tell us to what extent the information is reliable - that it is proposed to exchange men as opportunity may arise for the purpose of affording them facilities for instruction, and that it is proposed further to interchange ships. When that was said, it was remarked by interjection that it was a very serious thing, and I think it is very serious. To take an Australian vessel, into which men volunteer for service; and transfer it to the China or the Atlantic station, or to the Home Fleet, is in effect to make this a contribution in kind to the British Navy. That may be good or bad, but I say that the Government cannot, under cover of creating an Australian Navy, ‘ impose upon the people of this country an increased subsidy. The fleet as at present proposed - and the honorable gentleman does not know whether we are to have any more vessels, but says that if we are to have any more we shall have to get them - is to cost .£3,750,000 foi construction, and £750,000 per annum for up-keep. Of the latter amount Great Britain is to pay £250,000 per annum during the currency of the subsidy, and we are to pay her a subsidy of £200,000 per annum. Consequently for a certain number of years the fleet is to cost us £700,000, and afterwards £750,000, per annum. This proposal then contemplates the borrowing of a sufficient amount of money to pay for building the fleet. The interest’ upon £3,750,000 will not fall far. short of ,£150,000 per annum. Adding that to the cost of upkeep gives- us £900,000.- Therefore, the sum necessary to keep up the fleet and pay the interest upon the cost of construction is £900,000 per annum. If the fleet is at any’ time likely to be transferred as a whole, and it can always be transferred in part, to different parts of the world, it is to be in effect a contribution in kind to the British Navy, towards the cost of which we shall, therefore, pay to the tune practically of £1, 000,000 per annum. I say nothing at all about that. It may be an excellent idea. I am not going to say that it is not worth while to pay £1,000,000 per annum to Great Britain, or, if we look at it in that light, that £1,000,000 is not a fair quota for us to pay. Do not run away with the idea that I am quarrelling as to the amount, or with the thing itself. But the Imperial Defence Conference was called together to formulate a system of Imperial defence to proceed along these lines : the raising by each local semi-independent State of a naval force which would be sufficient as far as possible to maintain its own integrity. Take the proposals of Canada, of New Zealand, and of Australia, and you ‘ will see clearly how much depended upon what the delegate from Australia said, and how we can see most plainly what he did say. Canada insisted on a navy under local control. It was a sine qua non also that it should be built locally. I am sure the honorable member has read the opinions of Mr. Amery, as expressed in the National Defence Magazine for, I think, May of this year. In fact, I know he has read them, because he quoted them here. Mr. Amery is a man of first class standing, and the author of the Times History of the South African War. He pointed out that it was an essential of Imperial Defence, viewed as a whole, that there should be dockyards, means of repairing vessels, and men trained to build and re- ‘ pair them, all over the Empire, and % that it was as essential to have dockyards and trained men in Australia, South Africa, Canada, and New Zealand, as it was to have ships upon the water in the North Sea and elsewhere. Now, how does the Minister of Defence view this question? Apparently as if it were a scheme concerning people living in this workaday world only in some vague and uncertain way. He speaks about war being the one indeterminate science. Of course the honorable gentleman is no more a warrior than I am, but he might at least have made himself familiar with a few facts of history. If he had, he would have found that between a battle fought under Alexander, a battle fought under Wellington, and a battle fought under Roberts, there are minor differences, but that certain essentials remain unchanged. You must have discipline, you must have sufficient numbers trained in the use of arms and inured to fatigue; you must have the guiding brain, and you must have a reasonable degree of equality in weapons. All the strategy and tactics - all the science of war - have been fixed. I do not deny that a new invention may compel an alteration in tactics. For instance, you no longer proceed in close order. The way to defend a country may vary, but the question of organization remains always the same. Now what does the honorable gentleman say in regard to naval defence? He has no coherent policy. He does not say, as the Fisher Government did, that we must have an Australian navy, built in Australia,- recruited by Australians, and appealing to Australian patriotism. Never was there a more effective, and, at the same time, more sensible, way of doing that than the one proceed by the Fisher Government.
One of the essentials of the successful naval defence of Australia is that the ships should be built here, and that the men should be here who are able to build and repair them. A ship is like an army. An army marches on its belly. It cannot get very far from the commissariat. When its lines of communication are cut, it is done. So a ship cannot get far from a dockyard or a coal hulk. If it does, it becomes helpless. Its radius is limited. The radius of half the honorable gentleman’s fleet is severely limited, and it is absolutely essential that the boats should be built here; for they will have to be coaled here, and repaired here. But the proposal of the Government is apparently to borrow the money from Great Britain, to have the ships built in Great Britain, and to pay to Great Britain every year an amount which will not be far short, both in money and in kind, of £1,000,000. I will now leave the naval defence question, because, although the honorable gentleman said a great deal about it, there is no reference to it in the measure. I assume, quite properly no doubt, that it was perfectly in order for him not to refer to a matter which does not appear in the Bill, and I shall look forward, as I am sure the House will, with considerable interest to the introduction of a measure to give effect to whatever policy the Government have regarding naval defence. I come now to land defence. I shall not weary the House with much detail, but shall deal briefly with one or two of the main features of the scheme. The Minister, being clothed with much responsibility, and feeling it weighing somewhat heavily upon him, wanted to see for himself exactly how things stood with us in Australia if we should- be attacked. He said -
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.
The honorable gentleman asked what would happen supposing a raid were announced to-morrow and an immediate mobilization had to be made. The position, he declared, would be practically one of helplessness. In forming that opinion, the honorable gentleman has had the advantage of expert advice, exhausting, I suppose, every channel of information, and covering the latest details at the disposal of his
Department. He made a plain declaration of the fact that Australia to-day stands like a ripe plum ready for the first predatory hand to pluck. The honorable member has been rather long in making this discovery. It has been said that every - member of Parliament ought to travel in order to broaden his knowledge, and if I thought that the effect of going from this to the Government side of the House would be to work so great a change of opinion on the part of other honorable members as has resulted from the honorable gentleman’s occupation of the front Treasury bench, I should suggest that all honorable members in turn should sit there. There is nothing more effective in assisting a man to realize that which the honorable member was quite unable to discover until he crossed the floor of the House. I confess that when I was over there I never saw anything different.
– How would the honorable member provide for stability ? They change again when they leave the Government side of the House.
– I shall not linger over such a frightful hint of backsliding as that which the honorable member suggests. What may happen after the Minister of Defence returns to this side of the House I do not know ; tout anything is possible. The Minister of Defence said 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.
He proposes to increase the Militia Forces from 23,000 to 29,000 by recruiting, and also to increase the garrison troops, although he has failed utterly to bring them up to their normal strength. The honorable member .has got hold of the idea of compulsory training without having in any sense assimilated the facts of the position. His words are self -condemnatory, but he does not realize that, having stated that this country is now helpless and undefended, he has failed to put forward a proposal that will place it in a more favorable position.
Mr.- Joseph Cook. - I made no such statement.
– I do not desire to condemn the honorable member, so far as the base of his proposals is concerned. A system of compulsory training is, by his own admission, necessary, but in compulsion itself there is absolutely no virtue. “We compel men to send their children to school, but there is no virtue in compelling them to do so any more than there is virtue in compelling a man to pay a tax. The point is that we can obtain revenue only by compelling people to pay taxation, and that it has been found that the most effective way of securing the education of our children is to compel their parents to send them to school. The chief question, so far as taxation is concerned, is not as to the principle of compulsion, but rather how and to what extent taxation is to be imposed. In the same way, in connexion with compulsory education, the chief consideration is not the question of compulsion, but how we are to educate the children when they go to school, and over what period they are to attend school. Th<s honorable’ member seems to think that, having said, “ I accept the great principle of compulsory training, and have made provision for it in this Bill,” ,he has created out of chaos an effective and coherent homogeneous organization, as he calls it, and that at one swoop we will take our place amongst the great nations of the earth. He assumes that in these circumstances we shall be able to defy the greatest and most dangerous of our opponents, and that we shall rise at once from the nadir of national despair to the very pinnacle of national greatness. If we provided that men should be trained for one day or for two days a year, that would undoubtedly be compulsory training, and if we compelled children to go to school for two months in the year, that would be compulsory education. Compulsion itself is neither good nor bad ; it is the application of the compulsion which is the essential point. We compel a man to pay a tax, but we do not fight over the question of compulsion. What we do fight over is the extent of the taxation to be paid, and the basis upon which it shall be levied. Under our system of compulsory education we declare that children shall attend school for a certain number of days in each quarter, failing which those responsible for their attendance shall be fined. We say, too, that when they attend school they must learn certain subjects. Surely, it is not easier to learn to defend one’s coun try than it is to learn the alphabet; yet we devote a considerable, and, perhaps, an unnecessarily long time to the learning of the alphabet. We also devote a considerable time, quite unnecessarily, no doubt, to the study of geography and of history. The Minister of Defence, without considering the application of the system of compulsory training, proposes that it shall be adopted, and says that we shall then place the country upon a firm, war-like footing. It is essential to the honorable gentleman’s contention that the force which he proposes to create shall be organized on a war-footing. I do not know whether he has ever contemplated what a war-footing is, but I must confess that the outline of his scheme fills me with despair. He proposes to create an army of children ; an army in which there will be no organization ; an army lacking the very first essentials of an army. It is to be an army lacking in discipline. The Minister does not understand what discipline is. He thinks that if we put a gun into a man’s hands and teach him how to stand erect and perform certain simple military evolutions he will at once become part of an army.
– I suppose that the honorable member understands .all about it.
– I know a good deal about the subject.
– I should say so, judging by the way in which the honorable member is speaking.
– There . is nothing at all mysterious about this matter. If I desired information, say, as to the condition of rocks in the post pliocene epoch, I should put a few questions to a geologist, or read a text book on the subject. If I were keenly anxious to learn more I should take a hammer, look at the stratum where the post pliocene rocks began, and examine the rocks for myself. The honorable member has utterly failed to understand what is the very basis of an army. As it was in Alexander’s time, or in the days of Napoleon, so it is to-day. The pitting of raw levies against seasoned troops has always produced but one result. Yet a raw levy is, according to the view of a military man, a seasoned veteran by comparison with the honorable .gentleman’s army. Let us refer for a moment to the opinion held by Lord Roberts, who, whatever his views may be, is a practical work-a-day soldier. He has not merely read about soldiering, or thought of it in a dream, or heard of it through a telephone. He is above all things a soldier, and although old in years is still in the plenitude of his vigour. He saw without crossing from one side of the House of Lords to the other that England was in danger. Indeed, he could not help seeing it, and he proposed a scheme whereby an expeditionary force would be available as required, whilst there would remain in England a sufficient force to repel invasion. He proposed that this force should be trained for not less than four months, of which three months should be devoted to daily drills, and one month to continuous camp drill. Let me remind the Minister of Defence that one month, normally speaking, is thirty days, or three and a half times as long as the honorable member proposes that his troops shall be drilled every year. Lord Roberts described his proposed period of training as the “ irreducible minimum,” and since the Minister of Defence has been listening to views expressed across the waters I invite him to listen to what Lord Roberts said, lest a few months hence we should hear the honorable gentleman confessing again that he knows nothing at all about the subject, and that what he said before was entirely erroneous. Lord Roberts said -
I myself would never have agreed to so short a period of recruits’ training as four months foi the Infantry and six months for the other arms, with a fortnight’s training in camp and a course of musketry annually during each of the next three years, if I had not calculated on the Citizen Army including in its numbers the most intelligent and the best educated men in the land…..
He went on to show upon what facts he based his opinions -
I was greatly influenced in coming to a decision on this most essential point by my recollection of the soldierly manner in which the C.I.V. did their work in South Africa, but only after they had been given an adequate amount of training.
The C.I.V. were volunteers, who, I assume, had had a degree of training extending over probably not less than two months, although it may have been spread over several years. They were all menover twenty-one or thereabouts. They were men of at least average intelligence. The volunteer per se is likely to gain knowledge more quickly than the pressed man. These were real volunteers. They did not join the service, as a man joins the regular army, under the lash of hunger. But after they had been in the force for some time, and had had the further advantage of drill during the voyage to South Africa, they were regarded as unfit for active service when they landed there. To continue my quotation -
The total strength was1,550 of all ranks, taken chiefly from Volunteer Corps in and around London, and comprising men of all classes of society, and of almost every profession and trade. Nine Regular Officers served with the C.I.V., and what was a very important addition - a second Colour-Sergeant of the Regular Army was attached to each company.
Perhaps honorable members do not realize what that meant. The Bill contains no provision for an instructional staff. As it stands, it is like an educational measure requiring children to attend school, and making no provision for their instruction -
Notwithstanding these great advantages, I think that everyone belonging to the corps will bear me out when I say that, on account of their want of practice and skill in shooting, and lack of training generally, the C.I.V. were not in a state to take the field when they first landed in Cape Town, even against an enemy so lightly trained as the Boers.
Where would they have been if brought face to face with regular troops ? -
Accordingly, I arranged for the corps to be encamped on a suitable site on the Orange River, where it remained for more than a month drilling and practising shooting. There was nothing to distract the men’s attention - it was work, work, work, all day, and this continued, as far as was practicable, throughout the next two months whilst on the march towards Pretoria, with the result that when the C.I.V. were for the first time seriously engaged all ranks acquitted themselves most creditably.
The man whose word ought to be accepted with respect - and it carries conviction to most men - has declared that a month’s continuous training is the minimum necessary to make a soldier fit for service, and that that training should be preceded by three months of day drill. What does the Minister propose? He commences with a cadet system, in which boys will enlist at the age of twelve years. I shall not argue now that ten would be a better age ; I have merely to say in this connexion that the drill given to boys between twelve and fourteen years of age cannot amount to more than physical training, excellent enough in its way, but not a preparation, except by improving their physique, for the defence of the country.
– The honorable member would not count such cadets in estimating the war establishment of the countrv?
– I would regard them as what they are, mere school boys. By no twisting of phrases can they be made anything else. The experience of those connected with schools is that up to the age of fourteen a boy learns little and. retains less, and it would be of no service to the lads were this training continued until they reach the age of eighteen years. But lads between the ages- of fourteen and eighteen years are to form senior cadet corps, which will have four whole-day. twelve half-day, and twenty-four night drills in the year. I ask those who know what drilling, means whether young men so trained will receive the equivalent of what is known as recruit drill? Certainly, they will not. Should the scheme be brought into operation, that will become evident. Let honorable members consider what it takes to make men familiar with simple evolutions, to teach them to shoot, and to discipline them. Discipline is something as much apart from the knowledge of military evolutions as is skill in shooting. It cannot be obtained without drill, though you can have drill without getting discipline. Discipline, as a factor in deciding battles, involves the subordination of the mind of the individual soldier to the word of command ; the placing of the conscious ego under the absolute control of authority. On its physical side, it involves the continued repetition of certain movements until they become automatic, and almost involuntary. At the word “ Attention,” even though shouted to him in the street, a man who had spent five or seven years in the regular army would involuntarily assume the attitude which follows that command, and it is only when movements become thus automatic that there is obtained that control which, in time of stress, when every fibre in a man’s being urges him to. run away as quickly as possible, is essential to keep men steady. Intelligence and readiness to absorb the details of military science will not help men at such moments; nothing will serve but a complete and almost automatic obedience to words of command, which follows from continued repetition of movements, and also the mental state in which all personal considerations are put aside, and the individual will is subordinated absolutely to that of the superior officer. Nothing else will enable bodies of men to face danger unmoved, and to tlo those things which are required of armies in time of war. Discipline involves the constant repetition of movements and the recognition of authority. Naturally,’ time is necessary to secure it.
– And money.
– I am not now concerned with the question of expense. The Minister says that our existing system is useless. If we are to substitute another for it, we must adopt one which will be effective. For the Citizen Forces, the Minister proposes sixteen whole-day drills ; for the Naval, Artillery, Engineer, and Military Forces, twenty-five whole-day drills, or their equivalent. The duration of a whole-day drill is to be not less than six hours, that of a half-day drill not less than three hours, and that of a night drill not less than one and a half hours. In my opinion, the military training which will be given to the junior cadets is a negligible quantity, while that which will be given to the senior cadets will be merely a preparation for recruit drill, and not its equivalent. The beginning and end of the Minister’s proposal is to give the senior men sixteen whole-day drills. I have shown that, in the opinion of the greatest British soldier of the day, that period is wholly inadequate. In Switzerland, forty-eight days was the’ original period of training for infantry, but it has been extended to sixty-five days, while in Great Britain the period for the training of militia, was formerly six weeks. A graver defect of the scheme is that the training ceases when men have reached the age of twenty. Men who have received only the barest semblance. of training are turned out when they reach that age, and are left without organization. The Minister has himself said that continuous organization is essential to success. A reserve must be capable of mobilization. It must be capable of being summoned to a unit, in short, it must be a component part of an existing and active organization. Under the honorable gentleman’s scheme, school boys are to be given eight days’ training. They are to be kept in hand until they are in their nineteenth and twentieth years, and then they are to be left. The honorable gentleman says that they will join the militia or be asked to attend one muster parade annually. They will naturally and certainly choose the latter alternative as a sufficient discharge of their duty to their country. I think that is perfectly clear. The honorable gentleman says that the volunteer system has broken down; yet he proposes to rely for the defence of this country upon a volunteer system. After all, with whom does he propose to fight our battles? With boys of between 14 and 18 years, with young men who have not received their training, or with young men who have just received eight days’ training? If it is to be with school boys, I venture to say the danger cannot be very real or imminent. If it is to be with men who have just completed this amount of training, then it is to be with volunteers, and, by the honorable gentleman’s own hypothesis, volunteers are useless, because his contention is that the volunteer system has broken down. I should like to make this point very clear. The Minister says that the volunteer system has broken down, but that under his system we shall secure an army. First of all, he says there is a militia force of 23,000 strong. He does not tell us, because he does not know, how he is going to improve recruiting to the militia. He is not going to offer any greater inducement to persons to join the militia. He says that he hopes to get a reserve of men who have gone through their training, and are between the ages of 20 and 26, numbering another 80,000. Then in the rifle clubs we shall have thoroughly trained and welldrilled men, all good material from a military point of view, and with these he estimates another 60,000. It is almost like the vision told of in an Arabian Nights’ story. A poor man. was sitting in the sun on a very fine day on the steps of a temple. He was selling ornaments which he had on a tray. The day was hot and he fell into a soft slumber. In a halfdozing condition he imagined that he had sold his ornaments at a great profit; that going home he picked up a jewel of immeasurable value, that he exchanged the jewel for a beautiful palace with a harem full of the most beautiful houris, and that he was surrounded by luxuries of the most extraordinary kind. From this dream of splendour he was presently so rudely awakened that he dropped his tray of ornaments and broke them to pieces, and so was reduced at once to the extremity of despair. I read in the anticipations of the Minister of Defence almost the ipsissima verba of this little story. He starts with 23,000 men ; then he gets another 80,000 ; then another 60,000 ; later 17,000; later still 48,000, and at last by a tour de force he gets 206,000 men ; and it was only when the honorable member for Adelaide asked him “When?” that the honorable gentleman said, “ In seven or eight years’ time.” I hope that no man or woman in this country will be led to believe that the honorable gentleman has any warrant for assuming that under his proposals we shall ever have an armed, effective, and disciplined force of 206,000 men to defend these shores. I speak not only of the training, but of the organization. If there was anything in the honorable gentleman’s proposal, we should now have a considerable force available. I should like to ask him a question. He has said that the volunteer and militia system has broken down, yet he contends that we have a militia force of 23,000. Assuming that the militia system has been in vogue for the last ten years, that a man passes through the militia on an average in two years, and that during that period an average of 20,000 men have annually gone through the training, then no less than 200,000 persons should in the ten years have passed through the militia. Let us say that only 100,000 have done so. They should all be men now between the ages of 20 and 40; men in the prime of life, not school boys. They should have received !at least as much training as members of a fighting force as the citizen force proposed by the Minister will ever receive. In the nature of things, those men should be more keen to learn the business than the pressed men who will be enrolled under the Government scheme, because they joined the militia voluntarily. Those men must be actually in our midst, and yet the .honorable gentleman says that there is no force in Australia to-day that can be regarded as anything like an army. Why? Because there is no organization. Those men have nowhere to go. They go through the militia, and they are lost. It is like putting gold through. the race, and, instead of catching it ‘as it goes through, letting it be poured into the sand and lost. After putting his men. through various stages of training from the age of 14 to the age of 20 years, and making them the material out of which soldiers can be made - for that is all that will have been done - they will not be available to fight if required to do so, because’ organization would be necessary, and no such organization is provided for in the Government scheme. The period of training should extend to the age of 26 years. The length of the period of training for those who are 18 or 19 years of age should be not less than sixteen days for two successive years. Anything less than that is, on the face of it, insufficient. According to Lord Roberts, less than one month is insufficient for recruit drill. I suggest sixteen days only as a compromise. I should like to direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that when the last Defence Bill submitted by a Deakin Government was before the House, I pointed out that the period of eighteen days then proposed was insufficient. I said that after some years of experience it had been found in Switzerland that forty-eight days was insufficient, and that in that country the period has been extended to sixty-five days. I said that what would be more effective would be to make the period of recruit drill for the first year thirty-six days, and for the following years the period might be reduced to nine days. When we have familiarized our men with military evolutions, disciplined them and taught them how to shoot, we must keep them where we shall know where to get them in time of need. We must keep them familiar with the work and in an organization, so that when the time arrives at which it will be necessary to mobilize an army, we shall not find, as we are told we should find to-day, that there is no army to be mobilized. The Minister has made two cardinal and vital mistakes. One is that the period of training proposed is entirely too short, and the other is that he has made no provision for organization. The honorable gentleman does not realize that what he would be turning out under his system would be recruits and not soldiers at all. He should remember that no body of recruits has ever yet been expected to be efficient as soldiers until they have been brigaded, mixed up, and stiffened with seasoned troops. What is done with recruits in the Old Country? After men have finished their recruit drill they are put into regiments with men who are efficient soldiers. That is done on exactly the same principle which is applied in breaking in a team of horses. The most effective way to break in a horse is to put him to work with horses that have already been broken in. The most effective and, in fact, the only way in which to make a soldier is, first of all, to teach him the alphabet of the business, and then put him to work with men who know all about it. That is always done with militia in England, and with the citizen forces in Switzerland. The Minister says that the recruits are to be brigaded with the units of the militia. But they are not to be mixed up with them. The honorable gen- tleman does not realize that before the recruit who has gone through his recruit drill can become effective as a soldier he must serve a period with trained men.; Another defect of his scheme is that his first line, comprised of men of the ages of 1 8 and 20 years, are to be drilled by. themselves. The men who drill them in the first year will not drill them in the second year. It is impossible under such a system to get any effective training at all. I come now to another failure on the part of the honorable gentleman, and that is with regard to the instructional staff and officers. He speaks about officers as if they were mushrooms, and about an effective instructional staff as if it grew under a hedgewhere it could be gathered. Nothing is more difficult than to secure effective instructors.
– We cannot get them now.
– No; but the Minister of Defence, who makes no provision for training them, says that we shall have enough. We have not enough now to deal with 23,000 men, yet in some mysterious way he is going to secure a sufficient number to deal with 206,000 men.- If we are to take one step at a time the first step we should take is to secure an instructional staff. If this is a Bill to do something and not to talk about it, the first move we make will be to increase the number of persons to be instructed. If the Bill is introduced merely as. a placard I admit that there will be nc necessity for an instructional staff at all. The Minister said something about appointing permanent adjutants. That may be a very good thing; but, after all, the instruction is done by the instructional staff. The men who really do the work are the noncommissioned, and warrant officers; but, so far as I can see, the honorable member makes absolutely no preparation for them at all. He provides in his Bill that this is to come into force on a day to be fixed by proclamation. According, to him, the matter is very urgent, and ought not to be delayed for a moment. Yet it would appear - although I admit that it is susceptible of quite another interpretation - that it will be eight years before the first line, the young men from eighteen to twenty, can be called up. The honorable member said it would be eight years before we obtained the total of 206,000 well-drilled and thoroughly trained men. On the face of it, that is absurd. We shall not get them in 8,000 years under this scheme. The honorable member, of course, is wiser now than he was six months ago, only by this one little fact, that somebody has told him that the compulsory service scheme is absolutely necessary for his political salvation. Beyond that, it is a dream. I have every right to point out to the honorable member that it is not on paper, or in eight years’ time, that we want 206,000 men. We want them immediately, or as soon as may be. Yet his Bill does not propose to start at any definite time, but is to come into force on a day to be fixed by proclamation. Let us suppose that the Bill passes this session - I do not know how the honorable member’s pulse is when I say that - and the proclamation issues directly after the session closes. Then, in June next, something would happen - the Act would start. But which part of it would start ? Would the honorable member start with the junior cadets, the senior cadets, the eighteen to twenty years’ trainees, or the rest of the proposals ; or are they to follow one after the other? Is the proposal for junior cadets to run its course before the course for senior cadets begins? If it is not, then what the honorable member said on page 3623 about 206,000 men is not true, even to the extent that he meant it. If he is to start with the eighteen to twenty years’ men next year, then ineight years we shall not get the number that he speaks of, because he is counting all those who have been through their junior and senior cadet training. If we are going to take a man next year and turn him out as a soldier, he will not have been through the senior cadet training at all. He will go in without any preparatory training. He will have eight days in one line and eight days in another, and that will be the beginning and the end of him. Consequently, what the honorable member has said in regard to the matter needs qualification in one way or the other. Either his Bill starts with the compulsory training of the eighteen to twenty-year old men, or it does not. If it starts with them, then they will not enjoy the advantages of cadet training, junior or senior. They will have whatever advantages are to be obtained from eight days’ training only. That is to say, one day for putting up the camp, one day for taking it down, and a Sunday in between, leaving four or five days. With four days’ training in each of two years, therefore, we are going to create an army to enable us to defend our shores and defy the world. The honorable gentleman said that registration would take place for the first time at the beginning ot 191 1. That is nearly two years from now. Registration for whom ? Is it for those who are then of the age of from twelve to fourteen, or those from fourteen to eighteen, or those from eighteen to twenty? Supposing that a person is seventeen years of age in 1911, which class is he to register in? Will he obtain any benefit from the senior cadet training? If so, he will get, presumably, one year. In three years from now, those persons who are at present fourteen years of age will pass into the first fighting line, and will have had four days’ training as senior cadets and eight days as members of the citizen defence force. In five years from now, they will constitute the Force upon which we shall have to rely. According to the honorable gentleman’s statement, there will be 18,500 of them in five years’ time, in addition to the 23,000 men now available. That is a very hopeful state of affairs ; and I sincerelv trust that the people who are contemplating the invasion of Australia will take note of it, and do the chivalric thing by waiting until we are ready, or until the honorable gentleman alters his mind again. In his speech, at page 3623 of Hansard, the honorable gentleman epitomises his proposals. I am quoting from the printed report, to show that these were his well-matured views. He said -
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, -
He does not say what the second line is - 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-commissioned officers, and both will be equipped for war.
I have looked through the Bill, and I have read the honorable member’s speech ; but I fail to find in the Bill a solitary paragraph or hint of any means whereby all this is to be effected -
Half of the first* line will have had over six years’ training ; -
When the honorable member said that, it must have occurred to you, sir, to ask how all these divergencies arose between his scheme and the results that he said that his scheme would produce. The Defence Department prepared a sane, business-like scheme for him. He digested it, made certain suggestions, ‘and this is the result. I absolutely decline to believe that the experts of the Defence De>partment could be guilty of fathering the statements that are put forward in that speech. The army of a South American Republic in a comic opera could not be more farcical.
-The expert that would father those statements should not be in the service.
– I should not like to say where he should be. The honorable gentleman added - 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.
That is a gigantic joke. There is not the slightest hint of preparation for sergeants.
– I agree with the honorable member that it is a joke - I mean his criticism.
– If the honorable member admits that his proposals are a joke, it is about the only thing in which he does agree with me. He further said -
The training of the first line will be on wai 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. Con. sequently, the training of- the first line, I say again, will be on war establishments.
What is the first line? According to the honorable member, it is to consist of the Militia Force of 20,000. and the first line of 19 to 20 years’ old men to the number of 18,500. On his own showing, he is 6,000 short on his first line in the militia, while of the 18,500 trainees between the ages of 18 and 20 not one can do anything until four years from now. Instead of half of them having six years’ training, and the other half five, as the honorable member said, they will have had only one year’s training, and that of eight days, as the honorable member knew perfectly well. Then he goes on with his second and third lines, his rifle clubs, and the various other means whereby - he swells his force. I shall not follow hire in detail any further, but shall content myself with pointing out these matters, and do my best to remedy them in Committee. The honorable member must not suppose that, because I have been critical of the measure, I shall treat it in any way in a hostile sense. I have a perfect right to criticise it, and shall always exercise that right. Beyond that I shall not go. No measure can demand greater criticism than one which concerns the defence of Australia.
– And no measure is entitled to fairer or more impartial criticism.
– If the honorable member’s career in connexion with defence were as free from party blemish as mine has been, he might say that with more justice. Since I have taken up this question, I have been absolutely free from any suspicion of party bias. I wish the honorable member no worse fate than that his position with regard to the general principle of defence - I do not mean as to details - may always remain as it is now. One more phase of the question, and 1 have done. The honorable member has not grasped now that the basic principle of compulsory training is that it shall be for home defence only. I do not know whether he realizes that he contemplates such a departure from it, not only in this country-
– Will it help” the honorable member if I confess my absolute ignorance of everything? If so, I shall satisfy him.
– I propose to quote what the honorable gentleman said on 21st September last -
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.
The Leader of the Opposition interjected -
Does the honorable gentleman mean that the men could be sent abroad without being resworn ?
The Minister of Defence replied -
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.
This Bill, so far as it amends the existing law, is one to add to the militia a citizen defence force. The Minister of Defence speaks of an effective organization, and the first line of that effective organization will consist of 29,000 militia and a citizen defence force of 18,500 men compulsorily trained. It is that force - the first line - which will be eligible to be sent abroad if any men are to be sent. If that statement on the part of the honorable member stood alone, I should say that it was susceptible of explanation; but standing, as it does, alongside the further statement by him that he proposes to interchange our naval men with those from other parts of the Empire, and to send our ships to other seas, it bears a very sinister complexion. Any proposal of that sort ought to be strongly opposed. Does the honorable gentleman realize that Germany, France, and Switzerland, whose forces consist entirely of compulsorily trained men, find the greatest difficulty in obtaining expeditionary forces ? Germany, which has the most perfect military organization in the world, always finds itself at the greatest possible disadvantage in obtaining expeditionary forces for oversea. The men evade service abroad, and the law is, therefore, that they are to be compulsorily trained solely for home defence. If the honorable gentleman does not intend the statement which I have read to apply to compulsorily trained citizen defence forces, he owes it to the system- which he seeks to introduce to make that fact abundantly clear. I spea”k as one who has taken a great interest in this question, and I do not want the system to be burdened with objections other than those that properly apply to it. While it is right to compel a man to fit himself to defend his country, it is not proper to compel him to fight beyond it. If it is, I can only say that I am not a convert to the principle. Lord Roberts makes it perfectly clear that his scheme is solely for home defence. The French Army, the German Army, and also that of Switzerland, which we are seeking to copy, are all for home defence. I subscribe to a sane Imperialism involved in the necessity of preserving the integrity of the British Empire. I shall not permit even the Minister of Defence to declare himself a greater believer than I am in the might and value of the Empire ; but that Empire is not to be defended bypressed men. The press gang no longer exists, and the principle of compulsory training, in which compulsion is resorted to only because it is absolutely necessary, is not compatible with that love and admiration for peace which ought to be, and I hope, someday, will be, the characteristic of civilization. I do not deny that sometimes the surest defence is to be ready to take the offensive. We provide for that, however, by our Navy. As to our Army, such a thing, I hope, is not in contemplation. T do not think it expedient or right, and
I hope that the Minister will make it perfectly clear that this scheme does not contemplate the utilization of compulsorily trained citizens for oversea expeditions of any kind. I had intended to allude to some general features of the measure, but I shall refer to them when we are in Committee. I have, perhaps, detained the House at undue length; if so, I hope that I may be pardoned, because I feel that this measure is of the utmost importance. I regret extremely that the Minister of Defence did not introduce it earlier, but the responsibility for the delay must rest upon his shoulders, and not with the House. I trust that he will not think that he has exhausted the possibilities of military knowledge, and that he may look, perhaps, with lenient eye upon some of the amendments I have outlined, and which I shall put forward in Committee. I hope that he will believe that everything I, and, indeed, every honorable member, will do in regard to this measure, is free from the suspicion of party motives. I ‘opposed the Deakin Defence Bill for the same reasons that I oppose this. I declared,, when it was introduced, as I do now, that I should support the second reading, and should do my utmost in Committee to make it an effective measure. If it failed to be effective then I should cast upon the Ministry and the Minister the responsibility for -that failure, believing that I had endeavoured to mould it into as effective a form as possible. I congratulate the honorable gentleman on his conversion to the principal of compulsory training. I regret that he has been unable to realize that between an effective organization and the existing system there are yawning chasms, and that he has only spanned one of them by adopting this principle. It is not sufficient to compel a man to train. We must compel him to train in a certain way for a sufficient period, and, having trained him, we must provide an organization in which he will fit as a component part. The Government must bring in their measure, not five years hence, but at the earliest possible moment. They must bring it in at once, because if anything is urgent, it certainly is. To propose to start out in 19 11, when the only- excuse for the introduction of a system of compulsory training is that Australia is in dire peril, is at once to confess that this is a mere placard instead of an earnest proposal. I ask the Minister of Defence to view the matter in that light.
There are many in this country who regard with suspicion the principle of compulsory training, and to those I should like, by way of conclusion, to quote a few words spoken by a Swiss soldier to his comrades - citizen soldiers like himself - duringa period of annual training in Switzerland this year -
Soldiers ! Before the flag ofour regiment, which reminds us of the six centuries of our history, which will be a witness to our descendants, and to which, if need be, we will sacrifice our lives, before this battle-field of Grandson, upon which more than four centuries ago our ancestors fell on their knees asking the Almighty to give them victory in order that we, their descendants, might live free, let us swear to become still better men, of progress, of will, and especially of conscience and abhor the use of force; to put our energies of citizen soldiers to holy causes and to be entitled thereby to live in the most beautiful country in the world.
– I desire to inform the House thatthe Leader of the Opposition quoted certain figures during his speech whichhe hassince submitted to me, and thatallowing the usual practice, I havedirected that they shall appear in
Hansardin tabular form.
.- The honorable member for West Sydney has taken up what is the proper attitude for a member of His Majesty’s Opposition, by opposing that which is proposed by the Government, and his opposition possibly will have the effect of improving the Bill. The honorable member must take to himself some credit for the action of the Government in introducing the system of compulsory training, since he has enthusiastically advocated its adoption for some time. It rarely falls to the lot of an honorable member to see an attempt on the part of an opposing party to put into force his pet scheme, but such is the happy experience of the honorable member. His criticism of this Bill, therefore, should tend rather to perfect than to destroy it. Having read the long and able speech made by the Minister for Defence, I recognised thathe must have devoted a greatdeal of time to this subject. He had evidently consulted the experts of his Department, and was desirous of being on friendly terms with them, in order that this measure might be successfully passed. All that is creditable to him, but I am disappointed that he should have taken up and adopted the principle of compulsory training as advocated by the Labour Government. There is no reason to suppose that our people would be slow to offer their services in the defence of their country. As soon asthey smell powder they desire to be in the fight. To compel men to goabroad to fight the battles of England will, perhaps, never be necessary ; we have only to tell our men that they are wanted and they will offer their services tobeat back an enemy. I do not suppose that the Government will ever have occasion to compel these forces to go abroad, nor do I think it necessary even to compel men to serve in the Commonwealth. If. the Government were able to finance and carry out an even greater scheme than that which they now propose, they would have no difficulty in inducing men to offer themselves and to devote to training the period necessary to fit them to do good service for their country. Before referring to the financial aspect of this proposal, I would sav that I do not agree with the Minister of Defence in regard to the statement that Great Britain has been footing the bill for Australia. Great Britain has spent a great deal for the protection of her Possessions oversea ; but she has done this willingly, knowing that she enjoys the bulk of our trade, and it is that trade - her trade - that she protects. When the right honorable member for East Sydney was in England as Premier of New South Wales, and the politicians of the Old Country were desirous that Australia should contribute more largely to the defence of the Empire, he pointed out that our citizens are engaged in developing an immense territory where the British flag is flying, and that trade follows the flag : that Australia is making markets and immense trade for Great Britain. They, therefore, left it to us to determine what we should spend. The development of this country has been proceeding ever since, and the bulk of our trade is with Great Britain. Therefore, in defending the Empire, Great Britain is defending her own trade. If the money which it is proposed to expend unnecessarily on defence were devoted to the development of the country, much more good would come to the Empire. It is right that Australia should do something in its own defence. We are now spending about £1 , 000,000 on our land forces, and about £200,000 on our naval defence, which is a large expenditure for a young country.
– We get very little for the outlay.
– It is the experience of all countries that ‘they apparently get very little for their military and naval expenditure. Not many years since, I saw the Australian Auxiliary Squadron steam into Sydney Harbor. The vessels were then all new and up-to-date; but since then they have been replaced over and over again, and to-day are obsolete and on the scrap-heap, though not more than fourteen or sixteen years old. Australia cannot do what British and European countries have done in the way of providing military and naval defence. Should Great Britain be defeated on the seas, our forces would be unable to resist the foe. Major-General Sir Edward Hutton estimated that we should be prepared to meet a force of from 20,000 to 50,000 men.
– How will they be brought here ?
– They could not be brought here while Great Britain retained command of the sea, because no enemy could spare a sufficient number of ships for their transport and convoy. But should Great Britain be defeated, we should be at the mercy of an enemy, and even the force which the Minister of Defence proposes to establish would not be sufficient for our defence. While the scheme speaks well for the ambition of Australia to defend her shores and assist the Mother Country, it is too large for us to undertake. We could afford to spend another £250,000 on defence; but to increase our expenditure by £1,250,000 is to go too far. The Minister has admitted that he is not yet in possession of complete information regarding the suggestions of the Imperial Navy Conference, and would not say more than that we should have a vessel of the Indomitable class, costing £1,800,000.
– We have now heard that the vessel which it is proposed to build will cost £2,000,000. It will belong to the Indefatigable class, and will be a cruiser somewhat of the Dreadnought type.
– Personally, I felt disappointed when I heard that a Dreadnought was not to be offered by Australia ; but, no doubt, the Government will have something to say later regarding that matter. To meet a force of from 20,000 to 50,000 troops, we should require at least an equal number of fully-equipped and properly trained men ; because it is not in experienced troops that will be sent here. But, in proposing to equip 206.000 men, the Minister of Defence asks us to do too much. He has said that the scheme will not be in full operation for eight years to come. But the registration is to commence in 191 1, and next year our expenditure is to be £1,407,000, while our land defence, when complete, will cost £1,529,000 per annum. That is an increase of more than £500,000 on our present expenditure. In 1914-1915, the outlay will be about £1,750,000, an increase of about £750,000 in the next five years. The Minister has said nothing about ways and means. Apparently, he hopes to get the necessary funds by means of the financial arrangement which has already been discussed, to which I shall not refer now, beyond saying that I do not think that he will get enough in that way to carry out his scheme. When the naval expenditure is added to that of the military, the total cost will be about £2,500,000 a year, or about ros. 6d. per head of population. The defence of Great Britain costs only 27s.1d. per head of population in defence of a world Empire, and it has increased enormously during the last two or three years. Notwithstanding that Australia is out of the way, and not likely to be invaded, we are being asked to provide for its defence an amount more than half as large as is paid by France, a country which might be invaded any day, or by Germany, where militarism is rampant. We are asked to imitate countries where the people are overburdened with taxation, and are feeling the pressure so much that they desire to have Colonies to draw upon. Their heavy military and naval expenditure is bringing them to privation and poverty. We should adopt the traditional policy of Great Britain, making the naval arm paramount. If we do that, we shall assist to guard the Empire on the seas. It has not been shown that we have ever had an efficient force; the indications are that we have not one. An immense amount of money has been wasted on defence. Guns have been purchased which became obsolete before we received all their parts. It is too much to equip and make efficient a force of 206,000 men, ready to take the field at any moment, and, if necessary, to serve abroad. The Government have made some financial calculations. Ministers expect in the future to derive from Customs and Excise an additional revenue at the outside of £3,300,000 per annum. I do not think that they will receive so much, because the calculation is based upon the returns for a boom year. They must keep in view the fact that they will be called upon to pay invalid pensions. Doing so with the balance which will be at their disposal under the financial agreement they will have at their command less than £1,000,000. The amount will, I estimate, be something like £800,000. I believe that it will be much less, and perhaps not more than £500,000, but giving the Government the benefit of every doubt they will have a revenue of £800,000 at their disposal for this purpose. An increase in our naval “and military expenditure of -£1,300,000 is proposed, and the Government will have only £800,000 with which to meet that expenditure. Taking into account the only sources of revenue on which we can base a calculation at the present moment, we shall be faced under this scheme with a deficit of £500,000, and that will occur for the first time when registration begins in 191 1. I hope that the Minister of Defence, when he replies to the debate, will have something to say on the financial side of the question: If the scheme can be financed I am free to admit that public opinion is in favour of compulsory service. I believe that the jingo feeling of the British race is sufficiently strong in the Commonwealth to induce the people to swallow this scheme with all the expenditure involved. But there will come a day when they will vomit it again. They will resent the increased expenditure and will throw up this scheme because it cannot be financed. The British people possess the pluck necessary for a warrior race, but when they are asked to defray what they believe to be unnecessary expenditure, they at once cry out for retrenchment. Just now they are prepared to increase their expenditure on defence. This is due to the wave of military enthusiasm caused by what is passing on the continent of Europe. . Continental nations formerly devoted all their attention to militarism and the establishment of land forces. They have now become ambitious to vie with Great Britain in the possession of a great navy, composed of immense ships and involving immense expenditure. Great Britain is forced to keep pace with the Continental movement, and were it not for this fact it would be impossible to awaken the British people sufficiently to the gravity of the situation to induce them, to expend on defence the amount of money they are now prepared to expend for that purpose. But tlie present wave of public feeling in favour of increased military and naval expenditure in Great Britain will be followed by the usual reaction, and when that reaction sets in we shall experience its effects in Australia also. It will come at no distant date, because the people of the Continent can bear no greater strain than they have borne in the past for military purposes. France, Germany, and Russia have been keeping up enormous forces on their frontiers, and threatening to mobilise them at a moment’s notice, when it is thought that a neighbouring nation has become weakened. We saw something of this very recently when Germany threatened a mobilisation of troops on the Russian frontier. Italy, Austria and other nations’ are in the same position. These nations cannot relax their military expenditure because they are afraid of each other. They will shortly be forced to consider a reduction of expenditure for warlike purposes, and that reduction must be in connexion with their proposals for naval development. Ships of war have but a very short life, and the Continental nations of Europe cannot keep up their huge land forces and at the same time vie with Great Britain in the establishment of a great navy. On the other hand, Great Britain cannot have at the same time a great army and a great navy. The traditional policy of Great Britain is to have a great navy. The reaction towhich I have referred is certain to come, and I do not think we have any reason to be at all alarmed if we are prepared to assist in maintaining the supremacy of Great Britain at sea. I shall not refer to the naval proposals of the Government, because we would require more information about them. We shall do all that is required if we assist in the establishment not of an Australian Navy, but of an Australian unit of the British Navy, in the maintenance of the supremacy of one great navy to defend one trade - that is Imperial British trade. If we are unable to defend ourselves by sea we shall be invaded. If we are invaded by a nation having command of the sea, T think we shall find that we shall be unable to defend Australia, and we shall have to make terms with the enemy. Let us hope -that that day will never come. We candelay it by rendering all the assistance possible to maintain the power of Great Britain upon the seas. I again expressthe hope that the Minister will say something upon the financial side of the defence question, because in view of his calculations, the calculations of the Government in connexion with the financial proposal, and the Estimates set forth in the Budget statement, and, moreover, of the fact that, unless by a revision intended to increase its revenue producing power, we cannot expect to continue to raise under the existing Tariff more revenue than we have hitherto derived from that source, it is clear, therefore, that we cannot possibly provide the money required for this Defence scheme. I shall listen with interest to the reply to the debate to be made by the Minister of Defence. I hope that he will be able to indicate ways and means to finance this great military scheme. To sum up what I have said, I do not think that it is at all necessary that we should have compulsory training, but as I believe that the people want it, I shall be prepared to give it to them.
– -That is very kind of the honorable member.
– The honorable member will admit that we must bow to public opinion. The individual must sink his opinion to that of the majority of the people. I have had no military training, but I have read the history of Great Britain, and am imbued with the warlike spirit of the race. If my services were required I do not think that I should be slow to do anything I could in defence of my country, even on the field of battle. But I do not ‘ believe in compulsion. I think that we have the spirit to act upon suggestion. We have always shown that we possessed it in the past, and I think that we shall be ready to show it to the end of time. I am opposed to compulsory training and service on principle, and I am also opposed to the launching, without any necessity, of a great scheme such as this. I say that it is unnecessary, and that the people of Australia will be found to be unable to finance it.
– I desire in the first place to congratulate the Minis0ter of Defence upon the very able speech with which he introduced this measure. I think that every member of the House will agree with me that the speech was one of which the honorable gentleman has reason to be proud. I should like also to refer to the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition. The honorable member spoke in a most sympathetic way of the proposals of the Government. I think that he might have condensed his remarks by quoting a few words which he uttered on the 13th
December, 1907, in connexion, with a speech delivered by the Prime Minister on the same question. The honorable gentleman said on that occasion -
I do not presume that it is intended to debate this matter at the present stage, but I think we ought not to enter upon the Christmas vacation without offering the Prime Minister our congratulations on , the speech he has just delivered. The subject is a big one, and I do not think I have ever heard the honorable member to greater advantage. With such a subject and with such a speaker I have no doubt that when the time comes for the people of this, country to defend themselves they will respond as he desires. I offer the Prime Minister my congratulations upon the manner in which he has set forth the defence policy of the Government.
I think those few words aptly sum up the speech made by the honorable member for Wide Bay to-day. We have just listened to a speech from the honorable member for Robertson, who says that it will be time enough to have compulsory training when we smell the powder. I think that it would be rather too late to start then with compulsory training.
– I do not say the training should be compulsory even then.
– The honorable member says that when we smell powder and know that there is going to be a fight it will be time enough to look around and get ready. I think it would then be rather too late to get ready. The honorable member went on to say that at the present time England is defending her own trade by placing in Australian waters vessels of war which are costing the Home Government £560,000 a year, towards which we make an annual contribution of £200,000. I do not think that the people of Australia desire that the working classes of Great Britain should pay for their protection. I believe that they are prepared to pay for it themselves. Our defence under the existing scheme is costing us 5s. per head of our population. The cost of the scheme proposed by the Minister of Defence would amount to about 10s. pei head. Let me inform the honorable member for Robertson that when the war took place in South Africa the people of Great Britain were called upon to pay £2 18s. 1 id. per head during the time it lasted. They had to pay for the Army, £91,710,000, and for the Navy, £29,525,000, making a total - with the odd figures I have not given - of £121,445,000. To-day the cost of the Army and Navy to Great Britain amounts to £1 8s. per head of her population. The honorable member for Robertson thinks that the scheme proposed by the Government will cost Australia too much.
– I do indeed.
– The working people of Great Britain have to pay 28s. per head for the up-keep of the Army and the Navy. How was the increased expenditure provided while the war continued in South Africa ? It was made up by an extra duty of 2d. per pound on tea, which provided £6,014,000, and an extra duty on tobacco of 4d. per pound, which provided £3,967,000; an extra duty on sugar, bringing in £10,870,000, and extra duties on corn and flour, producing £2,347,000. That is how part of the money was raised. The total cost of that war was £211, 000,000, but the people of Great Britain were prepared to bear the burden whatever the cost might be. I believe the people of Australia are prepared to bear the burden of Australian defence to-day. Germany will, it is estimated, expend this year on her Army and Navy £58,390,995, or at the rate of £1 8s.1d. per head of population. So effectively is she training her men that she is able to put an army of 4,300,000 into the field on a warfooting. A little over twenty years ago Germany’s Navy was costing her something over £2,000,000 per annum. To-day it costs her nearly £20,000,000. In the year 1909-10 she proposes to spend on the material upkeep of her Fleet £700,000 more than Great Britain spent for that purpose in the year 1908-9. The honorable member for Robertson referred to Great Britain and Australia, but what is the position? The population of the United Kingdom is about 44,500,000, or eleven times that of Australia. It has an area of 120,000 square miles, whilst the area of the Commonwealth is 2,972,906 square miles, or twenty-five times as great. Great Britain has nine-tenths of its magnificent Navy concentrated close around its shores, and yet it maintains at home an Army of 480,000, or twenty-two times that of Australia.
– What is thehonorable member’s authority?
– Those figures are taken from T. A. Brassey’s The Naval Annual. The competition in naval expenditure and naval construction is to-day keener than ever, and between no nations is the competition for the supremacy of the sea keener than it is between Great Britain and Germany. The honorable member for
Wide Bay in his opening remarks, and the honorable member for Robertson generally, expressed the opinion that there was nothing much to trouble us in the growth of the naval power of Germany. But the agitation which took place this year in Great Britain owing to the speed with which Germany was constructing battleships caused the House of Commons to take action, with the result that, including the extra battleships which Great Britain now proposes to construct, she will have fifty-six battleships in 1912, as against the United States twenty-seven, Germany thirty, France fifteen, and Japan fourteen. The Naval Annual, for this year, observes that it will be seen that, at the end of 1912, Germany and the United States combined will have fifty-seven battleships to Great Britain’s fifty-six. Before the new programme was announced there was provision for the construction of only one large battleship, so that, instead of having fifty-six at the end of 1912, if the new programme had not been brought forward Great Britain would have had only forty-eight. Germany proposes to increase the personnel of her Navy this year to a total of 53,769 officers and men, as compared with 50,323 last year. That total is reached as follows: - Officers 2,631, warrant officers 2,308, petty officers 10,975, men 36,205, and boys 1,650, or 53,769 in all. How do those figures compare with those of other nations? The numbers are as follow : - Great Britain 128,000 officers and men; United States 60,703 officers and men. The Naval Annual adds -
The cost of manning for the British Navy, as compared with the German figures, affords a striking example of the difference in cost between voluntary and compulsory service.
I should like to draw the attention of the honorable member for Robertson to these figures : - The wages paid in Great Britain for the Navy for 1908 totalled £7,129,700; half pay £868,800, and. pensions £1, 334,600, making a grand total of £9,333,100. Germany paid £1,533,196 all told; and, therefore, the excess of expenditure on personnel by Great Britain was . £7,799,904. Those figures clearly show the advantage of compulsory training.
– The figures show what a number of powerful ships Great Britain has in addition to Dreadnoughts.
– Two years ago there was not a slip in Germany that would take a Dreadnought, whereas to-day Germany has over fourteen of them. The amount voted for new construction and armaments for 1909-10 by Germany is £10,751,466; whereas Great Britain provided only £9,600,000 for that purpose in 1908-9, showing again the great progress that Germany is making. Let me quote in connexion with this subject the following extract from a speech made in the House of Commons by Mr. McKenna on German construction on the 16th March, 1909-
We may stop here and pay a tribute to the extraordinary growth of the power of constructing ships of the largest size in Germany. Two years ago, 1 believe, there were in Germany, with the possible exception of one or two ships in private yards, no slip ‘capable of carrying a Dreadnought. To-day they have no less than fourteen such slips, and three more under construction. And what is true of the hull of the ships is true also of the guns, armour, and mountings. Two years ago any one familiar with the capacity of Krupps and other German firms would have ridiculed the possibility of their undertaking the supply of all the component parts of eight battleships in a single year. To-day this productive power is a realized fact, and it will tax the resources of our own great firms if we are to retain the supremacy in rapidity and volume of construction.
That clearly answers the objection of the honorable member for Robertson that there was no hurry for this scheme, that Australia was perfectly safe, and that the expenditure proposed by the Government was too great. When he realizes the progress which another nation, is making, I think he will agree with me that delay would be dangerous, and that the proper time to act is how. On the 7th July of this year, the present Prime Minister of Great Britain made the following statement in- the House of Commons - *
As long as the naval supremacy of this country is assured, invasion on a large scale is an absolutely impracticable operation. On the other hand, if we were permanently to lose the command of the sea, whatever might be the strength or the organization of your military forces here at home, even though you had an army like that of Germany - indeed, whatever might be its strength and organization - not only would it be impossible for this country to escape invasion . . . but the subjection of this country by the enemy would be inevitable.
Lord Roberts, speaking in the House of Lords on the 18th May last, on a motion for a special inquiry into the condition of the Army in Great Britain, made the following statement : -
There was neither an army to defend the country nor an army to send abroad. It was a marvel to him how anybody could see what was going on in Europe and rest content with the army as it was.
Marching before the Lord Mayor would not make an army. Trained men were necessary. The. number of officers was thousands upon thousands short. Since 1905 nothing had been done to improve matters.
The motion was carried on division by seventy-three votes to twenty-two. Commenting on this division, the London Spectator of 22nd May last wrote -
We detest the role of alarmists, but we have no option but to express our belief that Lord Roberts’ warnings are well founded.
That is another illustration of the urgency of this question. I have no desire to detain the House, and rose simply to endeavour to disabuse the mind of the honorable member for Robertson of the idea that del.iv was necessary, and that the proposed expenditure was too great. The honorable member belongs to a school of politicians of which Mr. Lloyd-George is a. shining light in Great Britain. On more than one occasion Mr. Lloyd-George has expressed views similar to those uttered today by the honorable member for Robertson, and has deplored the fact that Great Britain should be expending millions on the construction of battleships. The theory which he advanced twelve months ago, however, has not led to any diminution in the construction of battleships either in Great Britain or Germany. On the contrary, both nations are devoting more and more attention to the work. In June of last year Mr. Lloyd-George, in the course of a speech delivered at Manchester, said that the policy of Free Trade would be the means of beating “swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks.” It appears to me, however, that while Great Britain has adopted the policy of Free Trade and Germany that of Protection, both are intent upon building the finest class of battleships and manning them with the best trained men. The local construction of the vessels of the proposed Australian Navy is an important phase of this question. One of these vessels, which is to be constructed in Great Britain, according to the Minister of Defence will cost something like £2,000,000, and will give employment to 0,000 men for two years. Th. t in itself is a big item. Out of every ,£100 expended on the construction of a battleship. £70 is paid away inwages. I trust that in the very neai future we shall be able to construct ourown war vessels, and I know that it is thepolicy of the Prime Minister and those’ associated with him that they shall be constructed in Australia wherever and whenever possible.
– As soon as possible.
– Is that policy agreed to by the Government generally?
– The Prime Minister has always advocated thai Australia should get the preference.
– How many honorable members opposite believe in that principle?
– If the honorable member” is re-elected - and I understand that his return is assured - he will have an opportunity to see that that policy is carried out. No one will say that there is on the front Treasury bench an honorable member who is opposed to the construction of our warships in Australia. Indeed, every one on this side of the House, I believe, favours that policy. The honorable member for West Sydney to-day found fault with the Minister of Defence only because he had changed his views on a certain question. He ought rather to have congratulated him.
– He did so.
– Then what has the honorable member for Hindmarsh to fear? Does he believe that the policy announced by the Minister of Defence, and which has always been advocated by the Prime Minister - the policy that our own warships should be constructed here - will not be adhered to?
– Why should it be, if we are to judge the honorable gentleman’s future bv his past?
– The Minister of Defence has said by way of interjection that effect will be given to that policy at the earliest possible moment. I hope I have convinced the honorable member for Robertson that we are not at present paying sufficient for our defence.
– Then let us pay more.
– I understood that the honorablegentleman was complaining that we are asked to pay too much.
– There has been a sudden change of front on the part of the honorable member. I understood him in his opening remarks to say that the proposed expenditure was too great.
– I did ‘not say that we should not expend more; but there must be a limit.
– When the necessity arises I shall be prepared to go as far as the honorable member in raising more money for the defence of Australia, I should not be in favour, however, of providing for the increased expenditure by means of duties on tea and kerosene. On the contrary, I should advocate taxation being imposed on those best able to pay for the defence of the country. 1 trust that this Bill will be speedily passed. It has met with the approval of all sections of the community as well as of the House. Both the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for West Sydney have congratulated the Minister upon its introduction. It is true that the Leader of the Opposition claimed that the scheme which his Government propounded was a little better than that now before us, but I trust that he will assist the Government to pass this Bill at the earliest possible moment,, since it is urgently needed to provide for the adequate defence of Australia.
– I presume that the Minister will not object to an adjournment of the debate at this stage ?
– We do not wish it to be adjourned now.
– I do not wish to speak to the motion at this stage, and since we have had three- fairly severe criticisms and an amusing interlude this afternoon, I ask if the Minister will agree to the debate being adjourned?
– Not at present.
– Mr. Speaker-
– It has just been suggested to me, Mr. Speaker, that I have lost my right to speak. I merely asked the Minister if he would agree to the debate being- adjourned
– The honorable member rose and was called by me. Am I to understand that he asked a question and that he does not, at this juncture, desire to address himself to the motion for the second reading of the Bill ?
– Yes, Mr. Speaker.
– I had no intention of speaking to this question until 1 had heard the opinions of honorable members opposite who may not have had the military experience that some members of the Opposition have had. I wish at the outset to congratulate the Minister of Defence on his entire change of front; and I rejoice that he has become a convert to the principle of compulsory naval and mili- tary training. It is not long since he spoke sneeringly of it, saying that it was “ a conscript proposal.” Honorable members opposite appear to have an extraordinary capacity for swallowing the views they have previously held, and perhaps they have agreed to adopt that course in regard to their former objections to compulsory training, although this Bill is not likely to accomplish very much in that direction. 1 think I shall be able to show that it will provide only in name for compulsory naval and military training. Honorable members opposite have been most pronounced in their objection to the system. The right honorable member for East Sydney declared not long ago that there was no fear of Australia being invaded by a stronger force than we could repel. He told us that the only danger that Australia had to fear for the next ten years was the attack of a raiding cruiser, which could not land a greater force than 1,000 men.
– I raid three or four unarmoured cruisers, quoting the opinion of the Imperial Defence Committee.
– The Minister should tell us why the Imperial authorities have, within a few weeks only, come to think that the danger is so* much greater than they believed it to be a short time ago. The honorable member for Brisbane, who has recently attended the Imperial Defence Conference as the mouthpiece of the Government, reiterated, in his place here, the statement that Australia would not be invaded during the lifetime of this or the next generation. If these statements are correct, why should we commit the country to the expenditure of millions of pounds merely to enable the honorable member for Brisbane and others to strut about in gaudy uniforms? I am in favour of naval and military preparation only because I regard it as necessary. The Treasurer told us a short time ago that we should not adopt compulsory training, because the Mother Country has not done so. But she has not adopted adult suffrage, nor are the railways of the United Kingdom under Government control. To say that we are not to do a thing because Great Britain has not done it, is absurd. But why has the right honorable gentleman changed his opinion? Our Defence Act compels every man between the ages of eighteen and sixty years to serve as a soldier should the emergency require it, and those who are called out should be properly trained and armed, so that they may give a good account of themselves, and not go like lambs to the slaughter. Speaking on the 17th September, of last year, the Minister of Defence said that there was no danger from the East -
It may be that in the course of years - I think it will take centuries - there may develop a terrible menace in the East.
If that is his %’iew, why does he now propose an enormous expenditure on warlike preparations? He added -
I ask the Prime Minister not to stop, but to materially increase, our present naval contribution.
I have always advocated an Australian Navy, but not a larger contribution to the British Navy. We ought to have a clearer explanation as to why it is proposed that Great Britain shall subsidize our Navy to the extent of £250,000 a year. If the subsidy is to enable Great Britain to control the ships at any time, and to order them to any place, I am opposed to its acceptance. The. Minister has adopted many of the provisions embodied in a Bill drafted by Senator Pearce, and I am sorry that he has not taken more. The honorable member for Richmond was knighted because he introduced a Defence scheme, and if he earned a knighthood, Senator Pearce is deserving of a peerage. I agree with the main principles of the Bill, although many Democrats do not see eye to eye with me in this matter. I am not a new convert to the principle of compulsory military training. Twenty years ago I moved a resolution in favour of it, when a member of the body from which the South Australian branch of the Labour party ultimately sprang. Sir John Cockburn, one of the framers of the Constitution, attempted to dissuade me from doing so, and the motion was ruled out of order, on the ground that the meeting could not deal with political questions. Those facts show how fast the process of evolution has been. Then, in 1900, in company with Senator Sir Josiah Symon, addressing a meeting in the Town Hall, Adelaide, convened with the object of raising a corps of Scotch volunteers, I again stated that I was in favour of compulsory training, expressing the view that it would be a good thing for the country if every young man was trained to the use of arms, and accustomed to discipline. It must not be thought that I am thirsting for war. No one has a greater horror of it than I have, or would be more glad to see the nations of the earth fling down their arms, and enter into a bond of everlasting brotherhood. But until the democracies rule the councils of the civilized nations, that will be impossible. Therefore, it is the duty of every man to prepare himself for the defence of his country. I have no sympathy with those who say that they would not bear arms because they do not believe in war,nor with those who declare that they have nothing to protect, and assert that it is only propertyowners who should fight. In no country do the people enjoy greater freedom than we do, or have a larger share in its government than we have. Whether we do or do not possess property, there is not one of us who would like to part with the liberties which we enjoy. Our hearths and homes, and our children, are surely worth defending. The time is approaching when the democracies will have a larger “ say “ in the government of the world, and then wars may be prevented. I have no faith in the settlement of International quarrels by arbitration. Until the people rule in the councils of the nations, or the engines of war become so horribly destructive that they must cause the annihilation of those who employ them - until that time comes, we must make the best preparations that we can to defend ourselves. The proposal of the Government is to have a vessel similar to a Dreadnought, to cost £1,800,000.
– The latest estimate is £2,000,000.
– In addition, there are to be three armoured cruisers of the Bristol class, six destroyers of the improved River class, and three submarines. I ask the Minister why submarines are proposed? This is what Sir George Sydenham Clarke, one of the greatest naval authorities of the day, has to say regarding their effectiveness -
Before adopting these experimental adjuncts of defence for Australia, it is essential to consider two main points : -
When the boat is running on the surface, the field of vision, owing to the small height above the water, is very limited. When submerged or “closed down” the means of observation are greatly reduced, and in a rough sea the difficulties are considerable in either case. The heavy seas which prevail off the Australian coasts are, therefore, most unfavorable to the employment of submarines outside the harbors.
On whose advice is the Government acting in proposing to employ submarines?
Mr.Joseph Cook. - On that of the Imperial Defence Conference.
– I should like to know what officers suggested their use. The only naval expert, so far as I am aware, who thinks that we should employ submarines is Lord Brassey.
– We are not now considering a Bill to provide for a naval scheme. Revised naval proposals are very possible.
– I am glad to hear that.
Sitting suspended from 6. 28 to 7.45 p.m.
– Before making the report which I have read, Sir George Sydenham Clarke sent to the late Captain Colquhoun the following letter : -
The conditions of life on board these boats in bad weather are exceedingly trying, and I do not believe that they can take extended cruises. They must be tethered pretty close to a port, and must be constantly overhauled, as they are bags of tricks.
It might be said that if Australia has submarines, they would be able to deter attack on her undefended ports, but -
Let it be granted, then, that for some years to come no navy which Australia or any of the Colonies could form or maintain would be of fighting value ; that it would be a mere water baby - a sea urchin, perhaps - yet that did not appear to be a valid argument against starting such navies, for the same might be used against all babies. But if there were to be no more babies there would soon be no more men.
I am glad to see that honorable members on the Ministerial side are willing, in spite of their sneers, to support this little water - baby. I regret that it is necessary for us to establish a navy of our own, but when the man with the gun is about I do not want to be left with only my bare fists or a pitchfork. It is absolutely essential for us to prepare for our own defence. It would be well to contrast the schemes for compulsory military service that have been placed before the Australian electors for the past two or three years. The Minister might explain some of the changes of policy that have taken place. For instance, the Bill introduced by the honorable member for Richmond when Minister of Defence provided that the cadets should be trained from the ages of twelve to eighteen, and afterwards in the Defence Force from the ages of eighteen to twenty-six. For the first three years they were to have a training of eighteen working days or their equivalent, and in the last five years seven working days or their equivalent. They were thus to have eight years’ training. That, at all events, was a sensible proposal, and the training was to be exclusive of Sundays. The Naval Forces, artillery, and engineers were to have twenty-eight working days or their equivalent in the first five years, and seven working days or their equivalent in the last three years. But, of course, the Bill was not compulsory. It was a monstrosity - the most comical thing ever laid upon the table of a Parliament. Although the length of training provided for in it was far in advance of that proposed by the present Government, every honorable member knew that the Bill was worthless because of the futility of the penal clauses. It provided that any one who failed to put in his drill should become ineligible for employment of any kind in the service of the Commonwealth - although the Commonwealth service can only absorb a limited number of the adults of Australia - or be disqualified from being an elector of members of Parliament, or disqualified, to receive an invalid or old-age pension. It is enough trouble for a man to get a pension now when he reaches the necessary age.
– That is very good “copy” !
– That provision was in the Bill introduced by the Government of which the present Prime Minister was the head. No one was forced by it to do any drill. Who would trouble about the risk of being disqualified from receiving an old-age pension thirty or forty years afterwards? Can the Minister of Defence state what has induced his chief and himself to reduce the training proposed in that Bill to such a ridiculous minimum? Is it another result of the Fusion? The Treasurer laughs, but it was he who said that we had no business to introduce compulsory training, because the Mother Country had not done so. Why, then, is he supporting this Bill?
– This is different.
– The right honorable gentleman says that we must not do anything that the Mother Country has not done.
– The honorable member is sneering at his own country.
-I am proud of the Old Country, but I am glad to say that we do in this country many things that the Mother Country does not do. She will follow us in time, and I hope she will take a lead from us in this direction. If the right honorable member got his way there would be no compulsory training.
– This is not compulsion.
– Does the right honorable member know anything about it? I suppose he has not seen the Bill. He does not know what he is supporting, but so long as he is in the Government it is good enough for him to support whatever the honorable and astute Minister of Defence thinks fit to trot out.
– I think this is a very good Bill.
– I am sure the Minister of Defence must be delighted to have colleagues who agree to whatever he proposes without knowing what it is. The Minister of Defence should tell us how the Prime Minister has been induced to agree to reduce the training proposed by his previous Minister of Defence to such a ridiculous limit. I could have understood the present Minister, after coming into office, going a little further than the last Bill did and bringing in an effective measure providing for a great deal more training, but he has not done so. The Gympie speech shows’ that the Fisher Government proposed, in the Bill drawn up by Senator Pearce, that the cadets should be trained from the ages of ten to fourteen for two hours weekly, from fourteen to eighteen for twelve half-days and twenty-four night drills, while from eighteen to twenty for all corps twelve half-days and twenty-four night drills, as well as sixteen days continuous training in camps, was necessary.
I am sure that the expertsin the Defence Department would say that even that was too short a training. Yet for two years we proposed not only sixteen days continuous training in camp, but also twentyfour night drills and twelve half-days. That would have given the men a chance of learning something about drill. From the ages of twenty to twenty -one they were to have twelve half-days and twenty-four night drills and seven days continuous training in camps. They were then to join the VolunteerForce from the ages of twenty-one to thirty, with seven days in camp, if they could be induced to do so.
– Then the militia were to be abolished?
– Yes, but gradually, after we had seen whether we could absorb the trained men over twenty-one years of age into the Volunteer Force.
– That was an afterthought. It is not the Gympie speech.
– It is the Gympie speech word for word.
– We might with just as much justification say that our Bill provides for the same training up to forty years of age.
– We provided for more training in those three years than the honorable member’s Bill provides for in a hundred years. Although he mentioned it in his speech, the Minister does not include in his Bill any provisions regarding continuous training in camp. He says there are to be sixteen working days, but that is absurd to any one who has had experience of training men. I have been in the forces for about twelve years, and I could not find enough time to learn half that I ought to learn, although I devoted about twenty times as long to training every year as is provided for in this Bill.
– The honorable member had not the same facilities.
– We had proper instructors in the Old Country - men taken from the Imperial Army. We had to put in thirty recruit drills before we were allowed to turn out with a company. We had to attend night after night, save on Saturdays, without a break, before we started to do any real training. What a farce it is to say that this Bill provides for anything like adequate training for the making of soldiers. Then again, the scientific corps under this scheme are to have twenty-five days’ drill, or their equivalent. What will the men . learn of modern artillery and electrical work in that time?
– In the Gympie speech it was stated that the Labour Government proposed that less time should be devoted to the scientific than to the ordinary course.
– That statement is incorrect. Contrast the action of the present Ministry with that of the Fisher Government. We did not see this Bill until months after the formation of the present Ministry, whereas, long before Parliament met, the Fisher Government were able to give a complete outline of their Defence Bill.
– They had been in office for five months, whereas we had not been in office for three months when this’ Bill was introduced.
– I undertake to say that we could have prepared this Bill in three days. Its only good features have been taken from that prepared by the Fisher Government. We had all our Bills well advanced, but had not perfected them. I admit that the Defence Bill would not have been the first to be put before Parliament by the late Government, because we were anxious before proceeding with it to deal with our land tax proposals. Nevertheless, the Leader of the Labour Government was able in his Gympie speech to give the details of the Bill which it was proposed to submit, and the honorable member for Corio should have paid a compliment to the “Fisher Government for being so well advanced with their defence proposals, having regard to his experience of the present Ministry.
– I think that they did very well, but the statement that I’ made just now is quite correct.
– The honorable member is under a misapprehension. In the memorandum issued by the Minister of Defence in the Fisher Government, the number of days to be devoted to drill was set out in one’ line, and in another there was a statement that an extra number of days was to be devoted to the scientific course. I do not know whether or not that fact was mentioned in the Gympie speech, but if the honorable member will read the typed memorandum to which I have referred, he will find that my statement is correct. The Fisher Government were not given an opportunity to present their Bill.
– “ Ay, there’s the rub.”
– And there is such a thing as a rubbing out, as the honorable gentleman will learn.
– Why squeal so much?
– I never listened to such squealing as the honorable member indulged in when he was sitting in the Opposition corner; he then engaged in one long continuous howl varied only by an occasional grunt. I agree with the honorable member for West Sydney that the Minister of Defence could not get an expert to approve of this Bill. He may find one who is prepared to say that he approves of it because he can obtain nothing more from the Minister, but I am satisfied that no officer will say that it will lead to the turning out of one soldier. What is the use of turning adrift boys when they reach the age of twenty ? That is the age at which they are just fit to become soldiers. If their training is not continued, what will be the result?
– In that respect there is only a difference of one year between our proposal and that of the Labour Government.
– We were going to try the volunteer system as a- continuous experiment, but if it did not work we were ready to go further.
– I hope that we shall all be in that frame of mind.
– I trust that when the Bill is in Committee the Minister will prove that he is. Drill is, after all, a matter of evolution. If we are going to train boys and turn them adrift when they reach the age of twenty years, two years later they will know nothing about drill. When, after the transfer of the Department to the Commonwealth a new drill was- instituted in South Australia, our officers knew nothing about it. It was painful indeed to notice how little some of them knew of the old drill. Some of them had such a scanty knowledge of it that they refused to turn out with the noncommissioned officers for practice drill, notwithstanding that they had been in the forces for twenty years. And yet the Minister of Defence talks of turning out a welltrained soldier in two years ! The honorable member for West Sydney quoted the opinion of Lord Roberts in regard to the making of soldiers, and I propose to quote the views of equally important- authorities in regard to the experiences of the American Civil War. One of the greatest military authorities of modern times, Colonel Henderson, in his Life of Stonewall Jackson, wrote -
War is not merely a blind struggle between mobs of individuals, without guidance or coherence, but a conflict of well-organized masses, moving with a view to intelligent cooperation, acting under the influence of a single will, and directed against a definite objective.
He is supported in this opinion by FieldMarshal Lord Roberts, and indeed by every experienced soldier. Describing the Federal irregular troops in his Life of Stonewall Jackson, this distinguished author wrote -
Excitement died away, and, unbroken to the monotonous exertion of the march, the threemonths’ recruits lost all semblance of subordination. The compact array of the columns was gradually lost, and a trail of laggards, rapidly increasing, brought up the rear. Regiment mingled with regiment. By each roadside brook the men fell out in numbers.
Of what happened before the Battle of Bull Run, when action was imminent, Colonel Henderson writes -
Already, in forming the line of march, there had been much confusion. The divisions had bivouacked in loose order, without any regard for the morrow’s movements, and their concentration previous to the advance was very tedious. The brigades crossed each other’s route ; the march was slow ; and the turning column was delayed for nearly three hours. … At four o’clock in the afternoon there were more than 12,000 volunteers on the battle-field of Bull Run who had entirely lost their regimental organization.
These men had undergone a much longer training than is proposed in this Bill. Lord Wolseley, another eminent authority, writing of the same war, said -
From first to last, the co-operation of even one army corps of regular troops would have given complete victory to whichever side it fought on.
– What constitutes an army corps?
– The number varies in different countries. Having regard to all these facts, is it wise for us to incur a huge expenditure which will not accomplish the object that we have in view ? The quotations I have made clearly demonstrate that such will be the case. Let us now turn to the views expressed by Australians who have taken a live interest in the question of compulsory service. The Executive Committee of the National Defence League - and the Minister of Defence, who knows some of them, will agree that they have taken a great interest in this question - proposed that at eighteen years of age citizens should drill for thirty-six working days continuously, with a maximum of sixty days.
– They now propose a minimum of forty-two days.
– I was not aware that an amended proposal had been issued by the Committee. They also proposed that there should be five detached whole day parades, or their equivalent in half days, for all soldiers living within 10 miles by road or 20 by rail of the nearest centre of instruction, and that in the seven subsequent years there should be seven continuous working days, and also five detached whole day parades. Further, they desired that in the case of the scientific corps there should be fifty-six working days, continuously, and a maximum of eightyfour days, and that officers and noncommissioned officers, in addition to attending all schools of instruction as might be prescribed for. the various ranks, should continue to train and serve in the active citizen forces to later ages to be defined.
– “ Be prescribed.” That is very indefinite.
– But it relates to a stage far beyond the first periods of training. I am not going to say, however, that I agree with all those proposals.
– With what does the honorable member agree?
– With the scheme foreshadowed by my late colleague, Senator Pearce.
– Did the Fisher Government have a Defence Bill in print ?
– Yes, and the present Minister of Defence has taken from it many of its provisions. Had he drawn more largely from that source, he would have gained more credit than he is likely to secure from the introduction of this measure as it stands. I am delighted, however, that the Minister has gone as far as he has, and I am only pointing out that he has yet to go a long way before he will have put before us something that will be really useful. Why pass a Bill that will not give us what we want?
– We must make a start.
– We can make a start that will accomplish nothing for us,, and we can also make a start in a direction that will give us a portion at least of what we desire.
– The Fisher Government proposed to spend £1,400,000, whereas we propose to expend about £1,750,000.
– For an expenditure of about £1,500,000 Switzerland can put into the field in a few hours a well equipped fighting force of 232,000 men with a first armed reserve of 44,000, and a second unarmed reserve of 262,000 .
– What would be the equivalent of that expenditure of £1,500,000 in Australia?
– About one-half. The Swiss scheme certainly does not. provide for the pay which the Minister proposes in this case; but it allows for training extending from sixty-five to over eighty days a year, as against the few days to be served under this scheme. We ought to be able to do a great deal more for the money we are asked to expend. To give two years’ drill to a youth of from eighteen to twenty years of age is to give him just enough to make him dislike the work. It must be remembered that these youths will have to do strenuous work at the very age at which most young men are anxious to engage in various sports.
– But these youths will have been in the senior cadets.
– But they will not have had any field drill. I was connected with the Defence Force in South Australia until I entered this Parliament, and I resigned reluctantly because I could not attend to my Parliamentary duties and, at the same time, do my work as a member of the Defence Forces.
– Did the honorable member go to South Africa?
– It was unnecessary that I should do so. I doubt if I should have passed the medical examination; I do not think that my teeth would have been considered good enough. Honorable members may smile, but it has been recognised that good teeth are one of the essentials of a good soldier. The Minister tells us that we are to Have an army of boys with a stiffening of a militia of 29,000 men.
– Where did the Fisher Government propose to obtain a stiffening for their forces?
– From men who were to be trained hot only for sixteen days continuously in camp for each Of two years, but were, in addition, to attend twenty-four night drills and twelve half-day parades, whilst in the third year they were to attend the same number of drills and parades, and spend seven days in camp.
– That is to say, they would be starting at the age of twenty-one ?
– No; they were then to go into the Volunteer Force, and if they did not do so they were to attend further drills. The Minister does not propose to make soldiers of them. Under the scheme of the last Government, the training would have been carried on for three 3-ears and the youths who were being trained would in that time have become men.
– One year more.
– Why should the Minister mislead the House? Under the Fisher scheme the men would have had many more drills than they would have under this scheme.
– They would have had forty-five days of drilling, as against the sixteen days now proposed.
– Are lads to be regarded as mere children when they are twenty, and as fully experienced men when they reach the age of twenty-one?
– Under the Minister’s scheme, the only adults in the Army will be the militiamen. He has provided for a skeleton force of boys. He speaks of a stiffening of 29,000 militia men, but, quoting Colonel .Legge on the 17th September, of last year, he said -
We have an authorization for 25,000, but only 22,000 are enrolled. One-fourth of that 22,000 are recruits. A further -proportion is physically unfit, and not more than 10,000 are fit for war.
– Yet the honorable member speaks of a stiffening of volunteers.
– The volunteers to whom, I referred would have seventy-five days of drill, and would have been in physical and other training from the time they were ten years old until they reached the age of twenty -one.
-. - A similar statement might be made about the militia men under this scheme.
– That is not so. The Minister knows nothing about military matters, and is not willing to be taught.
– I shall ‘never know as much as some honorable members think they know.
– I am criticising the Bill fairly. My desire is to compel the
Minister to go further, to make his scheme effective.
– The honorable member wishes the Minister to substitute the scheme of the Fisher- Government for the proposals of the Bill.
– This is not a party question. Some of those on this side do not believe in military preparation at all, and none of us would have it if it could be avoided.
– The honorable member regards the Bill as wrong, lock, stock, and barrel.
– The proposals of the Minister are wrong, but those which he has copied from the scheme of the late Government are good.
– Colonel Legge is the special expert adviser of the Minister.
– Yes, and a very efficient officer, I believe. Having quoted his opinion, the Minister added -
The rottenness of the present system - which is confessed - should he dealt with instantly by the Minister. . . . The mere multiplication of measures will not get rid of the muddle.
What has the Minister done to improve the militia? To speak of having a militia of ‘29,000 is merely to fool the people.
– Is not that a little impertinent ?
– Perhaps it is, if the truth is impertinent. The Minister is misleading himself and the people in making such a foolish statement. No expert officer would give the opinion that that can be done.
– The honorable member knows nothing about the matter.
– Having served for twelve years, I should know something. The Minister proposes to make men soldiers in two years. What has the Minister done to improve the militia? Is he not himself multiplying measures? Beyond that he has done nothing. He asked -
Have we a mobile, flexible army to-day, ready to move with precision and decision to the attack ?
Answering his own question, he replied, “ We have not.” There is no evidence of anything having been’ done to increase the efficiency of the militia, or to bring it up to the strength of 29,000, nor is there any proposal in the Bill for creating a mobile, flexible army. As the Minister has said that something should be done, I may fairly ask what has been done? I would be willing to give him more time if he had something to suggest. He tells the public that the first line of defence will be a militia 29,000 strong, but he proposes to withdraw 2,000 officers and sergeants from that force to act as instructors to the force that he is about to create.
– Notwithstanding that the present force is inadequately officered.
– Yes. There was a shortage last year, or the year before, of 329 officers. No doubt, had the Minister, in his earlier life, been trained to assist in the defence of the country, he would be more capable of dealing with military matters.
– The honorable member is very clever.
– While acting temporarily as Minister of Defence, I got a little insight into the working of the Department, and found that the Minister has excellent advisers. Were he to listen more to them, he would keep nearer to the right track. I am sorry that he is not a free agent. Were he so, he would not have brought down this Bill. He can propose only what the Fusion will allow him to propose. We cannot be too careful in establishing a defence system. A failure now may cause a revulsion of public opinion which would be very harmful. According to the Minister, under this scheme there will be, at the end of seven or eight years, 206,000 well-drilled and thoroughly trained men. That is an absurd statement. The men will not have received more training than a volunteer recruit gets in a year. The first fighting line is to be 48,000 strong, but the honorable gentleman estimates the wastage in the first six months of a war at 80 per cent., which would mean that hardly a man of the first fighting line would be left, so that there would remain merely an army of boys. The second fighting line would be 16,000 strong, and there would be 33,000 scattered all over the States. They could not -be mobilized in a hurry. Without a railway to Western Australia, the forces of that State could not be joined to those of New South Wales in a few days, or in a week or two. According to the Minister, when the scheme is in full working order, the first line will have had six years’ training, and the next line five years. He does not say how he is going to retain the services of his officers and noncommissioned officers. What inducement will they have for remaining in the forces?
Then he speaks about adults, but the only adults will be the militiamen. I should like to know, too, why he has made provision for volunteers. The experience of South Australia is that militia and volunteer forces cannot be worked side by side. That arrangement has proved a failure everywhere. The Minister has properly proposed to abolish the volunteers, substituting militia, and yet he provides in the Bill for a volunteer force. Apparently, that provision is designed for the benefit of a select class, who may take advantage of it to evade compulsory drills. No doubt, they would flaunt about in uniforms, and would be known by the man in the street as the swell yachtsmen. If that is the intention, I shall vote against that part of the Bill. Every one must, be on the same footing. The Minister was right in saying that the volunteers should be abolished. We do not give the rifle clubs enough encouragement. The Minister, in estimating his expenditure, has not taken into account the enormous sum that will be required for the purchase of additional rifle ranges, or the immense amount of ammunition that will be necessary. It is of no use to have a large force unless we give them ample opportunities for shooting practice. All that is not provided for, and yet the Minister, in September of last year, turned round and asked the then Prime Minister, his present chief, “ Where are you going to find the money? “ I ask the Minister the same question to-day. He thought it a fair one to put then, and I think it a fair one to put now.
– We shall find it.
– Good old “trust to luck.” The Government say, “ We hope this Bill will not go through before the elections, and then it will be all right. We shall go out, and there will be nothing done.”
– If I were in the honorable member’s place, I should smite the Minister of Defence by putting the Bill through in double-quick time.
– The Minister would like us to rush the Bill through at once, so that he could go to the country and take credit for having done something.
– And yet the honorable member said just now that the Minister did not want to get the Bill through.
– To put the Bill through does not mean to put the scheme into operation. The honorable member, who talks about “ a tinpot navy “ ought to know that. If we put the Bill through, we shall not be a bit further forward, so far as compulsory training is concerned, than we were at. the beginning of Federation. The Minister need not put the Bill into force for years unless he chooses, and, in any case, he cannot put it into force for some time to come, because he will have so much to do to provide preliminary equipment, instruction schools, and so on. It would be a serious mistake to put the Bill into full operation at once.
– So far as youths are concerned, it will not come into operation until 1 91 1.
– Is 191 1 too late?
– Not if the Minister goes on with the preliminary equipment at once. That date will not be too late to put the Bill into operation so far as regards having the men trained in the field. There is a serious omission in the Minister’s speech. He has not taken into account the mounted forces. There is not a word about how they are to be horsed.
– I suppose that is where the word “ volunteer “ comes in to some extent.
– I do not think the Minister wants to trust to the volunteers for our mounted forces. I take it that the forces will be divided into naval, scientific, mounted, artillery, and infantry. One of the most serious troubles for any country is the mounting of its troops. The cost of horses is so heavy now that it means an enormous expenditure to mount our forces. Surely we are not going to ask men who are compulsorily trained to find their own horses? I hope the Minister will give particular attention, so far as regards the horsing of the artillery, to the report of a Committee of which I had the honour to be chairman during the reign of the Fisher Government. I had with me Colonel Grimwade, one of the best-known business men in Melbourne, and an excellent officer, and Major Dangar, of the Instructional Staff. I am sorry that the honorable member for Wentworth should have so badly misrepresented the report of that Committee. He made it appear that we suggested letting out the horses belonging to the artillery, the most important branch of the service, and supplying another to any one who misused or overworked one of them. On the contrary, the report recommends the strictest supervision, and, under the scheme which it em- bodies, there would be an enormous saving. When we recollect the number of horses that will be required if Australia should ever unfortunately be plunged into war, we must see that it is time to do something. It was a revelation to those gentlemen when I told them what had been done for years in Adelaide, so far as the Postal Department was concerned, with regard to the supply of horses, and it will be a revelation to honorable members when I tell them that, when the honorable member for Denison was Postmaster-General, a cheque for £700 was paid in for the surplus stock belonging to the Post Office. That is what we were able to do in the Northern Territory, which some honorable members say is such a useless country. Let me call the Minister’s attention to what is done in Switzerland with regard to the remount question. The following account is given by an expert officer who was sent from Great Britain to investigate -
The Swiss are proud of their cavalry ; and speaking merely as a human being, I should say their satisfaction is justified. The men are splendid and the horses are fine. The men are recruited from the better-off peasants, and their interest in the care of their horses is insured by the method of purchase and ownership. The horse belongs to the man. In the first instance, he pays for it, buying it at Government auctions, and often bidding much higher than the official value, which ranges from ^48 to £60. Each year one-tenth ‘of the cost is refunded to the man, so that when he passes into the second line, or Landwehr, he has received back the purchase price, less the amount, often as much as £20, by which his bid exceeded the Government value. The horse is kept by the man, and is used for agricultural and other purposes. Under these circumstances they cannot, of course, be compared with the swagger mounts- of regular cavalry, but they are surprisingly fit and presentable. The horses are purchased abroad by the Government, and are kept at remount depots for a year, where the’ are broken in and trained.
I hope the Minister will see whether something cannot be done on those lines when we are dealing with the practical part of the scheme. 1 do not wonder at the Minister’s silence in regard to that allimportant matter, but we cannot do much in the way of compulsory military service until we have made provision for mounting our troops. With regard to the rifles, I do not know at whose suggestion the Minister proposed in his speech to allow the reserve to retain theirs. That would be a most serious blunder. It might .have been all right with the old Martini- Henri rifles, because after shooting you could throw one without cleaning into a corner for three months, and find it as good as ever when you took it out again, after having cleaned it. But with the present delicate rifles and the use of cordite, if they are neglected for only a few days the barrelmay be altogether destroyed and will certainly be seriously damaged. I suggestthat the Minister should not allow the rifles to remain in the hands of the reserve, but that they should be stored up at some centre ready for use if necessary. Not long ago I inspected some of the rifles returned by men who had been several years in the force. They were a disgrace to any one who had had any training. Some were so seriously damaged as to be of little value. The rifles are too valuable to, allow of that sort of treatment. The cost of the scheme as proposed by the Minister will be enormous for so little training. I am not satisfied that we have been told anything like all the cost. I should like the Minister to state whether the clothing will include boots.
– I’ take it so.
– I should like the Minister to see into that, because it will mean an enormous sum to clothe and supply boots to 200,000 odd troops. That sum has not been included in any of the estimates placed1 before us. The items that I have mentioned will bring up the expenditure enormously, but apparently they have not been provided for in this haphazard project of the Minister’s.
– Does the honorable member suggest that we should provide boots year by year for all those in the reserve ?
– The Minister does not propose in his Bill to put thetrainees into camp, but if there is to be compulsory training, which will causetremendous wear and tear on the boots, the least -we can do is to make them part of the clothing. Special boots ought to be provided for that work. If the Minister knew anything about military forces he would not ask them to go into camp with any kind of boots. If he did he would soon find half the men laid up with’ bad feet. If we are to give the men full training, it will .be necessary to provide a certain pattern of boot, which ought not to cost the compulsory soldier anything. That will add seriously to the cost of the forces. I suppose the Minister thought he was going one better than the Fisher Government when he proposed to give what is apparently an increase in pay to compulsory soldiers. I do not know how they will like working alongside the Militia Forces who are getting 8s. a day, while they themselves are getting only 4s. They will object to that, seeing that both will be doing precisely the same work.
– What about the Fisher Government’s is. 5d. ?
– The pay we pro-‘ posed came to a great deal more than is. 5d. per day, and in any case Parliament could have increased it. Although our proposals were treated contemptuously, we provided that if a youth who was compelled “to train was the support of his parents they should be allowed enough to buy rations while he was undergoing his training. Our scheme was, therefore, hot so illiberal as some honorable members have tried to make it appear. If all this money is to be required, I again ask the Minister where it is coming from. A writer in the press recently said : -
The cost, of navies is a tax imposed upon the world’s industry by men’s ambition and greed, but it is a tax which must be paid.
I agree with that, and it will be necessary to pay that tax until the democracies are strong enough to curb men’s greed and ambition. As I may not live long enough to see that day arrive, I feel that we ought to make sure that the large sums necessary for defence are provided by those who are best able to pay. I should like to refer to the expeditionary force mentioned by the Minister, and referred to by the honorable member for West Sydney today. The more I look into the Minister’s speech the more I fear that something has been done at the Imperial Conference which will constitute our Army and Navy simply an integral part of the British armaments. I hope the honorable member; for Brisbane has riot attempted to commit us to that, and if he has I do not think this Parliament will agree to it. It is true that it applies to the British territorials, although that is something new in the Old Country. None of the volunteer forces there were ever asked before to take an oath to go outside of Great Britain. We have to be careful about this matter, and are entitled to know why the Minister used the term “ expeditionary force.”
– The Minister cannot’ direct our forces to go outside Australia unless he has statutory authority.
– But is he going to ask for statutory authority? Is it part of the proposals of the Imperial Defence Conference that we shall be ready to send an expeditionary force from Australia to take part in any war in which Great Britain may be engaged ? Surely the Minister has not that in his mind. It will be a serious thing if he has. There has been no lack of volunteers in the past for such expeditions, but we shall have quite enough to do in defending Australia in time of trouble without taking part in all the little wars which Great Britain may undertake. This Bill deals only with town areas. I grant that there will be a difficulty at present in applying it to the whole of Australia, but we have to see that the areas are wide enough to include a good many more youths than the Minister proposes to train. We do not want to offer inducements to people to go outside the proposed areas in order to evade their share of the service of the country.
– Upon my word, in every point in which I followed the Fisher Government’s Bill I am told that I am wrong.
– The Minister’s statement is absolutely incorrect. His method of interjection is one which he has adopted ever since he became a Minister. He tries to put in a statement which will misrepresent what a member says. He sits outside and studies that sort of thing. He rehearses it, and then puts it into practice in order to destroy the effect of an honorable member’s speech. It is worthy of him, and in accord with his general character. I do not mind it, but I am sorry that a Minister of the Crown should so demean himself.
– I am saying what is perfectly true. The honorable member is criticising and condemning his own Government’s proposal.
– Where did the honorable member find anything about an expeditionary force in the proposals of the Fisher Government? In what way did we limit the areas as they are limited in this Bill ? This proposal is not taken from the Fisher Government’s BiU at all.
– It is precisely their proposal.
– No ; it is an invention of the Ministers.
– The honorable member should not contradict in that way unless he is certain. I should not make such a statement unless I knew it to be true.
– I am certain that we did not propose the areas outlined in this Bill. Our Bill was never perfected or placed before the House. We did not have a chance to perfect it and, therefore, we did not leave it behind us. Even if we had perfected it, I do not suppose that we would have left it behind us. We had the general outlines drafted, but not the completed scheme, and the Minister cannot say what would havebeen in the Bill when it came before the House.
– Here is the proposal - 75,000 and 40,000.
– From what is the honorable member quoting? The Minister cannot produce a complete copy of the Bill which the Fisher Government proposed to submit.
– Not the Bill, but the scheme as promulgated by my pre decessor.
– The Bill was never completed.
– If I had known that the honorable member would trounce his own colleagues as he has done, I should not have copied them.
– That is another interjection precisely similar to a number to which the honorable member has already given utterance; he must have been thinking them out for days past. The honorable gentleman seems to forget that I am speaking of the area, whereas he is talking of the number of men.
– The one determines the other.
– Did the Minister find in his Department a draft showing from where these 75,000 men were to be drawn? I am certain that he did not, but he is anxious, in order to screen himself; to show that this proposal was made by the late Ministry. I know that it was not ; it was certainly never mentioned nor discussed in my hearing. I come now to the question of promotions concerning which no information has been given. One of my first acts as a member of this Parliament was to interview the then Minister of Defence - the honorable member for EdenMonaro - with a view of urging that no man should be promoted to the rank of officer unless he had passed through the ranks. I still hold that view, and trust that it will be adopted by this Government.
Promotion should be by competitive examination; a man who passes the prescribed examination, no matter what his social qualifications may be, should receive promotion. No man can be a thorough officer unless he has been trained in the ranks, and it will be a good thing for the Old Country when that rule is observed in connexion with the British Army. The reason why the British Navy has reached such a magnificent stage of efficiency as against the comparatively disorganized state which the Army is in, is that every naval officer has had to do that which the sailors do. He must have worked as afireman, assisted to tar a ship, spliced ropes, and, in short, have clone all that a sailor is required to do. I repeat that promotion should be by competitive examination, but that is a matter of detail. As to the cadets, I feel that we cannot begin too early with their physical training. Sir John Gorst, in his magnificent work The Children of the Nation, trenchantly writes -
Millions are spent in providing ships and rifles and guns for wars that will never take place : the smallest outlay is grudged towards providing the men to man those ships and fire those guns should the occasion ever arise for the people to defend their country.
That is obviously true. We have been, so to speak, wasting our youth to an extent that can scarcely be imagined. The earlier we begin the work of having our children medically examined the better. The result of such an examination may be the discovery of defects that may be easily cured, but which if left untreated, may lead to their becoming chronic During the Boer war, according to Sir John Gorst, no less than 3,000 men were invalided because of bad teeth, notwithstanding that they had been examined at the base in South Africa and before they left for the scene of operations. This shows how necessary it is that we should begin early with the work of medical examination in order that our children may be healthy. A workman in London once said that we have either to pay at the beginning or the end, and that it is cheaper to pay in the beginning. I indorse that sentiment. There is no reason why, if we do not adopt this course, the unfortunate condition of affairs which prevails in. the Old Country should not obtain here. Mr. F. D. Acland, of the War Office, has supplied some alarming figures in regard to the physique of the men who offered for enlistment last year.
In London and the large towns of the Kingdom from 40 per cent. to 75 per cent. of the would-be recruits were rejected ! The figures are as follows : -
-Why were they rejected ?
– Because they were physically unfit. The position is explained in a letter which the Age published from its London correspondent in October last -
Nothing has been done since the South African war to secure men of a higher type for the regular forces. It is officially admitted that “ average British recruits are, on enlistment, not only the youngest, but are in the poorest physical condition of those in any civilised army. They cannot stand work which would not injure well fed conscripts of 20 years of age.” The army is being maintained by the enlistment of unemployed physical degenerates - youths who have to be carefully developed for at least two years before they can rank as even fairly efficient soldiers.
Even those whom they do accept have often to be trained and fed for two years before they become effective soldiers-
Experienced recruiting agents estimate that as high a proportion as 95 per cent. of the boys accepted last year were out of work when they offered themselves for enlistment. Out of 59,393 inspected 16,906 were set aside at once, the chief causes of their rejection being meagre ches’t measurement, heart diseases and derangements, defective sight, and bad teeth. Heart troubles are increasing among the youth of the country as a result of excessive cigarette smoking. But the army must make the best of the material available to it. “The soldier is, as a rule,” says the Director-General of the Medical department, “ in poor physical condition when he begins to train. . . . Since 1904 some of the gymnastic exercises have been modified, and in 1906 many of the more arduous ones were made less trying or were given up.”
That is a state of degeneration which 1 hope will never obtain in Australia, but if we do not look after our children in the way I have indicated, we shall have the same result. I have been very much interested in the reports of the medical examination of children attending public schools in Victoria and New South Wales. They show that children here suffer from various diseases just as they do in the Old Country. The percentage of those suffering from some diseases is not so high, but in others it is greater than it isin Great Britain. I regret that I have had todwell at such length on this question, but my apology is that it is the most important that has come before us; it is so far-reaching that one is compelled to deal with it exhaustively. It is all very wellto expound such beautiful sentiments as,
That brother should not war with brother
And worry and devour each other - but my belief is that the bad blood of Cain still courses along the veins of a huge proportion of the rulers of the earth, and that when another nation increases her armaments we are bound to increase ours if we value our independence. A nation that is weak in defence invites war, which Bishop Butler has truly described as “ the artificial plague of man.” I should like to see that plague stamped out; but unfortunately it is not likely, at present, and we must do the best we can to defend our liberties. The question that we have to ask ourselves is whether, if Great Britain were plunged in war, the safety of Australia would be imperilled. If it would be, then it is our duty to make such preparations as our limited means will allow to provide for our own defence.The friends of peace, although overwhelming in number, not only in Australia, but, I believe, all over the world, cannot, under present conditions, prevent the kindling of the flames of war. That power is in the hands of a few of our rulers, some of whom, unfortunately, are of a most despotic character. I believe that a majority of the people of Great Britain opposed the Boer War, but that fact did not prevent the taking place of that most lamentable tragedy. The people had no voice in the matter, and have no voice under present conditions in such questions. We are constantly having dinned into our ears the desirableness of loyalty and patriotism, often, I am sorry to say, by men who are neither prepared to do their share of the fighting nor to pay for it. If those men will not do their share of the fighting, then assuredly they ought to pay the butchery bill. The proposals of the Government are totally inadequate to provide for our defence, and I trust that in Committee the Bill will be amended in a direction that will make it more effective. If we hope in this beautiful southern clime to build up “a nobler Athens and a freer Rome,” we must be prepared to wardoff every aggressor; To be attacked and be defeated would be both bloody and Tuinous, and would be altogether too horrible to contemplate. With the principle of the Bill I am thoroughly in accord, and hope that its provisions will be extended when we are in Committee.
– I do not intend to make a long speech, but desire at this stage to offer a few observations in regard to the Bill, and to avail myself of the opportunity to correct a misstatement made during my temporary absence this afternoon by the Leader of the Labour party. I do not know what were the exact words used by him, but I was informed that he stated I had declared somewhere that the advocacy of a purely Australian Navy by the Labour party as a whole was born of a desire that it should be used at some time or other against the Navy of Great Britain.
– The honorable member was reported in the press throughout Australia to have made that statement.
– I was so reported by partisan reporters, but I contradicted the statement in the Sydney newspapers on the following day. It is strange that some honorable members can conveniently remember the misstatement, and with equal convenience forget the correction which appeared in the succeeding issue of the newspapers which published the original misstatement.
– That correction was not circulated.
– It is nonsense to say so, since the same newspapers circulate each day in the same way. Some honorable members, however, are very wide-awake to the misstatement, and conveniently blind to the correction. I am surprised that the Leader of the Labour party, whom I generally regard as a fair-minded man, not given to wilful misrepresentations, should have made this statement, knowing as I do that if he reads the daily papers he must have seen the correction, or at least have had his attention drawn to it.
– The correction was not circulated outside the Sydney newspapers.
– The misstatement as published in the Sydney newspapers was’ corrected by them on the following day, and consequently the correction had the same opportunity of being circulated outside Sydney as had the misstatement. It was not, however, to the interests of my opponents to circulate the truth. They evidently preferred, in accordance with the customary tactics of the party, to allow the misstatement to be circulated.
– The Sydney newspapers sent the misstatement abroad, and did not circulate the correction amongst other newspapers.
– Whatever they may have done in that regard, they certainly received ample assistance from certain persons who are not connected with them. I have given an emphatic denial to the statement as published, but I have no hesitation in declaring, as I said then, that there is in this community a certain section who support the proposal to create an Australian Navy, not so much from love of Australia as from dislike of the Union Jack, and because they see in the project a possible chance at some future time of using that Navy, perhaps, in such a way as under certain conditions would embarrass Great Britain.
– The honorable member knows that that is a libel.
– We have ample reason for believing that it is true. Certain utterances delivered in public by the section I refer to, make any other conclusion impossible. During the visit of the American Fleet, statements were made which showed that thinly veiled hostility to Great Britain underlay the welcome of a certain section of the community which is closely associated, on the political side, with the Labour party. The Fleet was welcomed by that section, not as representative of an English-speaking nation in close friendship with the British people, but because - so they publicly declared - we should have to look rather to America than to Great Britain as our ally, should there be difficulty with a foreign country.
– Can the honorable member quote one authority?
– I have quoted authority in previous speeches. I do not wish to be drawn off the track now, or to repeat statements which have already appeared in Hansard and in the public press. Honorable members opposite will be well advised not to press for further proofs. They are available, but will not be relished.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– Honorable members who have already spoken have no right to speak again, while those who have not, may, by continually interjecting, lose their opportunity to address the House. I ask honorable members to observe the rules of debate. Each speaker must be allowed to make his speech in his own way. Other honorable members will be able to reply in their own way.
– It is astonishing that whenever I address a few remarks to the House, I should be made the target for a flight of interjections.
– Because the honorable member was .persistently misrepresenting other honorable members.
– I have stated absolute facts. If the honorable member, and those associated with him, will permit me to make my speech in my own way, I shall justify every statement which I have made. When others are speaking, I am careful not to make disconcerting interjections. The official organs of the Labour party cannot wholly escape the charge of disloyalty to the British Empire. We all know what transpired at the time of the Boer war. While labour journals published disloyal articles, certain Labour members aspersed Great Britain from the public platform, and openly espoused the cause of her enemies. Is not that a justification for charging those who thus acted with disloyalty to the Union Jack? Unquestionably it is.
– Is the honorable member in order in making a direct and virulent attack on the loyality of any party while discussing the motion for the second reading of the Defence Bill?
– The honorable member has not made an attack on any member of this House.
– He mentioned the Labour party.
– He referred to certain newspapers.
– And to members of the Labour party.
– All the members of the Labour party are not members of this House. I do not wish to be drawn into a controversy with honorable members. The honorable member for Lang was referring to a matter which, I presume, has been mentioned by another honorable member.
– Not in this debate.
– I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks strictly to the question before the Chair.
– I do not propose to do anything else. What I am saying is pertinent to the subject-matter of the Bill. I submit that .1 am perfectly in order in disclaiming statements which have been at tributed to’ me, and in justifying other statements which I have made regarding the desire of certain persons to have an Australian Navy, entirely independent of British control in time of war, and the motives underlying it. In speaking of the Labour party, I refer, not to the Federal Labour party only, but to the Labour party as a whole, both inside and outside of Parliament. I do not charge the party as a whole with disloyalty, but individual members have certainly shown themselves disloyal on various occasions. One has only to read some of their speeches, for example, on the Naval Agreement. Some of the official organs of the party, have been outspokenly disloyal in their utterances regarding Great Britain. In this connexion, let me quote some paragraphs from a criticism by the Queensland Worker of the 13th February, on the proposal of the Fisher Government to establish an Australian Navy. It must be remembered that that newspaper is the official organ of the Labour party. According to the writer -
One of the first steps towards the effective defence of any country is to make that country worth defending. For half the people ofGreat Britain, where most of us come from, it really would not matter if the country fell into the hands of the Germans to-morrow.
That is a fine, healthy, British sentiment-
This question is one which must be considered free of the cant of patriotism, and we say in all seriousness that to the 13,000,000 inhabitants of Great Britain who never have enough to eat, and to the additional millions who live continuously on the poverty line, a successful German invasion would mean nothing .deplorable, and might even mean .an improvement in their lot.
– There is no disloyalty in that statement. To the starving poor, it would not matter who held the country.
– If it is loyal to say that they would probably be better under German rule, I make a present of ‘ such loyal and patriotic sentiments to the party whose official organ is responsible for them. Again the article declares that -
To half the British population, then, there would be nothing to lose, there might be something to gain, by the setting up of a German Government to match the German dynasty on the throne.
This is on a par with the declarations of some members of the party in connexion with the proposal to offer a Dreadnought to Great Britain, when co-operation was refused on the ground that any other rule would be preferred by them to British rule.
Referring to the naval policy of the Fisher Government, the article continued -
Australia is going to have a navy. Only, it is true, a little bit of a thing that Australia will be able to carry about in its lunch bag, and amuse itself with floating in a basin, but the beginning of a, navy, nevertheless. The Federal Government has decided to spend £250,000 in the inauguration of this noble project, and two destroyers are to be ordered forthwith, to protect the coast and commerce of Australia, and strike terror into that little brown beast, Japan, to say nothing of incidentally acting as a warning to Kaiser Bill te be very careful, and mind what he is about in the future.
– The quotation shows that the Worker and the honorable member were of the same opinion regarding our proposals.
– It is a strange thing that the official organ of the party should indulge in a criticism of the scheme of the late Government which is more scathing than anything that has been said on this side of the House. To resume the quotation -
The heart of Fat is rejoiced. He has wanted a navy all along. He is always in favour of spending the national wealth in the protection of his wealth. Not, however, that he is wolfish in the matter. He is anxious to preserve the homes of the people from foreign foes. What a dreadful thing it would be if the, Japs or the Germans came over here and invaded the sanctity of our slums. … To the “Worker,” on the contrary, the whole business seems at once so pitiful and so absurd that it knows not whether jeers or tears are more expressive of its feelings on the subject.
The allusion to “Fat” is, I suppose, to wealthy persons who are not wealthy members of the Labour party, and not to those Labour members who hold shares in millionaire mines. The term “Fat,” apparently, is confined to property owners who are not members of the Labour party -
Fat also, no doubt, is thoroughly sincere in his motives, and no one can blame the iron shipbuilders for proceeding, perceiving in the prospect of a billet an imperative national duty.
The reference is to those ironworkers who are desirous of having the destroyers built here. Omitting some paragraphs, I come to this statement -
It all adds to the costliness of the system which the workers, by their labour, have to maintain. There is no luxury on earth so expensive as a navy. You have to be continually renewing it, or it will grow out of date while you are looking at it. Battleships are like eggs, they need to be fresh laid every morning.
Australia is getting two destroyers for £250,000. If it waited a few years - perhaps only a few months - it might be able to buy a whole fleet second-hand, for very little more.
In another paragraph, it is stated that -
Australia does not require a navy at all. She has less excuse for a navy than any other seawashed country in the world. Her extensive coastline cannot be guarded by fleets. If she had as many ships as half-a-dozen Powers together, they could not guarantee her against the landing of a hostile force on her shores.
The people of Great Britain - a little bit of a place about the size of Tasmania, or a decent-sized mudbank, surrounded by water, with the biggest collection of vessels of war ever known, lives in a constant agony of fear that some enemy will be able to slip through with an invading army, and capture the country before its fleet become aware of the fact that something has happened not mentioned in the programme.
Then a defence programme is laid down as follows -
Australia must be protected on shore. Give us an armed and trained population, and the greatest Power, or the greatest possible combination of Powers, will think several times before attempting to cross pur door-mat without leave.
An armed and trained and courageous population, with a million able-bodied men ready to shoot, is invincible. It can afford to dispense with destroyers and battleships.
The primary use of a navy, in the hands of a nation that has no burglarious designs on its neighbour’s goods, is to prevent a foreign foe from landing on its shores.
An enormous navy - such a navy as never yet has floated on the deep - could not insure us against such a thing happening to Australia, with its 12,000 miles of coast. We can never hope to have a naval force competent to protect the vast seaboard of this continent. Nor is it necessary. Drill the people, put rifles into their hands, and the prospects of invasion will not be enticing enough to tempt the greatest glutton for conquest.
I have always held that a navy is not an urgent necessity for Australia, though, undoubtedly, the feeling prevails that there would be a greater sense of security if a few battleships were posted round our coasts. Hitherto, the British Navy has supplied all the defence that is necessary, and, in my opinion, a great deal more. Of course, we must have regard to the future, and it may be a good thing to commence with a fleet of our own to assist in protecting our shores and our commerce. The likelihood of such a fleet being needed for a great many years to come is, however, I think, very remote, the opinion of most expert military and naval men of the day -being that Australia has little to fear from invasion by an armed force, so long as Great Britain retains command of the sea. In time of war, we should probably suffer from interference with our commerce on the high seas. A local navy such as we could afford could not prevent that. Vessels on the trade routes from Australia to other parts of the world might be harassed by raiding cruisers, and thus our supplies might be cut off. For the protection and keeping open of the world’s highways, we must depend almost wholly, if not entirely, on the British Navy. Should Great Britain lose command of the sea, we should be exposed to the risk of invasion, and should then need a much larger fleet than we shall be able to maintain within the next thirty or forty years. The desire for an Australian Navy and compulsory military service is a new thing with the Labour party. The honorable member for West Sydney, and other members of the Fisher Administration, stumped the country during the recess, telling the people that the Labour platform alone never changes, that Labour principles never alter.
– Nonsense !
– I have in my possession reports of the speeches to which I refer.
– Read them.
– I have not got them with me, but I can take another opportunity to read them if honorable members are sceptical. I took occasion to reply, in letters to the Sydney papers, to some of these statements at the time they were made.
– The honorable member’s statement is palpably incorrect, because the Labour policy changes every three years.
– I pointed that out at the time when the honorable member for West Sydney was going about the country declaring that the Labour party was the only one whose policy never changed, and that the platforms and principles of other parties were constantly changing.
– Order ! I do not see what this has to do with the question.
– I want to show the difference in the attitude of the Labour party towards the question of military defence now and a little while ago, and to point out that they are not free from the charge of changing their views. In the beginning the Labour party were in favour of purely voluntary training. They wanted to abolish compulsory military service. Clause 12 of the original platform of the
Labour party of New South Wales in 1891 was as follows : -
The Federation of the Australian Colonies on a National as opposed to an Imperial basis; the abolition of the present Defence Force, and the establishment of our military system upon a purely voluntary basis.
The honorable member for West Sydney was a member of that party and assisted to draft the platform, if he did not actually draw it up himself, and was pledged to support that principle. If it is objected that that was only the platform of a State party, I would point out that in their speeches honorable members opposite claim that the party is one and indivisible, whether State or Federal, and, therefore, what affects one affects the whole. On that question the Labour party have turned a complete volte face. They have gone from one extreme to the other, and no amount of compulsion is now too great for them.
– The honorable member has merely quoted the declaration of policy of the partv in one State.
– It was the State in which the party originated, and the views given in that platform were the views of the honorable member for West Sydney at the time. The Labour party now repudiate entirely the principle which they enunciated then, and advocate a principle which is in every respect diametrically opposed to it. The honorable member for Hindmarsh, in criticising the scheme of the Minister, referred to the shortness of the training proposed. In dealing with the question of defence the honorable member for West Sydney said in this House, on the1st August, 1907 -
Every youth on reaching the age of eighteen years should, if physically fit, be liable to undergo within the year forty days’ continuous training and twenty-one detached drills, to perfect him in rifle shooting, discipline, and drill. This training should continue, with such modifications as particular cases might call for, until he reached the age of 21 years.
The honorable member’s proposal then was to train the youths only from the ages of eighteen to twenty-one, but the Minister’s proposal is to start with boys at school from twelve years of age, and to continue it until they reach twenty, when they are to become members of the citizen defence force until the age of twenty-six. The honorable member for West Sydney also said in the same speech -
A man having reached the age of 21 years, and having attained efficiency -
Surely he should attain some measure of efficiency if he is in continual training from the age of twelve? Certainly he will acquire a greater measure of efficiency in that way than if he begins bis training at eighteen, as the honorable member proposed - seven days of continuous training -a year would be sufficient to keep him efficient. The time so spent would be an enjoyable holiday, beneficial alike to the men and to their fellow citizens. The system I advocate is neither more nor less than the revival of the ancient and salutory legislation that made the name of England respected throughout the known world.
We have had it described ‘by the honorable member for Hindmarsh as a terrible hardship, but according to the honorable member for West Sydney it would be a species of recreation for any youth to engage in those eight days’ camp work. He did not propose even eight days. He suggested only seven. There is, therefore, so little to choose between the proposal of the present Minister and that of the honorable member for West Sydney in 1907, that the criticism of the honorable member for Hindmarsh falls very flat.
– Did not the honorable member for West Sydney propose forty days’ training in each year?
– That was to begin only at the age of eighteen. After the age of twenty-one, seven days were to be sufficient. In this case the training commences at twelve years of age, six years earlier than the honorable member for West Sydney proposed. Surely in those extra six years a correspondingly greater degree of efficiency will be acquired, and therefore a correspondingly less amount of actual annual training in camp will afterwards be necessary. Yet the Government scheme proposes to give not less training, but one day more, than the honorable member for West Sydney regarded as sufficient. I have always expressed the opinion .that destroyers as a means of defence, apart from their use as adjuncts to cruiser and battleship fleets, were not a very valuable arm of the Navy. Honorable members in this House, the majority of whom are laymen so far as naval questions are concerned, seem to have the idea that the purpose and general use of destroyers is to defend the coast line, to make occasional darts out, and harry cruisers that may be infesting the coast. Cruisers cannot afford the risk of infesting the coast when it is so much safer to raid the mercantile marine in the security of the open ocean ; and in any case, destroyers are not used for that purpose at all. Their main purpose whether they are of the River “ or any other class, is to be attached to a sea-going fleet. The term ‘ River ‘ ‘ applied to destroyers is not intended to indicate that their purpose is to defend rivers, small inlets, and harbors. It was given to them because that class of destroyers were named after certain rivers. As a matter of fact they are ocean-going destroyers of a very powerful class. The defence of coasts and ports can be much more effectively undertaken by shore batteries, and the real purpose of the destroyers is to be attached to squadrons, not to take part in battles at sea, but to finish off vessels that have been crippled by the fire of battleships and cruisers. The Leader of the Opposition, in the course of a speech in Queensland, referred to the part that had been played by the torpedo boats at Port Arthur, in the RussoJapanese war. He seemed to contemplate that the Australian Navy should be mainly, if not wholly, composed of that type of vessel, and to have the idea that they were responsible for doing a tremendous amount of damage at -Port Arthur. They did a certain amount of damage there, but under what conditions? War had not been declared at the time they attacked, the vessels in Port Arthur. The’ Russian officers and crews were ashore, not suspecting any danger. Their vessels were not in. fighting trim, and were unable to offer effective” resistance. Those who have read the account of that war in Captain Semenoff’s book will know what happened afterwards. The author describes the operations of the fleet at the battle of Tsu-shima. The torpedo flotilla were kept entirely out of sight, as well as out of range, of the opposing vessels. The battle was carried on bv the battleships and cruisers, and the destroyers were only called up afterwards to attack disabled opponents, and chase them to their ports.
– The various classes of boats have their separate uses.
Mr.- JOHNSON. - I am pointing out that destroyers are useless for the protection of our coasts, although the honorable member for Wide Bay, when speaking on platforms throughout the country, built up his naval defence proposals mainly on the assumption that they were necessary for protecting our coasts and harbors, and really constituted a serviceable Australian Navy. Evidently that was the idea in his mind and in the minds of his Government when they ordered destroyers. Instead of effecting that purpose, the destroyers would be so much waste material, and the money might just- as well have been thrown into the sea.
– Does the honorable member favour the idea of fortifications for coast and harbor defence? The British authorities have dropped it.
– Some of the highest military and naval authorities regard properly constructed and equipped land batteries as the best possible means of port defence. I shall presently quote Colonel Foster’s opinion on that point, but I wish first to show the part that the destroyers played in the Japanese war. Captain Klado, late Flag Captain of Admiral Rozjestvensky, in his account of the battle of Tu-shima, speaking of torpedo craft, said -
Such attacks on ships unharmed by gun fire and having room to manoeuvre have little chance of success. This was proved in the battle.
Again, he states -
The torpedo craft of the enemy played the role assigned to them - to attack and sink ships already damaged by artillery. This they effected and under most favorable circumstances. At night, when the sea became calm, they sunk four or five ships amongst those which were the worst battered by gun fire during the day. . . . Our (these) vessels could neither see the approaching_ vessels nor fire upon them ; and in addition to this unenviable state they were already half full of water through the damage caused by the enemy’s guns. … In my opinion, if the Japanese really had from 70 to 100 torpedo boats they should have destroyed more ships - the situation was so favorable to them. This though did not happen and the difficulty of attacking a ship (by torpedo craft) which has preserved its power of repelling attack was fully demonstrated by the fact that those of our ships that were saved from destruction were the ones least damaged by gun fire during the day.
The Japanese account of that battle tallies with that given by the Russian officer. Captain Semenoff also states -
The Suvoroff drove off a fleet of hostile torpedo craft at 4.20 p.m. though she was motionless, and had only one .75 millimetre gun to defend herself with.
The Japanese account concludes thus -
In the dusk, when our cruisers were driving the enemy northward, we came upon the Suvoroff alone, heeling over badly and enveloped in flames and smoke. The division of our torpedo boats was, with the cruisers, at once sent to attack her. Although much burned and still on fire - although she had been subjected to so many attacks, having been fired at -by all the fleet - although she had only one serviceable gun, she still opened fire. … At length, about 7 p.m.. after our torpedo boats twice attacked her, she went to the bottom.
Here was a disabled battleship, lying motionless upon the water, scarcely capable of resisting an attack, helpless and unworkable, with most of her crew either dead or wounded, with her search-lights destroyed, and the greater portion of her hull exposed, and only a few people to man her one available gun. Yet, from twenty minutes past 4 until 7 o’clock in the evening, she was able to repel the attack of the whole of the fleet of torpedo boats, and to drive them off ; so that it was only when she “was absolutely in a sinking condition that the torpedo-boat destroyers were able to steam up and finish her off when darkness came on. Another remarkable fact is that, out of some 150 shots, which were fired by the torpedo-boats under most favorable circumstances- under cover . of darkness, and with no search-lights revealing them to the enemy’s vessels - they were only able to make seven or eight hits. This does not look very much as if this arm of the service is going to be a very useful one; even under the most favorable conditions, and when the vessels are manned with crews highly trained, such as were those of the Japanese ships. Sir George Sydenham Clarke, in his preface to Captain Semenoff s book, says -
A few isolated successes obtained by torpedoes in exceptional circumstances have given rue to exaggerated claims on behalf of this weapon, which can only end in disappointment.
The Admiral in command of the British Fleet in the China Seas at that time was Sir Cyprian Bridge, who is not altogether unknown in Australia. He wrote concerning the engagement -
It was now more apparent than ever that torpedo crafts had little value in war.
I think that these statements from experienced officers in the vicinity of the battle, as well as from those actually concerned in the engagement, must carry weight. Yet this v.’as the arm of the naval service which the late. Labour Government was prepared to depend upon for the defence of Australia. They did not want the British Fleet to protect this country. They wanted a navy of their own. A torpedo flotilla was to protect Australia from invasion. The people of this country ought to go down on their knees every night and thank God that they have not to rely entirely upon the Labour party for their naval defence. If anything happened to the British fleet, and Australia became a prize worth taking by an enemy possessed of a fleet of vessels and a sufficiency of transports, I do not think that our little flotilla of torpedo destroyers would keep them away. It has been argued that the great advantage of having vessels of this kind was that they could travel at a tremendous rate of speed and strike an enemy’s ship before she had time to repel an attack. But I venture to say that the search-lights on board a modern battleship would be able to pick up a torpedo craft at night quite easily, long before she could get within striking distance, especially with the aid of a new invention which the Germans have recently adopted. It was stated in a cablegram published on the 28th June of this year that -
The German Government has under construction a new type of non-rigid airship by the Siemens Schuckert Company. It is. of 500-horse power; and will carry 54 persons. The same company has patented a searchlight of180,000,000candle power for detecting torpedoboats at distances from seven to nine miles.
In view of that information I do not think that torpedo crafts could’ be relied upon to repel such cruisers as might descend upon our coasts in time of war. The presence of torpedo vessels would be discovered at a distance of from seven to eight miles by the search-lights, and a single shot from a battle-ship would send such a boat to the bottom. They are very lightly constructed in their hulls, and they have to carrya large amount of machinery. Even their speed cannot be relied upon. Their bunkers will not hold a large quantity of coal, and consequently they are unable to be away from their base for a considerable time. Those who are much enamoured of torpedo craft will probably be disappointed to learn, from an extract which I shall read, that these vessels, even under the most favorable circumstances, cannot be depended upon to maintain a high rate of speed for any length of time. Last year a test was made of the speed of the latest torpedo boats constructed for the American Navy. The result is very instructive. Six of the vessels ran from Sandy Hook to Cape Charles, a distance of 240 miles. It was anticipated that they would develop 75 per cent. of their trial speed; but an account in the Scientific American of 15th June last year shows the following results : -
The Whiffle in her speed trials developed 28.24 knots, but over this short distance in. absolutely smooth water she developed only 11 knots. The Stewart, a similar vessel, on her speed trials developed 29.69 knots, but in her run over, this short distance she developed only11½ knots. The Hull did somewhat better. On a trial trip, she developed a speed of 28.04 knots, but in this race developed only 15 knots. The highest record for the trip was secured by the Worden, which developed a speed of 21.6 knots. On her trial trip, however, she developed nearly 30 knots. It is proposed to use these vessels over a radius of 1,000 miles, but in the comparatively short run of 240 miles, in. perfectly calm weather, the speed of the Worden fell from practically 30 knots an hour to 21 knots; that of the Hull from 28.04 knots to 15 knots; the Stewart from 29.69 knots to11½ knots; and the Truxton from 29.58 knots to11 knots. Another vessel did not complete the distance, as she became disabled. The average speed under fair-weather conditions was - Worden, 21.6 knots; Hull, 15 knots; Stewart,11½ knots; and Truxton,11 knots. Compared with the speed developed on their trial trips, the failing-off was remarkable, being in some casesmore than 50 per cent. The speed of vessels of that class, therefore, cannot be relied upon to enable them to quickly get within range of an enemy, or, if the necessity arises, to promptly get out of range. I referred earlier in my remarks to the advantage of land batteries as compared with torpedo craft as a means of harbor, coastal, and river defence, and, whilst I do not pretend to have had practical experience, I advance the views at which I have arrived on these questions as the result of reading the accounts of various battles, and the opinions expressed by naval and military experts who have had experience of actual warfare. Colonel H. Foster, Director of Military Studies at the Sydney University, in a paper which was presented to this House in December, 1908, wrote of this -aspect of the defence question -
When we proceed to inquire what the landing party could do, if it did get ashore, we find that the game would not be worth the candle. A few hundred men landed for a short space might perhaps take coast batteries from the rear, but could do little more, than effect some hasty destruction of docks, shipping, or stores, or obtain coal and supplies. Their operations ought to be impeded gravely by any small local forces that could assemble. They would certainly not move far from their ships, running risk of being cut off, and would avoid entering towns and getting entangled in street fighting, which even a considerable organized military force would avoid. Landing parties from ships are thus seen to be an overrated danger to coasts and coast towns.
As to using ships’ guns against coast batteries, this is an operation which naval men never consider as desirable, however much soldiers may dwell on its likelihood. Ships are built to fight other ships, and not shore batteries, which are difficult to hit, and less vulnerable when hit, with safe magazines underground, and bombproof .cover for men. A ship, on the other hand, presents a large, well-defined, vulnerable target, whose range can be accurately found from the shore gun. History is full of instances of the insignificant damage done to shore works by ships, even in modern days of large guns. The small’ effect produced by a whole fleet on the defences of Alexandria in 1882, or by the United States fleet on weak Cuban batteries in i8g8, may be mentioned. There is no doubt but that a very few medium guns in suitable works, fought by trained and brave gunners, will keep any cruiser squadron from entering a harbor whose entrance they command.
As to bombardment, this may be definitely passed over as a bugbear of popular imagination. The difficulty of finding the range and of noting the effect of the fire is great, the waste of ammunition, of which ships carry but a small supply, enormous, and the result absurdly disproportionate to the expenditure involved. In 1870 the Parisians grew to laugh at the German shells, and the bombardment of Ladysmith and Kimberley was very ineffective ; although land batteries have a great advantage in shelling a town compared to ships. Naval men are not prepared to waste precious ammunition, which they will want badly when the inevitable encounter with an enemy’s squadron occurs, in firing into the thick of a large area, where the effect of the fire cannot be judged, and must be limited. But, in addition, no bombardment, however damaging, can have any effect on the war, and is, therefore, a waste of time, effect, and ammunition, and a weakening of naval strength to little purpose.
A little further on in his report, he points out that -
The risk and difficulty of moving troops oversea have made expeditions . rare, except when made by the superior naval power. The weaker has seldom made the attempt, and when it has the result has been disastrous. These considerations lead to the conclusion that no enemy will be unwise enough to send a large force in transports against Australia, or that if he does he will suffer for it. That the navy is, and will be, strong enough to act correctly may be taken as certain.
I do not propose to quote the whole of this report, although it is undoubtedly useful and instructive, but, at page 6, the writer points out that -
Command of the sea confers on Great Britain the power to move forces to any part of the world, in order to attack and embarrass her foes. This has been exhibited in her past history, and will form her most ready means of defending her daughter dominions in the future. It was never shown on such a scale as in the South African war, where 250,000 men were moved 6,000 miles over sea at an average rate of 1,000 a day, a rate not exceeded by the Russians over their Siberian railway.
In such expeditions Australia will certainly find it to the advantage of her security from attack to join. To begin with, their seizure of any possible footholds for the enemy within reach will deprive him of the advantage of harbors which might be converted- into extemporized bases for his attack on Australia. Many foreign Powers have such harbors near Australia, all open to her attack, and, in case of war with any of those Powers, forming objectives for the employment of her forces towards her de-1 fence. The enemy’s coaling stations scattered about the ocean would especially form a desirable object of attack, as their capture would help to guard Australian trade afloat by depriving the enemy of places where his cruisers could coal or refit.
The cruisers of the Indomitable class and the three unarmoured cruisers of the Bristol class will probably form an important Australian addition to the British Fleet in Australian waters, and the chief recommendation of the proposal that they shall form part of our Navy is that in time of war they will pass automatically under the control of the one authority, that of the British Admiralty. They may be of signal service in attacking and rendering powerless any naval base or coaling station in the Pacific in the occupation of an enemy. In that way they may be able to render Australia a service which could not be expected of torpedoboat destroyers. Whilst I do not think that the cruisers are actually necessary for the defence of Australia at the present time, still, if the general sentiment is- in favour of the creation of an Australian Navy, pro- vided that it is to work in conjunction with the British Navy in time of war, it will be far better to devote the bulk of our expenditure to the construction of such vessels rather than to the construction of a large number of vessels of the destroyer class. That we may have a few vessels of the latter class, to act in conjunction .with a local fleet of battleships, is in accordance with the accepted conditions under which such vessels form part of the navies of the world. When we employ destroyers only as adjuncts to vessels of that kind, we are simply falling into line with the British naval, policy, and that of other nations, and, in that respect, the ‘ Government are taking a course for which they are to be commended. If our financial position will enable us, some years hence, to add to that branch of the Australian Navy, we may possibly be able to render real assistance to the Mother Country in time of war. I have already referred briefly to the military side of defence, and do not propose to deal with it in detail, since it has already been discussed by other honorable members. I have directed my attention for the most part to the naval side of the question, because little attention has been’ given to it during this debate
Debate (on motion by Mr. Roberts) adjourned.
Bill, by leave, read a third time.
House adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 October 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19091013_reps_3_52/>.