3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took -the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Report (No. 4) presented by Mr. Hutchison, read by the Clerk, and adopted.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if anything has been done with regard to the appointment of a Commission to inquire into the sugar industry? Can the Prime Minister say whether the Commission is to be composed of persons not in active politics, what the scope of its inquiry will be, and when it will be appointed?.
– I have received from the Department a list of matters into which it is suggested that inquiries should be. made, and propose to look into it at an early moment. The present intention is to appoint a small non-political Commission.
Actuarial Inquiry - Cape York Telegraph Line - Vacancy, Perth Post Office - Increments
– Can the PostmasterGeneral say when he is likely to have the report of the accountants who are investigating, the accounts of the telephone branch ?
– Because of the impossibility of dbtaining necessary detailed information from the. State Departments, the time which it was originally estimated would be needed for the preparation of the report has been found too short, and an extension of two months has been given.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral lay on the table of the Library the correspondence relating to the protection labourers on the Cape York Peninsula telegraph line?
– If the honorable member will tell me what period he desires to have covered, I shall be happy to lay the papers on the table of the Library.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
RENT PAID BY COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT.
Motion (by Mr. Johnson) agreed to-
That a Return bo laid upon the table of the House showing -
Debate resumed from 13th October (vide page 4503), on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- Since the Minister of Defence, in a manner deserving congratulation and commendation, moved the second reading of the Bill, the House has been favoured with six speeches upon it, three from members of the Opposition, who more or less severely criticised the naval and military proposals of the Government, and three from honorable members on the Ministerial side of the House. Ministerial supporters have failed to offer criticism or approval of the military provisions of the Bill. The honorable member for Batman favored us with the quotation of acouple of pages from Brassey’s Naval Annual, and the honorable member for Robertson criticised the financial side of . the proposal, while the. honorable member for Lang interspersed, amongst a great deal of misrepresentation of the Labour party, some objection to the proposal to construct torpedo boats. His objection will have been reduced to a minimum when he finds that, instead of some twenty of those boats, we are to have only four or five. I do not know whether or not there is a conspiracy of silence on the part of honorable members opposite - whether or not some of them fear to place on record expressions of approval or disapproval of the Bill; but I do know that there have been changes of opinion. Members of Parliament are certainly justified at times in altering their views, and in indicating in the clearest way those changes to their constituents. There are behind the Ministry two distinct sections - one consisting of a party, which, judging by the utterances of its leaders, has been opposed to anything in the shape of compulsory military training, and the other, formerly led by the Prime Minister, associated with a proposal made by him prior to the formation of this Government for universal training. It seems to me that their silence on this occasion is due almost entirely to their inability to assimilate their present position and to a desire not to commit . themselves in respect to the Bill which they are now asked to support. I should be lacking in my duty if. in addressing myself to the subjeet of compulsory military training, I did not pay a tribute to the honorable member for West Sydney, who for a series of years, during which most honorable members were in opposition to the principle, pointed out the nation’s requirements in this regard, and urged that they should be provided for. It must be to him a matter for congratulation that, although this Bill is inadequate to meet the nation’s requirements, the Par- liament is presumably about to acknowledge the principle for which he has for so long fought. I therefore desire to offer him my tribute of praise for his consistency, and to compliment him on the fact that now some small step in the direction which he urged is about to be taken. As this is practically the first occasion that I have had the honour to speak in this House - and in Victoria - on the question of defence, I feel it my duty to say that I had the privilege of obtaining some of the little knowledge I have on military matters while serving under a. Victorian officer. I refer to Colonel McLeish, C.M.G. For some period I was privileged to serve under his command, and to me, and to all under him, he was the soul of generosity. While never neglecting his duty, he was to all of us the acme of consideration. He had but one thought, and that was that his battalion should render the best service. He never considered himself, and if our citizen forces in the future are similarly officered, they will always give a good account of them- selves when called upon to act. I do not pose as an expert; my knowledge of military matters is due to the fact that when the country called I, in conjunction with thousands of others, answered. In so answering I was privileged in various positions to obtain some little insight into military matters, and it may be taken for granted, I hope, that I subsequently maintained in them perhaps a greater interest than the average citizen. What little knowledge I have gained by actual experience, added to that which I have acquired in public life, tells me at once that this Bill is
Only a partial contribution to the nation’s military requirements. Its provisions seem to stamp it as a Bill which is the best possible work of experts with the limited material placed at their disposal. In the light of the Bill introduced last year by the Deakin Ministry and the statements that we have heard from the present Minister of Defence, it appears to me that the paucity and the class of material offered is due entirely to the influence of the Minister of Defence and of that section of the Fusion which more directly supports him. The Bill is in the nature of a compromise. It is based more on what the Minister of Defence committed himself to prior to a consideration of the subject than on what he, perhaps, knows now it ought to be. It is not based on any settled plan. It is devoid of thought as to the future; it gives no indication of any desire - despite the eloquence of the Minister to the contrary - that an effective defence force shall* be raised and maintained. It is one of those compromises which on being submitted to the public require a plethora of words from the Minister, and an examination of which discloses a minimum of usefulness. In others words, it is a shaky bridge of boats hastily thrown across the wide and turbulent stream which divides the Minister of Defence, with his “ no compulsion,” from the Deakin section of the Fusion with their proposals for universal service. As such it cannot please either party to the bargain, and must be a severe disappointment to members of the community who were looking forward to the introduction of a Bill that would provide for raising and maintaining an effective defence force such as I am convinced Australia requires. There is not embodied in this Bill, so far as it relates to training, the opinion of any one military expert in Australia. In no direction does it carry the stamp of expert knowledge; no portion of it dealing with the training of our young men carries with it the approval of any military expert in the Commonwealth. When, in moving the second reading of the Bill, the Minister informed us that it was the policy of the Government that there should be compulsory training, but that he was guided in framing the details of the Bill by the experts of his Department, he must have known that it is utterly impossible for him to give the name of one military officer under his control who would write his approval of it as being adequate to provide for the training of the young men of the Commonwealth. The Minister, with a foresight that might almost have been called ingenious, but certainly was not ingenuous, stated that experts differed from time to time in their views, and that military science seemed to be practically the only indeterminate one. I have no objection to experts who change their views - that is essential as improvements are made in many directions - but I do object to that .class of expert who will change his views with every change of Ministry, and always, as is the custom of one or two, take the line of least resistance, which may open up to them opportunities of personal advancement and gain them the approval of the reigning Minister. That class of expert is to be deplored, and his advice should be put upon one side; but only that class could possibly have supported the Minister in framing this Bill. The more we examine it the more we see signs of hasty preparation with a poor class of material. It shows an entire absence of foresight, and a lack of cohesion. The parts do. not dovetail. There is no continuity in it. There is no provision for raising an effective military force, or for the continuation of training after the age of twenty years. It contains no provision for a force other than that which now exists, unless it be that the present force, inadequate as the Minister informed us that it was, is to be strengthened by some 5,000 recruits. The Bill seems to have been framed in parts, and the draftsman intrusted with the final putting together of those parts apparently recognised the heart-breaking task put before him, because he has sought refuge in the words “ as may be prescribed.” We see that phrase running through the Bill. Practically three-fourths of it is left to the future, to whatever Minister may have control of the Department - in short, .to the varying views of politicians and the exigencies of particular parties. It is time that we settled upon some firm foundation of a system of military defence, instead of the subject remaining, as it has . been in the past, a mere plaything of whatever Minister or party happens, for the time being, to have control. This is a boys’ Bill, and there seems to be so much “ prescription “ in it that ere the boys arrive at manhood they will have been sickened, if not killed, in a military sense, so that in the later stages we shall be in a far worse condition than we are at present. The dominant note in the minds of the Ministry must have been that it was their duty to at least put something before the House. They found it utterly impossible to reconcile the many varying views of their supporters, and they left it to the eloquence and ingenuity of the Minister to present this final something in such form and language as might possibly make it acceptable to those who did not look deeply into it, or who, perhaps, were ready to accept anything as an instalment. I know that the Bill has been received in certain quarters with acclamation. I have read the cabled reports of what has appeared in the English press. I know also that a great proportion of the Australian papers have received it with open arms’, acclaiming it as a measure worthy of consideration, and have showered their congratulations upon the Minister ; but I believe they have done so because, in the first place, they know that in the past the word “ compulsion “ in relation to military matters has been repugnant to Britishspeaking peoples, because they are strenuous in their efforts to introduce compulsory training in some part of the Empire in the hope that other parts will rapidly follow, and because, in consequence, they are in a condition of mind . to accept even the smallest instalment in that direction as establishing a principle, in the hope that it will grow. If, however, they understood Australia and its natural requirements, as those living in it ought to do, or had some military knowledge, or obtained the opinions of military experts, not one of them would aver that this Bill meets Australian requirements, even in the matter of military training. The opinions of newspapers in this respect ought not to influence us in dealing with the details of the Bill. We ought to recognise the necessity for an effective force - and if we are to have any kind of force, it ought to be effective - and we ought to put into the Bill such provisions as will make it effective. But when we lose sight entirely of theyouth at twenty years of age, no indi vidual with a knowledge of military matters will dare to say that that youth is then an effective soldier. He may be merely the material out of which a soldier can be made, but he is certainly not a soldier in the sense in which the Minister used the term. Even six or seven or seventeen years after receiving the two eight days’ trainings, he cannot be regarded as a well-drilled, well-trained, and effective soldier, fit for the defence of Australia. The Bill seems to have three great defects. The first lies in a misconception of what should be done with the boys in the cadet corps, how they should be organized, and to what extent they should be trained. ‘The second lies in the entire absence of provision for educating the corps of instructors who will be required to deal with the men who are to be compulsorily trained, while the third lies in making absolutely no provision for an effective first fighting line. If I understand the mind of the Minister aright, his administration, so far as regards the education of instructors, will be a lamentable failure. Our present force is inadequately officered. There is a shortage in nearly every branch of it. Even the permanent force is some seventy below its establishment, eight of them being officers; the militia is 1,154 below its establishment, 167 of them being officers; and the volunteers are 762 short of the establishment, 63 of them being officers, a total of 238 officers, and 1,748 of other ranks, short in our Permanent, Militia and Volunteer Forces, the grand total short amounting to nearly 2,000. Yet the Minister, with airy indifference, proposes to make 2,000 of the present officers and sergeants instructors. He should know that it would be impossible to obtain 500 who are competent to do the work of instruction. The present’ force, although now 2,000 below its establishment, is to lose 2,000 more of its best men, which will make it 4,000 below its establishment. The Minister, however, proposes to raise its strength from ‘25,000 to 29,000. In other words, he proposes to add 9,000 recruits to a force which is now nearly 300 officers short, and will then be about 1,500 officers short. Colonel Legge - and, as he is now the special expert adviser of the Minister on military matters, his opinion may be quoted with some emphasis - stated recently that some 8,000 of our present militia are mere recruits; that a large number are physically unfit, and that not 10,000 are fit for service. Further, we have been told by the Minister that it is estimated that, during the first six months of a war, the wastage amounts to about 80 per cent., so that were we put to the necessity of defending the country, it would not be long before Australia would have only 2,000 or 3,000 effectives. Yet the Minister says with the fullest confidence that under his scheme we shall have a well-trained, well-drilled, capable fighting force, on which we can rely. Our first business is to establish a school of instruction, picking out from the present force those who show a gift for instructing. We should set to work to impart to these picked men, during the next twelve or eighteen months, instruction which will fit them to take charge of classes of boys or men. For the cadets, we shall need special instructors. Those who can successfully train adults cannot always teach boys. At the present time, we have not the men to draw on for this work, and it is not likely that we can obtain them from abroad, because in Great Britain the training of the Territorials is already taking from the regular forces more qualified instructors than can well be spared. Leading experts there have declared that it would be madness to attempt to train the Territorials with men who have not served for at least from seven to fourteen years in the regular army, and show the possession of a gift for instructing. When under the instruction of Sergeant-Major Ryan, who, I think, has now retired on a commission, I learned more in a week than I could have learned from the militia noncommisioned officers in a year, because he had been specially trained for his work, and had a natural gift for it. We should take some hundreds of young nien, and put them into a school of instruction. When their training was finished, we should pick out those who were specially gifted for teaching boys, and detail them for the training of the cadets, leaving the others to instruct the recruits. To take a few hundred men from the present militia, and use them as instructors, without first giving them a special training, will go a long way to spoil our Defence Force. Yet the Minister says -
We propose to take 2,000 officers and sergeants from that force (namely, the militia), for the purpose of officering and training the second line.
– But not without instructing them.
– The Minister made no qualification. He apparently intends to continue the existing organization of the militia, which, he said, is totally inadequate.
– I did not say that I would continue it in its present form.
– There was no qualification. We have no indication as to what is intended with reference to the training of the cadets.
– In another part of my speech I referred to the need for educating officers.
– If we are going to give a semblance of decent training to our forces, it will be necessary to at once establish a school of instruction, in which some hundreds, if not I,000, men may be trained for a year dr eighteen months for the work of instructing others.
– Is not that a matter of administration, to be provided for on the Estimates ?
– -There should have been provision for it on the Estimates. As no such provision has been made, and as the Minister has not referred to the matter, I feel bound to call attention to it. It will be impossible to train the cadets or the recruits with the officers and sergeants of the present militia. A few of the latter may have the gift of imparting instruction, but I do not think that there are many who would say that they possess it. One may be a good officer, capable of leading his men in time of peace, or even in time of war, and yet be unfitted to instruct others, particularly the young. We do not wish to damp the ardour of our boys. We should make them enthusiastic, so that they will long for the time when they will pass into the militia, and from it into the reserves, which will be effective, if ever needed for the national defence. But if we place over them men unfitted to give instruction, we shall not make soldiers of them. Apparently there has been no conference with educational authorities regarding the best way to deal with the cadets. The opinion of educational experts seems not to have been taken in this matter.
– There have been two conferences with the Education Departments.
– And there is to be another.
– I am aware that conferences have been held to discuss how the cadet movement may be forwarded, but I doubt if the opinion of educational experts has been obtained regarding organization. It is prOposed that all lads between the ages of twelve and fourteen shall form the junior cadets, and lads between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, the senior cadets. Presumably the junior cadets are to be trained at their schools, but, in three or four of the States, any boy can leave school at thirteen, no matter how small his educational attainments may be. I believe that in Victoria a boy must remain at school until he is fourteen, unless he qualifies to leave earlier, but, in some of the States, he may leave ;n any case at thirteen. No provision is made in the Bill for the training of the boys who leave school before they are fourteen. Whatever knowledge of calisthenics and preliminary movements they may have gained as junior cadets will be forgotten before they are called upon to join the senior cadets.
– The honorable member assumes that the training of the junior cadets will take place only in the schools.
– The assumption was based on a reply to a question put to the Minister.
– They will be trained at the schools as much as possible. We shall follow those who leave before attaining the age of fourteen years. We take power to do so.
– Then the Minister will have to provide a third set of instructors. At present he proposes to provide one set to teach the junior cadets, and another set to teach the senior cadets. A third set will be necessary to instruct the boys who leave school before they are fourteen. He would not dream of brigading thirteen-year-old boys with eighteenyearold boys. That would mean chaos and spoiling the work in both directions. At present, however, that is what is provided. Had the opinion of educational experts been taken, the ages at which the various cadets are to be brigaded would be different from what is proposed. The junior cadets are to be given during school hours, 120 hours’ training per annum. That amounts, approximately, to thirty-three or thirtyfive minutes per school day.
– About half-an-hour a day.
– That is far too long a period of training for a boy unless it is to be divided into two sections of fifteen minutes per day. It is far too much also to expect of the teachers, who will be called upon in the main, to give this instruction. Many of them have qualified, or are qualifying, for the work, are showing much enthusiasm in it, and are better fitted than are many of the military instructors for this- special class of instruction. This, however, -will be too much for the teachers, and instead of raising enthusiasm amongst them we shall raise objections, and practically kill the movement at its inception. I am convinced, after conversation with men in the Education Departments, that one-half of the time proposed would be quite sufficient to devote to this work in addition to the ordinary training which the lads receive at school, and which is designed largely, I admit, to develop a type of character rather than to develop physique. Fifteen minutes drill for lads up to thirteen years of age is all that is necessary as a preliminary to their undergoing a more severe course. It would be more effective and less costly to divide the cadets into three instead of two sections. It will be a failure to brigade boys of fourteen with lads of eighteen. It will not be conducive to the good of the younger boys ; and it will tend to spoil very largely the esprit de corps and enthusiasm of the elder. To say that on the average a lad of eighteen is a fit companion for one of fourteen is to show a misunderstanding of the boys of Australia. It will be hurtful to both sections if they are thus brigaded. It would be preferable and more beneficial to divide the cadets into three sections : the first comprising boys of from ten to thirteen years of age, who would receive instruction in the main at school ; the second consisting of boys of from thirteen to sixteen years of age, who as junior cadets should be provided with miniature rifles, belts, and possibly gaiters, but certainly not uniforms ; and the third ‘section comprising senior cadets of from sixteen to nineteen years of age, who should be supplied with uniforms, and be permitted to take up the ordinary rifle such as is used by the militia. The proposal of the Minister that lads of fourteen should join the senior cadets, and be given uniforms, means entirely unnecessary expense. At sixteen years of age each of those lads would require another uniform.
– I am receiving numerous- protests because boys of between twelve and fourteen years of age are not to wear uniforms.
– I am not surprised. Boys like the uniform, and mothers like to see their sons in uniform. My own son was exceedingly proud when, sixteen months after we had paid for his uniform-, and fourteen months after he had been measured for it, he returned home with it. But, after all, thi= Parliament has not to consider boyish anxieties, nor to have regard only to the belief of mothers that their boys look well in uniform. What we want to do is to make of our boys, at the least possible cost, material from which soldiers can eventually be turned out. The present proposal means an entirely unnecessary expense, since boys of fourteen who are to wear uniforms will require new uniforms when they reach the age of sixteen or seventeen years ; and, when eighteen years of age, will pass on to the Citizen Defence Force, and will require yet another. By dividing the Cadet Forces in the mannerI have suggested, only one cadet uniform will be necessary; and before it becomes unserviceable, the youth will have passed into the Citizen Defence Force, and there be given a militia uniform.
– The honorable member has spoken of nineteen years as being, in his opinion, the maximum age for senior cadets. What would his next class be?
– In my opinion, on reaching the age of nineteen years, youths should at once enter the militia. They should remain in the militia for five years, and undergo not less than twelve days’ training per annum. Subsequently they should pass for five years into a first reserve, and undergo not less than six days’ training per annum. Only then should they pass into what might be termed outer reserves, which should be organized and recognised by the Government. They should then pass out finally as men, who, in times of emergency, could be called upon to- undertake the defence of the country. The third and worst failure of this Bill is that it makes no provision for a continuation of these trainees in the militia.
– If that is not so, I shall be glad to be corrected. As I understand the Bill, it provides that boys shall pass out of the Cadet Force on reaching the age of eighteen years with no training worthy of the name, so far as the making of an effective soldier is concerned. They are then to go into what is called the Citizen Defence Force and to remain in that force for two years.. During the first year they are to have eight days’ training in camp, organized into units by themselves, and in the second year they are to be organized with the militia for another eight days’ training in camp. Their compulsory training will then end, except that for the next six years- they will be called upon either to register once a year, or to attend what is called a muster parade. Is it not correct that for all practical purposes they will then be free from military service?
– That is so.
– I am sorry that the Bill fails so utterly in that respect, and’ that it does not provide for the continuation of these trainees in the militia.
– Such a provision, so far as I am aware, has not been embodied in any previous Bill.
– The honorable gentleman has behind him a Parliament which is practically unanimous in favour of the training of our youth, and, subsequently, the young men of Australia, to such a reasonable extent as will make them effective defenders of their country. If he does not seize the opportunity, the blame must rest entirely with him and those directly behind him. What past Ministers of Defence may have proposed, or what future Ministers may suggest, is at this moment of no concern. I trust that the Minister will seize this favorable opportunity, for it may not offer again. We have yet to learn how the system of compulsory training will be received in the constituencies; and since there has been no overwhelming expression of opinion in favour of compulsory training, the Minister should avail himself of this opportunity of familiarizing the people with the proposal to build up an effective force. But just where every military man. will assure the Minister that the real work of a young man should begin, this Bill ends. We are to let the youths go after they have been merely played with for two years. The opinion of the Empire’s greatest soldier need not be again read during this debate; it was aptly quoted yesterday by the honorable member for West Sydney, and should have some weight and influence with the Minister. He proposed a training of forty days in the first year, whereas this Bill proposes eight days’ training for those nineteen years of age, and another eight days’ training for those of twenty years of age.
– Does it?
– The Bill provides that the prescribed training- shall be, in the Citizen Force, sixteen whole days or their equivalent. Our youths are to remain in the Citizen Force for . two years, so that they will have eight days’ training during each of those two years.
– No ; two periods of sixteen days’ training.
– The Minister will have to amend the Bill if that is his intention.
– I think not.
– In the first year these young men are to be trained as separate units apart from the militia, and in the second they are to be organized with the militia.
– Sixteen days’ training in each year.
– The Estimates do not provide for giving the present militia sixteen days per annum in camp. If these youths are to be part and parcel of that organization, how can they get sixteen days with the militia, who have only eight days in camp?
– Have the militia only eight days’ training?
– That is all; in seme of the States they have only four days in camp.
– The honorable member is confounding “ training “ with “ camping.”
– I am not. Perhaps it is necessary to explain that, unless we send these trainees into camp for continuous training, they will not be trained” at all. The night drills and the alleged half-day drills are merely a waste of time. The training must be given in whole-day drills. It should be continuous, and, according to the view of experts, should take place in camp. Only after very grave consideration did Field Marshal Lord Roberts approve of so short a period of training as four months, and he, in arriving at that conclusion, had in view the fact that that training should, as far as possible, be carried out in camp. I ask the Minister not to confuse night drills with real training, and not to suppose that if onehalf of this period of sixteen days is to be devoted to squad drill on, small training grounds in various centres of population, our young men will secure an effective training. Lord Roberts approved of the four months’ period of training only on condition that it should take place under the direction of members of the regular army - men who had served from seven to fourteen years continuously, and had perhaps seen active service. The failure of the Bill is its neglect to secure the individual after the age of twenty years. At that time he . is a mere youth, lacking stamina, perhaps lacking even a desire to become a soldier, and lacking the ability to do the work he will be called” upon to da With his little training, he will be more a- menace to the present militia than a service to the country. . As an indication of what is considered sufficient training in a country such as ours, where the people are the army, and. the army is’ the people, we may glance for a moment at the training carried on in Switzerland. The Swiss soldier receives his training first in a school of recruits, which turns him out a trained soldier, fit to take his place in the ranks. This Bill is going to turn him out a fit soldier before he is a recruit. According to the Minister he is to be well trained, well drilled, and well everything else after he has had his second year’s alleged training.
– Does the honorable member seriously say that a young man of eighteen, who has had four years’ training, will not be as good as if he went through a recruit’s course?
– I seriously say that the young man of eighteen who has had four or six years’ training in the cadet corps will not come reasonably under the heading of a trained recruit. Because of my association with the military, I have watched with more than ordinary interest, and ‘even witth a; fatherly interest, the cadets from the time of their inception, and I must say that, but for an exceptional case of a brilliant youth here and there, they will be, at eighteen, after their four years’ training in the cadet corps, utterly unserviceable as soldiers, and only the beginning of the material out of which soldiers can be made. They will require from three to four years then in the militia, with from twelve to sixteen days’ training, before we ought to put them in the first or fighting line.
– All the experts disagree with the honorable member.
– Then, unfortunately, the Minister does not quote the experts. We on this side of the House are able, but only with a desire to improve the Bill, to quote experts to the contrary. I have been reading, in regard to the Swiss system, the report of Colonel Bridges, one of the best officers that we have had in Australia, and I regret very much that he should have been spirited away to England. His report is an excellent one. He points out that the Swiss soldier receives his training first in a school of recruits, which turns him out a trained soldier fit to take his. place in the ranks, and secondly in repetition courses or annual trainings, during which units, from companies to army corps, are mobilized and trained. What is the recruit course in Switzerland ? It used to be forty-seven days’ continuous training, while the man was still a recruit and unfit “to be put into the ranks of the first or fighting line. After many years of practical experience of that system, the Swiss Parliament recently raised the length of service from forty-seven to sixty-five days. All the military experts suggested seventy days, but Parliament made it sixtyfive. Thus they increased the first year’s course, when the lad was plastic and when he ought to be made into a soldier. Then, and then only, is he allowed to take his place in the militia or fighting force. But the Minister assures us now, and actual h asserts that he has the opinions of experts to support the view - I should like to see those opinions - that after two periods of sixteen days in his nineteenth and twentieth years, the youth is to be turned out as a well-trained, well-drilled, well-disciplined and effective soldier.
– The honorable member keeps mixing things up in such a way that 1 cannot follow him.
– The Minister, when in a dilemma, ought not to make such interjections. He says that he has the opinion of experts to support the view that he enunciated when moving the second reading of the Bill. I hope my tone is not offensive, but may I suggest that if he maintains now a similar demeanour to that which he assumed when introducing the Bill, there will be a possibility of improving the measure, but that there will not be if his interjections are merely of a political character. After sixty-five days’ training the man in Switzerland is turned out as a trained recruit. During the next few years he has to undergo seven annual trainings or repetition courses’ of eleven days each, and five inspections of arms in the years that he has no annual training. After he arrives at the age of thirty-three, and from then until the age of forty, he has one annual training of eleven days, and seven annual inspections of arms of one whole day each. That is the Swiss system, arrived at after many years of practical experience, and to which the whole nation cheerfully conforms - the only system which, in their opinion, can turn men out fit to undertake the duty of defending their country. I can reasonably put that, and the opinions expressed by Lord Roberts when moving the second reading of his Bill in the House of Lords, against the opinions of the Minister and of the experts with whose names he has not yet favoured us.
– Does the honorable member seriously suggest that I should tell him the name of every expert who has given me advice, so that he may begin to “go for” him?
– I should not “go for” any expert. If I were leaning in that direction - but I do not intend to take advantage of my Parliamentary position to do so - I could, perhaps, castigate one or two ; but it is the Minister’s duty to find out which officers are valuable and which are not, which are self-seekers and which are devoting the whole of their lives to perfecting the forces ; which change their views with every Minister who comes into power, and those to which personal advancement is far more important than the training and maintaining of an effective force. I do not intend to pursue inquiries in that direction, in the present circumstances, and, therefore, the Minister’s gibe is in no way justified.
– It was no gibe. The honorable member was asking for the names of experts, and I said it would not be fair to give names.
– Unquestionably, the Parliament ought to know by whom it is being guided. We need guidance in matters military. They have been in a cond tion of chaos for many years. There is on the Ministerial side but one member who has had practical experience of the Military Forces, and he is incessantly complaining, but, strange to say, he is to be silent on this Bill. When honorable member j asked yesterday if he intended to address himself to the measure, the reply was an emphatic “No.” The Defence Forces have been lacking in efficiency for years. It is no fault -of the men. It is no fault of the citizen soldiery or of the militia officers. Throughout every report and every statement we find references deprecating the inefficiency of the forces and their general lack of effectiveness for war purposes. Recently an ex-Minister brought a friend of his from Sydney to put everything right, and that gentleman’s statement was that, although we had 23,000 militia, not 10,000 of them were fit for war. Surely that is sufficiently astounding and sufficiently severe to open the eyes of any
Minister who will go into the subject in. order to find out with whom the fault lies, and who will have the courage when he does find it out, to say that there must be an alteration. Parliament has a right, when it is paying reasonable salaries to officers who put themselves forward as experts, to know whether they approve of these proposals, or whether in some instances they are merely conforming to the political exigencies of a party, and allowing the Minister to put forward, under cover of their recommendations, while denying us their names, a totally inadequate scheme - one which no real military expert can assert is sufficient for the nation’s present requirements, or likely to result in raising and maintaining an effective fighting force. The best that can be said of the Bill is that it is an acknowledgmentof a principle. Outside of that it gives no indication of usefulness. The present militia is to be retained, ineffective as the Minister said it was - and he referred to it in scathing terms’. He said it was short in its numbers, and that for garrison purposes we should have to take 6,000 from the field force. He said that the field force was about 15,000 strong, and, when depleted of 6,000 for garrison purposes, would be left at 8,000 or 9,000 strong. He added that this force would be busy drawing and distributing arms, ammunition, and equipment, and so on, and that it would be four weeks before it was ready for war purposes. I am not prepared to say quite as much as the Minister on that point. If the button were pressed to-morrow morning, and we were called upon to defend any portion of Australia, all the powers of the Minister could not, in two weeks, out of all the forces that we have at our command at present in the shape of militia, concentrate in any one spot 10,000 effective soldiers. That opinion has been held by military experts for years, as is shown by the reports of the various InspectorsGeneral, and special officers, and the re marks of various Ministers in introducing their different -Bills. Singularly enough, no Minister seems to have attempted to find where the fault lay, and no individual has been blamed for the lack of efficiency. The Government propose, under this Bill, to maintain the present force and add to its strength by nominally 5,000. I am not clear how that is to be done, because we have never been able to raise the present force up to its establishment. If there is no Ministerial power, there is at least money voted to raise the force to a greater strength than it has ever possessed. It is proposed to increase it by 5,000, and make it, and it alone, the effective fighting force or first fighting line. As it has proved ineffective and inefficient in the past, what proposal does the Minister make for improvement in the future? Certainly, during each year it will be strengthened, if that can be called strengthening, by the addition of about 18,000 twenty-year old youths, who have been played with for a year or two, but who have certainly not been trained. That ‘will not make it an effective force. The Minister proposes that the first line of reserves for this force shall be nineteen-year old youths, while the men of from twenty-one to twenty-six, who have passed out of the alleged training camp, and are presumably men of a little more stamina, are to be the third line. Could anything be more delusive, or more shameful than a proposal to maintain the present ineffective force as a first line without making provision for their improvement, when all the experts agree that only a few thousand of them are fit for war purposes, while the first reserves are to be youths of nineteen ?
Mr.Joseph Cook. - Who says that.?
– It is in the’ Minister’s speech.
– The honorable member puts things into my speech to which 1 decidedly object.
– On page 3621 of Hansard the Minister is reported to have said -
We propose to continue the existing organization of the militia, and to make it our first or striking line - to equip and make it fully ready to march against the enemy.
The Minister laughs.
– The honorable member said that there was to be no improvement, whereas I said quite the contrary.
– But where is the provision for improvement? It is not in the Estimates.
– I say it is in the Estimates.
– Every year since the Military Forces have been under Federal control, the same statement has been made by successive Ministers when it has appeared necessary- for party purposes. Yet the Military Forces are in the same, if not in a worse, . condition than when the Federation took control of them. In fact, the esprit de corps and enthusiasm are not as good, the general systems are not as good, the numbers are not as great, and if the men pass in, they pass out more quickly than they did under State control.
– The honorable member is entitled to say all that ; but not to attribute to me statements which 1 did not make.
– The Minister made sufficient mistakes without it being necessary for me to attribute any more to him. I am correct in saying that he proposes to continue the existing militia system.
– But not without improvement.
– The Minister makes no provision for improvement.
– I do.
– So far, we have not seen it.. At page 3622 of Hansard the Minister is reported as follows : -
Ai 1 have already said, the young man oi twenty years will be part of our first fighting line; and the second line will consist of young men of nineteen years who have undergone four or five years’ training.
The Minister seems to think that youths of nineteen years, who have been senior cadets, will be fit for actual warfare. If he will take the trouble to read the history of past wars, he will find that several failed because mere lads were employed as soldiers. The last Napoleonic army failed, because, the country having been drained of men, an attempt was made to fight with boys. The Minister continued -
We further propose a third line, composed of men who are not required for the completion of the militia, and who, when they have undergone their compulsory training, will pass into the general reserve.
These are the youths of twenty who have had two years of training under military conditions.
– They will have had five years of- training.
– It is deceptive of the Minister to speak of them as having had five years of military training when, as a matter of fact, four of these years will have been passed in the cadet corps. The Minister proposes, to call on boys of nineteen before calling on young men of from twenty-two to twenty-six years of age. In every other country of the world an opposite course is followed. The men oi stamina and training, aged between twentylive and forty years, are called upon before the boys. Something has been said about this country being a buttress to, and not a burden on, the Empire ; but- if the Bill is passed as it stands, we may become, not a buttress, but the butt of the Empire.
In no other country would a Government dream of filling the fighting line with boys before they had exhausted their men. If any military officer has suggested to the Minister that boys of nineteen should be drawn on before men of from twenty-five to thirty years, he should be transferred from his present position to one where he will be less dangerous. A Minister should have the courage to get rid of experts who give such advice, though I do not believe that any military man in Australia suggested the course which I am criticising. The Minister said that the third line would be composed of men who were not required for the completion of the militia. There is no power in the Bill for taking those men after their two years of training, and putting them into the militia. That is its great weakness. Unless the Minister permits the measure to be altered, we shall have a large number of men who have got a smattering of training, such as . elsewhere would not be considered sufficient even for recruits, and upon them will rest the defence of Australia.
– It is absolutely incorrect to say that the defence of Australia will rest upon mere boys.
– Apart from the existing militia, which is to be strengthened by 5,000 men, the defence of Australia will rest entirely upon those who are going through the first and second year’s training - boys of nineteen or twenty years of age, and men who have only had that training.
– That is a correction of the former statement.
– It is a repetition of it. I am not dealing with the Bill as a party measure, and it is not so regarded by any one on this side.
– Does the honorable member suggest that it is regarded by the Ministerialists as a party measure?
– Yes; that is my opinion, upon comparing it with the more effective measure of the honorable member for Richmond. Let me quote a few of the remarks made by the present Prime Minister in defence of the Bill of his former colleague, when he was leading another Ministry.
We propose a system of universal training in order to form a National Guard of Defence, in which every young man in the Commonwealth shall be required to serve during his nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first years. This gives us a small fraction of his early manhood when he is best capable of receiving the benefit and standing the strain of military training. Each young man will be called upon to spend an average of sixteen days per year, not in drill-rooms or on parade-grounds, but in local camps, devoted wholly and solely to continuous practical instruction.
This Bill differs widely from that of the honorable member for Richmond, and is inferior to it. I wonder what the Prime Minister will say if called upon to defend it. Continuing my quotation from his speech on the other Bill -
Ultimately we may see the time arrive when, reckoning men under forty, we shall have 800,000 who are either in, or have passed through the ranks. We estimate that these men can be obtained, disciplined, drilled, and made efficient for , £1,200,000, as against the present defence expenditure of£800,000.
The present Minister purposes to create a force of 206,000 by expending a little over , £500,000 more. I make the quotation to show how different are the proposals of the present Deakin Ministry, by reason of the influence of a section of the Fusion, from those of the former Deakin Ministry. Another matter to which I’ wish to refer is the need for taking our officers from the ranks. The officers should not be a class to themselves, or drawn from any particular section of the community. Our present force suffers from the way in which officers have been chosen because of their social importance. I have known men to be made officers without consideration of their military qualifications or training. Because of their position in society, they have beenappointed to the exclusion of qualified men who did not move in the same circle. I have seen officers who could not sit a horse appointed to field rank. I have seen men in command who could no more exercise a mixed force than they could fly across the Channel without the help of a machine. Apparently, the Minister desires to continue this iniquity. According to the Age of 29th July, Dr. Barrett, speaking for a deputation from the Melbourne University, informed the Minister that -
The Council desired that if the Government instituted a system of compulsory military training the University of Melbourne should be enabled to form a separate corps. If, on the other hand, the Ministry did not propose compulsory training, the University desired a volunteer corps formed in its midst.
There we have class distinction.
– Does the honorable member call the University a class institution?
– There are men in the universities who are as democratic as is any honorable member of this House.
– The majority of the professors term themselves Socialists, and, in politics, do not support the party of the honorable member. But 95 per cent, of our youths do not enter the universities, and, for the most part, the University students are drawn from’ a small section of the community. If we permit the universities to have corps of their own, we shall be creating class distinctions, which should not be tolerated. Dr. Barrett went on to say -
The matter had been under discussion before, and some of the officers of the Department had suggested that the University should do something to train men for the duties of military officers.
To that the Minister replied that -
He was glad to learn that their idea was to turn out as many officers as possible in connexion with a University Corps.
– Hear, hear.
- Dr. Barrett con-‘ tinued -
The idea was that after the men had served two years, and passed their examinations, they should be appointed second lieutenants.
To that the Minister replied that it was a very fitting thing. If the Minister’s opinions are carried into effect, they will go a long way towards spoiling our Military Forces. He would create a class of officers who would not pass through the ranks, and would, therefore, not know or understand the men whom they would have to control. It is disheartening to men to be under the command of individuals who have been made officers, not because of their qualifications, but because of their social standing. The ability to command is not possessed solely by- those who have passed through the universities. I have known university men to be abject failures as officers. The ideas of the Minister are at variance with the democratic opinion of the community, and dangerous to the welfare of the forces.
– I shall risk that.
– Having dealt with the inadequate proposals of the Government, may I suggest a scheme which I think reasonable,, and which I hope will find favour with our military and educational experts. We ought to commence with lads of ten years of age, training them in calisthenics, and in simple movements, until they reach the age of thirteen. From thirteen to sixteen, as part of another corps, they should receive preliminary military drill, being armed with miniature rifles and belts, but not being given uniforms. From the ages of sixteen to nineteen, they should be drilled as senior cadets, uniformed, and armed with the ordinary rifles “used by the militia. From the age of nineteen onwards, they should have four or five years’ training in the militia. Thus the volunteers would gradually disappear. Those who qualified for instructional work in the permanent forces might be kept, if they so desired. The militia would be recruited each year from the cadets who had reached the age of nineteen. Only those who had four or five years’ training in the militia, should be deemed to belong to the first fighting line. The reserves should be called out long before the attempt to call out the boys. On reaching the age of nineteen years, the youths should pass into the militia for four or five years, and undergo from twelve to sixteen days continuous training every year. They should then pass into the first reserve for four or five years, and undergo from six to eight days training per annum. Only then shall we be able to say that we are reasonably training the male population of Australia to effectively defend it in time of need. I view with horror the idea of a standing army. I want to see the whole male population of our own countrytrained to effectively defend it should occasion arise. I want to see Australia a nation where the whole people shall be the army, and the army shall be the people, rather than a nation where the larger number shall be paying the few to do their fighting for them. If we have a. force whose strength shall lie in the main, not in their numbers, or in their military organization, but in what they are trained and prepared to do for their country, we shall have one of which we may well be proud, and which will tend to prevent a war by showing that because of love of its country it is prepared to effectively defend it. I sincerely regret that the Bill does not meet the requirements, and that the Minister gives no indication of a desire to make it effective.
– I think that we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.”]
– In common with most honorable members, and, 1 believe, the people generally, I think it necessary that we should increase both our naval and military strength and efficiency. There are some features of this- Bill with which I disagree, and others with which I am in accord, but no one - not even an immediate supporter of the Government - could be expected to approve of it as a whole. 1 do not wish to be charged with slavishly following the opinion of a particular newspaper when 1 express the opinion that we should take care to so frame this Bill that it will not be possible for our shores to be left, at the will of the British Admiral on the Australian station, without the protection of at least & proportion of our fleet. As a matter of fact, I have previously expressed that view, and wish now to emphasize it. I recognise that a decisive blow struck at the navy of the enemy in either the North or the China Seas would tend directly to the defence of Australia, and I do not deny that the powers that be in the Old Country would in time of war display some consideration for our safety. I am convinced, however, that during hostilities the defence of the most isolated parts of the Empire are not likely to be considered of such vital interest as is the defence of the heart or the home of the Empire itself. History must lead us to that conclusion. It would matter little to a nation if some of its outlying Dependencies suffered, provided that it won the day. We do not want to be made a scapegoat for the Empire, and we must take care that we shall have at all times here a navy sufficient to protect our shore from sudden raids. If in time of war one or two vessels of the enemy succeeded in eluding the vigilance of the British Navy they could make a raid on our coasts, shell many of our coastal towns and cities, and do immense damage. I repeat, therefore, that the House should take care that the Bill is so framed that no vessel of the Australian Fleet will be absent from our shores in time of war. Let me say, at the same time, that I’ am fully in agreement with the statement made by my leader on behalf of the late Government, that at all times the resources of the Commonwealth are at the disposal of the British Government. I should like to see more evidence of an intention on the part of the Government that the greater part of Australia’s Navy shall be built in Australia. It may be said that we cannot construct warships here, but I hold a different view. I recently read in a Sunday newspaper published in Sydney a satirical article dealing with the statements of representatives of Victoria as to its ability to do certain things. It suggested that if an eighty-ton . gun or a Dreadnought were wanted, Melbourne could, of course, supply it. But after all, if we desire to be able to build a Dreadnought, we must make a start, and the ill-timed sneers of the newspaper to which I have referred apply with equal force to New South Wales. Our desire is that we shall have an opportunity to make a start in this direction, so that we may be able thereafter to provide locally for the construction of our own warships. I recognise that there is a majority in this House in favour of the local construction of our Navy, but that does not necessarily mean that it will be constructed here. Most of the vessels that are to form the fleet should be constructed here; and it is quite possible we should find, if we tried, that we could construct every one of them. A private firm would riot undertake to lay down the plant necessary to enable it to build these vessels, but Australia, having regard to its isolated position, must necessarily be self-sustaining, and the Government should undertake their construction. Even if they cost more, no one could complain.
– Sixty per cent, of the cost of one of these vessels is paid away in wages.
– That is so. Even if the cost of constructing these vessels in the Commonwealth were greater than it would be in the Old Land, there would be no loss in the true sense of the word. Australia would really gain from a monetary stand-point, since there would be a large distribution of capital in the Commonwealth, and we should, at the same time, reach a higher state of efficiency. I also hold that the Navy should be manned as far as possible by Australians. Australians have lately had an opportunity to be trained in the British Navy, and we know of local men who entered that Navy without assistance. I am confident that it would be possible to have our Navy fully manned by Australian-born citizens, although it might be necessary at the outset to obtain from the Old Country a certain number of specialists to instruct our mechanics or artificers.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the House. It is disgraceful that the Ministry should show so little interest in this Bill. [Quorum formed.]
– The view I have just expressed is shared by an overwhelming majority of the people, and the Min istry ought, therefore, to give effect to it. I am rather pleased that this Bill makes provision for the establishment of Government factories for the manufacture .of naval and military equipment and uniforms. We could readily erect Government factories for the manufacture of what we require, and stores in which to keep all the necessities of a military and naval force. Unfortunately, many Governments in Australia are content to import what they want, not from Great Britain, but from foreign countries. It is strange, to say the least, that Government Departments, both State and Federal, should go out of their way to give a preference to imports from foreign lands. In Victoria, notwithstanding that it has been insisted that only Australian or British materials, shall be used by Government Departments, German brushware has been purchased by them, and we have heard of Federal Departments using imported materials when equally good Australian manufactures were available. This part of the Bill will open up a new sphere of activity in Australia, and the saddlery, harness, boots and clothing that will be turned out by the Government workshops for the Military Forces will be far better than is likely to be supplied under private contract. As a youngster in India, I can well remember that whenever a small war broke out the supply of clothing sent out to the troops was invariably of inferior quality. The excuse was that the demand was so great that the Government had to take what they could get. I believe that this proposal to erect great workshops will prove satisfactory to the workers, and tend to the greater efficiency of our Naval and Military Forces. I intend later to propose certain amendments designed to insure an even more effective supply of clothing and equipment for the forces than that for which this Bill as it stands provides. Although it is provided that the Government shall have liberty to commandeer, so to speak, private property, and that all land shall be accessible for the manoeuvring of troops, I notice that no provision is made for ball-firing. The Government have had difficulty in obtaining rifle ranges in many parts of the Commonwealth. It is useless for. men to go to war unless they know how to shoot, and advantage should be taken of the provision in this Bill by which we can acquire rifle ranges more easily than we have been able to do in the past.
– I think we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– To come now to the proposals for compulsory training, I differ from most of those who have spoken. I think the best time to instil military or naval enthusiasm into men is in their early years. We should catch them young. I do not agree that young men of eighteen and twenty are of no use for defence purposes. The younger they are taken the more military or naval ardour can be instilled into them. I should have been the last to accept the Continental system of conscription, but as this proposal is for a purely citizen force, and means simply compulsory training, I shall accept it. The Government propose - and 1 am aware that this was also the intention of the Fisher Government - to give the boys between twelve and fourteen only physical training, and allow them to fire only at miniature rifle ranges. They are not to be given an opportunity of even playing at soldiers until they are fourteen, when they are to pass into the senior cadets and begin their real training. To my mind the principal thing necessary in a soldier, in addition to discipline and drill, is good rifle shooting, and the best time to teach rifle shooting is when the boys are as young as you can get them to handle a gun. The Boers were great rifle shots, and the rifle was in their hands almost as soon as they could toddle. In many of our country districts you can see youngsters handling guns just as well as the older ones can. When they are young and their nerves are good is the time to teach them to shoot. In my district Major James, who devotes all his spare time to teaching youngsters in his school to shoot straight, has had marvellous success with them. He has dozens of boys between twelve and thirteen who can get the possible at 200 and 300 yards. If others could undertake the same teaching the Australian native would be a good shot at fourteen, which is the age at which the Government propose only to begin to train him. Seeing that we are not making the compulsory training extend to a great age it is as well to start it when the boys are young.
– The miniature ranges would teach them shooting.
– Miniature rifle shooting is only playing at the game. The youngsters in my district took it on, but it was of no real use to them. I have a nephew who is only two months over twelve years of age, but he is able to get the possible, or very close to it, at 200 yards,
Saturday after Saturday when taken to the rifle ranges, and there are dozens of other boys in the same school who can do likewise. I disagree with the idea of not giving boys an opportunity of learning to shoot before they are fourteen, especially as it can be done so cheaply. It is at that stage that the cheapest training can be obtained. The uniform is not necessary then, nor is all the glamour attached to soldiering, lt is a big mistake to restrict the opportunities of the junior cadets in the way proposed. The only reason why I doubted the value of compulsory training was that in the past we had never given full opportunities to those who wished to train themselves to be soldiers. In fact, everything possible has been done to discourage the senior cadets. They have been made ‘ to pay for their own uniforms, and so on. I am, however, now satisfied that compulsory training will be of service. If we can bring youngsters up to eighteen under a certain amount of discipline and training it must do them good and make them better citizens. It will not interfere with their earning their livelihood, and in most cases at that age there is nobody depending upon them. That is, therefore, the best time to train them, and that is one of the reasons why I have agreed to compulsory training, seeing that it will not bear very heavily on any portion of the community. I shall endeavour in Committee to have the limitation of training for the junior cadets altered. I come now to the boys between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. I am pleased to see what is intended to be done between those ages. That is the time that we shall do most good. Most boys between those ages are learning their trades, and it is then that the memory is most retentive. They learn quicker then, but the lessons have a more lasting effect, and, as I say, those are the ages when a little discipline will be of the greatest value. I therefore hope that the provisions in that respect will be carried out in their entirety. Between the ages of eighteen and twenty I think that the length of service might have been extended, but I suppose we can accept it as it stands. With what is proposed to be done with the youths after the age of twenty I’ am in full accord. That is the age when a young man has to consider seriously the question of earning his living, of perfecting himself in his trade or calling, and of taking upon himself in two or three years’ time the responsibilities of life. I fully agree with the proposal simply to keep in touch with the young men after that age. That will be sufficient for all our purposes. Having been trained up to the age of twenty, a large proportion of them, out of liking for militarism, will join any force that is open to them. The camping out and training can be made very attractive, and I believe from our past experience of the militia that without any compulsion we can get a large force in Australia after that age if we like to look after them properly and not neglect them in the way that has obtained in the past. We have had thousands of men willing to join the different corps, but have not given them the opportunity. The honorable member for Riverina instanced the other day a .case which is not at all singular. In many parts of the country it only needed a small inducement for good portions of mounted corps to be forthcoming simply for the asking. Consequently the proposal not to make service compulsory after twenty is a good one, and will make the Bill acceptable to the people, because it will not interfere with the young men’s chances of earning a living. ‘ The great trouble in Europe is that the young men are called up for service at the very time of life when they are out of their apprenticeship, and when it is necessary for them . to acquire further knowledge of their trades, and are sent away at the very period of the year when their particular callings are busiest. An endeavour was made to meet that objection by introducing autumn instead of spring manoeuvres, but this caused a great deal of sickness amongst those who had not been inured to the wet weather. I am pleased that there is to be no compulsion as to service or training after the age of twenty. In conclusion, let me say that we should be determined upon two points. The first is that it be made a condition that at least portion of our Navy must at all times be left here to protect our shores and shipping. The second is that we ought not to allow a single man of our Military Forces to be compelled to serve outside Australia. It should be made very clear that our men are to be trained only for service in the defence of Australia, and not for offence. I may be told that our troops can defend Australia by service elsewhere, but past experience nas shown that if men are wanted to go away from these shores to fight, plenty of volunteers can always be obtained. Thou- sands went to South Africa and thousands more could have been obtained if necessary. Those are the two cardinal points which should be insisted upon. If they are not, I am afraid that the people of Australia will not submit to even this small instalment of compulsory training, which we,, as politicians, having the interests of Australia at heart, would like to see established.
.- There have been delivered from this side of the House at least two speeches criticising the Bill in detail, and very vigorously, and it is due to the House that that criticism should be answered by some one who can speak in support of the measure. Practically the only speech made upon the Ministerial side, other than those of the Minister and of the honorable member for Robertson, who also criticised the Bill somewhat severely, was that of the honorable member for Lang. His effort can be passed by with the contempt that it deserves.
– That is very severe.
– It is the only attitude which any one on this side of the House can take up towards a speech conceived and delivered in the spirit shown by the honorable member. I do not pose as an expert on defence matters. I served three years in the militia as a full private, but not being in the councils of those who conducted the administration I knew nothing about it. Apart from the details of the measure, I must say that I am now a straight-out advocate of the principle of compulsory training which it asserts. I shall not twit the Minister of Defence with having changed his views on that question, because a few years ago I did not believe in compulsory training myself. I am not quite so recent a convert as the Minister, but I do not propose to plume myself upon that. One of the best answers that can be made to the charges frequently levelled against the Labour party, not only here, but in Europe and elsewhere, is the fact that in Australia the foremost champions of compulsory military training have unquestionably been members of that party. The honorable members for West and South Sydney were the leading spirits in thisHouse to thrust the matter prominently before the people of Australia, and n Deakin Government had the honour to introduce the first Bill providing for compulsory service. I am glad that that Bil! was defeated, because its provisions wen; crude and unworkable, and we had not enough money to give effect to them. It deserved the criticism which it received from the Opposition of the day. I admit the force of the speeches delivered by the honorable members for West Sydney and Adelaide regarding the present measure; but 1 think that the Minister has done well in not attempting too much. If we try to force the compulsory principle on the community before it is ready for it, there may be re-action, and the repeal of our legislation may follow. But if we commence with the training of cadets, we may establish a system which can afterwards be extended. I shall not make up my mind regarding the various amendments which have been proposed until I have heard them discussed. The Minister need hot fear criticism on party lines. Those who have already adversely criticised the Bill are members who have paid great attention to defence matters, and, perhaps, have studied them for a longer period than even he has done. If the Bill can be improved, as they suggest, party feeling should not be excited to prevent it. I congratulate the Minister on the introduction of the measure. If he succeeds in carrying it through Parliament this session, he will have achieved something of which he should be proud.
– I do not profess to be an authority on defence, or to be able to speak positively regarding the details of the Bill; but, as the measure will greatly affect the social life of the community, and largely increase the expenditure of the Commonwealth, it must seriously engage the attention of all of us. I have, therefore, endeavoured to fortify myself by a study of the questions it involves, and intend now to express the opinions which are the result of my investigations. It may be safely asserted that Australia has no desire to be aggressive or defiant. What our community wishes for is a system of military training which will provide healthy exercise for our citizens, making them strong, vigorous men, and fitting- them for the defence of the Commonwealth, and the Empire of which it forms part, should we ever be attacked by a foreign foe. There is no warlike spirit abroad. Our military preparations are not prompted by the desire for blood, conquest, or glory. The Minister was disposed to discredit the military policy of the Fisher Government ; but I do not think that he rightly voiced the wishes of Australia regarding its relations with the Mother Country in respect of defence. He made it appear that we wished to depend wholly on the Mother Country, that we have been shirking our obligations, and that the time has arrived when we should take our share of the task of defending the Empire. He seemed to forget that, in developing this great continent, we havedone as much for the Empire as we should have done had we spent our money on contributions to the Imperial Navy, or in providing better for our own defence. This should be credited to us; and I believe that the Old Country will acknowledge that we have done good service for Australia and for the Empire. But, as an outpost of the Empire, this continent must be defended. In this community, there have been those who held that, for naval defence, at any rate, we should subsidize the British Navy, throwing the whole burden on Great Britain. In accordance with that view, we, some time ago, ratified what is known as the Naval Agreement. Another section of the community thinks that Australia, in addition to providing for land defence, should give attention to coastal defence, and the defence of her commerce, which is valuable, not only to us, but also to the Mother Country. Those who hold the latter view were at one time spoken of as disloyal. They were represented as desirous of cutting the painter. Now, it is admitted that their policy is the right one. The honorable member for Lang and a few others still drag in the rear, but even the rank, and file of the Ministerialists, as a whole, are prepared to look at the matter from the point of view of those to whom I refer. Hence we have submitted to us a measure, not to subsidize the British Fleet, and to limit the Commonwealth control of defence, but to provide for a greater measure of defence than could be provided for at the outset of Federation, or was thought likely, a short time ago, to be provided for so soon. The Bill has been framed by those who were at one time disposed to adversely criticise the opinion that Australia should do more to defend itself. Many of its proposals have been advocated by the Labour party, and formed part of a skeleton measure drafted for submission to Parliament. I shall assist the Government in carrying the measure, but, in saying so, do not wish to be charged with being desirous of promoting militarism. Although the nations of the world still spend enormous sums on armaments, and in devising and purchasing the most destructive implements of warfare, there are to-day forces which make mightily for peace. In modern times, communities are in closer correspondence than formerly. Should a disaster happen to-day in some remote part of the world, the news of it would to-morrow be flashed all over the civilized globe, exciting the sympathy’ of far-distant people. This constant intercourse and fuller knowledge tends to promote peace among the nations, and there are still more potent factors. The sense of oneness of interest, irrespective of country, is growing among the toiling masses. As Cowper has said - war’s a game which, were their subjects wise,’
Kings would not play at.
In years gone by, it was the wearers of crowns, and those who surrounded them, who were responsible for the wars which desolated the earth. Of later years, the power of kings has diminished, but there have arisen kings of finance who, to increase their accumulations, have often lent themselves to the fomenting of disputes between nations. As the power of government gets more and more into the hands of the average man and woman, as social conditions, improve, and the understanding between nations becomes clearer, national animosities and jealousies will disappear, while workers’ combinations will be even a mightier power for the promotion of peace. International differences, instead of being settled by an appeal to the sword, will be settled by arbitration, and the appeal will be to justice and reason. That being so I think the Commonwealth while making reasonable provision for its defence would do violence to its aspirations in the direction of peace, and to its ability to work out its own salvation, if it decided to so magnify militarism as to declare that a very large sum should annually be appropriated to these purposes. Amongst the most progressive of the nations of the Old World to-day militarism has become a kind of octopus which is drawing out their very life’s blood. The breaking point, however, is not far off. The masses of the people in those countries are being ground down and kept in poverty and degradation by this incubus. It is an expense which continues in time of peace as well as in time of war. It is . a means of consuming wealth without offering any adequate return. I am anxious that the Commonwealth and its free, liberty-loving people should not have such an experience as has fallen to the lot more particularly of Continental countries, and therefore, whilst holding that we should make provision for our defence, I think that that provision should be within reason, and should not be burdensome upon the taxpaying portion of the community. It should be regarded more in the light of an insurance, and the interests which derive most benefit from it should be called upon to pay a fair share of its cost.
– Life is more valuable than property.
– I am glad to hear the honorable member give expression to that dictum, for in a good deal of our legislation property has been dealt with as if of more value than life. The Labour party desire to give both life and property their true value and importance, and to bring about, a change, in the condition of affairs which has obtained so long, that will mean a greater measure of equality and justice for the people. Whilst reasonable provision is made for the protection of life and property the whole burden of that protection should not fall as it does in the countries of the Old World - not even excluding Great Britain - upon the great toiling masses. At the present moment Great Britain is experiencing one of the greatest political struggles which the Empire has had to endure, and the object of the struggle is to secure greater consideration for human life than has hitherto obtained. We want to hold the balance evenly, and that is one reason why I consider that the Brisbane Labour Conference was wise in stipulating that a fair proportion of the cost of defence should be levied upon property. Military development in the Old World has been in the direction of creating a distinct caste. It has tended to draw men from the ordinary avenues of production and the civil walks of life, and to set them apart as a special class for warlike purposes. In that way there has been created a division presenting many aspects that we should endeavour to avoid. On the military side we have the man who despises the civilian, and thinks that he has nothing in common with him. He becomes practically a fighting machine, and the great purpose of his life is to be ready to obey orders. At the command of the authorities he is just as ready to turn his bayonet and musket on his fellow citizen as he is to turn them on an enemy. As the result of that system the dominant few have been able in the countries of the Old World to hold in check the great mass of the community. It is neither desirable nor necessary that that condition of affairs should be repeated in Australia. We need only to give to every citizen that measure of training and military knowledge which will enable him to defend his country and become a fighting factor in the Empire. In acquiring that training he should not be drawn away from the ordinary avenues of production ; his common citizenship should not be destroyed, and he should still remain, so to speak, part and parcel of the community. If that be done, he will not feel that he is merely a fighting machine, having nothing in common with the civil section of the community. At the very outset the policy laid down in this Parliament was that we should encourage our citizen soldiery as against the professional side of our military system. We have endeavoured to do so, but the success achieved has not realized our expectations. There are various reasons for this want of success, and one is that the administration of the Department in relation to the citizen soldiery has not been all through in sympathetic hands. There has been manifested a feeling favorable to the Old World ideals; and everything has been done to promote the professional side, whilst numerous obstacles have been thrown in the way of the development of the citizen soldier. I need not cite instances in support of that statement. Cases in point are known to honorable members generally, and particularly to representatives of country electorates where people have been struggling for years to secure permission from the Department to form squadrons of the Australian light horse. Our experience is that the authority of the Department has been against anything in the nature of a substantial development in that direction. _ I trust that the Minister, under this Bill, will see that the possibilities of developing our Defence Forces in the direction I have indicated will receive that consideration which they have .hitherto been denied. If he does, he will give expression to the desire of the people that the citizen soldier shall be developed as a means of defence, and he will certainly obtain in country districts reliable material. It is not in the large centres of population that the best material for our Australian light horse is to be found. In large cities and towns those who offer themselves for service in that branch of our Defence Forces are engaged in occupations which do not call for skilled horsemanship. For the most part they keep a horse merely for exercise, and when by reason of drought or other cause fodder becomes dear, they either sell it or turn it out. The result is that the efficiency of the city corps or sq Madrons cannot be maintained as. they should be. In country centres, however, men on farms and stations almost live in the saddle. Horses and saddles form - part of their means of livelihood, and there the Minister will find the best material for his light horse. Hitherto the tendency of the Department has been to discourage the formation of squadrons of the Australian light horse in country districts, largely because of a belief that they could not be properly supervised or brought rapidly to the points at which they would be of service. During the South African war, however, our volunteers came mostly from rural districts. The best men offering undoubtedly came from the country, but this wide open field for securing defence material has been left unexploited. In one centre, in my electorate, a company was formed about six years ago, largely by men who had returned from South Africa, where they had seen active service, and had risen in the ranks, and desired to continue the military training they had received there. If the Department had specially set itself the task of determinedly resisting the registration and encouragement of that company, it could not have succeeded more successfully than it has done. Every obstacle has been thrown in its way, and, although “on a railway line, it still remains unregistered. Despite the hostility of the Department, however, it is still able to carry on the regular course of training that it entered upon. This is an illustration of what can be done if something like elasticity and adaptation to Australian conditions is allowed to obtain. If this scheme will do something to encourage men in country centres to form themselves into companies of light horse it will be welcomed, and I dare promise the Minister that he will find in such companies the best possible defence material. The value of this arm of the service has been recognised in South Africa, and should be recognised in every scheme of territorial defence. I do not regard compulsory training in the light of conscription such as obtains in some countries of the Old World. It can be made a useful means of giving our youth physical development, and will also be of value in teaching them the rudiments of training for defence purposes. By providing that the system of training shall commence with the boys at school, and that it shall continue to apply to them as they are compelled to go out ‘into the world to earn their living, good work can.be done. At the same time, I do not think it would be wise to apply the compulsory provisions of the Bill to the whole of Australia. Judgment and reason must be exercised in their application. There are remote far-away centres where it would be a hardship to bring youths into touch with the centres where training is to take place. The Minister therefore would be well advised to “gang warily “ in this connexion, and to make these provisions apply where they can reasonably be made to. It would, however, be contrary to the desire to secure effective training if the Minister put these provisions in his Bill and at the same time did nothing to provide reasonable facilities for men to be trained. I ho,pe, therefore, that the proposal will not remain a dead letter, but that the spirit of the Act will find expression in its administration. I wish to congratulate the Government on their attitude on the question of naval defence. I understand that our naval unit is to be in spirit and in fact an Australian unit, maintained and controlled by Australia, and that in it Australia’s sons will find .an opportunity for training and advancement. I see from an interview which the honorable member for Brisbane, who represented the Government at the Imperial Defence Conference in the Old Country, gave to the Review of Reviews, that the unit is to consist of one large cruiser of the Indomitable type, three cruisers of the Bristol type, six torpedo-boat destroyers, and three submarines, with a complement of 2,300 officers and men, and is to cost, on a liberal estimate, ,£750,000 per annum for maintenance. The honorable member for Brisbane, referring to the work of the Conference, said -
The result is very satisfactory. We did not perhaps get all we wanted, but still we did very well.
Perhaps the Minister will take us into his confidence as to what the Government desired, but did not get, at the Conference. However, it is satisfactory to know that so much was secured. The honorable member *ft** Brisbane was asked by Mr. Stead, who interviewed him -
Under this new scheme the Admiralty will save money, will it not?
And replied -
Yes; and in addition it will place at the disposal of the Admiralty a far more efficient fighting unit than the present Australian Squadron. At present the upkeep of the Pacific fleet probably costs the Admiralty from £800,000 to £900,000 a year. Towards this Australia pays £200,000. Great Britain will save £350,000 after giving £250,000 towards the upkeep and general cost of the new Australian Fleet.
I should prefer not to lay any part of this burden on the Mother Country - not even to the extent of the ,£250,000 per annum mentioned. I would prefer that Australia should provide all the money herself if she can manage to do so. If we found that it was not within the compass of our means at present, it would be better to reduce the total cost rather than to ask the Mother Country for a contribution. With respect to the allegations of the honorable member for Lang, that the members of the Labour party, who are working for the establishment of an Australian Fleet, are at heart disloyal to the Mother Country–
– Perhaps the honorable member would quote some of the speeches made from his side of the House upon the Naval Agreement.
– I both spoke and voted against the Naval Agreement because I wanted an Australian Navy, but I defy the honorable member to charge me with disloyalty, or to prove any such charge from my speeches.
– I did not refer to the honorable member.. He might quote some of the speeches delivered in the Senate.
– The honorable member endeavoured to attach the stigma of disloyalty to the Labour party.
– Not to the party. I referred to individual members of it.
– I dare say I could find some honorable members on that side who have given expression to views which might be construed as disloyal, but it is a libel to say that a party which represents so large a section of the Australian community is disloyal to Great Britain, because of its desire to provide an Australian Fleet for Australian defence-
– I never made any such statement here or elsewhere.
– I am glad to have the honorable member’s denial, but I have read the reports of some of his statements, which were very general. He is quite within his rights in making against individual members any charge to which they lay themselves open, but neither he nor any other man has a right to attribute views of that character to those who are desirous of promoting the best system of defence for Australia.
– The honorable member cannot point to any case where I have done so, except in one report, which was a misstatement, and was afterwards corrected.
– I read in the Sydney press a statement of that character which the honorable member made at an Orange demonstration. I also read the honorable member’s correction the following day, but when boiled down it was practically an admission of what appeared in the preceding report. The honorable member for Brisbane has been more generous in his treatment of Australian aspirations. Apparently similar criticisms and innuendoes have found expression in the Old Country, because Mr. Stead asked our representative -
People say that your new and independent Navy is only a preliminary step towards cutting the painter ?
And he replied -
That is absurd. Such an idea is not serious entertained by any true Australian. In fact, throughout the British Empire it is remarkable that the greater the independence and the freer the hand, the more loyal the Dominions become.
In that I think the honorable member for Brisbane struck the key-note of the position. When the Mother Country gave us full control of our territorial defence the fear was expressed that it would be inimical to the best interests of the Empire, but it did not prove to be so. Those who talked in that fashion were false prophets. When the Labour party came forward with its programme of local naval control, similar croaking was heard and charges of disloyalty were made ; but I am glad to learn that the special representative of the Fusion Government in the Old Country appreciated the real trend of Australian sentiment and patriotism, and was not afraid to say so.
– Why should Australian patriotism conflict with Imperial patriotism?
– That is for that side to say, because some honorable members sitting there hold that it does. No honorable member upon this side believes it. If we did we should not be found leading the van in educating and forming public opinion upon the question of Australian naval defence.
– Surely the best Australian patriotism is Imperial patriotism, but that is what honorable members on that side are trying to kill.
– Here is another croaker ! I recommend the honorable member to ponder seriously the words of the representative of his Government on that question. If he does, and is prepared to take off his coloured glasses, he will find that there is no justification foi charging this side of the House with w.ant of patriotism simply because of its desire that Australia should possess and control a naval unit of its own.
– I have only to turn to the Labour papers.
– If the Commonwealth owes nothing else to the Fisher Government, it owes it a debt of gratitude for lifting this question out of the rut into which it had been thrown by the little Australians who considered that patriotism consisted of giving a subsidy to the British Navy. Every true Australian recognises that a spirit of Australian nationalism- is quite compatible with a spirit of Imperial patriotism.
– Why did the honorable member object to Australian seamen being trained in the Imperial Navy?
– The honorable member is on the wrong track.
– The honorable member would not have an Imperial Navy.
– The honorable member for Wentworth is very clever at throwing a sprat to catch a mackerel, but he has not caught any in this instance. So far as I am concerned he is fishing in in an empty water hole, because I never objected to the training of Australian seamen in’ the British Navy.
– The honorable member voted against the Naval Agreement, of which that was an essential part.
– It was not a vital part of the Naval Agreement. I think there will be reciprocity in that matter under the agreement which has been come to at the Imperial Defence Conference. _ I hope that Australian seamen who begin in our own naval unit will be given the opportunity to obtain wider experience in the Navy of the Empire. We aim at making our men as proficient as possible, and they should be given every chance of obtaining both experience and instruction. I wish in conclusion to empha-size my desire that an Australian citizen soldiery shall be established on the lines’ which I have advocated, and at th« same time to enter my protest against ‘the introduction of Old World militarism in any form, and against the loading of our taxpayers with a costly scheme of defence which will mean a grinding burden upon them. The expense should be reasonable, and we should insure that the taxpayer gets the best return for the money that he is asked to contribute for the purpose.
.- I rise to address myself to this Bill because the subject is important, and also because the conspiracy of silence upon the other side seems to have become chronic.
– It is not that ; but honorable members on this side feel that it is a Committee Bill.
– Apparently they feel that every Bill submitted by the Government is a Committee Bill. It is remarkable that they refuse to talk either upon the motion for leave to introduce a Bill or upon the motion for the second reading, no matter how important the subject may be. I can remember the time when only a hint on matters military was required to make the honorable member for Wentworth talk for hours at a stretch and give us the benefit of his extensive knowledge of 9.2 guns, and other scientific and practical aspects of the question.
– It seems that he has found that he does not understand the question.
– Probably the honorable member for Adelaide is right. Apparently, as1 the honorable member for Wentworth has grown older he has got more sense, and realized that amateurs should not interfere with important technical matters. He seems to have discovered that the less he says about defence the better it will be for him amongst the electors who happen to be members of our Defence Forces. Neither I nor any other patriotic Australian can demur to the principal of compulsory training underlying this Bill, or deny the necessity for making provision for the defence of Australia in time of need, now that we know the scheme is to be strictly upon Australian lines,” and that in military as well as naval matters we are at last to give effect to the policy which the Labour party put forward in the early stages of this Parliament. In those days we objected to the expenditure of large sums of money on gold lace and frills. We objected to the Government spending money without having a definite scheme which would be of benefit to the people. Reference has been made by some honorable members to the views expressed by the
Labour party on this question since the establishment of the Federal Parliament. The service rendered by the Labour party in cutting down the military vote at a time when no proposal for improving the system had been put forward speaks volumes for its patriotism. The present scheme would not be possible, had not that action been taken. Had the Labour party voted for the proposals of the Government of the day, a military system would have been perpetuated, which it would have been very hard to supersede by any more modem and more useful, organization. In the past, the man who has been ready to volunteer for the defence of his country has had to bear the whole burden; the man who has devoted his time and energies to the amassing of wealth” has been ready to allow the volunteer to sacrifice, his interests and, should the occasion call for it, his life. That iniquity is to be removed by the proposed system. I feel strongly that the rich as well as the poor should help to defend the country. In the past it has been the poor who have faced the cannon’s roar, and laid down their lives for their country, leaving their widows and children penniless, . or, where they have escaped death, who have had to accept, as the reward of their heroism, pensions amounting to a few paltry pence per diem. The people are now demanding that the sons of the wealthy as well as the sons of the worker shall assist in defending the country, a claim the justice of which appeals to me as a Democrat. Unfortunately, however, under the financial scheme proposed for our acceptance by the Government, which we have lately been discussing, the Commonwealth will be prevented from doing: what has teen done by the Mother Country. We shall be able to call upon the rich man’s son to take his place in the ranks of the Army ; but we shall not be able to require the rich man to pay the cost of defending the wealth which is at stake when trouble comes.
– In time of war, the lives and liberties of the whole people are at stake.
– The workers have only their lives and liberties to fight for., and they are willingto sacrifice them indefence of the country. They go into battle knowing that, if they fall, they will leave their wives and families unprovided for, or dependent on the mercy of the Government. The rich man’s sons are not in that position. Should they fall, their wives and daughters will at least not have poverty to fear. I have always been ready to support compulsory military training, with limitations. Every person in the community should be called upon to protect the rights of citizenship which he enjoys. But those who take thelion’s share of the profits of industry should not put the cost of military defence on the masses. Therefore, legislation of this kind will not be complete until provision is made for direct taxation to pay the cost of defence. In the Mother Country, naval and military defence is paid for by direct taxation, not only in times of war, but also in times of peace. Whenever expenditure has to be increased to bring the military preparations of Great Britain up-to-date, and the existing revenue is . not sufficient, the Government raises the income tax by a ½d. or1d. in the £1. Those whose property needs protection are called upon to contribute to the cost of defence. We are not attempting to do that. On the contrary, it is proposed that we shall make it impossible for the Commonwealth to do it, by giving wholly to the States the power to impose direct taxation. The adoption of the financial agreement will mean the unjust burdening of the masses with the cost of defence. I protest against the iniquity of paying for defence out of Customs and Excise duties.
– Surely the honorable member will not raise that question now ?
– It should have been dealt with before the Bill was introduced. The cost of military and naval defence should have been considered in the framing of the financial agreement, so that the burden might be placed on the right shoulders. Every action of the Government shows that it is the desire of Ministers, by making the agreement for all time-
– The honorable member must not discuss the financial agreement.
– I am not discussing it, except inferentially.
– The honorable member must not discuss it at all.
– May I not deal with the manner in which the Bill is to be financed, and show how the expenses of defence will be borne?
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing a matter already before the House in connexion with another measure, which is not affected by the Bill in any shape or form. I ask him not to discuss the financial agreement.
– Do I understand that I am not allowed to say whence the money required for defence will be drawn, and who will have to pay the cost of the system ?
– I said nothing about that.
– I am always interrupted when I speak.
– Shame !
– If the honorable member for Gwydir thinks that he is interrupted improperly, he has his remedy. 1” ask him not to discuss the financial agreement, which is before the House in connexion with another measure. He was proceeding to discuss it in detail.
– I was not proceeding ‘ to discuss the financial agreement. I was merely showing that if it were adopted the Commonwealth would be prevented from removing the burden of defence from the shoulders of the masses.
– The honorable member must not discuss a matter which has been settled by the Chair. He will now proceed with his speech.
– I refuse to submit to such dictation. You may do as you like. P artisan !
– The honorable member has used an expression which he must withdraw.
– I withdraw it.
– I should be churlish indeed were I not to recognise the spirit in which the debate has been conducted, or were I to appear ungrateful for the kind things which have been said concerning the Bill. I hope that honorable members will believe that I appreciate them to the full. If I do not, at this stage, reply to the criticism which has been offered, it is because it will necessarily be repeated in Committee, and I hope, then, to reply fully to the various objections which have been urged by honorable members. I welcome criticism which aims at the improvement of the measure, because I do not pretend that I have discovered a perfect system of military organization, or that that is provided for in the Bill. I merely claim to have made an earnest attempt to approach a matter of the supremest moment to Australia in a spirit which, I hope, will be reciprocated by honorable members when we come to close quarters in Committee.
– Dees the honorable member term the Bill “ an earnest attempt “?
– It is an earnest, and, I believe, practical attempt to provide adequately for the defence of Australia. The future will show that that is so. I regret that the speech of the honorable member for West Sydney was disfigured by personalities, which do not befit a debate of this kind, and, tempting as is the opportunity to reply to some of his statements, I shall pass them by, offsetting them with the many remarks of another character which came from other honorable members on his side of the House.
– Does the Minister propose to go straight on with the Bill in Committee now?
– I am prepared to do so, and, when we are dealing with its clauses, I shall meet honorable members in the spirit which, on’ the whole, pervaded the debate. I thank .honorable members for their criticism and the manner in which it has been delivered.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause i (Short title and citation).
.- This Bill is full of potentialities so far as the future of Australia is concerned. It is described as “ a Bill for an Act relating to Naval and Military Defence,” and I take it that everything pertaining to the defence of Australia comes within its four corners.
– The honorable member will not be in order in making a second-reading speech at this stage.
– I do not intend to attempt to do so, sir. I wish, however, to contrast the Swiss system with the’ scheme now before us.
– The honorable member must confine his attention to the clause now before the Chair. I am not responsible for anything that may have occurred at an earlier stage, and the honorable member will recognise that it is not possible for me to permit him now to enter upon a” second-reading discussion.
– I claim that I can move to provide, by way of an alteration of the short title, for the payment of pensions to those injured.
– The honorable member cannot do so at this stage.
– Might I suggest to the honorable member that when we reach clause 3 he will be able to move the insertion of- a new part to cover what he desires.
Clause agreed to.
Clause ‘2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Amendment of section 2 of Principal Act).
.- There is such an obvious weakness in this Bill that I think the Minister must be prepared to deal with naval training in some other Bill. This Bill is divided into various parts which specify the various trainings the men are expected to undergo ; but there is no provision in it for training permanent seamen in the new naval unit. I wish to know whether the training of permanent seamen will be dealt with in another measure, or whether it is proposed to provide for the training of the personnel of the new Imperial unit under this Bill?
– Is there no power under the principal Act?
– There is no power in that Act to maintain permanent men other than for instructional purposes and garrison artillery. This Bill enables the Government to employ permanent field artillery ; but the great essential, if our Navy is to be of any service, is that it shall be manned by permanent men, trained up to the Imperial standard, who, as the honorable member for Calare has said, by a system of Intercommunication, will be practically part of the Imperial Navy. If the Minister hopes to efficiently man the new naval unit with militia sailors, he is making the greatest’ mistake of his life; and if the country follows him in that direction, it will be led into a great waste’ of money.
The paper power of a fleet is as nothing unless the highest possible training of both its officers and men takes place. Honorable members will remember the speculation that took place in Australia before the actual outbreak of hostilities between Russia and Japan. We had the paper battle-fleet strength of the respective powers, and one newspaper would tip the Russians to win, whilst another tipped the Japanese to score a victory. People in the Old Country and elsewhere, who understood the true position, knew thoroughly well, however, that the training of the Russian Navy was so inefficient that, whatever the battle-ship strength of the respective Navies in the East might be, it would fail to be successful. The present very powerful paper Fleet of France as against that of Germany is completely inefficient, and would be inoperative in war, owing to the inefficient training of its personnel, as well as to its want of homogeneity. I suggest that the Minister make a statement now, in order that the Committee may rest assured that this Bill, whatever powers he may propose to take under it for the training of a naval militia, will not debar the proper training of the personnel of the new naval unit.
– I am glad to assure my honorable friend that this Bill will not be permitted to debar the efficient training of the personnel of the new naval unit to the highest standard of the British Navy.
– They will be trained permanently ?
– In every respect.
– What is the term of service proposed?
– No term of service is proposed in this Bill. With the exception of the simple definition in clause 5, it does not touch naval matters. For the present, we are leaving naval matters alone. The more I look into the question, the more I am satisfied that we shall require a Naval Defence Act.
– That is the explanationwe desired.
– This Bill does not touch our present naval proposals, and, in my opinion, will not adequately meet them.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
Debate, resumed from 8th October (vide page 4356) on motion by Mr. Groom.
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- I do not propose to speak at any length on this Bill, but I was fortunate enough to be a member of one of the parties to the Northern Territory some time ago, and I should like to justify my trip to the extent of giving my own personal impressions. I should not have done so except that last week we had a representative of South Australia praising the Northern Territory as if it were a second paradise, and a New South Wales representative, the honorable member for Gwydir, speaking of it as if it were almost a desert. I do not mean to say that a visitor who was there for. no more than twenty-two days can pretend to speak authoritatively with regard to the country. I shall not commit so gross an impertinence. But having visited the Territory and carefully studied all the information put before us, I am to that extent in a better position than are other honorable members who have not been there, since they can merely speak from what they have read. I do not think that it is necessary either to decry the country or to over-praise it. I feel very sorry indeed that the honorable member for Gwydir thought it necessary to give such an unfortunate description as he did of any part of Australia. My visit to the Northern Territory completed my round of the States. I have travelled through Australia as far as a man could consistently with attention to his duties as a member of Parliament, and to his own business in life. I was glad to have the opportunity of seeing this northern portion of Australia. I may say at once that the travels of the party which I accompanied, included a visit to the Victoria River, going up to Timber Creek and Shaw’s Creek, and also forming an acquaintance with the country adjacent to the Douglass, the Adelaide and Katherine Rivers and Brock’s Creek. I can support what the honorable member for Hindmarsh has said to this extent : I found the people whom I met to be strong, and the children were, in my opinion, also in a healthy condition. They were as prosperous looking as any children I have seen in any part of Australia. The country impressed me as one possessing great possibilities. There are large areas of land, well occupied by herds of cattle, whilst there are also a’few sheep and goats. The land seemed to be well grassed, and, what to me was particularly refreshing, great rivers which run throughout the whole of the north. What Australia wants is rivers, and the Northern Territory possesses rivers. At no time is one at any great distance from a fresh water lagoon or a fresh water stream. That seemed to me to be the best feature of the Territory.
– What distance inland did the honorable member go ?
– About no miles was, I think, the furthest distance we went into the country.
– Did not the honorable member go as far as Pine Creek?
– No, only as far as Brock’s Creek. I confess that I expected to see something altogether different. i had made up my mind that I was going to see a desert, with plenty of sand. But I saw nothing of the sort. My ideas as to what the Northern Territory was like were absolutely changed in the most favorable direction. I am convinced that the Northern Territory has a great future. But the question which I frequently asked myself was - How is it that the white population is increasing so slowly? Before we attempt to answer that question we must remember, in the first place, that the future of the country is now pretty well assured, even if the Commonwealth dees not take it over and develop it. If South Australia continues to hold the Territory, great as the tax may be upon her resources, it will, I believe, prosper. It has now turned the corner. A few years ago, I was told, the pastoralists could get no more than £2 per head for their cattle. But recently well-established firms - Messrs. Durack and O’Conor, Messrs. Kidman Brothers, and Messrs. Forrest Emanuel and Co. - have been competing to such an extent that the pastoralists can get from seven to eight guineas per head for their cattle. It seems to me, therefore, that the first step towards the settlement of the country has been made. Pastoralists are spreading over the Territory Mr. Justice Herbert, whom I regard as a very fine public servant, is also doing his best with enthusiasm and energy. He has so much faith in the future of the country that he has put his own two sons on to a small pastoral station. Perhaps the best evidence of a man’s faith iri a country is that he puts his own family and money into it. In fact, as the Territory has reached the stage of prosperous pastoral development, the industry of cattle rearing may now be considered to be established on a firm basis. The next industry demanding consideration is that of mining. I saw plenty of tin mines, but it seemed to me that they were being worked in rather a spasmodic manner. I saw also copper mines into which English capital had been put, but it looked as if too much money had . been spent on such things as pianos, library, music-rooms, and billiard-rooms, and all sorts of expensive things rather _ than in serious attempts to extract minerals from the earth. It is not wonderful that under such circumstances the shareholders have ceased to pay calls, and leases have been abandoned. But I met there Mr. Playford, a son of exSenator Playford, who is the mining warden, and who has a thorough belief in the future of the Territory from his own point of view. We were told of certain paying mines, but what struck me more forcibly than anything else in this connexion was that every one connected with the mines seemed to be anxious to get out of. them. That was certainly a feature that I did not like. As to agriculture, many places were pointed out to us along the rivers which were described as great rice-growing ‘. areas, where tropical culture could be highly developed. This leads me to mention another great Australian public servant. I refer to Mr. Nicholas Holtze, who is carrying on Tropical Botanical Gardens at an expenditure which seems ridiculously low to us who are apt to fancy that a public servant cannot do work unless he has a large amount of money at his back. I believe that Mr. Holtze carries on his work with, about ^250 a year, with the assistance of certain prison labour. He has been able to show that it is possible to develop all kinds of tropical productions in the Northern Territory ; and what he has been able to do is marvellous considering the small resources at his disposal. Mr. Holtze has a firm belief that the Territory is capable of great agricultural development. The question arises, however, whether it is possible to carry on tropical agriculture by means of highly paid white labour, which I think it is admitted is the only labour which can be allowed in the Northern Territory. But having said all this about the country, having admitted that it is no mean part of Australia, and that indeed it is a country of which we can feel as proud as we are of any other part of the Commonwealth, I nevertheless intend to vote against the second reading of this Bill. 1 will explain why. I understand that one reason why the Prime Minister entered into this agreement with South Australia was largely his desire to bring immigration into the northern parts of the country. The Prime Minister felt, I understand, that being blocked in any attempt to introduce immigration into other parts of Australia, because of the inability of the States to meet his desire to supply immigrants with land, he should do his best to people the north. That, at any rate, was one of the reasons which the Prime Minister gave for asking this Parliament to ratify the agreement. Another reason was that the Prime Minister considers it desirable that the Northern Territory should be peopled by the white race as a safeguard against the yellow races. Indeed those are the only reasons which could, actuate the Prime Minister in going out of his way to select the Northern Territory rather than any other part of th* north of Australia for development by the Commonwealth. We have to realize that if we take over the Territory it will mean a large .expenditure for some years to. come; because the financial side of the matter is the most important which the Commonwealth lias to face. Nevertheless, the financial aspect is secondary to two other considerations which I have mentioned - namely, making provision against danger from the yellow .races and settling the ‘ north with a white population. I do not know that either of those results will be brought about. The experience of the Southern States of the United States shows that the tropical regions were developed gradually, only after the white race had filled the temperate parts. We can expect no different course of development in Australia. So long as immigrants can find room iri the temperate parts, such as New South. Wales, Western Australia - where recently an area as large as France has been shown to have a rainfall of 23 inches, and where what was regarded as the desert is (receding before settlement every year - and there is still land open for settlement in Queensland, _ it will be against the tendency of the white race for them to go to semi-tropical or tropical parts of this continent. We, therefore, cannot expect to people the tropical regions of Australia with the white race for some time to come. That can only take place gradually, as population overflows from the temperate parts, unless, indeed, the Prime Minister proposes to bring out immigrants to the Northern Territory, on condition that they stay there for a certain number of years. Nothing, however, could be more repugnant to British instincts than compulsion of that kind. If immigrants entered into such an agreement, they would afterwards feel that the country to which they had been brought was the one from which they most ardently longed to get away.
– Residence conditions are placed in every Land Act in Australia.
– About twenty years ago Queensland introduced immigrants under similar conditions. Those who came out by means of assisted passages were not allowed to leave Queensland within a certain period.
-Twelve months ; and more than half of them gradually came South.
– That was so, simply because the compulsory residence condition was most irksome. Although Queensland offered at that time, as I believe she does now, the greatest inducements to immigrants - and, personally, I think that she will yet be the greatest of the States - and although those immigrants would have, perhaps, done best to stay there, they immediately tried to get away because of that galling condition.
– Two young women were imprisoned for leaving there.
– I was not aware that the Government had that power.
– They were arrested, and brought back.
– All this simply confirms what I have said. We cannot get people to go to the Northern Territory voluntarily until the temperate parts of Australia overflow, and we cannot send them there under compulsion to stay for a certain length of time. Such a system of immigration would do the Northern Territory no good, and would be doomed to failure. Let us ascertain what future the Northern” Territory is likely to have. I believe the pastoral industry is firmly established, and that it will be followed by the settlement of agriculturists in suitable districts, as soon as there is a market, because we are told that the soil is equal to the best in Australia. We cannot get men to take up small holdings unless than they can be assured of a market for their produce. Agriculturists are now pouring into Western Australia, because the gold-field centres have provided the necessary markets. Agriculture in the early days of Victoria followed the mining inrush. The runs were cut up, and the small farmer appeared in areas which, it had been previously claimed, could only carry sheep. One of the great advantages which Australia has is the existence in every State of a mining community which provides a market for agriculturists. They settle and prosper, and afterwards band together to export their produce even if the mining industry goes down. I think that the future development of the Northern Territory lies in that direction. The pastoral industry is established already. Develop the mines there, double the number of geologists, adopt the system which has been adopted recently in Papua of sending out practical miners to test the mineral capacities of the country, attract a mining population, and agriculture must follow-
Motion (by Mr. Webster) proposed -
That the honorable member for Corio be no further heard.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority … … 33
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I sat so long in this House opposite to the Prime Minister, whom, nevertheless, I have always regarded with admiration and respect, that I feel it difficult, now that I am sitting behind him, to determine what attitude I should assume towards a Government Bill which I do not like. Having read the agreement for the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth most carefully, I have come to the conclusion that the South Australians propose a very hard bargain in connexion with country which they are anxious to get rid of. I do not think I ever knew an attempt to drive a harder bargain. I agree with the honorable member for Corio that the Northern Territory is to be developed by the efforts of the prospector. Undoubtedly it has great mining possibilities. In the present unsettled state of our finances, we can hardly undertake the enormous responsibilities imposed by the agreement, which, in my opinion, is one-sided and undesirable. However, if it be possible to modify it by amending the Bill in Committee, I am disposed to consider it further. I cannot imagine that the South Australians ever expected to secure all that they ask for. Sooner or later the northern parts of Australia will have to be dealt with differently from the more temperate areas, because of the great difference in conditions. Possibly the Commonwealth will have to establish a tropical State or Territory.
– Would the honorable member advocate the employment of coloured labour there?
– I am as much in favour of a White Australia as is any honorable member. But the development of our tropical regions requires the consideration of their special conditions. If white labour is asked to do hard work there, our children, and children’s children who go there, may become more and more feeble, until the enervation produced by the climate has quite incapacitated them. The policy of a White Australia means more than merely populating the continent with persons possessing white skins. Our aim must be to rear a virile and robust white race.
– White labour does well in the cane fields, in a climate as hot as that of the Northern Territory.
– That remains to be finally determined. The agreement cannot be adopted in its present form. I fail to see what justification our South Australian friends have for making such an offer. The Commonwealth is not ready for the transfer, and has many functions which it is not yet required to exercise. The suggestion that has been made to raise the southern boundary line is certainly a good one, but the proposal that the Commonwealth should accept obligations in connexion with railways in the Northern Territory, and take over liabilities with regard to the payment of debts and compound interest on expenditure is unreasonable, however meri torious it may be from the point of view of bargaining.
– The Prime Minister thought that the agreement was a good one.
– When he entered upon negotiations for the transfer of the Territory he doubtless thought that there would be a speedy settlement of the financial relations of the States and the ‘Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is at present quite unequal to the burdens which it is asked to carry in this respect, and will not be prepared to shoulder them until (he whole financial problem is settled.
.- I am sure that honorable members . generally are glad that the honorable member for Kooyong has so far recovered from his recent illness as to be able once more to address the House. I cannot quite follow the position taken up by him, however, with regard to the development of the Territory. The honorable member said that he was strongly in favour of a White Australia, but that the tropical regions required to be developed under special conditions. He declared that he would be sorry to see white men and white women working in those regions, and since he is also opposed to the introduction of coloured labour it is difficult to understand how he would develop the Territory.
– White people who attempted to develop it would become physically degenerate.
– As the honorable member also thinks it would be wrong to introduce coloured labour, the outlook for the Northern Territory would appear to be somewhat gloomy. He did not find fault with the action of South Australia, but he suggested that the Government of that State had got much the better of the bargain, and had been extremely successful in the negotiations for the transfer. He did not particularize those points of the agreement with which he disagrees, nor did he tell us what kind of agreement would, in his opinion, be fair.
– He will tell us in Committee.
– But the honorable member declared that he would not support the motion for the second reading of the Bill. I hope that if it goes into Committee he will explain why he thinks South Australia is asking too much. The honorable member forCorio also declared that he would oppose the second reading because he did not think the Territory should be taken over by the Commonwealth. I followed him closely, and he certainly seemed to make out an excellent case for the transfer of the Territory.
– He was satisfied that white men and children were doing well there.
– Yes, but for totally different reasons he arrived at precisely the same conclusion as did the honorable member for Kooyong. As a South Australian and a supporter of this Bill, I feel that the House generally, whilst showing a prejudice against some of the provisions of the agreement, has, with one or two exceptions, dealt fairly with the Territory. It is unfortunate that honorable members should either laud the Territory to the skies or seek to depreciate its value and importance. I listened with regret to the speeches made by the honorable member for Denison and the honorable member for Gwydir, both of which suggested. an intense prejudice against the Territory and everything connected with it. The objections raised by the honorable member for Denison showed an entire want of knowledge of the Territory on his part. The honorable member said, for instance, that it was no country for white men, and that it was waterless and arid. That was a most extraordinary statement to make, having regard to the figures which have been supplied by the Government Meteorologist, and which prove conclusively that the Northern Territory is absolutely the best watered part of Australia. The area of the Northern Territory with an average rainfall of less than 10 inches is only 6,300 square miles, as against 81,144 square miles in New South Wales, 135,600 square miles in Queensland, 306,663 square miles in South Australia, and 408,300 square miles in Western Australia. The area with an average rainfall of from 10 to 20 inches in the Northern Territory is 213,430 square miles, and in Victoria 36,300 square miles. Then, again, we find that in the Northern Territory there is an area of 96,790 square miles with an average rainfall of from 20 to 30 inches, and that it has an area of 120,600 square miles with an average annual rainfall of from 30 to 40 inches, as against 58,700 square miles in Queensland, 39,100 square miles in Western Australia, 20,414 square miles in -New South Wales, and 18,770 square miles in Victoria. The Northern Territory has also an area of 86,500 square miles with an average annual rainfall of over 40 inches; Queensland 47,500 square miles, New South Wales 14,541 square miles, Victoria 4,914 square miles, and Tasmania 9,424 square miles. These figures clearly show that the Territory is marvellously well watered. In Australia, only land with a rainfall of between 5 and 6 inches may be described as waste country, and in the Northern Territory no such area is to be found. There is not a foot of land there where the rainfall is insufficient to permit of successful pastoral occupation, and there are only a few thousand miles of country with too small a rainfall to permit of the growth of cereals. I do not suggest that the rainfall throughout the Territory occurs at the right time for cereals, but it is certainly magnificently watered. Any one who has travelled for a distance of 200 or 300 miles south from Port Darwin knows that every few miles running streams or lagoons are to be encountered. There is no better watered territory to be found in Australia.
– Except the Federal Capital site area.
– That area, like the Northern Territory, has suffered by reason of statements as to its being a. waterless country. The honorable member for Gwydir drew an extraordinary picture, which had certainly nothing to do with the Territory, or any other part of Australia. The honorable member was one of a Parliamentary party which visited the Northern Territory, but had no opportunity to see the country. Nearly alf those honorable members who went to the Northern Territory - with the exception of four or five, who went on a riding trip from the Katherine River to the Daly - saw nothing of the country at any great distance from the railway line. Those who merely travelled along the Pine Creek railway certainly saw very little to justify them in believing that there was much fertile land in the part that they visited. The reason for that is that the railway, from Port Darwin to Pine Creek runs along the mountain ridge, so as to keep clear of floods. The country has a very heavy rainfall, and the desirableness of keeping the line out of the reach of flood-water is obvious. But in no part of Australia canthe country be judged from a railway line running along a ridge. It must be recollected that the Northern Territory is a huge tract, constituting nearly one-fifth of the entire continent of Australia. In that immense area there are all kinds of soils and climates. It is absurd for anybody who has merely travelled in a railway train along a straight line for 100 miles and gone back on the same route, to talk about what he has seen, or to describe a country, comprising 500,000 square miles, from the small area inspected in so cursory a fashion. The question has been asked - How is it, if the Northern Territory is so valuable, that South Australia has not been able to develop it, and that the white population is not increasing ? It is very difficult to give an answer to a question like that. No one answer will account for the facts. In the first place, it must be remembered that the tropical areas of Australia are necessarily less rapidly developed than are the temperate areas. The British race naturally “ takes on “ the places which can be most rapidly developed. That factor has had a great deal to do with retarding settlement in the Northern Territory. Another consideration is that there have been frequent attempts to introduce coloured labour. The Territory had the reputation - as had Northern Queensland until quite recently - of being a coloured man’s country. The Resident Magistrate, Mr. Parsons, who preceded Judge Herbert, was a strong believer in coloured labour, and reported over and over again that the Territory could only be developed by such means. South Australia appointed a Royal Commission which came to the same conclusion. Governor le Hunte, after a journey to the North, pronounced a similar view. Ex-Senator Playford, not very long ago, declared that the Territory could only be developed with coloured labour, and he actually went over to India with the object of inducing natives of that country to come to Northern Australia. But the South Australian Parliament determined to keep the place for the white race. The consequence is that that State is now offering to the Commonwealth a Territory in which there is no racial trouble. Admittedly it would have been much easier for South Australia to bear the burden, had she chosen to accept the advice of many people, who considered that coloured labour was essential. Honorable members ought to recollect that it is largely on account of the constant attempts to introduce coloured labour, and the possibility that at any time these attempts might succeed, that the development of the country has been retarded. A chance majority in the House of Assembly would have had the effect of introducing coloured labour. Had there been in power a Government bold enough to take this step, the same result would have followed. It has for many years been within the power of any Government in South Australia - that is, until the passing of the Immigration Restriction Act by the Commonwealth - to introduce coloured labour. An Act for the purpose has been on the South Australian statute-book for nineteen years. But it has never been enforced.
– That ought to be borne in mind to the everlasting credit of South Australia.
– I think so; but still that is one important reason why the country has not been developed. There has always been a state of uncertainty. . White people realized that they might some day have to compete with coloured labour, and no man in his senses would take up land there with that possibility in view. On the other hand, capitalists would not be inclined to invest money in a country, when there was always the hope that next year, or a year or two later, they might be able to import coloured labour, and work their properties more cheaply. Again, although prospectors have frequently been on the point of making important mineral discoveries, the stage of carrying mining development to any great depth has not yet been reached. The one exception is Mount Wells. But we must not judge of the mining possibilities of the Northern Territory, from what has happened in the past. For many years, Western Australia - the Cinderella of the group, as she was called - was apparently as impossible of development in this respect as the Northern Territory is to-day. Prospectors had frequently passed oyer areas which have since been discovered to be marvellously rich in gold. The history of Australia teems with the names of men who crossed such rich mineral areas as Broken Hill, Kalgoorlie, and Coolgardie, without making discoveries. It is idle to suppose that because no rich gold mines or other mineral . deposits have been discovered in. the Northern Territory so far, the wealth of the country has been properly exploited. Much could also be said with regard to the possibilities of agricultural development.
– The new dry-farming process will make large portions of the Territory available for cultivation.
– On the whole, however, it is not a country where people will need to go in for dry-farming. Another reason which may be given for the apparent failure of South Australia to develop the Territory is that, as a matter of fact, that State was in actual practice further away from the Territory than was any other State in the group. The idea that operated in the minds of the original supporters of the proposal that the Territory should be annexed to South Australia, was that development should be extended from settlement to settlement, starting from the northern boundary of South Australia. But, after some attempts in that direction, it was discovered that there was an actual desert to bridge. I admit that that desert does not now seem to be so unbridgable as it used to do. But under the conditions which prevailed in former days, and with the knowledge that people possessed then, to reach the cultivatable parts of the Northern Territory from Adelaide was exceedingly ‘difficult. South Australia, at an early date, decided to endeavour to bridge the desert by means of a railway. Hence the line which has excited some amount of derision in some quarters, because it stops in the middle of a so-called desert at Oodnadatta. I speak of it as “ a socalled desert” because some parts of it are by no means unfertile. Unfortunately the railway stopped at Oodnadatta, with the result that it has had no effect in developing the Northern Territory. Still it is by no means wasted. It is certain to be extended either by the Commonwealth, if this Bill is passed, or by South Australia as far as the MacDonnell Ranges, if the agreement is thrown out. It will then have a fair chance of serving, some useful purpose by developing that district. In the circumstances, honorable members must admit that it was reasonable for South Australia to ask that the railway should not stop at Oodnadatta, and that the Commonwealth should take over that end of the line. It is of no service except as a means of reaching the Territory. It is a waste of good material to extend it from any part north of the Flinders Range, except with the view of reaching the Northern Territory.
– Is the railway made of good material ?
– I am glad the honorable member has raised that point, because, according to Mr. Gwynneth, the line is constructed of poor material, and the permanent-way is not kept in working order. I can assure the honorable member on the authority of the officials that the railway as far as Oodnadatta was splendidly made, and is in as sound a condition as any in Australia.
– And instead of being constructed of iron rails, as alleged by the honorable member for Parkes’ informant, a good deal of it is made of 50-lb. steel rails.
– I was surprised to hear honorable members repeating statements made on the authority of the gentleman referred to, because those statements have been frequently disproved by competent persons. The line was well made, the country presented no engineering difficulties, and the bridge work is certainly the finest in South Australia. One bridge alone cost ,£80,000. Another extraordinary statement in the pamphlet which that gentleman issued, and which is full of errors, is that the line to Oodnadatta was constructed on the western side of Lake Eyre in order that it should not go near the territory of the other States. That, on the face of it, is a ridiculous assertion, because it could do no possible harm to South Australia for the railway to go near the territory of the other States and perhaps divert some of their trade to her ports. The reason why the line was taken to the west of Lake Eyre was the extreme liability to heavy floods of the country on the eastern side. It would have meant constructing scores of miles of bridge or trestle work. As for the nature of the country close to Lake Eyre, there is not much to choose between one side and the other. I understand that the numbers are against the proposed agreement, and in favour of some modification, which at present I do not quite understand, but I wish to make one or two further remarks regarding the Territory. The honorable member for Gwydir described the greater part of the northern areas as country covered with coarse grass which would not keep stock. If cattle are allowed to roam at will over large areas, where the grass, owing to the want of close stocking, grows rankly and. is not nutritious, good results cannot be obtained. So far as I know there . is only one fenced paddock in the whole of the Territory, and it is about 20 square miles in extent. On Mr. Burns’ country, the only fenced piece, where the stock were kept enclosed, we found that the grass was only from about 1 foot to 18 inches high, and most succulent and nutritious, keeping the stock in magnificent order. Outside the fence the land was covered with high cane grass through which a man on horseback might ride without being seen. There was just as much difference between the grass inside and outside the fence as there is in rabbit-infested country between the land outside and the land inside an effective wire-netting fence. It was the same kind of grass inside as outside the fence, the only difference being that inside it was kept sweet by close stocking. I am sure that if people who took up land in the Northern Territory realized the necessity of enclosing comparatively small blocks, they would do a great deal better than by taking up huge areas of from 5,000 to 30,000 square miles. In any tropical country where the rainfall is heavy and the sun fierce, the growth is extremely rank, and if cattle are turned loose to roam, as it were, the wide world, to be mustered up once in two or three years, good results cannot be expected. The cattle will not thrive as they will on enclosed areas, and their numbers will always be diminished by the natives and by others who desire to start cattle runs of their own. I believe the East African Company, who endeavoured to develop the Roper River country, took up 70,000 or 80,000 square miles, turned thousands of cattle loose on it, and when they mustered them up found that their numbers had dwindled considerably. In the meantime the natives had been doing remarkably well, and I believe several other runs had been stocked. That sort of policy does not give a country a fair chance, and the fact that it has not proved highly successful does not show that the country is no good. On the other hand, where land has been taken up in small areas, the settlers have been almost uniformly successful. We must expect the country between the 20 and 40 inches rainfall to be developed under fairly close settlement. I am glad to see the encouraging report of Mr. Herbert, the Government Resident, as to the number of leases now being taken up under closer settlement conditions for mixed farming purposes. In 1905 none of these agricultural leases were applied for. In 1906 there were two, with a total area of 144 acres; in 1907 there were four, acreage 790 ; and in 1908 nineteen, with a total acreage of 5,779. That, coupled with the statement which follows, is very encouraging : -
The whole of these land selections, with one exception, were made by residents of many years’ standing, and - again with one exception - are being entered upon with absolutely no help - direct or indirect - in the shape of Government assistance, and in many cases in the face of great difficulty owing to want of capital.
Those are small men who have resided in the Territory for many years, and yet are taking up agricultural land for mixed farming purposes. Mr Herbert adds -
As instances of this difficulty I may cite the case of a man and his wife who have each taken up a small area for agriculture. A small advance was made to them on a contract with the Government for the supply of maize. This ad vance, however, being found to be insufficient, the husband was obliged to take a wageearning position and work their holdings in his spare time. Another case is that of two partners who have sufficient capital to start operations and partly stock the farm, which is being worked by one partner whilst the other is working for- wages in order, to supply necessary additional funds.
– Does not the fact that Judge Herbert’s sons have taken up land in the Territory show that he considers that it has possibilities?
– It is evidence of his belief in its worth. Cases such as those I have cited are of more value than expressions of opinion’ by casual visitors, such as the honorable member for Gwydir or myself, or the re-statement of what has been published in books. The growing of sisal hemp is an industry which has a big future in the Territory. So, too, according to the Government Resident, has the production of upland rice.
– He says that it will be as important to the Northern Territory as wheat is to the South.
– Is it grown with white labour ?
– Yes. The Adelaide River country seems to have been designed by nature for the growing of wet rice, and even for that coloured labour is not essential ; but the growing of upland rice is a dry occupation which can be readily undertaken by white men, and has proved extremely profitable wherever tried. I hope that before long experiments on a commercial scale will be attempted in the Territory. I look to closer settlement very largely for the profitable development of the Territory, and apply the same remark to New Guinea. My visit to Papua, supported by the views of the public servants there, confirmed me in the opinion that it is a mistake to take up large areas in tropical country. Large areas can often be profitably occupied in Australia, but where the growth of vegetation is as rapid as in the tropics, the cultivation of large areas is practically impossible, and a bigger return can be obtained from small areas properly looked after than from large areas which are allowed to become overgrown. I understand that Mr. Wilson, of New South Wales, advocates, in place of the proposed railway through the middle of South Australia, a line from Pine Creek, through Queensland, to Bourke, bv the shortest route, while a second deviation into Queensland has been proposed. Whatever may be said for these routes, as likely to serve the convenience of passengers, it cannot be argued that they will help to develop the Territory. We do not need a railway to carry mails from the back country of New South Wales and Queensland to Port Darwin, which is a port not so near to the Old World as is Fremantle. The proposed routes might do very well for lines to carry stock and wool to Brisbane and Sydney. But to construct, at the expense of the people of the Commonwealth, railways through .Queensland and New South Wales, on the pretence of developing the Northern Territory, when such lines get out of the Territory by the shortest possible route, is a proposition which seems difficult to justify. Therefore I cannot understand why the honorable member for Parkes and others prefer a deviation to the connexion between Pine Creek and Oodnadatta, which has been agreed upon. I understand that it has been suggested that an arrangement should be made with South Australia under which the northern border of the State would be removed as far north as the MacDonnell Ranges, all to the north of them being transferred to the Commonwealth, without any conditions respecting railway construction.
– That, is merely an irresponsible suggestion.
– I gather from an honorable member who is not in an irresponsible position that an attempt is to be made to insist on that alternative. It would be absurd for South Australia to agree to it, because the country between her present northern boundary and the MacDonnell Ranges is similar to that between Oodnadatta and her northern border. Therefore all that the State would gain would be a narrow strip of the MacDonnell range country, and the difficult arid country to the south of the ranges.
– Oodnadatta is in good cattle country
– Both cattle and sheep are reared there, but although the soil is good, the rainfall is slight, and the conservation of water difficult, so that only a few head of stock can be carried to the square mile. From Pine Creek to Oodnadatta, there are none of the difficulties in regard to lack of water which the surveyors have found to exist along the route of the proposed western transcontinental line.
– But there are no people to reach at the other end.
– Not at present, but the line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek would pass through more fertile territory.
– It is unnecessary to compare the two lines.
– There is no ob.ject to be served by making comparisons.
– The honorable member is friendly to both projects.
– Both are essential to the proper development of Australia, although the objects sought to be attained by the construction of the two railways are not altogether identical. The country differs, but, in both cases, no one knows what developments may take place along these routes. The country has only been traversed, not thoroughly explored, and it remains for the future to disclose its possibilities, particularly in the direction of mineral development. It would be idle to approach South Australia with the suggestion that she should so extend her boundaries as to take in the rest of the difficult country, and also a small part of the MacDonnell Ranges country, for it would not be seriously entertained. That proposition, instead of being a new one, propounded for the first time by the honorable member for Wakefield, is one of the oldest that has been made in connexion with the Territory.
– And one of the, greatest absurdities.
– One has only to glance at the map to recognise its absurdity, although, if one has not a knowledge of the country between Oodnadatta and Alice Springs, it seems a simple solution of the difficulty. There is a knot to be untied, and the suggestion is that it would be easier to cut it than to untie it.
All the country lying between the MacDonnell Ranges and Pine Creek is undoubtedly valuable and well watered, and why South Australia should hand it over without any condition as to railway construction, or for taking over the obligations she has incurred in developing the country, I cannot understand. I hope that this agreement, which has been passed by the South Australian Parliament, will be accepted by this House. An attempt has been made to show that in some way or other South Australia would get the best oft he deal. What she would get out of it would be simply a return of the expenditure that she has actually incurred in the development of the Territory. She will not receive any unearned increment. She asks only for actual out-of-pocket expenses.
– Including interest.
– Which is a liability.
– The honorable member for Kooyong said that we were to assume a liability for compound interest.
– For some few years, the loss on the Territory has not been paid directly by the Treasury of South Australia, but loans have been floated to cover it. In that sense, the honorable member means, no doubt, that we are asked to provide for the payment, of compound interest; but that statement is not correct. South Australia asks for no benefit under this agreement. The honorable member for Kooyong suggested that she was making an excellent bargain, but the truth is that she is offering the ‘Commonwealth one-fifth of the territory of Australia, consisting of virgin land, free from racial difficulties, and difficulties of climate or accessibility, such as beset the greater part of the unoccupied areas of the habitable globe, for what it has actually cost her. It is a country of great possibilities, comprising the best-watered part of the Commonwealth, and certainly not worn-out, exhausted land.
– It is a typical part of Australia.
– It is, in’ almost all respects, similar to the country to be found in the neighbouring State of Queensland, with the exception, perhaps, of the coastal lands.
– And the Darling Downs.
– The BarclayDowns, and the Adelaide River plains may be as valuable as the Darling Downs, although I do not know that they are capable of being so readily cultivated. The extent of this area is not often appreciated, but it is an immense territory, and is offered to the Commonwealth for the actual cost of the development that has taken place. I do not think that South Australia is asking anything unfair, or trying to induce the Commonwealth to pay for its bad bargain. It is true, as the honorable member for Corio has said, that South Australia could develop the’ Territory herself, but the money which she can afford to expend upon it would not permit of its development being so rapid as it would be if it were taken over by the Commonwealth. We need a more rapid development than the honorable member for ‘Corio suggests, if the idea underlying the transfer - that it should be peopled as a defence against attacks by Eastern nations - is to be realized. It would be useless to wait for its development from the southern parts of Australia. The work should not be left to one State, and that by no means the wealthiest or the most populous in the group. If the agreement is not accepted, or if proposals are made to vary it, South Australia will cheerfully shoulder the burden herself. She does not believe that she has run a hard bargain with the Commonwealth. On the contrary, the people of South Australia, almost without exception, believe that a fair offer is being made, and one which, in the interests of Australia, the Commonwealth should accept. They are not prepared to hand over the Territory under conditions that would preclude them from participating in its future development, and no proposal, such as has been made, to pretend to develop the Territory by running a railway. at the nearest possible point out of it, will be accepted by them. When representatives of South Australia say that if this opportunity is not accepted, the Territory will not be offered again, they do not desire to make anything in the nature of a threat. I honestly believe that if this agreement be rejected, South Australia will not make a further offer, and my great fear is that pressure of circumstances will bring about the construction of the railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek on the landgrant system. We may have another Canadian-Pacific railway in Australia.
– That would be calamitous.
– I think it would be, because the people who took up the land ultimately would have to pay the company for it ; and it is obvious that if it would pay a company owning a certain portion of the Territory to run the railway, it would certainly pay the Commonwealth owning the whole Territory to run the line. I trust that honorable members will look at the subject from the point of view of the development of the Territory. That is one point which we have to consider. If we look at it from that aspect I am sure that no one would ever think of running a railway in any other direction than within the Territory. I trust that the second reading of the Bill will be carried, and that the agreement will not be altered in Committee.
Mr. JOHNSON (Lang) [9.461.- After listening to the speeches of various representatives of South Australia, and particularly to those of the honorable member for Grey and the honorable member for Wakefield, one would imagine that the Northern Territory was a country to which all those acquainted with it ought to. desire to flywithout loss of time. We have heard glowing descriptions of this alleged marvellous land, with its immense fertility, its luxurious rainfall, and its great chances of development in every possible direction. We have heard of its mineral, pastoral, agricultural, and other resources, which we are led to believe cannot be matched anywhere else in the wide world. But the first thought that comes to one’s mind is how comes it to pass that those who are so enthusiastic about the Northern Territory have not long ago packed up their traps and gone to live there. Here is a country which was known to the Spaniards in the sixteenth century, when they named it Arnhemsland. It has also been known to the Dutch for generations past. Its magnificent potentialities - if we are to believe the fervent descriptions of it - ought to have caused it to be fully populated long ago.
– If the honorable member believes in Paradise, why does he not go there?
– If I thought that Paradise was so close to me, and so easy to get to, I should not hesitate to “ make tracks” there straight away. But this place has been described as a veritable earthly Paradise, whilst those who so describe it and who can go there for nothing yet prefer to keep away from it. Why? I must confess that I did not see the great attractions which the Northern Territory possesses for some people. I. was glad to get out of it as quickly as possible. It is true that I did not go further away than the end of the Pine Creek railway. I should have liked to proceed further into the interior, but I was told that the country for 200 or 300 miles further was very little better than that which 1 saw from the train. I was told so by people who had travelled over the country, and I presume that they knew something about it. Of all the uninviting, lonely, inhospitable regions that 1 1 ever saw in my life, that portion of the Northern Territory is the worst. There is little else there than a succession of ant-hills resembling nothing so much as a huge grave-yard.
– That is just how Canberra struck me, with its array of dead tree stumps.
– In the Northern Territory there are no trees to be seen. I saw a few saplings trying to grow into treesbut they had not Been able to get past the sapling stage, because I presume they could find no nourishment in the soil ; they had a hungry, stunted, starved appearance. It is true that there is a heavy rainfall, but the rain falls continuously for about three months, and for the rest of the year there is a continuous drought. I make that statement on the authority of people who have resided there. We were told by some of the local residents that it is magnificent country; that it will grow anything; that it will carry any number of stock ; that there is any quantity of grass ; that any fruit or vegetables that can be grown in any other country or any other climate, torrid, temperate, or frigid, can be produced there. Yet we were unable to proceed further than the termination of the railway line, because we could not obtain horses.
– Not horses such as the honorable member could ride !
– What kind of horses did they supply ? Ask the honorable member for Hindmarsh what his experience was. On the steed provided for him he presented one of the sorriest spectacles that it has ever been my misfortune to see.
– It is said that the honorable member for Lang rode an alligator.
– It would be as easy to ride an alligator as some of the horses provided for the riding party.
– There are stations there which breed some of the finest horses in Australia.
– I do not deny that good horses may be bred at some of the inland stations, but I saw none of them, and it still remains a fact that horses were so ‘difficult to obtain in the Territory that after several weeks’ notice only some dozen or so could be gathered from various places. Although we heard so much about what the soil would produce, we could not get a piece of meat fit to eat; we could not obtain a bit of fresh butter, but had to consume butter imported in tins ; we could not get a drop of fresh milk, but had to be served with condensed milk ; we could not get a fresh vegetable; nor could we get any but imported fruit. Even at the hotels, which possessed large areas of land, they did not attempt to cultivate so much as a vegetable patch. These facts speak volumes as against the rosy-coloured statements made by local inhabitants regarding the wonderful productivity of the soil, on which we could not detect the sign of a blade of grass or even of common varieties of weed. As to the development of the country, we have the remarkable fact that the revenue on the railway from Port Darwin to Pine Creek has dropped in the course of a very few years from .£3,000 to £400 ..per annum. These figures show that instead of population being attracted to the Territory the people who have gone there have not remained. We learned that even the Chinese population, who are always the last 1 stickers ‘ ‘ in any place, and who can live where other people cannot, are leaving the Territory. A statement was made by the honorable member for Wakefield in refutation of an assertion by the honorable member for Parkes, relating to the loss on the Oodnadatta line. The honorable member for Parkes said that the loss was about £80,000 per annum. The honorable member for Wakefield corrected him, and said that the loss was between ,£60,000 and ^80,000. I find, however, on turning to a report of a speech in the South Australian Parliament by Mr. O ‘Loughlin, the Minister in control of the Northern Territory, that he said, as reported on page n of the pamphlet: -
That line, being only a portion of a trunk line, naturally did not pay, and South Australia was losing on the line alone to the extent of between ,£80,000 and £90,000 a year.
So that we have it acknowledged bv the South Australian Minister responsible for the Territory, that the loss on the line is from £80,000 to £90,000 a year - not £60,000 as the honorable member for Wakefield said. I do not doubt the sincerity of the representatives of South Australia when they state their belief as to the possibility of developing the Territory. Nor do I doubt the sincerity of their desire to serve the best interests of their State by inducing the Commonwealth to take it over. But when they tell us that we must accept this agreement in its entirety and without any modification, regarding it as South Australia’s irreducible minimum, and assure us that this magnificent offer will not be made again unless we snap at the present chance, I reply that they are overdrawing the picture and protesting altogether too much. I venture to add that there are other reasons which actuate the people of South Australia in their desire to rid themselves of the cost of developing this Territory, which has proved such a white elephant to them.
– There is a suggestion ! What does the honorable member say animated them?
– If the honorable member questions it I will not offer it as my own view, but will quote a concrete expression of opinion by Mr. 0 ‘Loughlin. He puts the matter in this way -
To us it appears that the relief from the burden of the unprofitable railway to Oodnadatta, added to the assumption by the Commonwealth of the responsibilities for the Northern Territory deficit, is one of the strongest points in the compact.
If we are to believe honorable members representing South Australia in this House, they are only anxious for us to refuse to take over the Territory -
The sum of £82,000 per annum saved by this bargain will be available to pay interest on loans required for the construction of other railways in the State.
Let me deal now with the question of the suitability or desirableness of the Northern Territory as a place of residence for a white population. I am a firm believer in developing all our resources by means of white labour, but as against the opinions and word-pictures of representatives of South Australia in this House who have not resided in the Territory, I should like to set another picture drawn by a resident of over thirty years’ standing. Mr. C. J. Kirkland, who presided at the banquet given to the Governor-General and members of the Federal Parliament, is reported in the Northern Territory Times and Gazette of 7th June, 1907, to have said -
No matter what arguments may be brought forward going to show the healthiness of the Territory as compared with other tropical countries, the fact remains that throughout the greater part of the year the climate is oppressively hot ; that, with few exceptions, those resident here are living in hopes of some day being in a position to remove themselves to a more temperate climate; and that there is not, and never -has been, any general desire to take advantage of ihe inducements offered . under the most liberal land laws to settle on the land and form permanent homes here. This may seem a pessimistic view, but it is the position ns it presents itself to me after nearly 30 years residence here.
– Nobody else agreed with him. He was a noted croaker.
– Later on in his speech he tried to soften down that pessimistic view by saying that perhaps under different conditions, when the Commonwealth took the Territory over, and the population increased - as if the mere fact of the Commonwealth taking it over would have such a result - residence there might be made more tolerable, but that that remained to be proved. I saw when in the Territory a girl employed by the Governor of the gaol, in the capacity of nurse. We were told that she had come out from England a couple of years before, and that when she arrived she was a fine, healthy, buxom, rosy-cheeked girl. When we saw her we could not possibly imagine that at any period of her existence she had answered to such a description, for she was emaciated, pale, attentuated, and anaemic. That was the effect upon her of two years’ residence in that “ magnificent ‘ ‘ climate. We are told that we must take the Territory over on the terms of the agreement or lose all chance of dealing with it. I realize that it might be advisable for the Commonwealth, for national reasons, to accept the transfer, but certainly not upon the terms proposed by South Australia. The Commonwealth is not in a position to saddle itself with the responsibility of a large expenditure for the construction of railways which are not likely to pay for the next fifty years. It is not at present in a position financially to borrow money and incur an enormous annual interest burden for non-paying lines. The honorable member for Wakefield painted a beautiful picture of the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta. -He said it was a magnificent work, consisting of splendid steel rails which had been laid for a number of years, and were really better now than when first laid down. All of which, on its face is the purest nonsense. He asserted that trains travelled over the line at about 40 miles an hour. The course must be very straight, and the road very level for such a speed to be at all safe on such a narrowgauge railway. At any rate, on the Pine Creek railway it takes from 8 o’clock in the morning until after 5 o’clock in the evening to accomplish a distance of about 145 miles. Nobody can call that a terrific rate of speed. I do not profess to be an authority upon soils, but when in the Territory I was accompanied by members who claim to understand that subject thoroughly and they had a very poor opinion of the soil capabilties of the country that we passed through. There are some patches of country further inland which are, however, very suitable for pastoral purposes.
– Where did the honorable member go to see any land?
– I was unable to go beyond the terminus of the railway because the country was apparently so poor that they could not raise enough horses for even the small party that accompanied me.
– Is it not a fact that the honorable member went down the line at night and came up next day?
– No ; I travelled in daylight, stayed over night and travelled back next day. No one would want to stay there longer. There was nothing to do but stare, at ant-hills. I had been staring at them all day long, and I saw them all the way back next day. One can get too much even of ant-hills. No one can deny that the coastal areas are oppressively hot, and that the temperature is steamy either in mid-winter or midsummer. There is said to be a more temperate area further inland, lying between the headwaters of the Roper, Adelaide, Fitzmaurice, and Victoria Rivers, but even that is in a sub-tropical climate, similar, as I am informed, to that obtaining at Bourke, Cobar, Nyngan, and Broken Hill, and at Kalgoorlie in the summer time. It has been suggested that the country has magnificent possibilities for stock-raising, and the meat export industry. Probably something could be done in that way, if railways were made from districts like those in which the Wave Hill and Victoria Downs stations are situated to the nearest ports, and there was also regular steam-ship communication between those ports and other countries, which at the present there is not. But, in my opinion, Queensland would always be able to compete successfully in the meat industry against the Northern Territory, because she has, already constructed and in use, railways from the interior to ports at which steamers call regularly, while the competition of several lines keeps down freights. Although honorable members describe the Northern Territory as in every way fitted for settlement, and crying out for population, no one seems to wish to go there. Its existence has been known to the civilized world for centuries, and yet it still remains a vast empty space. Were it what it has been described to be, the early settlers would have made known its possibilities to their friends, and a steady tide of immigration would have set in. Its present condition of emptiness of population gives an opportunity to those who believe in the Socialistic State to take possession of it, and create in it a separate self-governing State, inviting there the 6,000,000 Socialists which there are said to be in the world, to develop it, under a. system of government of their own. There would be no need for steamers to call, because the production would be for use, and not for profit.
– Would the honorable member have gone there while he was a Socialist ?
– Perhaps the honorable member is not aware that I have always been opposed to Socialism, but,, were I a Socialist, I should lose no time in making known this opportunity for the establishment of a Socialistic State, where the ideas of Socialism could be developed untrammelled by the conventional traditions of private capitalistic enterprise which they have to combat elsewhere; and where they would, undisturbed, be able to demonstrate to the world a practical object-lesson of government under Socialistic conditions.
– The honorable member would soon have the brotherhood mortgaged.
– No doubt, if the honorable member and his Cousin Charlie were to start a money-lending industry there, they would soon be in possession of the Territory. I make a present of my suggestion to the members of the Opposition. It is my intention to vote for the second reading of the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Chanter) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the consideration of Orders of the Day, Nos. 3, 4, and 5, be postponed until after the consideration of Order of the Day No. 6.
.- This is an extraordinary course to propose. I do not know whether the Government intends to have a late sitting.
– We do not want one.
– I hope that there will be no necessity for one. Why has the debate on the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill been suddenly interrupted?
– Four or five members desire to speak to-morrow. .
– Who asked that the Post and Telegraph (Recording Machines) Bill should be brought on to-night?
– It will come on in its order.
– The Minister is moving the postponement of the consideration of three Orders of the Day to bring it on. It would facilitate the transaction of public business were the Government to stick to one measure until it was finished. I shall not offer any factious opposition to the passing of the Post and Telegraph (Recording Machines) Bill, but I do not think that we are being fairly dealt with.
– The Bill was introduced by a member of the Labour party, and has been awaiting consideration for a long time.
– If the PostmasterGeneral was anxious to have it passed, why was it not put first on the business-paper? There will be an opportunity to-morrow to make it the first Order of the Day.
– There has been an arrangement with the Opposition.
– Ministers are always trying to justify extraordinary alterations of the business-paper by suggesting arrangements with the Opposition ; but who made this arrangement?
– The Government was asked by members of the Opposition to bring this Bill forward.
– I do not think that there is any excuse for altering the noticepaper in this way. To-morrow morning the Government can set down its business in any order it may choose, and, if it has the numbers, may then carry the Bill through all its stages. I have always objected to alterations such as that now proposed. Many honorable members have gone home, believing that the only business to be taken to-night would be the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill. I enter my protest against the alteration of the business-paper at a late hour, and shall always object to that practice.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 12th October (vide page 4406), on motion by Sir John Quick -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– In my opinion, the recording machines whose use it is proposed to legalize can be tampered with, and thus great loss of revenue may ensue. The difficulty migh’t be got over by allowing them to be used under the supervision of an official, at the General Post Office or local offices. All the advantages claimed for their use could thus be obtained, and the possibility of fraud prevented. While it may be true that the machine tried by the Department of External Affairs seemed to do all that is claimed for the invention, that does not prove that fraud could not be committed were one used without the supervision of a Government official.
– Similar machines have been in use in New Zealand for some years.
– They may have been, and fraud may not have been perpetrated there, although the possibility of fraud in New Zealand is as great as it is here.
– The fact that no fraud has been detected should be a good argument in support of the Bill.
– The machine has been in use for only a little more than twelve months, so that there has not been much opportunity for frauds to be perpetrated in connexion with it.
– The fact that no fraud has been discovered in connexion with its use does not prove that it cannot be manipulated. There was once in use in America a voting machine which was said to be absolutely perfect. The inventor, who declared that it could not lie,, was offered a big premium to prove that it could be manipulated, and he replied that if the premium were made large enough he might be able to do something in the desired direction. It was made large enough, and he then showed that in the hands of a man who understood its mechanism the machine could be made to lie. And so with this machine. It might be so manipulated as to occasion a great loss of revenue. I believe that the inventor, in reply to the criticism that has been offered, points out that we are now using in the Department a stamp that might easily be produced by any ordinary printer, but that no fraud has yet occurred in connexion with it. That is certainly a very strong argument, but there is only one answer to the criticism that has been offered, and that is that these machines should be under official control and observation. If the Minister caused them to be available for use in a public Department, bundles of letters could be brought there to be stamped, and the work would be carried out just as readily as if the machines were distributed amongst warehouses or other business establishments. If they were kept in a Government office and under Government supervision, they could not be tampered with. I believe, however, that under the present arrangement that could not be done, but some agreement might, perhaps, be made by which the machine could be given a fair trial under official supervision.. I shall support the Bill as introduced by the Minister, believing that, since he is willing to take the responsibility for the introduction of the machine, I should not stand in his way.
.- I think that the honorable member for Robertson would find rather - impracticable his proposal that all the machines should be placed in a central office under the supervision of the Postmaster-General.
– And it would rob the machine of its value.
– Apart altogether from the inconvenience to the user which would result, the Department itself would be put to considerable expense in housing the machines. Even if the honorable member’s suggestion were carried out, collusion might still take place between the officer in charge and some representative of the institutions using them.
– Would that be possible if the machine records automatically ?
– It might be made worth the while of the officer not to record as much against the user as he ought to do. There is danger of fraud, however, in connexion with almost every new device. The honorable member for Robertson has himself pointed out that stamps can he printed on envelopes by almost any printer, and that there is, therefore, room for fraud in connexion with their use. But the reward of fraud in this case would be so trifling that no man would jeopardize his liberty and reputation for the sake of securing it. Just as no man risks his liberty and his reputation by causing stamps to be printed on envelopes by a private printer, so I think that no reputable firm - and it may be apprehended that none but a reputable firm would be permitted to use these machines-would risk its .reputation by endeavouring to manipulate one of them.
– Who is to decide what is a reputable firm?
– The machines would be issued only to firms of established reputation. Some institutions require as many as seven, and they would scarcely abuse their trust seeing that, if fraud were practised, they would be at the mercy of their employes. In exoneration of the action of the Minister in inviting the House to resume to-night the consideration of this measure, I desire to say that it was at the request of myself and several other honorable members that he did so. It is not a controversial measure, and I did not think there would be any objection to passing it to-night and getting it off the business-paper. The gentlemen who are interested in the patent are ready to proceed with the manufacture of the machines in the Commonwealth, and in that way employment will be found for a considerable number of men. That being so, by delaying the passing of the Bill we shall only stand in the way of the establishment of the industry. If we can do anything to facilitate its establishment at once rather than run the risk of a mishap that might prevent its continuation here, we shall do well. The Government are in no wise blamable for the action they have taken, and I hope that the House will recognise that this, being a non-contentious measure, should be passed without delay.
The machine has been tried in New Zealand, where it has worked satisfactorily, and it has the approval of the responsible officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department.
.- I had an opportunity to examine this machine carefully, and it seems to me that provision has been made to guard against the revenue being defrauded in any way by its use. The Postmaster- General has acted wisely in proposing its introduction.
– I think that we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– The use of this machine will put a stop to the petty frauds that are sometimes committed by . junior clerks in charge of stamps in big offices. Youngsters are continually being dismissed from their employment and sometimes put on trial for frauds in connexion with stamps placed under their control, or for the misappropriation of money given them to pay for telegraphic messages. The machine has been tried and. proved successful in New Zealand. The Australian Mutual Provident Society, the Union Steam-ship Company of New Zealand, and other large companies have used it, and have found it absolutely satisfactory. Having regard to all the circumstances, 1 think that we should give it a trial, more especially as the Postmaster-General will have supervision over the firms to whom the machines are issued, and that he can, at his discretion, refuse a request for the use of one.
– Does not the honorable member think that the Commonwealth should have the sole patent rights of the machine ?
– As a matter of fact, it is a New Zealand invention, and I understand that it is the intention of the inventor to take it to other parts of the world, where it may also be successfully used. We should have to pay a very big sum for the patent. I see no objection, in the fact that the patent is held by private men, to its use bv the Government. The Minister and his Department have done well in recommending its use, and I shall certainly vote for the Bill as it stands.
.- I am prepared to vote for the second reading of the Bill, but certainly think that if it is passed the machine should become the property of the Government, and that the making of the dies should be solely in the hands of the Department. If the machine is valuable it will surely be a good thing for the Government to buy the patent rights from the company and to retain absolute control over it.
– That would be a very expensive operation.
– Why? The Commonwealth is the only authority that can sanction the use of the machine in Australia. If the Commonwealth does not consent to create a value for the machine here, it will be useless to the company which owns it.
– What would the honorable member do if a better machine were invented next year-?
– If we decide to permit the use of recording machines, and a better machine is invented, it will be for the Government to decide whether it will be advisable to buy the rights of the improvement. While the honorable member for Robertson was speaking I made an interjection to the effect that the’ machine had been in use in New Zealand only since 1908. In that I was . in error. I see that it is the Commonwealth Department of External Affairs that has used the machine since 1908.
– It has been in use in New Zealand since 1906.
– I understand that it has been fairly satisfactory in New Zealand, and that there is no danger of fraud. It has been stated that it would be as easy to make a die for printing ordinary stamps as to make a die such as would be used in a recording machine.
– Much easier.
– The honorable member, with his knowledge of printing, must be aware that the workmanship displayed in a die for printing stamps is of a much higher quality than that required for making such a stamp as is used in a recording machine. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has remarked that it would be possible to use an ordinary rubber stamp to imitate the stamp of a recording machine; but probably the ink used in a machine would be different from the ink used with an ordinary rubber stamp. I have no objection to the Bill being read a second time, but I am certainly of opinion that it would be better for the Commonwealth to buy the patent rights. We know that extensive frauds have been committed in the direction of imitating Government stamps. We all remember the Adelaide Customs case, which cost the Government of South
Australia a loss of£60,000. If it is possible to amend the Bill in the direction I have suggested, and if the honorable member for Hunter who has made a suggestion to that effect takes action in Committee, I shall be pleased to support him.
– The proposal of the Government opens up new ground, and marks a big departure from the principle which has hitherto obtained in postal affairs. Before we consent to do what is asked, it seems to me that we should have more authoritative information. All that we know at present is that the use of the recording machine is recommended by the New Zealand Government. Hitherto the Commonwealth Government has insisted that all stamps used for postal purposes shall be manufactured in the Government Printing Office. So far we have not allowed any private firms to engage in the production of stamps in any way. The introduction of the stamping machine will upset that principle. It is contended that the machine will place on postal articles stamps sufficient to cover the postage, and will accurately register the value of the stamping done. We are also assured that the provisions against fraud are ample. Upon that point, however, I am not satisfied. In New South Wales, in connexion with the tramway system, a mechanical contrivance was adopted, by means of which every fare collected was registered by means of the ring of a bell. The number of rings was also registered, and passengers were requested by the Commissioners, when they paid fares, to see . that the guards of the trams made the proper rings. The Commissioners thought they had a perfect piece of mechanism. But it was discovered that there was a marked difference between the fares recorded and the number of passengers travelling. An examination was made, and it was discovered that by a very simple device guards who were inclined to be dishonest were enabled to cheat the recording instrument. As a consequence, considerable monetary loss was sustained by the Department. What guarantee should we have that a similar fraud might not be perpetrated in connexion with these machines?
– Does not the Victorian Tramway Company still use recorders for tram fares?
– Yes, but they also use check tickets, and have examining inspectors. The New South Wales
Railway Commisioners found that it simplified matters for themselves, the public, and their employes, to dispense with .this piece of mechanism, and do the whole business by the sale of tickets, which must be produced at any time during the- trip for the satisfaction of the guard or inspectors, and by introducing an extensive system of supervision to prevent frauds. Even then, it is asserted that, fraud takes place. The Government have endeavoured to prevent frauds in connexion with postage stamps by doing all their printing in Government printing offices, under the strictest supervision, but they now propose to make a radical departure from that system by giving this company the right to come into competition with their printing plants, and to supply private firms with machines. The tampering which has taken place with other mechanisms may also be possible with this. The difficulty in tracing leakages will be great, because the manufacture and use of the machines is not to be under the direct control of the Department.
– The system has been in use for three years in New Zealand.
– I do not know what the experience of New Zealand has’ been. I am speaking of matters within our own ken. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie showed the other night that it was possible to reproduce the imprint of the machine by means of a rubber stamp, in such a way that the fraud would be difficult to detect.
– I think he has abandoned that idea.
– I do not know that he has, but he seemed to me to be on very firm ground in that objection. Such a possibility would invite improper manipulation.
– A rubber stamp cannot imitate a steel cut die.
– To the casual observer it looked quite possible to reproduce the impression of the machine die by means of a rubber stamp. In any case, there is nothing to prevent’ a private person from securing a duplicate steel die much more readily than the dies, ink, and printing machinery necessary to forge ordinary postage stamps. The PostmasterGeneral has not yet told us what financial arrangements are to be made between the Department and the company. I understand that he proposes to issue licences for certain firms to use the machines, but how will he draw the line between reputable firms and others which may not be considered trustworthy ? Some of the firms that do the largest postal business with the Department deal with racing and gambling, or with quack medicines. If the firm of Tattersalls, or a firm like that of Freeman and Wallace when it was flourishing, applied for a licence, how would the PostmasterGeneral deal with their applications? The possibilities of fraud in connexion with the use of the machine are so great that I view this measure with a great deal of suspicion, and it must be more amply safeguarded before I can support it. I do not take up the conservative attitude that perfection has already been attained, and I am prepared to consider any innovation in this direction with an open mind, but I want to be satisfied that the change will not facilitate fraud, and land the Department in the loss of considerable revenue. It is essential that the Government should take the complete manufacture and control of the machines into its .own hands, as it does now the printing of postage stamps. If that is provided for, a great many of my objections will disappear.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Mauger) adjourned.
House adjourned at xi.ro p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 October 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19091014_reps_3_52/>.