3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– It was stated in Saturday’s Argus that the Postmaster-General proposes to communicate with the Commonwealth representative in London, to obtain the best expert advice as to whether tenders for the erection and equipment of wireless telegraphic stations shall be sought for only from the Marconi firm, or left open to all. I ask the honorable gentleman whether he cannot obtain from Captain Collins simply a statement informing the Government if there is a contract between the Marconi Company and the Admiralty, requiring the latter to use only the Marconi system in its wireless communications. I ask him, too, whether he will endeavour to show’ the bona fides of his Department, which has professed anxiety to institute wireless telegraphy in Australia, by calling for tenders for installation at an earlier date than January, 191 1.
– I have given instructions to my officers for tenders to be called for, but delay has been caused by the necessary work of settling the conditions and the form of the specifications. All possible information is being obtained from the Admiralty and from Captain Collins. I shall be pleased to act on the honorable member’s suggestion as to the advisability of ascertaining whether the Admiralty is bound down to any particular system of wireless telegraphy. It is my desire and intention to carry out the will of the House in this matter without the least unnecessary delay. I shall not tolerate formal objections or. technicalities, but there must be preliminary inquiries’, and I must take the adviceof professional men.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral, in dealing with the question of wireless telegraphy, give consideration to proposals which, I believe, have been submitted to him by a company recently formed for linking up the Pacific, known as the Radio-Telegraph Company?
– I have received from the Prime Minister a communication from the company in question. At present it is under consideration.
– I wish to know from the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs if he will lay on the table a return which I understand was issued on the 15th of this month, showing the amount of sugar produced by white and by black labour?
– Is not the information contained in the Budget papers?
– The honorable member is referringto a specific return which I have not seen. I shall communicate with my honorable colleague on the subject, requesting him to make available the latest information he possesses.
– As the Suez Canal Company is attempting to extend its lease for another seventy -eightyears from 1935, will the Postmaster-General take advantage of the opportunity to make representations on behalf of Australia, with a view to obtaining a reduction of dues on Australian vessels and produce passing through the canal ?
– I understand that an extension of the lease has been granted.
– According to the cablegram, the matter is being considered, and the transaction hasnot yet closed.
– The transaction is a business arrangement between the Egyptian Government and the Suez Canal Company. The former has no interest in Australian concerns, but our desire for reduced rates has been represented to the company as strongly as possible on several occasions, but without success. The plea is that the reduction of rates on Australian steamers cannot be considered until the widening of the canal now in progress is finished. No opportunity to press our claim on the company will be lost, but this transaction affords no special opportunity to repeat it.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether there is any Commonwealth law which will prevent the banning of the importation of agricultural products by one State from another. If this continues, reprisals may be made which will be detrimental’ to the interests of trade.
– The honorable member, I think, refers to the prohibition of the importation of potatoes into some of the States.
– And of tomatoes.
– Answers to similar questions have been given by me and by the Minister of External Affairs for the. Minister of Trade and Customs. I have pointed out that any person or State affected has a remedy at law. If an import is stopped by the New South Wales Government, and the importer considers that action an abuse of the police powers of the State, there is nothing to prevent him from raising the question in the Courts.
– Cannot the Commonwealth intervene in the public interest?
– The Commonwealth, except so far as legislation is concerned, is impersonal in this matter.It cannot interfere as a litigant unless directly affected. We have quarantine laws which can be applied.
– Then why are they not applied ?
– To apply them would be to substitute one kind of restriction for another, and it is doubtful whether our legislation would completely override the police powers of the States in this matter. The transactions are being carefully watched by the Minister of Trade and Customs, and if the time came when something had to be done, I suppose intervention would take place.
– Is the Treasurer in possession of particulars upon which he can base an estimate as to the amount of money which will be required for the payment of invalid pensions when that part of the Act which relates to them is put into operation?
– I do not care to give an estimate off-hand, but I may say that I think that the payment of invalid pensions will involve an expenditure of at least £250,000.
– I do not know whether I should address the question I desire to ask to you, Mr. Speaker, or to the Prime Minister. As the Prime Minister is the first citizen of Australia at the present moment, I think I shall ask him whether his attention has been drawn to the following short article which appeared in the Herald of last evening -
A PRICELESS COLLECTION BEING RUINED.
The way not to do it is being shown at present by the Library Committee of the Federal Parliament in connexion with the collection of books and records which Mr. Petherick has presented to the Commonwealth. This magnificent library of early Australian and Colonial history, after an attempt to scatter it among thousands of books in the general library had been resisted, has been consigned to the vaults at the rear of the House of Representatives. Here, the priceless manuscripts, charts, and books, which had not been out of glass cases for years, are on ordinary deal shelves, open to dust, and liable to rapid destruction. For four months the question of finding suitable accommodation for the works has been under consideration, and to-day this simple matter of buying some book cases with glass doors appears to be as far off settlement as ever. It is a poor compliment to one who has spent a lifetime in the collection of historical records, and who now regards them almost with the love of a father for a child, that his gifts should apparently be unappreciated in this way.
I may say that I hare not seen Mr. Petherick himself for a number of weeks. I wish to ask whether, in view of the great benefit derived by citizens of Melbourne and visitors to this city from the exhibition of the Petherick collection in the Queen’s Hall, the Prime Minister will not take steps to enable all who desire to inspect the collection to do so?
-I think that as a member of the Library Committee, it would, perhaps, be better that I should reply to the honorable member’s question. I am sorry that the statement that the Petherick collection has been buried in the vaults of Parliament House should have been repeated.
– Why, they have been placed in the cellar.
– Nothing of the sort.
– It is a cellar.
– Order ! The representatives of the press have been invited by the LibraryCommittee to inspect the premises in which the collection is kept, in order that they may be assured that the statement to which I have referred is not correct. The collection has been placed on the ground-floor of Parliament House in a place specially fitted up for the purpose, and the greatest possible care is being taken of it.
– That is nonsense.
– Order ! The honorable member, having asked a question on the subject, might allow me to answer his question.
– Evidently you, sir, have not seen the place.
– Order ! I might say that portions of the collection that are of especial value are taken special care of. They are preserved in a strong room which has been erected for the purpose, and which is being made fire-proof. With respect to other portions of the collection which might be injured by exposure to the atmosphere, special cases are being manufactured at the present time for their preservation. I ask honorable members to visit the premises in which the collection is kept, in order to assure themselves of the care which has been taken.
– Hear, hear. The place is well lighted, too.
– The greatest care is being taken of the collection, and the necessity for taking care of it is strongly impressed upon every member of the Library Committee.
– I should like to ask you, sir, if the public are at liberty to inspect this valuable collection, and, if so, when ?
– In answer to the honorable member, I am very glad to be able to say that the public are at liberty to inspect the Petherick collection on the mornings of sitting days of this Parliament and during the ordinary hours when the Parliament House is open on other days.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he has seen an article published in the Age newspaper in which it was alleged that the rejection of Dalgety as the site for the Federal Capital was prompted by the intense jealousy of the Sydney people, lest the acquisition of what is described as the “ land-locked harbor “ of Twofold Bay would result in Sydney losing its preeminence as the principal shipping port of the Commonwealth.
– That is quite true.
– Will the Minister have a map of New South Wales sent to the persons conducting the Age newspaper in order that their geographical knowledge may be supplemented, and in order that they may not err by the publication of similar misstatements in the future.
– I did see the article referred to by the honorable member for Lang. I take it that it is no part of my business as Minister of Home Affairs to provide maps for the information of persons conducting newspapers in Australia.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he has noticed the anti-Federal feeling disclosed by the New South Wales Government in the reply to a deputation that waited upon them in connexion with the proposed construction of a railway from Finley to Tocumwal, and the statement by the New South Wales Minister of Works that the Government objected to railway construction which would give facilities for trading with Victoria.
– I can only confess to a very generalknowledge that some such statement was made. One has been accustomed to hear propositions of that sort dealt with in the same manner, on sundrygrounds, Federal or anti-Federal. Whether the case referred to by the honorable member for Riverina is specific I am not in a position to say.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister if he will make it his business to read the reply given to the deputation by the New South Wales Minister of Works, and then decide whether the matter is one in which an expression of Federal or un-Federal feeling is involved?
– I shall be happy to enlarge my knowledge of the sentiments of the New South Wales Minister of Works, but cannot undertake to decide anything in a matter between State and State.
– I should like to ask the Minister of Defence a question concerning a matter to which I directed his attention about a fortnight ago. I refer to the fact that the Victorian infantry have not, for the last twenty months, been supplied with bayonets. As about two-thirds of the men have never had bayonets, it is impossible for them to be instructed in bayonet drill. I wish to know if the Minister is able to make any statement as to when the bayonets will arrive, so that the men may receive necessary instruction.
– I am sorry that I am unable to say when the supply of bayonets will arrive. All I know is that they have been ordered.
– How many ?
– I think, about 28,000. I hope they will shortly arrive.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence whether the bayonets required could not be made in Australia.
– I am afraid not at present.
Commonwealth and States
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether the House is likely to be given any information regarding the secret arrangements still going on between the Government and the State Governments in connexion with the agreement arrived at at the recent Premiers’ Conference. Does the honorable gentleman not think it is time he left it to this House to do justice to the people of Australia ?
– I should have thought that the honorable member’s nationality would have prevented him from suggesting that a secret arrangement could be public. So far as I am aware the intimations given to the press by the Premier of New South Wales conveyed the purport of the further negotiations.
MINISTERS laid on the table the following papers : -
Audit Acts - Treasury Regulation No. 96 (e) Amended - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 107.
Public Service Act- Regulations Amended -
No. 57 (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 119.
No. 171 - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 120.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 15th October, vide page 4649) :
Clause 4 - “The Northern Territory” means that part of Australia which lies to the northward of the twenty-sixth parallel of south latitude and between the one hundred and twenty-ninth and one hundred and thirty-eighth degrees of east longitude, together with the bays and gulfs therein, and all and every the islands adjacent to any part of the mainland within such limits as aforesaid, with their rights, members, and appurtenances. ….
Upon which Mr. Dugald Thomson had moved by way of amendment -
That the word “twenty-sixth,” line 3, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu . thereof the word “ twenty-second.”
.- Shortly before the adjournment on Friday last, the Minister told the Committee that a serious consideration which must weigh with honorable members in approaching this agreement with South Australia is the particular clause in the agreement whereby South Australia, in consideration of our assenting to the agreement, gives us permission under the Constitution to proceed with the construction of the trans-continental line to Western Australia. It is suggested that it is right from the point of view of the Commonwealth, when arranging for the construction of a line in the Northern Territory, to make some arrangement with regard to a similar Commonwealth project towards the West. But if this is being held out to us by the people of South Australia as a sort of ultimatum to compel our acquiescence in the transfer of the Northern Territory, as one would understand from the Minister’s remarks onFriday last-
– Who suggested that?
– I am afraid I am myself guilty of drawing that deduction from what the Minister said.
– I made no such suggestion.
– I have a distinct recollection of a statement by the Minister on Friday that one of the strong points about this agreement was that it secured us permission to build the line to Western Australia, if we should ever think fit to do so.
– I simply mentioned it as one of the conditions of the agreement.
– Was the Ministers object in mentioning it to show that if we refused to adopt this agreement, South Australia would probably refuse its consent to the construction of the line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie?
– I did not say so by hint or suggestion.
– Why else did the Minister make the suggestion to the House?
– Because it was necessary to give all the contents of the agreement.
– The honorable gentleman picked out that one condition.
– An amendment will be proposed to safeguard the interests of the Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie line.
– The honorable member for Perth proposes, I know, to put his fellow members from Western Australia in a somewhat difficult position.
– I am asserting the correct position.
– It may be a correct one, according to the views of Western Australia, and I think that State has a right to consider its railway proposition as more important than this.
– Western Australia has a prior claim.
– I do not think they have any prior claim to Australia takingover a proper proportion of the Northern Territory, and developing it according to its own views, but the honorable member is perfectly correct if he means that Western Australia has a prior claim in regard’ to railway construction. I am glad to learn that this condition of the agreement, to which the Minister of External Affairs referred with such extraordinary innocence on Friday afternoon, is not intended as a bait for Western. Australian members. If it were, it would be the surest way of putting this House out of sympathy with the whole proposal, because this is the last legislative body in Australia to consent to dictation - to blackmail - of this type. I would suggest that, even in the temporary absence of the honorable member for North Sydney, the abundant merits of his proposal should receive the indorsement of Ministers. It is quite useless to think that this Parliament can be led, against its own better judgment, to adopt the proposals arrived at by the Prime Minister, when head of a former Administration, in agreement with the then Premier of South Australia. It is transparent that this Parliament will not accept them. I hold that it should, therefore, show South Australia exactly what it is prepared to concede. That is the least that we owe to that State. The right honorable member for East Sydney suggested that we ought to signify, by speaking, what our intentions towards South Australia are; but to refrain from endeavouring to alter the agreement by a vote.
– Only as to this proposition.
– Then my right honorable friend would not object to altering the agreement in any other essential ?
– I consider that the question as to whether she should take over the portion of territory indicated in the amendment is one for South Australia alone, and not for us.
– Would my right honorable friend adopt a similar attitude towards the question of whether the Commonwealth should take over the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta?
– That is a matter for us, as well.
– For once in his life, the right honorable member is on rather illogical ground. I can see no difference between a refusal on our part to take over certain property - to wit, a railway in South Australia - or certain real estate, in the shape of portion of the Northern Territory, which we do not wish to receive. Unless we show definitely by our votes what we mean to do with regard to the agreement, our attitude will be misrepresented outside. A number of people in South Australia will say that we have refused to sanction the agreement, not because the most that we would assent to is contained in the honorable member for North Sydney’s amendment but because we do not like the agreement itself, and they may try us by making an offer a little higher than the honorable member for North Sydney suggests. That would lead again to endless delay, and to an increase of the irritation so markedly expressed on Friday afternoon by the honorable member for Grey.
– How far would the honorable member go?
– Exactly to the length proposed by the honorable member for North Sydney. His proposition is absolutely fair.
– If the South Australian Government constructed a line to that point, would the honorable member agree to the Commonwealth meeting it?
– On a question of railway construction, I should be bound solely by the views of experts. If, after South Australia had completed the line to the twentysecond parallel, our experts advised that, in the interests of the Northern Territory. we should connect with that line,I should give my vote most heartily, accordingly.
– Provided that the honorable member picked the experts.
– I am afraid the honorable member is not serious. Honorable members on the side of this question that I am advocating are taking a national view, pure and simple.
– That is the most comical thing the honorable member has ever said.
– I should not like to charge the honorable ‘member with ever having said a comical thing. As the successor of the late honorable member for Adelaide, the honorable member seems almost to feel as if the mantle of that gentleman had fallen upon him, and to think that every remark of his should be taken with the greatest seriousness. We can claim in all sincerity that we are concerned purely with Australian needs. If, after we have taken over such portion of the Northern Territory as we think advisable - the tropical portion that South Australia cannot more capably develop - the experts advise us that the route through the centre of the Territory is in the best interests of the Territory and Australia as a whole, I shall be delighted to record my vote for it. But, in the absence of such information, this Parliament would be false to its duty, and to all business principles, if it consented to an agreement compelling it to build a railway through a certain portion of the Territory, and connecting with a certain city in Australia, without regard to the necessities of Australia as a whole.
.-I intend to support the amendment of the honorable member for North Sydney. It appears to me that it is infinitely preferable to the proposed agreement, and its adoption will convey to South Australia an indication of what she may expect this Parliament to sanction, because it is abundantly clear that the tentative agreement has no possible chance of being ratified. If the Territory were handed over to the Commonwealth from the twenty-second parallel the railway construction which we should have to undertake would be comparatively light, and from that stand-point I am decidedly in favour of the amendment. It seems to me that the proposed agreement is rather of a one-sided character. I quite recognise that South Australia is entitled to every credit for having struggled with the administration, of this huge area since 1863, and for having maintained it as a white man’s country. Nevertheless, I scarcely think it is fair that the other States should be burdened in. the way that they would be burdened if this agreement were accepted. The taking over of the Territory would involve an outlay of £10,000,000, and a much larger expenditure would be necessary to develop it. From that stand-point it seems to me that the amendment is very much preferable to the clause in the Bill. If it is what it has been painted to be - and I have no reason to believe that it does not possess the large and fertile areas which have been claimed for it - it seems to me that South Australia should be permitted to develop it as far as the MacDonnell Ranges in the best way possible. That would necessitate the construction by South Australia of 200 miles of railway to connect the line which now terminates at Oodnadatta with the point mentioned. From every standpoint I regard the amendment of the honorable member for North Sydney as preferable to the agreement embodied in the Bill.
– I hope that the amendment will not be carried. As long as I can remember, doubts have been expressed as to the development of what has been called the “ dead heart of Australia.” This Territory comprises hundreds of millions of acres, and no one possessing a truly Federal spirit would say that the burden of developing it for the good of Australia should be left to one State. It is to say the least peculiar that certain honorable members should argue that it should not be borne by all the States. A problem like this should surely be solved by the federated people of Australia.
– That must be the view, having regard to the speech made by the Minister of External Affairs in moving the second reading of the Bill.
– I hope that the Government are not going to support the amendment.
– I have announced that we are not going to do so.
– I am glad to hear it. As guardians of the interests of the Commonwealth, are we going to refuse this opportunity to secure control of an enormous stretch of country?
– At a cheap rate for cash.
– I am surprised that the honorable member should indulge in such cheap sneers. We should be guilty of absolute meanness if we shirked the responsibilities of the Commonwealth in connexion with this Territory. South Australia with a comparatively small population has for many years guarded this door to Australia from coloured invasion. She says to-day, “ We find the financial burden of developing it too pressing, and think that the Commonwealth should relieve us of it.”
– But the chief question relates to the conditions that she desires to impose.
– I am not prepared to accept all the conditions sought to be imposed, but the question now before us is whether we should take the whole or only part of the Territory. South Australia has not withdrawn her offer to hand us over the whole of the Territory, but perhaps the honorable member for North Sydney thinks that the acceptance of his amendment would be beneficial to her.
– Hear, hear.
– I hope that is the spirit in which the honorable member has proposed his amendment.
– If the honorable member does not agree with the railway conditions imposed in the agreement he will assist South Australia by supporting this amendment.
– The railway conditions will have to be fought out. It is absurd to say that it would be unwise for us to own a railway running through State territory. Such an argument has been advanced either in the House or in the press ; but to my mind we could not do better than extend our ownership of railways in the States. As a matter of fact, in time of war we should have to assume control of the whole of the railways of the States. It would be advantageous for us to take over the Territory and construct a railway through it; the more sections we build the better. We should be able to control the gauge and perhaps make a better job of the work than any State could do. On the other hand, if we allowed South Australia to carry the present line as far north as the MacDonnell Ranges, she would construct it in accordance with her present gauge.
– The line already built as far as Oodnadatta will determine the gauge of any extension.
– Perhaps the South Australian gauge would be found suitable ; but the suggestion that we should not own a railway running through a State is quite opposed to the Federal spirit. I reject the suggestion that this amendment would be beneficial to South Australia. That part of the Territory which it is pro- posed shall continue in her possession may contain great mineral possibilities, but many years would elapse before South Australia would be able to promote settlement and development in the north.
– Has not the honorable member seen the publication Territoria, which contains beautiful views of wheatgrowing country in that part of the Territory which it is proposed shall remain under the control of South Australia?
– But a mere handful of people could not develop that country. For the safety of Australia, settlement should proceed as rapidly as possible in the north, and the Commonwealth can most effectively promote that settlement. That is one of the reasons why I favour the transfer of the Territory; but I shall vote against every clause of the agreement of which I do not approve.
– We have been told by representatives of South Australia that to vote against even one clause in the agreement will destroy the whole.
– That statement cannot be taken seriously. I am sure that South Australia is as patriotic as is any other State, and that its Legislature will be prepared to consider any reasonable proposition made by us. We are not to be influenced by the bluff that some people may indulge in.
– Representatives of South Australia say that if we reject this offer, we shall not get another chance to take over the Territory on such easy terms.
– That may be so; but at the same time honorable members are not to be bluffed into the acceptance of conditions with which they do not agree. We must fight for the interests of the Commonwealth.
– And must not be influenced by bluff on either side.
– I hope that no representative of South Australia, in fighting for his State, will resort to bluffing. I trust that the amendment will be rejected, and that honorable members having regard to the future good of Australia, will agree to the transfer of the whole of the Territory.
.- As the right honorable member for East Sydney has said, the proposal now under consideration should have come from South Australia, if it is to be considered at all. If, as has been represented, the suggested variation of the agreement would be better for South Australia, she should decide that point for herself. The proposal is, as I understand it, that there should be no railway conditions, and that the whole of the territory north of the twenty-second parallel should be handed over to the Commonwealth unconditionally, except in regard to the portion of the debt chargeable to the territory taken over.
– Past indebtedness should be met ; there should be no conditions as to future railways ; and the Commonwealth should not take over the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta.
– I would ask honorable members not to spend much time over this proposed’ modification’, because there is no possible chance of its being accepted by South Australia. I do not know whether it would not be better from a South Australian point of view if the Commonwealth were to take over the area down to Hergott Springs, so long as the other conditions stipulated for were complied with. South Australia might consider such a proposal as that. But it is absurd for us to place the suggestion now made before the State. It has been stated that this proposal was put before the South Australian Legislature. The proposal made to the South Australian’ Legislative Council by Mr. Duncan was in the following terms : - “ Provided - (a) That the southern boundary of the portion of the Northern Territory to be taken over by the Commonwealth be fixed approximately at the twenty-second degree south latitude. (b) That the Commonwealth Government agrees to construct the transcontinental line from the proposed southern boundary to the present terminus at Pine Creek. (c) That the line of route of the proposed railway shall be from the terminus of the railway at the South Australian proposed new boundary to the terminus of the northern section of the line at Pine Creek, and within 100 miles east or west of the present overland telegraph line. (d) That the work of construction of the railway shall be commenced by the South Australian Government from Oodnadatta, and by the Commonwealth Government from Pine Creek, within twelve months of the passing of the necessary Acts by the State and Australian Commonwealth Parliaments.”
I read that proposition to give the Committee an idea of the conditions that the Legislative Council thought ought to be super-imposed on the agreement. Nearly half the Council voted for Mr. Duncan’s amendment.
– That is not a very conclusive argument. They had the agreement, and they thought that it would be as well to get as much more as they could.
– I would remind the Committee that there is a considerable section of the South Australian people who are strongly opposed to the transfer of the Northern Territory on any conditions. Some of the members of the Legislative Council who were of that opinion sought to vary the agreement with the real object of killing the Bill. They did not want to have the Territory taken over.
– That was practically the only object which the supporters of Mr. Duncan’s amendment had.
– I think that was their object. It has never been seriouslysuggested in South Australia that the northern boundary of the State should be extended to the twenty-second parallel, and the remaining portion of the Northern Territory handed over to the ‘Commonwealth without conditions, a proposition to that effect has never been formally laid before the Legislature; nor has it been seriously proposed to the public of the State that South Australia should abandon the railway conditions. I am certain that it would be useless to make such a .proposition, because it would not be accepted. The country which it is proposed by the honorable member for North Sydney that South Australia should retain has the smallest rainfall in the whole Territory.
– We were told that the railway would pay if it were extended to the MacDonnell Ranges.
– Who said that? I would not father any such statement. The extension of the railway to the MacDonnell Ranges would help to make the line pay, or rather it would develop country in the vicinity of the Ranges. It would enable the desert to be .bridged, and the good land to the north of the Ranges to be opened up.
– It would open up a big mining field.
– I believe that the MacDonnell Ranges have a magnificent future from a mineral point of view. When I speak of the MacDonnell Ranges, I do not mean ‘merely the country in which the Ranges are situated, but also that which is watered by the streams which flow north from the Ranges. But the proposal of the honorable member for North Sydney is not one which South Australia could seriously consider as an alternative. She now controls the whole Territory, and she is asked to accept responsibility for the worst portion of it, with the exception of a piece of mineral country pertaining to the Ranges.
– Is not that the best poition of the Territory? If not, the books have misled us.
– No ; the books say that the MacDonnell Ranges country is good, and capable of carrying a considerable number of sheep. But, because of insufficient rainfall, the land between the northern boundary of South Australia and the MacDonnell Ranges is inferior. The proposal now under consideration is simply to extend the border of South Australia, so as to include the inferior portion of the Northern Territory, with the exception of part of the MacDonnell Ranges, without any compensating advantage. It would be very much better for South Australia, if she is going to extend her boundary, to extend it to the ocean and retain the Territory altogether, and I feel’ quite certain that that is what it will do. I ask honorable members not to vote for the amendment. It is not a fair proposal so far as the State is concerned, .and, further, ir is one which its Parliament will not accept.
– It seems to me that the honorable member for North Sydney and several supporters of the amendment have simply been trying to find a way to destroy the agreement without actually rejecting it.
– The very moment that the honorable member for Wakefield made this suggestion, they seemed to think that it was an entirely new one; whereas, as I pointed out in my speech on the second reading, it was made fifteen years ago by a member of the State Parliament, the late Honorable J. Langdon Parsons, who, however, proposed to fix ihe boundary at the twenty-first parallel, so that the matter has been well thought out and considered in the State. There is no doubt that the State will not agree to the amendment. A very pertinent interjection was made to the honorable member for Wentworth by the honorable member for Grey when he asked this question, “ If the Commonwealth were to take over the northern part of the Northern Territory, and leave South Australia with the country up to the MacDonnell Ranges, would the honorable member vote for the construction of a railway connecting with the State railway system?” I think that if this amendment were carried, South Australia would require an assurance that that railway would be joined with its system and constructed when its own line was built, for the simple reason that the Commonwealth would be in the position of having a railway up to the Macdonnell Ranges to bridge over a very difficult part of the country, and then develop Commonwealth territory at the expense of the State. I do not think that there is any use in discussing the amendment so far as the State is concerned. I have been astonished at the scepticism which has been shown by a number of honorable members in regard tq the value of the Northern Territory. They seem to think that honorable members for South Australia have been painting the country in too rosy colours. I want to quote two extracts in addition to what has been supplied by Mr. Lindsay, who knows the country so well, and the literature which has been distributed. I propose, first, to quote the opinion of a man who knows more about the value of the Northern Territory, and what it can produce, than, I suppose, any other man alive*. I refer to the curator of the Adelaide Botanical Gardens, Mr. M. W. Holtze, because apparently a few honorable members do not know what has been done. In a paper on “ The Capabilities of the Northern Territory for Tropical
Agriculture,” he wrote in these terms -
This I have proved to the satisfaction of every visitor able to judge in the Botanic Gardens at Port Darwin, the soil of which is decidedly not superior to the average soil of the Northern Territory, and have done so on an expenditure per acre less than that generally considered necessary on properly conducted plantations. If I had not done this, how could I have obtained the numerous distinctions for my exhibits at the Calcutta Exhibition, where I competed against the best efforts of India, Ceylon, and Queensland, and where I was awarded eight certificates of merit, together with two gold, one silver, and three bronze medals for produce grown in the Botanic Garden, produce prepared without proper appliances, simply with domestic implements by Mrs. Holtze and myself?
I do not think that honorable members could get any greater evidence than that supplied by Mr. Holtze, because he gave practical proof of being able to compete against the world and get gold and silver medals for products, a. list of which is included in the article. Regarding the mineral wealth of the Territory, the Rev. J. E. Tenison Woods, who lived there for many years, is just as emphatic. In a report on “ The Geology and Mineralogy of the Northern Territory,” he said-
T confidently assert that the Northern Territory is exceptionally rich in minerals, only a small part of which has been made known to the public. I do not believe that the same quantity of minerals, veins of gold, silver, tin, copper, and lead will be found in any equal area in Australia. In fact, I doubt if in any provinces will be found any country so singularly and exceptionally favoured as Arnheim’s land is in respect to “mineral riches.
What the honorable member for North Sydney wants to do is to Jet South Australia take the territory up to the MacDonnell Ranges. I admit that it is very, rich country, because there we have had a battery running almost continously for, I think, twelve years, which has never put through stone that produced less than lj ounces of gold to the ton, though we have not a mine in the MacDonnell Ranges. That work has been going on from year to year, so that there is no doubt about the mineral wealth of the country. I may mention that the better class of country extends much further north than the twentysecond parallel., I think that the honorable member for North Sydney must see that it would be very foolish indeed for South Australia to agree to retain the country up to that point, and have no guarantee as to what the ‘Commonwealth will do with the country north of it. For that reason I hope that the agreement will be rejected.
– I had no intention of again speaking on this question. I have not tried in any way, except by speech in the Committee, to influence honorable members in favour of the amendment. I took the action which I thought was right from my stand-point, leaving honorable members to act as they saw fit. I object to the statement just made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, and that is what brought me to my feet. He stated that my amendment was intended to defeat the agreement.
– I said it looked likethat
– The honorable member said that it was intended to defeat, without going directly against the agreement.
– Hear, hear.
– What courage does an honorable member require to go against the agreement, I ask the honorable member?
– Oh, plenty of reasons could be assigned, no doubt.
– If I were against any agreement I should have no hesiattion in saying so, nor would I see any difficulty in taking that course. What I adopted was the course which my own opinion favoured. South Australia is quite right in asking to be relieved of the Territory, the troublesome portion of which is that within the tropics, and, to my mind, the Commonwealth has the right to consider the request a fair one for relieving the State of the Territory and its deficiency. But when we come to the conditions of the agreement, whilst I hold that South Australia should be recouped its expenditure, and even a fair portion of the accumulated deficiency - for although I do not think that it recouped the British Govenment any potion of its accumulated deficiency when it took over the Territory, I am willing to concede that.
– I did not know that there was any deficiency.
– I know that there was.
– There could not have been very much.
– I know that the British Government made a number of costly experiments, which resulted in failure. I am not saying that South Australia should be called upon to refund that deficiency, nor am I objecting to the State asking for consideration as regards its own accumulated deficiency, because I consider that any reasonable proposition in that direction ought to be assented to. I am also willing that all liability which the State has incurred in the way of loan for the development of the Territory should be recouped. In that case the State would receive practically all that it had spent, and in addition it would be relieved from a yearly loss which is heavy now, and which will increase for many years with the greater effort to develop and settle the country. The people of South Australia, as well as those of the other States, must benefit by any development of the Northern Territory; but if there be atransfer South Australia alone will not be responsible for the cost of that development. That being so, the Commonwealth must take over the Territory free of conditions which would prevent its settlement and development by whatever means might be considered most desirable. I am not assuming a State attitude in this matter, nor do I think that the State attitude should be recognised even so far as South Australia is concerned, except in respect to the refunding of her past expenditure on the Territory. I do not advocate the construction of any particular line of railway, not even a line through the back country of Queensland and New South Wales, connecting the present lines which run inland from the coast. Those lines will be connected eventually by the States concerned, for the development of their own Territory, by facilitating the removal of stock from drought-stricken districts, and providing other conveniences for the carrying on of the pastoral and other industries.
– The idea has been expressed that they should be made by the Commonwealth for the development of the
– I have not heard it expressed here. I should oppose such a proposal were I a member of the Parliament when it was brought forward. What I now propose is not unreasonable. The Commonwealth will refund to South Australia all her expenditure, and take over her liabilities, reserving to itself the rights if the very expensive extension of the present line from Pine Creek to the MacDonnell Ranges is found not to be the most desirable way of developing the Territory, to follow some other route. When the Commonwealth becomes directly responsible for the Territory, its object will be to develop it as quickly as possible, in order to reduce the annual loss. If the construction of the line which representatives of South Australia advocate is considered best, it will be done, but if it were thought that another line or lines would better develop the Territory, the Commonwealth should be free to make it or them. I propose the advancement of the north boundary of South Australia to beyond the MacDonnell Ranges because it has been stated that the line from Port Augusta north has not yet reached country from which the traffic can be profitable, and that when it taps the MacDonnell Ranges it will pay. If South Australia contends that the transfer of the Northern Territory as at present bounded would make it impossible for her to extend her railway to a goal which she has in view, it would be unfair to insist on the retention of the present boundary. Of course, if South Australia is content to have the boundary remain where it is, that is another matter.
– I have not heard it stated that the present railway would pay if extended to the MacDonnell Ranges, though it has been said that the MacDonnell Range country could be profitably developed.
– The statement to which I refer has been made, and has been supported by figures regarding the number of sheep to be carried, and probable rates of freight.
– And by figures relating to wheat.
– In a number of speeches, reference has been made to the value of .the MacDonnell Range country. I do not wish to force territory on South Australia, but I have gathered from the statements which have been made that it would be an advantage to the State to have the MacDonnell Range country included within its borders. In giving this extra territory, the Commonwealth should not accept any obligation to construct any particular railway, or to take over the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta. If this Parliament is not prepared to do those things, it would be an advantage to South Australia, according to the statements which have been made, to obtain the extension of territory which my amendment would give. The amendment has been moved in the interest, not of the Commonwealth, but of the State, and on the assumption that the Commonwealth willnot accept the conditions regarding the construction and taking over of railways. The right honorable member for East Sydney said the other day that he did not think that there should be an .attempt to amend the agreement.
– I did not say that. On the contrary, I said that in Committee we should indicate our views as to what the Commonwealth should accept. I look upon this as a matter for South Australia, not for us.
– We can indicate our views clearly only by making amendments. Speeches have been delivered entirely in favour of the agreement, partly in favour of it, and against it. Some honorable members have indicated one line of difference, and others another. Unless we materialize our views in an amendment, we cannot indicate to South. Australia the conditions which we are prepared to accept. I do not wish the Commonwealth to refuse to undertake the responsibility for the annual deficit, past expenditure, and future loss in connexion with the Northern Territory, nor do I object to its undertaking the cost of developing that Territory. The development of the tropical portion will prove most difficult, and for many years will cause a very heavy loss. What I object to is the binding of the Commonwealth by conditions regarding the taking over of an existing railway and the making of another, which I do not think should be in the agreement. If the Committee is with me, it will support the amendment. If not, it will accept the agreement as it stands. I do not think that the conditions regarding future railway construction should be insisted on by South Australia. If they are, they should not be accepted by the Commonwealth. In taking over trie Territory, the Commonwealth pledges itself to do its best for the development of the Territory, not in the interests of any State, but of the Territory, and, consequently, of all Australia.
.- The words of the last speaker might lead one to believe that he is overwhelmed with love, and a desire to do the right thing, for South Australia. We must give him credit for the purest motives. But the Committee is concerned, not with the motive power of the honorable member, but with where we are likely to stop if he be permitted to move us. If I were driving a motor, the motive power would be a matter of very little concern to me so long as the machine continued to progress in the direction . I desired. The honorable member for North Sydney will see that whatever his motives in submitting his amendment may be, he ought to consider the result should honorable members permit themselves to be influenced by his proposal.
– I think I made that clear.
– Although he has said that he is not opposed to the agreement, the honorable member must admit that the effect nf his amendment would be to break it.
– I am opposed to the agreement, as it stands.
– If the amendment were accepted, the proposed transfer of the Territory from South Australia would be a thing of the past. The honorable member can* hardly expect the people of South Australia to favour his proposal. Whatever be his motive in submitting it, his amendment, if adopted, would result in the rejection of the agreement, and the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth would not now. take place. Whether honorable members desire that the Northern Territory shall ever be_ taken over by the Commonwealth, I do not know ; but the project is one to which, I think, serious attention should be given, even if the agreement includes some small conditions which do not meet with the entire approval of honorable members.
– Small conditions?
– Yes. Those small conditions might, in the special circumstances,be accepted. We require from another of the States about a flowerpot-full of earth for a capital site, and there has been more consideration shown, more bowing of the head, and changing of opinion in this House, from time to time, in order to meet the extraordinary views of the responsible authorities in that State, than could well be conceived.
– Where we want one square mile, the responsible authorities referred to are prepared to give us nine square miles.
– We want an area which, compared with the area of the Northern Territory, may be described as a. flowerpot-full of earth. South Australia is offering to the Commonwealth a territory as large as that occupied by many nations. We have certain powers, as a Commonwealth Parliament, but under the Constitution we cannot exercise supreme control over one square yard of territory in the whole of Australia. Under this agreement, we are offered millions of acres, hundreds of thousands of square miles, of excellent country, embracing the climatic conditions to be found in almost every other part of the Commonwealth. On compliance with a few comparatively trifling conditions, the Federal Parliament would be in a position to exercise supreme control over this territory, to do with it as it thinks fit, and to exercise, within its boundaries, full powers in the matter of government. Notwithstanding the great possibilities of the Northern Territory, and the desire expressed in this Parliament for a territory of our own to develop, we are haggling over the conditions in amanner which, I venture to say, does not reflect credit upon us. South Australia has had control of this Territory for a number of years. During that period, the people of South ‘Australia have held the Territory for Australia, and not for a small section of the people of the Commonwealth. They have not done, as I venture to say has Wen done in New South Wales and Queensland, misused a portion of their territory in such a way that the Federal Parliament would now be only too glad to buy them out under any conditions. The only request made now is that the Northern
Territory shall be accepted by the Commonwealth, as it stands with its few pounds of debt.
– How many pounds ?
– A few pounds only. South Australiais asking about twopence per acre for the Northern Territory, including improvements in the shape of harbors, jetties, railways, and other public works. The South Australian people are offering to the Commonwealth the Northern Territory, with all its resources, on condition of the payment of a few pounds of debt incurred in connexion with it, and the construction of a railway, over which the Commonwealth would have complete control, connecting the northern with the southern sea. If the Territory is taken over on the terms suggested by one or two honorable members, however plausible their statements to the contrary may be, no portion of it will ever be developed unless the trade with it is directed to one particular city. The curse of Australia up to the present time has been that, in every State, country has been opened up and developed only if it increased the trade and importance of the capital city of the State. As this Parliament is at present constituted, and is likely to continue, no power will be able to move it to construct the railway referred to in any but one direction, irrespective of the interest of any State in the construction of the line. Some honorable members aver that South Australia is asking that the Territory should be taken over. I happened to be in the South Australian House of Assembly when the agreement was approved by the Parliament of that State. I was in daily conversation with the late Premier of the State when these matters were under consideration. I wish to say that, while there was an impression among public men that the Commonwealth Parliament, with its greater powers, and financial strength, would be able more quickly and profitably for the whole of Australia to develop the Northern Territory ; yet, so far as the people of South Australia were concerned I did not know, and do not at present know, of, any overwhelming desire on their part that the Commonwealth should take over the Territory. There was an intimation to the then Premier of the State that, were he able to secure an agreement of a reasonable character, he might depend on the Parliament of South Australia to support that agreement.
He came here and entered into a conference with the Prime Minister, and was supported during the whole of that conference by one of the leading daily journals of Victoria. As a result, an agreement was arrived at. I should like to contrast the treatment of that agreement and of another recently arrived at by the Prime Minister and certain other persons. This one was subsequently ratified by the South Australian Parliament. Consequently it is now an agreement between the Prime Minister - acting for his Ministry and for his side of politics, at any rate, in the Federal Parliament - and a State. Yet some honorable members are about to break it, apparently with the lightest of hearts, and with an utter disregard for the interests of the whole of the State which stands behind it. At the same time the same members are urging others to stand fast to the agreement upon the financial question, which up to the present has been made only between the Prime Minister and certain ephemeral Premiers of the different States. I cannot understand the change of front. The one agreement - made between the Prime Minister and certain Premiers who come and go, one of whom has already gone, and three others of whom are in a distinctly parlous condition - is of such a binding character as to force the whole of a particular party behind it, and the Prime Minister stands or falls by it, asserting that his Ministry must live or die with it. But in the other case, where the agreement is between the Prime Minister and the whole of the people of a State, and has received the unanimous approval of the Parliament of that State, the same honorable members seem to believe that they can break through it as lightly as air, with an utter disregard for all its provisions. I respectfully submit to honorable members that, whatever may be their immediate view, the fact that an opportunity is offered to them of being supreme masters, through this Parliament, of so huge a territory, with all its possibilities, ought to have some influence in determining them to accept the comparatively small conditions which stand in the agreement. I have no authority to speak either for South Australia or for any of its representatives, but I say distinctly that, if this amendment is carried, what is left of the agreement cannot possibly have my support. I regard the amendment as fatal. If it is approved of, the agreement might just as well be thrown out. Indeed, it would be better if honorable members would say at once that they will not accept the agreement, and leave it open to South Australia, if she so desires, to offer further conditions or to undertake the development of the Territory herself. I do not know who first suggested that the southern portion of the Territory should remain under South Australian control, and that the part north of the MacDonnell Ranges should be taken over by the Commonwealth, but, whoever the individual was, he made the suggestion purely on his own initiative, and so far as I can find, without authority. He must have been acting entirely upon his own responsibility. It finds no favour in South Australia, and, so far as I can gather, it has no possible chance of acceptance there. I had no overwhelming desire that the offer embodied in the present agreement should be made. Had I consulted my own personal wishes, I should have preferred that South Australia should retain the Territory. A time will come, probably within a very few years, when the Federal Parliament will ask South Australia to hand over to it that portion of the Commonwealth. Even earlier, perhaps, this Parliament will keenly regret that it did not accept the agreement with its limited conditions. Although the motive of the honorable member for North Sydney may be as pure as a motive can possibly be in a public man, I hope that his amendment will be beaten.
.- The honorable member for Hindmarsh has suggested that honorable members must be sceptical as to the value of the Northern Territory. But we cannot well be sceptical on that point, in view of the very glowing picture which has been painted of its merits and possibilities. I, for one, am not at all sceptical. I place a good deal of reliance upon the statements of the honorable member for Grey, who has seen a large portion of the country, and knows1 a great deal about it, and who had no hesitation in giving his personal testimony- as to the value of the Territory. But I am sceptical whether the Commonwealth can develop it better than could the State Government. The development of Australia can be best achieved within the strict lines of the Constitution. The Commonwealth may advantageously carry out its more legitimate functions, leaving all internal development to take place under the’ aegis of the States.
– Surely the honorable member does not call this an illegitimate function?
– I do not. I call it a proper function if South Australia cannot possibly develop the Territory herself. But South Australia takes up a very strong position in saying that if the Commonwealth will not accept the transfer she is prepared to retain the Territory, and that this is our last chance of getting it. She must therefore have the intention as well as the means to develop it. The honorable member for Adelaide said that the Commonwealth Parliament ought to take it over, because we could then do precisely, as we liked with it ; and in fact, be the supreme masters of the situation. That indicates to me an intention on the part of some honorable members that the Commonwealth Government should, in addition to exercising its proper Commonwealth functions, take possession of the Territory and undertake work which the State Govern.ments are essentially designed to perform. That would be altogether a mistaken mode of procedure. If this Parliament should ratify the agreement and take, over and become the supreme masters of the Territory, we can only properly retain the mastery of it while its development remains in its initial stages. As soon as it becomes sufficiently developed, the necessity will be cast upon us of giving it some sort of Constitution and making its position analogous to that occupied by the other States.
– That is the idea. We hope that it will so develop as to become a State - probably two or three States - in years to come.
– Although that may be the ideal in the minds of the Government, we must remember that South Australia is prepared to develop the Territory. It has been said that she will develop it if we do not. Therefore, as that is the proper function of a State, why not allow South Australia to perform it ? It has been asserted that if we take over the country north of the 22nd parallel, we shall still not have given South Australia the richest portion of the Territory. Let us go a little further north and give them the Territory which they claim is necessary for its development. But’ as a guid -pro quo let South Australia relieve the Commonwealth of the resonsibility of taking over the line from Port Augusta. T am distinctly averse to the Commonwealth taking over the railways of any State until it is prepared to take over the railways of all of the States.
– How about the railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie? Will not that involve a similar question?
– I have not committed myself in any way to the construction of that railway. a
– The honorable member is “ boxed.”
– I am not “ boxed “ in any way.
– The Western Australian Government are offering to give the fee simple of 10 miles on either side of the proposed railway
– I do not think that the South Australian Government are taking up a sound position. Inasmuch as it is repeatedly asserted that the Territorycontains a large area of good country, and that it is wealth producing, surely South Australia should be allowed to develop it. These are the views which prompt me to support the amendment.
– I recognise that for years South Australia has maintained the Northern Territory as a white man’s country. It has prevented the boodleier from intruding into that immense domain. Queensland,, on the other hand, introduced black men, and their deportation necessitated every man in Australia putting his hand into his pocket. Some honorable members are like the missionaries who raise money to send to faroff lands to promote the work of Christianizing the heathen, many of whom are then brought to Australia to be sweated in the cane fields, and are ultimately returned, still heathens, to their islands. I am goingto vote with the representatives of South Australia. The proposed railway from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta will not benefit Tasmania any more than the proposed railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie will do, but it is a matter of national concern. We are not here as parochialists ; we arehere to do that which will benefit Australia as a whole and will be productive of good to the diversified interests of the country. (Posterity will.be benefited bv these railways. They will be used by, amongst others, the young sons of Tasmania, who will go to the Territory, and the back-wash will return to the other States. It would not be fair to refuse to take over the MacDonnell Ranges country and to throw on South Australia the work of extending the line from Oodnadatta to the twenty-second” parallel. Such a railway will never pav until thousands of people have been settled there, and that settlement will not be possible until we have a National postal banking system to help the people.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the consideration of Order of the Day No. 2 (Government Business) be postponed until to-morrow.
.- I cannot approve of the methods which the Government are now adopting.
– The honorable member never approves of anything that we do.
– The way in which the Government vary the order of business and, whilst professing anxiety to expedite the consideration of a Bill, drop it as soon as an opportunity occurs to push on with it, certainly does not appeal to me. I have not spoken on the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill, but think that the people of South Australia are entitled to have without delay the decision of this House with regard to it. The Defence Bill was considered so urgent about three weeks ago that the closure was applied to expedite its progress. It has been urgent indeed for several years, and the Government now think it of such pressing importance that they have adjourned the further consideration of the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill, although they have obviously a majority in favour of it.
– That is why its further consideration has been postponed. .
– No doubt. The Government have present to-day a majority ready to pass the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill ; but they are not prepared to put them to the test. It is necessary that the people of South Australia should know without delay what is to be the fate of the agreement ; but apparently some honorable members opposite have said to the Government, “ We will vote with you against the amendment proposed by the honorable member for North Sydney, provided that you do not proceed further with the Bill.” If that is not the position,why did the Government report progress when they had in attendance a majority apparently prepared to pass the Bill. Whilst the Defence Bill deserves every consideration, whether it is proceeded withto-day or to-morrow does not seriously matter. But why not settle the agreement with South Australia as to the Northern Territory while honorable members are fully acquainted with the facts? If the Government are not in favour of the agreement, why not let the people of South Australia know? Why continue to adjourn the matter? In my humble opinion, the Government are humbugging with a most important question, and bringing the Commonwealth into contempt in the eyes of the South Australian people. I have no sympathy with the attitude which they are adopting.
.- If the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is so much concerned about the passage of the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill, he should have expressed his opinion to that effect while the measure was before the House. If I recollect rightly, however, he did not raise his voice in favour of the Bill. I do not know whether it was his modesty that prevented him from saying anything, but he did not even object to progress being reported. I am glad to learn that the view of the Leader of the Opposition as to the urgency ofthe Defence Bill is not shared in by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. I understood the Leader of the Opposition to ask for a postponement of the measure because a member of his party is ill. I rejoice that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie desires to proceed with the Bill, and am glad that the measure will be dealt with while he is in such an amiable frame of mind.
.- The honorable member for Wentworth has either misunderstood me, or placed a wrong construction on what I said. The point which I put to the Prime Minister does not affect me personally, but, if there is a member of this House whose attendance would be desirable when the Defence Bill is under consideration, it is the honorable member for West Sydney. I have a telegram from him stating that he has been medically advised to remain at home for a week. While not urging the Government to delay the Defence Bill,I think I was justified in bringing that point under the notice of the Prime Minister.
– I am sorry that the honorable member is ill.
– I protest against the postponement of the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill.
– The matter was arranged on the floor of the House last week.
– I know of no such arrangement. While the matter of the Northern Territory may not be so important as the Defence Bill, yet it is really a part of our defence policy, because no effective defence of Australia can be devised until the Commonwealth is in possession of the Territory. It is possible that the opportunity to acquire it may disappear if we do not grapple with the question at once. To say that the Defence Bill is more important is simply to say that the whole is greater than its part, which we all admit.
– I understood that the Government intended to proceed with the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill until the amendment of the honorable member for North Sydney was disposed of.I desire to repeat what I urged upon the Government last week, that the question should be settled as early as possible. It is useless to delay a settlement until we approach the end of the session, because the Senate must have time to consider the subject. Furthermore, the question should be settled one way or the other, in order that South Australia may know what position she occupies in relation to the development of the Territory. It is useless to talk about lack of population and settling people on the soil of the Northern Territory if we delay dealing with the matter. I feel confident that, had the Government decided to proceed with the Bill further this afternoon, we could almost have disposed of it at to-day’s sitting. Of course, I have no wish to take business out of the hands of the Government, but I impress upon them the desirableness, and, indeed, the urgent necessity, of arriving at an early decision if the spirit of the agreement is to be carried out.
– In my opinion, the Northern Territory question should be settled before we proceed to deal with the Defence Bill, because the northern coasts of Australia are in most need of defence. In saying so, however, I may state again that I am opposed to the whole defence policy, because it is unnecessary. We no more require such a policy than it was required as between Canada and the United States, which settled questions at issue between them as far back as 181 7, and have never since had a warship on the lakes.
– There are warships there now.
– But what kind of warships? The vessels there are merely little schooners. We must base our defence scheme upon a recognition of the importance of defending the Northern Territory. We should not dilly-dally with the question. But procrastination is the fundamental basis of the British Constitution ; and it seems to me that procrastination is also the fundamental basis of the Fusion, or fungus, organization which supports the Government. The further postponement of the Bill is to me an evidence that the Government have neither confidence in themselves nor sincerity. I want the people of South Australia to know what this Parliament proposes to do in the matter. Let the people and the Parliament of South Australia know where they are. Let the Treasurer of that State know whether he has to go on financing the Territory or whether the Commonwealth intends to do so. The agreement is a business proposition. Surely no one will deny that a European or an American syndicate would very quickly grab the Territory if offered?
– Could it not be financed through the National Postal banking system?
– If I speak on one side I am told that I am wrong, and if I try to speak on the other side I am checked. There is a standing order to stop me at every point. We are stopped at every turn from the cradle, and at last we are kicked into the grave. It seems tome that it is the same when I try to speak here. I am trying to show why the Government ought to ask the House to dispose of the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill today. When the Prime Minister and the late Premier of South Australia, Mr. Price, entered into the agreement, it seemed to be satisfactory to both sides, so why should we postpone its consideration? Is not to-day the day of salvation ? Tomorrow we may meet with damnation.
– It seems to me that we do not know where we are. We have been called here repeatedly to discuss the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill, but the debate had not been more than begun before the consideration of its provisions was postponed.
– That was done to-day pursuant to an arrangement specifically made on the floor of the House last week.
– That makes the position worse. It shows that last week the Government wished to postpone the consideration of the Bill and did all that they possibly could to prevent honorable members from expressing an opinion. If the Bill is a part of their policy, let them go on with it to a finish, otherwise let it be defeated and thrown aside. The question of the transfer of the Northern Territory has been dangled before the House for many years. It has been described as part of the policy of the Government, but it seems that the consideration of the Bill is not to be pushed on, and that it must once more go under the table. I do not think that that is fair to the House. When we come here prepared to discuss the Bill the Government wish to postpone its consideration. Presently the next Bill on the notice-paper will be served in a similar way. If the Government wish to go on with the consideration of the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill to a finish, let them do so independently of whether that means putting it under the table or carrying it into effect. I hope that when it is again set down for consideration the Government will proceed to a finish.
.- It is simply marvellous that directly the amendment of the honorable member for North Sydneywas rejected the Government, although they had a majority, decided to postpone the consideration of the Bill. In view of the fact that it cannot be more than seven weeks to the end of the session, and that this measure has to go to the Senate, does any one think that there was any sincerity about the proposal to postpone its consideration to-dav? We have had before us an agreement which is being treated very differently from that other agreement which the honorable member for Adelaide referred to this afternoon. It does not matter how members of the Fusion party vote against this particular proposal, but they must swallow the other agreement. Apparently the Government fear that if the Bill is proceeded with it will be carried. Finding from a division that they were in a majority they immediately asked the Committee to report progress for the purpose of having the Bill thrown under the table. The Prime Minister interjected recently that last week there was an arrangement made with the Opposition for the purpose of adjourning the consideration of this proposal.
– I was no party to any arrangement. I objected to any postponement.
– Does the honorable member think that the majority to-day was a solid majority ?
– It is the business of the Government to know how the majority was created.
– The honorable member voted with them to save their face.
– I voted with the Government to adhere to the agreement and against the amendment of. the honorable member for North Sydney. It is rather strange, by the way, that an honorable member who is retiring from Parliamentary life was put up to move it. As soon as we supported them the Government became afraid and dropped the Bill. If a division is called for on this motion I shall vote for the Government proceeding with the consideration of the Bill, believing that it should be disposed of as scon as possible.
– Would the honorable member vote for the transfer of the Northern Territory ?
– If the Bill is proceeded with the honorable member will see how I shall vote concerning this particular agreement.
– That will be a great satisfaction to South Australia.
– Whatever opinions I express here I am prepared to stick to, and will not desire to explain them away.
– Order ! That is not the question before the House.
– I admit that, sir, but I was drawn off the track by the irregular member for Wentworth, who has no right to interject. Apparently the Government reckon that they have the numbers, and are, therefore, anxious to adjourn the consideration of the Bill. If they say that it will be proceeded with at a later date I trust that it will not be a very far distant date, and that we shall have an opportunity of keeping faith with the people of South Australia. They should know whether or not we mean business, and this question should not be kept dangling before the country from Parliament to Parliament, as it has been.
– This is one of the most unfair debates which I have ever heard in this House. The conduct of business was arranged by the Government, as far as it could, to meet the convenience of honorable members who have been taking an active part in discussing these measures.
We have pressed on this particular Bill, although it has occupied an inordinate share of the session, taking into account the business to be transacted, because it was represented that if the vole on the second reading or upon the important amendment just dealt with were adverse to the Government, either contingency would cause a reconsideration of the agreement as a whole. In order that we might ascertain whether any radical alterations would be required, we brought the measure forward at a time which did not suit the convenience of the Government, and meant a sacrifice of time that ordinarily would have been devoted to the consideration of the Defence Bill. The latter measure was expressly set down on the notice-paper for to-day, to meet the wishes of some of those, including the members of the Opposition, who have a right to be heard on the question. Then, again, in order that we might arrive at a decision on a critical amendment which might involve further consultation with the Government of South Australia, we agreed to continue the consideration of the Bill until such time, not later than the dinner hour to-day, as would enable that amendment to be disposed of. The Government have met the House frankly and fairly, have not considered their own wishes, but have arranged the business to meet the convenience of honorable members, who have a title to be considered in this matter. As soon as the amendment of the honorable member for North Sydney was dealt with to-day, then, in accordance with the arrangement, made apparently with the consent of the whole House present, for no one objected on Friday last-
– No. The honorable member is wrong.
– Perhaps the honorable member objected.
– There were only two members who spoke, and they both opposed the arrangement.
– It met with the consent of all those whom I consulted except the honorable member. Of course, the honorable member for Boothby pressed on the House generally the importance of the measure, with which we quite concurred. As a matter of fact, the Defence Bill was set down for consideration to-day by request, to enable the amendment of the honorable member for North Sydney in the Northern Territory Bill to be decided.
– Why not go on with the Bill now?
– Because the consideration of the Defence Bill was fixed for today, to meet the convenience of honorable members specially interested in defence, and of the House as a whole.
– Nothing of the kind.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 14th October, vide page 4575) :
Clause 3 (Amendment of section 2 of Principal Act).
.- I think we should hear from the Minister on this clause, which is vital to the Bill.
– Surely the honorable member does not desire another second-reading debate on the clause ?
– I do not, but I should like to know what I am being asked to vote upon.
– The honorable member is being asked to vote on a clause outlining some additions to the existing Act, providing for compulsory training as set out in the Bill, and enlarging generally the scope of the Defence Forces. The clause is really an explanatory clause, and the matters with which it deals will require to be discussed separately on other clauses of the Bill.
.- As it is proposed to change what previously were known as “Militia” and “Volunteer “ forces into “ Citizen “ forces, and the clause covers practically the whole of the Defence Force, I suggest that the Minister might make it his business during the next few months to delve into the question of the Central Administration. When the Estimates were before us last year I ventured in a ‘few words to direct attention to the ever-increasing cost of the Central Administration, and according to the reports of experts the ever-decreasing efficiency of our forces from a war point of view.
– Isthis relevant to the clause ?
– I think it is. The clause refers to the alteration of the “Militia” into “Citizen” forces. Presumably the Central Administration at present existing will continue to be the Central Administration for theCitizen Forces.
– The clause refers to the character and designation of the forces and not to questions of administration.
– The clause proposes an alteration in the name of our forces, and covers a universal obligation in respect to naval and military training; exemptions from personal service; and registration and enrolment for naval and military training. It must necessarily have relation to the persons who will have control of those who are registered and enrolled.
– I think it is convenient that at this stage I should ask whether the honorable member is in order. It teems to me that this clause has nothing to do with administration. It refers to the persons who will be included in the different forms of service. It deals with an alteration in the name of the forces, with a matter of designation and not of administration.
– I shall deal with the matter to which I wish to refer when we come to the proposed new section 32.
-I should like to ask the Minister of Defence whether he does not think that it would facilitate the passing of the Bill if he were to postpone this clause until other clauses of the measure have been dealt with. The proposed headings for the various Parts of the Bill cannot remain as they are set out in this clause unless the various clauses included in those Parts are later agreed to by the Committee. I am myself proposing the insertion of a few additional clauses dealing with the training of officers and it would be convenient to include them in a separate Partof the Bill.
– This clause could be amended if necessary.
– Why should we go to the trouble of recommitting the Bill for such a purpose? There is nothing controversial in the clause, and we cannot at this stage say what the designations of the different Parts of the Bill should be until we have considered its various clauses.
.- The headings of the various Parts of the Bill must depend on the form in which it leaves the Committee. I remind the Minister that it would be very inconvenient to have a general debate on (he main question under there headings. The honorable gentleman will do well to postpone the clause. Unless that course is adopted, should it be necessary later to alter these headings we should have to recommit the Bill to make the alteration.
– If it be the wish of the Committee that the clause should be postponed I shall have no objection.
Clause 4 -
Section 31 of the principal Act is amended by omitting the word “Garrison.”
.- I am very pleased with the proposed amendment of the existing Act. Nothing ever gave me more surprise than to find that the garrison artillery were not acquainted with field gun drill. I considered that one of the greatest anomalies in the service. When the first Defence Bill was introduced by the right honorable member for Swan, the honorable gentleman said that the Permanent Forces would be the skeleton of a militia force in time of war. I know from my own experience in the Imperial service, that whether artillery men belonged to field, garrison, or horse batteries, they were capable of handling either siege or field guns. When the honorable member for Richmond was Minister of Defence, I was surprised to learn that the Royal Australian Artillery were garrison artillery, and did no field gun drill. The honorable gentleman promised that when the time came for a revision of the Act he would bring the matter before the Cabinet, and I understood that the Cabinet decided that the word “ garrison “ should be deleted, so that the Royal Australian Artillery might be used in any branch of artillery work. I am glad that the amendment is proposed in this Bill.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 -
Section 32 of the principal Act is repealed, and the following sections are substituted in lieu thereof - 32. (1) The Citizen Naval Forces shall be divided into Militia Forces, Volunteer Forces and Reserve Forces.
The Naval Militia Forces shall consist of officers, petty officers, and sailors who are not bound to continuous naval service, and who are paid for their services as prescribed.
The Naval Volunteer Forces shall consist of officers, petty officers and sailors who are not bound to continuous naval service, and who are not ordinarily paid for their services in times of peace…..
The Naval Reserve Forces shall consist of-
members of Rifle Clubs who are allotted to the Naval Reserve Forces; and
persons who, having served in the Active Naval Forces or otherwise as is prescribed, are enrolled as members of the Naval Reserve Forces. 32A. (1) The Citizen Military Forces shall consist of Active Forces and Reserve Forces.
The Active Citizen Military Forces shall consist of the Militia Forces, the Volunteer Forces, those undergoing military training under the provisions of paragraph (c) of section one hundred and twenty-five of this Act, and officers on the unattached list.
The Military Reserve Forces shall consist of Citizen Forces, and shall include the officers shown on the Reserve of Officers’ List, the members of Rifle Clubs who are allotted to the Military Reserve Forces, and all those liable to serve in time of war under section fifty-nine of this Act who are not included in the Active Forces.
– I should like to ask the Minister of Defence to outline what is meant by Naval Volunteer Forces, in sub-section 3 of the proposed new section. Is it intended that we shall have naval forces who at times will be paid and at other times will not be paid? Is there to be on the naval side a similar distinction to that which exists on the military side between the ordinary paid militia and the volunteers?
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta- makes no such differentiation as the honorable member suggests. All it does is to continue the Naval Forces as they exist at present, simply separating them, for purposes of definition, from the Military Forces. Nothing is yet settled as to the future of the Naval Forces. That will very likely be determined by reports which we hope to receive from London regarding what is requisite for manning and officering the new units about to be created. My own idea at present is that we shall require a new Naval Bill to deal with that matter. All I am doing for the present is to continue what is already in existence, separating it from the military side for the purpose of clearer definition. For instance, the subdivision of the Naval Forces is quite different from that of the Military Forces.
– What is the difference between the Militia Naval Forces and the Volunteer Naval Forces?
– One is paid and the other is not; that is the principal difference. This clause re-enacts the old section with such definitions as are requisite.
.- As I intend to afford the Government every facility to pass the measure, and not to debate the principles if that can be avoided, I shall simply move -
That the words “Volunteer Forces,” line 5, be left out.
I cannot understand what advantage we can derive from having a Volunteer Naval Force. I am afraid that there has been a tendency recentlyto have what I call display Naval Forces. People who have yachts of their own form special contingents
– The honorable member is referring to the “ yatsmen.”
– If we are to have an effective Defence Force we may as well face the question at once, and recognise that a Volunteer Force in the Naval Forces is of no use.
. -The amendment might have some force if it were moved on a Bill dealing completely with the naval branch of the service, but this clause only sets out again the names of the different parts of the existing Naval Forces. There is no naval volunteer force to-day in New South Wales such as there is in Victoria. The Sydney Naval Brigade is composed of men who have led a deepseafaring life at some time or other. Some of them have even been in the British
Naval service. They are officered by men who have mainly passed out of the ranks of active sea captains, and others who have been Naval Reserve men. A few years ago there was formed in New South Wales what was called a Naval Volunteer Force, which had the same relation to the Naval Brigade as the land volunteer force has to the land militia. The honorable member for Maranoa seems to ridicule the idea of a Volunteer Naval Force, but on further examination he will find that it is not open to so much ridicule as he thinks. There are numbers of young men whom he calls yachtsmen, but who often earn their livelihood as fishermen or on ferries, or in other ways, in Australian ports and harbors. They are debarred from entering the Naval Brigade because they have not had deep-sea experience, although accustomed to handling boats inside, and even outside, harbors. The idea of the Naval Volunteer Force was to obtain recruits of that character.
– What about those Johnnies whowant to don a uniform and do no drill ?
– I am not referring to that class. I am pointing out a class of men that can be obtained for our Naval Forces. Too much attention has been given in the past to the land Volunteer Force, at the expense of the Naval Volunteer Forces. There are numbers of young men in the various ports who have never been to sea, but who earn their livelihood, or spend a great deal of their time, on the water, and who would make admirable material to train for the Naval Forces. I am not prepared to say whether it was wise to differentiate between the Naval Brigade and the Naval Volunteers, but, while the conditions for admission to the Naval Brigade are so stringent as to preclude those young men from joining it, their only opening is to associate themselves with the Naval Volunteer Force. It would be far better to abolish the Volunteer Force, and, at the same time, to remove the embargo which prevents men, and particularly young men, who have never been outside the waters of a harbor, from joining the Naval Brigade. If the honorable member for Maranoa is prepared to agree to that, the difficulty can be got over. But those young men should not be shut out. . In the past, the Naval Brigade has, unfortunately, been culled only from a select few.
– This Bill shuts no one out.
– The Bill does not deal with the matter at all, and, as the Minister said, a new Bill dealing with the naval section of the defence scheme will be required. This is simply an introductory clause, reiterating the conditions that exist to-day, and, whether the Leader of the Opposition strikes out the words “ Volunteer Forces” or not, the Naval Volunteer Forces will remain, because provision is made for them under the existing Act. In the early days, the Naval Volunteer Forces in New South Wales were recruited from the desirable class of young men to whom I have referred, but, after a while, there came in the commercial clerk and others, who probably went aboard a yacht only on a Saturday afternoon, or even once a quarter. Today, the yacht has been supplanted to a great extent in that regard by the motorlaunch, but, in any case, it would be absurd to compose our Naval Volunteer Forces of such men. The Naval Brigade that we ought to build up is a body of men who in an emergency could take the place of trained men on war vessels, and be a sort of auxiliary force. While the Leader of the Opposition may be right in his view, this is not the proper Bill in which to give effect to it.
– I think we should declare the principle here, and omit the words.
– But this clause does not repeal the existing Act, and the Naval Volunteer Forces would continue to exist in spite of the amendment.
. This is a Bill which provides for compulsory training, and, therefore, no class distinctions. The Minister has stated - very properly - that the Government intended to merge the volunteers into the militia. If the words are retained they will merely enable a few yachtsmen to swell around in uniform without rendering any adequate service to the Commonwealth.
.- The honorable member for Dalley made out a fairly strong case in favour of the establishment of a Volunteer Naval Force. But from information which I have received the idea underlying it is that yachtsmen about Sydney Harbor-
– They are after the plumage.
– Exactly. This question is above all party consideration. So far as I am concerned, no hard-and-fast rule has been laid down. The Labour party recognise this question is a national one, and are prepared to vote upon it accordingly.
– Ifmy views coincided with those of the honorable member for Maranoa, I should be prepared to vote with him.
– The adoption of the amendment will not prevent the establishment of naval cadet corps.
– Is it proposed that every cadet shall be paid ?
– That is news to me. As the clause stands, a man who is not in the Permanent Forces or in the militia will be a volunteer.
– “Volunteer” means a man who is not paid for his services.
– We may say that he is a compulsory volunteer.
– That is the farce of the Bill.
– The Minister says that the word “ volunteer “ applies to a man who is not paid for his services ; so that we are going to have compulsory paid and unpaid men. The honorable member for Wide Bay would do away with the Volunteer Forces altogether. There are certain conditions, however, that must be met, and it would be unwise to cripple the Department which, in administering the Act, might find it desirable to have volunteers, either in the form of junior cadets or pilots.
– The pilots can be attached to the naval militia.
– Then the honorable member proposes that they shall be partially paid?
– Why should they not be?
– Because they do not have to undergo the drills that are necessary in the case of the militia. If I thought that, as the honorable member for Wide Bay has suggested, yachtsmen would join the Naval Forces only because they would thus be enabled to wear a naval uniform and pass as officers, I should view thisquestion very differently.
– But it is a fact that they will do so.
– Hard cases make bad laws, and we should not omit a useful provision because of the fear that it may be abused. It may be necessary to have a force of naval volunteers.
.- There are one or two points on which I need to be enlightened, more especially in view of the statement just made by the honorable member for Corio, that under this Bill we are to have compulsory volunteers. This clause provides that -
The Citizen Naval Forces shall be divided into Militia Forces, Volunteer Forces and Reserve Forces, and that the Citizen Military Forces “ shall consist of active forces and reserve forces.” I am puzzled to know why there should be this differentiation - why the Citizen Naval Forces should be divided in this way, whilst the Citizen Military Forces are to consist of active forces and reserve forces. Then, again, it is provided that the Naval Reserve Forces shall consist of -
Persons who, having served in the active naval forces or otherwise as is prescribed, are enrolled as members of the naval reserve forces.
There is no previous reference, however, to “ active Naval Forces.” I could understand the provision if the Naval Forces had been divided, as are the Military Forces, into active forces and reserve forces, but, as the Bill stands, I am at a loss to account for it. As to the other point which has been raised, a man is either a volunteer or is compelled to join some force. If he is compelled to join, he at once ceases to be a volunteer; the question of compulsion is not affected by the fact of whether or not a man is paid for his services. It is absurd to say that a man is a volunteer because, although he is compelled to join a force, he is not paid for his services.
.- This is another clause with which it seems to me we are dealing rather prematurely. We are now. proposing to provide, before we have the Naval Bill before us, into what classes our naval defenders shall be arranged. This House has shown a desire, of recentyears, to have more efficiency in our Defence Forces, and when the Naval Bill is before us it will probably insist that the Naval Forces shall be as efficient inpersonnel as any they are likely to meet.
– They ought to be.
– Certainly ; otherwise, they are worse than useless, since they give us a false sense of security. When the Naval Bill is before us we may decide that the principal Act, which we are now amending, shall be further amended, in order to do away with what may be described as mere flummery. We may, for the sake of argument, decide that our Naval Defence Forces shall consist of permanent men and naval reserves. I am speaking only of the possibilities; but I ask why we should now set about amending the principal Act, since, when the Naval Bill is before us, we may have to further amend it,
– We must make a start.
– These words proposed to be left out may be held to apply to the Military Forces if they are not eliminated.
– I am confining my attention to the naval question, and suggest the postponement of this clause until we have disposed of the remaining clauses. The Minister of Defence may then be in a position to tell us what his naval proposals are.
– We have never had volunteer naval forces.
– In pre-Federation days the States had Naval Brigades.
– They were Naval militia.
– Some of the States had Naval militia and others Naval volunteers.
– There is nothing new in this.
– But I thought we were trying to get away from the volunteer system.
– The postponement of this clause will avoid a great deal of discussion that may otherwise have to be repeated. It does not affect the essentials of the Bill, and cannot be satisfactorily discussed in the absence of the naval measure which we are all so anxiously awaiting.
.- This is not an abstruse question. All that we have to determine is whether or not we are going to continue the application of the volunteer principle to either arm of our defence system. Are we going to create little privileges for privileged people or are we going to establish a defence system on the basis that we need men capable of defending Australia irrespective of what their position in society may be? The Minister will be well advised if he agrees to the omission of these words.
– What, and have no volunteers? A volunteer is better than a pressed man.
– I have been a volunteer, and have always been in favour of the volunteer svstem, but know that it has absolutely broken down. The young men of my birthplace are much disturbed because the volunteer system is to be done away with, and their corps is to be disbanded. But that is not the point. We are entering upon the serious business of the defence of the Commonwealth, and should eliminate from the system anything suggesting that there are privileged people who are entitled to privileged positions. It is for that reason I hold that these words should be omitted.
– Look at the Scottish regiments ! They are not privileged.
– I have just said that I have always favoured the volunteer system, but that after twenty-five years’ experience it has absolutely broken down. I do not say that volunteers are useless, but they are not of themselves competent to defend the country.
– Is the Ministry divided on this question?
– I do not know. If the Minister will not agree to the omission of the words, this Bill will be no more effective than is the present Act.
.- I am in accord with the position taken up by the honorable member for Wide Bay, because my desire is to obtain an effective defence system. In my previous speech I tried to explain the history of the volunteer system in New South Wales, but it has since occurred to me that a good deal more could be said about its experience of Naval Volunteer Forces, which I may explain were naval only in name. In Sydney the men used to dress as sailors and parade the streets. After being trained for two or three years on a hulk or a boat they would march through the streets with bands playing “Sons of the Sea” and “A life on the Ocean Wave,” but that is about all that they knew. A good many of them did not get out of Pitt-street, Sydney. Our object should be to secure effective defence. More opportunities should be afforded to young men to associate with old sea dogs and form a Naval Brigade or Reserve or Militia. If the deletion of the words Volunteer Forces” would get over the difficulty, and secure the existence of only one force, well and good. If the Minister willrefer to the Central Administration he will find that, whilst originally the Naval Volunteer Forces of New South Wales were composed of men with long seafaring experience, they were afterwards composed of men who merely received a limited amount of cutlass drill and who should have been in the land forces. There are thousands of men located on our coast line who, if offered a choice to join, would prefer the Naval to the Military Forces. If the deletion of the words “ Volunteer Forces “ will not shut out those men 1 shall support the amendment. I think that in a maritime country such as ours is the Naval Reserves should be much stronger than they are. It is only eighteen months ago that I fought from the other side of the Chamber for the strengthening of our Naval Reserve Forces. The honorable member for Ballarat, who was Prime Minister then, as he is now, said that there was no necessity for reserves, as they had enough men. But now he says that what we require are better trained men and more of them. The incident shows the difference of opinion which will take place in the course of a few months. I think that there is a good deal in the contention of the honorable member for Wide Bay.
.-I have been anxious to hear what the Minister has to say in defence of this differentiation between Naval Volunteer Forces and Naval Militia Forces. From his speech in. introducing the Bill I understood that his purpose was to do away with the Volunteer Forces on the land.
– That is so.
– It has been admitted that those forces have failed to do what was expected of them, and are not worth continuing. I think that we are entitled to know the reasons which prompt the honorable gentleman to continue Volunteer Forces in one arm of our Defence system. I can confirm what the honorable member for Dalley has said about the Naval Volunteer Forces of New South Wales being merely young landsmen dressed as sailors. On Saturday afternoons they used to mount a gun on the Neptune - an old punt - which was used during the week to take out rubbish. I remember going out with them on one occasion when I was a boy. When we were about a mile and a-half outside the Heads nine out of twelve were so sick that they could not stand. I was a spectator as long as I was able to hold up my head, butI confess that I lay. down as soon as everybody else. In the past the Naval Volunteer Forces have been a greater failure than the Land Volunteer Forces, and why the Minister should seek to perpetuate the volunteer system. I do not know.
– There are no Naval Volunteer Forces now.
– Why introduce them ? Was our experience of naval volunteers soexcellent that it is necessary to introduce them again?
– I am not introducing them now. The position is just the same as before.
– The honorable member says that there are no Naval Volunteer Forces, and that he is not introducing any. In that case, why should he not consent to the omission of the words “ Volunteer Forces? “ Let honorable members look for a moment at the difference between the Militia Forces and Naval Forces as laid down in sub-section1. It raises at once a class distinction which ought not to exist. I urge the Minister either to defend his action or to agree to the omission of a.clause which provides for the enlistment of nonpaid men. I hope that he will see the wisdom of agreeing to abolish the Volunteer Forces in each arm of our Defence system.
.- I have listened very carefully to the speeches, but I must admit that I am not clear as to who are to compose the Naval VolunteerForces. Is it intended that they shall be trained and made as efficient as the Militia Forces? If so, what is the idea of having a separation? It is a most undemocratic innovation. If the volunteer and the militia forces are to be trained in exactly the same manner, and the one is to be made as efficient as the other, why should there be a fine of demarcation between them ? There is more in this defence scheme than compelling people to do what they ought. There is the idea of conducting our defences on democratic principles. To have two sides to our naval defence, each equally equipped and efficient, is contrary to that idea. The suggestion of the honorable member for Wentworth is a good one, and the Minister would be well advised if he accepted it, and postponed the clause, if the Leader of the Opposition does not object.
– There would be no objection from me.
.- It seems to me that there has been a slight oversight in the drafting of the clause. There has apparently been an attempt to redraft a provision which stands in the original Act, and in the redrafting to divide the naval from the military side of our defence. The idea in the draftsman’s mind may have been to omit all reference to volunteer military forces, and to leave the naval forces as at present. I understand that the Minister proposes to abolish the volunteer forces on the military side.
– As they are at present organized.
– The volunteers are to be merged in the militia forces. My own idea is that the volunteers have not come up to expectations, and many members of volunteer corps would prefer to be merged into the militia forces. Further on in the Bill it is proposed that certain cadets shall be called naval cadets, and be trained as such. I think that if we are to touch on naval matters at all in this Bill we ought to do away with the volunteers altogether. It has been said by way of interjection that there are no volunteer naval forces. If that be so, why leave in the Bill words which would permit of volunteer naval forces being raised ? I view with a certain amount of apprehension the. possibility of any Minister of Defence raising naval volunteer forces, and having two sets of men, militia and volunteers, perhaps to the detriment of both, and with no evident advantage to the Commonwealth. Perhaps the Minister will explain what his view really is.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 f.m.
– - As I have already said by way of interjection, there is no adult Naval Volunteer Force at the present time. If the amendment were carried, it would be impossible to recognise any kind of volunteer effort, and the Boys’ Naval Brigades, and similar bodies which now exist on a purely volunteer basis, subsidized by the Department, which prescribes the standard -of efficiency, would have to go. That is not advisable. There are organizations of boys in various parts of the country which are doing useful work, and learning duties which they would have to perform if they entered the Navy. Their success depends on individual zeal, and their basis is that of volunteer effort. Indeed, there is a great deal of voluntary effort of one kind or another in connexion with the defence of Australia. To be logical, the honorable member would not only get rid of naval volunteer forces, whether composed of adults or boys, but would also get rid of Military Volunteer Forces, and take away the power to recognise, later, perhaps, the Boy Scouts, an organization which now numbers many thousands, and is increasing every year. Only lately, I’ ordered a report to be made as to its military value over and above that which the boys will possess when they come under the compulsory clauses of the Bill. Then it has been suggested that there should be inaugurated a. League of Frontiersmen, such as they have in the Old Country, South Africa, .Canada, and other parts of the Empire. I doubt the wisdom of abolishing volunteer effort in connexion with our Naval and Military (Forces. So far as I am concerned, there is no intention to apply the volunteer principle to adult forces at present, but the honorable member in going further, would put a stop to a volunteer movement which is of great value to the Commonwealth, in that it prepares boys for the exercise of naval or military duties which they would subsequently be called upon to perform. This is only an enabling Bill, lt neither prescribes nor dictates, but simply gives us the power to recognise, if necessary, a volunteer effort which exists and is of great value. I ask the honorable member to allow the words which he wishes to omit to remain in the clause.
.- As I understand the explanation of the Minister, it amounts to this: that there are volunteer organizations of boys and youths to which the measure could not be applied if the words which I propose to leave out were omitted. Surely that is not his main reason for opposing the amendment?
– I omitted to add that there are also those who are over age.
– The matter is one over which we need not quibble, the question being whether we shall have compulsory and volunteer forces side by side. While my sympathies are with volunteer effort, I think that if we have both militia and volunteer forces we shall weaken our defence. I would point out to trie Minister that proposed new section 32 is differently worded from proposed new section 32A. The former enacts that the Citizen Naval Forces shall be divided into Militia Forces, Volunteer Forces, and Reserve Forces, while the latter says that the Citizen Military Forces shall consist of Active Forces and Reserve Forces. There is no provision for Active Forces in proposed new section 32, which deals with the Citizen Naval Forces.
– That is already provided for in the original Act. This is only an amending Bill.
– It seems to me that the Naval and Military Forces are being differently treated, and that opportunities are being made for the creation of volunteer forces, which I think both unnecessary and inadvisable. I should like to temporarily withdraw my amendment, with a view to amending the first sub-section of proposed new section 32 by inserting the word “ Active “ before the word “ Militia.”
– Is it intended that the word “Active” shall apply only to “ Militia Forces “?
– It would apply to “ Militia Forces, Volunteer Forces, and Reserve Forces.”
– To speak of Active Reserve Forces is to use a contradiction in terms.
– To my mind, the two proposed new sections are contradictory. The word “Active” has been left out of proposed new section 32, .apparently of malice aforethought, so that the voluntary principle may be enlarged.
– Not at all.
– Why has it been left out?
– We do not wish to re-enact the provisions of the principal Act. We are adding nothing, except the word “ Naval,” to what is in the original Act.
– Something has been omitted.
– I think that to meet the honorable gentleman’s views it would be necessary to strike out the words “ Volunteer Forces” and say “Active Militia Forces and Reserve Forces.” But I consider the Bill complete as it is.
– That is no doubt satisfactory from the honorable member’s point of view, because he does not agree with the amendment. I do not wish to discuss the matter at length. I am prepared to take a vote of the Committee on the amendment, and get on with the Bill. If the amendment is to be defeated nothing will be gained by withdrawing it temporarily, and I intend to press it to a division.
– I am not satisfied with the explanation given by the Minister.
– Does the honorable meml>er approve of the amendment?
– I should prefer to see the words struck out, but I can quite understand the honorable member’s preference for the Bill as it stands, because it would allow that to be done in Victoria, which has been done in the past, and which I object to. It should be remembered that under this Bill we are proposing compulsory naval and military training, and the existing condition of affairs will be entirely altered. The boy scouts, in common with every other military organization, will be subject to training. I presume that the older boys referred to by the Minister would be those who had passed the cadet stage. They ought to be drafted into the Militia Forces, and that would settle the whole matter. The honorable gentleman seems to be agreed that it would be unwise to continue a practice adopted in the past of permitting one section of the community to do what another section would not be permitted to do. We do not think that that should be perpetuated, and it can only be avoided, by striking out the words ‘ Vollunteer Forces . “
– What the honorable gentleman refers to has not been the practice in the past.
– It has,’ and the Minister of Defence must know that. He might supply information about practices which I am sure the Treasurer would object to under a system of compulsory military training, but which this Bill would permit. From his explanation I do not think that the Minister of Defence has fully grasped the position. I should like te ask the honorable gentleman whether it is intended that there shall be any distinction in the matter of dress between the officers and men of the Volunteer Forces and those other branches of the service ?
– Then there should be no difference in training; all should be placed on the same footing.
– In any case that would be a matter of administration, as would also the kind of uniform to be worn.
– That is the whole trouble. We are proposing in this Bill a serious change, and we should leave as little as we can to administration. Many of the objectionable practices of the past were due to acts of administration. For the reasons I have given I was glad to hear the Leader of the Opposition say that he proposes to press his amendment to a division.
.- When I heard the Minister speak of this as being merely an enabling Bill, I was left in some doubt, in view of his desire to retain the Volunteer Forces, as to what he hopes to be enabled to do under this Bill. If the measure is intended merely to permit the Minister to do something, it is clear that he may not do it, or that a subsequent Minister might assent to schemes which the present Minister, or, perhaps, the country would npt approve. The honorable gentleman argues that the Volunteer Forces should be retained, because he does not desire to crush the volunteer spirit. He thinks that the amendment would in some way interfere with the Boys’ Naval Brigade’s and Boy Scouts.
– It would prevent us from recognising them.
– I should like to ask what their position would be under this Bill. Are the Boy Scouts and the boys comprised in our Boys’ Naval Brigades to be exempt from the operation of the compulsory clauses which will apply generally to cadets?
– This Bill does not exempt them.
– That appears to me to weaken the Minister’s argument. . I am afraid that we shall have a multiplicity of corps wearing uniforms of various descriptions, and that officers called upon to exercise them will be completely mystified as to what they are, and what they are able to do. Some will be boy scouts, under a different organization from other branches of the forces, some members of boys’ naval brigades who will not be called upon to do what the members of a militia naval brigade would have to do. There will be so many corps under so many different degrees of control that concentration in time of need will be a very difficult matter indeed. If a desire to recognise the boys’ Naval Brigades and Boy Scouts is the Minister’s only objection to it I think he might accept the amendment. As soon as a cadet brigade is formed under this Bill, it will be possible to have a regiment of boy scouts if so desired. The Minister can prescribe the training, the uniform, and the name of any particular regiment without allowing it to be a separate volunteer institution, which would only fall back into the position which the present Volunteers hold in relation to the
Militia, that of being not workable, and so far from satisfactory to all concerned that even the Minister and his officers recognise the necessity of disbanding them, or drafting them into the Militia. We were told that it was not the present intention to raise adult volunteer corps. But what will the future bring? We have tried the volunteer system for a number of years, and it has not been a success, but if we permit the words “Volunteer Forces” to be retained, some subsequent Minister, giving way to the peculiarities of a section of the community, may permit the raising of a volunteer corps which will be enthusiastic for a year’ or two, and then gradually fall away to comparative nothingness so far as the effective defence of the country is concerned.
– Would it be a disadvantage to the country that they should have that enthusiasm even for two years?
– Their ‘ enthusiasm would not be a disadvantage, but enthusiasm, unless properly guided and controlled, sometimes leads to excess, brings about chaos, and interferes with the work of properly trained troops. Enthusiasm is excellent if properly controlled, but the enthusiasm of the Volunteer Forces at present, in comparison with that of the Militia, does not make for the effective defence of the country.
– I am disposed to think that it is greater in some respects.
– What I have stated is the experience of most of the men of military experience with whom I have conversed, and in the circumstances their opinion might be allowed to prevail. A subsequent Minister may permit the raising of adult volunteer corps, and then we shall have the present position over again.
– The matter will be under the control of Parliament.
– If. the Bill is passed in its present form, the matter of giving permission will rest in the hands of the Minister. The only control which Parliament will have will be that once a year, when the Estimates are under . consideration, we may “ bark “ for an hour or two, but the thing will go on. No reduction in the Estimates will be permitted, with a view to removing any volunteer forces then raised with the sanction of the Ministry of the day. Such a force, when once approved, will always have sufficient political power to influence the Minister of Defence, whoever he may be, even perhaps against his will, and certainly sufficient to enforce its recognition whilst the Estimates are going through. We are changing the whole tenor of our Military Forces, having found that the Volunteer Forces : are comparatively a failure, so why not on this occasion do away with them entirely in regard to naval defence also, and let us have a militia that we can thoroughly understand, and that can be organized in such a manner as to make it effective, attractive, and a proper defence. If the Minister intends to retain these words merely to pander to the few thousand lads - and those behind them - who to-day are boy scouts, or who are in the Naval Brigade, then we can see at once that there is behind him an influence which is not conducive to a proper administration of the Defence Forces. In the circumstances I hope he will agree to the excision of the words throughout the Bill, wherever they occur.
.- I cannot see the slightest objection to the retention of the words ‘ ‘ Volunteer Forces ‘ ‘ in sub-clause 1 of proposed new section 32, or elsewhere. I have not had quite as much naval and military experience as have some other honorable members, but I have had a little, and have always found amongst the Volunteer Forces a good deal of enthusiasm, tending in the right direction.
– Then why not have only volunteer forces?
– That is not necessary. The honorable member, whom I look upon as one of the military experts of the House, knows that we are aiming at the effective defence of the country, and whether we get it by a compulsory, a militia, or a volunteer system, we shall achieve our object so long as we have a properly trained force that can always be made effective at the. right time. Our rifle corps are volunteer forces.
– Half-trained men are worse than none at all.
– That is very true, but some of the finest officers we have ever had were trained in the Volunteer Forces, and passed into the other forces.
– Why not have volunteer doctors? There is a lot of enthusiasm amongst them.
– A great many trained doctors have volunteered for active service in time of war, and hare been of great value.
– We want trained troops as well as trained doctors.
– We get trained troops. In various parts of Australia we have a number of trained men under the volunteer system that we should not have otherwise. There might not be a sufficient number of them to form a corps, or to attach to the militia, or to a permanent battery, but there are some in these small places, and they are enthusiastic, and will be of value. I admit that it is not desirable to encourage the system in large centres, but throughout. Australia we want as many trained men as we can possibly get. We should give every man who offers himself for the defence of his country ah opportunity of being trained, whether in a small or a large body. I shall, therefore, uphold the Minister in his desire to retain these’ words in the Bill.
.- Now that the honorable member for Corangamite has raised the question of the superiority of the volunteer, let me draw his attention to’ a little incident that occurred on the Yarra last year or the year before. A body of volunteer engineers or artillerymen - they belonged to one of the scientific branches of the service - were going down to Swan Island in the Manawatu. The boat happened to run her nose on to Coode Island, or into the bank up the Saltwater River, and three-fourths of them jumped ashore and absolutely refused to obey the order of the commanding officer to return to the boat. They returned to town, and went to the Age office for sympathy. They asked whether something could not be done by telephoning the Minister to secure passes for them to go down to the Island by rail. That is a sample of volunteer forces. Does the honorable member want to perpetuate the system throughout the Commonwealth? When the enemy appears at our gates, and some of the ships happen to run aground, does he want troops who will jump ashore and demand to be taken to the scene of action in coaches or motor cars?
– What about the volunteers who went to the war?
– If the right honorable member will read the military reports, he will know that the volunteers in South Africa got into such a hopeless mess many a time that Imperial troops had to be sent to extricate them, losing valuable lives in doing so. It is of no use for the honorable member to say that a volunteer is as good as a permanent man.
– No one has said that.
– If the honorable member thinks that volunteers are not as good as trained men, why advocate their retention ? Even if we are to have only a small force, let us have the best. It is of no use for the Minister to burke the question. He knows that this Bill is for compulsory service. It provides for compulsory military training.
– No, for defence.
– I have no desire to split hairs with the honorable member. The honorable member for Corio has declared that it provides for compulsory volunteers. What that means I do not know. At the annual encampment at Langwarrin there has always been a perfect ferment between the Militia and the Volunteers, owing to the disparity which exists between the amounts payable to the respective branches of the service. If we are going to adopt the principle of compulsory military training let us have everybody in the net. Are the Volunteers to be clothed in a different uniform from that of the regular Militia Forces ?
– That will be the next thing.
– I have been told that as long as the honorable member occupies the position of Minister of Defence it will be possible to establish a Volunteer Naval Force in New South Wales.
– Whoever made that statement did so without the slightest warrant.
– The strenuous way in which the Minister has been fighting, is strong evidence of the accuracy of my statement. My experience of the members of the Volunteer Forces is that they are Saturday afternoon soldiers. If we are going to have an efficient force do not let us tinker with it. Let us have a force in which every one of us believes. These dry land sailors of whom the honorable member for Werriwa talks - the men who swagger about Sydney-
– Does the honorable member think he will encourage a good service by making these remarks ?
– If the Treasurer is imbued with the same spirit as I am, the community will be well served indeed. My only desire is to promote good service.
– Do not disparage good service.
– The Treasurer does not like to hear the truth. I can quite understand him taking up the cudgels seeing that he is the commander of a certain force-
– The honorable member’s remarks are very unfair.
– -Whether they are fair or unfair I intend to speak the truth.
– I do not think that it is the truth.
– That is a matter of opinion. I am not responsible for the excitement of the Treasurer. Nobody believes that a Volunteer Force will be sufficient to provide for the defence of Australia.
.- I would not have spoken again but for the remarks of the honorable member for Corangamite, r understood from the Minister this afternoon that there was no intention to exercise the powers given under this proposed new section - that the whole matter was to stand over until we had the Naval Bill before us.
– The Minister of Defence said that it was not his intention to act.
– I hope to see the honorable member for Parramatta occupying his present office for a long time, but we must not forget that we are passing a measure for the guidance of future Ministers, as well as the present Minister of Defence. We need to be careful that the organization of our forces is placed on a sound and efficient basis. We must have no consideration whatsoever for this or that class, but must determine how we can, with the greatest economy, secure the highest efficiency. I am not going to follow the honorable member for Maranoa into his general denunciation of the volunteer system. The honorable member naturally feels a little sore on the subject, because I understand that, at one of the most eventful periods in his life, he met with, disaster at the hands of volunteers-the Zulus.
– There is no greater compulsory service than that of the Zulus. Every Zulu is a soldier.
– On the occasion I refer to, they were volunteers in dead earnest. I rose to suggest a way out of the difficulty. The Minister is not pledged to every line of this provision, if it can be improved. I suggest that he could secure the existence of the naval cadets, which are part of his naval scheme, and which he wishes to have on all fours with those of the land scheme -
– They must come in with those of the land scheme.
– The honorable member forgets that in this provision we are delimiting the various spheres of activity of the different sections that we are going to employ under this Bill.
– Why not insert the word “Cadet” in lieu of the word “Volunteer.”
– That is what I was about to propose. I suggest that sub-clause 1 should be amended by leaving out the words “Volunteer Forces” and inserting the word “Cadets.” Then sub-clause 3 of this proposed new section could be amended to read, “ The Naval Cadets shall consist of cadets who shall serve as prescribed.”
– I propose to move the omission of that sub-clause.
– I understand that the honorable member wishes to strike out everything relating to volunteer service.
– I think that we are at cross purposes. Unless there is in this measure seme provision recognising naval cadets, we shall really be striking at their existence.
Mr.Fisher. - I think not. I do not wish to do that, and will see that it is not done.
– I cannot see that “ Volunteer Forces “ would cover cadets. If it did, we should have a sort of compulsory volunteer force. The Minister might explain how far he is prepared to go towards meeting the wishes of the Committee. It would be advisable, in my opinion, to postpone the whole clause.
– I am prepared to accept the honorable member’s suggestion as to the insertion of the word “ Cadets.”
– I make that suggestion to the Minister, because it is to be regretted that we cannot arrive at conclusions without lines of demarcation.
– But there are many others to be considered beside cadets.
– Every volunteer effort costs money. The experience of our competent officers is that the value obtained for money expended on volunteer effort is not as great as that obtained from money expended in other directions. Consequently, every penny we expend on volunteer effort is to a certain extent wasted. I know of some volunteer regiments hat are very good ; but there are others which are unspeakable. I do not wish, however, to discuss that subject. I should like the Minister to explain the position he takes up.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (ParramattaMinister of Defence [8.33]. - The whole question simply resolves itself into one of whether or not we are going to have any voluntary service in connexion with the Defence Forces of Australia. The Leader of the Opposition holds that the compulsory provisions of the Bill must cover every effort put forth for the defence of the Commonwealth. The question arises whether or not so drastic a proposal is necessary or advisable. If carried into effect, it would go very far. It would mean, for instance, on the military side, a re-organization of the Medical Reserve. The members of that reserve are not trained for war, but they are trained to render medical service. Are we going to say to those men, “We will not have your efforts unless you come into the forces “ ? This proposal would prevent us from utilizing their services.
– During the South African war, the British Army had too many medical men offering.
– Most of them were volunteers.
– But they were paid for their services.
– Most of them were volunteers, and that is what honorable members opposite are trying to prevent here.
– Certainly not.
– I have heard that so often that it amounts to tedious repetition. Every time any one says something from which my honorable friend dissents, he becomes insulting and interjects, “ You know nothing about it.” I hope that my honorable friend knows something about the subject, though from hearing him and reading his speeches I do not think that he does. Remarks of that kind should be stopped if any good is to be done. I wish to point out that there is a good deal of voluntary effort in connexion with our forces at the present time. I have alluded to our Medical Reserve, which is organized on a purely voluntary basis, and is one of the most effective military reserves to be found anywhere.
– Could not the Minister provide for voluntary efforts that are essential, without having a provision that will enable voluntary sailors and petty officers to be enlisted?
– I am proposing to do nothing more than is being done on a voluntary basis at present.
– The Minister is taking power to do very much more.
– I am continuing what is being done at present in regard to these special services. There is no Naval Volunteer Force at present. None is proposed to be created at present.
– Does the Minister propose to run a volunteer service alongside the Militia ?
– I do not. I have already said so.
– Why take the power?
– I am taking the power that already exists under the original Act to take advantage of any voluntary proposal that may be made in any emergency. It is a reserve power.
– It is too great a power to put into the Minister’s hands.
– I am afraid that some one has been telling my honorable friend strange tales, judging from what he has said.
– My word they have !
– Whatever people have told my honorable friend, they had not the slightest warrant for their statements if he supposes that the intention is to do more than I have explained.
– There is a sum of money on the Estimates on account of Naval Volun- teers.
– They have always been provided for. Nothing fresh is proposed to be done in any shape or form so far as I know. I would point out that in connexion with our Naval Forces it may be that at the beginning we shall need voluntary services in certain directions. Why for instance, should we compel men to at once enlist in the Navy who are employed with the main object of doing carpenters’ work or boat-building, painting, coopering, or anything of that kind? There is a good deal of non-combatant work to be., done in connexion with the Navy, and I am not sure that we need make men enlist who are required for such purposes. We cannot run our Navy entirely by means of enlisted men.
– On the same argument, why make such men volunteers?
– Because we cannot employ them unless this provision is in the Bill.
– Cannot the Department engage a man unless he is a volunteer?
– Not in connexion with the forces of Australia if this provision is taken out of the Bill. It is a power which enables the Minister to prescribe what is to be done in connexion with the forces.
– Would there be any objection to a proviso compelling the Government of the day to lay the matter before Parliament if it were proposed to raise new Volunteer Forces?
– I should not object to that if it were necessary.
– We know that my honorablefriend is all right, but he will not be Minister of Defence for ever.
– My honorable friend is thinking of volunteer naval officers and men. I agree with him to the full that the fighting section of the service cannot be on a volunteer basis.
– That is the point.
– I am with honorable members ail the way as to that, and nothing is further from my mind than to include anything of the kind. I would not be foolish enough to do it. I trust that after this explanation honorable members will allow this proposed new section to remain in the Bill as it stands.
– The Minister has power under this provision to form volunteer corps in connexion with the fighting force.
– I dare say we have, if the power were stretched, but there is no intention to do so at present. There is an intention, however, to leave the power in the Bill in case any emergency arises which would necessitate taking advantage of voluntary services for non-combatant purposes. Moreover, I am anxious to retain this provision in view of the developments which may take place in connexion with the Boys’ Brigades, which, after all, are extra to the Naval Cadets. They are not the same in any way. There may be similar developments in connexion with the Boy Scouts. There are thousands of boys in Australia who are now doing duties which, perhaps, are not provided for in our scheme. It is extra military work. At the present time we are having an investigation made as to whether the Boy Scouts movement has. any extra military value over and above what we are providing for.
– Does the Minister propose to merge the Boy Scouts in the Cadets, or leave them as volunteers ?
– I am proposing nothing in regard to them at present. As I have said, I am simply having an inquiry made to ascertain whether what they are doing is of extra military value, and whether they are performing services which are not provided for in the Bill. If their services are valuable, something may have to be done for them by way of a capitation grant, just as we make a capitation grant of 7s. 6d. per head per annum towards the Boys’ Brigades.
– We shall have a multiplicity of partially-paid men.
– I have yet to learn of any country in which voluntary services, are discouraged. Their value is recognised even in Continental countries where conscription is in force. Under this Bill, however, no adult can perform voluntary service unless he has first been compulsorily trained or lives outside the pre- scribed area for compulsory training. What is proposed is not intended to take the place of compulsory training.
– The Minister has’ hinted that the Boy Scouts might escape compulsory service.
– I have hinted nothing of the kind, and the honorable member has no right to make such a suggestion. I have simply stated that the Boy Scouts are performing duties extra to the Cadets, and that their services may have some additional military value.
– The Minister nut it as one of the reasons for retaining the power contained in the clause that the Boy Scouts exist as a voluntary organization.
– Quite so; but th.it is not what the honorable member said before. I say now that the Boy Scouts are doing work which is extra to anything required from our Cadets, and that if their work has any extra military value and a good claim is made out for some recognition, we may have to assist them. That is all. We are taking power under this Bill to recognise efforts of that kind. I might say the same in connexion with the League of Frontiersmen which it is proposed to form in Queensland.
– Another fancy, force, possibly.
– The honorable member may call any of the services extra to those provided for “fancy services” if he likes. All that I know is that such efforts are recognised in other countries. Voluntary efforts are recognised over and above the conscription which is enshrined in . the legislation of many nations. We are merely asking Parliament to recognise voluntary efforts in the same way.
.- Every time the Minister gets up to explain what he means, he gives a different reason for what appears in the Bill. On the first occasion the honorable gentleman urged that the words objected to should stand, because the Boy Scouts were doing good work on a voluntary basis. He said that there were no Naval Volunteer Corps in existence in Australia at present, but in his previous statement he said that he had no knowledge of any such corps being likely to be brought into existence. The whole of his latest address, delivered after he had time for consultation with expert officers, was in favour of volunteer corps of every kind.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– The honorable member will remember that the Minister said noncombatants.
– If they are to be noncombatants that does not make a bit of difference.
– From the way in which the honorable member is proceeding I begin to doubt his capacity to understand a plain statement.
– The honorable member has stated that a corps of medical officers, or a corps of any other class could become volunteers.
– He said that they exist now, and he does not desire to disturb them.
– The Minister has just stated that they do not exist at present.
– A medical corps does exist.
– Let me take the strongest case - that of a naval corps. What is to prevent a corps of medical men from being part of the Militia as effectively as a corps of barristers? Are men to be allowed, because of their professional position, to form a volunteer corps, and not to be part of the Militia Force to defend Australia? If the Government have made up their minds to that course they ought to say so clearly. If the toilers alone are to constitute the Militia, and other persons are to constitute special corps, then it - will not be an effective defence system at all.
– Hear, hear; I quite agree with the honorable member.
– The honorable member now saw that there are no volunteers of the kind in the Commonwealth at present, but he speaks of the boys who are being trained as though this provision were only to cover them. In my opinion, these words are not needed. I think that the honorable member for Wentworth touched the crux of the whole question when he said that under this provision a Minister could permit the formation of any number of volunteer corps. As I understand the Minister’s explanation it is that these volunteer corps will fulfil the same service as the compulsorily trained militia, and that men will be. able, by joining these corps, to be exempt from the ordinary training. The Minister shakes his head, but, in my opinion, that was his line of reasoning. If that is so, in my opinion, the Bill might as well be thrown under the table. I am quite prepared to take a vote on my proposal. I desire to omit the provision relating to Reserve Forces for reasons which I will give when it is reached. If any words can be substituted in place of the words “ Volunteer Forces “ I am quite prepared to meet the wish of the Ministry. I feel, and I say it with reluctance, that we must provide for an effective force to defend Australia.
.- If I thought that any of the fears of the Opposition in this direction were likely to be realized I should certainly vote with them, because I do not desire to see any volunteer corps by the side of militia or conscript corps. The only reason why I want the words “ Volunteer Forces “ to be retained is because I think it is necessary to provide for a certain class of lads who would have to serve, and who otherwise would not be provided for. In the first place I desire to refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Maranoa, whose opinions I always respect because I think that he is honest and fair. In the two illustrations which he gave he was singularly unfortunate. As I understood his observations they were directed against volunteer forces, and in favour of permanent or militia men. He gave as an example the case of some men who at the last Easter manoeuvres went down the river, and who, owing to a collision or an idea that their boat was sinking, jumped on to Conde Island. They were members of a special corps of engineers or artillerymen.
– I am very sorry indeed that they were artillerymen, because they disgraced the corps.
– The honorable member should also be sorry for his argument, because as it happens there is not a volunteer artilleryman in Victoria, they are all partially paid, and, therefore, his argument goes by the board. The men were militiamen.
– That makes it all the worse.
– It makes it all the worse perhaps for the men concerned, but it also makes it all the worse for the honorable member’s argument, which was in favour of militiamen, and against the service of volunteers. May I remonstrate with my honorable friend against his continued sneer at Saturday afternoon soldiers? He is a member of a party which does believe in citizen service. If we are to get any good out of the Bill we shall have to depend on the service of men who will do their training mostly on Saturday afternoons.
– No. The honorable member ought to know better than that, too.
– Unless we are going to put them all into a camp there is not the slightest doubt that we shall have to depend upon the service of men, who. compulsorily or willingly, give up their Saturday afternoons to this national work.
-NoSaturday halfholiday ?
– No, except to the extent that enthusiasm makes all work light and pleasant.
– I want service conditions. I want to go at the thing properly.
– We must have regard to what the Commonwealth can at present afford. If I thought that the Bill meant the creation of volunteer corps by the side of militia or conscript corps, I should vote with the Opposition, but the Minister has distinctly repudiated that idea. He says that the provision will apply to special classes.
– The present Minister’s interpretation may not be identical with that of the next Minister.
– I think that once the sea! is set upon the idea of compulsory military training a Minister will not consent to go back to any half-hearted system of volunteer work. Further, there is no doubt that there are special classes which will have to be provided for under a volunteer clause. It would be regrettable if in the future .the Minister had to come to the House, as he is doing under clause 4, because in regard to a garrison we made a mistake which has lasted for five or six years. It is only fair to trust the administration, whatever it is, in this matter, and give the Minister a certain amount of freedom in necessary directions. I will mention one direction which occurs to my mind. The pilots of Australia are to be enlisted, and although they are not constantly paid they are a corps under regulation.
– Why not make them naval reserve officers?
– We cannot pay them in time of peace ; but we have to organize and regulate them in time of peace so that they may know whom they will have to follow in time of war. Again, take the case of the recently -formed Intelligence Corps. They exist in order to procure proper surveys of the whole of Australia. The intelligence officer, Colonel McCay, was wise enough to get the services of a large number of Government surveyors in the Lands Departments of the States. These men have enlisted in the Intelligence Corps, as well as photographers and specialists of all kinds.
– Why should professional men escape compulsory service?
– The persons to whom I refer are men over the age of 21 years, and, therefore, the compulsory clauses of the Bill do not apply to them. But the service needs their special abilities. It is also necessary to make provision for volunteer medical corps. One of the greatest services rendered by Australia to the Empire during the Boer war was the sending to South Africa of distinguished surgeons, such as the late Sir Thomas Fitzgerald, who, with other surgeons, like Sir Frederick Treves, who went from the Old Land, did work of the greatest value, purely as volunteers. Were Australia to need such services, they would be gladly offered and rendered by the many able medical men whom we have in our midst. To take advantage of their skill and organize it to secure the greatest efficiency, it will be necessary to have a provision such as that to which the honorable member for Maranoa objects. As he is aware, the worst men connected with an army are the undisciplined camp followers.
– Do I not know it?
– Without ‘a provision such as that under discussion, necessary volunteers could not be efficiently organized and controlled. It is not that we contemplate the creation of volunteer corps of fighting men, but that provision must be made for other volunteers whose services are needed. For instance, it is not proposed to make the ordinary provisions of the Bill applicable to the clergy, but it is necessary in time of war to have chaplains.
– On active service the chaplains are paid.
– I hope that Australians will never have to fight in Australia in defence of their country, but we must provide for such a contingency, and a corps of chaplains is one of the volunteer organizations which would come under the clause. I think that most of us at the hour of death would desire the attendance of a priest or clergyman.
– I do not think that a soldier bothers much about that.
– My honorable friend is so sure of Heaven, perhaps, that he does not consider that essential; but he and those who support the amendment should show how the volunteers to whom I have referred are to be organized, if this provision is left out. Without it, an irregular condition of things might arise, from which much harm would result, and a special Act would have to be passed to provide for the regulation’ and :control of the necessary volunteer corps to which I have referred. The Minister has promised that the provision will be applied only to such volunteers, and to the naval cadets of whom he has spoken, and I accept his statement.
– I am in favour of the Bill and of the provision we are discussing, and would not have risen had it not been for the remarks of the honorable member for Maranoa regarding the volunteers. They were uncalled for. During the last fifty years, thousands of men have given up a great deal of their time, and done very valuable work, in fitting themselves to defend their country. Had they been called upon to fight, they would have stuck to their guns as the honorable member did. I have yet to learn that the man who is paid is better than the man who volunteers. A paid man may be able to devote more time to drill than the volunteer can afford to give, but we must not forget the sacrifices which our volunteers have made in the past. Many of them, too, in the Bushmen’s and other contingents, did good work for the Empire during the South African war. I am in favour of compulsory training, but we must not forget the good work of the volunteers. I know of one or two corps in Tasmania which have been in existence for fifty years or more, and some of their members are now qualified to take a place alongside the trained men of the British Army. Thousands of men took a thorough interest in this work before payment was thought of, and many of them would be ready, should occasion demand it, to again volunteer for the defence of Australia. As to the shooting of the rifle clubs at Williamstown, I think that the paid military men would not do any better under the same- conditions. Many of the best shots in Australia belong to rifle clubs, the members of which have also done much to fit themselves for military work.
– Why did the Tasmanian Volunteers strike?
– They struck because the forces in other parts of the Commonwealth were being paid more than they were receiving. They were willing to give their services to the Commonwealth, but they felt that, as Tasmania was paying its share of the cost of defending Australia, they should be treated exactly as were those on the mainland. I do not blame them for that, though had the officer in charge known his business, and acted as he should have done, there would not have been a strike. The Tasmanians were not the first to ask for payment for work which they did as volunteers. I believe that if military training were made compulsory, and without pay of any kind, Tasmanians would be as ready to fall in with the proposal as would the people of any other State in the Commonwealth.
.- There appears to me to be some justification for the fear expressed that if our Citizen Naval Forces were to be divided into “ Militia,” “Volunteer” and “Reserve” forces, certain persons in the community would be disposed to join the volunteer section in order to evade service which they would be obliged to render if they joined the militia section. I think it would be optional with the Minister to permit that kind of thing under this provision as it stands.
– No, there would be no option about it. There could not be a volunteer under the Bill who had not been a compulsory trainee.
– The danger might not be present to the mind of the present Minister of Defence, but we do not know what pressure might be brought to bear on some subsequent Minister to permit people to join a volunteer section of the Citizen Naval Forces, and so avoid the rendering of service prescribed by the Act. The reference to doctors has really no bearing on the matter, because doctors would be men trained at a university, and not at a military school of instruction, and if they joined the Volunteer Forces, it would be as doctors and not as soldiers. I think the Minister has overlooked one important safeguard, and that is that under this Bill no one would be employed in connexion with a Military Force who had not served a term in a Militia Force. I intend to outline an amendment which I think would provide for all that is desired, and prevent evasion of the compulsory service provisions of the Bill. I give notice now that I shall at a later stage move the addition of the words “ such Volunteer Forces to render service in excess of the compulsory service prescribed.” That would meet the danger of any one taking refuge in the Volunteer Forces provided for in this provision in order to evade compulsorv service.
.- The debate has not been a loss of time, because the question is one of great importance, and during its discussion a number of new ideas have been submitted by honorable members. After listening to it, I have come to the conclusion that the power to raise volunteers, while a power that would probably be subversive of efficiency if exercised in ordinary normal times, might he one which the Minister of Defence would desire to retain in view of some grave emergency such as war.
– That is provided for by clause 9.
– No, that refers to the Military Forces, and we are dealing now with the Naval Forces. While giving effect to what I believe to be the intention of the Committee. I think we might get over the difficulty if sub-clause 3 of proposed new section 32 were altered so as to read -
The naval volunteer forces shall consist of-
That would cover the medical men referred to in the debate;and
On re-consideration I cannot agree to the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition, because it would deprive the Minister at a time of emergency of the power to take advantage of the enthusiasm of persons who at such a time would be prepared to come to the support of the existing forces.
– The Minister at such a time would have power to call upon any man and need not ask for volunteers.
– How would he get the men required ? The honorable gentleman forgets that we are dealing now with the Naval Forces. He might call upon a farmer near Bourke, or a resident of one of the remote inside districts of Queensland. If such a man were required to serve on one of the skittish little torpedo boat destroyers he would probably die of the effort to hold on by his eyebrows the first day he was on board. So far as our naval effort is concerned, if we wish suddenly to fill up gaps in time of emergency we shall have to get our help from the Australian mercantile marine. I can see nothing in the Bill which would enable the Minister to accept the services of the. most suitable volunteers at such a time of emergency.
– The Minister could call upon every one within the prescribed ages engaged in the mercantile marine.
– The honorable member forgets that the persons most anxious to serve at such a time might not be within the prescribed ages. I think that only a bigot would deny to the Government the right at a time of national emergency to accept volunteer help. I say that, though I do not favour a volunteer system side by side with a militia system in time of peace-
– How would the honorable member prepare such volunteers for war ?
– The persons who would volunteer to fill up the wastage of war would be drafted to the less specialized departments, for instance, as stokers or deck hands. They could be trained to fulfil the duties of such positions very quickly, whereas it might take five or six years to train a man up to the standard of efficiency required for an able seaman of the Imperial Navy. I should like the Minister to accept some such amendment as I have suggested, but I would prefer that the Bill should be passed in its present form than that the Minister should not have the power at any .time to accept the service of volunteers.
– The more the question is discussed, the more I am convinced that the words ‘ ‘ Volunteer Forces” should be left out.
– The honorable member is forgetting the speech he made the other day.
– No, I am remembering it. When I said that the Minister could not possibly have known what the Bill contains, I did not intend to be in any way offensive.
– I have heard the same thing a hundred times.
– I have seen the honorable gentleman get into a fog to-night. Let me tell him that in South Australia we have an excellent medical staff, but it is attached entirely to the Militia Forces. There is not, and never was to my knowledge, a single medical officer attached to the Volunteer Forces in that State. There is nothing to prevent every medical man who desires to render service to his country from attaching himself to the militia if he is wanted.
– Supposing that a pilot over the age for enlistment under this Bill wants to volunteer in time of emergency will the honorable member allow him to do so ?
– The pilots are in precisely the same position. They can be attached at any moment to the Militia Forces. We have heard about Sir Frederick Treves, Sir Thomas Fitzgerald, and others volunteering for service, but there is nothing in this Bill to prevent Sir Frederick Treves from volunteering to be of service to the Australian Forces, or to prevent the Minister from accepting his offer and attaching him to the Militia. Theamendment suggested by the honorable member for Wentworth is valueless. The principal Act provides that every person from eighteen to sixty may be called upon in the order of age in time of emergency.
– Only in the order of age. “The most desirable man may be fifty years of age, and must wait his turn.
– The provision rovers every male inhabitant up to the age of sixty.
– But they cannot all be used at once.
– In a time of emergency it is in the power of the Minister to call upon every male in Australia nf “the age of sixty or under, and capable of rendering service. I do not say that he would put a farmer on board a ship, but he can cali upon any” one who has had experience at sea to help to man our Navy if necessary.
– If a man is married and comes under the third class he has to wait until the two preceding classes have been called out.
– The honorable member has not looked into the Minister’s powers. His suggested amendment is not necessary, because, if those within the first prescribed ages when called out cannot supply the necessary number capable of serving in the Navy, the Minister can call on the next ages, and so on! up to sixty.
– He- can call them all out oil the same day.
– He can.
– What would he do with a mob?
– He would select those he considered most suited for the work- that required to be done, and those who were not* wanted would not be sent to swell the mob, as the honorable member calls it, but would be sent to their own homes again.
– How long would it take to select from 560,000 adult Australians the few expects required to fill certain positions in the Navy ?
– It should not take many hours. If it took a long time there would be: something radically wrong with the defence organization.
– Is it not going to be a “curled darling” section?
– That is the whole point. The Minister for some purpose that cannot be explained wants to retain power to provide for the curled darling section of the community.
– That is absolutely incorrect. There is not .a tittle of justification for that remark.
– One of the Minister’s predecessors, the honorable member tor Richmond, did what the Minister tells us that he would not’ approve of. Is it not just as likely ‘hat some successive Minister may do precisely the same ? History has repeated itself in that way over and over again. The only real reason the Minister has put forward for retaining the words “ “Volunteer Forces “ is the necessity of providing for the- boy scout movement, hut a later clause provides that all the male inhabitants of Australia shall be liable to he trained “ as prescribed.” What does “ as prescribed “ mean, except that every male inhabitant can be attached to any branch of the forces that may be prescribed? The honorable member for Bass was a little unfair to the honorable member for Maranoa. It is not a question of disparaging the Volunteer Forces. After a long experience in them, I say unhesitatingly that they were anything but satisfactory. We could not get the men to attend a sufficient number of drills to make them efficient. The Volunteers have done excellent work, but any one who has been in camp with them, as I have been year after year, and compared their turnout with the turnout’ of the Militia, will know, in the first place, that there was a difference of anything between 30 and 50 percent, in the attendances. In the next place, not nearly so many of them turned out to the number of drills that the Militia put in. What is the use of the honorable member” for Bass telling us that forces, of that sort would be of use iri the field? The’ volunteer soldiers who went to South Africa, and who had had a fair amount of training, had to be taken to the base and drilled there, and drilled also all the way to’ the front. They then became valuable. They were volunteers in the first place>.. but they had to be made soldiers before they were of use. If the Minister looks’ into the matter closely he will see that -it will be wise to accept the amendment.
– I must confess at the outset that I am somewhat mystified by the various explanation’s that have been given. My chief objection is to allowing any man to escape the compulsory training provisions. When the Minister of Defence- assures us that the provision will affect .’doctors and chaplains, the position seems. to- me’ to be an extraordinary one. If the ordinary volunteer were as well trained iri soldiery as is the doctor in his profession, I could urge no objection to this proposal. I have sons of my own, whom I would willingly give in the defence of Australia, so long as the sons of other people render the same service. But I object to any citizen escaping from his responsibility in this- connexion. It has been urged that the idea of compulsory military service ‘is repugnant to Britishers. But history establishes the fact that on every occasion in which the Mother Country has been embroiled in a big war, the compulsory method has been adopted. T have never yet met a citizen of Switzerland who has objected to the system of compulsory military training. Of course, the idea of conscription is hateful to Australians. I wish to see a compulsory system adopted, under which the men will be made efficient soldiers. In my judgment, the Bill should go very much further than it does. We have already reached the danger zone, and we should provide for active service conditions.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause (Mr. Fisher’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment (by Mr. Carr) negatived -
That after the words “ Reserve Forces,” subclause 1 of proposed new section 32, the words “ such Volunteer Forces to render service in excess of the compulsory service prescribed “ be inserted.
.- I feel some difficulty in regard to this proposed new section, which I said at the outset ought to be postponed. The Minister would perhaps facilitate the passage of the Bill by saying now that, if proper causebe shown later on, he will be prepared to recommit the clause. As it stands it is by no means perfect, although better, I think, than my honorable friends opposite would have made it. I do not ask for a definite assurance from the Minister, who, I know, wishes the Bill to be perfect; but I hone that he will give us some such statement as I have suggested. I do not desire now to move an amendment on the lines that 1 suggested a little while ago, because I recognise that the measure requires very careful consideration.
– I propose to look further into the matter, and do not desire to take up a dogmatic attitude in regard to any provision in the Bill. If I find that there is good ground even for argument in the direction which my honorable friend indicates, I shall be very glad to reconsider the matter.
.- Subclause 3 of proposed new section 32, as it stands, is both useless and dangerous. I am not going toargue the question, since it is practically the same as that with which we have just dealt ; but I do hold that sub-clause 3 should not have found a place in the Bill. It is foreign to the sentiment of the Bill, and repugnant to the principle of compulsory military service. An Administration which, while pretending to do one thing, desired to do another, would be able under that provision to prevent the effective defence of Australia. It is for that reason that I move -
That sub-clause 3, of proposed new section 32, be left out.
The sub-clause shows clearly that there are to be two distinct kinds of forces.
– That two different kinds are intended.
– There are to be two distinct kinds. Certain men are to have special privileges. They may be absent without cause, and free from proper discipline, and yet it is said that this Bill is to provide for an effective system of defence. Such a thing is impossible under the Bill as it stands.
.- This question was tested on the division taken two or three minutes ago. I would remind honorable members that the Bill relates not merely to compulsory service, but to the defence of Australia generally. Was there ever a time in the history of the British nation when men who were willing to give their services for the defence of their country were refused an opportunity to fit themselves to do so?
– That would not happen under this clause as proposed to be amended.
– It would. This clause will give the Minister power to control volunteers. If the amendment be agreed to it will mean that Australia will refuse the offer of men who, because, perhaps, of their industry, are in a position only to volunteer their services. Such a state of affairs never existed in the British Empire, and I hope that we are not going to bring it about here. I trust that the Committee will affirm the decision given a few minutes ago, and declare that Australia is willing to accept the services of all her sons who are anxious and willing to prepare themselves to assist in her defence.
– This is being made a partisan measure. Honorable members opposite do not seem to understand the principle of compulsory training. I am opposed to it. I fought against the idea at the Brisbane Conference, and I will fight against it everywhere. But I have to bow to the majority. I cannot understand, however, why the supporters of this Bill want to place our DefenceForces partly on a compulsorily and partly on a volunteer footing. Are we going to have this country half free and half slave? The one is a negation of the other. Peace and war are the bi-products in the mills of art and industry. Man was put here by God to subdue the earth. He has not subdued it. And because he has failed in that respect we are now engaged in a controversy between sentimental idealism and realism. This is the strangest House a man can get into, because no one seems to know anything about anything; and the less people know the better qualified to be here they seem to be. As we have laid down the principle that there is to be compulsory training, let us stand to it, and not introduce the voluntary principle at all. The curse of the whole military system of America has been that the aristocracy of the country have become a great volunteer association. The wealthy people have special barracks apart from the rest of the community, and whenever there is a prospect of a strike in America, the sons of the millionaires are ready to go out with guns and shoot down the work ing men. And they do it every time. Yet here we are, in the twentieth century, talking militarism. I am opposed to the whole business, because it seems to me to be introducing a new system of slavery into this country. What we want is a system under which every second Saturday afternoon the drill sergeants would call their men together by the ringing of bells, and train them.
– Does the honorable member want to introduce the American volunteer system into Australia?
– No, I am opposed to it.
– That matter is not under discussion now.
– Let the honorable member go up to Indi, and look after his constituency. When I hear these pepper-gins blustering, I know there is something wrong with them. The honorable member will have to be re-created and rejuvenated before he can show me how to pursue my argument.
-Will the honorable member confine himself to the clause?
– If there is any virtue in the compulsory military system, why depart from it? I admit that the Labour party is mad on this question, and, as honorable members opposite are also mad about it, I am trying to stand as referee between them.
– Is the honorable member arguing for compulsion?
– I am arguing against the whole proposal. But, as we are to have a new defence system, let the Minister make up his mind whether it should bea compulsory or voluntary system ?
– We have had a test division on that point.
– If the Committee has made up its mind, there is no use in talking further.
.- The honorable member for Corangamite seems to be under the impression that if the words objected to were excised from the clause, it would prevent the Minister of Defence from availing himself of the services of people whovolunteered in time of emergency. If that be the only objection to the amendment, I point out that ample provision is made to the contrary. The Minister would always be able to avail himself of those who volunteered for service. During the South African war, a number of Australian officers went to the front as supernumeraries to the contingents despatched from Australia. Theirservices were accepted by the Imperial Government, and some of them did good service. Similarly in Australia, any Minister of Defence would have a perfect right to accept the services of any person who chose to volunteer. The excision of the words in question would not interfere with that right in any way. It would simply prevent a future Minister of Defence from raising a volunteer corps in antagonism to the Militia Forces that will be in existence. I maintain that the two systems cannot work amicably together. They are not doing so now. We ought not to perpetuate the system or permit a future Minister to interfere with the basis of our Defence Forces, in accordance with the party exigency of the moment. That has been one of the banes of the Defence Forces of Australia, particularly since it has been under the control of the Commonwealth. We have had a frightful number of Ministerial changes, and we may have an equal number during the next eight or nine years. The Defence Forces are at the mercy of every individual who gets into the Defence Department. Somehow or other each man seems to be under the impression that he understands the Department better than any other, and it is the one Department to which any Minister can be put irrespective of previous.knowledge. If we leave all these powers so far as volunteers are concerned, it means that the Defence Forces will continue tobe the plaything of every succeeding Minister, or the party which happensto be behind him, or the exigency of the moment. In such circumstances will he not have full power to take advantage of every individual who likes to come forward and volunteer, whether he be a professional or technically trained man or not ? There is nothing to prevent that from being done. Why should we permit a Minister under the clause to raise a volunteerforce of a character which is not likely to be effective?
. view of the fact that the operation of the compulsory service clause is to be limited to certain districts where the population is comparatively numerous, it is advisable, if not necessary, that some provision should be made for raising volunteer forces. That appeals to me as an unanswerable argument, and I commend it to honorable members for their earnest consideration. I feel quite sure that in many of the far back districts, young men will be only too willing to enrollas volunteers and. train themselves to a large extent in the art of war, thus becoming a very valuable adjunct to the Defence Forces of the country.
.- In his speech, the honorable member for Echuca referred to the formation of volunteer corps in the inland portions of the various States, but this sub-clause deals only with naval matters. We have not yet reached the provision dealing with military matters. I take it that the aim of the Bill is to compel every individual in the community to take part in the defence of Australia. With that object I am in thorough accord. But the provision before the Committee excepts a certain section of the community from compulsory training. Where is the necessity for making that exception? The danger which I see is that those who would object to come under the compulsory training system might form a number of bogus volunteer corps for the purpose of evading their national responsibilities.
– Does not the honable member see that those persons cannot be volunteers, unless they have had a compulsory training, or are outside the range of the compulsory provision?
– The sub-clause to which exception has been taken by the honorable member for Wide Bay reads -
The Naval Volunteer Forces shall consist of officers, petty officers, and sailors who are not bound to continuous naval service, -
If men are patriotic and want to volunteer why should they be exempted from continuous service?
– I assure the honorable member that they are not exempted.
– The very wording of the sub-clause shows that they are exempted.
– I take it that “continuous” service refers to permanent men.
– No man can be a volunteer unless he has been through the compulsory training, or lives outside the range of it.
– I should like the Minister to refer me to any provision which supports his statement.
– The compulsory training clause will embrace men of the proper ages. The sub-clause before the Committee simply defines “ The Naval Volunteer Forces.”
– If I understand the sub-clause aright, every person who is not in the Volunteer Forces within the specified ages is bound to continuous service,
– That is only to distinguish him. from a permanent man.
– I hope that the Minister will agree to recommit the clause in order to make the meaning of this subclause perfectly clear, because I am not in favour of exempting any one class.
– If the honorable member will look at sub-clause2 of proposed new section 32A, he will see that his view iswrong.
– I have already looked at that provision, in which the question of volunteer forces also arises.
– Yes, but that is to distinguish them from the permanent men who are defined in sections 30 and 31 of the Defence Act.
– I still have a doubt that volunteers are not sufficiently distinguished from permanent men. So many objections have been taken to the subclause that I think that doubt ought to be cleared up, so that there shall be no distinction between one unit of the community and another in regard to his liability to take part in the defence of the country. If the members of the largest section of the community are to be called upon to devote a certain amount of their time to training then the members of other sections should not be allowed to escape their responsibilities, by simply calling themselves volunteer forces.
– I entirely agree with the honorable member.
– I am glad to hear that my honorable friend does, and I hope he will agree to a recommittal of the clause in order that the matter may be made perfectly clear.
.- The honorable member for Corangamite was very much disturbed when the honorable member for Wide Bay wanted the Committee to delete the words “Volunteer Forces” from sub-clause 1 of proposed new section 32. He thought that it would interfere with the establishment of volunteer medical corps. But do such corps consist of “ officers, petty officers, and sailors who are not bound to continuous naval service, and who are not ordinarily paid for their services in times of peace ‘ ‘ ? I have yet to learn that doctors are not paid in times of peace as well as in times of war. How could they live if they were not? A doctor who is in the Defence Forces is not there for love of the service. During the strike which took place in Queensland in 1891, several medical men in the outback towns volunteered their services to look after the “ scab protectors “ who used to march round from shed to shed. The honorable member for Fawkner will remember a doctor at Claremont who did so. When the Pastoralists’ Union refused to pay them, they applied to the Queensland Government. That was all the active service many of them saw. At that time military law was proclaimed throughout Western Queensland, men being arrested everywhere for being, as it was termed, “ of ill fame.”
– The honorable member must confine himself to the question.
– You, Mr. Chairman, know that a man was arrested at Winton on that charge. You took up his case for him.
– That matter is not now before the Committee.
– The honorable member for Corangamite says that if the amendment were carried, doctors would be prevented from volunteering in time of war; but can doctors be classed as “ officers, petty officers, and sailors “ ?
– They are classed as officers.
– All the talk inthe world will not move the brutal majority which supports the Government. So. far as I am concerned, the Minister can have the Bill just as it is.
SirJohn Forrest.- Hear, hear.
Mr.PAGE.- The Treasurer will be able to tell the next meeting of old tabbies which he adresses that he forced the Defence Bill through Parliament in spiteof the Labour men, who wish to takethe money from those who have it. This is a party move pure and simple. Honorable members opposite would swallow anything that the Government proposed. The honorable member for Wentworth is the only m.an on that side who has spoken a word against the Bill whilst the honorable member for Dalley is the only independent man there. Honorable members who support the Government remind me of the wav in which sheep follow their leaders, often with very ill consequences for themselves, as at Rookwood the other day. Apparently the Government are going to “ bullock “ the Bill through, as the honorable member for Hume “ bul locked “ the Tariff through. But their action will recoil upon them. They will not occupy the Ministerialbench for all time,
-The honorable member must confine himself to the question.
– The Minister has told us that he does not believe in naval volunteers. He says that the provision to which we object was not drafted for the benefit of the yachtsmen of Sydney or Port Phillip, or, in other words, to give the sons and other relatives of the rich an advantage over the poor. But why has it been put into the Bill? Of what use are men who are not drilled or under discipline? Can it be expected that men who are not paid for their services will do as good work as those that are paid?
– If men are willing to volunteer, why not let them do so?
– We have had too much of that in the past. It has brought our defence system into chaos.
– Honorable members forget that the volunteer costs a good deal of money.
– Yes, though not so much as the militia-man.
– The men themselves are not paid.
– They receive capitation grants.
– And their training costs about £10 each per annum.
– Yes, because we have to supply them with an instructional staff. I desire to have efficient naval and military Defence Forces. My object is to improve the Bill. For years past it has been the desire of honorable members on this side to have compulsory training, and while the Bill does not go as far as I should like it to go, I accept it as a step in the right direction.
– That is better.
– If the honorable member had listened to me, he would know that that has always been my sole desire. That is true also of other members of the party to which I belong.
– That is not denied.
– Some persons deny it. I noticed in a Brisbane newspaper, last week, that one honorable member said that the whole of the members of the Labour party were adverse to military training, and opposed to any defence scheme, unless our forces could be turned against the Old Country at some future time.
– That was said in Western Australia, too,
– If the honorable member for Indi does not injure Australia any more than I shall, he will not injure it at all. I am not only an Australian, but an Imperialist. I have no wish to injure either Australia or the Empire.
– The honorable member is on the wrong side of the House.
– No, I am on the right side. My fear is that class distinctions will be permitted under this clauseas it stands. I wish the clause to be so framed that no persons in the community will be able to escape the service required from others.
– I am entirely with the honorable member.
– The honorable gentleman has told me that times out of number.
– What more canI say?
– I wish the Minister to do something. Some of the smartest lawyers in the Commonwealth are members of the Ministerial party, and surely they could draft a provision which would overcome the difficulty.
– The Minister has promised to recommit the clause if we can suggest such a provision.
– Then I have no more to say. If the Minister will agree to recommit the clause for the purpose of inserting a provision which would prevent the introduction of class distinctions, I shall be satisfied.
– I should like to see the clause extended rather than curtailed. We have in Australia a large number ofyacht clubs that include among their members a great many plucky young fellows. It is all very well for some honorable members to laugh. I have known such young fellows to go out in very rough weather in Port Phillip and in Sydney Harbor. I believe that with a little training advantage might be taken of the services which could be rendered by the members of these yacht clubs for naval purposes in time of danger. I suggest that they might be attached to the Naval Reserve Forces or Naval Militia Forces. I hope the Minister will deem the suggestion worthy of consideration.
.- Proposed new section 32A deals with the atcive and reserve Military Forces, and it will be admitted that we can scarcely expect to have effective Military Forces if there are to be too many feathers about them. I direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that there are some who incline to the view that our present forces are overweighted at Headquarters. I find that, in the first year that the Federal authority had control of the Defence Forces, we had, exclusive of cadets and rifle club members, 25,578 men of all arms and the cost amounted to£557,189. Last June, we had 23,316, or more than 2,000 less in all arms of our Defence Forces than we had eight or nine years ago, and the cost was £510,236. I do not cavil at the numbers or the cost, but, so far as the Central Administration is concerned - our Headquarters Staff - a great difference is noticeable. Whilst the strength of our forces and their cost has remained practically the same as they were eight or nine years ago, the cost of the Central Administration has risen at what might be termed an alarming rate. The Estimates dealt with it in one line only in 1904-5, and, up to that date, there had practically been no difference in the cost of the Central Administration. In 1905-6, the Central Administration cost £20,501. It is estimated to cost, during the current financial year, 1909-10, no less than £40,529, or an average increase during the interval of about £5,000 a year. In other words, whilst the strength of our forces and the total expenditure upon them has remained practically the same during the last eight or nine years, the cost of the Central Administration has been doubled in the last four years. In the circumstances, I think I am justified in publicly calling the attention of the Minister to the matter, in. the hope that possibly he may be able to look into it, and see whether we really get value for the money expended on the Headquarters Staff. If we are not increasing the efficiency of our forces - and, according to the opinion of experts, we are not - whilst we are at the same time doubling the cost of the Central Administration, there must be something radically wrong requiring immediate investigation by the Minister controlling the Department.
.- I should like to say a word or two on’ the point raised by the honorable member for Adelaide. He seems to forget that the duties of the Central Administration are not confined to the training and efficiency of the personnel of the forces. I sincerely hope that the Government and honorable members will recognise that the most difficult thing to provide in connexion with a military organization is the brains, or, in other words, the Headquarters Staff. In every civilized army, it is recognised that the operations of the Headquarters Staff are the most difficult and intricate of all the preparations of war. If the Central Administration were to pay greater attention, and required a larger vote for the purpose, to the necessary preparations for war, no one would be better pleased than I.
– No one would be better pleased than I, but we should have some outward indication of what the Central Administration is doing.
– It is difficult to, give such an outward indication. At the present juncture, we are starving one section of the work of the general staff in connexion with the preparation for war. This is the only country in which the work of securing the kind of information to which I refer is carried out under a voluntary system. I allude to the work undertaken by Colonel McCay, in the preparation of information showing the carrying capacity of our railway lines, our topography, our feed for horses, where water is, and so on..
– How does the honorable member connect these remarks with the clause?
– In exactly the same way as did the honorable member who preceded me. The honorable member for Adelaide said that under the part of the clause we are discussing we were making provision for Active and Reserve Forces, and should do all we could to see that the Central Administration, which, in some way he dissociated from the forces, should not increase whilst there was no increase in the personnel of the forces themselves.
– The honorable member will be quite in order in making a genera] reference, but not in going into details.
-I do not propose to go into the subject in detail. [ think I have given honorable members who have studied the question grounds for serious thought in connexion with the Central Administration, but I do not say that it is or is not efficient. I do not pretend to be capable of criticising in a military spirit the technical work of technical officers, but I do say that a staff does not necessarily mean feathers. I take it that it means brains, and that the more we endeavour to provide brains for the organization of the Australian Military Forces, the better we shall be acting for Australian defence. I hope the Minister will always bear that principle in mind.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 -
After section fifty-four of the Principal Act the following section is inserted : - 54A.- (1.) Members of the Military Forces-
Forces outside Australia; or
.- Will the Minister state what is meant by paragraph a of this proposed new section? If men are serving with the Imperial Forces outside Australia, they come at once under the Imperial Army Act. This provision is therefore either surplusage or is intended” to meet an extraordinary position. Which is it? The only kind of case that I can imagine that it may be intended to meet is that which happened when Senator Lt.Colonel Cameron was in England at the time of the Coronation, and was put in charge of the Military Forces from’ all the Dominions. Although he was expressly authorized to take that position, he was grossly interfered with, and I believe had to threaten, in order to maintain his rights, to remove the whole of the Colonial Forces from the ground.
– There is no harm in leaving this provision in.
– In a case of that sort our men should not be subject to the Army Act.
– Does the honorable member suggest that our men who volunteer to go abroad and fight for, the Empire should remain under our Act? They cannot.
– If the provision refers only to cases where men have enlisted with the Imperial Forces, it is absolutely unnecessary. The provisions in regard to paragraphs b and c are, I admit, necessary. When our men landed in South Africa, they immediately became subject to Imperial martial law, which applied to the whole country.
– Then there is no harm in stating the fact.
– I do not object to paragraph a so long as it is to apply only when men are actually serving in the field with the Imperial Army ; but I am afraid it is intended to meet some special circumstances. It should not apply, for instance, where we send a special corps to a country not under martial law, as we did in the case of the Coronation contingent: On that occasion, Lt. -Colonel Cameron- should have been in a position’ to direct his own men. I was proud of the stand he took.
– He gained his point.
– Only by threatening; to remove his contingent from the ground altogether.
– The Field-Marshal ruled that the Imperial officer who had interfered with him had made a mistake.
– Only after Lt. -Colonel Cameron had asserted his rights. Will the Minister state whether this provision is intended to meet a special case of that sort ?
– The purpose of this amendment of the Principal Act is to meet the case of the interchange of officers and men. We are getting officers from the Imperial Forces to be attached to our staffs, and we are also sending our officers to the United Kingdom to be attached to the Imperial Staff. This provision is really being made at the request of the Imperial Government, in order that such interchange and standardization may take place.
.- I am quite agreeable to what the Minister states, but let me draw attention to the provision of sub-clause 2, that, “ subject to any Imperial Act,” members of the Imperial Forces serving in Australia shall be “ subject to this Act.”We do not make our men still subject to the Commonwealth Act when they are in England.
-Because we cannot.
– But I do not want to give away certain rights. I ask honorable members to recollect the action of the Watson Government in regard to MajorGeneral Hutton. That officer came to Australia as an Imperial officer, and thought that he was above Australian law. He defied the Government and refused to give them the key to a cable until he was talked to in a very serious fashion. Although he was a Commonwealth public servant be held that his first duty was not to the Commonwealth but to the Mother Country.
– He raised a much more subtle point than that which the honorable member is suggesting.
– He took up the position that he was an Imperial officer under the Imperial Army Act.
– But he had to back down.
– He never gave the Government the key to the cable which he received. He insisted upon his right to retain it. In short, Australian needs were subordinated to Imperial considerations.
– This Bill is intended to cure that sort of thing.
– Under it our officers will still be subject to an Imperial Act.
– No Imperial Act will override our own Act.
– I know the provisions of the Imperial Army Act pretty well, and I say that by retaining the clause in its present form, the whole of our Commonwealth forces will be subject to the Imperial Army Act.
– I assure the honorable member that that is not so.
– Can the Imperial Army Act operate outside the limits of our Constitution ?
– No Act can do that. I should like the consideration of this clause to be postponed.
– Can the honorable member show how the Imperial Army Act will operate in Australia?
– I do not desire to see words inserted in this Bill which are meaningless.
– But an Imperial Act may grant an individual particular rights.
– Undoubtedly. We seem to have no officer in Australia who is ready to accept responsibility. I should like these words to be left out.
– Will the honorable member listen to an explanation ?
– I should be glad to have an explanation.
– This is reciprocal legislation in every sense of the term. It is suggested by the Imperial authorities, and suggested only after the passing of similar legislation in the Old Country. That is to say, they propose to treat our officers when they go to Great Britain precisely as we shall treat their officers when they come here.
– What is the Act to which the honorable member refers?
– I cannot for the moment tell the honorable member the name of the Act, but I am informed that what I have stated has recently been done.
– The words “subject to any Australian Act,” do not appear in an Imperial Act?
– No, but the Imperial authorities say that when their officers come here they must be subject to our Act.
– That is admitted.
– These matters are not unqualified and cannot be. When an exchange officer comes here he brings with him his own rate of pay and conditions as to pensions and so forth. We do not interfere with those matters; but for the purposes of discipline, control, and government our Act will apply to them while they are here. They subscribe to our law in every respect. That is why this clause is limited by the words “ subject to any Imperial Act.” That qualification relates to the rate of pay, status, and promotion of an exchange officer. In every other respect he is subject to our Act precisely as one of our officers would be when serving on the General Staff at Home. I repeat that this is reciprocal legislation.
.- There is no reciprocity in the true sense ot the term, andI do not think that it is necessary that we should ask for it. In speaking in this way I have not in mind any question as torates of pay. If in Australian officer goes to the centre of the Empire on service he comes automatically under the Army Act. He has no privileges, to my knowledge, under the Defence Act of Australia. All his privileges under that Act have to be abandoned.
– He continues to draw his Australian rate of pay.
– “ With such modifications and adaptations as are prescribed.” That being so, he does not go absolutely under the Army Act.
– If an Imperial officer comes to Australia he brings with him all his Imperial weight and force.
– Where is the authority for that statement?
– There is the provision as to the Imperial Act.
– That is a condition. The main part of the clause is to be found in the words “ shall be subject to this Act.”
-“ Subject to any Imperial Act “ covers the whole of subclause 2 of the proposed new .section.
– I have just pointed out what the Imperial Act says on that point.
– The remainder of the sub-clause is merely a tapering off of the blow so that it ‘shall not be felt too severely. An Imperial officer comes here with ail his Imperial power and force behind him.-
– He really does not.
– If he did not carry his privileges with him, we should not get exchange officers.
– I agree. The honorable member for Corio, however, has raised an important point. If I understand him correctly, he has in mind not any question of pay, but the fear that an Imperial officer coming here might claim the right under an Imperial Act to act independently of any authority which might be exercised here by the responsible Minister under the Commonwealth Act.
– That could not be done.
– As a matter of fact, Major-General Hutton, when General Officer ‘Commanding the Military Forces of the Commonwealth, once refused to see Senator Dawson, who, as Minister of Defence, sent for him.
– I was a member of the Government of the day, and know what took place.
– The honorable member is pointing out a trouble which this clause will remedy
– I do not think it will. The honorable member for Corio did not lay sufficient stress on the point that these men will be serving voluntarily, and may close their term of service at any moment.
– But is that so? Have not the exchange officers to serve for a certain period?
– Their term very properly may close at any time. An Imperial officer who comes here and is dissatisfied with his position is of no use to Australia, and an Australian officer who is dissatisfied with his position in Great Britain is of no service there. If an Australian officer went to the centre of the Empire with a force behind him for any purpose, and was treated in such a way as appeared to him to be beneath the dignity of his position and that of his corps, he should be entitled to withdraw and take his men with him.
– That is a fine doc trine to enunciate.
– The honorable member is thinking of a force going into action, whereas I am speaking of a force going to England for some other purpose.
– Such as the troops who went Home on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.
– An. officer might go Home with a corps for various purposes. We are a- nation and ought to assert our powers as such, subject, of course, to a “ due regard for the general welfare of the Empire. . To go into action in association with the Empire with a reservation would be absurd ; but short of that Commonwealth officers should in this respect have all the power and protection we can give them. I do not think that the difficulty suggested by the honorable member for Corio would arise, but his contention is not altogether unfounded.
– At the outset I was rather struck with the force of the objection taken by the honorable member for Corio, but- upon consideration it seems to me to be based upon a misapprehension of the actual meaning of the clause. The clause does not declare or indicate directly or indirectly that an officer of the Imperial Forces serving here is to be subject to an Imperial Act. What it does say is that he shall be subject to the Commonwealth Act, provided that there is no Imperial Act inconsistent therewith. The- distinction may be illustrated by what has been said as to Major-General Hutton. It has been stated that that officer, while General Officer Commanding the Commonwealth Military Forces, was guilty of some breach of discipline under our Act.
– Practically he declined to give up an official telegram relating to public matters to which he had replied at the expense of the Commonwealth. He declined to disclose any message, and we held that he must do so.
– I know nothing of the facts, but will assume for the purDose of my argument that the statement is correct, and that he did something that he ought not to have done under our Defence Act. If that be so, does the honorable member suggest that there was any Imperial
Act which laid it down that Major-General Hutton was not to obey our Commonwealth Act?
– He said so.
– Was there any Imperial Act which said that, though the Australian Defence Act prescribed that Major-General Hutton was under the control and discipline of a properly constituted authority in this country, he nevertheless need not obey that authority in a particular matter? Even if so, the case that has been put would be irrelevant. There is no Imperial Act which says that an officer in the Australian Forces is not to be subject to the discipline of a local Act in all matters in whichit applies.
– Major-General Hutton relied as a commanding officer on the Imperial Army Act.
– But the words in question would not touch such a case. There have, however, been cases in which an officer might have rights which are not maintained under Australian Acts; and it may be necessary, for the. purpose of preserving those rights, ‘ which are outside the domain of our control, that the Bill should contain such words. That, I presume, is the reason why they have been put in. Therefore, honorable members should get out of their minds the idea that the words “subject to any Imperial Act” are more than qualifying words ; and, if so, the objection to them seems to be removed.
.- As I understood it, the argument of. the honorable member for Flinders was directed to one point, namely, that there was no Army Act in England which gave Major-General Hutton the right to disobey an Australian Minister to whom he was bound to render service. Unfortunately, however, there is a safeguard in an Imperial Act, which the clause under discussion seems to me to abandon specifically. I allude to the Defences and Discipline (Army) Act, section 169 - an Imperial Act which applies in Australia. The Act provides that - .
The persons in this section mentioned are persons subject to military law as soldiers, and this Act shall apply accordingly to all the persons specified; that is to say -
Then the section goes on to say -
Provided that nothing in this Act shall affect the application to such non-commissioned offi cers and men of any Act passed by the Legislature of a Colony.
It appears to me that, instead of preserving our rights under the section which I have quoted, we are deliberately saying, by the clause under discussion, that we will give them away.
– No, we are saying that we will do certain things subject to an Imperial Act which specifically exempts us. The clause is an additional safeguard.
– It appears tome that the words to which exception has been taken do not help us in any way. If they were not included in the clause, we should be subject to the Imperial Act in the respect mentioned. But I am glad the Minister has stated there is a reciprocal English Act.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 agreed to.
House adjourned at 11. 3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 October 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19091019_reps_3_52/>.