3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Sale of Spirituous Liquors - Waiters Wages
– I desire to ask you, Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the House Committee, whether that body will accept the vote given last night regarding the consumption of spirituous or intoxicating liquors as a sufficient indication of the desire of honorable members that such liquors shall not be sold within the precincts of this House, or whether it would prefer a direct resolution, which would allow honorable members who are, perhaps, not teetotallers, to make some real sacrifice for their temperance principles?
– I understand the honorable member to refer to a vote taken in Committee, of which I have no official cognisance, and I suggest that it would be better to address such questions to me in writing, or in a personal interview.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether, if an arrangement can be made to take a division without debate, he will give the House an early opportunity to say whether spirituous or intoxicating liquors shall continue to be sold or used within the precincts of the House?
– I am quite willing to enter upon a short debate with my colleagues, and those interested, with a view to giving the honorable member a reply.
– Does the Prime Minister think that the honorable member for Wentworth is in earnest in this matter?
– In view of the question just asked, I give notice of my intention to move to-morrow that no spirituous or intoxicating liquors shall be sold or consumed within the precincts of Parliament House.
– On Friday lastI asked you, Mr. Speaker, a question regarding a married man working in the Parliamentary Refreshment Room at 35s. a week. A reply was given that inquiries had been made from the Union in Victoria, and I understood you to say that that amount was stated to be the union rate. I have made inquiries from the Hotel and Caterers’ Employes’ Association of Victoria, and have received the following reply-
– Order ! What is the honorable member doing now?
– I am calling your attention to a reply which you made to my question last week.
– The honorable member cannot do that.
– I wish to put before you a reply from the Association which you mentioned, and to ask you a further question on the matter.
– The conduct of the domestic affairs of the House is in the hands of Committees appointed from and by honorable members, and it would be better, if honorable members will permit me to say so, that all such matters should be brought before the Committees concerned, rather than before the House. The principal object for which those Committees are appointed is that the House may be saved the necessity of going into details of that character. I do not know exactly what the honorable member desires to learn, but I suggest that he should address his communication to the House Committee, which meets to-morrow morning. I can assure him that it will be dealt with at once.
– The matter has already been referred to in the House, and, as it stands now, might lead to misapprehensions.
– Does the honorable member desire to make a personal explanation ?
– No. I wish to ask you a question.
– The honorable member will proceed.
– The information given by you, I understand after inquiry
– The honorable member must not proceed to discuss anything that was said by me. He can ask a question.
– I wish to read the reply from the Association referred to, and to ask whether you secured your information from that body or not. The following is the reply : -
Motel and Caterers’ Employés Association of Victoria,
Melbourne, 26th October, 1900.
To Mr. J.H. Catts, M.P.,
With regard to your inquiry as to wages paid to assistant waiter and pantryman, I may say I was communicated with by telephone from the Federal Parliament on Friday last, and stated that such men were receiving as low as 20s. and 25s. per week in private employment.
We do not regard any of these amounts as a living wage, and claim the right to a minimum of at least 42s. per week for an adult ; but having no right to refer our case to a Wages Board under the Victorian law, we are compelled to suffer in silence. We have tried to secure a Wages Board, but have received a reply from the Department, on the authority of the Crown Solicitor, that we are not legally entitled to a Wages Board under the present Factories Act.
Charles E. Senior, Secretary.
In view of that later information, will you take such steps as will insure to the man referred to at least a living wage?
– I feel bound to say. that the organization referred to was communicated with, and the question was put as to what the rates of wages were. The answer was “ 20s., and that 25s. was considered a good wage.” Those were the very words used, and that was the only statement that was made by me in that regard to the House.
– They deny it.
– Perhaps the honorable member will take my word for it that it was so. I do not know, of course, who gave the information, but it was a representative of the organization who answered the telephone, and he spoke as though he were the secretary of it. If the honorable member will place the letter before the House Committee, it will receive consideration.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether, as the report of the Engineers-in-Chief who were appointed to inquire as to the difficulties, if any, in the way of constructing a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta has been before us for some time, and is satisfactory, he will introduce a Bill this session to authorize the construction of the railway.
– The report, a very valuable one, is based on certain particular assumptions which must be considered before any proposal can be submitted to Parliament. As soon as the pressure of the Constitution Amendment Bills is removed, it will be taken into consideration.
– Will the honorable gentleman ask the engineers to give estimates of cost for both the 3 ft. 6 in. gauge and the 4 ft. 8½ in. gauge?
– That is one of the principal matters which I had in mind in making the reply just given.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether we can entertain the idea of constructing the proposed railway until we have obtained the consent of the Government of South Australia ?
– That consent is provided for in the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill, whose consideration is now in a fairly advanced stage. Should the measure fail to pass; it will be necessary to obtain the consent of the South Australian Government.
– Is the Commonwealth committed to the construction of the proposed railway because it has spent a certain amount of money on a survey of the suggested route? I take it from the utterances of the Prime Minister that he thinks we are, but, in my opinion, we are not.
– The report must be judged on its merits. For the first time a definite estimate of cost has been made. While Parliament is free to deal with the matter, I am sure that it would not have authorized the inquiry had honorable members not thought that a strongprimâ facie case for the construction of the line had been made out.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK laid upon the table the following papers: -
Defence Acts - Military Forces - RegulationsAmended (Provisional) -
No. 129.4 Added - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 117.
No.106a. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 118.
– As the Constitution. Alteration (Finance) Bill is now the thirteenth Order of the Day, I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government intend to proceed further with it. If they do, can he state an approximate date for the resumption of its consideration ?
– I thought that it was plain that the business-paper had been arranged in view of the proposed departure, at the end of this week, of certain honorable members to make an inspection connected with the construction of the transcontinental railway. Therefore, measures which have been received from the Senate, and which, being of a non-party character, need to be considered chiefly from technical points of view, have been given precedence. I hope that next week we shall be able to resume the consideration of the Bill mentioned.
– When does the Minister of Home Affairs propose to ask the House to consider the report of the Commissioner who has re-arranged the boundaries of the Western Australian electoral districts? I understand that he has received the report.
– Although the report has been received and circulated amongst honorable members, it has not yet been considered by the Cabinet. I hope that its consideration will take place very shortly, when notice will be given of our intentions in the matter.
– Can the Minister of Home Affairs say whether the rolls which are at present being compiled in- Western Australia - I understand the names are being collected by the police- are being prepared in anticipation of the acceptance by Parliament of the amended sub-divisions proposed by the Commissioner for that State? Ifthey are, does not the Minister think it a matter of urgency that a decision should be arrived at by the’ House with regard to the proposed new boundaries as early as possible?
– I do not think the position put by the honorable member is affected by the delay in taking the necessary steps for the adoption by Parliament of the plan of redistribution. - The matter, however, was only submitted to the members of the House this morning, and I hope that it will be dealt with shortly.
– Can the Prime Minister give the House any indication of his intentions-
– Order ! I must appeal to honorable members, to allow those who are asking questions to be heard by the Minister who is being interrogated and also by the Chair. It really seems that honorable members are becoming so accustomed to the call of “order” that they treat it with contempt. I ask honorable members to assist the Chair in conducting the business in an orderly fashion, and appeal to them not to carry on conversations in such a tone as to preclude Ministers or the Chair from hearing what issa id.
– Can the Prime Minister give any indication of his intentions with regard to the business now standing on the notice-paper, what measures he proposes to push on with, and, as far as possible, in what order he will proceed with them? If he can also state what is in his mind with regard to the approximate date for terminating the session, I feel sure the House will be greatly obliged.
– Probably the honorable and learned member did not catch the reply given to the last question on the subject. I pointed out that the notice-paper had been shaped for the present to meet the convenience of those honorable members who proposed to be absent on the visit to
Oodnadatta. I indicated that the principal measure with which we hoped to proceed next week was that relating to the financial agreement. After that, with the exercise of due expedition, it is hoped that the House will rise early in December. At the same time, I trust that honorable members will consider that the discharge of business is the first duty, and that the question of rising should be postponed until our work is done.
– Will the Prime Minister see that the Seamen’s Compensation Bill, a non-party measure, which has been passed by the Senate, receives consideration at an early date ?
– Hear, hear.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. In the summary of last night’s Parliamentary proceedings appearing in this morning’s Argus, appears the following paragraph : -
asked if the Prime Minister would arrange to adjourn the House over Melbourne Cup Day.
I do not know whether the Argus is attempting to perpetrate a joke upon me, but ever since I have been a member I have strongly opposed any attempt to subordinate the work of Parliament to the Melbourne Cup. I see no reason to alter that opinion, and made no representations to the Prime Minister, as alleged in that paragraph.
– Has the Prime Minister come to any determination regarding Tuesday next? Is it intended that we shall meet in the evening, as we did on one occasion, or adjourn over the whole day ?
– I replied last evening that I hoped that we would sit on Cup Day, and shall probably be able to give the honorable member the exact information at the rising of the House.
Alleged Combine in Western Australia.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
I should like to add that Queanbeyan, although the station nearest to the proposed Federal Capital site, is not the nearest station to the catchment area from which the water supply of the future Capital will be drawn. The average rainfall on the tableland from whence the water supply will come is very considerably higher than that of Queanbeyan.
Provision for Mail Steamers calling at Hobart.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
If definite arrangements have been made for mail steamers to call at Hobart for cargo during the fruit export season?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The Mail Service Agreement entered into with the Orient Steam Navigation Company Limited, to commence from a day in February, 1910, provides that in each and every year during the continuance of the Agreement, the contractors shall cause at least six of the mail ships to proceed to and call at Hobart, in Tasmania, during the months of February to May, inclusive. Provided always that if in any year the contractors shall prove to the satisfaction of. the Postmaster-General that, calls at Hobart during that year are or would be unprofitable, the Postmaster-General may direct that the whole or any of such calls for that vear may be omitted.
Motion .(by Mr. Joseph -Cook) proposed -
That the report be now adopted.
– I move -
That clause 2 be recommitted for Hie purpose of making provision that the Act shall commence on n. day to be fixed by proclamation after provision for ways and means has been made from the proceeds of direct taxation.
So far as this House is aware, no provision has been made by the Government to finance this measure. It has been shown in the debate on the Constitution Alteration (Finance) Bill that the Government cannot possibly finance it from the proceeds of present Customs and Excise revenue that will remain after the amount which it is proposed to return to the States shall have been allocated. It is very desirable, generally speaking, that a Government, in submitting a Bill for the consideration of the House, should also bring forward a proposal to provide Ways and Means to finance it. We are drifting into a most lamentable procedure in this regard. Time after time measures are submitted without any proposal being made to find the money necessary to administer them. Many proposals are brought before the House, the fate of which might be materially altered if honorable members knew that Ways and Means to finance them were to be provided from certain sources. It is unfair to provide Ways and Means for financing this measure by means of Customs taxation. Customs taxation is borne largely by the working classes, and is almost entirely a class tax. Unless duties are levied to a large extent on the necessaries of life, the yield from Customs taxation is very small. To raise a large Customs revenue, duties have to be imposed on articles in general consumption by the working classes. Whilst the Constitution under which we are governed provides for the defence of the hearths and homes of the people, those who hold large properties - the wealthy of the community - do not contribute adequately to the defence of such properties by merely submitting themselves to compulsory training. A large number of men are called upon to train to assist in safeguarding them, and it is only fair that something in the nature of a direct insurance should be paid by such properties for the provision of defence made very largely on their behalf. The principle of providing for defence by means of direct taxation is accepted in Great Britain. The cost of preparation for both military and naval defence there is largely provided by means of death and succession duties, and the income tax. I need not, however, refer in detail to that phase of the subject, for the honorable member for Coolgardie dealt with it very effectively in a notable speech which he made in this House last session.
– Are the Government going to finance the Bill by means of borrowed money, or by Customs taxation?
– We ought to know whether the cost of defence is to be met by Customs or direct taxation, or whether the Government propose to borrow for that purpose. Direct taxation would be the best system to adopt. Customs taxation for such a purpose is objectionable, and borrowing would be even worse, since it would mean saddling future generations with a permanent debt in respect of the defence of the Commonwealth at the present time.
I haveno desire to speak at length. The issue that I put before honorable’ members is a simple one, and I hope that the Government will agree to the recommittal of the clause, so that we may provide that the coming into operation of the Act shall be preceded by provision for direct taxation. I trust that, in the absence of a specific understanding to that effect, the Government will state how they propose to find the money necessary to finance it.
Dr.MALONEY (Melbourne) [3.0].- It is not my desire to take up much time, or to retard the passing of the Bill. The honorable member for Cook has moved in accordance with a motion which the honorable member for Coolgardie has had on the notice-paper in more than one session, with the object of defraying the whole cost of defence from land revenues. I remind honorable members that we are merely parasites, clinging to a ball which is whirling through space, and that, while ours is only a life tenure, the earth is here for always. In the Old Land the revenue was at one time divided into three portions, one for the civil list, one for the clergy, charity, and hospitals, and a third for defence; and we. know that in one hundred consecutive years of warfare notone penny-piece of debt was incurred. It was only unfortunately under the Hanoverian succession that the National Debt grew - and I do not mean unfortunately in view of that succession, because as between the Stuarts and the Georges, God knows which was worst ! It was in the reign of Charles II. that there was created that huge incubus known as the National Debt of England. It would be simplicity itself if the revenues of the land were devoted to the purposes of defence. If twenty ironclads were required, all the Minister of the day would have to do, if supported by the taxpayers, would be to increase the taxation in order to obtain sufficient money. I cannot understand how any one, knowing our short tenure of life, can combat the idea that the land only should be the basis for raising the necessary money for defence. With our untold millions of acres, we have resources that would impress nationalities more than, perhaps, the few thousand soldiers we could place in the field. On the other hand, if we have recourse to the Customs House, then our policy cannot be protective, because, as we know, the more revenue a Tariff produces the less protective it is. To raise money in this way for defence would mean an infamous system of revenue tariffism, which any decent Free Trader would regard with contempt and loathing. An an uncompromising Protectionist, I have every respect for the true Free Trader, but I have nothing but dislike for the revenue tariff man. I understand the difficulty of the Government, but now is the time to grasp the nettle and set an example which every other country would wish to follow. I repeat that the land which has to be defended, and which will always be here, should provide the means of defence. In view of the evils of a national debt, I look forward with some trepidation to our obtaining the necessary revenue from the Customs House. The majority of honorable members are adverse to borrowing ; and the State of Victoria alone, which has paid over ^50,000,000 in principal and interest, and still owes ^54,000,000, furnishes what ought to be a sufficient warning. I have restrained myself during the whole time this Bill has been before us, but I enter my protest now. If the House fails to recognise the necessity of ear-marking the land revenues for defence, it will show that it is not wise enough to read the future. The example of England which I have already cited is the best that any historian could produce in favour of making the lands bear the burden; and in that case, although there was fifty years of civil war, only one-third of the revenue was used in the way I advocate. I support the recommittal of the Bill ; and if the motion be carried, I shall be content with the decision at which the House may arrive, even though it does not meet the view of the honorable member for Cook.
.- The feeble response of “Aye” when you, Mr. Speaker, formally put the motion, prompts” me to say a few words. After the honorable member for Cook had taken a rather unusual course in introducing this question, I think that we might have been given some indication of the intentions of the Government. We have to thank the honorable member for Melbourne for his historical researches, which remind us of Ha Ham’s Middle Ages, and, in view of the expressions of opinion we have heard on various occasions, particularly when the Budget and the Defence Estimates have been before us, we should have some statement from the Government. Under this Defence Bill” the expenditure will be £1,750,000 or ,£2,000,000 per annum; ami it is only right that we should know the direction in which the Government intend to look for this money. Australia has been singularly fortunate, inasmuch as none of the loan moneys have been used for war purposes. Whatever may be said against the loan system, it cannot bt denied that we have assets for our expenditure. The money has been used in the useful work of developing the country, the portion spent in defence being insignificant ; and we ought to know whether it is the intention of the Government to meet the forthcoming large expenditure from current revenue. If it is intended to borrow for defence purposes, we are entering a downward path, and are’ not dealing fairly with the people. The Bill provides for compulsory training, and our expenditure on naval and military defence will be very large. At the present time, we have only Customs and Excise revenue from which to defray it. Neither Free Traders nor Protectionists desire to have their Tariff burdens increased. The main sources of the Commonwealth revenue now, apart from the duties on intoxicants and narcotics, are the duties on food supplies, apparel, and so on, which bear heavily upon the masses. It would not be fair to increase or extend those duties to provide additional revenue for defence purposes. But if the Customs and* Excise revenue is not increased, we shalT either not have a sufficient sum to pay for defence, or shall have to go short in regard to necessary developmental works.’ We are considering legislation concerning large projects which will have to be put’ on one side altogether, if the expense is to be paid for out of the existing revenueThe Government must have a policy, and should say whether it is intended to pay for defence out of revenue, or out of loan money, and whether, if it is intended to pay for it out of revenue, the revenue will be increased by direct taxation or by an alteration of the Tariff. Personally, I favour an income tax rather than a land tax in this connexion, because I think that it would give the larger return, and would call upon those possessing property, whose safety had been guaranteed, to pay the cost.
– The motion speaks only of direct taxation.
– The honorable member has not indicated his preference in the matter. I feel strongly’ that ‘ the masseson whom the Bill imposes military service should not have to bear the extra cost) which it will involve. It would be scandalous if the first Commonwealth loan was floated to obtain money for purposes of defence. Should a division be taken on the proposal of the honorable member for Cook, I will vote for it with greater delight than I have yet voted for a motion. I trust, however, that a Minister will indicate the intentions of the Government in regard to effectively financing the defence scheme. In any case, we should see that those whose wealth is safeguarded do not escape fair taxation. If the Government refuse to agree to that, we must vote for the recommittal of the Bill to place our opinion in the matter on record.
.- It affords me satisfaction to note that the idea of levying direct taxation to provide funds for the defence of Australia is making headway. When the matter was first mooted by me in this chamber, it was considered that we should not ear-mark any revenue for a specific purpose, but it is now seen - and will appear clearer in future - that the cost of defence should be provided by the wealth of the country. The underlying prinpicle is that, just as the owner of a house pays premiums to an insurance company to recoup him his loss from fire, and as the ship-owner insures against disaster at sea, so property owners generally should pay for the defence of their belongings from confiscation by a foreign foe. In proceeding on those lines, we are on sound and unassailable ground. So that there may be no misunderstanding because of the remark, of the honorable member for Melbourne, that we propose to tax land solely to provide for national defence, I wish to read a motion which I submitted to the House on the5th November, 1908. It is this -
That summarizes the position ofthose who view the matter as I do. We think that taxation should fall, not on one, but on all forms of wealth. I do not think that the farmer or pastoralist who owns £5,000 or £10,000 of land should be compelled to pay more for the defence of the country than the holder of£5,000 or £10,000 worth of Government bonds.
– Or of bank shares.
– The bondholder should pay more than the shareholder, because in the last analysis it will probably be found that bank shares already contribute something to the revenue of the country. I regret that the Government has not indicated how it intends to provide for the defence of Australia. Speaking in support of the motion which I have read, I predicted - and the prophecy will be borne out very nearly - that we shall shortly have to pay £2,000,000 for defence, or 24s. a year for each breadwinner. I added that -
The office-boy earning 5s. per week will give a month’s pay to the fund. The farm labourer, the navvy, the miner, and the shearer will do five or six days’ extra ploughing, delving, and shearing to make up for their rich employer’s evasion of his liability in connexion with the defence of his wealth. If any one of them were bluntly commanded to do this he would probably revolt.
Quite 80 per cent. of the revenue from Customs and Excise duties is drawn from those whose incomes are small, or who work for weekly wages, and possess but little property. I regret that the Commonwealth Statistician has found it impossible to estimate the value of the privately held lands of Australia. He has reported that he cannot obtain the necessary information without the co-operation of the Governments of the States; and they, while not refusing to furnish the information, show no inclination to accommodate us. Why should the workers pay 80 per cent. of the cost of protecting private property, which belongs to about 20 per cent. of the people?
– It is exactly the opposite.
– Where does the honorable member get those figures?
– My figures, which are admittedly only approximate, are based on the official statistics for Victoria, whose circumstances differ only slightly from those of the other States. The Savings Bank returns do not furnish a wholly reliable guide, because many persons are in the habit of opening small accounts for their children. This, of course, enormously increases the number of depository. Probably the number of breadwinners who have accounts in the Savings Bank is not much larger in Australia tiran elsewhere. However, I am prepared to stand by the figures which I gave last November, and which I submit for the in- formation of the honorable members for Balaclava and Fawkner. I hope we shall take a straight-out vote on this proposal, so that the public may know who are prepared to face the defence problem in a practical manner, and without perpetuating injustice on the unpropertied masses. We ought to know who are resolved to go on making poverty pay for the protection of wealth ; and who, on the other hand, are prepared to place the burden of the cost of defending this country on the shoulders of those best able to bear it.
– Increased defence expenditure is the trouble in the case of the English Budget at present.
– I should be content to follow the English example in this matter. From the earliest times down to the present the cost of defending England and carrying on her wars abroad has been borne by property. The kings had vast estates in those days, and whenever it was necessary to raise money for war purposes, property in towns and cities was levied upon, so all that the workers had to find were the men to fight the battles. If Australia ever has to fight an invader, it will be the masses of Australia that must defend the country, and it is grossly unfair to expect them also to provide the munitions of war and the cost of maintenance in times of peace. I therefore hope that the honorable member who introduced this proposal will persevere with and carry it to a vote, and that we shall get some intimation from the Government of how they are going to finance the increasing burden of defence. That phase of the question has never been properly placed before the community. In the various estimates of the cost of defence furnished in the Budget papers from time to time, I have found that no interest has been charged on the capital sunk in forts and guns. Although those forts and guns are continually depreciating they are being charged at their original value as if they were still worth the money first expended upon them. The expenditure on defence has also been continually under-estimated. I believe that if the matter were gone into thoroughly it would be found that we are really spending fully£2,000,000 per annum on defence, and that the money is coming almost exclusively from the pockets of those who possess little or no property. That fact constitutes a grievance against which the people of this country have a right to revolt. This proposal will be resisted by those honorable members who have vast possessions and “ flocks on many hills.” Payment by the community of an assurance premium for the protection of their wealth is a very comfortable arrangement for them. But I venture to hope that the masses will wake up to the fact that for them it is an evil and iniquitous arrangement. It should be enough that the manhood of the nation is drilled and disciplined for any conflict, that it should risk existence for the preservation of our independence, without being required also to shoulder the financial burden which should be borne by the accumulated wealth of the country.
.- In view of the fact that this Bill will not come into operation until the year 191 1, there is no necessity for this proposal at the present stage. In the course of the next two years the questions connected with the matter can be fought out, both at the general election and in this Parliament. The necessity for making provision for defence is of vital importance, and must be faced whatever source the money is to come from. But at present debate upon this most important subject, regarding which I admit there is a great deal to be said, will be an unjustifiable call upon the very short period which we have for the transaction of the remaining pressing business of the session.
.- The honorable member who , brought this question’ before the House is to be commended. We have been engaged in pushing through a defence scheme practically irrespective of its probable cost, and without any consideration of who is to pay for the upkeep of this big machine. It seems a very pertinent question to put to the Government from what source they intend to raise the necessary taxation. The people are to-day paying through the Customs House about 48s. per head. That, for an average family of six, is over£14 per annum.
– It must be a very big family to pay £14.
– The average amount of Customs taxation is £2 10s. per head.
– I put it at 48s. per head. A family of six, including father and mother, is not at all excessive. The Defence Bill, when in operation, means a cost of 10s. 6d. per head of the population. We have also to hand over to the States, either in perpetuity,or for at least a term of years, 25s. per head out of the 48s. per head of our present income.
Therefore, the increased defence expenditure, with old-age pensions, will absorb to within about 2s. per head of our remaining income. Compulsion in defence has never been very palatable, to me, but if it is to be adopted, and the cost of it is to be borne by the Customs revenue, it will be one of the cruellest pieces of work that this Parliament has ever perpetrated on the masses. Although wages have been slightly increased during the last few years, the increased cost of living, chiefly as the result of the Customs duties imposed by this Parliament, has in all the States practically counterbalanced that increase.
– But the honorable member supported the honorable member for Hume in increasing the duties, or his party did.
– The honorable member has only just awakened. I moved about 300 amendments on the Tariff, all in the direction of reducing duties. If it is the intention of the Government to make the Customs revenue bear the additional burden of defence, it will be cruel to the masses of the people. Another suggestion is that the cost should be met from loan money, but God forbid that we should start a compulsory defence scheme and couple it with a loan proposition. Even if that policy were temporarily adopted, the interest would still have to come from Customs revenue, and the masses would have to pay it. I do not say that the land should bear the whole of the burden. Such a proposition would be as unfair as that the Customs revenue should bear the whole of it. But 110 honorable member can object to land and income bearing their proportion of the cost of defence. It is all very well to put off the evil day. We are reminded that the Bill does not come into operation until 19 1 1, and because of that we are, forsooth, asked blindly to accept a compulsory enrolment and training policy, with an expensive Defence Force, and leave to the future the question of devising methods to find the money for it. I do not feel inclined to take that course. I admit that we have not a great deal of time this session, but no question has come before the House that deserves more consideration than this. It is due to the House that the Government should give some indication, if they have a policy on the subject, of what that policy is. If the money is to be found through Customs taxation, the country is entitled to know it. If the masses supply the bone and sinew for the standing Army which we are about to create, wealth should contribute something towards its upkeep. We should not ask the people, not only to make sacrifices by submitting to compulsory training, but also to find the necessary funds.. There will be some heart-burnings when the Bill, as it stands, is put into operation, because many lads will be taken away from their work, and will find their billets filled when they come back. At the same time, it is generally admitted and approved that we should do something substantial to establish an effective Defence Force. I cannot credit that the land-owners and others who possess wealth are not sufficiently patriotic to contribute their share towards the upkeep of the new force.
– I wish to take a point of order as to whether the proposal is relevant to the Bill. So far as I know, there is nothing about finance in the Bill..
– It is just a desire to obstruct - a systematic game honorable members opposite are playing.
– It is a dodge to get in opinion in regard to the matter.
– And I submit that an opinion upon the matter is also irrelevant to the Bill. The only question to be considered is whether we are to have defence or not. Do honorable members suggest that unless we propose direct taxation they will refuse to vote for the Bill? Will they refuse to provide for any. defence of Australia unless it is accompanied by a scheme of taxation?
– Has any one said that?
– No. But unless they do, what purpose is to be served by recommitting the clause?
-Does the honorable member desire his point of order to be dealt with?
– I do, sir.
– I would point out to the Minister of Defence that the honorable member for Cook, in giving reasons why clause 2 should be recommitted, did not necessarily commit himself to the submission of any particular proposition in Committee. The question before the House is whether clause 2 should be recommitted.
– “ For the purpose” of a certain amendment.
– Although the- honorable member for Cook handed up his proposal in that form, the motion, as stated to the House, was simply, “ That clause 2 be recommitted.” In the circumstances, the question does not now arise of whether any projected amendment is or is not in order.
– As the motion was not put by Mr. Speaker in the form in which it was moved, my point of order does not apply; but I ask honorable members whether it is reasonable to tack on to a Bill of this kind all sorts of irrelevant amendments ?
– Surely a proposal as to the means of financing it is not irrelevant.
– The honorable member has already been told quite plainly that the Government propose to find the means for financing this Bill ; that they propose to find a sum amounting ultimately to £2,500,000 per annum to develop the defence scheme of Australia.
– There has been no indication of how the money is to be raised.
– I see no difficulty at the present time. We hope to make such financial arrangements as will enable us to finance this Bill without resorting to further taxation.
– That is impossible.
– The honorable member may think so; but I hope that he will agree that the’ responsibility rests with the Government, and that he need not worry till the financial proposals are submitted.
– Perhaps the Government propose a loan for this purpose.
– What! To pay our soldiery? I hope not.
– A loan is to be raised to provide for the cost of constructing the new Naval Fleet.
– But that has nothing to do with this Bill. I ask honororable members whether they think it is wise, first of all, to insert in the Bill provisions relating to temperance reform, and social reform, and to follow those up with a clause relating to economic reform?
– If the honorable member could stand the other provisions to which he has referred, he ought to be able to stand this.
– I do not think there is any need to stand it. I presume that my honorable friend is not anxious to impose additional taxation on the people of Australia, unless it is necessary to do so.
– I am in favour of a tax on wealth to provide for defence, rather than providing for it by means of a loan.
– In addition to the present taxation? I am sure that the honorable member does not mean that. I could understand a desire on his part for taxation in substitution for some of the indirect taxation at present imposed ; but we believe that we shall be able to finance these proposals without resorting to increased taxation of any kind.
– Without crippling any other service?
– Yes, that is the position we take up.
– And no loan required?
– I am talking, not of providing for the cost of constructing warships, but of the annual defence expenditure, amounting to about £2,250,000, and increasing ultimately to about £2,500,000. We hope to provide for that expenditure without resorting to further taxation. I therefore ask honorable members to allow this question to be determined without any prolongation of the debate. No good purpose can be served by it except in relation to the interesting object that we all have in view, and which must be met before many months elapse.
.- The statement just made by the Minister ofDefence is one of the most evasive to which we have listened in this House. He informs us that under this Bill we shall have an expenditure in the vicinity of £2,250,000 per annum.
– Not under this Bill.
– Well, then, the honorable member meant to say that in connexion with the defence proposals of the Government it is estimated that we shall have an annual expenditure of about £2,250,000, increasing ultimately perhaps to , £2,500,000. If this Bill is to be effective it will soon be brought into operation, and expenditure must be incurred in connexion with it within a very short period. When the Minister of Defence was moving the second reading of the Bill he was asked several times to state how the Government proposed to finance it, but he made no response. He now assures the House that the Government hope, without imposing any increased taxation, to meet the demands which it will make upon them.
– Honorable members asked me to make a statement, and they are now using the statement I have madeas a text for further discussion.
– The honorable member should have made a clear statement on the motion for the second reading of the Bill as to the method by which the Government propose to finance it. He could not be induced, however, to do so, and we have not had since any information from the Ministry as to the methods bywhich it is to be financed. The Minister has said, in a way that may carry conviction to the minds of some people, that the Government hope to be able to finance it without imposing additional taxation. If they do, why do they anticipate a shortage of £600,000 this year in connexion with the payment of old-age pensions?
– Surely the honorable member knows?
– The financial proposals of Government after Government have not been sufficiently inquired into by this House. Obligations have been incurred with some degree of. recklessness, and the financial necessities of the Commonwealth have not received at the hands of honorable members the attention they deserve. If we are to have this year a shortage of £600,000 in connexion with the payment of old-age pensions, how can the Ministry hope to finance this Bill without resorting to increased taxation? We shall need additional revenue if we are to return to the States anything like the amount which the Government propose.
– How long is the honorable member likely to be?
– That is the coolest question I have heard for a long time.
– I hope that it is a fair one.
– I do not think it is. If the honorable member desires to take certain action with a view of closing the debate, it is open to him to do so. The Government have been asked to make a statement.
– And a definite statement has been made.
– On the contrary, we have had from the honorable gentleman a bald assertion unsupported by facts.
– What does the honorable member want?
– Some indication of how the Bill is to be financed. According to the Budget Statement, the Government anticipate this year a deficiency of £1,200,000, and under this Bill they will probably incur this year a further expenditure of£500,000, for which no provision has been made. Will the Minister say that my estimate of £500,000 is correct?
– An additional expenditure of£150,000 will be incurred this year.
– The honorable gentleman will have some difficulty in convincing the people that what he has described as an eminently unsatisfactory condition of affairs in relationto our defence system, isto be made highly satisfactory by an additional expenditure of£150,000.
– Does the honorable member know that the British Minister of War has turned an unsatisfactory state of. affairs at Home into a satisfactory system, and yet decreased the cost?
– I do; and by altering the conditions of control - beginning, of course, with the Ministerialhead - we might obtain a more satisfactory system here without increased cost.
– Does the honorable member know that this Bill is not to come into operation until July, 191 1?
– I know that if this proposition is accepted, the date on which it isproposed that the Bill shall come into operation may be materially altered.
– The Government desire delay until after the elections.
– The Government are certainly laying themselves open to the charge of being financial muddlers.
– We are waiting for a more reasonable Opposition !
– I do not know about a more reasonable, but there will certainly be a more numerous Opposition after the elections.
– I think we are getting away from the question, which is the recommittal of clause 2. It is hardly fair to an honorable member, who is endeavouring to show reason why clause 2 should be recommitted, to tempt him to wander into paths which he should avoid.
– The Minister of Defence should have made a statement as to the financial proposals of the Government, but he has given us nothing but the bald assertion that they will be able to provide the necessary money. A short time ago, the Minister of Defence said that the Government would have plenty of money to finance every proposal ; but, as a matter of fact, they refused to provide £250,000 in order to relieve the invalid poor of Australia. I refer to that incident merely to show the necessity of adopting a system of taxation, so that money may be provided for defence, leaving current revenue for such humanitarian purposes as I have indicated. The desire of the honorable member for Cook is to tax the wealth of the country which is to be insured by a more effective defence system.
– That is not the question before the Chair.
– The Minister has had his say, and I think he might leave it to Mr. Speaker to see that I keep within the reasonable limits of debate.
– The question is merely whether we are to have a Budget debate or not.
– The Minister, when not making a speech, is talking half the time he is sitting down. I regard the proposal of the honorable member for Cook as an eminently fair one. The urgency of the matter is undoubted ; and we are quite entitled to press for the declaration of a definite policy.
– The Government do not say that they are not going to borrow.
– On short-dated Treasury bills.
– I do not think the Government will borrow on short-dated Treasury bills, because an expression of opinion from the Government corner has settled that matter. We are faced with the fact that we shall have to provide the money, and must devise the most effective means of doing so.
.- As the Minister of Defence has said, we dp not desire to have a second Budget debate, and I shall not say ‘more than a few words. As a matter of fact, no ruling has yet been given on the point whether it is in order to introduce a financial proposal of this kind without a message. The contention of honorable members opposite is that wealthy ought to bear its share of taxation”, and with that view we all agree, the only question being as to the adjustment of the incidence of taxation to secure that result. It is suggested that the greater part of the Customs revenue, amounting to about 80 per cent., comes out of _ the pockets of the masses. A little while ago, when we were discussing the Tariff, one of the chief arguments of the Protectionists, who form a large majority, was that Protection reduces prices, and I know that in several industries with which I was connected that was its first effect. If the people get their goods cheaper under Protection, it cannot be said that they pay the greater part of the revenue, because it must be really the importer who pays. I cannot agree, however, that 80 per cent, of the Customs revenue is contributed by the masses; and, with the honorable member for Coolgardie, I think it would be much more satisfactory if we had before us thoroughly reliable statistics on the question.
– No doubt the users of the goods pay the duties.
– The honorable member, as a Free Trader, takes that view, or, at any rate, it is a Free Trade view that he is expressing. But the argument that was used throughout the Tariff debate was that Protection not only gives us the advantage of having the goods manufactured here, but also makes the goods cheaper to the people. At any rate, I merely rose to make the,, suggestion that, perhaps, our Statistical Department could give us some reliable figures on the point. I see that the Customs revenue amounts to £2 10s. 8fd. per head, and that, of this amount, 17s. represents taxation upon luxuries. No doubt a fair proportion of the burden falls on the trades unionists ; but there are other classes of employes, who are provided for by their employers, and who, therefore, have not to pay the duties. However, this is not the time to discuss such a question. The Bill will not come into operation until July, 1911, and I suggest that there will be time in the next Parliament to adjust the taxation.
– I hope that the clause will be recommitted. It is true that the Bill does not come into operation until 191 1; but it will be a question placed before the electors at the forthcoming election, and, therefore, it is essential that we should be able to say how the money is to be raised. If the Government have in view a scheme of direct taxation, the necessary measure could not be passed . before the middle of 1910; and, if we allow another six months before it can be put into operation, we art within a few months of the Bill coming into force. Under the circumstances, the desire that the financial proposals shall go with the Bill is not at all unreasonable. The debate leads me to the conclusion that the Government have in mind two proposals for finance and defence, and one of these is an increased revenue Tariff. If that be so, it is unworthy of those who have in the past supported Protection. I had hoped to see the revenue from our so-called Protective Tariff diminishing, and I think every thorough Protectionist had a similar anticipation. Am I to understand that the Prime Minister and others have totally abandoned the principle of effective Protection? I cannot believe that the Government are irrevocably committed to borrowing ; at any rate, I deprecate any attempt at defraying the cost of our defence by means of money raised in Great Britain ; and it seems to me folly to deal with the question of defence without having before us proposals for the necessary financing of the scheme. The Minister of Defence may be tactically clever in his attempt to burk the question; but the people outside ought to be considered, seeing that they have to bear the cost. After all, defence really means the insurance of property held in Australia. It is surely not unreasonable for us to ask that the owners of property shall be called upon to pay for its defence in proportion to their wealth. That is practically what the honorable member for Cook asks us to affirm. Like other honorable members, I think that to put the whole burden on our land-holders would be unfair ; we should tax all incomes, whether from land or from other forms of investment. I refrained as much as possible from speaking on the Defence Bill, because I very much desire the establishment of a proper defence system. Every man who has the good of the Commonwealth at heart must desire that. But Ministers are not as enthusiastic about it as they should be, if they will not make a reasonable proposal for financing this measure, which I regard as only temporary. I cannot believe that it will prove permanently sufficient. Besides £2,500,000, we shall have to find a much larger sum before our defence arrangements can be wholly effective. I ask honorable members to support the motion for the recommittal of clause 2, so that they may draw from Ministers a reasonable statement of their intention with regard to the financial side of this great question.
– The House would not do justice to itself if it refused to consider how the Defence Bill is to be financed. We are making very radical changes in our de fence system, greatly enlarging our naval and military expenditure. In the Territorial Forces we propose to enlist a great many of our youths, and have provided, not merely for voluntary, but also for compulsory, service, to secure the widest training possible. In past years, many complaints have been voiced in this Chamber about the inability of the Departmentto meet the demands made upon it for the establishment of companies of the Australian Light Horse in country centres, the institution of civilian rifle clubs, and other necessary expenditure ; but the cry has always been, not that the proposals were not desirable, but that the Commonwealth could not finance them. Now a new scheme of defence is being provided for which will greatly increase our expenditure, and we ask for definite information as to how the necessary money is to be found. No proposal has as yet been submitted.
– Financial provision for defence will be made separately.
– Howdoes the Minister intend to give effect to his defence scheme unless he provides for revenue with which to pay for it. The success of the scheme depends upon its financing.
– The financing will be arranged for.
– The Minister has not told us how it will be arranged for. The honorable member for Cook has suggested a legitimate and hitherto unexploited source of revenue.
– His amendment says in effect “ no direct taxation, no defence.” It is just as well that the people outside should know it.
– I do not think that that is the effect of the amendment. The honorable member for Cook does not propose that the defence of the country shall be paid for wholly from revenue derived from direct taxation. He merely asks that a substantial amount shall be obtained in that way.
– He asks the House to declare that the Defence Bill shall not pass until what he proposes has been done.
– I understand that he regards the Bill as an addition to the existing law. It is a measure providing for additional expenditure on defence, and he wishes to provide for this additional expenditure - not for the whole cost of defence - in the manner proposed in his amendment.
– What he says is that there shall be no additional defence’ unless it is paid for in. the way he proposes.
– He considers that a substantial part of the additional burden of cost should come from the source which he suggests.
– Does the honorable member know of a Defence Bill which was a taxation Bill as well?
– It is not proposed to levy taxation by means of the Bill ; the amendment merely indicates’ a source whence revenue may be looked for. The honorable member only asks that provision for getting revenue from that source shall be made in the Bill. There should be no objection to that. If the Minister believes that the wealthy should contribute towards the cost of defence - that there is a special claim on accumulated wealth in this connexion - he should not object to the insertion of the proposed provision in the Bill. Even should his interpretation of the amendment be correct, it is open for him to ask the House to amend it. But, adopting that interpretation, he opposes the vital underlying principle of the amendment.
– It is a well-known rule that debate must be relevant to the motion before the Chair. You, Mr. Speaker, have already said that there is nothing in the motion which relates to any scheme of taxation. I ask, therefore, whether this debate upon direct taxation is relevant.
– The question before the Chair is primarily whether a certain report shall be adopted. Upon that the honorable member for Cook has moved for the recommittal of clause 2 of the Bill. He proceeded to give reasons for his proposal, and I felt at the time that there was difficulty in defining exactly the proper scope of the discussion. The usual, though not invariable, practice is for mo-‘ tions for recommittal to be made without debate. It is necessary, in order that an honorable member may place before the House the reasons why he supports a recommittal, that he should be allowed a certain amount of latitude, but it would be improper to permit a debate in the House which would more properly take place in Committee should the Bill be recommitted. I feel that I must trust largely to honorable members to confine themselves to giving reasons for the recommittal. Incident ally they may mention the position which they would take up should the recommittal be granted, but it would hardly be in order to anticipate in detail the discussion of the proposal in Committee. I ask honorable members, with a view to conserving time, and to proceeding with business with despatch, to confine their remarks to the question before the Chair, so as to make it unnecessary for me to intervene.
– I hope that your lucid ruling, Mr. Speaker, will illuminate the understanding of the Minister of Defence regarding this proposal. He has contended that a definite proposal has been made. You suggest that that is not so, but that the honorable member for Cook is merely moving for the recommittal of a clause to make provision in it whereby a part of the cost of giving effect to the measure may be met by direct taxation. The honorable member is stating an abstract proposition. He lays down no hardandfast conditions, but simply asks for a recommittal of a clause with a view to amending it in a certain direction. If the House agrees to the recommittal, as I hope it will, then the honorable member, when he moves his amendment, will disclose to the Committee in what direction he proposes to move with regard to direct taxation. It has been admitted on the Ministerial side of the House that it is fair to ask accumulated wealth to contribute its share of the cost of defence, but so far as the House knows, the Minister proposed to meet the whole of the defence burden from indirect taxation. We on this side contend that such a policy would distribute the burden of defence most unevenly. The major portion of Customs and Excise revenue is derived from the poorer, or wage-earning, classes.
– That is not correct.
– Does the honorable member mean .to say that the major portion, of that revenue comes from the wealthy classes?
– It certainly does not come from the poorest class.
– If that is the honorable member’s contention-
– Order. I think the honorable member is going too far.
– I was simply’ answering an interjection. It is generally agreed by competent authorities that Customs and Excise taxation presses most heavily upon the wage-earning and poorer sections of the community, and that wealth does not contribute its fair share by that means. Therefore, to provide the cost of defence wholly from Customs and Excise revenue will enable accumulated wealth, which is vitally concerned in defence, to escape a large part of its just obligations. The honorable member for Cook simply asks that the Bill may be recommitted with a view to the insertion of a provision which, while it would not impose taxation, would indicate to the Government the feeling of the House that a considerable portion of the defence burden should be borne by accumulated wealth rather than by the wage-earning sections of the community. When the honorable member for Cook submits a concrete proposition in Committee, the Minister will be able to criticise it from the stand-point from which he has endeavoured to criticise the abstract proposal now before the House. If the amendment, when submitted, is not satisfactory, it will be open to honorable members to move to amend it so as to achieve the object aimed at in a more effective way. If, however, honorable members refuse to grant a recommittal, they will show that they are not prepared to ask the wealthy section of the community by means of direct taxation to contribute its fair share towards the cost of the defence scheme embodied in the Bill.
– I shall support the suggested amendment of the honorable member for Cook,because it was a part of the Brisbane Conference platform.
– Is it a taxation proposal ?
– It is.
– Then it will not be in order.
– Every measure that comes before this House is a taxation measure. Every Act of Parliament encroaches upon some special privilege hitherto held by a boodleier. The following occurred at the Brisbane Conference -
It was further agreed, after discussion, that Mr. Catts’ amendment, providing for direct taxation for naval and military purposes, should be separated from the amended motion.
The motion for the Citizen Force and Australian Navy was then put and carried by 24 to 7 in this form :
That the following be substituted for the present plank : “ Citizens’ Defence Force, with compulsory military training, and Australianowned and controlled Navy.”
The motion of Mr. Catts, seconded by Mr. Lamond, was put and carried by 29 to 3 in this form : “ That military and naval expenditure be allotted from proceeds of direct taxation.”
I wish also to show that I opposed this military business at the Brisbane Conference. I do not believe in compulsory training or extraordinary military expenditure. There should be a financial proposal for finding ways and means attached to every scheme for military expenditure, because it is an unfortunate waste. It produces no bread, increases no national wealth, reduces no taxation, but robs the millions to protect the property of thefew. This is the report of a speech which I made at that Conference -
Mr. King O’Malley wondered if the Labour party had gone mad on militarism. Labour had been fighting and “ warring “ for justice and freedom, and now they proposed to adopt the most diabolical methods of Europe, and give the gilt-spurred roosters power to blow a bugle and snatch farmers’ sons, business men’s sons, and Labour men’s sons, and send them to the front.
– I would point out to the honorable member that that matter does not come within clause 2.
– Of course, if it does not, I recognise that you are the embodiment of the power of Australia, and I at once submit, but I should have liked to get that in, in order to show how I tried to save even my own party at Brisbane from this hereditary military madness.
-But the honorable member is supporting them now.
– What else can I do? I am a. party man, and when the majority of the party say that I must fight with them I have to do so. The clause ought to be recommitted in order to secure direct taxation, because this is extraordinary expenditure. It goes beyond anything that 4,000,000 of people ever did in the history of the world, except when engaged in actual war. It is without example that 4,000,000 of people, a part of a great nation, which is the Mother of Nations, the Mother of Parliaments, and the Queen of the Seas, should enter into an unparalleled expenditure of this sort without making any provision for ways and means. Any man, whether a business man or three parts foolish and one part business, would get his plans and specifications for any expenditure that he was entering upon. Yet seventy-five members, chosen for their intellect and knowledge, day after day vote away millions of the people’s money, and make no provision whatever to ascertain where it is coming from.I thought that we were responsible trustees of the national estate, and would no more attempt to levy or vote or spend one penny of the people’s money than we would to spend our own money. If we are not good trustees in the national sense, we are certainly not fit to be trustees in the private sense. It is admitted by the best military thinkers of the twentieth century that fortifications are useless. Yet every penny of this expenditure may be spent upon building torts in which men may be imprisoned to be shot down, just as Bazaine was at Metz. Our generals and colonels have had no experience outside Australia, and yet they go in for forts. Take the example of Port Arthur, where the Russians were shut up and starved out by the Japanese. That army might have retired and fought in the open, as Washington did.
– Is this the second reading of the Defence Bill over again?
– I can assure my honorable Christian brother-
– The Speaker has left it with the honorable member, and he ought to be reasonable.
– I want to be reasonable, but at the same time I desire to show why some check should be placed on this expenditure.
– The honorable member may deal with that matter when the Defence Estimates are under consideration.
– I wish to be absolutely straight, and to say plainly that I want no further military expenditure unless we have direct taxation.
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I ask you whether the motion for the recommittal of clause 2 as submitted does not presuppose taxation, and whether it is competent for a private member to propose to increase the charges on the public revenue?
– I have already ruled that I have no knowledge of any proposition that would involve taxation. The question before the Chair is “ That clause 2 be recommitted,” and the honorable member for Darwin is entitled only to give reasons why the clause should or should not be recommitted.
– May he roam all over the world, so to speak, for reasons?
– I desire merely to enter my protest. I know that the Government have the numbers, and that they will push the Bill through, but I de sire to show why this clause should be recommitted. It has been shown during this debate that if the cost of defence is to be provided for by means of Customs and Excise taxation, the poorest manwith the largest family will have to pay as much towards the cost of the system as will the richest man with the smallest family. LloydGeorge has shown’ that in Great Britain the burden of taxation has fallen hitherto on the multitude of the workers and the battlers on whom we have lived. Why should we provide for the cost of this Bill by Customs taxation, which must be borne by the poor in the proportion of ten to nine? The Labour party are the missionaries of the twentieth century. We are trying to carry the gospel to the heathen. We feel that the wealthy ought: to pay their fair share towards the cost of defence, and we hope to convert the Ministry to our way of thinking. They have gone on the wrong track, and we desire to draw them from it. We wish to save the Government from themselves, but apparently it is useless to discuss this question further. The Government intend to expend large sums of money in the purchase of big guns that will be obsolete or worn out after two or three years’ service. I read quite recently that some of the great guns on warships in the American Navy die,so to speak, from corrosion, after fifty shots have been fired from them. All this money is to be wasted, while we make no provision to improve the lot of hundreds of our own people who are in a state of semi-starvation, and live in hovels. We ought to insist that every Defence Bill shall have attached to it national provisions for financing it. We ought, in short, to say that there shall be attached to every such Bill a national postal banking system.
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I desire before the question is put, to explain that I moved the recommittal of the clause in express terms, and handed to you a copy of my proposal. The form in which it was moved, subject to a slight correction made by you, sir, was -
That clause 2 of the Bill be recommitted for the purpose of making provision that the Act shall commence on a day to be fixed by proclamation after provision for Ways and Means has been made from the proceeds of direct taxation.
– Quite so; but it was not put in that way from the Chair.
– That was howI submitted my proposition, and I desire a vote to be taken upon it in that form.
– My recollection of what took place, Mr. Speaker, is that the honorablemember for Cook submitted his motion in the form just stated by him, and that addressing him, you said, “ The honorable member moves ‘ That clause 2 be recommitted.’ “ The honorable member replied in the affirmative.
– Oh, no.
– You then put the question, Mr. Speaker, “ That clause 2 be recommitted.”
– The facts are as stated by the honorable member for Corio. The honorable member for Cook certainly did hand up the motion, subject to one slight alteration, as read by him.His proposition read originally, “ That the Bill be recommitted,” and so forth. I pointed out that he probably desired that only clause 2 should be recommitted, and he agreed that that was so. If the honorable member desires to attach to his motion
– Surely not after the debate has taken place.
– What is now proposed is really not an amendment of. the original proposition. The question was improperly stated by the Chair, and the Chair must take the responsibility. The honorable member certainly did hand up in writing the motion in the form just stated by him, and in the circumstances I now ask the House to deal with it as reading -
That clause 2 of the Bill be recommitted for the purpose of making provision that the Act shall commence on a day to be fixed by proclamation after provision for Ways and Means has been made from the proceeds of direct taxation.
– I rise to order. Now that the amendment the honorable member for Cook intends to propose is properly before the House, I submit that it is entirely irrelevant to the Bill. It is a taxation proposal, and I submit, sir, that it cannot be held by any process of reasoning to be relevant to the Defence Bill, which does not contain even one financial provision.
– On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, I would remind you of a ruling which was given on this very pointby the late Mr. Speaker Holder on the 22nd July last. As reported in Han sard, page 1603, while the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill was under consideration, I moved that it berecommitted for the reconsideration of clause 10. That, sir, was held to be in order, and upon its rejection on division I moved -
That the Bill be sent back to the Committee for the purpose of reducing the age at which pensions are payable under section 15 of the principal Act as amended by clause 10.
The honorable member for Maranoa. asked -
Is the honorable member in order in moving to increase the charges on the revenue?
The late Mr. Speaker Holder then ruled -
I have not to decide that point now. The question before me is the recommittal of the Bill for the reconsideration of clause 10. If the House recommits the clause, it will be competent for the honorable member to raise the point in Committee.
The decision of the Speaker was that the purposes for which the recommittal was asked was a matter on which he was not then called on to give a ruling. It was certainly open to debate, if the Bill had been recommitted, whether such a proposal would have been in order ; but the Speaker would not then give a ruling. As a matter of fact, the Chairman of Committees had previously decided that such a proposal would not be in order; so that there was reasonable ground for strong difference of opinion. The essence of the proposal was to recommit a certain clause ; and I submit that the ruling I have quoted governs the present case.
-I am very glad to have this reference; and I point out that there is another reference on the same page, in the second column, showing that the honorable member submitted a motion in exactly the same terms as those in which I proposed to put the motion on the first occasion. Exception was then taken; and the late Speaker said -
I have no knowledge of the intention underlying the honorable member’s motion. His purpose was not disclosed.
The honorable member subsequently did disclose his purpose, which, undoubtedly, was in the direction indicated ; and Mr. Speaker Holder then ruled that he had not to decide the matter then. I point out to the House that the question before the Chair is not now for final settlement; but is a question as to whether the clause shall be recommitted for the purpose of reconsidering a possible amendment. Therefore, in my opinion, the objection taken by the Minister does not hold good. It is quite possible for the House to recommit a clause for a specific purpose, and it may be found in Committee that that specific purpose cannot be dealt with by the Committee. It is quite competent for the House, if it pleases, to send the clause to the Committee for reconsideration.
Question - That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause2 - put.
The House divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
.-I desire to draw attention to the fact that proposed new section 151, as amended, has really no business in the Bill ; and I think there ought to be a recommittal in order to have it struck out.
– Leave that to me to deal with.
– It is the duty of the House to endeavour to see that the legislation it passes is intelligible and reasonable. The Minister may, no doubt, endeavour to have an amendment made by the Senate-
– Are we to have another half-day’s debate ?
– I really think that this proposed new section ought to be recommitted. We have struck out the proviso, and it is, as it stands, a dead trunk. It is as follows : -
Section one hundred and forty-eight, one hundred and forty-nine, and one hundred and fifty shall not disqualify any existing officer of the Commonwealth Military Forces for the rank he holds on the date on which the Act comes into operation.
If the provision means anything, it means that no Government, in the future, can do anything whatsoever to endeavour to make existing militia officers of field rank and over efficient for the work they are now performing. I hope, sincerely, that such an interpretation is not to be placed on the proposed new section, because it means that each officer will be able to say that he has a statutory right to be there to exercise his privileges, and to continue to lead his men in time of action, and that nothing the Minister may care to do can interfere with that statutory right, however inefficient the officer may be. When I was beaten on this matter in Committee, I immediately urged the Government to throw out the whole provision, so as to leave themselves a free hand. They did not do so; and now we have a proposed new section which may give incompetency a statutory right to remain incompetent and risk the lives of men. I move -
That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of proposed new section 151.
I merely move the recommittal, leaving honorable members, inCommittee, to decide whether the proposed new section shall be struck out, or whether there shall be an amendment. An honorable member can only be against the recommittal because he has not taken the trouble to read the provision, or because he wishes the field officers to have greater rights than have the men. Surely when we are considering the efficiency of officers, we ought to take into account possible risks and dangers to which inefficiency may subject the men?
.- This proposed new section was originally introduced for quite a different purpose from that which will be achieved if it remains in the Bill in its present form. The Minister the other night was opposed altogether to the provision. He stated that it was not desirable to have it in the Bill in any form. It was sought to provide that officers should not be disqualified if they passed the examination of the Military College for the rank which they held, or within two years of its establishment obtained certificates of efficiency. The words “ within two years of the establishment of the college “were struck out, so that now incompetent officers will have a statutory right to retain their positions.
– Nothing of the kind.
– If we do not strike out this provision, the Senate will do so.
– I understand that the Minister will recommend its omission by the Senate. Why should we not take this opportunity to rectify the. error? Perhaps had the proposal been made by a direct supporter it would have been adopted, but a certain amount of resentment seems to have been caused by the attempt of the honorable member for Wentworth to amend the Bill, so that it may prove more satisfactory.
– I should like to know from the Minister why he wishes to retain this provision. If it does not mean that all existing officers shall have a statutory right to retain their positions, the Minister should say what its effect is. As originally drafted, it was a good’ provision, but the amendment which was made in it has destroyed its original purpose, and now it cannot have any force at all, unless it be an evil one.It says that -
Sections 148, 149, and 150 shall not disqualify any existing officer of the Commonwealth Military Forces for the rank he holds on the date on which the Act comes into operation.
How could those sections disqualify, even if section 151 were omitted? Perhaps the Minister of Home Affairs, who is a lawyer, will answer the question. But, no ; honorable members on that side will not say anything. Apparently they have a bad attack of lock-jaw. All that section 150 does is to declare that no officer shall be promoted above the rank of major until he has passed a prescribed course of instruction. That provision could not be interpreted to disqualify any officer now holding a position. The Minister should justify the inclusion of section 151, or agree to its omission; but apparently he knows that the numbers are with him, and, no doubt, if he insists, his supporters will follow him in this matter. Still a Minister will never lose by treating his fellowmembers reasonably.
Question - That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of proposed new section 151 - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move-
That the Bill be recommitted for theconsideration of certain new clauses.
I understand that the Minister consents to this as a personal concession to me, because I have not been well during the last few days.
– I must know what theproposed new clauses are.
– The honorable member must indicate what the new clauses are. He need not read them. It will be sufficient if he hands them in.
– On a point of order, would it not be desirable, as the House has to vote on the clauses, to let the House know what they really are?
– That is my desire, and for that reason I asked the honorable member for Corio to hand them in. The honorable member has now submitted them to me as follow - 6a. In section 36 of the Act the words “ of not less than 3 years “ are omitted. 7a. Section eleven of the Principal Act is hereby repealed and the following substituted in lieu thereof : -
The question is that the Bill be recommitted for the purpose of considering the new clauses as read.
.- I do not object to the recommittal of the Bill for the consideration of the clauses as read, but I foresee difficulties from the present mode of procedure. If the motion is carried in its present form, it will be an instruction to the Committee to deal with the new clauses as you, Mr. Speaker, have read them out, and with nothing more. If a further new clause is necessitated, I do not see how the Committee will be able to deal with it in the circumstances. The Minister is trying to avoid a recommittal of the whole Bill in such a way that endless amendments may be moved, and from his point of view he is quite right, but he ought to see that, in view of the previous decisions of the House, the recommittal of the Bill would not reopen the question of the clauses with which the House has already dealt. If, however, the Bill is to be recommitted in the way which is now being adopted, I can foresee endless trouble, and I would advise the Minister, in the interests of the proper conduct of business, not to insist on the motion being put in that form.
– What is the Minister going to do?
– Honorable members opposite are very anxious to know what the Minister is going to do. The Minister will do what he thinks he ought to do, and all this badgering by my honorable friends will not make him do anythink that he does not think he should do.
– Order! I called “ Order,” and since then no less than four interjections have been hurled across the chamber from member to member. I must ask honorable members to observe due decorum, and not to allow our deliberations to degenerate into disorder.
– I see the force of what the honorable member for Kennedy said. It does open up vistas of possibilities so far as delaying the Bill is concerned, although I am not suggesting that that is my honorable friend’s intention. The honorable member for Corio has been away sick, and consequently has had no opportunity to bring these matters before the Committee. In the circumstances it will be only common fairness to allow him to put his case.
– I submit that the proposal of the honorable member for Corio is not in order. I understand that he has moved that the Bill be recommitted, but the House has already decided that two portions of the Bill shall not be recommitted. If he moved to recommit a certain other portion of the Bill he might then be in order, but a bald motion that the Bill be recommitted, without specifying the particular clauses, is, I submit, out of order.
– It is laid down very plainly that new clauses are dealt with in Committee after the original Bill has been dealt with. The honorable member for Corio is now moving for the recommittal of the Bill for the. purpose of proposing certain new clauses. If that motion is agreed to, it will be impossible in Committee to deal with anything but the question of the addition of those clauses.
– Would any honorable member be in order in moving other new clauses after the Bill is recommitted ?
– It would be necessary to indicate what the new clauses were before the Bill was recommitted.
– I hope the honorable member for Corio will be given an opportunity of having his new clauses considered, as he has unfortunately been unable to be present previously; The Minister told us when the Bill was before the House on a previous occasion that it was a skeleton upon which to fit the flesh and blood of Ministerial policy. I find it not only a skeleton, but a mortuaryof all our hopes, and I sincerely trust that every opportunity will be given to add to its usefulness, or perhaps I had better say to broaden the scope of the measure.
– Then the honorable member thinks it is impossible now to make it a useful measure?
– I think it could be made very useful, but the whole thing is in the blue clouds of the Minister’s intentions. I know that the Minister is enthusiastic on the subject, and I do not doubt his capacity to grapple with the question when it is placed before him, but the measure as it now stands will, I am afraid, be a very severe disappointment to all persons who have seriously considered the defence question. I have no doubt, however, that the Minister will succeed in weaving something efficient out of the present unsatisfactory web of clauses and powers to prescribe. I can sincerely hope so, at any rate, for I have great trust in my honorable friend.
– I hope the Bill will be recommitted. I wish to do everything possible to enlarge the freedom of the House, and take the shackles off honorable members, so that we may try to bring this imperfect Bill into a state of perfection.
– Is not the honorable member opposed to militarism?
– Exactly, and I want to do everything I can to kill it. Therefore, in the name of freedom and liberty, I shall help the honorable member far Corio.
.- Mr. Speaker-
– Order ! The honorable member has already spoken.
– I simply raised a point of order.
– The honorable member has already moved to recommit a clause of the Bill. Does he desire to speak to the motion of the honorable member for Corio?
– Yes, I wish to indicate that when the Bill is recommitted I propose to move another new clause. I do not think it is necessary for me to specify it.
– Order ! I imagined that the honorable member was going to do something of that sort, and I told him that he had already spoken. The honorable member said he desired to speak to the motion of the honorable member for Corio. He would have been in order in doing so, but he is not in order in moving the recommittal of any further clause. He has already moved for the recommittal of a clause, and has exhausted his right.
– In order to give the honorablemember for Cook the opportunity he desires, but without committing myself to the proposition, I desire to propose the re committal of the Bill in order that a new clause may be added specifying that Ways and Means shall be provided for the purposes of the Bill from the proceeds of direct taxation. If the Bill is to be recommitted and any honorable member wishes to propose a new clause he ought to be allowed to do so.
– Order ! The motion indicated by the honorable member for Hindmarsh would not be in order, as the House has already decided the question. The question is that the Bill be recommitted for the purpose of considering the new clauses to be proposed by the honorable member for Corio.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee : (Recommittal).
.- I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 6a. In section 36 of the Act the words ‘ of not less than three years’ are omitted.”
Section 36 of the principal Act reads -
Persons voluntarily enlisting as members of the Permanent and Militia Forces shall engage to serve for a prescribed period of not less than three years, and as members of the Volunteer Forces and Reserves for a prescribed period of not less than two years.
That provision will be affected only by the omission of the words “of not less than three years”; but a consequential amendment of the form of the motion will have to be moved in the Senate. There is, in force a regulation made under this section by which every warrant officer, non-commissioned officer, and soldier, and also every petty officer and sailor have to be re-enlisted and medically examined at the end of five years after their enlistment, and thereafter every three years, irrespective of whether or not such an examination is necessary. In 1907 the Military Board tried to overcome the difficulty by issuing with the approvalof the Minister of theday a regulation which avoided the necessity of that triennial reenlistment and medical examination. That regulation was put in force for a little while, but it was found apparently to be contrary to the provisions of the section, and an order was then issued that pending the alteration of section 36 of the Defence Act and the form of oath laid down in the third schedule to the Act, the old period ofre-enlistment for a period of three years in the Permanent Forces should be adhered to. That order was signed by the then Assistant Adjutant-General of Victoria, and applied to this State, but it was applied by other order to the whole of Australia. This proposed new clause is necessary, and I trust that it will be carried.
– The honorable member for Corio, I understand, desires to remove the rigid provisions of section 36 of the principal Act, so as to allow these matters to be prescribed by the Department.
– So far as I can see there is not much objection to that. The matter to which the honorable member refers could perhaps he better dealt with by administration than by legislation.
.- I cordially agree with the’ Minister of Defence that it is well to have power to prescribe certain matters. We cannot be sure, however, that some chance Ministry of the future would not in any way interfere with the duration of the service of the Permanent Forcesand the Militia under section 36 of the principal Act as proposed now to be amended. . The position would be serious if the length of service were suddenly altered, but I am glad that the Minister is realizing that it is right that he should have the power to prescribe certain matters. I failed last night to obtain from him the welcome response that I expected to a suggestion that questions in regard to canteens in barracks might be left to the power of prescription. I should like to see some safeguard adopted in this case to meet future action on the part of a Minister who might desire to do away with the Military Forces. If, for instance, the honorable member for Darwin, who is opposed to all armaments and warlike preparations, were Minister of Defence, he could declare under this provision by a stroke of the pen that the period of enlistment should be not three years, but three hours.
– Section 36 of the principal Act now provides for. a prescribed period of “ not less than three years’.” service.
– It is now proposed that that safeguard shall be removed.
– The honorable member for Corio has another proposed new clause bearing on the same point that I do not quite understand.
– The two proposals ought to be taken together ; we should then know what we were doing. I have some doubts as to the wisdom of this proposition, and we might, I think, leave the position as it stands.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 7a. Section eleven of the Principal Act is hereby repealed and the following substituted in lieu thereof : -
Section 11 of the principal Act provides that -
In the first appointment of officers preference shall be given, in the case of equality of qualifications,’ to persons who have served in the Defence Force for three years without a Commission. .
I am sorry that I was unable to be present to assist the honorable member for Hindmarsh when he moved a day or two ago for the insertion in the Bill of a provision under which all future promotions in the Citizen Forces must be made from those who have served in the ranks. That provision was agreed to ; but it may be necessary to amend it in another place. I would remind the honorable member for Hindmarsh that in connexion with the British Army men have been put into the ranks for a day in order that advantage might be taken of the rankers’ section with regard to promotions. It will be necessary to fix a specified term of service in the ranks in order to meet those who may try to defeat legislation of this kind. In 1903 I was able by a small majority to secure the insertion in the Defence Billof the provision that in the first appointment of officers preference should be given to those who had served in the Defence Force for three years without a commission, but against mywish were inserted the words “ in the case of equality of qualifications.” I am now proposing to substitute for that section a provision from which the words “ in the case of equality of qualifications” are omitted. Section11. of the principal Act has been applied in a remarkable manner, and every effort has been made to defeat it. One of the first matters on which I have interviewed each successive Minister of Defence has been my desirethat itshould be made a little easier for men in the ranks to obtain promotion, and until the coming into power of the last Minister, who appeared to me to be to a certain extent under the control of officers, the position was certainly being improved. Whilst the ex-Minister of Defence was in office a new examination syllabus was published. As a matter of fact, in the opinion of some people, too many rankers were passing the examinations. . Men who have been working hard on the guns or performing other similar duties are now asked to pass an examination in English, which is quite proper, and also in the following -
Mensuration. - Properties of matter with regard to mass and volume. Measurement of lines, areas, volumes, mass, time.
Light. - Rectilinear propagation; shadows; velocity of light; photometry : laws of reflection - plane, concave and convex mirrors; laws of refraction - prism, convex lens; explanation of simple phenomena.
Magnetism. - Magnets and their properties; permanent and induced magnetism ; methods of magnetization : molecular theory ; magnetic Fields and lines of force; terrestrial magnetism.
Statical Electricity. - Electrification; induction ; gold leaf electroscope ; electrophorus ; elementary notions of potential and distribution of charge.
Current Electricity. - Construction of batteries ; magnetic field due to current ; simple galvanometers; Ohm’s Law, with simple applications; chemical action of the current; heating effects of currents; transformations of energy.
Then there come elementary and advanced mathematics, trigonometry, and mechanics, dynamics, and statics, history and geography, and a modern language. Under the head of chemistry, there are -
These subjects are ridiculous for men who wish to adopt a military life; and it must be remembered that they are subjects for examination for a first commission. Since the case of Lieutenant Watts, several of them have tried for, and obtained, com missions, and some heart has been put into the men ; but I can regard the selection of such subjects only as an attempt to block them.
– Are the subjects not a matter of regulation?
– Yes; and there would not be such subjects if it were not to help the outsider as against the ranker. If it were only ranker against ranker, it would not matter how hard the competitive examination was; but the injustice arises when we have men from the ranks put in competition with university men, who have received a much better education, and have been specially trained for the examination. If A. B., who is a university man, gets 375 marks, while C. D., who may have been a sergeant-major, gets 374 marks, the latter gets no show at all at the hands of the examiners ; and unless we make some provision in the Bill we shall find that men in the ranks will absolutely stop offering themselves for examination. To show how the ranker is blocked, I may say that the qualifying and educational examination is put first; that is, the examination in which the ranker could do best does not count first as part of the competitive work. The Minister of Defence has been very good to afford me this opportunity, and I ask him to accept this new clause ?
.- I quite agree with the honorable member for Corio that these subjects are selected for the examination to prevent men in the ranks getting commissions. I make thesporting challenge that no doctor, other than a university professor, could pass an examination based on such a list of subjects. Under the head of Chemistry we see -
I may say that I was twenty-five years of age before I passed my matriculation examination ; and had the subjects been anything like these I certainly could not have faced the ordeal -
Such subjects may not be difficult to men who are well read up in them, but to a self-educated ranker they are staggering. As to the study of water, Professor Luff, than whom no one stands higher as an analyst in the Old Country, states that it is one of the most difficult subjects ; and yet we have -
Solution of gases, of liquids, of solids in water : natural waters.
The first thing one does with natural water is to send it to an analytical chemist of the highest standing, and, if there is organic substance in it, even he can only make a guess. Then there follows -
Evaporation, distillation, solidification of water. Qualitative and quantitative chemical constitution of water.
I really think that these subjects are intended to frighten rankers from attempting to rise in the service.
– As a matter of fact, the men are frightened.
– Chemistry is a subject which a man may not live long enough to be able to thoroughly grasp, and yet a ranker, who desires a commission, has to pass in the following - (I.) Pressure. (II.) Constitution.
Such an examination is absurd for men whom it is intended to train to fight. Give them a knowledge of the country, and of trigonometry, if we like; but, at any rate, give them a chance of rising. This book of regulations bears no date, so that I do not know under what Government or Minister it was issued, and, therefore, speak with absolute impartiality. The very word “mathematics “ is sufficient to startle the average man who is endeavouring to educate himself at a night school. An officer must have a knowledge of English, of course; though I understand that some of the finest officers under Napoleon could scarcely write, and then only in their own language. The unfortunate ranker has also to pass in -
The best thing for the man who drew up this list of subjects would be to put him in a water-butt head downwards, or, at any rate, make him pass the examination himself. I see that one of the subjects is magnetism, and I may here say that Lord Kelvin, at his jubilee as a lecturer at the Glasgow University, told his hearers that he absolutely did not know, after all his years of experience, what electricity was, although he knew something of the phenomena and of certain actions that would take place under certain conditions. The list goes on -
Who knows exactly what that theory is? - - magnetic fields and lines of force; terrestrial magnetism.
Can a ranker fairly be asked to pass an examination in -
Current electricity - construction of batteries; magnetic field due to current; simple galvanometers; Ohm’s law, with simple applications; chemical action of the current; heating effects of currents ; transformations of energy ?
Would it not be absurd to expect the domestic help to know all about the properties of coal gas, when all that is necessary for the proper performance of her duties is to be aware that when a gas jet is finished with, the light must not be blown out, but the tap turned off instead? What need has the user of an electric light to know everything concerning the generation of electricity? All he requires to know is how to turn the switch on and off.
– The honorable member is reading from what was the recognised syllabus of the Department some three. weeks ago.
– It is scandalous reexamine men on these subjects. The officers themselves would not be able to pass satisfactorily. I know that the fullfledged medical man knows little at the end of his course about some of the subjects on which he was examined at the beginning, and I doubt if ninety-nine out of a hundred of those who matriculate could pass the matriculation examination later in life, unless they had been kept in touch with their studies by the special nature of their employment. I have great respect for General Hoad, but I feel certain that neither he nor any of his subordinate officers could pass these examinations. Candidates for the Administrative and
Instructional Staffs are examined in “ elementary mathematics,” which includes arithmetic, geometry, algebra - to simple quadratic equations; the elementary use of graphs, particularly in connexion with linear and quadratic functions.
Honorable members would have a poor chance of passing these subjects. It is stated in a note that -
The papers will be set to test knowledge of fundamental principles, and readiness in appli- cation to simple practical problems.
Candidates will be tested regarding -
Descriptions of practical methods of measurement -
Measures of length - verniers, calipers, micrometers?
Measurement of angles - use of protractor, &c.
Measurement of areas- by dimensions, by squared paper, by weighing ; area of the cross sections of a tube, calibration of a tube.
The prescribing of examinations of this nature is worthy of literary “guns” who wish to prevent rankers from getting commissions. Thank goodness the terrible war in South Africa, for which the moneychangers of Europe were responsible, is now. over, and the British race has paid its obeisance and homage to the rough country farmers who fought so well for their hearths and homes ; but I ask whether one per cent. of the Boers who were so successful when matched against trained British soldiers could pass examinations of this nature. Is it not impertinent to set such subjects for the examination of candidates for the lowest rank of commissioned officer ? I am as certain that an attempt is being made to build up a military caste, as I am sure that day follows night. The Minister cannot desire this. We must see, therefore, that opportunities are given for the ranker to rise. The examinations must be made fairly easy, like those for boys who are entering the Navy. Speaking to the captain of one of our great ironclads, I asked, as I had an idea that my boy might join the Navy, what the Examination was, and he replied, “ We merely wish to discover whether the boys have ordinary common sense, and to that end ask a few leading questions. We do not make the examination severe. Such examinations come later, when boys are candidates for promotion.” Let me read a little morefrom this syllabus -
Dynamics. - Graphical proofs of formulas for uniformly accelerated motion - impact, work, energy, circularmotion.
Statics. - Composition and resolution of forces ; parallel forces ; centre of gravity ; threeforce problems ; friction ; mechanical powers, e.g., lever, wedge, pulleys, &c.
A candidate must obtain not less than . 3 in each of these subjects.
– Twenty-five per cent. of the officers could not pass such examinations.
– Papers can be made easy, or they can be made hard, but I do not think that 5 per cent. of our officers could pass any paper properly based on a syllabus such as this.
– And the men who apply for commissions are men who have been at least ten years away from school !
– I know how hard it is for one to qualify to pass examinations after he has left school, because I commenced my medical studies at the age of twenty-five, when a bank clerk. The year in which I was preparing for matriculation was the hardest in my life, as I was studying and working at the bank at the same time. I had to get up early in the morning, and to attend night school, and would not ask any human being to do what I did. If we provided teachers for these men, it would be different. How do they obtain tuition in these subjects?
– There are no teachers at Queenscliff. The men have to read their text books.
– Why are not the officers compelled to lecture on military subjects, as university professors lecture to students? Frequently there are twoor three ways of answering a question, but where the students are permitted to take notes of a professor’s lectures, they knowhow he will require his questions to be answered. The officers should be the teachers of the men, who should be like the members of a family, We should offer the strongest incentives to improve ment. The feeling that every recruit had a marshal’s baton in his knapsack so stimulated Napoleon’s army that France was able to stand against the rest of the world. Australia has the widest franchise that is known, and her people, no matter what political party they may belong to, are pervaded with the democratic sentiment. Are we then to allow a military caste to be established ? These examinations are intended to frighten rankers from applying for commissions. Those who doubt it should read the syllabus, and ask themselves whether, with their matured intellects, they would care to face such ex- aminations. I could not do so. I have quoted from Professor Luff, one of the greatest authorities on analytical chemistry in England, to show that the analysis of water is a most difficult matter. These men are examined on that subject, and particularly regarding the analysis of mineral waters. But a battalion of soldiers passing through unknown country ought to be accompanied by an analytical chemist, possessing a laboratory. The pharmaceutical chemist could not do this work. I appeal to the Minister to provide for a more sensible system of examination, and should have spoken in the same way had a member of my party occupied his position.
– No doubt, the terminology which honorable members have read out is very terrible, but there hasbeen a little drawing of the long bow in this matter.
– I have known clever men to be plucked. This is not a fool’s examination.
– I hope that it is not. For the past two or three days, honorable members have been contending that we should make the tests of efficiency as stringent as possible.
– No; that all should pass an equal test.
– And one that will insure both theoretical and practical efficiency.
– And the honorable member would not accept an amendment to that effect from the honorable member for Wentworth.
– No; because . 1 want to leave it to be prescribed by the Director. The honorable member for Corio has quoted old regulations, which I believe were passed in April last. They have been revised and simplified during the last few weeks.
– Not in the slightest.
– The honorable member knows that the Artillery is a very technical arm of the Military Service, and if we want expert artillerymen-
– They are not simplified.
– I am told that they are. I know that General Hoad has revised and simplified the whole matter.I am informed that the compulsory subjects in which an officer has to pass to-day are English; arithmetic, history, and geography. There is nothing wrong about those. Should not an officer be qualified to pass reasonably in them? Then the optional subjects are - A foreign language, or physics, or chemistry. The candidate must pass in one of the three in addition to the compulsory subjects.
– The Minister is making himself responsible for those statements in order to defeat my amendment. Will he have the present regulations before us after the dinner adjournment?
– I do not know whether I can put my hand on them.
– The Minister has been absolutely misinstructed.
– I am sorry if I have, I am told that that is the examination to-day.
– The Minister is simply quoting from memory, and very few persons could give from memory an abstract of what we have been reading here.
– Have I not told the honorable member that he has been quoting from an old set of regulations?
– They were given to me by the Department within the last three weeks as a set of the current regulations.
– I will inquire about that; but I am told quite the contrary. Moreover, before these matters were fixed, a Public Service examiner was consulted, and passed them. He says they are not quite as stiff as the entrance examination for the professional side of the Public Service. After all, it is not a question of whether the examinations are stiff or not. It is a question of whether abundant facilities are provided for instruction in those subjects.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45p.m.
– The syllabus read out this afternoon has been revised and, I understand, simplified, and made much more favorable to the ranker than it was before. I admit that it was very technical, and there seemed to me to be a great deal of unnecessary detail in it.
– Has the honorable member obtained, since the adjournment, a copy of the “ revised and simplified “ syllabus?
– No. I do not pretend that the examination is not still pretty stiff, but our examinations must be stiff for the officers of the Permanent Forces. We cannot have an efficient force unless the examinations are made what they ought to be, particularly in the technical arms. A man must know something of chemistry, and of advanced mathematics, if he is to have anything to do with the higher branches of the science of artillery. Our officers must be educated men if they are to be efficient in the art of modern war.
– The men who instruct the artillerymen have never passed an examination in chemistry.
– That may be, but for two days we have been saying that a much higher standard must be set up and maintained. We have also insisted that the fullest possible opportunities shall be given to all persons in the forces to qualify for the examinations, and we have provided means for conveying this education to the ranker wherever he may be, and making it as easy for him as possible to take advantage of it. Now we have before us a proposal which, I am afraid, will, if carried, have a tendency to weaken the standard we have set up.
– Not at all. It only means fair play all round.
– The honorable member’s proposal will rule out the manin the back country who has never served in the ranks. The area and range of training as proposed in the Bill will be limited. The honorable member’s case will be absolutely met by the elaborate set of provisions which have already been placed in the Bill. We provide the fullest facilities. We stipulate that the standard shall be the same for all, and be prescribed by the Director. We are providing schools of instruction and a Military College for the higher branches of the service for those who can afford to take the course. There will be the fullest possible opportunity for both the ranker and the officer to obtain promotion under the provisions as they already exist ; and I am sure that in a little while all the trouble which the honorable member alludes to will be obviated.
– I have been told that on the Estimates in every year since 1903.
– I am dealing now, not with the Estimates, but with the principles of the Bill. As his case will be met in the fairest and most impartial way, is it worth the honorable member’s while to persevere with this proposal ? It is an obvious limitation upon the area from which officers may be drawn. It ties us up to those who have put in three years in the ranks, and have served without a commission. It will, therefore rule out all those who live in the back country, although we might naturally expect to obtain from there some of our most expert cavalry leaders. They will not be permitted by the honorable member to qualify as officers, simply because they have not passed through the ranks.
– That is the thinnest argument I have ever heard. Officers from the back country ! That is the new defence, and is going to knock out fair treatment to the men.
– I do not see that it has anything to do with the fair treatment of the men. Can the honorable member show me that his proposals will not rule outthe man in the back country ?
– I shall be glad to hear the honorable member. I am afraid he has been unable, owing to his unfortunate illness, to follow the course of events. He will find in the Bill, as it now stands, the fullest possible provision for meeting all the cases to which he has referred.
– The Minister is taking up, on this question, a very different stand from the one he took up with regard to two other amendments. He now tells us that we ought to be sure that we have a thorough standard of efficiency for our officers.
– I have never said anything to the contrary.
– But the honorable gentleman did something to the contrary when he refused to accept an amendment providing for the application of a simple theoretical test to all the officers now in the forces, to establish their efficiency. He strongly objected to their efficiency being tested.
– I did not even do that. I secured the rejection of a proposal which provided that unless they passed an examination they must step down from their rank.
– That proposal provided nothing of the sort. The officers were not to be deprived of their rank. My trouble was that the test was to be too simple. Now, however, the Minister wants to adhere to a most rigid examination, although he admits that the Department now considers that the examinations have been unnecessarily severe. He says they have been modified. They require to be modified still further. It is absurd to ask a private or non-commissioned officer applying for the position of second lieutenant to pass an examination even half as severe as is laid down in the tests that have been read to the Committee this afternoon.
– Who says that those tests are to be adhered to? Are we not providing new machinery for the whole thing ?
– Machinery has nothing to do with the matter. The Minister was asked by the honorable member for Corio to show how those severe examinations had been modified, but he has not done so. The Minister last week secured the omission from an amendment which I proposed, and which he partially accepted, of a provision that “ the competitive examinations shall be of a practical character, and no written work shall be demanded other than of the nature required for the rank concerned in the field and in the ordinary exercise of duties.”
– Hear, hear ! Was that rejected ?
-The Minister would not accept it. He wants to have power to prescribe an unnecessarily severe examination if he has a mind to. He will not agree to apply a simple test to existing officers, some of whom, although not many, we know are not efficient and could not pass an examination half as severe as is now demanded of those applying for commissions; but so soon as we try to do something for the ranker, to place him on an equal footing with the man whose father is able to give him a more liberal education, we meet with the Minister’s strongest opposition.
– The honorable member misrepresents everything that I say.
– Why did the Minister refuse to accept the amendment that I proposed? There could be only one reason, and that is that the Government proposal would give the rich man’s son an advantage over the poor man’s son.
– The Minister does not intend it, but that will be the effect.
– Quite so.I desired to make sure that no one would hold a commission unless he possessed the necessary qualifications. I am absolutely in accord with the proposed new clause which goes in the direction that I asked the Committee to take yesterday. It seems, however, that every time that we desire to test the efficiency of those already in the forces the Government object, and assisted by their supporters they defeat us. The moment we propose to give a poor young man a chance we are blocked.
– I am prepared to do as much for the poor man as the honorable member would do, and, in fact, a great deal more.
– Then why did not the honorable member accept my amendment? I hope that the honorable member for Corio will stand by his proposal, although I do not altogether agree with the three years limitation. If a young man after his recruit drills puts in a 12 months’ course, shows specialaptitude for military work, and is able to pass a reasonable examination in theoretical subjects, he ought to be given a commission, especially as we have now a difficulty in obtaining officers. The honorable member for Corio proposes to make the period of service too long.
– It is in the original Act.
– But we are now making a new departure. We shall need a great many more officers almost at once, and we ought certainly to prescribe a simple examination for the position of second lieutenant. I could well understand a second lieutenant being required to pass an examination in the subjects set out in the syllabus in order to secure promotion to the position of lieutenant or captain. Having secured a commission he would have some encouragement to study such as aspirants for commissions at the present time do not receive. I hope that the honorable member for Corio will press his amendment, but that he will substitute one year for the three years period.
– As the Minister of Defence has said, the majority of the Committee have been passing provisions, imposing additional examination tests, and have sought to impose the condition that seniority should be determined according to the order in which those tests are passed. I do not know whether the honorable member for Corio desires to do away with these examinations.
– Then we have to consider the nature of the examinations. The list of subjects read to the Committee by the honorable member for Melbourne suggests that the examination is fairly severe. We cannot tell until we see the examination papers issued under the regulation whether it is as severe as it would appear to be ; but the whole question that we have to ask ourselves is what examination is necessary. We have also to remember that the examination test is applied not merely to candidates from the ranks, but to all candidates fora commission as second lieutenant.
– It may be applied’ to one who has just left school.
– Yes, but it is applied to all candidates. The only question we have to consider is whether the examination is too advanced. If the honorable member for Corio does not wish it to be abolished his amendment will have no effect on the nature of the examination. It may still be made as severe as it is said to be at present.
– But the competition will be amongst rankers and not between rankers and outsiders who are specially prepared.
– Outsiders will not be excluded under this proposed new clause. The honorable member merely declares that a preference is to be given to those who pass and go up from the ranks. If he means that an examination is not to be passed by the rankers, then he is proposing to introduce a dangerous provison. Section11 does not prescribe the nature of the examination, nor does the proposed new clause abolish it.
– Section 14 of the principal Act refers to “ the prescribed examination.”
– And the proposed new clause will not abolish the examination.
– It was not proposed to do so.
– I am not sufficiently versed in these matters to say whether or not the examination as applied is too extensive and intricate, but the list of subjects certainly seems to be very wide. If it is too severe at present it may be equally severe under the proposed new clause. This is, after all, really a matter of administration. There is nothing in the original Act that fixes the character of the examination, and if that now prescribed is found to be beyond what is necessary, it may be altered by administration.
.- We are indebted to the honorable member for North Sydney for having pointed out that this proposed new clause will not do away with the necessity for an examination.
– It will not.
– Then on the face of it the amendment of the section in the principal Act can mean nothing.. These words will have no effect, because there is no compulsion to appoint any particular person, and equality of qualifications must always be taken into consideration whether a stiff or an easy examination has to be passed or no examination at all. Some qualifications may be entirely physical, while others may be those inherent in character. Even if we struck out the words in section 11 of the principal Act “ in the case of equality of qualifications “ the right to appoint one man rather than another would not be affected. Under section 14 of the principal Act a candidate has to pass “ the prescribed examination,” and there are only two courses open to us. The first of these is to prescribe the examination in the Bill itself. That, I think, is most undesirable. We could not even indicate what kind of examination should be passed. There should be a literary examination, which ought to be fairly simple, and there must be a mathematical examination of some kind, but we could not declare its details in the Bill.
– The examination might have to be varied.
-Of course. The requirements, particularly in the Artillery, are varying and becoming more severe from time to time as greater precision in arms is secured. I understand from the honorable member for Hindmarsh that the Minister says that hehas modified the syllabus, and he would be doing the Committee no more than justice if he explained as far as possible in what direction he has modified it. I notice that to qualify for the position of second lieutenant a candidate must pass in each of the three subjects in Part I., and in one of the three subjects in Part II. In Part I., section 1, an examination in English is provided for. No one can take any exception to that. But in sectionII. of Part I. provision is made for an examination in physics. Under that section a comparatively easy examination could be set, but I do not hesitate to say that there could also be set an examination that would “ plough “ a man who was going up for matriculation. Speaking with experience of the law examination I assert that a paper could be set on physics that would “ plough “ 95 per cent. of the men who went up for the Bar examination. In sectionIII. we have elementary mathematics. We get there quadratic equations, which is precisely the point to which a man who reads for the Bar is required to go - and the examination may lie easy or most difficult, according to the way in which the papers are set. I take no exception to mathematics for candidates for the Royal Artillery. I am not in a position to say to what extent artillerymen are compelled by virtue of their profession to go; but for an infantryman, there is not the slightest necessity to go so far in mathematics. A man has to take either history and geography, a modern language, or chemistry, and I regard the chemistry subjects as quite unnecessarily severe, while 1 fail to see their utility.
– The man has a choice of one of the three subjects.
– Quite so; but I do not see why there should be a choice of the sort. History and geography may be all right, though, perhaps, history tends to confuse and to hamper one’s judgment. I have no objection to a modern language, but if the idea is to utilize the man as an intelligence officer, I do not see any use in his passing an examination, including easy translation, and easy composition and grammar. The Minister would remove most of the objections by simply stating to what extent he has modified or intends to modify the regulations. We may assume that a man who has served three years will be reasonably familiar with the duties, for unless he is quite competent, he ought notto be appointed. No doubt, he ought to have other qualifications. A man who has to lead ought to have some grounding in education, because, other things being equal, he’ is all the better officer for it. After all, there are very few men who could pass this examination. I know that neither the Minister of Defence nor myself would admit incompetency, and yet I think we should fail, and there are hundreds and thousands of very excellent men, who by reason, perhaps, of their not having been educated in the particular subjects when young, find it almost impossible to read the subjects up for examination. The Minister does not desire it to be said that the men in the ranks cannot rise if they possess ability, and, therefore, he should inform us as to how far he is prepared to modify the examinations.
.- The honorable member for West Sydney was net present when I moved the amendment, bat he has noticed section 11, which was intended to give men at present in the ranks the right to rise. This is a working man’s question, and the man who has to go into the ranks young, and work hard at his ordinary duties, may thereby lose the capacity for studying such subjects as are set down. The fact is that section 11 has been altogether nugatory. When a ranker becomes an officer, the service (,ets the advantage of years of experience in dealing with and obeying men.
– Surely that will come out on the military side of the examination.
– Examination is the worst system in the world for bringing out the qualities of a man or a commander ; it brings out often the ability of the man who can cram, rather than those of the man who would be of service in a tight place.
– Does the honorable member desire to abolish examination ? .
– No; but I desire preference to be given to the rankers, with a standard of qualification for all, when we should find no such ridiculous regulations as have been read. Those regulations were made simply because, while in 1907 there were only six applications for commissions from inside and thirteen from outside, there were in 1908 twenty-four from inside and nineteen from outside the service.- It was thought that the examination ought , to be stiffened ; and the severe form will continue as long as there is the necessity for what is called “ equality of qualification.” However, as soon as preference is given to rankers, there will be none of these regulations designed to keep practical men out
– But they do not keep practical men out. Of the four men now waiting for vacancies on the Administrative, and Instructional Staffs, one is a militia officer and the other three are staffsergeants.
– Of the twenty-four applicants from the Permanent Forces in 1908, twelve, or 50 per cent., failed at the qualification scholastic examination, and were not allowed to undergo the military and professional examination at which they could have shown their ability. Of the nineteen applicants from outside, thirteen, or a fraction less than 70 per cent., passed, so that the passes in the two classes were more than balanced. Thirteen outsiders against twelve rankers. - In 1907,’ of the men who underwent the practical examination, three members of the’ Permanent
Forces got through, and not one of the outsiders. I desire the Committee to realize what a number of men are killed at the first gate; and 1 should like to see military ability reckoned first, as only fair to the ranker. Men do not like to undergo examinations when they are made stiffer and stiffer; and if the military examination stood first, very few outsiders would try. At present, however, everything is in favour of the outsider. Would the Minister be surprised to hear that, wide, these regulations, no man in the Engineer Forces can become an officer? For appointment as an officer in this branch of the service, a man must have served three years in an engineering workshop, including one year in the drafting office, served for three years as an articled pupil to a reputable civil engineer, 01 have completed a three years’ course for bachelor of engineering. A man, before he can join the Engineers, must be an artisan- an electrician, smith, carpenter, or fitter - and, although he may serve for a good many years, he has no right, in this democratic community, to become an officer, whatever his professional ability may be. If the Minister of Defence is honestly advised, he will be told that those who instruct the officers are really the senior warrant and noncommissioned officers in the Artillery and Engineers. Men who are not good enough to be officers teach the officers their work.
– I do not say that the honorable member is intentionally misleading the Committee, but I do not think he is putting the case quite fairly. The “ outsiders ‘ ‘ he spoke of just now are militia men.
– Only in some cases. What chance has a member of the Royal Australian Engineers to obtain a commission under these conditions?
– How many of the men have passed that test?
– Not one of them can attempt to do so.
– The honorable member’s amendment would not improve matters.
– I would point out to the honorable member for North Sydney, and to the Minister, that the proposed new section 148 provides that no one shall be appointed to, or receive promotion in, the Administrative or Instructional Staff until he has passed a prescribed course at the Military College. What I ask is, first, that the rankers’ right to qualify for pro motion shall be recognised - that the men from whom officers shall first be selected to be trained at the College so instituted shall be those who have served in the ranks. I desire that those who have spent years in the defence of the Commonwealth, who have learned its secrets, and done its work, shall be given preference. A soldier is not made in a day. or two. The military spirit cannot be acquired in less than four or five years.
– If the honorable member’s provision were agreed to, the examinations might be as severe as those of which he now complains.
– That is so; but all 1 wish to do is to make it clear that certain men shall have a preferential right to promotion, and that, however severe the examination, it shall be amongst those who have equal opportunities. Then, under proposed new section 148, they must be sent to a Military College, and given a chance to qualify.
– The Minister refused to agree to an amendment moved with that object.
– I hope that he will accept this. No doubt he wishes to do his best for the forces. I have brought this matter up on the Estimates year after year, and have been promised, and sometimes obtained, reforms by Minister after Minister, but during the last six months there has been retrogression, of which I think the cause is the increase in the number of rankers applying for commissions. In my opinion, certain subjects are set for examination merely to prevent rankers from rising. I desire that my amendment shall be read with proposed new section .148. Then it would not matter what the examination was, because those who were competing would all be rankers. The present examinations are designed to give privileges to a class, and to take rights away from another and more deserving class. Had the Minister had some one at his elbow to advise him, he would not have agreed to the syllabus which has been quoted from. The Act is being administered by unsympathetic persons, who do not like to see rankers’ obtaining commissions. I have tried to devise other methods for attaining my object”, but I cannot propose any better one than that now before the Committee, and I ask honorable members to assist me in giving effect to it.
Mr. HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh) [8.32L - I suggest the withdrawal of the amend- ment, because, as was pointed out by the honorable member for North Sydney, it will not accomplish the end in view. Proposed new section 148 provides that no officer shall be appointed to, or receive promotion in, the Administrative or Instructional Staff until he has passed the prescribed course at the Military College. The honorable member for Macquarie wished to give the same facilities to privates and non-commissioned officers as are to be given to commissionedofficers. The Minister would not accept that.
– I did not say that I was opposed to the underlying principle.
– The Minister was fair enough to say that the same facilities would be given to all applying for commissions. If proposed new section 148 were amended by the insertion of the words “applicant or” before “officer,” it would get over the difficulty so far as applicants for positions in the Administrative and Instructional Staff are concerned, because then even a private seeking promotion could go to the College for the necessary instruction. The honorable member for Corio might look into the matter, and try to draft an amendment, to be moved in another place, which would carry out what he desires to have done. What I have suggested would, I think, be sufficient in regard to the Administrative and Instructional Staff, and it should be easy to make the provision apply also to other candidates for promotion.
– Notwithstanding what has been said about the disabilities of the ranker, more than half of our permanent officers have risen from the ranks.
– In Switzerland all have been rankers, and that should be the case here.
– I do not think that the provision which the honorable member for Corio wishes to insert would carry out his object. Only recently two men were examined in South Australia for promotion. As they were practical men, all who knew them thought that they would pass the drill tests easily; but, as a matter of fact, although they did well in the theoretical examination, they failed in the drill tests. How would the honorable member prevent an occurrence like that? The examinations must be as . prescribed by the Director of the Military College, and our object should be, not to lower the standard of education, but to multiply the facilities for acquiring it. 1 promise the honorable member for Corio that I shall look into this matter very thoroughly, and that no effort of mine will be wanting to secure for the ranker every opportunity which he should possess for qualifying for a commission.
.- The honorable member for Corio does not wish to make the examinations easier. He is ready to accept the stiff examinations prescribed in the syllabus. What he wishes to do is to give the ranker the opportunity to obtain the necessary qualifications. A man who has been in the Royal Artillery or Engineers for a number of years must know more about practical work than the lad who has just left the grammar school or college, and who would pass the educational test with flying colours. There are not many in Australia who can afford to keep their sons at school until they reach the age of seventeen or eighteen years. No doubt, a smart boy of fifteen can work quadratic equations, and knows a little about mensuration, including logarithms, but the average lad has to leave school when he has passed the standard of the sixth class, and, unless exceptionally brilliant, has not then acquired a sufficient knowledge of mathematics to be able to pass an examination based on this syllabus. The lad whose parents can afford to send him to a college will be able, when he reaches eighteen, if there is anything in him at all, to master the matters referred to in the syllabus, but there is in Australia only a limited number of lads of that class who can get commissions. On the other hand, the ranker who left school at fourteen, and is perhaps a bright lad, and gets a training in the engineering shops, finds, if he desires to secure a commission, that under the present regulations he cannot in normal circumstances go higher than the position of a noncommissioned officer. The honorable member for Corio does not ask that the fortunate college lad shall be shut out. All he wants is that the ranker should, if he passes the same examination, all things being equal, have priority in the granting of a commission.
– That is absolutely provided for already in sectionII of the original Act.
– But if the ranker gets only one mark less he is passed over.
– That is so, and he might lose that one mark in a subject like “ Essay on a limited number of subjects,” as set out in the syllabus, although that would be the very part of the course in which he might reasonably be expected to be less proficient. . In my younger days I often met men in the ranks of the Permanent Forces in New South Wales, and was very much surprised at the high educational qualifications which many of them possessed. In mathematics many of them were better qualified than the average university student. In those days Professor Wilson, of the Sydney University, held a lieutenancy in the Scottish Rifles. He was teaching mathematics at the University at the time, and was astounded at the mathematical knowledge of many of the rank and file of the New South Wales Permanent Forces. I hope- the .Minister will understand that the honorable member for Corio and those who are supporting him in this matter do not desire to officer the Australian Army with incompetents so far as educational requirements are concerned. All we want is to remove the obstacles that prevent a ranker from ever going higher than the position of a noncommissioned officer. As the honorable member for Corio points out, the ranker will have an opportunity of going to the Military College when it is established, to supply the deficiencies in his early education. Many of us were misunderstood in our attitude towards the Military College proposal. Our desire was simply to test the practical knowledge and fitness of officers. After all, in all the professions, the sooner a man forgets his early examinations the better it is for him. The object of an examination such as this is only to run the rule over men ; not to see whether they are . educated, but whether they are instructed, which is a very different thing. Education is supplied in the forces by seven or eight years’ practical experience in the use of arms, field organization, and command. The test of a good officer is noi how much he can remember on the field of battle of his hydrostatics or his dynamic syntheses, but his knowledge of handling troops, and the power of his arm. Scholastic examinations are no more than tests of retentiveness of memory. As things are now the lad whose parents can afford to send him to college can at the age of eighteen or nineteen walk into the commissioned ranks. I do not say that he should not be admitted, but certainly the obstacles in the way of the ranker should be removed. Even if the Minister is right in saying that the honorable member for Corio’s desire is already met by the Bill, the carrying of the amendment will make assurance doubly sure. An interesting instance is to be found in. the career of Colonel Owen, now a highlyplaced officer in the Department of Home Affairs. He obtained his training in Mort’s Dock Engineering Company. He learnt his trade with the origin.il intention of being a mechanic or artificer in connexion with engineering work, but he had an aptitude and desire for engineering and joined the Volunteer Engineers. He became an officer of high standing in the Engineer Forces of Australia, but is no longer on the active list. That is the class of officer that should have been retained in the forces. He is a practical man. He was not college fed or college bred. I am not making an attack on college men, but, now that we are creating an army of about 300,000 strong, the door should be thrown wide open to the average young man te obtain a commission if qualified.
– This proposition will shut the door.
– If it did so I should be the last to advocate it. ‘
– If carried it will mean that all those in the permanent ranks must take precedence over militia officers.
– Not necessarily. These are to be Citizen Forces, but the Minister is referring to the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers, which are the scientific branches of the service. He will not find militia officers there.
– Oh yes, and in the Garrison Artillery.
– If they are militia officers they are also semi-professional men. Colonel Wells, the colonel of the New South Wales Garrison Artillery, was brought up as an architect and civil engineer, a profession which is in keeping with artillery work. He is a militia officer today.
– This proposal would rule him out until the others had been given preference.
– It applies only .to admissions 01 first appointments. It does not apply to militia officers who have got their rank. 1 can refer the Minister to a case which he will recognise without my specifying the name. It is that of a young man who is now studying architecture and civil engineering. He is of an age to go into the forces, and is the sort of young man who, if he is capable, the Minister ought to wish to have a chance of obtaining a. commission. Neither the honorable member for Corio nor any other honorable member desires to harass or trouble the Minister in regard to the Bill. All our suggestions are made to improve the measure, not to load it. If the honorable member for Corio has made a mistake he has made it with some experience, whereas the Minister has not had experience. He has to rely simply upon the advice of his Central Administration. I have much pleasure in supporting the honorable member for Corio.
.- The Minister alluded to two officers in South Australia who failed in their examinations on the practical and not the theoretical side. I am glad that the Minister has brought that case before the Committee, for there is a great deal of dissatisfaction in regard to it. In the theoretical tests, where everything, was in black and white, they passed with honours, but in the practical test, in connexion with which there was nothing in black and white, they failed. No one could say, apart from the examiners, whether the candidates did right or wrong.
– And they do not think that they have been fairly treated?
– I do not say that, but they wonder why they failed.
– No record is kept of the practical -test.
– That is so, and in that respect I think that the examination is very, unfair. In Victoria three men failed at the same time, but they have since been re-examined and have passed. The two South Australians, on the other hand, have not been given a chance to pass. Such occurrences will be detrimental to the defence system. I hope that the Minister will see that these two men are afforded an opportunity to undergo a thoroughly practical examination, and that a record is kept of the marks secured by them.
.- It would appear that whilst a record is kept of the marks secured by candidates in the theoretical examinations, no record is kept of those secured in the practical tests. I think that the fairest course to pursue would be to have a record of the marks secured by .candidates in both the scholastic and practical tests, and that that record should be open to inspection .by the candidates and others. Applicants for commissions who had failed would then have an opportunity to learn what their shortcomings were. I have heard a good deal of talk as to the failures in practical tests, and those who have failed have received no satisfactory information as to the grounds on which they were rejected. In all these matters, everything should be open and above board. It is not right that a man who gets within one or two marks of the number necessary for a pass should be deprived of an opportunity to be re-examined. The marks secured in each division should be recorded, and those who obtain the highest aggregate should win. That is the practice followed in connexion with rifle competitions, and indeed, in connexion with the election of members of Parliament. The returning officer, in determining the choice of the people, takes’ into account the returns, not from only one polling booth, but from the whole electorate. If the course I suggest were pursued, there would be no cause for complaint. As one who sympathizes with the ranker, knowing how difficult he has found it to secure a commission, I shall support the proposed new clause. As a humble volunteer in Tasmania, a good many years ago, I found that people from outside could secure commissions, while men in the ranks were denied well-deserved promotion, although they had sometimes to tell the officers who marched .beside them what they had to do.
.- I fail to understand why the object which the honorable member for Corio has in view could not be secured under section n of the principal Act, if the Minister of the day were really worthy of his position. The section reads -
In the first appointment of officers preference shall be given, in the case of equality of qualifications, to persons who have served in the Defence Force for three years without a commission.
The Minister prescribes what those qualifications are to be. If he allows to be prescribed qualifications that have the effect of deliberately shutting out men who, in accordance with section 11, have served in subordinate positions for three years, he is not fit for his position. The duty of a Minister is surely to guide his Department on questions of policy. We have in the principal Act a broad statement of the policy laid down by Parliament. ‘ It is there declared in effect that in the event of two candidates being equal in practical fitness for a vacant position, that position is to be given to the candidate who has served in a subordinate rank in the Defence Force for three years without a commission. That must be done.
– The point is as to what is “ equality of qualifications “ ?
– Any sane man reading section n of the principal Act would know what we meant.
– The question of equality of qualifications is determined by examination.
– The Minister decides what the examination is to he. His officers prepare the syllabus, but the Minister has to authorize the particular type of examination proposed. He has to take the responsibility for the method upon which marks are awarded in the examination, and if, as the honorable member alleges, there has grown up a system under which men who have served in the ranks without a commission for three years are deliberately “ jockeyed “ out of the opportunities which their physical fitness entitles them to secure, in connexion with a vacancy, then the Minister of the day is responsible to Parliament, and the Parliament should see that the section is carried out.
– The honorable member for Barker said just now that no notes are kept of the practical examinations.
– That is surely the fault of the Minister. If the reference to equality of qualifications in section n of the principal Act means anything, it means practical fitness. What is the qualification most desirable in a subaltern or captain? Practical fitness for his work. Reference has been made to a number of mathematical terms in the syllabus. The theoretical examinations after all are not a test of practical fitness. The syllabus is copied from syllabi in European countries, where officers are recruited almost entirely from people of means, whose youth has given them no opportunity of acquiring practical knowledge. They are, therefore, required to submit to an examination to determine if they are up to a general mental average. If the Directorate or Commune in France before the Napoleonic wars, instead of selecting its officers from the troops serving in the front, had selected them only from gentlemen who could pass such an examination as that for which this syllabus provides, could any of Napoleon’s marshals have acquired a commission? But there they had a finer school : the school of practical experience and fitness.
– That is what I am trying for.
– I am afraid that by omitting the words in reference to equality of qualifications, the honorable member would compel the Minister to promote an applicant from the Defence Force to a commis sion, whether he had practical fitness 01 not.
– Candidates must pass :» prescribed examination, as set forth in section 14.
– That does not necessarily mean a prescribed examination in theoretical subjects. The Minister can prescribe the examination. If a warrant officer in the permanent Garrison Artillery were a candidate for a commission, the Minister could prescribe an examination to determine his practical fitness to take charge, say, of a battery, if he desired to appoint him to a field battery of militia. 1 am afraid that if the reference to equality of qualifications lie omitted, the Minister will be compelled to promote any man in the ranks who makes application, whether he is competent or incompetent, to a commission. That would be most undesirable.
– If the Minister were to set the examination, the position, would be different, but a great deal of unfairness takes place in regard to the question of equality of qualifications.
– I am willing to accept the honorable member’s assurance on the latter point. If the Minister allows that to be done, he is not loyally abiding by the decision of Parliament. Now that the matter has been brought under the ‘attention of the Minister of Defence, I hope that he will see that the spirit of the section is loyally observed.
– We shall have to go into the matter very thoroughly.
– I am glad to have that assurance. Any doubt thrown on the administration of section 11 of the principal Act by his Department will be dispelled. I suggest that the Minister make inquiries and report to the House. If necessary, the proposed new clause could then be inserted in another place.
– I am afraid that it would not be found necessary. Let us insert the clause, and if it is found to be unnecessary, it can be omitted by another place.
– If the honorable member thinks that the Minister is riot going to honestly administer the Act as he finds it, his place is on the other side of the House. I have no doubt about the honorable gentleman, but I endeavour to help him to frame Acts of Parliament with a view to controlling future Ministers who may not have that halo of complete honesty that so graces him. I think that we can trust the honorable gentleman to look into this question. We know his views on this subject.
– If I can help the ranker, I will.
– I am sure of that. Section 11 of the principal Act is better than the proposed new clause would be.
– The .trouble will be met ultimately by affording more facilities for education.
– I am delighted to hear my honorable friend make that statement, and I hope that he will look into this question with a view of seeing that rankers suffer no disability from the fact that they have not had to deal with theoretical subjects in carrying out the practical work with which they have been charged.
Question - That the proposed new clause l.e inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority .. Ayes.
Question so resolved in the negative. Proposed new clause negatived.
Amendment (by Mr. Crouch) agreed to-
That the following new clause be inserted - “ 123c. No member of the Force, who has conscientious objection, shall be compelled to answer any question as to his religion, nor shall any regulation or other order compel attendance at any religious service.”
Bill reported with further amendments.
– Honorable members must not discuss that question now. Is it the pleasure of the House that the report be considered forthwith ?
– I object.
– 1 move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
There is in this Bill no departure in principle from the original Act, but amendments are introduced with a view to meeting defects , and making the machinery and the administration work more easily and smoothly. Some of the amendments are intended to remove doubts as to the interpretation of various sections, and make clearer the intention of the provisions. There are several series of amendments, the first of which is intended to prevent an election being upset on a purely technical ground, when there is no doubt as to the expressed will of the electors. Instances will occur to honorable members where difficulties of the kind suggested have been created. One occurred in connexion with the Senate election in South Australia, when the election was declared void, simply because the ballot-papers had not been initialed, though the counterfoils had been signed by the returning officer, and it was perfectly evident what was the wish of the electors. The Bill also provides that all ballot-papers shall bear a secret watermark, and provision has been made for their manufacture under the greatest safeguards. Hitherto, ballot-papers which did not bear the initials of the returning officer have been held to be informal ; and, though it is not proposed to do away with the initialing, in the absence of evidence of fraud, any oversight by a presiding officer in failing to initial a ballot-paper will be remedied by the official mark. I may say that an official mark is relied on in the Old Country. If honorable members turn to clause 19, they will find, on comparing it with the section in the original Act, that at present an elector who desires to vote, must not only have his name on the electoral roll of the division for which he seeks to vote, but must also reside in the’ division. An amendment is proposed providing that the appearance of the name on the roll shall be absolute proof of the elector’s title to vote, subject, of course, to his answering the statutory questions as to whether he has voted previously, and so on. Hitherto, it has been held to be possible to upset an election if it could be shown that an elector, at the time be voted, did not reside in the electorate.
– Suppose a man resides in two districts?
– I do not see how any one can do that. The elector will be compelled to declare his- place of residence, and will be entitled to vote in the division in which it is situated. We have endeavoured to simplify procedure by reducing the number of forms which now have to be used in connexion with registration and postal voting. There are now three forms in use for applications for enrolment. The first of these is for applications for original enrolment, the second for applications for transfer from one electoral division to another, and the third for applications to change from one subdivision to another within the same division. This is confusing to electors, and, in their interests, and to prevent the inflation of the rolls, it is proposed to substitute for these three forms a card, upon which the elector will declare: first, that he is an inhabitant of Australia, and has lived here for six months continuously, which is necessary to entitle him to original enrolment ; secondly, that he claims to have his name placed on the roll for the subdivision in which he lives, and has been living, for not less than a month preceding the date of the claim j thirdly, that he is not under twenty-one years of age; fourthly, that he is a natural-born or naturalized subject of the King ; fifthly, that he is not disqualified ; and sixthly - in the case of an applicant for transfer or change - that his name is on the electoral roll for a certain subdivision. If’ the claim is an original one, he adds the words “ no other “ before the word “ subdivision,” to indicate that his name is not previously enrolled. In Western Australia the card system is already in existence, but two cards, original and duplicate, are being used. We intend to adopt the card index system, and to utilize a single card only. On the cards being received by a registrar, he will make entries in his register, and then forward them to the Commonwealth Electoral Officer of the State, who will ascertain whether the applications are for original enrolment, transfer, or change. It is hoped that by this system the rolls will be kept purer, and made more complete, and that it will be easier to trace electors than it is at present. The present forms will be accepted until the card system has come into complete operation, because they have been distributed all over the Commonwealth, and it would be unfair to refuse applications on them.
– ls a date fixed for the coming into operation of the card system?
– That is hardly possible at present.
– Big frauds are perpetrated under the present system.
– Frauds will disappear when the card system has been substituted.
– Cannot the card system be made to apply to supplementary rolls, after the 31st December next?
– I do not think that it would be right . to refuse applications on the old forms.
– They are being refused now. We are depending on the police collection.
– Applications for enrolment will be received after the publication of the rolls.
– The cards can then be used ?
– No more of the present forms will be issued, but we shall accept applications on those already in circulation.
– Applications will be accepted whether on cards or forms ?
– Yes, until the card system comes fully into operation.
– Does the Minister think it fair that a month’s residence in a division should qualify large bodies of migratory electors to vote?
– I shall deal with that matter later. We propose to strike out the provisions in the Act which deal with postal voting, and to substitute new provisions, but the actual alterations in substance are not important. The substitution of new provisions is proposed, because so many verbal and small alterations were necessary to effect our object. We thought that it would be clearer to substitute an entirely new set of provisions, although the alterations are not material.
– Are the -new provisions more stringent than the old?
– In some respects; but we have increased the number of persons who may witness postal vote certificates. The form now in use requires the signature of the elector and of a witness on the counterfoil for each vote given at. an election for a member of the House of Representatives, or a senator, or in connexion with a referendum. It is proposed to substitute for that a form which will enable the certificate to be printed on the back of an envelope, to be forwarded to the returning officer. The witness will sign that certificate, and one signature is all that will be required from the elector and the witness where now three are needed. This will simplify procedure, and, I hope, insure more satisfactory administration. Under the present Act the elector who has reason to believe that he will not, on polling day, be within seven miles of the polling place for which he is enrolled, or of a prescribed polling place for the division in which he is enrolled, may obtain a postal voting certificate ; but we propose to restrict the right to vote by post to electors who have reason to believe they will not, during the hours of polling on polling day’ be within seven miles- of any polling place for the division in which they are enrolled. Under the present Act a large number of persons’ are competent to witness postal votes, but it has been found necessary to add to their number lighthouse-keepers, stationmasters, and others, to give additional facilities to electors who have hitherto found it impossible or inconvenient to obtain witnesses to their signatures.
– The postal voting system has been greatly abused in both Commonwealth and State elections. Mr. FULLER. - That statement is frequently made, not only in Parliament, but in other places; but the officers of the Electoral Department assure me’ that after the most careful investigation they are unable to agree that the system has been abused in the way commonly supposed.
– Would the officers be prepared to. recommend universal postal voting?
– That is more a matter for me than for the officers to express an opinion upon. The postal voting system was brought into operation to give all the electors of the Commonwealth an opportunity . of exercising the franchise. A number of people are unable on polling day for various reasons, such as sickness and other causes, to go to a polling booth. That applies particularly to the female population. In order that they should not lose the chance of voting once in three years or as often as an election happens to occur, the postal vote was introduced.
– Particularly in South Australia for the benefit of seamen.
– To use the honorable member’s own words, when he advocated the system in this House some years ago, it was brought in principally for the benefit of shearers and seamen. I am sure all honorable members are anxious that every elector should have the fullest opportunity of exercising his franchise and will work to bring that about.
– The trouble is that a good deal of abuse has been shown to have occurred.
– There, has been some abuse, but it is impossible to obtain a perfect system.
– The sworn testimony given before a ‘Commission in Melbourne after the first election proved that the system was largely abused, and it has been contended that it was abused in Queensland in the State election before last.
-I saw that statement in connexion with the Queensland election, but I do not think that the honorable senators who made it were able to justify it to the extent which they represented.
– I can justify it. I was on the spot and took part in the election, and I know how every one of the hundred and odd electors whose papers I witnessed voted.
– That may have been the honorable member’s experience. Honorable members will see in other clauses dealing with the postal vote, especially proposed new section 190b, that full directions are given, and the duties of authorized witnesses stated. I hope honorable members will agree that the directions are set out so clearly that it is almost impossible for anybody to misunderstand them. There are a large number of authorized witnesses. In fact, their numbers have been increased to a considerable extent. Another class of amendment is introduced with the object of permitting an effective recount of votes in certain circumstances without resort being necessarily had to a Court of Disputed Returns, although that Court will still be the final Court of appeal. Under the existing law a divisional returning officer has not the same powers in regard to a recount as his junior officer has in connexion with the scrutiny. It is thought advisable to give him the power to reject or admit ballot papers, but after he has done that there will still be the opportunity, in the event of any dispute occurring, of referring the matter to the Court of Disputed Returns. The object of this new provision is simply to enable an independent judgment to be given by the superior officer in connexion with each division of the Commonwealth.
– Does that mean that all counts are subject to revision by the superior returning officer?
– Yes, and after him, the Court of Disputed Returns will still operate as at present. Another class of amendment is introduced with the object of making the law in certain particulars clear to returning officers and the public generally. Some of these provisions refer to the right of an elector to receive ballotpapers. No limitations are proposed in connexion with the method. They refer merely to the directions which are given. Clause 13 provides that, in the case of objections lodged by officers, if, in the opinion of the returning officer, they are not valid or of sufficient account to take notice of, .the returning officer shall have the power to dismiss them, and there will bs no necessity to give notice to the persons who have been objected to.
– But if the objection is upheld, notice will still have to be given?
– Yes. Clause 13, however, does not apply to objections lodged by private individuals. In that case the objector has to lodge a deposit with each objection, and those objections will be dealt with in the same manner as they now are under the principal Act. No alteration is proposed in that respect, because it is thought that when any member of the public thinks it worth while to make an objection and lodge a deposit, he should “get a run for his money” and have an opportunity of being heard. Another class of amendment has for its object further co-operation with the States in relation to the preparation, maintenance and printing of rolls in all cases where common registration areas can be agreed upon. Those matters are dealt with in sub-clause 5 of proposed new section 56, and also sub-clause 3 of proposed new section 61 b. One of the principal objects of these proposals is to bring about cooperation between the States and the Commonwealth as far as is possible. This will save a considerable expense to both States and Commonwealth by having the same rolls to work upon, and practically the same officers to conduct elections. In order to bring about this uniformity there must be some elasticity in connexion with the legislation proposed. The legislation of the States in this connexion is not always the same. It differs in the case of different States, and the State* legislation also differs from that of the Commonwealth. Tasmania has practically co-operated with the Commonwealth in electoral matters. We have a joint roll, the same officers conduct the elections, and they are jointly paid by the State and the Commonwealth. That system has been found to work very satisfactorily. It is proposed that in the matters of enrolment, change, and transfer we shall have in each .case a uniform time of residence in order to secure uniformity. . Six months’ residence is now necessary in the Commonwealth before any elector can obtain original . enrolment. A month’s residence in the new division is necessary in order to obtain a transfer from one division to another; but in order to obtain a change from one subdivision- to another within the same division, a qualifying period of residence is not necessary. So that we may have complete uniformity and prevent electors becoming confused as they do now with regard to the forms for enrolment, change, and transfer, it is proposed to’ make a month’s residence uniform in the two latter cases.
– In respect of transfers ?
– Yes; and also in the case of a change -from, one subdivision to another.
– Is it proposed to reduce the residence for original enrolment from six months to one?
– No. Six months’ residence will still be required for original enrolment; but in order to secure uniformity, to give the card system a chance to come into operation, and to prevent electors from being confused with the various forms, in which the terms of residence now vary from one month to nothing at all, it is proposed to make the residence necessary for a change and a transfer uniform.
– If an elector moves from one division to another, he must reside in the latter for a month before he can register?
– But if an election takes place in the meantime ?
– He can vote in his original division until he is enrolled in the other. ‘
– What if he neglects to apply for a change for twelve months?
– As I have already pointed out, the appearance of an elector’s name on a roll gives him a title to vote for the division for which that roll is issued. In that way no elector will be disfranchised.
– At present, does the Minister say that a person can go from one division to another and vote there at once? “ Mr. FULLER.- No; he has to put in a month’s residence. He can now go from one subdivision to another of the same division and apply to have his enrolment changed without a qualifying period of residence, but we propose in future to require a month’s residence.
– Do I understand that in a subdivision of the same division a man has to reside a month before he can be transferred ?
– Under the existing law, no; under the proposed amendment, yes.
– These details can be made clear in Committee.
– I think it would be better if honorable members allowed the Minister to make his statement, and asked for explanations of details at a later stage. Of course I realize that when a Minister is making a statement a pertinent question may sometimes remove a good deal of misapprehension ; but I ask honorable members not to enter into conversations with the Minister with regard to particular points.
– We do not want to.
-It is scarcely, in order for an honorable member, whilst seated at the table, to interrupt the Speaker.
– I desire to make the position as clear as possible.
– If the honorable member thinks I was asking unfair questions, I shall not put another to him.
– I did not suggest that the honorable membewas doing so.
– -Thi honorable member did not.
– I was endeavouring to show that an applicant for an original enrolment must prove residence in Australia for six months. If an elector wishes to transfer from one electorate to another, one month’s residence in the new electorate must be shown, just as under the existing law. An elector wishing to change from one subdivision of an electorate to another must prove the same period of residence in the subdivision in respect of which he desires to be enrolled. The object of securing uniformity in this respect is to enable the card system to be brought into full operation, and to avoid confusion. Electors in moving from one district to another are frequently at a loss to know whether they should apply for original enrolment or for a transfer, and it has been found in practice that they often apply for original enrolment when they ought to apply only for a transfer. In this way the rolls are largely inflated.
– If an elector changes from one State to another what term of residence is required to secure enrolment?
– This Bill does not deal with that point. It is merely a transfer and is covered by the existing law.
– Will it be possible now to have more than one polling booth in a subdivision ?
– It will. Every effort is being made to supply as many polling booths as are necessary to meet the convenience of the electors. My officers throughout the Commonwealth are at present very active in this regard, and we are doing our utmost to afford the electors generally the fullest facilities.
– Under the principal Act only one polling booth was allowed in one subdivision. The honorable member now says that we shall be able to secure more than one?
– Yes; as many as are necessary to meet the convenience of the electors will be established. I do not think it necessary to detain honorable members any longer. This is a purely machinery Bill, in which there are no departures in principle from the Electoral Act. If honorable members desire to submit any amendments I should like them to let me have- them as early as possible so that I may have an opportunity to confer in regard to them with the officers of the Department who have had in their hands for some years the working of the electoral laws. My sole desire in submitting this Bill is to make our electoral machinery as complete as possible, so that the elections may be carried out in the purest and most satisfactory manner throughout Australia.
– If a man’s name appears on the roll for an electorate from which he has been away for more than twelve months without securing a transfer, how can the Department make him transfer his name to the roll for the electorate in which he is actually residing?
– I do not know that there are any means of compelling him to secure a transfer. An elector -is entitled to vote in the electorate for which he is enrolled.
– In the case cited by the honorable member for Yarra, the name of the elector would be struck off the roll of the electorate in which he formerly resided.
– I was about to point out that information is obtained as to such removals when the lists are being compiled, and that if information as to such cases were supplied to the Department in that or in any other way the name of the person concerned would be added to the roll for the electorate in which he resided and removed from the roll in respect of the district which he had left.
.- 1 congratulate the Minister of Home Affairs on the provisions of the Bill which will enable additional polling places to be established in the various divisions. That is a step in the right direction. The old practice used to be to have only one polling place in each subdivision, and that method of grouping electorates prevented thousands of electors from recording their votes. The change proposed is very necessary, more particularly in mining centres, where settlements grow up rapidly and consist of men from all parts of the Commonwealth. In one corner of my electorate, within a few months, over 1,400 men gathered. They had come from mining fields all over Northern Queensland, and at the last general election the majority of those men1 were disfranchised. They did not have time to secure postal votes, as they were far removed from the returning officer. The- same experience fell to the lot of men in other parts of Queensland. I rose, how-‘ ever, to deal more particularly with that portion of the Bill which relates to postal1 voting. To my mind it opens the door to the most flagrant violation of the secrecy of the ballot. At the last by-election for Echuca no less than 1,800 postal votes were recorded. This Bill provides that -
An elector who -
has reason to believe that he will not during the hours of polling on polling day be within seven miles of any polling place for the division for which he is enrolled . . . may make application for a postal vote certificate and postal ballot-paper.
Under that clause every elector in the community could record his vote by post.
– And why not?
– The honorable member ought to know what occurred in Queensland at the State election before last. A more disgraceful state of affairs could not be imagined. Under the system of voting by post there the secrecy of the ballot was violated in the worst possible way. Any man may say that he has reason to believe that on polling day he will be more than 7 miles from a polling booth, and will, therefore, be able under this Bill to vote by post.
– We have a similar provision in the electoral law of South Australia, and it has not been abused.
– The people of South Australia are apparently so honest that they need no laws to control them.
– But how does the honor; able member say that the secrecy of the ballot was violated in Queensland ?
– The then Government of Queensland appointed 300 justices of the peace of their way of thinking, so that their party might ‘ have their services in witnessing postal votes. In many cases these justices of the peace were canvassers and paid agents of the very party that had conferred upon them the commission of the peace. I know of cases in which women were asked by these canvassers to record their voles by. post, but refused to do so. In one case’ the manager of a mine at which the husbands of some of these women were employed was taken to their houses, and practically demanded that they should vote by post. In some instances the canvassers went so far as to tell the women that if they did not vote ‘by post their husbands would suffer, and in certain cases their husbands were actually discharged from their employment. I know something of the facts. . The secrecy of the ballot was violated in a way which no honorable member of this House would approve. As a justice of the peace I went round collecting postal votes in the ordinary way, and do not hesitate to say that I knew how every person voted whose postal vote I witnessed.
– Without seeing the papers ?
– One could not help seeing how they voted. A woman must be pretty brave if she refuses to record her vote by post or to vote in a certain way when requested to do so by a justice of the peace who is manager of a mine in which her husband is employed. Some ni these justices of the peace went even further than I have mentioned.” They carried with them small pieces of blotting paper to blot the signatures of the voters, and in that way ascertained for whom they were voting. Further, the vote of every “ corpse “ on the roll may be recorded. There is nothing to prevent any person applying for, and obtaining, a postal vote. The schoolmasters and other people, who are authorized to witness signatures’, must do so, and the result is that papers may’ be issued for Bill Jones or Tom Smith, whose names appear on the roll ; and when the real men turn up their votes are refused. It is idle for the officers of the Department to say that there is no abuse of this system in Queensland; and such a statement can only arise from gross ignorance or wilful misrepresentation. In the second election for the Federal Parliament an election was declared invalid, and the country and the parties were put to great expense, owing’ to the abuse of the postal votes. It was proved in Court that such’ votes had been obtained in an illegal’ manner; and we remember that when the election was recontested the present member for Melbourne defeated Sir Malcolm McEacharn.
– There were 1,000 postal votes for the city of Melbourne.
– But the Echuca election presented a worse case, because then there were 1,800 postal votes recorded. If the postal vote is allowed as prescribed, how can a man depend on its proper use, especially in view of the manipulation of the women’s vote in Queensland? An employer may go to a man, and tell him that he will be sent away on business on the day of election; and the postal vote can be recorded as the boss desires. All persons familiar with elections know the old method, under which a man would go into a polling booth, put a blank piece of paper into the ballot-box, and then come outside and say to another, “ Here, you take this in and bring your ballot-paper out.”
– That was done in South Sydney twenty-five years ago.
– It is done now, because the same forces are in existence; and, in the circumstances, I hope that some amendment will be made in the Act. So far as corrupt practices are concerned the present law is simply useless. The Department makes no attempt to mend matters; and the present. Bill certainly affords no assistance. The expenses were limited to £100, in order to prevent lavish expenditure of money; but, as a matter of fact, I have known over £300 spent in one little centre, not because there was any hope of winning the seat, but merely to test the strength of the party for a subsequent State election. Every cabman in the town was supposed to have volunteered his services for that side, although it was well known and openly stated that they were paid. I brought the case before the Department,’ but was informed there was no law under which action could be taken, although any detective could have found grounds for aprosecution.
– The Labour party spends more than any other - in Western Aus-‘ tralia, at any rate. *
– The Labour party in Western Australia spent ,£25,000 at the last election. ‘ . ‘
– with £25,000 1 would undertake to win the great majority of the seats in the Commonwealth. If the law is to be effective, the Government’ should introduce provisions to deal effectively with the abuses to which I have called attention, or do away with all restrictions, and allow all sides to have a fair show. A man who thinks he has a fair chance of winning an election mav> decline to take any action likely to” endanger his seat and lead to litigation if he is opposed by a candidate with lots of money. behind him. The other . man, however, with unlimited means, resorts to all kinds of illegal and corrupt practices, knowing that the worst that can happen is that the election may be declared void, and that, at any rate, his opponent has been put to great expense.
– That is in Queensland?
– The same conditions prevail in every part of Australia.
– I have never seen such things, except on the Labour side.
– The party the honorable member is associated with is similar to that to be found in Queensland and elsewhere, who are prepared to adopt corrupt practices ; and I do not think that even , the honorable member himself would blink if a few votes could be secured. Mr. Hedges. - Mr. Speaker, I object to that suggestion.
– Then I withdraw it, but the honorable member must not make such interjections without expecting a retort, though 1 unhesitatingly disclaim any personal imputation. Such practices as I have indicated are indulged in; and if our elections are to be pure, the law ought to be made stringent. If the expen.diture is to be confined to £,100 the Government ought to compel, not only the successful candidate, but the unsuccessful candidate, to present accounts. Unfortunately, however, there is no method by which an unsuccessful candidate can be brought to book ; and it is in this connexion that some action should be taken. I hope that the Government will accept an amendment intended to make the law perfect, and will especially take seriously into consideration the question of the postal vote. In Queensland the evils of the postal vote were found to be so great that the first act of the new Government was to abolish it. What was done to permit men aw,ay from home to record their votes? The Act was so framed that men could record their votes at the polling place nearest to where they might be on the day of polling, voting for the division in which they were enrolled. That provision has worked very satisfactorily.
– Does it not leave great openings’ for fraud?
– Not so great as those left by the postal voting provisions, under which an elector may be robbed of his vote. When the postal votes are sent in, the returning officer verifies them by comparison with the names and numbers on the roll for the division to which they apply. If three votes have been recorded, two must be those of personators. Of course, a heavy penalty is imposed for personation, but the offence is practically impossible to detect. A person may say to a medical practitioner, or to any one else who may be competent to witness a postal vote, “I wish to vote by post, and ask you to witness my. signature.” The signature is accordingly witnessed, but the witness may not know the voter, and might he unable to recognise him again. He must be content to accept the affidavit contained in the declaration.
– The voter must be personally known to the witness.
– Do those who are qualified to witness a signature know every one of the 24,000 electors in my division? That would be necessary if the voter must be personally known to the witness. If personal knowledge of the voter were required of the witness, large numbers of voters would be prevented from exercising the franchise, because of the political bias of those competent to act as witnesses. Queensland representatives know that in connexion with residence certificates, justices of the peace have declared that they did not know men who wished to vote, and have thus disfranchised them.
– Voters must go to witnesses who know them.
– If that is intended, many persons will be unable to vote, because they will be unable to obtain witnesses who know them.
– Other persons besides justices of the peace may witness postal votes.
– Any of these persons may be politically biased, and this may cause them to decline to witness a postal vote on the ground that the elector is not personally known to them. . In my opinion, it would be better to enact that postal votes must be witnessed by electors other than the voters, or, if you like, by two electors. There are camps in Queensland, containing, perhaps, forty or fifty men, in which there is no one who would be competent to witness the signature to a postal vote. Probably a competent witness could not be found within 40 ‘or 50 miles.
– Those camps must be situated in outlandish places.
– Unfortunately’ they are. Take a place like Barclay Downs, in Queensland. There are thirty voters there now. I understand that they are to have the advantage of a polling booth at the next election. But at the last election they were 50 miles from the nearest polling booth, and every man who recorded his vote had to travel that distance.
– I know a case where electors had to travel 70 miles.
– I know of instances where they had to travel 80 and roo miles to vote. But I feel that the postal ballot system is open to grave abuse, and I trust that the Government will give serious consideration to some means of surrounding it with safeguards. - Sir John Forrest. - The honorable member wants to prevent dead men from voting.
– The Treasurer is a past master in using the votes of dead men. At one time there were only forty-five electors in his constituency, and I believe that he boasted that he had the whole of them in his pocket. Personally, I am of opinion that the postal voting provisions should be wiped out altogether. They are liable to lead to a violation of the secrecy of the ballot. If the method prescribed is not to be amended, I can see a danger of the evil system which pertains in America being introduced into this country. I hope that the Government will think over the matter carefully, with a view- of providing greater safeguards.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Mahon) adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Those honorable members who have taken advantage of the opportunity to look over this Bill will see’ that it merely makes amendments in connexion with the holding of a referendum in order that the machinery provisions may fit in with the amendments proposed in the Electoral Bill which has been under consideration during the evening. It is proposed to prescribe the form of postal and absent voters ballot papers, as in the case of the Electoral Bill ; to provide that the referendum’ shall be taken on the day of the general election ; to require that each elector shall make one declaration only, and so forth. The provisions in connexion with the referendum are similar to those which I have previously described in connexion with the system of voting for the House of Representatives and the Senate. There are also provisions to give, the divisional returning officers power to conduct the scrutiny in connexion with the referendum just as we glv£ a similar power in connexion with elections. Indeed, this measure is a necessary corollary to the amendments in the law proposed by the Electoral Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Arrangements where referendum and election are held on the same day ; answers and declarations for elections to be accepted for referendum).
.- Clause 5 deals incidentally with postal ballot papers. I should like to know whether, if we pass the clause, weshall be in some way bound to pass the postal ballot provisions of the Electoral Bill. It seems possible, in view of the speech made by the honorable member for Kennedy upon that Bill, that the postal ballot provisions will either be rejected or modified. By passing this clause, therefore, we shall be fixing the principle of the postal ballot system upon our electoral law. I have had an opportunity of glancing at a return furnished by the Electoral Branch of the Home Affairs Department in regard to postal ballot papers. It shows that the system was more largely used in the most densely populated State of the group than in the more sparsely settled States. The Minister will see, if he looks at the return, that at the last election 6,725 postal ballot papers were used in Victoria, whilst only’ about 14,000 were used, in the whole Commonwealth. They were used more in Victoria than in the other States, because the electors had just found out the value of them. They were used more in the by-elections for Melbourne and Echuca than in any other electorates throughout the Commonwealth. I desire to know whether, if we agree to this provision, we are likely to be told that it will be impossible to amend the postal voting provisions in the Electoral Bill? I admit that honorable members generally did not know that this Bill was likely to be brought on tonight, and therefore have not had an opportunity of studying its provisions.
– This Bill has nothing to do with the Electoral Bill.
Honorable members will have the fullest opportunity of proposing any amendment they may desire to have made when we come to deal with the Electoral Bill. The passing of this Bill will not bind them im any way, so far as the postal voting provisions in the other Bill are concerned. If those provisions are passed, they will be applied at the referendum under this Bill, but if they are not passed, of course, they will not come into operation at the referendum.
– In this Bill we shall be providing for a postal voting system which mav not be operative under the Electoral Bill.
– Honorable members will see that, so far as the postal voting provisions are concerned, this Bill will be ineffective unless the corresponding clauses of the Electoral Bill are adopted.
.- I understand that the Electoral Bill deals with elections for the House of Representatives and the Senate, and that this Bill deals with a referendum only. Suppose that this Bill were passed, and that the Electoral Bill were not passed, would it then be possible to .use the machinery of the former for the purposes of a referendum, if one were held separately from the election?
– This Bill would have to be altered, because it has been brought into line with the Electoral Bill.
– Suppose that the postal voting provisions were struck out of the Electoral Bill, and that this Bill were carried in its present form, would the old postal voting provisions apply to the referendum? Mr. Glynn. - Yes, unless modified.’
– T hope that, after the experience we have had of those provisions, they will be wiped out. I do not think that we ought to proceed with the consideration of a Bill which hinges upon a Bill of more importance. ‘ I strongly urge that the Minister should agree to .progress being reported on this Bill until the Electoral Bill has been dealt with.
– 1° view of the. position arrived . at, and , the objections taken by honorable members, I propose to postpone the consideration of this Bill , until the Electoral Bill has-been dealt with.
Parliamentary Refreshment Room - Flying Machines - Order of Busi-, ness.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- This afternoon I gave notice of my intention to move to-morrow a motion to abolish the sale or consumption of spirituous or intoxicating liquors within the precincts of Parliament. I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will allow the motion to go on the notice-paper as an unopposed motion ? I am not taking this course because I think that there is any abuse of this service, but the House and the Govern ment unanimously signified their belief in the principle that no spirituous or intoxicating liquors should be used in the forces under the control of Parliament, and consequently I think that Parliament might well set an example to all bodies throughout Australia.
– Order. I would point out to the honorable member that it is not competent for him to discuss the notice of motion. I understand that he wants to ask a question. That possibly may be permitted, although I am rather doubtful about it.
– I will ask the Prime Minister to allow my motion to go on the list of unopposed motions. But if the Government feel that they must oppose the motion, will they give up half-an-hour some day in order that this very important question may be decided?
– When the Prime Minister is replying, will he state what -business is intended to be taken to-morrow?
– I -desire to call attention to a proposal by the Minister of Defence in regard to flying machines for military purposes. 1 wish to know whether he has received any applications in regard to flying machines, and to make a suggestion to him. I find that he proposes to give a prize of £5,000 for a flying machine for military purposes, under certain conditions, and that applications must be lodged by the 31st March next. According to the conditions - -
The machine must be able to rise from the ground without appreciable delay under its own power and without the aid of special starting apparatus, and must be able to alight without damage to its machinery or gear. It must be capable of “ poising “ or remaining over a given area for what would in the opinion of the Minister be sufficient time to enable such observations to be taken as may be necessary for military purposes.
Flying machines are of quite recent invention ; in fact, they were the butt of comic papers until recently. What the Minister asks for is an invention which would realize from ,£500,000 to £1,000,000 if it could do what is required. I ask the Minister whether he should not only relax the conditions, but have an alternative proposal to give a prize, but not necessarily of £5,000, for the best model of a machine likely to accomplish the purposes he has in view. The difficulty with many of our inventors is to find the cash to perfect the machine. To ask them within a few months, and for £5,000, to do something that none of the great “inventors of the world have been able to accomplish* is .to ask altogether too much. Will the Minister state whether he has received any applications, whether he will consider the desirableness of relaxing the stringent conditions in regard to poising and alighting, and also whether he will give a prize for the best model ?
– It is too early yet to talk about relaxing conditions until we see whether the prize is likely to be claimed under the present conditions. We have had a large number of applications and inquiries of all sorts. We want, if possible, to get some novelty in the machine which is to win the prize. Tt is of no use to offer a prize if there is to be no novelty . over and .above what has already been accomplished in the case of inventions now on the market and doing service. . The idea is to stimulate Australian inventors, and I venture to say that the inventive faculty is quite as strong in this country as elsewhere. I am sure the honorable member is taking a broad Australian view of the matter.
– No inventor, or friend of his, has spoken to me on the matter, although I have several in my constituency.
– These regulations were suggested and framed by people who are intensely interested in the scientific side of the question, and by known experts in the science. After a careful review, the ‘present conditions were adopted. If the honorable member will point out where he thinks they are wrong, I shall be glad to consider the matter and modify them if I must. Our main object in offering the prize is to get something which will be useful for military purposes,, and that cannot be said of a machine unless it will poise and rise from rest. I admit that the conditions are stringent, but let us wait to see what comes of them. If afterwards we have to relax them, of course, that must be done. At present they might be allowed to stand until we see what inventions are placed at our disposal.
.- Will the Prime Minister state what business will be taken on Friday and Tuesday next ?
, - When honorable members receive the notice-paper to-morrow morning, they will see that the Defence Bill comes first in Government business, then the two Electoral Bills introduced to-night, the High Commissioner Bill, the Post and Telegraph (Recording Machines) Bill, and Bills of Exchange Bill, and afterwards the Patents Bill, Lighthouses Bill, and Seamen’s Compensation Bill-. The measures appear on the notice-paper in that order, because it is recognised that a number of honorable members may be leaving tomorrow ‘afternoon for Oodnadatta, and will be absent for the next two sitting days. It is proposed to take those measures which have no party application, but which are either practical or technical, as that course will probably meet the convenience of honorable members. With regard to the suggestion of the honorable member for Wentworth, that his notice of motion with reference to the bar at Parliament House is being opposed by the Government, it is not opposed in the strict sense of the term, but we have the responsibility of securing to the House an opportunity to consider such propositions. This is couched in rather sweeping terms.
– The same terms as appear in the Defence Bill.
– Precisely the same terms. An opportunity for consideration must be afforded before a step of this sort is taken, since, quite apart from its legal aspect, it is likely to promote an interesting debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at n.z p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 October 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19091027_reps_3_53/>.