4th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m. and read prayers.
– I have received an intimation from the honorable member for Fremantle that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz., . “ The most unsatisfactory position of the Commonwealth in regard to the installation of wireless telegraphy.”
Five honorable members having risen in their -places,
.- Although we are nearing the end of the session, no satisfactory answer has been given to the questions which have been asked regarding the progress made in providing in Australia appliances for the .receipt and despatch of messages by means of wireless telegraphy, and some of the answers given have ‘ been so ridiculous that, it is surprising that Ministers made themselves responsible for them. Honorable members are entitled to more information than is available. Very shortly we shall be revisiting our constituencies, and shall then be asked what is being done in this matter, and the only reply that we shall be able to give will be that nothing has been done, because we have recently been told that contracts which we thought had been signed have not been signed. More than two years ago I called attention in this Chamber to the fact that Lloyd’s had offered to install a wireless telegraph apparatus at Fremantle, or to assist the local Harbor Trust in doing so ; but the Postmaster-General informed me that he could not agree to the arrangement, because the Department intended to take the matter in hand. The people are therefore entitled to know why nothing has been done. Similar installations to that proposed to be erected here have been erected all over the world, and the steamers of very many companies are now equipped with wireless apparatus, as many as six such vessels having been in pur ports at one time. Vessels have been equipped at Home without delaying their departure for Australia, and, indeed, vessels have been built and equipped since we first ‘ voted money for the instalment of apparatus here. We should know, therefore, why the work has not been carried out. It is disgraceful that steam-ship companies with comparatively small capital should be able to install wireless apparatus on their vessels, and that this Government should not have provided for the receipt and despatch of messages at a Commonwealth’ station. Messages can be sent from one steamer to another, and, if the receiving vessel is in port, ‘ can be then transmitted by our land lines, as was done recently, when a passenger wished to book seats for a theatrical performance; but a vessel at sea cannot, com municate with a Commonwealth station. The sum of ;£io,coo was voted in 1906-7 for the installation of a wireless station in Australia, and the amount was revoted in subsequent years. At present, £iS>°°° is available for the purpose, and yet contracts have not, so far, been signed for the carrying out of the work. As a matter of fact, the community Has been humbugged from start to finish. On 12th October last, the Postmaster-General said that a Conference was being held in Fremantle between representatives of the Defence Forces, the Navy, his Department; and the contractors for the erection of wireless telegraphy appliances ; that the valuable advice of Admiral Henderson had been obtained ; that two sites were regarded as suitable ; and that the Department was waiting for the contractors to say which they would accept. The reply gives no reason for asking why the contractors should be asked to make a choice. They should merely have been told that the Commonwealth desired the erection of the appliances at a certain site. The changing of a site would have no practical effect on the value of the installation, because, to -move- ten or fifteen miles inland the centre of a circle having a radius of 500 or 1,000 miles would not appreciably affect the distance to which messages could he sent, or from which they could be received. On 21st October, the PostmasterGeneral slated, in reply to a question asked by- me, that he was aware that vessels had been equipped with wireless appliances during their ordinary stay in England on a voyage from Australia. When I asked who the contractors to the Commonwealth Government were,. I was told that they were “ Australian Wireless Limited, 129 Pitt-street, Sydney, who we’re a local company representing a wellestablished German company.” Before I finish I shall show how “ well established “ that company is, and who the contractors are; and I think the information will not only astonish honorable members, but render them dissatisfied with the position. If a tender is put in for so important a work, inquiries should be made as to who the tenderers are, what they have to offer, and whether what they have to offer is worth accepting at any price. We were told that the tender was accepted because it was the cheapest; but my experience is that the cheapest is not always the best. It- was also stated that oversea vessels installed with the system have visited Australian ports, and that the contractors now have a station at Sydney operating under licence for experimental purposes. I fancy that if honorable members knew what that station is, they would laugh. I am told that there are a few private stations operating in Melbourne, some of them for 100 feet, and others, perhaps, for 100 yards; and, under the circumstances, considering that we require a station operating over a 1,200-mile radius, I do not see what this little experimental station has to do with the case. On the 8th November I asked the following questions, as reported in Hansard, page 5738 :-
The replies were : -
– It was not this Government who accepted the contract.
– No, but it was this Government who gave the ^2,000. I desire to know why this contract has not been signed - if it was a contract - because in the supposed tender form there is the following provision: -
The deposit …. will be absolutely forfeited to the Postmaster-General should the tender be withdrawn, or should the person whose tender is accepted fail to have the bond and agreement referred to in the next succeeding clause completed to the satisfaction of the PostmasterGeneral within fourteen days after the receipt- of the notice from the PostmasterGeneral that the bond and agreement are ready for signature.
Why has that not been carried out? It appears to me that the whole thing is a muddle, and that the proposal was not intended to be carried out. For instance, it is stipulated that the contractors shall proceed with the work or forfeit ,£500; but, at the same time, the whole amount on deposit is only £100 in the form of a “ cheque, bank draft, or banker’s certificate.” It apparently is at the option of the contractor whether the document he deposits is of any value, because “ in the form of a cheque “ does not mean anything of value. In all the contracts that I have had to do with, the deposit had to be in the form of a bank’s cheque, a deposit receipt, or something of value. Another stipulation is that the person whose tender is accepted will be required to enter into a bond in a form approved by the PostmasterGeneral, with two sureties, for the due performance of all the conditions; yet we are told eight or nine months after the tender has been accepted that the bond has not been completed. Then, I am told that there are many conditions in the contract absolutely impossible to carry out. One condition is -
Preference will be given to a system in which waves equal in power but differing in length by more than a stated percentage, preferably not exceeding 3 per cent., may be rendered noninterfering at will.
There is no such thing in the world as a system that is non-interfering at will : and the officers of the Department ought to have been aware of the fact. The question is whether this is a tender, a contract, an offer, or a recommendation. It is left to the tenderer to suggest the exact location of the station, and it is said that preference will be given to sites that are easy of access, adjacent to existing telegraph lines, and within easy reach of some settled township. That infers that a station might be built which was not within easy reach of a township.
– Would that not be a matter left to the officer in charge?
– A contract should be clear and specific, and nothing should be left to the contractor. A man who cannot write out a specification should not undertake the work. It is .provided that the contractor shall provide one fully competent officer to take charge of each installation for a period of three months from the date on which the installation is complete and ready for tests; but paragraph 39 provides -
The contractors shall keep the whole of the installations in good order and condition, and shall make good any defects which may arise in any part of the installations, including those defects which may be due to fair wear and tear or the normal operation of the plant for a period of twelve months -from .the date on which they were complete and ready for test.
Can we find .a contractor in the world who would be responsible for twelve months after some one else has had the running of the work? Another condition is that the tenderer is to supply such reserve or spare parts as he may consider to be necessary ; but if ,a man has his business at heart, how many spare parts will he supply if the matter be left to him? Here is another condition to which honorable members should pay attention - .and I know that there is an electrical engineer amongst honorable members opposite -
Although tenderers are desired to submit offers providing complete power plants, including prime movers for each station, it may be possible, when the sites of the stations have been definitely fixed, to arrange for electric supply thereto, in which case the successful tenderer will be desired to quote a price at which he will provide electrically driven .power plants instead of those using separate prime movers.
I have submitted this contract to experts in wireless telegraphy. I know a little about specifications, but it has never been my luck to have such a document as that to sign. If it had been, I should not have finished the job yet. The Minister, or some one speaking for him, made the statement that the Telefunken, the German system accepted by the Commonwealth Government, had been used in fitting up 40 per cent, of the wireless stations in the world. That statement could have been made only to mislead the members of this Parliament, and I challenge the Minister or bis officers to prove it. Ninety per cent, of the wireless telegraphy stations in the world are fitted with other systems. I have the following incomplete list of the lines of steamers on which the Marconi system is in operation : -
Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company; White Star Line; Cunard Line,; Aberdeen Line; Red Star Line; Canadian Pacific Railway, 20 ships ; Allan Line ; Dominion Line ; Atlantic Transport Line; Booth Line, 17 fitting; Anchor Line; Royal Mail Steam Packet Company ; Wilson Line ; Bowring Line ; Batavia Line ; Thomson Line ; Donaldson Line ; Blue Funnel Line ; Orient Line ; Union Castle Line, 23 fitting; Norddeutscher Lloyd, 17 ships; Hamburg-American, 18 ships; Hollandische Lloyd ; Austrail Lloyd Steamship Company ; HollandAmerican Line; National Steam Navigation Company ; Hellenic Transatlantic Steam Navigation Company; Netherland Company Line ; Compagnie Generale Transatlantique ; Cypren Fabre Company ; Rotterdam Lloyd ; American Line ; Hodart and Parkers ; Navigatione Generale Italian a, 14 ships; Austro-Americana, 7 ships, Sicula Americana Line; La Veloce, 8 ships; Lloyd Italiano, 8 ships; Societa di Navi gazione Italia, 7 ships; Lloyd Sabando, 6 ships Alfred Holt and Company; Bibby Line; British, naval stations; Belgian Government, 10 ships; Canadian Government, 7 ships; Dominion Government; Chilian Government; Italian Government; Sicilian Railways; -United States, 79 boatsfitting now (about 7th October) ; Uruguay ; Argentine; Anglo-American Oil Company; Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company ; indiarubber Works Telegraph Company.
The Marconi operators are not allowed to connect with any other system, ‘except in. case of distress.
– Have not the GermanSteamship Company’s vessels been fitted with the German system?
– No. They are using, the Marconi system. They cannot use the other. Lloyd’s people, who asked for permission to establish their station at. Fremantle, have stations of their own all over Great Britain, and, in fact, all over theworld. All the post-offices in Great Britain that are equipped are fitted with, the Marconi system, as are all the vesselsand light-houses at Home. There are about, thirty stations in Canada. In view of that fact, it is a standing disgrace to usthat we have not one station here. How can we compete with or get ahead of Canada if we are so behind her in such matters ?” We have been informed that 40 per cent, of the vessels of the world are installed with- the Telefunken system, but, in a calculation made on eight voyages across theAtlantic to Canada, the average number of communications upon each voyage was tenper day, and these were all Marconi. It has taken us in Australia about five years to do nothing, but, knowing that ships often went to England and came back fitted with wireless apparatus, I inquired how long it took to make the installation on a vessel. I was told that it took two days. WhenI said, “ That is rather quick, is it not?” my informant said, “ Well, say three days.” The system usually installed on vessels operates over a radius of 400 miles, but when the climatic conditions are favorable the radius is extended even up to 1,000 miles. We were told the other day that a grant of ^2,000 had been allowed to the Sydney company - God knows what for. They have not signed the contract, and I suppose they have been promised the ^2,000 if they will sign it. We were told that one of the reasons was that they had to make some special earth connexions. I took the trouble, at great expense, to find out what the necessary earth connexions were, and found that they amounted to nothing. They are so trivial that those concerned could not put a value on them. On a boat all the “earth connexion” necessary is made by connecting a wire with one of the girders, and in this case there is no more earth connexion necessary than is involved in burying a sheet of iron, copper, or other metal, or attaching a wire to an underground pipe. The regulations of the Postmaster-General of Great Britain provide that, before a wireless station can be installed by any private person in the United Kingdom, or on board a ship registered in the United Kingdom, a licence must be obtained. The regulation here is similar. Let me tell the House who the people comprising the “ Australian Wireless Limited “ are. They are supposed to be the people who have secured the contract. The information in my possession is as follows : - 25th October, 1910, Underwood-street. - This is a limited liability company registered on 15th December, 1909, with a nominal capital of £5,000 divided into £1 shares.
I should like honorable members to note the date, as it was pretty soon after the time when we passed money on the Estimates, or agreed to let contracts -
Objects. - To purchase and acquire rights in connexion with wireless telegraphy and telephony, and to establish and maintain stations for the purpose thereof, &c. Shareholders to the Memorandum of Association : - H. R. Denison, 1 ; W. McLeod, 1 ; F. W. Staerker, 1 ; R. W. King, 1 ; F. W. B. Humphrey, 1 ; William Wright, 1; A. W. Perriam, 1.
This was a preliminary canter. It is stated that the object for which the company was formed was to establish and maintain wireless telegraphy stations in Australia, yet we have passed an Act providing that the Postmaster-General shall have the exclusive privilege of erecting, maintaining, and using stations arid appliances for the purpose of transmitting messages by wireless telegraphy within ‘ Australia, and receiving messages so transmitted. That being so, these people formed a syndicate to do something which the PostmasterGeneral has. the exclusive right to do.
– Then they had nothing to sell?
– No. The statement continues -
Under an agreement dated 3rd February, 1910, and made between F. W. Staerker and Martin Becker, trading as “ Staerker and Fischer,” Sydney, of the first part, H. R. Denison, A. S. F. Wheeler, and William McLeod, of the second part, and the company, whereas the firstnamed parties have entered into negotiations with Die Gesellschaft fur Drahtlose Telegraphic G.M.C.H., Berlin, (known as the Telefunken Company of Berlin), for the purchase from them of certain rights and privileges in connexion with the Telefunken patents to which that company were entitled within the Commonwealth of Australia -
How can they be entitled to such rights, in view of the fact that they are held only by the Postmaster-General? - and other British Pacific Possessions, and whereas parties of the second part have already incurred considerable expense and provided the means for initiating and carrying out the purchase of the proposed options on terms that they should be the owners and entitled to the benefits of such option -
As the time allowed me under the Standing Orders has expired, I should like leave to continue my remarks for a quarter of an hour.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member have leave to continue his remarks?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
– The statement continues; - it is provided that the company shall purchase all rights and interests mentioned for a sum of £4,500, which shall be considered as satisfied by the issue to parties of the second part of 4,500 fully paid shares.
Registered shareholders in the concern as at 16th May, 1910, were as follows : -
By resolution passed 2nd May, 1910, the capital of the company was increased to ^12,000 by the creation of 7,000 additional shares of £1 each.
Those particularly interested in the undertaking are Mr. H. R. Denison, who has been for some time prominently identified with the British Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited, as managing director and a large shareholder, and Mr. William McLeod, who has been for many years the manager of the Bul letin Newspaper Company, of which he is a principal shareholder. All this information with which I have supplied the House ought to have been obtainable by a Government Department, yet, whilst twofifths of the rest of the world has installed another system, a tender by newspaper and tobacco people to install a German system here has been accepted. Surely fuller information should have been available to the Department? We have the further statement -
The company undertakes the fitting up of wireless telegraph stations, and has obtained Government contracts for. the establishment of two centres, one at Pennant Hills, near Sydney, and another at Fremantle, Western Australia. This work will involve an outlay of ^12,000 or ^15,000.
Yet we were told that the company must receive additional payment because the site originally chosen had not been selected, and the station was to be erected at Pennant Hills. My information is that one station is to be established at Pennant Hills, near Sydney, and another at Fre- mantle. It is stated that this work will cost £12,000. How can that statement be correct, in view of .the fact that the contract price in each case is only £4,150? -
An apparatus has also been provided for the Union Steam-ship Company’s liner Ulimaroa.
That is their record. They can point to only one company that has had a vessel : fitted with this system.
– Can the honorable member show that these people are not fit to carry on the work?
– I defy the Government to install in Australia such a system as this. It would be a standing disgrace to the Commonwealth if the Government installed here a system which is not approved or used by the British Government, and by which no British man-of-war would dare to communicate with our stations in time of trouble, or, indeed, at any time.
– The honorable member is wrong. All the experts are against him.
– I challenge the Government to install the Telefunken system in Australia. It is a disgrace to the Commonwealth that the Ministry that was in office when this tender was received was not protected and prevented from accepting it. It is a disgrace, too, that a proposal should be made to hand over to these people £^2,000 to induce them to go on with the work, in view of the fact that they have not signed the contract. I trust that the Government of the day will cancel the contract, and let the syndicate take what proceedings they, please. Let them prove that they are entitled to compensation. In any event, they could not be entitled to much, in view of the fact that they desire £2,000 to help them to carry out the work. Had they completed the work in a satisfactory manner, the Ministry might have said to them, “ If you have lost money over the contract we shall be prepared to help you, subject to the approval of Parliament.”
– But the contract has not been signed.
– No. By some kind of back-door influence they have been able to secure a promise of ,£2,000 to help them to carry on a contract that has never been signed. When a small amount is required for a postal improvement, or to provide for a country telephone service, provision has to be made for the work on the Estimates, yet these people, who have really nothing to offer, have been promised ,£2,000 if they will carry out a contract which they have not signed. Under the conditions the contract could have been cancelled within fourteen days of its acceptance, owing to the neglect of the tenderers to proceed with the work. If a small up-country contractor desired to delay for six or eight months’ the carrying out of a .contract into which he had entered, what treatment would he receive at the hands of the Department ? I contend that the action taken in this connexion is most unfair, and that it would not have been sanctioned but for the fact that certain Bulletin and tobacco people are at the back of the movement. The people of Australia will be interested to learn how this syndicate worked their scheme, and how, in the first place, they secured any consideration whatever for their tender, in view of the fact that at the time they had no Australian rights in connexion with the system. The syndicate was formed to purchase the rights, and my information is that it is designed to exploit the Commonwealth. It has been formed really to exploit’ a power which is vested only in the Postmaster-General. Under the Commonwealth Act, the Postmaster-General has the sole right to establish wireless telegraphy in Australia, and yet these people are to install a system which will not enable us to communicate with British vessels. The German Government are about to establish the Telefunken system in Samoa, and a number of the German war-ships have also installed the same system. On the other hand, the Marconi system has been adopted by the steam-ship companies to which I have referred, many of which may be called upon at any time to supply transports for the British Government. In the circumstances, it must be recognised that they would adopt only such a system as would work in harmony with that adopted by the British Admiralty. It is unfair for us to ask the British Admiralty to co-operate with us if we are going to install the Telefunken system. If the authorities here consider that system the best, why was the Marconi system installed on the Parramatta and the Yarra? Apparently anything that is done abroad can be done well, but anything left to local authorities is muddled. Yet honorable members opposite profess to be able to manage all the affairs of Australia ! Today 90 per cent, of the business of the world is done by the Marconi system. An American system tried to get a footing, but did not succeed. Some time ago some information leaked out, and the authorities knew that the operator on one particular steamer must be responsible for the leakage. Inquiries were made as to who he was, and he was instantly removed from his position. We hope that trouble with other nations will never happen again, but should it arise, we should not like to have our wireless communications carried on by a foreign system in charge of foreigners. The Marconi system is the universal system. I ask the House to treat this matter seriously. I have not brought it forward as a party move; I regard it as of great importance to the interests of Australia. The present condition of affairs is scandalous, and, I trust, will soon be altered.
– I am very pleased that the honorable member has moved the adjournment to bring this matter forward. As the result of the expressed wish of Parliament, my predecessor, on 14th September, 1909, called for tenders for the installation of two wireless telegraph stations. The specifications were drawn up by the officers of the Department, and draft copies submitted to the British Admiralty and to the Defence Department here. The alterations suggested by the Admiralty were two in number ; one was that to clause 25 words should be added making it clear that the conditions applied to both sending and receiving, and the other that in clause 26 preference should be given to a system which would emit a definite musical note. It has been stated in the press that this last provision was inserted by the officers of my Department in order to give the . Telefunken system a better chance, but it is the Admiralty that is responsible for it. I think that the House will be of opinion that the late Postmaster-General was justified in agreeing to specifications which had passed the review of the Admiralty and of the Defence Department. Among the conditions was one to the effect that the station at Sydney should be located between the South Head of the entrance to Port Jackson and Botany Bay, and another that the station at Fremantle should not be more than s miles from the Fremantle postoffice. Those conditions were submitted to both Admiral Poore and the Defence Department here, and special attention was drawn to them. The honorable member for Parramatta was Minister of Defence at the time, and a letter signed by the Secretary to the Defence Department was received by my Department, stating that the Department was satisfied with the specifications, and that they would meet its requirements, while the Admiral of the station, to whom a copy of the draft agreement was sent, through the Governor-General, replied -
With regard to the Sydney site, there would appear to be several good positions on either the North or the South Head. As regards height, North Head would be the better, but South Head would probably be more convenient, as the necessary power could easily be obtained from the existing tramway mains in the vicinity.
He added -
For the’ purpose of economy it was assumed that at both Fremantle and Sydney the power would be obtained from existing, power stations and mains.
Tenders were called for, and 22nd February last was fixed as the last date for receiving them. A Board, consisting of a representative of the Admiralty, a representative of the Defence Forces, and a representative of the PostmasterGeneral’sDepartment, examined and reported on the tenders received. I lay particular stress upon the fact that a member of the Board was an Admiralty officer. It recommended the acceptance of the tender of the Australian Wireless Telegraph Company.
– Who represented the Ad-‘ miralty ?
– Lieutenant Cheeseman.
– Was he specially commissioned by the Admiralty?
– By the Admiral of the Australasian Station.
– I should add that the Marconi Company asked, approximately, ^19,000 as the price for each installation, while the Australian Wireless Telegraph Company asked only ^4,100. In the face of that difference in cost, ‘and of the fact that a representative of the Admiralty recommended. the acceptance of the lower tender, would any Postmaster- General have dared to accept the Marconi tender in preference to the tender of the Australian Company? Further, the then Postmaster-General, before accepting, wrote to the English Admiralty asking whether there was any objection to this contract being entered into, and the reply was in the negative - there was no objection if the Australian Government were satisfied that the company could carry out the work.
– Was the Conference unanimous?
– Yes. “
– In regard to the site?
– I shall come to that matter in a moment; we are at present dealing with the original acceptance of the tender.
– “ If the Australian Government were satisfied the company could carry out the work “ - that is important !
– Whatever may have happened since, I was in no way responsible for what occurred at the time of which I am speaking ; but I can’ say that had I been in the position of the honorable member ‘ for Bendigo, I should have done exactly as he did. The honorable member for Bendigo accepted the contract on 4th April ; and when I came into office 1 ascertained that fact on inquiry. Not very long afterwards I went to Sydney, and there was waited upon by Mr. Hugh Denison. In this connexion, I am glad to have an opportunity to reply to what I think was rather an insinuation contained in a question put by the honorable member for Parkes as to whether one of the directors of the company was not a proprietor of the ‘Bulletin, and whether I had recently had several interviews with one of the directors.
– The Minister’s time has now expired.
– In view of the importance of the question, I think I ought to have another quarter of an hour.
– Is it the pleasure of honorable members that the Minister should be permitted to speak for another quarter of an hour?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– When Mr. Hugh Denison waited on me, after communications had passed over the telephone, I was surprised to find that he was a gentleman whom I had known in South Australia as Mr. Hugh Dixson, a member for North Adelaide in the local Legislature.
– Had he changed his name?
– Yes; there were two men of the same name, and this Mr. Denison changed his.
- Mr. Denison expressed his regret that the matter had been delayed so long - it was then May - and said he was extremely anxious to know when the company could get to work. On making inquiries, I found that some of the delay was due to the Admiralty. The Department was ready with its representative in the person of Mr. Hesketh, the Electrical Engineer; and in the presence of Mr. Denison I telephoned over to the Minister of External Affairs in Melbourne, asking him to communicate, through the Governor-General, with the Admiralty, with a view to expediting matters. This Mr. Batchelor did ; and in a very little while Lieutenant P rouse was appointed to represent the naval authorities at the Conference, and Captain Creswell to represent the military authorities. After the Conference I was greatly surprised to find that the military and naval authorities both held the opinion that there was no site within the area suitable from a defence point of view. From a commercial point of view, and in the opinion of the Department, the site was quite suitable.
– What sort of representative had the Department on the Conference?
– The report of the naval and military representatives was that, on the score of safety, it would be necessary to go outside the locality.
– Then we ought to have some explanation from the Minister who represents the Minister of Defence.
– The Government found themselves in a serious position in view of the report of die Defence authorities; and we took the step of asking what site would be considered suitable. Thereupon, a site at Pennant Hills, in the electorate of the honorable member for Parramatta, was suggested. The Department then consulted the Crown Law authorities as to whether Pennant Hills could be considered within the specifications, and we were advised that it could not. Consequently, 1 take it, the Department could not compel the company to carry out the work there at the same seems to me that the company is only playing with the Department, and I hope that, whatever the cost, it will cancel the contract, and, so to speak, get rid of these people who have shown themselves either unwilling or incompetent to carry out the work which they undertook to perform.
– I should have been glad had the PostmasterGeneral made a definite statement as to the intentions of the Government in regard to this important matter. Untilto-day, it was merely a question of which Minister was to blame, if blame was to be apportioned to any one. The contract was one of those ordinary undertakings, the money for which is passed by Parliament, the details of the work being left entirely in the hands of a responsible Minister. After passing such an amount on the Estimates, the average member of Parliament knows little, if anything, of what subsequently transpires in regard to the work, unless something goes wrong, and leads, as in this case, to the matter coming before the House. This question has been brought before the House so prominently that we shall all be at fault if, in the future, there is any blame to apportion. In the event of the work not being carried out in a satisfactory manner, the blame will rest, not with any previous Ministry, or with the present Government, but with every honorable member, unless we now obtain from the Government a definite statement as to their intentions. I regret very much the remarks made by the honorable member for Swan, for they seemed to me to approach ingratitude. We heard from the. Postmaster- General a most elaborate support of, if not an apology for, what was done by the Ministry of which the right honorable member was a member. The ex-Postmaster-General entered into a contract with some alleged firm, which the honorable member now describes as defaulters, and as quite unable to carry out a work which it contracted with the Ministry of which he was a member, to perform.
– We do not know yet whether or not they are defaulters.
– If they now approach the position of defaulters, then whatever blame attaches must lie with the previous Ministry, which did not take the steps necessary to ascertain the stability of the company, and whether it had any money or ability behind it, and was likely to carry out the work which it undertook to perform. In that view the right honorable member for Swan might well have refrained from dealing with the party aspect of the question.
– I did; the honorable member could not have heard what I said.
– I never fail to listen to the right honorable member. The blame, if there be any, in the first instance, attaches to a previous Ministry for entering into a contract with a company which, up tothe present, apparently has not attempted to carry out that contract. If the Ministry have any proof that the company is likely to proceed at once with the work, then that information should be put before the House, otherwise honorable members generally will be to blame for the regrettable delay, and whatever mistakes have occurred. Up to the present, however, we have had no definite statement. The honorable member for Fremantle has made a certain charge, and the Postmaster-General has made an elaborate defence of the contract entered into by his predecessor in office, as well as a defence of his own action in supporting the contract to the extent of promising the contractors an additional£2,000, which, in view of the alteration of the sites, seems to be a reasonable allowance.
– It amounts to 50 per cent, on the contract price.
– That is of no concern to me, since I have not had an opportunity to get at the details. I cannot say whether the alteration of a particular site, or the necessity for different machinery caused by the alteration, would necessitate a doubling of the contract price or merely a 50 per cent, “addition to it. I presume that the officers who guided the Minister in this matter knew what they were doing in suggesting that an additional sum of£2,000 was not too much to promise the company. The point I wish to emphasize, however, is that we have no information as to whether the contract is to be carried out; and I think that the House would bejustified in asking for that information in fairly clear and emphatic terms. We do not desire to continue for another ten months in a position of regrettable inactivity, so far as the establishment of wireless telegraph stations are concerned.
– We have been marking time.
– It seems to me that it has been a case of “ stand easy.” funken and the Marconi systems are at present, as far as Europe is concerned, a good way ahead of their competitors.
– Are the Marconi and Telefunken systems interchangeable? Can they communicate with one another?
– There is absolutely nothing to prevent their doing so.
.- The one fact that stands out is that this has been an unfortunate business, and that we have not had established up to the present the wireless telegraphy system that we had every right to expect that we should have. The introduction of wireless telegraphy to the Commonwealth has been most unfortunately delayed. It is now about four years since the Government of which I was Treasurer placed £10.000 on the Estimates for the purpose. I think the same amount was provided in the next year, and in the following year it was omitted by another Treasurer. It now appears on the Estimates again, and still nothing whatever has been done. I should have liked the PostmasterGeneral to be more definite as to whether the company, which has had the contract since 4th April, has done anything
Tit all to carry it out. I gather that nothing has been done.
– Something has been done. The company have got £2,000 out of the Government, and we cannot find out what for.
– They have not, I take it, got the money yet. It has only been promised. At a time . when wireless telegraphy is so necessary for the safety of people travelling on the sea, this great Commonwealth, having’ entered into a contract with a company to complete the installation in twelve months, finds that, after the lapse of nine months, not even the sites for the erection of stations have been fixed. The Postmaster-General has not been able to tell us that a single penny has been expended by the company towards carrying out their contract. There ought to be in the contract a condition by which such a state of affairs could be brought to an end at once. The company must surely have defaulted. The contract cannot be so drawn that the Government cannot cancel it when the company have let nine months out of the twelve pass away without doing anything, lt is ridiculous to tell practical people like the members of this House that a site cannot be fixed at Fremantle or Sydney in one day, to say nothing of nine months. The whole place has been surveyed. Every hill is shown upon public maps, and the exact position of every place in relation to North or South Head, at Sydney, or Arthur’s Head, at Fremantle, is known. There seems to have been a want of definite action in this matter, and I must blame the Government, because we can look to no one else. They have been six months in office, and why, during that time, have they allowed the company to go on without doing anything to carry out the contract, when every one is most anxious to have the system established? The neglect in this matter appears to have been almost criminal. Ships now go Home without wireless telegraphy, and after a week or two in London return fitted with it. There is no difficulty whatever in the operation, and no reason why the work we have asked for should not be done at once. I think, although it does not apply to the present case, that a mistake was made from the beginning in being afraid to go ahead from the fear that we might not adopt the best system. The officers used to tell the Minister that some other system better than the Marconi might come along, but that sort of argument should not have been allowed to weigh with us. I hope, and believe, that superior systems will always be discovered. What we have to do is to adopt the best known system, and to proceed with the work in the knowledge that improvements can be made from time to time. The PostmasterGeneral appeared to be somewhat reluctant to state whether the Government or the contractors themselves had refused to sign the contract, or whether, the contractors had been asked to sign it. It would be interesting to learn how the contract was brought about, but the point that we have now to consider is why, having been made, it has not been carried out. We are also entitled to further information as to the reason why the company were promised an additional £2,000, and I hope that that payment has not yet been made. The time has arrived when we should put an end to this contract. The company has defaulted. Nine months have elapsed since their tender was accepted, and although they were allowed only twelve months within which to carry out the work, they have not commenced operations. The matter is of great importance to the travelling public, whose lives are at stake, and I hold that the Postmaster-General should cancel this contract before another day has passed. It
If it is outside, it will be a matter for negotiation.
– Order ! The additional time allotted to the honorable member has now expired.
– I desire to move that the honorable member be ‘granted an extra five minutes.
– The Standing Orders lay down a definite rule to guide us in these matters, but there seems to be growing up a danger of a tendency to disregard them. If extra time is to be allowed in this manner to certain speakers, other honorable members who may wish to speak later may be deprived of the opportunity, because the debate itself has a time limit, and must close at 5 o’clock. If we have Standing Orders we should carry them out, and not continually break them. I hope that what is now happening will not be regarded as a precedent. If it is the desire of the House that the honorable member should proceed further, I have no choice in the matter. Is it the pleasure of the House that the Minister be granted a further extension of time? Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– I have absolutely no interest in the company, and do not know its members, except Mr. Denison, whom I met as Mr. Hugh Dixson, when he was a member of the South Australian Legislature. I think that Mr. Wheeler has met me once or twice also. To my mind some of the blame must necessarily, and I think fairly, be attached - I do not like to say to what Department, but I do not think it should be to the Postal Department, which appears to have done all it possibly could. The great hitch that has taken place has arisen through the military and naval authorities stating that a certain locality would do to put up the plant, and afterwards saying that it was necessary to go outside that locality. That, to my mind, has been the cause of the trouble and difficulty, because I take it that immediately you go outside a contract and specifications, proceeding with the work becomes a matter of arrangement.
– Does the Minister mean that the Minister of Defence has blundered?
– I do not. Mr. Austin Chapman. - Then whom does the honorable member blame?
– I am not here in any way as the advocate of the company, but it is only fair to the company to say that a good deal of the blame does not attach to them. They might have put every obstacle in our ‘way, in view of the difficulty about the sites, for undoubtedly we have gone outside the area in Sydney-
– Have the company done any work yet?
– When they would not sign the contract, why did not the honorable member put an end to the negotiations ?
– Perhaps I am somewhat to blame, but when I took office I understood that everything had been fixed up and signed.
– Why was the contract not signed?
– I do not know whyit was not. The Minister who preceded me accepted the contract.
– Absolutely and unconditionally.
– When I took office, I asked, “ Has the wireless telegraphy matter been fixed up?” and I was told that the contract had been “ accepted.” I knew absolutely nothing about it not having been properly signed until the trouble began.
– Then the company would not sign it?
– I understand that the company were quite prepared to go on with the work at Pennant Hills, and the trouble is now simply in connexion with the Fremantle site.
– Can the Minister throw some light on the efficacy of the system chosen?
– The PostmasterGeneral has exceeded the further time allowed him, but honorable members are still cross-questioning him, and there seems no prospect of the debate terminating. I must ask honorable members not to continue to interject, and the Postmaster-General to try to bring his remarks to a close.
– We are given to understand that the Telefunken system is a good one.- I have here a book on Wireless Telegraphy by W. J. White, who, I am told, is an officer of the Engineer-in-Chief ‘s Department in the General Post Office, London. He says -
The Telefunken system must certainly be recognised as one of the leading systems, if not the leading system, of the world. The relative merits of the various systems are, however, beyond our province, but we can safely say that in the race for pre-eminence both the Tele- price tendered in respect of another locality.
– But all the heavy work of the foundations and so forth had to be done by the Government !
– The company informed us that extra and heavier plant would be necessary ; and this fact was admitted by our electrical engineer.
– They were “ pulling his leg.”
– That may be; but the fact remains that in changing the locality we went outside the contract.
– The honorable gentleman told us the other day that there was no contract.
– The contract has not actually been signed, but it is there. It will be remembered that the Marconi company asked £19,000 for one station; and all the extra money asked for by the other company, in view of the changed locality, was £2,000, so that still there was no comparison between the tenders. The Government agreed to pay the other £2,000. Now arose, however, the difficulty as to the Fremantle site.
– The Postmaster-General is proving my statements in regard to his own specifications.
– They were not my specifications. It was necessary to have a site at Fremantle that would be suitable alike for telegraph and military and naval purposes ; and according to the specifications the contractors had something to say as to the locality. We requested the military authorities to be good enough to send some one to Fremantle to assist us in the selection; and Captain Creswell was again appointed. He was going to meet Admiral Henderson at Fremantle, and it was thought by the Government a good idea to seek the advice of the Admiral, especially as he was accompanied by Lieutenant Slee, who is a wireless telegraphy expert. All these arrangements were carried out, and a report was submitted to the Government suggesting two sites. The company, however, did not appear to be agreeable to accept either of these sites, and desired us to fix some other place within the area.
– Had the contract been signed prior to this?
– The contract has not been signed.
– Did the company give any reason for refusing to accept either of these sites ?
– The company said they were not prepared to accept either one or we other.
– Did they give their reason?
– The company said that neither site was suitable. Immediately we received that communication we consulted the Crown Law authorities, and we were informed that we ought not, in the first place, to have sent to the company saying that we had fixed on two sites and asking them to select one, but that we should have written asking them what site they were prepared to accept within the locality. When they had nominated their sites, it would remain finally with the PostmasterGeneral to decide whether he would accept either of them. Immediately we got that advice from the Crown Solicitor we gave the company seven days to tell us what sites they were prepared to adopt in this area. Strange to say, the period expires to-day, but when I left the office about 2 o’clock we had received no reply from them. We have now done all that we can possibly do, and within a day or two they must submit to us the sites on which they are prepared to erect the station. When they do that, it will be for us to say whether we will accept either of the sites which they name, or demand that they shall put up the plant where Admiral Henderson has suggested.
– But the Department cannot do anything if the contract is not signed.
– Of course, if the company will not go on, and the contract is at an end, it will be for the lawyers .to come in. I am not a lawyer, but I understand that to all intents and purposes there is a contract. It has been accepted by us, and was accepted by the company on 4th April last.
– From whom did the Department accept it if the contract is not signed ?
– From the Australian Wireless Company, with whom we are dealing. If we say to them that they must put the station up in the place that we require, it will be open for them to say that that place is either inside or outside the area mentioned in the specifications. We do not think it is outside the area. If it is inside, we shall be in a position to say that they must go on with the work.
– The Minister told us that an answer was expected to-day.
– I did not hear such a statement; but the House has a right to demand that if not to-day, at all events before we go into recess, there should be a clear intimation either that the contract has been cancelled, or that the company is about to carry it out. I have had some bitter experiences of allowing such important matters to be left undecided during a recess. I’ am sure that the Minister is conscientiously attempting to do his duty, and that the ex-Postmaster-General considered that he was conscientiously carrying out his duty. All Ministers, strange to say, hold the same view with regard to every action that they do, yet many of them have failed. The fact remains that we have had nine months of unnecessary delay in proceeding with this necessary and important work, and we should be lacking in our duty if we failed to obtain some such information as that which I have urged should be forthcoming.
.- The honorable member for Fremantle is to be commended for having brought this matter forward, and for the industry he has shown in getting to the bottom of what appears to be a particularly filthy slough. I do not know that in my parliamentary experience I have met with a more deplorable case of bungling than that which the honorable member has revealed. The PostmasterGeneral has thrown but little light on the subject, although he is to be congratulated upon the way in which he defended, not only his Department, but his predecessor in office. I do not think that the honorable member for Fremantle intended to attack the Department. He simply put before the House certain information, and asked that it should be supplemented. The Postmaster-General, however, has not complied with that request. We have no satisfactory explanation of the reason why 50 per cent, on the original contract is to be paid to the contractors simply because a departure to the extent of a mile or two has been made from the site originally selected.
– - And the contract has not been signed.
– That is one of the mysteries which the Postmaster-General has not elucidated. I do not know whether the company, the officials of the various Departments concerned, or the whole of them are to blame. There is no doubt, however, that a muddle has been perpetrated, and that it has been continued for over three years, with the result that we are no further ahead to-day than when we started. It is absolutely necessary that more light should be thrown on this* subject, so that the blame may be rightly apportioned. Some person or persons are deserving of more than ordinary punishment for the way in which this business has been carried on. The company may be a perfectly bond fide one, but it is obvious that its members are not wireless telegraphy experts. I should like to know whether any inquiry was made by the Department as to whether the company had a manager, supervisor, or engineer possessing the necessary technical skill to enable the contract to be carried out. I should like also to know why some arrangement was not made with the naval and military authorities, in regard to the site to be selected, before the company had the work put into its hands. Had such an understanding been arrived at the company could have been consulted, and within an hour or two a site could have been fixed se as to enable the work to be proceeded with. The people of Australia have been waiting anxiously for some years for the establishment of wireless telegraph stations and the opening up of a system of communication with oversea vessels. That is particularly the attitude of the people of Western Australia. Fremantle is the front door of the Commonwealth, so far as European trade is concerned, but at present we cannot communicate with vessels coming to or going from our shores unless they are within sight. I trust that the Minister will realize the urgency of this matter, and give us at the earliest date means of communication such as almost every other civilized country now enjoys.
– There are two points which I wish to have definitely cleared up. The Minister read a statement by Mr. W. J. White. He, I suppose, is an authority on wireless telegraphy connected with the British Admiralty.
– No; he is in the Electrical Engineer’s Branch of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
– He says that the Telefunken system is in the forefront of wireless telegraph systems. I wish to know whether it is a fact, as the honorable member for Perth states, that ships installed with the Marconi system are not allowed to communicate with any station where the Telefunken system is installed?
– The Chief Electrical Engineer assures me that there is no technical difficulty, nor any restriction as to vessels fitted with Marconi appliances communicating with a Telefunken station.
– That is not correct.
– If it is not correct, the Admiralty should not have recommended the installation of the Telefunken system here. I recognise the need for establishing wireless telegraph stations, and, if the Telefunken system is as good or nearly as good as the Marconi system, I think that it should be adopted, because we do not wish to give the Marconi system a monopoly. It should be possible, however, to have communication between a vessel fitted with Marconi appliances and a Telefunken station.
.- The exhaustive statement of the PostmasterGeneral relieves me of the necessity for making a lengthy review of the circumstances under which this tender was accepted by me. I realized the importance of the experiment in wireless communication which Parliament sanctioned last year, and, after consultation with my colleagues, called for tenders for the installation of two stations. I was advised by my officers and the Imperial authorities that it would be a mistake for the Government to become the patron of any particular system. The fundamental conditions of the tenders were, therefore, these -
That any firm of manufacturers or inventors may tender for the supply of the electrical and radio-telegraphic plant, provided that they comply with the conditions of the Radiotelegraphic Convention that any coastal station or ships must be capable of inter-communication with other stations or ships. The tender must provide for the erection of plant and apparatus capable of communicating with His Majesty’s ships of war, royal mail steamers, or other steamers equipped with wireless. They must provide alternatively for the transmission of their radius effectively 500 miles, 750 miles, 1,000 miles, and 1,200 miles, showing the price for each range.
We advertised all over the world, and so that the advertisement might not escape the notice of possible tenderers, we sent special information to all the leading firms and inventors throughout the world. It seems to me not to matter how these mysterious wireless communications are effected, so long as their transmission is effective, and there is inter-communicability. The Admiralty, recommended that we must have an installation able to communicate with its ships, with the royal mail steamers, and any other vessels fitted with wireless telegraph appliances. The date fixed for the closing of the tenders was 22nd February, and only five were received. The lowest was from the Australian Wireless Telegraph Company Limited, of Sydney, the price being , £4,150. The next lowest price was £7,000
– From what firm?
– I am not at liberty to mention the names of the unsuccessful tenderers. The next lowest price was £7,777 ; the next above it, £9,317 ; and the highest price,£19,020; which the Postmaster-General has stated was asked by the Marconi Company. I am not an expert in wireless telegraphy, and, therefore, had to depend on the best advice obtainable. Accordingly, I submitted the tenders to a Conference consisting of Captain Creswell, who represented the Defence Department, Lieutenant Cheeseman, who represented the Admiralty, being appointed by the Admiral of the Station, and the Chief Electrical Engineer of the Postmaster-General’s Department. It reported that the lowest tender met all the requirements of the Admiralty in regard to naval and military signalling, and complied with all the conditions and specifications. What option, then, had I but to accept it? But I took one more step. With the concurrence of my colleagues, I had a communication sent through the Governor-General to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, informing him that the lowest tender for two wireless telegraph stations had been submitted by a company in Australia, which proposed to install the Telefunken system. I stated the price asked, and desired to be informed whether the Admiralty knew of any objection to the acceptance of the tender. Had any objection been urged, I should have hesitated about accepting the tender, but the cabled reply - which the PostmasterGeneral has just placed in my hand - was in these terms -
His Majesty’s Government do not wish to raise any objections if responsible advisers decide to accept the lowest tender, on the understanding that as is stated inyour telegram Admiralty requirements are met.
Under these circumstances, a PostmasterGeneral would have acted very recklessly in accepting any but the lowest tender. The impression that the Telefunken system does not allow communication with our ships of war or other vessels on the high seas is wrong. The tender was accepted subject to its compliance with the conditions of the Radio-telegraphic Convention, according to which all systems, however they may differ in detail, must be capable of inter-communication between station and station and ship and ship.
– Did the honorable member inform the Secretary of State for the Colonies that the Telefunken system was the one which it was proposed to install ?
– Yes. No one could have done more than was done to secure the best advice.
– Does the acceptance of the Telefunken system affect- the future action of the Commonwealth?
– Not in the least. It is believed that the Sydney company put in a very low price to obtain the first contract, in the hope of thereby getting an advantage in being called upon to do other work of the same nature later ; but, when new installations are needed, I take it that fresh tenders will be called for, and the most suitable tender accepted on its merits. There is no understanding of any kind that the Telefunken system shall be adopted for future installations.
– Our right to adopt any other system in the future is not prejudiced ?
– Not in the least.
– Would the adoption of the Marconi system for other stations cause confusion ?
– No ; because intercommunicability would be insisted on. The Radio- telegraphic Convention established the understanding among Governments that no system of wireless telegraph should be accepted which did not permit of inter-communication. I am glad that the honorable member for Fremantle has given the Postmaster-General an opportunity to explain the circumstances under which a tender was accepted, and to make it plain to the House and to the country that every precaution was taken. Nothing that human skill could have suggested was omitted by the Department.
– Except the signing of the contract.
– I shall deal with that matter presently. The Department was not responsible for the delay which ensued consequent upon an alteration of site. Both the Defence Department and the Admiralty had no objection to find, in the first instance, with a site between South Head and Botany Bay. So sure were the officers of the Departments that a site between those two points was the best, that I could hardly persuade them to give the option of a site on the North Head. The Admiralty undoubtedly offered no objection to the South Head site.
– But the Admiralty authorities have since changed their minds.
– As I understand, they have since changed their minds. No doubt a lamentable error has been madein this respect ; but the Postmaster-General, either past or present, or the Government, cannot be held responsible. I have no doubt that the officers representing the Admiralty did their best. They were not aware of any objection, though one would have thought that, if any one was aware, it would be the Admiral on the Australian Station. Why change of opinion has taken place, I cannot say.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The House cannot be too guarded or jealous in regard to innovations of this character which affect so seriously the future of Australia. I listened attentively to the case submitted by the honorable member for Fremantle, and to the history of the case, and the practical repetition thereof by the Postmaster-General, and the honorable member for Bendigo. The whole question seems to be why this company is able to claim ,£2,000, or 50 per cent, on the original tender. The claim seems to be based on the alteration of the site.
– And the company are going to try the same “ squeeze “ at Fremantle !
– The honorable member for Bendigo did not tell us on whose authority the change of site was made - whether it was on the authority of the same officers who selected the original site, or whether there is a conflict . between officers.
– If the British officers did no more than the Australian officers, no wonder there is a bungle !
– As I say, in such a serious matter as this, it would, perhaps, be well to make assurance doubly sure by calling in independent experts to the aid of the Government. The case of the PostmasterGeneral is weak, inasmuch as, while he says no tender has been signed, he contends that the contract has practically been accepted. Under the circumstances, we do not know the exact position ; and there ought to be some finality, no matter what company may be concerned. An important question like this should not be tossed from pillar to post in order to meet the interests of any company, no matter what position that company may occupy in the telegraph world.
– The Military, Naval, and Postal officers are to blame.
– The blame rests with somebody; for, undoubtedly, there has been a bungle. We are told that probably the lawyers may have to be called in to settle the question ; and, if so, heaven knows what the cost may be, for,, in a dispute about a mysterious thing like- wireless telegraphy, there is a grand opening for legal expenses.
– There is apparently no contract in existence.
– The PostmasterGeneral tells us that there is practically a contract; and, if that be so, and the contractors do not fulfil the conditions, the Postmaster-General ought to cancel the contract. I hope nothing will be done until there has been further investigation by the Postal authorities. There seems to be a doubt as to whether the right thing has been done in regard to the new stations; and it would be unwise, without proper inquiry, to step into the unknown simply because some one seems to prefer a certain system to one already in existence. -The Postmaster-General must be gratified that the subject has been raised, and that he has been afforded an opportunity of making an explanation ; but I must confess that, at first, the matter appeared to me rather “ fishy.”
– The time for the discussion of the motion has expired.
Question resolved in the negative.
Mr. THOMAS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations Amended (Provisional) -
General - Sunday Arrangements - Postal -
Statutory Rules 1910, No. 97.
Money Orders, Office Hours - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 102.
Instructional Staff - Rifle Range, Narrogin - Accommodation for Destroyers in Hobson’s Bay - Manoeuvre Area, Liverpool.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1, 2, 4, and 5- The claims of these instructors have been thoroughly investigated, and it has been found that they are not entitled to promotion to warrant rank. The Crown Solicitor, to whom the question was referred, is also of opinion that they have no claim to the promotion.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1, 2, and 3. The Narrogin Rifle Club has at present the use of a range which is only about miles from the township. The club, however,, desires a range to be constructed on a new site, but this is not recommended by the Commandant, and no provision has been made for the expenditure that would be necessitated in the acquisition of a sufficient area of land to insure safety together with the cost of constructing the new range.
Whenever it is possible land for rifle club ranges is leased or permissive occupancy is obtained, as the acquisition of land in every similar case throughout the Commonwealth would involve an enormous expenditure of public money.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Has Captain Creswell reported that there is no place in Victoria where destroyers can lie to undergo outfit- no sheltered place, only open anchorage in Hobson’s Bay?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Mr. JOHN THOMSON (for ‘ Mr.
Fuller) asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
In regard to the negotiations between the Federal Government and the New South Wales Government concerning the manoeuvre area at Liverpool -
Has it been definitely arranged that the New South Wales Government shall resume and lease to the Federal Government the land ‘required ?
When is it likely the resumption will take place ?
Have the boundaries of the land required to be resumed been definitely fixed?
If so, will the Minister lay on the table of the House a map, accompanied by definite descriptions, showing the area proposed to be resumed ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Promotion of “ Country,” “ Ship,” and Sorting Room Officers - Telephone Spindles - Increments
asked the PostmsterGeneral, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions, the Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following information : - 1, 2, and 3. Officers in these branches are required to pass the prescribed sorting test at the rate of forty-five letters per minute, with a maximum of 2 per cent, of errors.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Melbourne, has furnished the following information in regard to questions 1 to 8, viz. : -
The Chief Electrical Engineer, however, reports that the thread of the insulator, Victorian Sealed Pattern No. 25, is not parallel,’ but tapers.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Df the Public Service Commissioner, as disclosed in returns furnished to this House, of withholding increments from the third and fourth class officers in alternate years ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow. : -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow :-
asked the Postmaster-. General, upon notice -
Will the Minister kindly state the reasons for refusing permission for the erection of a town fire-bell on the piece of land between the Post Office and the Queensland National Bank, Gladstone, Central Queensland ?
-The Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Brisbane, reported that the erection of a town fire-bell structure in the position referred to would be a menace from fire, and that the few feet of spare land in question should, in his opinion, be kept clear as a break in case of fire, that side being the only one on which the office is in danger.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– I lay the information on the table of the House in the form of the following return: -
Alleged Restraint of Trade
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– No information is to hand in relation to these matters, but inquiries are being made.
– I move - .
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I feel it a very great honour and pleasure to have an opportunity to place a Bill of this kind before the House. The principles embodied have been extensively canvassed during the last two years, and have, one after the other, secured acceptance in the minds of an ever-increasing number of the electors of the Commonwealth, and of members of this House. I may be permitted to remind honorable members that, when the right “honorable member for Swan introduced a Defence Bill in 1903, I endeavoured to secure the incorporation of an amendment which, in essentials, embodied a provision which is now in the Amended Defence Act of 1909, and outlined the vital principles of the proposals in the measure -I now have the honour to lay before the Chamber. I merely point this out in* order to show how completely public opinion, both in the House and out of it, has changed during a comparatively brief period We may, therefore, assume that we have the amplest authority for this measure, and that it is, in the best sense of the term, a non-party one. I am pleased to note how, as time has gone on, those difficulties which divided honorable members in this House have one by one disappeared. We have now arrived at a rapprochement, so that, although I cannot say that every member of the House, or every elector in the country, favours this measure, it may be said, however, that no other has such an overwhelming support. In a speech made by me in D903, I referred to the defects of conscription as existing in continental . countries on the one hand, and to the dangers of a standing army on the other, in the following terms - Hansard, 1903, page 3095 :-
There “conscription” necessarily involves compulsory military service of a character that is destructive alike to the welfare of the nation and of the individual. It means that for a period of from three to five years their young men - the flower of their nation - are exposed to a most rigorous and senseless system of routine, which crushes out individual initiative, and subjects them to galling indignities and insults. In very many cases it results in the breaking of their spirits, and, in others, even goads them to suicide in their desire to escape from its thraldom. From every stand-point the effect of that system is a most damnable one. It takes an appreciable number of the wealth producers away from their ordinary avocations, and throws upon the remainder the burden of supporting mem. It also creates a military caste, an evil above all things to be avoided. In Australia recently there has been an unfortunate tendency - perhaps owing to the Boer war - to exalt the military ideal. The trappings of war, the gilt lace, and other embellishments which the Minister for Defence affects to despise, but for which in reality he entertains the greatest respect, the clanking sabre and the tinkling spurs, offer great attractions to the rising generation, who are imbued with the idea that war consists of walking down Bourke-street in a very smart uniform. They learn only when it is too late that there are other duties connected with military operations which are not of such an alluring character.
Seeing that we were at that time embodying in our legislation the principle of compulsory service, I asked that the House should agree to a system of compulsory training. It was proposed by the Govern ment that in an emergency every man between the ages of eighteen and sixty might be called to the colours, and I asked that some training should be provided, so that those summoned to fight for their country, should be something more than an enthusiastic mob. At that time, however, the idea found little or no favour. .1 think that there were, besides myself, only two who supported it. As years have gone on, circumstances have compelled the attention of the community to the matter, and effected a most notable change in public opinion. It is now realized that a citizen soldiery is the most effective means of guarding one’s country, and at the same time upholding constitutional and democratic government, which can never be firmly established when overawed or in danger pf being overawed by the power of a standing army.
I come now to the 1909 amendment of the existing Defence Act, introduced by the exMinister of Defence, the honorable member for Parramatta. He, long an opponent of this principle, became last year an enthusiastic advocate of it, and introduced a measure providing for compulsory training - compulsory service having long been the law of the country. Honorable members now on this side of the House, who were members of the Parliament last year, had the honour to point out that compulsory training, as introduced by the honorable member for Parramatta, was accompanied by . certain grave and almost fatal defects. As I showed at the time, there is nothing about compulsion in itself desirable, and that compulsory training, unless effective, was bad. It is worse than voluntary training if it carries us no farther.
The present law provides for the compulsory training of junior cadets between the ages of twelve and fourteen, and senior cadets from fourteen to eighteen, lt then takes a young man .entering his nineteenth year, and for two years subjects him to sixteen days’ training, which need not be continuous. There is no effective provision for continuous camp training, without which it is almost hopeless to expect to turn a man into a soldier. That defect was pointed out at the time, as was a defect, perhaps, even greater - that after you had made a man a soldier, if two years’ training could do it, you turned him adrift. An impossible and almost ludicrous condition of things was thus created, under which, after having spent your money on cadet training for him between the ages of twelve and eighteen, and during his nineteenth and twentieth years in making him fit to be a soldier, you turned him out just when he might be able to defend his country, with no organization to which he could attach himself. He became ah unattached, floating unit. No organization, no method of utilizing his services, was provided. He simply came up. when called upon, for one muster parade a year. That is the existing law.
It is true that the law has never been put into operation. The Act has not been proclaimed, and to-day remains in suspense in regard to that matter. Last year the Ministry availed themselves of the services of FieldMarshal Lord Kitchener, who was asked to advise the Ministry as to what needed to be done to defend Australia. He did this in his customary efficient and thoroughgoing fashion, and his report sets forth what is necessary in order to enable this country to be adequately defended. It is upon his recommendations that the Government have, to a large extent, framed this measure. The present forces consist of about 25,000 more or less trained men, scattered over the whole of this great continent. They have to defend the fixed fortresses, to form nuclei here and there for garrison and other duties, and to be available, should occasion arise, to be taken hither and thither to meet invasion. Such a force is numerically and in every other way unsuited to cope with a task of that magnitude, and has been uniformly admitted by every Minister of Defence for many years past to be most unsatisfactory, not from lack of - courage or efficiency to the extent to which it went, but from lack of numbers and equipment. Lord Kitchener gave the imprimatur of a soldier to the opinions of the civilians in this matter, when he said in Lis report, in paragraph 9 of his introductory remarks -
The conclusion I have come to is, shortly, that the present forces are inadequate in numbers, training, organization, and munitions of war, to defend Australia from the dangers that are due to the present conditions that prevail 5n the country, as well as to its isolated position.
There we get a clear condemnation of the present system from the man who has had almost as wide an experience of actual war as any English soldier now living. He sets forth what he conceives to be the essential features of a satisfactory force. He declares that, first of all, there must be sufficient training; secondly, that this training must extend over a sufficient period of time ; thirdly, that a means must be devised whereby non-commissioned and commissioned officers can be trained; and, lastly, that there must be a means whereby that instruction can be applied to the Citizen Forces. To that end he recommends that Australia shall be divided into 215 areas. To each of these areas an officer is attached. There are to be instructional schools in which men are to be trained to be non-commissioned officers. There is to be a military college where men are to be trained from their youth upwards to become officers. Lord Kitchener points out, as is obvious to any civilian of us all, that an officer cannot be made in a day. He says it is of no use to have an officer unless he joins for a period of not less than twelve years. He must be taken as a youth and trained, and then he can be utilized. It is proposed to officer our Citizen Force by Australians trained in the Australian Military College. It has been decided to establish the college in a particular locality, and provision is to be made there for the most effective and up-to-date tuition of our Australian youths for the serious business of defending their native country. Lord Kitchener reported that, in estimating the strength of the land forces necessary to meet our requirements, the three principal factors that should be considered were -
It is necessary to defend our vast continent with the material at our hands, and Lord Kitchener states that not less than 80,000 fighting men are required for the purpose. Under the existing system we have 25,000, and they are inadequately armed, trained, and organized. The ex- Minister of Defence, speaking of the possibilities of mobilization, said that the existing system would inevitably break down, and the same statement was made by his predecessor in office, the present Minister of Defence, and also by Sir Thomas Ewing when he held that office. There can be no question as to the inadequacy of the present system, and we have now merely to consider what is to be put in its place. We have to remember that in quoting the opinions of Lord Kitchener we are quoting those of a practical man asked to give information about a matter that he understands as well as does any man living. He tells us that we require 80,000 fighting men, and, taking the Defence Act as his basis in constructing a scheme, he makes certain recommendations which, to a very large extent, have been embodied in this measure. I can the more readily ask the House to indorse those recommendations, because, speaking for myself, at all events, they are in accordance with views which, as a humble civilian, I have endeavoured times out of number to induce the House to adopt. None of them go far beyond the proposals that were made by the Fisher Ministry, which preceded the late Government. Dealing with the law, as amended by the Act of 1909, which provides that all male inhabitants shall be liable to be trained, from twelve years to fourteen years of age in the junior cadets, from’ fourteen to eighteen years of age in the senior cadets, and from eighteen to twenty years of age in the Citizen Forces, Lord Kitchener reported -
While the cadet training is valuable as a preparation, it cannot, in my opinion, replace recruit training,’ which is a necessary preliminary to the production of an efficient and trained citizen soldiery. For this reason, I class the 18-19-year men as recruits, over and above the peace establishment of 80,000 men, but liable to be put in the ranks in war.
In other words, the eighteen-nineteen-year men are not to be classed as soldiers. Lord Kitchener would have his army of 80,000 composed of men of the age of nineteen years and upwards.
– When there is fighting to be done, they are to be classed as soldiers:
– Yes, but not on a peace footing. On this point, let me quote from a speech which I delivered in this House on 13th October last, as reported in Hansard, vol. LIL, page 4467 . The honorable member for Boothby then interjected -
The honorable member would not count such cadets in estimating the war establishment of the country ?
I replied -
I would regard them as what they are, mere school boys. By no twisting of phrases, can they be made anything else. The experience of those connected with schools is that up to the age of fourteen a boy learns little and retains less, and it would be of no service to the lads were this training continued until they reach the age of eighteen years. But lads between the ages of fourteen and eighteen years are to form Senior Cadet Corps, which will have four whole-day, twelve half-day, and twentyfour night drills in the rear. I ask those who know what drilling means whether young men so trained will receive the equivalent of what is known as recruit drill? Certainly, they will not.
Later on, ‘ I said -
After all, with whom does he propose to fight our battles? With boys of between fourteen and eighteen years, with young men who have not received their training, or with young men who have just received eight days’ training? If it is to be with school boys, I venture to say the danger cannot be very real or imminent. If it is to be with men who have just completed this amount of training, then it is to be with volunteers, and, by the honorable gentleman’s own hypothesis, volunteers are useless, because his contention is that the volunteer system has broken down.
It was the opinion of our party at that time that the proposal put forward by the then Minister of Defence stopped short just at the point- at which we should be beginning- to make soldiers of our men. Between the ages of eighteen and nineteen years a youth would be given recruit drill, and from nineteen to twenty years of age he would begin to realize that he was a soldier, as it were, in contradistinction to the ordinary enthusiastic citizen. But when we had brought him with infinite difficulty to that point, we said to him, under the existing law, ‘« That will do, old fellow. When the whistle blows or the banner waves, you will attend a muster parade if you do not feel well enough to join the militia.” From what we know of our fellow-citizens, however, we may be sure that they would attend the muster parades, and leave the volunteer system to itself. The quotations I have made show that the conclusion which Lord Kitchener formed in this regard was perfectly plain, even to a civilian- that when you get your soldier - and you can only get him after recruit training - you should keep him, and fight your battles with, men between the ages of nineteen and twentysix years. In the course of the speech to which I have just referred, I made the further statement, as reported on page 4469, that -
After putting his men through various stages of training from the age of fourteen to the age of twenty years, and making them the material out of which soldiers can be made - for that is all that will have been done - they will not be available to fight if required to do so, because organization would be necessary, and no such organization is provided for in the Government scheme. The period of training should extend to the age of twenty-six years. The length of the period of training for those who are eighteen or nineteen years of age should be not less than sixteen days for two successive years.
This party is completely in accord . with the principles for which this measure provides. We advocated them when in Opposition, and crossing the Rubicon has not altered our opinion. That -is a matter for congratulation, and although not unique in the history of Governments, it is still not so common but that one may make a note of it.
We come now to the provisions of the Bill, and I invite honorable members to obtain copies of the measure showing in black type the alterations made in the principal Act. We propose, first of all, that eight of the sixteen days’ training per annum shall be spent continuously in camp, and that that training shall be undertaken from the ages of eighteen years to twenty-five years, instead of from eighteen to twenty years, as provided in the measure passed last session. In other words, we shall have seven years of continuous training instead of two, and those between the ages of twenty-five and twenty-six years must attend a muster parade. Under this system we shall secure a body of men who have been trained in some fashion from the ages of twelve years to twenty-six years, and who have been seriously trained as soldiers from the ages of eighteen years to twenty-six years. At the age of nineteen years they will have passed out of the recruit stage, and we shall thus have a body of 80,000 fighting men fitted both by training and by age to defend the country. I come now to the proposal to divide the Commonwealth into areas, and to the duties of area officers. These are very important. The area officers must have a thorough knowledge of all that goes to make up the art of military science. Lord Kitchener lays considerable stress on the necessity for obtaining for this work the best possible men. I do not hesitate to say that just as an educational system, no matter how admirable it may be, must depend for its success upon the capacity of its teachers, so we shall be unable to secure an effective system of defence unless we have as officers men who command the respect of those under them by virtue of the possession of the intellectual, moral, and physical qualities necessary to make a successful soldier. Lord Kitchener details as follows the work which the area officers will have to perform -
The inspection of the junior cadets training in the schools.
The organization and training of the senior cadets.
The enrolment, equipment, and training of the adult from eighteen to nineteen years of age.
The equipment, organization, and training of the trained soldier from nineteen to twenty-five years of age.
The supervision ‘ of the registration of all male inhabitants under clause 142 of the Act.
The maintenance of lists of males twenty-five to twenty-six years of age who have just completed their training.
Communication to other areas of all changes of residence of men under training, with particulars of their military proficiency.
Information regarding the numbers, residence, and classification of the reserve men in the areas, and the organization and maintenance of rifle clubs.
A thorough acquaintance with the inhabitants of his area.
In paragraph 42 of his report, he states that-
The proposed organization contemplates the formation of 215 areas, which are required to produce a fighting force of 80,000 men. The officers in charge of each of these areas may be of the rank of captain or lieutenant. In addition, twenty-two majors will be required, one to supervise every ten areas. The six district staffs require twenty.five officers, mostly of field rank; head-quarters will absorb twelve; the Military College eight; and the Permanent Forces (on the present scale) forty-eight.
We shall thus require nearly 300 of these officers, and upon their calibre the success of our future Defence Forces will largely rest. These are to be permanent officers, but it has been found impossible up to the present time to obtain a sufficient supply. Temporary appointments have, therefore, been made of men who will hold office until we shall have been able to train, by means of the Military College, a sufficient number to take their places. We desire to have our Forces officered by Australians, who have been trained in a College which it is the laudable ambition of the Minister of Defence shall not be less effective than is West Point, in the United States of America. The officer will undergo twelve years of training, so that he will be in quite a different position from the citizen soldier! If, however, he leaves before his period of training is finished, he will have to serve his term as a citizen soldier as if he had never had training as an officer. The Government will spend a great deal of money in training officers, and it is only by a provision of this kind that it can enforce the contracts which it makes with them. Lord Kitchener recommended the charging of a fee of £80 to each cadet entering the college, but we have decided that to do so would be to violate the principle of the measure, which is that promotion shall be from the ranks, and irrespective of social position. Therefore, no payment of any kind will be required. The college is to be open to all, and cadets, rich or poor, will be treated alike. Grants will be made to assist every brilliant and capable youth, no matter how poor. We wish to abolish class distinctions which have created caste distinctions. Hitherto, men have been prevented from becoming officers because of the mess charges and the cost of uniforms. The Government propose to supply all uniforms, from the rank of private to that of generalissimo. I strongly emphasize the fact that all promotions are to be from the ranks.
– After five years, none are to be from the ranks.
– All are to be from the ranks in the Citizen Forces. That is the principle of the measure. A commission in the Senior Cadet Corps, or any other corps, cannot be obtained except by those who have been in the ranks, or who have gone through the Military College, and no one can become an officer without passing examinations. These conditions, however, will not obtain until after a given period has elapsed, because, at present, we have not a sufficient supply of officers. The alterations proposed in the period of training amount to this : That whereas now sixteen days’ training is provided for, without any provision as to how much must be continuous, we propose that there shall be eight days’ continuous training in camp for the infantry, and seventeen days for the engineering, artillery, and other technical branches of the service. Those provisions will apply to the training of. all who are between their eighteenth and twenty-fifth years. To the usual exemptions, we propose to add the medically unfit, members and officers of the Parliament of the Commonwealth and of the Parliaments of the States, the Justices of the Federal and the State Courts, police and stipendiary magistrates, those employed in the police and prison services and in light houses, medical practitioners and nurses, persons who are not substantially of European descent, persons who have satisfied the prescribed authority that their conscientious beliefs do not permit them to bear arms, and persons engaged in any employment specified by the regulations or by proclamation. Exemption on the ground of religious scruples will not apply to training and service in the non-combatant branches. A person who has conscientious objections to war will be exempt from service in the field, but he will not be exempt from training and service in connexion with the medical or commissariat branches, or other duties of a non-combatant character. A number of petitions have been received from estimable citizens who have conscientious scruples to the bearing of arms, and with them I have every sympathy. But there is no logical reason why such scruples should not extend to other duties of citizenship. We know that many object to vaccination, and, in England, the nonconformists have resorted to what is known as passive resistance in giving effect to their objections to the provisions of the Education Act.
– Some have scruples about calling in a doctor to minister to the sick.
– We cannot allow such scruples to stand in the way of the clearly expressed determination of the majority that the duties necessary for the salvation of the nation shall be performed by its citizens, and, although we may exempt from the actual bearing of arms those who have religious scruples against engaging in warfare, we cannot exempt them from such duties as stretcher bearing, kitchen work, sanitation, and the like. But objection to training and military service are, in most cases, illogical. I see no difference between a man staying at home and baking bread which goes to feed an army and attending an army in the field to bake its bread, nor do I see any difference between the performing of occupations assisting noncombatants, without whom an army could not be kept in the field for twenty-four hours, and actually feeding an army in the field. Nor is there any real difference between feeding the fighting line and actually fighting there. It is proposed to amend the Bill to exempt students of educational and theological colleges. We take power to establish places for the breeding of horses, an ample supply of which is essential. We ‘ also take power to exempt areas from the operation of the law. They are not irrevocably exempt, but are exempt as occasion may arise, owing to their isolated position, or some special circumstances. But the ideal is to enable every person throughout Australia to have an opportunity - and I put this forward as a privilege rather than anything else - of being trained, and so made, both mentally and physically, in every way more fitted to carry out his duties as a citizen. It is proposed to bring this Bill into operation by proclamation by ist January, 1911. It is not proposed that the eighteen-year men shall come in this year, but that they shall begin to come in from July, 1912. The training of the Cadets, however, will start from June of next year. The House is not asked to affirm the principle of compulsory service, because that has long been the law ; nor is it asked to affirm the principle of compulsory training, which has been the law for more than twelve months ; it is. merely asked to give effect to principles already sanctioned by the overwhelming majority of the last and other Parliaments, to give effect to recommendations submitted at the request of the late Government, by one of the first soldiers of the British Empire, after close investigation of the conditions and special circumstances of Australia. Those recommendations, in themselves, so far from being repugnant to this Government, are, the major portion of them, recommendations to which we were committed when in Opposition over twelve months ago. We, on this. side, therefore, are asked to affirm nothing to which we are not already committed ; and honorable members opposite are asked to do no more than to affirm the recommendation of that distinguished man who was asked by the late Government to make his investigations and report.
– I hope the Acting Prime Minister will consent to an adjournment of the debate until to-morrow morning.
– I prefer to go straight on with the debate ; for, otherwise, we shall have no business before us.
– Surely there is a whole sheet of business to proceed with? What about the Budget, for instance?
– I told the Leader of the Opposition last week that we intended to go straight on with the debate.
– I was not told; and I knew nothing about the arrangement to go straight on. An adjournment has always been granted in the case of other measures. I only ask for an adjournment until to-morrow morning.
– Well, I cannot consent.
– Then go ahead
.- I think the Acting Prime Minister is taking a very unusual course in refusing an adjournment of the debate.
– Order ! Will the honorable member proceed with the debate ?
– If the Government compel me to discuss the measures now, I shall have to do so; but, in view of the fact that we have only now heard the explanation of the Minister, I shall not be able to deal with it with that conciseness that I should like. With a little time for consideration, I might be able to deal with the two Bills in a period not exceeding halfanhour ; and thus time would be saved.
– The Bills have been on the table for weeks.
– But the Ministerial explanation has not been before the country for weeks ; and it is the Ministerial explanation which clothes this dry black and white print, and gives it a meaning for the House.
– All I can say is that, if we do not go on with this measure, there is no business for the House.
– It is an extraordinary thing that - -
– Order ! Will the honorable member deal with the question before the Chair?
– I shall ; although I have never been asked to take a similar course without time for reflection by any Government in the past. These Bills are, very properly, being taken together - the Naval Defence Bill and the amending Bill to deal with the Military Forces.
– We are not dealing with the Naval Defence Bill now.
– I understood the Minister to ask us to discuss the two Bills together.
– We should then be worse off than ever. If the Opposition desire an adjournment of a day for one Bill, they would require a fortnight for two Bills !
– I understood that to be the arrangement; and I was going to refer to the serious omission of the Minister in not dealing with the Naval Defence Bill, which 1 regard as the more important of the two. However, as the Minister requires us to discuss only the Bill relating to Military Defence, I shall proceed to do so.
I confess to a certain amount of pleasure in regard to some of the clauses and principles involved, and to considerable regret at some omissions. If honorable members examine the Bill closely, they will find that a good deal of care has been taken to insure that the Forces to be created in the future shall be efficient ; but that absolutely no attention has been paid to compelling efficiency in the existing Forces as they must be for some years. If we, for instance, cast an eye over the provisions relating to the efficiency of officers - which is one of the most important considerations we could possibly concern ourselves with in defence organization - we see what I cannot but regard as a serious omission. After all, the creation of brain takes far longer than the mere training of muscle. The creation of the brains of the Defence Forces is to be carefully safeguarded ten years hence by amendments which make it very clear that, so far as future officers are concerned, no promotions will be made until a certificate is obtained from the proper authority. I confess to a certain feeling of pleasure in regard to these clauses, because they are word for word as I myself drafted them in the last Parliament, with the wise exception that, now we are to have a General Staff, that is regarded as the proper body to deal with promotions, and not, as I proposed in the last Parliament, the Director, as he was called in the Bill of that time, of the Military College, which I hoped to have made a sort of training Aldershot. These clauses, to my mind, will be quite inadequate for the real needs of the Defence Forces, unless we have some guarantee that existing officers above the rank of major will prove their practical fitness for their present command within a reasonable time.
There is all due provision with regard to officers to be promoted above the rank of major, but what guarantee have we that those who now occupy the highest positions are fit for those positions, and are not keeping out fitter men ? In Committee, I propose to move an amendment - and I hope the Government will accept it, seeing that honorable members opposite supported a similar proposal in the last Parliament - guaranteeing that existing officers shall, within a reasonable time, prove their fitness in practical work - not in mere theoretical examination - for their present commands.
One of the troubles we have in considering defence problems in a House such as this is the difficulty in obtaining proper information from the Department. I do not think that Ministers realize, occasionally, the nature of the replies they give to honorable members who are seeking information. The other day, for instance, I asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence what provision was made in the Imperial Forces, and in our Forces, to insure officers being medically fit to undertake the arduous duties of active service? I was given a reply with regard to the Imperial Service, which I have no hesitation in characterizing as, if not a falsehood, at any rate, a very impudent evasion of the truth. I do not, of course, charge the Minister with being cognisant of the fact; because, I suppose, he must take the reply that is given to him on a technical subject and hand it on to the Chamber. The reply given to me was that in the Imperial Service officers are examined for their medical fitness before active service commences. Now that statement, unless widely amplified, is absolutely false; for in addition to that examination, every officer, once every year, is tested in that regard ; and that practice has gone on ever since the Boer war, when the unpreparedness, in physical respects, of certain officers led to difficulties in the conduct of the campaign. The system in vogue - which is one, perhaps, an ordinary member of Parliament might not be expected to unravel - is one of a confidential report from the regimental commander to the War Office once every year on a number of subjects, including physical fitness.
– Is the honorable member going to connect his remarks with the question before the Chair?
– I am certainly connecting my remarks, with the question of the defence of Australia in submitting that it is a matter of supreme importance that all officers should be fitted for the work they undertake.
In the Imperial Service, once every year, officers in command of regiments report on the medical fitness of their subordinates, and that report is embraced in a return in what, I think, is known as Form 194B. Every regimental commander so reports every year; and yet the reply given to me in this Chamber would seem to imply that only before actual war begins are members of the- Imperial Forces called on to prove their fitness in- a physical sense !
– They are only medically unfit when wanted for war !
– At any rate, that was the reply given to me in this Chamber. But the facts are diametrically opposed to the statement, and the House is very much trammelled when an honest desire to obtain information for the benefit of the community is thus shelved. If, as I should be very sorry to suggest, the Minister himself were guilty of such a practice, I can only offer my profound apologies to the Defence Department ; but I do not expect that, on technical questions, the Minister himself frames his replies. The reply given to me proves, either that the . officers who furnished it know nothing or very little of what goes on in the Imperial Service, or that, knowing what they should know, they denied the truth to a member of. this House.
– The honorable member will lose caste if he talks like that !
– Is the honorable member joking? He looks serious; but it is very difficult occasionally to know whether he is in deadly earnest or merely indulging in a little idle persiflage. The position is a very serious one ; and I trust that information asked for, if it be such as can properly be given, will always be forthcoming.
– Does the honorable member think there are many officers in the Commonwealth service at present medically unfit?
– I profess absolutely no opinion. It would not be fair for me, in a Chamber of this character, to pass any reflections on our officers, either individually or collectively. I have always endeavoured to avoid that proposition, but I think we should insist on the medical, as “ well as the military, fitness of every officer i on the active list of the Commonwealth Forces. I sincerely hope that in the future provision will be made in that regard.
I see no power taken in this measure to insure that commanding officers of regiments shall report confidentially to head-quarters about the military and physical ‘fitness of officers under their command. That, 1 presume, would more properly be provided for by regulation, but I do not think that any such regulation is now in force in Australia.
– We need to be very careful about confidential reports.
– In the Imperial service, if the confidential report contains anything to the detriment of an officer, it must be. shown to him, and he is able to state his case in reply. With that condition, such reports would be invaluable to those who have to administer this growing Department in Australia.
– Why should not that condition apply to the men also?
– It is not so important in the case of the men.
– They are generally younger, too.
– I want honorable members clearly to understand that the question of physical fitness is only one of the subjects dealt with in the yearly confidential report.- An officer’s fitness in particular directions, whether he is a good regimental officer, whether it is thought he would be better in some other position, and other such matters, are also reported upon. After all, it would involve more labour than would be justified to apply that system to the rank and file of our Forces. It is in vogue in Great Britain, in order to guarantee the efficiency of the officers.
– And who reports on the colonels? _ Mr. KELLY. - The colonel’s commanding officer reports in turn upon him. The whole system is clearly laid out in the King’s Regulations, although the form of the report is not given. I hope that in the future the Government will insure action being taken in this regard, so that head-quarters may satisfy themselves of the efficiency of all the officers in the Austra.lian Forces.
I am sorry that the Bill does not make clear what provision is to be made for pensions. I understand that the Minister is proposing to initiate a system of pensions in the Defence Forces at an early date. Is not that so?
– I do not know to what extent it is going - whether it is a question of deferred pay, or something else.
– If my honorable friend does not propose to go to the full length of providing pensions for the permanent military force, he is putting the land force of the Commonwealth at a great disadvantage as compared with the naval force, to be governed by the Naval Defence Bill now on the table. Pensions very properly oc- cupy a prominent place in that measure, but in this Bill nothing is said about them.
– That would be for the permanent force.
– I am speaking of the permanent force in both connexions. In time of war, of course, any person, whether in the Permanent or Citizen Forces, who is injured should be recompensed, while, if any one is killed, his relatives should receive compensation. But this measure ought to embody, for the Permanent Forces, exactly the same pension provisions as are contained in the Naval Defence Bill.
It is very hard to know what provision the Government propose to make in regard to the breeding of horses in Australia. From a Ministerial explanation, given some time ago, it would seem that the Government do not propose to go much further than the mere training, on farms acquired for that purpose, of the horses required for the existing establishment. That is very good in its way ; but it does not go far enough. In time of war, the Australian Forces might be almost indefinitely increased, and the horses provided under such a system as that initiated by the Minister would certainly not be nearly sufficient to meet the expansion.
Let us look at the Defence problem from this point of view : Primarily, the land defence of Australia is, and always has been, approached by the Commonwealth on the assumption that the Empire’s Naval Force will be sufficient to maintain the general command of the seas, and so save Australia from any greater risks than attacks by raiding expeditions. It is, however, possible to conceive of a temporary difficulty in which the Empire’s Naval Force would have to be concentrated in European waters against the strongest section of the allied Fleets of the enemy. In those circumstances, if the combination of enemies included Japan, the command of the Pacific would pass for the time being, until the real crisis of the war was decided in Europe, into the hands of the Oriental power ; and Australia, for that period only, would have her back fairly and squarely to the wall. Every effort would, perhaps, have to be put forth by every Australian for the land defence of his country at that time. I say “ perhaps,” because I do not think that, even in those circumstances, one of the allied Powers in the East would worry much about attacking Australia until the main issue of the war had been decided. We must credit our enemies with a reasonable percentage of acumen ; and no Power in the East would be so foolish as divert his power from his main objective to attack what is, after all, a mere appanage, in a military sense, of the Empire, until the heart of the Empire’s naval power had been destroyed’. But let us assume that an Eastern enemy were to refrain from adding her naval strength to that of the Empire’s enemies in Europe-
– Order ! The honorable . member is now going beyond the scope of the Bill.
– If you, sir, endeavour to limit me to the clauses of this measure, it would be better for me to sit down now and deal with each of them in Committee.
– The honorable member was diverging into a question of defence policy outside the actual scope of the measure.
– I submit, with all deference, that the Bill opens up the whole question of the military defence of the Commonwealth. I have never known honorable members to be debarred from considering questions of defence policy on any previous occasion when Defence Bills were under consideration ; because it is recognised that the only means which the House has of meeting defence difficulties in the future, is by taking practical steps at the present juncture.
– The method adopted by the honorable member went beyond the scope of the Bill.
– I feel it is my duty to show that, in certain circumstances, the Force asked for in this Bill will, perhaps, not be adequate for the immediate or passing difficulties of the Commonwealth. If you, sir, deny me the right to discuss that proposition, I can only bow to your decision ; but I deeply regret that 1 have no power, when a Defence Bill is before the Chamber, to discuss the issues which it is essential for the Australian Legislature to consider in the sound interests of Australian defence.
I could have shown conclusively that, in certain circumstances, the command of the sea might pass from the Empire to which Australia belongs, and that Australia might then have to run risks of serious invasion not contemplated by this Bill. I do not think the contingency is sufficiently urgent to make it necessary for Australia to maintain, in times of peace, so extensive an organization as would be required to cope with, such an onslaught ; but I unhesitatingly say that, as regards a question like horse-breeding, we ought to take steps, when we can do without more than trifling expense to the Commonwealth, to guarantee the breeding of a class of horses in Australia suitable for military purposes, and sufficient in numbers for all our probable requirements.
In Germany, the Government own stal-lions which they let out to approved mares, on condition that the progeny, if required by the War Department shall be acquired for military purposes at a fixed figure. The farmer knows what he is doing, the Department know what they are doing, and the result, generally speaking, is an increase in the military efficiency of the yearly supply of horses in the German Empire. That practice has been in vogue in Germany for a considerable time; and the results have proved infinitely more than worth the comparatively slight cost of the experiment. I say “ comparatively slight,” because the cost, although big in the German Budget, would be proportionately very small in the Commonwealth in comparison with our whole expenditure.
– Would it not be better for the Government to control the whole system themselves ?
– That would mean a very considerable undertaking. I regret that the Government have not seen fit, under this Bill, to follow in the footsteps of Germany and Austria in this regard.
– Austria breeds her own horses, but she does not adopt the method which the honorable member suggests.
– The method I am describing obtains, certainly, in Germany, and also, I think, in Austria. The provision of a large supply of horses suitable for military requirements would have more than a defence value to Australia. If horse-breeding in Australia were to take such a direction as I have indicated, a very handsome profit would be returned to those engaged in rural pursuits. I do not see why Australia should not become eventually the horse emporium for the Military Forces of the Empire. The matter is worthy of the attention of the Australian people.
– There are millions of acres of suitable country in the Northern Territory.
– The difficulty connected with horse-breeding in the MacDonnell Ranges country would be that of keeping the horses under sufficient supervision, because it would take a considerable number of acres to carry one horse. For training horses on the alleged Arabian system of allowing them to . run wild in the desert, certain sections of the MacDonnell Ranges country would, however, be eminently suitable. In good seasons, horses would live there, but God help them in bad seasons. Still, it is good, limestone country, where horses of a rather effective type could be reared. In Germany, they have a system of numbering similar to that followed in the breeding of race-horses. They know that such-and-such a breed of horse may well be put with suchandsuch a mare, and the directors of the breeding establishment understand thoroughly what is required in order to produce horses for artillery, transport, cavalry, and other purposes. They know definitely what they are likely to obtain by crossing certain types of horses, and the result is that Germany now has a number of horses sufficient to meet the indefinite expansion that would be required by a great European war. I should like to see Australia, both for purposes of defence and for purposes of commerce, directing her attention to this question of breeding horses suitable for the military purposes of the Commonwealth.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– So far as I can ascertain, the only important difference between this measure and that which it is designed to amend lies in the fact that the Government are proposing to increase somewhat materially the duration of training of the rank and file of the Citizen Forces. I am personally very glad that such a proposal is made ; but I cannot help contrasting this advertisement of the Government’s anxiety to provide a better defence for Australia with their extraordinary inertia in regard to the efficiency of the officers of the Commonwealth Forces. I was pointing out, before the dinner adjournment, that the blot upon this and the Defence Act of 1909 is that absolutely no precaution is taken to guarantee the existing officers of the Commonwealth Forces being really up to the most moderate military standard. In the citizen armies of other countries, like that of Norway - and I speak from memory, because this Bill has been rushed upon the House in a way that has made it impossible for me to obtain the figures-
– Rushed ?
– Yes; I say advisedly, “rushed.” I challenge the honorable member to point to an instance where, as in this case, on the second reading of an important Bill being moved, the exadministrator of the Department to which it rerelates has been refused an adjournment over one day to enable him to consider the speech made in submitting it. This conduct on the part of the Government cannot help us in transacting our duty in this Chamber. We cannot be expected to have at hand the details of our researches when this practice is indulged in by those who happen to be in temporary command of power.
– This Bill was introduced on1st September last.
– If the honorable member is as frank as he always wishes us to believe that he is, he will admit that, although the Bill itself is a small one, it deals with powers of prescription in almost every line. What are those powers that the Minister reserves to himself for the governance of the Department on some future occasion? Unless this House is to completely lose its -usefulness, it is entitled to know what use the Government propose to make of the powers of prescription which so lavishly decorate the Bill.
– Not an improper use.
– I am glad that my honorable friend can be so confident of his own infallibility.
– It seems to be quite apropos that the honorable member should be “ holding the fort.”
– However able I may be to hold the fort, I could not vie with my honorable and gallant friend in holding, in a military sense, many positions at the same time.
I should like my honorable friends to remember that the training of the rank and file, under Lord Kitchener’s scheme, the main features of which are supposed to be embodied in this Bill, is absolutely dependent upon the efficiency of the area officers. “ If we appoint inefficient area officers, our whole “home training” must be inefficient; and our rank and file will go into the yearly camps of instruction unprepared for the finishing touches which should there be put on the year’s labour. What steps are the
Government taking to provide efficient area officers? The steps which they are taking are the most disappointing features of the defence movement for many years. Under this system, the Government are not appointing men who will be competent to carry the heavy responsibilities which will be cast upon their shoulders. In a word, the Ministerial regulations do not ask them to be competent for their work. Thesemen who, some years hence, when we obtain our graduates from the Military College and so forth, are to be up to the military requirements of modern armies are, under this system, to be men who are willing to give to military matters a little of their spare time for a return of £150 per year, and to indulge in other occupations whenever their military leisure permits. That is not the way to bring the rank and file to a proper state ofefficiency.,
– It is a temporary expedient.
– What right has the honorable gentleman to subject the Commonwealth to the peril of temporary expedients when the risks these forces are designed to meet are likely to arise at any juncture? An enemy does not consider the rules of temporary expedients. We are proposing to create a new force, and for what purpose ? Merely to enhance the already overwhelming reputation of the Minister? Merely to provide the honorable and gallant member for Adelaide with a future opportunity for usefulness? Or are these forces designed to meet some danger from overseas which most sane people realize is rapidly approaching?
– There is nothing to shoot at just now on the Opposition benches.
– If there were anything, I do not think my honorable friend would hit it.
I have just this moment had placed in my hands, as showing the slipshod way in which these matters are dealt with, another epoch-making amendment of the Defence Act, as proposed by the Attorney-General. By the way, why has the Attorney- General introduced this Bill ? Why not the Minister who is understudying the Minister of Defence in this Chamber, and who is, or should be, conversant, by virtue of his office, with what has been recently happening in the Defence Department? Why is it that the Attorney-General wishes to exhibit himself to the Australian people as a sort of jack-of-all-trades, willing to take from one of the hardest- worked members of his Administration what little credit may attach to the introduction of such a measure? It is most unfair.
This peculiar epoch-making amendment which has just been circulated has something to do with the establishment of a Theological College, but I have not yet had time to peruse it.
When I look through the Bill to ascertain what matters have been dealt with in it, I find that the language of the principal Act in one or two cases has been changed. There has been put into the more perfect English of the Ministry a provision dealing with persons who shall be exempt from military service. The language of the principal Act was unsatisfactory, or possibly not on the basis that would appeal to the most earnest students of English grammar ! It has been revised by the Leader of the Government. A new series of clauses, making up perhaps the bulk of the measure, puts into different words the provisions of the Act. There are many omissions from the Bill, with some of which I have dealt, but, so far as the amendments are concerned, my honorable friends have merely exercised their ability to improve the verbiage and the grammar of that very effete measure which we are now tearing into the smallest of pieces ! No provision is made for a sufficient supply of area officers during the period which must elapse bef ore we can train our own. Power should have been taken to obtain from wherever desirable officers competent to act as area officers while our own officers are being trained, and thus to initiate the sound home training, the need for which was so strongly emphasized by Lord Kitchener. Unless a sufficient number of area officers is provided at once, the Teal initiation of the Defence scheme must be deferred for years ; it cannot start right away, though the popular impression is that it will do so.
– The honorable member is quite inaccurate.
– My statement is absolutely correct, and I shall prove it. The training of .the Forces is to be done by area officers, who themselves are to be trained at the Military College. But it will take five years to turn out the first batch of thirty. At the end of that time, we shall have new batches of - I speak from memory - thirty every year ; but as we require altogether 180, it will be a long while before we have enough, and the real training of our army must be postponed until then.
– The honorable member is absolutely mistaken.
– I cannot expect the Minister to treat me with friendly ingenuousness, because the answers which he gave to some questions which I placed on the notice-paper showed a most ingenious want of candour. Unless the public is to be humbugged and fooled, the sooner we provide a sufficient number of area officers to undertake the training of our own Forces, the better for the Defence system. But if Ministers have regard to the selfishness of those who assert that in the science of war, of which she has no experience, Australia has nothing to learn from other countries, and that to appoint Imperial officers is to take from them heir jobs, the Defence system must be turned into a travesty.
Then no provision is made to enable the Government to send officers abroad to study developments in the mechanical aids to warfare. This should be specifically provided for by law, and not merely under regulations. If not, nothing will be done.- If honorable members will cast their minds back a few years, they will realize how far behind Australia is in the utilization of inventions for the assistance of armies. The Empire of China is more advanced than we are in regard to the installation of wireless telegraphy; foi example.
– We should be still further behind had there not been a change of Government.
– That is a typical remark. On my motion, the House in September last resolved that wireless telegraphy for the purposes of defence and commerce should forthwith be installed throughout the Commonwealth. Since then, the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, with the occasional assistance of the Defence Department, has been negotiating about a site, but nothing has been done. There have been negotiations with a person representing the Sydney Bulletin Proprietary, and the representatives of other interests, and a great deal
– The honorable member is going beyond the scope of the measure.
– I merely wish to say that for the purpose of informing those in charge of our forts of the presence of hos- tile vessels on the coast, wireless telegraph apparatus should be installed, so that they may have the co-operation of our merchant marine. I was taken off the track by the interjection.
Aeronautics is another subject of which our officers know nothing. They have had no experience in the use of aeroplanes and dirigibles for scouting work, though their value has been evidenced in the recent military manoeuvres in Europe.
– And in America, too.
– In France a large number of men have been detailed from regimental and staff work to study the possibility of aerial navigation for army intelligence in the field.
I doubt whether the Government now have power to send special officers abroad to study these developments, but it should be empowered by law to appoint officers to proceed abroad to acquire information of this kind. I would send an officer or two to see the manoeuvres in France, Germany, America, and, lastly, in Great Britain ; because that country has lagged behind in aeronautics. I would give such officers a roving commission, instructing them to inform us, who are in the backwater of the river of scientific progress, of what is new, and to tell us what has passed from the experimental to the practical stage. The money spent on their salaries and travelling expenses would, perhaps, be among the most useful expenditure we could make on defence.
When Sir Thomas Ewing was Minister of Defence, I made a suggestion that was not favorably received by him, though I think its adoption would economize the expenditure on the Permanent Forces, which are composed chiefly of the artillerymen who garrison our forts. My inquiries some years ago led me to believe that we could easily obtain the cooperation of the States in this matter, my suggestion being that it should be made a sine qua non to the appointment of the police that a man had served three years in the Permanent Artillery. There are - again I am compelled to speak from memory - about 3,000 police in Australia. Only a small part of that number would be required for garrison work-, and the bulk could be enlisted as reservists. I have been informed by experts that in three years an officer can sufficiently train an artilleryman, who there after would always be capable of first-class work with very short periods of training. At present we have not even first reliefs for our gun defences, and the adoption of my proposal would make ample provision for the waste of war. Without some provision of that kind I doubt if it is worth while to increase the personnel very materially, because the money which would be required for the upkeep of the extra men is needed for other services. We shall have starved the other services to provide relief for the harbor defences, which may, after all, never be attacked, because any serious attack is as likely to be by land. But the system ought to be used in order to -create available and competent reserves for garrison artillery work, because we shall require the reserves if the forts are ever attacked, and by this means we shall acquire them practically without expense.
When I spoke of economizing in the garrison defence vote I did not mean cutting down the personnel of the existing force, but the giving of better service for the same money. The personnel we already have is too small ; and I should be the last to suggest utilizing such a proposal in order to keep fewer permanent men. We must have, at least, our first relief permanently in occupation of these places.
This leads me to another consideration of first importance, namely, administering the Defence Department so that we may, as far as possible, defend those places only that can be garrisoned conveniently by Citizen Forces in conjunction with the garrison artillery. If we start going out into bush barbors, so to speak, we shall impose on ourselves the obligation to create new defence garrisons which must, by the nature of the Territory, be of a permanent nature; and one or two permanent garrisons, far from the centre of population, if the ports are to be strongly defended, will duplicate the permanent vote and make it more difficult to apportion the money properly throughout the various arms of the forces.
I do not wish to take up any more time in discussing the Bill, which I know the Attorney-General is anxious should pass at the earliest moment. My only regret is that his action in forcing the measure on has prevented the ex- Minister of Defence from having reasonable time - and I call one evening reasonable - to consider the honorable gentleman’s introductory explanation. It is unexampled that a Bill of this character should thus be forced through ; but, of course, we can do no more than enter our protest. The Bill when analyzed as closely as I have been able, seems to give no excuse for all this vaunting on the part of the Minister with reference to its possibilities. I can see what are mainly verbal amendments; for instance, a desirable increase in the training of the rank and file. But I see no provision for training existing officers, and no guarantee for the training in the immediate future, on a sane and sound basis, of the rank and file of the Citizen Forces.
I sincerely hope the Government will never again take advantage of their arbitrary position to prevent Oppositionists exercising what, after all, is not only the privilege but the duty of closely criticising all Government measures.
– I have listened to the Acting Prime Minister introduce Bills in a way which has made me feel as volatile as a fairy ; but there are aspects of this Bill which depress me as much as a big meal of roast pork and plum pudding on a hot day. I fully expected the Opposition to take objection to many of what I consider the salient points of the Bill, but they have not done so, and I can only come to the conclusion that, had they dared, they would have gone as far as this Government has gone in extending the age of training. I should like to draw attention to the illeffects this extension will have on the working section of the community, if great care is not exercised in the administration of the measure. The age fixed in the Act was one I entirely agreed with ; indeed, I might have consented to a slight extension. For instance, no one can take exception to the age fixed for the training of junior and senior cadets ; but the Government, in their wisdom, have extended the age in the case of the Citizen Forces to twenty-five years. This, I repeat, must, in my opinion, have ill-effects on mechanics, and, indeed, on all the wage-earners of the community. The Bill provides that the Citizen Forces shall give no less than eight days’ training per annum in camp; but, as a matter of fact, if the Minister of the day thinks fit, he can make the training extend over sixteen days. I see that the engineers and artillery are really to be trained for seventeen days; and I ask what is likely to be the result on the wage-earning section? A contractor for a building has to employ carpenters, plumbers, plasterers, stonemasons, bricklayers, labourers, and men in various occupations ; and I venture to say that if he knows that a man has to be called out for training, that man will not be engaged. When a building contract is approaching completion the men are dispensed with by degrees. A workman towards the finish very often has an opportunity of getting work elsewhere which would last six or seven weeks, but he dare not leave his present employer, knowing that, if he does so, he will not be engaged by him again. Contractors, like other business men, are out for profit ; and the Government ought to see that regulations are made to meet such cases as I have indicated. This Bill will affect every trade followed in the community ; and care should be taken that men liable to be called out for training do not lose their means of livelihood. Employers, of course, will not openly decline to employ men so liable; but I know of cases, even under our present militia system, in which men have been “ sacked, “ because they insisted on attending the Easter camp. In every State, men in the Public Service have been refused leave to go rifle shooting or into camp, and even in the Defence Department of the Commonwealth itself employes have been refused leave for similar training. How can we expect private employers to stretch a point when we have such conduct on the part of the Government? Only about a fortnight ago a warder was discharged in Western Australia because he insisted on. going to camp ; and I am afraid that this Bill may have the effect of causing men to lose two months’ work in the busiest portion of the year. Of course, if the Government, and those behind them, are prepared to take such consequences smilingly, I suppose I must do the same; but. I earnestly ask the Government to seriously consider this aspect of the case. If the age were extended to twenty-two or twenty-three the effects might not be so baneful ; but there are many men of twenty-five with family and other responsibilities. It is hard enough to make a living in the industrial world now without placing more obstacles in the way. I hope that the strictest regulations will be made, imposing a heavy penalty on employers who endeavour to interfere in any way with men who have to undergo this training.
– There is provision to that effect in the principal Act.
– But it has never been put into operation.
– The Act itself has never yet been proclaimed.
– The honorable member knows that under the Arbitration Act employers are not allowed to discharge a man who gives evidence, but, at the same time, men are discharged - not, of course, for giving evidence, but possibly for looking ugly when at work. .It is extremely easy to evade any regulation of that kind ; indeed, I have shown that Governments, both State and Commonwealth, have perpetrated what I call the crime of preventing men undergoing training. 1 venture to prophesy that in the future an employer - not the unpatriotic employer, but the human employer - will take care that the workman and not himself suffers by reason of this measure. Another important consideration is that represented by the provision in clause 19 -
No person who is not a graduate of the Military College, as prescribed, shall be appointed an officer of the Permanent Forces : Provided that this provision shall not take effect until the expiration of five years after the establishment of the College.
In no army in- the world is the ranker prevented from getting a commission. He mav be looked down upon in the British Army, and by a large section of the socalled gentleman officers. I know he is nearly always ostracized, but even the Conservative British Government do not prevent him from getting a commission. In America and in Germany he is encouraged to rise from the ranks, and yet in Democratic Australia we are introducing a provision which prevents a man, after five years, ever being able to become* a commissioned officer from the rank and file.
– I think the honorable member has misread the clause.
– It is in black and white, and can mean only what it says.
– It means that no person can become an officer unless he is qualified, but it does not say that non-commissioned officers cannot qualify.
– The College is evidently to be brought into existence to train candidates for commissions from boyhood to become officers. Some of the finest officers the world ever saw have risen from the ranks. If the Honorary Minister tells me that my reading of the clause is wrong, I shall be satisfied, but I cannot see how any other construction can be put upon it.
– The honorable member’s reading of it is absolutely right.
– Men in the Permanent Forces, who are used to reading military regulations, interpret it in exactly the same way as I do.
– Every one can go through the College.
– Candidates are to start at the College as boys.
– Every one can go into the College, but a man will have to go through it before he can become an officer.,
– That is a departure from every other army system in the world, and will make it much harder for rankers to rise to be commissioned officers.
– Quite the other way.
– If I am wrong, I am pleased. Last year the honorable member for Maranoa, who has had military experience in the British Army, secured the inclusion in the amending Defence Act of a provision allowing all grades of the rank and file of the military service to secure clerkships in all branches of the Defence Department, with the exception of the Central Administration. That provision - sub-section 3 of section 63 - is as follows : -
All appointments in the Department of Defence (other than such appointments to the Central Staff as ought, in the opinion of the Governor-General, to be under the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902) shall be appointments in the Naval or Military Defence Forces, and members of the Permanent, Naval, or Military Forces who have served not less than five years therein shall, in cases of equality of qualifications, have preference over other applicants for those appointments.
This Bill proposes to alter that by omitting the words “central staff,” and inserting the following words: - “Clerical staff of the Central Administration, Pay, and Ordnance Brandies.” That will mean that no military man no matter how able, will be allowed to secure a position in those branches of the Defence Department. Some of the smartest military clerks have come from the ranks, and the British Army authorities encourage the system. Many men who enlist in the rank and file in Great Britain have had College or University educations, and are fitted to hold any of these positions. We can have the same thing in Australia, and yet, after giving the system a trial for less than twelve months, we propose to stipulate that these appointments can be obtained only by those in the Civil Service. Every position possible in the Defence Department should be held by men who are under a discipline Act. I would not care so much about the pay branch, although there are many positions even in that which military men are fit to hold ; but, in all the other branches, positions that ought to be held by military men are being handed over to men in the Civil Service. However, I suppose it is useless for me to suggest an amendment ; but the Minister ought seriously to consider the question. I have known gunners in the British Artillery who showed aptitude for office work to obtain the brevet rank of sergeant, and be placed in the office, where they did credit to themselves and to the army. We have able men who have been in the Military Force for ten, fifteen, or twenty years ; and yet they are to be utterly blocked from appointments in this direction. I trust that we shall get a thoroughly efficient rifle for arming our Defence Force. The weapon at present in use is obsolete and useless in comparison with the rifle used by continental nations. In answer to questions during the session, I have been told that the Defence Department are waiting for the British authorities to fix upon a good serviceable rifle, with automatic action. Our weapon is ineffective, because we cannot use as high explosive power in it as in the case of the continental rifle; and the trajectory is too high. I suppose the’ matter is receiving consideration; but I hope the Department will not delay too long. Great Britain has never yet been prepared for a war. She has often blundered through to victory; but I do not think we ought to leave ourselves in that position ; and if the British authorities take too long to make up their minds in getting a perfect rifle, we ought not to be too proud to adopt one of the continental rifles on our own account. I lament the extension of the period for training to as high an age as twenty-five years; because it will have a baneful effect upon the wage-earning section of the community.
.- I have listened with a great deal of interest to the various speeches delivered by honorable members, but it strikes me as a tragic paradox that, whilst the nations of the world are desiring peace, we in sunny Australia should be practically following in the footsteps of those nations by building up a heavy military expenditure. The nations of Europe, in 1906, spent no less a sum than £266,202,845 on their armies and navies. They took men away from their work whose earnings, taking the weekly average at £1 per week, would have represented for the same year a sum of £232,829,800, giving a total of over £500,000,000 expended in preparations for war, or against aggression. It seems strange to me that, instead of endeavouring to follow the example of nations which ave trying to reduce their armaments, we should be practically forced to accept the inevitable and to prepare to defend our country. I do not support the principle of compulsory military training from choice. I have already done my share of compulsory training; and so it is not with any idea of escaping inconvenience that I express my great regret that I have to support the principle. We have, in Australia, a great country, with an area of 2,948,366 square miles. We have a coastline of 12,110 miles, and yet, in that enormous tract of country, we have a population of only 4,275,000 souls, of whom 1,295,000 are males of a fighting age.
– We need to spend a little money in getting more people here.
– I think we could spend some of this money to advantage in obtaining more population.
– That is a very wholesome remark, coming, as it does, from the Government side of the House.
– We believe in immigration of the right sort when we have looked, after our own people. I am not so much afraid of the white races, but I recognise that we have placed on our statutebook measures that must create in the minds of coloured races not many miles distant from Australia a feeling of bitter resentment. We have adopted the policy of a White Australia, and have prohibited the introduction of Asiatics. In olden days, when Great Britain was refused an opportunity to trade with any Asiatic country, it forced trade with it at the point of the bayonet, and there will come a time when these races, awakened as they undoubtedly will be to their potentialities, will do the same. Japan has already defeated one white race, and she is now in Manchuria, and also in China, awakening the Chinese. It was all very well for the Consul for China to say that the Chinese are a peaceloving people, and that they are simply going in for a policy of education ; but we have to remember that the Consul-General for Japan stated the other day that, whilst tens of thousands of our young men attended football matches, the people of his country were engaged in training. That was a very menacing statement, and it is for these reasons that I think that :the time has arrived when we should adopt :the system of compulsory military training: In war time, might is the only right that is recognised. Our volunteer system [has been in operation for a great number of years, and I have no hesitation in sayang that it has absolutely failed. Recruiting in Great Britain has fallen away to such an extent that Mr. Hal’dane has been ^compelled to introduce his territorial system. In dealing with the question, Lord Roberts stated that, in order to be effective, training in the Territorial Army must, first «of all, be adequate ; secondly, that it must be compulsory for all able-bodied youths of military age; and, thirdly, that it must take place before, and not after, the outbreak of war. That is the position in Australia to-day. The training must be effec- tive and it cannot be effective under a -volunteer system ; secondly, it must be compulsory, as it will be under this Bill; arid, finally, it must take place before, and not after, the outbreak of war. Under our existing system, we have a force of 25,000 ;men to protect this enormous continent ; and those men, in an emergency, would be called upon, not only to man the forts of the six capitals, but to man any other fortified position, and also be prepared to repel an invasion. It would be absolutely impossible for such a small body of men to carry out that task. Lord Kitchener, in dealing with this state of affairs, reported-
The conclusion I have come to is, shortly, - that the present forces are inadequate in numbers, training, organization, and munitions of war, to defend Australia from the dangers that are due to the present conditions that prevail in the country, as well as to its isolated position.
Australia, in the past, has undoubtedly relied solely on the protection afforded by the British Navy, but we know that in time of war 75 per cent, of the British Fleet would be called upon to- defend the shores of the Mother Country, and I presume that the remaining 25 per cent, could not be spared to assist in our protection. It -is very interesting in this connexion to turn to countries where the compulsory system has been tried on a scale , such as that proposed to be adopted under this Bill “The countries to which I would refer are “Switzerland and Norway. .Switzerland at -the time of the French revolution was divided into a number of cantons. The /French were not satisfied with the system of -government existing there ; and, as the people were not united, they created much havoc and devastation. After the revolution, the Swiss came to the common-sense conclusion that for the better protection of their- country they should introduce the system of compulsory military training, and we to-night are asked to adopt the principle advocated by them. We do not believe in making any class distinction, and we therefore provide that every able-bodied nian, whether he be the son of a king or the son of a cook, shall serve. The objection has been raised by the opponents of this Bill that we are introducing for the first time compulsory provisions ; but I find that section 59 of the Defence Act passed as far back as 1903, provides that -
All male inhabitants of Australia (excepting those who are exempt from service in the Defence Force) who have resided therein for six months and are British subjects and are between the ages of eighteen and sixty years shall, in time of ‘ war, be liable to serve in the Militia Forces.
Under that provision, which has been in operation since 1903, every citizen of Australia in time of emergency would be called upon to serve, and I cannot see that any special disadvantage will be imposed on the citizens of Australia by the measure with which we are now dealing. “In Switzerland, where a large percentage of the population undergoes compulsory military training, one would naturally conclude that, having regard to the long periods of service for which provision is made, there would be no anxiety to make any further provision in this regard. We find, however, that in 1906 Switzerland had 3,732 rifle clubs, with a membership of 222,951. All these clubs are carried on under the volunteer system. In addition, there are what are known as miniature rifle clubs, with a membership of 6,795. Let us contrast the position of Switzerland and England. Switzerland, with a population of some 3,000,000, has 222,951 members of adult rifle clubs and 6,795 members of miniature rifle- clubs; whereas England, with her population of 42,000,000, has only 80,000 members of such clubs. The contrast is so striking that further comment is unnecessary. A Commission which travelled through Switzerland was particularly struck by the puny physique of the children and the fine physique of the men - a fact which goes to prove that the training which the citizens of that country receive- not only fits them to defend their country, but develops them both mentally and physically. Field
Marshal Lord Kitchener, in his report, states that the army of Australia, which has a population of over 4,000,000, should total 80,000 men. On the’ other hand, Switzerland, with a population of only 3,000,000, has 281,000 men serving. Military training there does not start as early as it will in our case, but commences at the age of twenty years. The system consists of three divisions - the Auszug, consisting of men from twenty to thirty-two years of age ; the Landwehr, comprising men of from thirty-two to forty-four years of age, and the Landsturm, consisting of men from seventeen to fifty years of age. There the conditions of service in the militia are more severe than are the conditions which we intend to impose. The Auszug comprises 143,000 men ; the Landwehr, 93,000 : and the Landsturm, 45,000; or a total of 281,000. The Landsturm has not been thoroughly organized, and at the present time there are 260,000 men belonging to the unarmed section. Honorable members will gather from these figures that the vast proportion of the population of Switzerland is being trained to defend the country. One would naturally conclude that, such a vast section of the population being subjected to compulsory service, trade would be thoroughly disorganized ; but, according to A Territorial Army in Being, such is not the case. The author, Lieut. -Colonel C. Delme Radcliffe, writes -
A most careful calculation made by an employer of labour on the basis of the Census returns and the number of males engaged in different pursuits in this country, shows that during the main period of training (the period of three or four months) employers would be deprived of not more than 2.58 per cent, of the nation’s available labour.
I regret that provision has not been made in this Bill for a referendum to be taken, should it be necessary in the near future to increase the number of days of training. Such a step has been found necessary in Switzerland and also in Norway, although the days of training are from 200 to 300 per cent, greater than is proposed under this Bill. The great bulk of the population of Norway consists of agriculturists. There is no nobility, and no capitalistic class there, but the great number of the people are freeholders. If the compulsory system would interfere adversely with industrial conditions, it would be in a country like that, but the experience is that it does not, the writer of the book from which I have quoted giving his testimony that -
No real or serious interference with profession, occupation, or trade exists as the result of the service.
Norway not only insists on the compulsory training of her people in military matters, but also applies the compulsory system to education and to gymnastics, all children, male and female, from the age of ten years, being compelled to enter gymnastic schools. A greater proportion of the population than it is proposed to train ‘ here takes part in the defence of the country, the forces containing three divisions,, of which the Line is composed of 45,000 men, the Landvarn of 30,000 men, and the Landstorm of 20,000 men. Field-MarshaL Lord Kitchener has recommended the establishment here of an effective force of 80,000 men, at a cost of £1.884,000. In 1901 we were spending £834,000, or 4s. 4d. per head per annum on defence, and in 1903 the expenditure was reduced’ to 3s. 7d. a head; but the Government proposals will increase the expenditure tr> 8s. per head. Like the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, I have fault to find with the provisions relating to the Military College, though on somewhat different grounds. It is provided that no person who is not a graduate of the Military College shall become an officer of the Permanent Forces. Lord Kitchener suggested that the most eligible cadets recommended by commanding officers should be sent to theMilitary College, but I protest emphaticallyagainst the selection system. If we want the most brainy youths, we should submitall applicants for admission to the College to an examination. In the battery in which I served, a certain gunner on one- occasion desired to go up for examination, but thesergeantmajor reported that he was unsuitable. The commanding officer, however, allowed him to go up, and, strangeto say, when the results came out he was found to have beaten the best of thebrigade, and to have established a record. Had the matter been left to the sergeantmajor, that man would have had no chanceto advance himself, and under the selection system recommended by Lord Kitchener,, men who, if they were allowed to go through the College, would make good1 officers, might be prevented from getting commissions. The College should be open to all. It should not be impossible evenfor a ranker to enter it, if he proves his ability. In the past the influence of class- has been too marked. There are many other matters with which I should like to deal, but, as the Minister wishes to close the debate to-night, 1 shall confine my remarks to the question of pay. It is proposed to give infantrymen 4s. a day and keep, whereas the permanent men at present get only 2s. ‘6d. a day and their keep. In all trades and callings men in the Commonwealth receive on the average 83 per cent, more than men in Great Britain. The members of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers receive as a minimum 54s. a week, whereas in Great Britain they get only 23s. a week, which is 31s., or 135 per cent, less, while the maximum pay here is 90s. a week, and in Great Britain 41s., 1 difference of 49s., or 120 per cent.’ Similar comparisons might be made in regard to municipal employes, the police, and others. The pay in the British Army is less than here, but there pensions are provided, computed on a twenty-one years’ basis. Allowing for this, and for the difference in rate to which I have already alluded, our forces receive very little. Our warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men receive rates of pay which do not exceed the rates in force in the British Army by a percentage anything like so great as that by which rates of pay in civil trades and occupations here exceed the British rates. For instance, the pay of sergeant-major in the Engineers here is only 25 per cent, above that of men of the same rank in the British Army, while here a sergeant-major armament artificer enjoys an advantage of only 13 per cent., a master gunner of only 25 per cent., a staff sergeant-major of only 14 per cent., a regimental quartermastersergeant of 28 per cent., a regimental quartermaster-sergeant armament artificer of 9 per cent., a regimental quartermastersergeant armourer of 14 per cent., a company sergeant-major of 6 per cent., a sergeant of 14 per cent., a corporal of 14 per cent., a bombardier of 11 per cent., and a gunner of 37 per cent. It seems to me that men who devote their lives to the protection of the wealth of the country should be fairly paid. Artillerymen and engineers have a great deal to learn. I know that, as a matriculated man, I found, in connexion with various examinations, that there were a great many intricate and technical matters to understand and remember. It is, however, difficult to obtain recognition of this fact. Our Defence Forces receive from 46 to 77 per cent, less than the minimum -difference between the rates of pay in civil occupations here and in Great Britain. If our men here received 83 per cent, more than the men of the British Forces receive, their increased pay would be - Sergeantmajor of Engineers, 6s. a day, or £109 per annum; sergeant-major armament artificer, 8s. a day, or ^146 per annum; master-gunner, 6s. a day, or ^109 per annum; staff sergeantmajor, 6s. a day, or ,£109 per annum ; regimental quartermaster-sergeant, 4s. 8d. a day, or £85 5s. per annum ; and so on down to gunner, 8d. per day, or £12 3s. 4d. per annum. Twelve men of the various ranks in the service would contribute ^1,030 13s. 8d. per annum towards a pension fund if the 83 per cent, increase in the pay of the British Army were conceded. I have also a table showing the comparative pay rates consolidated.
– Does the honorable member intend to connect his remarks with the question before the Chair?
– I am showing how inadequately the men of our Permanent Forces are paid compared with the Infantry. So far as the Infantry are concerned, I support the payment of 4s., but I desire the Minister to pay the permanent men adequately.
– The honorable member is going into details which might well be discussed in Committee - he is going beyond a discussion of the general principles of the Bill.
– I submit that it would be advisable that the honorable member should be permitted to discuss this matter, because it might be that the House would decide that the general question of the pay of the Forces should also be dealt with in the Bill. I submit that, this being an amending Bill, honorable members should have an opportunity of stating generally what omissions there are in the Minister’s treatment of the subject, and that the honorable member is in order.
– The honorable member for Corio would not be in order in following that course. It would be taking too wide a field and would lead to a discussion not within the scope of the Bill.
– I shall have an opportunity of dealing with the question on the Estimates. Lord Kitchener said that the new Defence Bill would give sufficient numbers to defend the country effectively if the force was sufficiently trained, organized, and equipped. I do not desire to set my lay opinion against that of such an authority; but, when Switzerland and Norway are mentioned, I can only point to the small area of those countries as compared to Australia, and express the opinion that 80,000 troops seem totally inadequate for our purpose. Further, it seems to me that the right kind of troops are not provided. In the South African War the Boers put up their effective defence, ‘firstly, “ because of their mobility, and secondly because of their deadly use of the rifle. There were only, I believe, some 85,000 Boers at the outside, while the British Forces numbered some 300,000 ; but, fortunately for the Boers, they were well trained in the saddle and still better trained in the use of the rifle. Taking that war as a lesson, I think we should go in more for mounted infantry, teaching our men how to ride and how to shoot from the saddle. I do not suggest a system of cavalry, because in the South African War, the cavalry with their lances and their swords by their side, and their guns strapped to the saddle, fell a very easy prey to the enemy ; but the Government should certainly take into consideration the advisableness of establishing strong mounted forces throughout the Commonwealth, when, I can asusre them, we should have a much more effective defence than we shall have under this Bill.
.- I must express some regret that the Defence Bill carried in the last Parliament, and commented on most favorably by the British military authorities, has not been given a trial. That measure contained the principle of compulsory service up to the age of twenty years, but it was never put into practice; and now it is to be superseded by a Bill which extends the age to twenty-five years, with another year added in’ which the members of the Forces shall be subject to report and one day’s training. I am afraid that the result of the alteration will be that the scheme will break down of its own weight. By summarily bringing into effect a compulsory service measure of this kind, we shall so dislocate commercial and industrial arrangements that not only employes, but employers, will find their business and monetary interests seriously inconvenienced, and there will be a reaction instead of increased enthusiasm for1 military service. If I am any judge of human nature, that must be the result; and it certainly presents an “aspect of the question that ought to be considered. The feelings of the people generally will be to some extent outraged, and our prospects of effective defence will be diminished rather than increased. Then I hold that the very best defence Australia, can have is a largely increased population. We may enact what defence laws we like, but, unless we have sufficient numbers, we cannot hope to successfully resist the attacks of any large opposing force. One provision of the Bill is that all the male inhabitants of Australia, except those exempt, who have resided here for six months and are British subjects, shall be liable to service. I consider that a residence of six months is altogether, too short. We are making strenuous efforts, by providing land and so forth, to induce bona fide emigrants to come to Australia as a source of wealth and strength, but I venture to say that our success in this direction is likely to be materially interfered with when it becomes known that no sooner will emigrants arrive here than they will be required to undergo compulsory military service. Bond fide emigrants in agricultural and other industries should be given at least three years’ exemption in which ‘ to look around and thoroughly grasp the circumstances and situation of the country. The defence of hearth and home is one of the duties of citizenship ; but I venture to say that such conditions as this Bill imposes will tend to keep away the very people we desire to attract. What other comments I have to make I shall reserve for Committee.
.- A great number of people will, I think, experience considerable disappointment when the two Bills dealing with defence are passed by this House. We are entering on a new departure largely the result of newspaper agitation. Only a few years ago three of the principal daily papers of the Commonwealth were anxious to discover some political cry which would place the Labour party at a disadvantage. These newspapers had already said all they could against the platform of the party, and, being in want of an election cry, it occurred to them as a good idea to propose that Australia should present one or two Dreadnoughts to the Old Country. It 3s a curious fact’ that on the same day the Argus, the Sydney Daily Telegraph, and the Adelaide Advertiser, published leaders recommending such a presentation to Great Britain, in what was described as “ her hour of peril.” It was evidently thought that the cry would catch on, and that the Labour party would oppose the idea, and, therefore, be defeated at the elections. We know, however, that the proposal did not meet with the approval of the public; and I remember that a subscription list opened at the Agricultural Show in Sydney, during which there were some 250,000 persons present, resulted in a collection of only ,£5. The proposed defence scheme appears to me to be beyond the strength of this small community - to be too large and expensive. I regard it as the outcome of panic originated by the opposing press in Australia, and in Great Britain by political parties for political purposes. Several causes led to the great defence scare in the Old Country. There were large numbers of unemployed ; the ship-building yards were idle and the ship-builders desired employment, while certain political parties desired to distract attention from local domestic troubles. It is an old practice of rulers to divert attention from internal agitation by declaring war against people outside. The scheme now before us is too large, and will, I believe, be modified before many years go by. * The sum of about ^2,000,000 per annum which it is proposed that we shall spend on military and naval defence is too great for this working-class community, but the danger is that, having entered into the scheme, we may find ourselves obliged to continue it. We shall have a large number of officers, and undertake expenditure that will entail the employment of a consider- able number of people, and when the time comes to retrench there will be the gravest disappointment and trouble. There will he a Black Wednesday or Thursday when the Commonwealth finds it necessary to dispense with a lot of its naval and military officers on account of the tremendous expenditure entailed on the community. I regret that it is proposed to put these measures through to-night. They are so important that they might well occupy the attention of the House for fully a week, but members are tired by the tremendously long session. I suppose that in no session of Parliament since the commencement of Federation has such a large number of important Acts been put through. I sincerely hope that we shall not have in our military and naval defence schemes anything in the nature of a military and naval caste, and that the Minister of Defence will put his foot down severely upon such incidents as occur in the Old Country. I remember a case of a hard-working Australian family whose son, being a bright young fellow and successful at his school, was assisted by them to go in for a military training. He was appointed a lieutenant in Australia, and obtained employment in the United Kingdom. There he found that his fellow-officers gave wine parties. He was in receipt of £200 or j£3°° a year» but that was not sufficient for him to keep up with his comrades, and his hard-working parents in Australia were foolish enough to supply him with £150 to ^200 a year in order that he might keep pace with them. They found, at last, that they could do it no longer, and they withdrew him. I hope we shall not have that kind of thing in Australia. The aims of the Labour army to which I belong have always been of a peaceful character, and I hope still are. All our ideas were against anything in the nature of a huge military and naval defence force. We believed in military and naval training, but merely for defence purposes ; and my fear of these proposals of ours is that our Forces might be used by the capitalists of the Old Country for the purpose of oppressing some subject nation in other parts of the world. We must remember that the capitalists in the Old Country have ^2,800,000,000 invested abroad. Honorable members talk of the Empire and of the great British Navy protecting these shores. The British Navy is kept up, not to protect Australia or any Other part of the Empire, but to collect the interest on that vast sum of money invested abroad by the capitalists of Great Britain. If it were not for that unseen empire of capitalists, which has been recently so well described by a professor at the Leland Stanford University, we should not find so much money spent to-day in military and naval defence. , As Carlyle put it, what quarrel have the working men of Australia with the working men of Germany? What quarrel have the workers of England, Ireland, Scotland, or Wales with them ? The mechanics and labourers of the United Kingdom have no cause of quarrel against the workers of Germany. I am glad to hear from Mr. Hodge, who has lately come here from the House of Commons, that the visits of the British Labour party to Germany, and of Germans to the Old Country, are having the most splendid effects. British Labour members have addressed meetings in Germany, and told the people there that it is not the desire of the British people to go to war with them, and the best of feeling is growing up. We hear nothing of this interchange of visists from the capitalistic press of Australia. They suppress everything of that nature. The Melbourne Argus and the Sydney Daily Telegraph publish everything that will create International friction and hatred, but anything that would bring about an entente cordiale is suppressed. I sincerely hope that Australia, while making every preparation to defend itself against aggression, will not lose sight of the question of International arbitration for the settlement of disputes. Honorable members appear to be afraid of some enemy that is likely to attack Australia. The more I read of what is going on in other parts of the world, the more satisfied I am that we have no attack to fear from India, China, or Japan; and surely we do not need to fear any of the European countries. There is a Socialistic party even in Japan, and there are Socialistic parties in Italy, France, Germany, and Spain. If ever the permanent peace of the world is brought about, it will come through the much-despised Socialistic and Labour parties. One clause to which particular exception has been taken, is that which provides that no person who is not a graduate of the Military College can become an officer in the Permanent Forces. That provision is, I think, a mistake. If it were ruled that no man could become a member of the Federal Parliament unless he had been through a college, where would the majority of us be? We should be outside. Most of the members of this Parliament have never been to a university, and have probably never even been to a grammar school ; but, like Darwin, have picked up the education that was most valuable to them after leaving school at fourteen. I understand, from the Minister, that no fees are to be chargedat the College, but that students are even to receive a wage of 5s. a day, from which their keep is to be deducted. That is well, so far as it goes ; but the great objection is that no man can enter the College after reaching nineteen years of age. Many of the men who figured so prominently in the Boer War never saw a Military College. I am sure that is true of Generals Botha and De Wet, and others who proved themselves such clever and successful antagonists to the British Army. That provision in the Bill appears most likely to create the very military caste which has been spoken of. If no one can become an officer of the Permanent Forces unless his parents are able to afford him an educa- tion and facilities for entering the College before he is nineteen years of age, there will undoubtedly be a military caste created. Half the men in Australia do not know what occupation they would like to follow until they have reached the age of twenty-one. This clause ought, therefore, to be amended to provide that the Military College shall not be a close corporation. We provide, also> that any one who can prove to the proper authorities that he has a conscientious objection to active service, shall be exempt. Any parents who have conscientious objections to their children being brought up to militarism ought also to be allowed to state them, and have their children exempt. Honorable members will say that that will break down the compulsory system; but I do not think it will. I do not think that the majority of people in the Commonwealth will be prepared to swear that they have conscientious objections to their children being brought up to the use of arms ; but I honestly believe that there are a considerable ‘ number of families who, from religious or other scruples, object to their children acquiring a warlike and aggressive spirit. It seems to .them that it is impossible to foretell what will be the result if we instil in the minds of our young people a feeling of militarism. Many parents have conscientious objections to such a training, arid their children should be exempt from it.
– I regret that a measure such as this should be introduced at a period of the session when the influence of the Government, and, indeed, of members outside the Government, is likely to be exercised in the direction of curtailing debate, and of inducing the House with as little discussion as possible to vote either for or against it. Before the Bill is read a second time, however, I should like to refer to one or two1 features of a question which have more to do than has any other with the condition of Australia at the present time. The subject of defence is so interwoven with every other question which has been or is likely to be brought before the House for some considerable time, that it is almost impossible to touch upon any matter without impinging in some degree upon it. Nearly every Bill that has been dealt with during the present session has had some bearing, either direct or indirect, upon the question of defence, and in one or two cases the legislation submitted has been considered almost entirely 5 from the defence point of view. In its early history Australia relied entirely for its defence upon the Old Country. There was no attempt on the part of our pioneers, small in number and extremely scattered as they were, to take up the question of defence for themselves. They relied solely upon those small bands of trained men who were sent from the Old Country for the express purpose of defending the country. Ultimately the patriotic sentiment of the people became aroused, and the volunteer system was instituted with a limited number of permanent men, mostly for the forts. That system obtained for a considerable period, but it was soon recognised that the work was falling into the hands of a comparatively small percentage of the population, and that it was not being carried out with anything like that effectiveness that was essential if anything like a good defence was to be made in time of emergency. In comparatively recent times the volunteer system was superseded by that of the militia. It is only since Federation that the militia system has been adopted all over Australia, and grave difficulties were encountered by Ministers who took up the question. The right honorable member for Swan was Minister of Defence when the militia system was universally adopted, and he found it extremely difficult to induce members of purely volunteer regiments toagree to what they considered a drastic change in their methods of administration. Some of them pushed their objections to such an extent that even to-day we have in the Commonwealth a number of volunteer regiments which refuse to accept from the State any pecuniary payment for the services rendered by them. All these systems were recognised by those who gave to them more than a cursory examination as being utterly and completely inadequate for our needs. We then had expressed in various parts of the Commonwealth a desire that there should be instituted some system of universal training whereby every able-bodied man would be made to recognise’ his obligation to defend the country of which he was a citizen. It would be difficult to determine where the idea origi.nated, but one of the results of its origination was to cause quite a large number of patriotic Australians - members of the Australian Natives Association - to consider at their annual Conferences this question of universal training. The attitude adopted by that organization has had a great deal to dowith the education of the people with regard to the obligation of the individual citizen to which I have just referred, and in bringing this question to its present stage. The Acting Prime Minister also took a leading part in that movement, and, as a member of the Australian Natives Association, I feel that we owe him a debt of gratitude, not only for the industry and the ability with which he advocated this system of military defence, but also for the still more potent fact that he was able to bring behind him a very large number of men who otherwise would have been the most out-and-out opponents of this system. There is no doubt that the Australian Labour party would have been the most virulent opponents of universal training but for the work done by the present Attorney-General. We have to realize the enormous area over which we shall have to operate should our integrity as a nation be ever threatened. To refer to a familiar illustration, to which reference has been made more than once even during this debate, I would remind honorable members that the Imperial Government found it necessary to send over 250,000 men to South Africa, which in the matter of area and difficulties of transport cannot be compared with Australia. We have had under our old system some 25,000 men who may have been regarded as being more or less trained in the use. of arms. This country, with all its possibilities, and notwithstanding the eager eyes which are now, and have been for a considerable time, turned in our direction, has been relying for its defence almost entirely upon that small body of men. We knew perfectly well, however, that there was another barrier which an enemy would have to. overcome before those 25,000 men would be called upon to act. I refer to the Imperial Navy and the Imperial prestige; but I venture to say that any true Australian, when he gives the matter thought, must feel utterly ashamed of the little he has done to fit himself to carry out his national obligation in this respect. The modern tendency is for individuals to recognise this obligation, and to believe that the best way to secure peace is to be prepared for war. I know that that is an old truism. It is challenged -to-day, but I venture to. say that it cannot be successfully challenged, and is not disputed, by those who have given any attention to the subject. Every one realizes that a man who has a strong house and is strong enough to keep it is in less danger of aggression than a man who has no means of protecting his house. The country possessed of the most up-to-date arms and a devoted and patriotic people trained in their use is less liable to be interfered with than is a- country which relies upon the sufferance of its neighbours, or- on the fact that it is too insignificant to be attacked. I venture to say that countries like Switzerland, which are frequently referred to as examples of this kind, are able to occupy their territory more because of the jealousy of the peoples surrounding them than because of any inherent power which they possess to defend themselves. We should realize that a country like ours is in grave danger from attack if we are unable adequately to defend it from within. I do not contend that by the adoption of universal training we shall warn off all possible invaders, but we shall find in it the foundation of an adequate system of defence. The honorable member for Capricornia gave us one of the most remarkable explanations of the Dreadnought agitation that I have yet heard. He said that it was designed and entered into by the leading newspapers of Australia in order to dish the Labour party. I venture to say that, great as the power of these leading newspapers undoubtedly is - and it is being added to every day by the publication of Labour journals - its influence has not yet been extended to Continental nations, and, at the time referred to, it was scarcely responsible for the feverish activity displayed in the German dockyards. I regret very much that in existing circumstances I cannot speak at length upon this question as I should like to do. I wish, however, to direct the attention of honorable members to paragraph 9 of the introductory remarks in that most admirable report which the late Government were fortunate, and, I think, far-seeing, enough to procure from FieldMarshal Lord Kitchener. He wrote -
The conclusion I have come to is shortly that the present forces are inadequate- in numbers, training, organization, and munitions of war to defend Australia from the dangers which are due to the present conditions that prevail in the country as well as to its isolated position.
– But every member of this House knew that.
– The honorable member refers to this House, but we -had not the advantage of the honorable member’s presence at the time Lord Kitchener made his report.
– Every man in the country knew it.
– I should like to inform the honorable member that honorable members on both sides in this Houseare delighted to see the feeling which has= been evinced recently by other members,, and especially by new members of the House, in this connexion. I can tell him1 that our endeavours to place the defence of Australia on a proper basis were not always received in the fashion in which they are received to-day.
– We do not believe in. militarism.
– That is so. I have been made somewhat indignant event by statements I have heard made today, suggesting that because people wish to preserve their own integrity and defend their country, they must’ be classed as military jingoes and under the influence of what is known., as “militarism.” Militarism is a system, of government by the military, and I venture to say that .that is about the last thing: which the people of Australia would putup with. We have a Government of a sort to-day which is not satisfactory from the point of view of some of us, but I venture to say that we should infinitely prefer it to any system of military government which has operated in various parts of the world. I venture to say that such a system will never find in Australia the environment in which it could hope toexist. The conclusion to which Lord! Kitchener came is one which a number of us had come to previously, but which we had very great difficulty in. making the responsible authorities see as plainly as we saw it. ourselves. On- the subject of universal training and compulsory service, I am almost ashamed to again, direct attention to the very marked practical distinction between the two terms;.. The universal training which has been advocated by the Attorney-General, by the Australian Natives Association-, and by thethree Federal Governments preceding the present Government, cannot by any stretch of the imagination be described as compulsory service. I would ask any honorablemember who thinks that there is any element of compulsion in the universal trailing here proposed to contrast it with the systems of compulsory service in operation in other countries under- which, men: ara- taken from their homes, their friends, their trades, and business for years in order that they may be trained to defend their country.
– It is still compulsory even if it be on a smaller scale.
– Surely the honorable member would not describe attendance in a camp for eight days as “ service.”
– It is service for eight days.
– I am astonished that the honorable member should persist in this misdescription of the system advocated by the present and previous Governments of the Commonwealth and the body to which I have referred. I wish to express my appreciation of the courage of the Minister of Defence in dealing with the Military College in the only way in which it could be effectively dealt with if it is to be a safe foundation for this system. The Minister’s attitude will be the subject of misunderstanding and misrepresentation, but I venture to say that both he and the system will survive both, and we shall have established a Military College which, while it will avoid some of the features of West Point which may be regarded as objectionable, will prove a very worthy competitor as a means of military training with that, the most up-to-date Military College in the world to-day. During the two periods for which Senator Pearce has been Minister .of Defence, I, in common with others who have been associated with the Forces, have been struck with his capacity and industry.
– Yet he never went to college.
– I do not say that every member of Parliament should go to college, but to deal with highly technical matters it is necessary to have men of exceptional ability. The Minister is such a man, and he possesses in addition the highest genius of all, that of taking pains.
– In this party we all have ability.
– And modesty. The Minister would be the last to make such a remark as that of the honorable member. I am only saying what I think is due to him. Although I may have my own idea as to how he gained it, I know that he has the confidence of every member of the permanent staff with whom he has come into contact, and the conclusions at which he has arrived respecting the establishment of the Military College are worthy of consideration, even by those who do not feel disposed to accept them. He proposes in order that men shall enter’ the College under the least onerous conditions that can be imagined, to establish scholarships which will enable students tolive at the College for five years, without -being dependent on their own resources or~ any relative, as they will be taught, fed and! clothed, and given sufficient pay to keep them in pocket money. But I do not think that it would be wise to fill the College with students from each State in proportion to its population. That would be a mistake. To get the most effective Defence Force, wemust get the best officers, and should throw open all positions to competitive examination. Furthermore, we do not desire to keep up the old provincial divisions. Australia should be treated as a whole. We should not perpetuate the State differences which have done so much harm in the past, and which Federation was intended toremedy. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports did the Minister and the Government injustice in what hesaid about the impossibility of rankers, getting promotion. Section n of theprincipal Act provides that in the first appointment of officers preference shall be given, where there is equality of qualification, to those who have served in the Defence Forces for three years without a commission, that is, to those who haveserved in the ranks.
– That has nothing to dowith the Permanent Forces.
– The provisionapplies to the whole of the Forces. It isalso provided in regard to promotions in Citizen Forces that they shall be front, those who have served in the ranks, and shall be allotted to those of the next lower grade most successful in competitive examinations.
– Those provisions relateonly to first appointments, and will ceaseto have effect in five years’ time.
– The present- Government propose that a senior cadetofficer shall be eligible for the position of second lieutenant if he has served for threeyears in the Defence Forces. I am of opinion, from the” experience which I havehad, that the finest officers have come from the- ranks. Colonel Price, when raising the Victorian Mounted Rifles, which became themodel of similar regiments in other partsof Australia, and did signal service in- , South Africa, stipulated that the. officers- should have served in the ranks, a stipulation which was eminently justified by results. The time spent at the Military College is to be deemed service in the ranks, and thus there is continuity between the system of the Deakin Government and that of the present Government, the principle of promotion from the ranks not being interfered with. Students entering the Military College will start at the foot of the ladder, and gradually qualify for a commission.
– A man who is more than twenty-two years of age cannot enter the College.
– That is quite right, because a student must spend five years at the College before getting a commission.
– Does the honorable member know of any ranker who got a commission when he was less than twentythree or twenty-four years of age?
– Within my own knowledge, a large number of men have risen from the ranks of the Victorian Mounted Rifles to commission rank.
– I am speaking of men in the Permanent Forces.
– Those to whom the honorable member refers were toy soldiers.
– Toy soldiers ! These men proved the most effective forces, I suppose, that went to South Africa. The honorable member, with his remarkable fondness for the permanent soldier, may tell us how far 4ie is prepared to go with regard to the establishment of a standing army in the Commonwealth. It does not lie in the mouth of any man here to decry the efforts that have been made so loyally and patriotically by a number of volunteers to fit themselves for the defence, of their country. I am sorry, indeed, .to find any member of a party which includes the AttorneyGeneral decrying the efforts of those who have proved by their patriotism and self-sacrifice that they recognised their obligations long before the honorable member came on the scene. Something has been said about the liability of employers, and it is provided that those who interfere with men in their training shall be drastically dealt with. I hope to see the law put into operation -with the utmost rigour when a man proves himself so wanting in the sense of what is due to his country ‘as to prevent his employes undergoing their training.
– Does the honorable member know that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company “sacked” two men who took part in the funeral ceremony of the late King?
– If the honorable member -knew that, he should have made a stir about it long ago.
– The case was placed before the Defence Department, but it could do nothing.
– I should have brought the matter before the House and the country, and I think that even such a wealthy corporation as the Colonial Sugar, Refining Company would have found it necessary to take back those men and amply compensate them for the wrong. Men have struck for less than that.
– The Defence Department could not make the company take the men back. Perhaps the other men did not approve of the men attending the ceremony.
– I should not have depended on the Department in a matter of that sort. I do not know whether these men were constituents of the honorable member ; but I know that if they had been constituents of mine I should not have ceased talking about the case until some redress had been made.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has said either too much or too little.
– I have said what is true.
– In contradiction of what the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has said, I can point to quite a number of companies, trading and otherwise, as well as to private employers, who afford every facility for their men to train. I suppose no company is being more maligned at present in Victoria ‘ than the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company ; and yet that company not only gives the time necessary for military training, but, if a man finds it necessary in pursuance of that object to absent himself for twelve months, or even three years, his position is kept for him. This company shows an example; and I can only hope that what the honorable member has said is not true, or, if true, that he will not rest until redress is made.
– T applied to the manager of the company, who would do nothing, and the Defence Department could do nothing.
– I should have gone beyond the manager ; and, at any rate, I guarantee that there have been strikes on much less provocation. However, I have been drawn off the track by interjections; and I shall only say that I am afraid the honorable member is not doing himself or his cause any good by the statements he is making. I welcome the extension of the period of training, because one of my objections to the original Bill was the restriction in this respect. That restriction, however, was solely due to the party who now sit behind the Government.
– Not to the Acting Prime Minister.
– The honorable member must agree that I have given a full meed of praise to the Attorney-General for his attitude in this respect. I do not include the Attorney-General, who courageously stood alone in his party at the beginning; and credit is due to him for the splendid fashion in which he has brought his party behind him on this question. I heartily indorse the proposal to extend the period of training, because, as I have already indicated, I do not believe that even the time provided is sufficient to make an efficient soldier. I am glad to see, further, that the officers are compelled to engage for twelve years. Some men who join the forces for the purposes of wearing a uniform, and having rank and title, “ throw up “ the service when something happens they do not like, and the force with which they are associated may possibly become disorganized. This, however, is no longer to be possible, for officers must serve the full period. The area system is an experiment, but I predict that it will prove highly successful. In this connexion we have an evidence of what I have already said in regard to the necessity of avoiding any State appointments. In one of the States, at any rate, there were not sufficient applicants, and men were appointed from the more populous States. From the calibre of the men, who are so much in earnest that they have taken up the work at a remuneration very much below the value of their services, we shall, I feel sure, secure one of the best means of placing the Defence Forces on a proper basis. The honorable member for Adelaide has said that these men will find difficulty in carrying on their own avocations, and I am of the same opinion ; but, from my knowledge of a large number, I feel sure that it is their avocations that will suffer, because their heart and soul is in military work, and they will do everything possible to make the system a success. It is to the patriotism of those Australian natives - to their capacity for organization and susceptibility to order and discipline - that we may look for the success of the service. The Minister has told us that we shall have to meet a probable cost of something like ^2,000,000 a year; but I feel that that amount is somewhat understated. When this machine gets into full operation the cost will be very much more, especially if the representations which have been made with respect to pay meet with the reception which some honorable members evidently hope. The present pay is more liberal than that proposed by a previous Labour Administration. With regard to altering the payments and grading them, I venture to say that that will be found impossible in practice. If the Government depart from the universal system of paying according to the work done, and paying according to the loss sustained by the men under training, they will find it impossible to properly arrange the pay-sheet. The amount paid would have to be an equivalent for what the men are losing in their various occupations ; and no Treasurer would view with equanimity any proposed pay-sheet of that character. If professional men were to have their pay calculated on the basis of their earnings in the same way as those engaged in trades and other occupations, we should have a class line set up within the Forces which would have a most detrimental effect upon them.
– We might fix the rate at about 10s. a day.
– If honorable members desire to pay the men for what they are losing, we shall have an enormous pay-sheet, and one which, in the case of some professional men, will run up to many pounds per day. It would not be fair to ask a man who was losing ^5 per day to accept 10s. per day, if we are going to pay that sum to a man who is actually losing ros. a day. Members of Parliament, of course, are exempt ; but I do not know what we should have to pay to some of them if the rate were based upon their own valuation. The principle of this Bill recognises that the obligation of service is universal. The obligation being universal, we should put the men on exactly the same level with regard to the payment that they are to receive. The honorable member for Corio has mentioned the Mounted Infantry. I am gratified to know that the Government have given the assurance that the existing corps and organization are not to be interfered with at once. They are simply to be allowed to operate until the new conditions are brought into working order. In five or ten years’ time, it will be found that the corps will be better able to adjust themselves to the altered conditions. The honorable member expressed the hope that the Mounted Infantry would be extended. I regret to say that one Minister of Defence did not appreciate the work done by the Mounted Infantry, and the possibility of their effectiveness in war time! I take up an entirely different position. I agree with the honorable member for Corio that, requiring, as we do, that our enormous distances should be covered by a very mobile force, we cannot do better than extend the Mounted Infantry system which we have at present in operation, giving it greater effectiveness and enlarged opportunities for working in large bodies, .and acquiring by actual practice, those arts which are so necessary and so valuable in the maintenance of communication from point to point. I must apologize to the House for taking up more time than, perhaps, 1 should have done; but I desire to express again my regret that this most important of all questions should be brought up at the fag end of the session, when a number of honorable members who, like myself, feel that the subject should be most carefully and closely considered, are compelled to curtail their remarks and to deal with the matter in a more disconnected fashion than they would desire.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses i to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Promotions).
.- I move - - “
That the following words be added -. - “21. c. (1.) Officers of the rank of major and upwards on the active list of the Commonwealth Military Forces at the time this Act becomes law shall within two years of the passing of this Act demonstrate to the InspectorGeneral, or to some officer appointed by him for the purpose, their practical fitness for their commands. (2.) Officers, as above, failing to comply with the provisions of this section shall be ineligible to hold any rank on the active list of the Commonwealth Forces higher than that of .captain.”
My amendment is a modified form of one which I proposed in connexion with the
Defence Bill in the last Parliament, and to which honorable members opposite weregood enough to accord their entire support. The amendment which I then proposed was to this effect : Officers rising above the rank, of captain had to pass an examination showing that they had accustomed themselves to the use of arms other than the arms with which they were immediately concerned. In other words, they had to prove their knowledge of other arms of the service. Officers rising above the rank of major had to become, in very truth, field’ officers, and to show themselves competent to command in the field a force of all’ arms. I urged upon the House - and honorable members opposite supported me - that if the provisions of the Bill stood as: they were, and we were to impose these conditions on new officers, we should alsoendeavour to put our house in order in regard to existing officers, and require them, to prove their practical fitness for existing; commands. I moved -
That the preceding sections shall not disqualify any existing officer of the Commonwealth Military Forces for the rank he holds, on the day on which the Act comes into operation, provided he receives, as prescribed, a certificate of his fitness for the said rank from the Director of the Military College within two years, of the establishment of the said College.
Honorable members opposite were unanimous in supporting that proposal. It was,, however, held by the then House to be toosweeping ; and after some debate, in which every member of the Labour party whospoke warmly supported my amendment, we had a division, in which, every one of my honorable friends was ranged on my side.
My present proposal is not so sweeping as that was. I propose to follow the principle of the Act, as proposed to be amended by the present Government, making these stringent proposals as .regards efficiency apply to officers of the rank of major and upwards. The question of proof of fitness in regard to these officers is not one of theoretical examination, as* will, perhaps, be urged by those who, while pretending to favour the theory of this amendment, will say that it will operate unjustly against officers of old standingIt may not be practicable for the InspectorGeneral to test the fitness of every officer in our forces, and consequently I have inserted a proviso which will enable him toappoint a deputy by whom the work will1 be performed. I do not think it is neces-sary for me to say anything more on this’ question. My amendment is not nearly so sweeping as is the preceding clause. It merely asks that officers who in time of war will have, not only high responsibilities upon their shoulders, but the lives of those -who follow them in their hands, shall have attained a certain standard of efficiency. The Bill seeks to demand from future officers of the forces, which will be created some time after the passing of this Bill, a fair standard of military efficiency - a standard which will be decided, not merely by practical tests, but by theoretical examinations. My amendment does not -propose to expose existing officers, from the rank of major upwards, to the humiliation of having to subject themselves to theoretical examinations, but I do ask, in simple justice to their men and to the Commonwealth, that- officers enjoying field rank shall possess, at any rate, a roughandready certificate of fitness, and that they shall not be asked to accept positions on active service which they are not fitted to occupy. I trust that the Attorney-General will accept the amendment.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 and 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 (Persons exempt from service).
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That the following new paragraph be inserted -
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 8 to 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 (Military bands. Supply of
– I -do not know how this clause will apply to -cases in which the officers of a regiment may have decided to maintain a band at their own expense. It declares that the -number of soldiers allotted to military bands shall not exceed 2 per cent. of the persons undergoing training. How will that affect, for example, the Permanent Artillery, of whom there are about 300 in barracks in both Melbourne and Sydney?
– It will not apply to them. It will apply only to the Citizen Forces.
– Are not the Royal Garrison Artillery undergoing “training”?
– Not in the sense in which this Bill will apply.
– In view of that assurance, I am quite content to allow the clause to pass in its present form.
.- I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister why the supply of free uniforms is limited to the Citizen Forces? Why is not that privilege to be extended to the Permanent Forces ?
– Because the members of those forces are already supplied with free uniforms.
– And the officers too?
– I do not know.
– We ought to have uniformity in this matter.
– When the Citizen Force is in full working order, there will be no permanent forces apart from instructional staff. Every officer will be a graduate of. the Military College whose education will be supplied by the State, and whose expenses, salary and railway fares will he paid by the State.
– Is there any objection to the addition of the words ?
– I will make an inquiry.
.- Whilst the Acting Prime Minister is making his inquiry I would ask what steps are being taken to supply the members of rifle clubs with free uniforms.
– For what? .
– The honorable member would understand the reason if he had been engaged in the Franco-Prussian War when the franc-tireurs were shot-
– I would point out that the honorable member’s remarks are not in order.
– I can assure you, sir, that the franc-tireurs who were engaged in patriotically defending their country against invasion were shot ‘ because they lacked uniforms. The same thing may happen to the members of our rifle clubs if ever they are called upon to defend this country against invasion. Surely our riflemen have some claim to consideration.
– We are dealing with the Citizen Forces. The honorable member is not in order.
– I am certainly in order in making any amendment to the Bill that I may think fit. The mere substitution of the word “ Commonwealth “ for “ citizen “ would cover riflemen.
– The honorable member has not moved in that direction.
– Then I now move-
That the following words be added to the clause: - “and to members of rifle clubs.” Mr. Batchelor. - This is a new scheme. Mr. KELLY. - This amendment is moved in order to find out what reasons there are for supposing that, in time of war, the members of rifle clubs would not be subject to similar treatment to that which was meted out to the franc-tireurs in France when it suffered a German invasion. I do not want our riflemen to be hanged to the nearest tree, or to be shot at the nearest fence, simply because they are found fighting for their country without a uniform.
– How many of the Boers did so?
– The Boers were fighting Britishers; and we have never taken these points in conducting a campaign. I cannot recollect any country which has waged war exactly as England did in South Africa. I am confident that, if any Power should invade Australia and find men without a uniform firing off rifles at them from behind trees, it would consider those men as murderers and not as soldiers. It is only fair that the Government should explain to the riflemen of Australia why, while pretending that they are members df the defence organization, they do not think that they are worth a uniform?
– I am entirely in accord with the suggestion to clothe our riflemen with a uniform in order to fight the foe. I do not know what the fate of the franc-tireurs was ; but I am sure that it could not possibly have been worse than that which should overtake a man who would make a suggestion of this kind at this hour of the night. If the supply of a uniform to the honorable gentleman would make him see, as it were, the urgency of the point of withdrawing his- amendment and going home, I should be very glad to supply it at the cost of the Government. Beyond recognising the honorable gentleman as a sharpshooter, whose intention I admire, but whose erratic aim I deplore, I decline absolutely to commit the Government to clothe any riflemen. My instructions are not to do so ; and I am keeping strictly to them. The clause provides that uniforms shall be supplied free of charge to all ranks in the Citizen Forces.
.- If on no higher ground than in the interest of my honorable friend’s family, I must ask him to stay here a little longer to consider thissimple : act of justice to the riflemen of Australia. I should be the last man to keep him out of bed at any time. If I could only be satisfied that he would stay m bed,. I should have more confidence in the security of the country.. But, in this particular instance, it is necessary for him tostay out of bed a little longer, in order to consider whether or not he is doing the riflemen an injustice. 1 can remember him. going into my electorate and addressing a large meeting of riflemen when the previous Administration was in power. Hewas most effective, and promised everything under the sun.- I can assure my honorable friends opposite that this was the very least of the promises which he then made on behalf of a future Labour Administration. I am sure that I am justified, even at the risk of keeping him out of bed perhaps a- little longer than his. constitution warrants, in earnestly asking; him now to carry out this promise which he made to the riflemen at Randwick not long ago. This is not a matter’ which should be treated with levity, but a seriousmatter for those concerned. Either the riflemen are worth a uniform, or they are not worth being called an integral portion of our Defence Force. It is not fair to ask them to go to the front in time of war, if their action will expose them to “be hanged! as murderers if caught.
– I admit that, in time of war, they must have a uniform.
– That may come when> Parliament is in recess; and if my amendment be not accepted, it will have to becalled together in great haste in order that the riflemen may be clothed to carry out their obligation to Australia as patriots, and all because my honorable friend was soburning with anxiety to get away from hisduty in this chamber, that he could not stay up for a few extra moments.
– I think that the honorable member could envelop the whole of the men with his speeches.
– I think it would be a-. very good covering; but what I am asking for is a uniform for the men. If I were a combination of members of the great- Australian Caucus, I could providethem with a uniform speech ; but I am merely asking the Minister tokeep his simple word to a number of gentlemen who gave him a dinner,, and to whom he was enthusiastically elo- quent at the expense of the then Administration. I ask him to vote for my amendment, and to clothe the riflemen with a Government uniform. I appeal to the honorable member for Parramatta who, no doubt, has a keen recollection of the very violent platform rhetoric of the Acting Prime Minister in favour of clothing the riflemen and doing everything which they wanted.
– Yes; but that was on quite a different subject.
– I am merely asking, I repeat, for a Government uniform; and it is up to the honorable gentleman to give it, or show that his after-dinner rhetoric cannot be trusted.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be added (Mr. Kelly’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority to ii
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I desire to announce that, owing to an oversight, the source of my information having temporarily dried up, i was not informed that the clothing for the rifle clubs has been provided.
– Could there be a more conclusive argument for reporting progress?
– The understanding; arrived at with the Leader of the Opposition was that the Bill should be takenthrough Committee to-night, and that the honorable member for Parramatta should have the opportunity to speak on the third reading to-morrow.
– There are several matters on which T wish to speak in Committee, and, therefore. I suppose I must persevere. I move -
That the following words be added to the clause : - “ and to junior cadets uniforms shall be supplied as prescribed.”
That is the proposal which the late Government tried to have inserted in the Bill of last year in the Senate, but it was defeated owing to the solid vote of the Opposition, reinforced by a couple of members from our own side. At first we did not propose to clothe the junior cadets. When the last Bill was under consideration varying estimates of the cost were furnished. Some officers stated that it would be £^50,000; others, .£75,000. I see that the estimate has gone up to £200,000 since the present Government took control, and in another year or two it probably will reach .£500, 000. We could very well give the junior cadets a simple uniform which would not cost much, as we propose to recognise them as part and .parcel of ‘ the Defence Force, and train them in miniature forms of soldiery. New Zealand clothes her junior cadets at a cost of about 10s. or 11s. per head, the uniform consisting of a simple tunic, belt, and a cap with a distinctive badge or band. Something of that sort could be adopted here. I do not propose to clothe the junior cadets in the present expensive way, which I understand runs to about 30s. per head, at any rate, in my own State. The senior cadets are already to be supplied with uniforms under the Bill, and an amendment on the lines I have indicated would not involve a very great cost. The advantage to the boys would be very great. I believe to-day they think a great deal more of ‘ their uniform than the adults do, and certainly more than boys of larger ages do. If we are to recognise them as part ana parcel of the Defence Forces we shall do well to minister to the feeling of pride that wells up in their young hearts. In any event, we should be putting ourselves in the good graces of their mothers if we ,gave them a simple uniform as prescribed. However, joking aside, it would not involve a large expenditure, and after the first outlay the annual cost, I suppose, would be only from £7,000 to £8,000. For all the good it would do in ministering to the military spirit of these youngsters, I think it would be desirable. I urge, therefore, that we should follow as far as possible the simple uniform that has “been adopted in New Zealand. There the cadets are all uniformed alike, and the system is in every way beneficial and advantageous.
.- - The present position is that -.senior cadets wear uniforms as prescribed, and that uniforms are supplied to all mem.bers of the Military Forces. That provision includes, although we did not know it before, members of rifle clubs. I see no reason why we should grant uniforms to junior cadets. They are not soldiers, but school boys. The honorable member for Parramatta, who but a little time ago was a violent opponent of the system of compulsory service, and who, when I proposed “its introduction in 1903, said that it was absurd, has become such a devotee to the 1 -‘business that he desires that little children of from twelve to fourteen shall be dressed in what he describes as uniforms. I submit that a child of from twelve to fourteen may derive the greatest possible benefit from physical training, and I do not think that there is one honorable member who, no matter what his opinions on militarism are, does not think that physical training will do children great good. But what real purpose is to be served by dressing our boys in uniforms ? They are not, and cannot be, soldiers. We have the authority of a soldier for the statement that it is not until a man. has passed through, his years of recruit drill that he is worthy to become a soldier. Why, then, call a boy of twelve or fourteen years of age a soldier <or’ dress him in uniform? There is no necessity for it. The drill which we are going to give children, will straighten them up, expand their lungs, and build them up physically. But uniforms are not essential to that work. We have already incurred certain .liabilities, and are daily incurring other liabilities of a truly portentous character. If we desire to find some* outlet for our money we can discover more legitimate ways in connexion with militarism and in making the fighting machine more effective than that proposed by the honorable member. Nothing that he could suggest in the way of improving the physical health of the children of this country would pass without attention and consideration from this Government ; but in putting a child in uniform we should only be trying to make him think that in some mysterious way he had become a soldier. One of the happiest proposals of my colleague the Minister of Defence is that the junior cadets shall be supplied with neither guns nor uniforms. I have no sympathy with militarism, and would not have a uniform if it were not absolutely essential that soldiers, whilst training, and particularly when on service, should wear some distinctive dress. I do not believe in building up the idea of militarism by clothing little children in uniforms, and I hope that the Committee will not agree to the amendment.
.- We have it on record that the chief reason which the honorable member for Parramatta has in view in moving this amendment is that he may stand well in the good graces of the women folk of Australia and those who happen to have boys of from twelve to fourteen years of age. I presume that his desire at present to please the women folk is the outcome of some meetings that he has addressed during the evening, at which possibly it has been intimated to him how pleasing it would be to their mothers’ hearts if their little darlings were clothed in uniforms, supplied with peaked caps, and given a bit of wood called a rifle. That may be an admirable idea from the point of view of the honorable member, who is at present utterly irresponsible, but I do not think that the Committee will accept the amendment, which would involve a very considerable expenditure. We have been given no idea of the cost of this proposal of the honorable member, which is designed to please, possibly, the little boys, and certainly would please the women folk. I should object strongly to putting boys into the half-and-half black-and-white uniform ‘which the honorable member suggests. They are to have caps and tunics and a little belt. I presume that the belt would be used on them on certain occasions, but, so far as their pantaloons are concerned, they may wear, black, green, white, or. red ones. Whilst there might be some degree of uniformity so far as their top dress was concerned, the rest of their clothing would .be of variegated hue. I am unable to believe that the honorable member has seriously moved this amendment. He has no idea of the cost, but believes that a statement has been made that some such uniform, as he suggests, after attending a tea. meeting, would cost from 10s. to ns. a head. How many of these children are we to clothe in uniform, - and on what authority is this estimate of cost arrived at ? By accepting the amendment, we may incur an expenditure of many scores of thousands of pounds.’ It must not be forgotten that boys will be members of the junior cadet corps only whilst they are between the ages of twelve and fourteen years. Such a uniform as the honorable member suggests would not meet with their approval. They would not be proud of it. One boy might attend drill, in summer time, wearing a tunic and a white pair of pants, whilst another poor lad might appear with. a tunic and a black pair of pants with a grey patch on that part on which he sits. In such circumstances we can realize the disgust, not merely of the boys, but of the people who looked at them. The honorable member has not thought out his proposition with any degree of seriousness, and, in the circumstances, it ought not to have been made. In any case, I do not think we could justify the putting of a full uniform on schoolboys of between twelve and fourteen years of age. Let them go in for physical exercise to expand their chests and develop their bodies, and let them look to the period of senior cadetship for a uniform. I hope the amendment will not be accepted.
– I should not have again addressed myself to the Committee were it not for the attack which the honorable member for Adelaide has just made upon the honorable member for Parramatta. It was not remarkable for its accuracy or the delicacy with which the subject was handled.-
There is a serious purpose behind the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Parramatta. It marks a line of demarcation between his views and that of the present Minister of Defence as to the treatment of junior cadets. Rightly or wrongly, the present Minister believes that the junior cadets should not be regarded as a part of the Defence -Force. The honorable member for Parramatta takes another view, and believes that the junior cadets should be given some idea of discipline as well as of physical training, and some notion of what will be their duty to the country later on. He holds that the stage between twelve and fourteen years of age is the most receptive period of a boy’s life, and that . if he is then induced to take a pride in some uniform he is likely to make a better soldier afterwards. A uniform is’, symbolic of membership of a particular institution, and if a man is proud of an institution to which he belongs he will take a pride in the uniform which indicates that he is a member of it. The students of German universities wear uniforms which, in the opinion of many people, make them look like stuffed images, but they are proud of them for what they represent. If the Minister will not accept the amendment we need say no more.
I wish to point out that by mention of the fact in this clause that military uniforms for the Citizen Forces are to be provided free of charge, we limit the scope of expenditure in this Wa Y, and next year, if this measure passes, the Department will find that it is illegal to spend money for providing uniforms for members of rifle clubs. I understand now, in spite of the unanimous opposition of their supporters a few minutes ago, that it is the policy of the Government to supply uniforms to members of rifle clubs, but under this clause as it stands we limit expenditure upon uniforms to the Citizen Forces. Members of rifle clubs are not, as such, members of the Citizen Forces, and cannot, if this Bill is passed in its present form, be provided with uniforms. I think that provision should be altered if we are to do justice to the riflemen of Australia.
.- The amendment seems to me to be out of order. It certainly is in conflict with’ another part - of the existing Act which, the honorable member does not propose to amend. But if the amendment be in order the honorable member for Parramatta will require to alter another part of the Bill. I point out that sub-section 3 pf section 12 of the Act which the honorable gentleman himself introduced and carried in this House last session forbids the wearing of uniforms by junior cadets. I suggest that in the circumstances the honorable gentleman should withdraw his amendment.
– I was aware of the provision to which the honorable member for Coolgardie has drawn attention, and intended to deal with the matter in another, way. I have only a word to say in reply to the ridicule sought to be thrown upon the amendment by the honorable member for Adelaide. The honorable member has little to do when he attempts to throw ridicule upon a proposal of this kind. I always bow to his superior military knowledge, as he knows. An humble private like myself must always be ready to take orders from the General at Head-Quarters. It is a pity also that the honorable member could not abstain from gibing. What I may have opposed in. a former session has nothing to do with the question. To-night he treated me most discourteously.
House adjourned at 11.37 P m-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 November 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1910/19101115_reps_4_59/>.