9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Prime Minister say if there is any possibility of honorable members being furnished with a copy of the report of the recent Conference with State Ministers?
– I shall ascertain how far the printing of the report has advanced. As soon as the report is printed it will be made availableto honorable members.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether he will take into consideration the advisability of providing in the taxation proposals that a reasonable time be allowed for the payment of estate duties - say, up to five years - in cases in which estates of deceased persons are so situated that immediate paymentwould involve a sacrificeof assetsin order to meet the duty, it being understood that interest at a reasonable rate will be paid on amount outstanding?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Estate duty is calculated upon the market value of the assets of the deceased’s estate at date of death, and there does not appear to be any “ sacrifice of assets “ involved where any such can be realized by the trustees at that valuation for thepurpose of payment of the duty. In special cases where the assets have temporarily slumped in value there is no objection to some reasonable extension of time for payment of the duty, upon lodgment of full security therefor. The Estate Duty Assessment Act permits the extension of time for payment of duty for periods up to two years where the circumstances warrant it; and it is thought that this is a sufficiently lengthy period to provide against hardship.
asked the Prime Minister, uponnotice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice - 1.What was the total amount of duty paid during the past financial year on motor cars, chassis, and all parts?
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether he will lay on the Library table all the papers in connexion with the granting or benefits under the Repatriation Actto Hammerley Garfield Bolton?
Admiral Clarkson’s Report
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice-
Whether he will lay on the table of the House the report of Admiral Clarkson, who recently visited the Northern Territory to inquire into the suitability or otherwise of Port McArthur and other ports for harbor purposes?
– Yes. A copy of the report will be tabled next week.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
The various classes of roads which the Commonwealth Government are prepared to financially assist in the construction of are outlined in the memorandum submitted by the Prime Minister to the recent Conference of Premiers, namely: -
Main roads which open up and develop new country for agricultural, pastoral, or mining purposes, and which are necessary to convey the products of such to the nearest railway ; or, alternatively, to give access from the railway to such country for supply of plant, merchandise, food, fodder, goods, &c.
) Main trunk roads between , important towns, either within a State or between States, where no railway communications exist to assist in the interchange of products and increased range of markets.
Existing arterial roads Where, by the nature of the country and lack of suitable local material for roadmaking, cost of construction is beyond ordinary resources of the districts through which they pass and which are required for transport of products to railways, river, or ports.
The grant of £500,000 is being made by the Commonwealth Government on the understanding that the respective State Governments contribute on £1 for £1basis.
All proposals in respect of expenditure from this grant will be submitted by the respective State constructing authorities to the Minister for Commonwealth Works and Railways for his approval.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
When will the 1915-16 Wheat Pool be finalized ?
– The 1915-16 Wheat Pool has already been finalized.
– On the 4th July the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) asked a question with reference to coinage at the Sydney Mint. I am now able to state that the reason then given by him for the loss on working the Sydney Mint is not correct. During the last twelve months the demand for coin has so greatly decreased that it has been only possible to give orders to the Mints for very small quantities indeed. Large supplies of coinage are held by the Treasury. Prior to that time, however, the Sydney Mint, as well as the Melbourne and Perth Mints, were used to their full capacity in order to cope with the unusually heavy demand for coin. The Melbourne Mint turned out a greater proportion of coin than the Sydney Mint, because the Melbourne Mint is a larger and better equipped establishment. Indeed, the Sydney Mint could not have supplied all of the comparatively small amount of coin which was ordered from it had it not been that the Commonwealth, at the cost of about £2,000, had installed extra machinery there. Every endeavour has all along been made by the Treasury to give a fair proportion of the work to each of the Mints. The Premier of New South Wales recently announced that it was proposed to close the Sydney Mint at the end of this calendar year.
The following papers were presented : -
PublicWorks Committee Act. Eighth General Report of Committee.
Ordered to be printed.
War Service Homes Act. Land acquired at Dungog, New South Wales.
– I move -
That the Billbe now read a secondtime.
This is purely a formal measure. In the administration of the Act it has been found that certain amendments are necessary to bring the various sections into conformity with the spirit and intention of the Act, and into conformity also with the established practice of the Department with regard to such matters as come within the operation of the Customs Act. The Bill is principally a machinery measure designed to remove certain difficulties in the working of the Act, and to make it plainer to those dealing with the importation and entry of goods through the Customs. Its purpose also is to prevent possible loss of revenue in respect of goods which might be imported by aeroplane or other aircraft, and certain provisions have been inserted which have been found necessary to attain this end. As no principle is involved it is hardly necessary that I should speak at length on the measure.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 29th June(vide page 539), on motion (by Mr. Austin Chapman) -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- This is a small measure designed to make the brewers responsible for the payment of Excise duty on excisable goods in their possession.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and, by leave, passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 29th June(vide page 539), on motion by Mr. Austin Chapman -
That the Billbe now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and, by leave, passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 29th June(vide page 539), on motion by Mr. Austin Chapman -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- This Bill differs from the other measures we have just considered, inasmuch as it makes an alteration which may have a considerable effect on persons who possess stills with a capacity of under 1 gallon. I understand that they will not require to be licensed, and it may be possible for such persons to conduct distilling to a considerable extent as long as they do not produce spirits in a greater quantity than 1 gallon at each distillation.
– The object of the Bill is to amend section 12 of ‘the Distillation Act, which in general terms provides that no person can distill spirits unless he is licensed so to do. “When the Act was amended, in 1918, test still licences were abolished, and at present the only requirement in regard to stills not exceeding 1 gallon in capacity is that they must be registered. Section 12 of the Act of 1901-1918 makes it an offence for a person to distill spirits in a still of any capacity unless he is licensed so to do. There is no provision in the Act for the licensing of test stills. The object of this Bill is to dispense with the necessity for obtaining a licence for a still not exceed- ing 1 gallon in capacity, and thus bring section 12 of the Act into line with other sections in respect to this class of stills.
– I understand that a vigneron is now permitted to distill spirits for the purpose of fortifying his wines. Will this Bill prevent him from doing so ?
– The object of the Bill is to enable chemists and analysts to distill spirits in test stills.
– I do not think that vignerons or perfume manufacturers should be prevented from carrying out a very necessary operation in conducting their enterprises. Is it the intention of the Government under the disguise of this Bill to secure more revenue?
– No. The Bill will not affect the revenue. It is merely a consequential amendment on the alteration made in 1918.
– I think that we should have been given more information. A great deal of mischief can be done by small measures such as this.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and, by leave, passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 29th June(vide page 539), on motion by Mr. Austin Chapman -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- This is another small measure which renders a principal liable for a false declaration made by an agent acting on his behalf, and I think it a very necessary amendment of the law.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and, by leave, passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate . resumed from 29th June (vide page 536), on motion by Mr. Bowden -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- This Bill sets up machinery whereby in future the Air Forces, although controlled by the Minister for Defence, will be conducted as a separate branch of the defence system. It will be admitted by all that air defence forces are to play an important part in the armies of the world. Unfortunately, it is necesary for us to maintain a defence system, in view of the fact that so far the Great Powers have not succeeded in evolving some means to bring about disarmament, or even to effect very large reductions in armaments. It is regrettable that this continual expenditure is necessary. The spending of large sums of money for defence shows that we did not benefit by the lessons of the war. I fondly hoped, as did other honorable members, that after the war ended we would be able to -devise means to avoid such expenditure. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and I am reluctantly compelled to admit that Australia must have some system of defence. As aviation will play an important part in military affairs in future, and will probably reduce the cost of defence to this country, by making it unnecesasry for us to have a large Navy, I support the proposal to establish an Aviation Corps for defence. Honorable members should realize, however, that in setting up a separate Department for this purpose we are making possible a heavy expenditure. The experience of all Parliaments is that unless a watchful eye is kept upon the heads of the Defence Department the expenditure increases by leaps and bounds. In most cases it appears that the Ministers, leaning on the advice by the heads of the Department, follow the line of least resistance. I warn this Parliament that it should be very careful that no unnecessary expense is incurred through what we are now doing. We are justified in approving of sufficient expenditure to establish an adequate aerial service, but we must watch the future. We may set out with an expenditure of £100,000 or £200,000, but that will increase to millions if we fail to exercise all care. It is proper, until we can bring about a better state of international affairs in connexion with disarmament, that we should provide for the defence of this country.
The Department we propose to establish by this measure is to be separate from civil aviation except in two particulars. I think there should be co-ordination between the two as far as possible. The men who will be required for defence work could obtain a good deal of their training in the civil branch of the service. The only matters in which there is any coordination whatever, are the laying out of routes and the selection of aerodromes. The work could be done in a better way than that. If investigation were made, I believe it would be found that the Defence Corps could be used in times of peace to serve the community. The country people are calling out to-day for better and cheaper transit for mails. What is to prevent us from using the Defence Aviation Corps to assist in providing these facilities? I understand, of course, that some of the men engaged in the service, such as those who train pilots, would not be available, but most of the men could assist in civil aviation. To-day a good deal of money is spent in subsidizing private aviation companies which carry mails. There is too much subsidizing. The practice is adopted by every Department, and the subject is before this House week after week. We are paying a private aviation company which isoperating between Broome and Geraldton, in Western Australia, a subsidy of £25,000 a year. I do not say that the people should not have the facilities they are getting, but wo could do more ourselves than we are doing. This aviation corps should certainly be able to carry mails to and from the people out-back, and thus, in time of peace, it would render useful service to the community for the money expended on it. We have introduced this subsidy system, and unless it is ended in its infancy it will grow to be an immense thing.
– And we have no control over these private companies.
– We have control.
– I am not against people out-back having those conveniences. But I contend they should be provided by our own officers, and that the Defence Aviation Corps could give them. In time of war, dislocation would occur in the service, but that is unavoidable. It would affect all classes of the community. Every service is disturbed or interrupted in war time. That is no reason why we should not co-ordinate civil and defence aviation in, time of peace. The committee that brought in a report the other day dealt with this matter. That report showed that, at Point Cook, there has been an expenditure of £180,000 on aerodromes. That will be increased to something like £300,000 under this Bill. Honorable members must remember that we cannot concentrate these activities in one State. Every State will expect some provision. If it costs £300,000 for aerodromes here a similar sum will probably be required in the larger States, and possibly a lesser sum in the smaller States, though that does not necessarily follow. These activities may add a couple of million pounds to our military expenditure in a very short while.
– It is the greatest sink for money that we have yet had, for defence purposes or otherwise.
– I am not against making adequate aviation provision for defence purposes, but we should avoid excessive expense. In the last Parliament we had to take action to force down the expenditure on defence. Do honorable members realize that we are spending more on defence now than in pre-war days ?.
– So is England.
– Unfortunately, that is so.
– When we cause a wreck we must replace what is wrecked.
– I am much afraid that if the public mind does not change we shall have a wrecked world again. The problem of how to reduce armaments is confronting the world’s Parliaments. It is of no use to spend money to send delegates to the meetings of the League of Nations unless there is something done towards disarmament. Under present conditions we must prepare to defend our country. The trouble is that as soon as one country begins to make military preparations, on the ground that it is for home defence, every other country follows the example. Eventually some little trouble arises. One country imagines that it is prepared for war, and almost before we know what has happeneda number of nations are engaged in a conflict. We have not learned the lessons of the war. I have to confess that we are almost aswe were, in spite of the statements we hear from time to time about disarmament.
– Will the honorable member suggest that we should do nothing?
– No. I believe, in the circumstances, in making provision for the defence of Australia, much as my feelings run in other directions. As honorable members know, I held throughout the war the views I am now expressing. At the same time I realize the necessity for adequate defence, so that Australia may be safeguarded against possible eventualities. We of the Labour party do not wish to be misunderstood on this question. We claim, not that there should be no provision for defence, but that such provision shall be on certain defined lines, and we should be careful in the matter of cost.
The Bill makes provision for the Australian Air Force to come automatically under the Imperial Air Force Act in time of war. The definition of “ Air Force Act “ is : “ The Imperial Act called the Air Force Act and any Acts amending or in substitution of it, and for the time being in force.” The Imperial Air Force
Act incorporates the Army Act. Thus this Bill is virtually proposing to bring the Australian Air Force under the Imperial Army Act.
– In time of war only.
– We must look into this matter very carefully. This Parliament is not justified in placing any arm of the Australian Defence Force under an Imperial Act of the contents of which we know little or nothing.
– The House should have a copy of the Imperial Act.
– But even the members of the House of Commons, who passed the Act, know very little about it. The Act, which itself comprises 180 sections, is printed in a manual of 600 pages. So many regulations have been made under the Army Act that it is difficult for any man to know all that is contained in that manual. It is unfair to legislate in this fashion to bring our services under an Act of the provisions of which we are more or less ignorant. We do know that the Imperial Army Act provides for drastic penalties, such as Australians would never dream of imposing upon their own troops.
– That is qualified by the provision that the British Army Act applies only where it is not inconsistent with our own Act or regulations.
– That is a very indefinite and unsatisfactory- arrangement.
– In the absence of an Australian regulation the Imperial Act will apply.
– The Defence Act places restrictions upon the penalties that can be imposed.
– It should be possible for this Parliament to legislate for the Australian Defence Force without making them subject to the legislation of another part df the British Empire. The Army Act provides for the death penalty for many acts that are regarded as mutiny or insubordination in time of war. Men .can be tried by court martial for these offences, and sentenced to be shot. The Government are asking a great deal when they invite this Parliament to incorporate in our legislation the Imperial Army Act.
– This Bill specifically deals with the matters which the honorable member has mentioned.
– Only in one respect. Our soldiers will come under the Imperial Act in time of war if they go overseas they will be liable to court martial and very severe penalties.
– Only for, certain offences.
– Those offences are… enumerated in the Army Act. Mutiny and insubordination are among them. How many times may it happen during war that men feel that they are justified in refusing to carry out certain instructions? But if they disobey the order of their commander they may be court martialled, notwithstanding that there may be real justification for their action. Do honorable members know that in the first fight in which Australian troops were engaged in France - the battle of Fleurbaix - -more than half of the men who went into action were killed, and that the dis- aster was due to bungling on the part of their officers? Yet the only punishment which those officers received was promotion, and the best positions in civil ‘life ar.e available to them to-day. Fifteen thousand Australians, who had been well trained in Egypt, and were confident that nothing could stop them, went buoyantly and confidently into that fight; only 7,000 answered the roll-call next day. They were ordered to’ take a certain trench. The enemy had ‘become aware of their intentions, and was prepared for the attack. The British troops on their right failed to move in support of them. Our men rushed the trench in the face of the concentrated gun fire of the enemy, only to find when they won their objective that it was an old “water-course which the enemy had dammed. As soon as the Australians occupied it the water was let in, and they were standing in (water up -to their meeks. They had to fix their bayonets and fight their way back. To their credit, be it recorded, that they did fight their way back, although they were almost surrounded; but more than half were either killed or wounded. The result of that fight was that the amen became afraid of further engagements under such officers. They were granted a week’s respite, and many of them went to Paris with the resolve to make the .best .pf life while it lasted. But, if while still suffering -from the shock of the disaster, they had declared that they were not satisfied with the conduct of their commanders, who had undoubtedly made mistakes, and would not go into the firing line again under their leadership, they would have been guilty of mutiny. And would honorable members consent to men being shot in those circumstances ?
– Under the Army Act they would be shot.
– Of course, although in that instance there would have been a good deal of justification’ for the men in distrusting their officers in future engagements. It is time that the facts of this and other cases were published so that Parliament might know for what possible circumstances it is legislating. Extraordinary things have happened in Australia. Some of the soldiers who returned to New South Wales were sent to the Quarantine Station, near Manly, and given very inadequate accommodation. Their officers would do nothing to secure their comfort or to effect their removal to more suitable quarters. At last the men, thoroughly dissatisfied, marched out of the quarantine area to the Sydney Cricket Ground. That would have been mutiny under the Army Act, and those men could have been court martialled and shot. The Australian people will not abide by that sort of thing. We should be jealous of the lives and liberties of the men who enlist to fight for their country, and should not incorporate anything in our law unless we know the full effect of it. I contend, further, that provision should be made that any soldier who is court martialled shall be entitled to legal assistance. The Minister has said that such assistance will be made available where possible. I know that that cannot be done on the field of battle, but a prisoner convicted of a serious offence by court martial should havethe right to claim a further civil trial. It is not right that men should be shot practically at sight on the decree of a court martial composed of officers. There is another provision in this Bill that is very objectionable, and I do not know how the Minister, or his officers, permitted it to be inserted. Clause 45 provides -
Where the Governor of the State has proclaimed that domestic violence, exists therein, the Governor-General, upon the application of the Executive Government of the State, may, by proclamation, declare that domestic violence exists in that State, and may call out the Permanent Air Force, and in the event of its members being insufficient may also call out such or the Citizen Air Force as may be necessary for the protection of that State, and the services of the Forces so called out may be utilized accordingly for the protection of that State against domestic violence:
Provided that the Citizen Air Force shall not be called out or utilized in connexion with an industrial dispute.
– That is the same clause as is inthe Defence Act.
– I am opposed to its inclusion in the Defence Act or any other Statute. The Minister is making a mistake in trying to apply this provision of an existing Act to a new arm of the Service.
– The. provision in that clause gives effect to a constitutional obligation upon the Commonwealth.
– There is a vast difference between an Air Force and the military arm. Warfare in all its branches is barbarous, but, with the exception of submarines, no phase of it is more barbarous than attacks from the air. Yet the Government propose to enact that when the Governor of a State has proclaimed the existence of domestic violence Commonwealth aeroplanes shall be used to quell it. Certainly, industrial disputes are excluded,but many things may occur in a community to provoke domestic strife and violence. Suchthings have happened in the past. On most occasions the police have been able to cope with the disorder, but on occasions the aid of the military forces has been invoked. Similar circumstances may arise again. Anything may happen to inflame the public mind to such an extent as to lead the Governor of a State to declare that domestic violence exists. Are aeroplanes then tobe used to quell the disturbance? Have we forgotten that during the war we nervously read our morning newspapers to see what further outrages had been perpetrated by the Zeppelins that dropped their bombs over England and destroyed defenceless women and children? We were horrified at that new departure in warfare; we deplored it then, but we are now asked to authorize the use of aeroplanes to drop bombs which, in addition to the other destruction they will cause, may kill innocent women andchildren who are taking no part in the dispute.
– The Government wish to repeat the occurrences in South Africa.
– Australiais put to much expense because of the many men who returned from the war with their lungs affected by poisonous bombs. This arm of defence may be necessary as a protection against invasion, but would any one attempt to justify the dropping of bombs from aeroplanes on to our own people because a State Governor had declared that a state of domestic violence existed ? In the past all such disturbances have been quelled, with little trouble, by the police, though, on occasions, the military has, unfortunately, and, in my opinion, unnecessarily, been called out to assist. This clause confers powers, the results of the exercise of which we have recently seen in South Africa. What attitude has been adopted by other countries in regard to aircraft as an arm of defence? The position it should occupy is still in doubt, and it is felt by leading nations and leading men that it should be called into play only when absolutely necessary. The expert Sub-Committee of the Washington Conference on the limitation of armaments recommended-
That the use of aircraft in war should he governed by the rules of warfare as adapted to aircraftby a further Conference which should be held at a later date.
The Australian delegate (Senator Pearce) reported that, in regard to his recommendation, the Conference - decided to refer this matter to a Commission which should investigate the question of rules governing new agencies of warfare. This matter is dealt with later. (See page 14 of this report. )
On page 14 of the report, we are told -
The American delegation brought up a draft resolution providing for the appointment of a Special Commission of jurists to consider the rules of war - the Commission to bo representative of the five great Powers and five other Powers (three of whom should have been belligerents in the late war). After consideration, it was decided that the Commission should consist of the five great Powers only, not more than two representatives to be appointed by each Power. It was also decided, at Mr. Balfour’s instance, that the scope of the investigation should be limited to the means of the control of new agencies of warfare and the methods resulting from those agencies.
It will be seen that the Great Powers have not yet reached a conclusion regarding serial defence, and it is proposed to have another Conference, possibly in twelve months’ time, to further consider the matter. But the Conference did not suggest the use of aerial armaments to quell domestic violence.
– At the same time, all the nations are urgently building aircraft.
– Of course; I have all along said that aircraft will form an important arm of defence against an enemy in the future, but we cannot contemplate its use in our own country against our own people. I cannot see that the interjection of the honorable member affects the question whether we should or not retain clause 45. How- ever, if, as seems clear, the Great Powers cannot themselves decide as to the future use of aircraft, surely this Parliament will not pass a Bill which will permit it to be used against the citizens of Australia. It is unfortunate that aircraft has to be used at all, but it has become imperative, in view of the great changes brought about by the war, when both aircraft and submarines came into prominence. We can all remember how disgusted the civilised! peoples of the world were at such inhuman methods of warfare, methods so contrary to what had always been regarded as the usages of civilization. I cannot support a Bill which contains such a clause. It is idle to suggest that, if passed into law, it will not apply in the case of strike disturbances. It is not a strike itself, but some occurrence after a strike’ has commenced, that usually causes the domestic violence contemplated by the clause.
– Would such a clause have applied in the case of the Fremantle wharf trouble?
– Yes, and I urge honorable members to be careful before they confer such powers on the Government. If the news published this morning be true, the coal trouble has been settled. From the commencement I prophesied that there would be no serious results from the dispute ; but what would have happened if high feeling had been caused, and the State Government had felt called upon to declare that a state of domestic violence existed ? Would the Commonwealth Government then have sent aeroplanes to drop bombs on our own people?
– What is the intention of the clause?
– Yes, why is this clause in the Biff at all ?
– Suppose there was trouble at Thursday Island or New Guinea ?
– In such a case, the Government need not trouble to send aircraft, because a military force could be despatched at once.
– Itwould fake too long to- get a military force there.
– I hope the Minister does not justify the clause on that ground - that he does not suggest sending aeroplanes’ to drop bombs on people who might have no- part in any disturbance that had arisen. Honorable members on this side require, much stronger reasons than that to justify a clause which gives’ power’ for aircraft to operate in any part of Australia against our own people. We on this side cannot cast a vote which would enable the Government to proclaim a state of domestic violence,, and use the air service’ for the purpose of dropping bombs and poisonous gas on our own people..
We have always been able, with a little trouble, to quell any disturbances within our territories.Usually the. police have provedquite sufficient, though there have been times when the military has been called out.
– Not since federation.
– Quite so.
– The Government has always had the power, but has never used it.
– What objection is there to aircraft that does not apply to artillery or the other arms of the military ?
– I, have already said that I am not in favour of any of these- forces being used in the case of domestic violence.
– What should be done in the case of revolution?
– Nobody knows better than the honorable member that there is’ no fear of revolution in Australia, so long as the people can freely exercise the franchise, and thus work’ out their own destiny. I have pointed out the objection that I and those associated with’ me have to this’ measure, which is really one for the committee stage, when doubtless’ many amendments will be’ proposed. I venture to say that if an appeal were- made to the people to-morrow on clause 45, there would be a 90 per cent, vote against its adoption.. The defence question should not be the sub ject of pairty conflict. Of . courses, we all. have our own. views-,, but we should endeavour’ to pass legislation’ acceptable to the people as- a whole. It must not be thought that, because the Labour pairty oppose this Bill as it is drafted,, we are against adequate preparation for the defence of Australia. We must be in. a position to defend ourselves,, and this can’ be attained without such, powers as are given by clause 45. The Minister would be well advised if he eliminated, the clause. We ‘of- the Labour party do not believe that there should be any compulsory element in our. defence scheme,, but that all that is necessary earn be done in a voluntary way. What we regard as the objectionable features of the Bill are the provision for the use of the aerial service in the case of. domestic trouble, and the power of court martial. There are other minor points y but if the Government will co-operate with the . Labour party in framing defence- legislation on the voluntary principle, they will, encounter very little opposition. In the present state of the world, we cannot escape the duty of organizing, for the defence of this country; and aircraft will probably prove our cheapest and most efficient arm. Such aircraft is able: to go- a great distance out to sea,and,, if what I have read is true, a’ bomb dropped on a warship, or in; its. immediate neighbourhood, may do it material damage, if not put it out of action.
– A warship must be hit in a vital spot.
– Possibly, in order to put it out of action, but material damage can be done otherwise. No doubt aircraft and submarines, rather than capital ships, will prove the potent factor in the defence of Australia. A big capital ship costs £5,000,000 Or £6,000,000, and quite a fleet of aircraft could be provided for much less than either amount. If aircraft were stationed at different places on the coast there is no doubt that they could render good service. I do not wish it to be said that, because the’ Opposition are opposed to the measure now under’ consideration, they- are against the use of aircraft for defence pill-poses. We are not opposed to provision for’ the adequate defence of Australia, but we contend thali provisions which in our view are not- in the best interests of the defence” of this: country, and would not promote its’ efficiency, should be eliminated from; any measure of the kind now submitted to this House.
– I agree with a good deal that the. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has said as to the part which air forces will play in any future war. We- all hope that there will never be any war in Australia, but should we be attacked by a foreign power an air force will undoubtedly play a very great part in our. defence. It is: therefore- essential that we should have an air force, and we cannot haw an’ efficient f oree- of the’ kind without the esrpendfiiture of a considerable amount, of money. I do not know that I would have spoken on. this Bill were it not for the great stress which the Leader of the Opposition laid upon clause 45 of the measure under which the air force might be used in. the event of domestic violence. I think it was quite unnecessary for the honorable member, in his objection to the clause, to- talk of the use of aircraft to drop bombs and poisoa gas upon, peaceful citizens, including women and children. The honorable member,, in speaking in that way, was endeavouring only to play upon- the feelings of persons who might not give very serious thought to the matter. He says that we are a sensible and democratic people, and does he think for a momeiii that any Government in Australia would send out aircraft to drop bombs and’ poison gas upon the peaceful citizens of this country?
– If they would, not, why put such a provision into the Bill?
– If the provision were not included in’ the Billaircraft could not be1 used by the vernment for the suppression of domestfe violence. A riot might occur in a town without railway communication, and what would! be more useful than to be able to send, say, a sergeant of police and a- couple of troopers by a-n aeroplane to quell the riot. An air force must form a part of the defence force of Australia, and there is no reason why, in the event of serious domestic disturbance the Government should not be in a position to1 take advantage’ of that force.
– In any little’ town in Australia a policeman and a dog could keep the people quiet.
– That may be so at the present time, but there might come a time when a policeman) and a dog could not keep the people in order. I do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition sympathizes’ with such people or not, but he has only to go info- the Sydney Domain on Sunday afternoon and listen to speeches delivered there to know what some of them would do if they had the power. I would not be one to advocate that the peaceful citizens of Australia should have bombs and poison ga’s: dropped upon them. The- Leader of the Opposition knows that well, and he knows that no member of a CommonwealthGovernment would ever dream, of sending an air force to drop bombs’ and poison gas upon peaceful people.
– How would the honorable gentleman avoid that if he dropped, bombs on the Sydney Domain?
– I did nof say that I would’ drop bombs on the Sydney Domain. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) might be there. I would be very sorry to drop a gas bomb on him. It would be bad- for the bomb. If serious domestic disturbance should arise’ the Government would be entitled to use any arm of the Defence- Force to quell it. They should be able- to Use’ the Air Force just- as they might use ma’chine* gunsy artillery, or any oliher’ means of defence. It is! useless for honorable members opposite- to suggest that I am raising’ the bogy of revolution. In my heartI do, not . believe that there will ever be a revolution in Australia. There are too many sensible people in- this- country, who’ will always be able to- keep down any unruly element. There cannot be the least doubt that we have’ an unruly element in our midst, who wouid strive for a revolution in Australia- to-morrow if they thought they bad the slightest chance of success. The speeches made in the Sydney Domain amd in other places in Australia give sufficient evidence of that. The Government should have- the right to use every wean? a<fc their disposal *to keep the’ peace in Australia, as well’ as to defend this country.
We always hope that the police will be a sufficient force to quell any disturbance that may take place in this country, but if they should fail, and a mob should get out of hand, will the Leader of the Opposition tell me that the Government would not be justified in using any arm of the Defence Force to quell such a serious disturbance? The honorable gentleman said that we should not use the Air Force to drop bombs on our own people, but would he use artillery against them ? Honorable members opposite say “ No.” They would permit the mob to rule.
– The honorable gentleman is aware that it is possible to train a gun directly on an object, but that is not possible in the dropping of bombs from aircraft.’
– Air forces have become very efficient in the accurate dropping of bombs. I do not recognise any distinction between the use of the Air Force and the use of any other arm of the Defence Force in the quelling of serious disturbance. The Commonwealth Government must be given credit for common sense and for some little humanity. I suggest that the members of the Government do not differ from other people in Australia in their ideals of humanity, and I repeat that the suggestion that they would use an air force to drop bombs upon peaceful citizens is absolutely ridiculous.
The Leader of the Opposition had a good deal to say about courts martial. During the war I had the honour of being appointed a convener of eourts martial, and was also given a warrant as a confirming officer of the verdicts of courts martial. I know something about them, and in my opinion there is no fairer trial in the whole wide world than a trial by court’ martial. Honorable members opposite laugh, because they do not know very much about the matter. It might be useful to summarize now the procedure of a court martial. If a soldier is alleged to be guilty of some offence he is placed under either close or open arrest. If he is under open arrest he goes about his duties in camp, only some restriction is placed upon his movements and he cannot absent himself from the camp without special leave. If the man is placed under close arrest he is given into the custody of a sergeant, who takes him to the guard tent, where he is placed in charge of the officer of the guard. Within twenty-four hours a charge must be lodged with the guard against him. Within forty-eight hours he must be brought before the commanding officer in the orderly room and his case dealt with. He can demand to be tried by court martial if he pleases, or the commanding officer may order him to be so tried. Before it is decided to convene a court martial, a summary of the evidence in the case is taken. The accused man has the right to summon witnesses, and to put his case. A summary of the evidence is sent by his commanding officer to the higher officer having the right to . convene a’ court martial. The commanding officer will ask that a court martial be convened, and will enclose with his request a copy of the summary of evidence, which the senior officer will peruse.
– Is the summary of the evidence given to the accused ?
– Yes ; he is given a copy of the summary of the evidence.
– Is he tried by any privates at the court martial ?
– No, he is tried by a court martial consisting of officers.
– Is the summary of evidence given to him in the field?
– The adjutant of the regiment is supposed to give the accused man a summary of the evidence in his case immediately it is completed. If the convening officer believes that the summary of the evidence makes out a sufficient case for a court martial he can order a court martial. .
– Does the honorable gentleman know of any case in which the convening officer did not order a court martial ?
– There were hundreds of such cases. In a great many cases I have, myself, refused to order a court martial because I did not think that the summary of the evidence submitted to me was sufficient to warrant it.
– I can mention a case 6f the kind. I was, myself, under arrest on one occasion, and a court martial was refused by the honorable gentleman who is now addressing the House.
– The accused may appeal to a higher authority, even before the court martial is convened, but if the senior, officer decides that a court martial is necessary, he convenes it and the date and time of sitting are set down. The accused is entitled to employ counsel; he may obtain the services of a barrister.
– What chance had a man of getting a barrister in France or Egypt?
– There were many opportunities in Egypt, for we had quite a number of barristers in the ranks.
– Very few.
– There were many. If,, however, the accused cannot find some one to defend him, the Court . orders a man, versed in court martial procedure, to act as the prisoner’s friend and defend him.
– But did the Court ever do that?
– Yes. In addition there are Deputy Judge Advocates in all parts of the field with a Judge Advocate-General at Head -quarters. Before a court martial is decided upon the papers are placed before a Deputy Judge Advocate, who sees that everything is in order and is satisfied that a court martial is justified. There is still another safeguard. After a court martial is convened and the ‘ members of it are assembled, the order convening the court is read and the prosecutor and accused take their places. Another privilege given to the accused is that he may object to the composition of the court. If he thinks that he will not receive justice from a particular officer of the Court, ho may object tohim. Invariably the officer mentioned is then removed and another appointed in his place.
– And very often he will prove worse than the officer removed.
– The honorable member apparently would not be satisfied with any procedure.
– Not in regard to courts martial.
– All reasonable men will agree that the procedure is quite fair. The first question put to an accused is “ Are you satisfied to be tried by this court? Do you object to any member of it?”
– No. The first thing he has to do is to salute and take his hat off.
– The honorable member for Ballarat is simply talking nonsense. It isa waste of time trying to satisfy a man who does not believe in any man taking off his hat, or saluting.
– His hat is usually knocked off as soon as the accused man enters the Court.
– The honorable member for Adelaide is quite wrong.
– I am not. I shall bo able to show you that a court martial is not the pretty picture you paint it.
– Order ! I remind the honorable member for Adelaide, and also the honorable member for Ballarat, that it is impossible to conduct the debate in an orderly manner if they persist with interjections. I ask them to refrain. They will have their own opportunity ofspeaking later.
– To insure absolute justice for an accused, the Court is invariably constituted of officers from other units. Sometimes, of course, it is not always possible to get officers who are unknown to the accused, but, generally speaking, the officers composing the court have no knowledge whatever of the man who is to be tried. Another privilege extended to an accused person is that if he pleads guilty, the president of the court, having seen the summary of the evidence to be given, may advise him to withdraw the plea and plead not guilty.
– That is done sometimes in serious criminal cases also.
– I was not aware of that. It is a valued privilege. The accused is allowed very great latitude in the conduct of his defence, and there is an obligation on the prosecution to prove absolutely the charge, the rules of evidence being very much the same as the rules of evidence in a civil Court. The Judge-Advocate sums up, but before pronouncing the finding of the court he invites the different officers of the court to express their opinion, beginning with the junior subaltern, in order that he may not be swayed by the opinions of the senior officers. This, I think, is distinctly fair to the . accused. It is am additional precaution to insure justice for aim. But there are further safeguards. The find- ingofa court martial is reviewed, in isame instances, six or -seven times. If it is a regimental icourt martial - I ibh’ink this court has now b.uen abolished - –the (finding is reviewed iby the Deputy JudgeAdvocate, who looks over it and nearly albraays sends it back to the court for revision. It must fee correct in . every detail. Then it is sent on to the Brigade (Commander for . examination, then to the ©dvdsional : C«wnrmander, who reviews it again, then to the Army . Corps (Commander, whose officers are expert in icount martial procedure. They go through itihe -whole of <the papers ito see ithat fjher.e lis no possibility : of -an injustice -being infldetedl on the iaccusedj-aud fin-ailiy it goes ito the War OfficeforreviewbytheJudge-Advocate vGteneral. Esrer-y possible -safeguard for the . accused soldier is provided. The court martial, in thefirst instance, is instructed in , -a’ll cases to give tihe benefit of any doubt . to . the accused. On the whole, I ishould say -that . there is nofairer form of trial in -the . worldthan that ‘by court irjairtial.
Mr.Coleman. - Yes . there is - trial by jjnjjry.
SirGranvilleRyrie.- Well, I speak with (Considerable experience in this matter. I -admit that but for the precautions I’ ha-ve -mentioived, a -.man andghit receive, iand he . obligedto -undergo, -severe piiinishoiEer.it. On several occasions I reviewedthe findings of courts martial and reduced isei-rtences which, in my opinion, were too severe. In the case of one . mana, who had been sentenced to five years’ penal servitude, I -knocked it out . altogether.
-Weknow that you had the reputation ofbeing pretty fair, but do you know . of any . other . CommandingOfficer who remitted ; a sentence of fiveyears’ panal servitude;?
– I know that many sentences were remitted. Another safeguard which I should mention is thai in the case . of coniurts martial in the field the Officer Coaaainanding may excruise his right ; of suspendimg the sentence. Under this . authority bundreds of sentences on meninthevarious theatresof war were suspended,and they were al lowed to . carry ion their (duties. If they madegood, . thesentences were neyer enforced.
– The fact that you remitted a -sentenee of five years is in itself evidence that the sentence -was absurd.
SirGRANVILLE RYRIE-I admit that during the warsomesentences . of courts martial swere . absurd. But, as I have shown, they were all subject to review by the convening officer, and isuibsequently by higher authorities. If any of these higher tribunals missed . a point in favour . of the . accused the JudgeAdvocateGeneral and his expert advisers would almost ; sur.ejy see it -and revise the sentence. Iadmit that unfair . sentences maybe ‘imposed in -.the first instance.court the case to . which I ha-ve referred, the president of the field icourt martial ‘had not hadmuch experience, and was without : fche sad-vice of a Deputy Judge-Advocate, because none was available at the time. There are . certain -rules . relating to the penalties to Ibe inflicted ‘by eoui’ts martial, and these the president . of this court martial followed literally. It was a case of breaSking and entering, for which the penalty set down, was five years’ pena’l servitude, and his inexperience led him to assume -that hehadnoalternative but to inflict this penalty. However, the moment the proceedings came before me for review, I saw -that rue sentence- was absolutely ridiculous, and I quashed the conviction. If I had not, some one . else would have done so. I admit that wrong sentences were’ imposed . through the inexperience of presidents of courts martial, ‘but they had not fhe remotest chance of standing, owing to the various channels through which t’hey had to filter, until finally they reached the Judge- Advocate-General.
-Unfair sentences -are not confined to . courts martial.
SirGRANVILLE RYRIE.- Possibly, brut a maaa -convicted ina civilCourt . does not- have the . opportuindty -to hasre has sen- tence reviewed that is afforded ito a -man who is sentenced by a court anartial. It is true that in the . one icase the convicted man -has the right to appeal, but at is not incumbent on -one who is sentenced1 by a icourt martial to make an appeal. The isemtence of every court -martial -must filter through the same procedure I have detailed, and art- every stage is reviewed by experts.
– The man who appeals front the verdict’ given in. a- civil Court is allowed to state his’ case when he appeal whereas in the review of the sentence’ of a court martial the soldier is never there to state his case.
– Nevertheless) there is no fairer trial in the world than that of a court martial. There i3 no- need for the Leader of the Opposition to take exception to trials by court ni artist.
– Before a man who has been sentenced to be shot for mutiny can be executed, has’ his Gase to go through all the procedure to which the honorable member has made reference?
– No man can1 be shot until the judgment of the court martial has’ filtered through aill this procedittre, and has received’ the assent of His Majesty the- King.-
– Then the assent of the King must have been obtained very often’ for the crucifixion of some of the British troop.
-. - The honorable member for Ballarat will not give’ the officers credit- for trying to act fairly towards the men, yet I can assure Mm that the great majority of those with whom I came into contact during the war were not men who sought to grind down the troops under their command in the manner which the honorable member would have rs believe was adopted. There worethousands’ of officers wb©> were hailfellowwelJmet with men of all descriptions in the ranks. I do not think that I was an exception, but I can say without, feat of contra’dHction, that- not onie man in the ten thousand I had under my commandwonld1 assert- that I did mot give him a fair deal. I am very proud to say that I frequently receive letters from troopers, batmen, and others who served uwclier me. although’ it is now almost five years since* I last saw any of then. There were hundred’s and hundceds of officers whoi, like- me, wished well for those under them and who were looked upon as “ jolly good fellows-“ by aill in the ranks. It is wrong to say that officers were always intent on grinding down the men under them. If some hon orable’ -members had their way *the position of the officer would be no different from that of the trooper; that is to say, all would be on the same level. A system such as1 that would not work; it would1 create chaos. One might as well put the general manager of the Bank of New South Wales on the same footing as a junior clerk. It is1 ridiculous to think that an army could be run on such lines. Officers must rank over the men; there must be some one in authority. That is necessary in the commercial world.
– And also in politics.
– That is so. Ministers fire in authority in this Chamber. Even a team of bullocks must have leaders; There were hundreds of men in the ranks of the Light Horse who, on my recommendation, were- given- commissions in Imperial battalions. On. Gallipoli, the British took, the best men out of our ranks, because they could not- secure from among the “ Tommies “ a sufficient number of men qualified to become officers. Would honorable members say that immediately those practical men, who. were in the ranks of the Light Horse’, becaime officers their dispositions ehanged; that while they were privates they were ‘ ‘ splendid fellows, magnificent- men;” but as soort as they became officers they were “ damned scoundrels “ ? I can see nothing objectionable in the Bill. It is absolutely essential to have an Air Defence Force in Australia, and therefore I support the second reading of a Bill which will create sxich a Force.
.- As this Bill is a measure which can best he dealt with in Committee I do not propose to say -much upon it at this stage; but the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has pointed out several directions in which we should give it mature consideration. The honorable member for Warringah (Sir GranvilleRyrie) has put up a very fine case for courts martial, and- he has compared courts martial with civil Courts. I can tell honorable members, from -my own experience, that there are no outsiders’ at a court martial to sew what is being done, and that the couast’s’ verdict is not known until it is announcect’on parade, when it is a case of snatching off one’s hat, stepping forward1 two paces and “ getting it.” . I have’ been right through it all. I have been in trouble over an orderly room charge. I was not listened to, although I could have proved my point and was prepared to apologize, which I did after serving my sentence, to the officer to whom I had given offence. But the little snob who charged me did not give me a chance to offer any apology. I had received a note telling me to attend the orderly room, and I hopped in, saying “ Who wants Yates?” All I heard was, “ That is not the way to come into an orderly room ; get out.” I said, “ That is not what I asked for,” but I was again ordered by the serjeant-major to get out, and I got out. I did not know that I had been charged. I know that I had given a little offence on the day previously. However, I went over to a hut opposite, as it was raining. By-and-by I heard the cry “ Yates !” Yates went to the door, and as soon as he walked in he heard, “ Take, off your hat.” I took off my hat, quite unaware of what was about .to happen. I. knew I was “ in for trouble,” for the officer was sitting at the table who was to hear the charge laid against me. He had heard me “ tell off “ the sergeant-major, which was mark No. 1 against me, and I knew I was “gone.” I could tell honorable members of many similar cases. I have come to the conclusion that if a man joins the Military Forces he must lay this down as an invariable rule of conduct: “Never offend even a bombardier. Do all you are told to . do. Although you may not do it willingly do it; because if you do not they will have you in the end. As often as you have to ‘ dip your forelock,’ dip it. It will not hurt the forelock.” I should like to ask Sir Granville Ryrie how many of the rank and file know what he has told the House about court martial procedure. How many of them, know that they can appoint some one to represent them ? How many of them know the King’s Regulations? Some one may tell you what the King’s Regulations are, but when you get before a court martial you find that they are very different. Sir Granville Ryrie has told us that courts martial cannot be as biased or unfair as civil Courts. He has spoken of men from the rank and file becoming officers ; “but has lie not heard it said that in a great many instances “ once you put a stripe on a man he becomes a toad, and when you give him a ‘ pip ‘ he becomes a tyrant”?
– That would apply to the honorable member. Would he become a tyrant?
– Quite possibly. The influence of rank might have changed my disposition; but I ‘hope not. I do not think there is a finer man breathing than Major Retchford, my commanding officer. He would not be unjust or harsh to any man.
– Why pick out your commanding officer?
– I can speak only from my own experience. He was like a great many more of the officers; but there were others who made the Army stink in the nostrils of those who were under them. In other words, the good were more than counterbalanced by the bad. There were some who seemed to think that immediately a man became a “s waddy” he was to be used’ as an officer’s door-mat.
However, to return to the subject of courts martial, I do not wish to utter one word of complaint as to my own treatment or experience. I prefer’ to refer to a case I mentioned last night, that of a man whom I call McPherson, but whose correct name I can give, as well as the locality where he was tried, if it be necessary to trace the case. I was placed on guard duty over a man who was new to me, and was a prisoner. When I asked who he was I was told that he was a jolly good soldier who had been in the ranks from the beginning, but had been struck on the head at Ypres and made “ windy.” When he was ordered to the “pits” he refused to go. He said that he would do anything iri the waggon line, where there were dozens of jobs they could have given him, but he would not go to the “pits” when ordered to do so, as he could not stand shell fire. I was on guard over him, and in the afternoon I was ordered’ to bring the prisoner before a young officer about eighteen or nineteen years of age. Of- course, I stood there at attention, looking at nothing; but I heard what was said. The young officer commenced to look through the evidence, and then said, “ This is too long; we shall cut out this and that.” He did so; he cut slabs out of it. Then he brought in two other officers to give additional evidence. There was no one there with McPherson to give him advice. It was my first experience of a preliminary to a court martial. ‘
– He had no pleader with him?
– No; and the evidence appeared to me ito be “ cooked “ already for the job. McPherson had no one to speak for him. I do not think that his mentality was all that it might have been. He did not understand the procedure. When he realized that he was in a Court he began to tremble.
– Was it not a Court of inquiry, and not a court- martial?
– I shall tell the honorable member what it was. It was a case of “ cooking “ evidence.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I was on guard when this evidence was brought forward.
– Does the honorable member mean a summary of the evidence ?
– I do not know. I am describing what took place at the waggon lines prior to the court martial. I watched it all with an unbiased mind. It was new to me. I had not then tested the powers of a court martial. The lieutenant was in the tent, and I paraded the prisoner before him. The evidence was laid out in typewritten sheets. McPherson was told that it was too lengthy, and he was asked whether he objected to any of it being cut out. He had no objection. Ninety-five per cent, of the diggers would have taken the course . he did. They would know a penalty was hanging over them, and they would want to get out of it as easily as possible. McPherson was charged with having deserted in the face of the enemy. He had been wounded at Ypres, and when he returned to the line he stated that he had not the nerve to face shell fire again, but was willing to do anything behind the lines. He was sent into the lines. He deserted. Afterwards he was arrested, end what I am describing took) place. When he consented to the deletion of some of the evidence it struck me as strange that the officer cut out what he liked, without consulting the prisoner.
– Were the witnesses present?
– I was the only one there besides the lieutenant and the prisoner. The evidence had been prepared previously.
– Did the prisoner have a copy of it?
– Not to my knowledge. That is what court martial means. The ordinary man in the rank and file of the Army comes from the business house, the workshop, or the labouring classes and does not understand what his rights and privileges are and has not the experience necessary to defend himself properly. I was unable to stay till the end of McPherson’s case, as I had to return to the line. When I again returned to the waggon lines I asked what had happened to him. I was told that he was sentenced to sixteen years’ imprisonment. The Military Department have the full records of the case. I have not given the man’s correct name, but I can give it, and also the time and place where the court martial was held. The sentence was not sixteen years in a military detention camp, but it meant sixteen years in gaol. I was sentenced to sixty days’ military detention, which, according to the military interpretation, was not imprisonment. When I was taken from Melbourne I was thrown into a cell and had one of the worst experiences I have ever had in my life.
– It was a dirty, filthy place.
– It was. The next morning I was put into a triangular yard, but to all intents and purposes I was imprisoned. After a time I was permitted to assist the cook and was allowed to smoke and see the newspaper. I am not dealing with my own case, however, but with the case of this man who was sentenced to sixteen years’ imprisonment. While I was in Darlinghurst I met a man who was serving a sentence of seven years. Has crime was entirely unpremeditated, though it had serious consequences. An Indian rushed at him, and he told the man to stand back or he would fire. He pulled out his revolver with the intention to fire over the man’s head, but he shot him. I use these illustrations to show that, while it may be the intention of the law that procedure . shall he as the General has described, the facts are very different from what he would have us believe. I am not drawing on my imagination. I am dealing with actual experiences. Every digger who has had knowledge of courts martial on the . field will tell you that what I have described occurs. Let me give you an illustration of what happens at an ordinary inquiry at military head-quarters on the field. When we pulled . but of the line behind Villers-Bretonneux we were to have had a fortnight’s spell near Abbeville. It lasted two days, and then we were ordered back to Hamel. We had a lad with us for whom I was very sorry. He was doing the job of a soldier, and looking after a Xewis gun that we had to protect the battery. A new sergeant-major was attached to us at this time. The lad was a fine boy, but while we were out of the line for the two days he went into the village and got drunk on vin blanc and vin rouge. In . this condition he opened his mouth a little too much in the street. He was heard by one of the officers. Next morning the poor little chap had to face a court of inquiry. The atmosphere in that court was most severe. Colonel Caddy presided when I was in the room. 1 was new to the business, and I did not want to appear as though I were all mouth and ears, ready to take everything in, and instead of staring straight ahead,I was looking elsewhere. The next think I knew was a command from the sergeant-major; “Eyes front,” and a pull that brought me smartly up to attention.. The lad was charged, under the drag-net clause, with “conduct contrary to military discipline and good order.” They could convict any man under that . clause. Colonel Caddy asked the sergeant-major what he knew of the boy. The sergeant-major, without hesition said, “He is incorrigible. We can do nothing with him.” The poor little chap turned round on him- with surprise, and said, “How can you say that? You . do not know anything about me. You had never seen me before yesterday.” That did not worry the -sergeant-major. ColonelCaddy said, “ It does not matter what the sergeant-major says. I saw you.” The boy was sentenced to twentyeight days under “ No. 2.” Iwent back totheline. I was much surprised the following night to see the young fellow working . at the Lewis gun, though he was supposed to : bedoing twenty-eight days’ detention for which he would receive no pay. I . do not know whether that case was . ever reviewed, but I know the boy was doing his ordinary work while under a sentence . of detention, a condition of which was that he should lose twenty-eight days’ pay. He -was treated in a shameful way, and worse than he would have been in any civil Court. A civil Court would ‘have sentenced him to a fine of 5s., but the military court sentenced him to a fine of twenty-eight times 6s. Honorable -members should understand that I do not argue -against every form of court procedure for the Army, because I realize that some method is necessary. Some men in the ranks must be controlled or they would do harm to their fellows. In an Army it is necessary to maintain discipline. The General suggested that trial by court martial was the ideal method , to deal with recalcitrant troops. It is. not ideal the way it is carried out in the Army. A man of personality who stands up for himself is always likely to be in trouble in the Army. If he . tries to defend himself he gets into worse difficulties. I know, because of what I went through. Men are not informed of the regulations under which they have . rights and privileges. Silence is their sheet anchor.
– A man has to be a crawler.
– I do not say that, but he has to efface his own personality and become a mere cog in a great machine. I could relate many personal experiences in illustration of that statement. For instance, on one . occasion I had been on short leave -to London. The soles of one of the pairs of boots I had were worn, but I never saw them again. Those that were issued to me for France had never fitted me, for because of the alphabetical order of my name I was always last to receive my issue, and the consequence was that all those sized 7 had been issued, and I had to be content with an 8. I had taken to London with me a pair of boots that I had had mended in Maribyrnong Camp. I returned to Camp on the Thursday, and . on the following Monday I was placed in a gun group. It was usual for a man to spend a week in eachgun group, and then to pass into the layers’ class. As a rule . he reached the layers’ class in four weeks, and was then ready for draft. A boot . parade was held on the Wednesday,, and I went into ray hut and brought out the boots with the worn soles. All the boots were put in line. I stood to attention as strictly as any soldier in the line. The colonel came along with about eight others, and tapped my boots with the ubiquitous, cane. “ Why have you not had those boots repaired ?” he asked. I replied that I did not know that they were in such . a bad condition. He tapped the boots again with his cane, . and . said, “That tale will not go down with me.” I replied to him, “ Pardon me, I am not in the habit of telling untruths.” “ Very well,” . said he, “ get them repaired.” He said no more, but Mr. Waddingham came along with the quartermaster-sergeant. Any soldier who has been in Heytesbury Camp knows who Mr. Waddingham was. He instructed the quartermaster-sergeant to take my name. Accordingly the sergeant . said, “ What’s your name.” I replied, a Yates.” “ What’s your number?” I replied, “38614.” Waddingham then said, “ ‘Sir,” and I said “ Sir.” He said, “.Look here, . if you speak like that I will have you on the mat.” T asked, “ What for? I have only replied in the same manner as I was addressed.” He said, ‘’’ For the manner in which you spoke to the . Colonel.” I said, “ Well, I only told the truth. I did not come here to be spoken to in that manner. I came to Bght. He doubted my veracity.” To that he replied, “You are too thin skinned; it is . all for your own good.” So far, so good. Nothing . mors was said at that moment, but when the draft for France was posted on the Friday I was in it. I had spoken out . of my turn, , and had been “ shanghaied.” That is an instance of how the soldier is robbed of his independence and individuality. A man should not have to become a puppet because he has entered the Army. . Saluting should take plaoe only when the man is in the ranks and . under command of his . officers. Instead, he is required , to salute in all places . and at . all -times. We were -told that we owed the salute to the King’s . uniform. Rot:! Some . snobs would look for a . salute two or . thr.ee . hundred yards before . the soldier passed them,. One man in Heytesbury . Camp was “carpeted” for not saluting his officer while wheeling a harrow ! Absurdities of this description should be eliminated from any military service, and I shall seek to have omitted from our defence laws and regulations anything that tends to crush out the independence and spirit of the soldiers. They will do the fighting when it is required of them; there is no . need to worry about that.
In the American army noncommissioned officers up to the rank of sergeant were allowed to fraternise with the privates, but in the Australian Army that was not permitted. Non-commissioned officers were . expected to be intermediaries between the officers a-nd the men in ‘ ‘rubbing in the mud,” if necessary. On . one occasion I was . stationed at Tincourt; . it was when I was . on the job of minding the dumps, of which honorable members have heard a good deal previously. I was sitting outside the canteen waiting for my “ pal,” who had joined the queue of . soldiers waiting their turn to make their purchases. A Yankee sat alongside me and nearby was a Tommy. The ‘Tommy had risen about a dozen times to salute officers, when the Yankee said, “ Look at that guy bobbing up -and down. Why is it that you Aussies don’t salute your officers as . the Tommy does?” I replied, “ I am shrewd enough to be looking the other way when they come.” I did not want to rise from my -.seat and “ dook “ them, but the Tommy dared not ignore thenr; he had to have eyes in the back of his head, and see the officers approaching firom the -rear. The Yankee said to me, “ We do not hawe to do anything ©f that Mnd in our army.” That ijastance is typical of small irritations that I personally . experienced. I . did not . enter the Army with a prejudiced mind, and bent «n discovering faults. I . took the life as I found it; I never asked a favour of anybody, and as far as war can be enjoyed I . enjoyed it. Rough as my experiences were, I do not regret them,. But the Army . should not rob the individual of his spirit and independence. Other honorable members who have been to the Front can testify regarding the tyranny to. which the ordinary digger was subjected. I may relate . another anecdote. I belonged to what was called the “ spit and polish “ battery.
Mi-. SPEAKER. - I suppose the hpnoraible member will realize the necessity for showing a relation between these anecdotes, and the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
– Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am endeavouring to show what may be the result of incorporating in this Bill the provisions of the British Army Act. I am relating my own experiences on active service, not of mere parade ground soldiering, although I did three years of that in the ‘(South Australian Militia, thirty years ago. I agree with the honorable member who said that all officers are not bad, but there are some who are worse. There was a non-commissioned officer in that battery who wa3 known as the “black snake”. A man does not gain a sobriquet of that description unless he deserves it. I personally never fell foul of him; in fact on one occasion I cut his ‘hair. The other fellows said that I should have cut his throat, but I am not of a vicious nature. It was the rule of the “ spit and polish “ battery that we should turn out every morning at 9 o’clock in tunics, bandoliers, and gas masks, and with everything spick and span as if we were in camp at Maribyrnong. As soon as the parade was over we stripped off our tunics and accoutrements in order to do the job allotted to us. One day, my job was to grease the wheels of the battery, and as we had not a jack, I had to borrow, one from the 3rd Division which was bivouacked near by. By noon we had finished our dirty task and returned the jack to the 3rd Division. On returning to our . lines the mules which were tethered at the waggon line had been taken to water, which was about a quarter of a mile away. Two mules remained iu the lines. No. 1 of my battery called out, “Yates, take those two donks down to the water.” I said, “Right ob.” I bad just untethered the mules when the sergeant-major came up and said, “ What are you doing there Yates?” I told him that I bad been instructed by my corporal to take the two mules to water. He said “You are not going to do it like that.” I said, “How should I do it?” He replied, “ Where are your tunic, bandolier, and gas mask?” I said “I forgot all about the bally things.” He angrily replied, “ They are not bloody things.” I said to him “Do not put words like that into my mouth. I did not use that expression.” He said “ All right, get your tunic, bandolier, and gas mask.” I could have been put on the mat for my remark to him. However with my greasy black hands I had to don my tunic and accoutrements. After I had taken the donkeys to water I came back to the lines to find that all the food had been served out and I had come a “gutzer” for my meal. On the whole, I think I was a pretty decent soldier. I knew jolly well that on that job we could not expect the easy conditions of civil life, and I was prepared to put up with a lot of the rough edges. But some men who are temperamentally different revolt against pin-pricks such as that I had received from the sergeantmajor. They would have “ told him off,” and would have been “ put on the mat.” And remember that if the sergeant-major makes a charge against a man, and fails to get a conviction, he waits until he gets ‘him “ on the mat “ again. When the man again appears he is regarded by the officer as incorrigible, for it is not known that the sergeant has taken special steps to catch him. In giving the power of court martial we ought to so safeguard it that no man should be penalized in -the way I have indicated. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) was quite right when he took exception to the incorporation of the British Army Act and regulations in this Bill. The Australian people are too sane bo ever require the application of clause 45, the implication of which has been clearly set before us by the Leader of the Opposition. When it is asked what difference there .is between sending artillery and machine-guns, and sending aeroplanes, to the scene of some “domestic” trouble, it must be remembered that the former can be used with some precision, whereas, in bombing by aeroplanes, hitting the target is largely a matter of chance. The only time when bombing can be carried out with any degree of certainty is when the aeroplanes bank and are comparatively dead. I have known twenty-eight horses to ‘be killed with one bomb; and just fancy what * might be the effect, during some “ domestic “ disturbance, if Maitland or Port Adelaide were bombed. I am prepared to support aerial forces as the best means of protection for Australia. We require coast-line defence; and this we could secure by means of an air force, even if we had not a man in the standing army. The honorable member for . Wakefield (Mr. Foster) has twitted the Labour party with taking the Communists into its fold; but I would not resort to bloody revolution, or hurt any one, in order to bring about the reforms I desire. I say this, although I am considered to be one of the “ reddest” of “ red-raggers “ in my State. I do not wish to see violence and force used to bring about the realization of our ideals, if only for the reason that I desire to be here when the realization comes, and it is generally the leaders who get into trouble first when any revolt takes place. I have experienced that. The Minister would be well advised to withdraw clause 45, which is sinister and vindictive in its intention, and foreign to the spirit of Australia.
– It is copied from the British Army Act.
– No. The duty is cast upon the Commonwealth by the Constitution. All this clause does is to provide the machinery for carrying out that duty, and so puts the whole of our Defence Forces on the same basis.
– I suggest that, in order to meet any industrial or internal trouble, we should be satisfied with the protection we already have, and it is not imperative to place the Air Force on the same footing as the military. I am prepared to support, in the main, the intention of the Bill, because I hold that the protection of Australia must be on an air-fleet basis. But we must delete all provisions that are repugnant to the Australian spirit. The greater the liberty given to the Australian soldier, the greater the confidence placed in him, and the more he is enabled to realize that he is a human being, the better it will be- for Australia.
.- By virtue of his experience in the war, particularly, no doubt in regard to courts martial, the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) has made a very reasonable speech. We have, however, been discussing clause 45 iand the question of courts martial to the exclusion of the question of air defence, although the proper stage to deal with details is in Committee. The Government have taken a proper step in preparing for a citizen as well as for a permanent Air Force. It will be greatly to the benefit of Australia if we can retain in the Forces or in the Reserves the services of those men who acted as pilots and mechanics during the war, so that they may be available in time of need. The Bill, while excellent in the main, scarcely goes as far as it might. Leading generals are agreed that the air presents the first line of our defence. No country in the world can obtain such advantages from the use of aircraft and wireless telegraphy as can Australia, and no country offers such facilities for experiment. The air service supplies the eyes of the military, and Australia must take advantage of the experience which our flying men obtained in Europe. We sincerely hope that in our time, at least, the necessity will not arise to defend our country as other countries have had to be defended. During the war we watched with anxiety for news of the bombing of the Motherland by enemy aeroplanes and Zeppelins, and T agree with the honorable member for Adelaide that there is nothing so dreadful as to be in the vicinity of a dropping bomb. One can judge, to a certain extent, where artillery shells may fall, but in the case of a bomb all is uncertainty, and the results are fearful. If our enemies’ would agree, in the name of humanity, to abolish bombs -
– Is there any humanity in war ? The abolition of war is our only hope.
– I hope that a time may come, and very soon, when wars will be no more, and that hope I base ‘ on the League of Nations, if only the United States will join it. In the meantime, however, there are nations close to Australia which are preparing for war on the water, on the land, and in the air ; and we must be prepared in the event of their daring to attack us. The surest defence is to-be prepared for attack, more particularly from the air. It may be said that Australia is too far distant to be exposed to any such danger, but the time will come, if it has not already arrived’, when aeroplanes and Zeppelins will be able to reach this part of the world and do material damage. I am not altogether in favour of clause 45, but that provision oan be discussed in Committee.
– What is contemplated by this clause ?
– I do riot know, but, no doubt, the Minister -will inform us when the clause itself fs under’ discussion. We had hoped that, as the outcome of the Washington Conference, therewould be a reduction of armaments in all classes, but our hopes have hot been realized. There has been naval reduction to a certain extent, but nations close to Australia are building aeroplanes at a tremendous rate, and if is obvious that -we should be doing likewise. It is necessary to promote aviation in all directions’, not only for the purposes of defence, but also to provide rapid communication with districts remote from our big centres. This development is required if only from a humanitarian point of view, in order to insure that necessary medical attention may be quickly obtained.
Most of the aeroplanes in Australia are not suitable for the work they are called upon fra perform, and, for more reasons than one, we ought to- be manufacturing our own, instead of relying on supplies from overseas. Planes importeel from the Homeland ate not suitable for the climatic conditions of Australia; and,, in view of the fact that we may at some time find ourselves isolated from the rest of the world, it behoves us to make ourselves independent of outside aid. Under such circumstances, it would not matter whether we had ten thousand aeroplanes here, seeing they only last a certain time, and must be replaced. We may stock as many engines as we choose, for they do not deteriorate, but the life of the aeroplane itself is short. AH aeroplane woodwork should be manuf actured in Australia. It has ‘been- said that the Army Act is incorporated in this Bill.
– The Bill does not embody the Army Act.
– And, therefore, I think the discussion to-day has been- somewhat wide of the mark. It has- been suggested that copies of the Army Act are scarce, but I know that it can beobtained in the Parliamentary Library, and that copies of the Act and the King’s Regulations were given to every officer who left Australia for the front.
– Did’ you read them?
– I tried to.
– That would be as far as you got?
– I do not think that any one could commit to memory all the clauses of the King’s Regulations. T found that the more I read! them the less I knew about them. Yet it is stated that the British Army Act is the finest piece Of legislation ever passed by the House of Commons. In my view certain of its” provisions might very well be left out, although the greater number arc necessary for the efficient conduct of an Army. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) has- admitted that some provisions of the kind are- necessary to insure efficiency. I am prepared to say that in many cases men were dealt with much more harshly than they deserved. In some cases men were almost crucified for really trivial offences. One needed to be on active service and in the firing line to know whether he had any- nerves. When I listen to a man who claims to have served at the Front for a number of years,, and never to have been frightened all the time he- was there, I always expect to shake hands with a’ liar. Such a iaiaiir whether he was an. officer or a private, was, in my opinion, never in- the firing line. To say that a soldier who saw active service was never frightened is a travesty of the truth. We all, of course, profess to be heroes, but we got our attacks of nerves at times when we felt it would be far better for our health to be further hack than we were from the firing line. For this reason, I always have very great sympathy for a man who is charged with desertion. I know that at one place in the desert where we were fighting it wasnecessary to put a bridge across a river; and, with one exception, every man in the pontoon used for the erection of the bridge was killed by machine gun fire. The exception went overboard and swamdown the rives,, which was- running at about six knots an hour, for two or threemiles. He then walked six miles across the desert to- rejoin his unit, atid he was arrested for desertion. He was confined for six or eight hoars in a- tent fu the desert, and was then liberated, whilst theofficer who- ‘arrested him- was1 himself courtmartialled for arresting a man Under such eonditiofls. Mistakes have oeerr mafe, awl will continue to be- made; bu’f that is no rancor why courts’ martial should be- entirely condemned. The honorable member for Adelaide spoke of a court martial held in ‘ a dug-out or tent, and presided over by a junior officer.
– -It is quite ridiculous.
– A court martial is not constituted in that way. What the honorable member referred to was, no doubt, a simple court of inquiry. If a man makes a charge against another he must put It in writing, and- when the conrmandittg officer receives the charge he appoints an officer as a court of inquiry to investigate it.
– Does the man who makes the charge appear in person to be cross-examined ?
– I had many charges reported to me as’ a commanding officer, and my practice was to send for the man who was accused, and ask him what fie had to say against the charge. If I considered his explanation Satisfactory, the charge went into the waste-paper basket. If I did not consider it satisfactory I took the official course. The men of the Australian Imperial Force possessed’ common sense, and I never found it necessary) in controlling, my unit, to have one court martial. Perhaps some of the men. should have been court martialled, but I found that if I overlooked minor offences the same man would seldom appear before me a second time. Whilst I say this I admit that it is necessary to have some provisions giving, officers in command the power to take drastic action in certain circumstances. What we need to be careful about is’ to see that the severity of such provisions is not so extreme that- the people of Australia would not approve of them. This is a democratic country, and our Airmy should be conducted, on demoer-atic lines.. The honorable member for Adelaide referred to the offence of failing to- salute. Although, men. in the ranks complained of having, to saluto their officers, let me say that the officers had far more cause than the men. to complain in this connexion. Every ni’tf n io» a unit salutes his offices,, and the officer must salute him in return.I can assure honorable members that- on active service we never compelled men to- salute mote than- once a day. When fighting imthe field salutes went, by the- board-. No one thought of such things when fighting and work had to be done. Rut when members of a Foree are in the streets- of citieslike Sydney and Melbournesome, of this discipline must be observed, and there is no reason why the members of & military force should not pay thiscompliment to eachother. I knew that men have turned away when their officers were passing in ord’er to avoid saluting them-. I confess that I have done- the same thing myself,, because if an officer had to saluteevery man he passed he would never have his hand away froini his head. I can. say that well over’ ninety if not ninety-nine per cent, of the officers of the AustralianImperial Force were men who had beerf in the ranks.. They knew what the ranker had to put up with, and had some feeling for their men..
– Some of them were found to be the worst in their treatment of the men.
– That is possible, but in the majority of cases . officers who rose from the ranks knew and appreciated the difficulties under which their men had to work. TheBill has my hearty support Because, as I have already said, if a Defence Force is necessary for Australia,, an air force must be regarded as our first line of defence. I place such a- force before the Navy. So far as military forces are concerned we might have ligjit horse, but in my view infantry would be of very little use for the defence of Australia’. I- consider that the money spent upon infantry could be more wisely spent in- other directions. As a commanding officer I know the tr-oitble now experienced in getting, young fellows to. attend drill, which wasenlhusiastieally attended before- the- war. Instead of dragging lads out at night toattend drill we should do much- better touse some of the- money so expended in physical culture for- boys and girls ift outpublic schools. We should train tbeh: bodies to make them- physically stronger,, and their minds to keep them clean, and healthy, that they might become good citizens. I should like to see some o’f the money spent on infantry in Australiadevoted to- the air defense odl the eouotry. We might use som’e of our officers, pilots and mechanics- of the air force, to extend to- the central parts of Australia and the Northern; Territory facilities which- the people- therecannot enjoy to-day. I hope the House will pass the Bill. lit Committee we can consider in detail the clauses about which there is a difference of opinion, and may amend them, where amendment is necessary, as honorable members generally desire.
.- It is deplorable that in 1923, with our advanced civilization, this Parliament should be sitting to provide means for killing human beings. We are asked under this Bill to make -provision for the most dreadful means of destruction that was used during the great war. Those who can speak with authority have said that there was nothing in the war so dreadful as the dropping of bomb’s and poison gas by aeroplanes. Aircraft were responsible for the destruction of women and children who had nothing to do with the causes for which the nations were at war. It has, however, been decided that an air force is a necessary part of a Defence Force, and we must therefore consider how such a force may be best utilized. It should be remembered that to provide aircraft for defence or civil aviation is one of the most expensive undertakings that Australia could be asked to face. An air force has been established in the United States of America, and one senator has said that the cost of the air force to America during the war was greater than the cost of the Panama Canal. Another used the phrase that the cost represented a dollar a minute since the birth’ of Christ. In spite of this enormous expenditure America has not yet a sufficient air force for its defence. We have made an attempt to establish an air force, and up to the present have found it very expensive. As a member of the Public Accounts Committee, I assisted at an inquiry into our expenditure on air services, and I have to admit that we have very little to show for the money that has already been expended. A proposal has been made to establish an aerodrome in New South Wales, but the land for the purpose has not yet ‘been purchased from the State Government. Some provision of the kind was to be made at Corio Bay, but I believe the Defence Department has turned that down. At present, as a matter of fact, we really have only one air force station, and that is at Point Cook. It may be interesting to honorable members to know what that has cost. In 1917-18 the expenditure was £320; in 1918-19 it was £1,976; in 1919-20 £1,413; in 1920-21, £139,928; and in 1921-22 the expenditure was £282,384. In 1922-23 the total was £173,637, and a further expenditure . on buildings of £267,546. This does not include expenditure on the maintenance of the staff, which, of course, is considerable. It cannot, be claimed that, at the ‘ present time, our Air Force is efficient,, but I am not blaming the Department, because the. authorities have been labouring under very great disabilities, and we have had no legislative provision to place the Air Force on a satisfactory basis. This Bill, however, contains an objectionable feature in clause 45, to which attention has been directed by the Leader of my party (Mr. Charlton). There is no justification whatever for the insertion of a clause authorizing the use of the Air Force to quell ‘ a civil disturbance. On only one occasion during the past fifty years has there been any serious attempt to use the Military Forces of. the Commonwealth to put down a civil disturbance. That was about eleven years ago in Queensland. The Government of the day made an urgent appeal to the then Prime Minister (Mr. Fisher) to send the Military Forces to Queensland to restore peace; but, fortunately, we had in office a Prime Minister of Mr. Fisher’s calibre. He declined the request, and it was subsequently disclosed, that there had been no occasion for alarm. I fail utterly to understand what actuated the Minister in allowing this objectionable clause to be inserted. If, at any time, there is any serious disturbance in any part of Australia, the police are available. No other force should be used. On one occasion, in the history of the British Parliament, Mr. Speaker Brand refused the offer of the Duke of Cambridge, who was the head of the Household Troops, to quell a disturbance at Parliament House. He declined to allow the soldiers within tho precincts of Parliament, declaring that if there was any just cause for disturbance, the duty of the Government of the day was to remove the cause. That is the position I take up with regard to this suggestion that, on some future occasion, the Air Force of the Commonwealth might be called upon to interfere in a civil disturbance. If the police prove incapable of restoring order, then the causes underlying the trouble must be sought for and removed. No honorable member would dare go before the people on the hustings and tell them that, if returned, he would acquiesce in any policy that would lead to the use of the Military or Air Forces to interfere with their liberties. The Bill deals also with civil aviation, which must play an important part in our future development. At present there are only two established air routes in Australia, namely, from Geraldton to Derby, in Western Australia, and from Charleville to Cloncurry, in Queensland. The subsidy paid the contractors for the maintenance of the Western Australian route is £25,000 a year, with an addition in the form of a guaranteed overdraft at the Commonwealth Bank, of £8,000, which has been secured on the company’s assets. For the Charleville-Cloncurry route the subsidy is £12,000. It is obvious, I think, that if civil aviation is to be developed along sound lines, and take its rightful position in any scheme for the air defence of Australia, it must be placed under the absolute control of the Government. The private companies interested in these air routes are having a hard struggle to get the money to carry on. Those who have: invested their money have lost it, and have no chance of recovering it. If we are to have an Air Defence Force, we must encourage civil aviation, mainly because it will afford employment for our airmen, who must keep- in constant training to be efficient. An airman loses his efficiency if he does not fly at least every few months. At any rate a short absence from training considerably impairs his efficiency. The recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee is that the Government shall take absolute control of civil aviation, and undertake the manufacture of machines and the necessary engines. That this is necessary has just been demonstrated by the fact that an engine sent out by Vickers, for use in a machine on the Charleville-Cloncurry service, has proved quite unsuitable. The great surface heat in the western part cif Queensland has rendered the engine inefficient for its purpose, and it ‘has been found necessary to get a heavier engine out from Great Britain. Engines must be made to suit the variable climatic conditions of Australia. Generally speaking, the raw material for the manufacture of aeroplanes and- engines is available here. Apart from the engine an aeroplane is mostly painted canvas and light timber.
Australia has suitable light timber for the structural work, and it has been demonstrated that many of our timbers are eminently suitable for the manufacture of propellers. Some portion of the steel shafting may create a little difficulty, which should be overcome by the researches of chemists in our universities, or those who are working under the direction of the Institute of Science and Industry. I recommend honorable members to read the report of the Public Accounts Committee. It was a difficult task La secure witnesses who could furnish information of value in connexion with flying machines. Unfortunately, the Committee decided to’ hold its inquiry in camera, and many persons who might have been in a position to give evidence of considerable value were quite unaware of the fact that such an important investigation was being undertaken in the vaults of Parliament House.
When the first Defence Bill was under consideration in this House, honorable members generally were opposed to the system of courts martial, and, although they recognised that these tribunals were unavoidable in time of war, they laid down the condition that, where practicable, civil Courts should be availed of in connexion with our Defence Forces. We had not the slightest idea then that a war lay ahead of us. Of course, we must have courts martial on the field of battle, but we think that proper regulations should be laid down so that, when charges are made, or matters concerning breaches of the regulations require investigation, they should be heard before, or investigated by, a civil Court. There should be no class distinctions, such as now exist, between soldiers and civilians. These distinctions are also preserved in the Navy. Why should our sailors be required to wear such a peculiar uniform? It is not only distinct from the dress worn by civilians, but also quite different from the uniforms of their officers. Whereas in the Military Forces there is similarity between the uniforms worn by the rank and . file and those worn by officers, naval ratings not only wear uniforms quite distinct from those worn by their officers, but they are compelled to wear bell-bottomed trousers, so wide that one could stuff pillows into them. I have never yet learned why sailors’ trousers should be so wide. I have been told that it is because they are easily pulled up to display the leg - as ifa sailor would want to show any . one what his leg looks like. There is absolutely no need for . courts martial in times of peace, and I think the Government would he well advised to remove this objectionable provision from theBill.
Much as I detest the spending of money on providing means for taking human life,Iknow that it is essential that Australia should have some defence system, And to this end must have an efficient air force. There is no knowing what it will cost. England is spending millions upon millions on air defence. America spent £400,000,000 in this direction in the course of three years, and in the end there was nothing to show for that huge expenditure. It had, , as it were,, all gone up in the air.
Should anyaccident occurto a flying machine, fatal , or otherwise, there ought bo be . an inquiry,departmental or otherwise, so that the public may know the cause. Many lives will be lost through accidents before the . efficiency of our air forceis . established.
If aeroplanes are to be used for mail services in Australia, and for the purpose of conveying medical men to far-distant localities where their services may be required, there will need to be some reduction in the cost of travelling. I understand that the charge for . conveying a doctor either way on the Geraldton-Derby route is £28. Not many people in country . districts can afford to pay such a charge.
There is anotherreason why the Government should takecontrol of civil aviation. To make an . air route fairly efficient, it is necessary to have landing places 20 miles apart,and the smallest landing . station . requires to beat least 500 feet long by 200 feet wide. The aerial service will have to be of considerable magnitude to be effective. That means a heavy expenditure. Apart from the cost of providing landing grounds, we must recollect that we are already paying a subsidy . of £25,00.0 to one private aviation company and asubsidy of £12,000 to another for the mail service they give. To introduce these . services all over Australia will be most expensive. If we can organize a perfect . civil . aviation service we shall have a perfect defence service. The American people have spent . large sums of money on aviation, but they have many more people of considerable wealth than we have, and we can hardly compare our conditions with theirs. I understand that they have . a million letters a year passingover one service. For us to do anything like that will mean huge expense. I regret the remarks made by the honorable member for Warringah . (Sir Granville Ryrie). They were quite outof place and uncalled for. I . cannot understand any one attempting to poison the minds of the people against . the air service by suggesting that it mightbe used for quelling domestic trouble, I hope I shall never haveto listen to similar remarks. They belittle the people of Australia.Public men should strive . to uplift the people rather than degrade them. The publication of such remarks as these causes Australia to fall in the estimation of every intelligentcommunity. The provision for using aircraft to quell domestic strife shouldbe eliminated from the Bill.. I cannot understand the Minister for Defence ; (Mr. Bowden) fathering anything of that . character. How could we allow defenceless and innocent women and children to have bombs dropped on them because of unfortunate circumstances in which they find themselves? We must be very careful in dealing with this matter. We should move slowly, and first find out what the cost of an efficient service will be.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Marks) adjourned.
Homeless Unemployed - Kendenup Settlement - League of Nations ‘Conference atGeneva.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That -the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish the House to know that I have been busily . engaged in work to help the unemployed. Good citizens of Melbourne have sent me fairly large sums of money to assist those who are hungry and homeless. Having had thirty-five years . of experience in helping the unemployed, I desired some one to co-operate with me, and the Rev. A. Yeates, of St. John’s Mission, has agreed . to become co-treasurer. I notice that, according to the Patriot newspaper, that great humanitarian, Dr.. Arthur,
M.L.A., of New South Wales, has suggested that one or two of the vessels lying idle and uselessin Sydney Harbor should bo drawn up to one of the quays, that the homeless people of Sydney might take shelter in them. I ask the Prime Minister to think, during the week-end, whether it may be possible to allow a hulk to be tied to the . pier at Fort Melbourne to provide shelter for persons who may be sent thore by the Rev. Mr. Yeates. He will guarantee that they are in need of shelter.
I also wish to deal with Kendenup. Some time ago I asked the Prime Minister to inquire of the English Cabinet whether anything could be done to force the American firm which did not keep its engagement to do so. By its actions it enabled one of the most unmitigated scoundrels alive - I refer to Grant Hervey - to ruin Mr. deGaris and the people in the Kendemip settlement. 1 have had experience of every village settlement established in Victoria. I was president of their associations. With Senator Stephen Barker, I visited every village settlement in ‘Victoria during the rigime of Sir James Patterson and Sir John McIntyre. I adopted an attitude of active opposition to Mildura in the early days, similar . to that being adopted to-day by many people . towards the Kendenup settlement. I said it was not fair to charge £20 and more per aere for land that had been obtained from the Victorian -Government for . £1 per acre. I have lived long enough to see that my criticism was unjust. To-day . one of Victoria’s greatest assets is the . settlement on the banks of the. Murray. I am glad I was able to yote for a railway to be constructed to Mildura.. Previous to the building of the line the nearest port to Mildura was Port Melbourne, 350 miles away, and the nearest railway station was 130 miles off. Yet, to-day, Mildura is one of the inoBt thriving settlements in Victoria. I have no hesitation in saying that there are no more comfortable homes in any part of Victoria than those occupied by the community at Mildura. I have made an examination of the land at Kendenup. Much of it is good, though some is seoond-class country. No one will hold, however, that great success cannot be obtained in fruit-growing on secondclass land. We have knowledge of what can be done elsewhere. There are splendid orchards in Tasmania, on the Tasman and Derwent, and in Vietoria, hotfe in country districts and close to the suburbs ‘ of Melbourne. Mr.William Bell, a friend of mine of forty-seven years’ standing, has an orchard of 470 acres, which is, I think, the largest in Australia. Kendenup is only 40 miles from : a port, and possesses railway communication. The reason why the railway does not go through the . best land at Kendenup is because the Hassell family had sufficient influence to cause it to be taken through tie. poor land.- The honorable member for Swan will agree with me in that, I . think. I have a photograph of an apple tree, that after only eighteen months growth, overtops a man. 6 feet high. I hope the Prime Minister will see his way to bring a little pressure to bear upon Sir James Mitchell, who is a good man and a personal friend of mine. I am sorry to have to say that I think the Government Departments of Western Australia, are opposed to the Kendenup settlement. That is the impression I formed during a stay of two months in Western Australia. Included amongst the 800 settlers are seventy -soldiers who did not apply to the Commonwealth Government for tbfr help -to which they were entitled, but struck out boldly on -their own. If they are given as fair an opportunity as the Victorian Government gave to the settlers at Mildura nothing can prevent the sucoess of the Kendenup settlement. Its potentialities are greater than -those of Mildura, . and lit has a wonderful asset in a regular and assured supply . of water from the clouds. I uadcraiaud that at Mildura water . for irrigation purposes costsas much as £4 10s. per acre. I shall be pleased to make available to any honorable member the last proposal sent to me on the subject by Mr. Henry Moore, a fcrave old Englishman who has had much experience, and has converted his Bmall estate into a veritable botanical gardens.
[4.3]. - The representation the’ honorable member for Melbourne made in regard to making a steamer available for homeless unemployed will reoeive the consideration of the’ Government during the week-end.
When I was in Western Australia recently I had a long conversation with Sir
James Mitchell about the lamentable position that has arisen at Kendenup. Sir James appreciates the necessity for doing something that will prevent a very promising settlement from becoming an irretrievable disaster. In order to temporarily alleviate their difficulties certain work nas been made available to the settlers. That help is in addition to the sustenance paid to the soldier settlers by the Repatriation Department, and the Commonwealth is sharing with the State the expenditure involved.
– Assistance is also being given through the Industries Assistance Board.
– It is impossible for the State Government or any other authority to take action that will merely result in benefiting the debenture holders of the Kendenup settlement. Only one solution is possible, and that is that the trustees for the debenture holders shall realize the position and offer the land at a valuation, ignoring the inflated values that may have been created since the settlement has been in existence. Having regard to the conversations I have had with Sir James Mitchell and the assurance I gave him, if that action is taken I do not think there will be much trouble in putting the Kendenup enterprise on a more satisfactory footing.
– The Victorian Government passed an enabling Bill to allow of help being given to tho Mildura settlers, and similar action might be taken in Western Australia.
– No doubt the honorable member’s suggestion will come under the notice of Sir James Mitchell.
I have received a cablegram from the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr.’ D. Cameron) stating that he is delaying -his departure from England, and has accepted the . invitation of the Government to attend tho annual meeting of the Assembly of the League of Nations at Geneva as an associate delegate from the Commonwealth. It will be pleasing to the House to know that two of its members will be present at that Conference and will be able to. give a first hand account of the proceedings.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House ‘adjourned at . 4.6 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 July 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1923/19230713_reps_9_103/>.