9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) . took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– (By leave). - I have -with deep regret to announce to the House the death of Mr. William Harrison Story, who for nearly twenty years was a member of the Commonwealth Parliament, having served as a senator for the state of South Australia, and subsequently as a member of the House of Representatives for the division of Boothby. I am sure that all honorable members who knew the late Mr. Story must have hoard of his death with very great regret. We all know the services he rendered to this country during his long parliamentary career. Most of us who were in the same Parliament with him have very pleasant recollections of the period when he served as Government Whip. He had a gift of absolute imperturbability on all occasions, and he was known to members of this House as a man who, no matter what might occur, was always ready and able to carry out the duties of an efficient Whip. Wo all have the deepest appreciation of his services as a member of many committees of this House, and in the performance of his duties to his. constituents. I feel sure that it would be the. wish of the House to have conveyed to those he has left behind our deep sympathy with them, and our great esteem for him as a man and as a parliamentarian. I move -
That this House expresses its sincere regret at the death of William Harrison Story, for many years a member of the Common wealth Parliament, and places upon record its appreciation of his meritorious public services, and extends its profound sympathy to his family in their sad bereavement.
– The .angel of death touches us one by one .and passes on. We are hero to-day engaged in public life, and to-morrow ar( -forgotten. I can only endorse the expressions of condolence and sympathy which the Prime Minister’ (Mr. Bruce) proposes sending to the relatives of the late member, and I support the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Mr; MANN presented a petition signed by the president and secretary on behalf; of the Housewives’ Association of Western Australia, the Labour Women’s Organization, and the Women’s Service Guild, representing a membership of about 2,000, praying for the abolition of existing hi’gh Customs duties allegedly responsible ‘for the high cost of living.
Petition received and read.
– As the matter is very urgent, and! means so much to the wheatgrowers of various states, will the Prime Minister inform the House of the intention of the Government with regard to guaranteeing voluntary wheat pools for the current season f
– A conference of representatives of the four wheat-growing states was held yesterday at the request of the state of South Australia. Some two months ago, representatives of the wheat pools proposed for the four wheatgrowing states waited upon me and asked whether the Government would guarantee the pools. I pointed out that, if four separate pools were desired, the question was one which must be dealt with by the governments of the states concerned. The conference held yesterday merely discussed the existing position. As four separate pools are desired, the four state governments concerned are now giving consideration to the matter. The Commonwealth Government has indicated that, if action is taken for the establishment of the pools, it will be prepared to sympathetically consider the giving of assistance in the form of a guarantee.
Assessment of Medical Disabilities
– With reference to a statement recently made in this House, that a royal commission was to be ap- pointed to inquire into the method of assessing medical disabilities by the Repatriation Commission, is the Prime Minister yet in a position to announce the personnel of the commission, and, if not, when does he expect to be able to do so?
– Replies have been received from all the medical men, with the exception of one, who were invited to sit upon the commission. I am hopeful that I shall be able to make an announcement, either to-day or to-morrow, as to the personnel of the commission.
– If he has not already done so, will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of consulting the soldiers’ organizations with a view to giving them medical representation upon the proposed royal commission?
– That has been done.
– Will the Prime Minister make a statement in connexion with Australia’s representation on the InterAllies Conference on Reparations ? ‘ Press references to this matter have been made recently, but I should like an authoritative statement.
– The representation of the dominions upon the Inter-Allies Conference on reparations has been the subjectmatter of communication with the British Government during the past week. Australia suggested that it should be in accordance with the resolution adopted at the Imperial Conference last year on the negotiation and ratification of treaties. Difficulties have arisen in the way of giving full effect to the resolution, for the other countries interested will be represented ‘at the conference by only three delegates each. The British Empire delegation, which was in existence when the Versailles Treaty was agreed to, has been revived, and Australia is represented on it by the High Commissioner. It has been arranged that it shall sit throughout the Reparations Conference, and the delegation will be consulted, and each Dominion Government informed of developments that occur, during the conference. The British Empire will be represented at the conference by three members only, but in order to give effect to the resolution to which I have referred, the panel system will be introduced, and each dominion representative on the British Empire delegation will sit in the main conference in turn. I think that is a satisfactory solution to an extremely difficult problem. Australia and all the over-sea. dominions of the Empire will have direct representation at the conference, and the British Empire delegation will sit throughout the proceedings.
– Will the Prime Minister lay upon the table of the House the judgment in connexion with the case of Mrs. Kauman? I should also like him to inform honorable members when the general report on the inquiry into the expropriated properties will be available)
– I shall look into the matter of tabling the judgment to which the honorable member referred. There should be no objection to doing so. The report on the expropriated properties was tabled three or four weeks ago.
– An application was. made to the Government some time ago from Ballarat for a grant of £10,000 to assist in the formation of a company to treat certain by-products of potatoes. Can the Treasurer inform us whether the Government has reached any decision on the matter ?
– The application was forwarded to the Minister for Trade and Customs with a request that a departmental report should be prepared. The report has not yet been received.
– Swimming i» one of the healthiest national pastimes- indulged in by Australians. That being, so, will the Prime Minister send a cablegram to the Australian swimmers participating in the Olympic games, congratulating them, and particularly “Boy” Charlton, on their successes?
– The Government shares in the general appreciation of the success that has been achieved by Australian competitors in the Olympic sports and particularly that of the swimmer referred to. The athletic achievements of Australians are so great and so. numerous, however, that I am afraid it would be an unfortunate precedent to send a cablegram in this instance.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, lay on the Library table the file of papers dealing with the acceptance of a tender for telegraph poles for delivery at Strathfield, in New South Wales ? This matter has been the subject of some correspondence with the department.
– i have no objection to doing as the honorable member desires.
– Seeing that there has been some controversy in the daily press on the subject of wireless broadcasting since the Prime Minister made his announcement in this chamber last Friday, I wish to know whether the Government will lay the regulations on the table of the House when they are ready, in order to give honorable members an opportunity to discuss the equity or inequity of the proposed arrangement by which one company will receive TO per cent, and another only 30 per cent, of the revenue, and also other matters.
– The Government does not propose to take, in regard to these regulations, a different course from that ordinarily taken.
– As the Empire Exhibition at Wembley will not remain open much longer, will the Government consider the advisability of arranging for the Australian exhibits to be shown in Edinburgh, Dublin, and Belfast, in order that the people of those cities may have evidence of what Australia can produce ?
– The possibility of making further use of the Australian exhibits at Wembley is receiving consideration at the present time.
– In further reference to the coal lifted at Newcastle by the warships that are now cruising among the Pacific Islands, is the Minister for Defence aware that that coal, was Welsh and some deteriorated New Zealand coal ? As further shipments of Welsh coal have been brought to Australia at enormous cost, and are stacked in the open air, will the Minister take steps to have that ridiculous practice discontinued at once?
– I very fully explained to the honorable member on a former occasion that the Welsh coal brought to Newcastle was merely intended to form a reserve for war purposes, and has been used only by vessels of the Royal Navy, to which it was supplied at the request of the Admiralty.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs’ any further information to give the House regarding the negotiations between the Commonwealth and the Government of New South Wales in reference to the federal grant for the purchase of wire netting ?
– I hope to be able to give further information to the. House within a short period.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether he will furnish a summary showing the total amount of tax under the Wartime Profits Tax Assessment Act 1917-1918 which has been refunded or remitted between 1st July, 1923, and 30th June, 1924, to the classes of businesses, number of businesses, amount of tax refunded or remitted as specified in regard to pastoralists, shipping, mining, softgoods, hardware, financial, grocers, jewellers, butchers, bakers, millers, boot trade, engineering, miscellaneous?
– The amount of the credit assessments raised for the period mentioned was £936,949. The amount refunded to taxpayers was £307,506. To enumerate the separate amounts paid to pastoralists, shipping, mining, &c, as requested, would involve considerable cost, which it is considered is not warranted.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he introduce legislation dealing with such conventions and recommendations of the International Labour Conference as call for federal or joint federal and state action!
– The greater number of the conventions and recommendations are already covered by Commonwealth or state legislation. The remainder are receiving careful consideration with a view to such action as is appropriate.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the state of the dried fruits industry, will the Government take such action as may be necessary to secure the preferences offered to Australian dried fruits by the New Zealand and Canadian Governments?
– This subject is at present receiving the earnest consideration of the Government.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has the Government considered, the resolution passed by the annual, conference, of the New Settlers’ League of Australia, recently held at Sydney, when 90- delegates representing the various states of Australia agreed - “That this conference recommends greater assistance in the way of assisted passages, and suggests that the cost of passage be borne, one-third by the Commonwealth Government, one-third by the British Government, and. onethird by the migrant.” ?
– The question of granting additional financial assistance to migrants- will be reviewed on the expiration of the- passage-money agreement between the British and Commonwealth Governments which, terminates on .the 31st March, 1925.
Oath of SECRECY
– On the 19th June the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) asked the following questions of the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories: -
Replies to those inquiries have been received from the Administrator, and the following answers are now supplied to the honorable member’s questions-: -
Territory of New Guinea.
Oath of Secrecy.
I hereby declare that I will be true and faithful in the execution of the duties entrusted to me, and that I will hold strictly secret all communications which may pass through my hands in the performance of my duties. I also further declare that I will not give any information directly or indirectly respecting any matters which may pass through my hands or which I may become acquainted with in the execution of my duty whilst in the service of the Administration, either whilst I am in such service of the Administration, or after the conclusion thereof, except to such persons as may lawfully require such information.
Signature of employee.
Authorized to take affidavits and declarations in the said Territory.
Witness to Signature.
(Names in full surname in block letters.)
( State whether Missionary,
Lay Member, Male or Female)…… (Name of Mission) of………….. (Locality of Mission) at………. do solemnly ‘and sincerely promise and declare that I will be loyal to the Government of the Territory of New Guinea, and will not take part in any political movements, or stir up civil strife in, or in connexion with the said Territory, and that I will abstain from any word or act which might prejudice or detrimentally affect the Administration.
Dated this………… day of……… …..
One thousand nine hundred and twenty-one.
Witness to signature……………………
Note. - To be signed in the presence of a District Officer or Deputy District Officer.
– On the 26th June the honorable member forForrest (Mr. Prowse), on behalf of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath), asked for a return showing the number of hours of overtime worked by assistants in the Mail Branch at Melbourne and postmen in the metropolitan area of Melbourne from 1st January to 30th June, 1924, and the amount paid for such overtime. The figures are as follow: -
Acting Monitors’ Increases
– On the 10th July the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) asked the following questions : -
I am now able to furnish the following reply : -
Acting monitors in New South Wales were not granted increases by the Public Service Arbitrator as from 28th April, 1924. Consideration has, however, been given to the question of the payment of a higher duty allowance, and this will be made at ‘an early date.
Sale of Australianfruit
– On the11th July, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) asked the following questions : -
I now desire to inform the honorable member as follows: -
Reported Discovery of Oil
– With reference to the questions asked on the 26th June by the honorable members for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) and Darling (Mr. Blakeley) relative to the reported discovery of oil in New Guinea, I desire to inform honorable members that advice has now been received from the Administrator of New Guinea that a discovery of oil was officially reported by the Chairman of the Mandated Development Company, and that the average yield was stated to be 20 gallons per day. The oil was obtained near Matapau, on the WakipRiver. This area was visited by theAngloPersian oil geologists, who reported that, while small quantities of oil could probably be obtained by drilling into the fault planes, such operations would probably not repay the outlay and .working costs, and consequently the test well was not recommended.
Ss. “KARU” Treatment of Native CREW
– On the 4th July, 1924, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) drew attention to complaints which had been made regarding the treatment of native labour on the New Guinea Steamship Company’s vessel Karu, now in Sydney. I promised to make inquiries, and now desire to inform the honorable member as follows: -
These complaints have been investigated by the New Guinea Trade Agent, in Sydney, who has reported in regard thereto as follows: - “ All the native members of the s.s. Karu alluded to in your letter of the 5th July were mustered and orally examined by me on the afternoon of 7th July. The “boys” were asked’ by Captain Graham (Harbour-master, Rabaul), on my behalf-
what food they received;
whether the food was sufficient, and met their requirements ;
whether they had sufficient clothing. As a result of the questioning, it was ascer.tained that: -
Tile native crew of sixteen members received the following total issue of food per day,, viz.: - 20 breakfast cups of rice. 1 lb. bread. 2 lb. tinned meat; sugar and and tea sufficient for, say, three cups of tea per man.
That each member, but one, was satisfied with the food - the one dissatisfied member considering that more rice, should be received by him.
Each “boy “ had been supplied with- 1 pair trousers. 1 pair knickers. 1 Crimean shirt. 1 cotton sweater. 3 blankets. _and that each considered he had “sufficient clothing. Mr. Aenfield, Sydney representative of the owners of the JiTo.ru, and the captain of the Karu, were present at the examination. The statements of the “ boys “ were verified by Mr. Arnfield, and reference to the ship’s books showed that 2 bags (56 lb.) of rice were issued from store to the crew every five days. That the “ boys “ are sufficiently clad, or have sufficient clothing to keep them warm, would ap- pear to be proved by the production by one of them of a pair of shorts and one sweater, issued to him in the first instance and never worn. The issue of food more than compares favorably with that prescribed by the . native ordinance, and it apparently meets the requirements of the “ boys.” The accommodation afforded the “ boys “ was inspected by me. Some of the crew slept in the hold of the ship in preference to using a shelter forward. No bunks were provided, the “ boys “ sleeping upon boards; but the shelter-place was decidedly warm. No “ boys “ slept in, a:brokendown shed; and on the whole they appeared to be satisfied with their accommodation.”
The “ boys “ prefer to sleep on boards, or on mats, rather than in bunks. It has been ascertained from the Director of Navigation that the vessel is at present under survey, and will not be allowed to proceed to sea until certain repairs now in hand are completed.
The following papers were presented : - ;
Migration - British Oversea Settlement Delegation to Australia - Report, May, 1924, to the President of the Oversea Settle-, ment Committee from the Delegation’ appointed to inquire into Conditions affecting British Settlers in Australia. (Paper presented to British Parliament.)’
Ordered to be printed.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 92 and 93.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended -Statutory Rules 1924, No. 94.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern . Territory Crown Lands Act .1890 (South Australia) - Proclamation dated 11th June, 1924) resuming por’tion of the Alice Springs Telegraph Reserve, &c, Northern Territory, together with reasons for resumption.
Public Service Act - Appointment of C. C. King, Department of Works and Railways.
Senate’s amendments agreed to. Question - That the Committee’s report be adopted - proposed.
Mr. E. RILEY (South Sydney > [3.42]. - Now that the House has agreed to the Senate’s amendments I hope that there will be no delay in the transfer of the seat of government to Canberra.
– The appointment of this board will mean delay-.
– I feel sure that the Government can rely on the assistance of honorable members on this side-. I congratulate the- Minister on the energy he has displayed in connexion with the establishment of the Federal Capital, and I hope that the last session of this Parliament will be held at Canberra.
– I desire also to congratulate the Minister. Notwithstanding all that, was said by the opponents of Canberra, and the misleading reports which appeared in the Victorian newspapers, he personally visited the Federal Capital Territory, and returned fully convinced that the transfer of the seat of government to Canberra was a wise course to take. The action of the Minister certainly merits the gratitude of all who desire to see .the Federal Capital removed to its- proper home at the earliest possible moment, away from the baneful influence of the Melbourne press. I hope that honorable members now realize that Parliament must be transferred to Canberra at some time, and that they will assist in having the transfer made without delay.
– While the honorable members for South Sydney and Lang were addressing the House, I looked into the amendments covered by. the report of the committee, the adoption of which is the question before the House. I see nothing in those amendments to justify a debate now on the removal of the seat of government to Canberra. I say this without reproof or reproach to either of the honorable members who have addressed the Chair, but I hope that an irregular discussion will not continue.
.- Should I be in order, Mr. Speaker, in expressing my deepest sympathy with the taxpayers of Australia, and with, -posterity generally, because of the success which has attended the efforts of the Minister to establish the Federal Capital at Canberra.
– The honorable member would not be in order in doing so now, except by a mere allusion to the subject.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from .27th June (vide page 1710), on motion by Mr. Bruce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- With the indulgence of the House, and with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I desire to introduce myself in my new role of Acting Leader of the Opposition, in the House of Representatives, a position which I have the honour to occupy in the absence of the leader of our party, Mr. Charlton, who is about to proceed- to Geneva to attend the Assembly of the League of Nations. So far as I am able, I shall endeavour to uphold the dignity which appertains to the position, of spokesman for this party. Doubts of my ability to do this may exist m the minds of some honorable members, because of -language in which I indulged last week. I can only plead that I was then the victim of a bad example; and while I am aware that a bad example is no justification for bad conduct, I point out that it was from a newspaper of this city that I learned that it was alleged that certain honorable gentlemen who sit behind the Government had decided to “ plunder the Treasury,” and it was from a gentleman who is now a member of the Government that I obtained the phrase “ drop the loot.” Those bad examples I shall not follow again. With your help, Mr. Speaker, and the assistance of the latest edition of How to Behave, I shall endeavour to make my conduct in the future conform with the’ decorum expected of me.
I now come to the question under discussion. The bill proposes to appropriate the sum of £2,000,000 for the construction of two cruisers for the defence of Australia. To discover the reasons for this proposal. I turned to the speech made by the Prime Minister when introducing the measure. The right honorable gentleman on that occasion said -
We should never lose sight of the fact that during th p last ten or fifteen years the position has completely changed.
He also stated that the position had changed because the Empire had lost its pre-eminence at sea; because Great Britain was now, “like ourselves, a free democracy “ ; because the rise of a “ free democracy” suffering from “shortsighted vision “ and “ lack of knowledge “ made it doubtful whether, in the future, we could rely upon Britain’s assistance; because we must allow for a period during which the “free democracy” of Great Britain would be “ against the maintenance of even a one-power standard “ ; and because Great Britain, “ hard pressed with the war burden,” and burdened with a free democracy, might concentrate upon the defence of Britain, to the detriment of the out-lying parts of the Empire. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) interjected that “we have had some evidence of that already,” and the Prime Minister replied, “ That is so.” The Prime Minister further went on to show that the’ position had- changed because the Imperial conference had affirmed the responsibility of each portion of the Empire to provide for its own defence; because the League of Nations had come into being and was “ the greatest hope of the world to-day”; because behind the League of Nations there was in all countries a revulsion of feeling against war, and because “ the aspiration of the overwhelming bulk of the peoples of most countries is to be rid of the hideous arbitrament of war.” Finally, the Prime Minister alleged that-
It is the desire of every man and woman in Australia that we should go forward to promote a reduction of armaments in every possible way.
Iii face -of that desire to decrease armaments, the Government proposes to increase them. The Labour party accepts the statement of ‘the Prime Minister that it is; the desire of every man and woman in Australia to decrease armaments, and it proposes to act in accordance .with that desire. Its members, therefore, will not vote for millions of pounds’ to be spent upon additional armaments against that desire. The Prime Minister, when dealing i with the Washington Treaty, said that the conference had achieved a great work, even if it had done nothing more than stop the competition in naval armaments between Great Britain, the United States of America, and - Japan. He claimed, however, that it had not only stopped the competition in naval armaments, but had so restricted the construction of naval bases as to make it almost impossible for those nations to attack each other. . He pointed out that the bases from which each of them would have to operate are so far away from the territory of the others as to make attack “ almost impossible.” While in the first paragraph referring to the conference he said that the conference had done a great work, in the last paragraph he said that all it had done was to prevent the countries bordering on the Pacific from attacking each other. It could not, however, have done a finer thing. The Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce), when speaking in another place, said -
The Washington Conference would enable them to devote their energies to the arts of peace.
And the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), when speaking on the results of the conference, expressed himself in these words -
The Washington Conference has achieved great things. Its decisions guarantee peace in the Pacific as far as any effort of man can guarantee it.
I am now driven to ask why, in face of these facts, we should spend millions of pounds in providing additions to our fleet. The Prime Minister, being unable to discover any facts to justify the proposed expenditure, ‘has imagined certain dangers. He told us that the men who were at the Washington Conference could not pierce the veil of the future, could not look round the corner of the next century, but he assumes that a great super -man may arise and stir the passions of the people and deluge the world with blood. While he admits that the people of to-day are anxious for peace, and that there is a revulsion of feeling against bloodshed, he points out that their aspirations,dreams, and desires may change. Not because of facts that confront us, not because of things as they are, but because the decisions of the Washington Conference may fail in their purpose, because the League of Nations may not function, because the Prime Minister fears that a monster man may arise, and that the people who are now anxious for peace will change their minds, the right honorable gentleman proposes that we should spend a large sum of money in providing additions to our navy. If there is any justification for what he says, we must ask ourselves, where is this enemy t If we have to assume that there is an enemy, we must visualize him. Is there any danger from the great North American republic? I cannot imagine that any one will say that there is. Nor is there any danger from the republics of South America. What danger is there from Europe, where millions of people are suffering the pangs of hunger and poverty, and are destitute and oppressed by debt? The Prime Minister says that the people of Europe are opposed to war, but, whether that is so or not, they have no capacity for carrying on a war at the present moment, except on the basis of barbarism. Even the bondholders of Europe are opposed to a new war, because they fear that their bonds, their “ pound of flesh,” would not be paid were there another war very soon. Neither on the American continent nor in Europe can Australia find an enemy, but the Prime Minister suggests that one might be found in Asia, and Japan has been specially mentioned. I direct attention to the fact that when 400,000 of our fighting men were thousands of miles from our shores, when every scrap of fighting material that could be secured in our territory had been shipped overseas, when Great Britain had her back against the wall, when there was no hope of succour from any part of the world, and when this continent was within the grasp of Japan had she wished to take it, she refrained from taking it.
– She honoured her agreement.
– Up to the hilt; and I say it to her honour. As a nation she has honoured not merely the words, but also the spirit, of every treaty she has signed. Yet we are told that this nation, since no other enemy can be imagined, threatens us in the future. I can say to Japan, on behalf of those for whom I now speak, that there is at least one great party in this country, representing onehalf, if not more, of the population, that is not seeking to foster racial hatreds or to build up any kind of defensive force on that basis. We have no belief that Japan will assail us in the future, for we know that she has not done so in the past. Still, we are told there is a possibility of danger from Japan.
Let us, then, not hide our heads under a bushel, but let us assume the possibility of invasion. The Prime Minister has told us that, in that event, we must contemplate two contingencies. The first is that “ a great expeditionary force may be sent against us.” Having set up that bogy, he immediately knocked it down again by admitting that “ we can set aside this contingency a3 a practical impossibility.” Then he explained why. His second contingency was that a raiding force of a minor character might attack us. He stated the reasons why no sustained attack can be made upon us by proving conclusively that, owing to the location of the naval bases, an attack by a large force would be impossible. To meet the possibility of a raiding expedition, two cruisers are said to be required to protect our trade routes. The routes from Australia to other parts of the world are very numerous, and no one pretends that two cruisers could protect them. Besides, they are traversed by ships of all nations, and an attack upon them would be an assault upon the shipping, not only of this continent, but of every nation of the world.
As there is no plausible argument for the building of the cruisers in the statements with which I have dealt, the case for the Government’s proposal boils down to the contention that they are wanted because, in time of war, we should need munitions from overseas. We have been told that it is essential that we should bring from overseas a great part of our munition requirements, because we cannot economically establish works to supply our requirements in modern munitions. But what is there in war or preparations for war that is economical? May we not naturally assume that the most economical proposition for us would be the establishment of works in Australia for the manufacture of all forms of munitions so that we might be in a position, if we were attacked, to turn out everything necessary to defend the lives and property of the people of this country? Whilst it might be contended that this would not be an economical proposition if the establishment of such works would involve us in an annual loss of £50,000, £100,000, or £200,000, surely the construction of works for the supply of such essential munitions within our own territory would be a far better proposition than the maintenance at the cost of £100,000 or £200,000 a year of two vessels that would be floating up and down our coast year after year, gradually becoming obsolete awaiting and anticipating a war that may not come. Whether the establishment of munition works would be economic or non-economic, by the adoption of. that policy we should at least be carrying on work within our own territory, finding employment for our own people, and building up reserves for our defence that would not be open to attack upon any ocean highway. From the stand-point of defence we should not then be dependent upon supplies that could only come from overseas, and which might in the hour of need, together with the cruisers built to defend their transport, be lost in the depths of the ocean. Our armies might be useless because within our own territory we had not established manufactures to supply their requirements. I say that it is infinitely better from the stand-point of defence that we should expend the millions which the Government proposes to expend on ships on the establishment of factories within our own territory. Instead of spending £100,000 per annum on the maintenance of ships it would be better, even from the defence stand-point, to spend what the proposed cruisers are estimated to cost in the establishment of munition factories in Australia, even though that should involve an annual loss equal to the cost of maintaining the ships.
For1 these reasons we are opposed to the policy of the Government. There would appear to be no common ground upon which the Government and the party on this side can stand. We justify our attitude with the statements made, not only by the Prime Minister, but also by the press of this country. One newspaper in this state said a few months ago that if this country was invaded our soldiers would be murdered for want of economic backing. What an absurdity it would be to provide spectacularly for soldiers and ships without the necessary economic backing to maintain them in the event of war. We do not believe that the conditions of the world will permit of war for many years- to come, or until the nations have recovered from their present financial position. We are quite prepared, to admit and recognize revolutionary conditions in France and Russia and to agree that the time might come when Australia would have to defend its ideals, and for this purpose we should take the necessary steps to secure- to the nation the necessary economic backing. That is the wisest and soundest course which the country can adopt.
In this connexion I propose to put before honorable members certain considerations which have been suggested by Mr. H, W. Gepp and others. Amongst ether things, this gentleman has said -
Science has revolutionarized the ant of warfare. Science has made the problem of Australia’s defence much more possible than was ‘the case in 1914. The effective defence of Australia calls primarily for an aerial and submarine unit, and also for the supply of the necessary equipment for those -services.
He goes on to point out- how necessary it is that during war we should maintain the primary production of the country. Certain fertilizers at present have to be imported from overseas. Russia and other countries found that they were cut off by the process of war from necessary supplies, and the products of those countries annually declined because they were deprived of the fertilizers upon which they ‘depended. Millions of acres in Australia that are now productive, might, if we- were out off by war from .necessary .supplies, not produce anything. The soil would still be there, and the rainfall might not diminish, but because of the lack of artificial fertilizers the crops would fail. We should take steps to secure within Australia the manufacture of the fertilizers we require. If we were ‘cut off from supplies of the phosphate rocks of the Pacific, there are mediumgrade, deposits in Australia which would tide us over in the event of war. But they can be utilized only by a policy of economic preparedness. We have adopted no policy of economic preparedness to ensure that our primary producers shall be
Able to carry on in time of war.
Fuel oil and high-grade -spirit for combustion engines are essential in. war as in .times of peace, and we ought to organize so that we may have in Australia sufficient oil reserves for defence purposes. No -steps are being taken towards building up such reserves. The statement is made that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company has a capacity of 400,000 tons of basic and foundry pig iron, and a capacity of 400,000 tons” of basic steel ingots. From there come acid steel, shell steel, barrel steel, ammonia, ammonium sulphate, Mr. Anstey. benzol, tolnol, phenol, and naphthalena. We have been reminded that there should be reserves of these essentials to guard against a breakdown of the metal plants, and adequate defence of vital economic areas in order to guarantee that they function in the hour of necessity. Newcastle is such a vital area necessary for the defence of Australia. Half a dozen guns in position around Newcastle to defend these things essential to defence would be of infinitely more importance than half a dozen guns on a ship floating up and down the coast. Half a dozen guns behind cheaply constructed earthworks would be more economical, and at the same time more effective for the protection of Australia.
Sulphur and sulphuric acid are absolutely necessary for defence, and thousands of tons of these materials axe at present produced annually from Broken Hill concentrates. There are no national reserves of these things, but there should be. It would be infinitely better to spend the nation’s money in the building up of these reserves in preparation for war than to spend it in the way which the Government proposes.
Cotton is an essential of defence, and consequently the cotton industry should be regarded as a national industry, and should be extended. Nothing is being done in this direction. The chemical industry should be developed for the production of acids, ‘because, without nitric acid none of the ordinary forms of propellants and explosives can be manufactured. Plants for the production of nitric acid should be erected in Australia.
The manufacture within Australia of essential medical supplies including anaesthetics has been well advanced, but provision should be made for reserves. Preparations for defence mean more and more the organizing of the essentials necessary to keep defence going. Forevery man. in the battle line there are tons of metals, chemicals, and foodstuffs needed. The Government are proposing to build up the spectacular side of defence, but what is necessary is that we should build up provision for the requirements of our navy at sea and our armies on land. We on this side say, let us begin at the foundation. With the newspaper statement to which I have referred, honorable members on this side are in agreement. We have the same opinion’ as to what is necessary in the d&development of effective defence. We say to the gentlemen of the press responsible for that statement, “ We are with you, and are prepared to put into practice the principles which you have enunciated.” The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), last year, speaking before the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, said that the development of our industries, trade, and commerce were of more importance to ‘ the defence of Australia than are the armies of Australia. That : development is fundamental. We must1 have the financial, power and economic reserves. It is not necessary only to> have men; we must have the power and capacity to keep them in the field.
The Labour party stands not for what is merely spectacular,, but for what isfundamental,, important, and imperative. All talk about defrence is mere- sham if we are not getting down to the real and essential preparations for defence. The Labour party, stands’ for the development of those industries which, whilst fulfilling definite, useful purposes in times of peace, have a necessary part in defence. It stands for peace-time production methods so planned that the change from peace to war manufacturing can be rapidly effected. Standardization of plants and rolling-stock are essential. The nation should not be found wanting in essentials when it has to- fight for its life. The Labour partystands for the extension of an aerial fleet, a fleet the most economical and numerous, a fleet capable of the most rapid concentration at a given point, that can go across the continent, and is under no necessity to go round it. It stands for aerial stations and aerial supplies in all parts of Australia; for an aerial fleet capable of rendering public service in time of peace as well as in war. It stands for shore defences of vital economic centres, for effective staff work and1 standardization, the tabulation of our economic resources, and , the building up of essential reserves.
On all the grounds I have set out we must oppose the policy of the Government. We believe that, owing to the present conditions of the nations of the world, there is no danger at present threatening us from the American continent or from the European continent. The only ground upon which the- Govern ment can seek to arouse the fears of the timid is the possibility of danger from Japan. The Prime Minister has pointed out that it would be. absolutely impossible for the Japanese to land amy large expeditionary force in> Australia, because of the distance from their base. He has pointed out that the only risk is from a raiding force.
We say that we are determined to carry out the economic and social purposes of the movement to which we belong, and we sh9.ll not be diverted by any fear aroused in the minds of the people that an enemy may come. We say clearly and definitely that, so far as Imperialism is concerned, we will have none of it. So far as the transport of Australians overseas in - the future is concerned, we will have none of it. We will have, none of the policy of Imperialism. We stand for the economic and social ideals of the Labour party, and, should it be necessary to defend the ideals and purposes for which our movement stands, we shall defend them. Wb seek the most effective, soundest, and most permanent means of defence. We seek the. establishment within our own territory of every means by which to sustain the life of the people. We stand for the supply within Australia of our immediate needs. We desire that this country shall be self-contained as. far as. possible in respect of all those things requisite for the life and defence of the people. We stand for the extended production of all these things within our own. borders, and if there is- any essential which we cannot produce, we stand for gathering and building up reserves of it in time of peace to be prepared for war.
Behind all these things there is the fundamental consideration of the enormous debt that presses upon this country, and upon all others. One of the newspapers published in this city not long ago made the statement that taxation presses heavily upon and squeezes the life out of industries in this country. The problem is a world-wide one, and we are faced in Australia with the necessity for considering how we may get rid of our load of debt. Whilst it is true that the Government proposes, as far as possible, to build the cruisers out of excess revenue, we know that in other directions it is augmenting the debt of Australia. Our debts grow more and more, and our interest bill increases year by year. The great industries of the country have to bear the burden of our enormous debt and increasing interest payments. These represent a load upon our industries as great as an indemnity imposed by a foreign country. We must have reduced taxation for the relief of our producers, and we must, at the same time, take the steps I have outlined for the defence of the nation.
At this moment, there is a clear line of demarcation between the policy of the Government and that of the party on this side in outlook, in ideals, and in what is considered necessary for the future, and I therefore move -
That after the word “That” the following words be inserted : - “ as efforts are being made by the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Great Britain to convene another conference to deal with the question of further disarmament, and in view of the early sitting of the League of Nations, it is the opinion of this House that expenditure on naval construction should be deferred for the present.
If the League of Nations is the hope of the world, as the Prime Minister has said, we should anticipate with confidence that it will solve some, of our difficulties in the future, and should certainly not give way to despair and despondency. The fundamental principle of the League is that no nation shall encroach with impunity on the soil of another nation. When that is incorporated in the laws of the nations good must result. How futile, then, will be the expenditure of this vast
Bum of money. We spent millions of pounds in constructing the Australia, and then, in conformity with the decision of the Washington Conference, we sent her to the bottom of the sea. It is quite probable that after the next disarmament conference we shall be asked to do the same thing with these two cruisers. Why, then, should we waste our money in building them? Important international conferences may change the mind of even this Government, and so cause all its expenditure on these cruisers to be useless.
A report in to-day’s press states tha£ the Government is considering noli merely the construction of these vessels overseas, but the purchase of two which Great Britain has on the stocks. It would seem that Great Britain does not want these vessels. They are being built to provide work for the unemployed, and the British Government is prepared to sell them. If it should be necessary to find still more work for the people of Great Britain, that Government will begin building two more; and I dare say if this Government wanted those two it could purchase them also. If Parliament agrees that two cruisers are necessary for our defence, this is the country in which they should be built. The contention of the Labour party is that 11 we shall do better for the defence of our country if we build up our economic resources and provide shipbuilding yards in this country where cruisers may be both built and repaired.”
– Honorable members who listened to the speech just delivered by the Acting Leader of the Opposition will recognize that there is, as he said, a great gulf fixed between his party and supporters of the Government on the vital question of Empire defence. It will also be realized that honorable members opposite will take any step to postpone facing the issue, and make any suggestion to prevent anything from being done. The Acting Leader of the Opposition asked glibly who was likely to be our enemy, and from what quarter might we expect an attack. He might just as well ask a man who insures his bouse who he thinks will set fire to it, and when he expects the .match to be lighted. Expenditure on defence is, after all, the payment of insurance for the safety of our country. The honorable member said that our munitions resources should be built up, and that certain other things should be done, but that nothing whatever should be done to develop a policy of naval defence, because, forsooth, the President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister of Great Britain are calling another conference to try to arrange for further international disarmament. But he reminded us that the present British Government is not staying its hand in building cruisers of -the description which this Government proposes to secure, and it is common knowledge that the Government of the United States of America is speeding up the production of this particular type of vessel. They are both, as a matter of fact, adding this class of vessel to their naval Forces as rapidly as possible.
– But only for replacements.
– Granted that that is true, that is all we are proposing to do now. The Prime Minister stated in his second-reading speech, that these cruisers arp intended to replace the almost obsolete cruisers Sydney and Melbourne, the former of which has an effective life of three or four years, and the latter will become obsolete a year later. The Acting Leader of the Opposition deplored the expenditure of money for defence. Every other honorable member does the same, and even grudges it. I, and honorable members generally, keenly regret that there is still necessity for it; but that necessity does exist. The Washington Conference did a great deal in giving us a breathing space of ten years, in which no more capital ships are to be built. As the Prime Minister stated, it put the nations of the world farther apart in regard to capability to attack each other. Great Britain would have done well had she proceeded with the building of the Singapore base, for that would have balanced the arrangements made at the conference. The conference . recognized that Great Britain intended to increase the defence equipment at Singapore. Agreements were deliberately entered into which provided that the United States of America should get back to Hawaii, and not fortify the Phillipine Islands; that Japan should confine herself to her own territory, and that Great Britain should not continue to fortify Hong-Kong, as she was then doing. Had she proceeded with her Hong-Kong policy, that port would have been a strong centre from which an attack could have been made upon Japan. When Britain agreed to the suggestion as to Hong-Kong, it was known that this involved proceeding with Singapore. That point, however, was over 2,000 miles away; too far for an offensive base, but excellent from the purely defence point of view. The whole balance of the agreement was involved in her carrying out her Singapore naval base project. Seeing that she has decided not to proceed with it, Australia is obliged to do something for her own naval defence. It is true, as we have been told, that the position to-day is very different from that of fifteen years ago. Great Britain was then maintaining the two- power naval standard, and to-day she is barely maintaining the one-power standard. If no agreement had been reached at the Washington Conference she would, in the near future, have become the second,, instead of the first, naval power in the world. Under the terms of the Washington agreement, she is equal in power with the United States of America, and Japan maintains the three-fifths standard. That applies only to battleships, The conference which it is now proposed to call will endeavour to make an agreement covering cruisers. The suggestion that we should stay our hands until after it meets does not appeal to me, for if we do so we shall be weak when we go into the conference. I assure honorable members that the Government does not desire to do anything more than maintain our present position. We have four cruisers now, and when the two new cruisers are effective, they will replace two obsolete vessels. There will be no increase in the number of oUr fighting vessels, but only an increase in their effectiveness and striking power. An honorable member has suggested that Australia should become selfcontained in regard to munitions. I believe and hope that the time will come when we shall be self-contained, but the tremendous expense involved in reaching that ideal, makes it absolutely beyond our present financial resources. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) spoke of tens of thousands of pounds and perhaps hundreds of thousands of pounds being lost annually on Australian factories, but to make Australia self-contained in respect of armaments would involve an expenditure of millions and tens of millions of pounds. For that reason, however desirous we may be of making Australia self-contained, it is altogether impossible to depend entirely upon local resources. The matter of building up reserves has received the serious consideration of the Government and it is endeavouring to carry out that policy as quickly as possible. I fear that owing to a severe cold I shall not be able to continue my remarks.
– I am sure the .House will grant an indulgence to the Minister. The chair will offer no objection to his resuming his seat and continuing his speech at a later stage. I assume that that proposal has the unanimous approval of honorable members-.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
. . - With many features of the speech with which the Prime Minister (Mr. . Bruce) moved’ the second reading of this bill, the House has every reason to be disappointed. The right honorable gentleman told us that gestures of peace must not be gestures of disarmament, and the inference to be drawn from his remarks was that although we might profess to the world to be desirous of disarmament and peace we must keep distrust alive and continue to build up armaments. A lot has been said and written in Australia and other part’s of the world about the Pacific Ocean being the scene of the next great war. The Prime Minister told us that Australia has no reason to- apprehend danger at the present time from the nations bordering on the Pacific, but that we must continue building up armaments, because we may be menaced from those quarters in the future. An- attempt is being made to scare us. In the words of the nursery rhyme- “ the goblins will catch you if you don’t watch out.” I agree with the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) that the League of Nations is not a guarantee against another world war, and the reason is that it is not a League of Nations of the world, but only a league of some nations, and while some of the principal nations, voluntarily or otherwise, remain outside the league it cannot speak for all nations. Indeed I am convinced that so long as the present system of- government continues- in so many countries the League of Nations will be an ineffective means of ensuring the world’s peace. Honorable members opposite and the daily press are very fond of the argument that Australia would have been taken by some other nation years ago if it had not been portion of the British Empire and had not enjoyed the protection of the Royal Navy. But that is mere assumption-. Even the Prime Minister said that it would be impossible for a hostile expeditionary force to land troops in Australia and capture the .country.
– Whilst the British Navy is protecting us.
– That is only assumption ; the history of the world’s wars and the opinions of experts contradict the Prime Minister’s contention. Australia has not been attacked in the past and will not be attacked in the future because the capturing of this country is too big a proposition for any one, or even two., nations to undertake. Something waa said- by interjection regarding the sinking of the Australia. We were told that that vessel, had to be sunk,, because it was obsolete or nearly so. The Washington Treaty also is supposed to have had some bearing upon the fate of the Australia, but it could not have had much, because. the Government sank one old vessel and now proposes to build two new ones. The proposal to defend Australia with two cruisers is mere stupidity. What could two cruisers do against: a- hostile fleet? If Australia’s defence is on the water,, we must build Hoods.. Do honorable members think that- a nation which had aggressive’ intentions towards Australia would be so sporting as to send against us only cruisers because we had only cruisers? No; it would send out its largest engines of war, and our cruisers would be sunk before they could get within range of the enemy vessels. The annual upkeep of these two cruisers will’ amount to about ,£250,000,. and that money might as well be thrown into the ocean, for they will be quite ineffective. We members of the Labour party are prepared as a party, and would be. prepared as a Government,, to make ourselves responsible for the defence, of Australia. We must be careful,, particularly in the present disturbed state of the world,, that in formulating a policy of defence we do not add to- the distrust of nations and cause them to suspect that we are. preparing, for .aggression. Not one of the nations engaged in the last great, war,, however well prepared for the struggle, admitted that it was arming for a war of aggression. Can honorable members tell me of any nation in modern times which, while building up armaments and engines of destruction, did not tell its people that they were intended only for defence, and that because another nation was so strong in armaments counterbalancing strength was essential to safety ? So the race of armaments proceeds. The opinions of experts, fortified .by the lessons which the great war taught us, make it clear that we can be ready to defend Australia against alT-corners. and at the same time give an absolute guarantee to the nations of the -world that we are not making any preparations for aggression. Cruisers that sail the high .seas can go to any part of the world and link up in war with the navies of other nations; but if we confine our preparations to purely defensive measures, we can say to the world that, whilst we are prepared to give a hot reception to any nation that attempts to seize our country, we are not piling up engines of war that can be employed at amy time in an aggressive war. The defence of Australia is in her own waters. Engines of war thai can operate only on the sea-board, or -within a- very limited distance of it, cannot by any stretch of the imagination be regarded as armaments that could be used in aggression. Let us give to the nations of the world .a guarantee that -we shall never initiate hostilities, and in proof of our bona fides build only such engines of warfare _ as can be used for purely local defence. Such a policy would be Australia’s best assurance of safety. The Prime Minister told us that the two cruisers are necessary to ‘defend the Australian trade routes. How could they do that effectively? Australian sea-borne trade is not carried to any extent in Australian vessels. Our produce is carried by- the vessels of all nations, and that is another guarantee of our safety. If any nation, ignoring the lessons of liberty, were so stupid as to attempt to conquer Australia and interfered with the shipping ©t neutral nations engaged in carrying our produce to the world’s markets, it would bring disaster upon itself within 48 hours. I realize that the House is justified in asking me what I know about defence matters. I do not claim to have much knowledge other than what I have gained from the reading of history, but I intend to place before the House the opinions of experts whose authority nobody can reasonably question. I shall now quote some of the prominent naval and military authorities of the world, particularly of the British Empire, ‘to prove my contention that the lesson taught us by the last war is that Australia’s first line of defence is her coastline. In the Times of the 30th October, -after the armistice, Admiral Lord Fisher, writing on the question of defence from the British point of view, said -
It is as clear as daylight that the future of war on the sea absolutely precludes the use of any war vessel except submarines, therefore why keep any of the present lot. We must also scrap all our Admirals and superior officers, who won’t do for the new jobs. Put them in a museum like Greenwich Hospital, keeping’ only submarines and their commanders. All we want is the present naval side of the Air Force, costing a few millions; yet the Army estimates are over £400,000,000 a year, after the most devastating armistice known to the world. Is the whole nation blinded, like the Jews?
Lord Fisher referred also fo naval bombardment covering a land attack; and respecting the “ Gallipoli Gamble,” as Mr. Churchill called it, he stated -
Mir. Churchill and I worked in absolute accord at the Admiralty until it came to the question of the Dardanelles. I was unable to give the Dardanelles proposal any welcome, for there was the Nelsonic dictum that “ any sailor who attacked a fort was a fool.”
No one in this chamber will contend that Lord Fisher, Admiral of the British Fleet for years, is not an authority on the subjects of naval defence and the lessons taught by the late war. Brigadier-General Sir G. G. Aston, of the General Staff of the Royal Marine Artillery, also engaged in the Naval Intelligence Department at the Admiralty, Professor of Fortification at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, member of the Gunnery Manual Committee of the Foreign Intelligence Committee, and Secretary of the Naval Reserve Committee at the Admiralty, pointed out, in a book that he wrote on the Spanish-American war, the weakness of ships’ guns against those of forts. He said -
Ships may have heavy shell, but heavy howitzers which give a steep angle of descent they have not. For absolute accuracy of elevation, the use of clinometers with spiritlevels is required, and these are difficult to apply at sea, because a perfectly steady platform is required for their employment. Where the harbour is sheltered by high ground, observation of the fall of each projectile cannot be obtained from the sea; and, furthermore, the bombarding ships do not, as a rule, wish to come within range of the coastal forts, which have the great advantage over them which we have considered on a former occasion.
That statement supports my contention that when bombarding land defences to cover the landing of troops all the disadvantage is with the war vessel. The same authority, in his work Amphibious Wars, said -
Ships are built to fight each other, and not to fight forts. The ordnance mounted inland is on a steady platform, with all sorts , of appliances, such as autosights giving the exact range automatically and increasing the accuracy of fire. And these appliances cannot be adapted to ships. Besides, other things have to be dreaded by the ship, such as mines and torpedoes, which can be made specially dangerous near a defended harbour. Ships must be built to float, and therefore only a certain portion of their weight can be devoted to protection. While with forts no such economy in weight need be exercised. A fort can be made almost invisible from long range, while a ship at sea is always a- conspicuous target. Finally, ships only carry a certain amount of ammunition, and if this is fired away against forts, there will be none available for use against hostile war vessels, which are their proper objective.
Sir 6.. G. Aston also instanced the small amount of harm done by such bombardments during the Russo-Japanese war, and he clearly demonstrated the inferiority of war vessels as against the forts. Concerning the argument that an invasion may take place on some isolated part of the Australian coast, the same authority said -
We have to remember that fairly smooth water is required for disembarkation, and on some coast-lines heavy surf makes such an operation impossible. Harbours are usually required, and the country inland must be suitable for military movements.
Again, dealing with the difficulties of. invasion from the water - and the whole of the Gallipoli position is summed up in these few words - he said -
It is difficult enough to move a force in the face of heavy fire over ground affording some cover; but to move boats crowded with men long distances over water, which shows the splash of every shrapnel and rifle bullet, is really a heroic task.
John Masefield, in his work, Gallipoli, said -
More than the two great wars in South Africa and Manchuria the present war has shown: - (1) That in modern war defence is easier and less costly in men and munitions, however less decisive, than attack. (2) That the ancient type of permanent fortress, built of steel and concrete and heavy masonry, is much less easy to defend against the fire of heavy modern howitzers and high explosive than temporary field works dug into the earth and protected by earth and sand bags. (3) The fire of modern long-range guns is wasteful and ineffective unless the object fired at can be accurately ranged, and the lire controlled by officers who can watch the bursting of the shells on or near the target. (4) That in restricted waters the fixed or floating mines filled with high explosives is a sure defence against enemy ships.
That statement supports the contention of the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey), that Australia’s first line of defence is the establishment in - this country of munitions factories and the manufacture of instruments of war for use on land. The building of two cruisers, such as is proposed by the Government, is a waste of money. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) said that it would be impossible to defend Australia in the way suggested by the Acting Leader of the Opposition, owing to the prohibitive cost of establishing munitions factories and manufacturing engines of war; and that to make Australia self-contained as far as defence was concerned would cost not a few thousand pounds but, perhaps £10,000,000. It would not cost ‘anything like that amount to make Australia self-contained for defence purposes.’ At any rate, from £4,000,000 to £6,000,000 is now proposed to be expended on two cruisers. That sum would be ample to provide Australia with adequate coastal defence. John Masefield contends that heavy permanent fortresses, of steel, concrete, and heavy masonry are not so easy to defend as are temporary field works, dug in the earth and protected by earth and sand bags. He instances the slaughter that took place at the landing of Gallipoli, showing the effectiveness of the weak land defences as against the Allied fleet, which, I suppose, was the strongest combination of war vessels that the world had ever seen. On the fallacy of landing troops protected by the navy, Masefield said -
At TJ beach, the Munsters lost more than one-third, the Dublins more than three-fifths, of their total strength. The Lancashires, at W beach, lost nearly as heavily as the Dublins At Anzac, one Australian battalion lost 422 out of 900. At X beach, the Royals lost 487 out of 979. All these battalions had lost more than half their officers; indeed, by the 28th of April, the Dublins had only one officer left.
In November, 1919, Admiral Sir Percy Scott thus briefly summarized the reasons why a ship is at a great disadvantage in attacking a fort. He said -
During the war we heard on all sides that Australia could not defend herself, and that it only required one enemy boat to approach our shores for the white flag to be hoisted. We were told that we could not be guided by the events of the past, because of the great strides which science had made in the development of instruments of destruction. I point out, however, that, coincident with that advance, great improvements were also made in the means of defence.
– That is proved by the fact that, after four years’ warfare, the allied forces scarcely entered German territory.
– In the South African war it was demonstrated clearly that a defending force was able to withstand an attack by greatly superior numbers. The result was the same whether the defenders were the British or the Boers. General Baden-Powell said that the ability of a defending force to ward off attack was difficult to decide, considering how greatly it would vary with circumstances; but that experience tended to prove that troops well entrenched could certainly keep off a force eight to ten times their number. He explained why the late Lord Kitchener made so poor a showing at Paardeburg, where 4,200 half-starved Boors in an entrenched position, but without much head cover, and with only six guns, repulsed about 16,000 welldisciplined, fresh British troops, backed by over four batteries of artillery. At Modder River the Boers numbered about 3,000, compared with over 8,000 British troops. At Itala the garrison, numbering a little over 200, repulsed the Boers, who were said to number 2,000.
– Will the honorable member show me what this has to do with the bill?
– I was endeavouring to show that “Australia, with her coastline fortified, would be in a position superior to that of any invading force, and was quoting examples from the South African war to prove my contention.
– The honorable member is aware that the general question of defence is not primarily before the House, but a phase only, namely, defence equip ment. So long as he confines himself to that phase of it, he will be in order.
– The Prime Minister, in introducing this measure, said that these cruisers were necessary for the defence of Australia. I agree with the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) that the building of these cruisers will place Australia in a dangerous position. The proposal of the Government is calculated not to benefit Australia, but to injure her. As yet we do not know how much the cruisers will cost, or where they will be built. Let us suppose that they will cost £3,000,000 each. That represents a total expenditure of £6,000,000 for the two cruisers - an expenditure which would be of no use whatever in the defence of Australia. In two years’ time we should probably find that other means of defence were considered to be more effective, but the country might not then be able to afford them. No attempt should be made to build these cruisers until after the next meeting of the League of Nations. The Government should at least hold its hand for a few months, by which time we shall know definitely whether something can be done towards ensuring the peace of the world by further disarmament. Australia is a young nation, and cannot take the risk of declaring to the world that she is prepared to build vessels of war. The Prime Minister said that, while we might make a gesture towards peace, we should not make a gesture towards disarmament. But other nations will not take us at our own valuation, any more than we will take them at theirs. When we see another’ nation piling up armaments, we immediately become suspicious; and if we build these cruisers other nations will be justified in becoming suspicious of Australia. The effect of the Prime Minister’s statement, that we are in a hopeless position, and of the remarks of the honorable members for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) and Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) is to strike a blow against Australia. At the time when we are asking investors for money to develop Australia, we are publishing abroad the statement that Australia cannot defend herself.
– Does the honorable member contend that we are in a good position ?
– Apart from those “ brass hats “ who- live by war, and their relatives and others in armament firms, all naval and military authorities agree that it is almost invariably disastrous for a nation to attempt to invade the territory of another nation when the only approach is from the water. Particularly is that so where the transports have, to travel thousands of miles. We heard the same thing before the war, when Germany was building up her navy. It proved impossible for Germany to invade England, because she could, not transport the necessary men or munitions. Great. Britain had to face the same difficulties in the South African war.. If there had been any shore fortifications held by the enemy, Great Britain would not have been able to land a man there. Honorable- members cannot point, to. one instance during the Groat War when damage was done by the British or Allied fleets to that part of the. Belgian coast held by the Germans’.. In reply to the: first bombardment, of the. Belgian coast the Germans used only field! artillery, but after they got their 11-in. and. 12-in. gums to work, no- more, was: heard of bombarding that coast.
– Out coast-Tine is somewhat longer.
– I suppose the honorable member thinks that the proposed two cruisers will sail round Australia and prevent troops from, landing in the Northern Territory or the north-west coast of Western- Australia. Two cruisers could not stop an enemy from landing there but if men were landed,, what could they do? They could no nothing but starve.
Mr. Stewart. They would not remain there, but would1 use the place as a forward base from which to- operate.
– Does the Minis,ter seriously tell the House that any enemy would land a force in the northwest of Western Australia and attempt to transport it from there by land for the- purpose of attacking Sydney or Melbourne?
– I did not say “ by land,”
– The Minister implied it. ,
– I implied nothing of the kind.
– It is absurd to say that an army could be transported across Australia with any hope of doing damage afterwards. I am assuming, of course, that we should have some reasonable land defences. To argue that twocruisers, could present an army fromlanding anywhere, in this country is worse than stupidity ; it is madness.
– Two cruisers would be better- than none’;.
– When a nation attempts to- land an army in- any part of Australia, it will1 not send’ two or three cruisers to cany out a naval bombardment, but several Hoods and super-Hoods.
– Would the honorable member support the building of ten cruisers ?
–I cannot say thai I should, in all circumstances, oppose the building of warships, even cruisers, but I claim that warships, are not. Australia’s first line of defence. We ought to put what activity we have, and what money we can spare, into developing what the authorities of the. world’ say is every nation’s first, line of defence.. If neces-sary,. let us have an inquiry into, the matter,, not by a few men whose jobs; depend on a particular decision,, but by authorities, of world-wide repute., Let us. ascertain on which side .the balance of probability lies. Let. us discover what really is the first line of defence. The history of. the, world tells, of many disastrous; naval attacks upon nations; that could be approached only from the sea. We- ought to- be- prepared to, learn- something from the world’s history. No nation to-day has transport facilities sufficient for- sending to Australia an army with the necessary noncombatants, equipment, munitions, and horses. ‘ Mr. Maxwell. - Is the honorable member in favour of preventing a foreign power from getting a footing in Australia ? .
– Undoubtedly. I endorse the policy enunciated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), when he spoke, on. the subject of defence some time ago. ‘ Members of. this party are prepared to take complete responsibility for the. defence of Australia.
Bub we are not prepared to say, until we have some better authority for it than the Prime Minister or other honorable members opposite that cruisers are Australia’s first line of defence. We claim that all authorities are opposed to the views ‘of the -Government on this subject.
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey) asks,, “ Where is our enemy in the Pacific?” Having said that the enemy was not to be found among European nations or in America,” he contended that ‘the Prime Minister had at least suggested that the enemy was Japan. He went on -to say that his party was not trying to build up racial hatred. I hope he did not imply - it looked very like it - that members on this side are trying .to build up racial hatred.
– Many of the members on that side are going that way.
– That ‘ is not so. I am sure that no honorable member on this side wishes to create hatred -between this country or Great Britain -and Japan. I, for one, ‘have a very great respect for the Japanese as a people. I ‘developed that respect because off -their -conduct when escorting -our ‘transports through very dangerous ‘seas. They did their work splendidly. We all recognize how -thoroughly they did it. Their destroyers darted round the .transports, and made ‘certain >that no enemy could come near. They loyally abided by their alliance with Great Britain. But it does not follow that Japan is not a potential enemy of Great Britain -or Australia.. She may become an enemy. Who can say that she will not’? There may at any time be a popular demonstration against us by the .Japanese, such as is being made at the present time against America. The Japanese authorities are having very great difficulty in keeping in check the popular clamour against the United States of America. The danger to us may come not from anything the leaders of Japan may do, but from the Japanese ‘ populace. I do not say that anything will happen in the near future, but we must look, when we talk of defence, years ahead.
– Has the honorable member ever known a case in history in which a populace has made a war ?
– The honorable member for Batman himself has said that the Australian populace went out of its mind over the last war.
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition, and the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), object -to the building of two cruisers. They .say that we should attend to the building of factories, and should promote the business of the country. That would avail us nothing if the sea routes were closed to us. The time may come when those routes, will be closed. Those two members want to know what two cruisers steaming round. Australia can do to keep an enemy away. They know quite well, in their own minds. that members on this side do not for one moment think that two cruisers can protect Australia.. Those two vessels are intended to act- in cooperation with the British fleet. That is the purpose for which they are .to be built. Who will say .that our cruisers during the Great War did not co-operate very effectively with the British fleet’? There is a -relic of the Emden in the Queen’s Hall that bears testimony to what an Australian cruiser did. Was the cooperation o’f that cruiser with the British fleet of no avail? I say that it co-operated, magnificently with the British fleet. Something has been .-said about the sinking of the Australia. Honorable members have asked why we .sank that vessel^ but every one knows that it was done in conformity with the resolutions of the Washington Conference. Our fleet was taken into account in conjunction with ‘the British fleet, and under the Treaty so many battleships of the British fleet had to be sunk. The Australia was selected as one to be sunk. We had nothing to do with the sinking of the vessel, Under the Treaty we had to sink it, and there was no help for it. We are told that it is impossible for the Japanese to make an effective landing in Australia. Let me tell honorable members that it is not a difficult matter to effect a landing upon any shore. An instance in proof of this is the landing at Suvla Bay, on the Gallipoli Peninsula. There was an organized enemy force of from 200,000 to 250,’000 men -established within a stone’s throw of Suvla Bay, and yet bur force landed there. Unfor’tunately, through .a, break-down in staff arrangements, the landing was futile. It should have been a magnificent success. If it had succeeded, the whole course of the war would have been altered. There might have been two or three years less of war than there were, and hundreds of thousands of lives and millions of treasure might have been saved had that landing been successful. I want to make the point that the failure was due to a break-down of the staff, because honorable members opposite sneer and jeer at staff officers. They call them “ brasshats,” and they have no time for the staff at all. I say it was because there was not a trained staff in charge that the landing at Suvla Bay was a failure, instead of the success it should have been. There was no order ; everything was in confusion and disorder; with glasses we were watching the unfortunate men from Walker’s Ridge and the heights there being killed in thousands. They had no water, and they could not advance. They should have reached Hill 69 at sunrise, but were checked, and did not get there for three days. This was because the staff broke down. I make the point in order to say that it is absolutely essential that we should have a trained staff of officers in our nucleus force in Australia. If we are to have a successful force, we must have a trained staff. Honorable members opposite jeer at the “brass-hats”; but you may have the bravest men in the whole world - and I believe that Australian soldiers are the bravest - they may have as much fortitude and initiative and energy as you please, but without a competent staff to guide them they will become a rabble. I do not care how intelligent . troops may be, or what may be their equipment, if they have not a trained staff to direct them they cannot be got into the firing line or cannot be kept there. So it was found at Suvla Bay, but I mention the landing there to show that it is not difficult for a force to effect a landing on any coast. Another point I should like to make by reference to what occurred at Gallipoli was mentioned by the Acting Leader of the Opposition, and it is that concentration against a landing force is able to check it and prevent it from going into the country. Although the Australians landed on Gallipoli, they were checked and were not able to get far into the country. It is imperative that we should have a mobile force that may be quickly concentrated at a particular place, so that if a hostile force ever effects a landing in Australia, it can be held in check. I suppose that every speaker on the other side will follow the lead of the Acting Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Werriwa, and object to the proposed cruisers. They will, no doubt, also object to anything being done in the way of co-operation with the British Navy. Yet I can remember many members of the Opposition taking very great credit for their party as being the party that created the Australian Navy. Why was a navy considered of use in those days and of no use to-day ?
– The Prime Minister gave the reason. He said that circumstances have changed.
– I think the honorable member took the Prime Minister to book for claiming that the revulsion of feeling against war would not last because popular opinion changes. One of the reasons given by a great number of persons why there is not likely to be any more war is that there is a revulsion of feeling against war; but the Prime Minister is quite right when he reminds us that public opinion is a very unstable factor, and changes very rapidly. One thing that does not and will not change is human nature, and so long as human nature is at it is, men will fight and nations will go to war. Another reason given why we need not go on with defensive preparations is the existence of the Versailles Treaty. We are told that, because of that treaty, there cannot be any more war. We should not prematurely judge the result of the Versailles Conference, but I ask honorable members whether the spirit of the nations has changed in any way. I do not think it has. Is there that universal contentment among the peoples of the world which we hoped would result from these treaties? There certainly is not. We, therefore, cannot pin our faith to the Versailles Treaty. Again, we have been reminded of the existence of the League of Nations as “likely to prevent war. I am one who believes that we should give the League of. Nations a fair trial. Great good may result from its establishment, but at present it is not complete, as all the great nations are not members of it. It has not the power we hoped it would have, and we cannot at present depend upon its efforts to prevent war in the near future. We have been told, also, that the Wash?ington Conference will prevent war; but the major effect of that conference was, as the Prime Minister pointed out, to check the mad race for supremacy in armaments between Great Britain and the United States of America. It was a good thing that that was checked. That competition was like what occurs in a game of poker. America would raise the stakes by ten battleships, and Great Britain would “ see “ the ten battleships, and add six more and a fleet of submarines. It was not a good thing that there should be that mad competition between those two great powers in the building up of armaments.
– What is the good of a race in the building of cruisers now?
– There is no race, so far as we are concerned, in the building of cruisers. The treaty resulting from the Washington Conference has affirmed the right of the nations concerned to build a certain number of ships of a certain tonnage. The Washington Conference also checked the competitive spirit of Japan. That was a good thing; but I think Japan came out of the treaty better than the other nations concerned. Although the treaty makes it very difficult for any of her neighbours to take the offensive against her, it does not prevent Japan from taking action either to the east or the south. I think we may reasonably hope for peace in the Pacific for a considerable time; but who can say that a change may not come, and that there may not be serious trouble in the East. The code of eastern nations is not our code, and the position in China is not as satisfactory as we should like it to be. We have to be prepared against any possible attack by a foreign power, and the only defence which can be effective in the near future will be found in cooperation with the British fleet. We must turn our attention to . naval defence. There are two axioms to be remembered. One is that no nation can successfully attack Australia unless she has command, not merely temporarily of the Pacific, but of the seas. No nation could successfully attack Australia unless the
British fleet were employed in other parts of the world, ‘and could not come to our assistance in the Pacific. The other axiom is that it is impossible at present, and will be for some time, for us to defend ourselves without help. Our men are. brave and resourceful, and everything that soldiers should be, but they cannot fight without arms and munitions. We cannot produce these in Australia at present, nor shall we be able to do so for many years to come. We must therefore turn our attention to naval defence. It is a great pity that the Imperial Government decided not to proceed with the construction of the Singapore naval base. That decision has placed us in very grave danger. If trouble arose in the Pacific, it is doubtful whether the British fleet could come to our aid, for we have no facilities for either replenishing its fuel supplies or cleaning its ships. If trouble occurred between Australia and Japan and I were in charge of the Japanese operations, I would immediately seize Singapore and, perhaps, Hong Kong. What would be Australia’s position if that were done by an enemy? It would then be almost impossible for the British navy to help us. There is not. a particularly kindly feeling between Egypt and Great Britain at present, and if the Admiralty attempted to send battleships through the Suez Canal some Egyptians would not think twice about blowing them up. If they did not do it to spite Great Britain they certainly would do it for a bribe - and a bribe would undoubtedly be forthcoming in time of war. To blow up a battleship in the Suez Canal would effectively close it. Any ships which Britain might then send to Australia’s aid would have to come round Africa. We are unable to do anything to alter the mind of the present Imperial Government in regard to the Singapore base. It is, therefore, our bounden duty to take all possible steps to co-operate with the British navy so that some measure of assistance might be available to us if we should need it. I do not know whether I ought to give to honorable members some information I have respecting the relative strength of the Imperial and Japanese navies. Some honorable members tell us that we should not mention Japan in debates of this character, but I think we should not be like the ostrich and stick our head in the «and so that we shall nob see danger. As a matter of fact, Japan knows more than we do about our defence policy, and she also knows what the British Empire, generally, is doing. The Japanese are friendly with us just now, but it cannot be said that our policy in racial matters is conciliatory. A day may come when the Japanese will be inclined to speak to ns in a very different tone of voice from that which we now hear, and in that day we must look to the British navy for protection. Modern .navies, in order to operate effectively, must have properly equipped bases. Seeing that the British Government has resolved not to proceed with the construction of the Singapore base,, Australia should seriously consider whether a suitable base cannot be established somewhere else. It cannot be said that we .’have one at Sydney, for the docking facilities on Cockatoo Island! are’ inadequate for modern battleships.
– The Cockatoo Island dock can take a vessel of 20,000 tons.
– Modern ‘battleships run to 40,000 tons, and ‘Cockatoo Island dock is out of the question for them. I do not propose to dis<cuss at length the debatable subject - of “Che efficacy -of the capital ship as a means of defence. Some people .say that in ‘these <days we should ‘be turning our attention ;to submarines and aeroplanes -with a view to relying upon them. I am prepared to ‘accept the dictum of our naval authorities, for they are more able to decide a matter like this than any one else. The leading naval authorities of the Empire say that ‘we must still depend upon capital ships. When the Prime Minister made a remark to this effect a few days ago, an honor - able member opposite interjected that the naval authorities said this because they “wanted to keep their billets. I discountenance such statements altogether. ‘The chief officers of our naval forces must be placed on a higher plane than ‘that. I accept their statement that we ‘must still. depend upon capital ships. One objection to relying on aeroplanes is ‘that ‘their range of operation is still com,para.tively limited ; and we cannot safely defend upon the submarine, for some antisubmarine device is always being invented to checkmate its activity. ^Capital ships are invariably accompanied in action by aeroplane carriers, and immediately .an enemy air force is sighted, planes are launched from these carriers to give battle. Therefore we cannot safely rely upon aeroplanes to keep capital ships from approaching our shores. I suggest to the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden), however, that we are paying too little attention to the installation of antiaircraft guns. Practical experience has certainly proved that these weapons are not very effective in destroying aeroplanes, but thay exert a great moral effect. They should be installed in each capital city, and at our main seaports. They are not very costly, for the calibre never exceeds 4 . inches, and is usually from 2^ to 3 inches. In addition to developing our naval defence force I submit that it is imperative for us to maintain a force for land defence purposes. If we failed to do so, and an enemy bombarded Sydney and landed an armed force there, it could prevent any assistance from coming to us. If, for instance, a squadron of the British navy was known to be on its way to Australia, a wireless message could be despatched forbidding it to approach any nearer, or Sydney or Melbourne would be destroyed. We ought to have a sufficiently strong military force available to offer a good measure of resistance to the landing of an enemy. Experience has proved the wisdom and, indeed, the imperativeness of organizing a military force on a nucleus basis. We should have a nucleus army in peace time -that could be expanded rapidly to meet our requirements in a time of war. In peace times it would be chiefly concerned with training commissioned and non-commissioned officers. I think I ;am in order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in discussing this aspect of the Australian defence problem.
– Naturally a good deal of latitude must be allowed in a ‘debate of this nature.
– With regard to the supply of munitions, I say advisedly, and. I think the Minister for Defence will bear out my statement, that it will be absolutely impossible for Australia ‘for many years to come to be self-contained. We could not manufacture a hundredth part of the munitions that would be necessary if war occurred. We have a research department which I understand is doing very good work’ in instructing staff officers in making muni- tions. We shall have to depend upon the Government factory at Lithgow for the supply of rifles, and that factory should be maintained, for it is necessary. Our small arms ammunition could be manufactured at Maribyrnong, but it would be wise to encourage private firms to install machinery for manufacturing small arms ammunition so that in time of war our supply could be speedily augmented.
– The honorable member is getting a little wide of the bill.
– EYRIE. - I contend that it is necessary to maintain land forces for two purposes - (1) to assist the air and naval forces in preventing an enemy from effecting, a successful landing on the coast, and (2) t& resist the enemy if he has been successful in. the initial stages and effected a landing. For those purposes we need a mobile force, so that we can rush troops to any threatened point.
– That could be done with motor cars.
– Motor cars, especially armoured care, are very handy, but they are not very adaptable for fighting. What is the role of cavalry or light horse, and what proportion should mounted troops bear to other forces? I take it that the role of the light horse would be to prevent, if possible, the landing of an enemy, or to deal speedily with the enemy after he had landed. If that is so, there is a vital defect in the mobilization of our forces. The mobilization stores for the light horse regiments are at certain centres; they are not at the head-quarters of the regiment. That is a very great mistake, because if a light horse regiment were required to rush to- any threatened point, it must first travel 100 miles in an. opposite direction in order to gather up its mobilization stores and kit: That arrangement should be altered. Not a great deal of extra expenditure would be involved in. keeping the mobilization stores at the head-quarters of the regiment. If that were done, a regiment could be got ready in a very brief time and rushed away to the point of danger. In regard to the proportion of light horse to the rest of the military forces, the peace establishment is - infantry, 13,000; light horse, 4,500; and the war establishment - infantry,. 100,000; and light horse, 15,600. Numerically the infantry force would be six and a half times stronger than the light horse. A greater proportion of cavalry is needed in the Australian army, and I am quite sure that if more encouragement were given to the officers! and men of our mounted regiments, many more regiments of light horse could be raised in the country districts of all the states. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that the light horse would1 be the most useful military arm if Australia Were invaded.
– The light horsemen never fail.
– I have never known them to fail, but they are not getting the training necessary to fit them to pl’ay their part in a defensive war. Those men who went through the big Avar, and others who had received training prior to the war, are efficient, but the young fellows in the light horse regiments to-day are not getting adequate training. The term of annual training is ridiculously short. The troopsare required to. undergo ten days’ training per annum, namely, six days in camp, and four days of home training split up into odd hours and half days. If the annual training is to extend only over ten clays, for goodness’ sake concentrate it in a continuous camp. I guarantee that troops Will gain six times as much knowledge and training in- a ten days’ continuous camp as they get in a six days’ camp and four days’ home training. The greater part of a six days’ camp is. occupied in getting the men into camp, settling down, and striking camp. But with a ten days’ continuous camp we could give the men some very useful training.
– That applies to all arms of the service.
– Yes, but I am speaking as an officer commanding a cavalry division. When I speak in this chamber I always wonder whether I may be saying something for which I might be hauled over the coals at the military headquarters. It is difficult to reconcile the two roles of legislator arid commanding officer of .the 3rd Cavalry Division, and I was taken to task some time ago by the military authorities on account of something I said as a member of Parliament. If I should overstep the line on this occasion I shall expect the Minister for Defence to protect me. A lighthorseman has to be trained in the use of the rifle, bayonet, sword, Hotchkiss gun, and automatic rifle, and some men have to be trained to use the Vickers machinegun also. That training cannot be imparted in ten days unless the training is continuous. The Australian boys are very quick at picking up military knowledge, and can be knocked into shape remarkably fast. I have not the slightest doubt that if we had to defend Australia it would be possible to knock a great many young fellows into shape in very brief time, but that is not the case with the higher commands and staff officers. We cannot create commanding officers in a few days, or even a few years. A man has to be studying military science and organization for many years before he is of much use. In no spirit of vanity or egotism, I say that insufficient credit has been given to the big body of civilian officers who qualified themselves by many years of voluntary training in time of peace to play a successful part in the late war. Only years of training -will produce efficient commanders and staff officers. The regulations provide that in a brigade there can be only one lieutenantcolonel commanding a regiment. If there’ are three regiments in the brigade two of them must be commanded by majors. Under that system how are men to qualify for higher commands? How are we to get a sound nucleus of officers for expansion in time of war? It is very discouraging to deny to men who are commanding regiments the rank of lieutenantcolonel, which such a command usually carries. These men get 5s. a day for ten days’ training, and they have to provide and keep all through the year their own horses. More consideration should be given to the men who are training for higher commands; every regiment should bo commanded by a lieutenantcolonel and every squadron by a major. I ask the Minister for Defence to take into consideration the points I have mentioned. I hope and trust that the Government will proceed to develop a definite programme of defence, and that the building of two cruisers will be only the commencement of a complete and continuous naval policy.
I do not know what is in the minds of the members of the Government, but I hope that they will adopt a progressive policy for the adequate defence of Australia. Honorable members opposite object to almost every proposal to defend this country.
– That is not so.
– We shall ascertain the attitude of honorable members opposite respecting the defence of Australia when they speak on the bill. No doubt they will favour the suggestion of the Acting Leader of the Opposition that, instead of purchasing two cruisers, the Government should spend the money on the establishment of munition factories and the manufacture of implements of war. We should adopt a clear and definite policy of defence, not for to-day or to-morrow, but for the future, to enable Australia. - God’s gift to us - to be held as a heritage for our children and our children’s children. If we lose this fair land through lack of preparation, carelessness, or apathy, then an iron, red-hot, will enter our very souls. This is our native country, and we must hold it for Australians for all time. No one can say that an attack by a powerful enemy is impossible, even within a few years. If such an attack is possible, it is our bounden duty to try to prevent it from taking place, otherwise we shall be recreant to the great trust that has been placed upon us by the people of this country, and we shall rue the day on which we refrained from taking steps to safeguard this land. The community will be against any government that adopts a hotchpotch and patchwork policy, instead of a clear-cut, definite programme of defence spread over the next ten years. In addition to an efficient army, we must have adequate provision for the manufacture of munitions and weapons of war. The Air Force should be placed on a good footing. As an officer responsible to Defence Head-quarters, Melbourne, I shall refrain from expressing an opinion on the present condition of that branch of defence, because I might get into trouble if I did. There are many things that I should like to know about the Air Force. Are the 100 aeroplanes presented to Australia by the British Government in good order and repair, and where are they; what are they doing, and where will the proposed base for that force be situated 1
– Does the honorable’ member think that we can maintain an efficient defence system by withdrawing efficient soldiers and putting lawyers in their places?
– The honorable member will have to give notice of that question. I regret to have to say that honorable members opposite are against any practical suggestion to cooperate with the British Navy. We must co-operate with Great Britain. “We shall, be absolutely secure so long as the British Fleet is with us and is supreme upon the seas. Once we stray from British protection, we shall be a prey to any hawk that may sweep down upon us from the sky. There are many countries watching Australia, but, while we are part of the British Empire, and not recreant to the trust placed upon us by the people of this country, we can hope to live for many years in peace and comfort.
.- I was particularly interested in the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey). Although I cannot support his amendment, I would certainly further any effort made to limit armaments. I also agree that it is particularly desirable that this great continent should be self-contained respecting the manufacture of munitions and instruments of war; but I go further. It is my belief that the great majority of the people of Australia stand for the adequate defence of our great Commonwealth, and desire such a scheme of defence as will, at least, meet the minimum requirements for the preservation of our own safety and territorial integrity. If I appreciate Australian sentiment correctly, and I feel sure I do, what is wanted is a defence policy of our own, including our own navy and air force prepared for any emergency, and ready and willing, should the necessity ever arise, to co-operate with the forces of the Empire, to keep ever inviolate the great British Commonwealth of Nations, of which we are proud to be an important member. I feel sure that all Australians will willingly subscribe to a policy of mutual assistance and co-operation with the rest of the Empire on all questions of defence. The defence of Australia has gone through what may be described as three periods: First, that period during which we were entirely dependent on the Mother Country for defence; second, the period when we made a small monetary contribution to the United Kingdom towards the cost of our naval defence and during which we established a volunteer army; and third, the period from 1909 onwards when we established compulsory service, and laid the foundations of the great Australian Imperial Force which in the last war was the wonder and admiration of the whole world. Unfortunately, at this stage we appear to have undone most of what we had accomplished. Step by step we reduced our Citizen Forces until it became a mere shadow of what it should be. Even so, this skeleton force has not been given sufficient money or time for training to enable it to become efficient. Our navy has also been reduced until it is weaker now than it ever has been. The H.M.A.S. Australia is now but a great and glorious memory. Our light cruisers and other surface craft are fast becoming obsolete. We have no modern submarines, and our naval personnel has also been considerably reduced. It is Universally recognized that modern warfare requires the most intimate cooperation between naval and military forces and air-craft. In this latter most vital arm we are also miserably weak. It must be bitterly discouraging to all our fighting services to realize that they are hopelessly and incompletely equipped for the desperate tasks that they may be called upon to undertake. I hope the new defence programme of the Government will enable this Parliament to raise out of the ashes of the old orders, new and efficient services, worthy of all that has gone before them, and sufficient for the great tasks that are yet ahead of them. This will not be achieved unless such a programme appeals to the national pride and spirit of the Australian people. I am a great believer in the League of Nations and its future usefulness. I am hopeful that some day it will be a great factor in keeping the peace of the world. However, with three such great nations as the United States of America, Germany; and Russia outside its fold, it cannot be that great factor in the maintenance of the world’s peace that we are all hopeful it will ultimately be. The nation that is careless of its defence at this time, and unduly relies on the League of Nations for assistance when the test conies, is only deceiving itself and inviting disaster. Some time ago an eminent writer in The Times said -
In considering external dangers, it is the part of statesmanship to regard all Powers as potential enemies, no matter what their present attitude. History shows that international alliances and friendships only endure for so long as the interests of allies and friends coincide. Valuable though the conventions of diplomacy, may be for a time, the strength of the armed forces of a State must not, and cannot bo dependent on, or governed by them. Military force must conform with the permanent interests of a State, and with the forces which may now, or within a calculable time, be arrayed against it. The bases of an alliance may be laid in an afternoon. They may be shattered by an incident in an hour. An army takes twenty years to create, and a navy half a century. It is too late to create an armed force when a crisis comes.
Our great continent, with its coastline of 12,000 miles, and amazing potentialities almost as yet untouched, with a population of only 5,750,000, must ever be the envy of the world. History has shown that when countries are over populated, and the comforts of life become few, and the standard of living is at a low ebb, their inhabitants are compelled to look for relief in territorial expansion. This condition of affairs has already caused Japan to seek room for1 some of her surplus population in the United States of America. As we all know, she has been denied this privilege. In years to come, her difficulties must become more acute. If America were not so powerful and so prepared, the great Japanese nation would scarcely have treated the American’s anti-Japanese legislation so philosophically as she has done. America’s strength was her safeguard of peace. Let us briefly examine the position of countries immediately adjacent to our Commonwealth. Japan and Korea have a population of 78,000,000; China 437,000,000; Persia 9,000,000; Arabia 5,000,000.; Madagascar 3,500,000; India 251,000,000; Siam and Indo-China 6,000,000; Malay States 3,225,000; and Java 50,000,000. I am no alarmist; but one must always be prepared to face facts. The adequate defence of this great continent cannot be built in a day, and can be achieved only by a steady progressive policy extended over a period of years.’ We are trustees of ‘ the generations yet unborn. Is it not our duty to begin now with an effective and progressive policy of defence? Last year we were marking time awaiting the decision of the Imperial conference, at which the important question of Empire defence was to be discussed. The Right Honorable the Prime Minister attended the conference, and most ably represented Australia. He has reported to the House the decisions of that conference. The Imperial conference, after viewing the* whole field of defence, decided, inter alia. that it was the primary responsibility of each portion of the Empire represented at the conference to provide for its own local defence. It was gratifying to hear the Prime Minister state in this House when moving the second reading of the Defence Equipment Bill, that the Government proposed to accept as a guiding principle the decision of the Imperial conference - that local defence was the primary responsibility of each portion of the Empire, and, forthwith, out of the sum of. £2,500,00.0 set aside last year as a reserve for naval defence, to commence the construction of two 10r000-ton modern cruisers. It is regrettable that there should be . such an extraordinary difference between the estimate of the cost and the time of construction of the cruiser to be built in Great Britain, and that of a similar vessel, if constructed in Australia. There are, however, many reasons why one of the cruisers should be built in Australia. In a young country like ours,, every effort should be made to establish and develop new industries. In future years, unless the League of Nations, or some other league, makes war impossible, we shall have to provide for the construction of further units for the Australian Navy.
Sitting suspended from 6. SO to 8 p.m.
– If we do not make a beginning now, we shall never have the necessary dockyards or the skilled artisans capable of doing the work. It will also be necessary from time to time to repair our ships, but unless we have the skilled tradesmen and the requisite facilities we shall, not be able to do even that work. I was glad to learn that the Government was continuing its investigations, and was hopeful that one of the cruisers could be constructed locally at a reasonable cost.
Speaking in Sydney recently, in reference to our Navy, the Minister for Defence said -
In 1921 we had 21 vessels in commission, and to-day we have only 12. As to effective fighting ships, we had a battle cruiser, 3 light cruisers, 7 destroyers, and 6 submarines. Of these 17 vessels we have now only 6.
That official statement shows the necessity for immediate action. I feel sure that every one in Australia is fully seized with the necessity for prudent action, consistent with our limited population and financial resources, to ensure the maximum of defence for this country, and I trust that the Government will lose no time in pushing ahead with its naval construction programme. In 1910, when the British Empire had a twopower naval standard, the late Lord Kitchener, in his report on the defences of Australia, said -
It is an axiom held by the British Government that the Empire’s existence depends primarily upon the maintenance of adequate and efficient naval forces. As long as this condition is fulfilled, and as long as the British superiority at sea is assured, then it is an accepted principle that no British dominion can be successfully and permanently conquered by an organized invasion from oversea.
But in applying that principle to Australia, Lord Kitchener remarked that considerations of time and space could nob be disregarded. He showed that the concentration of force in one theatre might be compulsory for the Navy, that in other seas British naval forces might remain for a time inferior to those of an enemy, and that some time might elapse before the command of these seas could be assured. Now that we have to accept a one-power naval standard, this possibility is even more real. In his report, Lord Kitchener also said that it was the duty of all self-governing dominions to provide a military force .adequate to deal promptly with any attempt at invasion, and thus to ensure local safety and public confidence until the command of the sea had been decisively and comprehensively asserted. How much more imperative is the need for such a military force to-day? I regret that, so far as our land forces are concerned, the great training scheme designed by the late Lord Kitchener has been so whittled away that it is to-day but the shadow of what it was designed to be. In 1921 the scheme of training was re-organized in the light of the experience gained in the
Great War. Under the new scheme, the Army was to consist of five infantry and two cavalry divisions, complete in every auxiliary arm. That plan has been so interfered with that it leaves us with a mere skeleton of an army. Let me give the House the statement of the InspectorGeneral of our forces1, Sir H. G. Chauvel, regarding the present condition of our citizen army - “
The military board has had to reduce defence measures to a nucleus basis owing to financial stringency and the result of the Washington Conference. The present nucleus numbers 37,658, which in the event of war will have to. be expanded, to an army of 140,000. Of the 37,658, some 31,000 are boys of 18 and 19 years, and they only receive ten days’ training a year for two years.
He also stated -
The upkeep of the establishment of officers and non-commissioned officers is the most serious problem of the system, and upon this the short period of training, has a very direct bearing, for it must be remembered that the effectiveness of the forces as a nucleus will depend very largely upon the Capacity of the officers and non-commissioned officers to assume control of, and to instruct, the large influx of recruits required, on mobilization, to complete the various units to war establishment.
Notwithstanding the progress of which the trainee is capable, the limited period does not, and never will, enable the instruction of therank and file to proceed beyond the elementary stages, for the reason that each year exactly half of those to be instructed are raw recruits and the remaining half little more. It fails in consequence to sustain the interest of actual officers, or to create it amongst the potential officers and non-commissioned officers now serving in the ranks. A considerable number of the officers of the late A.I.F. have continued to serve, and to these, in a very great measure, is due the progress already made. Under present, conditions it is becoming increasingly difficult to retain their enthusiasm, and in many cases it is only their spirit of patriotism and loyalty which keeps them with their units. Except in certain technical units, there is no alacrity on the part of potential leaders to accept either commissioned or noncommissioned rank, or, if they do accept the latter, to continue to serve after their period of compulsory training has passed.
He points out, further, that the provision of funds for the training of officers and non-commissioned officers at courses and schools of instruction is insufficient to enable all, or even a substantial portion of them, to attain the requisite standard of efficiency. On many occasions it has been found necessary, through lack of funds, to refuse the applications of many officers and non-commissioned officers to attend schools of instruction.’ Is this not, in effect, striking a crushing blow at the very basis of the present nucleus system? Sir Harry Chauvel also stated -
Our nucleus army is 700 officers short of the establishment, and the shortage in noncommissioned officers (the potential officers of the future) is proportionately much greater.
From that statement it is clear that the present condition of our forces is far from satisfactory. I was actively associated with our citizen army from 1912 until I was elected to represent the constituency of Moreton in this House. From my experience and recent investigation I am satisfied that the way the defence system of Australia has of necessity been carried on of late is disheartening to all who are connected with it, and is very materially lowering the standard of efficiency. I read recently in a Melbourne journal the following reference to the present conditions of our compulsory training system, which I think summarizes the position well : -
An efficient compulsory system has the effect of impressing upon the Australian youth the fact that he is individually responsible for the defence of his country. Obviously, the moral argument holds good only if the system is efficient. As at present carried on it is far more likely to demoralize boys than to inspire them with healthy patriotism. Training under conditions which teach next to nothing, and impress the trainees with its waste and futility, can only have an exceedingly bad effect on all intelligent minds.
Waste, inefficiency, and discontent are inevitable when we have such a lack of continuity in our defence policy. I remind the House of the sound warning given us by the late Lord Kitchener, in the report I have already referred to: -
It must be distinctly recognized that a national force maintained at ;a high standard of efficiency can only be produced by the work of years, and that such work must be steady and continuous; any divergence -from the policy decided on may, and probably will, lead to chaos and useless expenditure of money.
I hope that the new defence proposals of the Government, which are to cover a period of training of at least five years, will provide for effect being given in their entirety to the recommendations of the Inspector-General of our forces to remedy the obvious defects in our system of training. With him, I believe that the period of training should be increased from two to three years, and that there should be an increase in the annual period from ten to twelve days, the extra’ two days being added to the continuous training. Concurrently with the increase in the citizen force training to three years, the senior cadet training should be correspondingly reduced to one year, thus leaving the total period of service the same as at present. Senior cadet training would then begin in the trainee’s seventeenth year, and would continue for one year only before his transfer to the Citizen Forces. Lieutenant-General Chauvel points out that this would have the effect of reducing the strength of the senior cadet organization by one-half,’ and would enable it to be handled by the area staff with a minimum of outside assistance. The one year of preparatory training in the senior cadets would be devoted to the establishment of touch between the trainees and their area staff and units, medical examinations, issue of clothing, and other administrative work, and to ascertaining the suitability of the youths for allotment to the several arms of th£ Citizen Forces. In addition, there would be time to give the senior cadets a limited amount of recruit drill and elementary musketry instruction, designed specifically to prepare them for their Citizen Force training. He also points out that a reduction in cost would result, particularly in regard to uniforms. If youths were supplied with uniforms at seventeen years of age, when they were more developed physically, their outfit would not require to be replaced during the remainder of their service in so many instances as at present, when the issue takes place at the age of sixteen years. I should like to see greater care exercised in the selection and fitting of uniforms: A trainee never will have any regard for his unit, or respect for the uniform, while he is compelled to parade in the ill-fitting and unsightly clothes one too often sees. By cutting off one year’s training at the commencement of the trainee’s service and putting it on at the end, when he is better fitted, by reason of his age, to be exercised fully in military work, together with the ‘ appropriation of the necessary funds to enable training to be satisfactorily carried on, we shall, I feel sure, place our whole military organization on a sounder basis, and, while giving greater satisfaction to all ranks, ensure a much better return for the money expended. The importance of air defence cannot be over-estimated. Yet our air defences are hopelessly weak. An adequate air force cannot be improvised when we are threatened with attack and it will always be difficult to maintain, even in time of peace. The best we’ can hope to do is to form a nucleus service, which can be readily expanded in time of war. However, unlike our defence system, this nucleus must be given every possible opportunity to become efficient. It should also be developed in co-operation with civil aviation. Happily, civil aviation is rapidly gathering strength in Australia, and it will, I hope, continue to develop. The tremendous effort that will have to be made by Australia, if she ultimately is to have an adequate air force, may be gathered from the finding of the American Aviation Commission, whose report presented to Congress since the war contained the following : -
Enough has been said to show the magnitude of the task by which the Government is confronted, and the urgent need for commencing this work in all its departments. While speaking of our air force, I should like to add my tribute to the splendid success of the great flight round Australia by Wing-Commander Goble and Flight-Lieu ten ant Mclntyre. By this exploit they have added yet another wonderful achievement to the already splendid record of our flying services.
As a Queensland member, I wish to congratulate the Minister for Defence on the provision which is now being made - for the immediate commencement of the survey of the Great Barrier Reef. At a meeting of the pan-Pacific Congress held in Melbourne in August last, the following resolution was carried: -
That, in view of the scientific and economic interest attached to the Queensland coastal waters within the Barrier Reef regions, the Government of the Commonwealth is specially urged to undertake a detailed hydrographic survey of this area at the earliest possible moment, and to make available funds and facilities to. enable the Navy Department to carry out the work without delay.
I am particularly glad that they are giving effect to that resolution, and to many similar ones, carried throughout Australia on this most important subject. The Great Barrier Reef extends for more than 1,200 miles along the eastern coast of Queensland. Vessels bound for the East Indies or the China Sea proceed northward between the Barrier Reef and the coast, through what is known as the Inner Channel. Charts of the reef still bear the inscription, “ Soundings and reefs by Captain Flinders.” Such charts must necessarily be hopelessly incomplete. A further instance of their incompleteness is furnished by the fact that a few months ago H.M.A.S. Fantome reported three uncharted shoals at 19 feet and 23 feet in the Hillsborough Channel, where a depth of 13 fathoms is shown on the charts. Little is known of the direction and set of currents in the vicinity of the reef, and in addition navigators on the east coast are exposed to special dangers from hurricanes and other conditions not experienced in other parts of Australia. Storms cannot be controlled, but it is within human power to give the sailor reliable; charts andclear sailing directions. His anxiety would then be lessened, and in all probability the sacrifice of many lives would be avoided. I hope the bill will have an early and safe passage, and that it will be the beginning of an effective naval defence force for Aus tralia.
.- The defence of this country is a matter affecting every man, woman, and child in it. The amendment moved by the
Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey) is a reasonable one, and should be accepted by the Government. Throughout the world to-day statesmen, writers, and thinkers are expressing a strong desire for universal peace,, and members of the Opposition contend that in these circumstances the construction of the two cruisers should be postponed for at least a few months. We do not know what agreement may soon be reached by the nations of the world regarding the limitation of naval armaments. They may decide not to proceed with the construction of cruisers- or other engines of naval warfare. They may agree to form a worldwide police force to prevent war. All the nations of the world, and not merely a few of them, may unite to form a League of Nations. Although members on the other side twit members of the Labour party with being insincere on the subject of defence, and charge us with extreme apathy; the truth is that no ‘ party in this country has ever made greater efforts, or put forward a better defence policy, than the Labour party.
– But that party has gone back on that policy now. ‘ Mr. McNEILL. - That is where the honorable member is wrong. During the most trying period in the history of this country its defence policy was in the hands of the Labour party, and from that policy we never deviated.
– The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) has, though.
– The honorable member for Ballarat has not spoken on the subject of defence during this session. Although honorable members opposite are extremely anxious to put their defence policy into operation, they have abandoned two important aid’s to defence. They have abolished the harness and saddlery factory, which served a very useful purpose during the war, and they have sold the Commonwealth woollen mills. . Both those factories were established by a Labour government, and they saved the taxpayers many millions of pounds. I believe, also, that they saved many lives. The honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) holds the opinion that war will never beabolished until we have changed human thoughts .and human nature. That is rather a gloomy outlook. If the best brains’ of. the leaders of the nations cannot evolve a scheme for securing the peace of the world, then, man was born in. vain.. I, at least, am very hopeful that the good work done by the nations belonging to> the League of Nations will be extended. I ho’pe that other nations will be admitted to the League, and that a common policy will be adopted so that in a very few years war will become a thing of the past. It would be stupid for members on this or the government side of the House to say that Australia should not have a defence policy. No man would be so foolish as to say that Australia could do without a defence policy. While we are extremely fortunate in our isolation, in being many thousands of miles from the warring nations of the world, the fact remains that, with modern weaponsof warfare, with aeroplanes and poison gases, and the latest inventions of scientists,, anything may happen to us. We should not confine our efforts to one line of defence, by relying wholly or mainly on battleships; if we want a defence force to protect this country, we should turn our attention rather to aircraft and submarines. Aircraft can be used, in time, of peace as well as in time of war. We cannot dispense with battleships, and- the bone of contention between the two parties in this House to-day is whether the two cruisers should be built immediately,, as the Government proposes, or whether their construction should be deferred for a few months, until’ the international conference has decided certain questions of naval policy. It would be unfortunate if, after we had decided to build these cruisers, the conference decided that no more warships should be built. Our money, amounting to £6,000,000 or £8,000,000, would then have been spent uselessly. The party to which I belong stands to-day, as it has always, stood,, for the defence of Australia. ‘We are not now called’ upon to “ state our defence policy - that is .an obligation placed upon the Government - but we shall be glad to place it before the people at the proper time, in our own way, and without seeking the assistance of members of the Government or any other persons opposed to us. When we have placed planks in our platform-, we are not deterred- from giving- effect to them by the criticism of the press or our political opponents. When we tell the people that our platform will be carried into effect, it is carried into effect. We may be kicked out of office afterwards, but that does not influence us. We have given deep consideration for many years to the question of defence, and there is no one can deny that our defence policy is sound, and has always been sound. When we are called upon to state it to the people, we shall do it in no uncertain way.
– I have considered the amendment of the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey), and it seems to me that he is- confusing what is desirable with what is essential, and is putting the minor before the major things. He lays emphasis upon the manufacture of munitions and the improvement of the air force, both of which are most desirable and necessary. I would, however, remind him that we have a very distinguished soldier at the head of our military department. “ It is. from his report that the honorable member for . Moreton (Mr. J. Francis) has quoted. Sir Harry Chauvel, who is Inspector-General and Chief of the Military Staff, lays very strong emphasis in that report on the questions raised in the amendment. But in the very first sentence he says that the defence of Australia was primarily a naval problem. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) quoted authorities to show that the Government should take other action than that which it proposes. Honorable members cannot charge the Government with taking this action before consulting eminent authority. I want to remind them that it is taken on the advice of the most eminent authorities in the British Empire. It is taken as a result of the conclusions of the Imperial conference that met last year, and in accordance with the views of the advisers of that conference. The advice given by them was emphatically that the defence of Australia is primarily a naval problem. No matter what else we may do in making provision for submarines and air forces, that will not cover all the ground, and the best thing from a naval .point of view for the defence of Australia is to build these 10,000-ton cruisers. There was no hesitation about that advice. Every .expert authority at present in active work in England, whether in the Navy or the Army, agrees that so far as this country is concerned naval defence is the first essential, and that in connexion with that defence these 10,000-ton cruisers should first be provided. That being so, it is useless to quote what other authorities may say would be tEe best tiling to do in other circumstances. We have consulted the highest authorities we can consult, and the action taken by the Government in introducing this bill is based Upon the advice they gave. I should like to remind honorable members that they had themselves an opportunity recently of hearing the opinion of a very distinguished British admiral, and they know that Admiral Field concurred in the advice given to the Imperial conference.
– The honorable gentleman would nob expect him to do otherwise.
– At any rate, he staked his own reputation upon the advice he gave. We cannot consult better authorities than the best, and the action proposed by the Government has been taken after the most careful consideration that could be given to the subject. I do not wish to go into all the problems of defence or to tell honorable members; what they already know - that Australia is not only a continent but an island. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) says that it is essential that our air force shall be so developed that it will be. able to fly over this country, and . there will be no necessity for it to go round it. We have established in Australia to-day the longest cross-country air service in the British Empire. That service has been maintained without an accident for over twelve months. It has flown over 400,000 miles without an accident. This should be sufficient to show that we are not unconscious of the need of aircraft both from the civil and the defence point of view. It’ is because the problem of defence in Australia is concerned not with the interior but with the coast, that from a defence point of view the necessity exists to fly round Australia rather than across it. An attack upon Australia can only be made from outside. We are not looking for anything in the nature of a civil war or internal strife. . We have no internal racial problems to solve, and I repeat that an attack upon Australia must come from outside. It is the duty of the Government to provide for the defence of Australia. I say further that that is the primary object for which the federation was established. Honorable members will recollect that for 40 years in this country we were talking federation. Conferences were held about it. “We had federal councils. We had a federal convention which drew up a Constitution for Australia. In 1898 that Constitution was put to the people, but was not carried by a sufficient majority in New South Wales. In 1899 the Boer War occurred, and in that year the pressure of the need of defence was impressed upon the people.
– Did they think the Boers would come here ?
– No; but we were in such a chaotic condition when the states tried to do things for themselves that the people were impressed with the necessity for a federation for defence purposes. And at the next referendum the bill was accepted, and the Federation was farmed. Therefore, I say that one of the primary objects in the establishment of the Federal Government was the defence of Australia. From that day to this it has been the obligation of this Parliament to provide for that defence. Some honorable members have been talking about Japan, and I want to say that I agree with the honorable member for Bourke that we do not expect an attack from Japan. That country has been and is observing every treaty and contract it has made, but the Japan- ese de not on that account say that they will have no defence. Japan to-day is spending at least 42 per cent, of the whole of its revenue on defence. This is in a time of peace, and with only peaceful neighbours ! If we under similar circumstances proposed expenditure at the same rate, we should be proposing in this bill an expenditure not of £2,500,000, but something more like £25,000,000. We do not ask Japan, in view of her warlike expenditure, whether she is going to strike at Australia. We recognize that it is not merely the right but the duty of every nation to preserve its integrity, and to make its own arrangements for its defence. That we are .bound to do in Australia, whether there Is a war cloud on the horizon or not. For the reasons I have given I think the .amendment moved by the honorable member for Bourke does not cover the ground. It deals with matters that are very important, no doubt, but they are matters not absolutely essential in connexion with defence.
– Does the honorable gentleman mean to contend that the adequate supply of munitions is not the most important feature of defence, whether by land or by sea?
– We have the necessary munitions for sea defence. The navy has never been short, and is not now short of munitions for the adequate defence of Australia.
– Munitions manufactured in Australia?
– No; we cannot manufacture them all here.
– We can.
– Whether we can or not, we do not manufacture them all here. The policy of the Government is to gradually increase our power to manufacture munitions and to go as fast in that direction as this Parliament will permit. It stands to the credit of honorable members, on both sides that they have never interfered with the munitions vote. The munitions programme has been carried on regularly for the last three years, and will see its completion in another two or three years. The programme makes provision for the manufacture in Australia of rifles, revolvers, machine guns, field guns, and 4.5 howitzers, with ammunition up to 6 -in. shells. It would cost millions to provide the plant for the manufacture of guns and ammunition of large calibre, and we have no adequate reason to make provision for the manufacture of the big shells, running up to 10 inches and 12 inches, that are required for very large guns. We can do better by confining ourselves here to the manufacture of munitions for smaller guns. To do otherwise would be to involve us in an overwhelming expenditure. In conclusion, I should like to thank the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey) for the clearness and restraint with which he put his case, and to congratulate him .upon his address. I hope he will not think it presumptuous of me to say so, but we welcome him as acting leader of the other side, and the Government hopes that for many years he will continue to grace that position with the dignity he has exhibited this afternoon.
.- I compliment the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) upon his speech, and thank him for the well-deserved remarks concerning the Acting Leader of the Opposition. A good deal could be said about this bill, and particularly about the attitude of Japan in relation to naval armaments, to which some honorable members have referred. Fifty years ago Japan was in the stage that Europe was in during the Middle Ages. Bows, arrows, and plated armour were then her war equipment, but now she is right up to date. At three periods since the adoption of ironclad battleships she has possessed the strongest vessel afloat. Two years ago the Renown, which is now regarded by naval authorities as not in the front rank of war vessels, was anchored at Yokohama close to the strongest vessel then afloat - and it was built in Japan. Although Australia has inherited all the advantages of our western civilization, she has not yet built a big battleship. We shall never be able to do our own work if we follow the advice given to us by the Minister for Defence. He said just now that it was better for us to import than to make our big shells. That is always the freetraders’ cry. It may be all right while the highways of the sea are open. During the last war the largest battleships that the world has known had to be locked up every night at Scapa Flow because of the danger from submarines, mines, and aeroplanes. Those mighty engines of war did not dare to sail the seas as a 100-ton sloop of the days of Nelson would have done. Australia should aim at self-containment. I recognize now, as I did when I volunteered for active service during the war - and was rejected because I was over 60 years of age - that while the human spirit remains unchanged some- measures of defence against aggression are necessary, but I do not think that the building of two cruisers will protect Australia in any way. We shall act wisely if we adopt the suggestion made by the Acting Leader of the Opposition to reduce our war debt by £2,500,000 instead of spending that amount, in building cruisers. The total cost of Australia’s war service up to the 30th June, 1922, was £439,334,293, and if the amount spent in sending comforts to the troops were added the figure would be well over £500,000,000. Of that total cost, £132,338,581 has been paid out of revenue, and £306,995,712 is still owing. Those figures are to be seen in the latest Year-Booh, at page 393. Who pays the interest on this huge debt? The wealthy classes in the community certainly pay some, and so do the middle classes, but it is also true that every person who drinks ;a cup of tea, and every child who enjoys a sweetmeat, contributes to it through the Customs duties. It is sad to reflect that even the children of the men who were killed in the war are obliged to assist in paying it. Why do not our wealthy, patriots come forward and say, “ The interest on this awful debt shall be paid by the wealthy people in the community.” Honorable members may say that £2,500,000 is not much to reduce the debt by, but we must begin somewhere. Australia has had a surplus of revenue over expenditure in every year since 1917-18, with the exception of 1918-19, when there was a deficiency of £402,763, and 1921-22, when the deficiency was £209,903. The accumulated surplus up to the end of the last financial year was over £10,000,000. A considerable part of that amount should be used to reduce the war debt, otherwise the heavy interest payments, which amount to about £20,000,000 annually; will cripple the country. The rates of interest that we are paying on this huge debt vary from 3 per cent, to 6 per cent., and the sooner we can reduce the principal the better it will be. The Government would find every party in the House supporting it if it decided to adopt such a policy. Unquestionably there is wealth enough in Australia to meet the debt. It has been> said that if a super millionaire had comein 1914 with £1,200,000,000 he could have bought the country At 30th June, 1915, it was estimated that Australia’s wealth totalled £1,600,000,000, and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) told us a week or so ago that it was now given as anything up to £3,000,000,000. We can afford to do something definite to reduce our debt, but we are not doing as much as England in that respect in proportion to our population. A press report stated a few days ago that it was estimated that the United States of America would entirely liquidate her national debt in 30 years at her present rate of payment. How long will it take Australia to meet her obligations a.t the rate she is going. I cannot see any sense in spending ?2,500,000 on cruisers which could do next to nothing to prevent a hostile nation from attacking us. Certainly if Japan became aggressive, they could not prevent her from occupying the country. I think, as I said as long ago as 1905, that if trouble ever arises between Australia and Japan, -it will quickly be made an issue between the east and the west, and all the white races will be linked up in the struggle. Germany will lead, the Teutons,; Prance, Italy,, and Spain the Latins1; Russia, the Slavs; and Great Britain and the United States of America the Anglo-Saxon Celtic races. I agree with Mr. George Marks, who wrote an excellent book,. Watch the Pacific, which I read recently,, that we cannot possibly hold Australia against an attack, unless our sister nations assist us. Of course, I do not agree with all Mr. Marks’s conclusions. Two cruisers are a ridiculous defence provision, for they, like the great battleships in the .world war, will be frightened to. sail the seas for fear of. submarines and aeroplanes. The aeroplane is destined to become an increasingly important factor in Australian defence. Honorable members will be interested to know that Mr. Louis Brennan,, who appealed to the Victorian State Parliament years ago for help in perfecting, his. torpedo invention, has now invented an aeroplane which can poise. That is a wonderful, thing, and will be of much more service to Australia than any battleship could be. I read an interesting article in a recent American publication .which stated that battleships could have very, little hope of surviving a welldirected attack from aeroplanes. From the point of view of man power, it is worth remembering that, in war by aeroplanes, the lives of comparatively few men are risked. Only two lives are endangered with each aeroplane, whereas hundreds of men will be on board every cruiser of the kind it is proposed to obtain. The area in which these cruisers may operate is very limited. If we were to spend ?2,500,000 in building aeroplanes, we should be able to protect Aus- tralia much more effectively than we can possibly do by adopting the Government’s, proposal. According to the latest aeroplane .’ exploration, Australia has 8,000 miles of coastline to patrol. One aeroplane can operate effectively over an area of 500, or even 1,000 miles, but the biggest gun used in the great war had a radius of only about 50 miles. I do not think the government of any country in the world will suggest that Australia, with her limited population, is likely to have aggressive designs on- the territory of another nation. Our defence expenditure is purely and simply for our own protection. To organize effectively, we must have the most mobile force possible, and that is an air force; It could reach, in a few hours, a point which it would take a naval or military force weeks to reach. A big air force could be used for commercial purposes* in time of peace, but battle cruisers are good for nothing except war. I cannot remember ever having heard of a battleship or battle cruiser being used in mercantile service. My friend, Mr. King O’Malley, once suggested that when nations were at peace, battleships should be dismantled of war fittings, and reconditioned for commercial purposes, but, so far as I know, that has never been done in the world’s history. With a big aviation organization we could educate our fliers in time of peace to defend the- country in time- of awful war,, and then no nation, not even Japan, could say that we were irritating it by building, up a big navy. By the time these cruisers are completed they will be out of date, so rapidly does invention progress. Could anybody have foreseen 30 years ago that the streets of Melbourne would be crowded with motor cars as they are to-day, or that a horse-drawn cab would become a rarity in Melbourne and Sydney. Professor Luff,, who was a student with me when I was doing, my medical course, was then already an eminent chemist, predicted as far back as the early eighties- that within this century a meeting of chemists would become of more importance in the prevention of war than a meeting of generals. Honorable members cannot deny that that prediction has been verified. No one knows the awful potentialities of the gases that were about to be released in Germany by the Allies when our enemies wisely decided to sue for peace. In my opinion it would have been better if that” peace had been deferred until the allied troops reached Berlin.”
– Order ! The honorable member is getting somewhat far afield.
– Gases can be carried on aeroplanes as easily as can bombs. I quote .from Martindale and Westcott’s The Extra Pharmacopceia : -
Dichlor-ethyl-Sulphide (mustard gas, yperite), Phosgene and other gas poisonings -
The first-mentioned, though usually called a gas, is in reality an oily liquid which rapidly soaks through clothing and causes intractable blisters most difficult to heal. The effect is a delayed one, and is more marked on moist surfaces, e.g., from perspiration at the axillae and fork. We had occasion during the war to make preparations to be used to counteract effects.
If we are to spend money upon defence, let us have scores of aeroplanes. I, as an Australian, loving my country, join with’ other members of my party in saying that we are prepared to defend Australia, but we wish to do it in a way that will not irritate other nations or be regarded as the throwing-down of the gage of battle. That is the way in which the building of a large navy is often interpreted. I defy any expert to say that there could be any more effective defence expenditure than that on the building of aeroplanes. They are a cheap means of defence, they involve risk to very few lives, and are the most mobile military force that the world has known. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McNeill) alluded to the disposal of the Commonwealth clothing and harness factories. That was one of the most unforgivable acts committed by this Government. When you, Mr. Speaker, were Acting Prime Minister I brought under your notice the offer of a reputable firm to help the clothing factory by purchasing the tweed it produced and supplying a well-fitting suit for “ 30s., and, made to measure, for 10s. extra. The suits were, to be made in quarter-sizes in imitation of the very fine American ready-made clothing, and the fit was to be guaranteed. The firm was willing to undertake an initial output of 500 suits per week, developing to 5,000 per week within a month. But apparently a better offer had been made to the Government of the day. Woollen cloth from the factory was supplied to manufacturers at 4s. 6d. per yard, and they in turn produced a three-piece suit for 25s. 6d. If honorable members had understood the worth of that factory, they would not have allowed it to be sold; rather would they have consented to its extension so that they and the public would be able to obtain suits made of the material it produced. Despite the limitation of the sales of cloth to soldiers and their relatives the factory showed a profit. The Commonwealth no longer owns that factory, but when the revolution of the political wheel places Labour once more on the treasury bench, the awful mistake made by the present Government in disposing of the defence factories will be rectified. The boots and clothing worn by Australian soldiers were better than those of any other men fighting on the side of. the Allies. That is attested by men “who offered their lives on the awful altar of war. I am credibly informed that many “ Tommies “ paid a few shillings to exchange their British boots for an Australian-made pair. Clothing and harness factories should be part of the defence organization of the Commonwealth. Australia is the fifth continent of the world, and I have said, on other occasions, that the race that holds it will ultimately rule the world. Asia is dominated by the coloured races; Africa is mainly peopled by blacks; Europe, America, and Australia are controlled by white people. I hope that the awful fight between east and west, that is predicted, will never happen, but if it does, I trust that all the white races of the world will come to the assistance of Australia. Two paltry cruisers could not possibly do anything to defend this country in such a time, but the money which they would cost, if spent upon aeroplanes, would lay the foundation of, perhaps, the greatest air force in” the world. All other nations are spending money on huge land and naval forces. If we concentrated our defence” expenditure upon an air force, I doubt if any nation in the world would dare to oppose it. The late Mr. Warren G. Harding, ex-President of America, made a prediction concerning war, which I hope will be endorsed by the League of Nations at the assembly to be attended this year by the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Littleton Groom), and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). He said, in effect, that, in the next world war, it will not be only the lives of young men that will be oast into the cauldron, but also all the resources ; of industry and wealth. In other words, if life is to be conscripted, wealth, too, will be conscripted. In the past the money changers and profit-makers in our midst have made profits out of their own people in .time of war. If the late President Harding’s prediction is fulfilled, wealth will never again prosper in that way at the expense of the community. President Coolidge has endorsed that statement, and I hope that a policy in consonance with it will be enunciated by the League of Nations. I hope the League will do a great deal to prevent war. Its powers are limited to a greater extent than we could wish, but it has certainly great opportunities for suggestion, even if it has not behind it the necessary force to ensure that its suggestions are carried into effect. Those who are keenly watching events in the Ear East recognize that China and Japan are not friendly. Certain words made use of by the first President of the Chinese Republic served to throw his country into the cauldron of war with Japan. In referring to Japan he had made use of an expression which the Japanese regarded as offensive. On that account I am pleased ‘that the insolent impertinences of the past are not now indulged in by the Australian press. Any honorable member, who was at the front, and experienced the guarding care of those grey cruisers of the sea with which Japan convoyed our troops, will endorse the words of tie honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath), that no nation could be a more loyal ally than Japan was during the war. Japan enabled us to send our troops overseas, and when a Japanese cruiser could have sunk the Emden she chivalrously left the honour to H.M.A.S. Sydney.
– When the honorable member made that statement on a previous occasion, I suggested that he ought to re-write history. His version of the incident is different from the generally accepted one.
– If I _ had the capacity and the active brain of the honorable member for Richmond, and if I had as many years to look forward to as he has, I might attempt to do what he suggests, but as history may not be my forte, I merely give the facts as- I know them. I should be prepared to consign to a lunatic asylum any one who would claim that the battle:cruiser Australia could have defended the long coastline from Brisbane to Perth. It was the Japanese fleet that helped us’ to keep at a distance the German squadron, which had guns that would have enabled it to stand 20 miles off Sydney and bomb that city, or to enter Port Phillip Bay and destroy Melbourne, or to destroy Perth and Adelaide. Do we not know how the German cruisers disposed of the English fleet on the western coast of South America, just as they in their turn, were disposed of and sent to a watery grave when they passed to the east coast of South America? We should approach Japan in the name of reciprocity. Japan taught the world a lesson by seeking the advice of Britain’s greatest philosopher, Herbert Spencer. In his letter to Marquis Ito, Herbert Spencer advised Japan to avoid entanglements with other nations through selling land to foreigners, or allowing them to take shares in Japanese companies, particularly in shipping companies trading on the Japanese coast, or permitting them to take out mining rights. By keeping foreigners at a distance, he said, Japan would be saved, but he added the following words of caution: - “Remember, always that nations are very apt to believe what their missionaries and traders tell them.” We should approach Japan in the spirit of reciprocity, saying, “You cannot blame us if we follow your splendid example. You garnered your knowledge from our greatest philosopher. We want to keep Australia for the Australians just as you want to keep Japan for the Japanese.” That is the way in which to approach the nation which acted so loyally towards the Allies in the recent war. Unfortunately for China, during that war Japan forced 21 articles upon her, despite the protests of America and other nations. The British Government did not see their way clear to make a pro-1 test at the time, but at the Washington conference, nineteen of the 21 articles which were particularly offensive to China were wiped out. On a recent visit to China I had an interview with Dr.
Sun Yat Sen, and I alluded to the fact that at this conference the danger of war had been removed by the elimination of nineteen of the articles. He said, “ Yes, but the two points remaining are so important to Japan that unless the European nations will assist China to have them eliminated, Japan will always be able to control us. You may have seen, when you came up in the steamer, that there are three Japanese gun-boats overawing Canton. Of course, they are not here for a hostile purpose, but we know what their presence means. There are also three British gun-boats. They are here because some bandits have made a capture, not on the main line between Canton and Hong Kong, but on one of the feeders to that line. If Japan secures control of China, her object will be to convert China, as Germany converted Austria, into a recruiting ground for man power, and to utilize China’s great coal and iron fields - the greatest in the world. With our 430,000;000 people added to her 70,000,000, Japan will thus have 500,000,000 people under her control. How easy will it be for her then to ask India to help her in securing Asia for the Asiatics, or to be led by her to the conquest of the world. As there are 350,000,000 people in India, Japan would thus have 850,000,000 people under her leadership, and could afford to lose 20,000,000 every year and go on fighting for ever.” That is what we have to look forward to if China is dominated by Japan. My opinion is that Japan took those advantages in self-defence, just as she did with Russia before the Russo-Japanese war. I am convinced that Japan, as a loyal nation, would, if the League of Nations, or the nations at another Washington conference, asked for the elimination of those two articles, set China free, and thus possibly save the world from an awful debacle. In the defence of Australia, two cruisers, in comparison with 2,000 aeroplanes, would count for nothing. I have asked experienced naval officers how they would like to approach a country like Australia with transports carrying an army of 30,000 men, and to face 200 hostile aeroplanes. They told me that in those circumstances- they would prefer to be on a submersible instead of on a . surf ace vessel. Instead of quoting great authorities like Jackie Fisher . and Admiral Scott, I ask honorable members to look at the illustrated periodicals published in America to see the results there of the Washington Treaty. In the advance of armament and invention, the leading men of the army and navy of the day have always been against innovations. I ask those who doubt this to go back to the time when “ Brown Bess “ was discarded for the rifle. All the great experts of the United Kingdom were against the use of the rifle. Naval experts were opposed to the first proposal to armour ships. When a French ship engaged in the Crimean war hung huge chain cables over her sides for protection from land bombardment, the “experts said it was a ridiculous action. When the *Merrimac, during the American civil war, was armoured with iron plates, experts said that that expedient would answer only for a little time. That view was dispelled when the Monitor, a small armoured vessel, built by Ericcson, the Scandinavian genius, fought and sank the Merrimac. To gain a full knowledge of the evolution of the ironclad, we must go back in history 200 years to Formosa. The records in the Parliamentary Library will show that the remains of the original ironclad of Formosa were dug out from the sands 25 years ago. Two centuries ago, Japan proposed to invade Formosa with an army of 200,000 men. The annals of Japan, agree with those of Formosa that the ironclad rode down the Japanese fleet ship after ship, as the old Roman ships of war rode down those of the Carthagenians, thus preventing Japan from transporting her army. There is therefore reason to doubt the opinions of experts, and I prefer to accept the opinion of a man like Brennan, the inventor, against that of any naval or military expert. The Renown, when visiting Australia, was one of the very latest of English warships ; but .before completing her tour, she was ready for the scrap-heap, or for alteration to make her a mother ship for aeroplanes. If the proposed two cruisers are built, they will be obsolete in three years. I protest against the spending of this money; but if it is to be spent, then by all means build the cruisers in Australia. Let our Australian tradesmen learn how to make war vessels. : They will never learn how to do it if workmen are imported from another country for this purpose. AVe should build up our steel. . and iron manufactories to enable us to make our own war appliances. In constructing battleships, even England herself had to import certain metal alloys for plate-making. Let us follow her example and import the alloys we require. England will surely not refuse one of her own children the formula for plate making to enable Australians to carry out the work of naval construction. I know of one man who, in the manufacture of clothing, has had experience in. Switzerland, the United States .of America, England, and Australia, and he assures me that he has never met better workmen than Australians. Mr. McKay, of the Sunshine Harvesters, makes the same statement. Why cannot Australia do everything that Japan does? In 60 years that nation has become a. great manufacturing country. It” is time that we put our house in order. “I shall certainly object to the building of Australian .cruisers in England, not that I have lost my love for the Homeland, .but because it is necessary that we, the -descendants of the British race, with all its inherited instincts and power, should follow its example. America is- very little -older :than Australia, and what she has done- surely -we;- can do. I hope that the Minister will give proper -consideration to the amendment moved by. the Acting Leader of the Opposition, arid, In the interests of Australia, accept it.
– I find it difficult to believe that the amendment moved by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey) will Have the unanimous support of honorable members opposite. Every one who listened carefully to, or has read, the measured words of the Prime Minister when introducing this bill,. must have been greatly impressed with the importance of - the question of defence. The preservation of peace and the declaration of war are major acts of policy, and a proposal of the kind now before us should not be treated in a spirit of caprice. A solemn responsibility -to the states and the people of Australia rests upon the Federal Parliament, making it incumbent upon us to treat the question of defence not as a party matter but as a national problem.
Party politics should find no place in the discussion of defence. Its petty pressures and activities should not influence the consideration of the subject. The preservation of peace and the undertaking of a war are essentially matters of general public policy. The armed forces of a country are the means by which it hopes and expects to maintain its integrity, and we must not. therefore, allow our defence arrangements to depend upon some minor consideration of finance. It is essential in order to arrive at a true basis for the maintenance of armed forces that we should review our position both ‘strategically and politically, and I venture to assert that if that is done it will at once be found that our defence requirements exceed our capacity to provide adequately for them. Therefore, we have to seek outside aid, and it is fortunate for us that so far aid from the Mother Country has always been forthcoming. But we have not now that sense of security we previously enjoyed. Circumstances have entirely changed during recent years, and speaking as one who has had some experience of war. and war measures, I feel bound to say that I cannot conceive of a situation in Europe which would permit the vessels of the Royal navy to carry on a major engagement in the Pacific. Even if the naval forces required for such an engagement were available, I cannot see how any action could be successful with- . out bases and other necessary facilities.
– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.”] ‘ Mr. D. CAMERON. - Honorable members are, of course, aware of the incidents associated with the ill-fated voyage of . Admiral Rojestvensky, who during the Russo-Japanese War twenty years ago, when in command of the Russian fleet, left the Baltic with the intention of going to Vladivostock. Very early on the voyage there was the Doggerbank incident, and throughout the voyage harassing experiences were encountered, until finally when the ships reached Eastern waters, owing to being without a base, they were compelled to coal and effect repairs at sea. Consequently, when the fleet eventually came into contact with the Japanese vessels at Tsu-Shima, its position was most precarious. That is,
I think, an outstanding example of the incapacity of a fleet to operate without bases, notwithstanding the size and strength of its vessels, and valour of its personnel. We are bound, in measures of defence^ to do all in our power to make any system of co-operation with Great Britain as complete as possible. That is important, because honorable’ members opposite have several times stated that the two cruisers which it is now proposed to construct will be of little use by themselves. We must also remember that in war small forces, if efficient, can be powerful deterrents. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) traversed very carefully the various factors affecting the maintenance of peace. I agree with the right honorable gentleman that the League of Nations is the great hope of the world to-day, although it lias not the power to enforce its decisions upon its members. States representing threefourths of the world’s population, have entered into a solemn obligation not to go to war without first submitting their differences to arbitration,, and also to do all they cam to improve generally the relations between nations. One-fourth of the world’s population, however, include-ing those who owe allegiance to three great powers, remain outside the League. The League’s handicap at the moment must, therefore, be obvious to all honors able members, and I am sure I am correct in asserting that the League as at present constituted cannot be looked upon to ensure the peace of the world. The people of this country will, I think, always have peaceful aspirations, but we cannot allow ourselves to- drop into a defenceless position, which would invite invasion. The British people have always stood for justice, and their view has always been listened to, not entirely on account of its moral tone, but because of the navy behind them. In consider^ ing the best method to defend a country it is always desirable to devote attention to the action likely to be taken by a potential enemy. One hears from time to time quite a number of ideas as to the most effective means of defending Australia. Some are quite fantastical, and recall to my mind suggestions made for defeating the Turks at Gallipoli. A Scotsman named Donald Eraser, a ser geant in my own regiment, suggested a scheme whereby the Turks might be flooded out of their trenches: That suggestion was submitted to the authorities for consideration, but nothing came of it. If a nation wishes to take the initiative it must devise means of attack.; but if, on the other hand, it intends’ to adopt a defensive attitude, it must have regard to the possible form of attack. Personally, I pray that we may always live at peace with our neighbours; but if they should fall from grace, I think we can rest assured that their first important move_ would be against British sea-borne trade. I, therefore, strongly support the maintenance of an effective cruiser unit. To co-operate with the British navy, and to assist in protecting our sea-borne trade; a modern 10,000-ton cruiser is a requirement facile princeps. I wish that the Prime Minister had gone further. The experience of the Great War was that neither by land nor sea is an armed force fully effective without air co-operation. When the Estimates are brought before us, I hope that we shall find that our fleet is not to be left without eyes and ears. In the last war submarines played, for a time an exceedingly important- part. But it was found possible to combat them, and that fact prevents us from relying on them exclusively as weapons of defence ; though, situated as we are, we cannot neglect them as a means of cooperation with other defence. It is to be regretted that provision for two of these vessels is not included in the bill before us. Some,, no doubt, will cavil at the expense involved,, but expenditure on defence is really in the nature of insurance. Although we are unable to do all that is required in this direction,, we should do the best possible. To the policy of the Labour party in 1914 we owe the present Defence Act, and to the fact . that in that year we had a fleet, we must attribute Australia’s freedom from attack. The expenditure involved was repaid a hundred-fold. Indeed, I am not sure that the measure of defence afforded by H.M.A.S. Australia has not justified naval expenditure for the next 50 years. Yet,’, I would remind honorable members that in 1914 we were unable to ensure the safety of our transports on the seas, and, pending an appeal to our allies, we had to retain on these shores for three fateful weeks the expeditionary force which afterwards laid the foundation of our Australian nationhood. Such unproductive expenditure as that incurred to provide defence we all regret, but are we not forced daily to similar expenditure, and that to protect ourselves not against those of foreign blood, but in established communities, against our own people? Were one to work out the amount spent in a single city on civic defence - ‘law courts, gaols, watchmen, caretakers, street lighting, strong rooms, bolts and bars, and even such minor items as locks and keys - the result would be astonishing. The sums expended for such things would pay for a very considerable measure of national protection. In his second-reading speech, the Prime Minister said that the first cruiser would be built in Great Britain, but he was unable to give the - House definite information regarding the building of the second vessel. He stated that inquiries were being made with a view to having this’ work carried out in Australia. Australia manufactures her own service rifles, at a cost of approximately £16 each. We could import them for about £8 each; but, because it is realized that if we were in trouble and isolated from our friends, we should have to manufacture our own rifles, no objection is raised to the higher expenditure involved. Should the building of this cruiser in Australia place” the Commonwealth in a position to build ships as well as she manufactures rifles, I, for one, would not object to any reasonable increase in cost and time of construction. ‘ But if, on the other hand, to build cruisers in Australia simply means the assembling here of parts manufactured in Great Britain, it is doubtful whether increased expenditure would be justified. The money could, perhaps, be used in other directions with greater advantage to the country. At the earliest possible moment the House should be taken fully into the Government’s confidence regarding this important matter. T am unable to support the amendment of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), but shall vote for the second reading of the bill.
.- The Government has done the right thing in establishing a trust fund in connexion with the Defence Department. It is to be regretted that this action was not taken earlier. As a member of the Public Accounts Committee, I have had some difficulty in understanding the expenditure of the Defence Department. Even after the Estimates have been passed, providing for the expenditure of certain sums of money for definite objects, it has frequently happened that the money has not been expended. I remember that of one amount of £175,000 which was voted by Parliament, £15,000 only had been’ expended to the end of the year. When such a state of affairs exists, alteration in the administration of a department is desirable. Some honorable members have stated that we on this side are not in favour of defending Australia. Yet the Labour party is the only party which has done anything practical towards the defence of this country. There has been no departure from the original policy of the party in this connexion. Before the next election that policy will be presented to the people of Australia, and I venture to say that it will meet with their approval. When the Labour party proposed to build a fleet for Australia, Sir Joseph Cook, now the High Commissioner in London, and a few of his supporters in this House, proposed as an alternative that we should offer a Dreadnought to Great Britain. As a good Australian, I did my best’ at the time to prevent that being done, and advocated that the vessels for the protection of Australia should be owned and controlled by Australians. I have yet to learn that this party has departed from that policy. We come now to the proposed construction of the cruisers. It is depressing that, in this national Parliament, we should be called upon to consider proposals for the construction of these instruments to destroy human life. It should be our endeavour to bring about a better feeling among the nations of the world. The honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) made reference to the League of Nations. That body, as at present constituted, is about as useful as a number of ladies at a “ teafight.” Until Russia, Germany, and the
United States take their places as members of the League, it cannot be expected to prove efficient in the settlement of disputes between the nations of the world.
– The honorable member must know that the League prevented war last year.
– There was no war last year for the simple reason that the countries involved were not financially strong enough to engage in war, and, in my opinion, we shall have no war of any magnitude until world finances are in a healthier state than they are to-day. The object of the amendment of the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey) is to delay the Government programme in view of the possibility of a further reduction in world armaments as a result of negotiations between the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the Government of the United States of America. No honorable member can reasonably object to that course. If we could bring about an understanding between the Englishspeaking peoples of the world, we should have a force stronger even than the League of Nations to ensure peace. The race from which we spring is a very proud one, jealous of any encroachment on its liberties. No nation would risk war against English-speaking people if they were united in a desire to maintain peace. It is very desirable therefore that we should delay this programme, and do what we can to foster the good feeling between all members of the English-speaking family. I am afraid, however, that the supporters of this composite Ministry will not see eye to eye with us in this matter, and that they will support the bill as it stands. I notice in this bill there is mention of money being required for naval construction. I presume, of course, that this reference is to cruisers, both of which should, in my opinion, be built in Australia.
– One at Walsh Island, Newcastle, and the other at Cockatoo Island. The Government could finance this work very easily, because it would be spread over four years.
– And the vesselswould then be about obsolete.
– Not at all. The Government, if it decided to build the vessels in Australia, could set aside each year out of revenue sufficient money for the year’s programme. If, however, it is decided to build one vessel in England and one in Australia, it will be necessary to obtain loan money for the purpose. Further borrowing should not be countenanced; During the past few days the Prime Minister and State Premiers have been in conference for the purpose of regulating, if not totally preventing, further borrowing abroad. If the cruisers are built in Australia, we can be sure that the workmanship will be better than could be obtained in any other part of the world. We have proof of this in the vessels already built in Australia. Some years ago, the Public Accounts Committee, of which the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) was then a member, made inquiries as to the shipbuilding position in Australia. He had previously seen nothing but corn growing and a few cows grazing in a paddock, but when he travelled with the committee, and we showed him Cockatoo Dockyard, the works at Garden Island, and the steel works at Newcastle, he stood still with amazement. He marvelled that men could do such work. If he is wise he will keep dumb, and fall in with my view that the two cruisers should be built in Australia. If that is done, it will find employment for men in the ship-building trader and will train men so that if we require ships in an emergency in the future, we shall have men ready to build them; I am satisfied that, except for a few gentlemen who run freetrade newspapers, and who are not so well informed as they ought to be of the affairs of the country, nearly all the people are in favour of the cruisers being built in Australia. I have often thought how essential it is to have a navy in Australia. The Government has been very anxious to obtain control of islands of the Pacific, such as Norfolk Island, Lord Howe Island, Papua, the Solomon Group, and the mandated territories. These islands should be a source of wealth to Australia. Their population is increasing, and many of them should become popular tourist resorts. I have been in Papua, Norfolk Island, and the New Hebrides, and I suggest that if the people of Australia, instead of spending their holidays in ‘’ Gay Paris “ or other European cities, would go to the Pacific islands, their health would derive more benefit.
The Australian Navy could be used as a police force for the islands. Much marine survey work has yet to be done in this part of the world. The Great Barrier Reef is not half surveyed. From the Barrier Reef to Port Moresby, and from . Thursday Island to the coast of Queensland, proper surveys have not been made, and the captains of vessels on those routes are in hourly fear of striking submerged rocks.
– Would the honorable member risk using a £4,000,000cruiser for survey work on our coast?
– I did not say that. Other vessels of the Australian Navy, such as torpedo-boats and tenders for the larger ships-, could be used for that purpose. The navy is our only proper defence. Air-ships are very necessary on the coast. We do not yet know what air-ships can do. I recently read that an American had produced a gas by the use of which three air-ships, if they went to France, couldkill 20,000,000 people in a week. I suggest that we should find out who that inventor is, and purchase a few of his air-ships. There would then be no danger of an enemy landing, in Australia. These air-ships can travel 60 miles an hour, and, if they drop a bomb, every one within, a mile and a half or a two-mile radius is killed. The future of submarines is. also unknown; they are still in their infancy. I have read of a submarine that can travel 60 miles an hour and strike from a distance of 5 miles with a torpedo that would shatter in an instant even a ship like the. Hood. The Public Accounts Committee has prepared a report regarding the supply of munitions for the defence of Australia. Honorable members will receive it in a few days, and I can assure them that it will well repay careful study. The committee has endeavoured to show that Australia can become self-contained, and honorable members will be able to see from the report that there is very little in the way of munitions that cannot be produced in this country. A factory has been prepared, and machinery has been ordered, to produce 41/2-inch guns, and machinery is on the way for the production of 18-pounder shells. The small arms factory at Lithgow is now able to manufacture machine-guns. The whole of the ammunition required by the Defence Department is capable of being manufactured in Australia. I do not think that a more interesting report than this has ever been placed before the House. I have sat on many committees, and I feel proud of my association with the men who brought to the consideration of this report so much zeal and earnestness. One paragraph of the report reads: -
The primary duty of the people of the Commonwealth is to defend Australia, and if that duty is to be successfully and properly performed, safety in munition supplies is an object of urgent need, and one that should be attained as quickly as is consistent with a reasonable solution of all the problems associated with it. Hitherto, when. Australian forces have been engaged in war, they have been supplied with the major portion of their essential munitions by the British or Allied forces with whom they have been associated. But an Australian defence policy demands that this country should be in a position to supply its own munitions of war.
I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Northern Territory Judiciary - Commonwealth bank : overtime in brisbane Branch.
Motion (by Mr. Bowden) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
. - I have asked a series of questions in connexion with the judiciary of the Northern Territory; but evidently they have not been couched in the language necessary to elicit a satisfactory reply. Owing to the late hour my remarks will be brief. On the 3rd July, I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territoriesthe following questions: -
The first reply of the Minister was rather indefinite, due to the fact that he did not possess the information sought. Later, the questions were answered as follow: -
The third question has not yet been answered. I admit that the word “pick” should have been used instead of “ pack,” but I claim that that is a distinction without a difference. These statements of the judge were made in the case of Storey v. Quelch. Immediately prior to that case, the secretary was involved in another, and this is what the judge said on that occasion: -
As the Government was prosecutor before the board, it was most improper that he should have influenced the Administrator in the appointment of the board. If the Administrator could not have selected the hoard without Mr. Storey’s help, he might have counteracted the prosecutor’s influence by consulting the applicant as to whether the persons suggested by the Government Secretary were, in her opinion, fair and impartial. The opportunity which the Government Secretary seems to have had to do what might be termed “ packing the bench,” lends a sinister aspect to the whole of the proceedings of the board.
Not only should the judiciary be fair and impartial, but those qualities should be apparent to the public. Are such statements by a judge conducive to that feeling of security to which the inhabitants of the Northern Territory are entitled? I ask the Minister whether he is aware that the costs in the hospital case, which the Supreme Court ordered Charles Barnett Storey to pay, have been paid out of the taxpayers’ money. Those costs amounted to £10 10s. As the judge in his judgment in that case made strong comments on Storey’s attempts to pack and dominate the board of inquiry, does the Minister consider it fair that public moneys should be so expended ? Will he see that the costs are at once refunded? The Government is in duty’ hound to look into this matter more closely and see that one of the fundamental principles of British justice - trial by one’s peers - is not tampered with by officials as it was in the cases to which I have referred. I ask that the Minister should consider the remarks 1 have made, and I refer him to the summing up of the” judge in both of the cases.
– - I can, -of course, make no answer at present to what the Honorable member has said, but I shall take the earliest opportunity of bringing his remarks under the notice of the “Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce), and shall urge upon him the” necessity of closely considering them.
.- At this hour I do not intend to keep honorable members for more than a few minutes. I wish .to bring under the notice of the Government certain statements appearing in the Brisbane press regarding excessive overtime worked by Commonwealth Bank employees in Brisbane without overtime payment or teamoney. The matter was submitted Jo me with the request that I should bring it under the notice of the Minister concerned. This not only concerns Brisbane employees, but those in other branches of the bank throughout Australia. On the 10th inst. I asked the following questions of the Treasurer: -
Unfortunately, owing to a printer’s error, the word “ bank “ was left out after the word “ Commonwealth,” and consequently the Minister was not able to answer my questions as I desired. I base3 those questions on the following extracts from the Brisbane Daily Standard” under the headings “ Excessive overtime alleged - Charge that 130 hours in two weeks were Worked by the Commonwealth Bank employees. No overtime paid, nor tea money.”
To be forced to work over a spread of 65 hours a week, with time off for meals, but without1 any extra payment, for two or three weeks consecutively, is a startling state of affairs which might well be considered impossible in Brisbane to-day. Yet this is actually happening in the case of the employees in the savings department of ‘the Commonwealth Bank in this city.
Employees of the bank worked every night last week, also Saturday afternoon, and are doing the same this week, and probably will continue under the same conditions next week, without receiving extra remuneration of any kind, not even tea money.
The immediate cause of this overtime work is the half-yearly balance, although the ordinary trading banks during the same strenuous period only exceed the customary working time by a very few hours.
The Commonwealth Bank employees feel that they have a grievance. They formed, in Queensland, what is known as the Queensland branch of the United Bank Officers’ Association Commonwealth Bank branch. I am told that . strong antagonism has been shown to the formation of this branch by Mr. Kell, the acting governor of the bank. Just after the branch was formed in Brisbane, a high official of the bank arrived there, convened a meeting of Commonwealth Bank employees and suggested to them that they should refrain from joining the association, and should instead form a guild of employees within the service of the bank. The Commonwealth Bank employees feel that they cannot secure justice unless they are linked up with the United Bank Officers’ Association. Recently they lodged withthe Acting Governor, Mr. Kell, a log of claims in regard to working hours. This should have been replied to by the 30th June, but as no reply has been received by the association they are now taking steps to have their claims settled by arbitration, either before the Public Service Arbitrator or in the Federal Arbitration Court. I should like to refer honorable members to an extract from another Brisbane newspaper to confirm the statements made by the bank’s employees. This newspaper published the following statement : -
A number of conditions of employment of the Commonwealth Bank officials in Queensland are considered by the employees to be harassing and unfair, and consequently considerable dissatisfaction exists. A call is made for an abnormal amount of night work, for which the employees receive no payment, nor even meal allowances. . . . While the matter of salaries was an important phase of the association’s work, there were other matters of more pressing importance, and the question of the security of tenure by the prevention of the instances recurring of employees being arbitrarily dismissed at a moment’s notice, with no right of appeal, was a most vital one.
The immediate outcome of these circulars, said Mr. Laidlaw, was the issuing of a circular by the Acting Governor of the Commonwealth Bank (Mr. Kell), advising the staff not to join the association, but to form a separate guild. The only result has been that increased numbers of the employees have become officers of the association.
These extracts show that employees of the Commonwealth Bank in Brisbane feel that they have a grievance, and I ask the Government to make inquiries into the matter. I do not believe that honorable members will stand for employees of an institution established by this Parliament being worked for 130 hours in two weeks without overtime payment or tea money. That is a disgraceful state of things, and, further, there should not be this vicitmization of men courageous enough to form amongst their fellow-workers a branch of the United Bank Officers’ Association. I ask the Government to inquire into the matter immediately to see whether the statements which have appeared in the press are true, and, if they are, to take up the question with the Acting Governor of the Commonwealth Bank with a view to having the grievances of the employees of the bank justly considered and fittingly remedied.
– I can endorse everything that has been said by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde). The first quarrel I had with the late Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, Sir Denison Miller, occurred when he was asked by Mr. Higgs, the then Treasurer, to meet me. He said definitely that he would not pay for overtime, and would not even give tea money to those who worked overtime. I pointed out to him that in the service of the least desirable banking company in Melbourne tea money was given where employees were asked to work overtime for only one night in a week. Sir Denison Miller would not give tea money, even though his employees were worked overtime every night in the week. I ascertained that that was the rule observed throughout the service of the bank by visiting branches of the institution in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth. Mr. Young, one of the officers here, assured me that, as far as he could possibly do so, he would prevent night work. If Mr. Kell is continuing the practice inaugurated by Sir Denison Miller I have only to say that it is iniquitous and unjust. . ‘ I trust that the Government will consider the representations of the honorable member forCapricornia, whom I thank for having introduced this matter. If the Government will inquire into the matter it will find that there is more overtime worked in the service ofthe Commonwealth Bank than in that of any other bank in Australia.
– I cannot answer the statements made by the honorable member for Capricornia, but I can say that they will be brought under the notice of the Treasurer, and inquiries into them will be made. His statements have been somewhat of a surprise to me, because, speaking of the branch of the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney, I have always understood that it is considered the best banking service in that city, and persona are very glad to obtain employment in it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 July 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1924/19240716_reps_9_107/>.