1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator WALKER presonted a peti tion from thirty-six electors of New SouthWales, praying the Senate to prohibit theintroduction, sale, and - manufacture of intoxicating liquors in British New Guinea.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON presented a similar petition from 128 electors of Tasmania.
– I am not in a position to state the exact date, but the matter is being expedited and will be brought before Parliament as early as possible this session.
– I desire to
Ask the Vice-President’ of the Executive Council, without notice, will he inform the Senate whether an effort will be made to obtain the minutes of proceedings of the Capital Sites Commission from the chairman, and to lay them before Parliament ?
– My honorable colleague, the late Minister for Home Affairs, taking the view . that the minutes were the private property of the chairman of the Commission, did not ask for them, but they -will be obtained, if possible, and laid upon the table of the Senate.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Australasia, Martin-place, Sydney, did not receive until after noon ou the 15th August a telegram relating to said letter, which was despatched from the Bourke-street Telegraphoffice, Melbourne, shortly after 9 a.m. and received at the General Post-office, Sydney, at 9.40 a.m. on that day ; if so, why ! .
– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as soon as the necessary information is to hand.
Senator DRAKE laid upon the table Paper re appointment of senior clerk Commonwealth Electoral Office.
Speech by Senator Reid.
Debate resumed from 18th August (vide page 3681), on motion by Senator Pearoe -
That the action of Senator Robert Reid in making certain statements at a social function at Camberwell, Victoria, which remarks are reported in the Argw of 1 7th August, 1903, are a reflection oju the Parliament, and impugn the honesty of its members, and that the Senate records a vote of censure upon Senator Robert Reid.
– I feel, sir, that I am called upon to express my profound regret that I was led into the use of certain words which seemed to reflect, on the members of this Parliament. I can assure you, . sir, that the Senate was never in my mind, and, after careful reflection and reconsideration, I recognise that I have made a mistake, and I regret that I ever uttered the words. I cannot ‘ say more, andI leave the matter in the hands of honorable senators.
– After the expression of regret which we have heard, I would suggest to Senator Pearce that this motion, should be abandoned, and that the Senate should express the view that, having heard the statement of Senator Reid, it will not take further action. Two courses are open to my honorable friend - either to adopt the course which I suggest, or to withdraw the motion. It appears to me that it is only right that when statements of this kind are made and noticed in the Senate, there should be something on its records to show why they were withdrawn. Therefore, I suggest to my honorable friend that his better course will be to ask for leave to withdraw his motion, and then to propose a motion of the kind I have indicated.
– It is my duty to call the attention of the Senate to the standing orders. Here we have a motion which must be either proceeded with, carried,
Or negatived, or amended and carried, or amended and negatived, or withdrawn. But, if it is withdrawn, we have no practice and no procedure to enable another motion to be moved. I would suggest that, if we are to carry out the standing orders, an amendment to this motion should be moved, in order to give effect to the suggestion of Senator O’Connor, or that the motion should be withdrawn. I thought that I ought to make this statement at once so that honorable senators might not be misled, and fall “into the idea that it was in accordance with the standing orders to withdraw the motion, and then to move another motion of which notice had been given.
– I am very glad that the honorable senator who has left the Chamber has taken this course. At the same time I must say that the terms of his apology are not absolutely satisfactory to me.
– Oh, nonsense.
– Will the honorable senator wait a minute? It will be recollected that Senator Reid said “The Senate was never in my mind.” We are just as much the guardians of the honour of the members of the House of Representatives as of the honour of the members of the Senate.
– Surely not.
– That is too big a responsibility.
– The only reason which would prompt me not to offer an objection to the withdrawal of the motion is that, although Senator Reid has said that he had not the Senate in his mind, he certainly did express an unqualified regret for having used the words.
– What more does the honorable senator want?
– I think that his apology was to some extent marred by the statement he made that he had some other place in his mind.
– He did not say that ; he said that he had not the Senate in his mind.
– After the explanation made by Senator Reid, I think that the better plan is for me to ask leave to withdraw the motion, which I now do. There will be a sufficient record in Hansa/rd that we accepted the apology.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until tomorrow morning, at 10 o’clock.
– If the standing orders are construed strictly, this motion cannot be moved ; but inasmuch as a matter of privilege is exceptional, and super- . sedes the standing orders, I do not intend to debar the honorable senator from taking this course.
– I thank you, sir, for your courtesy, and the Senate too. I move the adjournment of the Senate on a matter of urgent public importance, which has connexion with the administration of the Defence Force in Tasmania ; and I hope that after the few words I have to say the Senate will help in seeing that a simple act of justice is done. I shall shortly state the facts of the case, and I shall be prepared to prove everything I say. In 1901 the Commonwealth took over from the States the Defence Forces, and it has administered, and is still administering, each force under the local Defence Act. The Tasmanian Defence Force is what is described as a partially-paid or militia force, and the men were originally enlisted at the rate of 6s. a day for the camp of exercise. In 1887 the Tasmanian Government decided to reduce the pay for the camp of exercise to 3s. a day, and subsequently for reasons of economy declined to provide any money for the payment of the men in camp. However, in spite of this, the men, for patriotic reasons, continued to give their time to learning their work as soldiers and doing their-duty. When the Defence Force was taken over by the Commonwealth Government in 1901 great dissatisfaction resulted when it was found that the soldiers on the mainland received 8s. a day, while the Tasmanian soldiers were allowed only 3s. a day. It was pointed out to them that until a Commonwealth Defence Bill was passed the rate of pay would continue to be 3s. a day, and instructions were given to commanding officers to use every endeavour to retain the services of the men pending its passage, when there would be a uniform rate of pay throughout the union. On the eve of the passing of that measure, orders have been issued re -organizing the force and rendering a part of them, namely, the partially-paid or militia force, liable to be removed from their State to serve in any part of the Commonwealth, and further orders have been given that the rate of pay, in the case of the partially-paid infantry of the Commonwealth shall be 8s. a day, but that the Tasmanian partiallypaid infantry, liable to the same conditions of service, shall be excluded, and have to accept the same miserable pittance of 3s. a day as in former years. Senator Keating yesterday received information that the status and pay of the Tasmanian force would remain unaltered for the reasons stated by Sir John Forrest, which were -
The urgent need for keeping down the expenditure in Tasmania, and the strong representations mode against the increase of expenditure involved.
I want to go straight to the point. The men of the Tasmanian force are being unjustly treated. “Why, may I ask, should any difference be made between them and their comrades on the mainland ? They were good enough when there was rough work to do on active service, and I demand to know why this sinister influence is being brought to bear on the Government of the Commonwealth to make them commit a breach of trust, in treating the Tasmanians unfairly, and differently from their comrades on the mainland. Is it not one of the functions of the Government to administer even-handed justice to all ? Why is it withheld from Tasmania? The establishment of the Tasmanian force is 123 officers and 1,920 men. The nominal strength at present is 94 officers and 1,694 men. Of this number, in 1902, only 69 officers and 755 men attended camp, and in 1903, 64 officers and 688 men, although the most loyal and strenuous efforts were made by the officers to try and bring their men into camp. The small attendance at camp is due to distrust of the Commonwealth, caused by the inequality of treatment consequent upon an unfair and inferior rate of pay, and for the Government to incur this stigma for a paltry £620, which would be the amount involved ‘if the whole force attended camp, passes my comprehension. If the Commonwealth Government, with the aid of the Tasmanian Government, desire to destroy the local Defence Force, they are taking the most effectual means to carry that purpose out, but I ask both Governments to pause before they commit such a criminal act of folly. In view of the impending conflict which may break outat any moment in the East, and in which England can scarcely escape being involved, and with the knowledge which we have on the best authority that the Russians would endeavour to seize Hobart, and with the utter isolation-
– That is not very likely.
.- Never mind, the Russians have a right to take that course. I submit that their first endeavour would be to seize Hobart, and if they were successful what would be the position of Tasmania in its utter isolation, consequent upon the destruction of telegraph communication with the outer world. I ask is it wise in the face of such a danger to destroy the small force existing in that State ?
– “Where would our navy be ?
– God knows! If this course is persisted in, the artillery and infantry in Hobart will cease to exist, and fully 50 per cent, of the remainder of the forces we have there will claim their discharge. In conclusion I desire to state that I have not exaggerated the condition of discontent in the Defence Forces of Tasmania ; and I only wish -that an abler voice than mine had taken the matter up.
– I am somewhat hopeful that after all Tasmania is going to’ make a name for herself in Australian affairs. The Labour party has had occasion to complain of the sweating in that State. I am justified in expecting, after the remarks of Senator Cameron, that he will assist in putting an end to that condition of affairs, and will favour the introduction of a Factories law.
– Does the honorable senator think that the Factories law has anything to do with this question?
– By way of illustration, I think it has. The military are,’ comparatively speaking, a useless element in the community as compared with the factory workers. I look upon the military man as being, to a certain extent, a parasite as compared with the factory hand ; and, if it is a proper thing to say that we should see that the soldier is not sweated, surely, in the name of all that is useful, we should also see that the factory worker is not sweated. I was in some doubt yesterday when Senator Cameron was addressing himself to the subject of the Naval Agreement Bill, as to how he was going to vote ; but, after the remarks he has made to-day, I am satisfied that he intends to vote against the measure.
– The honorable senator ought not to allude to the subject matter of another question that is before the Senate.
– I hope, at all events, that Senator Cameron will be consistent in his references to the payment of persons in the State which he represents. I cannot see any reason for a difference between the rate of pay for the bluejackets of England and the rate of pay for what we may call the Australian bluejacket, employed iti our naval defence. If it is a wrong thing to pay the Tasmanian swashbuckler so rauch less than is paid to a member of the military forces on the mainland, it is equally wrong to pay the British bluejacket on the Australian Squadron less than is paid to the Australian. An effort should be made to place all the swashbucklers on an equality when they are serving on the Australian station.
– I do not know that I should have intervened, except for the remarks of the honorable senator who has just sat down. We all recognise Senator Cameron’s earnestness, and can quite understand the interest he takes in the volunteers and partly-paid militia men
Of our tight little island. It is a pity that the wages paid to factory hands should be dragged in. The two subjects have nothing to do with each other. Nor has the matter which has been brought forward by Senator Cameron anything to do with the payments made to the Australian Naval Forces. I desire to point out to Senator Cameron that the whole trouble has arisen from the condition of the finances of Tasmania ; and from the request made by the Tasmanian authorities .to the Defence Department of the- Commonwealth not to do anything ‘to increase the difficulties of that State. A request has been made that the partly-paid militiamen of Tasmania should be allowed to serve for a few weeks or months longer at the pay they have been drawing hitherto, and that the payment to them of the higher rates which are being received by the other partly-paid militiamen of the Commonwealth should be postponed. The responsibility rests with the Premier of Tasmania who, with the consent of his colleagues, has made certain representations to the Defence Department. The ex-Minister for Defence felt bound, I understand, to pay regard to the financial position of Tasmania, which is worse than that of any other State in the Federation. Tasmania loses about £150,000 a year in consequence of the Tariff passed by this Parliament.
– Is the honorable and learned senator referring to the present or to the late Premier of Tasmania 1
– I think it was the present Premier who made the request to the Minister for Defence.
– The honorable and learned senator is not sure.
– The information I obtained from the Defence authorities was that the Premier of Tasmania - I think the present Premier must have been meant, as his Government has taken office pledged to a policy of retrenchment and reform - requested that the rates of pay to the Tasmanian forces should not be increased for the present. Not only is the financial position of Tasmania bad in consequence of tHe operation of the Commonwealth Tariff, but the small-pox which has broken out in Launceston- is going to cost the Government- a pretty penny - perhaps between £ 5,000 and £10,000.
– More likely between £40,000 and £50,000.
– It is, at any rate, an enormous sum. Not only is the smallpox going to cost the Government a large amount, but indirectly it is inflicting enormous damage upon almost every class of the community. Although the damage and loss of income affects particularly the residents of Launceston - and I am happy to say that the disease has never got beyond the city boundaries - the people of the whole island are suffering indirectly. I am sure that Senator Cameron will see that the financial difficulty is a serious one.
– The whole amount involved is only about £620.
– The statement made by the Premier of Tasmania to the Defence authorities in Melbourne is that it involves £4,000 or £5,000 a year.
– Is the honorable and learned senator in order in referring to the small-pox in Tasmania?
– The honorable and learned senator is not in order except so far as he contends that the financial policy of Tasmania necessitates the payment of a reduced amount to the Defence Department.
– I am satisfied that when the financial condition of my State improves, at the earliest moment the Tasmanian authorities will ask the Commonwealth Defence authorities to pay the same rates to the Tasmanian militia as are paid to the forces on the mainland. I desire to see the forces of my State treated on an equality with the forces of the other States. I told them before this Parliament was elected, that one of the advantages of Federation would be, that in consequence of taking part in the larger nationality of Australia, there would be a a increase of pay in this direction. I desire to see that understanding carried out. But I also desire to consult the interests of the taxpayer, and I wish the financial position of Tasmania to be regarded. I feel bound to do my best to support the request made by the Premier of ray State to the Commonwealth Government, but I am certain that at the earliest possible moment full justice will be done to the Tasmanian volunteers and militiamen.
– We all sympathize deeply with Senator Cameron in connexion with the subject which he has brought forward to-day. It is nothing short of a scandal that the Tasmanian militia should be paid about 60 per cent, less for their services than the militia on’ the mainland- I was much interested in the apology made by Senator Dobson for that state of affairs. His claim is that the State is so heavily burdened that it is not able to pay any more. He states that Tasmania has lost about £150,000 of revenue, owing to the difference between the old State Tariff and the new Commonwealth Tariff. Where is that £150,000 1 ls it in the pockets of the taxpayers’! My impression is that Tasmania now treats, and has been in the habit of treating, her civil servants in a more niggardly spirit than any other portion of the Australian continent. The people of Tasmania require defence just as much as do the people of the continent at large, but they want it cheap.
– They do not want it cheap, unless the honorable senator accepts Senator Dobson as the spokesman of the whole of Tasmania.
– I accept Senator Dobson as the true representative of Tasmanian feeling upon this subject. We have been told that the extra pay has been withheld from the Tasmanian militia at the request of the Premier of the State, who says that his revenue has been curtailed. Our reply ought to be, “Have you no other source of revenue ? Have you no fat rich men in Hobart or Launceston and up and down your country whom you can tax upon their superfluities ; and who can be made to pay something to fill up this huge gap in the finances of the State 1 Is there no Van Dieman’s Land Company holding up hundreds of thousands of acres in various portions of the Island 1 Why should you not tax these people to find the money to provide for the proper defence of your State 1” I really have no sympathy whatever with the Tasmanian Government in this matter, nor have I any sympathy with Senator Dobson. I believe that that little island has an immense taxable reserve which has not yet been tapped. It is the duty of the Commonwealth. Government to show the Tasmanian Government that if they want a service equal to that of any of the other States they must pay for it. I am glad to hear that Senator Clemons, Senator Keating, Senator O’Keefe, and Senator Cameron take up a different line from Senator Dobson, because I believe that those honorable senators will have some influence with the electors of their State, and will show them the folly of continuing in their present course of conduct. Apparently the matter lies in the hands of the Tasmanian Government. They have to pay. The Commonwealth has not.
– The Commonwealth can make them pay.
– It is merely a. matter of studying the convenience of the Tasmanian Government. If that State is able to pay the money let us spend it, and let the Treasurer of Tasmania make up his deficiencies in the best way he can. For this reason I say to the Commonwealth Government - “ Pay the Tasmanian militia the> same rates as you pay the militia of the other States of the Commonwealth.”
– I am entirely in accord with Senator Cameron in regard to this matter, and shall give him my most hearty support. In whatever, way we look at the subject it is absolutely an outrageous thing that the Premier of any one State should interfere with the Defence arrangements of the Commonwealth so as to impair their efficiency. That is really what it amounts to. For the sake of saving some small amount of revenue the Premier of Tasmania apparently requests the Defence Department not to increase the allowance to the partialllypaid forces of that State, so as to make them equal to the rates paid in the other States. There should be uniformity throughout the Commonwealth. It is only by having that uniformity that there can be satisfaction on the part of those employed iti the Defence service. For that reason, also, it should be most distinctly impressed upon the Defence Department that, no difference should be made.
– I did not rise after Senator Cameron resumed his seat, because I wished to hear what other Tasmanian senators had to say before I spoke in reply. I am happy to find myself entirely in accord with Senator Cameron and with most of the other speakers as to the desirability of having a uniform rate of pay throughout the Commonwealth. That was the object which the Department had in view in bringing forward its re-organization scheme and providing for a uniform rate of militia pay. I am also in accord with the honorable senator in regarding the semi-paid forces as being the real backbone of our fighting strength. It is therefore right that we should do everything we possibly can to increase the strength of that branch of the service. But in making these arrangements we are bound to take into consideration during the bookkeeping period the financial circumstances of the various States. I am not now speaking of any special representation that has been made in connexion with this matter. From the first the Commonwealth Government has been asked by the Governments of Tasmania and of Queensland, having regard to their financial position, to endeavour not to increase their burdens. That being so, my predecessor altered the scheme by excepting Tasmania from the revised rates of pay. That is to say, the late Minister for Defence proposed that in the case of Tasmania no alteration should be made during this year in the status or pay of the Defence Force.
– Who made the request. The Tasmanian Government ?
– I am not speaking of any specific request; but I say that the’ Governments of Tasmania and Queensland have, on all possible occasions pressed the necessity of keeping down the expenditure during the bookkeeping period. Senator Dobson told us just now that there has been a Treasurer’s loss of £150,000 per annum in the case of Tasmania. There has also been a Treasurer’s loss of £400,000 per annum in the case of Queensland in consequence of the reduced collections in the Customs.
– Is the request from Tasmania a recent one, er is-it two years old ?
– I have no information on that subject.
– And the Minister is reluctant to give what information he does possess.
– I shall presently quote from the memorandum of Sir John Forrest on the point. I think I am justified in saying that all along there has been a request from those two States that, in fixing the expenditure, the Commonwealth Government should have particular regard to their financial necessities occasioned by the diminished collection of revenue through the Customs.
– Was that request made by the Premier of Tasmania ?
– I am not referring to the Premier of either State.
– It has been stated that the request was made by the Premier of Tasmania.
– I say that all along the Governments of these two States have made a request to that effect, and the Commonwealth Government has never ignored the desire that they should refrain as far as possible from increasing ‘the financial burden at the present time. A memorandum was issued by my predecessor in regard to the Estimates of the Defence Department, and on page 2 he says : -
The Estimates of the financial year 1903-4 are based on uniform rates of pay and allowances to the several branches of the Defence Force throughout the whole Commonwealth except inthe State of Tasmania. Unfortunately the “urgent need for keeping down expenditure in Tasmania, and the strong representations made against the increase of the expenditure involved, has led to the omission of the provision on the Estimates, which was proposed to bring the following under the partially-paid rates: - Light horse, 294 in number; field artillery, 132; garrison artillery, 105; and engineers, 59; or a total of 590.
At the rate of pay fixed, namely 8s. per day, the amount per year per man is about £9, so that the payment at partially-paid rates of the 590 men would amount to £5310. If we deduct the £700 placed on the Estimates in order to pay the Tasmanian forces on the scale that has been existing hitherto we have left a little less than £4600, and then we must deduct about 7 per cent, on account of moneys which may not be spent, leaving a balance of about £4,000. Under this scheme, to pay that number of men at the full rate would mean an increase of about £4,000 on the present Estimates.
– The Minister is inchiding daylight parades, as well as camp exercises.
– I am putting the force in Tasmania on the same scale of pay as the partially-paid men in the other States. But if these 590 men were paid the full rates as partially-paid men, the remainder of the force in Tasmania would be receiving no pay at all, but would be put upon, a purely volunteer basis.
– That is the basis on which all the men are being placed now.
– Yes; and that is what they were before.
– It is exactly what they never were before.
– We are putting them in exactly the same position as before.
– I recommend the Minister to read the Tasmanian Defence Act, and he will find he is wholly wrong.
– I am not questioning that under the Tasmanian Act these men are reckoned as militia. I have no doubt that under the Act it was intended they should be militia, because it provided that they should receive the prescribed pay.
– And be liable to be called out.
– That is so.
– They be liable for service, such as no other force in Australia is liable for.
– As Senator Cameron has pointed out, for some few years past, in consequence of the financial position, the pay has been cut down by the Tasmanian Government to 3s. a day for parades. The men loyally accepted that small rate of pay, and continued to serve; and that was the position of affairs at the time of the transfer. All that is proposed now is to continue that condition of affairs during this year, in view of the financial condition of Tasmania, which we are informed is no better now than it was before Federation. We are informed that the financial position of Tasmania has not substantially improved, and consequently the same reasons exist for economy as existed when economy was first put into practice. As to the amount involved, £4,000 practically represents the difference between carrying out the re-organization scheme in Tasmania and allowing matters to remain as hitherto. I find, however, that the number of men actually enrolled at the present time is 1,810,. and although I have only had a short time to make myself acquainted with the matter, that appears to me really contrary to the provisions of the Tasmanian Defence Act. Section 8 of that Act provides -
The total number of officers and men in all branches of the active force, including the volunteer reserve force hereinafter mentioned, shall not in time of peace exceed 1,200.
Yet we find that the number is now 1,810.
– The Minister is including the reserves.
– The reserves are included in the 1,200.
-Col. Cameron. - If the Minister refers to the establishment, he will find that it consists of 1 23 officers and 1 , 920 men, but that the nominal’ strength on the books at the present moment is only ninety-four officers and 1,694 men.
– I am speaking from a return which I laid on the table at the instance of Senator Neild. The number in Tasmania is there shown as ten permanent men, and 1,810 men under the head of volunteers, but I do not raise that question.
– Col. Cameron. - Probably that is a later return.
– It is on that basis I am speaking.
– But the establishment consists of 1,900 men.
– Yes ; and the present number is 1,800.
– That is short.
– But according to the Act the extreme limit is 1,200.
SenatorFraser. - What does it matter about a few men one way or the other 1
– I do not want to raise the question of whether recruiting has gone beyond the limit allowed by the Act, but I shall take the number given in the return - namely, 1,810. If these 1,810 men have been included as militia, and we are to give the uniform rate of pay to them, the amount involved will be £16,290. If we deduct the £700 now on the Estimates, and also the other sum of which I spoke, the net amount will be about £15,000 ; and that is a very serious position for Tasmania.
– But these men are essential to the establishment.
– What does the honorable senator mean ?
– I mean that they are essential under the scheme of defence.
– Not that number ; and I am afraid the honorable senator has not been listening. It was proposed, under the re-organization scheme, to have 590 partiallypaid men or militia in Tasmania, and the payment of those men would have involved an increase of £4,000 on the Estimates, leaving the other men, not included in the 590, without any pay whatever. If we give the whole of the men enrolled in Tasmania the uniform rate of pay, it will, as I say, mean an increased expenditure of £15,000, and my predecessor, recognising that the position was a serious one for Tasmania, excepted that State from the operation of the scheme. That is the position at the present moment, and it will be seen that this is entirely a financial matter. Tasmania, before Federation, reduced- the pay of her forces from motives of economy, and we understand that the same reasons for economy exist now. It is thought to be not unreasonable to ask the forces in Tasmania to consent, at all events for another year, to serve under the conditions which they accepted, cheerfully and loyally, I believe, before Federation. The Government found exactly the same difficulty as has been found in other transferred Departments, the difficulty of reconciling conflicting rules and different rates of pay in the various States. In Victoria the pay was 8s. a day, in
New South Wales 8s., in Queensland 7s. 6d., and in South Australia £5 per annum. In Western Australia the pay was much the same as in Tasmania, where the rate was 3s. per day when called out for drill.
– Are all the forces of the States being left as they were found?
– We are introducing the system of partially-paid men at 8s. per day in all the States with the exception of Tasmania, where,, for the reasons I have mentioned, matters are left as hitherto. We all hope that the position not only of Tasmania, but of the other States will be so far improved that, on the next year’s Estimates, we shall be able to carry out what has been the intention and desire of the Department all along, namely, to make the conditions and rates of pay equal throughout the Commonwealth.
– I note that the Minister for Defence in approaching this question agrees that it is desirable that there should be uniformity in the pay of the forces in . the different States. But I should like to point out that it is not a question of desirability - that it does not simply rest at the stage of desirability. The Tasmanian forces are by their status in law undoubtedly entitled, legally speaking, to be treated on equal terms with the forces in the other States. The Minister, no doubt not knowing so much about the circumstances as he would had he been longer in charge of the Department, has told the Senate that the Tasmanian forces cheerfully and willingly accepted their reduced rates of pay. But the Minister should know that the reduction took place many years ago, and it was then held out to the forces as a prospect that, at the end of a year or two at the most, the Government would be in a position to restore the original rates. Year by year the men have been buoyed up with that hope, and have held on loyally to the forces. Then came the wave of enthusiasm in connexion with the enlistment of soldiers for South Alfrica ; and that assisted to keep the force together. Had that enthusiasm not arisen, it is more than likely that the Tasmanian forces would to a great extent have ceased to exist. Immediately afterwards, they were told that, as the Defence Department would be taken over by the Commonwealth early in 1901, they would no- doubt participate with the forces in the other States in the militia pay
Senator Clemons has interjected that the Tasmanian forces are not, as the Minister would have us believe, volunteer forces. They come under the Tasmanian Defence Act of 1885, which was amended in 1889 and 1893, and all the conditions under which they enlisted, are conditions which apply to militia. Throughout the long Principal Act of 1885, there are, in many places, frequent distinctions drawn between the Volunteer Reserve Forces and what are known as the ordinary Defence Forces or militia. The men are liable to be called out. for daylight parade, and to attend camps for instruction and exercise, and in many other ways they are subject to the ordinary discipline, which can apply only to militia. They have consented, although legally remaining militia, to be placed practically in the position of volunteers, and, while subject to all the liabilities I have mentioned, receive no pay. And why? Because some ten or twelve years ago, as Senator Dobson knows, the Tasmanian Government being in very sore straits financially, began to reduce the expenditure on defence.
– The expenditure was cut down one-half.
– Subsequently to that the expenditure was still further reduced, until there was actually no money provided for the payment of the men. Recognising the conditions, however, and believing that a better state of things would soon eventuate, the men carried on de facto as volunteers, although legally militia. Senator Drake has tried to show that Senator Cameron is committing a grave error when he refers to the sum involved as £620. But if Senator Drake had listened carefully, he would have noted that in making this estimate Senator Cameron referred to the camp of instruction. The amount of £4,000 or £5,000, to which Senator Drake referred, is intended to cover, not merely the cost of men attending the camp, but the cost of men attending a certain number of daylight parades throughout the year.
.- Hear, hear !
- Senator Dobson has pointed out to the Senate that this is simply a matter of financial adjustment between the Commonwealth and Tasmania.
– I did not ; I said there were two aspects - the financial aspect and the aspect of justice.
– If that be so, the only aspect on which Senator Dobson was content to gaze was the financial aspect.
– Senator Keating is again misquoting me.
– I am not endeavoring to quote the honorable and learned senator at all, but simply describing his attitude, and pointing out that he has been content to confine his remarks to the matter of financial adjustment.
– The honorable and learned senator is, absolutely incorrect.
– The honorable and learned senator pointed out that the Premier of Tasmania had made a request, and the inference to be drawn from his remarks was that the Commonwealth had nothing to do but to obey. That is a wrong position to take up. What are the representatives of Tasmania in the Senate and the other House for if the Ministers are to accept the suggestion or the dictation of the Government of that State? In justice to ourselves and to our constituents, we should decline to be put in that position. I interviewed the Minister for Deffence on this subject before I asked the questions I did yesterday. I had communicated with the late Minister for Defence as far back as October and November last year. I have made representations to the Department in various ways, and when the Estimates were brought down we found that the late Minister had issued a memorandum in which he stated that uniform rates of pay were to prevail throughout the Commonwealth, except in the case of Tasmania, owing to the strong representations made from’ that quarter as to the necessity for reducing the expenditure. Why does Tasmania or any Other State send representatives to the Senate or the other House but to look after its interests and to represent to the Government and to the Houses the condition of affairs in all matters which come within the’ jurisdiction of the Commonwealth ? We never know what particular matter we maybe anticipated in. It was for that reason that I gave notice this afternoon of my intention to move to-morrow that all the correspondence bearing on this alleged representation by the Government of Tasmania should be laid on the table so that honorable senators and the people of Tasmania, especially those who think that they are aggrieved, should be able to see how the position has been brought about. Yesterday
Tusked certain questions, and received certain answers, which I shall quote -
Has the Defence Department been asked by or on behalf of the Government or the Treasurer of Tasmania to make this distinction? - Yes.
If so, is it to be understood that the Australian defence policy is to be varied to suit the varying financial conditions of the several States ? - No ; but the Government do riot altogether ignore the financial condition of the States.
I do not wish to suggest that the Government should disregard a representation by the State Government’. They could not carry out their duties harmoniously if they did. But, surely when such representations are made, those who are sent here directly by the people of Tasmania should have a voice in the matter as well as the State Government, and be consulted before effect is given to such representations 1 Seeing that the officers and men in the defence force of Tasmania have considered all along that they occupy legally the status of militia, and in entering the union anticipated that one of the first achievements of the Department would be to place them on equal terms with their brothers in arras in other States, their position should be considered apart altogether from the request received from the State Government. Since the Minister for Defence, like his predecessor, has some doubt on this point will he ask the Attorney-General for his opinion as to whether these officers and men are or are not militia in the true sense of the word, and as such entitled to the rates of pay corresponding to those prevailing in other States ‘! That is a fair request to make, I think. The late Minister was under the impression that they were volunteers simply because they were receiving no pay, although their legal status was that of militia. I would ask the Minister, if the Attorney-General should rule that the officers and men are militia, to take steps to see that they receive those rates of pay and other privileges to which under that status they are entitled.
– While I am very glad that this question has been brought before the Senate, I feel that it is being discussed under a considerable difficulty. It arises from the fact that Senator Drake has only just taken charge of the Defence Department. Very much that I might have said in absolute condemnation of a state of things which’ has been shown clearly to exist must be left unsaid for the present, but it will be stated perhaps in an. exaggerated form if the grievance is not speedily redressed. The Minister, coming fresh to the Department, has an excellent opportunity of remedying a state of things which must be abhorrent to any one with an elementary notion of what Federation means. The position is not merely that the members of the Tasmanian Defence Force are paid less than is paid on the mainland, that an absurd exception has been made in their case, but that the Government are necessarily attaching a stigma to them, and making them feel that they do not stand on level terms with their comrades on the mainland. I do not wish to burst out in a patriotic vein, but any one who recollects the recent events in South Africa will recognise that if the Government are going to attack any particular force in the Commonwealth in that way they must end, and not begin, with Tasmania. The Minister has either to see that the Defence Force in Tasmania shall be non-existent or that it shall be’ placed on a level” with the forces on the mainland. I entirely disagree with Senator Drake when he says that because of representations which have been made from Tasmania in a vague way and at an uncertain time this course had to be taken. I have not been able to elicit any definite information from him, although I and others tried for half-an-hour to ascertain the source of the request. If he intends to manage the Defence Forces on the principle that attention should be paid in the first instance to any representations which come from the State Parliament, he will proceed on lines which no representative of a State in the Senate will approve. Surely he must see that it is wrong that he, a member of the Federal Ministry, should be dictated to on a . question of expenditure. Will he allow himself to be dictated to on a question of raising revenue ? If he allows dictation in one case he must allow it in the other. What a monstrously absurd thing it would be for the Federal Government, to listen with both ears and at all times to statements which might come from the Parliament or the Premier of a State as to the way in which the expenditure should be directed, or to the way in which the Commonwealth should raise money by taxation ‘ having regard to the position of a State. I urge the Minister to pay particular attention to one point raised by Senator Cameron. The request which is made is not for the expenditure of £15,000. If it were, I might shrink from my position, because, speaking generally, I do not believe in too much expenditure in these matters. Senator Cameron has practically asked the Minister to see that the insignificant sum of £620 shall be spent on a camp of” exercise.
– That is all that is involved in my request.
– No, £1,600.
– I shall resume my seat at once, if the Minister will give me an assurance on the spot that the money will be spent.
– I cannot speak again.
– I do not want a speech, but an interjection.
– That would be disorderly.
– Does the honorable and learned senator mean that all the other members of the Defence Force are not to have uniform pay t
– I am afraid that Senator Dobson does not quite understand the question, and perhaps he had better not interrupt me. I urge the Minister to see at once that the expenditure of £620 is authorized. I have some doubts as to whether this difficulty has not arisen from the fact that we have not a Defence Act.
– I am very glad to get that assurance. Unless in a very short time this grievance is redressed, I, and I believe every other senator except perhaps Senator Dobson, will introduce the matter here continually and at short intervals.
– I heartily indorse the remarks of Senators Cameron, Keating, and Clemons. While Senator Dobson was speaking, I tried to elicit from him, by interjection, whether it was the present or the late Premier of Tasmania who first made this request to the Federal Government. It would have been of considerable assistance to honorable senators to have that information. It has not been supplied. It is very unsatisfactory to honorable senators that even the Minister should not be able to answer that question.
– I said I was not aware of any specific representation being made about this matter.
– The representatives of Tasmania would like that point to be cleared up. There was a change of Government ia the State a few months ago, and they may not hold quite the same views on this subject as their predecessors. I am decidedly in favour of the Defence Force being administered in the Federal spirit. It is simply absurd to treat the Defence Force of Tasmania as it is being treated. One cannot travel in any part of the State without hearing charges against the Federation from men connected with the Defence Force, x shall not rest satisfied until this very serious anomaly has been removed, and Tasmanians placed on the same level as their comrades-in-arms on the mainland.
– I have only risen to give a little friendly advice to the Minister for Defence. But before doing so, I wish to ask from whom is the Government to receive instructions - from the Parliament of the Commonwealth, or from the Premiers of the States ? The representatives of Tasmania have a just grievance to complain of. It is a piece of presumption on the part of the Government of Tasmania, either past or present, to endeavour to dictate to the Commonwealth Government how they should administer the Defence Department. The Minister for Defence has said that the Government has received suggestions from the Governments of Queensland and Tasmania to effect economies during the bookkeeping period. May I ask that honorable and learned gentleman why the request of Tasmania has been attended to, and the request of Queensland has not been considered ? I ask every Minister to recognise” the inconsistency of that position. Tasmania has two classes of representatives in the Senate - the representatives who are prepared to do justice to its people, and to see that they ave treated in the same manner as the people of any other State, and the economic or Kyabramite representative in the person of Senator Dobson, who before the Federation was accepted, told the people of Tasmania - who were in the public service and otherwise interested in the Commonwealth - that they would receive not only social and political benefits but higher wages. He has made that acknowledgement to the Senate to-day. Yet he comes here and does all he can to defeat the very promises which he made to the people of his State. I wonder what they will think about him when he returns.
– He did nothing of the kind - be fair.
– The honorable senator is not always fair, and I do not think I have any necessity to obey his command. It would not be out of place I think to suggest that there may be grievances in other States. I warn the Minister that in other States a similar danger may arise from inconsistent and unreasonable treatment. In South Australia, for instance, some corps run a very great risk of being disbanded simply because the central authorities are not prepared to exercise a little common sense. I hope that the Minister will be more reasonable in his administration, pay more attention to the feelings and aspirations of the men who have to do the work, and less attention tothosewho are desirous of saving a few pence simply to increase the surplus or to reduce the deficit in the State Treasuries. I hope that he, as well as every other Minister, will be more courteous to the Senate, and will give honorable senators a little more consideration when they ask for information. With Senator Clemons I asked several times, by way of interjection, who made this request to the Commonwealth. Was it the Premier of Tasmania 1 Senator Dobson said it was. An honorable senator asked, was it the late Premier? Senator Dobson did not know, but Senator Fraser was prepared to suggest that it was the present Premier.
– Who else could it be? He is the mouth-piece of Tasmania ?
– Probably the honorable senator does not know what he is talking about. But if some Tasmanian senator is not prepared to obtain that information I will give notice of motion for that purpose to-morrow.
– There is a notice on the paper now.
–The sooner it is carried the better ; and the sooner we know who is responsible for this underhand work the better it will be for the peace of mind of the Senate. The Minister for Defence will find that he will work much more amicably with the members of the Senate if he is ready to give information of that kind. But apparently it does not matter what one does at present - there is some underhand influence at work to defeat the influence of honorable senators. The Governments of some of the States are trying to exercise influence upon Commonwealth Ministers. I warn the Government that if they fall victims to influences of that description they will lose the confidence of honorable senators pretty quickly. There are some of us who are not going to be treated as mere figureheads in respect to the States from which we come. If the business of the Commonwealth is to be done by the present Government, it must be done with the full confidence of the representatives of the States. Any attempt to carry on the affairs of the Commonwealth in any other way will prove very difficult to the Government. It was. only yesterday that I asked a question, but because it affected political considerations in some States the information was not published in either of the papers in Melbourne. That is the kind of thing we have to put up with in connexion with the underhand tactics of some of the Governments of the States. I hope that in the future Commonwealth Ministers will pay a little less attention to requests that come to them in this underhand way from the Ministers of the States, and will consider rather more seriously the views of the representatives who are sent by the States to this Parliament. I trust that the Minister for Defence will grant Senator Cameron’s request. If the amount involved is as small as Senator Cameron declares it to be, no further attention should be paid to the Premier or the Treasurer of Tasmania. It is a peculiar thing that when a Minister gets up to make an explanation, he should do so in such a way that it is almost impossible to iinderstand him. The Minister for Defence told us in the first instance that what Senator Cameron asked for would cost £5,000. Then by another method of calculation he increased that estimate to£15,000. The Minister ought to know that under the regulations the men in the reserve forces are supposed to attend drills up to the number of twelve, and not exceeding twenty-four per annum. If they attend more drills it must be at their own expense. As Senator Cameron has explained that his only desire is that the Tasmanian militia shall be paid at the same rate as the militia on the mainland, when they are occupied in drill camps, the Minister should have calculated what those drills would cost, instead of leading us into a maze of figures, which I do not suppose any of us understand, and the full meaning of which he probably did not understand himself. I hope that in future Ministers will be more plain spoken, with respect to these affairs.
Senator DRAKE (Queensland - Minister for Defence). - May I be permitted to say a few words in addition to what I have already said 1 I am sorry that my explanation was of such a confusing nature that Senator McGregor could not understand it. I feel sure, however, that Senator Cameron understood it very well. To my mind it is very clear. If we pay the whole of the men enrolled at the present time in Tasmania at the rate of militia pay which prevails on the mainland it will cost £15,000. If we pay the number of men proposed to be partially-paid according to the re-organization scheme it will cost £4,000. I understand that what Senator Cameron desires is that we should increase the camp payments by a total of 600. I certainly have no objection to a payment of £1,300 instead of £700 being made ; nor do I think any objection to that expense would be made by any of the representatives of Tasmania. There may be this little difficulty, that the Estimates are now upon the table of the House of Representatives, and provision is only made for £750. But I have no doubt that if there is an expression of opinion on the part of Parliament as to. the desirability of increasing the amount of the camp pay to £1,300, some means will be found of providing the money.
– lam glad that the’ Minister for Defence has agreed to meet the views of Senator Cameron. His request is only a small one ; and the Minister could at any time have carte blanche to meet such a trifling expense. Surely Tasmania is not so hard up that it could not afford a few hundred pounds. I rose principally to say that in my opinion it would be far better if the Commonwealth Government paid more attention to the States Governments than they have done during the past two years. Depend upon it that when the people of this country have an opportunity of voting for the Senate and for the House of Representatives, the States Governments will have more influence with them than the Federal Government. That is my view of the matter at any rate. I object in toto to honorable senators constantly lecturing the States Governments.
– It is the States Governments that lecture us generally.
– Not at all. It is quite a proper thing that a State Premier should make a reasonable and honorable request to the Commonwealth Government, and I object to the lecturing that Senator McGregor has given us on the question of the influence of the States.
– I join issue with Senator Fraser with reference to the doctrine that the States Premiers have any right to interfere in Federal politics.
– Has not the Federal Government interfered in State politics 1
– The Federal Government has not done so in my opinion. In any case the Commonwealth Government and the Senate ave responsible to the people, and not to the States Governments. The States Governments have their defined sphere of action, and we have ours. If we exceed the limits of our sphere of action the States have their remedy in _ the High Court, and have had their remedy in the States Courts that we have endowed with Federal jurisdiction in the past, It certainly is an interference in Federal politics for a State Premier or Treasurer to say to the Commonwealth Government - “ We want you to shape your Estimates in a certain way, so as to increase the amount of money we shall have to expend.” If the Tasmanian people object to the Defence expenditure of the Commonwealth they have their mouth-pieces in this Parliament. The senators for Tasmania are those who should raise objection. The people of Tasmania have the right of petitioning the Senate, and the privilege of approaching the other House with the object of stating whether its Treasury is in a position to pay the militiamen of the State 8s. a day, or whether the rate shall continue to be 3s. a day. But the State Government should proceed by the defined channels in approaching the Federal Parliament. I object to Ministers taking up the position that because a State Premier indicates that he has not sufficient money to carry on, the Commonwealth Government should shape their Estimates accordingly.
– They might as well ask us to shape our policy of taxation to suit their needs.
– If they have the right to interfere with the Defence policy of the Commonwealth, they have a right to interfere with the whole of our policy. I must express my surprise that Senator Cameron, who has raised this subject this afternoon, should yesterday have committed himself - unwittingly perhaps - to the principle that we should have two classes of men doing exactly the same work and getting different rates of pay.
– That is a very farfetched analogy.
– It is a fact; and seeing that that practice has proved unworkable in the case of the Tasmanian Defence Force, I cannot see how Senator Cameron can support the same principle in reference to the naval forces. If it is right - as he has so eloquently urged - that the Tasmanian militia should receive the same pay as is received by the militia of the other States, then, on his own showing, it is not a proper thing that our naval forces should receive a different rate of pay from another branch of the same service in the Australian Squadron. I hope that when Senator Cameron comes to deal with another question which will be before the Senate shortly he will apply to it the same principle as he has applied to the militia, and deal with it as a logical man. I think that the Government ought to meet the objections which have been raised with regard to this question. It is absolutely necessary that we should treat our militiamen with absolute fairness. These men give up much of their time, undergo a great deal of discomfort, and sacrifice many of the pleasures of life, for the defence of Australia. The little pay they get is totally inadequate in consideration of the splendid services which they render. It must be degrading to the Tasmania militia to be remunerated at only half the rate at which the services of other Australians are valued. If the sum of £620 is all that is involved, it is ridiculous that the Government should have gone out of their way to cause this trouble, in order to meet the wishes of some person in Tasmania. The Minister for Defence does not seem to be able to identify who that person is. First we are told that it is the Premier, and now that it is some other person. The Commonwealth Government have put their fingers in the fire recently over this question of State interference. Only yesterday in the House of Representatives a question of a like character was brought forward, and some very stinging remarks were made about interference by States Governments. I feel sure that if we interfered in State matters we should be severely rapped over the knuckles. Similarly, the States Governments should keep to their own proper orbit. Therefore, we are indebted to Senator Cameron for having brought this matter forward.
– I should not have risen to make any observations upon this question except that I was much interested in the remarks .made by Senator Dobson when he said that previously to the referendum in Tasmania he had prophesied to the electors that one result of Federation would be to increase their rates of pay. I was not previously aware that the honorable and learned senator had made any prophesies. I thought that, inasmuch as he had voted against the principle of a minimum wage, which would increase the pay of some of the civil servants in Tasmania, he had never expressed any belief that such would be the effect of Federation.
– I was pointing out the advantages of Federation.
– It surprises me that Senator Dobson should have told the Tasmanian electors that one ‘effect of Federation would be to increase the pay, which had been fixed by Governments, such as he himself at one time led in Tasmania. I shall not pursue the point further than to say that it is extraordinary to me to find the legal profession, as represented by Senator Dobson, approving of a system such as has been practised by the Defence Department of soldiers on the mainland receiving 8s. a day, whilst soldiers in the island of Tasmania receive only 3s. We never hear the lawyers in the Senate suggesting that the legal fraternity in Tasmania, instead of receiving a fee of 6s. 8d., should get 2s. 2id. They would not support anything of that kind. I must say a word in reference to Senator Fraser’s desire that the Government should pay strict attention to the injunctions that may be sent to them by States Governments.
– I never said that; quote fairly.
– As far as my memory serves me, the honorable senator said that the Federal Government should pay more attention to the requests of the States Governments. I suppose the honorable senator has not yet forgotten that sturdy contest in which he played such a prominent part in this Chamber in 1901, when we were dealing with the question of the sugar industry and the kanakas. The Queensland Government then approached the Federal Government, but the latter very wisely took no notice beyond pointing to the representatives of that State in the Federal Parliament. I ask Senator Fraser to consider that aspect of the case when he desires that the views of the Tasmanian Government should receive attention.
– I did not cite any particular instance, but spoke generally.
– I ask Senator Fraser to look around the Senate, and see whether he cannot find representatives of Tasmania, elected by the people on adult suffrage, and sufficiently well qualified from every point of view - educationally, physically, and morally - to make any necessary requests on behalf of that State. If Senator Fraser has such a poor opinion of his own abilities as to think that the Victorian Government ought to be consulted, the circumstance cannot be helped. I am sure that Senators Barrett, Styles, and Best, and other representatives of Victoria do not take that view, but regard each honorable senator here as sufficiently in touch with public opinion as to be able to represent his State. I hope the Government will not adopt the practice of paying much attention to any State Government who desires that wages in one State shall be reduced below those paid in the other States. I do not suppose, however, that it is possible to do much good in this respect, because the Government seem to pay very little attention to votes of censure in this Chamber. It is to be hoped, however, that the influence exerted in another place may be more potent.
– I wish to express my deep obligation to honorable senators for the sympathetic view taken of the matter which it has been my privilege to bring forward. I desire also to thank the Minister for Defence for graciously acceding to the suggestion which I made, and I ask now permission to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
The President reported the receipt of the following message : -
Mr. President, ‘ Message No. 14.
The House of Representatives returns to the Senate the Bill intituled “ A Bill for an Act to make provision for the Exercise of the Judicial Power of the Commonwealth,” and acquaints the Senate that the House of Representatives has agreed to the amendments made by the Senate except amendment No. 19, and has agreed to amendment No. 19 with the amendment indicated by the annexed schedule.
The House of Representatives desires the concurrence of the Senate in the amendment to the amendment of the Senate.
V. W. Holder, Speaker.
House of Representatives,
Melbourne, 20th August, 1903.
Debate resumed from 19th August, (vide page 3847), on motion by Senator O’Connor -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– In the few words I spoke on this subject last night, I touched incidentally on the agreement made between the Australian ‘ colonies and the British Government in 18S7. I desire to revert to that agreement, for the purpose of emphasizing a fact which apparently comes as a surprise to a number of honorable senators. It is’ that the agreement of 1887 was to provide not one squadron but two distinct squadrons. In the first place, there wasthe Auxiliary Squadron for the defence of floating commerce in Australasian waters and, in the second place, there was the British Squadron, which the British Government undertook should be kept at itsthen strength, and, further, should remain in Australasian waters except in time of war. Under the last-mentioned circumstance, the arrangement was that the Admiralty should have the right to move the British Squadron to any portion of the hemispherein which its services could be most properly utilized. The squadron which it is now proposed we should subsidize is in effectthe equivalent of the British Squadron under the agreement of 1 887, the stipulations, being practically the same. The squadron remains in Australasian waters so long as we are at peace ; but, the instant we go to war,. the British Government or the Admiralty are entitled to move it to any part of the waters east of Suez. A great deal of stress has been laid on the advantages which weshall derive from the new agreement, but those advantages are, to a very large extent, visionary. Even in regard to the number of ships, the agreement can hardly be regarded from the point of view set forth by Senator. O’Connor. For instance, under the old agreement, we were to have seven ships in the Australian Squadron, and in the British Squadron there were, according to the Prime Minister, to be seven ships also. I have not taken the trouble to verify the figure in regard to the latter.
– The number was eight, I think.
– The Prime Minister says there were seven, and it is more convenient to take his figure. At the present time there are seven ships, and apparently the Government are satisfied with the number as representing the British Squadron stipulated for under the agreement of 1887. That gives fourteen effective ships in these waters. What do we find under the proposed agreement? Senator O’Connor has told us that we shall get eleven ships ; but when we come to look into the matter we find that four of these are sloops. I absolutely dissent from any acquiescence in the suggestion that four sloops - boats which are used merely for police purposes - can in any sense be regarded as available for defence ; and the number of ships under the new agreement becomes reduced to seven. Under the old agreement we paid £106,000 per annum, and obtained the services, in peace, of eleven effective or so-called effective ships ; but under the new agreement, Ave obtain the services of only seven effective ships, while paying an additional £94,000 per annum for the privilege. It is extremely difficult for me to satisfy myself that under these circumstances we gain any advantage. I -wish to impress upon honorable senators the conditions relating to the four sloops, because it is material to understand what those vessels are. They are calculated to run 13i knots an hour, and are armed with six 4-inch guns ; and it is most remarkable that Senator O’Connor should lay any stress on their value for defence purposes, seeing that the Government have come to the conclusion - at least, so we understand - that the Protector is a boat which should be dispensed with by the Commonwealth Government as soon as possible.
– Where did the honrable senator get the information ?
– I got it from a document to which I may not allude dealing with the proceedings of another place. We have been told that the Cerberus is to be retained and re-armed, though the Protector and the two or three boats employed on the coast of Queensland are to be disposed of as out of date. But what is the position as regards the Protector 1 That vessel makes 14 knots an hour as against the 1 3£ knots of the four sloops, so that in point of speed.she has distinctly the advantage over the vessels on which Senator O’Connor was pluming himself. The armament of the Protector is vastly superior to that of the four sloops, as she has one 8-inch and five 6-inch breech-loading guns ; in fact, that vessel is so armed that she would be capable of sinking any one of the existing ships of the squadron, except the Royal Arthur, before she could be approached near enough to receive any hurt from the guns which could be employed against her. The calibre of the Protector’s gun being 8-inch, she could strike at a range from which the other vessels could not pretend to touch her ; and yet we are told that this vessel is not an effective means of defence. If that be the case, it is perfectly preposterous to include the four sloops in any inventory of ships for defence purposes. At any rate, it is absurd to talk of these four sloops as being an improvement on the existing naval force. Having explained the exact difference between the agreement which is about to lapse, and the agreement we are asked to ratify, I propose to return to Admiral Tryon’s opinions, and consider for a moment the reasons he gave for advocating an Australian Squadron for the protection of floating commerce. The first quotation, is f>-om the instructions which were sent by the Admiralty on the 9th September, 1885, to Admiral Tryon, and on which he based his various memoranda. Instruction 4 was as follows : -
In peace time they should be employed in the usual routine duties of the station, in common with the rest of the Australian Squadron. In time of war they should be employed for the protection of the floating trade in Australian waters.
That was the object with which these boats were provided, and on page 227 we find Admiral Tryon’s own personal comments on their utility. Part of these comments were rend by Senator Styles yesterday, and I do not propose to deal with them again, but beginning where the honorable senator left off, we find Admiral Tryon expressing himself as follows : -
However superior our force may be, however skilled may be the strategic arrangements, however vigilant our Admirals, history repeats itself. An enemy may escape touch, he may escape notice, and it may be some time before his destination is known and his designs penetrated. We may feel confident he will be quickly followed, but his power for mischief, for a time at all events, would be great, and the difficulties attending a pursuing squadron are great compared to those experienced by one that is carrying into effect a well-devised, prearranged scheme. This condition must not be overlooked.
A little further on, Admiral Tryon wrote : -
Batteries and local defences alone extend their influence but a short distance. They cannot be indefinitely increased, even if it was wise to try to do so. The action of vessels of war at sea would tend to deny these waters as a cruising ground to our foes, and would do much to. practically cover places that are not defended by forts or local forces.
Admiral Tryon then goes on to explain what the result would be -
Should the colonies decide to increase the squadron on the station, when it is effected our position would be : We should know that while the main forces of the country were striving to defeat the machinations of an enemy, if their efforts were not successful in limiting the area of mischief we should be well able, at all events for a time, to take care of ourselves, and when our own pursuing fleet arrived we should be able to unite hand in hand with it for one common object.
Admiral Tryon made his object perfectly clear. He admitted, as every sensible person who deals with the question must admit, that it was impossible with any certainty to pen in all the vessels of any enemy in their own harbors. He admitted that it was most likely that vessels would escape the scrutiny of British cruisers, and their obvious and immediate aim would be to cut off, or damage, the conveyance of supplies from the base to the fleet. Admiral Tryon pointed out that under these circumstances the Admiral conducting the operations at a distance from the base would feel uneasy, and the object of suggesting that a squadron should be provided was that a base of operations might be secured, so that, as he says, the fleet returning from the pursuit of escaped stragglers might have a certainty of getting in touch with the coastal defence fleet which had been left behind, when they might by a united effort prevent further interference with supplies. The question we have ‘ to ask ourselves now is, have those reasons disappeared?
– Was that written in 1885?
– It was written in 1886. Senator O’Connor’s suggestion implies that Admiral Tryon’s strategy was out of date.
– I say that it is out of date now.
– Exactly ; the honorable and learned senator implies that his strategy is out of date now ; but I think that can hardly be held to be the case, because Admiral Tryon, in other parts of his memoranda, points out exactly the same features in naval defence which hold good to-day. He points out that the main fighting squadrons must coalesce to destroy the enemy. Over and over again, both by Sir William Jervois and Commodore Wilson, was this impressed upon the people of these States. That aspect of defence was never lost sight of. But these gentlemen in those days went a little further than’ the Government of the Commonwealth to-day are prepared to go. They said that while our fighting line of battle-ships were coalescing for the purpose of destroying the enemy, we must have our, base secure,, and they considered that it was not sufficient to have forts, torpedoes, and an armed military force, but that we should also have, in addition, a certain number of ships provided by the colonies, which would combine together to protect what we may call “ the horizon “ all along the coast.
SenatorFraser. - That would mean double the expense.
– I do not touch on the question of expense for the moment, but I shall deal with it later on. I am now pointing out the policy advocated by these gentlemen, and I submit that it was an extremely reasonable policy. It is open for Senator Fraser to object to that policy on the score of expense, but I am dealing with Senator O’Connor’s objection to it on the score of antiquity. I do not think that any fault can be found with Admiral Tryon’s views from that aspect. I remind honorable senators that Admiral Tryon was not alone. Sir William Jervois, who dealt with the matter in 1879, made recommendations very much in the. same direction. He strongly urged the New South Wales Government to purchase an ironclad. As a matter of fact, a resolution was drawn up and submitted to the New South Wales Government in 1887 - I speak subject to Senator O’Connor’s correction - and it was debated in the State Parliament of New South Wales. So far as I can ascertain, no resolution was absolutely come to on the subject, and the matter lapsed so far as New South Wales was concerned, with the result that that State found itself later on in the inconvenient position that, as honorable senators have pointed out, while she had a considerable force of naval militia, she possessed no ship upon which she could give them any naval training. At the same date, Victoria, acting under Sir William Jervois’ advice, acquired the Cerberus. In dealing with the Cerberus we get a very bright light thrown on the question of how long a ship is in commission before she becomes obsolete. We have been told that if the States purchased ships, they would in a very short time find that they were obsolete. Is that the case with the Cerberus? Admittedly, the Cerberus is not obsolete.
– I hear that many experts say that she is.
– She would not be obsolete as a floating fort if she had new armament.
– And we do not want a floating fort when we have land forts that are better.
– Senator O’Connor is quite right. The Cerberus was secured as a floating fort. She was not bought, but was given as a present to the Victorian Government by the Government of Great Britain, with the sole stipulation that she would be returned to them if the Victorian people saw fit to dispense with her services. Yet we find members of the present Commonwealth Government so ignorant of the position that they have alluded to the Cerberus as having been purchased by the Victorian Government.
– Why, it was common knowledge that she was presented. I do not know who can have made the statement to which the honorable senator refers. 8 x
– I can tell the honorable and learned senator, but not iti this Chamber. I can show him the statement in print. As I have said, the Cerberus was acquired for a specific purpose, and she is still perfectly serviceable except so far as regards her armament. We are informed that her hull, her machinery, and everything else connected with her except her guns, are in such good condition that it is proposed to spend some £20,000 in purchasing modern guns to make her absolutely effective as a vessel of war. I submit that if this can be said of the Cerberus, a boat that is over twenty years old, it is quite preposterous to say that other vessels will become obsolete and inefficient in four or five years simply because they have to go to sea, whereas the Cerberus is not capable of going to sea.
– What is the use of her if she is not capable of going to sea ?
– Her use is as a floating fort, and she was built as a floating fort.
– What is the use of a floating fort in a small harbour with land forts so near at hand t
– That is not for me to say ; but I know that the Cerberus was acquired as a floating fort, and that she is efficient to-day as a floating fort. Ir> the same way, men-of-war purchased to-day by a competent buyer who knows what he is about and what he requires, and who takes, care to secure efficient and up-to-date vessels, will, by analogy, be efficient twenty years, hence.
– The expression “ by analogy “ qualifies it all.
– The analogy iswith the Cerberus. I can not tell what revolution may occur in naval ship-building, nor can the honorable and learned senator, but it is quite preposterous to suggest that it is necessary that boats purchased to-day must rapidly become obsolete or inefficient. How can Senator O’Connor know that any more than I do. By analogy, which is in this instance the experience of the past, it does not at all follow that boats purchased today will shortly become inefficient. What was the position in South Australia about the same time ? Sir William Jervois pointed out that the two batteries erected at Largs Bay were useless for the purpose of defence unless supplemented by a vessel of war. Senator Playford will no doubt be able to correct me if I am wrong. Sir William
Jervois pointed out that, as those batteries were then armed, it would be possible for vessels of war to lie outside of the range of the guns, bombard Adelaide, and inter- fere with the whole commerce, and the only safeguard for Adelaide and the coast of South Australia would be an effective vessel of war patrolling the coast. For that purpose the South Australian Government purchased the Protector, of which we have heard so much. They took care that the Protector should be properly armed. She was armed with one 8-inch gun and five 6-inch guns.
– I think Sir William Jervois recommended a twentyknot boat, and we got nominally a fifteenJtnot boat. I believe that she can only go 12 knots in the hour.
– I believe she can really go fourteen knots if her ‘ bottom is clean and her engines are in good working order. The honorable and learned senator is quite right in other respects, and Sir William Jervois must not be blamed for the fact that the South Australian Government did not entirely adopt his recommendation. Senator Sir John Downer. - I mentioned the matter in Sir William Jervois’ favour.
– Exactly. If the South Australian Government had carried out his suggestions to the letter they would have had a very effective ship indeed. As has already been pointed out here, the armament of the Protector is the secondbest armament in these waters. It far exceeds in power the armament of any ship in the British or Auxiliary Squadron, with the exception of the Royal Arthur. Queensland received the same advice, and took similar action. In her case the boats acquired were of lesser capacity than the Protector. They were what are oalled gun-boats, but even as gun-boats their armament is extremely ‘ good. They are armed with one 8-inch breech-loading gun and one 6-inch breech-loading gun each. These little gun-boats, of quite a small tonnage, would be capable of sinking any ship” in the British or Auxiliary Squadron, with the exception of the Royal Arthur, before they could be hit, always provided that their guns were well aimed, because the other ships of those squadrons are armed only with 4–7” guns. Sir William Jervois was not the only person who gave advice in the same direction. Sir Peter Scratchley reported in exactly the same way as Sir William Jervois at a later date, and Commodore Wilson, at a later date still, went considerably further. He recommended the Victorian Government to purchase two squadrons of ships. One was to consist of armed merchant auxiliaries, boats which were to be used for mercantile purposes in time of peace, and another squadron of six gun- boats to protect Port Phillip. I believe that at that time Commodore Wilson’s recommendations were to some extent laughed at. At all events, they were not acted upon, but I speak subject to correction. Six torpedo boats were secured instead of the six gun-boats recommended. As I have pointed out before, modern conditions of warfare were fully recognised at that time, and these boats were purchased for specific purposes on the recommendation of experts. Senator O’Connor just now seemed inclined to the view that these recommendations were not in keeping with modern naval strategy. I am fortunately able to cite Captain Mahan on the subject. His statements have several times been quoted from the National Review, but I now propose to read a passage which the opponents of an Australian Squadron have so far carefully omitted to notice -
Every war has two aspects, the defensive and the offensive. A sound defensive scheme is the foundation upon which war rests, but who lays a foundation without intending a superstructure? The offensive element in warfare is the superstructure, the end and aim for which the defensive exists - offence therefore dominates, but it does not exclude. The necessity for defence remains obligatory, though subordinate ; the two are complementary. It is evident, also, that offensive action depends for energy upon the security of the several places whence its resources are drawn. These are appropriately called “bases,” for they are the foundations severed from which vigour yields to paralysis. Still more immediately disastrous would be the capture or destruction of the base itself. It must be secured at all hazards.
That is what Captain Mahan wrote in 1902, and that should be sufficiently modern for Senator O’Connor. I have no doubt that the honorable and learned senator, if he were present, would answer this statement by saying, as other people have said to me, that Captain Mahan obviously deals with land defences only, and does not suggest that any vessels should be used for the purpose of supplementing land defences other than the fleet of battleships, but that is not the case. I can give another quotation from Captain Mahan in support of the views I hold. In one of his works, a chapter headed “The United States Looking Outwards,” and dealing with San Francisco, he writes -
Sun Francisco and Puget Sound, owing to the width unci great depth of the entrances, cannot be effectively protected by torpedoes and consequently us fleets can always pass batteries through an unobstructed channel they cannot obtain perfect security by means of fortifications only. Valuable as such works will be to them they must be further garrisoned by coast defence ships, whose part in repelling an enemy will be co- ordinated with that of the batteries.
I ask honorable senators to particularly mark that passage, because Captain Mahan is there speaking of coast defence ships. He writes further -
The sphere of action of such ships should not be permitted to extend far beyond the port to which they are allotted, and of whose defence they form an important part, but within that sweep they will always be a powerful reinforcement to a sea-going navy when the strategic conditions of the war cause hostilities to centre round their port. By sacrificing power to go long distances, the coast defence ships gains proportionate weight of armoured guns - that is of defensive and offensive strength. It further adds an element . of unique value to the fleet with which it for the time acts.
Is that not a most remarkable confirmation and support of Captain Creswell’s report? Could anything go further to satisfy the people of Australia that Captain Creswell is absolutely up-to-date in the views he has expressed in that report ? Here we have Captain Mahan using almost the identical words of Captain Creswell. He points out that the boats built for these specific purposes should be boats built on different lines to those which are required to go long distances. He says that by sacrificing the power to go long distances, they may be supplied with heavier artillery, and that, owing to the heavier artillery, they would be an element of unique value to the fleet of battle-ships to which they would be attached.
– We can have as many coast defence ships as we are prepared to pay for.
– Quite so; I sim]] deal with the honorable and learned senator’s interjection later on. My object was to rebut the contention of Senator O’Connor that Admiral Tryon’s views, written in 1886, were out of date. Senator Dobson has unfortunately missed what I said, but as a matter of fact no greater confirmation of the truth and value of that Admiral’s views could be found than this very extract which is taken from an extremely modern work by Captain Mahan; Admiral Sir Anthony Hoskins deals with the same question in this short extract -
Approaches to ports must be kept open to merchant ships by cruisers on the offing.
– When was that written 1
– I am not quite sure ; but I think it is to be found in Brassey’s Naval Annual for 1890. So there we have another eminent Admiral, whose views are held in very great respect, confirming ‘ the view that vessels working on the offing are a necessary complement to local fixed defences. That is the point I wish to make. We find that Admiral Tryon, Captain Mahan, and Admiral Hoskins are of the same opinion ; and I do not think it is necessary to quote other authorities to strengthen my case in that direction. The Auxiliary Squadron has, in fact, its proper place to fill - the place which was allocated to it by Admiral Tryon ; and I have absolutely failed to get the least indication from. Senator O’Connor as to the way in which he proposes to fulfil these necessary functions when we deliberately take away the subsidy of £106,000 from that Auxiliary Squadron and hand it over as a present to the British Navy. ,
– For a better fleet.
– Eyidently I have failed to get Senator Dobson to realize the main points of my argument, which I must repeat.
– Do not, please.
– The honorable and learned senator is so satisfied to remain dense to my point for fear of having to vote for the truth that he asks me not to repeat it. My point is that all these authorities have laid it down that there must be some Auxiliary Squadron working in connexion with the forts; that at present we are spending £106,000 in an attempt to get such an effective squadron ; and that the new arrangement which we are asked to adopt sweeps away that Auxiliary Squadron altogether.
– Altogether !
– It sweeps away altogether the Auxiliary Squadron, and gives the money as a lump sum ‘contribution tothe British fleet, which the Admiralty most properly says must be placed at their complete disposal. 8x2
– That is only half the truth.
– It may be some thousands of miles away from Australia.
– And they most properly say that it may be thousands of miles from Australia.
– For more efficient defence.
– I quite agree with Senator Fraser, but what I wish him to realize is that we are throwing up one thing completely and getting another’s that we are giving away the money which ought to be devoted to a local purpose and using it to relieve the .British ‘taxpayer. I desire, parenthetically, to allude to a suggestion which was perfectly logical and which came from Senator Best. Senator O’Connor had pointed out just as Senator Fraser has done that in his opinion we get better defence by giving this subsidy, and he said in effect that if we destroyed our enemy our commerce would be safe - in fact, he held that out to us as an inducement for the payment of the £200,000. Senator’ Best very properly interjected - “ In that case why need we trouble about land defence t “ The question was most pertinent. If owing to this subvention of £200,000 to the British fleet, we ore to have our enemies destroyed, why need we trouble to spend £600,000 or £700,000 on defence if the argument is good? But the argument is not good, and those by whom it is used are perfectly well aware that we cannot get the defence that they would wish us to believe we would get. Under these circumstances it is absolutely essential that we should maintain in a state of efficiency, not only our land defence, but also the Auxiliary Squadron. It is interesting to note what Mr. Deakin said when he addressed the Colonial Conference in 1887, as follows : - ‘
We must remember that if Australia were in the hands of a foreign power, the great commercial necessities of the British Empire would necessitate the presence of a British fleet in our waters for the protection of its commerce, the cost of which would probably be greater than that of the proposed and present fleets.
He showed in that way that Great Britain would get a distinct advantage from the contribution by the colonies of £106,000 for an Auxiliary Squadron, even although it would be confined, in time of war, to Australasian waters. I quote that passage because
I am most anxious that honorable senators should understand that Mr. Deakin, who is .a member of the Government who are prepared to throw over this Auxiliary Squadron, fully recognised the necessity there was for the British fleet to protect its commerce, even if we had no squadron of our own ; and that is a matter about which, I understand, a number of honorable senators have some doubt. .Senator O’Connor made a very eloquent quotation from Lord Selborne’s address, to the effect that local defence was a thing- of the past.
– What he said was that defence could not be localized.
– Yes. In July, 1902 - and the date is of material importance - Lord Selborne pointed out -
There can be no localization of naval forces in the strict sense of the word. There can be no local allocation of ships to protect the mouth of the Thames, to protect Liverpool, to protect Sydney, to protect Halifax. If we make any such attempt of the kind, we should only be inviting disaster.
That is all very well as an expression of opinion from one of the Lords of the Admiralty. What we have to consider is, does the Admiralty act up to these sentiments which, as expressed, look extremely well, and make a readable document. As a matter of fact, we find that they do not. From the Expo-ess, an English newspaper, of the 23rd February, 1903, 1 take this quotation -
The scheme will place a new first-class fleet upon the waters, whose especial business it will be to take its place as a fully mobolised unit of war for home defence. It will be as real and effective as any of the squadrons serving abroad, and will not be as hitherto, a collection of ships in home ports, available for mobilisation in case of need. That reinforcing role will be carried out by the Admiral of Reserves. with such ships as as are left to him. The great weakness in our linked-up chain of vessels has been the need of a powerful home fleet which would release the Channel Squadron from some home obligations, and make the latter a powerful ally of the Mediterranean Fleet in war. This weakness has now become a strength, and is the last link in the naval chain of defence. The Home Fleet is to be a more important command than the Channel Squadron, and will have added to it in course of time new battleships and cruisers, and it-will, under certain circumstances, look to the Channel Squadron for reinforcement. The command will be senior to that of the Channel Squadron, and the fleet will probably work in two divisions, one of which will patrol the North Sea The head-quarters of the fleet will remain at Portland.
What becomes of the quotation of Senator O’Connor ? We find that when the Admiralty issue these proclamations to the colonies they talk of the abandonment of any intention to protect the mouth of the Thames and to protect , Liverpool ; that within a year from the date of that memorandum they establish an effective fleet on an entirely new basis, with entirely new headquarters, for the very purpose of doing things which they said they never intended to do again. I ask what is the good of a quotation of that sort when any honorable senator can see for himself that the Admiralty do not follow out the ‘ course of action which they laid down for the States in the union ? If that evidence were not sufficient, we have further evidence in the publications of the Navy League. From their handbook, dated 2nd December, 1902, I propose to read an extract from a paper prepared by Mr. Herbert W. Wilson, a member of their Executive Committee, and editor of their journal. He quotes from the report of the Committee on Naval Manoeuvres -
There should always be an effective reserve squadron absolutely confined to home waters, sufficient to hold the Channel and protect the coasts and commerce of the United Kingdom, in addition to the coast defence ships which would be required for active local defence.
That statement is an absolute contradiction of the -quotation made by Senator O’Connor from Lord Selborne’s speech. Then Mr. Wilson proceeds to comment on the paragraph as follows : -
The experience of the Spanish-American war has shown that public opinion will always clamour for a Home Squadron. We had a squadron in the Channel all through the Trafalgar campaign.
And further on he urges -
The provision of a North Sea fleet always cruising in British waters.
How is it possible to imagine for an instant that we colonists in Australia could in reason support Sir Edmund Barton’s proposals, and deprive ourselves of the small modicum of local defence which we find that the British Government and the Navy League absolutely advocate for the protection of British shores? There is an even stronger argument in favour of our Auxiliary Squadron. It is an argument that has not been hitherto mentioned, though I believe that almost every other argument has. It is this : The Government of India - which is controlled by the British Parliament - has absolutely an Indian marine of its own, built and constituted on exactly the same lines as is the Australian Squadron - for the protection of the local floating trade. It consists of five vessels, the Assaye, the Lawrence, the Plassey, the Abyssinia, and the Magdala, very much resembling the vessels employed upon the coast of Queensland. In fact, I should say that the Queensland ships have been to a large extent copied from the vessels of the Indian marine. They are armed in the same way, with 8-inch guns, and a complement of small quick-firing guns. I should like to understand from those who advocate this new policy of defence, by which we are going to deprive ourselves of all local defence, what they have to say in connexion with this Indian marine ? If it is right that we should deprive ourselves of this form of defence, how in the name of fortune can the British Government justify the fact that India still continues to- defend herself in exactly the same way ? A very interesting fact arises in this connexion.
– Does the honorable senator know the cost of the ships of the Indian marine ?
– I can give the cost of two of the vessels. The ‘ Abys-
– What is the cost of manning and maintenance ? ‘
– I have not those figures.
– The honorable senator has only given the capital cost.
– Yes. All that it was material to my case to prove was that local defence of this nature is not despised in India. India is controlled by the British Government, and, we must assume, on modern methods of defence. I do not think that we should be justified in assuming that the methods of defence employed in India are obsolete in any sense. And when we find that for the protection of the Indian coasts, and for doing the exact work which it was contended b)’ Admiral Tryon should be done for us by the Australian Squadron, the Government of India employs these vessels, it is preposterous to suggest that we who wish to see the Australian Squadron continued are out of date in our ideas. A very interesting question of finance arises in connexion with these ships. I will give the figures for the purpose of comparison. They are for the year 1902-3, and they are taken from the reportof the Premiers’ Conference of 1902, consequentlythey are absolutely authentic Australia spends £169,329, or10¾d. per head of population ; New Zealand, £20,924, or 6½d. per head of population ; the Cape, £30,000, or 3¼d. per head of population j Natal, £12,000, or 3Jd. per head of population ; and India spends £413,747, or ^d. per head of population. India, I point out again, is controlled by the British Parliament ; and I should like to know, in he face of these figures, what justification there is for the scorn that has been heaped upon Australia because we do not spend more upon what some people are pleased to call the naval defence of the Empire, when the very part of the Empire which is controlled by the British Parliament only spends¼d. per head of population 1 It seems to me that a most disgraceful agitation “has been worked up in the English press in reference to Australia by those interested parties who think that we are simply flowing over with money.
-We pay them so much in interest, and they receive the money so regularly, that they think we have more than we know what to do with.
– It is not so much that we pay them large sums as that they have formed an entirely erroneous view of our dapaoity for assisting in the defence of the British Empire, and of our willingness to incur large obligations in that direction. That erroneous view has arisen entirely from the very generous and openhearted way in which we assisted in the war in South ‘Africa. At that time the people of England began to realize what our resources were. Having realized that our resources were considerable, and that our good-will was immense, these writers in the newspapersendeavoured to trade upon it.
– They are trying to impose upon our good nature.
– That is quite correct. When we look at thesefigures, that is the only interpretation that we can put upon such a condition of affairs. Now we come to . the present situation. I want to point out that this is the only time but one that I am going to mention the name of Sir John Forrest in connexion with this subject. I am studiously a voiding any allusion to him. But on page 1 6 of the Conferencereport, the First Lord of the Admiralty,
Lord Selborne, distinctly sets out this fact- - that the memorandum which he circulated amongst the members of the Conference - that is to say, the -memorandum which hecirculated as emanating from the Admiralty - was framed on the lines of the discussion, between Sir John Forrest and Rear Admiral Sir Lewis Beaumont. That is thepoint which I wish to-establish - that the entire responsibility for this agreement which is now before us, and for the position in which we find ourselves, arises from the collaboration of Sir John Forrest and Sir LewisBeaumont. It is, in fact, based upon that memorandum concerning the authorship and the history of which I had so much difficulty in obtaining any information. It is idle to suggest for an instant, in dealingwith the present position, as the PrimeMinister has done, that Australia will obtain one pennyworth of defence from the adoption of the policy of the subsidy that we should not obtain without it. It would be idle to suggest that thefleet in these waters will be strengthened by one gun in consequence of the payment of the £200,000. Members of Parliament seem to forget that the strength of the British fleet in Eastern waters is governed not by our subscription to theAdmiralty, but by the necessities forced upon the British Government by the policy of other nations. Senator O’Connor cannot consider that that opinion is heretical, because in the course of his very able speech helaid considerable stress on that very fact.
– Senator O’Connor atheart is as much opposed to the agreementas we are, only he has to be loyal to his colleagues.
– It is unfair to say that. I am as good an Australian as is the honorable senator, but I believe thoroughly in this agreement.
SenatorDOBSON. - Do not go on with that argument.
– It is regrettable that the honorable senator should be sodesirous of slumber as not to wish to listen to “ the voice of the charmer.” He is like the deaf adder that shutteth his ears ; and I suppose that at a later date he will sting us with a hostile vote. It is impossible to contend for a moment that the British fleet in these waters will not ‘be just as strong,, and contain just as many guns, if we donot vote the subsidy of £200,000. SenatorO’Connor pointed out the way in which the fleet of Russia has been strengthened in the East, and how the French, the German, and the Japanese fleets have also been strengthened. His whole argument was that, as a consequence, the British fleet must also be strengthened in Eastern waters. Under those circumstances, what gain will accrue to Australia from the payment of the £200,000 per annum? I defy anybody to prove that we shall get one scintilla of good from this payment.
– The sum of £300,000 per annum will be spent in Sydney every year.
– Really we cannot expect the Commonwealth to look at a business of this sort from a mere huckstering point of view. We know from the interjection of Senator Walker where we are - we are now getting at the bottom of the matter, and beginning to understand why Sir Edmund Barton and the other members of the Government are supporting this measure. The Commonwealth is to spend £200,000 per annum in order that Sydney may reap a rich reward of £300,000. That is the class of legislation which avowedly, according to Senator Walker, we are asked to enact. I should have hesitated to bring such an accusation against the honorable senator. Sir Edmund Barton is supposed now to be an authority on the subject, as the negotiator who conducted our business with the Admiralty and the experienced man of affairs who was watching our interests. But while he must have been all that to have merited our confidence, what do we find ? Sir Edmund Barton avowedly asked the Admiralty to supply him with the cheapest efficient defence, or to use his own words “ the cheapest efficient defence that could be supplied to Australia.” The cheapest efficient defence that can be supplied to Australia is the protection of the whole British fleet ; nothing short of that will be of any good to us when it comes to fighting the- nations of Europe.
– That is what we say we are getting.
– Undoubtedly we are ; but that is not the sense in which Sir Edmund Barton used the words. Sir Edmund Barton wishes us to understand that by the expenditure of £200,000 per annum we were buying and localizing in Sydney harbor the cheapest form of naval defence the Admiralty can supply.
– That is consistent with efficiency.
– I propose to deal with that question later on, and to show the most remarkable stages by which this “ efficient “ defence was gradually reduced to a minimum. But what are we giving up? We shall lose our everything; we shall not only lose £94,000 which we have really no justification for spending, but we shall lose the £106,000 which at present pays for our auxiliary fleet - that fleet which I have tried to prove is an absolutely essential supplement to our land defences. The British fleet must, by all the rules of war, and most properly, go wherever the enemy are gathered. The so-called Australian Squadron, to which we are asked to subscribe, will be ordered away to concentrate against the forces of the enemy, and we shall be left with our coastal defences absolutely at the mercy of the marauder. We are told that we ought to assent to this measure out of loyalty to Great Britain ; but no one could have dealt more effectively with that phase of the question than did Senator Symon.
– “Alien seamen” and “hireling ships.”
-Such a quotation is not a fair one, and it only makes it the more necessaryfor me to emphasize the points of which I particularly approve in Senator Symon’s speech. Senator Symon pointed out that where we make a voluntary sacrifice - where Australia may be called on to give leave to her special squadron to go and assist the British Squadron, we feel our spirit of patriotism swell - that we are doing something generous. . I cannot employ the language of Senator Symon, but the result is that under the circumstances a spirit of loyalty to Great Britain is promoted. On the other hand, as Senator Symon pointed out, where the British Government have the right to take away the fleet, and we have no voluntary sacrifice to make - where we are obliged to sit still and watch our commerce being destroyed, and perhaps our capitals bombarded- what spirit of loyalty can possibly arise towards Great Britain ? Under such circumstances we feel that we are suffering an injustice. In confirmation of that view, I propose to read an extract from a most interesting article written by ColonelPollock, editor of the United Service Magazine. The article appeared in Macmillan’s Magazine of June, 1903, and I recommend it to the attention of every honorable senator as a most impartial and plain-speaking statement of the facts. Colonel Pollock says -
It is true enough, and the colonies know it as well as we do, that the fate of the British Empire does not hung upon the inviolate security, of colonial or even of British coasts, but upon fleetpower at sea. Yet if the British Empire were to fall to-morrow, the subjugation of, for example, Australia, would not necessarily follow.
I want to remark in parenthesis that, judging by the expression, of opinion by some honorable senators the other day, it is thought that if Great Britain suffered defeat we in Australia would lie at the mercy of the enemy. It is quite clear, however, from the quotation I have read, that that opinion is not shared by eminent writers in England who are specialists on the question. Colonel Pollock goes .on to say -
That Great Britain, shorn of her colonies, would sink to the level of Holland is clear, but that her colonies in general would become the spoil of the victor is by no means a foregone conclusion. The conquest of Australia would be a ‘colossal enterprise, beside which our recent expedition in South Africa would sink into insignificance.
That is the opinion of an expert.
– An expert in what?
– An expert in naval and military matters, in attack and defence - a man who makes it his life study to consider the dangers confronting the Empire in different parts of the world, and the proper means of meeting those dangers. Colonel Pollock goes on to say–
The only difference then between “one navy,” directly under the orders of the authorities at Whitehall, and the closely allied navies of Great and Greater Britain, is that, in the latter case the colonies w ould themselves send their ships to the place where their services might be required, while in the former they would be summarily deprived of the Imperial Squadron hitherto on the station. It need scarcely to be pointed out that, if mischief befell during the absence of the squadron, a willing sacrifice would be borne with some cheerfulness, whereas an obligatory one would provoke resentment.
It will be seen that the views of Senator Symon and myself, in this respect, are shared by people who might well be expected to take a contrary view of the position. Colonel Pollock seems to have dealt most honestly with the situation.
– He has merely expressed some abstract views.
– If Colonel Pollock’s views are abstract, then all our views, are abstract. At any rate, they are thehonest views of the editor of the United’ Service Magazine, and as such, should bereceived with respect. The payment of £200,000 per annum may be a small matter, and some honorable senators have contended that if we were asked’ for more we ought to give it.
– I think it was Senator Symon who said that.
– I should have thought that, coming from South Australia,, Senator Symon would have been more conservative in the matter of money. Thispayment of £200,000 I regard as only the thin edge of the wedge* We are being asked to agree to this naval subsidy in order that we may recognise an entirely new principle. The Government are perfectly well aware that if the amount were larger it would be impossible to pass the measure through either House. I maintain that theprinciple, the recognition of which is sought, is most pernicious. My own opinion is thatwe are absolutely unjustified under theConstitution in paying any sum of money, in the way in which we are asked topay this subsidy, without securing somecontrol over its expenditure. I arnnot a lawyer, and I am merely submittingmy personal view ; but I understand that there are lawyers of considerableeminence at the Equity Bar - one of them at any rate - who are strongly of that opinion. A Victorian barrister, who has discussed the question with me, believes that if a caseon the constitutional point were taken tothe High Court, it would be possible to prevent this payment, being made. Be that as . it may, I contend that we will gain nothingby the payment’. The other day, when I alluded to the damage that had been done by Sir John Forrest’s memorandum on Defence, a considerable number of honorable senatorsthought I was exaggerating the situation. I propose to read a few extracts from the London Daily News which completely bearout the views that I have expressed. Onthe 9th July, 1903, the Baily News had a. leader on the passage of this Bill in anotherplace. I quote this to show what the general feeling is in London and in England on thesubject of this contribution -
The debate on Australia’s proposed contributionto the navy was begun yesterday by Sir Edmund’ Barton, and will be followed with a good deal off interest in this country. The proposal is that the Commonwealth shall contribute £200,000 a year for ten years, and the Bill before the Federal House of Representatives stipulates that in exchange Australia is to have more or less at its disposal a naval force consisting of one first, two second, and four third-class cruisers, and four sloops ; whilst a branch of the Naval Reserve, manned by Australians and New Zealanders, and paid at Australian rates, is also to be formed.
The editor comments upon that in the following terms : -
It is not quite clear whether there will be any balance for the relief of the British taxpayer -
That is all they aim at. if this programme is carried out, but from a casual survey of the scheme we should imagine not.
That is the way in which the scheme struck the editor of the Daily News.
– Cannot the honorable senator quote from another newspaper in which exactly the opposite view is expressed?
– I regret to say that I have not been able to find any English newspaper which deals with the subject from any other point of view. I have selected this quotation, because I think it most emphatic ; but every English newspaper which has come under my notice discusses the topic from the same point of view.
– It must. There is only one point of view.
– And that is the point of view of relieving the British taxpayer. That is the only point of view from which they look at the question. The leading article to which I have referred reproduced a letter from a Mr. Loring who poses as the secretary of the Imperial Federal Defence Committee, a body that has done more to vilify Australia, and the rest of the British colonies in connexion with this matter than any other body I know. Mr. Loring has been persistent in calling attention to the fact’ that we neglect what he calls our “ bounden duty,” and he has gone to the extent of suggesting that the British Government -should give the colonial Governments notice that unless they are prepared to pay what he calls their “due proportion” towards the defence of the Empire they should provide for their own defence, and that an intimation should be given to them that the British Government will no longer take any interest in their defence, or be responsible for it. That is the point of view from which the subject is discussed by Mr. Loring and the Imperial Federation Defence Committee.
– He is an “ amiable baloonatic.”
- Mr. Loring wrote a long letter in reply to the leading article to which I have referred as appearing in the Daily News, but I propose only to read the pertinent paragraphs. Amongst other things he says -
With these large additions to expenditure, it seems practically certain that not only is there no relief for the British taxpayer, but an increase to his burden, under the new arrangement, is unavoidable. While, as regards the Australian taxpayer, it has already been pointed out by Sir Edmund Barton that the apparent increase of his subsidy will be largely reduced by the suppression of the existing Australian naval forces, represented by the £65,000 mentioned above. It should further be noted that by the abolition of these means of defence, the entire responsibility for the safety of Australia is thrown upon the United Kingdom, in return for the £200,000.
– That is the tone of most of the English newspapers I have read.
– I am very glad to learn that the honorable and learned senator bears out my view and the statement I made a short time ago, that’ it is almost impossible to find an English newspaper that does not look at this subject from that point of view. Mr. Loring goes on to say -
The Australian Minister for Defence estimated last year that “if the Australian Commonwealth contributed in the same proportion as the United Kingdom it would amount to something like £5,000,000 a year. At the above rate of increase - £95,000 in 12 years - and supposing the cost of the navy to remain stationary, it has been . calculated that it will take 625 years for Australia to attain her due proportion.”
That is what I desire to emphasize. It is clear that the private memorandum by Sir John Forrest is being hurled at Australia and the other British Colonies from every newspaper in the United Kingdom, and the right honorable gentleman’s statement that our due proportion would be £5,000,000 is being accepted by every one of them.
– Sir John Forrest does not say that our due proportion would be £5,000,000.
– I quite agree with the honorable and learned senator that the right honorable gentleman does not say so. I did not say that he did. But I say that the statement that he did say so, which to a certain extent is justified by what he really did say - and Senator O’Connor cannot deny that - is being thrown at us from every quarter of the British dominions.
– Surely we are not responsible for everything that is thrown at us ?
– Unfortunately we have been unable to avoid responsibility for Sir John Forrest’s utterances, because the Prime Minister has chosen to give them his official imprimatur. If Sir John Forrest’s memorandum had been left in the form in which it originally appears to have reached Mr. Joseph Chamberlain as a private expression of the qpinions of the ex- Minister for Defence,, this trouble would never have arisen. But this document received official approval.. It was laid before the Conference of Premiers with the distinct approbation of Sir Edmund Barton ; it was inserted in the dockets, and printed in the report of the Conference, and it has so obtained an official weight that it is impossible for us or for any other body of people to ignore. It has gone forward as an official statement on the part of the Government of the Commonwealth that -
Great Britain spends annually on her army and navy about £50,000,000, or about £1 5s. per head of population. If the Australian Commonwealth contributed in the same proportion it would amount to something like £5,000,000 a year, whereas our entire military and naval defence combined does not cost £800,000 per year, or only about 4s. per head of our. population.
I submit to the Senate that newspaper correspondents and the people generally of the United Kingdom are entitled to draw the conclusions that they have drawn from that statement of the ex-Minister for Defence. Even if I, with my critical faculties, were to take up the memorandum and read it as one would read an official document, I should be bound to draw the same conclusions. I venture to doubt whether we shall ever recover from the stigma which has been cast upon us. in that statement - a stigma which it is impossible to deal with, because when we propose to answer these correspondents in the English newspapers, what is there that we can say 1 “When we point out the absurdity of the statement, we are met with the answer that it is the statement of our own Minister for Defence published in an official document. That conveys everything to the public.
– The honorable senator would not have Sir John
Forrest say that we have made- a bad bargain.
– The right honorable gentleman does not speak of our having made a bargain of any sort, but he leaves the inference to be drawn that if we did our duty we should pay £5,000,000 a yeartowards the defence of the British Empire.’
– Is the stigma thestatement that we have not paid it 1
– Exactly. It issuggested that as we only propose to pay- £200,000 we are evading our responsibilities.
– Sir John Forrest said that we had the best of thebargain, and the English Government say that they have the best of the bargain.
- Sir John Forrest says that we have neglected to act up toour responsibilities.
– Paying a fair tribute to the generosity of another is scarcely a stigma upon ourselves.
– I consider that it is a stigma upon ourselves to say that we have neglected to do our duty. Thehonorable and learned senator might not consider it a stigma upon him, but I should not like to have the statement applied to me.
-There is noproof that it is our duty to contribute, at that rate.
– I agree with, the honorable and learned senator. It is impossible to prove it ; yet because the ex-Minister for Defence has made the statement it is held over our heads like a whip. Nothing could be more ridiculous than the paragraph as it stands when we come to analyze it. It is merely suggesting to the enemy-
– The enemy ?
– I refer to the people who are criticising us, and who are claiming that we should put our hands into our pockets. Such people are usually considered our enemies, and we must certainly avoid them if we can.
Senator Lt.-Col. Gould. We have never been, nor will we be, called upon to pay any such sum.
– We are called upon todestroy our own naval service.
-No, we are not.
– What we werecalled upon to do was to pay £500,000..
The comments in the press were to the -effect that that was a small enough contribution considering the fact that we ought to be paying £5,000,000 ; but when it became known that the proposal was that we should pay only £200,000, subject to a vote of the Federal Parliament, the comments were very violent. I find that the editor of the Daily News, commenting upon Mr. Loring’s letter in an article headed “ The Price of Empire,” says -
We have had a prompt answer to the questions we asked in these columns yesterday. It comes from a strongly Imperial source - the Imperial Federation Defence Committee - and is for that reason the more remarkable. It is gratifying to us to find the facts frankly faced. Mr. Loring -shows that the proposed increase in the Australian contribution to the navy is entirely illusory. The Australians offer us sixpence in relief and expect a shilling back.
– That is very good financing.
– The article continues -
The £200,000 per annum which they are prepared to pay is a mere bagatelle, a sort of peppercorn rent. It is an acknowledgment for which they get the protection of the most powerful and the most costly navy in the world. Sir Edmund Barton frankly admitted yesterday that they could not maintain a navy. But lie added that the Imperial Navy would Serve for the training -of seamen for a possible Australian Navy in the future. We are glad to be of some small service to our colonies. But when we remember that our navy is costing us £34,000,000 a year, and that Australia offers us a contribution equal’ to one 170th of that sum, we confess that we feel that there are limits beyond what the most indulgent cannot consent to impoverish herself in order that her children may wax fat. If the Australians recognise that the Navy is worth having, and that without it they would have to build a navy of their own, surely they should pay something approximating to their share cheerfully.
That is all the thanks that we are to get from the British public for paying a. subsidy of £200,000, and depriving ourselves of that small local naval force which has been recommended to us by every expert up to the present time. I propose now, at the special request of Senator Best, to- deal with the probable cost of an Australian Squadron run by ourselves, because that has been SuK:gested as an alternative to paying £200,000 to the British Government. ‘ Whenever anybody who is opposed to the idea, wishes to talk about an Australian-Squadron, he always endeavours to make the scheme appear as ridiculous as possible by comparing the cost of an Australian Squadron for the defence of our local floating trade with that of the British Navy. The Prime Minister began, and every member of the Cabinet followed suit, by talking of the Argentine Republic, Holland, and sundry other nations, who are obliged to have a naval defence; if they have it at all, which will be capable of dealing with naval attacks by European or South. American nations. That is not our position.
– We have not similar neighbours.
– Looking at it from a naval point of view, who is our neighbour?
– The point is that Australia should own a squadron for the protection of the floating trade in our own waters ; a squadron capable of policing our own waters, and very much on the same lines as those which have been recommended to us by Admiral Tryon, and suggested to the Americans by Captain Mahan.
– It would be a very limited beat for our police.
– Only 8,000 miles.
– I quite agree with Senator Clemons that it is not a very extensive beat, when we take the whole ocean into consideration ; but it is as much as we are called upon to do, and. from our point of- view, all we have contended is that it is a necessary supplement to our local fixed defence.
– See the man in by the front door safely, and then let him go.
– I do not know that there is much point in the interjection. What I wish to do is to _ get rid of the idea that the cost of the British Squadron in these waters has any relation to the Australian Squadron that we suggest. That is a most important point, because as long as our adversaries will insist on mixing up the question and talking of Royal Arthurs, Cressys, first-class cruisers and ironclads, we shall always have differences of opinion.
– Surely the Royal Arthur is declassed now 1
– She is a firstclass cruiser which cost £400,000. To begin with, I wish to comment on the way in which this British- Squadron was gradually cut down. From a parliamentary paper we find that Admiral Beaumont on 16th July, 1.901, suggested that the minimum naval defence for which we ought to pay, if we take a British Squadron into account, was two first - class cruisers and six second-class cruisers, and his recommendation is embodied in Sir John Forrest’s memorandum. The cost was not given ; but it roughly works out at £4,500,000 for construction, and £800,000 a year for maintenance.
– Is that the particular squadron which the honorable senator advocates ?
– Undoubtedly not. I wish to show -the way in which the minimum efficient defence, for which we are now asked to pay, was arrived at. The first recommendation of the expert was that a fleet to cost £4,500,000 should be provided, and that we should defray the annual maintenance of £800,000. These figures are not given in the report, but they are arrived at by doubling the figures given in Admiral Beaumont’s next suggestion.
– Surely that cannot be correct, because the fleet that we are to get under the new agreement will cost only £2,500,000.
– Quite so; but if the honorable and learned gentleman will wait, I shall explain. Then we find that these figures, not as to the cost but as to the number of boats, were subject to revision by the Admiralty. Admiral Beaumont’s proposal, as amended and put before the Premiers’ Conference, differed entirely from his proposal as put before Sir John Forrest, and included in the memoranda. As it came from the Admiralty, his proposal was to have one first-class cruiser and three second-class cruisers ; the number, in fact, was halved. In this case, the cost of construction is given at £2,250,000, and the cost of maintenance at £395,000. By doubling the figures in each instance, I arrive at the cost of the ships under his original proposal.
– Is that taking the Australian’ or the Admiralty rate of wages 1
– The honorable and learned gentleman will remember that Lord Selborne in his memorandum advocates the employment of Australian sailors, and as it dealt with the Admiralty memorandum I think it is fair to infer that the calculation was based on the employment of Australian sailors. It will be found on reference to, page 1 6 that His -Lordship advocates the real advantage of the ships being manned by Australians. “While the Admiralty put forward Admiral Beaumont’s scheme, they also put forward a scheme of their own as an alternative, and that was to have five cruisers of the second class, to be built at a cost of £2,500,000, and to be maintained at a cost of £367,000. That was the third proposal that came before the Conference.’ Then, as we know, Sir Edmund Barton applied to the Admiralty to supply him with an estimate of the cost of theminimum adequate protection, which he said he wanted to get as cheaply as POSsible. So we had another re vision - and that is the scheme before the Senate - for one first-class cruiser, two second-class cruisers,, one new third-class cruiser, three inefficient third-class cruisers, and four sloops.
– “Why does thehonorable senator use the word “inefficient” ?
– I refer to the present third-class cruisers, which are admittedly inefficient. The capital cost of.’ those ships was estimated at £2,120,000,. and the annual cost of their up-keep at- £480,000. I wish the Senate to notice a very remarkable discrepancy here. In the Admiralty proposal, dealing with the five second-class cruisers, although the capital cost was greater, the annual maintenancewas considerably less. The annual maintenance, in the case of the Admiralty proposal was estimated at £367,000 ; but the annual cost of maintenance in the proposal be- . fore the Senate, according to the Prime Minister^ estimated at 480,000, because we aretold that the British Government will pay half the expense. These figures are not accurate in the shape in which they arepresented. It is perfectly obvious that the- £480,000 includes an item for the payment of the naval reserve, which is quite a separatebusiness, and ought no’t to be included in any estimate of the expense of manning a. fleet. My reason for coming to that conclusion is that in the Admiralty proposal there was a sufficient provision - £100,000- - made for a naval reserve of 1,500 men. In the case of the proposal before theSenate, we have a naval reserve of 725 men, but no provision for their maintenance, lt- is perfectly clear that the figures which have been submitted by the Prime Ministerand Senator O’Connor must of necessity beinaccurate. I am unable to judge as to theextent of their inaccuracy, but any arguments based on the cost of the proposed fleet, so far as maintenance is concerned, must be absolutely valueless. I now cometo the question of the cost of a squadron. owned by Australia, about which Senator Best was so anxious for some information. “We find here a most remarkable sequence of facts. First of all, we get the Admiralty estimate of the cost of five secondclass cruisers, and it is the maximum that anybody could expect Australia to expend on the naval defence of floating commerce in its own waters. As we have seen, the capital cost of these second-class cruisers’ was estimated at £500,000 each, and the cost of annual maintenance at £367,000. The annual cost of up:keep was £367,000.
– Is that allowing anything for interest and sinking fund t
– It is allowing for interest and sinking fund. The cost in interest is £125,000 and in maintenance £242,000 ; total £367,000. That is taken from the confidential White Book, which was published in connexion with the Conference, and of which the Argus seems in some manner to have obtained a copy. That newspaper published some extracts from it on the 10th January, 1903. I can go no furthur than that. We now come to Captain Cres well’s estimate. He also estimated for five ships. He pointed out that his five ships would be of a build suitable to the class of defence they were expected to provide, that they would be lightly armoured, and that owing to the .fact that they would not be required to undertake long voyages by sea it would be possible to utilize some of the tonnage which would otherwise have to be set aside for coal and stores for the purpose of having more powerful weapons than an ordinary ship of their tonnage would carry. In fact Captain Creswell made exactly the point that was made by Captain Mahan in connexion with vessels such as he advocates for the defence of Puget Sound and San Francisco. The estimated cost of building would be £300,000 each and the annual cost £300,000. That is a reduction of £67,000 from the maximum. But I must point out that Captain Creswell laid special stress on this fact - that it was not necessary to have these ships immediately. He argued that we should build up our naval force gradually. All that he considered necessary was that we should begin with three ships as a minimum, and he pointed out that the money available at the present moment, including the £200,000 subsidy, would at any rate be sufficient to ‘provide for three. I am not a naval expert, but I have looked into these matters carefully, and I came to the conclusion that Captain Creswell had rather over-estimated the capital cost of the ships he desired to get. In fact, if I may say so, Captain Creswell, with a desire to emulate the British Fleet, was apparently advocating a class of vessel which would have enabled us to go to war with other nations instead of confining our means to the purpuses to which we hope these vessels would be confined.
– But we want to have fighting ships.
– Undoubtedly ; but not ships that will be unnecessarily costly, as compared with any vessel that could come against them. Captain Creswell had proved by his own argument that it would be possible to reduce the cost of the ships if we increased the efficiency of the armament. On looking into it I apparently made an error, which was pointed out when I read my paper in London. I estimated that it would be quite sufficient if we paid for ships costing £150,000, having a tonnage of about 3,000 tons, but it was pointed out that such ships would be too small. All the same I think that a considerable reduction could be made on the cost as estimated by Captain Creswell. I think that if we took i’225,000 as the cost of a single vessel, we could obtain ships amply sufficient for the purpose. My guide in making this calculation is the schedule of ships to be found in Brassey’s Naval Annual. Honorable senators will find there particulars of ships which are quite good enough when we take into consideration the improved armament that can be put on board such vessels as we require.
– Does any one besides the honorable senator sa)’ so1! IT”1* t^~~^f»’T_>j
– I have not consulted anybody. I have taken the particulars given in Brassey’s Annual, and applied to them my own intelligence, just as the honorable “and learned senator can do. In that case, the wages and maintenance on the colonial scale advocated by Captain Creswell, and the interest and sinking fund, would make a sum of £49,250, or we may say, roughly, £50,000. So that on that basis we should be able to have a fleet of five ships at an annual expenditure of £250,000. I hope that Senator Best is satisfied with those figures. If there is any other information which he desires, I shall be happy to give it if I can, but I think that the explanation I have given is sufficiently explicit. One honorable senator has raised the objection that it would be absolutely useless for Australia to provide herself with cruisers, in view of the fact that the British Government were subsidizing very swift vessels able to travel at twenty-three’ knots an hour, owned by the Cunard company ; and he said that if these were the class of ships from which we might expect attack, om- ships, capable of going only twenty knots an hour would be helpless. But he quite forgot one very important fact, and that is this - that the ships referred to are merchant vessels. Though they have great speed they have no armour, in addition to which they are only to be armed with 4-inch guns, because they have no capacity for heavier weapons. In consequence of that fact, any ship that was armed with guns of the capacity that I advocate would be able to knock holes in these merchant vessels long before they came into effective range.
– That is, if our ships could hit them.
– I am always assuming that we could hit them.
– An ordinary merchant boat sank a Chinese cruiser.
– I think that the case is hardly in point. The fact is that these armed merchantmen are only fitted to deal with unarmed merchant vessels, not with cruisers ; and the result is that any cruiser, being armed with a 6-inch gun, would have a glorious advantage over an armed merchant vessel, however swift she might be, and however up to date. There is another point of view from which we must consider this proposed destruction of our Australian Squadron. I should like to know what is going to be done, in case there is any dispute amongst the pearlers on the north-west “boast of Australia, or at Thursday Island. How are we going to exercise any police supervision over people fishing in our waters if we have no vessels of our own % I do not know whether the subject has ever occurred to any honorable senator, but it is perfectly clear that we cannot go to the British Admiralty, or to the commanders of the vessels belonging to the British Navy, and expect them to enforce our local laws, more especially when we bear in mind that our laws are very often not in unison with the laws of Great Britain.
– “What fishing troubles can we have here ?
– Is the honorable and learned senator unaware that only the other day a vessel belonging to the State of “Victoria was seized in Bass Straits, and carried to Tasmania, because she was fishing in Tasmanian waters 1
– The police can do that duty. I do not know what a manofwar would have to do- with it.
– The honorable and learned senator, first of all, said that we are not likely to have any fisheries troubles to deal with, and when I point out that such troubles have already arisen, he rounds on me by saying that the police could do the work.
– I thought the honorable senator referred to troubles having relation to international affairs and not to police matters.
– It unfortunately happens that these troubles do take place. In the case of the trouble that arose recently, the civic authorities of Tasmania were able to intervene. Apparently they ran out with a boat and seized this Victorian ketch, which they carried into Tasmania. But this is only a very small example of what might occur on a more important scale. I do not know whether honorable senators know much about, the position of ‘ the pearl-shelling industry on the northwest coast, but I understand from my inquiries that this fishing is carried on by boats belonging to the Dutch that come from Timor and by boats that are fitted out at Broome. I believe that it is not so long since boats used to come from Sumatra and other islands belonging to the Dutch.
– They come now outside the threes-mile limit.
– They come down and fish in waters which we are justly entitled to consider as Australian waters. We, in our wisdom,, have laid down certain lines in connexion with the employment of aliens upon these boats. I had a long conversation with a gentleman from India who is interested in those fisheries, and he pointed out that boats fitted out at Broome come under the operation of our Immigration Restriction Act and are suffering great disadvantage from the competition of boats fitted out in other places. - He led me ‘ to suppose, rightly or wrongly, that at any moment the irritation occasioned may be fanned into a flame and reprisals made by one boat on another, with very serious consequences. Under the circumstances, I think that even Senator’ O’Connor must admit that at any moment trouble may arise, which will necessitate the intervention of an armed boat, while we have no armed boat which we could possibly send. At Thursday Island the fisheries are in exactly the same position ; and, so far as I can understand, the population is much more lawless there than in the north-west of Western Australia, though if troubles do arise we are absolutely without any resource.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that if trouble arose at Thursday Island, we could not ask the fleet to go there and quell it ?
– No. What I suggest is that with the known antipathy of the British Government to our local legislation on certain topics, it is hardly reasonable to suppose that they will lend us the fleet for the purpose of enforcing laws against which they have practically, if not absolutely, protested.
– It is not a question of lending ; we are paying for the fleet.
– Even now, Senator Dobson does not understand that we have no control whatever over the fleet.
– I do not understand it from the point of view of the honorable senator. Does the honorable senator mean to say that we have no control whatever over the fleet ?
– Absolutely no control.
– I say that those words are a gross exaggeration of the agreement.
– The honorable senator will not understand.
– I cannot understand the honorable senator.
– We pay this money over to the Admiralty, and from that time any voice we may have in the control of naval affairs ceases. The trouble is that there are honorable senators who do not understand that, if this agreement be ratified, we shall not even be able to address questions to the Government in connexion with the efficient carrying out of the contract. Senator O’Connor will bear me out that any communication between the Parliament, the Prime Minister, or the Government of the Commonwealth and the Admiralty will have to be transmitted through the GovernorGeneral. The Admiral on the coast is the representative of the British Government, and he can only hold intercourse with our Executive through the intervention of the King’s representative in Australia, who is the Governor-General. We are absolutely cut off from the Admiral ; and I should like Senator Dobson to absorb that fact, because it may influence his vote. If Senator Dobson and other honorable senators thoroughly understood how absolutely helpless we shall be in the future in connexion with naval matters, it might cause them to reconsider the decision, at which I believe they have arrived, to vote in favour of the proposed subsidy. There is another danger to be apprehended, and it is .likely to arise in connexion with smuggling to . New Guinea. A Bill will shortly be introduced here, which, in con>pliance with numerous petitions which have been presented in another place, and also in the Senate, will make it illegal to sell or to distil spirits in New Guinea. I venture to say that one of the most lucrative businesses than can be carried on in the future between the islands round about New Guinea and the Commonwealth and New Guinea itself, will be the smuggling of spirits.
– If the provision referred to is in the Bill when it is passed 1
– In view of the information we have received concerning public opinion on the question, I assume that there can be no doubt that both Houses of the Federal Parliament will acquiesce in the request contained in the petitions which have been presented.
– I hope there will be a good deal of doubt about it.
– The honorable and learned senator’s party is in possession of a majority in another place, and they can carry what they like, but I should be surprised if public opinion on this question is to be ignored. Should it happen that the prohibition of intoxicants in New Guinea will be made law, there will probably be no more lucrative business carried on in the Southern seas than that of importing contraband spirits into the Territory. It must be evident to honorable senators that unless we have armed vessels it will be impossible to stop that contraband traffic.
– We shall need only light cutters for that work.
– I am not sufficiently a naval expert to answer the interjection of the honorable senator. It may be that he is correct, but it is my impression that he is not correct, as I do riot see how light cutters could carry out this work.
– Theysuppressed_ the Queensland slave trade. We had six schooners built in Sydney expressly for the purpose.
– Coming from the West, I have not so far been aware that a slave trade flourished in Queensland. [Senate counted.] It is news to me to hear that a slave trade flourished in Queensland ; but, assuming that it did, it would have to be carried on in connexion with certain wellknown ports of entry, and it is conceivable that armed cutters would be competent to prevent such a traffic, when the termination of each trip in Queensland must be at some well-known port on the coast. In the case of New Guinea, it would be different. There are regular ports of entry in the Territory, but there is nothing to prevent contraband goods being landed upon any portion of the New Guinea coast, and it would be impossible for armed cutters to lie off the coast at the exact point where a cargo was to be run. Honorable senators will know that the coastline of New Guinea is very extensive. It extends, I believe, from the My River a considerable distance southwest ; it turns the south corner of the Territory, and then runs for a considerable distance north-east, and along almost the whole of the coastline it would be possible for smugglers to run their cargoes ashore. There can be no doubt that smuggling to New Guinea will be a most attractive trade should the prohibition provision in the Papua Bill be passed. Without a local’ fleet we shall be absolutely unable to prevent this illegal traffic. I know that Senator Dobson is under the impression that the British fleet can be used for police purposes, but I think Senator O’Connor will bear me out when I say that any such use of the British fleet would be absolutely contrary to the agreement, and to anything we can possibly expect at the hands of the Admiral of the Squadron. I have called attention to these facts, because, when we are dealing with this subject, it is desirable that we should consider the ultimate result of every action we take, and I venture to think that this particular phase of the question has so far been left entirely out of account. Senator O’Connor in dealing with this Bill has called our attention to only one specific benefit that we shall receive under the new agreement. That specific benefit, upon which we can put a finger, in the agreement, is the education and training of Australian seamen as reserves and as permanent seamen. The provision in the Bill, we are told, is that 900 permanent seamen shall be employed in one way or another, and that a reserve of 700 men and 25 officers shall also be constituted. Three questions arise in this connexion. The first is, are we going to get this benefit? That is to say, will these advantages which we all desire, and which we are told we are going to get, really accrue to us? The second question is, assuming that we do receive these advantages, shall we have -any control over them ? Shall we, in fact, be able to ascertain whether the provisions, which we are led to believe are embraced in this agreement, will ever really become effective, so far as Australians are concerned? The third question is, shall we have any remedy whatever if we ascertain that we are not getting the advantages we imagined we should get ? A most important consideration in this connexion is that differential pay will have to be provided for the Australian seamen. On that point we received to-day extremely interesting and pertinent information, because it appears, from what we have heard from the Minister for Defence, that at the present moment a difference in pay exists between the forces in Tasmania and those employed on the mainland. We are led to understand from Tasmanian senators that the result has been a complete disorganization of the military forces of that State, in connexion with a matter involving a sum of about £600. It is evident that great dissatisfaction has been expressed, and we are led to believe that, as a result of the grievance, the Tasmanian forces will,. I was going to say, become extinct ; but that would be rather a strong expression, and it is, perhaps, more correct to say that it is likely to be considerably diminished in numbers. Bearing this in mind, I think we are fully justified in assuming that the naval authorities will experience the very greatest difficulty in arranging this matter of special pay for Australian seamen when they come to deal with the question practically. I personally think that this arrangement was made in London without the least knowledge of the impracticability of the proposal.
– Fancy two firemen, one paid 5s. a day, and the other 2s. a day, in the same stokehole.
– If I were to use that as an argument, I should probably be told by Senator O’Connor that the ships upon which the Australian seamen are to be employed will be manned solely by Australian seamen and stokers. It is, however, extremely doubtful whether it will be possible to secure a complete Australian equipment for these boats. When we turn to the agreement itself, we find that the Admiralty are so very much in doubt on the question that the article dealing with the subject is expressed in a very guarded manner -
That three vessels used as drill-ships, and one other vessel, should be manned by Australians and New Zealanders, as far as procurable, and paid at special rates.
– It could not be further than “ as far as procurable.”
– That is so, but the honorable and learned senator will agree that when the Admiralty have found it necessary to use this expression “ as far as procurable” in the agreement, it shows that they doubt whether the scheme is practicable, and this is a saving clause which hits been inserted to maintain the validity of the agreement. I think , that will appeal to Senator Downer. If that saving clause had not been inserted and if the Admiralty had not been able to secure seamen at the rates which they propose to offer, they would have had to offer higher rates in order to keep the agreement valid. I hope that honorable senators appreciate the particular caution which induced the Admiralty to insert those few words “as far as procurable.” As I read that clause it is distinctly the intention of the Admiralty to offer a rate of wage which they are already aware will not attract Australians. I think there can be very little doubt that that is the fact. If that had not been their intention ; if it had not been their intention to offer wages which would attract freely Australian seamen and stokers, there would have been no necessity to insert the words “as far as procurable.” I appeal to Senator Downer to contradict that view, which, of course, as a lawyer, he should find it easy to do if my interpretation is wrong.
– It showed their common sense.
– Undoubtedly it showed their common sense from their point of view, but it does not at all follow that it will be equally common sense from our point of view to agree to that stipulation.
– Does it not conflict with the idea that Australia shall be a recruiting ground not only for militia but also for naval men ?
– Undoubtedly. The Admiralty are just- as well aware as we are that unless they pay the standard rate of wage they cannot get the men. The point I wish to impress on Senator Walker is that our one advantage is to be derived from the training of Australian seamen. It is not set out in the agreement, but one of the main objects set out in Lord Selborne’s address is. that Australian seamen should be trained, and that the maritime spirit in Australia should be encouraged.
– It is one of the inducements held out to us by Senator O’Connor to accept the Bill.
– It is the only inducement which he offered to us to accept the Bill. Of course the Admiralty, seeing that they were limited in funds and knowing that the terms it was in their power to offer might not prove attractive, put in, as Senator Walker suggests, with- their own interests in view, that clause. It is for us to consider how far it suits us. It is not a question of what suits the Admiralty, but of how far we should debar ourselves from reaping the only specific benefit that we can see arising from the expenditure of £200,000 by agreeing to the insertion of that sentence. I think that it ought to be struck out. When Senator O’Connor was speaking Senator Charleston interjected to the effect that it would be extremely difficult for the Admiralty to make this proposed arrangement effective owing to the difference of pay, and the honorable and learned gentleman replied that the Admiralty had no doubt about the feasibility of the scheme, and that plans were in course of preparation which would make it possible. Senator Cameron has proved how difficult it is in the case of Australians dealing with Australians, of brother dealing with brother, of cousin dealing with cousin. But now we come to a situation in which the Government of a foreign country - I use the words without any offensive significance - are going to deal with Australians. Senator Fraser and others must remember that, although they may look on Great Britain as the parent country, it is distinctly treated in the Constitution as a foreign country in matters of trade. The difficulties I venture to suggest will be enormously increased, and in view of the possible suggestion from the other side of the Chamber that I am not an expert and therefore ought not to express an opinion, I propose to quote the opinion of ViceAdmiral C. P. Fitzgerald, who is a member of one or two Government boards dealing with naval matters in England. His view is emphatically expressed in the United Service Magazine for November, 1902, at page 112 -
It would be subversive of all discipline, contentment, and good fellowship to have two sets of men doing the same work, holding the same nominal rank, and yet receiving two totally different rates of pay on board one of His Majesty’s ships.
– It would mean a pint of beer for one man, and only a glass of beer for another.
– The honorable senator is quite right, as I shall show presently when I quote some authorities. This well-known naval expert goes on to say-
We could not, in justice to our own men, permit such a thing,, save, perhaps, as a very temporary expedient.
He is a comparatively young man - very little older than myself - whom I have had the pleasure of meeting, and who is practically on active service. That is the opinion which he holds regarding the proposal made by the Admiralty, and inserted in this agreement. But in addition to that authority, I can quote Admiral Bowden Smith, whose opinion is extremely valuable to us at this juncture, because he was quite recently in command of the Australian station. He thoroughly understood - at least he should - everything that influences Australia and all our local circumstances. He was present when I had the honour of reading a paper to the Royal Colonial Institute in February last. He was the first person to comment on the paper. He entirely agreed with the view which I submitted then, and which I have -just expressed. He spoke with a full knowledge that provision had been made in this agreement for the payment of differential rates of pay, so that he was not arguing on a hypothetical question, but on one which he knew would immediately arise. Speaking of the naval reserve men in Sydney, who I had suggested had never been taken out to sea, he said -
I would have liked very much to have taken some of them for an occasional cruise, but I dared not do so, because the difference in the wages made it absolutely impossible. It would have demoralized our men entirely.
There is the evidence of a man dealing with this question practically to-day. That is not the opinion of a member of theSenate, or the House of Representatives, of the Prime Minister or other member of the Cabinet, but the opinion of a man who has had command of sailors on this station. With a full cognizance of that clause in the agreement, he expressed the opinion that the difference in wageswould render it absolutely impossible to take men to sea in the same boat, paid at an Australian rate of wages and a British rate of wages, because it would entirely demoralize the men under his command. Under these circumstances, I ask the Senate what is the good of Senator O’Connor saying that it is perfectly feasible t
– The explanation is that the agreement was drawn up by nonexperts.
– I am not dealing with that point, but with an opinion expressed in the Senate. Senator O’Connor does not pose as ‘ a naval expert. He hasnever been in com man. 1 of naval men.
– He has been in command of a number of politicians and has drilled them well.
– He has been at sea often enough.
– The honorable and learned gentleman may have been at sea, but I am afraid that his experience at sea has not necessarily given him any knowledge of the habits of men.
– I have not been out of my depth though.
– The honorable and learned gentleman has been to sea, but he has never been out of his depth. He is a very prudent person to keep in extremely shallow water. I think I have said enough to show that this arrangement will prove absolutely impracticable. We have now to consider what control we have over the situation. If the Admiralty should be unable to carry out the terms of the agreement, as expressed, we should have no remedy. They would have taken our ?200,000. Quite apart from anything we can say, they are going to fix what they call a special rate of pay. If they had said the Australian rate of pay, or if they had said the Victorian rate of pay - that is, the minimum rate of wage which is fixed by the State - I should have said that, at any rate, one of the most unsatisfactory features of the agreement had been swept away, but they have not done so.
– The honorable senator has attached great importance to the minutes of the proceedings of the Conference. Some of the minutes which he read to-night said that it was to bo the Australian rate of pay.
– I think the honorable and learned senator is mistaken. I quoted Senator O’Connor, who said that it was to be the Australian rate of pay, and he afterwards corrected ‘ himself, pointing out that in the agreement a special rate of pay was stipulated. He had spoken <>f the Australian rate of pay, and if that stipulation had been made I should have thought the agreement more satisfactory. But suppose that Senator Best is correct, it only emphasizes the point I raised last night, in the few words I had the opportunity of speaking on the question, that the Imperial Government had carried out their pledges in the past. I pointed out and, I hope, convinced the Senate that though in Convention and in Congress many agreements were come to, and though Senator Downer admitted that a -distinct understanding - that the officers of the Auxilary Squadron should be used for training our seamen in one of these vessels - which had not been expressed in writing, had not been carried out.
– I never said that. The agreement was entirely carried out.
– I do not say that the agreement was not entirely carried out. I believe that such is a fact, so far as concerns the agreement in writing.
– The agreement consisted not only of what was written, but also of what was agreed to in the Conference. Lord Knutsford expressly said that everything that took place was part of the agreement, and. I say that it has been carried out.
– I should like to pin the honorable and learned senator to that statement. Lord Knutsford, we are told, said that everything that was agreed to should be carried out. It is particularly desirable that every one should remember that. That is an additional piece of evidence which the honorable and learned senator has most kindly placed in my hands. It confirms everythiug that I said. Senator Downer last night admitted emphatically that representations had been made to the Conference of 1887 - which, in fact, all the papers of the Conference bear out - that the officers of the Australian Squadron would in time of peace be used for instructing Australian seamen.
– I never said a word about that.
– It is in Hansard.
– I deny that I said anything about it.
– It is unfortunate for the honorable and learned senator that I heard him, and that it is recorded in Hansard. Hansard does not dream ! These things do not get recorded through lapses of memory on the part of the reporters.
– I shall be able to explain myself.
- Senator Downer has provided me with an excellent argument, which I was previously without. I have pointed out that we have no control whatever over the expenditure of this money. It is granted to the Admiralty, and the Admiralty can spend it in any way they please. The result will be that if Australian seamen are not procurable at the special rate of pay, this special rate will be granted to deserving British seamen. Now, ‘ I have not a word to say against that. I should be only too pleased if any contribution which we made were utilized in increasing the perfectly ridiculous scale of pay which now prevails in the Navy. But our main object in voting this ?200,000 a year will be defeated ; because, while no doubt we are very anxious to see1 the standard of living and of pay in the navy improved, we also have in view the additional object of having our men trained. If our men are not offered a scale of wage which will induce them to enter the service, they will not be trained, and our main object will be defeated.
– Does the honorable senator propose to give the rates of pay later on ?
– I propose to deal with that point in connexion with the scale of food, which is a very interesting question. The question is : What remedy shall we have in dealing with this difficulty when it arises t We shall have no remedy whatever. I know that Senator Dobson thinks that we shall have some control in one way or another over the subsidy, but I want him to direct his legal mind to the position. Suppose we ascertain after passing this Bill that no Australian seamen and no Australian stokers are induced. to enter the navy owing to the inadequate terms offered. What can we do to secure adequate wages ? What can we do to see that the stipulation is carried out ?
– We can come forward at the end of another ten years and pay £400,000 a year !
– That is all we can do. If we pass this agreement as it stands we can do nothing more. There is no stipulation that a rate of pay shall be fixed that will attract Australian seamen, and we shall be helpless.
– I believe that the Imperial Government will do everything in reason that we ask them to do.
– What grounds has the honorable and learned senator for that belief?
– The experience of the past.
– Was Senator. Dobson present last night when I dealt with the experience of the past 1
– I view it from a different stand-point.
– I dealt with four facts. I pointed out that the experience of the past proved that the Admiralty had not carried out their stipulation. I proved that a certain calibre of gun had been absolutely stipulated for, and that an inferior calibre of gun had been provided. I proved certain special matters in which the Admiralty had not acted up to their pledges. Yet the honorable and learned senator says that his experience proves that the Admiralty will do everything that we can expect them, to do. If he chooses to live in a fool’s paradise we cannot help it. Another question’ arises, to which no consideration whatever has been given, in connexion with the enlistment of our fellow Australians under the British flag. It is this : the day that they enlist, the day that any of our naval reserves go into service for their training, they cease to be amenable to the laws of this Commonwealth. I doubt whether the least consideration has been given to that point. The men become amenable to the laws of the British Navy. Those laws are set out in the Naval Discipline Act. I have no doubt that some of the Imperialists opposite will immediately say - “ What better fate can you wish for a man than that he should be subject to the British Naval Discipline Act? How can you seek for any better form of jurisdiction to try a case?” But so far is ourGovernment from considering that theBritish Naval Discipline Act is a good Act,, that in the Defence Bill they have studiously stipulated that where the Naval Discipline Act prescribes death or penal servitude as penalties, those penalties shall not be enforced. Yet, here we areholding out inducements to men to enlist under a law which we believe to be bad. It is a perfectly fair thing to say that if ourGovernment did not believe that Act tobe bad, they would not specifically prescribein their Defence Bill that the measure should not apply to our own sailors. I’ have studied the Naval Discipline Act, and I must say that I was appalled. I believe that any honorable senatorwould be appalled by reading it. Thereis hardly an offence that is not punishable either by death or penal servitude.. Clause 99 of the Defence Bill is as follows : -
Where the punishment foi- any offence against the Army Act or the Naval Discipline Act is penal servitude the Court may, in lieu of sentencing the offender to penal servitude, sentence him to imprisonment with-or without hard labour for the same period us that for which he might have been sentenced to penal servitude or forany less period.
It is worthy of remark that the penalty of death under the Discipline Act still remains in force ; and under the circumstances is it conceivable that any Australian seaman will enlist in the British Navy ? In-. the event of two or three men who thus enlisted being punished under the Act, the remainder would desert : indeed they would feel it impossible to remain. The men who have enlisted in our permanent and militia forces are of the very highest type, and instead of penalties being enforced to keep them in the service, I understand from those who know, that the greatest punishment that can be inflicted on a man is to dismiss him. I was talking only the other day to members of the permanent forces here, and I was given to. understand that the high state of efficiency in which they are always found arises from the fact that they consider it a privilege to belong to the forces. How does that affect the question of the special rate of pay 1 I do not know, but I believe it is a fact, that the special rate of pay would be provided in this way: While on board ship and in active service, the Australians are to be paid at the same rate as are similar men in the Royal Navy, the balance being retained, and paid over in a lump sum to the Australian seamen at the expiration of their term of service. It is very important to note what the effect will be on these men if any of them commit an offence. Under the Naval Discipline Act, the punishment of every offence is coupled with the loss of reserve pay. In our service, if a man offends, he is dismissed, but in the British service an offender is punished - he is not dismissed, because there is a shortage of men - and he forfeits his reserve pay and pension. Under the circumstances, what possible chance is there of Australian seamen enlisting in the British Navy 1 The Australian seamen’ are- as intelligent as we are, and they would know perfectly well that the least offence against discipline would end in the special rate of pay being forfeited - that they would be retained in the service for the term of three years, but would lose all the money to which they might be entitled. There is another point which arises out of the explanation given by Sir Edmund Barton. It appears that the right honorable gentleman explained that in time of war the reserves will be expected to ship, not in a special ship, but in any. ship employed in warfare. What will become of the special rate of pay 1 We should then have the very situation to which reference has been made by Senator Charleston. In time of war we should have stokers and seamen receiving special rates of pay working alongside men paid on a much lower scale.
– There cannot bediscipline under the circumstances.
– It would be impossible to preserve discipline. We should never know from day to day what washappening in the squadron ; we should never know how our men were suffering, orwhat indignities they were enduring - indignities which are repugnant to the freeborn Australian, but which do not seem tostrike the ordinary British seaman in the same way. I should like to read, for theinformation of honorable senators, a small extract from a book entitled For Efficiency, written by Mr. Arnold White, a well-known authority on naval questions. Mr. Whitewrites with a view to reform in the British Navy, and the particular paragraph is headed “ Treatment of Bluejackets.” I believe thatevery statement he makes is thoroughly reliable, or he would have been contradicted before now. The book is dated 1902, and Mr. White writes as follows : -
Men of the lower deck are improperly fed ; theprovisions served out to them are far less appetising than the provisions served out to paupersof the D 2 class under the regulations of the Local Government Board in the Workhouses of theUnited Kingdom.
– How would Australianseamen like that ?
– There would be a mutiny in six months.
– The Australians would be the means of improving the conditions.
– Does SenatorWalker mean that the Australian seamen would bring about a mutiny - a revolution ? I ask particular attention to the follow ing :-
Paupers have knives and forks, bluejackets are compelled to eat with their fingers and thumbs, and with the clasp knife which they wear around their neck’s.
Imagine our Australian seamen having toeat with their fingers as a Japanese eats his rice !
The men’s service rations are virtually thesame as they were 60 years ago. The standard of comfort on shore, in the army, among thepolice, and the working classes generally, has gone up. The Admiralty have made no corresponding recognition of that fact -
– The more reason that they should do so now.
– The honorable senator is right ; but will the Admiralty recognise the- fact? Mr. Arnold White says-
The Admiralty have made no corresponding recognition of the fact in serving out rations to the 122,500 bluejackets who man the fleet. The result of feeding the bluejackets so badly is that the men are compelled to spend their r wages on food.
Now we come to the wages question -
The average amount spent by the bluejackets out of their small wages on extra food is ‘about <5Jd. per day, besides the savings paid for by the Admiralty. Mechanics on warships spend about 19s. 3d. a month, or 8d. per day ; stokers spend £ 0s. 2d. per month, or about 8Jd. per day.
These figures are extremely significant. I now want to show the rates of pay for able seamen, mechanics, and stokers in the British Navy. The pay of an able seaman is ls. 7d. per day, and, according to Mr. Arnold White, out of the paltry sum there has to be spent 6£d. in order to get enough food to nourish and keep the seaman alive.
– A man need not join the navy unless he likes.
– Mechanics receive from 2s. 2d. per day, and out of that they have to spend 8d. per day on extra food, whilst stokers receive 2s. per day, and have -to spend 8£d. in that direction. Is it conceivable that under the terms set out a single Australian will be found to enlist in His Majesty’s Navy ? I say, emphatically, no. If the Government of this country did not know that there was this scale of food, they ought to have made it their duty to know before they entered into this agreement, and before they endeavoured to force it down our throats under a threat of resignation, as I understand they have done. lt must be easily recognised that the clause in the agreement dealing with special rates of pay is a farce, if the circumstances are such as I have described. It seems hardly credible, but I have ascertained, as I believe, the truth -of the fact by reference, that the Admiralty are at the present moment, for the first time in the history of Australia, building a naval prison on an island in Sydney Harbor, especially in view of this agreement, and of the necessity of dealing with prisoners outside the jurisdiction of Aus; tralia. The Admiralty recognise the difficulty that WOUld arise from following the previous custom under which Australians have been put into Australian prisons according to the terms of the Naval Discipline Act of Great Britain. I do not intend, to dwell any logner on the improbability of any recruits being received by the Admiralty under the terms of this agreement ; and Ihope I have satisfied the Senate that it is extremely unlikely a single Australian will enlist. What I want to point out now is the absolute absurdity of the arrangements which have been made in connexion with the reserves, if any recruiting takes place: Out of the naval reserves of 700 men and 25 officers, New Zealand is entitled to provide one-sixth, and Australia five-sixths. That is to say that Australia is entitled to 584 men and 21 officers. The facilities afforded for the training of this naval reserve are to be provided by three ships. Each of these training ships has accomodation for 233 men, but their permanent complement of men, as stated, by Senator O’Connor, is 130. So that there will be accommodation for only 100 men in each ship used for the purpose of training. Australia has two of these ships available, but she has to train 584 reserves. I desire to know how it is going to be- done. Are we to have five or six periods of training during the year ? These men can only go out for training at certain periods of the year, when their occupation permits. That is well known. As their occupation will be that of seamen, they can only go out for training at some time when shipping business is slack. By the arrangements made for the reserves in Great Britain, the men are trained during periods when- they may be called out with the least inconvenience. Every man to be trained will be in some civil employment, and it is of the utmost importance that that should not be interfered with. The situation we have to face is that under the arrangements proposed by the Admiralty, and backed up by the Commonwealth Government, 600 men - 584 nien and 21 officers - will have to be trained in two ships which will have an available accommodation for but 100 men each, or 200 men. in all. Does that not that reduce this proposal to an absurdity. When we come to consider this agreement in a practical fashion its absurdity becomes instantly apparent.
– The Admiral of the Station does not say so.
– I have not had an opportunity of discussing the- matter with the Admiral of the Station, but I undertake to say that if Senator Best will ask him “ Do you intend to take these men to sea “ - because that is my point, and the training will be valueless unless the men are taken to sea - he will say “ No.” I will go further and say that before long we shall be approached with an intimation thatitisneeessary that barracks should be erected for the accommodation of these men during their period of training on shore. What advantage then shall we get from this agreement under which we suppose these men will get naval instruction at sea ? That was the very point on which emphasis was laid by the supporters of the Bill.
SenatorPEARCE.- And especially by Senator Millen.
– I do not mention names, but it was a strong point with all the Government supporters that these men would get efficient naval training on ships of war at sea, and that is a physical impossibility under the terms of this agreement.
– Could it not be done by relays ?
– I thought I had explained that these men can only be taken out for training when their civil occupation permits, and the slack season for all seaman comes at about the same time of the year. It is impossible to make four slack seasons in shipping merely in order to meet the demands of this Naval Agreement. These men become available for training at the same time, and the result will be that the majority of the naval militia in Sydney will get no more naval training under this agreement than they are able to get at present. If any honorablesenator sees a flaw in this argument, I shall be very glad to have it pointed out.
– Honorable senators are all silent. They cannot come up to time.
– Their silence leads me to suppose that they have no objection to raise. An article on the training of naval reserves recently appeared in the United Service Magazine for June, 1903. I do not propose to quote from it, but as the magazine is to be found on the table in the Library honorable senators can refer to it. It is there laid down by an expert that twenty-eight days training at sea is absolutely essential if naval reserves are to be kept efficient. Then another point arises in connexion with these naval reserves. Article 7 of the agreement provides that -
The men forming the naval reserve shall be divided into two classes -
Those who have served for three years in one of His Majesty’s ships.
Those who have not so served.
It is perfectly clear that at the commencement the reserves will consist entirely of men who have not served on board His Majesty’s ships, and they will be all in B class. But if the Admiralty is successful in securing recruits for this reserve, and it is our ambition that they shall be successful, we shall have the reserve full, because 700 men will have enlisted. I have made some inquiries and, asI understand, the terms of enlistment in the naval reserve are that the men remain as longas they choose to come up for training. They receive a retaining-fee year by year, and are paid so much a day during the ‘ time they are out. But in the British Naval Reserve there is no provision for retiring men after they have been in the service for any lengthof time, unless they become inefficient, or do not come up for training. What is theposition going to be here ? These ships areall commissioned for three years and arethen re-commissioned, and consequently every three years we shall have 900 men turned out of the navy, there being no vacancy for them in the naval reserve, which is limited to 700 men. I ask honorable senators what is to becomeof these men if they are to be made of any service to Australia? We shall have paid through this subsidy a large sum for their training as practical seamen ; but from the day that their three years’ service comes, to an end, they will be of no use to Australia. There is no provision whatever made foicarrying on their training, and they will simply lapse again into the ranks of what in the navy are called “ civilians.” That isa distinct blot upon the agreement.
– They will join the unemployed.
– They will join the unemployed. Every three years 900 men will be thrown on the country without any visible means of subsistence. They will have to find civil employment in the best way they can, and obviously, if the present state of depression continues, they must drift out of the country. I now come to the finan cial aspect of thequestion. This isj of . course the most important part of the whole subject. I ask, can we afford to expend this £94,000?’ Several honorable senators who have supported the Bill have expressed the opinion that we can thoroughly well afford thisexpenditure. I think that is the opinion of Senator O’Connor and of most of theGovernment supporters. We have had certain honorable senators talking lightly of spending £200,000, or even more upon this naval subsidy. I wish to ask this question : Do honorable senators consider that our land force should be placed in an efficient condition prior to the expenditure of this money, or do they not? If they do not consider that our land force should be made efficient in the first place, it is perfectly clear that they are of opinion that the entire money spent upon our land force, if it is not efficient, is absolutely wasted. There is no getting away from that proposition. Either our land force must be fully equipped and provided for, or we do not require a land force at all, because a land force that is inefficient is useless. Honorable senators may now understand why I have been making apparently a factious fight for certain statistics and statements from Major-General Hutton in connexion with our land force. I anticipated the position which was going to be brought’ about, and I desired to be able to state authoritatively what the actual state of our land force was. When I make statements based on my own impressions, or on hearsay, the members of the Government and their supporters pooh-pooh the thing, and say that I have some wonderful backstairs means of getting information. Statements of that sort do not hurt me. I get the information, and .’ whether from the back stairs, or the front stairs, or the drawing-room, I do not particularly care so long as I get it. But we have fortunately secured absolutely authentic figures in connexion with the inefficiency of our land force.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable senator is referring to the land force. I should like to know whether he is in order in discussing the land force in connexion with the Naval Agreement Bill.
– I do not think that the honorable senator would be in order in making irrelevant remarks. He has been also prolix. I have not said anything so far, but I call his attention to Standing Order 143, which provides -
If the Speaker or Chairman of Committees shall have twice warned any member then speaking, that his speech is irrelevant to the question being discussed, or that he is guilty of -undue repetition or prolixity, a motion that such member be not further heard, may be moved at any time, so as to interrupt such member speaking. ‘
I do not say that the honorable senator has been irrelevant up to the present, nor do I say that he has been guilty of undue prolixity, but I remind him that he has been speaking for a considerable time, and I ask him not to discuss the question of the land force.
– Speaking to the point of order, I desire to say–
– There is no point of order.
– If there is no point of order, sir, I ask how it is that you are in a position to tell the honorable senator that he is prolix ?
– I simply called his attention to a standing order. The point of order taken by Senator De Largie was that the speaker was irrelevant. I have said that lie has not yet been irrelevant, but I have asked him not to discuss the question of the land force, because 1 think that would be irrelevant.
– I should like to explain, sir, how it is that I came to be alluding to the land force in this direction. “We are asked to vote a sum of £200,000 for a certain purpose, and my object is to show that in the absence of an efficient equipment of the land force, which in my mind should take priority, it would be extremely inadvisable to vote the money in the direction desired.
– The honorable senator is quite right so far as he has gone. I said that he ought not to discuss the question of whether the land force is or is not efficient. He can assume that it is not efficient, and say that this money is required to make it efficient. He should not go into the question of whether it is or is not efficient, because if he did we might have an honorable senator discussing the efficiency of any other branch of the public service - almost any question of expenditure under the sun - and saying that unless this Department or that Department be made efficient we ought not to incur further expenditure. I think the honorable senator will see that although I wish to give him every latitude, a line must be drawn somewhere.
– We have the advantage of Major-General Hutton’s report, in which he states that the land force is inefficient, and, therefore, any debate on that subject is entirely outside the case. I simply propose to quote a statement in that report - that the equipment of the land force is absolutely inefficient, and that a sum of money amounting to £486,000 should be immediately spent.
– The honorable senator can state that fact ‘ and continue his argument based on the statement.
– I am very glad to And that so far I have not transgressed. The deficiency in regard to our land force amounts to £486,000, and we have had notice of an arrangement under which the Government propose to provide £125,000 for 1903 ; £125,000 for 1904; £122,000 for 1905 ; and £114,000 for 1906, making a total of £486,000, which Major-General Hutton says is absolutely necessary for the proper equipment of our land force. That matter has a direct relation in the defence of the Commonwealth to the naval expenditure. We are also aware, from the Estimates which have been circulated, that the Treasurer finds himself -in a position to provide this year only £70,000 out of the sum of £125,000 which the Government had, I believe, authorized Major-General Hutton to expect. My argument is that when we have our expert adviser in defence telling us that the land force is absolutely inefficiently equipped without certain expenditure, and when we have the Treasurer telling us that he cannot recommend the expenditure of the amount which our military expert advises us’ should be spent, it is really absolute folly and a most wicked and atrocious thing that the Government should expect us to spend this additional sum of £94,000 in another direction, of which they have not proved the absolute necessity. All that the Government has proved is that it is a patriotic expenditure which the Admiralty desire. No attempt has been made to prove that it is absolutely essential. On the other hand, in dealing with our defence, we are aware that it is absolutely essential that we should spend £480,000. Are we in a position to spend the money which we are now asked to vote ? Distinctly we are not. It is interesting to consider what would be the result of spending this sum of £94,000 on the naval subsidy, which is taken out of the amount which would otherwise have been available for the equipment of our land force. I have looked into the schedule, and it shows the direction in which the reduction of £5,000 has been made. Medical stores which Major-General Hutton wanted, have been completely cut out to the amount of £1,000 by the Treasurer, while the vote for arms and ammunition reserve has been reduced by £31,000. If there is one thing that should be essentially up to date it is our arms and ammunition. Yet £31,000 has been deducted from the amount which theMajorGeneral considered himself bound to ask from the Government for the efficient equipment of the land force in arms and ammunition. The sum of £23,000 for field artillery and equipment has been denied. The Senate has to take its choice between giving an unnecessary £94,000 to relieve the burden on the British taxpayer -without obtaining any adequate return, in my opinion, for that expenditure, and losing the power which it otherwise would have to put the local military equipment in a proper position. I wish every honorable senator to recognise the serious nature of hia responsibility. If he votesin favour of the subsidy, he will deprive himself of the power to place the land force in a condition in which it can be effective. And unless it is effective, I maintain, if I may do so without trangressing any rule, that it is absolute waste of money to spend a sixpence on it. It would be better to give the annual vote of £600,000 to the British Navy than to spend one penny on a force which in time of need, when it is called upon to fight, would be absolutely useless. Again, in regard to fortifying our harbours, I think I have proved, by the references I have made to authorities, that the Admiralty and Naval authorities rely implicitly on these naval bases being properly equipped. And yet what do we find 1 We find that owing to this naval vote the defence of Fremantle will be absolutely neglected. We find that out of a sum of £20,000, which Major-General Hutton has stated to be absolutely essential to the equipment of the fort at Fremantle, only £4,000 for earthworks, and £5,000 for guns, can be provided. Again - and I am making my remarks as short as possible,, sir, in deference to your suggestion that I had been unduly prolix–
– I did not say that the honorable senator had been unduly prolix.
– I apologize.
– I said that the honorable senator had not been unduly prolix.
– The word “ prolix “ has. only one meaning, anyway.
– What- is the meaning ?
– That the honorable senator has been long-winded. He has been making a fine speech.
– Quite apart from the General Officer Commanding, and on- their own initiative, the Government have stated that it is their intention to arm the Cerberus and -make her an effective vessel by the provision of four 75 guns at a cost of £20,000. If that is a -necessary expenditure the work ought to he put in hand to-day. What did Senator O’Connor say when addressing the Senate some time ago -in connexion with war? He pointed out that honorable senators did not seem to properly- realize the serious risk there was- of war coming upon us at any time. If I remember rightly - and I appeal to him to correct me if I am wrong - he said that war would not wait for four or five years until we could build up a navy. And yet what do we find ? We have his colleague, Sir George Turner, distinctly telling us that we can wait four or five years for the building up of the equipment of our land force. How are we to reconcile those two -conflicting statements? On the one hand we are asked to hurry blindfold into this expenditure, and on the other hand we have Sir George Turner saying, “ Put it off. We have not got the money to spare. Spread the work over four years.” Will war wait for four years until we equip the *Cerberus ? Senator O’Connor is silent.
– I am reading a very interesting book.
– It might be more to the advantage of the honorable -and learned gentleman if he were paying attention to the business of the Senate instead of reading an amusing novel.
– I am taking a rest.
– It is discourteous, and honorable senators will recognise that it must be discouraging after one has taken trouble to look into this subject and endeavour to master its details, to find that his few remarks are being treated with disdain. The sum of ±20,000 has to be spent upon this ship in order to equip it, and the Treasurer of the Commonwealth this year can find only £5,000. Yet we are asked to <make this sacrifice to the British Navy.
Though I oppose this measure, and desire to see a beginning made with an Australian Navy, I wish it to. be clearly understood that I recognise that in the present state of the finances of Australia it would be impossible to increase our expenditure. I deprecate the increase of our expenditure by £94,000 under this agreement. It is suicidal to spend that money upon the navy until we havegot our land force in an efficient condition. We must place our land force in a condition in which it will be efficient, so far as we can do so on the amount of money we have to spend, and we can devote the balance to naval protection. But our land force should be made absolutely efficient in the first place, especially in connexion with the construction of an arsenal, and in other directions which would be of immense importance to the Admiralty in relation to naval defence. Honorable senators hardly realize the importance that Australia would be to the British Government if it were properly equipped as a naval base. Admiral Colomb has called attention to that matter within the last month or two in the House of Commons, and it is a subject that I would submit for the serious consideration of the Senate. What we have to do is to make Australia essential to the British Navy as a base ; and the only way in which we can do that, and make it a matter of the utmost importance that Great Britain shall protect Australia, is by providing ourselves with means by which the navy can obtain the supplies which it will absolutely need in time of war. Under present circumstances, in time of war, supplies will have to be drawn from England. In the case of war in the East, it is impossible to say what might intervene to prevent those supplies coming out. We should take the opportunity of supplying the wants of the British Navy. It is to that point that we should devote our attention and our expenditure. There is only one other topic to which I wish to refer before I sit down. I am anxious to touch upon it, at the request of Senator Pearce, who had intended to address the Senate about it, but unfortunately forgot it. The great stone that is. always flung at us in Great Britain, as I have pointed out already, is that naval defence is said to cost Great Britain 16s.. a head, whilst in the colonies naval defence only costs 4d. per head on an average. In the first place, I should like to explain - and it is a matter of very great importance in justifying ourselves in the eyes of the world - -how this figure 4d. is arrived at. It is arrived at-by taking the naval expenditure of the Cape, of Natal, of Australia, of New Zealand, and dividing that naval expenditure by the population of the countries mentioned, coupled with the total population oi Canada, which does not spend a penny upon naval defence, and has absolutely refused to make an agreement similar to the one now before us. The naval expert makes his statistical calculation by bracketing the population of all the countries I have mentioned with the population of Canada. I need hardly say that no more unfair method of arriving at any figure could possibly be adopted. In addition to that, these statisticians completely ignore the 398,000,000 people who are members of the British Empire, and who reside outside the United Kingdom. Foi the purpose of their statistical information, they simply find, in the first place, the cost of protecting the whole British Empire, and divide that figure by the population of the United Kingdom and the other colonies mentioned, embracing 52,000,000 inhabitants. I could quote a number of statistics in this connexion, but will not inflict further details upon the Senate. I would simply call attention to the net result. It is this. The population of the British Empire amounts to 450,000,000 people. The naval expenditure in Great Britain for last year amounted to £34,500,000. By a very simple arithmetical calculation it will be found that the due proportion per head, about which so much fuss is made, amounts to ls. 6 3-8d.
– Surely the honorable senator would not charge our black brother 1
– The honorable senator raises a big question which I do not propose to deal with, because I do not wish to trespass further upon the time of the Senate, except to say that I agree that we cannot reasonably base the interest of the black man in the British Empire upon the same foundation as we base the interest of the white man. Still, however, we have to look at the interest of all the inhabitants of the British world in some degree. What we have to consider is whether the interest of Great Britain in these black people, as consumers of her produce, is not so great that she should take upon herself the burden of protecting them in the same ratio as we take upon ourselvesthe burden of protecting ourselves. I think that any honorable senator who gives consideration to that problem will see that it isa distinct liability upon Great Britain, and that she should bear that liability upon a. population basis, black man and white man being lumped together, because the black man is as valuable as the white man as a consumer of British productions. From that point of view, Great Britain ought totake them into account in dealing with the protection of the Empire on a population basis. The result of this analysis is as follows : - On the basis of ls. 6 3-Sd. per head, the liability of Australia towards the naval defence of the Empire amounts to £288,000, and that is the figure which Sir John Forrest should haveput forward in his famous memorandum instead of exposing Australia to the ignominy of being supposed to be liable for the sum of £5,000,000. I have nothing furtherto say upon the subject. I hope that, with the exception of Senator O’Connor, honorable senators will have reaped some benefit from, my investigations.
– I have been afraid that the honorable senator would convert, me !
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council pays me a compliment which I am afraid I do not merit ; but I trust that the result will be that one or more of the honorable senatorswho have listened to me may see their way to support us in our honest endeavour tosecure a better position for Australia, in dealing with the question of naval defence, than has been secured for her by SirEdmund Barton.
– I do not know that, after the terse though tardy remarks which we have just listened to, it is necessary to unduly prolong the debate. Every honorablesenator has made up his mind upon the question already. But, at the sametime, I know that if a man has made a subject a great study, has orated about it in different places, and has published papers in regard to it, he must either speak or burst. There is no choice for him but to get it off somehow or other. I can only say that the honorable senator has got it off’ tersely and in exceedingly good temper, except when once or twice he was interrupted. He always took advantage of the interruptions, and they unfortunately led him to say things, which on calmer consideration he may have reason to regret. The honorable senator began by a general attack upon the disingenuousness of the British Government. He dealt extensively with the circumstances that led up to the agreement made in 18S7, and which practically came into force in 1889. In dealing with the agreement he said that the Imperial Government had failed to carry out the objects of the Conference, and had failed to respect the intentions and purposes of the agreement - that they had taken advantage apparently of the comparative helplessness of the representatives of the colonies, and were able to carry out their deceptions only by means of the nefarious Governments existing then, and coming into existence afterwards, who, for the sake of baubles and titles-
– Not existing then, but coming in afterwards.
– He did not distinguish them, but spoke of Governments, who, for the sake of baubles and titles, sacrificed their oaths and their principles. That is a highly improper charge to make. In this Senate we ought to be very clear as to our facts before we, after an interval of -sixteen years under an agreement to which which no objection has ever been taken–
– There has been objection taken.
– Well, no serious objection.
– During that time there has been an agreement in respect of which no charge has ever been made. The agreement has been the subject of criticism, but not of complaint, on part of anybody concerned. To bring the matter up at this late stage, when, in the ordinary course of circumstances, the details of the original agreement have been forgotten by many—-
– That is the trouble.
– To make a charge of such gravity as has been made at this late stage is disgraceful, unless that charge can be amply supported by circumstances.
– There has never before been a charge of a breach of the agreement.
– I was one of the parties concerned in the Conference, and a great deal of the fighting done there on behalf of Australia was done by the representatives of Victoria and South Australia. I myself did as much in this respect as any one else.
– And I gave the honorable and learned senator every credit.
– I am not complaining on that score, but when the honorable senator tells us that we must take care in dealing with the Imperial Government to see that every “ i “ is dotted and every “t” crossed, he makes a gross reflection, which it would require an immensity of evidence to justify. The honorable senator has not substantiated his charge in the smallest particular. He read extracts from the documents, but not’ from all of them, and he quoted certain words, but omitted other words. Senator Matheson said that the Imperial Goverment agreed to give us 6-inch guns. The Imperial Government did nothing of the kind, and there was never any proposition to that effect before the Conference.
– It is set out repeatedly in the records.
-. - How did the Imperial Government carry out the agreement?
– I am defending the intelligence and honesty of our own people as well as the intelligence and honesty of the Government of the great Empire to which we belong. So far from being false to us in any way, the Imperial authorities then had, as they now have, every disposition, to be as kind as possible, and to make great concessions with a view to promoting the solidarity of the Empire. As to the question of the 6-inch guns, Admiral Tryon, who was out here in 1885, gave his views as to what provision he thought expedient for Australian defence, and recommended certain ships of the Scout class, armed with 6-inch guns. That was the position of affairs at the time of the Conference, which was attended by the principal men of the Admiralty; and to assist us in the deliberations we made a personal inspection of the various types of ships available. After hearing the opinions of every available authority on the subject in England, we came to the conclusion that it was better to adopt not vessels of the Scout class, as recommended by Admiral
Try on, but vessels of the Archer class. In the Conference there was never, from first to last, any argument or consideration with respect to the armament consisting of 6-inch guns.
– It was always stated that there should be 6-inch guns.
– The representativesof Australia went to thatConference with notions they had derived from the views expressed by Admiral Tiyon, but on arriving in London we found that those views were not shared by the Admiralty, who did not think that vessels of the Scout class were the best for the purpose. Vessels of the Arclier class were recommended, and we agreed to adopt that type ; but, as I say, there never was, from first to last, any suggestion in regard to 6-inch guns. On the contrary, the representatives of the Admiralty were of opinion that quick-firing 4-7 inch guns would bemore applicable to the type of ship they advised us to select. We did not act on the advice of a stray Admiral here and there - we did not seek the advice of some writer in the magazines, or of some person who advertised in the newspapers. We acted on the advice of the great bodv of naval men in the old country, who took immense interest in the matter, and placed themselves at our service with no other object, I am sure, than to help the colonies. On their advice we adopted vessels of the Archer type, and agreed that the guns should be of the type afterwards supplied.
– There is no evidence of that in the records.
– How can the honorable senator prove a negative?
– I have read through the records.
– There is no evidence to the contrary. Senator Matheson has shown great research, but, unfortunately, he has sometimes gone too far back and sometimes not far enough ahead.
-It is impassible to convince the honorable and learned senator.
– It is impossible to convince me of the accuracy of the views of the honorable senator, because I know something about the matter. Senator Matheson said that Admiral Tryon led us to believe that the ships were to be armed with 6-inch guns, but that as a matter of fact the vessels came out armed with 4-7 guns. Admiral Tryon, in his memoranda, said -
In Parliament, iu London, lately, it was announced that ten additional vessels of what are termed Scout class were to be . added to the navy; the vessels, admirably adapted for the service for which they are designed, would, in my opinion, not have sufficient gun-power ; but a design might be got out giving them 6-inch breechloading guns in lieu of o-inch. These guns, at moderate ranges, penetrate ordinary ironclads.
What happened, said Senator Matheson, was that Admiral Tryon’s suggestion was adopted, and an approved style of Archer was built, but that while we were led to believe throughout the whole of the negotiations that the armament would consist of 6 -inch breech-loading guns, we got only 4-7-inch guns. Admiral Tryon said in another part of his memoranda -
The class of vessels which would, in their Lordships’ opinion, be most suitable for the service are the Archer class, ten of which are ordered for our navy. They are 1,030 tons of displacement, with steam . 17 knots, and are to be armed with six 6-inch B.L.B. guns.
But all that relates to the preliminary advice given by Admiral Tyron when he was here two years before the Conference, and, of course, his views were considered in London and, equally of course, abandoned. And with the different type of vessels there was necessarily a different type of gun adopted.
– The honorable and learned senator has not quoted what I said as to the final agreement.
-The honorable senator means as to the”Naval defence proposals as agreed to”?
– That is the very point - “ as agreed to?”
– The other quotation from Senator Matheson’s remarks is - .
I would particularly beg the Senate to mark that this proposal was agreed to.” Note : It is undeerstood that the Archer is a vessel of 1,630 tons displacement, wiE steam 17 knots, and be armed with sjx 6-inch B.L.B. guns, and will also carry torpedoes. “
Where did the honorable senator find that?
– In the records.
– I find it nowhere, and I ask the honorable senator to refer to the records. The Conference lasted nearly two months, and, of course, Admiral Tyron’s suggestions were the basis on which we practically began to negotiate. We were advised from time to time, and finally we were convinced that 6-inch guns would not be suitable for boats of the Archer type, but that quick-firing 4-7 guns would be more efficacious for the work. Truly enough, that was not denned ; but it is unworthy to suggest that the Admiralty designedly omitted anything from the agreement, and so evaded giving effect to the terms arranged. Everything that was promised at that Conference was made a part of the agreement, the terms of which were not exhaustive, and were not intended to be exhaustive. We were not demanding that every “i” should “be dotted and every “ t” crossed, but were acting on that high code of honour that ought to prevail between kindred peoples. I have a hazy recollection of details after the interval of sixteen years ; but I have taken the trouble to go through the report of the discussion which took place at the Conference, with more thoroughness, I hope, than Senator Matheson displayed, in order to fmd out what occurred. When we were discussing the agreement clause by clause, the President said -
We cannot go into all that is in the agreement. We must trouble people who wish to study the agreement to read what will be published in the statement of the discussion at the Conference. If we go into details of this kind we shall never get through our work.
What could be plainer than that? The agreement was exactly what it was meant to be, and as to the suggestion that it was not sufficiently elaborate, the words which I have just read could always have been’ brought under the observation of the successors of Lord Knutsford if it was desired to have any matter attended to. But this was not the only discussion. Everything that took place does, not appear here.
– Will the honorable and learned senator just look at the report. It says “ as -finally agreed.”
– I see what the honorable senator is referring to - “the proposal as agreed to.” Exactly. There were many alterations made as the matter went on. Lord George Hamilton was very anxious to meet us in every way. There can be no doubt that he showed great readiness to meet us, and great consideration. There was a friendly feeling towards the Colonies, find it was felt that Great Britain, having convened the Conference, the representatives attending it should not part without doing something substantial. Lord George Hamilton in. several . instances mentioned matters which might be agreed to, but which, when they came to be considered by the persons who really. had to advise him, were found to require modification and alteration. In the end an agreement was arrived at which was afterwards carried out to the entire satisfaction of the people of Australia. There has never been a question until now. Is it not too bad that this charge should be madeagainst Great Britain in the first place, and against the Administrations in the Coloniesin the second place ? We often read in books nowadays of extraordinary discoveries made by persons now living in respect of matters that were accepted as facts thousands of years ago, but which the ingenuity of individuals questions to-day, when no proofs -can be submitted. But we are dealing here with modern times ; and for sixteen years we have had this agreement, and we have been paying £106,000 a yearunder it since 1889. The administration has not been that of one Colony or one Premier, because in. each of the Colonies we have had various changes of Government,, and the Colonies have always been satisfied with the agreement, though, as my honorablefriends .in the Labour corner have said, it has been discussed adversely from time totime. It is reserved for the indefatigableenergy and ingenuity of Senator Matheson to discover that we were swindled in the first instance by the Imperial Government, and that the rogues and fools governing us in the Colonies, for thesake of titles or ribbons, have not bothered to vindicate the honour of their country orto do justice to those whom they represented. I say that a suggestion such as. that requires more than Senator Matheson’sbare assertion to support it. We have had nothing but the honorable senator’s bareassertion up to the present time.
– Bare assertion in what respect?
– I say it was a bare assertion on the part of thehonorable senator that the agreement did not carry out the intentions of those whomade it. I say that the agreement carried out entirely what was intended by the contracting parties, and that could be madeevident if we could call them. We cannot call some of them, because they are dead. But it is made evident by the continuance- of the agreement for all these years without objection or any suggestion of mala fides on the part of anybody.
– They agreed to train seamen, but they did not do it.
– They agreed to keep the fleet efficient, but they did not do it. “ Senator Sir JOHN DOWNER - That is another matter altogether. Honorable senators will admit that I do not unduly interrupt any honorable senator, and I know they will show me the respect that I always show to them.
– I must ask honorable senators not to interrupt. There have been too many irrelevant interjections, which have nothing at all to do with the question before the Senate.
– I think we are being called to order too much to-night. I am accustomed to hear interjections made and allowed.
-Senator Downer has appealed to honorable senators not to interrupt him, and I have asked that he should not be interrupted.
– I asked Senator Downer whether the agreement had been carried out.
– I did not allude’ to that; that is a perfectly legitimate question.
– I would like to say that I was making an appeal to honorable senators for consideration for a moment. Usually I am satisfied to hear interjections. At present I would rather be allowed to continue in my own way, and later I may be able to answer any questions which honorable senators may put to me.
– Seeing that the honorable and learned senator was a party to the agreement we especially desire to get his explanation of certain points.
– That is why I am speaking. I am the only person in the Senate who was at the -Conference at which the agreement was arrived at. I am sure that Mr. Deakin would say exactly what I am saying. I was a party to the agreement; I have recently refreshed my memory, upon the subject, and I know all about it. It is the agreement we intended to make. There was no deception, and undoubtedly it has been carried out. I am asked; - “But was it carried out?” The agreement was that the Imperial Government would supply a certain, class of ships, and would .keep them in repair, and that they would; if we wished it at the end of the term, renew the agreement for another ten years, and would give us ships up-to-date in place of the ships originally sent. I propose to . refer to something which Senator Matheson quoted. This will be found at page 305 of the report of the proceedings of the Conference.
Mr. Burt. Before we leave the subject might I ask if there is any understanding of any sort with regard to what will take place at the end of ten years - whether the matter will be reconsidered, or whether the Imperial Government will undertake now to replace the ships which may need replacing by others of an improved type ; because Ave shall be asked probably on our return by our respective Governments special questions upon this matter.
Mr-. Deakin. - Probably there will be another Conference before the end of ten years.
Then Lord George Hamilton said - and this is what Senator Matheson quoted -
What was stated the other day was that, supposing the Colonies wished to renew the arrangement for another period, we would undertake either to make these vessels thoroughly efficient, or if any of them became obsolete by that time, to replace them by vessels more in accord with what then might be the naval requirements of the day.
There Senator Matheson stopped and read no more. We were to have boats of the Archer type. They were to be 18-knot boats. There was a better Archer type of vessel that could go 2 1 knots ; and, in reply to Mr. Deakin, the Secretary of State for the Colonies carefully pointed out that we were not to have the 21-knot boats but the 18-knot boats, which we got. Honorable senators must remember that it was a question of money to a very large extent. It was a question of what it would cost, and they would not give us the 21-knot boats, because they were too expensive, whilst they were prepared to give us the 18-knot boats because they cost less. Then it is suggested that, under the agreement, at the end of ten years it might be renewed, and that they would give us up-to-date boats of an utterly different .and improved character without any regard to expense. Who can possibly think that any business Government would ever make such an agreement? They make an agreement carefully limiting their liability in respect of the immediate term for which the agreement is made - the term of ten years - telling us exactly -what we are to have, but telling us at the same time that they will keep the ships in repair, and that if they become obsolete or are lost they, will supply us with others. They tell us all these things, and in the face of that it is suggested that they also promised us, without any regard to the careful consideration of expense which they showed in the first instance, that we should be allowed to enter into a contract for a further ten years if we chose, and they would give us boats which might cost ten times as much as those previously supplied. Honorable senators know how the conditions of the naval service alter. Let me continue the quotation - I desire to put the matter quite clearly, because I do not consider that Senator Matheson’s quotation is very ingenuous standing by itself after Lord George Hamilton made the statement I have quoted, Mr. Deakin said -
Then as I understand the proposition, ifby any revolution in naval warfare, the vessels now being contracted became obsolete for the particular purposes for which they are required -
Honorable senators will observe how fairly that was put, as Mr. Deakin puts everything, as far as I know- then the Imperial Government would be prepared to consider their replacement upon this particular station by vessels more suitable for its particular necessities and place those vessels elsewhere. What I mean is that the Admiralty is not bound to this particular class of ships even for 10 years.
– Even for ten years ; that is the point.
– I have read it. If the honorable senator will say it three times more, it will then perhaps be understood. The report continues -
– That must be a matter for subsequent arrangement.
The President was the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
– On the face of it that means a renewal within ten years.
– The honorable senator ought to have been a lawyer, and if he were he would always be regretting that special demurrers were done away with, and that that glorious uncertainty of the law was not preserved. The report continues -
Lord George Hamilton. - We thought it better that those vessels should be ear-marked for Australian waters for those ten years–
And now Senator Matheson drops in hopelessly - but if at the end of those ten years the Colonies wish to enter into li fresh arrangement, then we will undertake that those vessels shall be made thoroughly efficient, or replaced by more modern vessels -
I am reading straight on, nothing extenuating nor setting down aught in malice
Mr. Deakin. What I meant to say wa3 that, the Colonies had no desire necessarily to earmark the vessels for ten years ; they would prefer to leave that to the judgment of the Admiralty, and if the Admiralty wished toreplace the ships which had become more or lessobsolete by more efficient ones, the Colonies would be glad to agree.
Lord George Hamilton. - That is a matter for subsequent arrangement.
We did not desire to bind the Admiralty down too tightly because the interests of Great Britain are, under God’s providence, our interests as well. They did not desireto tie us down. They gave us the bestadvice they could, but they said - “This iswhat it is to cost. We will do more than promise you these ships for ten years. If we find others more suitable within the limit of cost we will give you them ; and if at the end of the ten years you wish to renew the agreement you may renew it, but of course it will be renewed on the same termsas before - unless you make fresh arrangements.” That is the understanding on which the Colonies proceeded, and which was never questioned until the marvellous research and ingenuity of Senator Matheson produced the short but effective speech which he madetoday.
– It is a plain reading of plain print.
– In theConference we had a great debate on the rate of interest to be charged. We havenever paid for the ships. It was never intended that we should pay for them. We were only expected to pay the interest on the cost of construction during the time we had them. We made a great protest against the charge being fixed at 5 per cent. Itcertainly was not the fault of either Mr. Deakin or myself that we did not get oiuway in that regard. It is highly probablethat but for the action of Colonies to which we did not belong -I do not include Ntjw South Wales - we should have got betterterms. “ Three per cent,” we said, “ isquite enough to charge.” “Yes,” they replied, “ but we require 2 per cent, for a. sinking fund.” We had a great fiaht aboutthe contribution to the sinking fund, whichamounted to ?31,000 a year. The Imperial authorities declined to forego that demand, but they gave us other terms which compensated us to some extent, which threw upon them additional responsibilities, and which we thought might fairly justify the charge, although I believe that they would probably have given in altogether iE enough pressure had been brought to bear. However, asitwas, theagreementwasabsolutelyfair. Apayment of 2 per cent, to a sinking fund is not too much, because ships depreciate so rapidly. I do not say that the vessels of the squadron are now useless, but they are not at all suited for the purposes for which they were designed, because of the marvellous improvements which have since been made. During all these years the Imperial authorities have had the responsibility of keeping the ships in repair, of providing other ships in the event of their loss, and a number of responsibilities which were not embraced. in the original proposals. The ships came out, according to the agreement, and no complaint has been made. There was an interim agreement in respect of the interest between the close of the Conference in 18S7 and the time when the ships would be ready. I believe it was on my motion that it was finally decided that the agreement should date from the time when the ships were delivered to Australia. It was to run for a period of ten years, from 1 889, subject to its being determined by a two years’ notice, given at the end of the eighth year, or, if allowed to run for more than ten years, by a two years’ notice given at any time. It has not been renewed ; it has been allowed to run on.
– What becomes of the undertaking about the effete ships?
– I do not understand the question.
– There was an . under taking that if at the end of the ten years the ships should be found to be effete they would be replaced.
– The undertaking by the Admiralty was to provide the ships for a period of ten years, and if at the end of that time something else was wanted, to make a fresh arrangement. No. fresh arrangement has been made, and now the Admiralty are blamed. It is through our own fault, not theirs, that the position has not been considered at an earlier date. The question of establishing a Commonwealth agitated the Colonies for a long while, and I dare say that the question of the Naval Agreement did not receive much, attention. The Parliament of each colony was always pretty much concerned in itsown affairs. The agreement has been allowed to run on, so far as the Imperial Government are concerned, without the slightest suggestion of breach of faith, without the slightest suggestion of blame, but with perfect good feeling. Then we have the whole state of the world rapidly altering. We have dangers coming more and more closely to us. We went to the Conference in 1887 as the result of a panic which had prevailed throughout Australia, and with a strong disposition to secure some protection in the event of trouble. When we are looking at the question now, we see that although there is no immediate prospect of trouble, the dangers are more and more imminent. Suppose that trouble did occur, we have a possible enemy, in far greater force and number, much nearer our shores than we had before. It is much better to make our preparations for war in time of peace, than when the enemy is at our gates, because it can then be done more calmly,, deliberately, and cheaply. Every one knew that a fresh arrangement had to be made. Every one knew and agreed that we wanted some ships of a more . advanced type, that would give a more efficient protection to Australia. That was the position when the Prime Minister went toEngland. He went at a very good time when Mr. Chamberlain’s anxiety to draw closer the bonds between the Coloniesand England pervaded the United Kingdom, and prompted its people to make great sacrifices in order to bring their friends in Australia closer to them than they were. The result of this friendly feeling was an agreement which would not have been obtained except for the enthusiasm which was brought about by the Federation of Australia, and the determination of England to stand well in the eyes of the new Commonwealth. What do honorable senators really think should be done 1 One proposition is that we should have a navy of our own. Honorable senators speak of the contingent votes which they would’ give under circumstances not likely to occur. If there were a proposition to spend about £5,000,000 on the formation and maintenance of a navy in Australia, what would be the views of my honorable friends sitting in the Labour corner 1 There would be an outcry of indignation against any Government that made the proposal, and it frould go out of office as the result of its daring act. The term “hireling fleet” has been used.
– It did not come from the Labour party.
– But the honorable and learned Senator is referring to this corner.
– The honorable senators to whom I refer are all acting together on this question, and that is why I deal with them generically.
– In every country the Labour party opposes such proposals.
– That is a good thing, and I make no objection to it. Any Ministry that dared to propose the huge expenditure which would be involved in providing locally a squadron .equal to that offered to us by the Imperial Government would, in the present condition of Australia, be hurled out of office tomorrow.
-That is my opinion. “ Hireling fleet ! What an unworthy- terra to use to our mother country, which for all these years has been looking after us- it maybe in its own interests, but in our interests, too - without asking anything from us ! We are now asked for a contribution which is at one moment treated or described as monstrous because it is so much, and which at another moment is said to be contemptible because it is only a drop in the bucket. We are all willing, appparently, to shed our blood and to spend our money in aid of the mother country. These terms do not assist the argument very much, because after all it is not a question of patriotism alone, but also of pounds, shillings, and pence. We have to consider what is the best thing to do in our own protection. That this is a good bargain for us, apart from its controversal aspect, no one denies. That we want better ships, every one agrees. That these ships will be suitable to our requirements, every.body ‘agrees. That the amount of the contribution is not too much, is alternately dealt with, one way and the other, but practically every one agrees that it is not too much. The substantial part of the disagreement is that the Admiralty are to have control over the fleet. If there is one thing clearer than another, it is that once we get to questions referring to the sea, there must be one control. Suppose that the proposed agreement, like the existing agreement, provided that the ships should not be moved out of Australian waters, either in peace or in war, except with our consent, what a farce that would be ! The Imperial Government would telegraph to the Commonwealth Government, and the necessary consent would be given at once. The suggestion is ridiculous. As Senator O’Connor said, we do not want the enemy at our ports before we resist him. The only time when they played that game in England the enemy’s ships got into the Thames. They adopted other tactics afterwards, and the defensive force became an offensive force. The very able extracts which were read by my honorable friend, Senator Matheson - and which did not seem to have much to do with the subject, although they were in the abstract clever - enunciated the principle that we could have a defensive naval force without its becoming offensive. But we must go outside sometimes to meet an enemy, and we must have vessels with which to go outside. In South Australia we had the Protector, which, unfortunately, was not built on the plan recommended by Sir -William Jervois. His idea was that we should have a very fast boat, armed with very heavy guns. He thought there was no danger of any line of battle-ship’s coming to attack us, and that all we had to fear was attacks from fast cruisers of the Alabama type. He therefore recommended a powerful gunboat, with such guns as are now in the Protector, with a speed of twenty knots ; so that the boat would be able to catch the enemy before she got into our gulf. He did not mean that the Protector should stay in port until the enemy got near to her. His scheme was founded throughout on the assumption that we need have no fear of any line of battle-ships coming here. He said that if they came the Protector would be useless.
– That was before the advent of the Eastern question.
– It was before the Eastern .question became so serious that the whole mine en scene was changed. We now have to look at the matter from an entirely different standpoint. To suggest that the adoption of this agreement will embroil us in any difficulty, or any trouble in which the Imperial
Government may bo concerned, is to raise a bogy. We all say, with one exception, that we wish to maintain a close connexion with Great Britain.
– Tho honorable senator who is referred to as the exception Rays that he wishes to have a friendly alliance.
– He wants to have all he can get without paying for it. There are a great many people like that. What friendly alliance could be more in our interests than one with the greatest ocean power in the world, and under which our own ships will be controlled by a central authority in possession of the latest and best information 1 I would remind honorable senators that these ships will be stationed here until removed by the Admiralty, and that is a power which would never’ be exercised, except in circumstances of great emergency. Tho ships will not necessarily be kept in the Sydney harbor. I do not think that is. the best place for them. They might be doing something better than staying there all the time. But that is a matter of detail. They will be kept in Australasian waters just as the present fleet is kept in Australasian waters. All that the Admiralty says is that in the event of war they want to. have the discretion as to the way in which the ships can best be used. It is said that this new agreement involves the destruction of our coastal defence.
– That has been threatened.
– That is a matter entirely for ourselves. Suppose that the fleet which- is coming to us would cost a sum equal to £500,000 a year, and suppose we get its services for £200,000 a year. Then we have the difference between those two sums to play with if we like. We can have a little fleet of our own for coastal defence and pay for it with that money. We can use the difference between those two sums to keep our coastal defence in a proper condition. Whether tho Cerberus and the Protector are to be given up and other vessels are to be put in their places, is a matter which we have to determine. Memwhile, we are making an agreement which will bind us closer to Great Britain on most liberal terms, such as never would have been conceded except that at the time they were arranged there was great enthusiasm in favour of the Colonies owing to the creation of the Commonwealth. These terms are exceedingly generous and kind to us. After we have paid all the money which we have to pay under the agreement, there is stilla large sum between what we pay and what we should pay if the vessels were our own, with which we can provide for our coastal defence. But I altogether object to the question of coastal defence being introduced in connexion with this question. If we make a satisfactory arrangement -with respect to our general, defence, we are left with an immense margin for deciding what shall be spent on coastal defence. The two questions are separate. In the original agreement the Imperial Government said they would keep the Auxiliary Squadron here. This agreement will not interfere with that. It is tiue that the new agreement does not say that the Admiralty shall keep up the Auxiliary Squadron, but at the same time they do not recognise the agreement as being exclusive. Indeed the agreement says -
The base of this force shall be the ports of Australia and N.ew Zealand, and their sphere of operatjons.shall be the waters of the Australian, Chinn. and East Indies stations, as defined in the attached schedules, where the Admiralty believe they can most effectively act against hostile vessels which threaten the trade or interests of Australia and Mew Zealand. No change in this arrangement shall be made without the consent of the Governments of the Commonwealth and of New Zealand ; and nothing not in the agreement shall be taken to mean that the naval force herein named shall be the only force used in Australasian waters should the necessity urisc for a larger force.
The truth is that the Imperial Government, without binding itself, will do as much for us as it does now, and possibly a great deal more. The governing words of the agreement are those’ which I have quoted. I hope that there will not be a bare majority of the Senate in favour of the agreement, but a. substantial majority. When the Bill was introduced in another place it was discussed at great length. At the beginning it appeared to be doubtful what the result would be. But day by day as the debate went on the great benefits conferred by the agreement became more and more apparent, and the minority became less and less. When the end came the Bill was carried by a great majority. I hope that the agreement, which has been very wisely prepared and which contains terms which would not have been conceded except that at the time it was made there was a great feeling in favour of binding the Colonies to the mother country by a closer tie, will be received with acclamation by the Senate, and will become law as soon as possible.
Debate (on motion by Senator Staniforth Smith) adjourned.
Senate adjourned 10.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 August 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030820_senate_1_16/>.