1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator GLASSEY presented a petition from nine electors of Queensland praying the Senate to prohibit the introduction, sale, and manufacture of intoxicating liquors in British New Guinea.
Petition received and read.
– I desire to ask you, sir, or the Minister for Defence, without notice, if it is intended, at an early date, to supply honorable senators with a copy of the new Standing Orders, which came into force on the 1st inst., in a more convenient form than foolscap- in a small handbook similar to that which contains the South Australian Standing Orders, under which the Senate has been working until to-day?
– When the Standing Orders were passed, I came to the conclusion that it would be advisable to print them in the some form as the statutes.
– No; we want them printed in a smaller form.
– That is a matter for consideration. I came to the conclusion that it would be wise to print with the Standing Orders a copy of the Constitution Act, and that it would be advisable to have a first-class index ; but, inasmuch as the clerks informed me that it would be impossible to get out on index by the . 1st September, I decided that it would be better to continue the print in foolscap form. The intention is, next session, to print them in the same type and form as the statutes, with a copy of the Constitution Act, and a good index.
– No, in a smaller form.
– That is a matter of opinion ; but I do not think that they ought to be printed too small, because then there would not be sufficient room for marginal notes.
– The honorable senator is quite right. I intended to call attention to the new standing order as soon as the giving of notices had been completed. Under the new standing order 96, it will not be necessary for honorable senators to read their questions. It says -
Notice of question shall be given by a senator delivering the some at the table, fairly written, signed by himself, and showing the day proposed for asking such question.
If honorable senators will look at standing order, 98 they will see the distinction drawn between a notice of question and a notice of motion.
Notice of motion shall be gi ven by the senator, stating its terms to the Senate, and delivering at the table a copy of such notice, fairly written, and signed by himself, and showing the day proposed for bringing on such motion.
So that in the one case there is no necessity to state the terms at all. On and after tomorrow honorable senators will simply hand in their notices of questions.
– At what stage ?
– Before the business of the day is called on. There is a distinction drawn in the new Standing Orders which was not drawn in the old ones. If honorable senators will look at standing order 62 they will see the routine of business laid down -
– That means oral?
– What I mean is that a distinction is drawn by the new standing orders between a notice of question and a notice of motion. By standing order 96 a notice of question need not be stated in terms to the Senate, whereas by standing order 98 a notice of motion must be stated to the Senate.
– But there is nothing to prevent the question being stated?
– I do not think it would be in conformity with the standing order.
– The matter has never been brought under my notice until to-day. I never heard of it. But I can see no reason why honorable senators should not have copies of the index.
Senator DRAKE laid upon the table the following papers : -
Correspondence with regard to the case of the steam-shipHeathdene under the Immigration Restriction Act.
Regulations for Musketry Training in Connexion with Defence Forces.
Regulations regarding the issue of Small Arms and Ammunition.
Regulations to govern the appointment of officers as aides-de-camp to Governors of States.
Alteration of regulations regarding efficiency and pay of the Defence Forces.
Royal assent to the following Bills re ported : -
Naval Agreement Bill.
High Court Procedure Bill.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice - 1.How many female “ cleaners “ ore employed at the General Post Office of the several State capitals, respectively?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Melbourne. - Length of service from 20 years to 2 months. Twenty are paid £15s. per week, and five £1 per week.
Brisbane. - Length of service from 3½ years to 2¾ years. The work is in the nature of a contract. One paid at £128, and the other £84 per annum.
Adelaide. - Length of service from 21 years to 3 years. One paid £8 17s. 6d. per month, one £7 10s. per month, one £7 5s. per month, and one £4 4s.5d. per month.
Perth. - Length of service from 5 years 8 months to 1 year 9 months. All are paid £3 per month.
– Before notices of motion are called on, I wish to call the attention of honorable senators to new standing order 70, which enables honorable senators to arrange the order in which private business shall be dealt with. I do not know that there is anything upon the notice paper to-day which may be brought under that standing order ; but it is just as well to call attention to the fact that standing order 70 provides as follows : -
After the formal motions and orders have been disposed of, and before the business of the day is proceeded with, any senator may move, without notice, that any notice of motion standing in his name or order of the day of which he is in charge on the paper for that day, shall be a notice of motion, or order of the day for some subsequent day.
– I move -
In moving the motion standing in my name I do not think it is needful to take up the time of the Senate in discussing the ethics of old age pensions. In two States the principle is to be found on the statutebook. As these two States embody by far the larger portion of the population of the Commonwealth - and having regard also to the very enthusiastic support that is given to the principle of old age pensions in South Australia - I do not think it necessary that I should offer any arguments whatever in support of the principle, particularly as in the last session of Parliament I went into the matter at sufficient length to render it needless in addressing the same members of the Legislature, to repeat arguments, and reproduce propositions and examples from other parts of the world. I therefore propose to regard the principle as acceptable to this Chamber; and all 1 desire to do to-day is to offer some reasons why, in my view, it is desirable that the Government of the Commonwealth should take action to secure unity of operation throughout Australia in connexion with a matter which in all directions throughout the civilised world is recognised as of the greatest importance to the community, and of paramount importance to the aged. The different States, in coming together in this Commonwealth, have sought, and successfully achieved, the breaking down of many of the barriers that separated one State from another. The Customs barriers upon the borders have happily been swept away. Differences in postal rates, and particularly in telegraph rates, have been abolished. We are seeking to bring the naval and military defences into line. In many other directions, also, weare attempting to achieve, and, I hope are successfully achieving, some of the objects for which the Commonwealth was established. In almost every instance the paramount principle has been to secure complete unity amongst the people of Australia. We cannot have complete unity with respect to the treatment of our aged and infirm unless by a unity of action which does not exist at present. I am aware of the difficulties in the way. There are financial difficulties. But if we are to wait to make some effort in this direction until there are no difficulties before us - if we are to hold our hands until all difficulties have disap.peared - we shall never begin. My first proposition is that it is desirable -
That a system, of old-age pensions be established by and throughout the Commonwealth.
I think that I need not ask for a majority of this Chamber to affirm that principle, because the majority exists here. The second portion of my motion proposes that the Government of the Commonwealth should -
Enter into negotiations with the Governments of the States constituting the Commonwealth with a view of giving effect to the foregoing proposal.
I could occupy time in suggesting ways by which the financial difficulties that may be regarded as standing in the way might be met ; but 1 take it that it is not the business of a private senator proposing a motion of this kind to do so. The motion merely requests that the Government charged with such business, and with all business of the kind, should be the responsible party. I freely admit that if, after entering into negotiations with the Governments’ of the States, the Commonwealth Government meets with no favorable response, the matter must be allowed to drop for the present. But the two great States of New South Wales and “Victoria having moved in this direction, we have no reason to suppose that the negotiations would meet with a rebuff. It is only by such a process that we can hope to overcome the difficulties that stand in the way, and to secure such general action as alone will give the relief that is sought to the aged and infirm. It is within the knowledge of every honorable senator that there are within the limits of the Commonwealth numbers of citizens who have spent the best part of their lives - indeed in many instances the whole of their lives - in building up this country, but who by reason ‘of their having lived in one part of Australia for a certain term, and in another part for another term, building up the industries and the enterprises of the States, have, in consequence of this very service which they have rendered, and because they have not glued themselves to one position, deprived themselves of the advantage of receiving a pension at the hands of either the Victorian or the New South Wales pension system. I shall be justified in quoting one or two cases to prove that statement. A case came under my notice the other day in which a man eighty-five years of age, who had spent the whole of his life in Australia, who was a native of Australia, and who was necessarily, therefore, one of the earlier children of Australia, though a resident for the greater part of his life of New South Wales, had lived for a long time in’ Queensland just across the border. Under these circumstances he was debarred from drawing an)r advantage whatever from the pensions system of the country in which he had spent the major part of his life. I will take another case. In the north of New South Wales there is a man, if he is alive to-day - he was alive a few weeks ago - who has been employed upon some of the large squatting properties and pastoral holdings. From time to time he had to cross the border into Queensland in the same employ, receiving the same pay, and under the same conditions of engagement. But the very fact of his having had to cross into Queensland debars him from any advantage under the New South Wales pensions system. I do not wish to occupy time in enumerating numbers of cases that might be quoted, and which are known to me, and, no doubt, are sufficiently well known to other honorable senators, to render it needless that they should be recounted. I mention them to show the reasons, in addition to those which I have already put forward, that induce me to move this motion in regard to the desire for unity of action and similarity of procedure in connexion with so important a matter as the care of our aged and infirm population.
– Mr. President, I call attention to the fact that there is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
-Col. NEILD. - As there are some honorable senators now present who will, perhaps, wish to give a vote upon this subject if it goes toa division this afternoon, I should be glad to take advantage of their presence to sum up what I have already said ; but as thereis apparently an unwillingness to proceed with business I shall not occupy a moment’s more time than is strictly necessary. As regards the first half of my motion, I take it for granted that the Senate is in favour of the principle of old-age pensions. Certainly, I suppose that neither in Victoria, nor New South Wales could any man hopefor election to the Legislature who was opposed to that principle.
– I do not think that such a man would be elected anywhere.
– I hope that a nian would not be elected anywhere in Australia if opposed to the principle of old-age pensions. As to the second proposition, I merely ask that the Government of the Commonwealth shall be requested to initiate negotiations, without the initiation of which it is perfectly hopeless to expect unity -of action throughout the Commonwealth, upon a matter of such great moment to the community as a whole, and to the aged in the community in particular. It is under the circumstances to which I have referred that I limit my speech on this occasion just to the reasons for moving the motion, and omit all reference to arguments in favour of a principle which I take it for granted is -already affirmed in the minds of honorable -senators.
– I need scarcely say that I rise to support this motion in the most cordial manner. Senator Neild has made this question one of very -close study, and his speech upon the subject last session was worthy of the honorable senator and of the attention of the Senate. I have no doubt that the motion moved to-day will be carried by the Senate. It affirms the desirability of the establishment of a scheme for the payment of old-age pensions, and the second portion of the motion, with a view to giving practical effect to that, proposes that negotiations should be opened up between the Federal and States Governments upon the subject. I dp not propose to discuss the question at length, because I think it has gone beyond the stage of discussion, and is now ride for action. I rose chiefly for the purpose of stating that in the early part of the session of 1901 I moved a motion, which was carried by the Senate, affirming that data upon this question should be gathered from the .different States comprising the Commonwealth, in order that honorable senators might be able to ascertain the number of persons in the Commonwealth who would come under an old-age pension scheme. I regret to say that from that time to the present I have heard no more of the motion. I do not know whether it has been overlooked by the officials of the “Senate, but I am sure that if that be the case the omission has not been wilful, but has arisen from circumstances over which they have had no control. I hope, however, that attention will yet be given to the matter, because it is of importance that we should have correct data as to the number of persons of a certain age who would stand in need of a pension such as that proposed. It is also desirable that we should have some estimate of the number of infirm persons whose claims we, as the Parliament of the Commonwealth, cannot overlook. Senator Neild does not confine his motion merely to persons who have arrived at a certain time of life, and whose circumstances are such that they are unable to look after themselves. The honorable senator very properly also includes - and I have always taken the same view - those persons who are unable, through infirmity or because of the deprivation of their ordinary natural faculties, to provide for themselves. In supporting the motion submitted to-day I express the hope that those in authority will take some cognisance of the motion carried by the Senate early in 1901, that we may be supplied with data upon which we can work out a satisfactory scheme. Doubtless Senator Neild may have had it in his mind that by opening up negotiations with the Governments of the States the Commonwealth Government would be able to secure” data of the kind I have suggested. We ought to know the number of persons in the Commonwealth entitled to that care and consideration and humane treatment which civilized communities should give to their aged and infirm. If that information is secured, those of us who may be here later, having secured a renewal of the confidence of their fellow countrymen and countrywomen, will be in a position to deal more thoroughly and effectively with this question. Senator Neild has referred to the desirability of uniformity of action in this matter. As the honorable senator says, we have already brought into line our post and telegraph systems, our public service system, as far as practicable, and we are about to bring into line the system of naval and military defence in the various States of the Commonwealth. . I think it will be agreed that one of the primary objects of union in these States should be to provide for the care and humane treatment of those who through age or infirmity are unable to look after themselves. New South Wales and Victoria have dealt with the question to some extent, though, perhaps, not in as satisfactory a manner as some of us .could wish. I think we may hope that old-age pensions will be provided upon a somewhat more liberal scale, and I hope that when we do adopt a system of old-age pensions, we shall not confine ourselves to the granting of a mere dole of a very small contribution per week to each man and woman, but that we shall be prepared to provide a reasonable sum, which will enable them to secure some of the comforts which are necessary to persons who have arrived at a time of life when they are no longer able to provide for themselves. I hope also, that whatev.er scheme is adopted will include some means whereby aged couples, who have arrived at a time of life when they ought not to be separated in alms-houses and charitable institutions, may be provided with cottage homes in which they may live together, and spend the closing years of their lives in each other’s society. I do not know what the practice is in the other States, but I know that it is not a very long time since we had a system in operation in Queensland under which aged couples were separated. Some few years ago I raised the question in the Legislative Assembly of that State, and I am glad to say that that pernicious and inhumane practice was done away with, and aged indigent couples in that State are now permitted to live together. I presume that most honorable senators have already made up their minds as to how they shall vote upon this motion, and as a similar motion was upon a previous occasion carried by a substantia] majority, this motion will probably be carried in a similar manner this afternoon. I hope that the Government will take the earliest opportunity of entering into negotiations with the Governments of the different States with a view to giving practical effect to the motion, and that at an early date in the next session we shall have a scheme proposed which will not only reflect credit upon this Parliament, but will offer an inducement to Governments throughout the world to do likewise in making reasonable provision, as every civilized community is called upon to do, for the care of the aged and infirm.
– I think that in the abstract this motion must commend itself to every honorable senator. It is most distressing to see old citizens of the community starving for want of’ the necessary means of support which they should have provided for themselves in their more prosperous days. “Whilst it is our duty to prevent the starvation, of the deserving poor, we should, I think, be careful npt to discourage thrift. I am, therefore, of opinion that any scheme such as that now proposed should be very carefully worked out. The mover of this motion has not told us where the money is to come from which will be necessary to give it effect. At present, while I am prepared to vote for the motion in the abstract, I am unable to see that effect can be given to it for many years to come, and certainly not until revenue (ian be raised for this particular purpose. I do not think that those who are naturally thrifty should be discouraged in their thrift by any idea that the State will provide for them, if they fail to make proper provision for themselves in their more prosperous days.
– I feel sure that there will be a majority in favour of this motion. I am very glad that this is so, and that the time has arrived when a Parliament which represents the people of Australia is prepared, with but very little discussion, to pass such a motion. I think, however, that we should look at the real difficulties of the case, and wo ought to show those who oppose such a proposal on the ground that Australia cannot’ afford to establish an old-age pension scheme, that it is possible to raise sufficient money for the purpose. The honorable senator who moved the motion might very well, and I think could very well, have given us some figures to prove that it is possible, either by arrangement with the States or by the Commonwealth raising the money in some manner by itself, to meet the expense involved. On Coghlan’s figures I find that a sum of about £1,000,000 annually would be required to pay an adequate pension to the old people of Australia.
– It would require more than that for’ the whole Commonwealth ; it would probably be £1,250,000 annually.
– I think that it takes nearly £1,000,000 for New South Wales and Victoria alone.
– I think not. The Victorian payments in the way of old-age pensions amount, I think, to a little over £300,000 a year. Of course it must be borne in mind that Victoria and New South’ Wales are the most populous States, and they are the States which have the greatest proportion of aged people. For instance, the amount required to provide old-age pensions for the first few years in Western Australia would be infinitesimal. A much smaller amount proportionately would be required than in Victoria or New South Wales.
– A smaller payment would also be necessary in Queensland.
– That is so. Those States which are in the development stage naturally attract the younger men, whilst the older people reside in the more settled States. As the people are evidently in favour of old-age pensions, the problem we have to face is how to raise the necessary money. It seems to me that instead of debating the principle of old-age pensions, we should apply ourselves to the consideration of that aspect of the question. I do not think that any honorable senator will this afternoon oppose the principle of old-age pensions. To honorable senators who sit in this corner, and who have advocated the principle for so long, it is a cause of gratification to ‘find that the time has arrived when people appear to be unanimous in its favour. Now, as to the method of raising the money. First of all, we are limited in the money we have to expend as a Commonwealth from the present sources of taxation. Under the Constitution we have to return to the States three fourths of the revenue we receive from those sources, and we have not sufficient to meet the expense involved in a system of old-age pensions. We have to consider what other sources of revenue are available to us, and how we can avail ourselves of those sources. The power of direct taxation is in the hands of the Federal Parliament, just as it is in the hands of the States Parliaments, except that we have the first claim, if we choose to impose direct taxation. However, I very much doubt if this Parliament is prepared to impose direct taxation. Does this Parliament propose to impose land taxation, or taxation of the character of an income tax ? Personally, I should be prepared to vote for the imposition of a land tax, believing that it is a just tax, and that no better excuse could be given for the imposition of a tax upon land values than the necessity for providing old-age pensions.
– We could only use one-fourth of the money derived from that tax.
– No. I take it that that provision relates only to revenue derived from Customs and Excise. If we raise money by direct taxation, we might retain . the whole of it, or return a proportion to each of the States. It will be seen that this question may open up the whole subject of Commonwealth and States finance. When we find that the States Governments are saying that under our system of Customs taxation we are upsetting their financial arrangements, it seems to me that if we are in earnest upon this question of old-age pensions, we are forced to consider the necessity for direct taxation by the Commonwealth. There is a source of direct taxation which some of the States have resorted to, and which others have not touched. That is the taxation of the property and land of absentees. That is a source of taxation from which a considerable amount of money might be raised, and it is utilized by South Australia in a special sense.
– The tax there brings in about £5,000 a year.
– They have a special absentee land tax there ; but I think that in other States, like New South Wales, for instance, the tax upon the absentee landowner is only the same as that upon the resident land-owner. Coghlam estimates that 16 per cent, of the land values of New South Wales are owned by absentees. If we estimate ‘ that the . proportion is the same throughout the Commonwealth, we shall find that a tax upon 16 per cent, of the land values of Australia, held outside the Commonwealth, would bring in a large sum of money. This revenue might ‘ be derived without in any way dislocating State finance, or in any way interfering with the State financial arrangements. I am sorry that Senator Neild could not see his way to give me support in the motion whichI brought forward for the purpose of providing the Commonwealth with £750,000 of revenue. The honorable senator did not vote against my motion, nor did he vote for it.
– The honorable senator is like a good soldier - behind the bush always.
– I am sure that if the honorable senator could be convinced, and I believe that he is open to conviction, that that scheme would bring in £750,000 more revenue than we at present receive, he would agree that more would be done to give practical effect to the desire to establish a scheme of old-age pensions in that way than is likely to be achieved by the passage of this abstract motion. What is the use of passing an abstract motion unless we are prepared to say how we intend to raise the money, and let the people who sent us here, pledged to the adoption of the principle, know what it is likely to cost ? There are many of us who will say that we are in favour of doing a certain thing so long as it will not cost us anything. I believe that the people of the Commonwealth, even when they learn the cost, will be prepared to vote for the principle of old-age pensions ; but we, as their representatives, should submit a definite scheme for raising the money for the purpose. I have suggested that it might be raised by the establishment of a tobacco monopoly, or a tax on absentee landlords, without interfering with the finances of the States. The question of interfering with State finance does not deter me from saying that there is a justifiable reason for imposing a general tax on the unimproved land values of the Commonwealth. What I think we should apply our minds to now is not so much the abstract principle of oldage pensions, as the question of how to raise the necessary funds for the purpose.
– I think that there is no necessity to continue the debate at any great length, but, in reply to Senator Macfarlane, I would like to point out that at the present time we do not exterminate the aged and infirm in Australia.
– Nobody ever said we did.
– If honorable senators recognise that the public have to support the aged and infirm, as undoubtedly they ought to do, where will any extra cost come in 1 It is only a question of re-adjusting the position, and in a manner which will be more satisfactory, particularly to the aged and the infirm. Some persons will not be kept comfortably whilst others will be kept in a miserable state of dependence, degrading to them and discreditable to the rest of the community. The adoption of a definite oldage pensions scheme would really be beneficial to the whole community. Senator Pearce has indicated many directions in which a sufficient sum of money could be raised for the purpose. If we will only look at the position in a common-sense manner we shall see that there is no difficulty to be overcome. There is no difficulty in connexion with the financial relationship of the Commonwealth with the States. Victoria and New South Wales are each contributing over £300,000 a year to a system of oldage pensions, their total expenditure being nearly £700,000. As New South Wales and Victoria contain more than -two-thirds of the population of the Commonwealth, the amount raised in those States represents more than two-thirds of the amount required for the Commonwealth. If the Commonwealth is prepared to relieve those States of that burden, and, with their consent, to retain that proportion of the Customs and Excise revenue, it will be no hardship to them. As regards the other States, I feel sure that there is far more left in the one - fourth of the Customs and Excise revenue which goes to the Commonwealth than would make up the difference. Consequently any excuse, in the shape of a complaint about the “ Braddon blot” or anything else of the kind, is an absurdity. It only gives an excuse to those who wish to make the public believe that they are in favour of an old-age pensions scheme, but who a.re loth to give a vote in that direction.
– They are always in favour of the principle, but they think that the time is inopportune.
– Yes. The only complaint I have to make is that the submission of this motion has been delayed so long. If it had been moved at the commencement of the session, and pushed, it would have been carried long ago, and instead of discussing the principle to which I believe a majority of the people of Australia assented before they sent us here we should be considering a scheme for carrying out the principle. I hope that the Government at a very early date will bring in an Old-Age Pensions Bill, and thus relieve the poorer classes of the community who are supporting to their detriment the greater number of the aged and infirm in the Commonwealth. The aged and infirm, I am sure, would be under much more satisfactory conditions if they had independent incomes, small as they might be, for the purpose of protecting them against want and destitution. I hope that the motion will be carried very soon.
– I have not very much to say on this subject, on which, no doubt, a great deal could be said. Like Senator McGregor, I recognise that it is rather late in the session to bring forward the motion, especially when it could have been submitted at a much earlier stage. It might very well have been brought forward at an earlier stage of the session, when there would have been a much greater chance for it to materialize than there is now. I indorse the principle of old-age pensions to the fullest extent. I was led to believe in the principle by observing the difference in the condition of the people on the streets of an Australian city, as compared with the condition of the people on the streets of the cities in the old country. The most deplorable sight one can see in a town in the old country is the number of old men and old women seeking by begging to raise sufficient money to keep body and soul together.
– One can see a good many of them in Australia, too.
– There are some still living here ; but if one compares the streets of Melbourne or Sydney with the streets of a town in the old country, certainly the comparison is very much in favour of the former. I can assure honorable senators that there is no more deplorable sight to be seen in the streets of Glasgow than the number of aged poor who are obliged to beg. We have an opportunity of completely wiping this eyesore off the face of our city life. In a great measure it has been removed, but there are some lingering cases. According to Coghlan, in Australia there are 152,665 persons over the age of 65 years, of whom 113,878 reside in New South Wales and Victoria. New South Wales pays £531,823 a year in old-age pensions, while Victoria pays about £300,000. Taking those figures as a basis for our calculation we should only need to raise £300,000 to finance a Federal scheme of old-age pensions. Senator Pearce has already suggested how three times that amount could be collected. A proposal for the establishment of a tobacco monopoly has been debated, but from the lack’ of one vote, which Senator Neild might very well have cast if he had been attending to his duty, it was not carried. If that additional vote had been cast the Senate would have solved the question of how to collect the funds to provide old-age pensions, and it would have gone a long way to break down any opposition which is likely to be offered to the enactment of the principle. I think it is granted on all sides that the soldiers of the industrial army, who have been so unfortunate as not to get a sufficient share of the good things of life in order to provide for their old age, are entitled to pensions just as much as those in the military forces for whom we provide. However, it is expecting too much to hope that this question will materialize at this late period of the session. I shall vote on every occasion in favour of a motion of this kind.
– I am quite sure that there is no honorable senator who would like to vote against the first part of this motion affirming the desirability of establishing a system of old-age pensions throughout the Commonwealth. I think we are all agreed that it is eminently undesirable that, while old persons who happen to have spent their time in one of two States are entitled to pensions, those who have resided in the other four States are not so entitled, and that the system should be made uniform throughout the Commonwealth. The Government have all along expressed a very strong opinion on the question, but it is subject to the financial conditions of the Commonwealth. The point has been very truly put that, unless we resort to direct taxation, it will be impossible to establish such a system in the Commonwealth at the present time. The one-fourth of the Customs and Excise revenue, after the expenses of Government have been met, does not provide sufficient money for the purpose. The figures which have been ascertained by the Government show that the cost of the system is about £500,000 in New South Wales, and over £250,000 in Victoria. So that it costs £750,000 to provide these pensions in two States.
– And for the other States the cost would not be more than £250,000.
– My information is that it would cost about £1,250,000 to providea system for the Commonwealth.
– No ; an additional £250,000 would do.
– According to all honorable senators the total cost would be more than £1,000,000. It would require morn than £250,000 to provide pensions for the other four States. So that the total amount runs to between £1,000,000 and £1,250,000. Honorable senators know very well that the balance of the onefourth of the Customs and Excise revenue would not be sufficient for the purpose. It is impossible to proceed with a scheme unless the Government resort to direct taxation, and that we are not prepared to do at the present time. Although it may give satisfaction to honorable senators to know that inquiries are being made, still no great advantage can result from making inquiries with a view of ascertaining what the exact amount would be, when we see clearly that the Government are not in’ a position at the present time to establish the system.
– Surely my honorable and learned friend has rather overlooked the terms of the second part of the motion.
– No. The second part of the motion, which says that we should commence negotiations with the other States, does not carry us much further than the motion which, at the instance of Senator Glassey, was carried by the Senate on the 31st May, 1901, in these terms -
I regret that I have not been able, up to the present time, to make a return to that order. It is a very intricate one. A great deal of information is required to be obtained ; and, if the Government are not in a position to go on with a system of old-age pensions, it can hardly be said that it is a matter of urgency. I shall not oppose this motion, because I can see no harm in the Government of the Commonwealth negotiating with the Governments of the States with a view of ascertaining exactly how their systems of old-age pensions are working, how much they are paying, and how many persons receive pensions. I only regret that the financial circumstances of the Commonwealth are such that it is not possible at the present time to go on with such a system. If Senator Neild presses his motion, I shall certainly not oppose it.
– It has always been a matter of surprise to me that this bogy of finance has served the Government as an excuse for putting off the dealing with this question. We know that in each House of this Parliament there is a majority of the members who were pledged before their election to the principle of a Federal old-age pensions scheme. We know that in two States, containing altogether about two-thirds of the popula tion of Australia, a system of old-age pensions has been in force for some time. If the people of those two States are able to bear the additional taxation rendered necessary for the payment of pensions, surely the people of the other States are equally able to do so 1 Will that be denied for a moment by any honorable senator, even by Senator Macfarlane, who says that the financial difficulty is standing in the way, and preventing him from supporting this motion, although he is favorable to the abstract principle. Would Senator Macfarlane contend that the people in the other four States are less able to pay the old-age pensions than the people of Victoria and New South Wales ?
– Apparently they do not wish to do so, or they would have their own State legislation.
– But it lies within our power to compel them. Have the people in the other four States had natural disasters, such as droughts, to a greater extent- than the people of New South Wales and Victoria? Yet we do not find the’ people of those two States crying out for the repeal of their Old-Age Pensions Acts. I should like to hear from the Minister an expression of opinion with regard to this part of the question. It is well-known that the Federal Government is returning to the different States in round figures nearly £1,000,000 per annum more than under the Constitution it is compelled to return.
– The States want it all.
– If we were paying to the States four or five million pounds more per annum than we are compelled to return to them there would be the same cry ; because the more we pay to the States the less need there isf or them to impose other taxation. But there is in the Senate and the House of Representatives a strong majority pledged to the principle of old-age pensions, and to do their utmost to carry it into effect. A large majority of the people of Australia also favour it. I remember hearing a number of speeches made at the elections by candidates in my own State. I think that even Senator Dobson was one .whom I heard speaking in most eloquent terms about the poor old soldiers of toil dropping out of the battle by the wayside. He said they should receive old-age pensions. I did not hear him say at that time that the “Braddon blot” would prevent us from having an old-age pensions scheme for some years to come. I only mention the honorable and learned senator’s name because I wish to direct his attention to the fact, and to say that, as he was so ardent a supporter of old-age pensions at the elections, I feel perfectly satisfied that he will support this motion to-day. I also claim that we should have had his support for a scheme that was outlined in the Senate last week, which would have provided us with something like three-quarters of a million per annum. But he did not vote for that scheme. This is one of the most important questions which we have had to face since this Parliament commenced. I should like to see a similar motion carried in another place, and some action taken this session in the direction of finding the necessary money. As the Government are returning to the States every year something like a million pounds more than they are compelled to. do under the Constitution, what is to prevent them ear-marking that money for old-age pension purposes 1 If that balance were ear-marked, and arrangements were made with the. two States that are now taxing their people to provide old-age pensions, I cannot see that there would be any great difficulties in the way of a Federal scheme being brought to fruition before the end of the present session. I have much pleasure in supporting the motion.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - In listening to the speeches that have been made during this short debate, I have been convinced that brevity is by no means always the soul of wit. Probably, if I had spoken at greater length, I should have obviated a good deal of the misapprehension that appears to cling to the minds of some honorable senators who have addressed themselves to the question. I specifically set out with the expression of a desire to be brief, and said that I should not pretend to undertake the duty which my motion seeks to place upon the right shoulders, namely, those of the Government. No member of the Senate can propose, schemes of taxation except in a tentative way. We cannot give any validity to such schemes. The most we can do is to throw out suggestions, to which the Government when they come to handle the matter can pay some, attention. The Government have all the sources of information at their command, and could do much more effectively in halfanhour what it would take members of the Senate a week to attempt to do. Therefore I held my tongue on those points when introducing the motion. But as the question has gone as far as it has done, I take the opportunity of mentioning some views which I hold in contradiction to those which have been put forward by Senator Pearce. If I may be permitted to say so, I think’ that the most direct and effective speeches were made by Senator O’Keefe and Senator McGregor. They had the grip of the question very completely. Senator O’Keefe has said what I had intended to enlarge upon in reply : that as regards the monetary difficulty, only a certain proportion of the total required need be raised from any source whatever, ‘inasmuch as at least two-thirds is already raised, and is being paid by two of the States. The balance of one-third, in ‘my view, can, as Senator O’Keefe very correctly suggested, come out of the surplus amount that is being returned by the Commonwealth Government to the Governments of the States. That surplus would be very much more than ample to meet the demand. I venture to hold an entirely different view from my honorable friend, Senator Pearce, as to the ‘.sources from which an old-age pensions fund should be drawn. I laid it down very clearly in writing, in a certain report prepared by me some years ago for the New South Wales Government, that as an old-age pensions scheme must be open to all, it should, as far as possible, be contributed to by all, and not by a class. I suggested a tax on tea. Of course, I was reporting on behalf of a State where at that time there was no tax on tea. I suggested tea as being an article of such universal consumption, that by means of a tax on it the whole community would contribute to a fund which would be as free as air to every one in the community requiring to avail himself of it. In like manner, while T do not for a moment question the desirability of a land tax or an absentee tax, in the abstract, for general purposes, I do not hold that it is desirable, in establishing a national fund for old-age pensions, to seek to draw the necessary revenue from certain limited classes of the community. Property and wealth are proper subjects of taxation in connexion with the raising of revenue from the entire community ; but to single out special interests and classes in order to provide a fund which is to be universal in its application is, in my humble opinion. not the right way of going about it.
– Do not all the people create the land values of the country ?
-Col. NEILD.- I do not think that the Commonwealth ought, either for old-age pensions or any other purposes of government, to come upon certain sources of income which hitherto have been held practically sacred to State purposes.’ The Commonwealth Government, in my humble estimation, would be making a very serious mistake if it sought, by duplicating State taxation, to raise revenues by means of projects that would seriously and injuriously clash with the only form of taxation that is left to the States. As Senator O’Keefe has pointed out, taxation through the Customs already supplies a sufficiency of money to meet the demands which would be made upon the States of the Commonwealth for oldage pensions. But if I had been prepared with a series of figures showing how the whole thing, ought to have been done, I should not have proposed thi? motion at all. I should have brought down the whole scheme complete. But as no honorable senator could do such a thing, even if he had the information, without securing the co-operation of the States, it is absolutely needful that the Government of the Commonwealth should negotiate with the Governments of the States. I think it would be most unhappy if , by strong-handed, strong-willed, and determined action, irrespective of all negotiation and argument, the Commonwealth Government were to insist upon doing something that would bring about a most unfortunate conflict over a subject which should be approached, not from the side of violence, but from the side of the highest attributes of human nature. The care and protection-of our aged and infirm should not by any chance become the subject of friction between the Commonwealth and the States. It should be approached from the stand-point of negotiation. There should begive and take, so as to bring about a system, that would work with unity of spirit as well as with unity of obligation. But if negotiation failed and friendly efforts were unavailing, I would not shrink from any step on the part of the Government and Parliament of the Commonwealth to enforce upon any recalcitrant State an obligation that is demanded by civilization, by humanity, and by Christianity. With reference to the expression of regret that this matter was not brought forward earlier in the session,, let me say that I have no hope that much can be done for many a month tocome. These negotiations can only be carried, out when Parliament is out of session. Conferences will be required, and there willhave to be exchanges of views, and consultations of States Parliaments, before a system of old-age pensions for the Commonwealth can be adopted. No session of a few months’ duration will be sufficient toenable the matter to be brought to a head. I have no hope of such a thing. The StatesGovernments will have to consult their Parliaments. It may take a year or two beforea scheme is actually matured. If it can be done in less time, in Heaven’s name letit be done !
– It may be done when the Government are considering their policy.
-Col. NEILD.- That involvesspeculations which I should not like to enterinto.
– Old-age pensions werepart of the policy of the Government, asexpressed at Maitland.
– The subjectwas named, but we have heard no more of it.
– It was more than named ; the conditions under which it would, be proceeded with were stated.
.- Unfortunately one has begun to look upon subjects mentioned in that beautiful deliverance at Maitland as slightly apocryphal and mythical.
– There is very little of the Maitland programme’ that has not been, carried out.
– If my motion acts as a gentle spur to the- good resolutions of the Government, I am sure I shall not be deemed by them ungenerous or disagreeable. I have to express my appreciation of the? terms in which the Minister spoke. Possibly he might have been a little more buoyant in his favour, but I am not one or those who quarrel with the gifts of the gods. In this instance I accept with very great pleasure the statement that the Minister is not going to divide the Senate in connexion with the motion which, at any rate, does not seek to tie the hands of the Government, but which, indeed, gives them the moral support of the vote of the Senate in carrying out a proposition which,if they give effect to it, will be the crown of their Ministerial life.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is a Bill-
To provide for the naval and military defence and protection of the Commonwealth and of the several States.
I take it for granted that every honorable senator admits the necessity of having some system of defence. As to the particular class of defence and the extent of it there will, no doubt, be many opinions. The system which will probably find favour with the Senate will be that which is best suited to the conditions and circumstances of the Commonwealth. Before Federation each Colony had its own scheme of defence, its own Act, and its own regulations. Our task in this, as in other matters, is to endeavour to preserve all that is good in the old legislation, and to secure the best system of administration we can by the means at our disposal. The union of the defences of Australia into one whole should result in an increase of strength even at the same amount of expenditure; and our object is to endeavour to make our Defence Force as small and as efficient as possible. It is perhaps rather unfortunate that, owing to the financial conditions of some of the States, it has been necessary, just at the time of transition when we are passing from the old Colony stage to the Federation stage of our national life, that we should have to resort to extreme economy. It would have been better if the economical ideas that are prevalent could have remained in abeyance until the work of re-organization had been completed.
But it is of no use fighting against views that have been expressed, and which we know are strongly held at present. It is therefore necessary for us to be very economical ; and by economical I mean that we should endeavour to see that we get the very best results for the money that is spent. But that we must have some real and efficient defence for the Commonwealth will be admitted by all. We are a young nation, and we are part of the British Empire, with a very clearly-defined policy of our own. I think we should make ourselves somewhat ridiculous in the eyes of the Empire if, having a policy of our own, we had no means by which we could enforce respect for it. We all admit that the age of wars is far from being past. Day by day we see by the information we get from other parts of the world that wars are now just as imminent as they have been, perhaps, at any time in the world’s history. We also see that the storm centre has of late years been shifting from the other side of the world to the Pacific. From our position it is therefore absolutely necessary, and more necessary now, perhaps, than it has been at any other time, that our defensive preparations should be as good as we can afford to make them. The question then is how, within the limit of our means, we can make preparation to defend ourselves should the necessity unhappily arise for the defence of the Commonwealth. We must recognise that our first line of defence is the sea. We have, by the agreement which has recently been entered into, secured the services of the British Fleet as our first line of defence.
– Of portion of it.
– No ; of the British Fleet. I think, also, we may say that, by making a payment which is far below the expense of the maintenance of the fleet in these waters, we have secured the defence of Australia on the sea-line as a matter of right, and not as a matter of grace. I would point out to honorable senators that we still have full power to do whatever may be necessary in connexion, not only with harbor and coastal defence, but also with sea defence, for ourselves. The sixth sub-section of section 51 of the Constution gives us power to provide for ‘’ the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth . and of the several States “ - the words quoted in the enacting clause of this Bill, words which are sufficiently large to cover everything in connexion with the defence of the Commonwealth, either by sea or land. Under clause 61 of the Bill we are now considering, we take power to acquire, build, arm, and maintain ships, vessels, and boats, so that it is made perfectly clear that we have all the necessary power for the defence of the Commonwealth by sea. “While the arrangement that has been made with the Admiralty will probably provide for all that is necessary in respect of ocean defence, we have still to look after the defence of our harbors and coasts. That work is designed to be performed by the Defence Force existing how to a certain extent, and which will exist under this Bill if it be passed. I may mention that the portion of defence which relates to coasts and harbors is regarded always as naval defence, though, of course, there is but a very thin dividing line between naval and land defence in this respect. For instance, garrison artillery is part of the land defence, though used with naval means of defence for the purpose of protecting our harbors, and- preventing hostile ships from entering them. The distinction between naval and military defence, I understand, is that that kind of defence that is floating, or designed to float on water, is naval ; whereas if batteries, or whatever the means of defence adopted may be, are established on land, they are part of the land defence. It is proposed under the Bill to raise and maintain a naval force and a military force. I, shall deal with the composition of those forces under, the provisions of the Bill directly. I point out first of all that we have adopted in this measure the system of voluntary enlistment. The whole of our naval and military forces are to be’ raised- by voluntary enlistment. At the same time we maintain the principle in clause 57 of the Bill, that in the last resort in time of war we may call upon the whole of the male inhabitants of the Commonwealth between the ages of eighteen and sixty to serve in the defence of their country. The order in which they may be called out is shown in four classes. The first class is unmarried men, or widowers without children, under the age of thirty ; when that class is exhausted we call upon unmarried_men, or widowers without children, between eighteen and forty-five ; after them, married men, or widowers with children, under the age of forty-five ; and the fourth class includes all the remainder - that is to say, men who are married, or widowers with children, between forty-five and sixty. In that way the whole of the population becomes available,, if necessary.
– Except those oversixty.
– Yes. I think it is at very good principle to embody in the Bill that people who are enjoying liberties under the Constitution of the country should, if necessary, be called upon to assist in its. defence.
– Up to sixty.
– Then why under the present regulations are men slung out at forty-five ?
– That is only in time of peace. They would still be liable toserve in time of war. The object of that is. clearly that in time of peace, as there will always be a superabundance of men desiringto enter the force, the system of training provided shall be confined to comparatively young men. That is a very wise system, I think, without expressing any opinion just now as to the exact limit. In discussing the measure I do not follow the order of the Bill, but rather the order which commends itself to my judgment as likely best to give honorable senators an idea of its scope and intention. Having decided that the system is to be voluntary, and that, practically, the whole of the population isi to be available for defence, we have to consider the methods by which it is proposed toraise the Defence Force. In the first place it will be seen that under this Bill the control of the naval and military forces is in the hands of the Executive. I do not think that the people of Australia will ever be disposed to allow the control of the military and naval forces to rest entirely in the hands, of military and naval men. The principlewe ‘ adopt is the same as . adopted in England, that the supreme control shall be in the hands of the Executive. Under the Constitution the Governor-General is theCommanderinChief of the military and naval forces of the Commonwealth. Under this Bill all power is in the hands of the Governor-General, ‘and if honorable senators will turn to the interpretation clause they will find that wherever the word “Governor-General” appears, it means the Governor-General in Council, that is to say, the Executive. It is provided then that the Governor-General, that is to *ay, the Executive, may appoint in the first place .a military officer to be General Officer Commanding the Military Forces, and a naval officer to be Genera] Officer Commanding the Naval Forces, and also a Commandant for each of the military ‘districts. There is also power taken to appoint all other officers, with a provision which will be noted, that in the first appointment of officers preference shall be given, other things being equal, to men who have served in the ranks, without a commission, for three _years.
– Other things being equal- that is light.
– Yes; other things being equal, preference should be given to the “ranker” - the man who has served “three .years without a commission. But officers who have been appointed at any time previously, and who are now holding commissions, will be officers under this Bill. This applies also to men, and all the members df the Defence Force existing -at the present time will be considered as if they had been members of a Defence Force raised under the powers of this Bill. There is, however, this provision, that any officer who desires to do so may resign on giving fourteen days’ notice in writing. That seems to me to be very fair. If an officer does not desire to continue a member of the Defence Force under the new conditions, means are here provided to enable him to resign
– Except in time of war.
– When this Bill comes into operation, if an officer at present in the Defence Force desires’ to retire rather than come under the operation of this Bill, he can give fourteen days’ notice, in writing, of his intention to do so. If he does not do that, he shall be held to be subject to all the provisions of this Bill. There is a provision also that officers provisionally appointed must pass an examination within eighteen months, and all appointments are during pleasure. Of course, the object of having experienced officers like the General Officers Commanding the naval and military, forces and the Commandants, is that we shall have a proper means of giving drill, training, -and instruction to the whole of the force which may be raised. We shall find in clause 50 that the whole Defence Force is to be subject to such drill, training, and discipline as may be prescribed. Honorable senators will also find in clause 28 that provision is made for the establishment of a Military and Naval College, the idea being that, in order to raise a suitable Defence Force in a country like this, we shall have some instructional centre - some means by which the officers may be instructed and the men may be properly’ trained. Provision, therefore, will be made which will insure the establishment of a proper system of instructing .officers and training men. It will be noticed also from sub-clauses 3 and 4 of clause 8 that the whole of the Commonwealth is to be divided into territorial districts and sub-districts. This is a very important matter. The system has, I think, up to the present time,, been giving satisfaction, and it is the best system that can be adopted in raising a Defence Force to have all the different units of the force attached to some particular territorial district. This is found to be convenient, and it is found that under such’ a system men take a greater interest in their work and a greater pride in the corps to which they belong. Now as to the composition of the force. There are several .divisions and subdivisions. I ask honorable senators to take a note of this, because, in the discussion which will take place subsequently, it will be of great advantage to have a clear idea as to what these are. The Defence Force is divided first of all into military and naval. Tha’t is one distinct division ; but both the military and naval divisions are again subdivided into two classes, permanent and citizen forces. Part of the military forcewin be a permanent force and part a citizen force, and it will be the same with the naval force. The latter will be fewer in numbers, and perhaps I may refer first to the forces that come under the heading of permanent and citizen in that branch. The permanent men in each case are those who are serving continuously for a term, and are paid for it. On the naval side, the permanent force will consist of the officers, warrant officers, and seamen who are actually engaged - at present they are very few in number - on or about our own boats. The citizen forces consist on the naval side of militia, that is to say, those who are serving for a term, and are paid, but not continuously. On the naval side these- -will consist of the naval brigades, corresponding to the militia on the military side.
They are engaged for a term and paid, though not engaged for continuous service. On the military side the permanent men are those who work continuously for a term, and are paid for their services, while the citizen forces are in three subdivisions - the militia, the volunteers, and the reserve. The militia consists of those who are serving for a term, but not continuously, and are paid, while volunteers are those who serve for a term but are not paid, and the reserves consist of the rifle associations and those who, having done service, are placed on a reserve list. Provision has, I believe, been made in several of the States for reserve forces, but up. to the present time very few have enlisted.
– What are the positions and duties of the unattached t
– The unattached are officers who are not actually doing duty, but who have performed duty and may be asked to do so again. According to the regulations in most of the States, if an officer is on the unattached list for more than a certain period without doing any duty, he is placed on the reserve list.
– It is a sort of a halfway house between the reserves and the active forces.
– It may be desirable for some reason that an officer should be shifted from one part of the country to another, or that he should not continue his duties in connexion with his regiment. In such case an officer will resign and be placed on the unattached list ; but if, after a time, he is appointed to some other corps, he immediately regains his position on the active list. A militiaman serves for a term ; and it is provided that in time of peace he may resign on giving three months’ notice and on paying a small amount, to be fixed by regulation, and not to exceed £2. When a man joins the militia he is supplied with a uniform, which is supposed to be sufficient for his term of three years, and if he desires to resign before that term has expired, it is deemed right that he should pay a proportion of the cost of his clothing.
– I question that.
– At all events, it is a practice which is generally followed.
– Never, in regard to volunteers.
– I am not speaking of volunteers, but of the militia.
– The honorablegentleman applied his remarks to volunteers.
– Unless I am very much mistaken, I spoke only ‘of the militia ; . and 1 am desirous that honorable senators should remember the subdivisions of the service.
– I suppose a man whoresigns has to return his uniform 1
– That is so. If a man of the militia desires to leave, say, at the end of the first year, he will be asked to pay £2 ; if he should resign at the end. of the second year, he will have to pay £1 .
– May I be permitted to draw the Minister’s attention tothe fact that he is speaking of clause 39,. which does not deal with the militia apart from the volunteers, but with the whole of the active forces except the permanent force. It is apparently intended to impose this fine of £2 on men who receive no payment for their services.
– No man will be askedto pay any proportion of the cost of his uniform unless he has received that uniform:, on condition of giving his services for a term.. If a man, whether he is a militiaman or a. volunteer, is given a uniform on condition of serving for three years, he ought, if heresigns before the term expires, to pay something towards the cost of that uniform ; at any rate, that is my opinion at the present time. Having dealt with the subdivisions, I now wish to say a word about the services which the forces have to perform and the conditions under which they are performed. The interpretation clause defines - “ active service “ as -
Service in or with a force which is engaged in operations against the enemy, and includes any military or naval service in time of wor.
The permanent forces and all persons who are paid for the whole of their time may be required at any time to go on active service. That does not seem unreasonable, because members of the permanent forces and men who occupy positions such as adjutants and give the whole of their time are professional soldiers ; and they cannot complain if they are held to be at the disposal of the Government for active service. I ought to say that the permanent forces are liable to be employed at any time in the defence and protection of the Commonwealth and the several States, but the citizen soldiers can be called out for active- service only in time of war. Honorable senators will see that “ time of war “ is very carefully defined in the interpretation clause. The volunteers may be called out for active service between a proclamation that a state of war exists and a proclamation that that state of war had ceased, but there is a proviso that they are not to be liable to serve outside the Commonwealth. If the volunteers are utilized within the Commonwealth they have to be returned to their own military districts as soon as there is a proclamation that the “ state of war “ no longer exists. With regard to the naval forces, however, it is provided that they may be used beyond the limits of the Commonwealth for the purpose of training, or in time of war. The members of the naval forces will be engaged in training on ships, and there could not possibly be a condition that if war broke out the vessels should return to port and land the men.
– I should like to draw the Minister’s attention to clause 49, and ask him whether he intends to make any remarks regarding it ?
– That clause deals with the protection of the States against domestic violence, and simply gives effect to section 119 of the Constitution, which is as follows : -
The Commonwealth shall protect every State against invasion ; and, on the application of the Executive Government of the State, against domestic violence.
To carry out that section clause 49 provides -
Where the Governor of a State has proclaimed that domestic violence exists therein, the GovernorGeneral, upon the application of the Executive Government of the State, may by proclamation declare that domestic violence exists in that State, and may call out the Permanent Forces ; and, in the event of their numbers being insufficient, may also call out such of the Militia or Volunteer Forces as may be necessary for the protection of that State, and the services of the forces so called out may be utilized accordingly for the protection of that State against domestic violence.
Clause 61, which gives power to the Governor-General in the matter of defence, is as follows -
The Governor-General may -
It may be necessary at any time to exercise these powers to provide for the effecient defence of the Commonwealth. In clauses 62 and 63, provision is made for the use and control of therailways in time of war, and that is a power derived from section 51 of the Constitution. I understand that the practice, which has been adopted hitherto, and which it is intended to adopt in the future, is that while the Commonwealth will exercise this power under the Constitution, payment will be made to the States for the use of the railways. Clauses 64 and 68 provide that members of the Defence Force shall have free conveyance by rail or tram, and, further, that no toll shall be demanded. As in the case of the railways, it is intended, although there is power under the Constitution to obtain those services gratuitously, to make recompense to the persons who may be interested. I now come to the clauses dealing with offences. These clauses are taken from the present States Acts, and the offences, of which there are a great number, are grouped as a matter of convenience. In clause 71 provision is made for all offences for which the penalty is imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years. The first group of offences relate almost entirely to larceny and embezzlement, and then there are other classes of offences, such as giving information as to defences or wrongfully obtaining information, forging documents, or personating members of the Defence Force. Penalties are also provided for contractors who supply inferior provisions, material, or equipment to the forces. These are all very serious offences for which it is necessary to provide correspondingly heavy punishment.
– There is an absurd provision in sub-clause 3 of clause 80.
– That clauseI have not yet reached. Clause 72 dealswith offences of a serious nature, though not so serious as those to which I have already referred. It is very necessary when the enrolment of the whole of the population has to take place in time of war that there should be power to insure that the work is properly carried out. A penalty not exceeding £5 is, therefore, provided in the case of any person who refuses to give information, and a still heavier penalty not exceeding £50 in the case of any person who refuses to do his duty in connexion with the enrolment. The penalty for resisting draft or refusing to be sworn is imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, and I suppose that that is the best way of dealing with men who absolutely refuse to do their duty in time of a war. If a man who is liable for active service is absent from his post for seven days he is held to be a deserter, and liable to the punishment of twelve months’, imprisonment. The maximum penalty for unlawfully disposing of or refusing to give up arms is £20, and a fine of £10 may be inflicted in the case of a person who personates a member of the Defence Force in order to obtain free conveyance, the latter provision being necessary to protect private people .who are owners or lessees of means of conveyance. A maximum penalty of £20 may be inflicted on any person who obstructs drill. The provisions in clause ‘SO are mostly taken from the Acts of the several States. It has been found necessary in the States to put a stop to the practice of persons photographing or sketching fortifications, and the maximum penalty provided, which is a fine of £100 or imprisonment for six months, with forfeiture of materials, may appeal- severe, but I do not think it is more severe than necessary. The clause corresponds with the provisions in the Safety of Defences- Acts in several of the States. There is also a penalty for making an improper use of a uniform, or wearing it in such a way as to degrade the service.
– If a person cannot pay a penalty is he to be imprisoned 1
– Yes. There is a provision in one of the Acts - I forget which - that where a penalty cannot be recovered, the offender may be imprisoned. There is also a general provision for a maximum penalty of £10 for any breach of the regulations, for which no other penalty is provided. I now come to the important subject of courts-martial, in respect to which the King’s Regulations have been adopted. I see Senator Neild shaking hia head.
– Clause 86 is all right, but the subsequent clauses are dreadful.
– I do not know which clauses the honorable senator refers to as dreadful.
– Why do the Government not adopt the British Army Act, which protects the public, instead of inserting provisions which, so far as the public are concerned, are shocking.
– The honorable senator will, perhaps, in Committee point out how these clauses may be improved. We were obliged to fall back on the King’s Regulations, because it would be impossible for us, without another and. very voluminous Bill, to pass all the provisions, necessary for trial by court-martial. The Governor-General convenes a court-martial, or may delegate his powers in this respect to the authority in a military district or sub-district. There is also a provision dealing with contempt of court.
– There is no warrant for such provisions as those dealing with contempt of court. Why not adhere to the British Army Act t
– I think the Government are doing much better in copying theKing’s Regulations.
– The provisions, as to contempt of court hand the publicover to the mercy of a court-martial in a way that would not be tolerated in England.
– According to theBill, a case may be heard by courtmartial or by a civil court; but punishment for such an offence must be withinthe power of the actual court concerned. I shall not occupy the time of the Senatemuch longer, because I feel that the measure is ‘ more a subject for discussion in Committee. Honorable senators may beinterested to know that the extreme penalty of death is only to be inflicted in case of” mutiny, desertion to the enemy, traitorously delivering up fortifications or positions, orsimilarly corresponding with the enemy. They are all very bad offences - we are following the ordinary rule in, I think, every civilized country - but the sentencecannot be carried out until it has been confirmed by the Governor-General. The next chapter deals with legal procedure and the recovery of penalties, which are purely matters of machinery. I refer the Senate to clause 113, in which it is provided that any member of the Defence Force may volunteer for service in any force raised by theCommonwealth for service under the Crown. outside its territory. Butclause 114 makes it an offence punishable by six months’ imprisonment for any person to attempt to recruit for any force which is not authorized to be raised by the Governor-General. That meets a difficulty which has sometimes been raised. It will enable members of the Defence Force to volunteer for service in any force which may be raised by the Commonwealth, but it will prevent any one from corning here and attempting to recruit for a force which the Governor-General has not authorized to be raised. There is a provision for granting annuities or gratuities to persons who have been injured, and who have been retired on account of age or infirmity. Clause 120 provides for the framing of regulations in connexion with the assurance of the lives of persons who are married.
– Clause 119 makes no provision for temporary incapacitation as the result of an accident when on duty.
– How can a person be temporarily incapacitated unless he has been injured in some way ? We provide for persons injured.
– It only provides for persons permanently injured, but a man might have to wait for a year to find out whether he was permanently injured.
– This goes a little further, but the matter may be considered in Committee. Clause 120 provides for the issue of regulations for the establishment and composition of a Board of Advice. I omitted to refer to a clause which enables the Governor-General in Council at any time to appoint a Board of Advice to advise on all matters submitted to them by the Minister. Clause 1 20 provides for the issue of regulations for the establishment of a Military and Naval College, enrolment in the’ time of war, rates of pay, and so on. It is provided that all regulations under the Act shall be laid on the table of each House within thirty days of the assembling of Parliament ; and that any regulation shall not have effect if it be objected to by either House within fifteen sitting days of its assembling. I have explained the substance of the Bill, I hope clearly, to honorable senators. It deals with other matters, which may be more properly considered in Committee than at this stage. I can only express the hope that honorable senators will give their earnest consideration to this measure, because it is one of very great importance, and assist me in framing an Act as complete as possible for the purposes which we seek to attain.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales.)I do not propose to say very much. In Sydney I was interviewed by a representative of a most respectable religious body called the Society of Friends, and he asked me to see that their conscientious objections to bearing arms or performing military service were respected. I notice that it is provided in clause 59 that -
I think that all the members of the Society of Friends should be exempt from service without requiring each person to come forwurd and say that he entertains conscientious objections to serving. . There are other bodies, I understand, who hold a similar view on this subject. Throughout the Bill I find allusions to oaths having to be taken. There are many persons who do not share the view of the Friends, that to serve is unchristian, but who object to the taking of oaths.I would suggest that the Bill should be amended so that a person might take either an oath or an affirmation of allegiance. I was very much pleased by the interesting manner in which the Minister for Defence explained the Bill. The tone of his remarks was most conciliatory, and it will become the Senate to support him as far as it can. I am glad that the Bill provides, in accordance with the Constitution Act, that if need be, the forces can be called out in cases of domestic violence. I am aware that it is rather an unpopular view to take in many respects, but as this provision is contained in the Constitution Act, the Bill is only framed in accordance with the law of the land. I have much pleasure in supporting its second reading.
– The Bill deals with a few questions which will probably engage the attention of honorable senator’s in Committee rather than at this stage. I was very much struck by the very important part which regulations are to play.
There are more regulations about the Bill than anything else. Practically, the mode of carrying on the defence of Australia is to be laid down by regulation, and not by this Parliament. I have no doubt but that the Minister will be able in Committee to show very good reasons why the Government have taken so much power to frame regulations.
– Necessarily there will be from 20 to 50 regulations for each clause in the Bill.
– The word “prescribed “ is to be found in almost every clause. I have not had much to do with volunteering or militia work. I have only done a little rifle shooting ; but, as a layman, it seems to me that it will not be altogether wise to vest so much power in the hands of “ the Governor-General” which means “the Ministers,” which in its turn means “the General Officer Commanding.” I venture to think that many more of the important parts of our national defence scheme should be laid down in black and white in the Bill, and should not be left to be framed by regulation. In clause 26, for instance, I find this provision -
The ages for the compulsory retirement of officers and members of the Defence Force shall be as prescribed.
In the case of the Civil Service we laid down a hard-and-fast rule that the officers should retire at certain ages. Why should a distinction be made between civil servants and military servants in this respect ? I should like some honorable senator to point out why the Bill should not prescribe the age to which officers should continue to serve. I have no doubt that an answer will be supplied by the military experts in the Senate.
.- The reason is that if the ages were fixed in the Bill, they could not be altered without another Bill being passed. If power is given to fix the ages by regulation, they can be altered every week to suit the convenience possibly of persons interested.
– How often have they been altered in the States 1
– I do not know that the answer is quite satisfactory. It confirms me in my opinion that it would be wiser for us to prescribe the ages.
– Then they could not be altered without passing another Bill.
– In clause Sl, I find this provision -
The militia forces shall consist of officers, soldiers, petty officers,- and sailors, who are not bound to continuous military or naval service, and who are paid for their services as prescribed.
Here again an injustice may creep in. I do not know whether it would be possible or advisable for the Parliament to prescribe the rates of pay rather than to leave those rates of pay to be fixed by regulation. I wish to call the attention of honorable senators to another clause, in which the words “ as may be prescribed “ are used, and in which so much power is left in the hands of the Executive Council. I refer to paragraph a of sub-clause 4 of clause 31, which says the reserve forces shall consist of-
Members of rifle clubs constituted in the manner prescribed.
I cannot find any clear indication of the manner in which it is proposed to constitute these” rifle clubs, which it is admitted will play a very important part in the defence of Australia should their services be required. In clause 32 we find this provision -
The Governor-General may, subject to the provisions of this Act, raise, maintain, and organize in the manner prescribed such permanent and citizen forces, as he deems necessary.
I am not in agreement with clause 39, and I have no doubt that it will be objected to by several honorable senators. It is not quite fair to compel the members of the forces, if they wish to retire before the expiration of their term of service, to pay a sum of £2 in addition tq giving three months’ notice. It is conceded that it is not too easy to get volunteers. We should not impose any restrictions to prevent the enrolment of volunteers. If a volunteer is good enough to make a personal sacrifice in the interests of the defence of his country, and if, through circumstances connected with his employment, he is compelled to retire before the prescribed time, it should be quite sufficient for him to give notice, without being required to pay £2.
– But who is going to find the next man’s uniform 1
– The uniform of the retiring man, if not much worn, would not be altogether useless.
– The amount is not to exceed £2. It is to be the unexhausted value of the uniform. It is not a fine.
– 1 do not believe in requiring any monetary payment whatever. I have known certain restrictions to act prejudicially with regard to the auxiliary forces in my own State. In clause 55 it is provided that -
When any member of the Defence Force is killed on active service or on duty, or dies or becomes incapacitated from earning his living from wounds or disease contracted on active service, provision shall be made for his wife and family out of the consolidated revenue fund at the prescribed rates.
Here the word “prescribed” occurs again.
– This is only a skeleton.
– I know, and that is what I am complaining of. Why should we not say in the Bill what the rates are to be 1
– We can alter the rates if they are not. contained in an Act of Parliament, but if we put them in an Act they cannot be altered to suit circumstances.
– It is for those honorable senators who are experts to give us the information we are asking for. I desire to see a good Defence Bill become law as early as possible. With clause 57, I am in entire agreement. It is one of the most important clauses of the Bill, and one of the best. It is a duty devolving upon every resident of the Commonwealth who is earning his living here to be ready to serve in time of war. This is a splendid provision, and I have no doubt that it will be carried without a dissentient voice. I offer these remarks in the hope that Senator Drake will be able to give some information to those who are looking for it, but I shall assist to carry the Bill through Committee as rapidly as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 - (Interpretation).
– I move -
That the following words be added : - “ Member” includes any officer, non-commissioned officer, sailor, and soldier.
There is nothing in the Bill to show whether the word “ member “ includes or excludes an officer. It is important that the clear intentions of the Bill in this respect should be made apparent. For instance, with reference to the right of a person to retire from the forces within a certain time, the Minister has said that clause 33 gives an officer the right to retire within three months by giving fourteen days’ notice. But the word “ officer “ does not appear in the clause, whilst the word “ member “ does appear. I say this, not by way of criticism, but to point out the need for being quite clear whether an officer is included in the word “member.”
– I do not raise any objection to this amendment. I have looked carefully through the Bill, and so far as I can see, the word “ member “ does include an officer. As the Mikado says, “ If it is so, why not say so ? “
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 -
The State Act and the Act of the Federal Council of Australasia specified in the first schedule shall cease to apply to the military and naval forces of the Commonwealth or to any member thereof, but this section shall not affect -
– It has been pointed out to me that in some of the States Acts provision is made for giving a preference with regard to employment to persons who have been or are in the Defence Force, and we want to make it clear that this Bill will not affect their rights. I do not think it does. I doubt whether it is absolutely necessary to insert an amendment, but, to make it clear, I move -
That, after the word “ or,” line 9, the following words be inserted: - “ (a a) any right to appointment or employment in the Public Service of a State conferred by any of those Acts ; or.”
This is intended for the protection pf rights which members of the Defence Force may have under the States Acts. As a matter of fact, I think that the provisions of this Bill would not affect them, and that the amendment is scarcely necessary, but, to make assurance doubly sure, it is proposed to insert this provision.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 -
The Governor-General may -
– The first sub-clause of this clause makes a new departure, and I think a verygood one. Honorable senators see that it is proposed to permit an officer of the Commonwealth forces to be the General Officer Commanding. It proposes, in fact, to do away with the obligation to import an Imperial officer as head of our Defence Force, and to permit the appointment of a Commonwealth officer who may have had only colonial training, or in addition the larger training of the Imperial Army. Honorable senators may discuss at some length the question whether it is desirable to indulge in this innovation or not. When we have had the proposed Military College in operation for some years, and Commonwealth officers have an opportunity of obtaining the tuition which can be obtained only in a Military College, the idea of filling the position of General Officer Commanding by the appointment of a Commonwealth officer will be more acceptable than it can be at the present time. I do not deprecate in the slightest degree the merits of Commonwealth officers. We have many in the service who have achieved great distinction in South Africa, but I point out that it is very difficult indeed for a Commonwealth officer to obtain that insight into administration which may be obtained in a larger force than we propose to have. Although our force will number something over 20,000, it will be so exceedingly scattered that the opportunities in connexion with such a force for acquiring a knowledge of military administration will be few. I am free to admit that this provision may be an incentive to men, who desire to follow the military career as a profession, to work up to a higher standard than they have hitherto been induced to aim at. Another reason why I think this provision should be accepted is, that we may have, as we certainly have now in one of the States, a military officer who, if he were .to return to the Imperial Army, would perhaps find himself somewhat debarred by age from following out a career of command that would certainly lie before him in the Commonwealth if he proposed to remain here. Of course, I should not mention names in these circumstances, but I have in mind a gentleman who would be an admirable General Officer Commanding. I am far from opposing the proposal contained in the Bill, but it is well that the matter should be fully discussed, and one important point on the other side is that an officer fitted to command the whole of the Commonwealth forces should have some knowledge of the. various arms of the force. A Commonwealth officer would have some difficulty in obtaining that knowledge. It is comparatively easy for a man to become a good officer of cavalry, artillery,- engineers, or rifles, but we need in a commanding officer one who has a general knowledge of all these various branches. If the General Officer Commanding does not possess some knowledge of the different branches of the service, he will be utterly at the mercy of his subordinates in respect of those branches with which he is not familiar.
– The man who fills this post may spend a few years in England.
– Col. NEILD. - That is another point. If we had the Military College as a going concern my remarks would not have the same application. The Minister for Defence will clearly see that I am discussing the question in an unbiased manner and with a desire rather to accept this provision than to throw cold water upon it. I admit that it may possibly give the Ministry of the day a wider scope of selection than if we tied ourselves down to the Imperial Service for a General Officer Commanding. It might happen’ that when we wanted a commanding officer of a certain status, owing to the exigencies of the Imperial Service, we might not be able to secure the man we desired. I am quite prepared to support sub-clause 1 of the clause, but I propose to move an amendment in sub-clause 7. I move -
That, after the word “commissions,” the words “ and warrants “ be inserted.
In clause 4 reference is made to warrant officers, and I may be allowed to explain that a warrant officer holds a rank between the non-com missioned officer, the sergeant, and the junior commissioned officer, the second lieutenant. I am speaking now of the military forces.
– Is not that rather begging the question % Is he not a noncommissioned officer strictly speaking ?
– No ; he is not a.i non-commissioned officer, for the reason that he holds a warrant, and under the law obtaining in New South Wales for many years the warrant officer’s warrant is issued by the Governor in Council, and he holds many of the rights of a commissioned officer. For instance, in the matter of travelling allowance he ranks as a commissioned officer, and travels first class by rail find steamer, whilst the non-commissioned officer travels second class. He has the rights of an officer in many ways. He usually holds the position of sergeantmajor, and is the connecting link between commissioned and non-commissioned officers. He is head of all the noncommissioned officers in the regiment, and is “their immediate commander. His position is a very onerous one, and I am proposing this amendment plainly with the desire that in accordance with the law in New South Wales, and the practice, I believe in other States, these gentlemen - ;and the majority of them are gentlemen in the truest sense of the term, men of large experience and long military service, and holding the highest qualifications - shall be appointed by warrant under the Commonwealth as they have heretofore been appointed in the different States by warrant of the Governor in Council, and shall not be the creatures of any General. This subclause takes from the authority of the Governor-General and, needlessly, augments the power of the officer commanding the military forces. I desire to correct this. I propose to follow up this amendment by amendments in clause 17, with a view to securing that warrant officers shall obtain their authority from the GovernorG General in Council on the recommendation, of course, of the General Officer Commanding. I make no secret of what I wish to accomplish. I think that these officers hold positions of such authority that the desire should be rather to conserve their authority than to belittle it. . These men now hold their authority from the Governor in Council in the various States j and under this Bill it is proposed to reduce their status and make them purely the nominees of the General Officer Commanding. Why should these men, who hold warrants from the Governors of the States, have those warrants taken from them, and be so reduced in status ? I desire also to know what sort of warrant is to be issued under this Bill. It seems to me that the omission from this subclause of the words which I propose to “insert is a mistake in draftsmanship, due probably to the desire for compression. I tam proposing what has hitherto been the practice in New South Wales and some of the other States.
– Which of the other States t
– Was it not the practice in Queensland ?
– I do not think so. ‘ It is quite new to me, and I did not know it was the practice in New South Wales until the honorable senator mentioned it.
– The practice in New South ‘Wales has been to appoint these officers by warrant from the Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Commandant. It. is here proposed to give them an inferior status, and it is to that I am objecting. I have here the Manual of Military Law, which is a thick book of small print on very thin paper, and which embodies some portion of the military law which is crowded into the 1 20 clauses of the Bill. The warrant officers and noncommissioned officers have been grouped together, with no other object than that of intense compression.
– Are there warrants in the Imperial Army ?
– By whom are those warrants issued t
.- That information will not be found in the Manual of Military Law, but in the regulations dealing with the Imperial pay warrant.
– That has nothing to do with the warrants of which the honorable senator is speak in sr.
-CoL NEILD.- The Imperial pay warrant includes a great many things, and deals with the appointment of warrant officers. I do not think it necessary to repeat my reasons for the amendment, which I now submit to the Committee.
– I should like to have it made clear that capable officers in the Commonwealth forces are eligible for the higher ranks. What meaning is attached to the words “ Defence Force”?
– That means the Defence Force of the Commonwealth.
– We are inaugurating a very expensive military system, and any one acquainted with the circumstances of Australia must be of opinion that a little money would be far better spent in water conservation and the provision of artesian wells than on gold lace and swagger. Legislation of this kind ought to be on the most economical lines. Experience in South Africa has shown that a comparatively small civilian force maybe able to successfully cope for a considerable time against large bodies of Imperial troops. I have every confidence in a citizen army, if our men are subject to ordinary drill and trained in shooting. I am not at all satisfied with our present military system, which is hugely extravagant, and will be more extravagant in the future. If the appointments under discussion are made by the Governor in Council there will be a nice state of affairs in Australia in a few years owing to the gross extravagance which must creep into the administration.
– Senator Neild informed me that he intended to submit some amendments, but until the present moment I did not know that any practice of the kind to which he refers prevailed in New South Wales ; and I should like to have a little more information on the point before I consent to the amendment. My information is that the warrant of a warrant officer is not issued by the Governor in Council, but by the Commanding ‘ Officer. From the Manual qf Military Law, which Senator Neild has kindly lent me, I learn that in the Imperial Army, warrant officers and other officers holding honorary commissions are “officers within the meaning of the Act, subject to the exception mentioned in the Act.” The meaning, I have no doubt, is that when in England an honorary commission is given to a warrant officer he ranks as an officer, but that he does not so rank when he is a warrant officer only. Speaking generally, the army is divided into officers, non-commissioned officers, and rank and file. There is a clear distinction between an officer and a non-commissioned officer, or what Senator Neild calls a warrant officer. I think it will be admitted that a warrant officer is a non-commissioned officer.
– Certainly not.
– A warrant officer has not a commission.
– He has a warrant.
– He occupies the highest position amongst the noncommissioned officers; he has a higher standing than the other non-commissioned officers, but he is not taken out of the category of non-commissioned officers. What Senator Neild desires is to put this highest noncommissioned officer into the position of a commissioned officer.
– No ; I want to keep him in his position as warrant officer.
– The honorary commission spoken of in the Manual qf Military Law is, I believe, a puzzle. There are nosuch commissions in Australia, and nobody seems to know what is meant by giving a warrant officer a commission of the kind ; but apparently the meaning is that a warrant officer may have a commission signed by the King or Governor in Council. I gather from the statement of Senator Neild that these officers, in New South Wales are not commissioned, but that they have warrants which are= signed, not by the Officer Commanding, but by the Governor in Council. I do not think it is desirable on the strength of that fact to make an alteration in what, I am informed, is the practice in the Commonwealth generally. I hope Senator Neild will not presshis amendment until I have an opportunity of making further inquiries as to the practice in the other States of the Commonwealth, and of considering the desirability of making what appears to be an entire change.
– I have great respect for anything which Senator Neild tells me about military matters, but I have not quite the same confidence in theargument that because there is a provision of the kind in an Act of Parliament in NewSouth Wales it ought to form part of theCommonwealth Act. It appears to me that in New South Wales - I need not mention any other States - very peculiar clauses sometimes get into Acts of Parliament. I should think there must be somevery good reason for the drafting of the Bill, which is the outcome of an enormous amount of thought, discussion, and intelligent criticism. Senator Neild would do well to fall in with the suggestion of the Minister, and either not press the amendment or postpone it until further information has been obtained. On the whole, I am inclined to think that the appointment of warrant officers - who, as Senator Neild has told us, are not commissioned officers, and yet have the command of’ all the non-commissioned officers - should be in the hands of the General OfficerCommanding. “ As a thorough-going soldier,, who has devoted much time and attention, to military matters, Senator Neild, one would think, would like to see men like corporals, sergeants, quartermasters, and warrant officers appointed by the officer commanding rather than by the Executive. If we really want to keep political influence out of the defence administration we had better leave appointments of the kind with the Commanding Officer, rather than with the Executive.
– I have been very much impressed by what Senator Neild has said in commending his amendment ; but I think the Minister for Defence really requires a little more time for consideration. With a Bill of such importance it would be wise on the part of Senator Neild to allow the clause to. pass jn’o forma because any proposal for a recommittal would not I think meet with any resistance. That would give the Minister and other honorable senators who are not fully acquainted with the position an opportunity of making further inquiries.
– I think the clause should be postponed. After all, Senator Neild is the commanding officer of a regiment, and speaks with a certain amount of knowledge.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - - I am perfecly willing that the clause shall be postponed. I am not disposed to assent to the passing of the clause unless I have, a distinct promise that the Minister will not oppose a recommittal.
– I shall be quite willing to recommit the clause if the honorable senator desires it.
.- It is very difficult for me, occupying adual position, to speak of matters which come within my official knowledge as an officer, but I may at least say that a Governor’s warrant has been handed by me, as commanding officer, to my own sergeant-major. It will therefore be seen that I am speaking with absolute knowledge. I do not consider that, in making this statement I am introducing any element of self that I can avoid. I have avoided referring to myself hitherto, or to information which I may possess officially. But what I have said is a simple and plain statement of a common fact, and I am sure the Minister will not consider I have overstepped the bounds of propriety.
– The honorable senator gave me the impression that he did not think that such appointments by the Officer Commanding would be unsatisfactory.
– They would not be satisfactory to men who, after many years of service under the authority of the Governor in Council, would be practically disrated by receiving an inferior appointment from an inferior authority. I am now advocating the cause of the non-commissioned man - a? the Minister of Defence insists that a warrant officer is. There is as much difference between a sergeant, coloursergeant, and a warrant officer as there is between a quartermaster and a boatswain on board a ship. If the warrant officer is a non-commissioned officer, Kipling has said that the noncommissioned officer is the backbone of the army, and if I am fighting his battle, I am fighting the battle of every Colonial Tommy who may rise to the rank of warrant officer.
– But the honorable senator is fighting for the warrant officer.
– Allow me to paraphrase Napoleon, and say that every soldier in the ranks ‘will carry a warrant officer’s warrant in .his knapsack, if the Commonwealth can afford to buy him one. ‘
– He will carry more than that - a commission.
– I am entirely in favour of the clause to which Senator Drake refers, but I know that there are thousands of men who cannot afford to undertake the obligations of a commission. The hand of the commissioned officer is continually in his pocket for all sorts of things. I know a commanding officer who has offered commissions time after time to his sergeants, but they could not afford the obligations of the position, the duties of which are most onerous, although they may not take up much time. The consideration of £ s. d. does not attach to the position of a warrant officer. If the Minister will consent to postpone the clause I shall be very pleased indeed.
– I do not like to refuse to postpone the clause, but I would ask Senator Neild to allow it to pass with my assurance that I shall offer no objection to its recommittal. I must look into this matter. I have just obtained a copy of the New South Wales Act, and it will take me a long time to go through its provisions.
– It is not to be found in the Act, but in the regulations.
– There are two things to be considered - first, how this practice sprungup in NewSouth Wales, and, secondly, whether it is a desirable one to adopt. It is really doing away with the distinction which seems to have existed between the non-commissioned and the commissioned officer. Senator Neild has referred to a soldier carrying a warrant in his knapsack. We provide in the Bill that a ranker - a man who has served for three years without a commission - shall have a preference. I do not think that there can be any great disadvantage through the officer having his warrant from the officer commanding. Having served in the ranks for three years, he will be given a preference - other things being equal - as against a man who had not so served in the ranks.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I happen to know a case utterly opposed to that which Senator Drake has outlined, and which I should like him to look into. Over two months ago a friend of mine, a sergeant in the regiment, was recommended for a commission, and he has not yet received a reply. This does not seem to indicate that there is such a great hurry to appoint sergeants.
– The Bill has not passed yet.
.- Though the Bill gives him something, still there is a difficulty about a sergeant being appointed to a commission. I have two or three comrades whom I had a great deal of pleasure in nominating for commissions. One of the best officers I have in my regiment was a sergeant.
– We propose to give such persons a preference.
– Yes ; and a very good thing, too. The same proposition is involved in clause 17.
– Yes ; and in the interpretation clause, which has been passed.
.- I do not think that that is of so much consequence.
– If the honorable senator should carry his amendment in this clause, we should have to alter that clause.
– If clause 8 is passed with a promise that it shall be recommitted, will the Minister give a similar promise in respect to clause 17 if necessary?
– I accept the offer.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 -
If there is no General Officer Commanding or Naval Officer Commanding, or if those officers or either of them are absent from the Commonwealth or unable to exercise their powers or duties, those powers or duties may be exercised or performed by any person directed by the Governor-General to exercise or perform them.
– I wish to propose an amendment for the purpose of clearly drawing the line with regard to the duties of the General Officer Commanding on the military side, and the General Officer Commanding on the naval side. In its original form the Bill contained these clauses -
This Act shall be administered by the Minister of State for Defence. 7. (1) The Governor-General may appoint a. Military Officer to be the General Officer Commanding the Military Forces of the Common wealth, and such officer shall be charged with the Military command and discipline of those Forces.
The whole of the power was placed in the hands of the Governor-General, but since clause 6 was struck out in another place, and clause 7 was somewhat altered, it is right that this clause should be amended in regard to the duties of the General Officers. Commanding. Therefore I move -
That before the word “If,” line 1, the folowing words be inserted : - “ The General Officer Commanding and the Naval Officer Commanding shall have such powers and perform such duties as are prescribed, or as the Governor-General directs, and”
In other Bills that we have passed we have enabled the Governor-General in Council, by means of regulation - without regulation in this case - to lay down what are the duties and powers of officers.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to
Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.
Clause 12 (Ex-member of Defence Forces may bring suit for moneys due).
– Suppose that when a man left the force he wished to enforce a claim which might date back more than six years. I wish to know whether the Statute of Limitations would be set aside by the clause or not.
– I think not ; he would have to bring a suit in the Civil Court.
– I think he would be barred by the Statute of Limitations, and that is why I should like the clause to be amended,,
– I think he ought to be barred.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 13 (Appointments do not create civil contract).
– I was asked whether this clause was necessary, seeing that another provision had been inserted quite recently. I have made careful inquiries, and I think that it is necessary. One clause provides for a case where a man has ceased to be a member of the Defence Force, while the other clause applies to a case where a man is in the Defence Force.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 14 agreed to.
Clause 15 -
Officers provisionally appointed shall cease to hold office if they fail within the prescribed time, not exceeding eighteen months, to pass the examination for the rank to which they have been so appointed.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South
Wales). - I move -
That the words “ the prescribed time not exceeding,” lines 2 and 3, be left out.
My object in moving this amendment is to allow a citizen soldier a period of eighteen months in which to pass his examination. A man who is going up for his examination is placed in the gravest difficulties when the drill i3 being changed every fortnight. In New South Wales a school of instruction is held once or twice a month.
– Once or twice a month?
– A school of instruction is held once or twice a month - there are two schools to be held this month - while an examination of officers is held twice a year. Practically, the drill is altered from day to day, and officers who have passed examinations with honours are getting blocked because of the eccentricities which are being daily introduced by different staff officers. I am speaking with most positive knowledge, and without personal application. I may “mention, in passing, that, years ago, I passed my last examination for an officer, on terms, which as regards the percentages, were a little unusual. I know excellent men who, by reason of these constant changes, business engagements, or the necessity to pass otherexaminations, for instance, in law, or thacivil service, fall in over their first examination. They pass in perhaps two subjects, out of four, or three subjects out of five. If” the time were made less than eighteen months, those men might have no second opportunity for going up for examination. I appeal to the Minister, in the interests- of the Defence Force, and in the interests of citizen soldiers, not to unduly restrict those opportunities. Suppose that a man should happen to besick at the very time when he ought to bepresenting himself for examination. If theperiod were made less than eighteen months,. . it would have expired before he could present himself.
– Is it right that thedrill should be altered every fortnight 1
.- The drill of the British Array is not good enough for the Commonwealth Army. The fighting troops of the Commonwealth Army are now beingdrilled as horse practically, and the British Drill Book is being so altered that it takesa quick penman and keen soldier from eight to ten hours to write in the new ideas which, come from the banks of the Yarra.
– And yet thehonorable senator wonders at the men beingplucked.
– I wonder that they get through at all. Suppose that an officer should get an appointment; he might haveto go to the other end of the world on an urgent mission, or his health might break down ; and if the period were reduced byregulation to less than eighteen months, he would not have “Buckley’s chance”’ of passing his examination. He is outof pocket to the extent of the cost of his uniform, and has to endure all thedisappointment of failure, whilst the forceslose a valuable man. I will take the caseof an officer whom I know, who in privatelife is the sub-manager of an insurance company. He had passed through all his subjects flying. He had been through all the ranksof private, sergeant, and colour-sergeant, and was a first-class man. But through pressure of business he was not able to givesufficient attention to the Acts and regulations, and was plucked in the examination, in that subject. Under this clause he would have had no sort of a show, and the forceswould have lost one of the most brilliant young officers they possessed. I hope that the Committee and the Ministry will consent to my amendment.
– I am rather inclined towards this amendment, but my feeling in favour of it has not been strengthened after hearing Senator Neild’s reasons. He tells us that classes of instruction are held twice a month in New South Wales. These classes are held specially to enable young men to pass their examinations for commissions. It speaks rather badly for a man if he cannot get through his examinations in less than eighteen months. In Queensland the classes of instruction to give officers the opportunity of qualifying for commissions are held only about twice a year. This clause provides for a prescribed time not to exceed eighteen months. In some cases the term may be shorter than eighteen months. In the case of a provisional lieutenant, a young fellow is doing work with his company two or three times a week. He ought to be able to pass his examination in less time than eighteen months. In the case of an examination for field officers, I can quite understand that a longer period might be required than would be- the case in examinations for lieutenants. It would be better’ to leave the clause as it is and allow a time to be prescribed. The military authorities -cannot be interested in putting obstacles in the way of young men so that ‘they would not be able to qualify if they are ordinarily diligent ; but if an officer who is appointed provisionally neglects his duties or fails to avail himself of opportunities, I do not see why a regiment should have to retain him for eighteen months, during which time he is incompetent.
– With regard to classes of instruction being held so frequently in New South Wales, I would point out that an officer cannot attend any classes he likes. There is a school of instruction held one week for artillery, in the next fortnight for senior officers of mounted troops, and in the next for junior officers or non-commissioned officers. What is meant is that a man has to live in barracks all day, and be in attendance from 6 in the morning till 10 at night. He is allowed the magnificent sum of 5s. per day during the time he is there. This means that he has to camp at the place for a fortnight. How many men engaged in business can afford the time to attend a school of instruction under those circumstances % Perhaps there are no such schools of instruction in Queensland. Evidently the Minister has referred to examinations held twice a year for officers.
– I understood Senator Neild to say that he wanted to have an elastic claude. It appears to me that the clause as it stands is highly elastic, and that the amendment which he suggests would make it too rigid. I quite agree that eighteen months would not be too long a term in certain exceptional cases, but in ordinary cases it is too long. The matter ought to be governed by regulations. An officer should be required to pass his examinations in twelve months, but if he is absent for a good reason, or is ill, the time might be extended. But it should not exceed eighteen months in all. It is better not to make the clause too rigid, but I should say that if a man cannot pass his examination in less than eighteen months he is hardly fit for a command.
– I am not quite satisfied with the account given by Senator Neild with regard to the classes of instruction in New South Wales, and especially with regard to the necessity for officers attending from 6 in the morning till 10 at night. We had classes of instruction in Queensland. Provision was made to allow officers to live in barracks during the course; but any officer who chose might attend from about 6 in the morning, when the classes commenced, until 8 in the morning, and then again from 4 o’clock till half-past 6 in the evening. That gave an opportunity to officers who were otherwise engaged during the day to attend the classes and obtain sufficient instruction to enable them to pass examinations. I attended these classes myself, but I never spent the whole day in barracks. I attended before breakfast in the morning, and after work was done in the evening. If the same practice is not followed in New South Wales, I shall have to make inquiries with a view to altering the system. “Volunteer officers should have an opportunity of attending under convenient conditions. I feel strongly that a young man appointed as a provisional lieutenant ought to be able to qualify himself in six months if he is anything like attentive and bright, especially if he attends a camp. Generally the examinations take place twice a year. Perhaps a lieutenant presents himself for examination and fails. It is right to give him another chance in six months’ time. If he fails again, I do not think he ought to be allowed to proceed. In special cases eighteen months might be allowed ; but it is not desirable that a young fellow who has secured a provisional appointment to a lieutenancy should feel that he has a statutory right to remain for eighteen months, whether he passes the examination or not.
– A medical student must pass an examination every twelve months.
– I am in favourof giving every reasonable opportunity to an officer to pass his examination, but I do not think it would be wise to fix the time as proposed at eighteen months. I cannot consent to the amendment, and I hope the honorable senator will not press it.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 16 -
Officers shall hold their appointments during the pleasure of the Governor-General.
– I move -
That the following words be added : - “ But the commission of an officer shall not be cancelled, nor varied, except by promotion without the holder thereof being notified in writing of any complaint or charge made, and of any action proposed to be taken against him, nor without his being called upon to show cause in relation thereto. Provided that no such notification shall be necessary in the case of an officer absent from duty without leave for a period of three months or upwards.”
Honorable senators will see that the clause, as printed, makes all commissions subject to pleasure, and I propose by my amendment that an officer’s commission shall not be cancelled without his having knowledge of the intention to cancel it, in order that he may be given an opportunity to show cause why it should not be cancelled. I propose to move, later, an amendment which will give exactly the same right to every noncommisioned officer and man in the Defence Force, so that no man may be thrust out of the force without notice, or without knowledge of the charge against him, if there is a charge. I believe that he should be given an opportunity to show cause why he should not be disrated or degraded before his fellow men. If it were necessary,. I could cite cases where rather remarkable things have happened in Australia. I think that my proposition is so eminently fair that there is no need to press the matter further. I propose merely that no man shall have a knife put through his back without knowledge.
– This amendment has a very attractive appearance, and appeals to the sense of justice of honorable senators, which is opposed to a charge being made behind a man’s back. Senator Neild has given the appeal to that sentiment full force, but I point out that the amendment is entirely contrary to the theory under which a standing force exists. From the time of the Bill of Rights the theory has been that the existence of a standing army is illegal, that legality is given to it only by the Acts passed from year “to year, and that it is in the right of the Crown to issue and cancel commissions at any time. It may rob Senator Neild’s speech of a great deal of its force, but I point out that where ever there is a charge made against an officer his commission is not cancelled until the charge has been inquired into by a courtmartial.
– Really, the only case in which a commission is cancelled is where the services of an officer are no longer required. The proposal in the amendment is contrary to the theory upon which the British Army and the defence forces in all the British dominions have existed up to the present time. It has never been held that the Crown should give a reason for cancelling a commission, or that the Crown should be prevented from cancelling a commission if, in the opinion of some persons, that would be desirable. This amendment, if carried, will altogether alter the position. of the Crown with regard to commissions. It will give the individual a sort of vested right in his commission.
– It will give him some kind of right in his commission, as though it were a matter of property, and he should not be deprived of it unless a charge were lodged, a reply made to the charge, and perhaps a subsequent inquiry held. I hope that the amendment will be withdrawn.
– I intend to support the amendment, because it is extremely undesirable that any officer in our Defence Force, which must of necessity be largely a volunteer force, should be deprived of his commission without knowing the reason why ; that he should, as Senator Neild has put it, be stabbed in the back without an opportunity to defend himself. The Minister for Defence has referred to the theory of the commission as it exists in the British Army, but in Great Britain the army is a paid force, and there is all the difference in the world between a paid and a volunteer force. If we are to get men to enlist in our army of defence, we must make service in it as attractive as possible, and men must not have a feeling that they are liable to be unjustly treated without being given an opportunity to speak in their own defence. I “have known cases to occur in Queensland where a very great deal of dissatisfaction has arisen owing to the existence of exactly “the provision which finds a place in this Defence Bill. I know of one company which was disbanded almost entirely owing to that fact.
– Was that not for economical reasons, and not because of any charge ?
– That had a great deal to do with it ; but the men looked upon themselves as citizens as well as soldiers, and they objected to being treated as mere machines, to be pulled hither and thither at the will of any commanding officer. It is of course desirable that men in the field should be under one command, but in the ordinary administration of the Defence Force it is extremely desirable that the Government should recognise that it is a citizen force, and that whilst the members of it are soldiers in a sense they are also citizens, and are anxious, no doubt, to carry their citizenship rights as far as possible into the force. . I trust that
Senator Neild will not withdraw the amende ment. On the contrary, I hope it will be carried, because I believe it would be a step in the right direction.
– The amendment as proposed seems to imply that if the commission of an officer is cancelled it must be on account of some complaint or charge made or some action taken against him.
– It may be.
– Senator Stewart says “ It may be but I pointed out before that if there is any reason for making a complaint or charge against an officer the matter will be inquired into by a courtmartial.
-Col. Neild. - There is no provision for that in this clause.
– Senator Neild knows that a commission is cancelled on account of an offence committed by an officer only after the offence has been inquired into by a court-martial.
– The honorable and learned senator is wrong. ‘
– The honorable senator is really providing for cases in which officers have not committed offences; but where their services are not further required. The Governor-General may issue commissions and may cancel them at any time. I have given the historical reason for that, and I really do not think there is any justification for making the change now proposed.
– I think there is every reason for making the change. Senator Neild has signified his intention to move a similar amendment in another part of the Bill to meet the case of the men of the Defence Force. If the reason for cancelling the commission is the necessity for retrenchment that has only to be stated in writing, and there will be no complaint. But I have known instances where people have been discharged on the excuse of retrenchment, and their places have been filled up by others. If anything of that kind occurs the officer or man dispensed with will know that there is some reason for the action taken, apart from the desire for retrenchment, and an inquiry can be made. The customs in the British Army are a different matter altogether. It is about time that the regulations of years ago were altered in the British forces, and I hope that in the near future both officers and soldiers will receive treatment different from that which they have experienced in the past. This is the first Defence Bill introduced in the Federal Parliament, and now is the time to attempt to make the law in this respect as perfect as possible. I think that Senator Neild is moving in the right direction.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - In order to show that I was perfectly correct in my statement that I propose to move a similar amendment in regard to the force generally, I refer honorable senators to page 4 of the list of amendments which has been circulated. It will there be seen that I propose to submit an amendment to clause 108 providing - . . no soldier nor sailor shall be so disrated or discharged without being called upon in writing to show cause why he should not be so disrated or discharged as aforesaid, and nothing herein contained shall prevent the GovernorGeneral from signifying his pleasure in such manner, and giving such directions in respect to any such disrating or discharge as to him may appear just and proper.
It will be seen that in the case of the rank and fi le” I have taken the precaution to surround their position with exactly the same protection, or, indeed, greater protection than I propose to give to the officers.
– But is the honorable senator not first providing that a man may be discharged ?
.- Yes. My amendment is in accordance with the British Volunteer Act, which has been in existence for many years, but I tone down the provisions of that Act. When we reach clause 10S I shall be able to satisfy honorable senators that I propose making the position of the rank and file even better than it is under the Volunteer Act. I cannot see the connexion in Senator Drake’s argument as to the old traditions associated with the annual establishment of any armed force in England. I entirely agree with Senator McGregor that if an . officer is being discharged by the Governor iu Council, on account of the disbanding of a corps, or on account of retrenchment, he is to be so informed ; but in such case the officer’s mouth is shut, because he has no ground of complaint. As the discussion has gone so far, I may relate a case which is within my own personal knowledge. The name of an officer in New South Wales, who to-day holds a high rank, and has the entire confidence of the military authorities, was a few years ago, in consequence of some intrigue, surreptitiously - I use the word advisedly, because all the circumstances are clearly known to me - sent to the Minister, so that he’ might be retired from his position as regimental commander. The Minister’s attention was not drawn to the name, and the retirement wasabsolutely passed by the Executive Council. This stab in the dark became known to theofficer - these matters get whispered, and wickedness is sometimes made public - and he saw the Minister, who denied all knowledge, asserting that it was impossible such a thing could have happened. But a littleinquiry showed that the name had passed the Executive Council, and that the minute was to be confirmed the next day, which would have had the effect of thrusting out a gentleman who had given years of prominentservice. The Minister withdrew the minute from the Executive Office there and then, and the papers were shown to me in Parliament House, Sydney, on, I believe, thesame day. This officer’s expulsion with practical ignominy was not achieved; and! the simple amendment which I now submit will have the effect of preventing such occurences in the future. I do not want to say that one man in the force is entitled to more consideration than another ; but thehigher the rank the greater the degradation,, because the expulsion or disrating becomes the more widely known. My amendment simply provides’ that an officer shall be informed in writing of what is proposed, so that he may have an opportunity of submitting- his views in-, reply.
– Can an officer lose hiscommission without a court-martial ?
.- Of course hecan, as is shown by the case I have cited. In New South Wales I do not think there has been a court martial for five years, and I never heard of such an inquiry in the case of a volunteer or militia officer. I have heard of one case of a permanent officer being court martialled, but that was a good many years ago, and I have not heard of a case since. Members of the rank and file, and sometimes non-commissioned officers, of the permanent force have been courtmartialled, but, as I say, I have not heard of a volunteer or partially-paid officer having to appear before such a tribunal. The officer to whom I have referred in New South Wales is a successful and popular commander ; and I am speaking with a knowledge of what may be attempted by some process which I really cannot find a proper word to describe. With that case before me, I feel justified in -asking the Committee to give the same protection to the officer as is given to a man in the ranks. Clause 86 of the Bill contains the following : -
Except in time of war every sailor and soldier before being dismissed or reduced for an)T alleged offence ma3’, if he so request, be tried by court.martial
This is a provision inserted by the Minister for the protection of non-commissioned officers and men, and I merely ask that the same privilege shall be given to the commissioned officers. I am only fighting the fair battle of an honest cause, when I urge the Committee to assent to my amendment.
-If the honorable senator is going to press his amendment to a division, I shall ask him to make some little alteration, and after the word “ cancelled,” strike Out the words “ nor varied except by promotion.” A commission is not varied if an officer gets “ a step,” because he is given a new commission. We are now considering only the cancellation of a commission.
– I am prepared to accept the suggested amendment.
Amendment amended accordingly.
– I observe that the following words occur in the amendment : -
That is quite right where there are charges of misconduct, but no provision is made for the case in which a regiment is disbanded, and there is no further need for the officer. Some words ought to be inserted, making it clear that an officer may be given notice in writing, showing the reasons why his services are no longer required. I suggest that after the word “ promotion “ the words “ except reasons for such cancellation have been given in writing,” be inserted.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - Clause 42 gives the GovernorGeneral the right to disband any corps, or portion of a corps, or “dispense with the services of any officer, sailor, or soldier.” I think that if we add the word “ thereof” after the word “soldier,” the whole ground will lae covered.
– Before we go to a division, I suggest that the purpose of Senator Neild would be met if after the word “ cancelled “ the words “ in consequence of any complaint or charge,” were inserted.
– The excuse of retrenchment might be made unjustifiably.
– But in that case the cancellation would not be for any offence.
.- If an officer is losing his commission because of the disbanding of a regiment, his case is provided for. If the services of an officer are dispensed with on the score of retrenchment, he has no grievance, because he has not been injured. My amendment is to protect the man who is thrust out without knowing what charge there is against him.
– What is the meaning of the words, “ and of any action proposed to be taken against him “? Will Senator Neild consent to insert the words which I have suggested - “in consequence of any complaint or charge”?
.- Why ? Is the Minister trying to whittle away my amendment?
– I wish to attain the object which the honorable senator has in view, namely, to provide that a commission shall not be cancelled on the ground of some complaint or charge, without a notification of what that complaint or charge is.
– Does not the Minister see that if those words were inserted the commission of an officer could be cancelled, and the authorities could say - “ We have no charge against you. We have only cancelled your commission.”
– In any case that can be done under clause 42.
– If the amendment should be passed as it is, in any case where a commission was cancelled for any cause, this notification would have to be made in writing very often where no complaint or charge had been made.
– Would that be a hardship ?
– It seems to me that the amendment is entirely unnecessary.
– I cannot accept that suggestion.
– We cannot very well mix up the principles of civil government with those of military government, because, if we did, it might lead to a great deal of disorganization. I think that the amendment suggested by Senator Keating would meet the case. We require to have a thoroughly up-to-date force. Suppose that an infantry officer were not sufficiently up-to-date, or careless, or lax, or that a cavalry officer were getting too stout, or losing his eyesight. I was told during the Commonwealth celebrations in Sydney that there were some old officers who could hardly sit on their horses.
– The honorable senator is simply repeating - not intentionally - a falsehood.
– I would just as soon accept the word of my informant as that of my honorable friend.
– I did not see any.
– Suppose that an officer were suffering from physical infirmity, or were not sufficiently up-to-date, or did not take sufficient interest in his work, or were allowing his force to become disorganized. Surely in a case of that kind the authorities have power simply to dispense with his services without giving any reason for their act. The clause could be altered to require that a charge of breach of military rule or discipline should be made in writing so the officer could see that he was being fairly treated. I do not know what the rules are in other countries. I have not heard Senator Neild state that a similar provision is to be found in the Defence Act of any country. It is well for us to recognise that military organization is totally different from civil organization.
– When Senator Neild first moved his amendment the Minister for Defence said that it could not be accepted, because of the dominant principles which had applied to military forces throughout the British Empire since the time of the Petition of Rights. Looking at the clause now, it seems to me, if not legally, in spirit possibly, to conflict with clause 13, which says -
No appointment or promotion of an officer under this Act shall create a civil contract between the King or the Commonwealth, and the person appointed or promoted.
Of course I understand that Senator Neild will point out that his amendment, if made in clause 16, will not establish any contractual relations between the Crown and the officer.
-Col. Neild. - What is a civil, contract ?
– A civil contract is one which a man can get enforced in a court of law. Suppose that an officer were dismissed on account of any charge or complaint which had not been investigated under the provisions of this amendment, if carried, probably he would have a right of action in a civil court against theCrown for wrongful dismissal.
– How could he ?
– Although underclause 1 3 there is no civil contract between the officer and the King, still under clause 16 he would have been dismissed, and if his position carried a salary it is very questionable whether, by reason of the breach of this amendment, it might not be argued that he would have a right of recourse toa civil court for wrongful dismissal.
– Under clause 12.
– That would only give him a right of recourse to a civil court,, once he had- ceased to be a member of the force, for arrears of pay previously accrued. But under clause 16, as proposed to be amended, he might take action against, the Government for wrongful dismissal. In Tasmania we had a law suit which wentthrough various stages in connexion with the dismissal of Captain Parker, and which I think was to have been taken home to thePrivy Council . Although the statute law on the matter looked simple enough, yet it contained some conflicting provisions by which although it seemed that Captain Parker had not any particular civil right against theauthorities in Tasmania, he appeared to haveunder some army regulations which wereincorporated with the statute law, by implication,, or for some reason of that sort. I did not follow the case through its ramifications closely enough to be able to speak of the exact nature of thelegal difficulties which arose. But at any rate they were of such a characterthat the Full Court was divided in opinion as to whether he had a right of action for what he alleged to be wrongful dismissal. If clause 13 is to expressly provide that thereshall be no contractual relations between the parties, and clause 16 is to say that a man shall not be dismissed on account of any complaint or charge levelled against him, unless certain formalities have been complied with, it seems to me that weare putting into the Bill something, in the nature of conflict. I agree with the principle of this amendment. Our forces stand on a different plane from the British Army. Under the Bill’ we are to have a permanent force and a militia, and we may have volunteer and other forces. Although dismissal from a position may not involve any monetary disadvantage, still it may be regarded by the person concerned as something of a degradation. Looking at the principle contained in clause 13, I would sooner have something in the nature of a contract with those whom we engage in the partially-paid militia or in our permanent force than have no contract at all. There are cases in which men have been dismissed from the force on account of some charge or complaint of which they were not notified. Last session the Senate was furnished with the papers in connexion with a private who was dismissed publicly, I think, from the Defence Force of Tasmania, without any ground of complaint having been formally alleged against him. It was subsequently found out that the complaint or charge against him was that he, having been in the camp at Hobart, which many persons had said had been grossly mismanaged, had given infor- mation to the press, which was published, and led to an investigation as to the correctness or otherwise of the charges. After the tribunal had sat and determined on those questions he was notified, apparently, in the presence of the others in the ranks, that he was no longer required in his detachment. He was dismissed without any cause being assigned that he was called upon to answer. The papers in his case were laid upon the table of ‘the Senate on the 4th October, 1901, in response to a motion which I had moved. The return shows that, unless there is some such provision as that contained in this amendment, it is quite possible that a man who has given up a large portion of his time for no return may be degraded in a similar way.
– That is hardly a case in point. He was not a commissioned officer.
– As Senator Neild has pointed out, the clause applies to officers, and he proposes to move a similar provision an regard to the men. If an officer should be afforded an opportunity to show cause against a complaint or charge, surely a man should be allowed a similar opportunity. I should think that the object of Senator Neild would be well met if he did accept the suggestion of Senator Drake, so that it could be distinctly seen that the amendment was intended to apply only to cases where actual charges or complaints had been made.
– Yes ; but does not the honorable and learned senator see that the authorities could get rid of a man just as readily. They could say - “ There is no complaint, but we wish to get rid of you.”
– Whether this amendment be made in clause 16 or not, under clause 42 the powers of the Governor-General could be exercised in that direction.
– That refers to disbandments.
– It also enables the Government to dispense with services -
The Governor-General may, at any time, by order published in the Gazette, disband any corps or portion of a corps, and may at any time dispense with the services of any officer, soldier, or sailor.
– I propose to ask the Committee to insert the word “ thereof “ at the end of the clause. If the honorable and learned senator will look at the last portion of clause 86, he will see that the fullest protection is made in the Bill for the non-commissioned officers and men.
– I have already pointed out that in the case of a charge against an officer there would be a court martial.
– It says-
Except in time of war every sailor and soldier before being dismissed or reduced for any alleged offence, may, if he so request, be tried by courtmartial.
The provision, according to Senator Drake, would give him the right to trial by courtmartial in the cases which are contemplated by this amendment.
– No, because the definititon of soldier and sailor in the interpretation clause does not include officer.
– I think that the honorable senator should have no objection to make his amendment clearly meet the class of cases to which he referred. I am in thorough sympathy with him in regard to those cases. I would prefer this provision to be made in the Bill and clause 13 to be struck out. I think that if Senator Neild will consent to the alteration of his amendment there should not be any opposition on the part of the Committee to its insertion in the clause.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - I have already referred to cases where injustices might be done to officers under cover pf retrenchment. Such instances have occurred. Men have been told that their services were to be dispensed with on the ground of retrenchment, and almost immediately after they had left the service their places or similar ones were filled up. But under Senator Neild’s amendment if an officer is got rid of he has to be told the reason why. If an officer receives a notification that he is to be dispensed with on the ground of retrenchment, and afterwards finds that his place is filled up, it is evidence that the plea of retrenchment was only used as an excuse.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales) - If the suggested amendment upon my amendment were earned, it would enable an officer’s commission to be cancelled without his being notified. It might be said - “There is no charge against you, only we do not want you.” The amendment simply means’ that if there is a charge against an officer, he is to be informed : but, nevertheless, his commission can be quietly cancelled, and lie may only find it out from the newspapers. The argument as to the constitutional aspect is cut away by the fact that this Bill contains in clause 86 a provision giving to every non-commissioned officer and private in the forces the right to demand a” courtmartial. I do not ask for a court-martial for officers. But a man who has given his services for many years, either for a small emolument - which means that he is not in pocket - or without “any emolument - which means that he is considerably out of pocket - should not be got rid of without being informed of the reason. I quite agree that if an officer is absent without leave for three months his commission should bpcancelled. I would not defend a man who did’ not do his duty.
– In case an officer is somewhat lax, or is not up to date, or if his troops are not efficient in drill, how would the honorable senator get rid of him?
-Col. NEILD. - I am asking for nothing more than is the military law and custom in every part of the Empire. An officer commanding a regiment has to send in a report containing particulars concerning all his officers, under different printed headings, with reference to their conduct, attention to duty, condition of temper, eyesight, capacity to command, degree of respect in which they are held by the men under them, and a number of other qualities. This paper has to be sent to the General Officer Commanding the district. A commanding officer who reports against any officer has to inform him of the nature of the report. Suppose that the Minister was colonel of a regiment. He would have to report upon his officers, who might be Senator Smith, Senator Matheson, and myself. If he could not write good or excellent after every question it would be his duty to pen a statement containing an exact copy of his report, and send it to each of us ; and in sending his report to the General Officer Commanding he would have to inform him that these communications had been made. If an officer does not fulfil the requirements, and is inefficient, no commanding officer wants to keep him. The Minister has quoted the Bill of Rights, the constitutional aspect, and a lot of other stuff which has nothing to do with the point at issue. The honorable and learned senator is playing the lawyer’s game of trying to defeat the amendment by a little bit of bluff.
– What is an officer going to gain under the proposed amendment?
– He has an assurance that he cannot be stabbed in the dark. I am only asking for what the Bill gives to every man in the ranks.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia). - I can remember a case in her late Majesty’s Guards in which one of the noncommissioned officers was discharged, and on his papers was written the notification that he was discharged because he was unsightly. Surely we do not want to have communications of that kind made to men. ls it not better to let a man down quietly - to let the Governor-General cancel his commission, and say nothing about it 1
– Suppose a man is discharged without knowing the reason ?
– The man I refer to did know the reason. I knew him very well. His name was Robinson. But I think it is only fair that if a man’s commission is to be taken away from him he should be informed of the reason why.
– If Senator Neild will not accept my amendment I should like to point out what his proposal will mean. It will apply to the whole of the Defence Force, including officers holding permanent positions. The tendency will be to create a sort of vested right in commissions, and probably the commissions of officers drawing large salaries will not be able to be can. celled, unless any complaints against them are communicated to them, and they are asked to give replies in writing. It may mean that the services of officers cannot be dispensed with without their being paid compensation. It will involve a big compensation bill.
– The Government can put officers on the retired list.
– That amounts to cancelling their commissions.
– That is not cancelling a commission.
– The Government put Senator Gould on the retired list and raised him in rank.
– That was under the age limit.
– I am not aware of any particular case, but there may be officers who are drawing big salaries whose services it may be desired to dispense with. At present the Government can do that. A commission has been granted by the Crown and can be withdrawn by the Crown. But, under this proposal, if we desire to dispense with the services of an officer, any complaint against him will have to be communicated to him in writing, and he will be at liberty to write in defence of himself. This will mean in a number of cases that the only way of getting rid of officers will be to pay them compensation. In the case of misconduct a commission is not cancelled, except as the result of a court-martial, whether there is any foundation for the charge made or not. I am not aware of any case in which the present system has led to evil results, and I arn unable to see what advantage is to be gained by the amendment proposed. It may, if carried, be unsatisfactory in many cases to the officers concerned, and it may stand very much in the way of any desire on the part of the Government in future to carry out a scheme of retrenchment, because the officers will have acquired to a certain extent a vested right in their commissions, which I think is undesirable.
If Senator Neild will not accept the amendment of his amendment, suggested by Senator Keating, I must vote against his proposal.
– I have been in some doubt as to the way in which I should vote ; but, afterlistening to what Senator Drake has said, I have no doubt whatever that I should support Senator Neild. The Minister for Defencehas actually pointed out that if an officer is given the real reason why he should resign, it may become incumbent upon the Government to give him large compensation. If that be the case, the honorable and learned senator is opposing the amendment in order that the Government may avoid doing what he recognises is their obvious duty.
– I did not say it was. their obvious duty. At the present time it is not their duty to give compensation in these cases.
– No, but the honorable and learned senator has said that if the officer knew the reason why he isasked to retire, it might become incumbent upon the Government to compensate him.
– No. What I said was that if the course proposed by Senator Neild is adopted, and it is necessary tocommunicate to an officer whose commission it is proposed to cancel any charge madeagainst him, that may be done, but that may not be the reason for the cancellation of his commission. Senator Matheson hasoverlooked the amendment suggested by Senator Keating.
– I can appeal to the Committee to say whether SenatorDrake did not contend that if the amendment were’ carried compensation would have to be paid to the officer whose commission is cancelled. Obviously, if that is the case, an- officer should not be deprived of an opportunity of securing compensation. The remarks of the Minister for Defence are conclusive upon the point.
– The honorable senator is ignoring the amendment suggested by Senator Keating, which Senator Neild refuses to accept.
– It was not an amendment, but a suggestion, and I decline to accept it, because it is too evidently a trap.
– It has never been suggested that an officer, upon getting the- notice provided for in the amendment, can take proceedings against the Crown. The notice is merely required as a salve to his pride, and as a notice to which he seems to be entitled. If it were suggested that this notice would give the officer a ground for proceeding against the Crown, I could not support the amendment. As it is perfectly clear from the Bill that that would not result, and that the amendment would simply place the officer in a position to exculpate himself from what might be a false -charge, or to show that he was entitled to compensation, I must support Senator Neild.
– It appears to me that the amendment would give an officer the right to go before the -authorities and say - “ Hear my case ; I do not deserve to be got rid of.” I should like to ask Senator Neild whether he does -not think that the clause, if amended as he proposes, would conflict with the ordinary court-martial. Suppose, for a moment, that the words suggested by Senator Keating are inserted in the amendment, and it refers only to the case of an officer got rid of for cause, I should like to ask whether it is intended that he should proceed under this clause in addition to appearing before a court-martial, or whether he should rest his case entirely upon the court-martial which is provided for later in the Bill for such cases?
– The courtmartial would afford him the most elaborate opportunity to show cause, and it .would -override this provision.
– That is just the question I ask. Would it override this provision t It must be remembered that if the clause- is amended as the honorable senator proposes, it will become a section of an Act of Parliament, and the officer might say - “Before I go before your court-martial, I claim the advantage of section 16 of the Act, and ask that my case be inquired into.” Under clause 42 of the Bill, any officer, soldier, or sailor may be dispensed with at the pleasure of the GovernorGeneral, whether his corps is being disbanded or not ; but if Senator Neild carries his amendment to insert the word “ thereof “ at the end of that clause, the question may arise whether the GovernorGeneral can dispense with an officer, soldier, or sailor simply because he has no further use for him. There are two or three other ways provided for dealing with officers. They may be put on the retired list, on the unattached list, or retrenched absolutely, because in the opinion of the powers that be there is likely to be no further use for them. If, .however, a man is being got rid of, for cause, I think it is but fair and right that he should be told what the cause is. The question is whether in that case the matter should be investigated by a court-martial, or action should be taken under the provision now proposed, and I think it will be better to adhere to the old practice of the court-martial.
– The amendment proposed by Senator Neild is really a very simple one. If the General Officer Commanding recommends that the commission of a certain officer be cancelled, the officer will, if this amendment is carried, have to be notified that his commission is to be cancelled, and must be informed of the reasons for which it is to be cancelled.
– The officer will not be entitled to the notification unless there is a complaint or charge.
– “And of any action proposed to betaken.” Those are the words of the amendment.
– Exactly. What is the action proposed ? The cancellation of his commission. When the General Officer Commanding makes a recommendation that the commission of a certain officer shall be cancelled, he must at the same time, under this amendment, notify the officer of the reasons why the commission is to be cancelled, and the officer will then have power to show cause why it should not be cancelled. What power will that give the officer ? Only the power to insure that when the recommendation for the cancellation of his commission goes before him-, the Governor-General shall be in a position to hear both sides of the case. If we take the case suggested by Senator Playford of a man’s commission being cancelled because he has become unwieldy or unsightly. The officer would not care to have that stated as the reason for his dismissal, but there is a simple way out of the difficulty for him. He can let the recommendation take its course. Every man will know when he has become inefficient, though he may not like to admit it, and he will know that if he takes the course open to him under the amendment, there will be the possibility of his inefficiency being proved. He will, therefore, be careful to consider -whether he has a good defence or not. I hope that Senator Neild will adhere to his amendment.
– :I am sorry that Senator Matheson has left the chamber, because I think that the honorable senator spoke without a knowledge of the amendment suggested by Senator Keating.
– I have said that I cannot accept that amendment.
– I understand that, but I believe that when Senator Matheson spoke he was not aware that the suggestion had been made. Senator Keating suggested that after the word “ cancelled “ the words “ in consequence of any complaint or charge having been made against him “ should be inserted, and if the amendment proposed by Senator Neild is amended in that way, I shall be willing to accept it. In that case, a notification of the complaint or charge having been made, the officer would be called upon to answer it. Senator Neild says that he will not accept that. What does that mean 1 It means that the officer must be supplied with a notification of any charge or complaint made against him, though his commission may not be cancelled on account of any such complaint or charge. Apparently, we must go back over the whole career of the officer to supply him with a copy of some charge or complaint made against him, and ask him to reply to it in writing. The discussion having got to that point, what I have said is that if we do that it will tend to give the officer a limited vested right in his commission. He holds a commission, and is drawing his salary in consequence, and he will be able to say - “ You cannot get rid of me unless you first of all give me notice of the complaint or charge made against me.”
– Of the complaint or charge made by the General Officer Commanding.
– The amendment does not sa_y that at all.
– No one else could make the complaint.
– Senator Keating, by his suggested amendment, desires me to make the provision apply to a case where the commission is cancelled in consequence of some specific charge made against an officer. But what Senator Neild insists upon is that where it is proposed to cancel a commission for any reason, though there may not beany thing in particular against the officer–
– That is the point ; the honorable and learned senator is. giving the whole situation away.
– Not at all. Surely there may be reasons for the cancellation of a commission which do not involve a charge ?’ Senator Neild desires that the officer mustbe informed of any complaint or charge made against him at any time. It may be some very small matter, and the view which the officer may put before the public may be that it is on account of some little trifling, charge or complaint that has really had. nothing whatever to do with the cancellation of his commission. It is for thatreason that I say that if the matter is put. on that basis, it may be impossible, in many cases, to dispense with the services of an. officer without paying him compensation,, even though it may not be desirable that, his services should be retained by the Crown. Unless Senator Neild accepts the suggestion, made by Senator Keating, I cannot accepthis amendment.
– I hope that Senator Neild will not accept the. suggestion made by Senator Keating. Senator Drake has given us no indication as towho will make the charge or complaint.
– The amendment as now proposed will apply where no charge or complaint is made.
– Surely to goodnessan officer in our Defence Force is entitled towhat is conceded to an ordinary burglar,, sneak thief, or pickpocket t
– Senator Drake thinks not ; the honorable and learned senator would put him in gaol without trial.
– He is to be punished without trial, without knowing his accuser, and without knowing what he is accused of. The Defence Department lately has been administered on a very autocratic system, which has. gone a long way towards disintegrating the whole force. The system is certainly disorganizing the force and causing the. best men to lose confidence in those in authority. The Minister for Defence ought to be aware, if he is not, that, there is a particular case pending now, in which a praiseworthy officer has been absolutely dismissed without his knowingthe reason. That officer cannot get his papers forwarded to head-quarters, and he is not permitted by the rules of the service to interview the Minister. As a matter of fact, the Minister would decline to see the officer, whose only means of having his views put before the official head is through those responsible for his dismissal, and they, as I say, refuse to forward his papers. This officer is practically in disgrace at the present moment, and he does not know of what he is accused. The amendment proposed by Senator Neild will meet cases of injustice of that kind, and it is time some other authority beyond the autocratic authority I have mentioned was exercised in the Defence Force.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 17 -
– The Minister has already agreed that if we pass this clause pro forma he will, if I desire, recommit the Bill later on in order that we may deal with the appointment of warrant officers. I accept the Minister’s suggestion ; but there is another portion of the clause with which, perhaps, the Minister is now prepared to deal. That is in reference to the appointment of noncommissioned officers who hitherto, over a large portion of the Commonwealth, if not in every State, have been appointed by the officers commanding the regiment, subject to the approval of the General Officer Commanding. The clause proposes to cancel that system and compel all appointments of sergeants, corporals, and lance or assistant corporals to be made by the General Officer Commanding in Melbourne. That will mean the greatest delay, and I submit that the General Officer Commanding, with his salary and allowances approximating to £4,000 a year, was not imported to do what officers commanding regiments are morecompetent to do, for the simple reason that they better know the men with whom they have to deal. It would be a waste of time to employ a distinguished officer like Major-General Hutton with the details of such appointments all over the Commonwealth. I move -
That, after the word “by,” line 3, the words “officers commanding regiments and corps, subject to the approval of “ be inserted.
This amendment gives the General Officer Commanding the right of veto, instead of compelling him to deal with inter-regimental details. I am hopeful that the Minister will accept this amendment, but, if he prefers, I am quite ready to allow this question to stand over, along with that relating to the warrant officers.
– I prefer to settle the matter of the non-commissioned officers now, because it may not be necessary to recommit the clause after we have given some further consideration to the position of the warrant officers. It would appear that Senator Neild has not read this clause, or that he has not observed that the appointments are to be made by the General Officer Commanding “ or by officers deputed by him in that behalf.” As Senator Neild said, the General Officer Commanding cannot travel all over the continent making appointments of the kind ; and the system will be exactly that adopted hitherto. The General Officer Commanding will depute officers to make the appointments, which he will afterwards confirm.
– Why not say so in the clause?
– There is no necessity to say so ; and the difference between the clause as it is and the clause as amended by Senator Neild is the difference between “ tweedledum and tweedledee.”
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I know that the clause provides that the General Officer Commanding may, if he pleases, give authority to officers to make those appointments. If it is the intention that officers of corps shall make the appointments subject to approval, why should we not say so ? At any rate, Senator Drake asked a similar question earlier in the evening in reference to another amendment which I submitted. There is no obligation placed by the clause on the General Officer Commanding to depute anybody to make those appointments ; on the contrary, he may hold all the machinery in his fingers, and make all the appointments himself. What is the object of handing over this mass of detail to the head of the forces?
– It must not be assumed that that will be so.
.- I hope the Committee will agree to make the clause clearly express our intention - namely, that each appointment shall be made by the officers commanding the regiments, who know the men and who consult their sergeant-majors and warrant officers in order that they may have the best noncommissioned officers. It may be taken for granted that commanders desire to make their regiments the best in the country, if possible ; and that can scarcely be done if the noncommissioned officers are appointed by a gentleman at the other end of the Commonwealth.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 18 -
The seniority of officers in the Active Forces in their respective ranks shall be regulated by the date of their commissions, and when commissions are of the same date by their previous commissions or in the case of first commissions by the order in which their names appear in the Gazette or in the Government. Gazette of a State or of a Colony which has become a State in which their appointments have been notified.
– There appears to be some little difficulty about this clause. I suggest to my honorable and learned friend that the retention of the words “ previous commissions “ will cause an infinitude of trouble, and will lead to no good.
– Suppose that two officers should be promoted on the same day, and that the previous commission of one officer should be of longer standing than that of the other, then the dates of their respective commissions would decide the question of seniority. Otherwise it would be decided by the order in which their names had appeared in the Gazette. It is not a question of very much importance.
– I shall not press my objection.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 19 and 20 agreed to.
Clause 21 -
The Governor-General may appoint any person to be an officer or promote an officer for distinguished service or for marked ability and gallantry in active service without his passing the prescribed examination.
– I desire to ascertain from the Minister for Defence whether it will be competent for the GovernorGeneral to promote an officer for distinguished service or for gallantry without marked ability in active service? It seems to me that there is not very much reason for retaining the word “ gallantry.” It is easy to imagine a case in which an officer might show the most marked gallantry without displaying conspicuous ability.
– I take it that the word “ gallantry “ means bravery or courage. I can hardly understand gallantry without bravery. Under the clause a man who had shown ability or courage on the field of battle could be promoted without his passing the prescribed examination. I can hardly understand a man showing marked ability on the battle-field and being a coward at the same time.
Senator O’KEEFE (Tasmania).- The explanation of the Minister is not quite satisfactory to me. It seems to me that if the clause is passed as it is the GovernorGeneral will not be able to promote an officer unless he has shown both marked ability and gallantry in active service.
– I think that the criticism is rather hypercritical. The clause enables the Governor-General to promote an officer for distinguished service. Surely if an officer had shown marked ability on the battle-field that would be regarded as distinguished service.
– I shall not press the point.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 22 to 27 agreed to.
Division 2 : Military and Naval College.
– This is a convenient place in which to draw attention to the order in which “ military “ and “ naval “ have been printed in the Bill. If honorable senators will refer to the title they will find that it is a Bill to provide for the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth. That is the accepted order of the defence forces throughout the British dominions. If we turn to the Constitution Act we find that the phrase used is always “ naval and military.” For instance, by sub-section 6 of section 51 the Parliament is empowered to legislate with respect to -
The naval and military defence of the Commonwealth and of the several States.
Again, if we turn to section 68, we find that -
The Command-in-Chief of the naval and military forces of the Commonwealth is vested in the Governor-General, as the Queen’s representative.
– Probably the order was reversed because we have abandoned any idea of having a naval force in Australia.
– I think that the honorable senator is right. As we go through the Bill we find that the naval forces have been deliberately ignored, and no provision has been made for them. I do not think I need refer to other sections of the Constitution Act in which the order is always “ naval and military.” I would suggest that the order should be reversed in the heading to this division of the Bill, with the understanding that it should be done throughout the clauses, so that the Bill and the Constitution may run on parallel lines. I move -
That the words “Military and” be left out, with a view to the insertion of the words “ and military “ after the word ‘ ‘ Naval. “
– It is quite correct that in the Constitution Act and the title of this Bill the word “naval” is put before the word “military,” but I hardly think it is necessary to make this amendment merely for the sake of adhering to a custom.
– It is not worth while to resist the amendment.
– It matters so little that I hardly think it is worth while to make an alteration throughout the Bill.
– The proposal of Senator Matheson applies not only to the Bill, but to the title of the college when it is established. It is worth while to make what is only a clerical change, because throughout the Empire the Navy always takes precedence of the Army ; it is the premier service.
For something like a quarter of a century marines and blue-jackets never brigaded with troops in New South Wales, for the reason that some authority managed to upend things, and insisted upon the military being put first. That has been happily reversed, and “ the right of the line,” as we say, is given to the naval force. I should like to see the change made.
Amendment agreed to.
– I will take the decision of the Committee as an instruction to transpose the words wherever they occur in the Bill.
Clauses 28 to 30 agreed to.
Clause 31 -
The Reserve Forces shall consist of -
Senator O’KEEFE (Tasmania).- In my second-reading speech I said I should like to hear from Senator Drake whether it would not be possible to fix the rates of pay in the Bill instead of leaving it to be done by regulations which, although laid on the table of each House, are frequently not seen at all, or seen by only a few members.
– The reason for not putting the rates of pay in the Bill is that they involve a great deal of detail. The basis of the pay is 8s. a day for privates - a very liberal scale I think. There is a different rate of pay for every grade ; there are living allowances and horse allowances, which are added to the pay in certain cases. If, as Senator O’Keefe has suggested, we had dealt with certain matters in the Bill, it would have become so voluminous that it would never have been passed.
– And if the matters are not dealt with in the Bill there is likely to be very great abuse.
– I do not think so. When the rate of pay is fixed by regulation the probability is that we shall not require to make any alteration except in small details from time to time. It would be beneath the dignity of Parliament to consider those matters. The rates of pay have been laid upon the table of the Senate, and an opportunity has been given to honorable senators to consider them. I do not think that these matters should be dealt with in the Bill.
– I have given notice of an amendment with reference to the reserve forces. In the Bill the reserve forces are defined as being “members of rifle clubs” and “persons who have served .in the active forces, or otherwise as prescribed.” This is a very complicated matter. To begin with, I can see no reason why members of rifle clubs should be considered as any portion of the reserve forces of the Commonwealth. Members of rifle clubs are free of any organization.
– They should not be, at all events.
– As far as I know, they are free of military organization.
– They have to undergo some drill now.
– I do not find in this Bill any provision for their drill.
– It is done by regulation.
– But although they may have a certain amount of drill, I do not see that there is any necessity for including them in the citizen forces. Control by the military authorities is the one thing which the members of the rifle clubs resent. They resent the idea of being interfered with by the military authorities. They want to be an association of citizens, banded together to encourage the practice of rifle shooting. That being their sole aim, they want to be quit of red tape and military interference. What happens in time of war, so far as ordinary citizens are concerned, is set out in clause 58. In that case, the Governor-General may call upon the whole of the male population of the Commonwealth in four classes. The persons called out become militia. They come under existing officers and existing administration. I submit that when members of rifle clubs are called out, they cannot possibly come under the organization of militia, but they come out under their own organization, whatever it may be - and of its existence I freely admit I was not aware because it is not provided for in the Bill. The duties of the Government . in reference to rifle clubs are, as far as I can see, simply to provide them with rifles, with ammunition at a reduced price, and with a prize fund, lt is difficult to see why the military authorities should seek to interfere with them.
– It would be very useful that they should have some drill.
– It is most important that they should learn to shoot in their own way, without interference from head-‘ quarters. No one can suggest that we should not get the benefit of that training in time of war.
– Only a few at a time would be called out under clause 58. The Commonwealth would draw upon one class at a time, and the members of the rifle clubs would be in each of the four classes.
– That is an advantage, because in each of the classes there would be men who were educated in shooting. The members of the rifle clubs in each of the four classes would help to steady the whole of the men who were called out without having had any military education whatever. The members of the. four classes are pure civilians ; and I maintain that even if there were nothing else in support of my argument, the very fact mentioned by Senator Neild is sufficient to justify me in moving in this direction. I am particularly anxious that the members of the rifle clubs should not be interfered with. They would be available to be called out in the four classes, and as such would be a useful fighting body.
– Should they not be educated in tactics as well as in shooting?
– I do not think that is at all necessary. If they want to be educated in tactics they can become volunteers. But the reason why they prefer to be members of rifle clubs is that they want to be clear of drill. Let those who want to become volunteers join volunteer corps, but we should not amalgamate the two things, and get a kind of hybrid corps, which is neither the one thing nor the other. I move -
That paragraph a of sub-clause 4 be left out.
– I do not agree with Senator Matheson. The members of the rifle clubs are members of the community, who would come forward for service in case of necessity. The very groundwork of their organization is that they get certain concessions from the
State in- consideration that they qualify themselves for the defence of the country. They say that they do not wish to be put under strict military discipline. They do. not want to be subject to the military drill and training that is devoted to other branches of the forces. The Government says to them, therefore, that they may join rifle clubs, may obtain rifles at cost price, may have some ammunition free, and some at a reduced coat, and may receive assistance in the form of a small capitation grant. All this is done in order that they may qualify themselves as rifle shots. The whole thing is done for military purposes. They are also supposed to wear a uniform, and to do a small amount of drill. That is with the view of qualifying them to assist in the defence of the country should necessity arise. On the 30th June last there were 31,000 men receiving assistance from the Government for that purpose and in that direction. The citizen forces consist of the militia, the volunteers, and the reserves, the latter ‘ consisting almost entirely of the members of rifle clubs. These people/would come forward first in case of an invasion, and the general body of the population who would be drawn upon afterwards would be persons who had not received any training whatever, either in musketry or drill. As pointed out by Senator Neild, it is probable that if the members of the rifle clubs were only called out as ordinary citizens, a very small proportion of them would be in the first class, and we should not, therefore, get the benefit of the services of the riflemen in the other three classes if those classes were not called out. That would be altogether wrong. We have clearly the right to call upon them at the same time as we call upon the militia and volunteers.
– At the second-reading stage I called attention to an amendment required in this clause. After the word “ oath “ we ought to insert the words “ or affirmation of allegiance.”
– I refer Senator Walker to the - Acts Interpretation Act, wherein it is provided that the word “ oath “ or “ affidavit “ would allow of an affirmation or declaration being made instead of swearing.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 32 to 34 agreed to.
Clause 35 -
Persons voluntarily enlisting as members of the active forces shall engage to serve for a prescribed period of not less than three years.
– I desire to raise a fairly important issue upon this clause. It is whether we are to apply to all branches of the active forces the same period of enlistment - whether we are to compel volunteers to join for as lengthy a period as the professional soldier? When it is provided that the period of enlistment shall be “ not less than three years “ there is the possibility of a regulation being issued some fine day making the period a great deal longer. There is a very poor at- ; tendance of honorable senators to discuss so important a question. [Quorum formed.] This Bill provides for the same length of service for the professional soldier, the militiaman, and. the volunteer, and the minimum is to be three years. I have here the British Volunteer Act, and I may inform honorable senators that the British volunteer has no fixed period df service. He can resign at any time upon giving fourteen days’ notice. I agree with the Minister for Defence that some fixed period, with reasonable conditions attached, should be decided upon even for a volunteer, because I recognise that if men are .to be at liberty to leave as suits their own sweet will, the Government, or in other words the public, may be put to great expense for new uniforms. Every new man likes a new rig-out, - and as he is not accustomed to wear second-hand clothes in ordinary life, it is not a fair thing to ask him to wear a second-hand uniform. Unless some definite period is provided for, men may join and leave the service for the smallest cause. They may have a tiff with a comrade, or may have joined a new football club, or cricket team, which offers them some chance of distinction, and ma,y leave for no sufficient reason. While I am in - sympathy with the Minister in desiring that there shall be some fixed period of service, I suggest that this clause is impossible, and that it is quite unreasonable to provide that fully-paid men, partially-paid men, and unpaid men shall all be required to serve for a period of not less than three years, under a monetary penalty.
Senate adjourned at 9.53 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 September 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030902_senate_1_16/>.