1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the’ chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Defence, without notice, whether he has seen the following paragraph in the Argus of this morning, and whether there is any truth in the statement which it contains?
Ministers are in communication with Mr. Chamberlain upon the matter with a view to avoiding the necessity of holding a Conference. If in the end they had to agree to meet delegates from the other Governments interested in the Pacific route, it is understood that they would insist upon the Conference being held in Melbourne.
– I do not know if the statement is true. I have not had an opportunity of ascertaining if it is. I must ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.’
asked the Minister for Defence,upon notice -
When will the approval of the Senate be asked to the new postal contract with Tasmania announced some months ago ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
As the contract referred to has been made and approved under the authority and subject to the provisions of sections 15 and 16 of the Post and Telegraph Act of 1901, it is not considered necessary to submit it for the approval of Parliament.
When is it intended to appoint acting or militia adjutants to the mounted regiments in New South Wales?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The necessary provision is made on the Estimates for the current financial year ; and it is intended to proceed with the appointments as soon as the Estimates have been passed by Parliament.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’squestions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The accounts have not yet been made up, in consequence of the difficulty of arriving at the amount of duties collected’ under the State Tariffs between the 1st January, 1901, and9th October, 1901.
In addition, the Premier of Victoria has intimated that he desires to test the question as soon as the High Court is established.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral given an opinion to the effect that the money is due to Tasmania ?
– I must ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 10th September, vide page 4915) :
If either House of the Parliament passes a resolution, at any time within fifteen sitting days after any regulation is laid before it, disallowing any such regulation, that regulation shall thereupon cease to have effect.
Upon which Senator Matheson had moved, by way of amendment -
That the words “at any time within fifteen sitting days after any regulation is laid before it,” lines 2 and 3, be left out.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales. - It will be seen that both Houses are to be afforded an opportunity - and very properly so in my view - of dissenting from any regulation, and are to be allowed a certain number of sitting days in which to express their dissent by an adverse vote. But it is of no use to provide that either House shall have the right of vetoing a regulation if it cannot exercise that right. While I admit that fifteen, sitting days is a long period, it would be quite possible for the Government to prevent the consideration of a regulation by either House. Your experience, sir, must lead you to indorse my assertion, that frequently, owing to unexpected events occurring in the course of parliamentary business - motions of censure, and all that sort of thing - there would be no such opportunity afforded during the first or last fifteen sitting days of a session, The regulations under the Act might be laid on the table of each House on the last day of the session, and neither House would have any say in the matter for six months, or possibly longer. A Minister -who wished to work a little point - and sometimes Ministers want to do these things - would only have to keep the House occupied with business, and so work the paper that no adverse motion could be considered. A notice of motion to disapprove of a regulation might be on the business-paper, but it might never be reached.
– The question of unnecessary delay could be discussed.
– Certainly, but we should not be able to discuss the merits of a regulation which was the subject matter of a notice of motion. While we might point out the urgency of the matter, we should not be able to prove it by argument. I move -
That the following new sub-clause be added : - “5. Should the Government fail to afford either House of the Parliament the opportunity or time necessary to consider and dispose of any motion of which notice may be given to disallow or vary 10 K z any such regulation, such regulation sholl be suspended until the said motion has been disposed of.”
The object of my sub-clause is to insure to either House an opportunity to discuss an adverse motion. It may contain some element of inconvenience from the ministerial point of view, but I am sure that it contains no element of inequity. I may tell Senator Drake that I should be only too pleased - without debate - to accept any reasonable modification of my proposal which would achieve the same end.
– I think that if Senator Neild will reflect for a moment he will see that his proposal would be entirely unworkable. In the first place it is very vague. The object of the clause is to insure that there shall be finality - that the matter shall be settled within some reasonable time, and that time is fixed at fi teen sitting days, which may mean five weeks. Senator Neild proposes that if, at the end of that period, the Government have failed toafford either House an opportunity to consider and dispose of a motion the regulation shall be suspended. How is he going to prove failure to afford the opportunity ? Any member of a Government who tables regulations would, if a motion were submitted with regard to them, be desirous of getting the matter settled as soon as possible. Regulations have the force of law. They will be operating all the time. They may be regulations as to pay and training, and affecting all sorts of matters. A Minister naturally wants to know what ground he is upon. But under this proposal we should not know at the end of the fifteen sitting days whether particular regulations had the force of law or not. Probably it would have tobe decided by the High Court whether there was sufficient justification for the suspension of the regulations. The men would not. know whether they were serving under particular regulations or not. The honorable senator must see that his proposal is entirely unworkable. It is impossible to repeal regulations simply by an indefinite failure on the part of the Government to do something.
– Senator Neild lost his opportunity by not voting in favour of Senator Matheson’s amendment. If he wishes his present proposal to be carried he will have to amend it. The Minister for Defence has shown clearly that no time is defined as to when the
Government shall be regarded having failed to do what the honorable senator wishes them to do.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - I had intended to support Senator Neild’s proposal, but, after careful consideration, I see that it would be unwise to do so. ‘ If any regulations that are laid upon the table of the Senate, or the other House, for fifteen sitting days, are objectionable to a majority of members, they can force the hand of the Government, and insist upon the subject being considered. They can amend the regulations in whatever way they desire. But if we pass Senator Neild’s amendment, a small minority can cause a great deal of trouble in regard to any regulation that may be laid upon the table. It is only when a regulation is so objectionable that a majority are determined to amend it that an alteration should be made. A minority should not have the power to delay the validating of regulations. I hope that Senator Neild will withdraw his amendment, because fifteen sitting days will afford ample time, if a regulation is objectionable, for a majority to alter it.
– SenatorNeild opposed Senator Matheson’s amendment, which would have given us an opportunity at any time to amend regulations. Then he immediately shows, by cogent reasons, that it is very dangerous to deprive Parliament of the power of considering regulations at any time. I conceive that it would be impossible to carry out the amendment before the Chair. We have decided that the regulations shall lie upon the table for fifteen sitting days, and now Senator Neild proposes that if the Government fail to afford an opportunity to discuss the regulations they shall be suspended. How is it to be proved whether the Government have afforded opportunities 1 The whole scheme is unworkable. We ought to have had the right to consider regulations at any time, but Senator Neild opposed that, and his present amendment is a halfhearted proposal which could not work properly. , I shall oppose it.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South
Wales). - My object in moving this amendment was to provide means for meeting what I own would always be an exceedingly remote contingency. As objection is taken to the amendment, and as evidently the discussion of it would consume a good deal of time, I will not press it. I plainly see that there is some remedy. If any tricks were played by any Minister in connexion
– Tricks ?
.- I say “by any Minister.” Surely my honorable and learned friend would not think that I would accuse him of anything of the kind. But he may have a successor, who will not conduct the business in such a satisfactory manner as he does. Under any circumstances, however, it is always open to us to pass an address to the GovernorGeneral complaining of the action of the Government ; or an address might be passed in the other House asking the GovernorGeneral to remove Ministers who did not conduct business fairly. Therefore I am prepared to take the possible risk, and ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted to follow clause 7 : - “ There shall be a Council of Defence, consisting of -
The object of this new clause is to provide for the establishment of a Council of Defence. Exception has been taken to the proposal because it has been said that provision has already been made in the Bill for creating a Board of Advice. But this Board of Advice need not of necessity be constituted. The Cabinet have it entirely in their own hands whether it shall be’ appointed or not. We have no certainty that the Ministry will ever avail themselves of this clause of the Bill. Besides that, the Board of Advice contemplated by the measure is not a body that would perform the functions of such a Council of Defence as I suggest. The Board of Advice provided for in the Bill is, as I understand, to be a board of experts in military matters, who will advise the Minister for Defence. That is not the object of my proposal. My object is, in the first place, to , do away as far as possible, with the interference of party politics in defence matters. At present everything connected with defence - in reference to organization, financial policy, and so on - is controlled by a Minister who is purely a party official. He represents the party which happens to be in power in the House of Representatives, and looks at everything not from the point of view of the interests of the Commonwealth, but from the interests of his party. I say, most decidedly, after giving the matter very careful consideration, that the Minister never regards questions of defence from the point of view of the interests of the Commonwealth, but as subsidiary to the interests of his party.
– Where does the honorable senator get his ideas of how a Government administer the departments from?
– From observation. I exercise my reasoning power. I see tilings advocated which should not be advocated, and I see neglect by the Government to advocate measures which should be advocated. I have to look around for a reason, and the only reason which can possibly be adduced for that state of affairs is that the Government are influenced by party considerations. We had lately very good evidence of a case in point. The General Officer Commanding has recommended, over and over again during the last eighteen months, that money should be spent in certain directions in equipping the forces. The Government, for party reasons, have not seen their way to press expenditure which they had actually placed upon the Estimates. They took that action for party reasons. I say so deliberately. They did it solely with the view of remaining in power. Almost without debate, they abandoned large sums of money which were placed upon the Estimates, and the expenditure of which they must have known - if they knew anything about the subject at all - was absolutely necessary. That is the answer which I give to Senator Drake when he asks me from what source I get my ideas of how a Government administer the departments. I give an absolute fact, which the honorable and learned senator cannot contradict.
– I do contradict it.
– Then the honorable and learned senator contradicts a fact which he can find on record in the Hansard of last session.
– I do not contradict any facts.
– Senator Drake cannot deny the fact that the Defence votes were reduced by a very large sum, after some trifling debate, in order that the Defence Estimates might be got through quickly, so as to allow the Prime Minister and the exMinister for Defence to go away to London by a boat that left the day after. The Defence Estimates were taken out of their order so that that result might be achieved. The honorable and learned senator does not deny that, I suppose? At a later date, Sir William Lyne brought in Estimates for the succeeding year, and, without debate, he accepted a reduction of some £50,000 or £60,000, simply in order to get them through. He knew nothing aboutit. Thehonorableand learned senator cannot deny that because it is in Hansard. Therefore it in a perfectly fair thing to say that the interests of the Commonwealth are, time after time, sacrificed to party politics in matters of defence. That is my inference. The Minister cannot say that that inference is wrong. The Senate will bear me out in that.
– It is imagination.
– I am content to leave it to the judgment of the Senate. My object in bringing forward this amendment is to do away as far as possible with the practice of treating defence matters in that spirit. Another reason is to obtain continuity of policy in defence matters. Any one who has devoted any study to the history of defence in any one of the States must be aware that with each change of Minister, and each change of General Officer Commanding, in a State, a new defence policy has been introduced. The lines which guided the system of defence under the previous General Officer
Commanding have, as a rule, been entirely reversed. . New schemes have been introduced. Old schemes have been thrown on one side. Enormous amounts of money have been wasted. I do not think Senator Drake will deny that. If he does, I would direct attention to the barracks erected at the Heads, in Victoria, and which are practically empty.
– When were they erected ?
– I cannot give the honorable and learned senator the date.
– Probably when they had a Board of Advice in Victoria.
– I do not care whether it was then or not. The fact remains that continuity of policy in military administration has never been achieved, and never will be so long as the present system continues. There is a third reason, which may be submitted in support of the council I propose, and that is that it is absolutely impossible for Parliament to get at the truth in connexion with defence matters under the existing system. One reason for this is that a large number of recommendations by the General Officer Commanding to the Minister must necessarily be treated as confidential. I admit freely that they cannot possibly be laid before Parliament, and, through Parliament, before the public. That, in itself, gives the Minister an undue power of concealing from Parliament and from the public the condition in which the defences are. That is inevitable, and the only way in which Parliament can possibly feel any confidence in the conduct of the Department is by providing that there shall be a certain number of members of Parliament forming a council before whom these recommendations will come. It is most unwise that one man in the position of Minister for Defence should have all this power placed in his hands, and it has proved to be unsatisfactory, not only in Australia, but in England. I do not propose to elaborate any of these points as I desire to be as brief as possible. Some honorable senators have asked me what precedent there is for any council of this sort, and I have fortunately in my possession extracts from the Times report of Mr. Balfour’s speech to the British House of Commons, in proposing the Committee of Defence which has been instituted in England. In quoting
Mr. Balfour, I do not wish to be misunderstood. I admit that Mr. Balfour’s Committee of “Defence is not quite the same kind of committee as that which I advocate, and I shall state the difference. The Committee of Defence suggested by Mr. Balfour has to report to the British Cabinet ; but in all other respects the Committee of Defence instituted in England resembles the committee I suggest. I propose that the Committee of Defence shall report to Parliament, and not to the Cabinet. I consider that in Australia at all events, it is most desirable that Parliament should be fully informed, and that the Cabinet should not be able to keep back matters of which Parliament and the public should have information.
– Would it be wise to submit to Parliament, and so publish to the world, matters which might be of grave national importance ?
– If the Council of Defence which I suggest were satisfied that it would be prejudicial to the public interest that communications upon such matters should come before Parliament, they would not submit them. My point is that this power should not be intrusted to one man who has only party interests to consider. I contend that we can more safely trust a committee that represents both sides of the Parliament than we can trust any partisan individual. Mr. Balfour, referring to the Committee of Defence instituted in England, said -
The new Defence Committee will make it its. duty to survey, as a whole, the strategical military needs of the Empire ; to deal with the complicated questions, which are all essential elements in that general problem ; and to revise, from time to time, their own previous decisions, so that the Cabinet shall always be informed, and always have at its disposal, information upon these important points. They should not be left to the crisis of the moment ; but where there is no special stress or strain, the Government and its advisers should devote themselves to the consideration of these broad and all-important issues. So much for the change of subject, scope, and design between the new Defence Committee and the old. It only remains for me to describe in what the constitution of the new committee differs from the constitution of the old one. The old Defence Committee was, in the strictest and. narrowest sense of the word, a committee of the Cabinet ; and, like all ordinary committees of the Cabinet, ‘ it kept no record, and it admitted to its council no outsiders. There are obvious disadvantages in that course. In the first place it is of the essence both of Cabinets and Cabinet Committees, in the narrowest sense of the word, to keep no records.
There are great objections to that procedure when you are dealing with the particular class of subject with which the Defence Committee is intrusted. In the first place, even during the continuance of a single Administration, it may well happen that the conditions of the problem change, and that they have to be reconsidered by the Defence Committee and by the Cabinet which it advises ; and it is an enormous additional labour that the whole matter has to be gone into again, and taken up in the midst of its -responsible and multifarious duties by the Cabinet. The members themselves, or some of them, may well have got rusty in the details of the problem on which they made up their minds before, and only remember the outline of their decision. If this new plan bears all the fruit which I hope it will bear, the conclusions of the Defence Committee will be embodied, not merely in resolutions, but in reasoned documents in which the whole ground upon which those conclusions have been arrived at will be set out for the information in the first place of the Cabinet of the time, and in the second place of the same Administration at a later period, for revision if need be, and last, if not least, for the information of their successors in office. (Hear, hear.) There are a great many things in which there is discontinuity between successive Administrations in this House, chosen, as they commonly are, upon different sides of the House. But there is one point on which there ought to be no discontinuity, and that is the military and naval policy of the Empire. There may be differences of opinion. There have been, indeed, in my own experience, most important differences of opinion, not between members of that bench and members of this bench, but between the First Naval Lord at one time and the First Naval Lord at another time, between two -successive Boards of Admiralty, two successive Commanders-in-Chief, two successive sets of experts belonging to either Department. It is most important that when these differences of opinion show themselves, the grounds on which the former decision was arrived at should be there in a simple, easily intelligible, easily accessible form.
I shall read one more short paragraph, to which I desire to direct the particular attention of honorable senators, because, in my opinion, it justifies the inclusion of members of Parliament in the Council of Defence. Mr. Balfour said -
I have the profoundest respect, need I say, for expert opinion, whether naval or military : but I cannot help thinking that even the best of soldiers and the best of sailors give a better opinion after they have been thoroughly cross-examined by civilians than they do before they have undergone a process, which, 1 hope, is not unpleasant, but may be long and laborious. This Defence Committee, as I need not say, will be full of instruction for civilians and Cabinet members and I hope it will not be without its instruction for even soldiers and sailors. I entirely agree with those critics of our old system, our old national system, in which the Navy decided its own affairs without consulting the Army, and the Army decided its own affairs without reference to the Navy - I agree that was a very faulty system.
Nothing more pertinent to the present condition of affairs in the Commonwealth could have been said, and Mr. Balfour’s remarks might have been addressed to the Senate if the word “ Commonwealth “ had been used where he has used the word “ Empire.”
– There is a vast difference between the scope of defence in the Empire and in the Commonwealth.
– There is a difference in the scope, but the basis is the same, and little matters require as much care in their management as those which are of greater magnitude. In our small way it is of just as much importance to us that our Defence Department should be carried on upon proper lines as it is to the people of Great Britain that their larger system of defence should be properly conducted.
– I understand that ; but I suggest that it is within the scope of one man’s power to deal with defence matters here.
– I deny absolutely that it is within the scope of any one man’s powers to deal with defence matters here, for the reasons I have already given, especially when that one man is under party influences to a very much greater extent than are Imperial Ministers. In Great Britain party influence is very much less strong. In dealing with questions ‘ of defence and national questions generally, there is a far greater strength of national feeling than is to be found in the Commonwealth.
– We desire that that should come.
– Undoubtedly. I desire to see a national feeling developed in Australia. What was the object and aim of Federation but to develop a feeling of that kind ? The objection which will be raised to this proposal by Senator Drake-
– The honorable senator knows it beforehand ?
– I know exactly the objection which the honorable and learned senator is going to raise. He is going to say that my proposal will do away with Ministerial responsibility.
– A Board of Advice is provided for in the Bill.
– It is not proposed that the Board of Advice provided for in the Bill shall do away with Ministerial responsibility, and I say deliberately that the Council of Defence which I suggest, if adopted, would not do away with Ministerial responsibility. I go further, and say that the claim that there is anything like Ministerial responsibility in matters of this kind is a mere farce. There is no such responsibility. I submit the question to the Senate in this way. Owing to the reductions made in the Defence Estimates, we find ourselves absolutely unarmed at the present time.
– The honorable senator should not exaggerate.
– Absolutely unarmed. Sir John Forrest had to admit that if the reserves were called out they would have to be armed with hayforks and pickaxes, and the right honorable gentleman was the immediate predecessor of Senator Drake in the office of Minister for Defence. Senator Drake says that this is a gross exaggeration.
– Yes, the honorable senator should not exaggerate in that way. However, he has no responsibility.
– Nothing one can say will please the honorable and learned senator, who must have chapter, verse, and line for every statement made. The honorable and learned senator will not accept statements generally known to be facts throughout the Commonwealth. Dealing with the question of Ministerial responsibility, we are close upon another election, and it is not at all certain that the Government will return with a majority behind them.
– It is very improbable.
– I shall not say that, but it is very uncertain. Another Government may be in office next year, and war may be declared, ‘and where then will be the Ministerial responsibility 1 When it is found that we. are not in a position to defend ourselves who will be to blame? It is preposterous to say that the Ministry then in power will be responsible for the neglect of the Ministry who have gone out of office. All this has been pointed out with great care in the Times, and it has, been shown that there is no such thing as Ministerial responsibility in the matter of defence. But supposing there were, that responsibility would not be removed by the constitution of a Council of Defence. The Ministry and Cabinet would have all the power which they exercise at the present moment to bring measures and resolutions before Parliament, subject only to the condition that the Council of Defencewould also report to Parliament at the same time. When the Ministerial Budget was introduced, recommending certain expenditure, there would also be the report of the Council of Defence, the members of which, if they did their work properly, would express an opinion as to whether or not the suggestions of the Government were satisfactory, and give their reasons for approving or disapproving. The sole object of constituting a Council of Defence is to put Parliament in a position, which it does not occupy at present, to exercise an intelligent vote ; and until there is some body of the sort, either on the lines I ad vocate or on some other lines, we shall never be sure that the position is as it should be. At the present moment the recommendations of the General Officer Commanding and the Naval Commandant are reviewed by the Minister, who eliminates those portions which do not suit him or the Government. The Minister, at his own sweet will, instructs the General Officer Commanding as to the form of organization which the Government are prepared to recommend to Parliament, and though the General Officer Commanding may disagree entirely, he has to draft a scheme of which the Government of the day will approve. We know that Sir Ed ward Hutton’s views about army organization in Australia are very different from those which have been placed before us. I do not say whether either the Minister or Sir Edward Hutton is right or wrong, but the fact that there is a difference of opinion is well known ; and we are justified in asserting that the Minister does review, as one man and as a civilian, the recommendations of the General Officer Commanding, and places before us views which suit the party in power. Sub-clause 1 of the clause I submit, also provides that expert advice may be sought; and I make that proposal deliberately, in view of the speech made by Mr. Balfour, who laid great stress on the advantage which a Council of Defence would derive from such advice. We now have to consider how the recommendations of the Council of Defence are to be utilized for the benefit of the community ; and this matter is dealt with in sub-clause 2. I do not propose that the Council of Defence shall have any executive functions.
– Will the Council of Defence not clash with the Board of Advice?
– I propose to eliminate the Board of Advice and substitute this Council of Defence. The constitution of the Board of Advice would be optional with the Government, and, in any case, that board would never report to Parliament. We should never know what the real opinion of the Board of Advice was, because we should only get it filtered through the medium of a stone-drip filter, namely, the Minister ; we should have only the clarified drop of juice which he allowed to reach us. The Council of Defence would also - take such steps us may he necessary to secure effective compliance with the directions of Parliament in respect to all such matters.
By that I mean that the Council shall secure the efficiency of the Defence Forces. Very often sums of money which we are told by the Government’ are absolutely essential to efficiency, are voted on the Estimates, but are never expended, because it does not suit the Ministry in power to carry out the work, or the Treasurer does not care to provide the necessary funds. That will be found to be the case in regard to the present Estimates. Then, again, money may be voted by Parliament for the engagement of military forces. We read in the Estimates that the military establishment consists of a certain number of men ; and it is only when we made investigations as to the actual efficient roll that we discover that these men are- not employed- - that the Government never provided money for paying or equipping them. It is scandalous that we should be absolutely misled by the figures which appear in the Estimates year after year. I should like Senator Walker’s attention, because I do not think he is yet quite convinced.
– I should think not - nor anybody else.
– We do not expect the Minister to be convinced, but I hope he does not regard my remarks as having any personal bearing. The Minister is the figure-head of the Department, and it is unfortunate, perhaps, that at the present moment he is not still PostmasterGeneral, because he would then have listened to my criticisms with a more equable mind. In nearly every case it will be found on investigation that only about one-half of- the men who appear on the Estimates are employed. I discovered that fact myself, but Senator O’Connor, when
I twitted him with it, gave a denial and said the idea was preposterous. However, when I returned to’ Western Australia I looked into the matter, and found that, if anything, I had under-estimated the extent to which men, whom we believed to be employed, were not employed. In the Estimates for the current year there is a long column showing works for which we have provided money, but which have never been carried out.
– We have saved the money.
– What is the good of “ saving “ money in such a way 1 What is the good of spending £700,000 per annum if we do not get efficiency’? So long as we have gentlemen like Senator Playford harping on the question of “ saving,” we shall never get efficiency ; and it is for the purpose of meeting arguments of the kind that I advocate this Council of Defence. Senator Playford might be appointed Minister for Defence, and, doubtless, he would be bursting with delight if he could show that he had saved £5,000 here, £2,000 there, and £500 in another direction. But if that is Senator Playford ‘s idea of efficiency, it is not mine. I want this Council of Defence instituted particularly in order to watch gentlemen like Senator Playford, and to insist on the decisions of .Parliament being carried out. Sub-clause 3, which provides that the Minister for Defence shall preside at the meeting of the Council, will give him the full value of his official position. I have now only to explain the constitution of the Council of Defence. There is a clause already in the Bill providing that the Governor-General may make regulations dealing with the establishment of the Board of Advice; and that clause will remain, hut will apply to the Council of Defence.
– Who is to choose the members of Parliament who are to be members of the Council of Defence ?
– The choice will lie with the Government in the same way as the choice of the committees to meet the ordinary requirements of Parliament, with the one restriction that there must be a member of the Opposition from each House. My object is to do away with any party feeling. I desire, if possible, that Parliament shall feel, when the recommendations of the Council of Defence are laid before it, that these recommendations are free from any party bias - that they are based on a due consideration of the welfare, not of any oneparty, but of the Commonwealth at large. I hope I have made the functions of the proposed Council of . Defence quite clear, and that honorable senators thoroughly understand my motives in introducing this new clause;
– I have not long occupied the position of Minister for Defence, but I have carried out the duties of the office long enough to know that so far as my. colleagues and myself are concerned, the remarks of Senator Matheson are unjustifiable. The honorable senator has made statements which may be correct, but he has distorted them in his endeavour to prove that everything a Minister does is done from a party point of view, and not with due regard to the welfare of the Commonwealth. So far as I am personally concerned, such a suggestion is distinctly incorrect, and it is so with regard to my colleagues. The honorable senator must know very well that the Minister who places on the Estimates the amount which he considers necessary for defence purposes does bo in the interests of the Commonwealth. Does he suppose that the Minister does not desire the Parliament to vote the money which he asks for? If he finds afterwards, as has happened, that it is impossible to induce the Parliament to vote the full amount of his Estimates, he has to be content to accept what it will grant, and to do the best he can with the vote.
– Some Ministers make a fight for their Estimates.
– How is .the position of a Minister in that respect to be improved by giving him a Board of Advice like the one advocated by the honorable senator ?
– They would quarrel among themselves.
– The members of the board would quarrel among themselves, and instead of helping the Minister would make his position more difficult. Senator Matheson anticipated what I would say, though not exactly in the same form. His proposal goes right against the wholesome rule that power and responsibility should go hand in hand. We should gain nothing by taking the power out of the hands of the Minister, and at the same time loading him with responsibility, because the Minister and the Executive Government generally must be responsible to Parliament for the state of the defences, and they would not be relieved of their responsibility, but would be hampered in their operations, if this Council of Defence were forced upon them. The honorable senator was rather unfortunate in the example which he gave us. Hesaid that in Victoria a lot of money had been spent over some barracks at the Heads : I presume that he referred to Portsea. It was a most unfortunate instance to give, because Victoria is the one State in the Commonweath which has had a Council of Defence. I do not go so far as to say that it was done on the advice of theCouncil of Defence ; but the fact remainsthat it did not prevent the expenditure of the money, which the honorable senatorstigmatized as absolutely wasteful.
– Because it was not constituted on these lines.
– It was constituted^ if not on these lines, on lines somewhatsimilar. Let us consider the position in England. A large section of the English people are dissatisfied with some incidents which occurred in the military operations in South Africa. Great Britain is generally found unprepared when she has to go to war, and after it is over they blame one another all round for the results of the want of preparation, which has existed in consequence of the British poeple not being disposed to respond to the advice which was given to them to make preparations in good time. “When they are blaming one another all round they seek for a scapegoat, blaming first the Minister and next the CommanderinChief, and then they propose to have a Board of Advice and so get rid of all these difficulties. We know that such expedients have generally very much the same results. We have not yet received full particulars from England, but it will be a Board of Advice to advise the Minister - that is, the Cabinet. We have a similar -provision in clause 27 of this Bill, which says -
The ‘Governor-General ma3’ appoint a Board of Advice to advise on all matters relating to theDefence Force submitted to it by the Minister.
– It does not go farenough.
– For the purpose it is very much better than what the honorable senator proposes. His proposal is that certain persons whom he has named shall be appointed .a Council of Defence, whereas that clause gives >to the Minister the> advantage of the advice of anybody. Whenever it is possible to get good sound advice on military matters it can be obtained, and the responsibility will rest with the Minister and the Executive Government to get that advice.
– My new clause provides for expert advice being obtained.
– les; the Council of Defence is to be empowered to send for persons to advise it. Surely it is much better to empower the Governor-General in Council to call for whatever advice is required 1 The Government is empowered by clause 27 to obtain any advice which may be necessary, and to act upon it. I trust the Committee will not assent to the proposal of Senator Matheson, because I feel perfectly sure that, so far from assisting the Minister, it will -embarrass him ; and, so far as I can see, it will not have the effect which he says he is aiming at. .
– I think that the proposal of Senator Matheson contains some good points. I have no desire to embarrass the Minister or the Department, or to say hard things with regard to its administration, unless I can justify them. Senator Drake has claimed that the proposal of Senator Matheson would destroy the responsibility of the Defence Department, but I would remind him that under the Public Service Act the Commissioner, in his relation to the Minister, is practically a Board of Advice. If it was a good thing to take that course in the case of the Public Service, surely it might also be taken in the case of a Department which is charged with enormous responsibility. Notwithstanding all that has been said both here and outside, I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that there is need for drastic reform in its administration, especially when we recollect that it is the largest spending Department in the Commonwealth. Quite recently I had to break a lance with the Minister in the case of two officers who, I thought, had been unjustly treated. I objected to one man exercising the power which had been placed in the hands of the General Officer Commanding. I contended then, and I contend now, that there should ,be an expert Board, to act between the Minister and the general public. I believe that if such a Board had existed, a great deal of the friction and dissatisfaction which prevails in the Department would not exist. The late Senator Sargood had a high opinion of the Council of
Defence in Victoria. Both inside and outside Parliament he used to urge that greater power should be intrusted to that body. On many occasions he said that it had done good work in Victoria, and he was prepared to increase its powers. There is -no doubt that it did good work, but it was hampered in regard to its recommendations. His testimony of its worth is entitled to receive serious consideration. Senator Matheson proposes to create a Council of Advice which shall include the Minister and the General Officer Commanding. The latter is an Imperial officer, who has been lent to the Commonwealth for a few years. He came here imbued with Imperial traditions, he will leave our shores after a certain period, and take his place again in the Imperial Army. So far as I have been able to judge he has not shown that sympathy with the aims and aspirations of the Australian people which I should like to see. The Defence Force of the Commonwealth contains some officers - and if it is necessary I could name one man - who, in my opinion, could discharge the duties of the position as well as, if not better than, he is doing.
– Who is the officer?
– I do not wish to mention the name publicly, but when it is mentioned to the honorable senator privately I think he will concur in my opinion. If wefail to give that opportunity, distinguished military officers in the service of the Commonwealth will never be able to prove that they are qualified to take this high position. We have the material in the service of the Commonwealth and it should be utilized. We have this gentleman who is an Imperial officer. He may be a good man, Then we have the political head of the Department for the time being, who, in nine cases out of ten, has ‘ no intimate technical knowledge in regard to military affairs to enable him to maintain a position on any point as against the General Officer Commanding. If the Minister is a strong-minded man, possessing some will-power, there is friction between him and the General Officer Commanding. Friction of that ‘ kind would be saved by having such a body as is contemplated. It is true that the Bill provides that a board may be established. It would have been more satisfactory if the Minister for Defence had given us an idea of the way in which the board was to be
I constituted, if it is ever to be brought into existence. That has not been done. Consequently, I am led to believe that the Board of Advice is one of those things that are often put into Acts of Parliament as nothing more nor less than padding, and that the Government have no intention of carrying the proposal into effect. Senator Matheson has provided for a fairly workable body. It is not equipped with legislative power. It is simply a Board of Advice. There will be at the head of the scheme the Minister for Defence, the General Officer Commanding the Commonwealth Forces, and the officer commanding the Naval Forces, and the other members of the board will be various persons including members of Parliament. I am not quite sure with regard to that latter provision. Probably it is not a wise one, unless the members selected are experts. If the Bill contemplates that such a body shall be established, let the Minister say so, and give us a clear indication of what the intentions of the Government are. It is certain that military affairs should not be left to the sweet will of the General Officer Commanding. There are elements in connexion with Senator Matheson’s proposal, which, it seems to me, will lead to good work being done, and therefore I intend to vote for it.
-We are indebted to Senator Matheson for having raised this question. He has devoted a good deal of thought to it, and the debate has brought out a good many views which are of great value. But I cannot help saying that the clause has raised false hopes or false issues. Reference has been made to South African affairs, and to the necessity of our being able to meet contingencies that may arise at a critical time. It has been said that owing to the failure of Great. Britain to cope with all the difficulties as they arose in South Africa, there was a. demand for somebody’s head - somebody was to be treated as . 1 scapegoat. It has now been determined to establish a Council of Defence there. I do not know whether I am quite in order in ref erring to anything that is taking place in another part of the British Empire, but really I cannot honestly say that I think that a Council of Defence, proposed even by so august an authority as the Prime Minister of Great Britain, is a move in the right direction. I believe that every thinking man will agree with me, even if he has had no experience in military affairs, that the fault in connexion with the administration of the British army was in its deficiency of what is called the “ brain of an army.” That means that if a country wants to have an efficient army it must possess a well-organized, sound, and thoroughly-equipped Intelligence Department. The proposed Board of Advice, as I understand it, will consist of civilians and others, who willcollect evidence ; whereas, what is wanted is a thoroughly wellorganized, systematic, well-thought-out plan for constituting an Intelligence Department inside the Defence Department. The Intelligence Departmentshouldbecomposed of those who will be not only the right hand men of the General Officer Commanding, but who will be able to give satisfactory information to the Government when required. If a country starves the intelligence branchof its army, as it has been stated the Intelligence Department in Great Britain was starved, it can expect nothing but failure.What took place previous to! the South African war ? There was a demand for £2,000 a year, to be spent with the object of obtaining intelligence with regard to South Africa. But the Intelligence Department was only allowed to spend £100. If. a country starves the brain of its army, how can it expect anything but disaster? If we do the same thing here, the sameresult will follow. To have a good Intelligence Department is of far more importance than to carry out a proposal which I fear is opposed to that which is essential to an Anglo-Saxon community like ours, and that is, government centred in and controlled by responsible Ministers.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia). - Senator Matheson’s new clause proposes to establish a body which will be of a non-party character. This body will receive and review the recommendations of the General Officer Commanding and the Naval Commandant in respect of the organization, administration, and financial policy of the defence forces. Such a proposal is worthy of our most serious consideration. Of course there are many reasons that can be adduced by Ministers for the present state of affairs, but it must be admitted that the existing condition of our defences is most unsatisfactory and chaotic: We find the General Officer Commanding stating at a public meeting in Adelaide that if we had to send an army to certain portions of Australia, we should have to send them without arms. We are providing a large body of militia, but we have not sufficient arms and ammunition for them. I believe that if war broke out, and it were necessary to put our soldiers into the field, there would not be enough ammunition to last a week. We talk of the unpreparedness of Great Britain for her wars, but her condition would .be a mere circumstance to ours in a time of emergency. We should simply be in a hopeless state of muddle.
– Where is the enemy to come from ? ‘
– The only object of having an army is to meet a possible enemy. What is the use of creating a large body of militia and paying them salaries without equipping them with arms and ammunition with which to fight? Another matter mentioned by Senator Matheson was that there ought to be some continuity of policy. At the present time a particular policy lasts as long as a particular Ministry lasts. A new Minister comes in, and alters the whole policy vitally. It is remarkable what very little power Parliament has regarding the regulation of our military and naval affairs. It is true that we do not want to discuss the smaller questions, but we have very little control over the large issues. This Bill is a machinery Bill. It lays down some of the broad principles with regard to defence, but it does not state the number of militia or the number of permanent men who are to be employed ; it does not say what forces shall be increased or decreased in any particular line. The only possible way in which we can deal, with that aspect of our defence is upon the Estimates. But the Estimates are brought in at the end of the session, and are often hurried through without receiving the consideration to which their’ importance entitles them. In Great Britain they have recently been giving the fullest consideration to the matter of defence, and the authorities now seem to be of opinion that some such board as that proposed by Senator Matheson is absolutely necessary. Senator Cameron thinks that the proposal would not be a success. But the British Navy has been the best managed arm of the service in Great Britain. The British Admiralty system is one that the other nations of the world have copied. The navy has been controlled by a Board of Admiralty, composed, I understand, of. some people who are not necessarily actively, engaged in the navy. There we have an. instance where a board system has proved itself to be an admirable method of management. If that system is a good one with regard to the navy I believe it will also be effective with respect to the army. The defects of the present system of control are obvious. Senator Cameron haspointed out that previous to the war in South Africa the Intelligence Department was only allowed to spend £100’ in collecting information, whereas it ought to have spent £2,000. If there were a board to consider such matters, such a mistake of policy would not have been likely to occur. Major-General Hutton is, I believe, an exceedingly able and capable officer. .He is very zealous in the discharge of his duties, and does his very best for the forces. But he is essentially a military man. He looks at matters entirely from the point of view of a military man. I believe if it were said to him, “ You can do what you like, and we will vote you the money,” his idea would be. to turn Australia into one armed military, camp. He would adopt German methods at once. He believes in professional soldiers, and I do not think that he cares much about our cadets and rifle clubs, which, in the opinion of most of us, are a most important means of defence for Australia. A clause such as Senator Matheson suggests will more accurately interpret Australian feeling than will an Imperial officer who believes only in professional soldiers. I have said that Major-General Hutton has not shown much enthusiasm for our cadet corps and rifle clubs. We had in the late Senator Sir Frederick Sargood a most enthusiastic supporter of those movements, aman to whom Victoria owes more than to anyone else for the establishment of rifleclubs and cadets, and that State occupies the premier position in the Commonwealth in this respect. These branches of defence are now starved, because the policy adopted appears to be to go in extensively for militia, and not tq bother so much about volunteers, rifle clubs, and cadet corps. Senator Downer, in a most excellent speech the other day, pointed out that we, in Australia, surrounded by the sea, on an island continent, were going to places like Switzerland and Canada to seek models which we should adopt. Switzerland is really in the highway of the armies of the old world,’ and it is necessary that every man in that country shall be prepared to fight if Switzerland is to remain neutral, and is not to be involved in European conflagrations. Canada has a powerful nation alongside of her, and a nation with whom it is possible she may be engaged in war. But we in Australia are placed in such a position that we do not require all the expenditure proposed with regard to what I call our third line of defence. We should rather follow the example of Great Britain in these matters. We are adopting a totally wrong course in dealing with expenditure upon our different lines of defence. We propose to expend £880,000 on defence- £200,000 on sea defence, £60,000 on forts, and £600,000 on our third line of defence, a line of defence which, as Senator Zeal has pointed out, will probably never be required. I think that the policy adopted should be exactly the reverse of that. We are creating in Australia an army which will probably never be required, and which at the present time is absolutely unarmed and unfit to take the field. We have not enough ammunition in Australia to last a year for service purposes, or to enable us to continue a fight for three days.
– How does the honorable senator know that?
– The honorable senator is altogether mistaken about the arms. All our men in South Australia are armed, and we have ammunition also.
– I am speaking of ammunition, and I say that I do not believe we have anything like sufficient ammunition in Australia.
– The honorable senator ought not to make such statements. It is not right to say that we have not enough ammunition to continue a fight for three days.
– I do not believe that we have sufficient ammunition to enable us to continue a fight for three days, and I have reasons for making the statement.
– The honorable senator should state those reasons.
– I cannot quote the exact report now, but I have seen a report in which it was asserted that in one State there was not sufficient ammunition to last for twenty-four hours. I am informed by Senator Matheson that there is not at present in Australia enough service ammunition to last a year.
– It is ordered, but it is not in stock.
– We could get cartridges out here in a few weeks.
– And it would take an enemy a week or two to get here.
– The whole management of defence in theCommonwealth at the present time is muddled, and, therefore, the greatest consideration should be given to the suggestion put forward by Senator Matheson for the establishment of a Board of Advice.
– Another Board ; more expenditure.
– I do not know that this would involve any very great expenditure. We have at present a muddled administration of expenditure, and we are paying salaries to 18,000 militia, who are not supplied with sufficient ammunition or with proper arms.
– We still have the honorable senator to advise us. What more do we need 1
– I believe that the Minister for Defence was a captain or a corporal at one time, and we should therefore have the greatest confidence in the honorable and learned senator as Minister for War.
– We have not that confidence in Senator Smith.
– I am not discussing my own capabilities iri connexion with this matter, but as I happen to represent one of the States of the Commonwealth, I believe I have a right to express my views upon the question. Seeing that military and naval matters in the Commonwealth have up to the present time been shockingly muddled, the appointment of a Board of Advice is a suggestion worthy of consideration.
– I shall occupy very little time in speaking upon this proposal. I am oldfashioned enough as a politician to believe in the principle of responsible Government, and to believe that we ought not to hand the business of government over to commissions and committees scattered over the length and breadth of the country. What is the use of having Ministers if there is always to be somebody behind whom they can shelter themselves? If my honorable and learned friend, Senator Drake, commits a faux pas in the management of his Department, he must take the consequences of it in his capacity as a responsible Minister, and I imagine that the honorable and learned senator will not be found so deficient in military zeal or in constitutional law, as to seek to evade his responsibility by thrusting it upon some inferior authority. I should be quite prepared to support a proposal on the lines submitted by Senator Matheson, if we had not already agreed to clause 27, which makes distinct provision for a Board of Advice.
– The members of which will be purely nominees of the Government.
– We have also in clause 120 provided that the GovernorGeneral shall have power to make regulations in respect of the board, and those regulations, when framed, must come before Parliament for consideration. The composition of the board will not be known until the regulations are made public, and if it is found to be unsatisfactory to Parliament we can veto the board’s suggestion. The proposal is experimental so far as the Commonwealth and the greater mumber of the States are concerned. I recognise the advantage of clause 27, as against a hardandfast line laid down by statute. It will enable Parliament to take exception to the board as constituted if it is not deemed satisfactory.
– Suppose it is not constituted at all.
– If the board is not constituted, and if in the opinion of the majority in Parliament there is occasion for it to be constituted, we shall be able to take such steps as will induce the Ministry to take the necessary action. When action is taken by the Government, whether by consent or by compulsion, if either House of Parliament does not approve of the course proposed it may be altered or sent back to the Government for review. Meanwhile I think that the power of alteration under this Bill, which is greater by regulation than it would be by statute, would give Parliament a freer hand than would the new clause proposed by Senator Matheson, As the proposal in each case is experimental, and as the right of intervention by Parliament is more ample under the proposal of the Bill than under that submitted by Senator Matheson, I shall vote against the proposed new clause. I shall do so, as I have said, not because I do not think that a Council of Advice may do very good service - and there seems to be a tendency in that direction in the old country - but because I believe in the principle of Ministerial responsibility, and I do not believe in too much amateur tinkering with what is distinctly a technical and professional subject. There never is a discussion in the Commonwealth Parliament, or in any Parliament of the States, upon military or naval matters that does not disclose a very serious paucity of knowledge respecting technical details on the part of a large number of the members. It is not to be expected that a civilian can make himself master of the intricacies of a professional business such as soldiering. I may profess to know a little about citizen soldiering ; but, on the other hand, I profess to know absolutely nothing that would warrant me in attempting to guide the administration of naval matters. A naval man will occupy exactly the same position with respect to military administration. We know that artillery officers will plead entire ignorance of cavalry work, and cavalry officers will freely condemn the line work of Tommy Atkins. When we find that men in different branches, who are eminent in their own spheres of work, are not experts all round, I do not see how we can expect a civilian to achieve that which a professional man is unable to achieve. Besides we have the professional man here, and the General Officer Commanding is here not as a clerk to the Minister for Defence, or as a maidofallwork to a Board of Advice, but as a man whose counsel is to be taken and depended upon. To put it bluntly, what do we pay this officer a handsome emolument for if it is not to secure an authoritative opinion and authoritative guidance ? I hope fiat the Board of Advice contemplated in this Bill will be appointed to deal with, matters that are outside, or that lie between, the actual military and naval services and the public - such matters as the supply of ammunition and kindred questions, to which Senators Matheson and Smith have referred. While speaking on this subject I may inform the Minister for Defence that if he makes inquiries in New South Wales he will find that in that State, at the present time, there is little or no blank cartridge even for training purposes. It is true that blank cartridge is not of much value in war time, and I do not attach very great importance to the matter on that account. I hope that there will be something at the end of the powder we have to burn in war time ; but if we desire to train men in field operations, especially under the new system in vogue of extended movements over rough country, we shall make but a very poor show if we cannot give the men a few cartridges to burn. The proposed Board of Advice will, no doubt, be useful if it gives the Minister of the day a little “ stiffening “ in facing those who desire to reduce the expenditure on the Defence Force, thus impairing its efficiency. I do not desire extravagance, but I urge, as warmly” as does Senator Matheson or any other honorable senator, that the necessities of the service should be adequately met. Otherwise, we shall be wasting £700,000 a year, because it is of no use carrying on an inefficient service, or, in the old phrase, “ spoiling the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar.”
– I intend to support the adoption of the proposed new clause. It is not necessary for me to say much in support of my vote after the very excellent reasons put forward by Senator Matheson. Senator Neild, who has had a vast and varied military experience, evidently believes in some Council of Defence, but not in the particular council proposed. The difficulty about clause 27 is that it is too indefinite, merely providing that the. Governor-General “ may “ create a Board of Advice.
– An Act of Parliament cannot contain a direction to the Governor-General, and that is why in such clauses the word “ may “ is always used.
– We are not here to consider what is, or has been, the usual policy, but to consider, from a commonsense point of view, what course shall be adopted now. Our Defence Force is based upon the idea that it is a citizen force, and it is extremely desirable that some citizens, occupying responsible positions in connexion with the government of the country, should have a voice in arranging our defence affairs. The action recently taken in the old country shows that such a course is desirable even where there are professional soldiers ; but in Australia it is absolutely necessary that the advice of prominent citizens should be sought, in order to assure volunteers that the system will be carried out in consonance with our national ideas. The fact that members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives will, if the clause be accepted, be eligible for seats on the Council of Defence will create amongst us an interest in defence matters. With one or two exceptions, members of Parliament usually content themselves with criticising the proposed expenditure ; and if the Minister for Defence proposes to spend £700,000, we may reduce the amount to £500,000.
– Very unwisely sometimes.
– That may be. I am anxious for a little more light and information ; because knowledge is a material aid to the proper management of any concern. Perhaps the strongest reason in support of the proposed clause is that purely official control of the army has been a lamentable failure everywhere. We all know how the Crimean War was bungled, and how bad administration in India led to the Mutiny ; and we have been witnesses of the dreadful bungling in connexion with the war in South Africa. Wherever Britain has been at war she has succeeded, not because of her good military organization, but in spite of her bad organization ; and now the authorises at home have awakened to the idea that something in the shape of a Council of Defence is necessary. I do not advocate the new clause because I believe it is proper that we should follow on the same lines as Great Britain, but because it is a proposal likely to lead to better administration. In a force in which the citizen element enters so largely, it is desirable to have civilians advising the professional men. We know what happened to France in that memorable war with Germany. The responsible Ministers of France told the French people that there were so many efficient soldiers and rifles, and so much ammunition, that the commissariat was in perfect’ order, and that in so many days the French troops would be in Berlin ; but .. all those statements were falsified. I need not multiply instances, but I believe that in almost every country in the world where there is anything in the shape of a military system, we shall find the same conditions prevailing. Senator Drake objects to the new clause on the ground that it would destroy Ministerial responsibility. That would not be the effect, because the clause is intended only to assist Ministers in bearing the responsibility which they have to Parliament and the country. The- last word in regard to expenditure would still remain with Parlia- ment, with this difference, that Ministers and Parliament would be advised in each House by two members. It would be an immense advantage in discussing defence matters to have amongst us two senators who took an active personal interest, and, as members of the Council of Defence, possessed all necessary information.
– We should have those senators arguing on different sides, and the Minister on a third.
– In the conflict of opinion we should very likely be able to arrive at the truth, whereas now, if we want any information, the Minister for Defence shuts up like an oyster. Even when we get information we do not know whether it can be depended upon ; it may be only half information, and we know what is said about half truths. A Council of Defence would have a tendency to lift the whole question of defence administration above party considerations - all could agree to take a course absolutely independent of ordinary party considerations.
– That is done now.
– I am not so sure about that.
– At present the Minister submits proposals, and Parliament may reduce the proposed expenditure.
– I do not know whether the Minister is a figure-head or whether he is an active living power ; but I do know that the present occupant of the office was until a few days ago administering the Post and Telegraph Department, while the former Minister for Defence, who occupied the position for nearly three years, has been transferred to another Department. It appears to me that Ministerial control is neither more nor less than a farce. If the exigencies of the Cabinet require it, the honorable senator who is now Minister for Defence may be given another portfolio.
– That would show his great and varied ability.
– It would show that the exigencies of the Cabinet were of much more importance to the Government than the interests of the Commonwealth at large.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of despotic government 1
– No; I am in favour of government by Parliament. Sir John Forrest, who had been in office .for some years, and who presumably knew something about the matter, was translated to another sphere, and Senator Drake, after having given his days and nights to the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department, and after having qualified himself, I suppose, to manage that Department, was placed in quite a different position. The change might have been necessary and desirable in the interests of the Government, but I do not see how it makes for the benefit of the community at large, or the efficiency of our Defence Force. On the whole, I think that the Committee will act wisely in agreeing to the proposal of Senator Matheson. I believe that a Council of Defence constituted on these lines would be of immense advantage to the community, and would help the Minister for Defence, the General Officer Commanding, and both Houses of the Parliament.
– The proposal of Senator Matheson contains some good points. It cannot be got rid of by saying that it would away with Ministerial responsibility. The strongest part of his argument was that which referred to the cutting down of the Defence Estimates in another place. If I recollect rightly, certain parties in another place had two cuts at the Defence Estimates, and knocked off about £163,000. That reduction must have made a drastic change in the policy of the Minister and of the Department, and must have upset all the calculations and advice of the General Officer Commanding.
– Parliament did that.
– Let us now consider this bogy of Ministerial responsibility. I recollect that when Sir Henry CampbellBannerman was Minister for War, the Gladstonian Party were defeated on a question of Ministerial responsibility, and went out of office.
– It was a vote of censure.
– 1 am not suggesting that the Government of the Commonwealth should have acted in a similar way. But in England the practice is different. Mr. Brodrick moved in Committee that the vote for ammunition was insufficient, his motion was carried against the Government, and next morning their resignation was sent in. That is a very good instance of Ministerial responsibility. In the second session of this Parliament, the Military Estimates were, to use an old saying, “knocked to pot,” and yet nothing happened. I do not suggest that anything ought to have happened, but I submit that, in this instance, Ministerial responsibility was a bogy. I contend that if there had been a Council of Defence, properly constituted, such an event could not have happened.
– Not a reduction of the Estimates 1
– I do not believe that it could have happened. The General Officer Commanding would have put forward his policy ; it would have been considered by the Minister for Defence ; the Council of Defence would have conferred for hours over such an important matter as the Defence Estimates of the Commonwealth, devoted all their talents and experience to the study of the subject, and reported to Parliament. The other House would have had the report of eight or nine experienced men who had given deep thought to the state of the Estimates. I do not think that the Labour Party or any other party in the House would have been able to cut down the Defence Estimates as they did if they had been provided with a responsible report from a body of expert advisers. Certainly the proposed Council of Defence is not to be constituted of as many experts as it ought to be. I think it ought to include one member from each House, the General Officer Commanding, both military and naval, senior artillery officer, senior militia officer, and senior volunteer officer. Constituted in that way, every branch of the Defence Force would be represented ; more than two States would be represented. The General Officer Commanding would attend the meetings of the Council, presided over by the Minister, and in nine cases out of ten - perhaps in nineteen cases out of twenty - they would practically agree. The Minister would have to point ont the financial position pf the Commonwealth, and to indicate what he could cany in the House. I feel quite certain that any members of the Council who might hold extreme views would moderate them. The Minister and the General Officer Cammanding would exercise all the weight of their positions. To a certain extent every member of the Council would exercise his influence. No Council, constituted of military, naval, volunteer, and financial experts, could issue a report without it carrying great weight with the Parliament. Itis quite evident, as Senator Neild admits,, that the practice in the old country is tending in this direction. If, as Senator Cameron said, -brain is needed to organize,, administer, and look after this enormousDepartment, it will be just as well to employ more than one brain. Should the Council at any time make a recommendation of which the Minister and the Cabinet did not approve, he would have to accept the responsibility of not carrying out its policy.. The Parliament would not be tied by the report of the Council ; it could do as it liked. It would not do away with Ministerial responsibility. Could there be a more terrible upsettal of the policy of Ministers than the reduction of the Defence Estimatesby the other House last session 1 It simply knocked off £163,000. It did not indicatein any way how that amount should be saved. There was no continuity of policy, and necessarily the Defence Force suffered in many directions. If there is a shortage of rifles and ammunition it is due to the looseand irresponsible way in which the Military Estimates were dealt with in another place. I support the proposal of Senator Matheson ;. but, if he and the Minister can agree upon an improved constitution for the Council of Defence, I shall be quite willing to fall in with their views.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales). - Senator Dobson has said a great many things which I had intended to say; and, perhaps, in a much better way than I could havedone. It was the extraordinary action of thelate Minister for Defence, in allowing his Estimates to be spoiled as they were in another place, which drew my attention to the necessity of constituting a Council of Advice. Clause 27, which provides fora Board of Advice, is permissive, not obligatory. Senator Cameron said very truly that what was wanted in South Africa was brain. I have read in an old book that “ in the multitude of counsellors thereis safety,”and I have also been reminded by an honorable senator that “ too many cooks spoil the broth.” If we could insure a succession of enlightened despots, no doubt despotism would be the best tiling for an army. But even in Russia, one good Czar is not always followed by another. We must recognise the facts as they are. We have to preserve parliamentary control of the Defence Force. Senator Barrett seems to think that the General Officer Commanding has not much sympathy with the aspirations of Australians. For some years he was at the head of our forces in New South Wales, and he did splendid work. I believe that, if he had not been so much hampered by the want of means, he would have been able to make greater improvements in our Defence Force than he has done. I should have thought that the Government would be only too happy to agree to the institution of a buffer, such as a Council of Advice. The defence of the Commonwealth is a national matter, not a party matter. Senator Cameron made a very sensible allusion to the necessity for creating an Intelligence Department. No doubt a Council of Advice would suggest the establishment of an Intelligence Department properly officered. It is proposed by Senator Matheson that the Council of Defence, as he calls it, should obtain expert advice on any question arising out of its recommendations. I certainly agree with Senator Dobson that the constitution of the Council could be improved. Evidently the Imperial authorities have come to the conclusion that there ought to be a Council of Advice in connexion with the British Army. The Board of Admiralty is not wholly constituted of naval experts. I have a distinct recollection that at one time the Bight Honorable W. H. Smith, a bookseller and stationer, was First Lord of the Admiralty.
– You forget that he was Minister of War at the time.
– Surely, business capacity is required on a Board of Advice even in regard to military and naval matters. I do not think that because members are chosen from opposite sides of either House they will prove to be obstructive. The members of the Council would I believe be most happy to assist the Minister if they were tn.ken from the opposition side just as they would be if taken from the ranks of Government supporters. Senator Stewart has referred to the versatility of the present Minister. I am glad to hear that the honorable and learned senator has such excellent qualifications, and I do not see why we should not strengthen his hands. I believe we shall do so by having a Council of Defence.
– Not by the one. proposed.
– I hope that in future the Government will show their faith in Ministerial responsibility when amendments are. proposed upon the Defence Estimates. I hope that they will stick to their proposals, and have the pluck to resign if they are defeated, so as to let others take their places. I was perfectly ashamed when £160,000 was knocked off the Defence Estimates for one year. I believe there is a general feeling throughout the Commonwealth forces that they were not fairly treated in that matter. When we have ‘ a Council of. Defence established, I hope the members of it will pay more attention than is now paid to coastal defence. I believe in having thoroughly efficient, coastal defence. It is largely to coastal defence that we shall have to look for our safety. Australia is a huge island, and the very fact of its immensity of size makes a Council of Defence necessary. How can any one man know the requirements of an enormous territory like ours ? For these and other reasons I. intend to support the new clause.
Question - That the proposed new clause be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I move -
That the following new cla.use be inserted : - “16a. Except during time of war an officer may by writing linder his hand resign his commission at any time by giving three months’ notice.”
We give the rank and file the privilege of retiring on giving three months’ notice, and the same privilege - which will apply, I suppose, to both brandies of the service - should be extended to officers. I hope my brelvity will be accepted as in favour and not against the amendment I propose.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - An officer may tender his resignation, but the Governor-General cannot be compelled to. accept it. In the Bill, as it stands, there is no provision for an officer leaving the force except in consequence of old age or by his being dismissed.
Proposed new clause amended accordingly, and agreed to.
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 80a. Every soldier or sailor of the’reserve forces may, except in time of war, claim his discharge before the expiration of the period of service for which he engaged, on giving fourteen days’ notice in writing to his commanding officer of his intention to claim his discharge.”
This new. clause is proposed in accordance with a promise I made to provide for the resignation of a soldier or sailor of the reserved forces.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
That the following new clause be inserted : - “54a. 1. Whenamemberof theDefenceForcedies, or is killed while on acti ve service, or is killed while in the performance of his duty, or dies from injuries received, or disease contracted while on active service, or from injuries received while in the performance of his duty, provision shall be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund at the prescribed rate for his widow, and his children under sixteen years of age.
When a member of the Defence Force becomes incapacitated from earning his living by reason of injuries received while on active service, or in the performance of his duty, or by reason of disease contracted while on active service, provision shall be made for the payment to him out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of an allowance or gratuity at the prescribed rate.
No payment or allowance shall be made when the death or incapacity of a member of the Defence Force is attributable to his misconduct or wilful neglect.”
This new clause will take the place of clause 55. When that clause was before us on the previous occasion we got into some little confusion, and I promised to have the provision redrafted.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “87a. No person, other than a person subject to naval or military law, shall be proceeded against before a court martial, but if a person not so subject commits any act amounting to contempt of court within the view or healing of a court martial he may forthwith be arrested, pursuant to the order of the president of the court martial, and taken before a civil court having jurisdiction to try him for the offence, there to be dealt with according to law.”
I have to thank the Minister for Defence for giving me the satisfaction and pleasure of moving this new clause in the place of other amendments of which I had given notice. I am sure it will meet with unanimous acceptance, because it absolutely protects the civilian, and is entirely in accordance with the more lengthy amendment, in terms of the Army Act, I had placed upon the notice paper.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).What is meant by “ contempt of court 1 “
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - 1 move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 108a. Any corapianding officer, if authorized by the regulations so to do, may disrate or discharge any sailor or soldier of the citizen forces for any good cause, but the sailor or soldier before being so disrated or discharged shall be notified in writing of the charge against him and shall be given an opportunity of showing cause against it.”
This clause follows the English Volunteer Act; only that it is a little more favorable to the accused persons. We have already provided by an amendment, submitted by Senator Higgs, that if a man discharged is not satisfied he may demand a court martial. This clause is absolutely’ necessary, because otherwise there would be no means of dealing with a man, except through the GovernorGeneral. The present amendment fulfils the promise I made that if I could help it no soldier or sailor should be discharged without a full opportunity of showing cause.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Senator BARRETT (Victoria). - I moveThat the following new clause be inserted : - “1.19a. The sale of or dealing in beer, wine, or any intoxicating: liquors by any person in any camp or canteen or army transport, or upon any premises used for military purposes by the Commonwealth, is hereby prohibited.”
Honorable senators know that I entertain strong opinions on the drink question, and I should be recreant to my principles if on this, the first opportunity presented in Commonwealth ( legislation, I did not endeavour to carry those principles into effect. The new clause contains no revolutionary proposal, but simply follows the example set by Canada and America. As a matter of fact the new clause is almost a transcript of the resolution which was passed by both Houses of the United States Legislature. On this occasion I shall not so much express my opinions as the views of authorities in England and America, who are more competent than myself to speak on the subject; and I hope thereby to shorten the discussion. In America, in 18S9, there was an amendment of the law known as the “ Anti-canteen Amendment.” It was declared by the army authorities - some of whom evinced a bitter opposition - that the resolution did not express that which was claimed ; p.nd, therefore, it was not put into effect. Their action evoked an animated discussion among the people, a further appeal was made to Congress, and in January, 1901, the law was amended. By a majority of 159 to 5 1 in the House of Representatives, and a majority of “34 to 15 in the Senate - a majority of more than, two-thirds in each case - the following provision was enacted : -
The sale of or dealing in beer, wine, or any intoxicating liquors by any person in any post,, exchange, or canteen or army transport, or upon any premises used for military purposes by the United States is hereby prohibited. The Secretary for War is hereby directed to carry the provisions of this section into full force and effect.
That enactment is giving every satisfaction. This striking testimony from the great American Republic shows that the difficulties which are suggested in our limited field will not hold water. I ask the Committee tonotice that, notonly was the amendmentof the law carried by a large majority in each House, but that certain instructions were given to Mr. Root, the Secretary of War, for its. enforcement.. The spirit of each House had been roused by the treatment of the previous decision, and so the Congress declared that the will of the nation should be obeyed. In the first instance, Mr. Root adopted a decidedly hostile attitude; but, notwithstanding all his efforts to- defeat the law, he was compelled to carry out the will of the Congress and of the people. I hold that there is no necessity to provide intoxicating liquor in connexion with our army. That view is indorsed by the testimony of the greatest living British Generals - men who cannot be said to be teetotallers, and therefore to hold fanatical views. The best men in Great Britain as well as in America have declared that there is no necessity to provide intoxicating liquor. Distinguished soldiers like Lords Roberts, Wolseley, and Kitchener have given emphatic testimony that the British Army would be far better without a canteen than with it. The objection to the provision of a canteen for our permanent force is that it offers facilities to the men to drink. It exercises an evil effect upon the young recruits. If they have not already formed the drinking habit, it is soon acquired, and many lives are lost which otherwise would have been saved. We all remember that prior to the return of the soldiers from South Africa to the old country, Lord Roberts made one of the most fervent appeals which have ever been made to the British public in this direction. He entreated his countrymen not to tempt the returning soldiers with intoxicating liquor. The Imperial Government would have shown a noble example to the nation in this respect by excluding the canteens from military service. It would have imposed upon the men the necessity for exercising selfrestraint. They would have formed a higher conception of their duty, and under no circumstances, I think, would they have disgraced the King’s uniform. I believe that in almost every State of the Commonwealth, Sunday trading in liquor is prohibited. But what do we find in the case of camps of exercise 1 They are not subject to the licensing law of the State. The sale of liquor is carried on to a very large extent, and the will of the people is practically defied. The evil of the canteen does not exist to the same extent in Australia, but in other parts of the world its effect on the troops is very demoralizing. This “innocent soldier’s club,” as it is called, is a purveyor of poison, and the policy of the States is defeated. Even if my proposal should not be accepted, the Government ought to consider and respect the laws of the States in framing the regulations for the control of the canteen. I propose to quote from the greatest military authorities in both hemispheres on the evil effects of intoxicating liquor. Speaking of the approaching return of the British troops from South Africa to the old country, .Lord Wolseley, when Commander-in-Chief, said -
The time draws near when we may hope to welcome home many of the gallant soldiers who have so nobly fought our battles for us in South Africa. The reception will, I know, be cordial, and it is this assured cordiality that impels me to ask those wishing to do them honour to refrain, while extending to them a hearty welcome, from offering intoxicating liquor. Our soldiers are recruited from all classes of Her Majesty’s subjects, and only differ from their brothers in civil life by the habits of discipline the)’ have acquired in the army. Like all of us, they are open to temptation. Many of them must soon resume the occupations and positions their employers have patriotically kept open for them. Others will have to seek for new situations, and will require a helping hand in doing so. It is, therefore, most important that all should endeavour to preserve a good name for steadiness and sobriety before entering upon their civil work. I trust that our greeting to the brave soldiers returning from this war may be something better than an incitement to excessive drinking, and that all will remember that whoever encourages them in this, fan from being their friend, is really their worst enemy.
That testimony to the evils of the canteen comes from a British General who cannot be said to hold fanatical opinions. Field Marshal Lord Roberts, whose name will yet stand out in the history of the nation even more boldly than it does to-day, takes a similar stand on this question. Through the medium of not merely one, but many newspapers throughout the United Kingdom, he implored his countrymen in earnest language not to offer any temptation to the returning soldiers to drink. He said -
Will you kindly allow me through the medium of your paper, to make an appeal to my countrymen and women upon a subject I have very much at heart, and which has been occupying my thoughts for some time past ? All classes in the United Kingdom have shown such keen interest in the army serving in South Africa, and have been so munificent in their efforts to supply every need of that army, that I feel sure they must be eagerly looking forward for its return, and to giving our brave soldiers and sailors the hearty welcome they so well deserve when they get back to their native land ? It is about the character of this welcome and the effect it may have upon the reputation of the troops, whom I have been so proud to command, that I am anxious, and that I venture to express the opinion. My sincere hope is that the welcome may not take the form of treating the men to stimulants in the public- houses or in the streets, and thus lead into excesses which must tend to degrade those whom the nation delights to honour, and to lower the soldier of the Queen in the eyes of the world - that world which has watched with undisguised admiration the grand work they have performed for their Sovereign and their country. From the very kindness of their hearts, their innate politeness and their gratitude for the welcome accorded them, it will be difficult for the men to refuse what is offered to them by their too generous friends. I, therefore, beg earnestly that the British public will refrain from tempting my gallant comrades, but will rather aid them to uphold the splendid reputation they have won for the Imperial army……
I know how keen my fellow-subjects will be to show their appreciation of the upright and honorable bearing, as well as gallantry, of our sailors and soldiers, and I would entreat them, in return for all that these grand men have done for them, to abstain from any action that might bring the smallest discredit upon those who have so worthily upheld the credit of their country. I am induced to make this appeal from having read with great regret, that when our troops were leaving England, and passing through the streets of Loudon, their injudicious friends pressed liquor upon them, and shoved bottles of spirits into their hands and pockets - a mode of “speeding the parting,” friend which resulted in some very distressing, discreditable scenes. I fervently hope there may be no such scenes to mar the brightness of the welcome home.
Those very clear and emphatic words from Lord Roberts deserve to be preserved, and that is the reason why I have quoted them. On active service be had seen the evil effects of the canteen, and that is the reason why he addressed to his fellow countrymen those brave and noble words. The name of Sir George White is well-known in our military history, and his opinions on this question deserve to be considered and respected. I shall quote from the London Daily Telegraph a speech which he delivered to the soldiers in the Garrison Recreation Rooms, Gibraltar, when Lady White was present -
His Excellency said that after an experience which reached into half-a-century, he was convinced that drinking to excess was the worst of our vices as a nation ; a vice in which our soldiers and our sailors participated to a degree that sapped the estimation in which those professions were held by a steadier and soberer class, whom it would be an imperial advantage to attract to our standards. Its ill effects were shown not only by moral deterioration but indirectly and in extreme cases. by physical decrepitude. He could distinctly trace nearly all the crime in the British Army abroad to drinking to excess.
Do honorable senators want any further testimony than that ?
When he was Commander-in-Chief in India he was anxious to bring home to the minds of officers and men how strong a deterrent influence abstinence from alcohol exercised in saving men from getting into trouble. He found many commanding officers and others inclined to belittle the efforts to introduce a higher standard of temperance into the army and even to oppose it. They threw doubts upon the statistics shown by temperance branches as cooked for the purpose. To impress these and others, he ordered returns to be furnished officially showing the percentage of offences committed by abstainers and nonabstainers, the result realizing what he had hoped to establish.
Sir George ‘White put aside the statistics furnished by temperance bodies, as to which it might be said that they were compiled for certain purposes. Here is the Commander-in-Chief of the -Indian Army, who set himself out to accomplish a certain task and to collect statistiCs .of his own. He ‘gives to the world the results. He says -
Whilst in India he was President of the Army Temperance Association. The returns applied to a total of 69,488 men, of whom 20,833 were abstainers and 48,655 non-abstainers. The convictions by court martial in 1899 were 1,724, or 132 less than the previous year. Of these 97 were abstainers, and 1 ,627 non-abstainers. Summary punishment for insubordination in the whole British Army in India numbered only 3,812, as against 5,250 in 1898. Of these 3,812. only 514 were committed by abstainers, whilst the non-abstainers numbered 3,258. Some commanding officers objected to these statistics as classing those excellent soldiers who take liquor, but never exceed, with the majority, thus putting them in a sort of ethical pillory, but he thought this was attributing a non-existent and hypersensitiveness to those good fellows, our soldiers.
His further important testimony with regard to the best fighting men in the British Army, comparing abstainers with nonabstainers, is as follows -
There was a fallacy that the hardest drinkers were the best fighting men But this feeling gob beautifully less in successive battles. Brute courage was apt to go when rations were low.
In other words it is net necessary, to make good fighting men, to promote an indulgence in intoxicants. Prom what I can gather, good food is far better than agencies of that character.
The truest and most dependable courage was a sense of duty and self control.
Here let me say that this cannot be brought about with the existence of the canteen in the army ; and therefore it is the opinion of Sir George White that the canteen should be abolished.
Perhaps the finest soldiery in Europe were the Turks, with extraordinarily calm courage and endurance. They were hereditary water drinkers Our hardy Punjaub Mahommedans were water drinkers by religion and descent. He looked upon British soldiers as the salt of the earth, and the sailors of England as the salt of the sea, and thus he longed to see the uniforms that distinguished these two grand, services worn with that self respect and dignity becoming the champions of the greatest Empire the world ever saw.
Such is the striking testimony of Sir George White with regard to this question. I do not intend to quote any further from British Generals, but I desire to quote a statement from Mr. Donald Macdonald, who was the correspondent for the Argus during the South African War. Mr. Macdonald is known to many of us. I have known him for many years. As we desire to obtain independent testimony, I venture to quote what he says concerning his experiences in Ladysmith. Mr. Donald Macdonald, as reported in the West Australian, said -
Temperance advocates can get a text out of Ladysmith that cannot be excelled in any place in the world. He notes the total absence of crime in Ladysmith during the siege, which he attributed to there being no liquor drunk by the soldiers.
Now, I will quote, from our own Mr. Page, the honorable member for Maranoa in the House of Representatives. He has seen extensive service with the British Army, and he is a strong advocate for the abolition of the canteen. Mr. Page says -
When I was with the troops in South Africa, awaiting the sending out of reinforcements from England after the reverses at Isandula and Rorke’s Drift, we were kept seven months without grog, and during that time not one man was sent up for punishment. But when we got to Dundee, where a famous buttle was fought during the recent war, the men were able to get liquor from the stores, and the first night after our entrance into the town there were thirty-seven in the guard-room for drunkenness. Thenceforth, until we marched into Zululand again, there were several confinements each day from the same cause. I determined then that if I had the chance to put an end to the canteen system on active service I would do so.
Those of us who know Mr. Page will agree that he is no fanatic upon the liquor question. He has known nearly all the phases of Army life, and is quite as strong as the other authorities I have quoted in regard to the abolition of the canteen. Now I will turn to America, and quote a few statements from authorities with regard to the influence of the canteen upon the Army. In a report of the United States Secretary for War for December, 1900, I find, summarizing the particulars, that thirty-five officers declared the canteen detrimental to military service, forty declared it to be prejudicial to discipline, twenty say that it has increased drunkenness, and thirty-six declare outright in favour of prohibition. I have here quite a number of statements made by distinguished officers in favour of the - course I am advocating. I need not quote them all, but I will mention a few instances. There are one or two striking pieces of testimony which I wish to emphasize, because I think j they ought to be considered in the course of this discussion. One officer says that in spite of the efforts to prevent excess, drunkenness is encouraged by the canteen. These opinions are from men who live among soldiers, and who know what the influence of the canteen is. They see its ill effects. Another officer says -
It is too late to refuse a soldier more when he is beginning to show the effect of it. He is irritated by such refusal, and at many posts will simply walk a few hundred yards to some saloon where there are no restrictions….. I have not infrequently been forced to court martial soldiers for drunkenness, when 1 had every reason to believe they had become drunk at the canteen.
I am now quoting from the appendix of the report of the Secretary of State for War of the United States. That testimony must, I think, bear weight.
The canteen at a post is a temptation to many who would not take the trouble to go outside the” post for a drink. This is especially the case with young men who have not formed the habit of drinking ; even men of temperate habits might of ten be prevented from getting drunk if intoxicants were not so conveniently placed within their reach.
We find the same testimony from outside. Although elaborate laws may be passed to suppress drunkenness, the question as to when a man is drunk, or half-drunk, or in any stage of intoxication, is extremely difficult to .settle. The result is that, wherever liquor is sold, no matter whether a person, who wants to buy it is clearly under the influence of drink or not, those in charge of the canteen will give to him the drink which enslaves and intoxicates. The same officer says -
The plea that you can limit the amount of beer sold to a man in the canteens, is fallacious. The bar-tender who will refuse a man beer when he thinks he has had enough, will, I suspect, be hard to find.
In addition to this evidence I will quote the testimony of Major-General Shatter, well known in connexion with the attack upon Santiago, who says -
I have heard the defence mode where men have been arraigned for being drunk and disorderly on guard and in quarters, that the drink was sold to them by the Government.
That is exactly the excuse that is put forward in Australia. I heard Senator Neild say the other day exactly what is set down in this piece of evidence. He said that this business brought a certain amount of profit, which was distributed amongst the companies of men, and which went to assist the soldiers in barracks and in camp. MajorGeneral Shafter continues -
I have always been strongly opposed to the canteen system or the sale of intoxicating drinks of any kind on military reservations, and have opposed it until absolutely overruled and required to establish a canteen at my post. I regard it us demoralizing to them, besides impairing seriously their efficiency. The plea that it furnishes a large sum, which it does, to improve the table fare of the men. is in my opinion a very . poor one, as the Government of the United States is perfectly able to feed its men without any ‘assistance from the profits of rum selling.
I commend these words to the Defence Department of the Commonwealth. It is the duty of the Government to feed its soldiers properly, and not to make a profit out of the sale of liquor in the canteens. Give the men better food and less drink. Major-General Shatter says -
I have absolutely prohibited the sale of liquor by shutting up the saloons in the city of Santiago, and have refused permission for cargoes of beer to come from the States here.
Then, again, let me quote from MajorGeneral Miles, the head of the American Army - another gentleman who is no fanatic upon the liquor question. Speaking from his own military experience, Major-G.eneral Miles says -
In this most important hour of the nation’s history, it is due to the Government from all those in its service that they should not only render their most earnest efforts for its honour and welfare, but that their full physical and intellectual force should be given to their public duties, uncontaniinated by any indulgence that shall dim, stultify, weaken, or impair their faculties and strength in tiny particular.
Refuting the argument that under some circumstances stimulants are necessaiy, the same officer writes -
The history of other armies has demonstrated that in a hot climate absence from the use of intoxicating drink is essential to continued health and efficiency.
That is strong and convincing language, at any rate ; as strong as it is possible to be, especially coming from an officer whose reputation is so great, and who does not hesitate to put his opinions in print. Another distinguished American officer, Major-General Wheeler, says -
I am utterly opposed to soldiers being sold intoxicating liquors, and I believe that every effort should be exercised to remove the temptation of such dissipation from them.
Major General Boynton, who for a time commanded the camp at Chicharaauger -
Testified before the Inquiry Commission that the sale of 372 cartloads of beer in that camp.wos largely responsible for the sickness and death for which the camp was noted.
I might say, by way of comment, that this particular camp was noted for its excessive mortality: The officer I have quoted declares that to a large extent the excessive drinking brought on by the canteen was responsible for that sickness and death. I will also quote, the opinion of one of the principal medical officers of the American Army - I refer to Surgeon-General Sterberg : Speaking of this matter he says -
I don’t think much of the beer canteen. The theory that the soldier needs a beer canteen to keep him from going to outside saloons for something stronger is all wrong. There is nothing in. it. On the contrary, a great many young soldiers who are not accustomed to drink, contract drinking habits at these canteens, and are ruined. There is no need whatever for intoxicating drinks at these canteens, and it will be n good thing for the army if they are abolished.
I have quoted distinguished military men and surgeons, and I shall now quote a United States chaplain who looks on this question from an altogether different point of view. The Rev. Cephas C. Bateman, chaplain, “Vancouver, Washington, says -
Above all, there are many young men who enlist in the army to whom the very name of saloon is offensive. These young men have been taught not to drink by their parents, and if liquor were barred out of the post they would not be tempted ; but the canteen, distinguished as it is from the offensive saloon, is a constant temptation, and ifc is little wonder that many of them yield. In fact, among the hundreds of letters, which I have received from soldiers’ mothers, the main point of objection raised against the canteen is its alleged attractiveness which its advocates have so dwelt upon. Clothed in a pleasant guise, the mothers fear far more from this so-called Soldiers’ Club than they do from the open saloon.
As I said at the outset, I feel very strongly on ‘this question. The presence of the canteen is, and has been, dangerous in eveiy other part of the world, as proved by the testimony I have submitted. In the course of our daily life we have all seen the evil effects of drink, and happy is the home which has escaped its influence. Very few of us can say that strong drink has not exercised its deadly . effects, in some form, on those who are near and dear. We all know good, men who have “gone under” in consequence of drink ; and even as I speak I can recall the faces of men . who have gone to their long account simply because of the allurements of one of the greatest vices of our race and country. Although my proposal may not be carried to-day I believe that, with the spread of education, and in view of the testimony we have on every band, the time will come when restriction, such as I now advocate, will be carried into effect in the Commonwealth. Feeling that the course I am taking is the wisest and best for the community, I venture to submit -this clause.
– I support the Minister for Defence in the position he has taken up. While we may agree in the main with what has been urged by Senator Barrett, from the temperance point of view, I feel that the bulk of the arguments advanced by him have entirely missed fire - that they do not meet the situation with which we are confronted. The question of “beer or no beer” is not covered by the proposed new clause.
– What about the example in America 1
– It is an entirely wrong doctrine that because evils arise out of certain actions or institutions, those actions and institutions must be immediately prohibited. We can regulate and control, and that is the course which ought to be pursued. Senator Barrett’s proposal applies to canteens the extreme total abstinence principles which are sought to be applied in the cities. But those principles have failed in the cities, and I believe they will fail in the case of the army. If there were not licensed and controlled public-houses, we should have illicit shanties all over the place.
– What about the prohibition of black labour ?
-There is absolutelyno parallel between the two cases. We have to decide not whether there shall be “ beer or no beer,” but whether the soldier shall be able to get his stimulants in barrack canteens, which are regulated and controlled, or whether he shall be obliged to go outside where no regulations can apply. As between the two, the proper institution is the canteen. I should be only too willing to discuss the broader question raised by Senator Barrett, but that does not arise on the present occasion. I am not quite clear that we can make a man a good soldier by depriving him of his beer. After all, we have to take into consideration the characteristics of the race ; and I have just been reminded that one of the greatest soldiers the . world ever saw said that two of the best fighting men in the world were a half-tight Irishman and a half-starved Scotchman.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - The Minister for Defence has already referred to the question of barrack canteens, and I shall confine myself to the provision of liquor at camps where citizen soldiers are gathered for periodical training. I have the greatest respect for Senator Barrett and his principles ; but in my opinion it is much better that any drinking establishment in the vicinity of a camp should be under military rule and management, than that publicans, under State laws, should be granted licenses enabling them to create scenes of drunkenness that would not otherwise occur. For that reason, if for no other, I shall have to oppose the proposed new clause. All who are acquainted with military matters know that there are what are termed “wet “and “dry “ canteens. At the former, tinned meats and other commodities are sold, but the two are usually conducted together ; and it is much better that all such institutions should be under military rule than in the hands of publicans, who simply endeavour to make as much as they can out of men who are thus compelled to obtain their drink more or less surreptitiously.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - I find myself compelled by my experience and principles to support the proposal of Senator Barrett. I must express my deep regret that for the last twenty four hours the Defence Bill has not received, except from one or two honorable senators the grave consideration it deserves. We have had a political crisis, and honorable senators have been rushing away to listen, to speeches delivered in another place’ while the Bill has been hurried through at an improper rate.
– Do not lecture us.
– I am not lecturing honorable senators, but merely expressing regret that a Bill dealing with a most important subject should be rushed through simply because honorable senators desire to get away this afternoon. I do not think that the Minister for Defence or my largelyexperienced friend, Senator Neild, has in any way disposed of the arguments of Senator Barrett. Did I use the grandiloquent language of Senator Neild, I should say that those gentlemen show their supreme ignorance of human nature. It is well know that the less people have to do with drink the better. It is all very fine for the Minister to say that the canteens will be under proper military regulation and control ; but does the Minister suppose for one moment that a committee of military officers, with Senator Neild at their head, could possibly exercise any control as to how much liquor a man should take ?
– That is absolutely controlled.
– It is absolutely impossible to exercise such control. In scores of instances in America it has been shown that the canteens are positively dangerous, and yet those canteens are all under military control and regulation. Whoever heard of a man being controlled in the matter of what he drinks? For very many years efforts have been made to give the State control of the liquor traffic ; hut does not the liquor traffic get the benefit in every Act? Do my honorable friends not know that a man who is trying to keep off the drink, and who has been absolutely sober for days or weeks, may, by the mere sight of a friend taking a glass in a canteen, be driven back to drunkenness ? From having one glass of beer in the canteen a man may go outside and resume his intemperate habits. If honorable senators have read works dealing with the cure of intemperance, they know that such instancescan be counted by the thousand. I undertake to say that of every thousand soldiersthere will be found scores whom one glass would drive to intemperance. It is idle to say that we can regulate the drink consumed in a canteen, or that it is much better for a soldier to get drink in barracks than outside. Drink consumed in a canteen under regulation and under the eye of officers may give a thirst for more. I hold in my hand an extract from the remarks of an American General of forty years’ experience. It is as follows : -
The canteen stands as a constant invitation tothe total abstainer to drink, as a temptation tothe moderate drinker to drink more, and as a convenience to the drunkard to load up on beer when he has not the means to obtain anything stronger.
I defy Senator Neild or any one else todeny one word of that statement. Honorable members are insisting on bringing our men into temptation, when we find Lord Roberts and other authorities making endeavours in exactly the opposite direction, and urging the army* to become teetotal. I am afraid that prohibition, although it is carried out in some of the States, is little more than a dream ; but there is no dream about keeping drink out of our camps and barracks. Seeing thatdrink is the great curse of the nation and of humanity, we prefer to have soldiers who are teetotallers. Let me quote a few statistics relating to the effect of army abstinence in India, which are given under the hand of Lord Roberts, with all his great experience. In 189S there were in India 18,663 members of the Army Temperance Association, and 48,S42 nonmembers; convictions by court-martial per 1,000 were 412 amongst members of the association, and 3638, or 8 times as many, amongst the non-members ; and summary punishments for insubordination per 1,000 were 39-70 amongst the members, and 92-32 amongst the non-members. In 1897 the admissions to the hospital per 1,000 were 209 members, and 302 non-members; and convictions by court-martial per 1,000 were 5-07 amongst members, and 34’34 amongst non-members. Why cannot we in this matter follow the example of Lord Roberts, Sir George White, and Lord Kitchener?
– They have all to do with professional soldiers in barracks, whereas we have to deal with citizen soldiers.
SenatorDOBSON.- But they have to deal with human nature and the cursed drink traffic, Are we going to start the Australian Army by refusing to drill our boys, or to have any compulsion whatever, and to further enact that we must have canteens controlled by paltry regulations on paper? General Daggett, the American General whom I have already quoted, also says -
It -was no unusual thing to find a company - I commanded a company more than twenty years - on inspection, with a majority uf its members more or less under the influence of liquor, bub not so much as to subject them to punishment ; but they could not perform their duty as well as they could if they had not been drinking.
I believe that some old hands in the permanent force have become almost perpetual soakers. If we make no effort to remove the temptation from their way it will be a great blot on our military system. I regret that it is too late in the afternoon for honorable senators to fully express their opinions. I should be very glad to hear some opinions expressed on the other side, and to answer them. If we cannot have a debate on this question - if we . are of opinbn that men cannot be made sober by Act of Parliament,let us help to make them sober by keeping drink out of the barracks and camps. I am told by some honorable senators, for whom I have great respect, that it is absolutely necessary to have drink in the camps. It. is said that the men would notgoto theencampments at Easter for a week or ten days unless beer and whisky were carted out. I can hardly realize that it is the case. If we are to have camps of exercise, as I hope we shall, for our soldiers between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one, is it necessary to cart out hogsheads of beer ? Are we to believe that the young men would not go to the camps unless the beer were provided ? In that case we ought to provide for compulsory drill, and insist that there shall be no beer provided. If a man cannot train to serve his country and to defend his home without having drink at his elbow, he is not fit for military service. I do not believe the statements which are made to that effect. I believe that if a poll of the men between the ages of seventeen and twentyone or twenty-five and thirty-five were taken to-morrow, the great majority would say - “ Keep drink away from the canteen.” Believing that it is absolutely impossible to regulate the canteen, I heartily support the proposal of Senator Barrett.
Question - That the proposed new clause be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived. .
Schedule 1 agreed to.
I thought then, and I think still, that it is not necessary ; but in order to make the measure perfectly clear to everyone, I shall’ ask the Committee to make the necessary alterations in the schedules.
Schedules 2 and 3 amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Drake) proposed -
That the Chairman report the Bill with amendments.
Amendment (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That all the words after the word “That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “clauses 4, 8, 9, 17, 39, 51, 55, SO, and 89 be reconsidered.”
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - I desire to have a discussion in a full Senate on clause 60 relating to cadet corps, and on the clause which was proposed by Senator Barrett, and which was negatived just now by a majority of only two votes.
– Any proposal which has been rejected cannot be discussed in the same Committee. The question before the Committee is the reconsideration of certain clauses, and it cannot do anything inconsistent with what it has done.
– It would be competent, I think, to submit a proposal to the effect that only beer and wine of a light character should be sold in the canteen. I ask that clause 60 be added to the clauses to be reconsidered.
– I desire to know from the Minister for Defence whether it is proposed to reconsider these clauses this afternoon or at the next meeting of the Senate 1
– This afternoon.
– I deprecate this great haste on the part of the Minister to rush through an important measure. Senator Playford has moved for the reconsideration of nine clauses. We know very well that some honorable senators desire to get away by 4 o’clock. Are we to dispose of those nine clauses in half-an-hour ?
– The clauses deal with matters which have been discussed. I promised that they would be reconsidered for the purpose of making verbal amendments.
– It will take a considerable time to discuss the proposal of Senator Dobson. Some questions have been considered in a very hurried way to-day. I would urge the Minister, if it is absolutely necessary that he should have a holiday, to postpone the final consideration of this measure until the next meeting of the Senate on Tuesday week, when we should be better fitted to deal with all these questions.
– It was agreed to adjourn the Senate over next week on the understanding that the consideration of this Bill would be completed this week. Otherwise we have no justification for adjourning over next week. The amendments which we desire to make in certain clauses only relate to matters which have been discussed.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia). - I object strongly to this application of the gag to which we are being subjected. We are asked to agree to the reconsideration of a number of clauses, and told that we must complete the consideration of the Bill by 4 o’clock in order to get a holiday next week. We do not intend to be driven iri that way. We shall discuss these questions until half past 4 o’clock if necessary. There is no reason why an important Bill of this character should be rushed through the Senate. Surely there has not been any undue discussion of its clauses. We desire to know the reason why only certain clauses are to be reconsidered. We wish to reconsider the proposal of Senator Barrett relating to the canteen, and the proposal of Senator Dobson relating to the cadet corps.
– And Senator Matheson desires his proposal for a Council of Defence to be considered by a fuller Senate.
– There ought to be a full Senate to deal with all important matters.
– We have plenty of time in which to consider all these questions. Otherwise, why are we to have a holiday next week ?
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - I rise to ask the Minister for Defence if he will agree to recommit the Bill for the reconsideration of of the proposal relating to the canteens. I feel very strongly on this subject. It is not fair to expect Senator Barrett to be satisfied with a verdict of eleven votes to nine. There will not be .time to reconsider these clauses this afternoon. It is not a business-like proceeding to rush the Bill through in this way, and I am opposed to this great haste.
– I shall oppose a recommittal of the Bill for that purpose.
– Apparently, the Minister shrinks from taking the sense of the Senate.
– The remarks of the honorable and learned senator would be quite revelant to a proposal to recommit the Bill j but the only question before the Committee is the reconsideration of certain clauses.
– In that case, sir, I would point out that the reconsideration of the clauses this afternoon would take up too mueh time. Either let us abandon the proposed holiday, and sit on as Jong as the Minister likes, or let us adjourn now, because it is not right to finish the Bill in this hurried way.
– Divide, or do something.
– The Minister has’ never found me unreasonable. I cannot perceive any reason for hurrying on the completion of the Bill. If he would give some reasons for taking this course, I might agree with him ; but he has only said that the Bill must be got through this afternoon.
– Some of us wish to inspect the Federal Capital sites next week.
– The consideration of that question must stand over until wehave passed the machinery Bills. T ask the Minister if he cannot consent to report progress, and to resume the consideration of the Bill on Tuesday week.
– If we are to re-open questions which have been discussed and settled, it will mean that we shall have to sit next week. We have no justification for adjourning over next week unless we have completed our work. The understanding on which we agreed to a week’s adjournment was, that certain legislation should be passed by this afternoon. That is exactly how the matter stands. I do not see any justification for re-discussing a question which was discussed very fully this afternoon.
– The delivery of four speeches cannot be said to be a very full discussion of the question.
Senator BARRETT (Victoria). - I understood, in the early part of the . afternoon, that the disposal of my proposal would practically complete the consideration of the Bill. But we are now face to face with another situation. If there is to be a reconsideration of other questions, there ought to be a reconsideration of a question ort which I, with others, feel very strongly. It iswell known that, although I spoke at some length, I hurried through with my speech; but, now that I find the Minister asking for the reconsideration of certain clauses, I ask for a fuller discussion of the “ canteen “ question.
– I object, sir, to clause- 60 being included in the amendment.
– That can be put separately.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - I object to clause 60 being put separately. What has often occurred here when a friend of the Minister has moved that certain clausesshould be reconsidered? The question has been asked - “ Does any other senator wish a clause to be reconsidered ? “, the numbers of the clauses have been stated, and all the clauses have been ordered to be reconsidered. I think that out of courtesy to myself,. Senator Drake ought to consent to theinclusion of clause 60 in the proposal of Senator Playford.
– It has never been done for the purpose of re-opening a discussion which had just been finished.
– I do not wish to discuss . the whole question.- I should be perfectly prepared to propose that all boys at primary and secondary schools should be compelled to drill. As I believe that the> training of cadets should be the foundation of our system of defence, I feel that I ought to lose no opportunity to get the matter discussed in a full Senate.
– We might as well take a division on that question, now that we know what the honorable and learned senator desires.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I should like the Minister of Defence to state whatbusiness the Senate will have to do during the week after next. Next door a duel has. been going on all day between two prominent gentlemen, and it is likely to last all next week.
– We shall have the proposed resolutions relating to the Federal Capital Sitej and probably a Supply Bill, todeal with. .
– The motion relating to the Federal capital site will be disposed of in half an hour. The Minister can see perfectly well that the Defence Bill is not in. danger.
– We want to have these amendments sent back to the other place.
– I trust that the Minister will consent to report progress, and allow us to get away.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia). - I also hope that the Minister will consent to report progress at this stage. The Bill ought to be considered properly in its final stages. The honorable and learned senator is taking up a hostile attitude towards the Senate. He wants to have a certain number of clauses reconsidered, and to exclude other clauses which others want to have reconsidered. He wishes the Chairman to put the motions for reconsideration separately, in order that he may oppose the reconsideration of those clauses which he does not want to have discussed again. I could understand his attitude if time had been wasted in discussion upon this Bill, but we have treated the Government with the greatest consideration and fairness. There has been no “stone-walling,” and the Bill has been got through very speedily. We used to complain about being driven by the VicePresident of the Executive Council, but if Senator O’Connor used whips upon us, the Minister for Defence is scourging us with scorpions. I am inclined to think that the Bill has been rushed through too quickly. I shall vote against the recommittal of any clause if the Minister opposes the reconsideration of clauses which others want to reconsider.
– Is it a wise thing for theMinister to take up a hostile attitude towards the Senate?
– The honorable senator knows what arrangement was made.
– But a change of circumstances may necessitate an alteration in the arrangements. There is no necessity to rush this Bill through. I respectfully suggest to the Minister, notwithstanding the arrangement made, that under the altered circumstances, seeing that a number of honorable senators desire that certain clauses shall be reconsidered, he should not thrust this little arrangement in their faces. He should consider the temper of the Committee. I had not a word to say during the afternoon, because I wanted to see the arrangement which was made carried out, but as we have nearly reached the usual adjournment hour, and it is evident that there is no time to finish the Bill, the Minister might as well be reasonable. I should have liked to discuss the amendment with regard to canteen, but refrained from doing so so as to shorten the debate. There has been no waste of time, but the business has been expedited in the most commendable manner.
– I do not think that some honorable senators are acting at all fairly in this matter. They know very well that I was asked to agree to an adjournment over next week, and said there would be no objection to that if this Bill was passed by the end of the present -week. That was the agreement. But it must be seen that, if that arrangement is gone back upon and this Bill is blocked in its final stages, it will look very bad in the face of any attempt being made in the future amongst ourselves to get away for a day or two. I shall be bound to regard what has taken place as a breach of faith-.
– The Minister has no right to do that.
– The reconsideration of clauses now asked for is necessary in consequence of the amendments which have been made in Committee. The only clause of a contentious nature is that relating to warrant officers. Senator Neild asked me to make an alteration, and it was agreed that there should be some reconsideration. Two of the clauses which I desire to reconsider relate to that question.
– Three of them.
– The other matters are in the nature of verbal alterations which have become necessary in consequence of amendments made, or to remedy little slips. Senator Walker desires to move an amendment with reference to the oath in the interpretation clause, to make it correspond with the schedule we have inserted. In some cases I propose to make amendments to cure obvious defects. I desire to reconsider clause 17 with regard to the way in which non-commissioned officers will be appointed. I think the Committee will agree that the clause I have drafted will carry out the views I have expressed during the debate. In clause 39 there is a verbal amendment required. The amendment in clause 51 is purely verbal. I propose to omit clause 55, because we have inserted another clause to take its place. I also desire to reconsider clause SO, because SenatorNeild wishes to make a little alteration. These amendments are in the nature of a clear up, such as is necessary after the discussion of a long Bill in Committee. There is nothing of a contentious nature to be done except with regard to the clause affecting warrant officers ; and I think Senator Neild will agree with me on that point. We had plenty of time to do what was required. But Senator Dobson desires to have rediscussed a matter that has already been decided.
– I desire to propose my amendment in a modified form.
– It is not a question of a few hours - it may be a question of days. The honorable and learned senator wants to debate the whole subject over again. If the Committee insists, at the instance of Senator Dobson, upon red iscussing matters that have already been debated at length, and prevents the possibility of getting this Bill through this afternoon, then I must say that faith will not have been kept with me.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - I think the Minister is hardly justified in saying that any honorable senator is not keeping faith with him. When asked whether he would agree to adjourn over next week, the Minister said that it would all depend on how we got on with our work - upon whether we were good boys. We have hurried through our work. In fact I have rather regretted that we have got through the Bill so quickly.- No time has been wasted. There are a few small matters left to be attended to, and I am certain that they can be dealt with in an afternoon. Are Ministers contemplating an early dissolution? Is the session coming to an end, or why is the honorable and learned senator desirous of rushing the Bill through?
– We have no right to adjourn over a week if we have not done our work.
– Will the Ministercontend that we have no right to adjourn over a week because we have half a day’s work left ? All that we want to do can be settled in two or three hours - certainly in an afternoon’s sitting. Personally, I am willing to come here next Tuesday or Wednesday, but I do not think I am guilty of any breach of faith in asking for time for the further consideration of certain very important matters.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I think that the Minister for Defence is about the last man who should speak of a breach of faith. I remember the honorable and learned senator getting us to adjourn the Senate some time ago on an understanding that was not kept.
– When was that ?
– It was with reference to the proposed Pacific Cable Conference.
– I never got the Senate to adjourn on any understanding that was not kept.
– Has the Conference that was asked for in Mr. Chamberlain’s letter been carried out ? The present understanding was that we should adjourn over the week if the work was done. But the work does not happen to be done. There is no particular urgency over this Defence Bill. We are not threatened with invasion by a foreign power just now. The measure may as well stand over for ten days or a fortnight.
– I agree with everything that has been said, and I beg to move -
That progress be reported.
– I must ask the honorable senator not to do that.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– I am very sorry that honorable senators are in this frame of mind, because I shall have to look upon it as a breach of faith, which will make things very hard when efforts are made to come to an arrangement in the future. I say, knowing something of parliamentary procedure, that there was nothing to prevent us from finishing our work on this Bill this afternoon. In fact the time available was more than sufficient under ordinary circumstances. We have settled every contentious matter in the Bill, and all that it is necessary to do now is to make certain small amendments, mostly of a verbal character. Though wo may, perhaps, be able to finish our work upon the Bill in two or three hours, or it may be in a day, still it is very inconvenient to delay the measure. It would be very much better to push it through and return it to the other House. There will be an unsatisfactory feeling that we might just as well have finished it to-day, and kept faith. I shall always consider that the Senate has not on this occasion kept faith with the representative of the Government.
– I move -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until Tuesday, 22nd September.
There was an understanding arrived at that we should not sit next week because it was probable that there would be no work to do. So far as I con see there will be no business except what remains of the Defence Bill, and it is not necessary for us to meet for that alone. At all events, so far as I am concerned, I shall stick to the letter as well as to the spirit of my undertaking. When we meet again we shall have before us the proposed resolutions with regard to the Federal ‘ Capital, and there may be other important business.
– I am anxious to keep the Senate in touch with what is going on with regard to the Pacific Cable Conference.
– I do not think the honorable senator is in order. The motion is that the Senate at its rising shall adjourn until Tuesday week, instead of . until Tuesday next, and the only matter which may be discussed is in reference to the meeting of the Senate.
– I submit thot the Senate has a standing order permitting senators to discuss any matter on the motion for adjournment.
– The standing order referred to relates to. a motion which is made before the business of the Senate commences, and which is supported by four members rising in their places. This is the ordinary motion which has been moved ever since wc have been a Senate, and foreign matters have never yet been brought into the discussion.
– I beg to disagree with your ruling, Mr. President.
– The honorable senator must put his objection in writing, and the debate must be adjourned to a future day.
– The matter may be adjourned to a future day if it is not one of urgenoy, but I submit that this is a matter of urgency.
– I am quite sure that the honorable senator is acting without due consideration. The honorable senator is confusing two motions - the motion that “ The Senate, at its rising, shall adjourn” to a future date, and the motion “That the Senate do now adjourn.”
– Will you allow me one moment, Mr. President? It may be remembered that Senator Qould, in speaking of the Standing Orders, referred to the very great convenience of being able to call attention to matters of importance on the motion for adjournment.
– This is not a motion, “That the House do now adjourn.”
– At any ra te, that motion will be moved in a moment.
– I hope that the honorable senator will obey my ruling and not dispute it, when he has not considered the question.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Deakin) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– With all respect, Mr. President, I say that if you had intimated to me-
– I did call the honorable senator’s attention to the Standing Orders.
– I understand, sir, that you referred to a motion for adjournment moved before the business of the day had been called on.
– I referred to a motion that the Senate at its rising should adjourn until an unusual day.
– I wish to keep the Senate informed as to what is going on. in reference to the Pacific Cable Conference. I understand that the Government have informed Mr. Reynolds–
– Our Standing Orders, provide that the question - “ That the Senate do now. adjourn “ may be debated, but the Standing Orders do not make any exception to the usual rule that the debate must be relevant to the subject-matter of the motion. I admit that this is an entirely new question - it has never arisen before, and it ought to be decided once and for all. I do not say that it must be decided now, but we shall have to determine whether or not on the motion - “That the Senate do now adjourn,” all manner of questions may be brought under discussion. The ordinary rule is that all debate must be relevant to the motion, and the motion - “ That the Senate do now adjourn “ refers only to the question of the time to which the Senate shall sit. We have no standing order which provides that the ordinary rule shall be departed from on the motion. Whether or not it was the intention of the Senate when they passed the standing order to provide that all manner of irrelevant matter should be discussed on such a motion I cannot say ; and in my opinion that is a point which ought to be decided. I think it is for the Senate itself to decide the matter, and I shall ask Senator Higgs not to continue the discussion at the present moment, but to leave for settlement at some future date the question of whether or not it is competent for. members to discuss irrelevant matters on themotion - “ThattheSenate donow adjourn.” I ask the honorable senator to ‘take that course in order to meet the wishes of a number of honorable senators.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I know that some honorable senators desire to leave by train, and have made their arrangements accordingly ; and I have no desire to place any obstacle in their way. I am quite willing that the matter should be postponed., because I feel quite certain that I am right in the view I take. I remember that a few days ago, on the question - “That the Senate do now adjourn,” Senator Gould, I believe, and myself, discussed various matters. However, I submit to your ruling, sir, and shall keep my information for some other occasion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 September 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030911_senate_1_16/>.