2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General if the Government have come to any decision on the application from the National Rifle Associations of the Eastern States for assistance towards the travelling expenses of representative teams of riflemen going to Perth, Western Aus tralia, to take part in the Commonwealth’ match.
– It is proposed to assist in the direction intended. The details will be definitely determined, and communicated to the Senate later on.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General how many Commonwealth civil servants have lodged their life assurance policies with the chief officers of Departments, as provided by regulation 176 under the Public Service Act
– The Public Service Commissioner reports that the number is 2,215.
– I wish to know from the Attorney-General if he has noticed a statement in the Melbourne Age of Monday last to the effect that the Government contemplate offering Major-General Sir Edward Hutton a re-engagement as General Officer Commanding for another three years ? Is there any foundation in fact for such a statement ?
– I have to thank my honorable friend for his courtesy in intimating to me that he proposed to ask this question. I have no knowledge whatever on the subject, and so far as I am aware the only authority for the rumour - I leave it to my honorable friend to judge as to its value - is the newspaper statement to which he refers.
– I desire to ask Senator Dawson if it is a fact, as stated in the public press, that when he quitted office he left in the Department a memorandum seriously reflecting upon the conduct of the Major-General Commanding the Forces of the Commonwealth ?
– I do not think that that is a question which can be asked. The Standing Orders provide that questions may be asked of Ministers concerning jmblic matters generally, and of a private member concerning any matter of which he has charge, such as a Bill, or other business before the House.
.- Then, I beg to give notice that I shall, on the next day of sitting, move for the production of the paper referred to.
– I must be permitted to make some reply to these startling statements, which have now come to my. ears for the first time. Neither directly nor indirectly have I or my firm at any time advised Major-General Hutton; and I have never heard even a rumour to the effect that the facts were otherwise. The other statement contains about the same amount of truth as that to which I have just replied. It is utterly without foundation,
– If any witness said what has been alleged to have been uttered, he committed a breach of privilege.
– I think it is most offensive for Senator Neild to bring a matter of this kind before the House.
– The honorable and” learned senator ought not to say that in answering a question.
.- Mr. President, in view of-
– The honorable senator ought not to make a speech.
.- I do not wish to make a speech; but I should certainly like to offer, a personal explanation.
– We are certainly entitled to one. It is a disgraceful thing to do what the honorable senator has done.
– T do not think that the honorable senator can make a personal explanation. Does he wish to make a personal explanation in regard to some matter arising out of the answer which he has received ?
-Yes; I think that Senator Best misunderstood my question. Otherwise ‘ he would not have made the reply which he did. As the matter was a public one, and it was known that these statements had been made publicly, I thought it desirable that the opportunity for refutation should be equally public.
– I prefer to treat such statements with contempt.
.-I have io announce to the Senate that, consequent upon the resignation of the Ministry of which the Honorable John Christian Watson was Prime Minister, His Excellency the Governor-General commissioned . the Right Honorable George Houston Reid to form a new Administration. That task he undertook and accomplished, with the result that His Excellency has been pleased to make the following appointments: -
The Hon. Allan. McLean, Minister of State for Trade and Customs ;
The Hon. Sir Josiah Henry Symon, K.C.M.G., K.C., AttorneyGeneral ;
The Hon. James Whiteside McCay, Minister of State for Defence;
The Hon. Sydney Smith, PostmasterGeneral ;
The Hon. James (leorge Drake, VicePresident of the Executive Council.
It has fallen to my lot to be the leader for the Government in the Senate, a position the honour of which I value very highly, and I hope that in discharging its duties I shall secure the good-will of honorable senators, even though we may differ upon questions of policy. The House of Representatives has adjourned . until the 7th September, to enable the Government to consider and prepare their programme, and to arrange the course of public business, and if it will meet the convenience of honorable senators - because, in this matter, I am entirely in their, hands -I shall conclude with a motion for the adjournment of the Senate, at its rising, until that date. My own feeling is that it would be consistent with the dignity of the Senate and its importance under the Constitution, that the policy of the new Administration should be made known in this House, at least concurrently with its announcement in the House of Representatives. But if honorable senators desire a more lengthy adjournment, I shall be prepared to meet the general convenience. I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday, 7th September.
-I rise to congratulate the AttorneyGeneral upon his assumption of the leadership of this important branch of the Parliament of the Commonwealth, and I am sure that when the measures introduced by the Government are in the interests of the general community, he will have no reason to complain of want of support from the section of the House to which I have the honour to belong. We have always endeavoured to so conduct ourselves as to show the people of Australia that our intentions are of the very best. In view of the fact that a majority of honorable senators desire to return to their homes this afternoon, I do not think that the present is an occasion upon which long speeches should be delivered. I therefore content myself with again offering my congratulations to the new Ministry.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers with which I have been supplied are as follow : -
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– I have been informed that the questions have already been answered. Even so, there is no harm in answering them again. The replies are as follow : -
B.L. gun, carriage, and limber into a 15-pounder B.L. gun is£500; cost of packing, insurance, freight, &c, say, £23; total,£523.
– I wish to ask a question arising out of that reply. Could the Attorney-General inform me as to the amount that is to be paid to the States with respect to the obsolete guns ?
– I should be glad if the honorable senator would make that a- separate question, and give notice of it.
Senator MATHESON in asking the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
I should like to explain that two of the questions were answered on a previous occasion, but, owing to some irregularity, the answers could not be included in the records.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– Probably honorable senators are not aware that if they wish to debate this Bill they must do so on the motion for the first reading.
– The statement of the honorable senator is scarcely correct. The Standing Orders provide that in the case of Bills in regard to which the Senate may make requests, but which they cannot amend, a discussion may take place upon the motion for the first reading, with regard to matters which may not be relevant to the subject-matter of the measure. That does not, however, affect the right of honorable senators to discuss matters relevant to the Bill upon the. motion for the second reading.
– I know that some honorable senators wish to discuss matters which are not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, and I merely wish to point out that if they wait for the motion for the second reading their remarks must be confined to the subject-matter of the Bill. Whilst offering my congratulations to the members of the Ministry, I am sorry that I cannot compliment them upon the methods which they have adopted in order to secure their places upon the Treasury benches. As has been said in another place, they have initiated a new system in our methods of party government. They find themselves in this House with, I believe, a majority opposed to them, and they must take the responsibility of having, in another place, where they happen to have a majority, adopted methods which cannot be called fair, and which, if followed here, might place in an uncomfortable position any Government, even though it happened to possess the requisite majority to enable it to -weather an ordinary no confidence motion. I think that most honorable senators have been struck with the peculiar combination now on the Government benches. Senators whose one object in political life seems to be the promulgation of the fiscal belief of free-trade are now associated with men whose one aim seems to be the advocacy of the fiscal belief of protection.
– The honorable senator knows that that issue is dead for the next two years.
– Certainly, if anything can kill, or discredit it, it is the action of honorable gentlemen in regard to it. After having told us that it was a most important question - more important than was any other-
An Honorable Senator. - But they are older now.
– They have discovered that it is a very secondary question. Hence we find the present wonderful combination. We have only to look at the two members of the Government in this House, to recollect the fulminations of the AttorneyGeneral when he occupied the position of leader of the Opposition against the present Vice-President of the Executive Council. We all remember the way in which he pulverized that gentleman when the Tariff was under consideration. Recollecting these facts we cannot avoid thinking that politics occasionally provide us with strange bed-fellows. At the present time, there is before another branch of the Legislature, a Bill with which, I presume, we shall shortly be asked to deal, and one in which the country is intensely interested. Looking at honorable senators opposite, and knowing by a perusal of the press of this State the opinions which some of them entertain towards that legislation, one cannot help feeling apprehensive of the fate of that measure, if it is dependent upon the good-will of the present combination. For instance, the declared followers of the present Government include Senator Dobson and Senator Fraser, two of the most irreconcilable members of the Chamber, who are always prepared to stoutly oppose anything in the nature of reform, or progression.
– The honorable senator has no right to say that.
– I do not think that I am falsely accusing them.
– Why does not the honorable senator speak when Senator Fraser is present?
– I am perfectly prepared to do so. But I would point out that it is Senator Fraser’s duty to be present. From the safe obscurity of a dinner given by the Employers’ Federation he hurled epithets at honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber when they were not present. I take this opportunity to reply to some of those epithets, and to some of the criticism directed at this party.
– It is a waste of time.
– It may be so. At any rate, I intend to avail myself of the opportunity to reply to some of those strictures. So far, the Government have not announced their policy, and consequently we can only gather what it will be from the statements of their followers. The Government, of course, are dependent for their Ministerial existence upon their supporters. From those supporters, and particularly from Senators Fraser and Dobson, I gather that the present Administration is bitterly hostile to the policy of a White Australia.
– The honorable senator gathers what is wrong.
– Then Senator Dobson must quarrel with the press.
– No; I quarrel with the honorable senator. Everybody is in favour of a White Australia with a few reasonable exceptions ; but everybody does not go to the same extremes as the honorable senator.
– Senator Fraser is reported to have said that -
The legislation referred to had been very unsatisfactory, and some of it should be revoked. We compelled the sugar-growers of North Queensland to employ white men when thev could not live there. The climate of Cairns was worse than that of Mauritius.
That I take to be a libel upon one of the States of the Commonwealth, because our first Governor-General, when in ill-health, took occasion to visit Cairns, with the object of recuperating. In this Chamber, too, there is an honorable senator with whom we were very sorry to part, but who recently visited Northern Queensland in quest of health. He has now returned thoroughly restored, from a country which is declared to be absolutely fatal to the health of white people. Having expressed hostility to the White Australia policy, Senator Fraser said -
He commended the recent change in politics. Men like George Reid and Allan McLean were to be trusted.
That sentiment was received with applause. Senator Dobson said -
He was glad the Watson Government had gone down on a clause in the Arbitration Bill which no man of common sense or justice could possibly uphold.
– The honorable senator is prejudging the Ministry, because we have yet to learn what they propose to do in connexion with that Bill.
– If they intend to take it up in its present form, in the opinion of the honorable senator they are “ destitute of common sense and justice.” Senator Dobson has also found fault with the constitution of this Chamber. He proposes to lead a revolution in the Senate. The honorable senator who objects so strongly to the Labour Party because there are agitators amongst them, proposes to revolutionize this Chamber, and to place it upon a different footing. He claims that the Senate does not represent the second thought of the community, and is not a check upon legislation. I would ask, “ Is not the honorable senator himself a most appropriate representative of second thought ?” Is it not a fact that upon almost every vital issue which has come before the Senate he has had a second thought, a second opinion, and given a second vote? Time after time, when the Tariff was under discussion, did he not reveal himself as a “ freetectionist “ ? When one vote would have meant the imposition of a duty, he suddenly remembered that he was a free-trader, and his second vote was cast in favour of free-trade. Similarly, after posing as a free-trader amongst free-traders, he has, upon critical divisions, saved the protectionist cause by giving a protectionist vote. We all recollect the historic occasion upon which he recorded four votes upon one question, and distributed them absolutely impartially by casting two in favour of allowing electors the privilege of recording their votes at any pollingplace within their electoral division, and two in favour of permitting them to vote only at the. pollingplace for which they were enrolled. The honorable and learned senator desires not only to exercise this impartiality, but to see a Senate that will also exhibit it. He said last night that he desired to see a Senate that would exercise a second thought, and would put a check on legislation. I presume that the votes which he cast in the erratic manner to which I have referred were designed on second thoughts to check his own legislation. I warn the Government that if they are to depend’ for their support on the honorable and learned senator, it will be necessary for them to see that he leaves the Chamber when once he has recorded a vote on any question, for otherwise it is absolutely certain that he will avail himself with the utmost alacrity of any opportunity that may be given him to reverse it. It is somewhat singular that the Government have come into power on the plea that they are not opposed to the principle of compulsory arbitration, but favour it - that they are not opposed to preference to unionists, but are favorable to it. In the words of Mr. Deakin, however, they will give that preference only when it is asked for by a majority of those working at the trade affected. It is claimed that the McCay amendment, agreed to in another place, was carried on that principle, and yet the two honorable senators to whom
I have referred have rejoiced at the undoing of the Labour Government, for the reason, as they put it, that it means the downfall of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. They rejoiced at the carrying of the McCay amendment, not for the reasons given by Mr. Deakin, but because in their opinion it would render the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill nugatory. When we find that the Government have come into office depending upon the votes of men who hold that opinion, and that they may retain office only by the support of such men, we cannot feel very sanguine as to the class of legislation that will be introduced by them. I should like to ask whether any person - whether he be a member of the Labour Party, or of any other party - <:an hope for democratic legislation from a Government which has to depend for its political life upon such supporters. I cannot understand how any honorable senator who has any belief in democracy, who has any wish to see democratic legislation passed by the Parliament of the Commonwealth, can support a Government which is dependent for its political existence on the votes of men who are opposed to the principle of compulsory arbitration, and are prepared to make the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill utterly useless for the purpose for which it was originally intended. I wish the Government to understand that anything I can do to make their path more difficult, and their political life as short as possible, will be carried out with the utmost good nature.
– That is a very straightforward intimation.
– I recognise that they are opposed to everything that I believe to be in the nature of progress.
– Everything ?
– They are opposed to everything which, in my view, is in the interests of the Commonwealth. That opinion may be due to short-sightedness on my part ; but holding it as I do, it may readily be understood that anything which lies within my power to make the stay of the Government on the Treasury benches as short as possible, will be done with the utmost enthusiasm.
– Before the motion that the Bill be read a first time is agreed to, I also have a few observations to make. I should like to preface my remarks by joining with other senators in congratulating the members of the new Ministry holding seats in this Chamber on their accession to office. No matter how much we may differ politically, I think we can all congratulates them on the high position which they have attained. We may not agree with the methods by which the Government obtained office ; we may not agree with their policy, or even with the methods of administration which may be pursued by them, yet I hope that our personal feelings will not debar us from offering them our very hearty congratulations. In felicitating the leader of the Senate, I should like also to express the hope that he will find it convenient, now that he has attained to so high and distinguished a position, to be more regular in his attendance than he has hitherto been.
– He attended very regularly when the Tariff Bill was before the Senate.
– I shall do so.
– The Government now administering the affairs of the Commonwealth seems to be about the most peculiar - I would almost go so far as to say about the most, shameless - combination of political parties that we have yet seen in Australia. In the first place we have at the head of the Government a right honorable gentleman who has frequently denounced some of his present colleagues and their policy in the most unmeasured terms. It has always been the doctrine of the free-traders, of which the Prime Minister is the head, that protection means robbery. They have invariably said that those who support the giving of protection to any Australian industry are simply robbing the rest of the taxpayers, and they have denounced, in the most violent language, all protection as being robbery. And yet we now find members of the Free-trade Party arm in anm with men whom they formerly denounced in these terms. What particular purpose they have in view I do not know, although I may be able to give a very shrewd guess. On the other hand, protectionists used to denounce free-traders as having a desire to strangle Australian industries - as men acting entirety in the interests of foreign importers - and yet these verv protectionists, who were so ardent in the pursuit of their alleged principle, are now to be seen arm in arm with the free-traders whom they formerly denounced in this way.
– Do we not see a similar combination in the Labour Party?
– No. Every member of the Labour Party is entitled to vote as he pleases on every question having any bearing on the fiscal issue. We have not combined to support a Government which we have formerly denounced as advocating a system of robbery ; nor have we combined to support a Government, the members of which have been formerly denounced by some of our party as men who desired to strangle Australia and Australian industry. Every member of our party is absolutely free, and that is more than can be said of the members of the new combination now before us. It is very peculiar that we should now find men who have advocated these views- who have held them aloft, raising them on a pedestal, and asking the people to fall down and worship them, and to send them into Parliament to fight on their behalf - swallowing their principles, and sinking everything in order to “down” the Labour Party; or, in other words, to “ down “ the party which represents the great bulk of Australian sentiment and the great mass of the Australian people. I said just now that it was surprising to find honorable gentlemen resorting to such tactics ; but on further consideration, it seems to me that that is not the case.. The right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government has spent the greater part of his political career in swallowing principles that he formerly advocated ; in fact, his capacity for swallowing is so great that I believe that, if he only had a tail to commence with, he would be like the celebrated acrobatic snake which a showman is reported to have once carried about the country, and would succeed in swallowing himself. As a Queensland representative, Senator Drake is to be specially congratulated on his inclusion in the Ministry. The present Vice-President of the Executive Council seeems to be exceptionally fortunate politically. He reminds one of Tennyson’s “ Brook.” Ministries may come and Ministries may go, but Senator Drake appears to go on for ever; no matter which Ministry may be in power, Senator Drake is in office pretty nearly all the time.
An Honorable Senator. - He is a political “Vicar of Bray.”
– Senator Drake is a remarkably complacent gentleman, who never does anything to embarrass any Administration with which he may be concerned. He does not even allow his dignity to interfere with his acceptance of office. When Attorney-General in the previous Ad ministration, he took second place in this Chamber, giving the first to the VicePresident of the Executive Council ; but now that he occupies the latter position, he immediately sinks his dignity again, and is content to give first place to the present Attorney-General. Such humility might be envied even by a Uriah Heep.
– That is most unfair !
– If the contentions I put forward have no foundation they will have no effect ; if they have any foundation, then it is right they should be uttered. At any rate, I shall not apologize to Senator Zeal, or anybody else, for what I may say on the present occasion.
– I do not wish the honorable senator to apologize; I should feel it a great humiliation if he offered an apology.
– While representatives of Queensland may congratulate Senator Drake on his inclusion in the Ministry, I do not think they have any reason to congratulate themselves on that event. We have had considerable experience of Senator Drake in Queensland politics, and we find in him no political stability. On the present occasion Senator Drake is willing to join a Ministry, the head of which, on many occasions and in various places, has spoken of him in the most contemptuous terms. No matter how unkind or cruel my remarks may appear, what I now say is a mere circumstance compared with the contemptuous terms in which Senator Drake has been frequently spoken of by the head of the Administration of which he is now a member. Yet Senator Drake is willing to join with the present Prime Minister, and forget the past.; and doubtless if I were in a position to offer the office of Vice-President of the Executive Council to Senator Drake to-morrow, the .severity of any remarks I may make to-day would not, in the slightest degree, prevent his accepting the position under me. So far as the representatives of Queensland are concerned, we have no confidence whatever, judging from the past political history of Senator Drake, that the democratic legislation, which the Commonwealth Parliament has passed, and of which the people of the Commonwealth are so proud, will be faithfully administered. If there is one question that agitates the people of Queensland more than another, it is that of alien coloured labour ; and it must be remembered that legislation on this point is to a great extent permissive. This legislation, which has been passed by this Parliament, may or may not be effective, according as it is administered by the Government in power. The Act dealing with coloured labour does not say that certain things must be done, but only that certain things may be done. The Administration may or may not apply the education test; and we know that the members of the present Administration, and the vast majority of their followers are totally opposed to the spirit, intention, and principle of that legislation. What sort of guarantee have we that the legislation will be carried out in accordance with ‘the intention of the Parliament, or of the people who approved it? Senator Drake is specially interested in this question, seeing that he is the Queensland representative in the present Administration, and it is on that account that I make these remarks to:day. This has been a burning question in Queensland for a number of years. The people of other portions of the Commonwealth have told us that Queensland is a place which must have coloured labour, although the Queensland people, especially the people in the far north, have for the last fifteen years been opposed to the employment in their midst of coloured labour in any shape or form. We should be exceedingly pleased to have some assurance that the people of Queensland, through their representative in the present Administration, will be secure against any violation of the principle of the legislation we have passed - against any danger of large numbers of coloured persons being allowed to enter that State. But in view of the political history of the VicePresident of the Executive Council, what sort of guarantee or assurance can we have to that effect ? Let me briefly state, for the benefit of honorable senators, what has been the political history of the VicePresident of the Executive Council in Queensland.
– Spare us all that !
– I would remind Senator Dobson that there is plenty of time to deal with the matter. Senator Drake entered the Queensland ‘Parliament as an ultra-Radical and an out-and-out opponent of all coloured labour. He joined a Radical Party, which undoubtedly had the good-will of the people of Queensland at that time. Events brought about a coalition similar in some respects to that which has been effected recently in the Commonwealth Parliament. Senator Drake refused to have anything to do with that coalition, and stood apart, with a remnant of the old party, who stuck loyally by him; and he got a good deal of confidence and support in consequence of his independent attitude. But when the time came - when the Queensland Government, known as the continuous Government were actually defeated and displaced by another Administration - Senator Drake immediately abandoned his independent attitude and sacrificed his party in order to join a Ministry which was the most conservative and reactionary Queensland ever saw.
– What did Sir Horace Tozer say the reason was?
– I am not going to repeat what Sir Horace Tozer said ; I intend simply to express my own opinion. Senator Drake at that time joined an Administration which, to all intents and purposes, consisted of the greatest advocates of coloured labour ever seen in Queensland ; and this fact the people of that State are not likely to forget or forgive. Senator Drake had, at that time, as loyal and good a little party behind him as any leader might wish to have. The party was not so large in numbers as probably he might like ; but for fidelity and loyalty no leader who ever entered Parliament could have had a better little following. Yet the honorable senator sold that party. Although it was announced that he had joined the Government, no member of his party knew anything of the matter until he had actually been sworn in as a Minister. He never asked their leave. He never consulted them. He sold them, politically,, and joined another party that was totally opposed to every principle which he had formerly professed. We cannot but congratulate him on the possession of such pliable political principles, as have enabled him to blow hot, and to blow cold, to join oneparty to-day, and to connect himself tomorrow with another professing entirely different principles, and, in fact, to do everythingwhich most honorable gentlemen think should not be done. He was also lucky in being able to join the first Commonwealth Ministry. When the late SirJames Dickson, who was the first Queensland representative in the Government, died, Senator Drake was nominated for the position by the then Queensland Cabinet. He accepted it. That Governmentpassed some good legislation, which we in Queensland, at any rate, hope will be carried into effect. I believe that Senator
Drake acted loyally and faithfully towards it during the whole of its legislative history. Yet, we now find him joining a Government which is totally opposed to the best principles of that legislation, and which I believe cannot be trusted to administer it. I do not desire to deal with that aspect of affairs at greater length. J trust, nott withstanding what I have said, that the Government will, while they remain in office, proceed with the just administration of that legislation. Like Senator Pearce, I do not believe the present Administration to be for the good of the country. I fear that the Government is likely to use its influence in the interests of a particular class - the privileged plutocratic class. That little class, which represents a minority of about 10 per cent, of the community, will, in all probability, highly approve of the work of the present Government, and if the Government continues in office for any length of time, that minority is likely to obtain a great many of the things which it desires, but which can be granted only at the expense of the vast majority of the people. Because it is impossible to grant privileges and concessions to any particular section except at the expense of the mass of the people- The party with which I am associated is opposed to all privileges and all concessions. All we ask for is a fair field for every man, and no favour.
– What about preference to unionists?
– Preference to unionists is absolutely fair, as will, I think, be shown conclusively to the ‘ honorable senator when the question comes to be argued in the Senate. Our Standing Orders do not permit me to anticipate debate, and therefore I cannot go into that question now. But I shall be very happy when the proper time comes to argue it with Senator Walker, or with any other honorable senator, and to show that what we desire is that absolutely no favour shall be shown to any section of the community, but that a fair field shall be given to all. So much we shall insist upon obtaining from this or any other Administration that may follow it. We intend to be. very careful first of all to see that administration of such Acts as the Immigration Restriction Act, and others which I could mention, is so conducted as to be beneficial to the whole community, and to give expression to the will of Parliament. “ For my own part, I firmly believe that there are people in this community who are so disloyal to the Commonwealth - so disloyal to the legislation which has been enacted - that they take every opportunity to defeat its purpose, and the object which Parliament, in passing it, had in view. We, therefore, look upon it as somewhat disastrous that the administration of that legislation should be placed in the hands of the present Government. It will have to be watched very carefully. I hope that my anticipations in this regard will not prove to be correct. No one would be more pleased than myself to find the Ministry giving loyal effect to Commonwealth legislation. Should that prove to be the case, I am perfectly certain that their administration W111 meet with the approbation of the majority of the members of the Senate. It is too early to discuss questions of policy, because, so far, the Ministry have not announced their programme. But, as some of the members of the Government are more or less pledged to certain progressive legislation, I hope that they will keep their promises, and that it will be proceeded with. I trust that they will not make any such excuses as that there is not sufficient time to pass progressive legislation this session, and that we must wait for a more convenient session. I hope that nothing will intervene to prevent the Government from proceeding with a liberal programme, which will enable the members of this Parliament to pass some of that progressive ‘legislation for which the public are so eagerly waiting, and the benefits of which thev so strongly desire.
– Like the honorable senators who have preceded me, I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate the Attorney-General and his colleague upon having attained to their honorable positions, on the occasion of the recent reshuffling of the political cards. I do not propose to detain the Senate at any length, nor do I intend to touch upon matters of policy. This is not the most opportune time for dealing with the policy of the new Administration.
– Their programme is that of the Labour Party.
– I hope that will prove to be the case. I do not take it as a bad thing for the democratic side of politics in Australia, that the present Government has come to occupy the Treasury benches. I feel that those whose political ideas are on a par with my own will have far more to gain while the present Administration occupies the Treasury benches than if they were in Opposition ; because I am satisfied that the right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government is not likely to make any proposal that may be carried fatal to the life of his Cabinet. I feel sure that when alterations are made by the Senate in legislation which is submitted to Parliament - as alterations will be made, because we have a sufficiently strong democratic majority in this branch of the Legislature to make them - and when Bills are sent back to another place with those alterations embodied in them, the head of the Government will always be willing to give the most earnest consideration to our amendments before he will imperil his position by making any proposal vital to the life of his Cabinet. But my chief reason for rising at the present juncture was to call attention to what I believe to be a very serious departure in Federal politics. The other representatives of Tasmania in the Senate do not seem to be anxious to put forward the argument which I intend to submit, and in another place none of the five representatives of Tasmania took the opportunity to represent this phase of the situation. It has been the custom that the States, which are the component parts of the Commonwealth, shall be represented in the Cabinet. Probably I shall be met with the statement that the last Administration of which I was proud to be a strong supporter, made the first departure from the practice adopted in the formation of the Federal Cabinet. But there were many circumstances surrounding the last Administration providing a reason for that action, which cannot be claimed by the members of the present Government. It seems to me that the smaller States are in a very great danger of having their best interests jeopardized in the future if a practice which gives the whole of the Ministerial representation practically to two States, is to continue. The course now followed gives six-eighths of the total representation in the Cabinet to two States, one-eighth each to two other States, and leaves the other two States entirely unrepresented, and without the slightest voice in Cabinet councils.
– Without even an honorary Minister.
– They have not even an honorary Minister, as my honorable friend interjects. Whilst the departure was made by the late Administration - and, I am free to avow, against my inclination - there were, in the view of Ministers, certain very fair reasons for making that departure, which reasons cannot be advanced by the members of the present Administration. A reason why Tasmania found no representation in the last Cabinet was that there were only two supporters of the Administration sent to the Federal Parliament by the State of Tasmania, out of eleven representatives from that State, and there were many others who had far greater claims on various grounds to Ministerial rank and office than the two members of the party representing Tasmania. In this case, however, we find that in the other branch of the Legislature there are five representatives from Tasmania, one of whom has had more that a quarter of a century of parliamentary experience, a gentleman who was a Minister in the first Government of the Commonwealth, and against whose administration of the Post and Telegraph Department nothing was urged, either in the press or in either branch of the Federal Legislature. That honorable gentleman has been passed over in the formation of the Reid-McLean Administration.
– This is not the Lenten season.
– Then we have another Tasmanian representative, who has been a hot and strong supporter of the present Prime Minister. So warm a supporter of that right honorable gentleman WES he - a few weeks ago - I do not know whether he is so now- - and so bitter an opponent of the late Deakin Administration, that on the night before the Deakin Administration went out of office, that gentleman sent a telegram from Tasmania to the whip of the then Opposition, to this effect, “Try and keep the debate going, because I want to be in at the death of the Deakin Government.” The bitterness of this gentleman’s opposition to the Deakin Government was as keen as the strength of his allegiance to the party led by the right honorable member for East Sydney. Yet that gentleman, who has had a very long political experience in the State from which I come, has also been passed over.
– He will be in at the death of the present Government.
– Then we have another Tasmanian representative, who has had many years’ political experience, who was returned last December as a supporter of the Deakin Administration, but who. immediately after taking his seat in the Federal Parliament, seemed to develop a most intense admiration for the right honorable gentleman now at the head of the Government. Although that gentleman was returned as a protectionist, and was recognised as a protectionist in his State career, and by his advocacy of that fiscal faith in the press, he developed an intense admiration for the present Prime Minister. That is perhaps a small matter nowadays, when men change from side to side so easily.
– Might I ask to whom the honorable senator is referring ?
– I am speaking of an honorable member in another place. I do not know that it is necessary that I should give his name, though I should be quite willing to do so if it were necessary. The honorable senator should know very well to whom I am referring from the description which I have given.
– I thought the honorable senator was referring to a member of the Senate.
– Did the honorable senator put the cap on?
– I referred first of all to an ex-Postmaster-General ; then to a Tasmanian representative, who was so bitter an opponent of the Deakin Administration as to regret that the boat could not carry him over fast enough to enable him to be in at the death of that Government; and I then referred to a third Tasmanian representative. As there are but three Tasmanian supporters of the present ReidMcLean Administration in the House of Representatives, Senator Mulcahy should know who they are.
– Let us into the secret.
– If Senator Dawson is very anxious to learn their names, I can give them to him privately. Of the five representatives of Tasmania in the House of Representatives, three are hot and strong supporters of the present coalition Government. I come now to deal with this branch of the Legislature in which Tasmania, small though it is, has equal representation with the largest State in the Commonwealth. We have in this Chamber six honorable senators from Tasmania, and at least four of them are very warm supporters of the present coalition Government. I think that some of them only a few months ago were not very warm supporters of such a combination, but I think it will be found that they will be prepared to support almost everything that the present Government brings forward in this Senate.
– The honorable senator is a prophet.
– It is quite easy to be a prophet in these matters. In politics nowadays he who runs may read. A Member of Parliament has only to make a few speeches and we know exactly where he stands, and what are his political leanings. These honorable senators will, I think, be found supporting the present Government.
– It is not because they love them well, but because they hate us more.
– Very likely that is true. We know that we have in the Senate an honorable and learned senator from Tasmania whose place should decidedly be at the table. That honorable senator has earned a place- in the present Government by the splendid work he did for the party in connexion with the Tariff during the first long session of seventeen months. That honorable and . learned senator, by reason of his ability and general capacity, also is entitled to a seat at the table of the Senate as a member of the present Administration, but he has been passed over. We have in Senator Mulcahy also an honorable senator who has had a long political experience. During his political campaign the honorabe senator made himself out to be a supporter of the Deakin Administration, but I am sorely afraid that he is likely to find himself in bad company during the next few weeks. I am sorry to have to believe that we are not likely often to have the pleasure of the honorable senator’s assistance in divisions likely to take place on such measures as the Arbitration Bill.
– Occasionally, when honorable senators opposite go right, I shall be with them.
– I shall not go too much into prophecy with regard to the honorable senator, because I still have hope that his past democratic ideals will not be altogether forgotten, and that he will not entirely desert the . democrats who have placed him in Parliament.
– I never -have.
– I still have hope that we may find the honorable senator sitting with us in divisions on important legislation, which will mark a distinct line between the democrats and the reactionaries. The honorable senator has, however, been pased over in the formation of the ReidMcLean Administration. We have then another honorable and learned senator, who, I am sorry to say, is not at present in the Chamber, an honorable and learned senator who can be all things to all men. and who is, therefore, quite eligible for inclusion in any Ministry. Seeing that the present Reid-McLean Administration is admittedly and openly a coalition Government, comprised of four protectionists and four freetraders, in order that it might be a genuine, fair, and square coalition, I shall probably be met with the reply that it was not possible in the circumstances for some of the Tasmanian representatives to whom I have referred to be included. But even that argument will fall to the ground. I have no doubt that the honorable and learned senator, whose omission from the Ministry will cause great disappointment in Tasmania, was passed by because he happened to be a free-trader, and a very consistent one indeed, and it was necessary for a protectionist here to be chosen in order to balance the Government.
– Senator Dobson a free-trader !
– No; I am referring to Senator Clemons, and not in any offensive way. If that is the reason for his exclusion, it is a very strange thing that since” a coalition implies an equal representation of each side, the> palpable claims of other senators should have been disregarded, and that some of the States should have been entirely ignored. But if we leave out the honorable . and learned senator, whose claims, I say, to a place at the table here, stand first, we still have my honorable friend opposite, who certainly has not been long in the Senate, but who, I am sule, has come to adorn it. He came here as a common-sense protectionist. Where was a bar to his admission into the Ministry?
– Do not forget that they have a protectionist policy.
– We have a protectionist policy, but there was absolutely nothing to prevent the honorable senator’s inclusion in the Cabinet, and thereby give Tasmania a voice in the counsels of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator said that he was a common-sense protectionist, and that was the bar.
– Senator Mulcahy knows what he meant by that definition, I do not. He came into the Senate as a protectionist, and almost as though he had the gift of second sight, and could see six months ahead, he said in his electoral campaign that he was a common-sense protectionist, and a supporter of the Deakin Government with an “ if,” that he believed . in the policy of a White Australia with a “ but “ - with certain reservations. I am not quite sure, but I think that he expressed his belief in a system of old-age pensions, with a reservation.
– No; I believe in that without any reservation.
-The honorable senator was a protectionist, and a supporter of the Deakin Government, but is a strong admirer of the policy of the present Administration, and of at least some of its members. I contend that no honorable senator was more fit, by reason of his platform pledges, and apparent political ideas, to have a place in the coalition Cabinet, than was my honorable friend. We now come to the fourth representative of Tasmania in the Senate. It seems to me that Senator Dobson would “fill the bill,” in either a protectionist or a free-trade Government, in either a democratic or a reactionary Government, because, in that smiling, genial way of his, he can be all things to all men at the same time.
– That is very unkind.
– It may be unkind, and no doubt it has often fallen to the lot of Senator Fraser in his political life to make remarks which, although very unkind, were still very true.
– Not personal, though.
– That is all they have been doing - blackguarding.
– These events cannot be given point to without occasionally using names, and I do not think that Senator Dobson needs Senator Fraser or Senator Zeal, or any one else, here, to look after him.
– He does not want the honorable senator’s support, anyway.
– Senator Dobson does not want my support, because he has the support of the honorable senator and others behind him. As regards any one speaking offensively of Senator Dobson, he is, I think, the one agitator in this Parliament, who is going round Australia, and stirring up strife between the classes. If we had a few more gentlemen of his political line of thought, speaking as he has been doing lately, that revolution of which he is so much afraid might soon come to pass.
– It would suit the honorable senator’s crowd.
– No; nor would it suit the honorable senator’.s. crowd either>
It is rather amusing to observe the attitude of the friends of Senator Dobson, who has ransacked every dictionary for epithets to hurl at the Labour Party.
– What has the honorable senator been doing for the last ten minutes? Nothing else but blackguarding.
– When any one else has anything to say, the friends of Senator Dobson are very anxious that his name should not be mentioned, and that nothing should be said about him. I have taken this opportunity of pointing out that a serious and dangerous departure has been made. I hold that when a State returns a number of the supporters of a party it should have a voice in the Cabinet. In this instance three or four of the eleven representatives of Tasmania had a claim to Ministerial office, and at least one of them should have been chosen. I shall leave it to the representatives of Western Australia, if they think fit, to deal with the omission of a representative of that State from the Cabinet. On one occasion, when there had been a shuffling of portfolios, the honorable and learned senator who is now in the proud position of leader of the Senate, congratulated the new Ministers. Speaking from this side of the table, he referred to “ this Ministry of rehabilitated fragments.” The phrase was rather striking, and it stuck. Without claiming to be as able as Senator Symon to manufacture striking phrases, I think that this Ministry might be called a Ministry of reactionary extremes, because they are certainly extremists in fiscal faith, and reactionaries in matters of general policy for the advancement and progress of the people.
– I had no idea that we were to have a discussion of this character this afternoon. I dc not think it wise that we should, for I cannot see that any good result can accrue from it. If it is desirable to have such a discussion this is not the time for it ; a fortnight later would be the proper time. I rise for two reasons. Since we have met this afternoon I have been accosted by a friend with the remark, “You have not changed your seat ; are you supporting the Government ?” And that has led me to question whether in the Senate it is considered necessary, in order to fully inform every person, that, on a change of Government taking place, one should change his seat. I do not know if that is so. I have felt that the Senate differs from the House of Representatives in that it should give consideration, not so much to men as to measures of legislation. In that respect, its functions are different from those of the other House.
– No. Are we not concerned with administration?
– I think that we are. I am explaining my own position, so that no one shall make a mistake about it. I should not like to deceive any section or individual member of the Senate; and it is because pf the remark made to me by a friend that I have felt it my duty to say a word or two upon this head. So far as I know, I am opposed to the present Government, that is, I disagree with their policy of ref raining, during the lifetime of this Parliament, from amending our notoriously incongruous protective Tariff. Protection may be a good thing, but we have it not; free-trade may be a good thing, but we have it not. In the minds of fiscal thinkers there appears to be no middle course in this matter. They range themselves on one side or the other. Men like Senator Pearce believe that the best thing for any country is absolute and unrestricted free-trade, while others, like myself, believe it to be perfect and complete protection for native industries. Neither side has achieved its desires in connexion with the Commonwealth Tariff. There /must be a majority in the Commonwealth in favour of one of these two policies, and my own view is that a very substantial majority favour the imposition of a complete and scientific protective Tariff.
– Hear, hear.
– It is a debatable point, and one which we should discuss. As I differ from the Government in regard to it, I feel it my duty at a very early stage to make my position plain. The contention of Senator O’Keefe that it was wrong not to give Tasmania a representative in the Ministry, cannot be too firmly deprecated. There is no vested rightin any part of the Commonwealth to be represented in an Administration.
– It is all very well for an honorable senator who represents a big State, which has three Ministers in the Government, to Bav that.
– I am a native of Tasmania, and think a great deal of it.
– The honorable senator does not represent Tasmania.
– I feel that I do, just as I feel that I represent the most northern part of Queensland. I am a Member of Parliament for the Commonwealth, and the Government is the administrative bod)7 for the Commonwealth, whose people are entitled to the best to be obtained from the material to be selected from.
– Has the Commonwealth got that?
– I shall not discuss that matter. I am dealing now simply with the question of principle. ‘ To consider arbitrary geographical lines in the selection of an Executive would be unwise, and I, for one, shall always set my face against such a course. There may come a time when the splendid little island where I was born may present to this Parlia-ment-
– The whole Government.
– The whole Government. To my mind that is not at all impossible.
– My contention was that some of the best men available have been left out simply because this is a coalition Government.
– I do not wish to labour the question, though it is an important one. As a Parliamentarian of considerable experience, I know that geographical considerations have often led to the formation of weaker Governments in connexion with the administration of the affairs of the States than would otherwise have been obtained, and I hope that the practice of considering geographical lines will not obtain in connexion with the formation of Commonwealth Administrations. If there is anything to be said in favour of the present Government, it is that, in some measure, geographical lines have been disregarded in its formation. At present that is all I can say in favour of it.
– Why was Senator Dobson left out?
– I do not know that the Prime Minister would have done anything wrong if he had taken in Senator Dobson, whom I know very well, and with whom I had the honour to work as a fellow.member of the Convention which created the Constitution under which we now live.
– It would have been a different Constitution if Senator Dobson had had his way. ‘
– I very rarely agree with Senator Dobson, and, though I am perhaps as vain as another man. I think that if every member of the Convention had always agreed with me, the
Constitution might not have been as good as it is. It might perhaps have been worse. The fact that” we had men of very divergent views, of high ability, of strong personality, and of great courage, led to our getting a Constitution which, on the whole, gives, I think, very general satisfaction. I certainly shall not take part in any depreciation or belittling of Senator Dobson because he happens not to see as I do. I believe him to be wrong when he does not see as I do, but he no doubt thinks that I am wrong when I do not see as he does; and, after all, no one can have a perfectly assured patent of right.
– Yes; the members of the Labour Party have.
– As the matter has been discussed, I wish to say that, in my opinion, it is a great misfortune that there is growing up a reading or interpretation of the meaning of responsible government which is extremely prejudicial to the well-being of the Commonwealth. Since I have been a member of the Senate- a period of only eight months - there have been two changes of Government, neither of which Ave should have had, because of a strained and, I think, unconstitutional interpretation of the meaning of responsible government. Responsible government is the growth of practically the century which has just passed. Originally, Administrations were held responsible, not for every item and detail of administration, but for carrying on the government of the country. Responsibility for legislation attached, in the first ‘instance, and until very recently, only to financial measures - that is, to measures for carrying on and maintaining His Majesty’s Government. Measures of ordinary legislation did not come within the meaning of measures for which Governments were responsible, and I think that it is a pity that we have departed from that reading of the term “ responsible government.” The action of the Watson Administration, in making the issue upon which it went out of office a vital one, is to be seriously deprecated, and, so, too, is that of the Deakin Administration. In my opinion, it is owing to this improper, narrow, and restricted construction of the term “ responsible government “ that we are in the trouble in which we are now ; and we should set our face against its future adoption.
– But suppose that the majority take the’ essence out of a Government Bill?
– I think that if the interpretation placed upon responsible government by recent Governments were persisted in, Parliament would be deprived of its responsibility, because members would be deterred from making a measure as good as it ought to be from the fear that upon every issue, upon every detail, upon every dotting of an “ i “ or crossing of a “ t “ they might put out of office the men in whom they had confidence.
– Therefore, die honorable senator is opposed to party government.
– I am nor.
– I am.
– I am not opposed to party government ; neither am I in favour of the new doctrine now being preached, which seems to me incompatible with the continuance of the monarchy, namely, the proposal that we should have elective Ministries. I am in favour of maintaining the prinicple of responsible government, restricting very materially the meaning of “ responsible.” The Government should be responsible for carrying on His Majesty’s Administration - the Government of the country - and the Parliament should be responsible for taking up and moulding perfectly every piece of legislation. I should not have made these remarks but for the discussion which has arisen. Upon the question as to the place in which I am sitting, I desire to explain that my choice was dictated by physical reasons. When I first came into this Chamber I took my present seat, because it suited me physically. I have only one eye, which happens to be the right one, and whilst sitting in the extreme right-hand corner of the chamber, I am in a position to keep my eye upon all honorable senators. If I sat anywhere else. I should not be able to see the whole of the smiling faces about me. Therefore, if there is no objection on the part of the AttorneyGeneral and of my honorable friend Senator Drake, I prefer to sit upon the Government benches. I shall oppose the Government upon issues in connexion with which I differ from them, and support them upon issues in regard to which I agree with them. That would be my attitude in whatever part of the House I might sit, and I have no hesitation in saying that whatever Government is in power, I shall in the future do as I have done in the past, namely, consider before anything else the character of the legislation that is proposed. Even if men whom I do not like personally - there are not many of them, because I am of an affectionate disposition - introduce legislation of which I approve, I shall vote for that legislation, and altogether disregard the men.
– I wish to explain my position in regard to the proposal to create a Council of Defence. As honorable senators will remember, the amendment to the Defence Bill proposed by me, and agreed to last session by the Senate, provided for the constitution of that essential body. The amendment was rejected by the House of Representatives, and I had intended as soon as the session commenced to bring in a small Bill to amend the Act, and to give effect to what I understand is the desire of the majority of honorable senators. When I went to see Senator Dawson, who was then Minister of Defence, I found that he had become thoroughly converted to the views I held last session, and that he had, as a matter of fact, appointed a committee of experts who were looking into the question, which was afterwards to be brought before the Cabinet. Under these circumstances, it was obviously unnecessary for me to bring forward an amending Bill.
– Why does the honorable senator say I was converted?
– Because the honorable senator declined to support my amendment.
– I differed from the honorable senator only upon a matter of detail.
– I did not know that the only difference between us was with regard to a detail; but, however that maybe, I am very glad that the honorable senator agrees with me now. Now a new Government has been formed, and I know that at least one member of it, Senator Drake, is opposed to my scheme. I am unacquainted with the views of the other Ministers. I was prepared to speak at some length today, with a view to eliciting from the Government, when we re-assembled, a statement as to their intentions upon this matter. The Attorney-General has, however, assured me that the question will be taken into consideration, and that there is no necessity to direct special attention to it this afternoon. To my mind the question of appointing a Council of Defence is one of the most important that could engage our attention.
– Why not afford us an opportunity to consider and deal with the matter ?
– I am assured by the Attorney-General that that opportunity will be afforded to honorable senators on another occasion. I consider that the appointment of a Council of Defence is essential, and I understand that a substantial majority of honorable senators are in favour of the proposal.
– The Government do not believe in substantial majorities.
– Is there not a wide divergence between the scheme proposed by the honorable senator and that which was adopted by the late Government ?
– I am not aware that the late Government adopted any scheme. All that I know is that a committee of experts gave the Government certain advice, and that the subject was to be brought before Parliament for discussion.
– A precis of the proposed scheme was published in the press.
– That is true. I am not quite in accord with the scheme of which a precis was given, but I am not aware that that truly represented the Government proposal. I think that the honorable senator knows that it was not accurate. However, I have been requested to abstain from discussing the matter at this stage, and I shall wait and watch events.
– I desire to offer my congratulations to the AttorneyGeneral upon having attained his present very high position. His presence here this afternoon makes it very difficult to say all the complimentary things I should have liked to say with respect to him, however much I may disagree with his political principles. I can also congratulate two other members of the Ministry, namely, the Prime Minister and the Postmaster-General. My congratulations, however, partake very much of the nature of the applause with which one might greet a man who had succeeded in climbing a greasy pole, or one who had sue1 ceededin tying himself into a knot and walking down a ladder.
An Honorable Senator. - Fancy the Prime Minister tying himself into a knot !
– That is not conceivable.
– I deplore the fact that the right honorable gentleman has succeeded in attaining the position of Prime Minister of Australia-
– That is because the honorable senator does not know him.
– I know a good deal about him. I have watched his political career for many years, and I must say that I am not at all surprised at his having adopted the particular methods which have resulted in his attaining office. If other honorable members of the Federal Parliament had been of the same mind as myself, the right honorable gentleman would never have succeeded. I cannot understand how Senator Symon and others, who hold similar political principles, could find it possible to support such a Government. Those who saw ‘ or heard those honorable senators during the four months occupied by us in discussing the Tariff, who heard the doleful pictures they drew regarding the burdens imposed upon the taxpayers by that Tariff, will, I am sure, be very much astonished to learn that they are prepared to fall in with Mr. Reid, and the Government, in their determination to sink the fiscal question for a period of years. I agree with all that has been said of the Vice-President of the Executive Council by Senator Givens. It is a hard thing to say, but I must confess that the honorable and learned gentleman deserves the whole of the condemnation heaped upon him. His career in Queensland was that of a democrat. For years he kept the flag of a White Australia flying, when that policy was most unpopular with the classes with whom he is now allied. To me the subject is a painful one, and. therefore, I do not propose to pursue it. The present Ministry claim that, in carrying on the Government of the Commonwealth, they adopt a method which is quite different from that adopted by members of the Labour Party. They point to the caucus, and to the pledges given by members of the Labour Party as proof that our methods ought to be despised and condemned by every rightthinking person in the community. I may say - and I am sure that most honorable senators who know anything about the history of the Labour Party will agree with me - that if the members of other political organizations had only discharged their duty to the people of Australia, the Labour Part would never have made its appearance in politics. The fact; is that we’ were compelled to adopt our present method to keep certain gentlemen up to the political scratch.
– It fails every time.
– It does not fail. Of course there are some instances in which members who sign pledges break them, but undoubtedly the adoption of the pledge and the formulation of a political programme have the effect of keeping out of politics a number of men who would sell the people upon every occasion. A great deal has been said by the party at present in power regarding our caucus. Our caucus method, however, is freedom itself compared with that of Mr. Reid and his party. No member of” the Labour Party has any diffidence in rising at a caucus meeting to give expression to his views, but if report be true, the members who attend the caucuses convened by the Prime Minister dare not open their mouths. This afternoon we have an example of that in the silence of honorable senators opposite. Senator Matheson alone has
Spoken, and then only by way of explanation. To me it is evident that Mr. Reid has issued an edict that membe’rs of his party in this Chamber are not to speak, with the exception of the leader of the Senate, who is to make a few observations in explanation of his views. I desire to place upon record the political pledge which the members of the Labour Party are required to sign. It reads -
I hereby pledge myself not to oppose the candidate selected by the recognised political Labour organization, and, if elected, to do my utmost to carry out the principles embodied in the Federal Labour platform, and on all questions affecting the platform, to vote as a majority of the Parliamentary Party may decide at a duly constituted caucus meeting.
– Where can I obtain a copy of’ that pledge?
– The platform of the Labour Party is published in the Queensland Worker every week. This particular pledge refers only to the Federal platform, which was drawn up in Sydney in December, 1902, by a conference of delegates representing the labour political organizations throughout the Commonwealth. Those organizations are open to any barrister or business man, or, indeed, to any person in the community who cares to pay a shilling per annum. Where is the restriction upon freedom of speech or individual liberty under those circumstances ?
– Do they not/ agree to abide by any action of the caucus afterwards ?
– No. I will tell the honorable senator what may happen.
– - The honorable senator will give the Labour Party away in a minute.
– Senator Dobson - objects to the true position of affairs being explained. If any member of the Labour Party thinks that sufficient progress is not being made in a certain direction he can ventilate his opinion at the caucus. If a majority are of opinion that the rapid passage of any Bill should be urged - the Arbitration Bill, for example - its leader conveys that wish to the proper authorities in a respectful way. That is all the pressure that has been brought to bear upon any Government bv the Labour Party at any time in its career.
– Are not members of the Labour Party bound by the decision of the majority ?
– The honorable senator has something in his mind that does not exist in reality. We are not bound by anything save the planks of the platform to “ which I have referred ; but we are bound to do our best to get those planks embodied in the legislation of the Commonwealth. What is there in that pledge which would make it derogatory for any honorable senator to sign it ?
– Was there not a meeting of the Labour Party held in reference to the drought?
– The honorable senator who is making so many irrelevant interjections is a free-trader, but nevertheless he declined to sanction the remission of the dutv upon fodder which was intended for starving stock. As he is one of the representatives of the great free-trade party in New South Wales, I should like to know whether he is going to flout the wishes of the 176,000 electors who voted for him, because he was a free-trader, by sinking for a time the fiscal issue.
– If the honorable senator will pardon me, I will tell him-
– I cannot allow the honorable senator to interrupt me at this stage.
– Then I can only say that what the honorable senator said is not in keeping with my remarks.
– I signed the Labour platform, and the Labour pledge, and have never felt myself any less a man. .because I did so. It is, alter all, a purely business transaction. If a candidate advocates certain legislation, and wishes to represent the Labour Party, he is invited to put his signature to a document, embodying the principles of the party, so that if at any time he go back on them, the party will be able to confront him with it. If an honorable senator called on Senator Walker, as a director of the Bank of ‘New South Wales, and sought to obtain a small loan from the institution, he would find that he could not secure it unless he were prepared to attach his signature to a document, setting forth that he would repay the amount. If that be necessary, surely it is equally necessary that candidates for election to Parliament, as representatives of a party, should be asked to put their signatures to the platform which they propose to support ? In order to show that all the talk about want of dignity shown in signing a platform is mere sham and hypocrisy, I would remind the Senate that the Governor-General would not accept the word of the right honorable member for East Sydney, when he called upon him to form a Government. He required him, as well as every other member of the Ministry, to take an oath or make an affirmation, far more drastic than anything demanded of a labour candidate, to the following effect: -
I, George Houston Reid, being chosen and admitted of His Majesty’s Executive Council in the Commonwealth of Australia, do swear that I will, to the best of my judgment, at all times when thereto required, freely give my counsel and advice to the ‘Governor-General for the time being for the good management of the public affairs of the said Commonwealth ; that I will not directly or indirectly reveal such matters as shall be debated in Council and committed to my secresy, but that I will in all things be a true and faithful councillor. So help me God.
Did the Prime Minister, or any other member of the Executive Council, think that there was anything undignified in taking that oath? If there was not, why is there something that is to be deprecated in the action of a Member of Parliament putting his signature to a paper setting forth a seties of principles, and pledging himself to advocate those principles, and do his best to place them on the statutebook? I do not know whether the GovernorGeneral was specially glad to obtain Mr. Reid’s signature! to the oath which I have just read, or whether he gave the matter any thought - and I do not use the GovernorGeneral’s name in any disrespectful sense - but any one who is familiar with the present Prime Minister’s political career must recognise that such an oath was certainly necessary from him. I have taken a considerable interest in the Prime Minister’s career.
– The honorable senator seems to know little about him.
– I have before me a report of a speech which he made at Toowoomba in March, 1901, when this great leader of the Free-trade Party, in addressing the electors of a’ protectionist constituency, said -
He was a free-trader himself, but he thought they must all recognise that in the majority of the States protection existed, and that to bring in a Free-trade Tariff would dislocate the whole of the industry and commerce of the Commonwealth. Existing rights must be respected, and whatever was done must be done gradually and carefully, and with due regard for the best interests of the whole Australian people. As Mr. Barton had stated, it was probable that the Federal Tariff would be more like the existing Tariff of Queensland than like the Tariff of any of the other States. There must be no force wasted in abstract discussion on the relative merits of free-trade and protection ‘until they ‘had gained some experience of the working of a Federal Tariff, after which they would be better able to judge what the permanent uniform Tariff ought to be.
Thatis an extract from a speech made in March, 1901 ; but at the Melbourne Town Hall, on11th October, 1902, when addressing a particularly well-dressed audience, whom he said were being ruined bv the policy of protection, he stated, in referring to the Tariff, that -
So ashamed were the Protectionists at the result of their great victory that they would not own it. He fully believed that if he adopted the policy of letting the Tariff alone for a few years he could get a considerable number of votes both inside and outside the Federal Parliament ; but that was not the way in which he desired to act in public life. (Cheers.) If he had made one thing more clear than another it was that he had an invincible repugnance to measures of that description. If the power came in his hands -
And I would draw the particular attention of Senator Drake to this sentence - he would not rest until the Tariff of Australia was based upon sound principles.
Those sound principles, as we know from a review of the Prime Minister’s career, consist of the raising of the revenue mostly by way of duties on stimulants and narcotics and the removal of duties of any kind that are likely to protect the industriesof the Commonwealth. Having said that if the power came into his hands he would not rest until he introduced a free-trade policy for the Commonwealth, the right honorable gentleman, for some reason or other, is now prepared to abandon all his political principles, and, if necessary, tosink free-trade a hundred fathoms deep. Honorable senators will therefore see, from a review of these incidents in the Prime
Minister’s career, how very necessary it was, when he took office, to obtain from him an oath that he would be loyal to the principles which are at the root of responsible Government. He was just as willing last year to enter into an alliance with the Labour Party as Mr. Deakin was this year, and during the life of the Barton-Deakin Administration. Had the Labour Party been’ agreeable, the present Prime Minister would have been perfectly willing to make an alliance with us on the same lines as those on which he has combined with the Conservative wing of the Protectionist Party. At a meeting held in the Town Hall, Sydney, oh 3rd December, 1902, he said -
I had, as you all know, intimate and friendly relations with the Labour Party of New South Wales for the five years whilst I was Prime Minister. … I never mind the caucus when it works my road. We had five years of honorable alliance. . . . But I do not agree with Sir William McMillan about the Labour Party. I say that as long as they go my way they are all right.
Those speeches disclose the political character of the gentleman which is at the head of the Administration of the Commonwealth. Those are the principles which animate that honorable gentleman, and which appear to be satisfactory to honorable senators who have changed their seats - to Senators Smith, Matheson, Best, and others. This coalition, to me, is a most extraordinary one, which one could hardly believe possible in a democracy like that of Australia.
– “ Anything is possible in a democracy.”
– Senator O’Keefe mentioned the. question of State representation ; the Ministry appears to be a combination of the conservative elements of Victoria and New South Wales against the democracy of Australia. The other four States, which are, to a very great extent, democratic, are simply ignored by the Prime Minister. It is a matter of satisfaction to us of the Labour Party to knowthat that state of things cannot last. The people of Australia are bound to see the nature of the combination - to see the indecency and dishonesty of it - and when the present Government and their supporters come before the constituencies, as they will sooner or later, the people will have a chance to express their opinion. I must say that I do not think Mr. Reid has shown himself very astute in his selection of colleagues; and some members of this Chamber have a right to complain. I can not understand how Mr. Reid came to ignore a gentleman who has fought his battles in this Senate, a gentleman in support of whom some 200,000 electors in New South Wales went to the poll. I refer to Senator Neild, and I cannot understand why Mr. Reid should have passed over that gentleman in favour of Senator Drake, who, I am satisfied, is acceptable neither to the democracy of Queensland, nor to the commercial classes whom, I believe, Mr. Reid thinks he is satisfying by his selection. I do not know how Senator Clemons feels. I know that the speeches which he made from this side, when Senator O’Connor and Senator Drake were in charge of the business, expressed, in very strong terms, his admiration for Senator Drake ! In fact, Senator Clemons’ appearance” this afternoon, and the appearance of the leader of the Senate, the Attorney-General, prove that neither feels very comfortable in his present position. We know that politics make us acquainted with strange bed-fellows; but I am sure that the present position must be to those gentlemen absolutely too exasperating for expression.
– I am surprised that it should be supposed for a single moment that there is a gag put upon honorable senators. I am a perfectly independent supporter of the present Government; and I ‘congratulate the country on a coalition Administration composed of a large proportion of the talents of Parliament. I also desire to congratulate the late Ministry on having made a good record. I am no admirer as you, Mr. President, know, of the views of the Labour Party ; but the late Prime Minister, and tHe late VicePresident of the Executive Council discharged their official duties admirably. I think the record of the Labour Government goes to show that the Labour Party has sufficient ability amongst them to conduct an Administration, as well, probably, as could the members of any other party.”
– Has the honorable senator anything to say against the administration of the late Government?
– I am not called upon at present to go into details; but I may say that I have a personal regard for each member of the late Government. Senator Givens delivered a powerful philippic against my good friend Senator Drake, the present Vice-President of the Executive
Council. I was one who took an active part in the Federation movement in days gone by, and I know that Senator Drake was always a good federationist. I heard the honorable and learned senator deliver an admirable address in the Town Hall. Sydney, in 1899, on the question, and I have always entertained . a great regard for him, although, in the matter of fiscal, policy, we are as opposite as the poles. When there is a common danger before the public, parties have a perfect right to coalesce against that danger.
– What is the common danger ?
– I consider that at the present time there is a great danger of Socialism. I do not think there is a stronger free-trader than I am myself; and, in my opinion, the free-traders are perfectly consistent in their action, in the face of such a common danger as generally unites persons who at other times do not see eye to eye. Certain honorable senators opposite are fond of preaching on the word ‘” democracy,” somewhat like the old woman who saw great virtue in the “ blessed word Mesopotamia.” The idea of those honorable senators seems to be that they have only to speak the word “democracy” in order to settle everything. On our side of the House we are Liberals. We do not call ourselves Democrats ; indeed, I regard the word democrat as always a doubtful compliment. Pure democracy is an excellent thing, but we do not see it in its purity out here. One point was, I think, made with some force by Senator O’Keefe. I am quite sure that, although we are Federalists, iris desirable, other things being equal, that each State should be represented in the Ministry.
– That is all I ask.
– I can quite understand that representatives of Tasmania and Western Australia must feel somewhat sore because thev are not represented in the present Ministry. As a supporter of the Government, I hope the matter will be seriously considered, and that representatives of those two Sta’tes will be appointed honorary Ministers. It was understood that there had to be three Ministers in the Senate, a resolution to that effect having been passed, I believe, unanimously. But here we are in the same position as before, with only two Ministers in this Chamber. I hope that when the Government do appoint two honorary Ministers to represent
Tasmania and Western Australia, they will be selected in this Chamber, where there is plenty of material to choose from. Senator Pearce made some allusion to the climate of Queensland, as though it were impossible for people to go there without being scorched. Senator Givens, however, can certify that winter in Northern Queensland provides, probably, the most perfect climate in the world.
– That is what Senator Pearce said.
– But Senator Pearce seems to think that Senator Neild was inconsistent in going to Queensland for his health, that senator having spoken in favour of the employment of kanaka labour. It is perfectly consistent for a senator to be in favour of regulated kanaka labour, and yet to be of opinion that Northern Queensland is a good place for white men to visit during the winter months.
– The climate of Northern Queensland in summer is sometimes cooler than that of Melbourne in summer.
– The late Government was composed of four free-traders and four protectionists, and the present Government is composed of the two parties in like proportion. Yet honorable senators opposite find fault with the Prime Minister on that account.
– The Labour Party is not a fiscal party.
– The honorable senator knows perfectly well that there are staunch free-traders within the Labour Party.
– It is not a vital question with us.
– The Labour Party dare not make the fiscal question a vital question, because it would split the party up. The Labour Party unite for one object, and sink the fiscal question; and yet they blame the other side for doing a similar thing. Members of the Labour Party are not “ game “ to say whether they are free-traders or protectionists ; they sink the fiscal issue, and then blame the other side, as I say, for doing the same thing. But the other side are determined to fight the Labour Party at the polls. We are anti- Socialists. We believe in individualism - in allowing every one to use his abilities to rise as high as he can in the world. The system of honorable senators opposite is to pull down, not to build up. I hope that my remarks will be taken not unkindly. Personally, I in- tend to accord to the present Government an independent support, but I am not going to swallow my free-trade principles. The fiscal issue has been sunk by honorable senators opposite, and there is no reason why it should not be sunk by the supporters of the Government. Once more I congratulate the Senate on being led by Senator Symon, who has an excellent lieutenant in Senator Drake.
– As this is the only opportunity we are likely to have to say a word or two in criticism and congratulation of the newGovernment, I wish to remark that personally I entertain a respect for the two representatives of the Ministry in the Senate. I am certain that every member of the Senate, on personal grounds, shares that feeling. I respect them because of the manner in which they have always conducted themselves as members of the Senate, and because of the way in which they have stood up for the principles on which they were elected to Parliament. But when we turn from personal considerations, and have regard to the somersault that has recently been performed in order that these two direct opposites on the fiscal question might come together in a Government, I think that any honest free-trader or protectionist, or any honest politician, no matter to what school he may belong, cannot feel anything but disgust. I am sorry to see that two gentlemen, for whom we have had so much respect, should lend themselves to be parties to a combination which, I am sure, will have the result politically of burying them for evermore in the eyes of the democracy of Australia. I do not complain that the coalition Government has been brought into existence. It suits the party to which I belong admirably. Never in the history of the Labour Party, I believe, has anything taken place that will work so directly to our benefit in the long run as the formation of the present Government. By this evolution of events all the hopeless conservatives are put into one camp. That in itself must have the effect of causing anyselfrespecting democrat to go over to the other side.
– We believe in working for the benefit of the whole people.
– We believe in working for the democracy.
– So do we.
– The honorable senator, who interjects, has in the past worked only for the benefit of a small percentage of the people, and has been successful in throwing dust in the eyes of a very large section of the electors.
– That is what the honorable senator is doing now.
– Our policy has always been open and straightforward. There is nothing which we have advocated on the public platform but we have been manly enough to endeavour to carry it out in Parliament.
– This is very manly - abuse of opponents !
– It is very manly ; if I were the honorable senator’s age I would ask him to come outside.
– I hope that if Senator Fraser intends to take criticism in that spirit, he certainly will select some one who is more nearly his own age. Whatever policy I have advocated on the public platform I have always endeavoured to have carried out in legislation.
– The honorable senator should refrain from making attacks on others.
– I am attacking their political practices, and I am entitled to d’o that just as the honorable senator has done on many occasions.
– I have never done it.
– We have had sufficient exhibitions from Senator Zeal to be reminded of what he has done in this Chamber. It is of no use for him to apologize now; it is too late in the day.
– I do not apologize to the honorable senator.
– I do not find fault with Senator Zeal, because I believe he is a consistent Conservative. He has always been manly and straightforward in the Senate.
– The honorable senator is an inconsistent Conservative.
– I never thought that I should be accused of endeavouring to sail under the colours of a Conservative. But what I do find fault with is that honorable senators who hold liberal opinions should’ now be sitting cheek by jowl with Conservatives. Take the remarks made a few evenings ago by Senator Fraser. We find him congratulating his associates on. the fact that Mr. George Reid and Mr. Allan McLean, who “ were to be depended upon,” were members of the present Government.
– Certainly ; I say so now.
– How does the honorable senator make that remark fit in with his 1 2th of July orations? Fancy Senator Fraser saying that Mr. Allan McLean is a man to be trusted !
– That gives the honorable senator’s whole case away. If - judging from his past history and the tactics which he has hitherto pursued - there is any thing that is likely to injure his policy it is statements of that kind from a gentleman of his status. The honorable senator, as every one knows, when the Watson Government came into office, became ill. He was laid’ up with influenza. But since the Watson Government has been out of office he has been nearly insane with delight. Therefore we can excuse his little exhibition this afternoon. I repeat that, personally, I am quite satisfied with the turn that affairs have taken. I am sure that I am on the winning side. I face the situation knowing full well that ultimately events will turn in favour of the party to which I belong. But what I object to is the attitude of men of Senator Dobson’s type towards that party. Ever since Mr. Watson, who was formerly a compositor, and Senator McGregor, who was a good old common labourer, with their hobnail boots, obtruded themselves into the Executive Council chamber, these so-called superior individuals have been addressing women’s political leagues, employers’ federations, and kindred associations, and have taken advantage of every opportunity to decrv these men occupying such positions. No doubt the honorable senator now congratulates himself that these dangerous men, as he would call them, are out of office. Not only has he been making such remarks about the Labour Party in Parliament, but he has felt impelled to make attacks upon a gentleman who is not here to defend himself. At one of his meetings Senator Dobson made the following remarks concerning Mr. Tom Mann. He said -
The stupid, wicked, ideas of Tom Mann, and the Political Labour Party were already causing a great deal of misery.
That was one of his statements before one of those afternoon tea-meetings of well-fed and well-groomed dames from up Toorak way. I have no doubt, also, although the newspapers did not report his remarks, that Senator Dobson trotted out the old wheeze about free love, and all that sort of thing, for the benefit of the poor innocent women to whom he was speaking, and who knew no better. I have no doubt that he served out to them the old hog-wash about the violation of the sanctity of the marriage tie.
– Absolutelv untrue.
– When we find that the man who makes statements of this kind, and talks of the “ stupid, wicked ideas of Tom Mann,” is an honorable and learned senator who introduced in this Chamber an outrageous and irreligious Divorce Bill, it is enough-
– To make the angeli weep.
– As Senator Dawson says, it is enough to make angels weep.
– The honorable senator will accept my statement that I never referred to that phase of Socialism at all, and I advised the women’s organizations to drop it, on the ground that members of the honorable senator’s party had repudiated it.
– Does the honorable and learned senator deny” that he used the words that he is reported to have used, when he spoke of the wicked and stupid ideas of Tom Mann ?
– That was a reference to Mr. Mann’s proposal to tax people out of their property. In my opinion, that is wicked and unjust.
– I have here some more of the honorable and learned senator’s statements, which were made at a meeting of contractors. It will be noticed that the honorable and learned senator is very careful in the selection of the company to whom he says these things. He is reported in to-day’s Age to have said -
Politics would be purified, and they would develop into a higher and nobler nationhood.
Fancy Senator Dobson talking of “a higher and nobler nationhood !”
But this could not be done if the Labour Party went to the falsehood of extremes and called by the term “ blacklegs “ those whose consciences would not allow them to agree with it. “ The falsehood of extremes.” I know of no political party that has tried to rise to higher ideals in politics than has the Labour Party. There is one thing which we can say in our praise, and that is that, no matter who may have attempted to drag us from the straight path of the policy we have put before the country, rather than remain in office or take any temporary advantage of assistance offered us in that way we have always refused it.” Had we desired to hang on to the sweets of office by practising the methods adopted to bring about the present coalition Government, I have no doubt that the Labour Government could have remained in office for a very long time. If we had been willing to desert our principles, and practically to sell ourselves, I have no -doubt we could have remained in office as long as we chose. But rather than sell our principles for the fleshpots of office, we consented to go out, and we have gone down with the flag flying, rather than continue in office to the disgrace of the party to which we belong. What I cannot understand is, that we should find’ men who have been fighting for a particular form of fiscalism for so long, and whose fiscal faith has been the only reason for their existence as a political party, so ready to set their principles aside. Free-trade or protection has been the one solitary plank of their platform, and when that has been suddenly dropped, there is no apparent reason for their existence as a political party, unless it be their opposition to the Labour Party. It is too soon to criticise the policy of the coalition Government. We shall have their policy no doubt ‘ in due course. But I hope that if ‘they intend to stand by their principle of opposition to the Labour Platform, ‘ they will be honest enough not to follow the Labour policy, but to submit a policy in direct opposition to it. We shall then have a straight issue to put before the country on which a new Parliament may’ be elected, and we shall see whether the country will tolerate men who advocate free-trade on the hustings, and are prepared to sink that principle when they enter Parliament, and men who, returned as strong protectionists, are prepared to sink their protectionist principles to secure office. Our party has never made any pretence of being a fiscal party. Men holding both fiscal beliefs belong to the Labour Party, and fiscalism has never been one of the vital planks of the Labour Platform. I hope that when the Government bring forward their policy, we shall have a straight-out opposition to our policy. We hear a great cry about anti-Socialism; let us have anti-Socialism proposed from the other side in opposition to the Labour Platform. I shall hail such an announcement as being in the best interests of the party to which I belong, if it be our desire that that party should be re turned again to power. I believe that we are on the winning side, and that we shall have the flood of public opinion with us if the party opposite are only plucky enough to put to the country a policy of antiSocialism apart from a policy of free-trade or protection.
– Then honorable senators will have to change the Tom Mann policy.
– Tom Mann is changing politics too rapidly to suit the honorable senator.
– He is doing the classes more good than anybody else.
– There has been an accession of members to the Labour Party everywhere Tom Mann has gone. He has everywhere been successful in increasing our strength, and so long as Ave get such admirable results from his work, honorable senators may depend upon it Ave shall stick to Tom Mann’s methods.
– Does the honorable senator approve of him then?
– Most certainly I do.
– Hear, hear. We know where the honorable senator is now
– If Tom Mann only worked as well for the honorable senator as he does for the Labour Party, I ha’e no doubt whatever that Senator Fraser would be prepared to throw over all his past declarations, and take Tom Mann to his bosom.
– Does Senator Fraser agree with Mr. Wal pole’s statements?
– I might ask if Senator Fraser agrees Avith another paid agitator, Mr. Walpole, a man who so far as I have been able to gather, is disseminating anything but the truth?
– - Or with Seibright?
– I do not think that Senator Fraser can approve of Mr. Seibright, because he is one of the paid agitators whom the conservatives of Western Australia have been very glad to get rid of. I know that one of the members of -the Western Australian conservative association, the so-called “ National Political League,” has said that Mr. Seibright has done them more harm than good, and that they were A’ery glad to get rid of him. We must have the policy of the Reid-McLean Administration presented to us before Ave can criticise it, and I hope for the sake of a straight-out fight, which I do not think should be delayed any longer, seeing that there is so much unanimity on the Government side, that it will be a policy of opposition to a socialistic policy. I think that the party opposite should be manly enough to bring forward a policy declaring their opposition to Socialism, that we may have a straight-out issue submited to the country.
– No more irrigation works.
– No more irrigation works, no more butter bonuses, and a hundred and one other measures advocated by some of the party opposite. I have been very much disappointed to find the two representatives of the Government in this Chamber sitting together as members of the same Administration. I expected better things from them. I should have been delighted to see either Senator Symon or Senator Drake at the head of a Freetrade or a Protectionist Government; but their appearance in this Chamber as members of the same coalition Government, which is neither one thing nor the other, does not add anything to their political reputations.
– What was the late Government? They were half and half. What is Senator Dawson, for instance ?
– Other honorable senators, as well as myself, have explained often enough that fiscalism is no part of the policy of the Labour Party.
– Why not concede the same to the present Administration? Why should they not be given equal fair play?
– Because the raison d’etre of their very political existence is fiscalism, and they should be consistent in the advocacy of their principles. The last Administration was formed by a party advocating labour principles, apart from fiscalism.
– What does Senator Zeal think I am?
– A freetrader.
– The honorable senator is absolutely wrong.
– I feel quite sure that this Government cannot possibly be in accord with the wish of the electors of Australia, and that fact will soon be found out, unless they are prepared to sink fiscalism and make no further recognition of those declarations which have so often been made here in the past. Senator Symon has declared, on the floor of the Senate, that protectionists were robbers.
– Did I use so hard an expression as that?
– The honorable and learned senator used that term, as Hansard will prove. A free-trader who holds an opinion of that kind cannot possibly reconcile his association with protectionist colleagues unless-
– Against a common foe it is quite justifiable.
– If that is the honorable senator’s policy, I can admire it. I have been satisfied for many years that the Conservatives would be obliged to follow that policy, and therefore I have no fault to find with the honorable senator for doing so. But I contend that it is wrong for any honorable senator who has been elected as a free-trader or protectionist to combine with those who politically are opposed to his fiscal faith to form a Government without having gone before the electors who gave him his political existence. The honorable senator changed his fiscal coat in the last Parliament. He started the first session as a protectionist, and he ended it as a free-trader.
– To whom does the honorable senator refer?
– I am referring to the honorable senator, who moved the Address-in-Reply for a protectionist Government, who was recognised then as a protectionist, and who ended the first session, as a free-trader. I am glad to say that he is not alone in that regard ; they are all in the one boat, so that he is no worse than the others.
– I leave my votes in the Senate to prove that the honorable senator’s statements are not correct.
– Does the honorable senator still claim that he is a protectionist ? Cf he does, he will have to convert the protectionist paper of this city to his view, because it has declared time and again that he has gone back upon the fiscal principle on which he was elected, and that it intends to deal with him as soon as he presents himself on the public platform.
– Did he not go to Reid’s caucus at the Grand Hotel ?
– I do not know if he did, but it was reported that he had left his fiscal party, and gone over to the enemy. That statement appeared in the protectionist newspaper, and if it is wrong, this is the first time I have heard that it is.
– Sir Edmund Barton stated that his Government was not a protectionist Government.
– We shall not fall out about definitions. Suffice it to say, that the honorable senator who interrupts has declared time and again that it was a protectionist policy. Whether it was an outandout protectionist Government or not does not matter very much at this date, as the Government have gone to that political limbo which awaits the present Government before very long. We shall see by-and-by what their policy is. I hope that it is in accord with the sentiments expressed by Senators Dobson and Fraser - that is. opposition to the socialistic policy - and if it is, I shall be quite willing to abide by that issue when it is presented to the electors.
– I do not rise to take part in a debate which has for two hours consisted of personal abuse, imputing of motives, and raking up of political characters, and which, I think, has degraded the Chamber. I have risen for the sole object of referring to a grossly unwarranted attack which Senator de Largie has made upon me.
– I rise to order. The honorable and learned senator has accused honorable senators on this ‘side of degrading the Chamber. I submit to you, sir, as the guardian of its dignity, that that remark is out of order.
– I do not think that the honorable and learned senator ought to use that expression.
– I withdraw the expression. I do not think that the debate we have had for the last two hours is likely to add to the dignity or usefulness of the Chamber; nor do I think that it is likely to gain the respect of even the democracy of Australia. Senator de Largie has made upon me a gross attack, which he had no right to do, and which I have had reason to complain of more than once.
– The honorable and learned senator attacked me.
– The honorable senator can attack anybody who attacks him. I did not attack the honorable senator, but defended him. If he will only listen to me he will see how grossly unjust and wrong he was in attacking me.
– The honorable and learned senator attacked a man who was absent.
– I desire, first of all, to speak on general grounds. Ever since I took my seat in the Senate several members of the Labour Party have exhibited a happy knack of making interjections for the sole purpose of belittling myself and others, and exalting themselves in the eyes of the electors. The early pages of Hansard will be found to contain such expressions as “piebald Australia,” “scabs,” “blacklegs,” “smoogers,” and “you are in favour of a piebald Australia.” Ali these expressions were interjected by honorable senators in the most irrelevant way, and presumably for the express purpose of belittling myself and others, and exalting themselves in the minds of the democracy of Australia. Senator de Largie caught hold of an expression of mine, in which I accused Mr. Tom Mann of uttering some wicked ideas. I was referring to his attack on the land-owner. At meeting after meeting Mr. Tom Mann has said that if he had his way he would put such a tax on land as would make the land-owner only too glad to sell it or give it back to the Government. I denounced that as an unjust idea, and to my mind it is essentially a wicked idea. I think that my honorable friends opposite will give me the credit of having met Mr. Tom Mann on a public platform, and saying to his face a year or two ago what I repeated recently behind his back. Although I indicated the statement of Mr. Mann to which the term “wicked “ had reference, still Senator de Largie went on to jump at a conclusion; and because some men have been unwise enough to talk to meetings of men and women about the extreme socialistic idea that at some time we are to have a State nursery, to which all children shall be sent, and that ‘to some extent the sanctity of the home is to be invaded, my honorable friend, in order to make a most damaging point against me if he could, said upon no other authority than his inner consciousness, that I had at certain meetings of the Women’s League been indulging in this criticism. I desire to state to Senator McGregor, the leader of the Labour Party here, that from the first I have objected to the fourth plank in the platform of the Women’s League - “ purity in our homes.” When I asked what the meaning of it was, I was told that there were some quotations in the Tocsin which represented the views of leading German Socialists. I assured the women and their husbands, again and again, that there was nothing in that plank ; that the moment a member in the House of Representatives accused the Labour Party of holding those views, it was repudiated by the whole of them in that House, and that three times an honorable gentleman rose to try to explain away what he had said. . From the very first I have asked that that plank be taken out of the platform of the Women’s League. I have said that it was a bogy, and had been repudiated by the Labour Party. I was trying to explain this to Senator de Largie, but, in his anxiety to make an unjust and unfair attack on me, he would not listen, and went on to impute to me thoughts which I have never uttered, or held.
– Does the honorable and learned’ senator repudiate Mr. Walpole’s statement?
– I know nothing about Mr. Walpole’s statement. I have advised the friends with whom I act that the Labour Party of Australia, through the late Prime Minister, for whom I have the greatest respect, had repudiated these notions, and that there was no occasion for them to retain the plank in their platform - to put up a bogy for the purpose of knocking it down.
– That is just what Mr. Walpole is doing.
– I have nothing to do with Mr. Walpole, and I am not responsible for the views which he expresses. What right has any honorable se’nator, because Mr. Walpole, or any one else, makes some statement, to impute it to me? Why draw a bow at a venture in making an attack upon me ?
– I quoted the honorable senator’s own words.
– I have made a clear statement, which I think any one can understand, yet the honorable senator imputes to me expressions which I have never used, because I do not believe that the Labour Party hold the views which have been attributed to them. Cannot he express regret for the attack which he has made, instead of trying to bolster himself up? Are the members of the Labour Party going to imagine that persons have said certain things, and then, in this the highest assembly in the Commonwealth, accuse them of having said them? If that is to be the policy of the party, let them abide by it. I make them welcome of it.
– I wish to say a few words, particularly in reply to the observations of Senator Higgs, who seems to think that because a large number of members sitting on his side of the Chamber have addressed the Senate, we on this side are under a bond of silence.
– Was not the honorable senator told not to speak?
– I certainly was not.
– Neither was I.
– I have been a Member of Parliament for something like a quarter of a century, and no one has ever dared to tell me not to speak. Such a command would have been a sufficient incentive to make me talk until “ all was blue.” I have never entered a House of Legislature to act as the tool of any political party. My object has always been to discharge to. the best. of my ability my duty to those who have elected me to represent them.
– Is that why the honorable senator was ignored?
– I do not. recognise the aptness of the interjection. No doubt it is an exceedingly wise one ; butI am unable to see the meaning underlying it. I elected to sit on the right of the President, because I knew that my honorable friend and his party were moving on to the bench on which I formerly sat, and I thought that I might be in their way if I remained in my old seat. Therefore I wrote to Melbourne, and asked that my card might be placed on a seat on this side of the Chamber, where I hope I shall not be in any one’s way.
– The honorable senator will be in the way of the Government, if he does not keep quiet.
.- I have not heard it suggested that those sitting on this side of the Chamber should remain silent during this discussion. I certainly think that no member of the Ministry would be courageous enough to make such a suggestion to me. If such a suggestion were made to me, it would be sufficient to cause me to indulge in what a great orator years ago described as a wild shriek of liberty, and I should let myself go. There are, however, one or two matters which I wish to mention. I am not going to deal with any question of party politics at the present time, because I do not yet know what the policy of the present Administration is to be, and the fact that I am sitting on the Government side of the
Chamber is an indication of nothing more than my desire to get out of the way of those who are now occupying the bench which I have left.
– Will the honorable senator go to the caucus?
– I know nothing about caucuses, and I have never attended one. If my honorable friend wishes me to attend the caucus over which he so ably presides, I would remind him that I have not yet received an invitation to do so.
– The honorable senator is quite welcome.
.- There is a matter which I wish to bring under the notice of the Ministry, of Parliament, and of the public, and which only lately came to my knowledge; I refer to an extraordinary traffic in postage stamps of so serious a nature that I deem it my duty to at once direct attention to it. It has come to my knowledge that colonial postage stamps to a great value are being shipped from Europe to Australia in single stamps, not in sheets. I learnt recently from a most reliable and authoritative source that between ^9 and j£io worth of single stamps have been remitted from Europe to discharge a bill owing in an Australian capital.
– Does the honorable senator refer to penny stamps?
.- The stamps were of various values. Those who read the newspaper advertisements will know that used stamps are saleable. Old stamps, of course, are of value to the stamp collector ; but advertisers also offer to buyin any quantities stamps which were used as recently as yesterday. I have it on most reliable authority - which I am prepared to give to the Government - that large quantities of stamps, which have been obliterated by the postal officials, are bought by certain persons, sent to Europe, and by a clever chemical process there cleansed of the obliteration, re-gummed, and returned to Australia. As I am making this statement in the presence of the chief law adviser of the Crown. I hope that he will take note of it. I believe, from the information given to me, that stamps thus treated, of probably thousands of pounds in value, are each year finding their way back to Australia, and are being re-used illegally, thus defrauding the revenue. I have referred to this matter at the earliest opportunity available to me, after the receipt of the information. Some honorable senators opposite have commented upon the healthy climate of Queensland, and upon the fact that I recently visited that State for considerations of health. I do not know, however, that there is any similarity between travelling on the coast in a comfortable steamer and labouring in a cane field. But it is perfectly futile, when speaking of the climate of Queensland and of Northern Australia, to speak only of the winter climate. While I should be glad to spend every winter of my life in that part of the world, because I know no more charming climate than it possesses, I should be very sorry to have to spend a single summer there, because in that period of the year the climate is exceedingly oppressive and is to be gauged not merely by the degrees of temperature registered by the thermometer, but even more largely by the condition of the atmosphere.
– Did the honorable senator ever spend a summer in Northern Queensland ?
– No; and I shall take precious good care that I never do.
– Then why give, an opinion on the summer climate of the State? The honorable senator should confine his remarks to his own experience.
– I have been in Northern Queensland as late as November, and as early as the end of March, and those dates were quite as near to the hot weather as I wish to be. I do not desire to anticipate too much bv going to Queensland in the summer time..
– Did the honorable senator take the St. George’s Rifles with him ?
– I should not have objected to. do so, if any opportunity had presented itself to rid the community of a few interjectors. Northern Queensland has a most charming climate in the winter, but is a place to be carefully avoided in the summer.
– The honorable senator has had no experience of a Queensland summer.
– I have been in Queensland just before the approach, and just after the close of the hurricane season, and I am not anxious to extend my experience. This is the first occasion on which I have been able to attend the Senate for some time past, because on two occasions I have had to apply for leave of absence. I take this opportunity to thank honorable senators for their kindness and courtesy in granting me that leave of absence on account of ill-health. I took the unusual precaution of sending medical certificates to the Clerk, as indicating the bond fides of my applications. I take this opportunity, the first which has been afforded me, to refer to something that happened whilst I was away, with reference to a most innocent article written by me, and published in an English magazine. I find that both in this Chamber and in another place opportunity was taken most ignorantly - I cannot believe that my assailants were actuated by malevolence - to misrepresent what I stated in that article. I desire to point out that all I said, that could in any way reflect upon the Commonwealth, or anything connected with it, was that there were not a sufficient number of rifles in Australia at the time at which I wrote to equip the existing Infantry regiments, if they were extended to their war establishments.
– Did not the honorable senator say something with reference to pillow cases full of cartridges?
.- I said that some persons believed in the doctrine that it was not necessary to put our forces through a complete course of military- training, and that some people thought that if a man had a rifle and a pillow-case full of cartridges he could do wonders. In making that statement, I was merely quoting from a very prominent Commonwealth publication. However, let that pass. I take this opportunity to repudiate the statement that I made any attack upon our citizen soldiers. I do not know how such an accusation could have Been invented. One gentleman - I use the term gentleman, although I do not think the person to whom I refer is worthy of being so called - went so far as to allege that I had defamed men who in contradistinction to myself, had discharged military duty in South Africa. Was it my fault that I was not in South Africa? I have here copies of my applications, together with the acknowledgements of them, for service in South Africa, and I can go’ further, and say that, after having failed to obtain an appointment for service in South Africa I offered, at the time when the reputed massacre pf the legation at Pekin was engaging every one’s attention, to raise and command on service in China, a battalion of Colonial troops. I am almost carried beyond the limits of human patience when I reflect that both in this
House, and in another place, advantage was taken of my absence to defame me as a citizen soldier, to represent me as defaming my comrades in arms who had the good fortune to perform military service in South Africa, and as defaming the men who supported and sent me here by an aggregate vote unparalleled in the history of the British Empire. I almost make an apology for introducing this matter here, but I have found that if statements are made and no notice is taken of them - if they are treated as they ought to be, with contempt; and I admit that that is the proper course to take - one may be asked afterwards why he did not deny them if they were not true. It is for that reason that I have ventured to repel accusations that could have resulted only from ignorance. I do not think they could possibly have been due to malevolence. If any of those honorable members who made the speeches to which I refer had taken the trouble to read my article, they would have seen that it breathed the full spirit of the citizen soldier, and advocated that the people of Australia, instead of giving so much time . to sport and money-making, should devote a little more energy, time, and enthusiasm to the higher duty of citizenship.
– I only desire to thank honorable senators sincerely - I am sure they will believe in my sincerity - for the very kind remarks they have made with regard to me personally. In many respects the criticisms which they have been good enough to offer are entitled to, and will receive, full consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Hill to be passed through its remaining stages without delay.
– I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I shall follow the precedent of my honorable friend Senator McGregor, and will content myself with stating that this is the ordinary Supply Bill for the month, necessarily following that which was passed on the 27 th July - necessarily because of the delay which was unavoidable in regard to the preparation and submission of the Estimates. Although everything was left in an advanced state by the late Prime Minister and Treasurer, it was impossible for him to follow the good example set by Sir George Turner, who made his Budget statement at the end of July. We are indebted to, the late Prime Minister for his courtesy in having given the necessary notices and prepared this Bill.
– Would the AttorneyGeneral explain the largely increased vote for rifle clubs ?
– When we reach the Committee stage I shall be most happy to afford any explanation with regard to the items in the schedule that may be required.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee ‘
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
– I wish to direct attention to the fact that on previous Estimates, a sum of £1 2,000 was voted for the fortification of Fremantle. During the existence of the Deakin Government, however, this money was spent in the purchase of rifles and ammunition. Whilst I admit that, from the stand-point of urgency, the supply of small arms and ammunition is more important than is the fortification of Fremantle, it is patent that the nearest port to the scene of hostilities in the Far East, and one possessing such a valuable trade, should not be left undefended longer than is absolutely necessary. I trust, therefore, that the work to which I have referred will be placed in hand without any further delay
– I wish to direct the attention of the Attorney-General to the item, “ Royal Naval Reserve,” in Division No. 44. In two previous Supply Bills this sum of £15, which is also voted in connexion with each of the other States, was clearly set down as a loan which was to be repaid and not as a payment. I should like to hear an explanation as to why a sentence to that effect, has been omitted from this measure. We do not vote any money for the Royal Naval Reserve, but merely make an advance to the British Government. I quite understand that the present Ministry cannot be held responsible for the preparation of this Bill, which was framed prior to their assumption of office. The item to which I refer is repeated under Divisions 46, 49, and 53, and in each instance I think that the words “ To be repaid by the British Government” should be inserted. Another matter has been raised by Senator Pearce, to which I did not intend to allude. I refer to the defence of Fremantle. In the Estimates for 1903-4 provision was made for the expenditure of £8,270 on works, and ,£5,000 on armament. Thanks to Mr. Carpenter, we now know that £9.000 of the vote which was intended to be spent, namely, £5,000 on armament and £4,000 on emplacement for the guns, has never been expended.
– That is not quite correct. The vote was diverted to another purpose.
– We have also learned that the present Treasurer, whilst filling a similar office in a previous Administration, formed the opinion that from £60,000 to £80,000 would require to be expended upon these works, and that, therefore, lie deliberately gave instructions that the money which Parliament had voted should not be spent. As far as I am able to jud’ge, the Treasurer’s assumption is an entirely erroneous one. So far as I am able to gather, the position is that it was originally proposed to erect a fort at Arthur’s Head, Fremantle. At that time it was clearly recognised that £20,000 would require to be spent upon that work.
– Should we not have to buy the town out, on account of the damage that would be done by the recoil of the guns?
– I do not know anything about that matter. No doubt it is a subject upon which the late Minister of Defence is well posted. The Government of Western Australia were quite willing to transfer the necessary land to the Commonwealth, and to offer every facility for carrying out the work. It has now transpired that the Treasurer did not wish to spend this money, and, looking round for some excuse
– I do not think that the honorable senator ought to say that.
– Then I withdraw the expression. The Treasurer declared that an expenditure of from £60,000 to £80,000 would be required. That estimate was arrived at by including expenditure in relation to an entirely separate fort at North Fremantle, which was never mentioned, and on which no part of the £4,000 which we voted was to be expended.
– But is it not necessary for the defence of the harbor?
– I really cannot tell the honorable senator. The question before us is what we knew when we voted this sum of ,£4,000 as forming part of a total expenditure of £20,000, which would be required to complete the work. The representatives of Western Australia knew that a fort was contemplated at Arthur’s Head, and that the sum named was sufficient for the purpose, and they were content that the work should be proceeded with. Then the present Treasurer imported into the matter the question of another fort, and the vote was allowed to lapse. I do not think that that is a state of affairs which is creditable to the Deakin Government. I do not wish any confusion to arise in regard to this matter. ‘ The Deakin Government alone brought about the present position, and no blame can be attached to the late or to the present Government.
– Did not Sir John Forrest hold office in the Deakin Government ?
– Certainly, and he was a consenting party to the determination that the £4,000 should not be expended on the work for which it was voted.
– He was Minister of Defence.
– That is so. The curious point to which, having regard to the explanation made by the present Treasurer, I wish to draw special attention is this : That Major-General Hutton, in his report, dated 1st May, 1904, which has only recently been laid on the table of the Senate - and is therefore published long after the date on which we voted the sum of £4,000 for these works - states, at page 24, that £26,200 is all that will be required for the fortification of that part of Fremantle and the construction of the battery, including the purchase of the land. I have given the reference to this official document in order that honorable senators may see how absolutely futile and useless is the explanation made quite recently by the present Treasurer. Further evidence of the futility of that explanation is to be found in the fact that the General Officer Commanding has made provision for only one 7*5 gun and mounting for the defence of Fremantle for the next four years. We are, therefore, reduced to this position : That the present Treasurer, when holding the same office in the Deakin Government, refused to allow any money to be spent on this work, on the ground that there was no provision for the expenditure of some £60,000 or £80,000 which would be necessary to complete it; that Major-General Hutton never contemplated spending any more than £26,200 on it for the next four years; and that Fremantle, which, as Senator Pearce has rightly pointed out, is a most important trade centre, and has a considerable shipping trade, was thus to be left unprotected, because of the squabbles of two Government Departments, for a period of five years, dating from the time when the .£9,000 was voted. This was to be the position, simply because of a disagreement as to the amount ofl money available. The defence expert said that he required only £26,200 to carry out the work, while the financial man said, “Until you ask for £60,000, and until you are granted that sum by Parliament, you shall not have anything for the work.” Is not that a perfectly fair statement of the situation? Parliament voted £4,000 for this work, but because we did not vote £60.000, the Treasurer, as a member of the Deakin Government, said that none should be spent, while, on the other hand we have the statement of the General Officer Commanding that £26,200 is ample.
– The honorable senator does not say that we voted £26,200 for this work ?
– No; but we voted £4,000, knowing that £20,000 would be required to complete the work. We have since voted on the Supplementary Estimates a sum of £3,800. The Deakin Government, which said that the money which Parliament had voted for this work should not be spent, actually expended on it the sum of £3,800 which we did not vote ; and the present Treasurer stated afterwards that he would not spend the £4.000 because it would entail an expenditure of £60.000 to complete the work.
– That is during one financial vear.
– It must be.
– The honorable senator is mistaken. The Treasurer said that the total expenditure on this work would range from £60,000 to £80,000 ; and until Parliament authorized the expenditure of the full amount required, he declined to allow any portion of it to be spent.
– That is not quite correct. The Treasurer said that he declined to allow the £4,000 to be expended unless Parliament voted it with the knowledge that it was committing itself to the total expenditure named.
– I will accept the honorable senator’s statement. And yet the Deakin Government, of which Senator Drake was a member, spent £3,800 on this work without any authority from Parliament.
– Knowing that it would cost £60,000 to complete it.
– Knowing that they did not mean to spend the money necessary to make the first instalment effective. But in July, this year, they brought down a Supplementary Appropriation Bill, containing the item of £3,800, which, as I remarked, could hardly be noticed at first sight. Is there any logical sequence between these different situations? It is a perfect scandal that Fremantle should be treated in this way. When we deal with the defence question generally I shall have more to say in regard to the scheme. I quite admit that the present Government is not to blame, so that there is no occasion for the members’ of it to protest if I speak somewhat strongly about the character of a previous Government.
– Some of the members of the present Government are still responsible for past sins.
– What I desire to call the special attention of the present Government to is that £60,000 is apparently not required by the General Officer Commanding to carry out the work. I may be wrong, but I understand that the Estimates for the current year make no provision for any expenditure on the defences of Fremantle.
– There is some provision.
– It is understood that the Government do not see their way to commit the Commonwealth to an expenditure of £60,000 on this work, and for that reason they have not made any provision for it on the Estimates for the current year. Meanwhile the sum of £3,800 spent in removing the Harbor Trust buildings has been entirely wasted. There is an ugly bare space on the top of the hill at Fremantle.
– To what Government is the honorable senator now referring?
– There is some difficulty in distinguishing between the several Governments which have recently held office; but I understand that the Departments control these matters, and not 7 k the Minister, so that I am referring to any Government which happens to be run by the Defence Department, so far as questions relating to that branch of the service are concerned. I understand that is the position, but I may be wrong.
– I am very sorry for the honorable senator’s misunderstanding.
– I may misunderstand the position, but I strongly believe that the Departments are paramount in these matters, and that a Minister, however well-intentioned he may be, never gets a show.
– They have a legacy left for them if the Ministry like to take it up.
– I may inform the Senate that I gave Senator Drake notice of my intention to raise this question in the Senate in order that he might be prepared with some explanation as to how this apparently unexplainable discrepancy arises.
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia).I should like to draw attention to one or two items which I think require explanation. On comparing the Bill with the Supply Bill we passed a month ago, I find that on the present occasion there is an increase of expenditure in the Defence Department amounting to nearly £20,000. There are new votes for New South Wales Rifle Clubs of £2,000 ; for Victorian Rifle Clubs of £7,000;’ for Queensland Rifle Clubs of £500 ; and for South Australian Rifle Clubs of £200. These, with other items, represent a total of £11,500. Then there is an item of £5,800 for ammunition for New South Wales, and, under the same heading, an expenditure ot £2,400 in Victoria, or a total of £8,200. Training schools, which are an absolutely new item, represent an expenditure of £250 in New South Wales, £150 in Queensland, £100 in South Australia, £100 in Western Australia, and £100 in Tasmania - a total of £700. There are also increases in the votes for arms and equipment, and for ordnance in Victoria, and also for instructional schools. An additional expenditure in one month of £20,000 ought to be closely watched ; at any rate, I look to the Minister for some explanation why these items have been included without any explanation being offered on the introduction of the Bill.
– Senator Guthrie, in directing attention to the increases of expenditure under the Military Estimates, is no doubt opening up a very fruitful topic of discussion.
My desire is to say a few words on the matter of defences, because I feel that at the present time the Commonwealth is, in this respect, in a pitiable state. It is a disgrace that there should be the present inadequate means for the protection of the community. One of the boasts of certain members of Parliament has been that a smaller amount of money is spent on defences under Federation than was the case when there were six separate State establishments. To my mind, that is not a fact of which we should feel proud. I agree that money should not be wasted, but that we ought to receive real solid value for all we spend. We must bear in mind, however, that if ever we are placed in a position of difficulty through Great Britain becoming involved in war, the Commonwealth will, unless a change takes place in defence matters, find itself the target of a hostile attack at various points. We shall be utterly unprepared to meet the attacks which may reasonably be expected. The strength and the safety of communities nowadays lie in their being prepared for all emergencies and eventualities. Honorable members who have taken the trouble to read the reports of the General Officer Commanding from time to time, know that the burden qf his song has been that the Commonwealth is not doing what it ought to do in the matter of defences. A little time ago we were told by the late Minister of Defence, Senator Dawson, that it was intended to follow the advice of the General Officer Commanding, so far as providing a certain proportion of the necessary amount to make our defences efficient. The General Officer Commanding, however, reported that in order to place ourselves in a proper position of defence we ought at once to expend the full amount of money estimated as necessary ; and it was only because of pressure that the General Officer Commanding made the recommendation that the expenditure should be distributed over a period of four years.
– Where was the pressure exerted?
.- It was parliamentary pressure.
– Never !
.- I say that there has been parliamentary pressure.
– Ministerial pressure.
– But from whom do Ministers take their cue ?
– - Not from Parliament.
.- If honorable senators take the trouble to read the debates that took place in the other Chamber, when the Estimates were being dealt with year after year, they will find that the cry was, “ Cut down the defence expenditure.” One honorable member who occupied the position of Minister of Defence, came down to the House and said. “ Gentlemen, I am not only prepared to cut down the expenditure to the extent you desire, but to further reduce it by £60,000 or £70,000.” That was done in opposition to the recommendation of the General Officer Commanding. Why did we bring that officer from England at a high salary? Tt was because we believed he was a competent man to advise the Commonwealth as to what steps ought to be taken in order to carry out one of the special objects of Federation - the defence of the community. The idea was to have, not separate systems of defence, but one system ; and although that determination and object have been kept in view by the General Officer Commanding, his reports have been ignored, and matters have gone from bad to worse vear after year. I give credit to the late Minister of Defence, Senator Dawson, and to the late Government for being prepared to invite Parliament to vote the amount of money required for one year; but it would be far more to our own credit if the full amount were at once provided. I know that the whole of the money could nol be spent in one year, but we ought to place the Government in a position to provide all the necessary defences for the Commonwealth. The Government would have the responsibility ; but, as matters are now. the Government may, or may not, have the means at their disposal. If the Government, in consequence of the parsimony or short-sightedness of Parliament, are not given the means, we cannot blame them for any eventualities which may, though I hope they will not, arise. Is there a single man in the> community who does not realize that at the present moment we may be on the verge of trouble of the character indicated? War has been going on between Japan and Russia for months past, and there appears to be a determination to involve in it some of the other powers of the world. If those other powers should become involved - -and we know how readily Great Britain may be dragged in - in what position shall we find the Commonwealth ? Although the Japanese have been endeavouring to “bottle up” the Russian fleet in Vladivostock and Port Arthur, the squadron has been enabled to escape from the former port, and make attacks on the mercantile marine of Japan, even in Japanese waters. Then on the European side, cruisers of one of the belligerents are going about picking up what they can, and endeavouring, as far as possible, to involve England in the war. With this knowledge, we may readily imagine that, however efficient our navy may be, it would be possible for two or three of the enemy’s cruisers to elude the British ships, and come down on our coasts. Such cruisers would not want to take possession of our country or our seaports ; it would be sufficient for their purposes if they had two or three days in order to threaten bombardment, when we might be compelled to pay a handsome sum in order to save our property.
– The honorable and learned senator talked very differently when the Naval Subsidy was under discussion.
.- I did not talk differently. I believe that the Naval Agreement gives us the best scheme obtainable under the circumstances ; but Senator Pearce has never heard me say one word against providing, 33 far as possible, for our own defence. I have always maintained that it is part of the duty of the Commonwealth to, at any rate, protect our naval bases, so that, in the event of the British Navy being compelled to seek shelter, it could come to Australia to refit, knowing that our ports were impregnable.
– We are spending our money on staff rides and training officers !
.- Well, staff rides are valuable. Officers also are valuable. We cannot have an army without officers, and officers are of no use unless they are well trained. We must have well trained men and well trained officers, unless, when the time of trouble comes, we expect our soldiers to rely upon their own individual ability and intelligence instead of being properly led.
– Is it not more important that, when we have the men trained, we should be able to put rifles into their hands, and bullets into the rifles?
– It is useless to have a body of men unless we also have competent leaders.
– We have the men now, but not the equipment.
.- We need to have proper, equipment also.
– I say that we have the men.
– What men have we as far as our permanent forces are concerned ? We have fewer soldiers in Australia to-day than we had five years ago. Our military forces are less efficient to-day than they were five years ago. The cause of this is the mistaken policy of our Parliament in not providing adequate means of defence.
– We have more rifles now than we had five years ago.
– And more ammunition also.
– That is one improvement certainly. But the Commonwealth is utterly unable to defend itself from a hostile attack, which might be made by a couple of cruisers from any part of the world. It is all very well to boast of our great country, and our vast resources, but we should be prepared to defend them? It will redound to the credit not only of this Parliament, but of the Commonwealth, if we make provision for all necessary expenditure, in order to bring ourselves in line with the requirements of our position.
– What is the use of the Naval Subsidy if things are so bad?
.- The Naval Subsidy is of very great value to us. It enables us to have stronger vessels on the Australian station than we should otherwise have, and to take a small amount of the share of defending our coasts upon the water. The honorable senator may reply, “ Let us have a navy of our own to defend our coasts at all times.” But it has been shown clearly by naval experts that it is necessary to have naval forces concentrated as much as possible, instead of their being scattered. I quite agree with the honorable senator to this extent - that we ought to have destroyers, and boats of that class, maintained upon our coasts for the defence of our ports. The possession of such vessels would add to the assistance which we should be able to render to the more important naval force which at present assists in our defence.
– Does, the honorable and learned senator know, what a Destroyer would cost ?
.- I know of course that it would cost a large sum of money. But I also know that our Commonwealth is worth detending. If our country is worth holding, it is worth while to find the necessary money to defend it.
– We spend £300,000 per annum on naval defence, and the honorable and learned senator urges that, in addition, we should have Destroyers, which would cost at least £55,000 per vessel. The Commonwealth purse is limited.
.– Even if the vessels cost that sum, it would be true economy on the part of the Commonwealth to put itself in the position of being able to defend itself. Suppose an attack were to be made upon any one of the great ports of Australia. Would not a far greater amount of damage be done to the whole of the Commonwealth by the immense injury that would accrue from a bombardment than would be involved in the expenditure which I have suggested? Take the case of Sydney. Sydney occupies an important position on the sea-coast, which would allow it to be bombarded from the ocean. A bombardment of Sydney would probably involve a loss of millions, as compared with hundreds of thousands, which might have to be spent in order to provide us with adequate defence.
Senator- Dawson. - An enemy’s fleet could not get to Sydney until it passed through the waters of Queensland or Western Australia, which are the two entrances to the Commonwealth.
.- Yes; and at Thursday Island there is a garrison of forty-three men. At Albany on the west coast, the defenders consist of about an equal number. There are plenty of other means of coming down upon our coasts than by passing Thursday Island or Albany. We should endeavour to protect every one of our great seaports against any possibility of successful attack. I do not say that we could make them absolutely impregnable; but we certainly should do all that it is reasonably possible to do in that direction. I earnestly hope that the Government will take this matter into their careful consideration, and that they will ask Parliament) for such a vote as may be necessary in order to protect the Commonwealth against the damage and loss which we should suffer in the event of war being declared between Great Britain and any other great naval power.
– We have already spent our money.
.- If the Commonwealth cannot raise sufficient money to protect itself efficiently, it cannot complain if some other nation suggests taking charge of Australia on its own account. I hope, however, that the Government will give the matter their serious consideration, with a view of making our defences more efficient, and that, if necessary, they will go even to the extent of purchasing torpedo boat destroyers, although we are assured that they would cost £55,000 each.
– It does not seem to me to be of very much use for the Commonwealth Government to publish ponderous documents such a,s that which I hold in my hand. I have here a copy of the last report of the General Officer Commanding the Military Forces. There is abundant information to be gathered from this document to show that what is wanted is an entirely new system of Defence administration. I quite agree with Senator Dawson that we require an entire change. We find that the present system has been in full working order for very nearly three years - for two years and eight months, to be precise - and that at present, in some parts of the Commonwealth, even a parade cannot take place, because the men have no uniforms fit to wear. That is actually a fact. It is not an exaggeration in the slightest degree. A big parade was to be held in Sydney in the course of next month- indeed, in about a week from now. Within the last fortnight it has been postponed indefinitely. Why? The fact is notorious that 1 he whole of the Defence administration of the Commonwealth has not succeeded in giving to the men new uniforms for three years or more. Indeed, I suppose that it is something like five years since they had new uniforms. First of all, there was to be a fresh uniform. Then a number of people in the different States, particularly in Victoria, were set to work to design these uniforms. Certain mercantile firms - tailoring firms - who had no special knowledge of military work, were authorized to prepare them. Phenomenal sums - I am afraid to say how much - appear to have been paid for designs for jackets. I believe it will be found that the Department has paid from £10 to £25 apiece for these designs. But many have never been acted upon. They have been thrown aside. Of course the taxpayers have had to pay for these experiments. Then, when finally a very unsatisfactory garment has been chosen, and a very unsatisfactory doth has been accepted by tender, something else has gone wrong, and from March last to the present time there has ‘been no cloth in the Commonwealth to make uniforms, except for a few staff sergeants and officers. I repeat that to clothe a regiment is an impossibility, and this is after two years and eight months of the present regime. When that is the state of affairs, it is time there was some change. I find in this report that the General Officer Commanding says -
I am prepared for the unexpired portion of my period of service with the Commonwealth to carry on the routine of my duties provided -
Acting Deputy Assistant QuartermasterGeneral.
Engineers is similarly attached for the performance of the duties of Assistant AdjutantGeneral of Engineer Services.
I desire to know whether these demands of the General Officer Commanding have been complied with, and whether we are being asked in this Bill to vote the money required for these officers. I have only just now secured a copy of the report, and have not had time to look at it carefully, but on page 15, I find a statement over the signature of the Major-General Commanding, which absolutely confirms what I said halfanhour ago, and as absolutely confirms what I wrote in the British Navy League Journal last March. There is a paragraph here with reference to “ Small Arms,” which refers to rifles, and not to the revolvers, about which there has been a shindy, of which Senator Dawson may be able to tell us something. This is the paragraph -
Small Arms. - There will, on the completion of orders now placed in England-
And in his last report the General Officer Commanding told us plainly that it would take from eighteen months to two years to get an order executed. When these rifles are to arrive we do not know, but he says in this report -
There will, on the completion of orders now placed in England, be sufficient303 Lee-Enfield magazine rifles to complete the peace establishment of the whole of the Military Forces.
That is precisely what I wrote last March. I did not deny that there were enough rifles for the peace establishment. I denied that there were enough for the war establishment. Six months after I wrote it I find this confirmation of the article I referred to in an official document submitted by the General Officer Commanding.
– The honorable senator forgets that there were 5,000 rifles ordered.
– It does not matter a button whether they were ordered or not when the General Officer Commanding tells us that it takes from eighteen months to two years to execute an order. I said they were not available. If one orders a thing, and has not got it, it is not available. If Senator Dawson were a bachelor, and were about to espouse a charming damsel, and if he neglected to take the wedding ring with him to church, the probabilities are that, the ring not being available, the marriage would not take place.
– No; if I loved the damsel, I should have broken into a pawnshop and stolen a ring.
– That is too deep a riddle for me to solve. I do not know what the honorable senator means, nor do I think he knows himself. I saythat to order a thing does not make it available. I did not say that rifles had not been ordered. I did not know what had been ordered, but I do know thatorders are sometimes countermanded. That does not matter a button ; the point is that if the rifles were not in the Commonwealth they were not available. Everybody knows that, and of what use is it to say that they were ordered ? Of what use is it for the people in charge of a bank on which there is a run, to say, “ We have ordered sovereigns from the other end of the world “ ? The people “ running “ on the bank desire that sovereigns shall be there, and it is of no use to tell them that they have been ordered from the other end of the world. The sovereigns not being available, the bank bursts, and this Commonwealth would be burst, in a military sense, if we had to rely for its defence upon rifles which had been ordered. I should like to know also, whether, in addition to these rifles, the necessary leather equipments have been ordered. I should’ like to know whether there are slings for these rifles, belts, ammunition pouches, and bayonet frogs.
– And pipeclay.
– That is a very silly observation to come from so wise an honorable senator. If we are going to have sensible leather equipments we should have brown leather, and no pipeclay nonsense. Senator Pearce has no stronger objection to pipeclay than have I. I say that in ordering rifles we do not necessarily get the equipment, without which the rifles are of precious little use, unless there has been some new arrangement. It may be so, and I should like to know whether the necessary leather equipment is to be supplied alone with the rifles. It is unnecessary for me to quote page after page of this astounding report to show how utterly Australia is without anything that can, in a sensible way, be described as defence. I shall, however, quote one paragraph which the General Officer Commanding has put into this report - a good many people think for the first time. But it is merely a copy of what he wrote in July of last year with reference to the Western Australian railway scheme. He has repeated what he wrote in his last report, because I suppose he considered it so good as to be worth repeating. He says - lt may be as well to state at once that a force of the requisite strength, organized and capable of taking the field, does not at present exist in Australia, and that there are at present no local means of equipping such a force.
I never, in any article I wrote, or in any speech I made, said anything half as strong as that.
– Everybody knew it.
-Col. NEILD.- My honorable friend says that everybody knew it. If they did, it is astonishing to me that people should be so willing to trust the insurance of their property in such a rotten insurance office. If one desires to take out a policy to protect Iris house against fire, he is not satisfied to go to an office which is staggering on ils last legs. He prefers to select an institution which is likely to be able to pay the face value of his policy should a fire take place. This insurance policy comparison is one which I used something like twenty years ago in the New South Wales Parliament, and it has become popular of late years. The fact that it has become popular shows that there is something in it. Such a defence force as we require in Australia, such a force as the defence vote is submitted to maintain, is not needed for the purpose of aggression, of attacking any other country, or of occupying any other territory.
We desire such a force as a policy of insurance in the event of our house catching fire - in the event of some foreign power perpetrating an arson upon us, if I may so express it. I say that we are absolutely wasting our money in paying for an insurance policy, if we do not secure a valid one. This document bristles from one end to the other with allegations that we have a most peculiarly rotten and unsatisfactory condition of affairs existing in the Commonwealth.
– On whom is the. honorable senator placing the responsibility ?
– It seems to me that it is a joint-stock affair. I am not sufficiently in the inner running to know who is responsible.
– What has become of the Ministerial responsibility ?
.- There does not seem to have been any responsibility of any kind except in the direction of a great deal of needless expenditure. The late Minister for Defence has spoken about staff rides. In New South Wales the other day there was a staff ride. I do not know what it cost, or who paid for it; but I know that a few gentlemen travelled and worked over a piece of country to which no enemy would dream of going, any more than they would dream of trying to capture Mount Kosciusko on the off-chance of getting a white rabbit. I have not sufficient patience to discuss the matter quietly. The wildest piece of country which could be discovered by any process of investigation, in the vicinity of Sydney, was selected for a staff ride, in which there was not a pretence at defence, but simply an attack. There was nobody to. make a defence ; there was only a gallant attack over this wild piece of country, followed by the publication, at great cost, of as many maps as would be required if we were considering half-a-dozen sites for the Federal Capital.
– Do not forget that I cancelled a few of the staff rides.
– I am not blaming my honorable friend, but merely describing things as they exist. I do not pretend to know who is responsible for their existence, or to lay the blame on any one ; but I hold that the time has come, when, if we are to vote money for our Defence Forces, we must vote sufficient money, and have management efficient enough to obtain value for that money. In his report the General Officer Commanding goes on to say -
The organization is incomplete;.
That is exactly what I said just now. I did not know that I was coming to that phrase, because I had not read it. I was describing the organization as being absolutely unsatisfactory, and the Major-General backs me up, or I back him up -
The Departments necessary for a mobile army have yet to be created.
The Departments are good enough to get out maps for staff rides; that is one thing accomplished - and there are neither sufficient guns, arms, equipment, nor ammunition available.
Here we have the General Officer Commanding saying a grea’t deal more thanI ever said in that magazine article for which I was slated in both Houses of Parliament, and most ridiculously attacked in the press.
– The honorable senator attacked the Australian people.
– My honorable friend must have had the article read to him, and the reader must have read, to him something which was not there, because he knows that I did not attack the Australian people.
– The honorable senator attacked the Australian people.
– My honorable friend must know, if he read the article, that I did not attack anybody. I desired that more attention should be given to the serious question of defence, and a little less attention to the joyousness of field sports, and the joy which some persons experience in making money.
– What about the statement that, if possessed of a rifle and a pillow-case ful’i of cartridges, the Australian thinks himself a match for the best trained soldier of any nation under heaven? That is against the authorities.
.- If my honorable friend will give me the article to which he is referring-
– Yes. Here it is.
.- I do not know whether this typewritten copy is right or not.
– The copy is all right, and the article is most contemptuous about the Australians.
– As my honorable friend says that, I must go into this little thing. I first of all drew attention to the unusual manner in which officers and men were selected for service in South Africa, I pointed out that it had been the practice of Imperial officers in Australia to select men who had had no service at all in many cases, as against officers and men of the Defence Forces who had had years of training, and I then went on to say -
These mischievous ideas were fostered by the action of Imperial Army officers commanding the local forces in recommending for commissions in the various contingents despatched from Australia utterly inexperienced youths and gentlemen possessing social qualifications, in preference to experienced and trained officers of the Defence Forces.
Is that against Colonial troops?
And as the officers, so the rank and file. The wholly untrained were as, or more, welcome than trained members of the Military Forces.
With these examples of selection before them, and with the successes achieved by the officers and men so chosen before them -
That is an admission that the officers and men without any training had achieved success in South Africa. the people of Australia have now an ingrained belief- “ Ingrained “ is not a word that I remember using ; but I dare say I did - that an Australian, astride anything with four legs, is, if possessed of a rifle and a pillowcase full of cartridges, a match for an indefinite number of the best-trained soldiers of any nation under heaven.
There is not a word in that against the Defence Forces or their members. I only point out that there are in Australia a number of persons who have not read aright the lesson of the success of Colonial troops in South Africa, and who have a silly and mistaken idea of military matters. Not one word of that comment applies to Colonial troops. I do not take back a word of it.
– Is it not a bit of a sneer ?
– It . is a bit of a sneer at persons who have not paid attention to matters as they ought to have done.
– And the honorable senator sent that sneer to the people of England?
.- If it makes my honorable friend in any way happy to put that construction on it, he is welcome to do so. The General Officer Commanding proceeds to make these observations -
It will, therefore, be seen that the construction of a Transcontinental Railway would, under existing circumstances, confer no satisfactory advantage upon Australia in its present condition of military unpreparedness.
So that the General Officer Commanding tells us that we have neither guns, rifles, equipment, nor ammunition available; no departments necessary for the constitution of a mobile army, and no local means of equipping such a field force, and that we are in a condition of military unpreparedness.
– It is all quite true.
.- I believe it is, and I draw attention to these facts, so that the taxpayers may have an opportunity of using their power at the right time to correct this shocking piece of administration. The General Officer Commanding continues -
The most that could be expected from the military situation at present existing would be the concentration of a certain number of armed men, who, without adequate administrative Departments, or the required equipment, would be quite incapable of coping with even an inferior number of an invaders troops, carefully trained, organized, and equipped with the latest modern appliances, as they unquestionably would be.
That paragraph is in entire agreement with statements which were made in this Chamber by me long ago. To pit Commonwealth soldiers, a large, or even a considerable number of whom were untrained, or insufficiently trained, against the troops of an invading force which would undoubtedly be highly trained, completely equipped, and furnished with every means of destruction that warlike science could devise, would be to send them to certain annihilation. No halftrained or half-equipped troops would be sent to attack Australia. Every man sent here for warlike purposes would be a picked man.
– To what kind of training does the honorable senator refer?
.- To the kind of training which enables men to carry out the duties attaching to warlike operations. In view of the fact that we are now being asked to vote a proportion of the £500,000, or more, annually spent upon defence, it behoves us, as the guardians of the public purse, to ask for information as to what is being done, and not to vote the money blindly. It would be. absurd for a man who had a policy in a rotten fire insurance company to regard himself as protected against loss by fire, and it would be equally absurd for the people of the Commonwealth to flatter themselves that they are protected against invasion by the possession of a military force which has no chance of becoming as efficient as any, attacking force would be. Our men may be as brave as any set of men under God’s heaven could be, but they would have no chance of success if opposed to men who are better armed, and who are commanded by efficient officers. In this connexion, I would draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that, according to Appendix K to the report from which I have just quoted, there are in the Militia branch no fewer than 197 officers short, and in the Volunteer branch a shortage of 144, a total shortage of 341. Now. although Tommy Atkins may be trained in the elements of soldiering by three months’ drill, it takes years to make a decent officer.
– Some of them are not decent, even after years of training.
.- That may be so. Many men who think that they are good officers take a mistaken view of their capabilities. Speaking, not from any technical knowledge, but from my general knowledge, I have no doubt that the real shortage of officers is something like 400, because a great many of those on the list do not attend to their work. Probably some honorable senators know that there are on regimental lists names of officers who do no duty, and who ought to be got rid of. To realize what a shortage of between 300 and 400 officers really means, I ask the Senate to remember that the usual company strength of volunteers is three officers to 100 men, or ten officers to 1,000, so that the shortage is something very serious. In the militia it is about three to sixty. It is of no use to have staff rides, and to provide other training, unless means are taken to provide a proper complement of officers. The service should be made sufficiently attractive to induce men to undertake this work. Though I am speaking in the most general terms, from a sense of my responsibility as a public man, I am nevertheless speaking as the oldest regimental commander in New South Wales, with but one exception.
– What attractions are lacking?
– There are many causes why men remain out of the service. For one reason, the forces have in a general way been in a state of high disorganization. We have had inquiry after inquiry. Only the other day it was stated in the press that there was to be an inquiry into the alleged serious leakage of official secrets - from what branch of the Defence Department and in what connexion I do not know. But, strangely enough, what is complained of in Melbourne now took place when certain officers, one of whom subsequently left the service, while the other ceased to be attached, were in New South Wales. Those two officers are in Melbourne to-day, and have certainly within their cognizance all the secrets of the Military Department. I do not know whether there is any connexion between the two incidents; but the incidents remain all the same.
– It is rather suggestive.
– I feel that it is a coincidence.
– It is more than that.
.- Several other matters have been inquired into of late. There has been a scandal about a cablegram, another about a revolver, and yet another about an after-dinner speech. There are two administrative_ branches, the Minister’s Office, which is supreme, and the Military Office, and, judging by statements which have appeared in .the press, there have been serious disagreements between them. I read something in the newspaper to-night which shows that that is so. These facts appear to me to be sufficient justification for what I said just now in regard to the need for an entire change. This question of officers is of paramount importance. What is the use of importing rifles if we have not the number of officers necessary for instructional purposes, and for leading the men? Formerly, in New South Wales, there were three officers to every 100 men in the volunteer regiments, but now there are three officers to. every sixty men. With that greatly altered proportion of officers, there is a shocking shortage, and I contend that this matter should receive the earnest consideration of the Administration.
– What would the honorable senator suggest in order to make the service attractive?
.- If my views are sought, I shall be prepared to make them known in the right quarter.
– Is not Parliament the right quarter?
.- If the matter is put in that way, I admit that I have not in my mind at the moment any special set of conditions. One important point to which I would direct attention, however, is the fact that ever since the establishment of the Commonwealth, the Defence Department has been in practically a chaotic condition. 7 l
– Do I understand the honorable senator to say that, in the present state of the Defence Forces, at least 400 additional officers ought to be appointed ?
– I am adopting the exact figures given in the report of the General Officer Commanding. He shows that three officers are required for the permanent forces, 197 for the militia, and 144 for the volunteers. I do not know whether the total given is correct. I have found such extreme muddles in the documents issued by the Military Department that I place very little reliance upon them. However, the report shows a total of 344 officers short of the establishment, and I have no doubt that even a larger number than 344 would be required, inasmuch as there must be a certain number of officers who exist solely on paper, and who are not doing any work.
– Would such officers be paid?
– Does the honorable senator contend that for the’ number of men now constituting the forces, an additional 400 officers would be required in order to secure efficiency ?
– According to the report of the General Officer Commanding, 344 officers and 2,7.82 men are required to bring the forces up to their full strength.
– That is quite a different thing.
– But three or four hundred additional officers would not be required for two or three thousand men. For 2,700 men we should require only eighty or ninety officers. For the sake of convenience, let us say that 100 additional officers would be required for the men who are not enrolled, but who ought to be enrolled in order to bring the forces up to the strength authorized by Parliament.
– I thought the honorable senator was arguing that the present forces were under-officered.
– Allowing 100 officers for the men who are not enrolled, an additional 250 officers would be required for the men who are enrolled.
– Would that be from the non-commissioned officers upwards?
.- Yes. Commissioned officers.
– The honorable senator is calculating on three officers for every IOO men ?
– Yes; roughly. Of course, a few more would be required. Taking a complete foot regiment of eight companies, twenty-four company officers and three staff officers would be needed, making in all twenty-seven officers. The proportion of officers would be greater in the case of mounted troops. Therefore, the figures which I gave just now would be nearly correct as applying to infantry, but not so accurate as applying to mounted troops.
– How about the artillery ?
– I should not like to say off-hand. I have not every detail at my fingers’ ends. . I do not pretend to know everything. Roughly speaking, however, my statement would hold good. I do not tie myself down to a few officers, more or less, because in order to be exact, I should have to calculate the actual shortage in each branch of the service - in the mounted troops, the artillery, the militia, and the volunteers. I see in the report of the General Officer Commanding a statement with regard to uniforms. I do not wish to take up time by quoting further from the report, but I repeat what I said this afternoon, namely, that although the present system of command and administration ha!s been in going order for two years and eight months, it is not possible to-day to hold a review of the troops of the Commonwealth, because the men have not suitable uniforms in which to turn out. In New South Wales the uniforms are so disgraceful that the Commanding Officer can only order night parades, at which the uniforms cannot be seen. That information is published in the newspapers. I am not giving away military secrets, but I am only stating what has been published in the General Orders, and has been stated in the press.
– But has the honorable senator stated the reason correctly ?
.- Yes. I recently made personal inquiries, as a member of the Federal Legislature, and found that there was no el ]th in New South Wales of which uniforms could be made.
– Contracts are only now being accepted in some parts of the Commonwealth.
.- The authorities are always accepting contracts, but little comes of it.
– Does the honorable senator know that the Commonwealth Government is to supply the cloth, and that a contract has been accepted for the making up of the cloth into uniforms?
– Unfortunately all the world knows that a contract was accepted for the supply of the cloth required for the uniforms, but the1 material was of such an unsatisfactory character that it was condemned, and everything came to a standstill. Some time afterwards another contract was accepted, and I suppose that the new contractors have not yet supplied any cloth, because there is none in New South Wale’s.
– Cloth is being supplied to New South Wales from Queensland.
.- I am delighted to hear it, and Queensland has my most sincere congratulations.
– The cloth is being made in Queensland for the purpose of meeting the requirements of the New South Wales forces.
.- The cloth has not yet . reached New South Wales, or, if it has, it has not yet been placed in the contractor’s hands. Some reference was made this afternoon to the condition of affairs obtaining at Thursday Island, which has been designated one of the gates of Australia. So it is. But it is a gate which rests upon very creaky hinges at the present time. Two forts have been erected there upon two hills. I do not know the exact distance between them - it cannot well be under a mile by road, and may be materially more - but the whole army provided to fight the guns in these forts consists of about forty-three persons.
– How many guns are there ?
.- I do not remember. This little weakling force used to be eked out with a partially-paid or militia company, but I learned recently whilst on a visit there that this force had practically “petered out,” as they say on the Pacific Slope. From discouragement, and from one cause or another, there is now no militia force there worthy of consideration. That is unfortunate, because there is an ample number of hardy active men in the locality who would be able to work the guns in excellent style.
– Where are those hardy men to be found?
– They spend most of their time on the water.
– Owing to the policy adopted by the .honorable senator and his party they cannot make a living there.
-Col. NEILD. - I do not know to what policy the honorable senator refers.
– To the black labour policy.
– That is another unfair interjection.
.- I do not think that the interruption is pertinent to the discussion. Some persons would think that it is impertinent.
– It is incorrect; that is the unfortunate feature of it.
– It is absolutely correct.
.- There is also a fort at Albany, and a few troops are stationed there. Senator Matheson has that port particularly under his ken, and he has told the Committee some startling stories in connexion with it. Then we are aware that there is an important harbor at Fremantle, which is utterly unprotected at the present time. Until the present works were carried out and a large paling fence erected to keep the wind out of the harbor, the old port was, I understand, described by an American captain as being “ a jetty in the Indian Ocean sheltered by the Cape of Good Hope.” That describes the condition of affairs which existed until Western Australia, at considerable expense provided an excellent little harbor, which she ought to be in a position to defend. Why did that State join the Federation if she was not to share in the defence which the larger States could provide? Up to the present time, however, she has not received a pennyworth of consideration in the nature of defence from them. Indeed, the defence forces of Western Australia are now probably materially less numerous and efficient than they were some years ago.
– That is not the fault of the’ Government. It is owing to the want of judicious distribution by the General Officer Commanding.
– I have already said that I do not pretend to allocate the blame for what exists. I do not urge that it rests with the Ministerial administration, or with the military administration. But, undoubtedly, it rests somewhere, and I make that statement unhesitatingly as a public man of a quarter of a century’s standing. I do not know who is responsible for the present position of affairs, but I presume that if a row can be created about a revolver, a similar disturbance may be raised about big guns. We require an entire change in existing methods connected with our great expenditure upon Commonwealth defence, and I sincerely hope that by some means a solution of the difficulty will be arrived at, and that we shall not continue to spend £500,000 annually in the unsatisfactory manner in which it has been expended in the past.
– I am sure that honorable members do not expect me to be familiar with all the details and ramifications of the Defence Forces-
– Being a man of peace.
– For the reason suggested by my honorable friend, as well as for others. I know they will not expect me to traverse the wide field which has been covered by honorable senators who have spoken, and who have a good deal of information regarding defence matters at their fingers’ ends. Such information as I have I shall give to the Committee, in answer to the specific questions which have been addressed to me. At the same time, I desire to express my indebtedness to those honorable senators who have spoken, foi directing my attention to reports and details, and to the general subject of the defence of Australia. There is no doubt whatever that we are all strongly impressed with the vital necessity of providing for an efficient and complete defence of our shores and of our country. I may also add that no Ministry would be worthy of its position in the Commonwealth if it did not realize the gravity of the situation, and seek to arrive at its solution in the way that would most effectively secure the desired end.
– Have we not got the Auxiliary Squadron ? What more do we want?
– I am sure that past Governments have been animated with equal zeal in that direction. I know that during his term of office Senator Dawson made a most earnest study of the whole subject, and I believe that he has left behind him valuable information and recommendations concerning the matters which came under his notice. All those recommendations, as well as the suggestions which have been made by honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber, will receive most careful attention. 7 l 2
– It is to be hoped that the Government will adopt my recommendations.
– I am sure that my honorable friend will not expect me to pledge myself to that course, until I have considered them. The first point which was raised by Senator Matheson, had reference to the omission of the words “ to be repaid by the” - shall I say, “Imperial Government”?
– No; “British.”
-“ By the British Government “ in connexion with the expenditure of ,£15, which appears under Division No. 44. There is no doubt whatever that that money has to be repaid. The inclusion of that amount in this Bill, without the words referred to, does not mean that it is not to be repaid. Those words were omitted - I will not say because the late Government were frightened by the honorable member’s references to the use of the word “ Imperial “ in the last Supply Bill.
– Is that the insinuation?
– I would not mind such an insinuation being made.
– I am perfectly certain that the honorable senator’s observations have always very great weight. At any rate, we see the omission, and the sum of .£15 in the particular instance referred to is to be repaid. The other point which was raised related to the vote passed last year in connexion with the fortification of Fremantle.
– There is no omission.
– In reality, there is not. When the last Supply Bill was before the Senate, the fortification of Fremantle was dealt with by Senator Matheson, and explained by Senator Dawson, who said that the vote in question had been expended in purchasing ammunition.
– But this relates to another sum of £5,000.
– I think that my honorable friend will see that the whole of the unexpended balance was used in the purchase of ammunition. This is the same matter that was dealt with on the last Supply . Bill. I think that Senator Matheson was a little severe - or, perhaps, I should rather say, mistaken - in his criticism of the attitude taken up by Sir George Turner. Sir George did not say that because it would involve an outlay of £60,000 to complete the defence works at Fremantle he considered that the sum voted last year should not be expended. He was greatly impressed, as we all must be, with the importance of having an adequate defence at Fremantle, and said over and over again, that he wished that defence to be not a sham, but a safe and secure one. It was pointed out by him that, in connexion with the amount placed on last year’s Estimates, there was a footnote indicating that it was only a preliminary vote, and that it was, he stated, determined on the assumption that ‘the expenditure would be very much less than as he afterwards discovered it would be. On conferring with the authorities, he learned that an expenditure of from £60,000 to £80,000 would probably be necessary to complete the work ; but it has since been ascertained that this estimate will be considerably reduced by the fact that, as mentioned by Senator Pearce, the Government of Western Australia intend to allow the land requisite for the purposes of the fort to be treated as transferred property. Finding that was so, my right honorable colleague, as Treasurer in the Deakin Ministry, obtained on the Supplementary Estimates which were passed-
– That related to the £5,000, not to the £9,000.
– The sanction of Parliament was obtained to the expenditure of the balance of the money voted for this work, on the purchase of ammunition, and, as Senator Dawson explained, it was spent in that way. The Treasurer, having ascertained, as he stated, that the sum required to secure an efficient defence for Fremantle, will be considerably larger than he originally contemplated, when the Estimates-in-Chief are brought down, it will be found that they make provision for a first instalment.
– Which will include all these Estimates.
– That is so. All these Estimates will be brought down, and Parliament, in voting the first instalment, will be fully informed as to what the carrying out of this work will entail. I think that is an honest, straightforward course to adopt. It would be scarcely treating Parliament with absolute candour if,, on the voting of a particular amount, the ultimate expenditure involved with regard to this item could not be better ascertained than it was in the first instance. It was, therefore, from ne desire to starve the fortifications of Fremantle, but rather from the point of view that they should be made efficient, safe, and secure, that this change was made.
– Then how did they come to spend the sum of , £3,800, for which they had no authority ?
– They had authority to spend £9,000.
– They brought down the item of £3,800 as a supplementary vote, for which they had no authority whatever.
– The £3,800, to which reference has been made, is part of the expenditure in connexion with the removal and re-erection of buildings now on the site. When the EstimatesinChief are submitted, the whole item will be dealt with, and my honorable friend will have the full explanation and the revised estimate before him. Senator Guthrie referred to the excess of expenditure under the heading of “ Defence,” saying that there was a sum of £20,000 in excess of the amount shown under that heading in the last Supply Bill. I may say that the whole of that amount represents expenditure in the purchase of ammunition.
– It consists mostly of contingencies.
– That covers ammunition. I am explaining to the honorable senator the information which I have received.
– It relates to ammunition for rifle clubs.
– For rifle clubs and so forth. The Divisions ‘ which make up this excess are Nos. 87, 90, 106, 109, and 124, and they represent a total of over £20,000. That provision has to be made before the ammunition is ordered, because the Treasurer insists on the money being paid to the States’ Treasurers before the order is sent, as it has to be, through them. Then Senator Guthrie also referred to two smaller items. He mentioned division 99, which shows an increase of £10 as compared with that in the last Supply Bill. The last Supply Bill, under this item provided for an expenditure of £520, while on this occasion the item is £530. The explanation is that we cannot always accurately divide the expenditure for the year into onetwelfth, as representing a month’s supply. It is simply a matter of dividing the total, and in this instance the amount has been set down as £530 instead of £520. .
– Not necessarily tobe spent.
-Exactly. It is merely a provision with a view to expenditure that may be required. I take this as an illustration, because the same thing occurs in other instances. It occurs, for example, in connexion with the item “Camps of training and schools of instruction,” in respect of which a sum of £2 50 is set down.
– The total is £750.
– I take as an example the sum of £250 relating to New South Wales.
– That is absolutely new.
– It is; and I may say I understand that the late Prime Minister and his colleagues, after full consideration, decided to leave the amount as it now stands. The money is not necessarily to be spent, but provision is made -so that it may’ be expended if it is found necessary to do so. That is how the matter stands at present. In regard to all these matters, and particularly the more important general questions to which attention has been so ably directed, I hope that when we have the Estimates-in-Chief before us, the whole subject will . be thoroughly ventilated, and that every point to which attention has been called will be considered in the meantime, so that we may have that which we all desire, a thoroughlv efficient system of defence.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - I wish to say a few words in reply to the remarks made by the AttorneyGeneral. He will understand of course that we absolve him and his colleagues from any responsibility in this matter. We thoroughly recognise that it is simply an inheritance, and that the explanation which he has given is that which has been furnished to him by the Department. I want to point out two facts; first, that only £5,000 of the £9,000 in question was spent on ammunition, as is clearly shown on page 6 of the Supplementary Estimates.
– That was only a diversion.
– It was a diversion of £5,000 from the gun at Fremantle to the ammunition.
– That is quite right.
– The reason was that we could not get the gun, and we did want the ammunition.
– I am not raising any question on that point, but merely making a statement of fact. There was another sum of £4,000 for the fortification at Fremantle, and that sum Sir George Turner said he would not spend because the total involved was too great to embark on without the authorization of Parliament. In spite of that, however, Sir George Turner spent, without authority, £3,800 on another branch of the same fortification. It seemed to me then, and it still seems to me, that the explanation Sir George Turner gave as to why the £4,000 was not spent in accordance with the authority of Parliament, is the most feeble and illogical that ever proceeded from any Treasurer in’ Australia.
– Such a great man, too !
– Sir George Turner has from me the utmost respect that I could entertain for any Treasurer; but in this case I suppose he was at the mercy of the Department, or something of that sort, and did not understand what was going on. We voted £4,000 for a specific purpose, and for a specific reason, which Sir George Turner gave, that sum was not spent ; but, notwithstanding that fact, Sir George Turner spent £3,800 on a cognate undertaking which was never authorized, and which, unless the whole scheme be authorized, will mean that the money is entirely thrown away.
– Is the honorable senator not rather blaming Sir George Turner for not having done two wrongs ?
– On the contrary, if there was any wrong, it was in not spending the money we voted for a specific purpose, and then offering an explanation which does not bear investigation.
– Was that in regard to the total expenditure of £60,000?
– It was in. regard to the non-expenditure of the £4,000.
– I am speaking of the intended expenditure - of an instalment of the expenditure of £60,000.
– The £3,800 was spent without authority, and will be absolutely wasted unless we confirm the scheme which authorizes the expenditure of £60,000.
– That is what I mean.
– It will not be wasted if the work of the fortifications goes on.
– It will not then be wasted, but Sir George Turner has suspended the expenditure of the £4,000, because he waits for further authorization. .
– He waits the sanction of Parliament.
– Then why, I ask, did Sir George Turner spend the £3*800?
– Surely the honorable senator does not complain of that?
– I do most certainly. Here we have the Treasurer rising in his place, and saying that it would be’ folly to spend the ,£4,000 which was authorized; and yet on his own account, without authority, he has spent £3,800. I want to make the right honorable gentleman logical. I want to convince the Senate and the public that Sir George Turner’s excuse for not spending the £4,000 is rubbish - absolute rubbish.
– Why should Sir George Turner not stop the expenditure if he was doing wrong, from the honorable senator’s point of view?
– Sir George Turner was doing what he ought not to do from my point of view. I consider the money should have been spent; but what’ I object to is the quibble.
– Surely the honorable senator does not think that Sir George Turner would stoop to a quibble?
– I do not say that Sir George Turner would do so personally ; he is a gentleman for whom 1 have the utmost respect. It is the manage, ment of the Department to which I am referring.
– If the Treasurer is a mere figure-head, why is he in the position ? We are simply wasting his salary.
– That is a question which I cannot debate on the Defence Estimates. In regard to the omission, as is suggested by Senator Symon, of certain essential words in the Supply Bill, simply because they would have entailed the omission of the word “ Imperial “-
– I did not say that.
– That is certainly what I gathered from the honorable and learned senator’s remarks.
– What I said was that the honorable senator ‘ must have frightened them. ;
– Undoubtedly ; I took that as. a suggestion that the gentlemen who have lately formed the Government of the country, sooner than omit the word “Imperial” and insert the word “.British,” omitted the whole ‘ sentence. I certainly understood that to be the suggestion, and I regret it, because I should have preferred to see the word put in.
– My attention has just been called to the matter, and I think Senator Matheson ought to be informed that the expenditure of .£3,800 was actually and expressly authorized by the Supplementary Estimates for the year ending 30th June, 1904. Senator Matheson. - Hear, hear; those were the Estimates passed in July of this year.
– Then I venture, with all submission, to suggest that the honorable senator’s fervour has been a little unnecessarySenator Matheson, - No.
– I understood the honorable senator to complain that either the late Government or somebody else had spent £3,800 without authority.
– Undoubtedly; and they had to come for authority on the Supplementary Estimates in July of the current year.
– And they got authorization? Senator Matheson. - Yes, but after the money had been spent.
-.- But the Government got authorization?
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I should be glad if the AttorneyGeneral would answer the inquiry I made so long ago in this discussion that I dare say that it has slipped his memory. On page 6 of his report the General Officer Commanding lays down as a condition precedent to his continuing to discharge his duties during the remainder of his term, that an Acting Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General and an Assistant Adjutant-General of Engineer Services should be appointed. I should like to know whether the present Estimates include any provision for the salaries of two such officers - whether we are appointing those officers in order that the General Officer Commanding may continue to discharge his duties.
– There is no additional provision on the Estimates with regard to two such officers. There has always been a provision for one officer, and that remains.
Schedule agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill- read a third time. ‘
Senate adjourned at 8.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 August 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19040824_senate_2_21/>.