2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, whether it was under . 1 misapprehension the other day that he called “ not formal,” when the question was asked from the Chair, if my notice of motion for the production of the agreement relative to the Pacific Island mail services was “ formal,” or “ not formal,” and also whether, during the day he will make inquiries to see if he can allow me to move it as formal business?
– When I said “not formal,” I was not in a position to say whether there is any objection to the papers being laid upon the table, and I have not since foundout if there is. I shall make inquiries during the day, and if there is no objection, not only will I inform the honor- able senator, but see that the papers are obtained at the earliest possible opportunity.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Motion (by Senator Walker, for Senator Lt.-Col. Gould) agreed to -
That one month’s leave of absence be granted to Senator Lt.-Col. Neild, on account of serious illness.
Motion (by Senator Keating) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– I wish to call Senator Keating’s attention to the fact that this is the last opportunity he will have to move an amendment to that Bill. In view of the proceedingslast night, he ought not to lightly pass it by.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Harvesters : American Combine - -Alien Immigration : Japanese - Loss of Population - Land Monopoly - Protection - Old-age Pensions - Land Values Tax - Western Australia : Asiatics - High Commissioner Bill.
Debate resumed from 16th November (vide page 5274), on motion by Senator Playford -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– There is a great question, agitating the mind of a very large section of the people of Australia, and that is whether a powerful foreign trust, or combine, is exerting its utmost efforts to crush out a large Australian industry. From the arguments which I have read on both sides, I believe that if drastic action be not taken very shortly to deal with the American Harvester Trust, Australia stands in danger of having one of its best industries, if not entirely blotted out, crippled beyond hope of repair in the very near future. I had hoped that the Government would have seen their way clear this session to bring down some legislation dealing with trusts and combines.
– There is no trust or combine here.
– That is the old free-trade cry. When an honorable senator raises his voice on behalf of an Australian industry, he is always met by a representative of New South Wales with the objection that there is no trust or combine here, and that, therefore, no injury is being done. Senator Gray knows very well that there is an American or Canadian combine carrying on operationsin Australia, and it is for him to prove that its actions are not prejudicial to Australian industry in the manufacture of agricultural implements. Even nowit is not too late for the Government to take legislative action this session. I am quite willing to come back, after a brief Christmas adjournment, to assist them in dealing with a matter of such vital importance to the people of the Commonwealth. If this foreign combine be allowed to crush out our agricultural machinery industry, then God help our farmers when they get into its hands.
– There is a home combine to keep up the prices.
– We can always deal with a home combine, even though we cannot deal with a foreign combine. The best evidence of the unfair competition to which our agricultural machinery makers are subjected, has come from a source which certainly is not very sympathetic with the party to which I belong, and which, therefore, honorable senators on the other side will be very likely to accept. In his annual address to the Melbourne Chamber of Manufactures, the President, Mr. Atkins, said-
The shipping ring was hampering the development of Inter-State trade. It cost more to send goods from Melbourne to Adelaide than from New York to Adelaide.
How can our Australian manufacturers hope to compete, on fair terms, with Canadian or American manufacturers, if it costs more to send goods from Melbourne to Adelaide than from New York to Adelaide?
– That statement is incorrect.
– If our agricultural machinery industry be subject to the competition, or gets into the hands of the American rings, then God help not only our farmers, but thousands’ of our workmen. It will be the farmers who will have to pay eventually. While, in the meantime, they may be able to get their agricultural implements a little cheaper than the late, or present, Australian rates, they ought to know very well, from past experience, what prices they will be called upon to pay when the Australian industry has been wiped out. As to the benevolence of this combine, interference with which honorable senators opposite so strenuously opposed, let me prove from their own words, the injury they have done to the Australian people. Only recently the Harvester Company wrote a letter to the Melbourne Age, but it did not appear in that journal, and thereupon it was printed and circulated amongst members of the Federal Parliament. The document is as follows: -
The Age of October 17 published a leading article ofa column or more, accusing us of “ dumping “ with a view of ruining the local harvester manufacturers; we subjoin copy of our reply sent to the Age on October 18, believing that same will be of no little interest to harvester buyers : -
Melbourne, October 18, 1905.
The Editor, The Age, Melbourne.
Dear Sir, - We wish to refer to leading article in your issue if 17th inst., in which you criticise our recent action re harvester prices : -
You quite aptly state that it is evident that either our former price of £81 was exorbitant or that our present price of£70 is a “ dumping” price.
We have no hesitation in admitting that the former price of£81 was artificial, but we most emphatically deny that£70 is a dumping price, and in proof thereof would state : -
A number of reasons are then given. The Harvester Company admit that they, like most traders, are always willing and anxious to take advantage of buyers when the opportunity offers, and charge an artificial or, in other words, an exorbitant price. It is remarkable that immediately an agitation arose, and there was some likelihood of the combinebeing dealt with, the price of harvesters was reduced; and it is only reasonable to assume that if legislation were proposed, there might be a still further reduction. In the interests of Australian industries - in the interests of our farmers, producers, and the thousands employed in Australian factories - it would be a thousand pities if American or Canadian trusts once get a strong foot-hold in this country.
– The honorable senator would keep them out altogether?
– Of course I would, and have the work done by our own people.
– Put a wall around Australia.
– I would rather put a wall around Australia for the benefit of my fellow-citizens, than I would remove all restrictions in the interests of people on the other side of the world, who have no regard for this country, except in so far as it may be exploited. It makes a native Australian, who loves his country, tired to hear these eternal cries in the interests of foreigners.
– Does the honorable senator call Canadians foreigners?
– Canadians are foreigners to Australia in this connexion. Australia is that portion of’ the Empire with which I am immediately associated, and I believe that in a few years the large majority of the people of the Commonwealth will consider Australia before Canada in questions of trade. Of course, preferential trade, with which I agree, is another matter which can be dealt with when it arises. One of these foreign trusts–
– “Foreign” !
– I repeat that Americans and Canadians are foreigners so far as Australian interests and Australian trade are concerned, and my firm belief is that if they succeed in crushing one manufacturing industry, they will speedily crush others. Australian manufacturers are not powerful enough financially to combat those wealthy corporations ; and it is the duty of the Australian Parliament, whose first interests ought to be the good of Australia generally, to render some assistance in this matter. The second great danger which threatens Australia is the influx of alien immigration. There is a feeling shared by a number of honorable senators, and a number of Australian people. that less restrictive measures should be imposed in this connexion. But it will be a sorry day for Australia if we relax in one iota any of the measures the. object of which is to prevent the importation of cheap alien labour. Only very recently, an honorable senator delivered a long speech, in which the feeling I have indicated was unmistakably set forth, but I trust -that the Federal Government will absolutely refuse to endanger the accepted policy of a White Australia’. Some honorable senators seem to have a higher regard for Japanese than they have for their own fellow-citizens, amongst whom they earn their living.
– Who are these senators.
– Surely the honorable senator does not wish me to become personal.
– I believe the statement to be incorrect.
– As to the correctness of the statement, we have only to recollect what has recently taken place in this Chamber, where one or two members lose no opportunity to raise their voices in favour of cheap Lascar labour, or the admission with greater freedom of Japanese. One legal senator has always been very much opposed to the legislation directed to preventing the employment of Lascars on board the mail ships, which are subsidized by Australia. That honorable senator, when Senator Matheson was speaking on this subject last night, went into heroics in his appreciation of the treaties which exist between Great Britain and China and Japan, and hinted that if it became a question of doing anything which would be a violation of those treaties, or of admitting, unrestrictively, Japanese or Chinese into Australia, the interests of Australia might go by the board.
– Who is that honorable senator ?
– Senator Dobson, who, I am sorry to say, is not now present, would, I am sure, admit that I am not misrepresenting him. What do the Australian people care for treaties of the kind If they interfere with* the progress and development of Australian life. I ask whether Senator Dobson would be so ready to admit cheap Chinese and Japanese labour if it were likely to compete with him in his profession - if there were introduced a few Japanese lawyers, who would charge 3s. 4d., instead of 6s. 8d., for a consultation?
– - There is, I believe, a Chinese lawyer in Melbourne.
– Probably’ that Chinese lawyer has, so far been sensible enough to charge Australian fees. If, however, there were introduced a few more of those who are called our “coloured brethren ‘ ‘-
– What does the honorable senator call them?
– At any rate, I cannot call them fellow-citizens, as, I believe, Senator Pulsford does; for the simple reason that they do not pos.sess citizen rights. I was about to say that if a few hundred .alien lawyers were brought into Australia, and they reduced legal charges to one-fourth of the present scale, we should hear a very different cry. If, in New South Wales, Senator Pulsford were forced to earn his living , amidst hordes of Chinese, Japanese, and other Asiatics, he would not be so ready at every available opportunity to advocate the removal of all restrictions on immigration. For the last four or five years., every member of the Federal Parliament has been bombarded with literature by Mr. Cole, who, I believe, conducts the biggest bookseller’s shop in Australia. Mr. Cole bases his plea for the introduction of coloured aliens on the ground that we are all brothers,, and that Christianity forbids exclusion. But when I know that that same individual is one of the biggest sweaters in Melbourne - and I have known people who have been in his employ - I become a little suspicious. If there is Chris.tianity, there is also a little of self in Mr. Cole’s attitude, and it would suit that gentleman very well to be able to get even cheaper labour than he now employs, though heaven only knows it is cheap enough ! If Mr. Cole can get a good man to work for him for -Q per week he will not pay 25s. or 30s. That great advocate of such an amendment of the Immigration Restriction Act as would permit the influx of these people, is only one of many others whose advocacy, I say advisedly, is not due to any love for their “ coloured brother, ‘ ‘ but to the fact that they desire to obtain cheaper labour. Let us consider for a moment the danger likely to accrue to this young country, and new nation, if we do -.not insist on maintaining the bar against the introduction of these people, who are prepared to work for a rate of wages which makes a decent standard of living impossible. Senator Pulsford has constituted himself the special champion of the Japanese, and sometimes leads me to believe that he must be here to legislate for Japanese rather than for Australians. I would ask the honorable senator to give me his attention while I quote the conclusions of Mr. F. A. McKenzie, of the Daily Mail, a well-known writer on Eastern questions. I quote from an article reprinted in an Australian newspaper as late as 30th October of this year -
The Japanese never lack courage. Once their leaders have determined on a course of action, they carry it through irrespective of the cost in life or treasure. This was shown most strikingly before Port Arthur. It is also revealed in the battle for commercial supremacy. The factory system has been established and maintained with a severity and at a cost that might even have alarmed Lancashire eighty years ago.
Mills, vomiting black smoke day and night, have sprung up through the most beautiful parts of the country. The mill-owners are given a free hand in securing workers, and the mass of the people, disciplined to hardship and driven by poverty, have submitted to amazing conditions of labour.
There are no Arbitration Acts, Factories Acts, or other restrictive legislation controlling Japanese manufacturers. The writer of the article goes on to say -
The cotton mills work day and night in twelve hours’ shifts. Children of the tenderest years and women, are very largely employed. Government publications admit that 10 per cent, of the cotton mill women workers are girls under fourteen, that children as young as nine years old are employed, and that some factories keep their hands at work seventeen hours a day. Other Japanese, who are not Government officials, tell of still worse conditions. They declare .that children as young as five or six are kept at work, slaves of the mills. It is undoubted, however, that the modern Japanese industrial system is founded on cheap labour, largely child and female labour. Piecework is general. Wages vary from a fraction over a penny a day for young children to 5d. for women and 7d. or 8d. for adult men. In certain specially skilled industries, such as shipbuilding, the best men get as much as 2S. a day.
If some honorable senators opposite had their way, our legislation would permit the entry into Australia of this class of workmen in almost unrestricted numbers. If we are to judge by their speeches, by the speeches of some honorable members in another place, and by articles appearing in some sections of the Australian press, these are the conditions with which our Australian workmen would have to contend in a very few years if the opposition to the influx of these races was not maintained -
But although the Japanese employer has the advantage of cheap labour, it is not quite so cheap as it appears. The Japanese peasant has not taken quite happily to the modern industrial system. He works for long hours, but he lacks the concentration and, strangely enough, the manual dexterity which the English or American operative shows. All the figures available seem to prove that the Japanese cotton hand does not do much more than a third of the work done by the Lancashire girl.
The cotton industry in ‘ Japan contains the forecast rather than the realization of threats against our trade. In ship-building and shipowning Japan has made much greater strides. The Japanese is seen at his best as a sailor, both as a worker and as a man. ‘The Government has utilized this national predilection to the full. The indemnity from the China war was used to build up a navy, and a liberal scale of subsidies was then arranged to encourage ship-building and management. Up to then Japan had gone to England for nearly all her large ships, and had relied on England for her captains and engineers in the merchant and transport services. About 1896 fresh legislation was passed that drove the majority of English officers and engineers out of the service.
Honorable senators will note that there is no difficulty in passing legislation in Japan to drive Englishmen out of their service.
A scale of bounties for home ship-building was fixed - 24s. a ton for steamers, of from 700 to 1,000 tons, and £2 a ton for those over 1,000 tons in size. There is a further allowance of 10s. for each one-horse power on the engine. Only thirty-six steamers had been built in Japan in 1896. In 1 901 the number built was seventyone. At the same time the total of steamers purchased abroad, mainly in England, dropped” instantly. Once Japan bought sailing ships abroad ; now she builds practically all her own, and is beginning to sell steamers to outside nations.
That supplies another argument in support of the adoption by Great Britain- of a protectionist policy. The writer of this article goes on to say -
The subsidies for the establishment of shipping lines were on a still more liberal scale. Japan has now spent about a million and a half a year, for some years in succession, on direct subsidies to traders. The main part of this has gone to one semi-Government line - the Nippon Yusen Kaisha. The companies connected with shipping which are thus subsidized by the Government pay an average of 12 per cent, in dividends. Nopart of their shares, it may be added, can be held by foreigners. In nine years ending 1902 the Japanese Government .paid over ten million pounds in industrial subsidies. Wealth for wealth, it is as though England had paid a hundred millions to help on her commerce in thesame time.
Has his policy succeeded? Can it be continued ? If by success is meant a mere augmentation of trade, then undoubtedly it has. The Japanese shipping lines nin in all directions. The fleet of Hie N.Y.K. is one of the great ones of the world. Japanese shipping has taken much trade from our own. Japanese cottons compete successfully with ours in the northern Asiaticmarkets. Factories have sprung up all over the-
Mikado’s Empire. Iron works are turning out increasing quantities of metal.
But Japan has not yet succeeded in creating a manufacturing industry that can stand on its own merits. The Government has preferred to pay three shillings at home for the goods it could buy for half a crown abroad. It has granted its manufacturers the extra sixpence or sevenpence in order that they might sell for half a crown abroad what has cost them three shillings to make.
Under the heading of “An Unlearnt Lesson,” the writer continues -
The situation has been rendered more difficult for Japan by the fact that, great as the industrial increase has been, it has not attained the growth that it should under forcing. For this there is a very real reason. A large portion of the Japanese manufacturers and merchants have not yet learned the elementary lesson that honesty is the soul of business. The unreliability of the Japanese trader is a by-word throughout the Far East. Local merchants refuse to take delivery if prices £0 against them. They are sometimes aided in this by the powerful influence of the guilds, and they are at least encouraged by the imperfect methods, the delays, and the mistakes of the courts of justice. Japanese goods are notorious for not coining up to sample. The reputation of the Japanese trader throughout the East is bad. Japan is the land of counterfeit manufacture and of bogus imitations of genuine goods.
This is no racial prejudice against the yellow nian, for the Chinese merchant is in as good repute as the Japanese is in bad odour. The merchants have been lectured time after time by their own countrymen, and every effort, official and unofficial, has been made to alter this thing. But it is a matter of tradition and training. It may take a generation to change thoroughly, and -still another generation to lose the reputation.
Can Japan continue her subsidies? This depends on the foreign lender and on the relations established with China. Japan may be driven to attempt to raise money on Corean monopolies. The burden of taxation has about reached its limit, yet, if subsidies are to continue, and trade is to be encouraged, more money must be had.
Japan to-day is like the enterprising manufacturer who has built up a big business by enterprise, daring, and skill, with insufficient capital. His works run at full speed day and night; his successes and his extensions are the wonder and admiration of his neighbours. But there are mortgages on his factories, and fresh capital must “be had for new machinery, for interest, and for the payment of wages. He must borrow, or business will collapse. With more money he may yet surpass anything he has done. Without it his factories must close.
– Against all that drivel we can set. the magnificent action of these people during the past war. .
– No member of the Senate is a better authority on drivel than 3s/ Senator Dobson, who hao given us more drivel of an almost insane character than has any one else. The honorable senator has also inflicted upon us anti-Australian drivel, and if my quotations are drivel,, they have at least the merit of being used in advocacy of Australian interests. It was not necessary, for the sake of my argument, that I should refer to the RussoJapanese war. No one denies the bravery of the Japanese in war, but I do deny the wisdom of permitting the introduction of hordes of Japanese labourers to Australia.
– Whoever suggested such a thing?
-Senator Dobson has always been the advocate of such legislation as would open the doors to them wider than they are now.
– The honorable senator never heard me say so, but my words are always misrepresented bv the Labour Party.
– No one has been guilty of greater misrepresentation than has . Senator Dobson. Amongst the assertions which he made in opposition to the antilascar legislation, pressed from this side, was the statement that white men could not be employed in the stokeholds, because they are drunkards, unreliable, and everything else that is bad. We can supply an absolute refutation of that misrepresentation from the experience of the engineers of the steamers since our legislation was passed.
– I made the statement on the authority of officials of the Orient Steam Navigation Company. The honorable senator refers to a quotation I made as my own utterance.
– The honorable senator not only made the quotation, but gave it his unqualified support. We have the authority of the engineers of the vessels for saying that white men who have been doing the work of the stokehold have proved1 themselves thoroughly reliable, and are doing the work better than the lascars did it. I have dealt with these important matters on the first reading, as reference to them at a later stage of the Bill would not have been in order.
– The end of the session is now almost in sight. Honorable senators find some fault with the statement, but we are proceeding to discuss the Appropriation Bill, and that is usually a symptom of dissolution, so far as the session of Parliament is concerned. I do not wish the session to close before placing it on record that, in my opinion, our efforts, so far as they have gone, have been, to a very large extent, fruitless.
I think the Government has had a most excellent opportunity for formulating a truly national Australian policy. It has had a majority in both Houses. If it had produced a policy of that kind, I have not the slightest doubt that it would have been able to carry it. But it has simply neglected to grasp the opportunity presented to it, and we find that the Commonwealth as a whole is in no better position to-day than it was at the beginning of the session.
– And why?
– I think that if my honorable friend Senator Dobson would cast that eagle eye of his over the Continent of Australia, he would find several conditions which ought not to exist in any young country. He would find, for instance, a very large number of people who cannot get work, and who, consequently, are deprived of the means of existence. I am sure he will admit that whatever may be the cause for the unemployed evil in the older countries of the world, such a condition of affairs ought not to exist in a Continent like ours. Not only have we a large number of unemployed, but our population, instead of increasing by leaps and bounds, as ought to be the case in every new community, is losing strength year after year. There we have two conditions. We have a large number of unemployed on the one hand, and we have a considerable exodus of our population on the other. I submit that these two conditions existing in a young country are the surest signs that there is something radically, organically wrong in the government of the country.
– Where does the adult male population go to?
– My honorable friend means that the population is leaving Victoria, and going to Western Australia. So far as my argument is concerned, that does not matter two straws. I should still consider the exodus from Victoria to Western Australia an evidence of the worst possible government. The honorable senator comes to the conclusion, I suppose, that because a large number of people are not leaving the Commonwealth, but are simply migrating from one portion of it to another, there is nothing wrong. Any one who likes to take even the most superficial glance at the position must, I think, come to the conclusion that even in Victoria and Tasmania there is something radically wrong in the government of the country and the administration of the laws when people are driven out for want of employment.
– Things are not half as wrong in Tasmania as in Queensland.
– It does not matter whether people are leaving Queensland or any other State. The broad fact remains that they are leaving.
– They are not leaving Tasmania.
– I am not going to waste the time of the Senate in trying to convince honorable senators of deplorable facts, of which any one can inform himself if he takes the trouble. What I wish to dwell upon is the necessity for some remedy, and the form that the remedy or remedies ought to take. On the one hand we have a large number of unemployed persons who are wandering up and down Australia. On the other hand, we import annually from foreign countries about£30,000,000 worth of goods. It is a national sin that we should he such large importers of goods manufactured by people in other countries, whilst such a large number of our own workers are idle. We have heard something about Canada. I am going to read an extract for the information of honorable senators. It is taken from a speech delivered by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the Canadian Prime Minister. I commend it to the serious consideration of every man who loves Australia.
– He is a free-trader.
– He has that reputation, but honorable senators can decide for themselves after they have heard the extract whether he is a free-trader or not. This speech was delivered at the banquet of the Manufacturers’ Association in Quebec, on 20th September last. Sir Wilfrid Laurier said of the people of Canada -
They will require furniture, clothing, shoes, and everything needed by civilized man….. and i hope our scientific tariff will make it possible that every shoe used in those territories shall be a Canadian shoe ; that every yard of cloth shall be made, in Canada.
I say that that is a national policy for Canada. And. remember, Canada is placed in a much more difficult position than Australia. She is just over the border, barely separated, from 80,000,000 of the best paid people in the world. Her industries are subjected to much fiercer competition than prevails in Australia. She finds it necessary, if her home industries are to be encouraged and to grow, to have what the Canadian Prime Minister calls a scientific Tariff. I blame the present. Government, seeing that it has a majority of protectionists in both Houses of this Parliament, for not dealing during the present session with the Tariff question.
– It was agreed that i [ne fiscal issue should be sunk.
– Even if the leaders of political parties for political purposes came to an agreement that the fiscal issue should be sunk, are we justfied in the face of the present condition of labour in Australia in continuing that truce? In the face of hunger, nakedness, destitution, and want, are we justified in continuing it if a truce ever did exist, of which I am not very sure; because we have had various accounts of the agreement which was come to between’ Mr. George Reid and Mr. Deakin. But even if Mr. Reid and Mr. Deakin did come to an agreement, is it binding upon the Parliament? I say that it is not. It is our duty if we are satisfied that bad industrial conditions exist - and I believe the majority of us are satisfied that such is the case - to try to remedy them; and I blame the Government for not having taken some steps during, the present session to bring that about. I hope that during the next session of Parliament something will be done. It appears to me that unless this question is dealt with in a drastic manner, the condition of Australia will very shortly become even more deplorable than it is. But look for a while at another aspect of the question. “Victoria has been losing people during the last ten or fourteen years. It does not matter why or where they go. What we want to get at is why she is losing population. I dare say that Senator Gray and other free-traders are just as anxious as I am that no Australian State should lose the flower of its population. I take it that we are all agreed on that point. Where we differ, I suppose, is as to the reasons we give for the outflow of population, and as to the remedies we propose to check it. Why has population been leaving Victoria during the last fourteen years? From my point of view, that state of affairs has been brought about principally by land monopoly- There mav have been one or two other reasons. For instance, some mining centres in Victoria have gone down during recent v ears, and a large proportion of the men engaged in mining have gone over to Western Australia. But, after all, that accounts only for a portion of the people who have left this State. It does not account for them all, or for nearly the whole of them.
– Very nearly all.
– I do not think it does. The other reason which I have given - land monopoly - has had a much more serious effect upon the question than even the outflow of men to the mining centres of Western Australia. We find that a large number of the young men who are leaving are the sons of farmers, men who have been brought up to the business of farming, men who under other circumstances would become farmers themselves. But the price of land is so high that it is absolutely impossible for any young man, unless he is possessed of a very large amount of capital, to embark in farming pursuits on his own account - that is, as his own landlord. We also know that in Australia every man’s ambition is to become his own landlord. People do not take kindly to paying rent. Yet we find that a very large proportion of the farmers who are engaged in dairying in certain districts of Victoria are tenants.
– And are likely to remain so.
– Yes. They arelikely to remain tenants. I have no desire to dwell upon this matter. I merely wish to point out that in Victoria land monopoly appears to be most acute. _ But while that is so, it exists in a greater or lesser measure in every one of the States. Take the case of Queensland as an example. In that State there are enormous area’s of good country. Yet within the past few years the Queensland Government have actually been compelled to re-purchase estate after estate from private owners. Let honorable senators think of that. In a young countrylike Queensland, with its 600,000 square miles of territory and its 500,-000 of population, the State has actually had to repurchase land upon which to settle its people. The same condition prevails in every one of the States. Indeed, when I was lit Western Australia I was informed that the evils of land monopoly existed there. This is a most serious, matter in its effect upon the welfare of the Commonwealth. Every one of us has come to the conclusion that if the freedom pf Australia is to be maintained, if our democratic institutions are to be continued, we must not only have more people here, but many more people. We must double, treble, and, if possible, quadruple, our population. I am one of those who believe that there is room in Australia for a very much larger number of people than we have at present. I believe that under proper conditions - under such conditions as., . I have no doubt, will prevail if the enlightened industrial policy, the foundations of which are now being laid, is pursued - there will be room in Australia for a population of 100,000,000. Within the next fifty years I think that our population ought to be increased, at .any rate, to about 20,000,000. If we had that number of people we should be in ar position to defend ourselves against any possible foe from over-sea. We need then be in no fear that our shores would be invaded either by the Japanese, the Chinese, or even by any European nation. There is another reason why we ought to take the nearest possible way to increase our members. It is this : we know that Australia is the most socialistic country in the world, and, instead of becoming less socialistic;, the ‘probability is that, as the years go by, Socialism will grow-
– The honorable senator has learned a little since yesterday.
– I do not think that Senator de Largie need jibe at me because I took a rather different view from him last night. My intentions are always honorable, and I think that he ought to give a man credit for being in earnest, even though he may differ from him. But, as my honorable friend has mentioned the subject,’ -I . would like to remind him that the establishment of a State refinery is on the State Labour platform in Queensland.
– The honorable senator must not refer to that.
– I regret that I was led off the track by the interjection of Senator de Largie. I was referring to the need for a largely increased population. If we are to pursue our present socialistic policy - and I hope that we shall - we must inevitably incur the hatred and enmity of the capitalistically -governed countries of the old world. We* know that in Great Britain, for instance, when a cooperative institution is started, the people engaged in private enterprise make such an assault upon it that very frequently they bring about its downfall. If Australia con tinues to pursue her present policy, she will incur the hostility of the older countries of the world, which are governed under the capitalistic system, and in which private enterprise runs riot. Here again, is a reason - and a very strong one - why our population should be enormously increased at as early a period as possible.
– Is the honorable senator suggesting any steps to increase the population?
-I : am suggesting, to the Government a policy,, the adoption of which would be the means of very largely increasing the population of this country, and which would not only increase the population, but would make the people whom we have here more active, virile, selfreliant, and independent. I have alreadypointed out that we ought to take the question of the Tariff into consideration. I might also add that it is the bounden duty of the National Parliament, charged as it is with national interests, to see that something is done to break down the land monopoly which has driven the people out of several States. What can the Parliament of the Commonwealth do? No doubt, I shall be met with the objection that it possesses no power over the lands of the States. I am quite aware that we have nodirect power over them, but I would point out that indirect influence very frequently exercises a much greater effect than doesdirect influence. I submit that if this Parliament passed! a prohibitive Tariff, and in that way cut down the revenue which is: now being derived from the Customs, it would compel the Parliaments of the various States to impose such direct taxation as would break down land mono.poly. Here is a policy composed of two planks, whichI submit with aSl deference to the Government and the Parliament of the Commonwealth - protection, on the one hand, and land values taxation on the other. A policy of protection would create new industries, and maintain those which are already in. existence, whilst land values taxation would break ‘down land monopolies and increase the. opportunities for settling our people upon the soil. Protection would shield us from the cheap labour of other countries, and land values taxation would protect us against the exactions of the local monopolist. Such a policv would shield us from the enemy without as well as from the enemy within, and I am surethat it ought to commend itself to so ardent a patriot as Senator Pulsford. . Some time ago he interjected that protection would kill our industries.
– Every industry in England was built up under protection.
– Quite so. I wish to ask Senator Pulsford how the United States of America has become the chief manufacturing country in the world? Is it not because of her protective policy? How is Canada able to manufacture harvesters and to sell them in Australia at a profit? That industry has been built up under the Canadian protective Tariff. Looking all round the globe, I cannot find a single country which has established a great industrial system upon a free-trade basis - not even Great Britain. If my honorable friend knows anything about Great Britain, he must know that at one period of her history she was one of tlie most rabid protectionist countries in the world. But we need not trouble ourselves about the policy of Great Britain or of any other country. What we have to decide is, “What is the best policy for Australia?” Can we establish manufacturing industries in the face of the clumping tactics of the United States, of Canada, of Germany, and of Great Britain?
– Has not Victoria had the advantage of a protective Tariff long enough ?
– Victoria has enjoyed protection for some years. Had it not been for her protective policy, instead of having lost 150,000 people during the past ten or twelve years, .she would have lost 300,000. I know that the argument of the average free-trader, so far as Victoria ‘is concerned, is that people have been driven out of the country by reason of her protective policy.
– To a certain extent. “Senator STEWART.- It is truly wonderful how one man draws certain conclusions from a particular set of circumstances, whilst another individual draws exactly the opposite conclusions. My contention is that Victoria has lost population because of her land monopoly. Is not the State Government’ now buying back land? Why is it doing so? If there is not a scarcity of land, why are the national resources being utilized to buy back from private owners land upon which to place settlers? If there were no land monopoly1 - if an artificial scarcity had not been produced by this monopoly - there would be no necessity for the State Government to pursue its present policy. The sons of Victorian farmers are going up to Queensland, over to New South Wales, and indeed anywhere and everywhere in a mad hunt for land. If an area is thrown open for selection in any one of the States, wehear of hundred’s of’ applicants literally stamping each other down in their mad haste to obtain possession _ of a piece of country on which to settle. And yet Australia is the most sparsely-populated country under the sun. The more I think of this question, the more important does it appear to me. Here we have a country which, I say advisedly, is “one of the richest in the world. It is a country capable of sustaining a large population, but having only one person to the square mile, and we have a more fictitious land1 monopoly than exists in any other portion of the globe. We have a land monopoly brought about by misgovernment in the past ; a land monopoly which, if Australia is to progress, must be broken down. This question transcends in importance any other question that could be brought before the Parliament of the Commonwealth at the present moment. Australia is but a child. But, infant in arms as she is, she has ceased to grow. What would any father or mother think of a child if, instead of putting on weight, or increasing in height, at, say, two years of age, it began to shrink ? The parents would immediately come to the conclusion that the body of the child had been invaded with some serious disorder, and they would get the verv best medical advice. .That is exactly the position in which Australia stands to-day. The child has ceased to grow It has become the victim of some dreadful disorder, and as legislators of Australia. - as men who are responsible to the electors of the Commonwealth - it is our duty to discover the disorder, and apply the remedy. We should apply that remedy without the slightest compunction, and without the slightest respect for any vested interests that mav exist. The common good, as we were told yesterday, is the supreme law. If a land monopoly exists, if. in other words, there is scarcity in the presence of plenty, it is the duty of this Parliament to take such steps as will bring about a proper state of affairs. We ‘had Mr. Deakin, some time ago. discussing the question of immigration, and, as is his usual habit talking largely, loosely, and finely. On reading his speech, I compared him, in my own mind, to a windmill out of gear, which continually whirls round! and round, but does not pump any water. I did not see any business in his speech. It consisted of large, loose, general talk, as to the necessity of securing an increase of population, a(nd the statement that the Commonwealth was prepared to do something in that direction when the States would make a move. I submit that we have the key to the position in our own hands. If we adopt the policy that I have outlined, we can compel the States to impose direct taxation.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to advocate that the Commonwealth should apply the remedy ?
– That is a very fair question. As doctors differ, so on this occasion, I suppose, there must be a slight difference of opinion between Senator Givens and myself.
– I think that if it is necessary to take a certain step, and we can take it, we ought not to wait for the other fellow to do so.
– I have been pointing out that we have power to apply the remedy indirectly by increasing the Tariff to such an extent-
– The honorable senator desires a roundabout way to be adopted.
– A roundabout way is very often the nearest road home. We have a majority in both Chambers in favour of a much more highly prohibitive Tariff than we now have, and if the Government took up the position I have advocated we could have such a Tariff imposed within the next twelve months. The result would be a large shrinkage in the Customs revenue. When we decrease the Customs revenue the States must look in another direction for funds, and the only direction, so far as I can see, in which they can possibly look is that of land values taxation. It seems to me at present that that would be the readiest method of achieving the object to which I have referred. It is the duty of the States to impose direct taxation, because it is extremely desirable that their finances should be absolutely distinct from those of the Commonwealth. If we adopted Senator Givens’ suggestion, and imposed direct taxation, as well as Customs taxation, what would be the result? The States now are complaining that they are in the hands of the Commonwealth Parliament, and *do not know really where they are.
– They are largely in the hands of the Jews.
– They axe in the hands of the Jews, and of the Commonwealth Parliament. They say that they can do nothing, that their finances are upset, and so forth; but if, in addition to levying Customs duties, we imposed direct taxation, we should increase the difficulty of the situation.
– The honorable senator is not an advocate of raising revenue bv Customs taxation?
– I am not an advocate of the raising of revenue through the Customs if that system can be done away with ; but the honorable senator knows as well as I do that it would be absolutely impossible for us at once to do without Customs revenue. In any case, I have no desire to see the whole of our Customs revenue abolished. It will always be desirable to tax spirits, narcotics-
– The honorable senator does not smoke, whilst I do, so that he is not so heavily taxed as I am.
– I refrained from mentioning * tobacco. I do not see why a man who smokes should pay taxation, which the non-smoker is not called upon to pay. We ought to try to arrive at a scientific form of taxation.
– The honorable senator’s remark as to the imposition of a duty on tobacco would apply also to the spirit duties.
– But not to the same extent.
– Then the honorable senator favours direct taxation.
– I favour a direct system of taxation.
Senator Playford. - I wish honorable senators would refrain from interjecting.
– I am sure that the honorable senator would have concluded his speech before now but for the interruptions to which he has been subjected.
– Out of deference to the Minister of Defence, I (-hall bring my remarks to a speedy close. I think that we ought to try to get down to a scientific system of taxation - a system which. would not draw upon a man because of what he ate, or drank, or wore, but would call upon every citizen, to contribute to the cost of government in proportion to his capacity to bear that cost. Having said so much, I shall refrain from other observations which I had intended’ to make, as I do not desire to unduly interfere with the opportunity of the leader of the Government in this Chamber to deliver his Budget statement.
– The motion for the first reading of the Appropriation Bill is, equivalent to the introduction of the Budget in” another place, and it is customary on such occasions to discuss the finances of the States and the policy of the Government. I think that honorable senators are entitled to avail themselves of the opportunity to discuss the policy of the Government - their sins of omission and commission-and to advocate any system which they believe to be desirable for the general good of the Commonwealth. There is one matter in respect of which I complain that nothing has been done, although the vast majority of both Houses of the Parliament are, or profess to be, strongly in favour of it. At the last general election, every candidate, no matter to what party he belonged, advocated the Commonwealth Parliament doing that which it was contemplated by the Constitution should be done, and that is the establishing of a Commonwealth old-age pensions system. I do not know of one case in which a candidate for election to this Parliament at the last general elections did not place that proposal in the very forefront of his programme. I therefore ask why some step has not been taken towards the accomplishment of that which every honorable senator has agreed is necessary and desirable. Why has no Government placed a Commonwealth old-age pensions scheme in the forefront of its programme? Why has our time been wasted upon the consideration of what I may call comparative trivialities, while a great question of this kind awaits settlement? It seems to me that the only explanation is that when honorable members, in order to secure their return, made these professions before the country, they were not in earnest. I advocated the establishment of the system when I was seeking the support of the electors, and I am prepared to carry out straight-away the professions I then made. I do not wish to shelter myself behind any excuse whatever. The majority of honorable senators say that the reason for the delay in providing for a Federal system of old-age pensions is that, in view of the provisions of the Braddon section, which compel us. to return to the States three- fourths of the total revenue derived from Customs and Excise, we should have to impose an enormously greater amount of taxation than is necessary for general purposes, and therefore we should disarrange the finances, not only of the Commonwealth, but of the States. Members of both Houses and of various Governments have sheltered; themselves behind that excuse. It is a. most paltry and insufficient excuse, because no limitation was placed on their promises to the electors. Thev did not say, ““We shall establish a Federal system if we can raise, the money, or if we can get round the Braddon section.” On the contrary, they made no conditions. They said : “ We are in favour of Federal old-age pensions, and we shall proceed to establish a scheme if you will give us your support and return us to Parliament.” Every Government has professed to be in favour of this great project, and therefore there is no reasonable excuse for members not carrying it out.
– Is there not a Royal Commission sitting now?
– It seems to me that the way in which to shelve everything and to go behind the promises made by candidates to electors, is to appoint a Royal Commission. A Royal Commission is sitting, but at one stage the inquiry into this subject was mixed up with the question of tobacco manufacture and other matters. I wish to approach the subject in the same way as I did outside ; and I do not desire to shelter myself behind any Royal Commission or the Braddon section. This project could be carried out here and now if honorable senators were in earnest, and I challenge them to proceed in that direction if a way is shown to them. According to Coghlan, at page 841 of the last edition of his Statistical Record ‘ of Australia and New Zealand, to pay Federal old-age pensions on the New South Wales basis, will involve’ an expenditure of .£1,467,000 a year. It will not mean the imposition of a new burden to that extent upon the taxpayers, because we know that it costs a considerable amount to both Victoria and New South Wales to provide old-age pensions under their respective systems, and the establishment of a Federal ‘ system would immediately relieve their taxpayers of that portion of their burden. In Queensland there is also a system of oldage relief, by which men under certain circumstances are paid 5s. a week ; and to that extent its taxpayers would be relieved. So that the amount which Mr. Coghlan estimates a Federal scheme would cost cannot be reckoned as being equivalent to the imposition of a burden to that extent upon the country, because relief would be given to the taxpayers in the States in other directions. Mr. Coghlan also estimates that the total expenditure in Australia on poor relief and asylums, including old-age pensions, amounts to no less than ,£2,131,702. If an efficient system of old-age pensions were established, the amount which is spent on poor relief arid asylums would be reduced to a minimum, and the States would be relieved of a considerable expenditure.
– That has not been so in New South Wales.
– There is no reason why it should not have been so in that State. But suppose for a moment that an expenditure of .£1,500,000 were necessary to establish a Federal scheme, and that the taxpayers were not relieved of any taxation which’ they are now paying, although Senator Gray must admit that they would be very considerably relieved, this Parliament is in honour bound to discharge a duty which it owes generally to the electors, and particularly to the old people who have done so much to build up the Commonwealth, and add to its welfare and prosperity. A sum of ,£1,500,000 is not too much to pay to secure the comfort of those old people, nor should we hesitate a moment about authorizing its expenditure. To shelter ourselves behind the Braddon section is a mere subterfuge. Who has derived the chief benefit and advantage from the increase of population, from the pioneering efforts of so many of these old people who bravely went out to explore and open up new country, who carried their swags on their backs from one end of the territory to the other, and led the way to the opening up of new gold and mineral fields? I answer, the land-owners. It would not be too much to ask them to return a little of the enormous profit which they have received, to assist in providing a fund to insure to these old pioneers that in their declining years, when they are footsore and weary, and no longer able to work- they shall’ at any rate be free from the fear of want and misery, which otherwise would continually haunt them. When I point out that, with an exemption of £300, the imposition of a tax of id. in the £1 on private land values would provide no less than £1,200,000 per annum - nearly sufficient ito carry out a Federal oldage ‘ pension scheme - it will be seen that there is no excuse for the people of Australia refusing to submit to so slight a tax in order fo fulfil a sacred duty. There are different systems of land taxation in the States. I do ‘not know of any State in which the land has not to bear some portion of the burden of general taxation, but in no State is it called upon to bear a sufficient portion. According to Coghlan, the unimproved value of land in the Commonwealth amounts to no less than £373,679,000. A tax of id. in the £1 on that sum would provide, without an exemption!, ‘£1,556,000, but with an exemption of £300, about £1,200,000. Although I am a firm believer in the efficacy and justice of a land tax, still I never wish to tax a man on what is necessary to enable him to make a. living. But when private owners have so much that they derive not only a living, but enjoy every luxury which wealth can command, their land is a proper subject for taxation. Without population the land of a country would have absolutely no value. It is population which creates a demand for land, and therefore gives to it a value. Private land-owners have derived enormous benefits from the enterprise, the skill, the labour of the people of Australia, and the expenditure of public money. Take, for instance, Melbourne. If we had not all the railways converging from various parts of Victoria upon Melbourne, continually bringing within its reach the results of the labour of the people in the back country, would it be half as prosperous as it is, or would land here be one-half, or one-quarter, or onetwentieth as valuable as it is to-day? No. The expenditure of public money upon the railways, the establishment of factories and the work of the people, have contributed very largely to the value of private property in this city. In fact, the Government cannot do a single thing to add to the prosperity of the country without the private land-owner coming in and reaping the lion’s share of the benefit. Is it asking too much, then, to expect that the men who have derived such enormous advantages shall contribute a little money to provide for the declining years of those who have borne the burden and heat of the day, and are no longer able to take care of themselves? Undoubtedly, an old-age pension should be given by the country as a right, and npt as a charity. I do not wish the Federal scheme to be tainted with charity in any way. If I were old and dying to-morrow, I should spurn anything offered to me by way of charity, whereas I should be proud and grateful to accept anything which my country bestowed upon me as a right. I do not wish’ to quote, a mass of figures, but if any particulars are desired by any honorable senator I can quote from Coghlan the figures with regard to the old-age pension schemes and various systems of poor relief in vogue in various States of the Commonwealth and in New Zealand. I shall confine myself to answering a few objections which I anticipate, from the general tone of sortie honorable senators, mav be advanced against my arguments. In the first place, we shall probably be told that to advocate a tax on land is to advocate what amounts to confiscation. Confiscation is a fine big word, which, like that blessed word Mesopotamia, seems to have a consoling effect upon some honorable senators. When they get upon public platforms they talk largely about confiscation. They say, “ You will confiscate the property of land-owners if you impose a land tax.” Let us examine that ‘statement for a moment. It is my opinion - -firm, and unalterable, because it is based upon a fact which no one can successfully dispute - that it is the private landowner who is the great confisc’ator. Other persons are continually creating the value of land, and he confiscates it to his own use. If taxation is confiscation, what right, in equity and justice, has any Government to tax me for the clothes I wear, the food I eat, the sugar I consume, or the tobacco I smoke, when the people have not contributed anything to the money by which I pay that taxation ? Why should I, because I smoke, be compelled to contribute £3 a year to the revenue of the country, while the man who does not smoke contributes nothing at all, so far as tobacco is concerned? If it is confiscation to impose a land tax,’ it is confiscation, in a worse form, to impose a tax on a person because he uses a certain article. Land-owners are continually deriving great profits created by the people, and it is only fair that they should return at least a portion of that wealth to the ‘people. The argument of confiscation is constantly used by unthinking people in the presence of unthinking audience’s ; but a land tax is merely the exaction of a small percentage of wealth already confiscated by the land-owner.
– It is restitution.
– In Queensland, any man who, by working in the bowels of the earth under most difficult conditions, earns £150 per’ annum, has to pay £1 5s. in the form of income tax. Surely that is confiscation of hard-earned earnings, which are barely enough to provide himself and his family with the necessaries of life, not to speak of luxuries. We ought to ‘remember that it is other systems of taxation which really mean confiscation, and that a land tax is merely a means of compelling restitution of a small proportion of the wealth bestowed by the people on landowners. If members of the Federal Parliament and the various Governments had been sincere, there would have been a Commonwealth old-age pensions scheme established long ago. The need for such a system is insistent, and even if ever State of the Commonwealth had old-age pensions to-morrow, that need would remain. Every State in which there is an old-age pension imposes conditions as to length of residence, although during the last fifty years, owing to the discovery of new mineral fields and other causes, the movements of population have been general and continuous. The result is that in every State there are a large number of old people who have not established the residential qualification, and for that reason any State scheme falls short, in so far as it does not provide for old people., who, in many cases,, are the best citizens of the Commonwealth. The Constitution unmistakably contemplates that the Federal. Parliament shall deal with this great question, and I fail to see how we can be considered to have fully discharged our dutv if we do not deal with it seriously and earnestly. The Braddon section is no sufficient bar or excuse for failure to legislate in this direction. It is true that if the funds are to be derived from Customs and Excise, the Braddon section will render it necessary to raise four times the necessary sum ; and that is a very serious difficulty, which must be faced. But it is not true that we have to look only +0 Customs and Excise for the revenue sufficient for. the performance of the duties intrusted to us under the Constitution. The
Commonwealth Parliament is absolutely supreme in taxation. We have unlimited power to impose taxation for such purposes as may be deemed necessary; and it is a mere subterfuge to contend that we are confined to Customs and Excise. My own opinion is that Customs and Excise represent the most wasteful methods of raising taxation. The taxpayer is compelled to pay, not only the duty, but interest on the duty, so that he contributes, it may be, 50 per cent, or 60 per cent, more than the revenue really receives.
– Customs and Excise are the easiest methods of taxation, because the people do not know what they are paying.
– That is the whole secret. It is a matter of history who devised the system of taxation through the Customs, and the inventor was certainly a very long-headed person. As a matter of fact, the duty of defending and governing England was cast, in the first place, on the land-owners. Under the Feudal system the barons, and land-owners generally, held their land from the Crown!, on condition of contributing so much in taxation every year, and keeping a certain number of men at arms always ready to fight the battles of the Crown ; and that taxation was quietly passed on to the great bulk of the community by the means of Customs and Excise duties. That was an act of spoliation and robbery well worthy of .those ancient land thieves. Further, the barons not only grabbed the land generally, but fenced in the commons, and left the people of Great Britain without an acre to call their own. In the same way, the big land-owners of Australia block settlement, thus presenting bars, to the progress and prosperity of the country. If a land tax is mentioned, it is called confiscation, but no such term is applied when the Crown demands a portion of the hard-earned earnings of the people.
– You cannot complain of land-owners defending their own- interests.
– I am not complaining, but merely pointing out how, unreasonable is the argument which they present. The only advantage of Customs and Excise taxation is that it enables an impost to’ be placed on undesirable luxuries, the abuse of which may not tend to the moral or physical well-being of the people. I have already said that this is a most wasteful method of taxation, seeing that it com pels the taxpayer to pay not only the tax, but interest on that tax.
– The honorable senator ought to be a free-trader.
– I am afraid that if I were to press the argument to its logical conclusion I should not get the applause of the honorable senator, though I am glad to have that applause, so far as I have gone. If a merchant imports £100 worth of goods, or buys them locally - for, with the free-traders, I contend that the Customs duties are paid in either case - he has to pay, say, a duty of 25 per cent. That brings the value of the goods: up to .£125, and then, whether the merchant is working on borrowed money or onhis own money, interest has to be paid, so that by the time the goods reach the consumer, they are chargeable with the original cost, plus 25 per cent, duty, plus interest on the both. Customs duties have to be paid in cash, and the taxpayer is told that these exactions represent mere taxation, but that a land tax is neither more nor less than confiscation. Apart from its being a more equitable method of taxation than Customs and Excise, and apart from the amount which could, in this way, ‘be raised, a land tax has another very great advantage. Senator Stewart laid stress on the point that in many of the States of the Commonwealth population is not increasing as it ought. He explained that although there may be a. slight excess of births over deaths, and a slight annual increase in the total population, the increase is not such as we have a right to expect, and that young men, and, in some cases, young women, are leaving the Commonwealth. I agree with the honorable senator in thinking that that is most undesirable. Why should they be leaving the Commonwealth? It must be for one of two reasons, either that there is noprofitable employment available to induce them to remain in the country, or else (hat the lands are so locked up that no opportunity is afforded to go upon them in order to produce wealth.
– Perhaps other countries offer greater inducements.
– If their resources are properly utilized, there is no other country in the world that can offer as great inducements for the settlement of population on the land as can the various States: of Australia.
– What about the Argentine ?
– If, according to Senator Walker, the Argentine is a paradise, why does not the honorable senator go there? Australia is a far better country than is the Argentine, but I refuse to be led into an argument on that point now. If a proper system were in vogue the opportunities afforded by Australia are unsurpassed by those of any other country in the world for men to settle on the land and make a prosperous living. I agree with Senator Stewart that by-and-by it will be found that there is room in Australia, not for the paltry 4,000,000 of people we have here at the present time, but for 100,000,000. The way in. which to bring that about is to free the lands of the country. I make bold to say that there is, in the small State of Victoria, sufficient good land to enable the whole of the present population of the Commonwealth to make a decent living on it. That being so, it is the duty of the Parliament of Australia to do something to free the land for the use of the people. I have mentioned Victoria merely bv way of illustration. What I have said of Victoria is, to a greater or lesser extent, true of every State in the Commonwealth. Even in Western Australia, the most recently settled of our States, there is land monopoly now. Although there is any amount of land available in that and in other States , the good lands in all places accessible to a market are more or less locked up. To show the evils of land monopoly, let me relate a little incident that occurred to me when I was in Western Australia. Senator Pearce, who represents that State, will be able to bear out what I say, although I have never related the incident to him. When I visited Katanning, one of the best agricultural districts in the State, I was driven round by a farmer who pointed out a little bush which, he explained, was a poisonous bush. It was to be seen growing in a great many places in the district, and I commiserated with the farmer on the fact. His reply was that it was the best thing that could have happened to the district that that poison bush should grow there. I- was naturally surprised, and asked him why he held that opinion. He said. “ Only for it, not one of us would have been allowed to make a living here at all. The land would all have been grabbed- long ago.” So a pestilence like that rabid poison plant is regarded as a blessing in disguise, because it has kept off that far worse evil, the bloated land monopolist, who straddles, over so much of this Commonwealth.
– The land on which the new settlers are going in Western Australia is land which the old settlers regarded as worthless.
– The people have to be thankful that the country is rendered unavailable for the land monopolist by the presence of a noxious, poison “plant. It is a great evil and danger in itself, but it is recognised that it is a lesser evil and danger than is the land monopolist, who, but for it, would have grabbed the whole of the land. I do not desire that the lands of Australia should in future be occupied by the tenants of people who do nothing. I do not desire to see established in this country a class similar to the landlords of the old country, who “ toil not, neither do they spin,” and yet “ Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as one of these.” With all his wealth’, Solomon did not enjoy a tithe of the luxuries enjoyed by these people. In the old country, a man is not permitted to shoot a partridge that is living on the corn which he has sown, because it is required for the landlord’s table.
– We have men in Tasmania who claim, not only the land, but the rivers that run through it.
– Such men would own the air, if they could. I point out that, apart from the advantage which it would offer in providing a fund for the establishment of old-age pensions, and apart from the fact that it is a better method of raising taxation than that of Customs or Excise, the imposition of an effective land tax would have the further great advantage .that it would open the lands of Australia to settlement. There can be no monopoly of land if an effective tax is imposed upon it. We ‘have had men going round the country telling the farmers that those who support this principle desire to tax them out of their land. The imposition of a land tax is the best thing, that could happen, for the small yeomanry farmer, because it would have the effect of making land available for himself and his sons at a price that would not be extortionate.
– If we let the poor man escape and rob the rich man, it will always help us.
– I have already dealt with the question of confiscation, and I have shown that the land-owner is now confiscating the wealth which others have created.
– I suppose he has bought and paid for his land.
– What about the wealth which population will create next year; has he bought and paid for that also?
– That is another point..
– It is. an inconvenient point for the honorable senator. I go back to biblical times for the honorable senator’s benefit, and remind him that Moses said, The land shall not be held for ever : Thus saith the Lord.” The honorable senator poses as a kind Christian gentleman, who is willing to carry out the law, and yet he is the champion of those who rob and fleece the people by preventing them from going on the land to make a living from it. I think I have laid down a good principle when I say that whatever is necessary to a man to enable him to make, a- living should be exempt from , taxation. We know that in some of the States a man who earns £150 as a miner is subject to income tax, and I ask whether that is not confiscation. Apart from other aspects of the question, let me point out that if there were no exemptions from the land tax, it would be better for the farmer that he should have to put his hand into his pockets to pay £3 under direct taxation than to have to pay £5 or £6 under indirect taxation. If the farmers were but wise they would be amongst the strongest advocates of direct taxation, because thev would know under that ‘system what they were paying, and they would not have to pay, in addition to the tax, profit and interest on the tax, as they must do in respect of taxation through Customs and Excise. If we were in earnest, as we profess to be, about the establishment of an old-age pensions scheme, we could find the means to do it. All we have to do is to impose a land tax of a. penny in the £1, with an exemption of land of the value of £300, and we shall raise sufficient money to provide a fund from which old-age pensions can be paid throughout the Commonwealth on the basis of the pension now paid in New South Wales. Is that too much to ask? When honorable senators opposite want a stalking horse they trot out the poor man. Let them show their earnestness now by forcing upon, thu Government what is their duty, and the duty of Parliament, that is, to carry out what was contemplated bv the Constitution, and promised by almost every member of every party in this Parliament, by providing for the poor old people of the Commonwealth by an efficient system of old-age pensions.
– The time is not opportune.
– It is only opportune at election time. After members of Parliament are returned they put their fingers to their noses, and find excuses for neglecting to fulfil their pledges - the Braddon section prevents them, and if it does not, something ‘ else does. But for earnest men difficulties exist only iri order to be overcome. Members of Parliament who profess that they are in favour of an old-age pensions scheme, and will not find the money to give it effect, are merely playing with the question, and laughing at the misery and need of the poor old people of . the Commonwealth who have done so much for the community. Those of’ us who are young and vigorous now should remember that it is largely owing to the exertions of the old people that we enjoy the measure of prosperity which we possess to-day. It is merely playing with this matter to be continually finding excuses. The way is open. For my part,. I do not agree with Senator Stewart that we should adopt methods to induce the States Parliaments to impose taxation. If it is right to do something we should not try to force the other fellow to do it, but should do it ourselves. The honorable senator’s suggestion savours very much of an excuse also. What probability is there that we can get an effective land tax passed through six largely reactionary States Parliaments, with their six wholly reactionary Upper Houses?. We cannot compel the States to adopt a uniform tax. We have ourselves the power to do all that is necessary. We can accomplish the great purpose, and why should we not proceed to do it instead of trying to force the States to do what we know they cannot do owing to the barriers interposed by their reactionary Upper Houses? We should never attempt to shelter ourselves behind other people. A land tax of a penny in the £1 would, according to Coghlan, provide a sufficient fund to pay old-age pensions throughout the Commonwealth on the basis of that paid in New South Wales. The tax, which, I believe, would be most effective, would be a graduated land tax, beginning at about one penny in the £1 on properties just over the value of £300, and increasing, according as the value of the estates increase, until it became absolutely prohibitive in the case of some of the very large estates which are such a blot upon the landscape of Australia today. I would graduate the tax in such a way that it would be impossible for any man in Australia to enjoy the luxury of being a landlord of a hundred, or, perhaps, a thousand tenants, and in such a way as to make land available for the use of the people who need it. But, apart from the merits of any scheme of land taxation, let me confine myself, in my concluding words, to the proposal that I first enunciated, for a tax of id. in the £1, which would bc sufficient to provide old-age pensions, on the. basis of the New South Wales system. There is no land-owner, large or small, on whom the imposition of such a tax would be an intolerable burden. Indeed, it would be a very small burden on most people, and as my proposal exempts land up to ^300 in value, the poorer classes of land-owners would not have to pay anything. As the land of this country has derived its chief value from the presence of population, and the exercise of industry by the population generally, it is only fair that the land-owners should return a little of the value that -has fallen into their pockets, in order to insure that the concluding years of the lives of our aged people shall be free from the misery induced by the fear of poverty, and in some cases from actual starvation. An old-age pensions system would make the lives of the old pioneers of this country brighter and happier; and I am satisfied that if this Parliament takes” up that task, it will do a work which will redound to the advantage and the credit of Australia.
– One or two. questions have been mentioned in the course of this debate, about which it is necessary that I should say a word or two ‘before I move the second reading of the Bill. The first has reference to the statement made bv Senator Matheson in regard to the des patch received by ‘the Western Australian Government, in which, as I understand, the Imperial Government, according to Senator Matheson, has asked Western Australia to alter certain- industrial- legislation so far as it affects the Chinese pud other Asiatics. That matter is, of course, outside anything that I shall have to say in moving the second reading. I have made inquiries as to the nature of the despatch, and I learn that the Government has been informed that it is a confidential document, and cannot, therefore, be made public. But I am informed that so far as the despatch itself is concerned, its tone is not arbitrary in any sense, as intimated by one of the newspapers, but is really of a most respectful and highly proper character, to which no one can object. That is all that we know about it.
– But it does urge that an alteration should be made in the Western Australian law?
– Possibly. Whether the Imperial Government is justified in asking that, is not for me to discuss. It is a matter for Western Australia But I may state that my own opinion regarding the passing of laws affecting Asiatics who have been permitted to come into this country, and who are here perfectly legally, is that which was shared by my old AttorneyGeneral in South Australia, -the Right Honorable Charles Cameron Kingston. Mr. Kingston and I always took up the position that a State once having admitted a man whether he was a coloured man or rot, to reside within its borders, had no right to make such laws as to injure that man, or to deal with him differently from the way in’ which other people were dealt with. That question was fought out very decidedly in South Australia, and I need not remind honorable senators that Mr. Kingston has done more for the La’ our Party and its policy than any other man in South Australia. He worked hand in hand with them, and is a thorough believer, as everybody knows, in the White Australia policy. But he and I adopted the principle that a man, having been allowed to come into the country, no matter what his colour is, or to what nation he belongs, he is entitled to the protection of the law of the land exactly as we ourselves are. We are perfectly at liberty to keep Asiatics out of the country, and no two men were ever stronger in their adhesion to that principle than were Mr. Kingston and myself. But we felt that it was not right to pass laws which would injure Asiatics or other people who had once been allowed to become citizens. We held that it was not right to single them out for special treatment, or to affect them in any way differently from the manner in which their fellow-citizens were treated. As to the military matters to which Senator Matheson alluded, he stated that he would have an opportunity, at a later stage, to reply to anything that I might say. But I may inform him that I do not intend to treat the subject in that way. I do not intend to reply to what he has said at this stage. I shall leave the matters to which he has referred until I reply at the end of the second-reading debate. I think that is a fair position to take up.
– The Minister is evidently afraid.
– Oh, no; there is no fear about it. I think that is a proper course. When I do reply, I can take up all the points that fairly come within the scope of this BiU, and which may fairly be dealt with in a second-reading debate. With regard to what Senator Higgs has said as to the High Commissioner Bill, I may state that I do not intend to go into the subject further than to say, with reference to the allegations made concerning one of my colleagues, that, so far as he is concerned, the Government never heard that he desired the position of High Commissioner. Not one of them knew of it. Cer- tainly I never knew of it, and the question of appointing a High Commissioner was considered quite apart from the fact that Sir John Forrest might possibly be a candidate.
– Why did the Government drop the Bill?
– For a variety of reasons. I will mention two. One was that we have not yet been able to get all the information which we desire to obtain from England. We have been making inquiries as to whether, upon the establishment of the office of High Commissioner in London, it would be possible so to manage affairs that practically the office would cost the Commonwealth nothing. That is to say, we hope that such economies will be made in connexion with the offices of the Agents-General as will practically pay for the High Commissioner. Those inquiries have been inaugurated, but, .as I have stated, up to the present we have not obtained all the information we require. That is one reason why we have not proceeded with the Bill. An incidental reason - and this is the fly on the wheel - was the resolution passed by the Senate. I am not able to deny that. In fact, I frankly admit that that fly did retard the movement of the wheel in question. Honorable senators can see at a glance why it did. Thechances are that if we had proceeded with the Bill in the face of that resolution, we should have brought about a conflict between the two Houses of the Legislature. That would have retarded business; and we have a hard enough task to get on with business now without bringing in any other troublesome question.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders Be suspended as would prevent this Bill from passing through its remaining stages without delay.
– I think that this motion, in its present form, is nothing better than an insult to the Senate. We are asked to pass the Appropriation Bill through all its stages today.
Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence). - I really did not look at the notice of motion, I simply intended it to enable the second reading of the Bill to be proceeded with. That is all. I shall be glad to amend the motion’, by leave, so as to make it ‘read -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the second reading of the Appropriation Bill being now moved.
Motion amended accordingly.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- As we are suspending the Standing Orders, it is only reasonable that we should have an assurance that after the Minister has moved the second reading of the Bill, the debate will be adjourned.
– Oh, yes, that will be the case.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed: -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday next.
– Is not this rather sudden? We have any amount of work to keep the Senate going all next week. I am extremely anxious that we shall have a full opportunity to discuss the Appropriation Bill.
– So the honorable senator will have.
– It appears to me that the Government desire to limit our opportunities as much as possible. We ought to meet on Tuesday. It is much better for every one of us to do our work at the regular times than to be asked to sit late, or all night, on one or two occasions. Late sittings, as every one knows, are extremely exhausting and unpleasant. Therefore, it would be much better to sit on Tuesday, and go through the week in the ordinary way.
– Let us see whether the majority desire to sit on Tuesday.
– I have often found the majority to be in favour of anything which lessens the labour of honorable senators. I do not doubt that the Minister will be able to carry his motion, but it is an extremely unwise one.
– I also enter my protest against this adjournment when we have important work to do. I have objected to unusual adjournments on previous occasions, and shall persist in doing so. We might spend two or three weeks upon the Appropriation Bill, and it is unfair to limit our opportunities of discussion. Furthermore, it is unjust to those honorable senators who are compelled to remain in Melbourne throughout the session to have these constant adjournments. I shall call for a division against the motion.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Papua (British New Guinea) Bill.
Secret Commissions Bill.
– In moving -
That the Bill be now read a second time,
I wish to thank honorable senators who have refrained from speaking upon the first reading of the measure for affording me the opportunity of submitting this motion this afternoon. They will thus be enabled to secure an early copy of my speech, and as a result will be in a position to continue the discussion upon the Bill when we re-assemble on Wednesday next. I propose to divide my remarks into two parts. In the first portion of my address, I shall deal with the Estimates contained in the schedule of the measure, and in the second I shall deal solely with the important question of defence. I intend to point out to honorable senators the forces that we took over from the States, their strength at the present time, and what my officers say we require. I shall then offer some comments on the organization scheme of Major-General Hutton and the recommendations of Captain Creswell in reference to the defence of our harbors. I shall also deal with some criticisms which have been made by the Colonial Defence Committee. I find that the estimated revenue for 1904-5 was £11,570,000, whilst the actual receipts were £11,460,315, a shortage of £109,685. In dealing with such a large amount, I think that we may fairly congratulate the late Treasurer upon his very close estimate. We are only sorry that he rather over-estimated than underestimated the revenue. The cause of that shortage is, however, easily explained. In the first place, the Customs receipts declined by £180,000. Singularly enough, that was accounted for almost entirely by the decrease in the amount collected in New South Wales. Of the total shortage of £180,000 that State contributed £126,000. My officers are unable to assign any reason for this decrease; but I may add that it occurred principallyin connexion with stimulants. It seems to me that, just prior to the commencement of the financialyear, the importers must have takenout of bond a larger quantity of stimulants than they expected to consume. The principal increase in the revenue consisted of £70,000 in the Post and Telegraph Department. To that increase New South Wales contributed the sum of £45,000. The revenue estimated by the present Treasurer for the current year is £11,387,605, or £72,000 less than was received last year. The Customs, he estimates, will produce £116,000 less than the amount collected in 1904-5. To a large extent, this is due to the fact that last year £50,000 was credited to revenue on account of sugar excise collected in previous years, but held in a trust fund, having been paid in under protest. Then it is anticipated that there will be an additional falling off in the sugar revenue of about £21,000, owing to the increased production of Australian sugar. Of course, that amount may be increased or decreased, as the result of any action which this Parliament may take in extending the term during which the sugar bounty shall be operative. If, as has ‘been suggested, the Excise duty is increased to £4 per ton, we shall receive an additional revenue. But whether the Treasurer’s estimate is realized will entirely depend upon the legislation which we enact. The receipts from the special Western Australian Tariff will “probably how a further decline of £65,000. Honorable senators will recollect that the Constitution provides that for five years the Western Australian Tariff shall continue in operation against imports from the other States. That Tariff disappears to the extent of one-fifth each year. From the 8th October, 1905, to the 7th October, 1 906, only one-fifth of the State duty is chargeable, the special Tariff ceasing finally to operate from the 8th October, 1906. If the sugar duties, and the amounts that will be collected under the special Western Australian Tariff are eliminated, it will be found that upon all other Customs and Excise duties an increase of £19,000 is expected. In Postal revenue an increase of £51,000 is anticipated. Last year the receipts from this source were £2,631,000, and this year they are estimated at £2,682,000. The estimated expenditure for 1904-5 was £4,433,233, and the actual expenditure was £4,3-<&A35, or £114,798 less than, the estimate, of which £67,000 is accounted for by works and buildings, which were not proceeded with, owing to the late period of the session when the Appropriation Bill was passed. This year we have obviated a’_ recurrence of that sort of thing by passing, at a comparatively early stage of the session, a Works and Buildings Bill. We have divided our Estimates into two parts, the first relating to new works and buildings, and the second to the ordinary expenditure of the year. The estimated expenditure in this connexion is£4,6o6,273, or an increase of £287,838, as compared with the expenditure of last year. I will show honorable senators how that increase is made up. In the Postal Department there is an increase of £90,000, of which £52,000 is on account of oversea mail contracts. It will be remembered that for a short period our mails were carried upon the poundage system, but that subsequently we entered into a contract with the Orient Steam Navigation Company. That contract accounts for £52,000 of the increased expenditure. Then an increased expenditure of £82,000 is provided for new works which we have already sanctioned. In the Defence Department, there is an increase of £91,000, of which one contribution under the Naval Agreement represents £52,000. There is an estimated increased expenditure of £25,000 in connexion with the sugar bounty. The expenditure upon Parliament we have s.et down at £30,176, or £1,000 more than was expended last vear.- I am informed that it is almost impossible to estimate the exact expenditure upon Parliament, because it is entirely dependent upon the length of the session. The estimated expenditure in the Department of External Affairs is £42,498. This is £2,500 more than was voted last year, and is accounted for by an increase of £3,000 on account of the mail service to the ‘Pacific Islands. There are some non-recurring items which reduce that excess bv ‘£500, thus making the increase over the expenditure of last year, £2,500. The anticipated expenditure upon the Department in question, leaving out of consideration the mail service to the Pacific Islands is about £500 less than the actual expenditure last year. In the Attorney-General’s Department, provision is made for an expenditure of £8,969, which is practically the same as last year. In that Department there is nothing which calls for comment. In the Department of Home Affairs the anticipated expenditure is £173,351, or an increase of £6,856 as compared with the actual expenditure last year. We account for that by an increase of £14,000 in public works, which is practically balanced by a saving of £13,000 in expenses under the Electoral Act. Honorable senators will notice that there is a new item of £5,000 set down for the establishment of a Statistical Bureau. We have already passed an Act providing for the collection of statistics, and, of course, we shall have to pay for that service. The remainder of the increase is made up of small items. The amount provided on the Estimates for the Treasurer’s Department is £317,937. This includes’ the vote for the Department £37,937, which is £5,000 less than the sum provided last year. It also includes refunds to revenue amounting to £80,000, being £48,000 in excess of last year’s refunds. The increase was due to the revenue from foreign telegrams being now collected in stamps-, and necessitating a vote in order to pay the proportion due to the Eastern Extension Company and the Pacific Cable Board. Previously the Department collected cash in respect of cable messages, and the proportions to which the Eastern Extension Company and the Pacific Cable Board were entitled having been paid, the balance went into the general revenue. Under the new system, all the money derived from the sale of these stamps is paid into the revenue.
– Will not the change lead to misleading comparisons?
– I do not think so. I think that the arrangement is a very fair one.
– I agree that that is so.
– It seems to me that the present system is the best that could be adopted.
– But under it we add so many thousands of pounds to the revenue.
– And that is balanced by the amount which we add to the expenditure. If I were Treasurer,, I should certainly prefer to have the total amount so collected paid into the Treasury, and refunds them made to the Pacific Cable Board and the Eastern Extension Company.
– Is a large sum involved ?
– I have not the figures at hand.
– It would not account for the £45,000 which the honorable senator mentioned as the surplus shown by the Postal Department io New South Wales.
– Certainly not. That item relates really to an increase of business. The vote for this Department also includes advance vo the Treasurer, £200,000, the same amount as last year. The vote for the Customs Department is £269,620, showing an increase of £4,000, which is made up chiefly of increases in the salary vote, vacancies not having been filled last year. I come now to the Estimates of Defence. Apart altogether from the cost of new works and buildings and the sum of £200,000 paid in respect of the NavalAgreement, we expended last year on defence £558,503. That represents the Defence expenditure to be found in these Estimates. It does not include the items which we have voted in respect of defence works such as fortifications at Fremantle or special defence material, which represents an expenditure of some £200,000. The estimated expenditure for this year is £591>43i> being an increase of £32,928. I mav say that’ although the amount actually expended last year on defence was ;£558>5°3>i £hel sum actually voted was £592.127, or a little more than we are now asked to vote for the present year. As a matter of fact, however, £32,000 out of the .sum voted last year was not expended.
– Does the Treasurer draw a sharp line in respect of receipts and payments up to 30th June of each year’, or does he adopt the system of some of the States, and permit payments to be made up to the 31st August of each vear?
– We’ draw -a sharp line. and commence the financial year on 1st July. In- connexion with the consideration of the Estimates in another place, I prepared a statement for the VicePresident of the Executive Council, who deals with defence- matters in that House, and perhaps I may be allowed to make a few extracts from that memorandum. I pointed out that -
For the financial year 1904-5, the appropriation for the Defence Department amounted to £592,127. The expenditure was £558,503, showing a saving of £33,624. A saving of £30,000 was anticipated on the Defence vote, and £14,000 on the vote for Additions, New Works, and Buildings under the control of the Department of Home Affairs, and this total saving of £44,000 was, by permission of the Treasurer, utilized to purchase special Defence material, making the expenditure on that vote, Division 6/1, £174,000.
It will thus be seen that the savings which we effected were utilized for special defence material. The Defence Estimates for the year 1905-6 amount to £591, 431, or a decrease of £696 on the Estimates of last year. I also stated in this memorandum that -
The new system, of administration and control of the Defence .Forces under the Defence Acts 1903-4 came into operation on the I 2 th January, 1905, consisting of a Council of Defence -
The Council of Defence has met on only one occasion, and even1 then arrived at no conclusion - a Naval Board, a Military Board, an InspectorGeneral of the Military Forces, and a Director of the Naval Forces. This practically amalgamated the Civil and Military Branches of the Defence Administration.
I then proceeded to deal with other matters which it is unnecessary for me to discuss at this stage. The Estimates as introduced in another place made provision for the payment of gratuities to Colonel Price and Lt. -Col. Bayly, but those items were withdrawn. Dealing with the Naval Forces, I stated in this memorandum that -
As was done last year, provision is again made under Division 43, Subdivision 2, New South Wales Naval Forces, for ^’1,000 for Continuous Training in the gunboat Pro’tector. At present, there is no vessel available to afford any means for the drilling and instruction of the Naval Brigade at Sydney, and it is proposed to again send the Protector from South Australia to Sydney for a certain period, when the members of the New South Wales Naval Forces will be drilled on board. Last year’s training was highly successful.
We have provided for an additional officer tor the permanent force in Victoria, and have made a few other minor additions. Turning to the Estimates for the- Military Forces and central administration, honorable senators will find that there is a net decrease of £3,045, as compared with last year’s vote. That decrease includes a reduction of £2,557 in. respect of the Militia Forces, and £2,562 in relation to the volunteers. The amount voted’ last year under these two heads was considerably in excess of requirements, and after looking through the papers, I found that we could make considerable savings im respect to them. Although we have increased the personnel bv a few hundred men, we have decreased the vote for these two arms of the service, not only because .the full amount voted last vear was not expended, but because the ration bill will be less than was that for last year. There is a decrease of £8,514 in respect of artillery ammunition, the necessary supplies having been obtained under the vote passed last year. There is also a decrease of £9,470 in respect of warlike stores; the amount voted under this heading last year, together with the savings utilized in purchasing special defence material, having enabled us to effect this reduction. I have dealt now with the principal decreases. Honorable senators will find that there is an increase in the Estimates for cadets. Major-General Hutton, on several occasions, referred to the desirableness of establishing a cadet corps throughout the Commonwealth, but practically nothing was done to give effect to bis proposal. A Committee, consisting of expert officers, drew up a scheme in which it was proposed that we should take over the cadet corps of the States, and spend a considerable sum upon the movement. Lt. -Col. McCay, on taking office as Minister of Defence, arrived at the conclusion that the scheme would be far too expensive, and he, therefore, prepared a memorandum in which a new scheme was outlined, and Hid it before the Hobart Conference. His memorandum was read at that Conference, and largely approved of. On taking office, however, I arrived at the conclusion, as the result of careful inquiry, that nothing could be done under this scheme until special Acts rehiring to it had been passed bv the Parliaments of all the States. I saw that that would necessitate the scheme remaining m abeyance for an indefinite period, and T. therefore, determined to depart from it bv striking out the provision for compulsory service.
– The honorable senator has killed the scheme.
– I know that my honorable friend will take exception to my action, but I hold that it is unnecessary to provide for compulsory service. We can get boys to join cadet corps without any compulsion.
– That is not so.
– We have experienced no difficulty in inducing them to join cadet corps. Would it not be idle to ask the States Parliaments to pass a Bill making it compulsory for school teachers to join corps, and also for schoolboys above a certain ase to join those corps when we can secure the enlistment of the lads without any difficulty. It would have been im- possible to carry out Lt. -Col. McCay’s scheme for some years.
– What is the strength of our cadet corps? If we had the figures we should be able to tell at once whether or not compulsion was necessary.
– We have nearly 9,000 cadets, whilst New Zealand has 12,000.
– Perhaps Senator Dobson is more familiar with the figures than I am. I am informed that there is not the slightest difficulty in inducing lads to join cadet corps. It will be necessary, of course, to incur certain expense in respect of the payment of instructors. All school teachers are not capable of giving instruction, and some expense must be incurred in affording the necessary training. Some of the States are not prepared to incur that expense. In South Australia, there is a small company of cadets in connexion with a school, the head master of which takes an interest in the movement. There are also senior cadet corps associated with Prince Alfred College, St. Peter’s College, and the Christian Brothers’ College. These institutions have an excellent body of 400 or 500 senior cadets, and it is my intention to establish junior and senior cadet corps throughout the States.
– The Commonwealth would pay any expense incurred by the States in respect of the instruction of cadets. That would be Defence expenditure.
– The number of cadets in the Commonwealth is as follows : - In New South Wales, there are 3,9 1 9 cadets under the State, and only 50 under the Commonwealth ; in Victoria, there are 3, 793 cadets under the Commonwealth, and none under [the State It was in Victoria that the cadet movement was first started:, at the instance of the late Senator Sargood, and it has, been so successful that it has -caused us all to consider the advisability of extending the system to the other States, and placing the management in the Commonwealth, so that it shall be under, one control. In Queensland, there are 958 cadets under the Commonwealth ; in South Australia, there are none under the Commonwealth ; in Western Australia, there are 1,200 under the State, and none under the Commonwealth ; while in Tasmania there are 206 under the Commonwealth. There are, therefore, 5,007 cadets under the Commonwealth, and 5,119 cadets under the States; making, a total of to,i26. This number could, how- ever, be very considerably increased. For instance, in South Australia, there are 400 or 500 senior cadets, and these could be very considerably increased. I have here a statement on the subject -
In March, 1904, a committee of officers recommended a scheme, providing for 23,000 uniformed cadets at an estimated annual expenditure °f £3°>700i and a further expenditure of £24,000 for arms and equipment.
That was the Committee’s recommendation, to which I alluded just’ now.
This scheme was considered too expensive by the late Minister for Defence, who proposed classes for elementary military instruction at all schools in the Commonwealth, at which the attendance of boys over twelve years of age should be compulsory, and compulsory training for all male teachers in State schools, and a teacher in all private schools, in the Commonwealth.
Of course, we could not compel private teachers to come under the Commonwealth without the authority of an Act of Parliament.
The cost of this scheme was estimated for 60,000 boys, at the end of five years, and after providing rifles, at from £22,000 for the first year, to £43,500 at the end of the five years.
Before anything of a practical nature could be achieved it is necessary that legislative action should be taken by both Commonwealth and State Parliaments, and, in order that something should be done at once to secure uniformity in connexion with the existing cadet movement in the respective States, the Government has invited ‘the various State Governments to send representatives from their Education Departments to meet Commonwealth representatives to discuss the preliminary questions and submit recommendations which could lead to some practical working basis being determined. i am in hopes that this conference will take place shortly.
The Conference will take place either today or to-morrow.
– Has the Minister sent any military officers to it?
– I have sent Colonel’ Hoad to represent my Department, and the Premier of each State has sent a representative.
– State school inspectors have gone to the Conference.
– I believe that the -States are sending some school inspectors, who have taken an interest in this movement.
– Has the Minister only one military officer there?
– We do not want any more than one. The Commonwealth will, I am sure, be ably represented by Colonel Hoad. We did not want to frighten the States by filling the Conference with a number of military officers. Why should we have a number of military officers there ? We are represented by one military nian, who has consulted with me on the matter, has worked out a scheme, is, prepared to submit definite plans, and, like an intelligent man, will be ready, I hope, to make a compromise if it be thought advisable after consultation with the local authorities.
– The Minister has forgotten that ten military officers attended before, and that he rejected their scheme.
– Yes, but the States were not interested in that Conference. Those military officers never worked with the States, but here we are asking the States to co-operate with us. Is it not a more sensible plan to work with the States than to go to them and Fay, “ We intend to do so-and-so, and you will have to come in whether you like it or not.” The plan I have adopted under the circumstances is the preferable one, and it has been adopted because I believe thai it will lead to good results. I anticipate that the Education Departments of the States wilt be found working in the greatest harmony with the Commonwealth, and that we shall be prepared to take over their cadets, give them certain facilities, spend a little^ more money upon them, and make the system more perfect than it has been. If I had not taken this course, probably we should have been talking about the cadet movement until doomsday. I wish to do something practical. When the Premiers of the States said to me, “You have had this question discussed1 and re-discussed, but no definite plan has been submitted.” I replied, “ Here is a definite plan; I ask you each to cooperate with me, and to send a representative of your State to a Conference in which all the States will be represented.” The Premier of each State has chosen the best representative he could find; the Conference is about to be held, and I hope that by the commencement of next year we shall be able to take over the cadets, and that a portion of the £7,000 which has been voted, if not the whole of it, will be expended on the system. I think I have said enough about the cadets. I have here an interesting return, which shows how the expenditure upon defence in the States has been apportioned. With the exception of a small sum for new works and buildings, each State was charged with the expenditure on military defence within its bounds, until lately, when, certainly to the very great benefit of Western Australia, it was resolved- that the expenditure on new works and buildings, such as the erection of forts, should be charged to the States on a per capita basis. Under the previous system of appropriation a very small sum was charged on a per capita basis, and of course the bulk of the expenditure was debited to the State in which it was incurred. I wish to show how it would work out if all expenditure were charged on a per capita basis. I have the Estimates for 1905-6, but perhaps it will be better for me to give the actual figures for 1904-5. New South Wales had to pay £324,015, but on a per capita basis the amount would have been £348,710, making a difference of less than £2,000. Victoria had to pay £306,025, but on a per capita basis the amount would have been £289,686. Queensland had to pay £144,913, but on a per capita basis the amount would have been only £124,819, showing that she would have gained a trifle. South Australia had to pay £82,341, but on a per capita basis the amount would have been £89,251. Western Australia had to pay £55,762, but on a per capita basis the amount would have been £57,975. Tasmania had to pay £40,485, but on a per capita basis the amount would have been £43,100. In that year the total expenditure for the Commonwealth was £953,541. The return shows that whether the defence expenditure be debited on a per capita basis or partly on that basis and parti v on the basis of each State being charged for the expenditure on the transferred properties, it would make very little difference. I now come to the Department of the PostmasterGeneral. .In 1904-5, the actual expenditure was £2,505,634, and the estimated expenditure for 1905-6 is £2,578,838, showing an increase of £73,204. On ocean mails there is an increased expenditure of £52,000. As regards inland mails, greater facilities are being given in various parts of the Commonwealth. We have had to let extra contracts, and the result is that the expenditure on inland mails shows an increase of £7,000. On salaries there is an increase of £21,000. The gross increase is £80,000, but there is a decrease of £8,000 under the head of contingencies, which leaves the net increase at £72,000. The increase on salaries appears to be very large. But it is due to the operation of the minimum wage provision to a certain extent, and also to the holding over of a number of increments which will have to be paid this year under the Public Service regulations.
– I rea.d some statements to the effect that all contract postoffices in Victoria were going to be put on the same basis, with a salary of £60 a year attached to each, but are not the salaries of contract postmasters regulated according, to the business, done? Surely the Government are not going to put them all on the one basis, as if the offices were all of the same importance.
– As I do not manage this Department, the honorable and learned senator can hardly expect me to give detailed information, but if he desires I shall obtain- an answer to his question. I have here only the information that has been supplied to me by the Department, and I have no special knowledge on the subject to which he refers.
– Is there no proposal for a universal penny postage?
– There is not the slightest hope of getting universal penny postage unless we are prepared to make up a loss of £300,000 a year. We are not prepared to recommend its adoption at the present time, because the loss is far more than we could afford to bear.
– What would be the loss on a Commonwealth penny postage?
– I am not aware of the exact amount which would be lost bv the establishment of penny postage throughout the Commonwealth. Before I enter upon the second part of my speech, I desire to. say a few words about military education. We have no’ means of training our officers in .military schools. In America, Canada, and other parts of the world, there are special classes for training officers for both military and naval purposesThe matter has, of course, been considered ; but, in view of our small force, and therefore the small number of officers required, it is felt that the expense attendant on the establishment of a military school would be too great. On the 10th October, 1905, however, a communication was received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, conveying certain proposed amended regulations of the Advisory Board on Military Education,’ in the United Kingdom;, for the appointment of University candidates to commissions in the Army, and asking how far it was possible to assimilate the rules for Colonial candidates with those for militia and University candidates at. home. The question is whether we are prepared to establish a professorship at each of our Universities, so that instruction in tactics and a general militaryeducation may be imparted, with the intention of holding examinations for commissions, not only in the local forces, but in the Imperial Army. I am informed that replies were received from the Universities of Melbourne and Adelaide, expressing their inability to provide instruction in military subjects as prescribed by the Imperial regulations. The Sydney University, however, offered to establish courses of instruction in military subjects, with the co-operation of the Defence Department, which would not only make provision for candidates, for commissions in the Imperial Army, but would be of a suitable character for the training of officers of the local Military Forces;. The Commonwealth Government has approved of the acceptance of this offer, and the details of the scheme are now being arranged between the Senate of the University and officers of the Department. I believe that Colonel Bridges is now in Sydney for the purpose of consulting with the Chancellor of the University, it will be noticed that the words “co-operation of the Defence Department “ are used ; but the co-operation required is, I am given to understand, very small. It is proposed to establish a Chair at a cost of £800 per vear, which will probably mean £600 for a professor, and £100 each for two military officers,, who will assist in giving the necessary instruction. All that is required is that the Commonwealth shall provide a little ammunition for practice, and it is estimated that this will not cost more than £200 per annum. Under the circumstances, I think the suggestion a satisfactory one, which we might adopt. The expense of establishing a military school of our own will .’be saved for the present, although the time will come when, as in Canada and the United States, there must be an establishment of the kind provided for the training of . our own officers. As I say, I regard the arrangement suggested as very satisfactory, inasmuch as it will afford a means of training officers, not only for the Imperial Army, but for the local forces. Honorable senators wall recollect that in the Works and Appropriation Bill we had before us a little time ago certain expenditure was proposed under the head “ Special Defence Material.” I asked honorable senators to pass those items as they stood, although I said at the time that I had never seen them until they were laid on the table in another place, when it was too late to make any alteration. I, at the same time, told honorable senators that I did not approve of certain of the items of expenditure, considering that too much was to be expended on saddle-trees, stirrups, and bits, whilst no expenditure at all was proposed for either magazine rifles or cordite, both of which are urgently required. I pointed out that the Commonwealth was in the possession of guns which could not be used in practice owing to the want of suitable ammunition ; and1 as cordite and rifles are absolutely necessary, and saddle-trees and similar material can be Manufactured in this country when wanted, I deemed it advisable to devote the money to the purchase of proper warlike stores. I undertook to place before honorable senators a revised statement of the way in which it was proposed to expend the sum of money set down in the Works Appropriation Bill under the heading “ special warlike material.” That revised statement I have with me, and shows that, as compared with the previously proposed expenditure of £32,500 on accoutrements, and £10,250 on saddle-trees, stirrups, and bits, it is now proposed to spend only £1:6.250 on the two items combined, and that the proposed expenditure of £22,500 for making saddles is omitted
– Are not any saddles wanted ?
– There are now quite enough saddles for a peace footing, and no doubt in time of war additional saddles could be made in Australia.
– We desire to know who was responsible for placing that item in the Works Appropriation Bill.
– I shall not say who was responsible.
– Whoever he is, he is not fit for his position.
– At all events, I did not approve of the item. The saving to which I have just directed attention will be devoted to buying 8,000 magazine Lee-Enfield rifles, at a cost of £34,000, and cordite charges for big guns, at a cost of £15,000. I’ promised honorable senators an opportunity to discuss these revised proposals, of which I hope they will’ express their approval by their votes’. I nowcome to that part of my statement which I consider the most important, namely, that dealing with the Military Defences of the Commonwealth. As I at first informed honorable senators that I. intended to set out the military forces, fixed defences, and naval defences that were taken over by the Commonwealth, and the strength of the forces and condition of the defences at the present time, with further information as to what my officers consider necessary to place the defence on a proper footing,” and the estimated cost. That, I think, is about the most intelligible way in which I can bring the matter before the Senate. In dealing with the organization of the land forces and their equipment, Major-General Hutton had to consider the probable number and force of an invading enemy, and in his report dated the 14th May, 1903, dealing with the strategical importance of the proposed transcontinental railway, he said -
As long as the supremacy of the sea is in the hands of the Royal Navy, no serious attack on Austra’ia upon a large scale may be considered as practicable.. In this regard little attention need be paid to the temporary and local effect of a mid by one or two of an enemy’s ships upon one or other of the undefended ports. It would, however, be the height of folly to disregard the possibility of the supremacy of the sea .being temporarily or permanently lost.
It will be noticed that Major-General Hutton warns us that we must not be too sanguine that Great Britain wall always maintain the supremacy of the sea, and that we must be prepared for contingencies -
It is impossible to. foresee the result of naval warfare in the future, or to anticipate the effect of fleets acting on the part of a combination of great powers hostile to British Imperial interests. In the event, therefore, of the supremacy of the sea being either temporarily or permanently lost by either of the foregoing possible contingencies, an attack on a large scale might be attempted with every reasonable chance of success, either on the shores of Western Australia or on ‘ some other part of the immense coast line of the Australian continent. It may be assumed that no power or combination of powers would undertake an attack of such magnitude without employing from 20,000 to 50,000 well equipped, well trained, and wel’ organized troops, according to the extent of the contemplated operations.
Tq meet the force which Major-General
Hutton anticipated, the following provision is made: -
In organizing the forces, Major-General Hutton took a step which I am inclined to think was not wise. He discouraged volunteers,, turning a number of the regiments into militia; so that honorable senators when, later on, I come to deal with the Volunteer Force, will observe a great d; crease :n the numbers as compared with those under the States’ management.
– Major-General Hutton said he did that because militia could be sent abroad on active service.
– I do not think that was the reason, although I believe he did originally recommend that the militia should be of such a character that a goodly portion of it might be sent away to help the Imperial Forces in other parts of the world.
– That is what I mean.
– But the Government did. not approve of the idea. I believe Major-General Hutton discouraged volunteers as a result of the views expressed by the Colonial Defence Committee, whose report evidently impressed him. In a memorandum by the Colonial Defence Committee, on the 30th March, 1901, they say : -
With the exception of this nucleus of permanent troops, the Military Forces should consist entirely of troops serving on the partially-paid system. This system has been found by long experience to be better suited to the conditions of Australia than the unpaid system.
That is the volunteer system.
The strength and efficiency of unpaid forces in Australia have always proved far too dependent on temporary and personal causes. There have been frequent instances of rapid expansions of the cadres at times of public enthusiasm, to be followed only by equally sudden cessation of activity, entailing discouragement and waste, when the immediate crisis has passed away, while the constant elements of instability have been such that it appears to have been the unanimous opinion of all officers of wide Australian experience, f rom the time of Sir Peter Scratchley to the present day, that a high and uniform standard of efficiency cannot be attained under the purely volunteer system. The Commonwealth Government would be well advised to aim at the organization of a homogeneous force, in which the actual loss of time devoted to military service is to some extent compensated for by money payments, rather than to countenance the continuance side by side of both the partially-paid and purely volunteer systems, with their conflicting claims on the support of the Government. To avoid misconception, it may be advisable to add that so long as the essential characteristics of the partiallypaid system are adhered to, the precise designation o± the non-permanent portion of the Military Forces is a matter of secondary importance, and if (here is a sentimental preference for the term Volunteer Force, there is no special reason why that title should not be conceded.
– The Scottish Volunteer regiments,, which consist solely of volunteers, are as efficient as any other.
– Some of the States previously paid small sums to volunteers. The report of the Colonial Defence Committee in regard to ammunition is as follows : -
Defence Committee consider that small arms should be provided for 50 per cent, over establishment and reserves of men - 500 rounds of ammunition per small arm, in addition to an ample supply for practice.
I come now to a comparison of the numbers of the forces we took over from the States with the numbers at the present time. On the transfer of the Defence Department to the Commonwealth on March 1st, 1 901, we took over 1,682 permanent men. 15,831 militia, and 12,109 volunteers, or a total of 29,622 men. I can supply honorable senators with the exact strength for the various States, but perhaps those figures are not necessary. On the Estimates for last year we provided for 22,440 men. On the Estimates for this year we provide for 1,360 permanent men, or 322 less than the number taken over from the States; 16,540 militia, about 1,000 more than the number taken over f rom, the States, arid .5,850 volunteers as against 12,109 taken over from the other States, a decrease of 6,259 men-
– There is the voluntary system for you.
– The decrease in the number of volunteers is due evidently to the discouragement given to this arm of the force by Major-General Hutton.
– They have been forcibly turned into militia.
– To a certain extent they have become militia. On the present Estimates we provide for a total of 23,750 men, and we took over from the States a total of 29,622 ; so that we now provide for 5,872 men less than the number taken over from the States.
– Are not the volunteers now receiving payment?
– They are not receiving payment ; but they involve certain expense. I can tell honorable senators exactly what it amounts to. I asked the officers of the Department to prepare a statement showing the average cost of the various arms of the service per man per year. From that statement I find that the average cost per man per year of the Royal Australian Artillery is £118 9s,. 5d. ; Submarine Miners, £167 13s. 5d. ; Australian Light Horse, £16, 18s lod. ; Field Artillery, £19 16s. ; Garrison Artillery, £13 19s. ; Engineers (Field Company), £12’ 9s. ; Engineers (Sub-miners), £16 os. 9d. ; Infantry, £13 os. nd. ; Signallers, £13 os. 11d ; Army Service Corps. £17 ; Army Medical Corps, £16. In the case of the volunteers the infantry cost £6 8s. 6d. They are not paid in one sense, but, as I have s.aid, they involve expense, for instruction, rations in camp, travelling expenses, and so on, bringing the cost in their case up to nearly half that of the ordinary militia.
– It is all in connexion with their instruction.
– Yes, and travelling expenses,, rations, and so on.
– They give their time free.
– They receive no payment for their loss of time. The cost per man per annum for members of rifle clubs is j£i 10s. 3d. ; and this includes expense for ammunition, rifle ranges, and so on. The cadets, cost 15s. 9d. per head at the present time.
– Does that include the cost of. uniforms for cadets ?
– No; I think we give them no uniforms.
– If they have uniforms they provide them themselves?
– That is so. I propose now to deal with the rifle clubs. The strength of the clubs when we took over the Military Forces on 30th June, 1901, was: - New South Wales, 1,845; Victoria, 21,933; Queensland, 4,297; South Australia, 2,546 ; and Western Australia1 and Tasmania, nil. The total number of members of rifle clubs taken over was 30,621. The strength on the 30th June, 1905, was - New South Wales, 4,800, which is an increase of 3,000 ; Victoria, 16,293, as compared with 21,933 taken over from the State.
– How many of them are efficient?
– I have no statement as to that, but I am informed that a considerable number are efficient, and that this branch of the service is well up in efficiency. The strength of the rifle clubs in Queensland on the 30th June, 1905, was 2,961, showing a decrease of 1,336. South Australia, 3,385, showing an increase of 839 ; Western Australia, 2,493, though none were taken over ; and in Tasmania, though none were taken over, there are now 310, the total being 30,242. Tasmania has therefore started in the race, and it is to be hoped she will keep up.
– The honorable senator might say now that Switzerland, with a smaller population, has 200,000 riflemen.
– That is all very nice. It will be seen that while the. number -of members of rifle clubs have decreased in two of the States since the date of the taking over of the Military Forces, the movement has become more general throughout the Commonwealth. The decrease in the two States, I am informed) may be attributed to the fact that in 1900-1901 the strength of the rifle clubs in these States, particularly as regards Victoria, was abnormal, owing to the South African campaign, and also that a stricter supervision has .resulted in a number of non-efficients being struck off.
– Is the honorable senator quite sure that it is not due to a want of encouragement by the Defence Department ?
– Not at all. We give them ‘as much encouragement as the States; .ever gave them.
– The explanation given seems to me to be extraordinary, because the South African campaign affected all the other States in the same way as “Victoria.
– But they had only a very few members of rifle clubs as compared with “Victoria.
– The secret is that in Victoria members were returned as on the strength of the clubs, whether they were efficient or not.
– Under the State Government, in 1901, there were 21,933 members of rifle clubs enrolled in “Victoria, whilst on the same date in New South Wales the number enrolled was only 1,845. The number in that State has increased to 4,800. Giving the totals, * we took over from all the States, 30,621. members of rifle clubs, and we have at the present time 30,242. We have practically kept up the numbers,, and they are considerably more efficient to-day than they were when we took them over. Now, what did we take over from the States in the way of arms and ammunition? We took over 12,903 Martini Lee-Enfield and 102 Lee-Metford rifles, making a total of 13,005 magazine rifles: Of single loaders we took over 30,098 Martini-Enfield rifles, 996 Martini-Metford, and 1,504 MartiniEnfield carbines, making a total of 32,688. We took over 9,038,761 ball cartridges, equivalent to about 200 rounds for each .303 rifle on issue and in store. On 30th June, 1905, we had 35,913 magazine rifles, as against 13,005 taken over, being an increase of 22,908 magazine rifles over the number in store and on issue at the date of the transfer of the Department to the Commonwealth. Of single loaders we had on 30th June, 1905, 30,945. The war establishment of the Commonwealth Military Forces under the present organization is 39,623, of whom 31,262 would require to be armed with rifles. Seeing that we have 35,913 magazine rifles available, there is a surplus shown of 4,651 after all troops for war establishments are provided for. Of .303 ball cartridges on 30th June last, we had a balance oil’ hand of 30,800,865, whilst there have been ordered for this year 10,000,000, making a total of 40,800,865. We use practically 10,000,000 cartridges every year for practice.
– How many have two bullets?
– We have had all the packages weighed, and we have found only two containing inverted bullets, which might have burst, and perhaps have caused loss of life. In connexion with Field Artilery armament, the number of guns taken over from the States was 125.
– All efficient?
– We took over 4,961 rounds of cordite, and 28,870 rounds of powder. Of the 125 guns taken over from the States, 101 were obsolete, and practically useless.
– Are we going to pay for them?
– I do not know. I shall not pay for them if I can help it, as they were only fit for the scrap-heap when they were taken over.
– I have been calling attention’ to that for the last four years.
– We took over from the States only twenty-four serviceable brech-loading guns. At the present time, the number of serviceable field-guns, including those now under order, and ammunition for same, is eighty. These guns are all up-to-date, and better weapons than the twenty-four serviceable guns taken over from the States which are not up to date. Though they are reasonably effective, they are not firstclass. We have! now 36,376 rounds of cordite, which is equivalent to 500 rounds per field-gun, and 200 rounds for guns of position. The eighty up-to-date guns comprise twenty-four 18-pounder quick- firing guns; forty-eight 15-pounder breech-loading, guns; and, as guns of position, four 5-inch breech-loaders, and four 4.7-inch quick-firers. We require twenty-four more field-guns to make up our proper complement. In 1904, it was agreed that £524,683 should be spent on warlike material and stores, spreading the expenditure over four years. I have all the figures showing the amounts that we have spent during each of the years. We shall have a balance out of the total amounting to £135,237, to be spent in order to complete those stores. I come now to the fixed defences of the Commonwealth. In regard to our fixed defences, the number of guns and rounds of ammunition which we took over from the States at the date of transfer to the Commonwealth was: 373 guns, 6,488 rounds of cordite, and 41,295 rounds of powder. Of the 373 guns, 242 are obsolete muzzle-loaders and smooth-bores. They are not worth much now,. That leaves 131 breech-loading and quick-firing guns, which are now classed as follow : - Service, 95 ; reserve, 28 ; obsolete, 8. The number of guns classed as service on 1st July, 1905, was 102, and we have 221 rounds of ammunition for each of them. That is the whole of the information which I have to give, so far as concerns our fixed defences. Now I come to the Naval Forces. At the date of transfer to the Commonwealth, the strength of the Naval Forces was 1,588. At the present time the strength is 1,041 - being a decrease of 547. At the time of transfer the ships taken over by the Commonwealth were as follow : - One turret-ship, the Cerberus; one cruiser, the Protector; two gunboats, two first-class torpedo-boats, six second-class torpedoboats, and two torpedo-launches. All those vessels were in fairly good order. Captain Creswell informs me that -
At the present time, with the exception of two second-class torpedo boats sold, the same vessels remain. The turret ship, however, has been condemned on account of the bad condition of her boilers.
She is only fit to be used as a boat-house for men to sleep in, and for other purposes apart from the actual defence of the Commonwealth. All the other vessels, Captain Creswell says -
All the others are in good order, although their ages range from 15 to 22 years.
Captain Creswell has furnished me with a statement concerning the armament, which amounts to this. He has a few fairly good guns. A number of others are in fairly good order, but obsolete. The guns which are obsolete are four 10-inch muzzle-loaders, one 64-pounder, seven 9-pounders, two 121/2 pounder breech-loaders, one 12-pounder breech-loader, and two. 6-pounder breechloaders. In addition to these, we have three 8-inch breech-loaders, twelve 6-in. breech-loaders, and five 5-in. breech-loaders, together with fifty-five smaller quick-firing and machine guns, all of which are in good order, but “becoming obsolete.” That is to say, they are on the road to become useless. There are two 4.7-in. quick-firers, which have been received since the date of transfer, but which were previously ordered by States Governments. So that we have not bought a gun for the naval defence of the Commonwealth, and we have lost 500 men, whilst all the guns taken over from the States were either obsolete or in the condition called obsolescent, that is to say, in the course of becoming absolutely obsolete.
– That is a splendid record !
– What does the Minister mean by saying that we have lost 500 men ?
– I cannot tell what has become of them. The statement means that we have 500 men fewer in the Naval Forces now than we had at the date of transfer.
– I do not think the Minister should talk about a “ loss.”
– Well I am stating a fact. I think I ought to tell the Senate what the actual state of the case is.
– Were the men retrenched ?
– I dare say some of them are in the cemetery.
– Were they Naval Brigade men?
– Some of them were. The statement means, to put it shortly, that the personnel of our Naval Forces has been reduced to the extent I have mentionedWith respect to torpedoes, atthe time of transfer we had ninety-seven. Now we have ninety-two,” but there are ten more on order. Those at present on hand were at the date of transfer either obsolete or in process of becoming obsolete.
– What is it intended to do with the obsolete torpedoes?
– I suppose they are used for practice purposes. At the time of transfer there were fifty-six submarine mines on hand. The number remains the same at the present time, but gun-cotton charges are required for thirty of them. I have a statement showing the total expenditure on the Naval and Military Forces at the time of the transfer, 1900-1, as compared with the estimated expenditure “for 1905-6. It shows thatat the time of transfer the States spent a total of £988,696. The estimated expenditure for 1905-6 amounts to £1,021,531. But ithas to be remembered that the States paid only £104,548 towards the Naval Agreement, whereas the Commonwealth is paying £200,000, a difference of nearly £100,000. It has also to be remembered that of the sum which I have mentioned as being expended in 1900-1, the States spent close on £200,000 out of loan money, but the Commonwealth has spent no loan money for military pur- poses. Therefore, our expenditure compares with the States expenditure very favorably in that respect.
– Furthermore, the States, had few rifles, and scarcely any effective guns.
– No; they were ill provided for in those respects. Now I come to the important question of what we ought to do. It is, of course, the most important question of all. I will tell the Senate what Captain Creswell’s views are. I put to him a series of questions, and obtained his answers to them. My first question was, “ What the Commonwealth should have in the way of a Navy ?” His answer was as follows : -
Three cruiser destroyers, sixteen torpedo boat destroyers, and fifteen torpedo boats first and second class. Of course, it cannot be expected that these vessels will be provided at once or in one year, and the provision will be extended over a period of seven years, at an average cost of £330,000 per annum.
My next question was, “What is the estimated cost?” Captain Creswell replied -
Cost of vessels, £1,768,000 ; maintenance of vessels, commissioned .and in reserve during seven years, £532,000; total, £2,300,000; to be provided in the seven years.
– Can the Minister give us figures concerning the upkeep?
– I asked Captain Creswell a question concerning the cost of upkeep, and he replied that it would be £120,000 per annum in peace time, including; an addition of 456 to the permanent forces and 466 to the naval militia. Then I asked him what vessels he would propose to get first, and he replied : -
Four torpedo boat destroyers and four first class torpedo boats.
My next question was, “ What vessels at present in commission could be first dispensed with?” The reply was: -
Cerberus to be withdrawn from commission, and to be a dep6t for torpedo-boat crews within the heads. Queensland gunboats to be resurveyed, withdrawn from commission, and relegated to such service as may be deemed suitable. Protector to be re-surveyed and probably used as a tender to gunnery school. This will provide a defence not designed as a force for action against hostile fleets or squadrons, which is the province of the Imperial fleet, but as a line necessary to us within the defence line of the Imperial fleet - a purely defensive line, that will give security to our naval bases, populous centres, principal ports, and commerce.
Captain Creswell has also furnished me with a long report, in which he has entered into these various matters in detail. It is a very interesting document, which I think honorable senators will find it profitable to study. He says -
First and Vital Requirement.
It is necessary to make plain the fundamental principle in any defence, viz., that intelligence of the position, and movements and intention of the enemy is a vital need.
It is as vital to the defences and armed forces of any country as sight to the boxer or swordsman. No matter how expert either boxer or swordsman may be, or how strong in defence, it will be unanimously admitted that, without eyesight, he is under a vital disadvantage. Until actually struck, he cannot tell where or how he will be attacked.
This may appear to be a truism too plainly obvious to require statement. It has not been too obvious to save us from absolutely neglecting this fundamental principle in our defence organization.
Lack of “Intelligence” a Fundamental Weakness to a Sea Frontier.
A range of mountains has been declared a bad frontier when the enemy is able to mass his forces secretly on the further side. *
A mountain range extending for several’ hundred miles along a frontier, with all the passes held by the enemy, could only be defended by a hugely preponderating force. Each pass would require in its neighbourhood a force equal to the enemy’s full strength. If there were five or ten passes, the defence would require five or ten times the enemy’s attacking strength.
With facilities for rapid massing at any point less would suffice for the defence, or, if the configuration permitted, a strong defending force centrally placed, that is, having the interior position, would be able to strike at the enemy after he had debouched. On the other ‘hand, with intelligence of the particular pass whence attack would be made, there would be required for its defeat a defence but slightly exceeding the numbers and strength of the attack. Intelligence here represents a saving of many thousands of men, and, if the contending forces were approximately equal in numbers, intelligence would furnish the only means of achieving a successful defence.
With a mountain frontier, intelligence is vital. With a sea frontier, it is still more so.
To a defence constituted like the Australian at the present moment, the sea is a more perfect and complete screen to an enemy’s movements than even a mountain range with the passes in the hands of the enemy.
Our frontier is several thousand miles in extent, although from Townsville south, about to Perth, is all that need be considered. The defended ports, some nine or ten in number, and some half-dozen others on the sea-board, we mav regard as situated within striking distance of passes held by the enemy. The sea screens the enemy. We have no eyes - no intelligence of his movements. He may attack any of the populous centres or capital ports.
This necessitates preparation at all, and a force at each greater than the enemy’s.
The mountain frontier analogy may now be dropped, because <t’he sea frontier places trie defence under still greater disadvantages. The sea is not a mountain range, but an easy road, open to the enemy, which he can pass along at pleasure, but which is denied to us. Whether he will be seen, whether, that is, we shall have intelligence of his movements, is a matter absolutely under his control. He can screen his movements by keeping a few miles to seaward.
The addition vitally necessary to our defence is a means of penetrating this screen - of furnishing intelligence, of keeping touch with the enemy, and reporting his position from day to day.
With this power, we shall have - instead of possible panic and preparation at all places, and general uncertainty - a certain knowledge of the position of the enemy, and probably his intentions will be discovered and anticipated.
That alone is an immense gain.
Now, supposing, in addition to being the eyes of our defence, the means we employ have power as well to influence the movements of the enemy in a manner very much to our advantage - viz.; inthis way, that we can compel him to keep miles away from the neighbourhood of our ports in darkness - that is also a great gain, because at night an enemy at present can come close up to the entrances of our ports, and snap up shipping either leaving or attempting to enter. Also, by night the ship can throw shell into a large mark like a town covering several square miles, while a fort cannot hope to hit a ship well beyond the range of the shore search light.
Further, it permits the opening of the port to commerce during the hours of darkness.
What Supplies the Need.
These great defence advantages we obtain by the employment of a service of destroyers and torpedo defence. Without it, the present defence is a blind defence, and the drawback of a blind defence needs no explanation.
Now, were these alone the gains to our power, they would be sufficient, but there are others of scarcely less moment.
With destroyers or torpedo boats within striking distance, no force can attempt a landing from vessels. Striking distance may be put down as100 miles, a distance that destroyers can cover in a few hours.
No force, except a very large expeditionary force with numerous transport steamers, and having with it all that is necessary for land transport, could attempt a landing 100 miles from our ports, and no such force could be sent here while the Empire possesses a Fleet.
We must now consider the defence of our commerce, and, upon its safety, depends the whole business and industrial life of the Commonwealth. The oversea trade of the Commonwealth is approximately from£90,000,000 to £ 1 00,000,000 annually. If the intercolonial trade be included, it would of course be considerably greater than the latter sum.
Ifthe enemy were sighted, let us say, in the neighbourhood of Perth, to-day, it is certain that the steamers between the eastern States and Perth would immediately cease running. The non-arrival of one or two en route when the news arrived, would be the only indication of the enemy’s whereabouts. If no further “Intelligence was received within, say, five days - a matter well within the enemy’s control by keeping off the regular trade route - he would have had time to arrive in Bass Straits, and trade would be stopped between Sydney and Melbourne. Insurance rates in any case would have risen considerably. There would be no indication of his whereabouts, and trade from, say, Adelaide West could not be resumed. A few more days without intelligence, and there would be a cessation practically of all our sea trade. It would be impossible to say off what port the enemy might have placed himself, awaiting to capture entering or departing ships, closing in at night without lights and making sufficient offing to be out of sight before daylight. To the actual and definite intelligence of his presence off Perth would, of course, be added the usual numerous and indeterminable rumours to keep alive public agitation all conducing to block all business and the general commerce of the Commonwealth, with obvious results to the whole community.
It is strange that a sea trade, said to be greater than that of Spain and Portugal or Japan, valued at£100,000,000, has been left out of consideration in defence schemes. The lack can be supplied by a scouting service and torpedo defence.
Open sea scouting will be provided by vessels of a special class. Destroyers are capable of this service on any sea, particularly our Eastern coasts, under average weather conditions. A large measure of security for sea trade can be effected by destroyers, and this in addition to the services first claimed for them.
Destroyers working from ports can insure that the sea shall be clear of an enemy for a radius of 50 to 60 miles at night. As, with superior speed, the destroyer can follow any enemy that it may sight during the day, on the chance of attacking him by night, no enemy would elect to be sighted even by day if it opened the opportunity of being followed and attacked at night. The area round ports can therefore be made secure for the entry and exit of trade.
Once at sea and clear of the “ area of con vergence of trade routes,” there is comparative safety for the merchant steamer. She canselect her course, and the chances of capture are reduced to a minimum.
With high speed destroyers and the short distance comparatively between the main capital ports in the Eastern States of the Commonwealth, the routes could be further secured by an effective patrol, and by destroyer bases at the numerous creeks and sea inlets available only to light draft vessels. An enemy on the inner coast route would be open to attack at a number of points, a fact that would not incline him to remain on the route usually followed by our very considerable coasting trade.
Summary : - The following are the services rendered by destroyers, and lacking to our present defence : -
Make safe to our commerce the danger areas in the vicinity of our ports, enabling vessels to enter or leave and gain the open sea.
The above render it necessary to establish a destroyer service.
– Does Captain Creswell say where the torpedo destroyers would be located?
– That, of course, is a detail. But, as an instance of their utility, I may mention that he said to me in the course of conversation, “Take Torres Straits. A cruiser could go in at one end and sweep the whole of our commerce from end to end. There is nothing to prevent it at the present time. But if she knew that we had a torpedo boat or two, and a few destroyers cruising about, she would never dare to put her nose inside.” I ought to say that Captain Creswell holds peculiar views with regard to our land forces. For he says that there is very little need for them. He would trust entirely to the British Fleet, so far as invasion is concerned, but so far as relates to the defence of our ports, and so on, he would trust entirely to fixed defences and his own- little fleet of destroyers and torpedo boats. As to the land forces, he would have permanent men, and do away with the whole of the volunteers and militia. He would have rifle clubs only. Such being his views on the subject, honorable senators can imagine that when the Defence Committee met, and the military men were on the side representing the Military Forces, with Captain Creswell on the other side representing the Naval Forces, and when he put these opinions before Sir George Turner and the late Minister of Defence, the effect was somewhat perplexing. I could give an account from shorthand notes of the proceedings, but honorable senators can imagine that the members of the Council of Defence were absolutely confused in their views, and went away without coming to any conclusion on this momentous question. Now I come to the question of what we ought to do in respect of our fixed defences. We have a considerable number of these scattered round the Australian coast from Thursday Island to Fremantle. I propose to tell honorable senators exactly what my officers assure me is required to place our forts in a fighting condition. At the same time, I wish them to distinctly understand that the figures which I shall quote are merely in the nature of esti- mates. My officers very naturally say : “ If we have to provide against attack by an armoured cruiser we shall need a certain type of gun; if we are required to meet a protected cruiser we can do with a lighter gun ; whilst if we have to repel an attack by a battleship we shall need heavy ordnance.” That, I think, is a perfectly fair position for them to take up. Unfortunately, we have never arrived at an understanding as to the probable nature of the attack which would be made upon us. My advisers say that to re-arm the fixed defences - that is, our forts - with modern guns, we should have to incur a large expenditure. The cost includes 200 rounds of cordite ammunition for the 9.2 and 7.5-inch guns, and 500 rounds for the 12-pounders, and works out thus: - Four 9.2-inch guns, £122,000; eighteen 7.5-inch guns, £324,000; and thirty-four^ 12-pounders, £76,000; total, £522,000. They say that lighting the various ports by electricity would probably cost £14,720. To complete the stores for existing submarine mines would cost, approximately, £4,000. Several ports require boom defences, which it is estimated would cost £1,600. It is further considered that the defences of Melbourne and Sydney should be strengthened by land installations of Whitehead torpedoes. That would cost, approximately, £20,000. In the matter of field artillery, in addition to the guns on hand and ordered from England, twenty-four .18- pounders are required, which, with the necessary ammunition, would cost £50,880. Then suitable sites for field artillery ranges should be selected in each State., and these would have to be at least ten miles in extent. No estimate can be made of their cost. Yesterday, Senator Matheson pointed out that in some States it might be possible to find suitable ranges in rough parts of the country. I believe that our field artillery in New South Wales occasionally fire in the National Park. Strictly speaking, however, we ought to h-“/e ranges under our own control as they have in England. In South Australia, these ranges could be obtained in some rough portions of the country–
– We could get them on the beaches.
– Very probably.
– Then it is proposed to mount 9.2-inch guns in some of the forts.
-Oh yes. Tt is suggested that four of- them should be mounted.
– The Minister’s officers have determined the class of attack which we shall probably be required to meet?
– Then the estimate which the Minister has read is not worth anything.
– Not long ago, I pointed out the number of rifles that we had in the Commonwealth. I now propose to tell honorable senators the number that we need, together with their cost. To arm the Military Forces of the Commonwealth to war strength - including those only who carry rifles - 32,000 are required. To arm those of the reserves not there provided for, 30,000 are required, of which number we anticipate that 11,000 at least would be needed by the permanent forces in time of war. That would reduce the number to 39,000. If we add 50 per cent. in both instances, that gives us 25,500, and the total is 76,500. There are already available in the Commonwealth 35,900 rifles, and a further 8,000 are provided for on these Estimates. The balance which we require is 32,600. The cost of these rifles, with bayonets and scabbards, is approximately £185,800. Owing to the increase in the number of rifles we should need to increase the quantity of ammunition held in reserve by some 16,300.000 rounds, which would cost £87,620.
– That is on the basis of a reserve of 250 or 300 rounds per rifle?
– It is on the basis of 500 rounds per rifle. I now come to a statement by my officers as to what is required to place our defences upon a satisfactory footing. Our naval defences, it is urged, demand an expenditure of £2,300,000; new guns for forts would cost £522,000; electric lights, £.14,720; stores for submarine mines, £4,000; booms, £1,600; land installation of torpedoes, £20,000 ; rifles, £185,800 : to complete the war establishment of the field and garrison forces. £726,182 ; new guns for artillery, £50,880 : and rifle ammunition, when we purchase more rifles,’ £108,000 ; or a total of £3,033,802. I thought possibly that we might also need something in the way of submersibles. Honorable senators are aware that the French Government have recently increased the number of these” vessels in their possession very materially. When my military offi cers advised me to procure submersibles, I asked Captain Creswell his opinion upon the matter.
– How came the military authorities to advise the Minister upon that matter?
– They have the forts under their control, and they thought that submersibles might advantageously be used in conjunction with them. In this connexion, Captain Creswell reports -
I do not recommend the purchase of these vessels for the following reasons : -
The vessels and their suitability to the weapon carried must be separately considered. The only advantage gained is a certain measure of invisibility. The vessel is still in the experimental stage. From the statements of the late chief constructor, Sir W. White, I gather : -
That the forces acting on submerged vessels have not yet been accurately determined ;
That the design and construction to meet these forces have not been evolved ;
That modifications are necessary to insure a vessel of trustworthy stability.
Their speed is low, so that it has been said almost complete safety from submarines can be obtained by steaming at a rate of 12 or 15 knots. Radius of action compared with ordinary surface torpedo craft is small.
My task would not be complete if I did not refer to a. memorandum received from the Colonial Defence Committee in England within the past month or so, which has caused a very considerable amount of searching of hearts amongst my naval and military advisers. The memorandum is a secret one, and therefore I shall not quote it, except to say that it has been received through the usual channel, the Colonial Office. The letter bearing upon it, which is signed by the Honorable Alfred Lyttleton one of the Secretaries of the Colonial Office, is as follows : -
Downing-street, 25th August, 1905.
My Lord. - With reference to your Excellency’s confidential despatch of 1st August, 1904, the secret despatches of 8th September, 1904, and 20th January, 1905, I have the honour to transmit to you, to be laid before your Ministers, twelve copies of remarks by the Colonial Defence Committee on the Defence scheme of Australia.
The Army Council and the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty have expressed their concurrence in the remarks, of which a copy has been forwarded to the Naval Commander in Chief on the Station.
The criticisms in which the Committee indulge are based upon the first report of Major- General Hutton to the Government in regard to his re-organization scheme. The Committee deal with portion of his minute dated 7th April, 1902, which has been published, and which, no doubt, honorable senators have seen. After that report appeared in print, Captain Creswell wrote a long memorandum, in which he criticised Major-General Hutton’s scheme. Both the late Commanding Officer’s report and Captain Creswell’s criticism of it were forwarded to the Colonial Defence Committee, who were asked for their advice upon the subject. In connexion with this matter I wrote as follows: -
With reference to the Colonial Defence Committee’s memo., No. 377 R, datedJuly17,1905, I wish the Director of Naval Forces and the Chief of Intelligence to furnish me with a brief and clear statement showing from the Naval and Military stand-point respectively : -
In what way the opinions therein expressed affect the existing or proposed organization of the Defence Force of the Commonwealth?
If the views of the Colonial Defence Committee were concurred with, what would be the increase or decrease in the existing personnel, arms, armament, ships, &c. ?
Captain Creswell sums up the position in a few words. He says -
Referring to your minute of 4th inst. as to the effect on the Naval Forces of the memorandum No. 377 R., from the Colonial Defence Committee, I beg to remark as follows : -
The opinions expressed in the memorandum involve the abolition of all naval organization and naval effort of any kind by Australia, other than by contribution to the Imperial fleet. Australian naval defence to be solely the concern of the Imperial authorities, and not of the Commonwealth Government.
The views of the Colonial Defence Committee, if concurred in, would preclude the need to frame any naval estimate whatever. The examination services would not of themselves justify the maintenance of any naval forces.
Honorable senators will recognise from this report what is the trend of the opinions expressed by the Colonial Defence Committee. I come now to what the military expert hasto say. Lt.-Col. Bridges reported as follows : -
In reply to the queries in your memo, of the 4th inst., respecting the Colonial Defence Committee’s memorandum No. 377 R., I beg to submit the following : -
The Colonial Defence Committee are of opinion that territorial aggression against the Commonwealth is impossible except on a large scale.
This does not deal with fixed defences. It relates only to the land forces - to no thing but Major-General Hutton’s organization scheme -
On a large scale it would not be attempted until the British Navy had been definitely worsted, and “even then the difficulties and risks would be so considerable that, in view of other enterprises of a more hopeful nature, it is almost inconceivable that the attempt would be made.”
He was alluding here tothe possibility of invasion.
Therefore “ the contingency of territorial aggression by a large force conveyed in transports need not be taken into account as one of the requirements of Australian defence.” Consequently it follows, inthe opinion of the Colonial Defence Committee, that the existing organization of the Commonwealth Military Forces “ answers to no definite war requirement.”
In each State a part of the Military Forces, roughly proportional to the population, has been allotted to the Australian Field Force, whose function is to repel aggression in any part of the Commonwealth ; the remainder, termed Garrison Troops, are organized for the defence of the State in which they are raised. This organization is shown in tabular form below : -
Commonwealth Military Forces. Field Force (to serve in emergency anywhere within the Commonwealth).
Garrison Troops (not to serve outside the State in which raised).
District Reserve (Mobile Troops).
Garrison for Forts (Sedentary Troops).
The Colonial Defence Committee suggest that this organization should be altered as follows : - “ The Committee accordingly suggest that the Australian Field Force and the District Reserves should be replaced by a field force in each military district, organized either in brigades or as a. mixed force as may be convenient.”
This proposal means that all the troops in each State would be divided into : -
That is to say, instead of having an organization extending throughout the Commonwealth, the Military Forces in each State should be quite distinct.
– They speak not of States, but of districts. It is rather important that in this regard we should wipe out State boundaries.
– In some respects, it is. They would prefer to have districts, because the State boundaries might give rise to some difficulty.
– They are quite arbitrary.
– That is so. Deniliquin and other districts just across the Murray, for all practical purpose belong to Victoria, and the military organization in respect of those districts could be better controlled from this State. The report continues -
There would be no force organized for service in all parts of the- Commonwealth.
I do not gather from this that the suggestion is that if Australia were attacked, it would not be possible to send a force from this State to its assistance. They simply consider that our forces should be so organized as to be able to repel any possible attack, and they regard an attack as likely to be made .only by cruisers. The report continues -
Time will be necessary to work out the organization on these lines, but it seems hardly necessary to do so until the governing principle put forward by the Colonial Defence Committee is accepted, viz. : that “ attack upon the Australian littoral reduces itself to raids by an enemy’s cruisers.” It may, however, be noted that the Colonial Defence Committee do not recommend any reduction in the peace establishment.
Another suggestion of the Colonial Defence Committee is that the establishments (peace and war) should be revised. If effect be given to this suggestion, the’ peace establishment of the Field Artillery Batteries would be increased, and the war establishment of the Light Horse would be reduced by some 1,900 officers and men, and consequently a smaller quantity of equipment would have to be provided. The Committee also make some remarks regarding the details of mobilization, but, as these matters are not necessarily affected by the principle dealt with in paragraph 1, it seems unnecessary to deal with them now.
The question for decision is this : - Is the Commonwealth to make no preparation for resisting possible territorial aggression, and restrict its defence to meet raids by cruisers? The answer to this question affects the whole policy of defence and the organization of the ‘Military Forces, and until it is decided, no steps can be taken regarding the defence schemes or the development of the forces.
Here we have the whole thing in a nutshell. It isi for us to decide what we have to meet. As Lt. -Col. Bridges points out, it is for us to decide whether we desire to prepare to resist possible territorial aggression, or merely to meet raids by cruisers. These are questions which must be determined before we can decide what system of defence we should adopt. We have to determine whether the view of the Colonial Defence Committee, that it is unnecessary to obtain torpedo boats and torpedo boat destroyers, as suggested by Captain Creswell, is the right one. Honorable, senators who have carefully followed my remarks will recognise that the problem of defence is one - that requires muchthought. A definite scheme ought to be laid down, and once Parliament has. approved of that scheme, it should not be lightly departed from. It should be a scheme not for to-day or to-morrow, but for a series of years, just as the Japanese mapped out a plan for acquiring so many ships and guns, and raising a certain number of men, within a given time. They took twenty-five years to work out their scheme. It seems to me that there is no absolute necessity for us lo rush in and incur heavy expense year by year ; but we ought to have an objective of some sort. Having carefully considered the question, we ought redetermine what Naval and Military Forces and fixed defences we require. Having arrived at a decision in that regard, let usequip our forces with up-to-date arms, and let us t?.ke the earliest opportunity to aim at the objective which we have set ourselves. That is the task before us. lt is not a very easy one for a Minister totake in hand w’- en one of his trusted officerssays he believes in the present field forces, in militia and volunteers, whilst another equally trusted officer sa,ys that no such forces are required. We have the Colom at Defence Committee saying to the officer, who; declares in effect, “ You do not want volunteers ; you can trust to a few permanent men, to your forts, and to your rifle clubs,” “ It would be an error to waste money in purchasing the very vessels that you advise your Government to buy.” My position therefore is a troublesome one. The first man you meet in the street, who fancies that he knows everything about defence matters, will at once unfold a plan to YOU; but the very next man you meet has quite a different scheme to propound. And so the thing goes on. This difference of opinion is not confined to writers of leading articles in the newspapers, or to newspaper correspondents. It exists amongst our own officers. Even they are not at one with regard to these very important details, and if we do not lay down a definite scheme of defence; and determine upon ,a certain objective, the happygolucky system that has prevailed ever since the establishment of the Commonwealth is sure to continue. From what I have saidhonorable senators will realize what a difficult task I have before me, and that it will be necessary for me to devote a great deal of time to the consideration of these questions. They will recognise that it would be imprudent for me to arrive at a hurried decision, that it is necessarythat I should carefully think the whole matter out. before I submit a scheme to my colleagues. They will realize, too, that it is essential that I should secure the best possible advice on these questions. Having done that, it will be for me to bring my scheme before the Cabinet, and for the Cabinet, having arrived at a decision, to submit it to the Parliament. As I have said, the task before me is a difficult one. I do not know whether I am capable of performing it, but I shall do my best. I hope that I shall be in a position before next session to bring a scheme of defence before my colleagues, and that we shall be able to ask Parliament next year to approve a system that will be more satisfactory than is the present one. I said a few minutes ago that we had no defence scheme. As a matter of fact, we have had far too many.
– Does the honorable senator think that we shall be able to make all these improvements in our defence system without floating a loan ?
– If we decided to bring our forces up to date within a limited time, we certainly should not be able to carry on without a loan ; but ifwe spread the expenditure over a series of years, I dp not think that it would be necessary for us to go into the moneymarket.
Debate (on motion by Senator Pulsford) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I asked the Minister of Defence this morning to make certain inquiries with a view to a motion of which I have given notice, for the production of a certain agreement relating to the Pacific Island Mail Services being taken as formal. I have been led to understand that there is no such agreement in existence. If so, it will be useless for my motion to remain on the business-paper, and I should therefore like the Minister on Wednesday next to give me a definite reply to my question.
– I shall endeavour to do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.59 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 November 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19051117_senate_2_29/>.