2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator DOBSON presented a petition from thirteen persons resident near Hobart, praying the Senate not to sanction the retention of the present site for the rifle range of the Defence Forces in Tasmania, but to select a more suitable site.
Petition received and read.
– I desire, with the indulgence of the Senate, to make a personal explanation. It will be recollected that on Thursday last the second reading of the Judiciary Bill was the second order of the day.
– Does the honorable and learned senator think that is a question for personal explanation?
– Certainly, sir.
– Personal explanations are confined to matters in respect to which an honorable senator has been misrepresented.
– I think not, sir, under standing order 394. There are two standing orders on the subject, one being as to matters in respect of which a senator is personally misrepresented, and the other in relation to matters in which a senator is concerned.
– It has always been my practice, and that of the Senate, to confine matters of personal explanation to questions in which a senator has been misrepresented, in respect of what he did or said in the Senate.
– The standing order to which” I refer is No. 396, which reads as follows : -
A senator who has spoken to a question may again be heard, to explain himself in regard to some material part of his speech whichhas been misquoted or misunderstood.
The. other standing order is No. 394.
– The honorable and learned senator is claiming the indulgence of the Senate?
– I said so, sir.
By the indulgence of the Senate, a senator may explain matters of a personal nature.
– I do not know exactly what the honorable and learned senator is going to say. Therefore, perhaps, he may continue. But I - and I think the Senate - have always understood1 that a personal explanation must be confined to a matter in respect of which a senator has been misrepresented. I understand now -perhaps I may be wrong - that the honorable and learned senator wishes to explain something which occurred in reference to an order ofthe day.
– Personal to myself, sir.
– Is that personal?
– I cannot see that it is.
– May not the honorable and learned senator, under standing order 394, ask for leave of the Senate to make a personal explanation ?
– I have done so.
– If that standing order be extended to personal explanations concerning any matter under the sun it certainly will not be in accordance with the practice of the Senate.
– Does it not embrace any matter under the sun, sir?
– It says-
By the indulgence of the Senate, a senator may explain matters of a personal nature.
– Although there be no question before the Senate?
– The honorable and learned senator is right, as far as that aspect is concerned, but is the application of the standing order to be extended to matters of a personal nature which have no reference to any debate in the Senate, or any matter which took place in the Senate. I do not think it ought to be so extended. Of course, the Senate is the ultimate judge in these matters. Perhaps I have not yet heard the honorable and learned senator sufficiently to give an opinion..
– I do not wish to enter into a discussion as to the intention of this standing order, which is safeguarded by the phrase, “ By the ‘indulgence of the Senate.” I think that the Senate would be slow to withhold that indulgence from any honorable senator who in relation to any matter of business personal to himself feels it to . be due to the Chamber and to himself that there should be an explanation in so far as it concerns public business. The subject-matter of my personal explanation is the Judiciary Bill, and the circumstances of my absence at the period when the incident to which I shall allude occured. I am quite sure that the Senate will feel that it is due to me and to the Senate itself that there should be an explanation from any honorable senator who brings forward business, and whose duty it is to take care to see that it is dealt with in the ordinary way. A fortnight previous to last Thursday the debate on the second reading of the Judiciary Bill was adjourned on the motion of the Honorary Minister, who, of course, was entitled to resume the debate. On Thursday last I was very unexpectedly, and, apparently, unfortunately called away. I was called away literally in the middle of the debate in relation to the proceedings of the previous evening, and a debate which was occupying the very animated attention of many honorable senators. That being the position, I, as is not unusual, I think, had recourse to the good offices of Senator Matheson with reference to my Bill, on which I know that, as to some points, there may be controversy, and in which I take a- deep personal interest, because it proposed to make changes in our judiciary system, which I, although others might differ from me, believe ought to be made. I availed myself of the good offices of my honorable friend to arrange for the postponement of the Order of the Day. I knew that the Ministry, through the Honorary Minister, were desirous and entitled to lay before the Senate their views on these important matters which- I had opened. I had’ been informed that several honorable senators on this side intended to debate the second reading of the Bill. I also knew that there stood before the measure Senator Givens’ very important motion in regard to the sugar monopoly, and I was under the impression, rightly, as the facts have shown, that the debate on that subject would occupy a very considerable time.
– It was only for a certain purpose that it was adjourned before the usual time.
– I was just going very briefly to mention the fact, so as to exculpate myself in relation to any suggestion that I was not anxious to proceed with the Judiciary Bill. Feeling that it would be impossible to conclude the debate, on the Judiciary Bill that afternoon, however long or short Senator Givens’ motion might be under discussion, I suggested to Senator Matheson that it might be wise to postpone the Order of the Day on the rearrangement of the business on the noticepaper. He tells me he communicated with the Honorary Minister, who refused to assent. I do not take exception to that refusal, because he was entitled to continue the debate if he thought that an opportunity would be available for that purpose during that afternoon,
The position was that the debate upon Senator Givens’ motion occupied until 20 minutes past 6 o’clock, and would have continued until the usual adjournment hour in the ordinary course of things. Senator Macfarlane was -in the middle of a speech. By request, as I understand, he discontinued his speech, and asked leave to resume it on another occasion. To that course I take no exception. It was done im order to enable the amendments made by the House of Representatives in the Life Assurance Companies Bill to be taken into consideration. But what I venture to say is, that any honorable senator was entitled to expect that in the rearrangement of business-
– I think that the honorable and learned senator is now going beyond the bounds of a personal explanation.
– I submit not.
– The honorable and learned senator should confine himself to matters personal to him. and not make statements as to what other people should have done.
– I asked the indulgence of the Senate, and surely I am entitled to say-
– No reply can be made, and therefore it would be unfair and not in accordance with the Standing Orders if Senator Symon were to take other honorable senators to task for not doing what he thinks thev should have done.
– I have not taken any one to task, and, of course, I submit at once to your ruling, if you say that I ought not to make the statement I have done. But I say again, that I have taken no one to task. Surely, however, with the indulgence of the Senate upon a matter of this kind, affecting the second-reading debate of a measure introduced by me, I am entitled to say what I think I had a right to expect, and how the circumstances affecting the measure arose. My honorable friend, Senator Pearce - and I cannot say this too strongly-
-Does not the Senate know, of these facts ?
– Surely I have a. right to state them. The Senate knows many facts that an honorable senator may mention in the course of a debate. What I desire to say is, that in the rearrangement of business it might have been expected, in accordance with the usual practice of the Senate, that care would be taken not to disarrange other business. In saying that, I am merely making a statement to which every other honorable senator will assent, and am not reflecting upon any one in particular. I am entitled, I think, to say how it is that the Bill to which I referred! was discharged from the noticepaper in the absence of any one being in charge of it. Senator Matheson was out of the chamber at the time. Senator Pulsford, who was prepared to move the adjournment of the debate, was, unfortunately, not in the chamber at the moment.
– I was not here either.
– I dare say if Senator Keating had been here, in all probability he would have moved the adjournment of the debate, because I take it that he was anxious to address the Senate on the subject.
– Hear, hear.
– It is not for me to make any inferences. The Senate can make its own. I am not suggesting that what occurred was done by accident or by design. But if it was by accident I am extremely sorry, and express m regret to my honorable friends who, whether agreeing with me or not, intended to address themselves, to the debate. The effect has been that my speech only has been left on record in, Hansard in relation, to the Bill, and no other honorable senator has had an opportunity to address himself l:o the subject. I also, think that I am entitled to say vhat I intend to do.
– We all wondered why the honorable senator had nol: made arrangements to proceed with the measure.
– My honorable friend naturally wondered. I am sure that no body of gentlemen anywhere could” be more desirous of securing fair play to any one than this Senate is. I can always expect that treatment from the Senate. Therefore it is due that I should say that I have considered whether I should, as I am entitled to do, move that the second reading, of the Bill be taken at a later date. But having regard to the period of the session, I feel that it would not be treating honorable senators as I should expect them to treat me if I were to bring on the Bill again in a fortnight or three weeks in its initial second -reading stage. Therefore, I can only offer this consolation to my honorable friends. - whether they are with or against me is a matter of indifference - that I propose to take the earliest opportunity next session to re-introduce the Bill, so that honorable senators will be able to debate it to the fullest possible extent. I assure honorable senators that the delay occasioned by the unfortunate events which I have described was unexpected so far as I was concerned. It surprised me exceedingly when I saw it in the newspapers on Friday morning. But it is not likely to affect the full consideration of the measure which, as I have said, will be re-introduced next session. The delay itself is not in any way vital, but I regret the circumstances under which it was brought about, which may or may nol - I express no opinion on the subject - inflict an injury upon the ordinary courtesies of the Senate which may be irreparable.
– May I also make a personal explanation in connexion with the same matter?
– I do not think so. The Standing Orders say that a personal explanation cannot be debated ; and if the honorable senator can make an explanation arising out of the explanation of the previous speaker, other honorable senators might do the same.
– I will ask the indulgence of the Senate, because my name has been mentioned. .
– I do not think that the conduct of the business of the Senate is a matter for a personal explanation. I do not wish to stop Senator Symon. But, though I allowed him to make an explanation, I must say now that I do not think that what has occurred ought to be regarded as a precedent.
– Will you allow me to quote from May’s Parliamentary Practice, page 303 -
Explanation by a member of the circumstances which have caused his resignation of an office in the Government is usually made before the commencement of public business. … In regard to the explanation of personal matters, the House is usually indulgent; and will permit a statement of that character to be made without any question being before the House ; but no debate should ensue thereon.
– But Senator Pearce wishes to make another explanation.
– So he can.
– Senator Pearce’s explanation arises out of the explanation made by Senator Symon. If that is permitted, any other honorable senator can make an explanation.
– May I point out this fact. Senator Symon has observed that Senator Macfarlane, in concluding his remarks last Thursday, did so at my request. Unless I am permitted to make an explanation, obviously the blame for what has occurred rests on my shoulders. It is for the purpose of showing that that is not so that I ask the indulgence of the Senate.
– If the Senate wishes to hear the honorable senator’s explanation, I am not going to prevent it; but it is not in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– My explanation is this - that during the whole of Thursday afternoon we were expecting, at any time, to have a division on Senator Givens’ motion.I was anxious to push through the amendments made by the House of Representatives in the Life Assurance Company’s Bill. I naturally assumed that some one was in charge of Senator Symon’s Bill, and that it would be called on and the debate adjourned. I asked Senator Macfarlane to request the Senate to grant leave for him to continue his speech on another day, in order to enable me to have the Life Assurance Companies Bill passed into law. But I had no intention whatever to bring about the termination of the debate on Senator Symon’s Bill.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing, the PostmasterGeneral, without notice -
What is the meaning of item 3, subdivision number 2, page 186, of the Appropriation Bill, “Gratuities for conveyance of “mails by noncontract vessels, £7,000. “
– Poundage is meant.
– Why use the word “gratuities”?
– I believe that “ gratuities “ is the usual term used in connexion with payments made to noncontract vessels under the international postal union poundage scale. But before the Senate reaches that item in the Appropriation Bill, I shall endeavour to obtain the information which the honorable senator desires.
Ministers laid upon the table the follow ing papers: -
Federal Capital Site. - Letter from the Prime Minister to the Premier of New South Wales, dated 15th November, 1905.
Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act 1901 - Notification of the acquisition of Land for Defence purposes at Glen Innes, New South Wales.
– I have to lay upon the table a report from the Standing Orders Committee, and will ask the Clerk to read it.
Report read by the Clerk as follows : -
On 7th October, 1903, the Senate passed the following resolution, namely : -
This Senate is of opinion that members of the Senate should, on motion, “ That the Senate do now adjourn,” be permitted to debate questions not relevant to the motion.
This resolution has been given effect to ever since, but properly speaking a new standing order should have been made. Your Committee therefore recommend that the following be a new standing order in lieu of standing order 59:-
The adjournment of the Senate may be moved at any time by or on behalf of a Minister of the Crown, and on such motion matters irrelevant thereto may be debated.
Your Committee are not prepared to recommend any alteration of standing order 194. The question of such an alteration of standing orders 316 and 317 as would give greater power to a Committee of the Whole on a Bill has been taken into consideration, but at present your Committee is unable to suggest any alteration which is not open to grave objection.
Chairman Standing Orders Committee. 16th November, 1905.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows: -
The whole of the circumstances connected with Papua are now under review in connexion with the new Constitution just passed, and the matters referred to will receive consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– We have grouped the answers together, and they are as follow : -
Accusations of the kind mentioned in paragraph I were made by Mr. Richmond to the Secretary, Department of’ External Affairs, when recently in New Guinea, and were subsequently officially made in writing.
Mr. Richmond was suspended, and his suspension was confirmed by the Executive Council at a meeting at which the Resident Magistrates of the Northern and Central Divisions attended as extraordinary members.
An application by Mr. Richmond for leave to visit Australia was refused by the Administrator.
All the papers and statements by Mr. Richmond and other officers, including the Administrator’s reports, have been referred to a Board, consisting of the Public Service Commissioner, the Secretary, Attorney-General’s Department, and the Secretary tothe Treasury. On the receipt of their report, the question of what action should be taken by the Government, as also the matter of laying the papers before Parliament, will receive consideration.
– Can the Minister of Defence say when these charges were referred to a board?
– I cannot say. I do not know anything about the matter personally.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable and learned senator’s questions are as follow : -
Bill read a third time.
Customs Administration : Finance :
Secret Despatch : Military Clerks : Statistical Bureau: Diversion of Appropriations : Defence : Late Submission of Bill to Senate : States Debts : Transferred Properties : Federal’ Capital : Border Customs : Cadets : Picture of Opening of First Parliament.
Debate resumed from 17 th November (vide page 5471), on motion by Senator Playford -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– In debating the Appropriation Bill, I desire to place in the forefront the subject of Customs administration. Honorable senators must be more or less aware that there is something very like an attempt to throw discredit on commerce, be- cause of certain small occurrences, and that, almost of a certainty, there is at the back of all this some political intention. I desire, therefore, to cite a few facts in regard to the general position of our commerce, and the alleged undervaluation of goods. A week ago I asked in the Senate for a return showing the total importation of goods subject to ad valorem duties for the last four years, and the total amount in regard to which charges of under-valuation or fraud had been made. I was then told that a return would be presented, but that its preparation would take some time. A few days afterwards I communicated with the Comptroller-General of Customs by telephone, and was informed that the return was not ready, and that I could not be supplied even with the approximate figures. Under the circumstances, I put myself to considerable trouble, with the result that I have here Figures showing that the total imports of goods subject to ad valorem duties in 1904 amounted in value to £17,000,000. I am not aware whether the. imports last year were over or under the average for the period in regard to which I desired information, but I am content to take £60,000,000, or an average of £1 5,000,000 a year, as representing the total imports for four years. And I think I am well within the mark when I say that the total value of goods of which under- valuations have been made, or in connexion with which charges of fraud have been alleged, db not exceed ,£500,000 within that period. According to the figures which I have prepared, in every £1,000,000 worth of goods subject to ad valorem duties imported -into Australia in that period, £991,670 worth were admittedly correctly valued, leaving a balance of only some £8,000 odd in regard to which allegations of un’der-valuation or fraud were made. These figures put a very different complexion on the position of our commerce and the honesty of our merchants from that which’ is sought to be cas? on them by persons who seek to discredit the latter. Then, again, a large quantity of our imports is subject to specific duties, and, taking these together with the imports subject to ad valorem duties. I estimate that the total, in the period I have mentioned, represents about £100,000,000. Thus, allowing for £500,000 worth in regard to which allegations of fraud were made, we find that in every £1,000,000 worth of imports, no less than £995,000 worth has been correctly passed at the Customs, and only £5,000 worth more or less inaccurately valued.
– There is not always an intentional wrong.
– As the honorable senator says, there is not always an intentional wrong ; and I think that the position disclosed by the figures I have quoted is very satisfactory. It may be said that there is a large amount of undervaluation of which no notice can be taken, because it is not always discovered; but to that I have a very simple answer. Mulhall’s Dictionary of Statistics, and other authorities, give the imports and exports of the whole world; and, from page 660 of the work just mentioned, I find that in the year 1896 the value of the world’s imports exceeded the world’s exports by £256,000,000, notwithstanding the fact that a large quantity of goods are lost at sea, and, of course, do not arrive to be included in the returns. Imports are naturally more valuable than exports, because the former include freight; and we find throughout the world that the value on arrival is immensely higher than that on departure. That indicates at once that the margin of possible error or fraud is very small.
– Is there not another explanation of that?
– On page 129 of the same work, it is shown that in twentysix years the world’s imports were valued at £3,367,000,000 in excess of the world’s exports, or an average of £120,000,000 or £I3°;000>°°o worth every year. That, again, I suggest, indicates the untruth of the inference that there is any general under-valuation, or attempt to defraud the Customs. I may point out that there is a great difficulty in the way of the perpetration of such frauds. The bulk of our import business is in the hands of large firms ; under such circumstances, the invoices pass through many hands, the knowledge of value is shared by many people, and it would not be safe, even if the principals desired, to seriously attempt to defraud the public. On this point, I should like to quote some remarks made by Senator Keating, when we were discussing the Commerce Bill. Senator Keating on that occasion said -
The development of trade operations, not only in England and Australia, but all over the world, has, for some time, disclosed great scandals. I have here the last number of the National Review, which contains an article by Dr. Adderley, a Bishop of the Established Church of England, on the subject of “ Clergy and Commercial Morality.”
From that article, Senator Keating made the following quotation : -
The greatest indictment of modern commerce came from Mr. Herbert Spencer in his “ Morals of Trade,” an essay published in pamphlet form.
I should like to tell honorable senators that Herbert Spencer himself, in that very work, The Morals of Trade, has a sentence which confirms all that I am now contending. Herbert Spencer said -
While the great and direct frauds have ‘been diminishing, the small and indirect frauds have been increasing alike in variety and in number.
That quotation is used in an article written by two reverend gentlemen, and published in the July number of the Economic Review. In the course of that article the authors say : -
Taking a broad view of all the information obtained, whether verbal or written, we are at once struck by a very real distinction between large and small traders, or between principals and their subordinate agents. This distinction of course is by no means absolute. But, speaking generally, the men who transact business to a fairly large extent, or who enjoy a practical monopoly as owning a well established trade with an assured amount of custom, are more or less distinguishable from those who occupy various positions in the descending scale. Obviously, the former would be less likelyto be tempted to indulge in tricks of trade or to condescend to petty meannesses.
– Is Senator Pulsford in order, on the second reading of the Appropriation Bill, in discussing the question of the commercial morality of Australia, or of other countries? The honorable senator is referring to the debate on the Commerce Bill.
– The honorable senator certainly ought not to refer to the debate on the Commerce Bill, and he ought not to discuss any question which is not relevant to the subject-matter of this Bill. The subject-matter of this Bill includes the schedule which opens up a discussion on any item of expenditure mentioned therein. I was looking over the questions on the business-paper, and was not listening closely to the honorable senator’s remarks, but, generally speaking, the honorable senator must not go beyond the Bill at this stage. Honorable senators have a right to go beyond the subject-matter of an Appropriation Bill on the first reading, but not on the second reading.
– One very important portion of this Bill is that showing the amounts to be appropriated for carrying on the Department of Trade and Customs. I prefaced my remarks by the statement thatI was referring to that Department, and, in connexion therewith, to the valuation of imports.
– Does the honorable senator think that that has anything, to do with the expenditure on the Customs Department ?
– Undoubtedly it has to do with the administration of t he Department, and I take it that I am at liberty to refer to the administration of every Department included in the schedule.
– I have no desire to cramp the honorable senator in his speech, but I ask him to refer to the Bill so far as he can.
– I am strictly doing so. I am now debating points which I have brought forward before on similar occasions. It will be obvious to every; honorable senator that the simple statement which I have made, that the amount of fraud or under-valuation of goods that takes place in the Commonwealth is of a very negligible quantity, is proved beyond! question. The Minister who has charge of this Department of Trade and Customs should be very careful how he makes use of any small matter to cast a slur onthe commerce of Australia. I think I shall bein order in referring to the action taken by the Minister in regard to the importation of harvesters. I do not know that steps have ever been taken in any Department which are more calculated to bring discredit on the community than those which have been taken by the Minister of Trade and Customs in connexion with the harvester industry. I have before me the minutes of evidence taken before the Tariff Commission, and I find that something like 2,000 questions were put to gentlemen interested in the manufacture of harvesters in Australia. It has been repeatedly and openly stated that the Massey-Harris Company are still awaiting an opportunity to refute the statements made by Mr. McKay and other persons who have attended before the Tariff Commission. So far, they have been afforded no such opportunity. In these circumstances, one would naturally have thought that the Minister of Trade and Customs would have held his hand. Not only has the honorable gentleman not held his hand, but he has taken steps by which the valuation of imported harvesters has been arbitrarily and extraordinarily raised. The Massey-Harris Company have had to pay a very large sum of money to the Customs Department as a result of the action taken by the Minister. They have paid this money under protest, and are now proceeding against the Minister for a refund of the amount which they claim to have paid in excess. Notwithstanding these facts, we have an agitation of the keenest character, and warmly supported by the Minister of Trade and Customs, for the introduction of abrupt and arbitrary legislation, to affect the valuation of imported harvesters before the firm in question, or. other firms similarly interested, have had an opportunity to state their case to the Tariff Commission, and before the case to which I have referred has been decided by the High Court of Australia. If any steps can discredit a public department, surely they would be such as those I have indicated. In a considerable number of cases of disputed valuations of goods the difficulty has arisen in respect of what are known as proprietary goods, which cannot be bought in the open market, which are the property of separate firms, and therefore represent values which may be varied in different countries and to different people. Consequently there is in the case of such goods the greatest possible room for differences of opinion as to what their true value is. It is a lamentable thing in the circumstances that a Minister of Trade and Customs can be found ready to make use of a difference of opinion in respect of the valuation of such goods on which to found a charge of fraud. I suggest that it would be well if members of Parliament and Ministers also understood a little more than they evidently do of the position of the merchants of Australia. The merchants of Australia regularly advance to the Commonwealth millions of our revenue. The amount is no doubt ultimately paid by the consumers, but the merchants advance the money on importation. I suppose that the majority of imported goods are not consumed for at least four months after they arrive. That means that about onethird of the Customs and Excise revenue of the year is advanced to the Commonwealth by the merchants of Australia. It is probable that not less than £3,000,000 is always under advance to the Commonwealth in this way by the merchants of Australia. This fact should be borne in mind;, and the people who advance this money might well be treated a little more handsomely than they are. Another reason why our merchants should be better treated is that they are really only completing the work of the producers of Australia. It is of very little use for any set of men to produce goods and have them exported if the value for them cannot be imported. It is only when importers bring in goods which the exported goods are sold for that it can be said that the producers reap their reward. For that reason also’ I hold that there might be a little more thought given to the importers. I also think that the Minister of Trade and Customs should give the very closest attention to the outcry which his action in regard to imported harvesters has raised in Canada. There seems to be no doubt that his action in fixing an arbitrary valuation on . the imported harvesters has resulted in diverting a considerable amount of the freight ordinarily carried by the Canadian line of steamers through the United States instead of through’ Canada. I have here a letter, which was published in> the Sydney newspapers by Mr. Ross, the Canadian Commercial Agent for Victoria and1 other States. He says -
The Vancouver mail, which arrived here on the 10th instant, brought forward official letters from the Canadian Department of Trade and Commerce relative to the decision of the Commonwealth Customs, whereby the cost of railway transportation from the manufacturing centres of Ontario and Quebec, has to be added to the value of goods shipped at Vancouver to Australia. When the letters were written - August 31st - the matter was under departmental consideration, and I can therefore express no opinion in regard to the news cabled from London on the 7th’ instant, as in any way reflecting the opinion of the Canadian Government.
The enforcement of the decision of the Australian Customs upon shipments made at Vancouver will result in a practical cessation of imports of Canadian goods from that port, to the injury of the freight-earning power of the subsidized “ All Red Route,” and further it will be of considerable benefit to the rival San Francisco steamers.
Not long since, the Senate voted a subsidy to the Vancouver line, and it is very strange that we should be voting money to support that line, and should at the same time permit the Minister of Trade and Customs, by means of a simple regulation, to make an arrangement which results in that line losing a large amount of its freight. Mr. Ross goes on to say -
The manufacturing districts of Canada are nearly 3,000 miles distant from the Pacific Coast, and the railway transportation from, say, Montreal to Vancouver, is, on account of the long haul, quite a serious item in making up the amount of the f.o.b. value of goods shipped to Australia.
T do not propose to read any more of Mr. Ross’s lengthy letter. Honorable senators will see the point made. The Minister has issued a regulation which requires that the valuation of agricultural implements shipped to Australia shall be taken at the port of shipment, Vancouver, instead of at the market of manufacture, as originally arranged. This means that the amount paid in railway freight from the place of manufacture to the port of shipment must now be added to the value of the goods, and, consequently, increases the sum payable as duty at this end. This increase of cost has a natural tendency to divert shipments of these goods for Australia from the Vancouver line of steamers to vessels leaving New York or Quebec for this part of the world. The speech to which we listened from Senator Playford on Friday afternoon was almost entirely devoted to the subject of Defence. I think we were entitled to expect from the honorable senator a fuller exposition of the finances of Australia. In point of fact, beyond the few bare figures, all of which were more or less known to us, the honorable senator gave us nothing new. As I dealt at some length with the question of Australian finance, in speaking on the Appropriation Bill in September last, I do not propose to go generally into that matter to-day. But, clearly, trie position of our finances is anything but satisfactory, and it might have engaged the attention of the Minister a little more than it did. I fail, however, to understand his reference to the sugar duty when he said -
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 sholl 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.
I am. quite at a loss to understand what the Minister of Defence means. I know that legislation has been proposed for increasing the Excise duty in the year 1906-7, but no increase of Excise duty in that year could affect the revenue from this source in the current year. I presume that the Minister has made a mistake, and has not been quite aware of the legislation which is being introduced by his colleagues. There are certain matters which the accounts do not make as clear as they should do. In the first place, the Minister told us that the receipts from the special Tariff of Western Australia this year will probably show a further decline of £65.000. I should like honorable senators to notice to what extent the inclusion of the figures for that Tariff has misled us in making a comparison. I would suggest to the Government that the revenue from this source ought not to be included in the ordinary receipts of Australia. This revenue of £’300,000, or thereabouts, was to diminish at the rate of one-fifth per annum, and of course to cease at the end of five years. As the amount has been decreasing year by year during the period, the falling off for the year misleads us. The Minister also informed the Senate that new steps had been taken with regard to cable messages, that the money paid for foreign and cable messages was now being taken into the revenue, and refunded. He pointed out that the refunds for this year would be .£48,000 more than they were last year. The accounts under this head are very indistinct. If £48,000 is received for cable messages, and added to the receipts of the Post and Telegraph Department, why are not the refunds debited to it ? I observe that in the Treasury accounts a total sum of £80,000 is debited as refunds. Obviously, this is altogether wrong. If the Post and Telegraph Department is receiving £50,000 with one hand and paying it out again with the other the amount ought to appear on each side of the account. What course the Government are adopting in the matter is not clear from the accounts, and it certainly ought to be clear. We are liable to mistake the addition which is now being made for an increase of revenue. It may be remembered that two or three weeks ago I asked what amount of rebate or discount the Post and Telegraph Department was allowing to those who bought postage stamps for resale, and I was told that it was £13,920. In the departmental accounts I cannot find any indication of the payment of these moneys. How or out of what item they are paid I do not know. It may be that after the commissions have been deducted the net receipts are given. On this point, the Minister should give us the information when he replies. If the ordinary and proper trade course is not being followed out it should be. and that is to show the gross amount of the sales of postage stamps, and the amounts paid in commissions. There are a number of points on which the Minister should have given us information. We are now approaching the end of the fifth month of the financial year, and we ought to be able to form a fair idea as to the position of the finances at the end of the year. The Minister might well have given ys some information on that point. We might also have expected to receive information as to what was being done in regard to the transferred properties and the transfer of the States debts. These and many other points might well have occupied the attention of the Minister. I listened with considerable surprise to his statement with regard to a secret despatch. It seems that the Colonial Defence Committee, in England, sent out a secret memorandum of their views in regard’ to the defence of Australia.
– They have been doing it ever since the Commonwealth was inaugurated, just as they previously did with the States.
– I believe that all the world over communications marked “confidential,” are treated entirely as private, and are not made public. On this occasion, the Minister took an extraordinary course. He said that the despatch was a secret one, and that, therefore, he could not publish it. But what did he do? He gave the despatch to his officers, and asked them to write a reply ; he read the reply which they had dictated ; and then he said : “ From the character of the reply, you can understand what was in the despatch.” That is not quite the sort of thing which we look for from a Minister of the Crown. If a Minister of the Crown cannot be trusted to respect a private communication, then private communications are likely to cease to be sent to Australia.
– That is terrible !
– It is not rubbish at all. Any honorable senator knows very well that if he were to fail to treat as confidential a communication marked “ secret “ or “confidential,” it would show that he could not be trusted with a confidential communication, and then he would cease to be the recipient of such documents. I do not profess to speak with authority on matters of defence. I do not claim to be a military expert, but I have some general ideas on the subject. While the Commonwealth is subscribing with fair liberality towards the cost of naval defence generally, it should also do something for the defence of its own coast. The suggestions made by the Director of Naval Defence are worthy of consideration. I d’o not know that they are exactly what the Commonwealth should adopt, but they are framed on lines which, I think should be followed out. We should have some fair and reasonable protection for our coast line. We ought to have vessels of the torpedo and destroyer type, which would at least warn the fleets of foreign powers to beware. We should keep our Military Forces within moderate bounds. We ought to take care that while the army is a small one, it is efficient ; that it should be capable of working up to its full strength, and so disciplined and officered as to be in a position to render service of a valuable character. I do not know how Australia can take any steps which are more likely to be advantageous in regard to its defence, than by trying to make good neighbours of countries by which it is more or less surrounded. It is very desirable, I think, that it should be on friendly terms with its great neighbours in the East - China and Japan - who should feel that they have at least friends and well-wishers here.
– Does the honorable senator consider that Australia regards China and Japan as great neighbours?
– I am quite sure that Australia does not think as much of them as it ought to do. As a simple matter of defence, it is desirable that we should be om good terms with those great countries. There is another matter which I should like to bring under the notice of the Senate before concluding. I refer to the case of British New Guinea. I know that there are some even, in the Senate who are inclined to throw blame on the British Empire for not ‘having at an earlier date taken steps to annex New Guinea, and who think that if Great Britain had done her duty, we should have forestalled Germany in taking possession of New Guinea and a great many of the islands of the Pacific. There are also some gentlemen who, I believe, are inclined to throw blame on Great Britain for not doing more than she does even to-day. It is partly for those reasons that I wish to direct attention to what took place with respect to New Guinea something like thirty years ago. I shall be able to show that, had Australia exhibited anything like a generous spirit of willingness to bear the expense, seeing that she was to receive the benefits, the whole of New Guinea would now have been under the British flag. In October, 1873, the British Admiralty sent a letter to the Colonial Office intimating that Captain Moresby had hoisted the Union Jack an the eastern portion of New Guinea, and making inquiries on the point. It was also said that, in the year 1849, Lieutenant Yule, of Her Majesty’s ship Bramble, had formally taken possession; and also that, even so far back as the year 1793, certain East India traders had taken possession in the name of the British Crown. Upon that the Colonial Office sent circular letters to the Governments of the Australian Colonies, inquiring what were the wishes of Australia, and what could be done. The replies received from Australia generally expressed approval of annexation. In 1895 the Royal Colonial Institute memorialized the Earl of Carnarvon, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, urging him to annex New Guinea. This memorial was signed by several representative Australians amongst others. In June, 1875, Sir Hercules Robinson transmitted to the Earl of Carnarvon a minute by Mr. Robertson - afterwards Sir John Robertson, Premier of New South Wales - advocating the immediate annexation of -
Not only the magnificent island ofNew Guinea, but the islands of New Britain, New Ireland, and the chain of islands to the northeast and east of New Guinea from Bougainville Island to San Christobal, the south-easternmost of the Solomon group, the group of the New Hebrides, including Espiritu Santo, Mallicolo, and Sandwich, with smaller adjoining islands, and the Marshall, Gilbert, and Ellice Islands, to all of which the traffic from the port of Sydney extends.
The minute from Sir John Robertson is very lengthy, and I will not quote from it. In 1875 a public meeting was held in Sydney, which urged the desirableness of the annexation ofNew Guinea, and a deputation waited upon Sir John Robertson to urge that steps should be taken in that direction. In June of the same year, Governor Musgrave, of South Australia, wrote to the Earl of Carnarvon, forwarding a letter from James P. Boucaut, Commissioner of Crown Lands, in which he urged the Secretary of State for the Colonies to take immediate possession of New Guinea. Governor Cairns, of Queensland, on 6th July, 1875, sent to the Earl of Carnarvon an address from the Legislative Council of Queensland, and another from the Legislative Assembly of that State, both urging annexation. In sending the address from the Legislative Assembly, Governor Cairns wrote -
While the Assembly express satisfaction on account of the cession to Great Britain of the Fijian group of islands, and respectfully recommend the annexation of New Guinea, the terms of their address do not, as your Lordship will observe, commit them to anything like an offer to share whatever expenditure would have to be incurred in taking possession of New Guinea.
On nth August of the same year Sir Anthony Musgrave, the Governor of South Australia, writing to the Earl of Carnarvon, said -
I have no reason to suppose the desire of the Legislature that New Guinea and its dependencies should be taken under British protection to be sufficiently strong to induce them to provide for any portion of the expense of such a course.
There was considerable discussion in the newspapers at the time, and the Sydney Morning Herald, in August, 1875, expressed regret at Sir John Robertson’s “ parsimony “ on the subject.
– Does the honorable senator think that that has anything to do with this Bill?
– I think it has something to do withthe amount of money which we are asked to vote on account of British New Guinea.
– I confess that I do not see the relation, although the honorable senator may be able to connect his remarks withthe Bill.
– We have to spend a considerable amount of money on British New Guinea. I should like to read the following passage, at any rate. The Earl of Carnarvon wrote to Sir Hercules Robinson, Governor of New South Wales, on 8th December, 1875, as follows: -
The principal reasons which have been advanced for the extension of British sovereignty over New Guinea and other islands of the Pacific may fairly be summed up as follows : -
That their possession would be of value to the Empire generally, and conduce specially to the peace and safety of Australia the development of Australian trade and the prevention of crime throughout the Pacific.
That the establishment of a foreign power in the neighbourhood of Australia would be injurious to British, and more particularly to Australian, interests.
But it is urged that although primarily of importance to Australia, it is as an Imperial question that this annexation should be considered; and I am further led to understand that those Colonies which would derive most advantage, whether in a political or a commercial point of view, from this step are of opinion that no part of its cost should be defrayed from Colonial funds.
There are several other despatches to which I should have liked to refer - despatches from the Colonial Secretary, Lord Carnarvon, to the Governors of the Australian Colonies, and from those Colonies to Lord Carnarvon. But I have read sufficient to make it quite clear that the governing reason Why Great Britain did not take upon herself the annexation of New Guinea and of the adjacent islands was that the Australian Colonies took no steps to assist in the expenditure which such annexation would have thrown upon Great Britain, and that the Imperial Government did not think it was justified ir» calling on the British taxpayers to bear the whole cost. It is as well that we in Australia should bear in mind that our parsimony1 in the past has stayed the hand of Great Britain, and that in monetary matters in which the Empire as a whole as concerned, we should now be prepared to take up a more generous attitude than was taken up some thirtyyears ago.
– There is a matter in connexion with the Defence Department to which I should like to address the attention of Ministers and the Senate. It is a matter which I have raised on previous occasions, and to which I understand the Minister has been giving some attention - the case of what are known as the military clerks. Two classes of clerks are employed in the Defence Department. Seventy-nine of them are serving under the Public Service Act, and are called public service clerks; thirty-seven of them are serving under the Defence Act, and are called military clerks. Prior to the proclamation of the Commonwealth Public Service Act, the then Minister of Defence, Sir John Forrest, raised the question whether military clerks should be brought under its provision. Major-General Hutton –who was then Commandant of the Forces - strongly objected to the proposal. It is a singular fact, however, that at this very time the naval clerks, occupying a precisely similar position in the Department, but in a different branch, were brought under the provisions of the Public Service Act. The effect of this distinction is that the public service clerks have the whole Public Service open to them for advancement. The military clerks have no opportunity of advancement beyond a maximum of £260 a year, except in the case of two positions allotted to first clerks. It must he obvious to honorable senators that, however energetic and diligent in the performance of their duties these clerks may be, they are placed at a disadvantage when compared with their fellows who are fortunate enough to have been brought under the Public Service Act. A further disadvantage is that the age limit is controlled entirely by regulation, which may at any time be altered1, so that these clerks have no security of tenure. The age has lately been extended to sixty, but there is no certainty that it may not be reduced once more to fifty-five, or even fifty, in which case the clerks will be subject to all the disabilities which previously attached to the limitation. The military clerks, prior to appointment, are subject to a strict medical examination, and are sworn in under the Defence Act for five years. That medical examination and test is repeated every three years, and if any man is found physically unfit he is liable to be discharged from the service. While ‘a medical examination of the kind is very necessary in the case of the active members of the Defence Forces, it cannot be regarded as indispensable in the clerical branch ; but, simply because these clerks happen to be brought under the Defence Act, they have to submit to the same conditions as do the soldiers. In this regard, they occupy a very disadvantageous position, as compared with that of their fellow clerks, who happen to be brought under the Public Service Act. I have here the classification of the military clerks, as arranged by the late Minister of Defence, Mr. McCay, and, according to section 51A, the following is the scale of salaries, inclusive of all other allowances, other than travelling, from the 1st July, 1905: - First class, minimum salary, ,£285, and maximum, £335 ; second class, minimum, £2 2b, and maximum, £260; third class, minimum, £170, and maximum, £210; and fourth class, minimum. £70, and maximum, £160, with increments of £15. There is a foot-note to the scale, as set out for the first class, providing that salaries between the minimum and maximum shall be fixed by the Minister of Defence from time to time in accordance with the work done. There are only two positions for military clerks which carry the maximum salary of £335. The classification for clerks of similar class and grade under the Public Service Act is as follows: - First class, minimum, £520, and maximum, £600; second class, minimum. £420, and maximum. £500; third class, minimum, £310, and maximum, £400 : fourth class, minimum, £185, and maximum, £285 ; fifth class, minimum, £40, and maximum £160. Some of these military clerks work in the same office, side bv side with clerks who are under the Public Service Act; and yet there is in the salary this disparity, which will become more accentuated as time goes on. The clerks under the Public Service Act have the whole road of advancement open to them - they have scores of positions to which they may attain, where the military clerks have only one. During the discussion on the Defence Estimates last year the late Minister of Defence, Mr. MoCay, in referring to the exclusion of the military clerks from the operation of the Public Service Act-
– The honorable senator must not quote from a debate in another place.
– I am not quoting from a debate; indeed, I do not know whether the remarks of the late Minister of Defence were made in the House. I am merely desirous to show the reasons he gave for the exclusion of military clerks from the operation of the Public Service Act. The late Minister said that there were a great number of technical matters, which, if war were to break out, these clerks would have to attend to on the field, and that if they were brought under the Public Service Act, men would have to be introduced from other Departments to do this work, which they could not be expected to perform. Furthermore, the late Minister of Defence intimated that in the case of some breach of discipline, military clerks, instead of being dealt with by military officers who have control of them, could, under section 50 of the Act. ask for an Appeal Board. But when Mr. McCay made that statement he could not have g,iven the subject much consideration. Had he read section 50 of the Public Service Act he would have found that there are only certain classes of offences which can be made the subject of inquiry bv an Appeal Board. Those offences are provided for in sections 3T. 46, 49, 65, 66, and 73, and comprise negligence, inefficiency, drunkenness, improper conduct incapacity, conviction for any indictable offence, and so forth. In no case can an Appeal Board deal with the class of offences which the late Minister contemplated would lead to a breach of discipline, or to interference with the efficiency of the Defence Forces on active service. Such offences would be dealt with under the Defence Act of 1903, section 73 of which gives military officers full power to dp,il with the whole of the men who come within their control, as would these clerks on active service. It will be seen, therefore, that the objection raised by the late Min ister of Defence is not a valid one, and that it cannot be raised as a reason why these military clerks should continue to be excluded from the operation of the Public Service Act. But even if it were a valid reason, it ought to apply to clerks who are performing exactly similar work in the Naval Department, who are under the Public Service Act. and also to the other seventy-nine clerks in the Defence Department who are exempt from the operation of the Defence Act. I understand that the Minister has taken this matter into consideration, and I trust that he will see the advisableness of departing, from the course laid down by his predecessor, and not leave these military clerks marooned on an island, as it were, away from their fellows. We listened with great interest to the speech of the Minister of Defence last Friday,, though most or us, I think, would have liked him to be a little more definite in regard to the proposals for the future.
– Give me time, in view of all the conflicting evidence !
– Perhaps after the recess the Minister may be in a position tc» submit some definite policy.
– Hear, hear !
– The Minister, like all of us, recognises the need for a policy, and the very confusion of ideas and of evidence, £0 which reference has been made, only shows the necessity for some strongminded man to come forward and decide on a policy. If Tis not possible for the military and naval men to agree, the Minister ought to say which of their warring policies, or how much of them, shall be adopted.
– Parliament should say that.
– The Minister must submit his policy to us before Parliament can act.
– But Parliament must eventually settle the policy.
– Parliament must eventually indorse the policy. My point is that the Minister should take into consideration the various policies which have been put before him, and shoulder the responsibility due to his office of proposing some action for the future. Amongst the other items mentioned by the Minister of Defence, outside his own Department, was one of £5,000 for the establishment of a Statistical Bureau. The Census and Statistics Bill which we recently passed renders this vote necessary ; but I sincerely trust that the Department of Home Affairs, in establishing the Bureau, will approach the various States Governments, and ascertain whether, in relieving them of any work of this kind, we cannot also relieve them of some of their officers. This is a class of workwhich has been undertaken in the past by the States; and, if each State maintains the present organization, the Commonwealth Bureau will mean the addition of a seventh Department. There are very valuable officers employed by the States in doing, this work, and they might well be transferred to the Commonwealth for the purposes of the proposed Statistical Bureau. During the visit of the Old-age Pensions Committee to Western Australia, I was very much impressed by the capacity of Mr. Wicken, who laid before us some valuable statistical information. The Commonwealth Statistical Bureau may be started on a small and modest scale, but the men we select for the work will probably be at the head of it when it becomes a gigantic and important organization. They ought to be capable men of experience, and not men transferred from other Departments, simply because they happen now to be in the Commonwealth service. The Government will be well advised to ascertain from the States Governments whether their Statistical Departments are over-manned or fully manned, and if there is any possibility of obtaining the services of efficient men to organize the bureau.
– The great point is to prevent duplication of work and double payment for the same information.
– A lot of work outlined in the Census and Statistics Bill is at present done by the States. We all appreciate Mr. Coghlan’s work, and recognise it as Commonwealth work, which has greater value than the separate information collected by the States. It should be our endeavour to prevent any overlapping in this statistical work. At present we have the information collected by Mr. Coghlan, and at the same time each State is producing a more or less efficient copy of thai information as affecting itself. As to the military expenditure, the first point that struck’ me in the Minister’s speech was the expected saving of£44,000. The Minister, quoting from a statement which he had prepared for the Vice-President of the Executive Council, said -
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.
I should like to ask the Minister whether the alteration of the vote has been sanctioned by Parliament, or is brought before us in any way for approval in this Appropriation Bill. It seems to me highly inadvisable that the Treasurer or the Minister of Defence, or both together, should be able to divert a vote, and to use the savings on a particular vote for some entirely different purpose.
– It is all connected with defence. We have not gone outside the purpose for which the money was voted. Savings on certain Departments of Defence may be expended in the way of additional expenditure on other Departments of Defence.
– Where that is done, I think that parliamentary sanction should be asked for it. The right honorable gentleman who now occupies the position of Treasurer of the Commonwealth was noted in Western Australia for coming before Parliament with a request for a. vote for a certain purpose, and then during the recess, spending the money for some entirely different purpose.
– In a different Department?
– Sometimes in connexion with a different Department. In the following session, the right honorable gentleman would come forward with a ReAppropriation Bill, and on one occasion he submitted a Re-Appropriation Bill for no less than£300,000.
– The right honorable gentleman will be pulled up if he starts that business here.
– The matter to which I have referred’ seems to me to show that he has commenced to do so. The action taken in this case, so far as I know, has not been sanctioned by Parliament.
– The position is different where the money is spent in the same Department.
– I point out that it may make a. difference even where the diversion of a vote occurs in the one Department. Honorable senators will understand that defence expenditure determines our defence policy. If, for instance, Parliament decided to adopt Captain Creswell’s proposal to establish a. torpedo fleet, and voted £200,000 as a first instalment for the purpose, and the Minister of Defence said, “ I shall not spend that money on a torpedo fleet, but on the purchase of big guns.”
– I should say that was wrong. I admit that it is not a good practice.
– It will be seen that the diversion of a vote even in the one Department may involve an alteration, of policy.
– We spent all that was required on the branch of defence for which the money was voted, and we had certain savings, which we spent;, still in connexion with the Defence Department, on fresh defence material which Parliament had agreed to provide.
– What the honorable senator calls a saving might be described as parsimony by Parliament. We might say that he should have spent more money on the branch of defence for which the amount was voted. I hope the Minister will make a note of the point, and will inquire whether parliamentary sanction is asked for these diversions of this vote in the Appropriation Bill. The Minister has claimed to have effected a saving in the vote for artillery ammunition of £8,5x4, and of .£9,470 on warlike stores. All of Major-General Hutton’s reports during the time he occupied the position of General Officer Commanding the Military Forces of the Commonwealth were emphatic that in connexion with these matters we had not sufficiently provided for the defence of the Commonwealth.
– We have now, because we voted a large sum of money for these purposes last year.
– I am aware of that, but I should like the Minister in reply to deal at greater length with this matter, to show that we have met our annual requirements as indicated by Major-General Hutton, and also the requirements which that officer laid down as necessary for providing a reserve. We know how strongly Major Hutton spoke on the subject of artillery ammunition. He said that we had practically none.
– We have only twentyone guns.
– We have more than twenty-one guns. When, those which have been ordered are landed we shall have eighty field guns. These savings in ammunition and warlike stores make me suspicious, in view of the fact that only twelve months ago it was represented that in, this respect we were very inadequately supplied. Last year we were told that the money we were being asked to vote for these purposes was not sufficient, and that for a number of years we should be required to vote a certain sum of money in order to create a sufficient reserve. We are now told by the Minister that on the first vote for the purpose he has effected a saving of £8,000 in one item, and £9,000. in the other, and presumably this has been done without impairing the efficiency of our defences.. “I should like the Minister to explain how this saving has been effected, and whether it was not necessary that the full amount voted for these purposes by Parliament should have been expended.
– I think that the whole amount voted was expended. We have 500 rounds of small-arms ammunition for every rifle we possess. The sum of £9,470 was the saving on that vote. Of artillery ammunition, we have a full supply, up to present requirements, for 200 or 300 rounds per gun.
– The saving has been made in connexion with the vote for saddletrees, stirrups, and bits
– No; the item mentioned of, £8,514, is in connexion with’ artillery ammunition.
– I have indicated where the transfer of expenditure has arisen.
– No; it is something altogether different. The vote for artillery ammunition last year was £8,000, and it was all spent, and provided sufficient for the artillery we have. The vote for small-arms ammunition was also spent, and it has provided sufficient for all the small arms we have. We do not require further ammunition until we have the rifles with which to use it.
– I am not dealing now with the rifle ammunition, but with the artillery ammunition. The Minister says that we have so many rounds per gun, and while that may be so, I point out that in the course of a month we shall have twenty or thirty additional guns landed.
– The honorable senator will find that we have ammunition provided for them, and coming out with them.
– The statement as to the number of rounds per gun is misleading, because we have a large number of guns on order. There were only twenty-four effective guns, but the Minister has told us in his speech that when those that have been ordered are landed we shall have eighty effective field guns.
– Those which are on order may not be here for a long time.
– The statement appears in the newspapers to-day that they have left England.
– No; that Captain Collins has seen some of them.
– I thoroughly enjoyed that portion of Senator Playford’s speech in which he made a comparison’ between the Defence Forces of to-day and the Defence Forces we took over from the States. If ever there was a speech which justified the action of the Labour Party in cutting down the huge vote for defence proposed at the inauguration of the Commonwe’:tt it is that delivered by the honorable senator on the second reading of this Bill. When I speak of the cutting down of the expenditure on the Defence Forces, I refer to the expenditure for drill and for keeping up a big Head-Quarters Staff. The honorable senator exposed the fact that when we took over the Defence Forces of the States we had an Army without rifles and field guns and without ammunition. In order to give the Senate full information, the Minister dealt with the matter in so much detail that it was a little difficult to follow the comparison made. I have grouped the facts more closely so that the comparison may be brought within closer range. In 1901 we took over forces numbering 29,622 men, who were armed with 1.3,005 magazine rifles and 32,688 single-loaders. Of magazine rifles, the modern weapon, we had not one for every two men. On the 30th June, this year, we had force numbering 23,750 men, and we had 35,913 magazine rifles and 30,945 single-loaders. We have now more magazine rifles by 1.2,000 than we have of men on a peace footing, and 30,945 singleloaders in addition.
– Is that the result of the cutting down of the expenditure.
– No; that is the result of the action of the Labour Party in cutting down expenditure on drill and on the Head-Quarters Staff, and in voting, or assisting to vote, money for the purchase of rifles and ammunition.
– The Labour Party simply cut off a certain amount from the vote.
– With an intimation that we were willing to vote any reasonable amount for the supply of rifles and ammunition. Then as regards cartridges.When we took over the Forces we had 9,038,761 ball cartridges, and now we have 30,800,865. If I were a military officer, and were asked which army I would sooner take the field with, I should say that I would sooner take the field with 20,000 men under the conditions of 1905 than with 30,000 men under the conditions of 1 901. Under those conditions we should have had to arm the men with pick-handles, as I think Sir John Forrest suggested at one time. In the matter of field artillery, when we took over the Forces from the States we had 125 field guns, 101 of which were obsolete, and twenty-four of which were then spoken of as defective. In 1905, including those. to be landed, we have eighty effective field guns, as against twentyfour described as effective in J901:, though I understand they are not considered effective now ; and, in addition, the 101 obsolete guns which we took over in 1901.’ What is more to the point, we now have ammunition for them. Dealing with our fixed defences, we must admit that the Commonwealth has done absolutely nothing. The fixed defences are in the same, if not in a worse, state than when thev were taken over by the Commonwealth. So far as the land forces are concerned, we can claim that they are in a better position ; they have more and better rifles, there is a bigger reserve of ammunition, and I believe we have a more effective force.
– Does, the honorable senator think that no credit is due to the military advisers of the Government, and that credit is due only to the Labour Party ?
– I think that a great deal of credit is due to the military advisers of the Government. It was MajorGeneral Hutton who pointed out that we had an Army without guns; but I sav.Jh.at results have justified the action of the Labour Party, who were the first to raise their voices and urge that there should be a big cut into military expenditure, whilst at the same time, as Mr. Watson intimated, we were prepared to vote any reasonable amount for the supply of arms and ammunition.
– Was not a sum of £1 70,000 knocked off the Estimates by the other House in one day ?
– Yes; and it was that act which led to this resolution. I venture to say that, if we had continued to vote the sum whichwas then asked for, and which has since been spent on armament, it would have been spent on drill. The Government would have continued to bring down Estimates providing for the same useless expenditure on drill, although their military advisers had told them - and I think that Senator Drake was Minister of Defence for part of the time - that the men wanted rifles and ammunition.
– I know that the cutting down of the Military Estimates had a great deal to do with crippling the defences of Australia.
– Our militia are better fitted to cope with an, emergency today than they were before the Defence Departments were taken over, simply because of the attention drawn by Major-General Hutton to the want of armament, and of the action taken in another place to cut down the expenditure on drill until the men were armed. Let me state the reason why I make this comparison. When I arrived in Sydney, on the day after the Minister of Defence had made his speech, I was disgusted to read the reports in the Sydney press. If ever there was a deliberate misrepresentation of a speech, it was in that case. The newspapers pointed out the position of the Defence Forces now, and quoted all that the Minister said about the loss of 5,000 volunteers, the loss of so many men in the Naval Forces, and the deficient state of the fixed defences ; but they left out every statement he made as to the obsolete guns taken over by the Commonwealth, as to our purchase of magazine rifles, as to there not being enough rifles to arm the militia, and as to the want of ammunition at the time of transfer. They left out every figure which would have enabled the people to see that the infantry and field artillery were in a better position to-day than at the time of transfer. They came out with leading articles headed “ The Commonwealth Death-blow to Defence,” and “The Commonwealth Mis management of Defence,” and a long diatribe, in their endeavour to show that the Commonwealth had not only failed to make the Defence Forces any better, but had made bad worse, by quoting only so much of the official figures as would suit their case! It convinced me that the morning newspapers of Sydney are determined that the public of New South Wales shall be told everything which is calculated to discredit Federation, and shall get to know nothing in its favour. If ever there was a communication which should stir this Parliament it is the memorandum of the Colonial Defence Committee, so far as its contents have been revealed by Captain Creswell’s criticism, which reads as follows : -
Referring to your minute of 4th inst. as to the effect on the NavalForces of the memo. No. 377 R., from the Colonial Defence Committee, I beg to remark as follows : -
The opinions expressed in the memo, 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.
This memorandum raises one of the most serious questions with which the Senate has yet had to deal. It involves more than the question of whether we should continue our contribution to the British Navy, or adopt Captain Creswell’s proposal for a torpedo fleet. It involves a question of policy, and that is whether Australia is to leave to the British Government the determination of all questions of policy where our interests are in touch with those of other countries.
– That is hardly a fair way of putting the case.
– That is what it involves, as I shall proceed to prove. The British Parliament has given us a Constitution which enables us to deal with emigration and immigration, trade, and commerce with other countries, and quarantine. The power to legislate on those subjects involves the power to execute the laws. For instance, we are given the power to say whether or not the people of a certain race shall come to our country. If the recommendation of the Colonial Defence Committee were indorsed by tins Parliament, in what position should we find ourselves in that regard ? The British Government have reserved to themselves the right to conclude treaties on matters affecting the Empire, without asking, whether we should be affected thereby. I do not mean to imply that they would knowingly enter into a treaty which would have the effect of practically nullifying any provision in our Constitution. But if we are tobe a self governing country, legislating within the limitations of the Constitution, we should have full power to carry out our will. On the question of immigration, the British Government have already entered into a. treaty with Japan, and that may be carried to an even greater length in the future. One subject to be dealt with by a treaty might very well be the question of emigration and immigration between the high contracting countries.
– Did the honorable senator ever hear cf the British Government entering into a treaty to bind a selfgoverning colony? Never.
– Of late years we have heard of a good many things which are departures from the traditional policy of Great Britain, and we may hear of more in the future.
– I think the honorable senator knows that Great Britain is more careful to study our susceptibilities than we are to consider hers. There should be a little more reciprocity.
– If we are to be solely dependent upon the British Fleet, then the enforcement of our laws will depend not upon public opinion in Australia, but upon the good-will of the British Government. If we are to have no naval force, if the British Navy is to be our sole protector on the seas, then unless we pass laws which meet with the good-n . of the British Government, we shall have no means of enforcing them, and our immigration policy must be shaped, not to suit the opinions of the people of Australia, but to suit the views of the British Government, and incidentally of Governments with which treaties on this subject have been made. I hope that the Senate has some belief in the future of Australia. I hope that honorable senators believe that whatever may be the fate of the British Empire - and I hope the day will not come when the British Empire will cease to exist -
Australia will not become a vassal of another power, but will continue to be a nation. If we entertain that hope, we must remember that we still live in an age when that result can only be achieved and retained by force of arms ; and that, therefore, Ave must have a navy. Many years ago. Japan set out with a defined plan which included the creation of a naval power, and started in a modest way. In Australia we cannot too soon commence to lay down a definite military policy, and that will be incomplete unless it provides for defence on water as well as on land. Whilst we must continue to hope that the British Empire will always be able to with stand all assaults, we should not disregard the old motto, “ Trust in God, and keep your powder dry ;” and then if at any time, by a combination of Powers or other means, the British Navy were rendered incapable of defending Australia, we should have taken the first step to be in a position to defend ourselves. Of course, the reply will be : “ Oh, but we, could not provide a fleet which could defend Australia in the absence of the British Navy.” At the present time Ave could not; but there was a time when it could be said of -Japan : “ It is useless for you to think of standing up against “the Russian Navy.” There Avas a time when Japan Avas utterly helpless, and at the mercy of any Navy which liked to raid her shores. In the future, however, Australia may be in a position to acquire and man a fleet which would be just as able to defend her shores as the Japanese have shown themselves to be to- defend their country. Notwithstanding our belief that the British Army is unconquerable, our duty is to make provision for the defence of Australia by sea. I was pleased to read Captain Creswell’s sturdy statement of his belief that Australia should make a commencement in a small way ; that it should begin to provide adequate naval defence, at any rate, for the chief ports. Here is a scheme which is well worthy of the Government’s consideration. When it is contrasted with the proposal of the Colonial Defence Committee, there is only one position for an Australian to take up. Is there an Australian here who is prepared to say that we should never contemplate the beginning of an Australian Fleet?
– The Colonial Defence Committee say exactly the reverse- that whenever the time comes, and there is a necessity for it, it will consider the matter.
– Perhaps the honorable and learned senator has read the memorandum of the Defence Committee. I have not done so. But I have read Captain Creswell’s memorandum.
– It meant that Great Britain would supply the torpedoes and torpedo boats itself. The Committee did not want us to have them.
– We have to face this position : Are we prepared to be dependent entirely upon Great Britain for our naval defence, or are we ready to commence the formation of the nucleus of an Australian Navy on the very modest lines proposed by Captain Creswell ?
– That is the point.
– From a layman’s idea of strategy, it does appear that even by the modest expenditure that is proposed by Captain Creswell, we could, within a very few years, have a fighting force which would make it at any rate exceedingly dangerous for a raiding cruiser to visit our shores. But I am surprised at the position put before us by Lt. -Col. Bridges. He practically says : “ You have to choose whether you are going to make provision to’ meet the case of a raiding, cruiser or to resist territorial aggression by a land force.” I. consider that if we are to continue our land forces at all we must meet both those possibilities. I think, personally, that we have very little, or nothing, to fear in the way of territorial aggression from any European nation. But is it not common in the history of nations that where at one time two people have been at amity, and have even entered into treaties of offence and defence, within a few years thev have been at each other’s throats?
– Great Britain and Japan have entered into a treaty to last for ten years.
– Great Britain is at present at amity with. Japan. A treaty has been signed between the two Powers. But should we not be foolish if we took that to be a, guarantee for all time? Japan has shown that she is an aggressive nation. She has shown that she is desirous of pushing out all round. What has always been the effect of victory and of conquest upon nations? Do we not “know that it stimulates them to further conflict ; that it creates that earth hunger which induces them to endeavour to obtain fresh territory ? Has not that been the history of our own race ? Was there not a time when the English people were content to be circumscribed in the little island in the Northern seas? But we know that when England first experienced the sensations of conquest, when she first tasted the fruits of the acquisition of valuable territories, her appetite grew. She was not satisfied until she had engirdled the globe. And we may expect that similar results will follow from the recent history of Japan. She has, for the first time, tasted the fruits of conquest and territorial aggrandizement. And is there any other country that offers such a temptation to Japan as Australia does? I say that we should be, ostrich like, hiding our heads in the sand, if we refused to recognise that there is a possibility of territorial aggrandizement in our direction from some Eastern nation. And if that be the case, considering that it took Japan from fifty to one hundred years to work up to her present position of defence, are we not foolish if we do not commence, even in a small way, to make provision to meet both territorial aggression and raids by cruisers? Therefore, I commend this subject to the serious consideration of the Government. I tell them that I, for one, shall be prepared to vote any reasonable sum to carry out a scheme on the lines indicated by Captain Creswell. My vote will readily be given to this or any other Government which takes steps to provide for such a fleet as is sketched in his recommendation!. I trust that the Minister will energetically consider the subject during the recess, and will come forward before the next Appropriation Bill is introduced with a-definite proposal ; so that instead of our having a few useless and obsolete boats such as we now have, we shall have some vessels manned with our own sailors on the Australian coast which’ will be of effective use in time of war.
– How would the honorable senator propose to raise the money?
– I should propose to raise the money to pay for those boats out of revenue. As Senator Playford indicated when reading Captain Creswell’s recommendations, he does not contemplate that the whole of the expenditure should be charged to any one year.
– He suggests seven years.
– The expenditure should be spread over a series of years..
Such vessels as we require are comparatively inexpensive. We could purchase a few at a time, and without placing great burdens on the people we could establish the nucleus of a complete naval defence scheme out of revenue.
– Out of Customs revenue only ?
– Until the expiration of the bookkeeping sections of the Constitution, we could not provide the money out of the one-fourth Customs revenue which we now retain. It might be possible next year, even out of our one-fourth, to provide a sufficient sum towards buying one or two boats. In a few years, however, the operation of the bookkeeping sections will expire, and we shall have a larger sum at our disposal. The Commonwealth will then be faced with the position indicated by Senator Stewart. We shall have to make up our minds, either that we are going to use so much of the Customs revenue as is necessary for carrying out the obligations laid upon us by the Constitution, leaving to the States the imposition of direct taxation–
– Why should we leave that to the States?
– I do not say that we should do so.
– Hear, hear.
-The alternative to using a larger proportion of the Customs revenue ourselves is to resortto direct taxation. Personally, I thinkthat that is a more manly course. I think that it is unmanly to shelter ourselves behind the skirts of the States Parliaments, and put upon them the obligation of imposing obnoxious taxation. We should shoulder that responsibility ourselves. I am aware, however, that such conditions are beside the question before us.
– Oh, no; they are an important part of the question.
– But the Government is faced with the position that either it must take the course which I have advocated., or should be prepared to assume the responsibility of striking out every penny from the Defence Estimates that applies to naval defence. The Government must take the responsibility in one direction or the other. What is the use of spending money on officers, sailors, a clerical staff, and various other matters, if we do not intend to make a commencement with an Australian Navy?
– Hear, hear; that is what Captain Creswell says.
– What is the use of spending money on the Cerberus, for instance, simply to make her a depot for the crews of the torpedo-boats - practically a house-boat? What is the use of spending money on the two Queensland gun-boats, which would be absolutely useless in time of war ? Let us make up our minds to hand over this money to the British Government to increase the Naval Subsidy, or spend it in forming the nucleus of a Navy of our own. I earnestly trust that the Minister will spend his recess in thinking this matter out, with a serious view to taking practical action, so that when we have the Appropriation Bill before us again there will be a prospect of something definite being done.
– I should like to see all the vessels that Captain Creswell says we require built in the country. We should start a little dock-yard of our own if we can.
– Hear, hear; and that is by no means beyond the bounds of possibility. It should be possible to build such boats as we require in Australia. It may not be possible to manufacture the armament, and some of the more intricate portions of the machinery in Australia, because the cost of doing so might betoo high. But surely this country could build the hulls of such ships as we need. I have no doubt that it could. Therefore I. indorse the Minister’s remark. I have another point to make before I resume my seat. We have the Appropriation Bill sent up to us at a time when there is a prospect that the session will close within a fortnight or three or four weeks.
– Perhaps !
– If the business of Parliament is completed. But what I wish to point out is that the Estimates have been before another place for months. The Government brought them forward in the House of Representatives whenever there was a spare hour or so, and there was nothing better to do.
– I think that is hardly fair.
– But it is so. Whenever there was a halt in reference to other business the Government brought forward the Estimates. There was a few hours’ discussion upon them, nothing was passed, and they were put on one side until another suitable opportunity occurred. The present Government is not singular in this respect. Every preceding Government has done the same kind of thing. But it leaves the Senate in this position : that we are practically made an assenting House. The House of Representatives .apparently regards itself as having the sole control of ‘the purse, and it sends the Appropriation Bill up to us at such a time that we have very little choice but to agree to everything that is contained in it.
– We have ample’ time to consider the Bill.
– Possibly there is not ample time at our disposal. I understand that, as the Appropriation Bill has left the other House, no Supply Bill can be introduced to meet the month’s expenditure. Consequently we must pass this Bill before the 28th of the present month.
– Let us refuse to do it.
– If we fail to pass it we shall hang up the payments of salaries which are provided for in the Bill. That is a position in which the Senate should not be put.
– We have no other business before us but this.
– That may be so, but there are questions in this Bill which require a -good deal of consideration. The defence policy alone is worthy of a week’s discussion.
– It has nothing to do with the Appropriation Bill.
– It has a great deal to do with the Appropriation Bill, because by this measure we provide the money. This is the only opportunity we have to discuss such questions of policy. . If this practice is continued, and if the Senate is to be regarded as no better than a mere recording chamber, we shall have to assert ourselves. Next session I promise the Government that if the Appropriation Bill is not brought forward at an earlier period, if I can give them any trouble over it I will do so willingly. I will join with honorable senators of any party - whether they are supporters of the Government, opponents of it, or members of my own party - to obstruct business, and to prevent the Government from carrying on until the Senate is given a better opportunity of dealing with the Appropriation Bill at an early stage of the session.
– It must be recognised that the Appropriation Bill cannot come before the Senate until .it has been dealt with by the other House.
– 1 know that, but we should insist on the Government passing the Appropriation Bil! in the other House at an earlier date.
– Sometimes a Government cannot do so.
– It can if it has a disposition to do so. But no Government has ever shown any disposition to do so. Each Government has acquiesced in the position that so long as the Senate gets the Appropriation Bill in time to dispose of it before the Governor-General enters the door to prorogue Parliament, that is all that is necessary. But I enter my protest, anc? I warn the Government that next session I intend to join with others - and it will be a non-party move, assisted by honorable senators on all sides - in taking such steps as will compel the Government, either to adjourn this Chamber until the Appropriation Bill is .ready, or submit it at an earlier stage.
– Honorable senators know how the Estimates were blocked in another place by talk, day after day !
– I admit that, but the Government could have adopted the same measure as is now proposed to bring honorable members there to their senses.
– I agree cordially with the concluding remarks of Senator Pearce. The Senate ought to have an opportunity to deal with this Appropriation Bill at a much earlier period of the session. It has always been my experience, not only here but in the State Parliament of Queensland, that the most important business - the business of finance - is usually dealt with at the very close of each session, when every parliamentary representative’ is anxious to get to his electorate. Any movement of the kind hinted’ at by Senator Pearce, will have my most cordial co-operation if I am here next session. The subject of finance is the most unfortunate that the Senate could be called’ upon to debate. It is admitted on all hands that there is need in Australia for a verv much more pronounced defence policy, and. further, we are pledged to the electors toadopt some national old-age pensions schemeThere are a number of other administrative matters which very shortly. I believe. wil be brought within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth authorities. In connexion with every one of these subjects, we are continually brought face to face with the fact that no one seems to know where the necessary money is to come from. If we talk about establishing a proper system of defence, or laying the foundations of an Australian Navy, we are told that we are too poor, and that there is no way to raise the money - that if we want more revenue, we must impose taxation sufficient to raise four times the necessary amount. As matters stand at present, all that is very true, but, in connexion with this subject, we ought to begin at the beginning. It is always best to begin, if we can, at the foundation of a matter. We ought to start the discussion by asking ourselves whether the present system of finance is a false or a sound system. If, on examination, the system is found to be false, the soonor we change it the better. In my opinion, the present system, which has been carried on from the inception of responsible government in Australia, is a false one. An exceedingly large proportion of the taxation levied throughout Australia is derived from the Customs. Probably, I suppose, about three-fourths of the entire taxation of Australia is drawn from the people through the Customs. That is to say, the people are not taxed in accordance with their capacity to pay, but upon what they eat, drink, wear, and use. I submit that that is altogether an unsound system of taxation. What is taxation? Why do we raise, money by means of taxation ? In order to defray the cost of Government. Why have we a Government ? To maintain order - to see that the laws are fairly and equitably administered, in order to protect life and property. As a matter of fact, taxation may be placed in exactly the same category as insurance money. When a man pays his taxes, he is paying insurance ; he is contributing to a fund which is spent in the defence, so to speak, of his life and property. What should we think of an insurance company which, when taking a risk,, did not hold the value of the property to be insured as the basis of the risk, but subjected the insurer to an examination as to what he ate, drank, wore, and consumed generally. The whole thing would be ludicrous from that point of view ; and yet that is exactly the position we are in with regard to taxation. When an insurance company accepts a risk, it charges very much more for a ^3,000 policy than it does for, a ,£100 policy ; it differentiates according to the risk. The premium is large or small, as the risk is large or small ‘; and I submit that that principle ought to be adopted with regard to taxation. If a man’s property, within the Commonwealth, reaches the value of, say, ^10,000, he ought to contribute very much more largely towards the cost of government than does a man whose property amounts to only £100 in value, the risk of the former in the Commonwealth being very much larger than the risk of the latter.
– Does the honorable senator think that his remarks are relevant to this Bill, which is to appropriate money to certain ‘services ?
– I take it that we are now discussing what is practically the Budget.
– We are discussing the Appropriation Bill, which provides certain moneys for certain services ; it does not impose any taxation.
– That is so; but surely we may be permitted, on a Bill of this character, to discuss ways and means ? We have no other method of dealing with ways and means.
– The honorable senator had am opportunity, on. the motion for the first reading, to discuss all these matters. I am not going to stop the honorable senator, but I ask him to consider whether his remarks are really relevant to the Bill.
– I shall be as brief as possible; but I think the subject of so much importance that a little time devoted to it ought not to be grudged. We have spent hours and hours on many occasions in discussing subjects of really no importance. The Federal Parliament ought to endeavour to put the finances of the Commonwealth on a sound basis. We are in the position that we raise a certain amount of revenue annually through the Customs, and three-fourths of that revenue we are compelled under the Constitution to hand back to the various States. The Commonwealth expenditure is strictly limited to one- fourth of the revenue ; and, that being so, when Ave propose to establish proper defences for Australia, we find ourselves without funds. And so with the establishment of old-age pensions, we find the one-fourth of the revenue reserved to us insufficient for the purpose. Senator Pearce suggests that the Commonwealth ought to impose direct taxation. I have no objection to direct taxation, but I think that, for some time at any rate, that method ought to be left to the States.
– Why ?
– I shall give the honorable senator a number of good reasons for my opinion. In the first place, it is extremely desirable that Commonwealth finances shall be entirely separated from State finances - that the authority which levies taxation shall be responsible for spending the money. I know that that is a position which cannot be attained for a very considerable time yet; but I think every honorable senator will agree with me that it is a most desirable position to arrive at. We find that, even now, the States Treasurers complain bitterly of the fact that, while the Commonwealth raises as much or as little revenue as it pleases, the States have the responsibility of spending the money - that they incur the odium of spending it.
– The States do not mind the odium of spending the money; their trouble is that they are not sure how much they will get.
– I was just about to say that the States never know whether they will receive sufficient revenue to meet their demands, or whether they will be faced by very large deficits. As a matter of fact, the whole position bristles with difficulties for both Commonwealth and States. However, the present position must continue fora given period, and may and will continue after that, unless Parliament otherwise decides. That is to say, the Braddon section will continue to operate up to a certain point, and, unless Parliament otherwise decides, it will continue to operate. When the operation of the Braddon section expires is the time when the Commonwealth authority may lay the foundation of separate financial systems for Commonwealth and States.
– Trusting to what the honorable senator has termed the inequitable system of raising revenue through the Customs?
– We cannot all at once abolish the system of raising revenue through the Customs; that must be done gradually over a long period of years. Personally I should be willing to begin now to abolish a large proportion of our Customs revenue by the inauguration of a protectionist Tariff.
– I must really ask the honorable senator to confine himself to the Bill, which in no way proposes to raise money or to impose taxation.
– The Bill proposes the spending of money.
– The Bill provides for the expenditure of money which has already been raised by taxation.
– It will be impossible for me to deal with this question in an intelligent fashion unless I endeavour to make it very clear what I think on the subject of taxation.
– Does the honorable senator not see that the question is one of the appropriation of moneys out of the consolidated revenue for certain purposes - that the question of a land tax, or of protection and free-trade, has nothing to do with the measure?
– I see that quite clearly.
– I think the honorable senator made a long speech on the first reading to the same effect as the speech which he is making now.
– In any case, I am satisfied that the matter is of so much importance that one cannot go back upon it too often.
– The honorable senator has already made a long speech on this question on the first reading, and the debate on the second reading mustbe relevant to the Bill. I have given the honorable senator every latitude, but really I think we must draw the line somewhere.
– I am quite sensible of that, and I am very sorry–
– Iam sorry also. The honorable senator’s remarks are very interesting, and would be appropriate to the discussion of a new scheme of taxation.
– I suppose I shall be compelled to take some other opportunity to deal with the question, because I think it of such pressing importance that the sooner it is dealt with the better for every one concerned. I find that the Government have no financial policy whatever, if it is not one purely of drift. One would have thought that before now some arrangement wouldhave been made with regard to the transferred properties. Nothing, so far as I have been able to ascertain has been done. We reallydo not know how we stand with regard to our Post and Telegraph Department. Of course, we lose a large sum every year in connexion with the
Department, but it is extremely desirable that we should know exactly how much, and we cannot get that information until some arrangement has been made with the States in connexion with the transferred properties. The matter should be one easily solved, that is if the States and the Commonwealth are each actuated by a spirit of fairness. But if the States wish to impose upon the Commonwealth, as I am afraid some of them do, the matter becomes one of very much more difficulty. I think it could easily be settled by the States submitting a statement of the cost to each of them of the properties transferred. The actual cost of those properties would be a very fair Oasis, and one which should be satisfactory to both parties. I understand that the States, or some of them, wish to value the properties as they stand now. To my mind, that is an exceedingly unfair method. In most cases, the land on which our post-offices, and other public buildings which have been transferred to the Commonwealth, have been erected, cost the States nothing, and it would’ lae exceedingly unfair on their part to charge the Commonwealth with the present values for that land. The only result which an arrangement of that kind could possibly have would be to increase unduly and unfairly the expenditure of the Commonwealth and circumscribe more and more our onefourth share of the Customs revenue. I trust that the Government will try to come to some arrangement at an early date with the States upon this matter, so that we may be in a position to learn exactly how our Post and Telegraph Department stands, how much it loses every year, and whether we are able to adopt the system of penny postage which has been advocated in many quarters.
– We caw always learn that. We can see what are the receipts and expenditure of the Department.
– We can see how much the Department is losing so far as the difference between ordinary expenditure and revenue is concerned, but Senator Mulcahy must be aware that a very large amount of the money borrowed by each of the States, has been invested in post-offices, the building of telegraph lines and such works, and the Commonwealth ought to be liable for the interest on that expenditure. Before we can ascertain how much we are actual I v losing every year in connexion with this Department that interest ought to be charged against the Department. It would be so charged in the case of any ordinarybusiness. Not only that, but there should also be something allowed for depreciation and other charges. I trust the Government will endeavour to bring the’ matter to a conclusion at an early date. It is extremely’ desirable also that the Government should formulate some policy with regard to the taking, over either of the whole of the States debts or of a portion of them. We know that a conference held some time ago in Hobart dealt with this subject, and perusing- the reports of its proceedings. I came to the conclusion that the Treasurers of the various States were trying all they knew to get the better of the Treasurer of the Commonwealth.
– And vice versa.
– No, I think that the Treasurer of the Commonwealth was exceedingly fair in his proposals. Indeed I must say that I was astonished at his moderation. To my mind, he made very equitable proposals, which I am very sorry indeed the States Treasurers could not see their way to agree to. But, unfortunately for all concerned, each one of the States Treasurers seemed to be overpowered by a desire to “ get at “ the Commonwealth. I am very glad that they did not succeed. The Government should have some clear ideas on this question, and should take Parliament into their confidence at the very earliest opportunity. I can quite understand the little scheme which is in the minds of the States Treasurers. They wish us to take over the States debts, or a proportion of them, and so make the interest on the debts a perpetual charge upon the Customs. I hay that that would be financing of the most unsound character. What have the Customs to do with the interest upon States debts? A very large proportion of the money borrowed has been spent in the improvement of the public estate, in building railways, in making roads, and in developing, our resources, and the interest on that money, to my mind, ought to be made a charge, not upon the Customs revenue, but upon the works on which the borrowed money has been expended. That is the view of the question which I take, and I submit it with! all deference to the Senate. The various States Treasurers desired that the Commonwealth should take all responsibility, so far as the payment of the interest on the debts is concerned, whilst they appear to be anxious to retain full control over the assets. I appeal to Senator Walker, as a banker, to say whether any banking or money-lending institution would carry on business on those lines? If a banking institution advances money to a private individual, it secures some hold upon the assets of the individual, and places itself in the position of having some control over his business. But here we should have practically no control whatever if the States Treasurers’ proposals were carried out. I trust that if the States insist upon their debts being taken over the Commonwealth Government will also insist upon securing a reasonable control over the assets which should be held responsible for the payment of the interest on those debts, and ultimately for the redemption of the indebtedness.
– - The honorable senator will not trust them.
– I do not see that it is a question of trusting at all. It is purely a matter of business. Does not Senator Guthrie see the involved condition into which the Commonwealth finances might get unless a policy of this kind were pursued? Of course (he Commonwealth has always power to impose direct taxation, but I set. out by saying that, to my mind, it was absolutely essential that Commonwealth finance should be separated from State finance. If we have the Commonwealth levying Customs taxation and also land taxation, States and Commonwealth finance will become inextricably mixed up together, and the present state of confusion will become worse confounded. One thing which we should try to bring about in connexion with the relations between the States and the Commonwealth is the entire separation of their financial transactions. I wish now to refer to the question of the Federal Capital. I am sure that we are all disappointed that something definite has not been done. Of course, we realize that the Government of New South Wales has taken up a most un-Federal attitude, and placed every obstacle in the way of a settlement of that most important question. So far as I can gather from the correspondence on the subject, the Government of New South Wales takes up the position that it has the right to choose the territory within which the Capital city shall be situated. That, I am sure, never entered the minds of the people of the Commonwealth. If it had been mentioned for a moment that New South Wales would have the privilege of choosing the territory, they would not have agreed to federate. I may be right, or I may be wrong, in regard to my reading of section 125 of the Constitution. Its wording is rather obscure. When we reflect that some of the brightest men in Australia were members of the Federal Convention, we must confess to a little astonishment at that obscurity.
– That is probably the reason.
– There may be something in that suggestion.
– It is very hard for a man, be he brilliant or simple, to always put into terse language precisely what he means.
– It is exceedingly difficult, and, therefore, I take what was the commonly-expressed opinion when the Constitution Bill was submitted for acceptance. The Capital city was to be situated in New South Wales, and outside the 100-mile limit’, and the choice of that territory was to lie with the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
– And there is no doubt that that is clearly enough expressed in the Constitution, too.
– I think it is, but I may be wrong. If that be not a true reading of section 125, and if after a case has been submitted, the High Court should decide in favour of the Government of New South Wales, I would suggest that the Government take steps to alter the Constitution. I am sure that the people Of Australia would never willingly agree to allow New South Wales to choose the Federal territory. This is a most unFederal act on her part.
– New South’ Wales would not have joined the Federation, except on that condition.
– No one wishes to take the Capital city away from that State.
– Is the honorable senator quite sure of that?
– Not unless it could be established in Queensland^, but that course is practically hopeless. What we object to is that the Government of New South Wales arrogate to itself the right to choose the territory.
– Let the High Court settle the point.
– If the High Court should read the Constitution in the same way as the Government of New South Wales, the evident duty of the Commonwealth Government would be to take steps to secure an alteration thereof. In any case, I think that something definite ought to be done at an early date. Individually, I am not in a hurry to leave Melbourne; but I recognise that the longer a final settlement of this question is delayed, the greater will be the danger of something happening, for which probably we have not bargained. The Government ought to press for a solution of the difficulty as early as possible.
– Let us stop where we are.
– Yes. I would rather stay here than accept the dictation of New South Wales.
– The honorable senator is more comfortable here than he would be at Dalgety.
– I do not know. The climate of Dalgety is probably better than that of Melbourne. In any case, the former place has been deliberately chosen by this Parliament, and New South Wales,if she were governed by what is known as the Federal spirit, and not by a narrowminded selfishness, would accept that choice. The subject of defence is pressing itself upon the attention of the people of Australia more forcibly every year. We realize that we cannot afford to live very much longer in a fool’s paradise. We hear of war going on in various quarters of the globe. We recognise that the pressure for territory is becoming greater and greater every year, and that our only safety lies in an adequate system of defence. I am disappointed that the Government has not come down with a clearcut and definite policv. Evidently, it does not know its own mind on this subject. It has been said bv an honorable senator that, as it is now constituted, there is really no hope ofl the Government ever formulating a definite defence policy. I hope, for the sake of Australia, and of the Government, that that is not the case.
– They are not sufficiently independent, and therefore the honorable senator cannot expect them to do that.
– Why should the Government be independent ?
– They should have a sufficient majority of their own.
– Does the honor-, able senator desire the Government to be independent of Parliament ?
– No; but Ministers should be independent of the party that bosses them.
– The party that bosses the Government will never vote for anything of which it does not approve. It votes for a measure because it believes in its enactment, and not for any other reason. Does the honorable senator see anything wrong or immoral in that?
– No; but the Government cannot afford to be independent of its other supporters. We know well enough that one or two Ministers are not in touch with the Labour Party at the present time.
– I ask the honorable senator not to make irrelevant interjections.
– What I am complaining of is that the Government apparently have no policy.
– But the honorable senator supports the Government.
– I do; because I believe that the present Government is very much better than the one which the honorable senator would like to see in power again, and which, when it was in power for some months, did not formulate a defence policy. Each Minister looked upon every colleague as his sworn brother. There were no differences of opinion. We know how very much more uncertain the support of the third party was to that Government than it is” to the present Government. The party which is supporting the present Government is at least politically honest. I question very much whether that can be said of-
– Honorable senators can choose just as it may suit them. Public opinion in Australia has given a very clear lead, so far as defence is concerned. The people believe in a citizen army - not in professional soldiers, but in men who, from patriotic motives, qualify themselves for defence purposes. I do not find that the Government has been encouraging our volunteers.
– Occasionally some of them make a bit of a row if they do not get enough money.
– They ought not to get much money. It is not possible to work the volunteer and partially-paid system side by side. One or other must go. The volunteer looks at the partially-paid man and sms “ Why should I give my time to this business of defence and get nothing out of it. when my friend over there does not give any more of his time or’ energy to defence than I do, and yet is paid ?” That aspect of the question must, I think, be clear to any one who sees how the Volunteer Forces have dwindled during the last year or two. The Government might very well do a great deal more to encourage the Volunteer Forces. It might foster rifle shooting by giving free ammunition and’ offering prizes, and also encourage rifle clubs and cadet corps.
– So we do.
– With reference to our defence by sea, we are not in a position to establish a Navy. As has been pointed out already, we are hot in the possession of sufficient revenue to establish a large Navy. But we ought to do all that is possible. We ought to begin by providing for harbor defence, and by placing all our capital cities and the larger ‘ports in as complete a state of defence as is possible for us with our limited means. That would be a very good beginning. We should then establish a small Navy of our own. I have no sympathy with those who think that we ought to leave our naval defence to Great Britain. That is an entirely mistaken line of policy. If we really love Great Britain we ought to relieve her of some share of her very great responsibilities by providing for our own sea defence in as large a measure as we can. I am not prepared to enter into this aspect of the question at length, but I think that if we examine the whole subject we shall find that the question of cost after all is not so serious as it appears to be. Victoria alone is paying as annual tribute to the landlords about ,£7,000,000 per annum. If we could divert half the annual tribute that is now being paid to the owners of land all over Australia to the purposes of defence, we should be able to put Australia in practically an impregnable position.
– Does “ divert “ mean “ steal “ ?
– Steal ? Nothing of the kind. Unfortunately, I am not permitted to discuss this question as I should like to do, but I hope some day to have an opportunity to place my views fully, freely, and fairly before the Senate. I can assure Senator Pulsford that if I thought there was the slightest semblance of confiscation, or anything of that kind, about my proposals, I should be the last man to put them forward. Hitherto certain individuals have been permitted to draw huge revenues, which in all fairness and equity ought to have gone into the public Treasury.
– Is there any line in the Appropriation Bill concerning that question ?
– I was merely proceeding to point out how the money for a system of defence might be obtained. Our great trouble is the lack of cash. We want an Army. We want a Navy. We want an old-age pension- scheme. But we cannot get the money, simply because our system of financing is unsound from top to bottom. I think I have said enough to indicate what my views are - at least, in a limited way. I trust that we shall very soon have some definite declaration of policy with regard to the transferred properties and the State debts. We should like to know what the Government means to do as to the taking over of the States debts, and also what is proposed with reference to “ the Braddon blot.” The Treasurer in making his Budget speech .said that he was prepared to wipe out that section of the Constitution. Very well ; we should like to know whether the Government supports that view or not. In short, we should like to have a declaration of policy upon all these matters. T trust that we shall have it, if not this session, at least early in the coming session.
– I hope, Mr. President, that you will give me a. little latitude, such as the last speaker has had, if I allude to one or two matters that are not actually contained in the Bill before us. I intend, however, to make my remarks apply particularly to three Departments, namely, the Department of Trade and Customs, the Postmaster-General’s Department, and the Defence Department. With reference to the Department of Trade and Customs, I notice that the border Customs officers are still continued. I was in hopes that by this time we should have been able to dispense with their services. Nevertheless. New South Wales is charged with £1.694 f°r border Customs officers, and Victoria is. charged with £1,225 f°r similar services, together with contingencies. That- is to say, the two States will lie charged with .£2,919. I hope that the time is close at hand when there will be no border officers whatever. The bookkeeping period comes to an end, I believe, in the year 1906. With regard to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, Senator Stewart is, I think, quite correct in saying that in order to enable us to form an opinion as to whether it is a paying Department or not the interest on the cost of telegraph lines and other works should he taken into calculation. Some people, I am aware, are anxious to see the system of penny postage introduced in this country. But I understand that that reform would entail a loss of £240,000 a year
– What portion of the population would it benefit?
– Penny postage is, I think, a luxury for which we can afford to wait for some time, and I shall support the Government in their policy of not extending, that privilege until we can afford it. 1 notice some figures which are very suggestive in connexion with this Department. We are paying to the Railways Departments of the various States for the conveyance of mails the following sums : - To New South Wales, £78.000 a year; to Victoria, ,£57,000; to Queensland, £50,000; to South Australia, £17,250;’ to Western Australia, £21.000; and to Tasmania, £13,100, making a total of £236,350 a year. I am not saying that we are paying too much or too little in that direction, but those figures are suggestive, especially to those honorable senators who are in favour offederalizing the railway systems. Capitalized at twenty years’ purchase, the sum that we are paying amounts to something like £4,720,000.
– Tt would cost us as much if the railways were federalized.
– I am one of those who believe that in time it will be necessary to federalize the railways of this country. I should not have been sorry to see in the Appropriation Bill provision made for the establishment of the office of High Commissioner in London. T should not have objected either to see expenditure proposed for taking over Quarantine and lighthouses. I should have liked to see proposals made for the appointment ot a Commission to consider the consolidation of the debts of the States, and the best way to pay for’ the transferred properties. Those matters, however, remain for future consideration. The most important of the Commonwealth Depart ments, from my point of view, is that of Defence. I remind the Minister of Defence that we have in Australia at the present time an officer, in the person of Sir George French, with whom it might be advantageous to consult. He is here on family affairs, but he is a well-known artillery officer who has been Commandant in New South Wales and Queensland, and has also had considerable experience in Canada. I know that he has views on the subject.
– He has published them in the press.
– lt would be a very good thing for the Minister of Defence to submit a few questions to him. I should like to know whether the Minister is satisfied that the new Council of Defence is working satisfactorily. I was one of those who supported the constitution of that Council, but I cannot say that up to the present time I am satisfied that it has teen of great service to the Commonweal fi..
– lt met once, and dispersed with consternation.
– I am in favour of the, cadet system being thoroughly organized and encouraged in every possible way. In connexion with that, we must all recognise the splendid work that was done iii Victoria by the late Sir Frederick Sargood. The State of Victoria also deserves credit for the way in which her cadet, corps have grown. T should like the Minister to listen to a statement .published by a correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald, with regard to a mounted cadet corps, whose operations he witnessed in a part of New South Wales. The writer says : -
Noting that many advocate through your columns citizen soldiers, I think much could be done to train the future defenders of the land in the Public schools. I was present at a school sports meeting on King’s Birthday at Cranbury, a bush school 10 miles from Cudal. The teacher had a group of 16 school boys, ranging in age from S to 16 years, drilled as mounted cadets. These lads went through the mounted drill and handled their horses in a manner creditable to any mounted corps. At cutting the Turk’s head they showed skill and good horsemanship. As 1 dismounted squad they went through various firing, sword, and physical exercises, also firstaid drill. Each boy is the possessor of a pearifle, and I was informed that any lad could make a certainty of killing “ bunny “ at a 50 yds. range. If, when these lads grow up, their services should be required in their country’s defence they would only need arming with uptodate weapons and a few drills to equal the famous Boer soldiers. Their training has been thorough, and they would, in conjunction with others similarly trained, be the best and cheapest defence a country could have.
That is an object lesson as to what may be done with a country corps. The Australian boy, especially the bush boy, is a good horseman, and is fond of showing-off his skill in this respect. Of course, we all agree that it is very desirable to have our harbor defences in an efficient state, and, to that end, expenditure on torpedo boats is perfectly justifiable ; but I should like to see more attention paid to training ships. In Sydney we have a really good training ship, the Sobraon, which was originally intended for a reformatory, but is now turning out boys who are remarkably well drilled, and who, it is believed, will make excellent sailors in an Australian Navy, if ever we have one. The statistics in relation to the Sobraon show that only 5 per cent, of the boys turn out unsatisfactory, and, though many of them are taken from the streets, it is marvellous how the discipline they undergo renders them full of promise as good citizens in the future. Senator Pearce referred to Japan and its Navy ; but we must remember that Japan,, although only recently in the forefront, has an enormous population of 47,000,000, as against 4,000,000 in Australia. It is not difficult for Japan, under the circumstances, to afford a large Navy, but for us to attempt to provide an adequate defence of the kind on our own account would be a piece of extravagance. We ought to be a great deal more grateful than many of us are to the mother country for what she has done, and is willing to do, in this connexion ; and I, for one, say that if we can afford it, we ought to increase our annual subsidy to the Imperial Navy. Then, I should be willing to see a certain amount of money spent in the establishment of an ammunition factory, because it would be an extraordinary state of affairs if, in time of war, we were to find ourselves without the necessary powder. To revert to the question of an Australian Navy, I wonder if it .has been considered how soon large ships of- war become obsolete ? We have heard a good deal on this subject from the Home authorities ; and just now I believe Sir John Fisher is re-organizing the whole Imperial Navy, and it is possible that many ships, which cost I do not know how many hundreds of thousands of pounds, may be sold for a trifle. If we were to establish a Navy of our own, I am afraid that it would necessitate the raising of a large loan, because I do not see how we could go on providing new vessels with an annual contribution of £300,000 or £400,000. I shall keep my promise to be brief in speaking on the second reading, but, of course, there will be something more to be said by myself and others when the details are discussed in Committee.
– I propose to make a few remarks on the speech of the Minister of Defence in proposing the second reading of the Bill. Before doing so, however, I should like to recall to honorable senators a document entitled “ A Ministerial Statement,” which was read by the Minister of Defence on the 26th July of this year, and which we then understood to contain the well-considered programme of the Government for the balance of the present session. Amongst the questions which the Government at that time proposed to deal with was that of defence, and paragraph number 29 in that programme, as read by the Minister of Defence, was as follows: -
Amongst other matters engaging the serious attention of Ministers, and on which it is intended at a later date to make proposals of an important character, that of defence is specially deserving of reconsideration, particularly in view of recent developments.
That was read to us over four months ago, and yet we now find that the Minister of Defence is absolutely without any policy. The honorable gentleman made a long and most interesting speech on Friday, and I, for one, certainly expected that he would have given an indication of some sort of policy in connexion with the very large expenditure he is asking this Chamber to vote. But all the Minister could say was that the money is to be spent in certain channels ; he never in the least attempted to convince us that they were proper channels. The Minister, so far as I can judge, is not satisfied in the least degree that the expenditure of this vast sum of money is properly applied to the defence of Australia.
– Every one of the items of expenditure, so far as I know, is useful and necessary
– But the Minister on Friday was not prepared to say that the money is best applied in the directions indicated for the defence of Australia; in fact, he told us that, without exception, every one of his military and naval advisers was expressing a different opinion on the subject
– What subject?
– The subject of whether the money we are asked to vote will give an efficient defence.
– The honorable senator is wrong in that.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the Chamber. [Quorum, formed.’]
– The Minister says that I am wrong.
– I do not mean to say thai the honorable senator is wrong in suggesting that the naval authorities are doubtful about the wisdom of the expenditure on the Military Forces; I have admitted that. But I think my naval adviser in that respect is wrong.
– The Minister told us in his own resume -
This difference of opinion is not confined to writers of leading articles in the newspapers, or lo newspaper correspondents. It exists among ray own officers. Even they are not at one with regard to these very important details, and if we do not lay clown a definite scheme of defence, and determine upon a certain objective, the happy-go-lucky system that has prevailed ever since the establishment of the Commonwealth is sure to continue.
Do not those words thoroughly justify my statement that the Minister’s own military advisers are at loggerheads as to the proper expenditure of the large sum of money we are asked to vote - that they are not prepared to advise him that the money is being spent to the best purpose, so as to attain efficient defence for Australia. Under circumstances like these, it is marvellous that the Minister should ask us to vote even a penny towards a system of defence which has been criticised by the Colonial Defence Committee, so far as one can judge from Lt. -Col. Bridges’ comments, in a very unfavorable manner. I propose to deal with that question later on, and shall not further refer to it at the present moment. The position simply is that in the! Defence Department there prevails nothing but chaos.
– No, no !
– Who is responsible for the chaos?
– We have the extraordinary circumstances of the Military Board reporting on submersibles - obviously a matter which solely concerns the naval side of our defence.
– I do not know where the honorable senator got that information. The Military Board never reported on submersibles.
– I got that information from the honorable gentleman’s own speech, which he seems to have forgotten.
– I said that there was an idea of recommending some submersibles. Amongst the recommendations given to me by my military advisers was one that we should provide submersiblesthat is all.
– The honorable gentleman told us that he had received that recommendation from the Military Board.
– Not from the Military Board.
– Then the honorable gentleman told us that his military advisers), or one of them, had made a recommendation in connexion with submersibles, and that he had referred the matter to Captain Creswell.
– I’ read what Captain Creswell said.
– The words of the Minister of Defence on Friday were -
When my military officers advised me to procure submersibles, I asked Captain Creswell his opinion upon the matter.
– The military officers put tlie suggestion down for consideration. Perhaps “advised” was not the proper word to use.
– It is a most extraordinary situation, indicative of absolute chaos in the Defence Department, when we find one or more military officers going out of their way to advise the Minister on an exclusively naval matter. Naturally, the Minister referred the question to Captain Creswell, who then made a report to the best of his ability. I do not intend to deal with that report now. I merely call attention to the fact, as indicating the chaos that pervails in the management of this Department. The next extraordinary thing I notice is, that after Major-General Hutton drew up a scheme of military defence, Captain Creswell, the naval expert, was called in to criticise the scheme.
– That was before mv time.
– We then find that the military man’s scheme, and the naval man’s criticism of it were referred to the Colonial Defence Committee, in London, for their opinion, as a sort of Court of Arbitration.
– Then it all comes to the honorable senator, and he expresses his opinion.
– Undoubtedly, I express my opinion. Such a system of management in any ordinary business would most certainly lead to the failure of the commercial man who adopted it.
– I did not understand that the naval officer criticised MajorGeneral Hutton’s report ; but that he differed with him as to the nature of the attack we should have to meet, which is quite a different thing.
– He expressed no opinion as to the organization of the forces, but on the whole question of defence, in view of the attack we might have to meet.
– Any one might do that. Senator Matheson proposes to do it.
– That is not the statement as I have read it.
– Captain Creswell did not go into the question of the constitution of the brigades - whether they should be light horse, or infantry, or so on.
– I wish to be accurate. I do not wish, as Senator Dobson has suggested, to criticise the situation unfairly. I am guided in my criticism by what Senator Playford has said. Major-General Hutton submitted a report on the 7th April, 1902, and referring to that, the honorable senator said -
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 their advice on the subject.
– - -The organization scheme was incidentally criticised by Captain Creswell, but he really criticised the scheme of defence. When Major-General Hutton says that it is necessary that we should be prepared to meet an invading force, Captain Creswell says, “ No. we do not need to meet an invading force. The scheme is all on wrong lines.”
– That only shows the danger of partially disclosing the contents of these secret documents.
– The document to which I refer is not secret ; it has been printed and circulated.
– I take what Senator Playford has said, and base my argument on the honorable senator’s utterances, and then I find that he admits that he has not been quite accurate, and that Captain Creswell did not criticise anything more than Major-General Hutton’s general scheme of defence.
– He did not go into the military details.
– I certainly gathered from the remarks which Senator Playford made later in the same speech that Captain Creswell had criticised the organization as well. I may have been mistaken in that.
– Not in the sense of an organization; but he suggests that there is no necessity for militia and volunteers, and that a small permanent force to man the forts with riflemen would be sufficient.
– I think I expressed myself in that way. On other grounds, I cannot sufficiently express my astonishment at the situation, which apparently has been brought about by the institution of the Council of Defence.
– They have had no chance to show what they can do. They have only had one meeting of any importance.’ They will be called together to advise as to the defence scheme as a whole, by-and-by.
– When last year and the year before, I advocated the appointment of a Council of Defence, it was such’ a Council as I expected would prove to be an efficient body, who would meet once a month or oftener, and would include Members of Parliament interested in the defence question.
– Does not the honorable senator think that every member of Parliament is interested in the defence question?
– Presumably that is so; but some take a deeper interest in it than others. Every honorable member makes a specialty of a certain class of legislation. Senator Givens, I fancy, is specially interested in white j abour, and the development of the sugar industry in Queensland; I am specially interested in defence matters, and, perhaps, pay less attention than I should to a consideration of the extravagant bounties paid for the production of sugar, and to the price we are paying for the development of the sugar industry, perhaps without adequate results. I advocated an efficient Council of Defence, which would meet frequently, and which, including Members of Parliament, would look into these matters, and would not permit them to drift in the way they ‘have been drifting. We find on Senator Playford’s own statement that, although the Council of Defence was authorized last session, and constituted at the beginning of this year, it has met only once.
– I am not quite sure that it has not met twice altogether.
– The honorable senator should not have said that it had met only once, unless he was sure of it. I could wish that he would not contradict me when I repeat what he has said, because that makes it a little difficult to continue my speech. I am assuming all along that what the honorable senator said is strictly accurate. The Minister said that the Council of Defence had met on only one occasion, and even then, arrived at no conclusion, The honorable senator further drew a most entertaining picture in which Captain Creswell, the one representative of the Naval Board, was shown on the one hand with two. three, or four representatives of the Military Board on the other, and all engaged in a heated controversial discussion as to whether or not it was necessary to have a military or a naval force.
– Sir George Turner, the late Minister of Defence, and others were present, and they were not engaged in any heated discussion. I can give the honorable senator a report of the proceedings. It is in print, and forms amusing reading.
– The gentlemen to whom the honorable senator refers sat in their seats apparently, and listened to an exciting debate.
– No; they crossexamined the officers on both sides. I believe the report of the proceedings would be very interesting reading to the honorable senator, and I can supply him with a copy of it.
– The effect of this one sitting of the Council of Defence was so perplexing, to use Senator Playford’s own words, that the members, of the Council became “absolutely confused” in their views.
– Did I say that?
Senator MATHESON. What the honorable senator said was that they became so “ absolutely confused “ in their views that they went away without coming to any conclusion on this momentous question.
Senatorplayford. - I think I must have prefaced that statement with the phrase “ they appeared to be.”
– I am afraid Senator Playford has not acquired the art of using words to conceal his thoughts. The honorable senator always says exactly what he means. However, it is really most serious that this body, from whom we anticipated such great results, should have proved to be such an , absolute failure. We expected that the Council of Defence would take very deep interest in the question of defence, and would call upon responsible officers to prepare schemes for putting the defence of Australia on a proper basis. But they have apparently done nothing of the kind. They held one meeting, at which nothing was done, and the defence organization has been left entirely as it was left by Major-General Hutton. “ The officers are practically without any control but that of the Minister, who is a tyro at the business, and admits that he has not had any previous experience of questions of defence. Each officer would appear to do practically as he pleases in his Own branch of the Department.
– Can the Council of Defence meet unless summoned by the Executive ?
– I am not aware of the routine followed, but it is obvious that the responsibility must lie with the Government, and primarily with the Minister of Defence. At the present moment the honorable senator is apparently engaged in trying to make up his own mind as to what would be a proper scheme of defence for the Commonwealth. I fancy that at the present moment, owing, to a very large extent, to the report of the Defence Committee in England, he is himself absolutely confused in his views. At one moment I gather from the honorable senator’s interjections that he is in favour of basing our defence on the establishment of the nucleus of an Australian Navy, and at another moment I find him advocating brigade organization.
– I am very glad to have elicited an opinion from the honorable senator. I am to understand, then, that he is not in favour of the brigade organization suggested by Major-General Hutton? What it all comes to is that we now have a definite expression of opinion from the honorable senator that the inauguration) of a naval policy is the right scheme for us. to adopt. But as I pointed out to the Senate only two or three days ago, I would ask what possible chance has such a scheme of finding favour with a Cabinet containing Sir John Forrest and Mr. Ewing? Honorable senators may laugh, but this is no laughing matter, because we can never have any scheme of defence adopted until there is unanimity on the part of the Cabinet.
– Sir John Forrest will agree with the majority in the Cabinet.
– I should think that, as a self-respecting person, and having committed himself in favour of a solely British Fleet, and an absolute abstention from any attempt at naval defence by Australia, it will be absolutely impossible for the right honorable gentleman to agree with the welL-known views expressed by the Prime Minister and by Senator Playford.
– The honorable senator should know that nothing is impossible to Sir John Forrest.
– I hope that, for the sake of Australia, the right honorable gentleman may display the pliant and meek disposition which Senator de Largie indicates is natural to him.
– The right honorable gentleman is not meek, but he has, a way of coming round.
– It is to be hoped that he will come round as Senator de Largie has -suggested ; but I am not sanguine that any unanimity in the Cabinet is likely to be brought about in connexion with this matter as the result of Sir John Forrest’ coming round, because there are attractions at Home which we know, are a guiding star to the right honorable gentleman, who always desires to conciliate the authorities conducting the government of Great Britain.
– I point out to the honorable senator that, under the Standing Orders, it is not in order to attack a member of the other House.
– I do not intend what I say to be regarded as an attack. I merely point out that, in order that we may have a defence policy, it is necessary that there should be unanimity on the part of the Government j and I say that it is impossible to expect that unanimity if certain honorable gentlemen who at present form members of an Australian Government continue to retain their Imperial proclivities.
– I refer the honorable senator to standing order 404, which says -
No senator shall’ use offensive words against either House of Parliament, or any member of such House.
– I have no desire to use any offensive words whatever. I recognise fuMy the right of the honorable gentlemen to whom I have referred to hold their individual opinions. I do not even say that their opinions are wrong. I desire to say nothing offensive; but I say that, while they hold those opinions, they are an absolute bar to unanimity in the Cabinet. Every member of the Senate must be prepared to agree with me in that. It appears that in August of last year, the’ Government appealed to the Colonial Defence Committee for a report on Colonial defences, and that, through thev medium of the Governor-General, they were favoured with what is apparently a secret document. We are? unable to press the Minister of Defence to furnish us with the report in extenso ; but, in order to meet our very natural desire to know the gist of it, he appears to have asked Captain Creswell, and certain members of the Military Board, for a report. En passant, I may say that I entirely disagree with the remarks which fell from Senator Pulsford in this connexion. My own impression is - and it is one which is prevalent in England, and which I have seen quoted more than once - that if the defences of a country are in a thoroughly satisfactory condition, and the forces are able to give a good account of themselves in time of war, it need not hesitate or fear about publicity. It is only when there is something to conceal ; it is only when our forts are shell-traps, and when our guns are, to a very large extent, thoroughly outofdate and inadequate, that secrecy becomes desirable. .
– We mav keep our own affairs secret ; but we should not disclose what has been committed to us in confidence.
– The honorable senator is right up to a certain point. It is a very great mistake to observe secrecy when our defences are inadequate. ft only encourages the people of Australia to lull themselves into a false sense of security. They become indifferent to the whole question of defence, because they feel that it has been properly provided for.
In these circumstances, I believe in ripping the whole thing open, as far as I possibly can. I do not believe in concealment of any sort.
– Not in connexion with our own affairs. “ We must not disclose what is committed to us as a secret.
– I agree with the honorable senator, that if there is anything which concerns other people, it should be kept secret, but nothing which has been placed before the Senate by the Minister can be said to concern anybody but ourselves in any sense. I have read very carefully the reports of the officers to whom he referred, and 1 do not find that they allude to matters of British interest, as apart from matters of Australian interest. All we know about the Colonial Defence Committee’s report has to be gleaned from the reports of Captain Creswell and Lt. -Col. Bridges. Captain Creswell was asked by the Minister to say in what way the opinions expressed by the Colonial Defence Committee could affect the existing or proposed organization of the naval branch of the defences, and what would be the) result, if their views were concurred in. Oi» Friday last we heard the opinion of Captain Creswell. Shortly, it was that if the views of the Colonial Defence Committee were concurred in, there would be no necessity to frame any Naval Estimates, that the entire Naval Force of the Commonwealth would be swept away. It is evident that that was the object of the Barton Administration. . After adopting the Naval Agreement, they very reluctantly left the germ of a Naval Force still existing in Australia; and, as ssomebody outside expressed the situation to me, they had not the pluck or the- energy to cut down the tree, but they ring-barked it, leaving it to perish from want of sustenance. That is apparently the position at the present moment. The naval side! of our defence system can hardly be said to exist, and in spite of very . great pressure which has been brought to bear upon the Government, in spite of the Prime Minister’s avowed opinions as published in the press, we find no provision made on the Estimates of the current year for the extension of our naval defences. The object that the Colonial Defence Committee have in view is very apparent. One can read between the line’s quite easily, and see that they believe that the British Government should have entire control of every class of naval defence. They are unwilling that we, as Australians, should have even the nucleus, the nursery, of a Navy independently of the British Government. They believe that every naval officer throughout’ the British Dominions should be in the British Navy, and not in a Colonial Navy of any description. We can hardly be expected to agree with their finding. It is on a question of accepted British policy that they have condemned Captain Creswell’s scheme. It can hardly be maintained by any speaker that H is unacceptable in itself. His proposals, brought up to date by the 13gh.fi of experience in recent wars, have been placed before the Senate by Senator Playford. They embrace the provision of three cruiser destroyers, sixteen torpedo-boat destroyers, and fifteen torpedoboats, first and second class. I do not propose to go into details, because I am not in a position to criticise the scheme. We are only entitled at the present moment to deal with the question on the broadest possible issue. Nobody can possibly take exception to Captain Creswell’s proposal, because, as I pointed out on Thursday last, Mr. Balfour, the British Prime Minister, has laid it down as one of the chief, features of the defence of Great Britain from invasion, that they have a fleet of torpedo craft of various sizes ; that it would be. almost impossible for any transports to land troops close to Great Britain while the 119 torpedo-boats remained effective and able to attack ; that the feeling of insecurity would almost demoralize the enemy’s fleet ; that they would be unable to anchor at night for fear of a torpedo attack ; and that any fear of invasion on that coast would be almost nullified. That is exactly what we want to effect in connexion with the defence of Australia. We wish to nullify, as far as possible, any chance of a fleet coming down with transports and landing troops. We do not want to have a large field force with which to attack an expeditionary force after it has landed on our coast. What we desire to do is to produce such a feeling of insecurity on the part of the enemy that they would never attempt to land.
– How could we attack them if they landed* at Port Darwin?
– It would be absolutely impossible to attack ‘troops after they had landed at Port Darwin.
– What harm could they do? .
-They could seize and permanently occupy a rich portion of Australia.
– And the finest harbor on the northern coast.
– Yes ; and they would practically get a station of very great importance on the Timor Sea.
– The probabilities are that the enemy would simply go in for raiding.
– On the contrary, I. think that, from the trade point of view, the enemy would undoubtedly attempt to occupy a harbour like that, because Great Britain has just taken steps to turn Singapore into a naval base. A glance at the map in my hand will reveal to any one the immense importance of that base, because it occupies a position from which the British Fleet could absolutely bar the passage of enemy’s ships from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, or vice versa. There is a string of small islands lying between Asia and Australia, and only a very few surveyed passages between them. Under these circumstances, ah enemy’s fleet, situated with a base at Port Darwin, would be a very great menace to all Australian trade, and a very great source of inconvenience to British naval operations in, time of war. Senator Best can see that for himself.
– If that were attempted, they would get the concentrated attention ofthe Australian Squadron..
– The honorable senator forgets that the assumption is that such an expedition would only be possible after the supremacy of the British Fleet had been destroyed. The British Fleet itself would still remain, but it would have been broken up, and the supremacy of the sea would have been lost. Those would be the circumstances under which such an invasion would be possible. The peculiar point is that in the Naval Agreement no provision is made for such a class of defence as that advocated by Captain Creswell. We are asked to believe that the British Fleet of battle-ships is quite sufficient for our defence, without any coastal or harbor defence such as he advocates.
– I have never heard that anybody was satisfied. that such was the case. It was only a temporary means.
– What was only a temporary means?
– The subsidy of £200,000 a year was voted in order to secure the presence of the Auxiliary Squadron in our waters.
– But it does not. The coast of Australia is left unprotected.. That is Captain Creswell’s point, and it is also Mr. Balfour’s. He assumed, for the purpose of his argument, that the British fleets had gone away to some distant part of the world, and that the coasts of England were left unprotected. In that event, Mr. Balfour relied on the destroyers and othertorpedo craft for the defence of the coasts. That is the position which Captain Creswell and I and the bulk of the inhabitants of Australia take up.
– Those who supported the Naval Agreement did not lose sight of the necessity for coastal defence.
– The honorable senator is quite right. Sir Edmund Barton said that there was nothing in the Naval Agreement to prevent Australia taking, steps to supply herself with torpedo craft for the purpose of coastal defence. But owing to the influence of Sir John Forrest and other members of his Cabinet, he took no steps to give effect to that idea. He, like Mr. Deakin, knew perfectly well what ought to be done:
– The effect of the agreement is like an opiate ; it makes us think that we are all right.
– I do not quite agree with that view, because some of us have taken pains to let the public know that the position is hot all right.
– The public think that it is.
– Only a small section of the public, living about Toorak, think that it is all right. The working papulation of Australia who have to live by their brains instead of by their inherited wealth are sufficiently sagacious to understand that it is not all right. I am satisfiedthat the bulk of the people of Australia are dissatisfied with the present state of affairs. We have had Prime Minister after Prime Minister in Australia thoroughly imbued with the sense of what is right and necessary for the country, but always hampered by the octopus clinging around their necks and stifling the decision of the Cabinet.
SenatorClemons. - Who is the octopus?
– I refer to retrograde politicians - Conservatives who at- tempt .to stifle every Australian aspiration and bloat themselves out with talk about the Empire.
– Give us a personal example.
– No, I will not do that. The President called me to order this afternoon when I think I hardly deserved it. and I will make no personal references. But the Senate knows perfectly well to whom I refer. The class of vessels which I have described are necessary as a reasonable defence for Great Britain. They are equally essential for Australia ; and if the Admiralty opposes Captain Creswell’s scheme it does so simply because it desires to have the whole control of naval matters in its own hands, not on its merits as a defensive scheme.
– That is rather a “cheeky” thing to say, and it is inaccurate.
– It is, at any rate, a truthful expression of my views ; and I do not know what means Senator Dobson lias of saying that it is inaccurate, because I am quoting from the Statement placed before us by Senator Playford. I am not exaggerating or extenuating it in any particular. If Senator Dobson has secret sources of information, well and good ; but I doubt whether they are as reliable as was the information given to the Senate by the Minister of Defence. I do not wish to particularize as to the details of Captain Creswell’s scheme, but in general terms it seems to supply exactly what Australia calls for. The theory upon which it is based is undoubtedly sound. No one can deny that. The details of course would require to be worked” out carefully. I do not propose to discuss them now. Captain Creswell lays particular stress upon the absolute necessity of having torpedo craft for the defence of Torres Straits. He points out that one enemy’s cruiser could enter the STraits and hold the entire Northern trade of Australia absolutely at its mercy. because the guns at the Thursday Island fort do not command vessels at sea. They are” simply for the purpose of defending the coaling station. But he says that if we had these ships no enemy’s cruiser would dare enter the Straits at all. Our shipping, therefore, would be absolutely protected by the mere fact that we owned these torpedo boats. The Minister of Defence represents Captain Creswell .as having said, 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.
The point is that the mere knowledge that we had these means of defence would deter an enemy’s cruiser from interfering with our commerce. But there is another point with which it is necessary to deal, and that is that a few boats of this class are absolutely necessary to police our own waters. -The pearling fleets have to a large extent, I believe, altered their head-quarters, and now rendezvous at some foreign port. There is nothing to prevent them from .coming down and fishing for shell in our territorial waters with labour that is prohibited by our laws. We are absolutely powerless to resent such an incursion upon our rights. We have no ships of any kind to protect our own fishing waters.
– Does the honorable senator know whether the opinion of Captain Creswell, which he has quoted as to Torres Straits, has been before the Imperial authorities ?
– Probably not.
– I do not think so.
– But the observation appeals to my common sense, as it also appealed to the common sense of the Minister.
– I think it is obvious.
– Those facts ought .to have been placed before the Imperial authorities. It is of no use to dogmatize about this matter.
– I now come to the report of Lt.-Col. Bridges upon MajorGeneral Hutton’s defence organization. It is a most interesting document. The gist of it appears to be this : That we have nothing to fear from territorial aggression; that is to say, from a large scheme of invasion of Australia. What the Defence Committee says is that territorial aggression would be impossible, because the difficulties and risks would be so considerable that it is inconceivable than an enemy would take them. Therefore the contingency of territorial aggression by a large force need not be taken into account in considering the requirements of Australian defence. The deduction is that the Military Forces o’f the Commonwealth as at present organized do not meet our war requirements at all. The Defence Committee goes on to point out that the existing organization can be made use of to a certain extent. That view Lt.-Col. Bridges confirms. The Committee recommends alterations in the constitution of the field force : but what it particularly lays stress upon is the system of brigading, to which I . called attention on Thursday as absolutely useless. It is urged that the brigading should be carried out on the lines of military districts. What is meant is not quite clear.
– Who appoints the Defence Committee?
– It is appointed by the British Government, and sits in London. It is a body of experts, to whom all matters concerning Colonial defence are referred. It has been in existence for about thirty years.
– The Committee offers decided opinions as to the best form of Defence Force for Australia.
– It is a body which has a secretary, keeps minutes, and carries on a line of policy which is never broken.
– Does the Committee consult Colonial Governments?
– No, Colonial Governments consult the Committee. I suppose it represents the best expert opinion we can get, making allowance for the natural bias of the members of the Committee in favour of Great Britain. The Committee urges that the Defence Force of Australia should be created in districts, and, Lt.-Col. Bridges goes out of his way, as I think, to translate the word “district “ into “ State.” It seems to me. as a civilian, that the organization ought to be arranged in reference to the possibility of attack in the immediate neighbourhood where the forces are located.
– That would be States.
– On the contrary, it is most unlikely to be States ; and I take the case of Western Australia, to which I called attention on Thursday, as an example. Under this absurd system of brigading, Western Australia is” denuded of nearly all her troops, except 800 men, and the troops which go are taken to much more populous States, in order that the brigade system for foreign aggression may be successfully carried out.
– It does not follow that because there is power to take the troops away from Western Australia, that that power would be exercised in time of war.
– I think the honorable gentleman is mistaken ; because, under the scheme of mobilization, those troops are brigaded with the troops of Queensland.
– And South Australia.
– And South Australia. Those troops have to go to the head-quarters of their brigade directly a state of war is declared. That is the meaning of the word “brigade” - they have to be brigaded together. We cannot have a brigade with one half of the troops and an officer in Queensland, and the other half, without an officer, in some other part of the Commonwealth.
– Would that red tape be observed in case of war?
– It is provided for in the scheme of Defence. If it is not so, it only shows the absurdity of the scheme under which, for some red-tape purposes, the brigades are constituted in this way. However that may be, I am not condemning the system - the condemnation is by the Colonial Defence Committee. That ought to be enough for Senator Dobson. It is a great satisfaction to me that the Colonial Defence Committee do see the absurdity of the system.
– I see the absurdity of the statement that this red-tape would prevail in case of war.
– It is not an absurd statement on my part.
– It appears so to me.
– There is nothing odd in the statement appearing absurd to Senator Dobson.
– I must say that Senator Dobson is very difficult to convince. The Colonial Defence Committee recognised that what I say would happen.
– That is not the point.
– That is the point on which Senator Dobson raised his objection. I said that the organization will have to be carried out if war be declared.
– I do not believe it.
– The Colonial Defence Committeebelieve it ; and, therefore, it is Senator Dobson against the Colonial Defence Committee.
– I doubt if the Colonial Defence Committee do believe it.
– The only thing that could possibly stop the mobilization would be the impossibility of sending the troops round the coast; and I believe that would prove an insuperable obstacle.
– That is one of the things I was alluding to.
– To that extent the honorable and learned senator is right ; but that the attempt would be made is inevitable, because it is part of the system which I am most anxious to see amended. It is a system, however, that every Minister of Defence of the Commonwealth has been perfectly satisfied with. Those gentlemen, to whose care we have intrusted the defences of Australia, have cared so little about going into details, that they are absolutely ignorant of this vital blot on the system.
– They did not know anything about the matter until their attention was called to it.
– It is a scandal and a shame that Ministers, who are paid £1,200 a year to look after the business, care so little about it that they do not make themselves familiar with the details.
– How could Ministers criticise Major-General Hutton’s scheme ?
– How can I criticise it? It is simply because I have read up the matter, and they have not. A Minister of Defence sits and signs a few documents which are thrust under his nose, and then goes and has a parliamentary lunch. I acquit the present Minister of Defence, but some Ministers believe that they are simply in office for the purposes of entertainment.
– Tell us the difference between the brigade system and the district system?
– I am glad to have had the admission from the Minister that none of his predecessors have known anything about the matter.
– They could not be expected to know; they are not military men.
– The Minister simply astounds me!
– When an expert military officer is brought here at a salary of £2,000 or , £3,000 a year to advise the Minister, and he prepares a scheme, has the Minister, who knows nothing about the matter, to declare that the scheme is altogether wrong?
– I should like to know how my private business would be conducted if, when a subordinate in my office came to me with a proposal, I adopted it straight away, without asking him his reasons for the proposal. That has been the attitude of Ministers of Defence.
– If the honorable senator, knowing nothing about electricity, asked an electrical engineer for advice, he would take it ; he could not criticise it.
– I should ask the electrical engineer to explain his advice. I entirely and absolutely disagree with the Ministerof Defence. How was I able to find these facts out? The matter is as simple as A B C directly one looks into it.
– Did the honorable senator say anything about this matter last year ?
– No. I had the notes of a speech prepared, but Senator Symon asked me not to make the speech, because hedesired to go to a division. On the day I proposed to make the speech, Senator Symon said to me, “ Do oblige me ; do not make this speech, because I want a division.” The honorable and learned senator was’ not aware of the subject of the speech.
– I forget the circumstance, but I accept the word of the honorable senator.
– I said at the time that the request was a very severe test of my allegiance to the party.
– Will the honorable senator now tell us the difference between the brigade system and the district system?
– If the honorable and learned senator had only been in his place last Thursday he would have heard the difference explained at length. The brigade system means that a certain cavalry brigade of Tasmania will be carried away to Victoria, and Tasmania left without any cavalry; that the cavalry of Western, Australia will be taken roundto Adelaide, and brigaded with the cavalry of South Australia; and that, in the case of the infantry brigades, the foot regiments of Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania will be carried away to Brisbane. That is Major-General Hutton’s muchvaunted brigade system, which was arranged for the purpose of dumping those troops down on some foreign port for aggression. Major-General Hutton set out the whole scheme perfectly clearly in his report, which was placed before Parliament.
– What is the district system ?
– As I understand it, it is that while the whole of the forces of the Commonwealth will form one force, when war is declared they will” be mobilized in the immediate district where they were raised, and used primarily for the purpose of preventing raids on the nearest port.
– And when war breaks out what will be done?
– The troops will be mobilized at the nearest port.
– The same thing will be done under either system when war breaks out.
– On the contrary. Western Australia will have–
– Not at all.
– The honorable and learned senator does not even, wait until T have concluded my sentence. What does the honorable and learned senator mean bv “ Not at all “ ?
– I say that, when war breaks out, the best thing will be done under either system to meet the force brought against us, and red tape will go for nothing.
– All I can say, then, is that it is a pity to have a red-tape organization which is to go for nothing in time of war. If the honorable and learned senator would take the trouble to consult Major-General Finn, or any other authority, he will find that it is the general opinion that nothing is more disadvantageous than a military organization which has to be swept away directly war is declared. That is the very point on which one always finds military experts laying particular stress in private conversation. They point out that it was that system which was fatal to the British Army in the Boer war, when the peace organization had to be swept away and an entirely new system adopted on the spur of the moment.
– A system suitable to the attack which had to be met.
– Undoubtedly. If I had the opportunity, I should propose, in time of peace, to organize the forces of Australia in such a manner that automatically, on the outbreak of hostilities, they would be ready for war, and that we should not require, as Senator Dobson suggests,, to devise any special system to meet the coming attack.
– The honorable senator is exaggerating now.
– I am quoting the honorable and learned senator’s own words, and I am sorry he should think I am exaggerating.
– Under any system, the troops will have to concentrate where there is most likely to be an attack. .
– Undoubtedly, but the Defence Forces of Australia should be organized in such a way as to be available for defending the districts in which they are raised. It is absurd to suggest that Western Australia should send troops to Queensland.
– But suppose the attack is made in Queensland?
– Does the honorable and learned senator consider that an attack could be itemized like that? Captain Creswell, in his report, pointed out that signals would be given at some spot that the enemy’s fleet was approaching. Doubtless, the fleet would go down the coast, and nobody would know where they were for some time. The whole coast would be in a state of alarm, and the troops would be mobilized to defend their respective districts, not because the attack would necessarily be, but in anticipation that it might be, delivered there. At the last moment, when the attack was delivered, it would be too late to mobilize at any given spot. Surely Senator Best understands that? At the last moment, say, twenty-four hours before the attack, when the signal was given that the enemy was off Cape Howe, or some other part of the coast, how could the troops be mobilized there? This discussion has arisen out of my comments on Colonel Bridges, and his apparent incapacity to see that State boundaries have nothing to do with defence. This is Australian defence, and not State defence. These petty, little boundaries, which exist between State and State, should, in the matter of Australian defence, be swept from our consideration.
– But the State boundaries are rather troublesome. If a slice were taken from New South Wales, and added to Victoria, the question would be raised as to who had to pay.
– That is a difficulty, but we have put the honorable gentleman in the position he now occupies, for the purpose of solving these troublesome details ; and we do not expect the Minister to shirk or shrink from responsibility. We are aware, from his interjections, that he thoroughly well understands the importance of developing our defence system on the basis I have suggested; and we expect him to get over the difficulties. But I am sorry to say that, judging from his speech, he apparently does not understand the matter, because he says, in dealing with the proposals of the Colonial Defence Committee -
Instead of having an organization extending throughout the Commonwealth, the military forces in each State will be quite distinct.
– I now take “ districts “ to mean really “States.” I do not think any alteration could be made in the case of South Australia, nor in the case of Queensland, and I am certain that no alteration could be made in Western Australia or Tasmania.
SenatorMATHESON.- It is quite accidental that Western Australia is in that position, which arises from the fact that she is cut off from the rest of Australia by a line drawn from north to south. That is why Western Australia can be dealt with as a whole district, though, in my opinion, that State will have to be divided into two, if not three, sub-districts for the purpose of mobilization. The Minister appears to believe that it is a recommendation of the Defence Committee that the Military Forces in each State should be kept quite distinct, but I find no justification for that belief in the report.
– Distinct in the sense that they should be under their own command, and should not be brigaded or linked up with the forces of an adjoining State, except in time of war.
– I see the honorable senator’s point, but I do not agree with him as to the effect of the Committee’s suggestion, which is 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.
That evidently contemplates Australia being split up on a military map into convenient military districts. That is evidently the intention of the Colonial Defence Committee, and their suggestion is a common-sense one.
They suggest an organization of the Defence Forces of the Commonwealth, on a basis of convenient military districts, and whether they suggest it or not, I maintain that that is a proper system, and I shall fight for it.
– There might be trouble about payments under such a system.
– Colonel Bridges concludes by pointing out the question which requires decision. He says -
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?
That is the first question, and it is one on which we might have expected to have the benefit of Senator Playford’s opinion. I quote further -
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.
We had a right to expect that Senator Playford would have something to say upon that, but the honorable senator contents himself in his speech by simply quoting Colonel Bridges, and saying that is certainly what we have to come to a conclusion about, while he expresses no opinion himself.
– The honorable senator did not have time to form an opinion.
– I only received Colonel Bridges’ report a short time ago.
– The honorable senator said -
Honorable senators who have carefully followed my remarks will recognise that the problem of defence is one that requires much thought. . . That is the task before us. It is not a very easy one for a Minister to take in hand when one of his trusted officers says that he believes in the present field forces, in the militia and volunteers, while another equally trusted officer says that no such forces are required. . . . 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.
It seems from all that the Minister has said that it will be absolutely impossible for us to get any indication of even his personal views on this matter. The whole thing must drift until next session. I should like to ask the honorable senator what will be the position next session. Suppose that, in view, of all these irreconcilable opinions held by military officers, and the differences of opinion in the Cabinet, the honorable senator when we meet next session is not in a position to propound a policy ?
– Then I will give honorable senators the reason why.
– Does the honorable senator expect us to vote the same sum of money next year, to be spent upon what has been admitted apparently by every person who has reported upon it as an inadequate provision for defence? That is what I should like to know, because that is what we are being asked to do to-day.
– No ; there is nothing in these Estimates that involves wasteful expenditure.
– The honorable senator is mistaken. Expenditure which is unnecessary is wasteful expenditure. It is distinctly set out in the Colonial Defence Committee’s report that a large number of our Light Horse must be disbanded as absolutely unnecessary.
– No; the men are being trained to be very useful. They are a fine body of men, andwe have a right to be proud of them.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator; but I repeat that our highest advisers have told us that it is unnecessary that we should have so large a force of such men, and I am inclined to agree with them.
– They have not said that it is unnecessary that we should have so large a force. They do not comment on the numbers, but only on the organization.
– As the Minister challenges me, I must quote again -
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.
– We are not providing in these Estimates for a war footing, but for a peace footing. There is no suggestion by the Colonial Defence Committee that we should decrease the numbers of our forces.
– Reading the English language in the sense in which it is ordinarily interpreted, I find that the Colonial Defence Committee advise a reduction of the establishment of the Light Horse by 1,900 officers and men, and
Colonel Bridges comments on that suggestion by saying that consequently a smaller amount of equipment will have to be provided. We shall be asked’ to provide for that in the Supplementary Estimates.
– The equipment for a war footing provided on the Supplementary Estimates, including accoutrements and so on, was cut down, and we have provided for cordite and rifles instead of it.
– I agree with the honorable senator ; but I still stick to my point that the Colonial Defence Committee recommend a reduction of the Light Horse establishment by 1,900 officers and men.
– In time of war ; but we are not providing for war.
– Unfortunately that is so ; we are providing only for peace and display.
– The honorable senator is commenting on a report received long after these Estimates were laid before Parliament by the previous Ministry, and he expects the Government to bring forward revised Estimates to meet a different organization in a minute. It cannot be done.
– I say that we are asked to pass these Estimates, and I have asked the honorable senator to say what he expects to do next year.
– When next year comes I will tell the honorable senator. He is so unreasonable.
– The Minister says that I am unreasonable ; but that is only because he is new to the position of Minister of Defence. Since 1902, I have been hammering away at these topics.
– I am not responsible for what occurred in 1902.
– I am showing that I am not unreasonable, because I have been directing the attention of successive Governments to the state of affairs that exists. They have paid no attention to the criticisms which have been offered, and I do not expect that any attention will be paid to them next year, or the year after that. To return to the Appropriation Bill and the report laid before us by the Minister, the most astonishing thing is that while the Government advisers admit that it is impossible to frame any policy until the attack to which we are likely to be subjected is defined, we find them in the frankest possible way prepared with a cutanddried scheme for arming our fortresses.
– Nothing of the sort. That is absolutely incorrect.
– The Minister always contradicts me, and then his own words are read out to him.
– What I said was that our advisers have made an estimate of the probable cost of arming the forces. Thev say that whether the cost will be greater or less will entirely depend on the form of attack we ask them to be prepared to meet. That is perfectly fair.
– They estimate a total cost of something like £522.000.
– That is the estimated cost of re-arming the whole of the forts in a certain way. That may be increased or decreased according to the force we must be prepared to meet. If we have to meet battleships, 12-inch guns will be required ; if armed cruisers. 9.2-inch guns ; and if other vessels, 6-inch guns will be sufficient.
– The honorable senator is simply repeating the speech he made on Friday. It is no doubt very interesting, but I have it in print. He said : -
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.
He mentions that 9.2-inch guns and 7.5-inch guns will be required- The actual number of guns which the military advisers propose for the purpose is given, so that it is not a scheme for an hour, but a carefullyconsidered and cut and dried scheme. According to the honorable senator’s statement, there are to be four 9. 2 -inch guns, which will cost £122,000; eighteen 7. 5-inch guns at a cost of £324,000; and thirty-four 12pounders at a cost of £76,000, making a total of £522,000. These are essential apparently for re-arming our forts.
– Has the Government set to work to accomplish this? There is nothing on the Estimates for the purpose.
– No ; but the Minister of Defence lays this down as necessary.
– He does nothing of the sort, and the honorable senator knows it. That is a very unfair thing to say. What I said was that that is what my advisers suggest will be necessary. I have never said that it is necessary.
– Then what was the good of mentioning it? Of what use is it to say that we require 9.2-inch guns unless the Minister is satisfied that a certain class of attack will be developed? Why should the Minister mention 9.2-inch guns at all until he has decided the class of ship that is going to attack our forts? As a matter of fact, I believe that his advisers have made up their minds to get 9.2-inch guns for certain favoured harbors.
– Is Fremantle one of them ?
– No, Fremantle is not one of them. Although they propose the spending of money on new guns and anticipate that 9. 2 -inch guns will be necessary, none apparently are required for Fremantle.
– Not at Fort Forrest?
– Fort Forrest is already armed with 6-inch guns.
– Fort Forrest is not yet built, as a matter of fact. It is particularly amusing to find Lt.-Col. Bridges laying down 9.2-inch as the highest calibre of gun which it is necessary to put in any fort, because I presume that that is his opinion, otherwise it would not have been put in print. If that is not his opinion, it was absolutely unnecessary to bring it before the Senate. When he was asked by the Minister to demolish my speech he said, “ Why stop at 9.2-inch guns ? If we are going to deal with an armoured cruiser, why not have 12-inch guns?” He was perfectly aware of the folly of his remark, as may be shown by the fact that he does not advocate a 12 -inch gun for any fort in Australia. That in itself is the bes.t possible answer I could give to his comment in ridicule of my proposal. I now come to the question of arming the fort at Fremantle. The Minister referred my speech to two military experts, namely, Colonel Owen and Lt. -Col. Bridges, and in my defence I wish to deal very shortly with their remarks. Colonel Owen’s theory is that to shell the shipping at Fremantle the enemy’s ship would have to come inside a certain! zone, which would’ be within a range at which’ the 6-inch gun could penetrate the armour. If we believe that a ship is deliberately going to run into that zone without first taking step’s, to silence the fort, his arguments are reasonable. But “I and1 many other persons do not believe that the enemy’s ship would do anything of the kind. If the ship be an armoured cruiser, such as, the Colonial Defence Committee indicated we might expect attacks from, I believe that with its 9.2-inch guns she would silence the 7.5-inch guns in Fort Forrest. Lt.-Col. Bridges goes into elaborate calculations about the penetrative power of shell, but unfortunately he does not give a single range from which we could check his calculations. He simply gives the penetrative power at an unknown range, and, in addition to that, he points out that there is no reason why we should not have a 12 -inch gun instead of a 9. 2 -inch gun. ‘ Personally, I am content with the latter. But the point is that if it is expected that only unarmoured cruisers will attack Fremantle, I do not consider that there is the least justification for saying that anything stronger than unarmoured cruisers are likely to attack either Melbourne or Sydney. In these circumstances, if a 9.2-inch gun is quite unnecessary for Fremantle, it is equally unnecessary for either Melbourne or Sydney. On the other hand, if the Military Department is satisfied that those guns are wanted in either Melbourne or Sydney, they are equally wanted at Fremantle, and that opinion is borne out by everybody who is not solely interested in the defence of either Melbourne or Sydney. I now come to the question of field artillery. I cannot help thinking that the Minister makes a very grave mistake - of course at the instigation of his military advisers - when he says that we have eighty uptodate field guns. His estimate is that we have twenty-four 18 pounders; these guns are under order, and will shortly be in the country. I give him these. Then he says that we have forty-eight 15 pounders. From a return furnished to the Senate on the 28th July, 1904, we gather that at that date there were thirty 15 pounder guns in the Commonwealth, and that six 12 pounder guns were in England to be converted, bringing the total number up to thirty-six. If Senator Playford be right, twelve more of these guns must have been converted since that date, in defiance of a statement made to the other House last year by Mr. McCay to the effect that after looking into the matter, he stopped theconversion of any more of the 15-pounder guns. At an early date last year I called the attention of the Senate to the fact, and it became apparent from the figures which were then submitted, that it was most reckless extravagance to have these guns converted, instead of purchasing, 18-pounder guns. Mr. McCay looked into this question, and, so far as one can gather fromHansard, he apparently thoroughly agreed with that point of view, and stated that the conversion of these guns would be stopped. It never made the guns efficient or up-to-date. If Senator Playford’s figures are right, twelve guns have been converted since that time. As his military advisers are not present, it is not fair to expect him to give an answer at the moment, but I trust that he will look into the matter, and give us further information. I now come to the analysis of twenty-eight of these guns last year. Only sixteen of the twenty-eight guns had a modern breech arrangement, and twelve had an old mechanism, and were at that date practically obsolete. So that, at any rate, twelve of the guns with which Senator Playford is so pleased have what is officially described as an “obsolete breech mechanism.” If these twelve guns have been converted in spite of what Mr. McCay said, all I can say is that it is simply scandalous. One point, however, on which we can thoroughly congratulate the Minister is the provision of military education. What he said on that subject was by far the most satisfactory statement he made during his whole speech. I gather that an arrangement hasbeen made with Sydney University for the establishment of a Chair. It is not perfectly clear what the Chair is to be, but I understand that an arrangement is being made by which officers can be educated in Australia to a standard at which they cart receive commissions in the British Army.
– That is an arrangement on which we can all cordially congratulate the honorable gentleman and his Government.
– And the University of Sydney.
– We owe a great deal to Sir Normand MacLaurin, the Chancellor of the Sydney University, who has taken a great interest’ in this matter.
– It cannot be too widely known that this arrangement has been made. I am sure that every member of this Parliament must cordially approve of what the Minister has done in that connexion. In fact, I should have been quite prepared, and I am sorry that he has not seen his way, to contribute towards the cost of the Chair, for I understand that it is to cost the Commonwealth nothing.
– The Chair will not cost the Commonwealth anything. All they ask for is an annual grant of £200 to provide ammunition, so that they may be able to give some practice.
– That apparently is the only step in the right direction which the honorable senator’s colleagues have been able to take.
– It is the Imperial authorities who deserve credit for the origination of this idea. They asked the Universities in Australia whether they could do something, and the only one which could was the Svdney University.
– To my mind, it is extremely important and desirable that a similar system should be introduced in connexion with the naval cadetships. It is considered a very great hardship that pare’nts who desire to participate in the naval cadetships, which are offered to Australian boys, should be obliged to send their sons to England when they are extremely young, and perhaps have no friends or homes there to go to during rh holidays. It is not right that parents should be expected to practically lose touch of their sons during the most interesting stage of their career, when they are most susceptible to all sorts of influence, and when it is most necessary that they should have the influence of home. If the Minister could turn his attention to that state of affairs, and endeavour to get a similar arrangement made in connexion with the naval cadetship, it would be a very desirable thing. I do not know if he has thought about it at all.
– I have not had a chance to inquire into the matter. I do not know that we have any school, unless the’ boys could be trained on board the Auxiliary Squadron.
– There ought to be some method of training the boys in the country to which they belong. It ought not to be necessary to send them to England for that purpose. If it is possible for the British Government to make an arrangement in connexion with’ commissions in the Army, it seems to me that it would be equally possible to make an arrangement in connexion with cadetships in the Navy. When the Minister was making his speech, a question arose in. connexion with volunteers and militia, and he took exception to my statement that Major-General Hutton’s view was that all the troops should be turned into militia, and that there should be no volunteers, as I stated, in order that he might be able to send them abroad in time of war - a thing which he could not do in the case of volunteers. I have taken the trouble to look up Hansard. The original Defence Bill contained a clause under which every person in the Defence Forces could be sent compulsorily abroad, including the members of rifle clubs. After the Bill was read a second time, it was withdrawn bv Sir John Forrest. At a later date, he introduced a Defence Bill containing this clause -
The services of the permanent forces, and of all persons continuously employed in the active forces, on regular pay and duty, may at all times be utilized wherever required either within or beyond the limits of the Commonwealth. ,
That was Major-General Hutton’s object in turning all the volunteers into militia. On the 5th August, 1903, Mr. Higgins moved to strike out the clause. Sir John Forrest s.poke strongly in favour of its retention. He contended that it was perfectly absurd to maintain any forces if the Minister of Defence might not send them wherever he liked. He spoke of Mr. Higgins’ idea as a “ little Australia “ idea. He did his very bes.t to prevent the clauses from being eliminated, but it was rejected, and so the most objectionable feature of his measure was removed. I merely call attention to that, because it seems to be thought by some honorable senators that I was mistaken when I interjected on Friday that the militia had been organized simply to avoid having any volunteers, whose services could not be made available outside Australia. As to the special appropriation of the Minister, in which he has cut out the cost of making saddles, accoutrements, and saddle-trees,, I have nothing to say. I cam only express the hope that the alterations he proposes to make will turn out to lie all right. It is impossible for us to criticise departmental arrangements of that sort. We must accept them as they come before us. But I trust that the Minister has given these matters his personal study in a way that he maintains previous Ministers were not called upon to do with the scheme of organization. Now, I have done with defence, and I propose to call attention to the vote for the Vancouver mail service. I have already stated my opinion on that matter, but as a vote appears in the Appropriation Bill, I must criticise it as a waste of money. It is not a mail service, nor is it in any other way of advantage to Australia. The position appears to be this : I gather from the English newspapers that the action of Sir William Lyne in adding railway freight to the invoice value of goods for Customs purposes, has rendered it almost certain that Canada cannot ship goods to Australia by this subsidized line. Therefore, we find exactly the same position brought about as exists in regard to the Pacific Islands. We subsidize a line of steamers to the Pacific, with the object of encouraging and developing trade with the islands, and we bar all the products of those countries, by prohibitive duties, from entering the Commonwealth. We deliberately take steps by our protective Tariff to prevent the successful operation of the bounties which we pay to shipping companies. Exactly the same kind of thing happens in connexion with the Vancouver mail service. We pay a large subsidy to a steam-ship company to promote trade between Canada and Australia, and then bv our ridiculous protective Tariff, we render it absolutely impossible for that trade to develop. Can anything be more absurd ? Could there be a more ridiculous waste of money than to persist in such a policy?
– We get cheap harvesters by securing cheap freights and then grumble at their being “ dumped.”
– I will read an extract so that honorable senators may know the authority for my statement. I quote from a telegram published in the Times, dated Ottawa, 6th October: -
It is feared that the decision of the Australian Government to add inland transportation charges to the invoices of goods for Customs duty purposes may lead to the withdrawal by the Dominion Government of the subsidy to the CanadianAustralian steam-ship line on the Pacific. The bulk of the freight carried by this line is furnished by eastern Canadian houses, which will now be compelled to export vid New York.
– Is not the reference to harvesters, which are the goods as to which the Government added transportation charges to the invoice value?
– The harvesters are made in Lower Canada, and would not be carted to Vancouver in order that they might be shipped to Australia.
– The telegram goes on to say -
Therefore there will be no advantage to Canada in keeping up the service. Instead it is probable that a freight line to New Zealand will be arranged, Parliament having voted an annual subsidy of $50,000 (£10,000) for this purpose.
There is a plain, deliberate statement of facts emanating from Canada - that Sir William Lyne’s action, rightly or wrongly,, will act as a complete block to any tradecoming over in the subsidized line of steamers to which we pay a large sum for the purpose of promoting trade.
– It is usual to add carriage to the value of goods for Customspurposes.
– I do not know what the usual thing is. I am merely pointing out the result of our policy. It is a policy that should make any sensiblepeople simply shake themselves to deathwith laughter.
– But it is the usual practice.
– That is what I complain of. It is our practice to subsidize steam-ship services, and then to make sure that trade, for developing which we pay the subsidy, is not developed. The consequence is that we subsidize steam-ship lines for nothing.
– The honorable senator is merely supposing that to be the case which is not the case. It is a mere assertion.
– It is an assertion borne out by the telegram I have read from a reliable” newspaper called the Times. There is another point upon which, I wish to touch before I sit down. I wish to allude to the so-called historical pictureof the opening of the Federal Parliament by Mr. Roberts. I understand that, hidden’ away in. the schedule to this Bill, is a, sum of money to defray the expense of transporting the picture from London to Australia, and sending it throughout the various States on show ; but I cannot find the item. I should like the Minister to indicate under what vote that sum of money is embraced, in order that I may be able to oppose it.
– I know nothing, about it.
– Does the Minister say that it is not hidden away in theschedule ?
– I have looked’ through the explanations of the various votes, and I cannot see it.
– The facts arethese : An application was apparently made by the Australian Government to the Colonial Secretary to allow the picture to be brought out to Australia, because it was said that it was of public interest. The picture was apparently sentout by the Victorian Agent-General, who particularly interested himself in the matter, at the expense of the Commonwealth. It was exhibited in Parliament House at the expense of the Commonwealth, and I believe that it has been circulated from State to State at the expense of the Commonwealth. I have the strongest objection to that picture as an historical representation of what took place at the inauguration of this Parliament. There are people represented in the picture who were not present at the ceremony. There are the portraits of persons amongst the senators who were not at that time senators. There is a certain Mr. Saunders, who was not a senator at that time, and yet I can assure honorable senators that his face may be seen rising like a full moon over the faces of other Members of Parliament. Is that a sort of painting that any one would call an historical painting? I have no personal knowledge concerning a number of statements which have been made to me by other members of the Senate ; but I trust that when the matter comes up again they will personally make the statements in the Senate that they have made to me in connexion with the methods employed by individuals for securing the insertion of their portraits in the picture.
– What about copies of the engraving which have been secured ?
– I should be out of order in touching upon that, because it is not included in the schedule. But I strongly object to the money of the Commonwealth being spent in circulating that picture.
– I fancy the money is not included in the schedule.
– It must be. It is true that I have not come across it, though I have gone carefully through the schedule. But I have some authority for my statement that the picture was brought out at the expense of the Commonwealth. I made inquiries at the office of External Affairs, and was so informed.
– Application was made to me by the Prime Minister to have the picture exhibited in the hall.
– I am aware of that, because I saw the letter. You, sir, agreed that the picture should stand in the hall for fourteen days, but, as a matter of fact, it . stood there for sixteen. I consider it most objectionable that these things should be done and Parliament kept in the dark.
– The picture is an entire travesty of the ceremony, so far as regards the members present and the positions they occupied.
– An”historical” picture - and that, I understand, is the official adjective applied to it - the work is not. It may be a great work of art.
– Was it not a syndicate picture?
– No doubt it is a work of art of some merit, but why the Commonwealth should be interested in circulating it is absolutely beyond my comprehension.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clauses 2 and 3 postponed.
– I suggest that it would be advisable to report progress. A number of honorable senators, who desire to speak on items in the schedule, have left the Chamber under the impression that the second-reading debate would not conclude to-night, and if we. proceed they may be taken by surprise.
– Before the Minister replies, I should like to point out that, with a view to expedite business, more than onehonorable senator has refrained from speaking on the second reading. If Senator Pearce’s suggestion be adopted, business, instead of being expedited, will be retarded. There is not the slightest doubt that honorable senators would have addressed themselves to the second reading but for the desire which I have indicated. I do not suggest to the Minister that he should either accept or decline to adopt the suggestion made by Senator Pearce, But the Minister ought to know exactly what has happened. If progress be reported now, honorable senators will, as I say, have refrained from speaking without gaining the object they had in view.
– As honorable senators may imagine, I am well satisfied with the progress that has been made. I had not anticipated that the debate on the second reading would have terminated until, at any rate, late to-night. I recognise the force of what Senator Pearce has said on the one hand, and also what Senator Clemons has said on the other, and I. only wish I could agree with both. There is no doubt that some honorable senators who have left the Chamber may desire to address themselves to some of the items in the early part of the schedule; and if we were to proceed, the Government might be asked to recommit certain items.
– I am afraid the Minister is about to establish a very dangerous precedent.
– Under the circumstances, I am rather inclined to agree with Senator Pearce.
– Why should we not sit till about 10 o’clock ? I am one who refrained from addressing myself to the second reading, but I am not going to be so inconsiderate as to press the Minister to proceed with the items of the schedule. If there is any particular item which the Minister thinks absent honorable senators would like to discuss, they may be postponed.
– We might report progress and proceed with the consideration of the motion in reference to the. Queen Victoria memorial.
– I move -
I may be excused for my lack of preparation, because I did not anticipate that I should have to submit this motion, to-night. I may begin by saying that this proposal was carried in another place. The first reference which I can find to the question of a national memorial to Queen Victoria is in a despatch signed by Mr. Chamberlain, and dated from Downing-street on 10th June, 1901. It is addressed to the Governor-General of Australia, and is as follows : -
You are doubtless aware that a. Committee was, in February last, appointed by His Majesty the King to consider the best means of giving effect to the desire which is so universally felt that a memorial of Her late Majesty Queen. Victoria, Imperial and not local in its character, should be erected in London as the metropolis and centre of the Empire over which she ruled for more than sixty years. The recommendation of the Committee was in favour of a memorial of a strictly personal and monumental kind, in which a statue of her late Majesty should form a most prominent feature ; and the King expressed his approval of this proposal and of the site in front of Buckingham. Palace which has been selected. The general idea of the scheme is to place in front of the Palace a group or groups of statuary, of which the statue of Queen Victoria will form the central figure, and; if funds admit, to form an imposing architectural and processional approach to the main group, of statuary and to the Palace, with statues at intervals representative of the Colonies and Dependencies of the Empire.
The subject was also considered at an Imperial Conference relating to Colonial affairs, and there an undertaking was arrived at that New Zealand and other portions of the Empire would each bear a certain proportion of the expense. As to her late Majesty, we are all aware that during her long reign she endeared herself to the whole of her people. In all her relations of life - as girl Queen, wife, mother, widow, and constitutional monarch - her conduct won the admiration and respect of all hersubjects. It is somewhat appropriate that a motion of this kind should be submitted in the State in which we are met. Victoria was named after the late Queen, and the capital city of the State was named after her first Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, who directed her when she, as a mere girl, ascended the throne, and instructed her in those lessons of constitutional government which she remembered and followed for the rest of her life. To Lord Melbourne a deep debt of gratitude was owing, not only by the Queen, but by all her subjects. It may be said that Queen Victoria saw the growth of Australia from the time when it consisted of the three Colonies of New South Wales, Tasmania, and Western Australia, until it developed into the Commonwealth. She granted or approved of the constitutions that were conceded to the various divisions of this continent by the Imperial Parliament, and her crowning work,just before she died, was to sign the Constitution under which we live. Thus, the late Queen survived .to see the Australian Commonwealth firmly established. One virtue of Queen Victoria, of which we are justly proud, is that she was content “ to be .throughout a constitutional monarch. She governed on- precedents that were established partly in the reign of William and Mar)-, and partly in the reign of the first and second Georges, and, subsequently, under the influence of Whig traditions. I have no recollection of her late Majesty ever having shown the slightest feeling of antagonism to any of her Prime Ministers. Of course, we know that in the case of Lord Palmerston she on one occasion objected very strongly to his dealing with despatches without her knowledge, and the result was that he had to retire from office. However, in the course of about- eighteen months Lord Palmerston was again Prime Minister, and the Queen gave him her unbounded confidence, although I have no doubt she felt rather keenly that he had treated her some- what unfairly. The Queen always .recognised that the man who had the confidence of the Commons was the .man who ought to be entrusted with the formation of die Ministry, and the Prime Minister, whoever he might be, always had her loyal support. As to the proposed memorial, it is, estimated tq cost £1,000,000, of which the Colonies will, it is believed, contribute £100,000. To quote a statement made in another place -
The improvements which have been taking place in London in recent years have altered great portions of that old city almost beyond recognition, and this memorial is intended to be the crowning part of 1 one of these .great schemes of improvement and beautification. The idea is that the contribution of the mother country - as far as I am aware it has not been voted yet - will be about nine-tenths of the total sum. The remaining portions of the Empire which have acted already are Canada, which has voted ^30,000, Cape Colony, which has voted ^20,000, New Zealand, which has voted .£15,000, Natal, which has voted ,£10,000, and Newfoundland, which has voted £2,000. Measuring them roughly by order of population, it has been estimated that on this scale a grant of ,£25,000 on the part of Australia will represent its fair contribution to the fund. That means that the outer Empire, so to speak, is expected to contribute about £100,000 of the £.1,000,000, almost the whole of which will be devoted to the provision of a statue of the Queen, surrounded by statues or other emblems representative of all parts of the Empire over which she ruled.
There are two points on which I desire to say a word or two. One honorable sena tor has given notice that he intends to move the addition of the following words - provided that such memorial be a public hospital to be erected in an Australian city chosen by the Commonwealth Parliament.
If before she died Her late Majesty Queen Victoria had been informed that some memorial was to be erected in her honour, and had been asked whether it should take the form of the memorial to which I have alluded, or that indicated by Senator Stewart, I have my doubts as u> the answer which she would have /given. Knowing as we do how charitable she was, it is -possible that she would have said, “ Erect some institution which will be at the same time a memorial of me and useful to the poor and needy of my kingdom.” But it must he remembered that in this case we have not a determining voice. We must to some extent follow others, since we are contributing a mere moiety of the large sum which it is proposed to expend. Others have proposed a form of memorial which I have indicated, and as is proved by the despatch received, from Mr. Chamberlain, His Majesty the King has, expressed a wish that it should take that form. In the circumstances, I hope Senator Stewart will not press his amendment. No doubt the honorable senator and many other persons believe that it would be better that the memorial should take the form he has suggested ;; but as we are contributing only so small a proportion of the amount to be expended, and as. the proposal has been elaborated, considered, and practically decided, I hope the amendment will not be pressed. The honorable senator suggests a further amendment to the following effect : -
That the people of the Commonwealth of Australia be invited to contribute by private subscription the balance of such sum as may be necessary for the erection and endowment of such memorial hospital.
The idea of erecting a national memorial to the late Queen was mooted before the inauguration of the Commonwealth, and it was then suggested that the proposal might be given effect to by means of private subscriptions, and in other ways. My own idea is that there is not a man or woman in the Commonwealth who has any knowledge of the late Queen Victoria wEb, no matter how poor he or she might be, would begrudge contributing what would amount to something like ijd. each for the purpose of erecting a memorial to a Queen who was so much beloved. I think that the people of the Commonwealth would prefer to contribute in this way than that the rich of the community should be asked for subscriptions. They would prefer a national’ memorial, to which every member of the community could contribute. The motion I ‘ have moved has been agreed to in another place. The .£25,000 amounts to a very small sum per head of the population of the Commonwealth, and under the motion rich and poor will contribute alike. The only way in which that can be arranged is by taking the money required for the purpose from the Consolidated Revenue, to which all the people of the Commonwealth subscribe. This must be admitted to be preferable to any proposal to ask for private subscriptions, under which a few rich people would possibly advertise themselves to a considerable extent by having their subscriptions paraded in the newspapers. It is far better that we should all subscribe the very small sum per head involved in the vote towards the memorial of the good Queen, who kept her Court so pure. Those of us who have any knowledge of the Courts of George I., George II., George IV., and even of William IV., who preceded the late Queen, and who have read in Greville’s Memoirs of her early days as a Queen, must hold her memory in high regard on account of the way in which she purified her Court. I have very much pleasure in moving the motion.
– I am sure we all agree with what Senator Playford has said about the late Queen Victoria. There can be no doubt that she filled the position of Sovereign very worthilymuch more worthily, I believe, than did some of her predecessors. It is only natural, probably, that the people of the Empire should desire to signalize in some way a reign which was so momentous from the social, industrial, and political aspect. I find no fault with the central idea of this motion. The Victorian era has probably been one of the most wonderful in history, and it is fitting that it should be signalized in some way. The Minister of Defence, in introducing the motion, stated that the memorial is to take the form of an avenue with a number of statues in London. The honorable senator also said, and I agree with him, that if the late Queen herself had had an opportunity of choosing in what way her memory should be perpetuated, the proba bility is that she would have decided in favour of the amendment I propose. It is perfectly well-known that Her late Majesty was a sincere sympathizer with suffering of . every kind, and that she disliked show and ostentation was proved by the comparative privacy in which she spent her long life and her long reign. I repeat that I have no objection to the leading idea of the motion, but what I do object to is that the memorial should take the form proposed. I ask honorable senators to say what good a number of statues on a fine street in London will do to any one ? It is proposed to spend a very large sum of money. Of course, we have nothing to do with how the people of Great Britain, of Canada, and other portions of the Empire spend their money. That is their business. What we have to do is to say that the memorial proposed is not one that would be an effective expression of our feelings towards the late Queen. In the first place, any Australian memorial to Queen Victoria should be situated in Australia. I think also that the. memorial ought to be such as would express in living fashion the life and works of the late Queen. It is very generally admitted that a hospital, an institution devoted’ to the amelioration of those suffering from disease, would be a much more effective tribute to “the life of Queen Victoria than any statue however nobly planned and designed it might be. We have surely got beyond the barbarous ideas of the ancient Roman Empire, when vast sums of money were spent in mere marble or stone and lime, while tens of thousands of people were permitted to live and die after suffering the greatest hardship? If we must signalize the memory of the late Queen, and I think it is desirable that we should do so, let. us adopt the means suggested by the amendment of which I have given notice. I propose to add to the second paragraph of the motion the words -
Provided such memorial be a public hospital to be erected in an Australian city chosen by the Commonwealth Parliament.
I propose to move also the omission of paragraph 3, in order to substitute the following words : -
That the people of the Commonwealth of Australia_ be invited to contribute by private subscription the balance of such sum as may be necessary for the erection and endowment of such memorial hospital.
If these amendments are carried, we shall, first of all, have a national contribution to the proposed memorial - a contribution from the nation as a corporate body - and, in the second place, we shall have the spontaneous contributions of a large number of the citizens of Australia, who, I am sure, will be only too glad of any opportunity to lay their offerings at the shrine of Her late “Majesty. This, it appears to me, would be a much better way of expressing our admiration of the Queen’s character and career than merely voting a sum of £25,000 out of the Consolidated Revenue. Senator Playford said that the motion proposes a much better way of doing the thing than any other suggested. 1 beg respectfully to differ with him. I think that if the Commonwealth were to make its offer in the shape of £25,000, its citizens - not the rich alone, but the tens of . thousands of men and women, who, I am sure, admire the character and reverence the memory of the late Queen - would also have an opportunity of contributing, and the memorial, whatever shape it might take, would be a much fuller, fitter, and more lasting expression of our feeling towards Her late Majesty. Therefore, I shall move to add to paragraph 2 the words of which I have given notice-
– Of course the honorable senator is perfectly justified in moving the amendment in the way which he wishes to do, but I would ask him to consider whether it would not be better to move for the omission of paragraph 3, and the insertion of his two proposals as one amendment.
– I will adopt that course. I’ move -
That paragraph 3 be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : -
Provided that such memorial be a public hospital, to be erected in an Australian city chosen by the Commonwealth Parliament, and that the people of the Commonwealth of Australia be invited to contribute by private subscription the balance of such sum as may be necessary for the erection and endowment of such memorial hospital.
– I do not think that there is any honorable senator who will fail to recognise and appreciate the entirely sympathetic character of the remarks made by Senator Stewart. At the same time, I think he will be inclined to recognise that it would be a pity for Australia, at the last hour, to pass a resolution which might prevent the carrying out of a great Empire memorial. T believe I am correct in stating that the whole of the money which is wanted for this great memorial of our departed Queen has been obtained, except that which Australia is asked to contribute. Of the entire cost of £1,000,000, Australia is expected1 to contribute 2J per cent. To me it is exceedingly regrettable that the idea should be entertained that there should be a great Empire memorial in which Australia is to be. conspicuous by her absence, although it might be that we have a memorial of our own in Australia. I do not fail to recognise the force of the remarks made by Senator Stewart. If, at the outset of this movement, it had been suggested that each part of the Empire should have its own memorial, then his suggestions would have come in very well, and we should have been able to discuss them with freer minds than I fear we can db to-day. It would be very regrettable if Australia should decide to stand out of this Empire memorial. T do not think that Senator Stewart would wish to press it, if he felt that it would in any way detract from the significance of the grant. The great thing is to do that which is best to attain our object. As we are united in a desire to make the most effective use of the money, and to do that which will most effectively and. conspicuously show our appreciation of the great and good Queen Victoria, I hope that Senator Stewart will see his way to complete our indebtedness to him by withdrawing his amendment, so that the motion may be carried by a unanimous vote.
– I think we all agree with Senator Stewart that it would be a splendid thing if it were possible to have a big hospital erected in a cit, to be chosen by the Commonwealth Parliament, as a memorial in honour of the late Queen. But if seems to me that his proposal is not altogether practicable. Suppose that it was decided to have a large hospital erected in a city to be chosen bv the Commonwealth Parliament. It would immediately cause considerable dispute, perhaps, much ill-feeling, throughout Australia, as to the city in which it should, be erected. As we do not seem to be within measurable distance of the time when we are likely to commence the building of the Federal Capital, probably it would be some years before we could make a start with the erection of a memorial in that shape. After all, it is not a very large sum for Australia as a whole, to contribute. While. I recognise that the State I represent is. through its Parliament, always complaining that it is not retting as much revenue from the Federal Treasury as it expected to receive, and that, it is in rather an impecunious condition, still I consider that its proportion of this grant of ^25,000 - ,£1,250 - is a very small sum for its people to . contribute. Holding that the amendment is not practicable, and believing that the people of my State would not like Australia to hold aloof from this national memorial, I feel that I shall be quite justified in voting for the motion as it stands.
Debate (on motion by Senator Pearce) adjourned.
Senate ‘adjourned at g.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 November 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19051122_senate_2_29/>.