2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– Inquiry is being made, and answers will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
If he is aware -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - 1. (1) The figures quoted differ from the official returns; doubtless they represent the values landed in England. The official figures show a decrease in exports till 1904, and a slight increase in 1905. (2), (3), (4). Nothing is known on these points beyond press reports.
– Arising out of the answers, I desire to ask the Minister whether he will make further inquiry, with a view to ascertaining whether the reports which have appeared in the press, and which have been detrimental to the interests of the Commonwealth, are correct or incorrect?
– I shall ask the Minister of Trade and Customs to get whatever information he can on the subject, and furnish it to the honorable senator.
Native Carriers : Mail Contract : Goorabari Affair
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - 1 to 4. No official information has reached the Department of any change in the regulations on this point. It will be remembered that the natives of the Eastern Division of British New Guinea are small men, and that, moreover, all natives before being engaged have to appear before a Government officer, whose duty it is to refuse to sign them on if physically unfit.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
British New Guinea mail contract is not giving satisfaction ?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
What was the cost of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Goorabari affair?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : - £542 7s.11d., inclusive of £144 17s. 9d., cost of printing report as Parliamentary Paper.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will the Postmaster-General, before adopting any system of wireless telegraphy, call for tenders for such service, with a view to the Com monwealth adopting the best and cheapest system, and with the object of affording all wireless telegraphy companies an equal opportunity ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Tenders will be called.
Defence : Imperial Defence Committee’s Report : Naval Cadets - Papua: Administration: Lieut. Governor - Federal Capital Site - Launceston Post-office : Charges by Detective : Post-office at Sydney Railway Station : Telegraphic Chess Match.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– I desire to refer to the report of the Imperial Defence Committee. It is a most important document by reason of the source from which it emanates, and the subject with which it deals. It is very unsatisfactory that when laying the report before Parliament the Government did not submit their own views thereon.
– The honorable senator must give us time. It deals with a most important subject.
– It is extremely inadvisable that the report should go forth to the world without the Government being prepared to make a statement. The Minister of Defence says “You must give us time.” But I have a distinct recollection that during last session he indicated various problems which had.to be dealt with, and made a distinct promise that in this session he would be prepared to submit a concrete policy for the defence of the Commonwealth. What scheme have we got? The honorable senator has made no proposals, and we are still in exactly the same position as before. It seems to me that the report of the Imperial Defence Committee is being circulated’ with the direct purpose of influencing public opinion against the proposals put forward by the Naval Director for the commencement of an Australian Navy. We all know that throughout Australia there has been a reaction against the payment of the naval subsidy, and that if the people were polled to-morrow the probability is that the great majority would be against the contin’uance of that subsidized form of defence.
– They were never in favour of it.
– I do not believe that they were. Although the Imperial Defence Committee are inferentially supporting the payment of that subsidy, and opposing the proposal for the establishment of an Australian Navy, yet the Government, which last session promised to bring down this session a distinct policy, are circulating the report of that body, and making no defence of Captain Creswell’s scheme, or giving us their opinions on the subject. The Government have had the report of Captain Creswell in their possession for twelve months, and the whole of the recess in which to consider it, and make up their minds, but today they are as far off a decision as ever they were. What will be the position at the elections ? So far as the Government is concerned, we shall go to the country with no defence policy. but with a report from a verv high and influential source, the effect oi which is that we should continue the present unsatisfactory system, and wipe out some of our forts. One who reads the report can come to no other conclusion than that the only point of view from which the Imperial Defence Committee looked at the subject was the defence of the capital cities, and of the trade of the Empire. The defence of Australian trade and interests was a matter of secondary importance to the Committee, who looked at the subject through English glasses. They state in their memorandum that it is proposed -
To examine the requirements of a detailed scheme for the defence of the ports of the Commonwealth.
Are we to understand that the only defence policy we are to contemplate is one relating to the ports of the Commonwealth, and that the defence of our trade and commerce is to be put absolutely on one side? In paragraph 3, dealing with strategical considerations, the Committee say -
This policy of active offence against the enemy’s naval forces, as opposed to one of local naval defence of our own coasts, is still, as it has always been, the only possible way of giving effective protection to the shipping and maritime commerce in every sea on which the economic life of the widely-dispersed members of the Empire depends.
That is an entire fallacy. The English policy of defence is not based on those lines at all. It is well known that the English coasts are protected by torpedo flotillas, and that the torpedo boats would not be sent out to any part of the Empire, no matter what the emergency might be, but kept localized for the defence of English trade and commerce round the coast. In paragraph 4 the Committee say -
With a view to impairing our measures of concentration in war, and inducing us to weaken our main fleets, the enemy may endeavour to create a widespread feeling of insecurity and alarm throughout the Empire, by utilizing such classes of vessels as are unfitted for taking part in the decisive actions in raiding our sea-borne trade, and threatening distant portions of the Empire.
Tn that paragraph the Committee contemplate the very thing which we have always been emphasizing, that when the great battles, in which they contemplate employing the Australian Squadron, if needs be, were being fought, raids might be made upon distant portions of the Empire. We have to look at this question from the point of view that Australia is a distant portion of the Empire. Is it a matter of secondary importance to Australia that the distant portions of the Empire are to be subject to raids? It is certainly a matter of secondary importance to England, but it is a matter of primary importance to Australia. In this very paragraph the Committee prove that they are absolutely incapable of looking at the question from the Australian point of view.
– Oh ! draw it mild.
– There is no possibility of speaking with mildness when dealing with a subject which affects the existence of our country, and with which the Government seem absolutely impotent to deal.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the defence of our ports is not a matter of secondary importance to Great Britain in maintaining her position as mistress of the seas?
– So far as we in Australia are concerned, the possibility of a raid upon our coast is a matter of firstrate importance to us, and our duty to ourselves and to the Empire is to make ourselves safe against such a contingency.
– Is -it not a matter of secondary importance to any great battle which may hare to be fought in order to decide who shall be mistress of the seas?
– The honorable senator is quite missing the point that the memorandum does not. deal with the question of the defence of the Empire, but purposes to deal with the question of Australian defence.
– Not as an isolated matter.
– If it were a memorandum on the defence of the Empire I could understand that statement being made, but when it deals solely with the defence of Australia that paragraph shows that its authors are incapable of grasping the position from the Australian point of view. The Committee go on to say -
Although in themselves such raiding operations will be only of secondary importance, as the ultimate issue of the war must depend on the result of the fleet actions, it will be necessary to take a vigorous offensive against all such outlying raiding vessels in order to prevent the disturbance of trade and demoralization which might be caused by their depredations.
– Is not that dealing with the defence of the Empire?
– Certainly, so far as the main action is . concerned. We have to recognise that the main action must be fought by the British Fleet, We could take no part in that action, but we would be intimately concerned in the raids which in this report are stated to be possible, and which are described to be of secondary importance. I repeat that while they are of secondary importance to the Empire as a whole they are of primary importance to Australia.
– They are not, with all respect.
– In paragraph 5 the Committee say -
It is the constant policy of the Admiralty to keep our squadrons on distant stations sufficiently strong to protect our trade from attack by the foreign squadrons normally stationed in those seas.
Here is another singular paragraph -
It is, of course, possible that in war time an enemy might send out additional cruisers to attack our Colonial trade, but in this case our superiority in vessels of this class and our greater facilities of ports would enable us to despatch a preponderating force in pursuit.
When we consider the speed at which such raids can be made, we can only lay the flattering unction to our soul that after the damage has been done, there will be a fleet to pursue and break up the enemy. It is very small consolation to us to be told that we shall have revenge after our coast has been raided ; the first essential is that such raids should be made ineffective by a good system of naval defence. Paragraph 5 states further -
When the presence of a commerce raider in the Eastern seas is reported, it will be desirable to bring her to action without delay, and if i possible before she can reach our own territorial waters.
That is eminently desirable from an Australian point of view, but. it is also eminently desirable that our coasts should not be left defenceless - that we should not have to wait until a cruiser is sent in pursuit. Paragraph 6 shows that the charge I have made against the Committee is borne out by their own statements, as follows : -
Having regard to our present naval strength and dispositions, it follows from the above considerations that attacks on floating trade in distant seas will offer to an enemy but slight prospect of any but very transitory successes.
– Hear, hear.
– But it will be seen that we are to be the victims of those “transitory successes” While it may be of some consolation to know that the enemywill suffer afterwards, we cannot afford to be the victims of those “ transitory successes,” and it is our duty to see that we are not made the victims. The following words from the same paragraph show on what a wrong basis we have been conducting our defence policy -
The oversea conveyance from a distant base of operations of a military expedition strong enough for the latter purpose -
That is, the permanent occupation of Australian territory - and its continued supply with munitions of war when landed, would only be possible to a Power which was mistress of the seas, and was able to destroy or mask all the hostile ships that might at any time be in a position to interrupt the communications of the expeditionary force:
That is to say, we are spending about £800,000 per annum on military forces for the purpose of preventing military occupation, when, according to this report, military occupation is absolutely impossible while the British Fleet has control of the seas. At the same time we are spending nothing, and the report recommends us to continue spending nothing, on naval defence - the only protection from raids which the Committee hold/’ are the one possible form of attack on Australia. Is that not a farcical conclusion? The Committee appear to have looked at the ques- tion, not from an Australian, but from an English point of view. In paragraph 6 they go on to say -
It is evident that so long as British naval strength is calculated and maintained on the basis of securing command of the sea as against ul probable enemies, and protecting the maritime communications of the Empire against disturbance, the attacks upon the Australian ‘ littoral against which land defence is required will be limited to raids hastily carried out by single vessels or small squadrons which have temporarily evaded our naval forces.
In order to cope with those single vessels or small squadrons, we are to continue to expend ,£800,000 a year, although such expenditure will provide absolutely ineffective defence. The vessels mentioned in the paragraph will not need to land any troops, or to come near our fortified ports, in order to “ hold up,” as Captain Creswell has pointed out, the whole trade of Australia ; and the only effective safeguard against raids of the character contemplated is that to ‘be found in that officer’s proposals. The Committee of Imperial Defence, while regarding “these raids as the only means of attack on Australia, condemn Captain Creswell’s suggestions, and support the present wasteful and foolish system of expending £800,000 per annum on military defences, which, according to their own showing, will never be required. Paragraph 6 goes on -
Assuming it to be the object of the raiding vessels to avoid capture by our cruisers for as long a period as possible, while inflicting the maximum of injury on our commerce, their best course would be to remain in open water - and not to come under the fire of our forts - rather than to approach our coasts and commercial ports, where their presence would be quickly reported to’ our own ships, which, especially in Australian waters, will have a great advantage over them in respect of information. In the absence, however, of suitable measures of defence on land, commerce raiders might be induced to raid a port if the advantages to be gained thereby appeared to outweigh the risks involved in the disclosure of their position.
That is to say, under present conditions, those raiders would not come near the coast, but, keeping out in open water, would be able to “ hold up “ the whole of our trade and commerce until the British Admiralty were ‘in a position to despatch a vessel to locate and destroy the enemy.
– Does the honorable senator believe in that?
– That is the theoryput forward by this body of high military authorities.
– Does the honorable senator believe in that last extract from paragraph 6 ?
– I think there is a good deal in it.
– Quite so; then, according to the honorable senator, it would be necessary to spend £3,000,000 on torpedo boats for the ports, and another £5,000,000 on cruisers to protect the trade.
– That is not Captain Creswell’s idea. The terms of the portion of paragraph 6 which I last read are almost identical with those used by Captain Creswell, and exactly bear out that officer’s contention.
– Cruisers, as well as torpedo boats and- destroyers, would be required.
– Torpedo boats and destroyers would be required.
– And also cruisers.
– Not at all. Captain Creswell points out that an unarmoured vessel of that class would not come within striking distance of torpedo boats or destroyers.
– Of course not; but it would hover about and destroy trade outside the ports.
– The honorable senator must know that if torpedo boats and destroyers could reach a vessel of that kind, it would be within striking distance of the coast.
– If the vessel came near ; but there would be no occasion for it to do so.
– If the vessel kept so far out as to be. outside striking distance of torpedo boats and destroyers it would be unable to “hold up “ the commerce of Australia; and that is where the value of torpedo vessels is shown. To spend money on the military for the purpose of meeting this danger is, as I say, farcical. The Committee of Imperial Defence go on to deal with the measures of defence required on land, against attacks bv raiding cruisers on Australian ports, and say - “
From the point of view of the protection of sea-borne commerce, it is necessary to provide a certain number of fortified harbors of refuge.
I draw the particular attention of honorable senators to these words. What does the suggestion mean ? If anything, it means that when raiding cruisers make their appearance, the vessels of our mercantile fleet are to fly to harbors of refuge, and remain there until the cruisers sent by the Imperial Government are able to locate and defeat the enemy. It is contemplated by the Committee of Imperial Defence that we can afford to have all our sea-borne trade locked up in that way ; but that is certainly not the Australian point of view, and it is not a point of view that Australia can afford to take. To carry out a suggestion of the kind might be all very well for the merchants in England, who look merely to the trade which flows between the two countries, but it is by no means acceptable to Australian merchants, and to the workers and consumers here, who are dependent for their prosperity and wellbeing, and, in some cases, for their very existence, on the sea-borne trade on the coast. The Committee contemplate that that sea-borne trade shall be provided for by means of fortified harbors of refuge, where our merchantmen may lie at rest, it may be for months, while people are starving, and trade is paralyzed. In their report in this connexion they proceed to say that there should be provided these fortified harbors - where merchant shipping can, in case of need, seek protection from capture or molestation, and remain in safety until commerce raiders in neighbouring waters have been dealt with by His Majesty’s ships.
I say that that is a humiliating proposal to make to a free people. We are practically told that, while we are able to look after ourselves, so far as our. land defences are concerned, we cannot make provision for the defence of our commerce on the sea, even so- far as a raiding cruiser is concerned. The report goes on to say -
The function of the fixed defences - and that is the only form of defence the’ Committee recommends - will be to keep the enemy’s cruisers at a sufficient distance from the object protected.
There is a glorious prospect for Australian commerce ! We are merely to look forward to the possibility of being able to keep raiding cruisers from getting inside our ports, leaving them to take possession of the whole of the coast-line and all our sea routes. The report proceeds -
Raids on other commercial ports would gain for an enemy no advantage that he could not derive from attacking shipping on the high seas.
That is to say, those raiding vessels would not need to attack our ports, because they could inflict infinitely more damage bv attacking our shipping at sea. That is a doctrine which no Australian, with the interests of his country at heart, could indorse for one moment. On page 7 of the report, where the possibility of dealing with such vessels and hostile squadrons is dealt with, we find the following: -
The recent changes in the distribution of the Royal Navy, which have aimed at disposing our forces in peace in the manner most likely to prove effective in war, have involved the formation of powerful squadrons of armoured cruisers. These changes, and the large number of modern vessels of this type of which this country is now possessed, have an important bearing on the question of the limitations attaching to the action of an. enemy’s armoured cruisers.
The formation of those squadrons does not apply to Australia, because I do not think there is an armoured cruiser on the Station. On the other hand, we know that foreign nations have armoured cruisers on the China Station, and that we recently had a visit from three armoured cruisers belonging to Japan, which were of a formidable character, and in action could have sunk any of the cruisers on the Australian Station. In order to show from this report itself that Captain Creswell ‘s scheme is an effective one, I quote the following from the same page : -
If raiding attacks on Australian ports are attempted, the classes of vessels employed will, therefore, in all probability be those which are of small value for the major operations of naval warfare, such as unarmoured cruisers or armed merchant auxiliaries.
It is sometimes said, when an Australian Navy is advocated, that we cannot afford to purchase and maintain a fleet of battleships and cruisers. But here we have the Committee of Imperial Defence pointing out that we do not need such a fleet - that, in view of the present balance of naval power, the only vessels likely to be sent against us are unarmoured cruisers or merchant auxiliaries. And against such vessels the defence suggested by Captain Creswell would be amply sufficient. On page 13 of the report there is a paragraph to which I direct particular attention, ‘because it exactly describes the present position of Australia -
It may be added that the employment of a naval force as “ a purely defensive line “ is a misapplication of maritime power opposed to every sound principle of naval strategy. To act deliberately on the defensive, and to organize naval forces with this object in view, is to adopt voluntarily the policy which is of necessity forced upon the weaker naval Power.
What would be the position of Australia in the case of a great war? Would it not be that of a “ weaker naval Power” ? And the Committee of Imperial Defence tell us that, in case of war, the best policy for the weaker naval Power is one strictly defensive in regard to its own coast.
– Will the honorable senator read the words which follow?
– The words are -
Australia need not be reduced to assuming such a rôle so long as she is a member of an Empire which is the strongest naval Power in the world, and which extends naval protection not only to the home land and to the most distant of the King’s dominions beyond the seas, but also to all commerce sailing under the British flag.
But, as I pointed out, the Committee, in the first part of their report, contemplate that at the outset there would probably be raids on distant portions of the Empire, and that those raids would meet with some transitory successes. Australia is a distant portion of the Empire, and we are the people at whose expense these transitory successes would be achieved. So far as purely Australian defence is concerned, any attack directed against us by unarmoured cruisers or merchant auxiliaries would place Australia in the position of a weaker naval Power, assuming the Imperial Squadron to have been drawn away to meet a great national emergency in some other part of the world. Under such circumstances, so far as Australia is concerned, the British Fleet would not exist, because it would be occupied elsewhere in defending the main arteries, leading to the heart of the Empire. We should therefore apply the principle which the Committee of Imperial Defence regards as sound, and, as a weaker naval Power, act deliberately on the defensive. To meet such an attack Captain Creswell’s scheme is admitted by the Committee to be sound. I say again, that it is a distinct disappointment that during the last recess the Government was not able to formulate some definite scheme of defence for Australia. A number of questions await settlement, and the people of Australia had a right to be told that some definite scheme would be offered for their acceptance.
– We were distinctly promised that there would be such a scheme
– Yes. the Minister made a definite promise that during the recess he would prepare and be ready to place before us, when we met again, a scheme dealing, not only with military, but with naval defence. But we are approaching the end of the present session, and are still in exactly the same position as we were last session. We have no information, ho statement, no policy. We have the report- of the Imperial Defence Committee, and we have Captain Creswell’s scheme. We -have had that before us for a long time; but the Government makes no indication of what it proposes to do. We have to go before the electors again with no Ministerial policy, and no expression of opinion from the Ministry with regard to the Imperial Defence Committee’s report. Such a position is one of weakness and indecision, and is utterly unworthy of Australia. It is the duty of the Government, at the earliest possible moment, to say what its opinion is upon the report, whether it is intended to abandon altogether the proposal to effectively protect the Australian coasting trade, or whether the Government’s idea of the defence of Australia is merely to provide fortified harbors, leaving our vessels open to hostile attacks, and our cities to raids by an enemy’s cruisers in case of war. I bring forward this matter because 1 am strongly of opinion that an earnest protest should be made against the absolutely paralyzed condition of the defences of Australia.
– I wish again to bring under the notice of the Senate the action of the Government with regard to Papua. We were told some weeks ago that the Government were negotiating to secure the services of Sir William McGregor as Administrator of the Possession. We were told that Parliament would be consulted before anything definite was done. The negotiations failed probably because there was sufficient influence to induce the Imperial authorities to object to Sir William McGregor returning to Papua, that influence being exercised in the interests of a person already there. We understood that if the Government could not obtain Sir William McGregor thev intended to appoint some person within Australia to fill the position. The Government has not made any such attempt, but has, instead, appointed a Royal Commission to inquire how far and in what manner the Government of Australia can assist the development of the Possession, and whether the existing personnel and methods of administration should be altered, and, if so, to what extent. It was a brilliant idea to appoint a Royal Commission. I am much surprised that the press of Victoria - especially the Argus, which has had . a great deal to say about the appointment of Royal Commissions by the Federal Government at other times. - has not had a word to say in criticism of this new Royal Commission, which has been appointed, I think, for the purpose of endeavouring to whitewash Captain Barton. The members of the Commission are.’ first, Colonel Mackay, of New South Wales, a gentleman whom I do not know personally, but who I understand is not the kind of man whom any one would select to give an independent opinion.
– He is a CB., remember.
– The second member of the Commission is Mr. Parry-Okeden, a charming gentleman personally, who has recently retired from the position of Chief of Police in Queensland, and whose friends appear to have been very anxious to get him something to do. The third member is Mr. Herbert, an officer in the Northern Territory. What experience have these gentlemen had which would entitle them to go to New Guinea, make investigations, and lay down a policy for the development of the Territory? There are members of both Houses of this Parliament who have given a great deal more attention to Papuan affairs than either of the gentlemen named. In my opinion, the appointment of a Royal Commission is entirely superfluous. The Minister of External Affairs is in receipt every year of a report from the Acting Administrator, based upon reports received from the Resident ‘Magistrates, of whom there are from 14 to 17. Everything that could and can be known about the administration, the necessity for a developmental policy, the treatment of the natives, and how best to develop the mining fields is at present in possession of the Government. If there were a necessity for the appointment of a person to’ lay down a policy for the Possession upon the information already at hand, and upon the views of the officials1,; the gentleman to undertake that duty should have been the new Administrator. What was the use of passing the Papua Act if we are to hang it up until a Royal Commission has inquired into the affairs of Papua? If it were necessary to appoint a Royal Commission, that should have been done three years ago, as soon as it was proposed to take over the Possession.
– The Commission is only appointed at Captain Barton’s request.
– Yes; at his request. “
– At Captain Barton’s request ! This brilliant idea must have originated in the mind of some other person than Captain Barton. Any one whohas read Mr. Atlee Hunt’s memorandum can see from internal evidence that he wasput up to ask for the appointment of a Royal Commission. . He has deemed it necessary to say that Captain Barton made a “ spontaneous request “ for a RoyalCommission. A spontaneous request ! Whoever would have dreamed that Captain Barton would apply for a Royal Commission except spontaneously ?
– Surely the honorable senator would not have Mr. Atlee Hunt say that Captain Barton made the request if he did not make it?
– The gentlemen whoare endeavouring to put Captain Barton in the position of Administrator were at their wits’ end to know how to keep him there. Then this brilliant idea struck them - reappoint a Royal Commission, to which were to be given extensive powers. Mr. Atlee Hunt’s memorandum is accompanied’ by a suggestive letter, drawn up by him for the information and instruction of the members of the Royal Commission. I should like honorable senators to note the modesty with which Mr. Atlee Hunt refers to himself in this document. In paragraph 6, he says: -
In 1905 the secretary of this Departmentvisited the Possession, and presented a report,, copies of which I annex. I should explain that Mr. Hunt’s views, as expressed in that report,, are personal to himself, and are not to be considered as departmental. They will be doubtless of interest to you as the opinion of an officer who has given much attention to the question.
There is not a word in this letter to the Prime Minister about the reports, far more valuable, of a prominent member of the Federal Parliament who visited Papua on various occasions. One would have thought that if Mr. Atlee Hunt wanted t> give information to the Royal Commission, he would rather have suppressed hisown work, and would have referred to the work of gentlemen whose reports, as I havesaid, are far more valuable. Senator Pulsford has said that Mr, Atlee Hunt has-, given a great deal of attention to this subject. I have read his report. It is cer- tainly a very good literary production. No one can deny that. It is done very well indeed. But any one who has also read the reports that have been furnished at various times by the Administrators and the accompanying letters of the resident magistrates, will recognise that Mr.’ Atlee Hunt’s report is largely based on information which he gained from reading those documents, and not from any information which he was able to acquire during the royal progress which he is reported to have made when he visited Papua. The suggested draft letter drawn up by Mr. Atlee Hunt does not merely cover an inquiry as to whether Captain Barton’s conduct is such as to entitle him to continue as Administrator, but also an inquiry into everything connected with the Possession. The Royal Commission is even asked in paragraph 1 of the letter to review the Papua Act passed by the Federal Parliament, and it is invited, I suppose, to make suggestions as to how the Act should be amended. The Commission is also asked to inquire into the best means of developing the mining, industry; the prospects of agricultural development; the best method of treating the natives, and so on. All this, I submit, is work that should be done by the new Administrator, and by the Legislative Council to be appointed under the Papua Act. The action of the Government is so objectionable to me that if it were within my power to put them out of office to-morrow I would cast a vote to do so. A Government that is capable of appointing a Royal Commission of that kind under such circumstances is, to my mind, not worthy of the confidence of the members of this Parliament. I wish to say a word or two about the influence that is being brought to bear in the interests of Captain Barton. There is a gentleman in the Commonwealth, a high official, who in the position which he holds is doing his best to further the interests of Captain Barton. I remember once saying to a member of the Federal Parliament that I hoped to see the day - and I still hope to see the day - when Australians will fill all positions that are available within this Commonwealth. I said that I hoped the time would come when even the posts of -State Governors and of Governor-General would be filled by Australians.
– What is the special virtue about Australians?
– The honorable senator may have a very poor opinion of himself, but I do not consider that Australians are entitled to have such little confidence in themselves as to think that they are not capable of filling positions within the Commonwealth, whatever they may be.
– Surely we are not going to monopolize things for Australians.
– I shall cast my vote in that direction, anyhow. I believe that Australians should hold these positions, and that to appoint them to high offices would encourage that national sentiment without which Australia will never be the country that it ought to be. The argument commonly advanced against such a proposal is that Australians, if appointed to these positions, would interfere in politics. In this very case we have a gentleman who has not only interfered in the past in State politics, but is now interfering in Federal politics, with a view to get Captain Barton appointed to this position. I am somewhat circumscribed in mentioning this gentleman, because one of our standing orders prevents me from speaking disrespectfully of His Majesty’s representative within the Commonwealth. I am not sure whether our standing order does not refer especially to the GovernorGeneral.
– I think it would include all Governors. If the honorable senator reads the next standing order to that referred to he will see that the two, taken together, include State Governors.
– Does the honorable senator wish to speak disrespectfully of any one?
– I arn wondering whether I shall be held to be speaking disrespectfully of the man I have in my mind when I refer to him as an utter failure.
– I do not know to whom the honorable senator is referring.
– After all, does it make any difference? Honorable senators will understand that, if I were at liberty to do so, I should refer to this gentleman in very strong terms, and I propose to «do so when I get outside. I cannot do it in the Senate. Anyhow, there are certain gentlemen who are using their high offices in a manner which I think is not within their right. We shall have a chance, no doubt, on the public platform, ito criticise their conduct, and to support our view that Australians only should be appointed to positions within the Commonwealth service. I repeat that the work which the new Royal Commission is asked to do is work which should be that of the new Administrator of Papua. The gentleman who is appointed to the position of Lieutenant-Governor will have to decide, for instance, whether it is wise - as I have mentioned in a question in the Senate - to reduce the standard chest measurement of native carriers, or to use the funds of the Possession to .construct roads which will enable mules and vehicles to take supplies to the miners. Whatever the Administrator and the Lieutenant-Governor may do will necessarily be of a purely experimental character, because the views of this Parliament with regard to the people of the Possession are somewhat advanced, as compared with the views held by people in other parts of .the world who have charge of native administration. I” am sorry that my hands are tied, and that 1 cannot practically give effect to my feeling in regard to the Government except by the strong expression of my opinions. I regret that I cannot record a vote to cast them out of office for their action in appointing this Royal Commission.
– I was unfortunate in not being able to catch your eye, Mr. President, when Senator Pearce sat down, because I wished to continue the discussion upon the report of the Imperial Defence Committee. I quite agree with Senator Pearce that it is unfortunate that the Government has not fulfilled its promise to bring forward a definite defence policy for the Commonwealth, as we were assured last session would be done. We now have in our hands a report which purports to be a general scheme of defence for Australia. Reading through that document, it seems to me that the great subject of defence has been narrowed down to a mere question of the’ protection of our ports and shipping. This in itself is a matter of great importance. But it is nothing in comparison with the far greater question of a defence against the possible invasion of Australia, a subject which is hardly, if at all, touched upon in the report. I interjected when Senator Pearce was speaking that the Imperial Defence Committee proposed to make provision for the protection of our money-bags, and no provision for the protection of our native land, which, of course, is of infinitely greater importance. It would be admittedly a great calamity if a raiding squadron should destroy wholly or partially our coastal cities or destroy our trade and commerce. But, relatively speaking, that would be small in comparison with the awful calamity of an invasion. One would be in the nature of a pickpocket, who had robbed us of a certain amount of wealth, and the other would be in the nature of an assassin, who was trying to deprive us of our national existence. The great- question of the defence of Australia, from the point of view of an invasion, does not seem to have exercised the mind of the Imperial Defence Committee in any way. When we consider the question of an invasion, we admit that our first and most important line of protection is the British Navy. Australia would not have been a part of the British Empire if it had not been for the British Navy, and, for over a century, its development has proceeded in a calm and quiet manner, simply and solely on acount of its protection. But are we prepared to stake our national existence on the question of the continued supremacy of the British Navy? A few years ago it was almost equal to the combined navies which could be brought against it. But, at the present time, that is not the case. New naval Powers have sprung into existence, and we have now the possibility of a combination of naval Powers being against us which would be overwhelming.
– What Powers?
– I have particularly in my mind Germany, the United States, and Japan, which a comparatively short time ago were not naval Powers.
– The United States is never likely to be against us.
– I hope not, nor do I believe that the others ever will be against us. I am merely stating the fact that there could be a combination of naval Powers which would probably end in the defeat of the British Navy.
– There has been that possibility for a great many years. We have only said that we would keep enough ships to fight two combined Powers, and I think we are in that position now.
– We know that the British Navy was probably never so strong as it is now, under the direct supervision of Admiral Fisher. We are delighted with that fact, because that is the principal protection of our national existence ; but we should not rely absolutely and fanatically on the continued supremacy of the British Navy. Let us consider what would be the effect in Australia if the British Navy were defeated. It would be a question of our national existence. We have a force of less than. 50,000 men, including the members of rifle clubs.
– The rifle clubs comprise 37,000 men alone.
– And, with the others, they make less than 50,000 men.
– We could put into the field to-morrow 70,000 odd men.
– That is absolutely incorrect, and I am surprised at the Minister of Defence making such a statement.
– In the course of a week or two we could.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.There is an effective force of less than 50,000 men whom the Minister could put into the field. Recognising the immense importance of the British Navy, are we going to stake our national existence upon its continued supremacy ? That question is not discussed in the report of the Imperial Defence Committee.
– Because the Committee had already discussed that question and laid down certain lines. They said that the chances were that we would never have to meet a force of more than 20,000 men, and under no circumstances that they could imagine a force of more than 50,000 men..
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Let us obliterate from our minds the British Navy, and see the position in which Australia would stand in the event of an invasion by a force of 20,000 men. The most accessible portion of Australia to a hostile force, and the portion which could be most easily invaded would be Western Australia, or the Northern Territory. Assuming that the British Navy did not exist, and that an invading force, not of 20,000, but of 5,000 men, came down to the Northern Territory. We have not a soldier or a gun there, and it would be impossible for us to send a soldier or agun within 1,000 miles of the place. The only hostile attitude that we could adopt would be to send a firmly worded telegram of protest against the force landing upon our native land. Again, if 20,000 men were to land in Western Australia we have a force of less than 4,000 men. including the members of rifle clubs, to resist the invaders, and what is of more significance, only 4,000 rifles in the whole State. It possesses probably the richest gold mines in the world, an immense area of pastoral land, and millions of sheep and cattle. Assuming that the British Navy did not exist, a force of 20,000 men could land anywhere in Western Australia, and hold that third of the Continent. However many able-bodied men we have in the State, we possess only 4,000 rifles, and, of course, we could not resist an invasion.
– Is there no room for the expansion of the forces?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.There is no reserve of arms there that I know of. The 46,000 armed men in the eastern States could not get within 1,000 miles of their brethren endeavouring to resist an invasion in Western Australia, and that third of the Continent, containing rich gold mines, which always appeal to an invading force, rich pastoral lands, and scores of millions of accumulated wealth, would be defended by less than 4,000 men and 4,000 rifles. We have to recognise that our first and most important line of defence is the British Navy, and to consider our own defence from two points of view - from the point of view of a raid, which would simply mean the loss of wealth, an undoubted calamity ; and from the point of view of an invasion, which may mean the loss of our national existence. While we may have made fairly adequate provision against raids by fortifying our harbors and laying mines, our provision against an invasion of Australia is absolutely fantastic and ridiculous.
– Oh !
– Of course, what I have said may be foolish, and the Minister may think that there is no probability of an invasion. Althoughwe are spending on 50,000 men about £500,000 a year, yet the fact remainsthat 46,000 are penned up in the south-east corner of Australia, and could not defend any other part of it in the event ofan invasion.
– They have a fair amount of elbow-room.
– Of course, I am speaking in general terms.
– Evidently the honorable senator wants a railway made.
– Those men could go north as far as Rockhampton, and west as far as Port Augusta. The possibility of an invasion in the event of the British Navy being defeated is the paramount question. It is more important even than the question of an Australian
Navy, and far more important than the question of a raid upon Australia. I hope that when the long-promised scheme of the Government reaches fruition it will guard against the danger of an invasion, and secure us against the possible loss of our national existence.
– In order to be accurate in my remarks, I have been refreshing my memory with regard to certain matters which were discussed here on the last Appropriation Bill. I refer specially to the question of defence. I do not wish to begin finding fault with the Minister of Defence until I am certain as to whether or not he has an adequate answer to the criticism which probably he will hear later on when the Appropriation Bill is under consideration. I wish, in fairness, to remind the honorable senator that last session he gave the Senate clearly to understand that, first of all, he would deal with the matter of making provision for naval cadets throughout the Commonwealth. So far as I have been able to ascertain from a perusal of papers which! have been distributed elsewhere, no such provision has been made on this year’s Estimates.
– There is a considerable sum put down.
– Perhaps I was slightly inaccurate in saying that no provision is made. What I maintain is that the Minister has not made adequate provision, nor anything like the provision which he gave the Senate clearly to understand last year he would see was made.
– I believe I said that I would do something, and what I have done is a start.
– I shall withhold any strong expression of opinion until the Appropriation Bill is submitted, but I think it only fair to tell the Minister that I shall do mv utmost this vear to alter the item for this purpose in the Appropriation Bill. I join with Senator Pearce and others who feel very strongly on the question of naval defence, and deplore its inadequacy and neglect, but I mean to go further. I do not intend to limit myself to a discussion on this Supply Bill, but I mean to take every possible step in my power to alter the item in the Appropriation Bill. I shall re-state the position as it appears to me, and I believe that I have the sympathy of many honorable senators. We are spending, as the Minister told us last year, £r, 000,000 a year on defence. Of that sum £50,000 was set aside for the purpose of naval defence, excluding, of course, the subsidy of £200,000 to the Imperial” Navy.
– That is for naval defence.
– I admit that.
– It means a total expenditure of £250,000.
– I admit that £50,000 is spent - I might say misspent - locally on so-called naval defence.
– But the expenditure of money is not necessarily defence.
– It is spent for that purpose, and a sum of £200,000 is contributed to the Imperial Navy as a subsidy. The total expenditure, therefore, is £250,000. I repeat this year what I said last year, that if the position were reversed, and we spent £750,000 on naval matters and £250,000 on land defence, it would much more nearly approximate to my idea of what is desirable, necessary, and proper for the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator will come into antagonism with the last speaker, who wants us to spend more money on land defence.
– I should be extremely sorry to find myself in antagonism with any member of the Senate ; but on this subject of naval defence I feel very strongly. I consider that during a period of six years this Parliament has spent an enormous sum on so-called land defence, and that a large proportion of it has been wholly wasted. I propose this year to do everything in my power to alter the appropriation of the money for the various purposes of land and naval defence. I hope that in the interval the Minister will not merely redeem his promise of last year, to assist the Commonwealth to a better scheme of naval defence, but prevent a great many honorable senators from being compelled to vote against him on so important a measure as the Appropriation Bill, because that I feel is likely to happen. I voted for the subsidy of £200,000 to the British Navy. - and, as I said last year, I should, if necessary, vote for a larger subsidy - on the distinct understanding that I did not regard it as in itself forming a complete part of our naval defence, but only as a means to an end - simply as part of a. proper Commonwealth scheme of naval defence. In my opinion, it ought to be largely supplemented by the expenditure of money which would give us the nucleus of an Australian Navy. I do not pretend to be an expert on these matters. I am inclined to defer considerably - of course, reserving to myself the right of criticism, even although he is an expert - to the Naval Director. There is much in his report to commend it to the Senate ; but, so far as I can estimate what is going to happen in connexion with the Appropriation Bill, it will be entirely ignored by the Government.
– How could we deal with the matter in the Estimates when we had not got the report from the Imperial Defence Committee ? Surely, we ought to be very careful before we ask Parliament to agree to an expenditure of over
– That is not the whole question. I have never intimated that we must necessarily spend £3,000,000 per annum on defence.
– Not per annum, but on a fleet, which, according to Captain Creswell’s estimate, would cost £2,500,000. Since his visit to England, where he obtained further information, he has had to considerably increase the estimate.
– That may be.
– We ought to be very careful before we sanction the spending of so much money.
– That is not quite the question. I think it should be sufficiently obvious to the Ministry that when they received Captain Creswell’s report, and learned that it was the wish of very many members of each House - of a majority, I believe, if they would only speak their minds - that more money should be devoted to the preparation of an adequate scheme of naval defence-
– Hear, hear ! there is no doubt about that.
– I am glad that the Minister agrees with my remark. Captain Creswell was of opinion that very much ought to be done in the direction of naval defence. The Government have entirely ignored his report. The Minister’s answer to me is that they could not act on the report, because they wished to hear from the Imperial Defence Committee. They could have acted on the report. I do not say that they could have gone into the details, but they could have provided for the expenditure of a larger sum on naval defence. They could have done a great deal which would not have been in conflict, necessarily, with either the report of Captain Creswell, or the report of the Imperial Defence Committee, in offering opportunities in Australian waters for the training of Australian seamen. So far as I can ascertain, they have done practically nothing.
– We have put om the Estimates an increased amount for naval cadets.
– What is the increased provision for naval cadets? The provision made is absolutely ridiculous. The Minister of Defence must know that the amount expended on so-called naval defence is mostly wasted. What is the use of maintaining an obsolete vessel like the Protector?
– The Protector is the most useful vessel we have, and it is used for training purposes at Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart, and all over the Australian coasts. It is the only vessel we have for the purpose.
– It is disgraceful that the only opportunity for training our people to become sailors should be that afforded by a boat like’ the Protector. It is contemptible and ridiculous.
– The Protector is a splendid boat.
– The Protector is only about 800 tons register, and it is farcical that our only training ship should be one that lias been obsolete for the last thirty years.
– She was not built thirty years ago.
– The Protector must be at least thirty years old.
– She was not obsolete when she was built.
– I shall not quibble on that point. We are maintaining an utterly inadequate vessel like the Protector, while the Government neglected an admirable opportunity to secure some of the vessels recently removed from the Australian Station. Whilst those vessels might not have been suitable for purposes of defence, they would have been vastly superior to the Protector as a means of training. If the present Government had had any energy they could have purchased those vessels for a mere song - that is, two or three of the vessels might have been acquired for perhaps £5.000. Indeed, the probability is that if _ the Government had had sufficient enterprise to make the request, thev might have obtained the vessels for nothing.
– Those obsolete, useless boats would have been a miserable provision for defence purposes.
– The Minister is either wilfully or stupidly ignoring the fact that I am now suggesting that these Imperial vessels might have been obtained for training purposes, and I am emphasizing the fact that in this connexion the Government missed a splendid opportunity. Howeve^ the Minister, with that absurd affection for anything which comes from a State I shall not mention, thinks it more advisable to keep in commission such a craft as the Protector, than to acquire boats of five or six times the tonnage and capacity. 1 am sorry that the Ministry showed such shameful neglect, because the acquiring, of these vessels would have done something to promote a better and most desirable feeling in Australia in regard to the wishes of the Imperial authorities as to Australian naval defence; at all events, some good would have been done if such a request as I have indicated had been made by the Government, and, as I have no doubt it would, have been granted. The opportunity, however, has been missed through ignorance or apathy, or, I suppose, that neglect, which affects most Ministers - and I make no exception of Senator Playford - as soon as Parliament gets into recess. I wish to intimate in the clearest possible way that when the Appropriation Bill is before us, I shall do my utmost to secure to the Commonwealth, better provision for naval defence, even to the extent of dividing; the militaryexpenditure by three, and adding as much as I can to, the naval expenditure. I have no desire to inflate the defence expenditure as a whole, because I consider that a vast amount is now wasted. But we desire to get good value for our money. and the easiest way to attain that end is to devote it to naval defences. I do not care how much importance any honorable senator mav attach to the military defences, he will readily admit that, generally speaking, no defence expenditure is more satisfactory than that devoted to the Navy of Australia or any other country. Our naval men are of a type for which every one has much more admiration than for ordinary military men : and if that admiration be lacking we are beginning the downfall of the Empire. To me it is monstrous that Australia, surrounded as it is by water - a huge island - should, as we are often told we ought, imitate the defence policy of a small land locked country like Switzerland. Time after time in the Senate I have heard Switzerland held up as an example of the proper form of defence for the Commonwealth. I do not often deal with military or naval matters, because I do not profess to know much about them ; but I may claim some faculty for investigating comparisons, and some ability to recognise when a parallel is a parallel.- It has always occurred to me as ludicrous in the extreme that we should seek to mould our defences on such a model. On the other hand, I object to the maintenance of anything like a standing army. If we want good value for our money we can get ii in naval men - they are, and always have been, the handy men of the Empire - and I. would sooner trust the land defences of Australia to-day to 20,000 naval men just off the ships than to 50,000 men of our so-called army.
– Senator Clemons seems to be under the impression that the Protector is the only vessel available for training purposes.
– There are other vessels, but they are just as bad as the Protector.
– His Majesty’s ships at Svdney take men in batches for training purposes, and, in this connexion, there have been most satisfactory reports.
– We are drilling 400 men on board these vessels.
– We ought to be drilling 40,000.
– My object in rising is to point out that if the Government intend to bring in a Bill dealing with the Federal Capital Site they should do so quickly. If the question is not settled this session there may be returned a number of new members who will desire to have a repetition of the expeditions made to proposed sites. I gather from the accounts of a recent trip that the Government have some idea of bringing in an amending Bill - that Dalgety is no longer the favoured site.
– Dalgety is “stronger” than ever.
– I only suggest, on the score of expense, that if there is to be any alteration, the sooner it is made the better. It is said that the present Parliament will expire about the end of next month, and. if that be so, I, as a representative of the mother State, would be glad to know that before we separate we may hope to have afinal settlement of the question. I urge the Minister of Defence to let his colleagues -know that, atall events, the New South Wales . representatives look for a speedy determination.
– Honorable senators owe a debt of gratitude to Senator Pearce for the vigorous speech he made this morning on the question of defence, and in relation to the apparent apathy which exists in the Department. It is unpleasant for honorable senators to be continually questioning the actions of the Minister of Defence; but there is one matter to which I feel bound to refer. Some twelve months ago we were promised by the Minister of Defence that some kind of policy would be outlined during the recess, and that Parliament would have, an opportunity to discuss the proposals submitted. We have now been in session some three months, and we understand that Parliament will be prorogued within a very few weeks; and the promise I refer to has not been carried out. I am still hopeful, however, that the Minister may yet outline a more vigorous defence policy than has yet been placed before us. It is ominous, however, that the recommendations made by Captain Creswell appear to have been ignored, and that, as vet, we have had no word from the Minister, either in Parliament or through the medium of the newspapers, as to the opinion entertained by him on the report of the Committee of Imperial Defence.
– That is not so. In the Melbourne Age the other day it was distinctly stated that I am favorable to Captain Creswell ‘s scheme.
– Then I withdraw the remark as to the newspapers.
– That is my personal view. I cannot answer for the Government.
– I read the newspapers and attend here each day, and I have not heard from the Minister any reference to the matter. I hope, however, that before we are called upon to deal with the Defence Estimates we shall have some declaration from the Minister as to what is the policy of the present Government. There is another matter to which I desire to refer. A few weeks ago, when Senator Higgs submitted a motion in favour of the appointment of an Australian, or some one with Australian experience, to the position of Lieutenant-Governor of New Guinea, Senator Playford, in the course of the debate, gave us to understand that, if the services of Sir William McGregor could not be obtained, another gentleman would be appointed. Not the slightest hint was then given that the whole matter was to be shelved by being relegated to a Royal Commission.
– Is the honorable senator referring to a former debate of this session ?
– I am.
The PRESIDENT. Then the honorable senator is out of order.
– I do not think that at that time the Government had any request from Captain Barton for a Commission of inquiry.
– Do I understand, Mr. President, that I am not allowed to refer to the Hansard report of the debateon Senator Higgs’ motion this session ?
– No, certainly not.
– It has always seemed to me that that standing order very frequently restricts proper discussion.
– That is a reason for altering the standing order.
– Without contravening the standing order, I may say that there was an impression, not only in this Chamber, but outside, that an appointment would be made, and that the only reason for any delay was that an endeavour was being made to secure the services of Sir William McGregor. Now, however, the whole business has assumed quite a different phase. The voting on Senator Higgs’ motion would, I think, have been different had it been known that the question of the appointment of a LieutenantGovernor was to be shelved indefinitely by the appointment of a RoyalCommission, whose business, practically, it will be to inquire whether it is necessary to have a Leiutenant-Governor, and, if so, who is the best person available. I am very much afraid that the Commission is one to whitewash Captain Barton’s administration.
– The Government had already expressed a want of confidence in Captain Barton by negotiating with Sir William McGregor.
– Exactly; and the Government offered Sir William McGregor a higher salary than that paid to Captain
Barton. The Government knew perfectly well that the services of Sir William McGregor could not be obtained unless at a higher remuneration than that laid down in the Papua Act; and yet they were prepared to go beyond that Act, believing such a step would be acceptable to Parliament and the people. As some of us fore.Saw. Sir William McGregor would not accept the position ; but the Government have not carried out their solemn promise that the next best man would be appointed, and that, all things being equal, an Australian would receive the position. My opinion is that the appointment of the Royal Commission is opposed to the wishes of the majority of Parliament. So strong is the feeling that the life of the Government would, I think, be of very short duration if a number of members had an opportunity to vote on the question. Nothing has occurred during the session which has more shown the absence of stability and backbone on the part of the Government, who seem to be afraid to accept the responsibility imposed upon them by an Act of Parliament. We passed the Papua Act, which provided that a Lieutenant-Governor should be appointed to administer the Possession. When that Act was under consideration Senator Playford pleaded with us that the Government should be given the responsibility of making the appointment. The Senate by a majority left that responsibility with the Government. But what has happened ? The Government is shelving that responsibility bv appointing a Royal Commission. We cannot be accused of being unduly suspicious when we say that they have appointed it for the purpose of whitewashing a gentleman who, it is said, is on particularly friendly terms with! some of the members of the Commission. It is expected, therefore, that the outcome will be that the present Administrator will have everything made nice and smooth for him. Does the Government sincerely believe that the present Acting Administrator of Papua is the best man for the position? If so, it should take the responsibility and appoint him. If that action proved to be right, and it was demonstrated that he was an eminently fit man to administer the Possession, we who are criticising him should be proved to be wrong, and should honorably acknowledge it. Personally, I think that he is not the best man. So far as I can judge, it is doubtful whether he ought to be appointed. But in any case I maintain that the Government should accept the responsibility which they pleaded so hard for.
– Does not the honorable senator recollect that the Government had the support of the Opposition on that occasion ?
– Oh, yes; and some members of the Opposition no doubt voted with them because, as was easy to see, they did not believe in the sentiments expressed by honorable senators on this side that an Australian should be appointed.
– The honorable senator is again referring to a previous debate.
– I apologize for having transgressed the standing order, but it is very difficult when one is discussing a question that has previously arisen in the present session, and the two matters are so inseparably interwoven, to refrain from touching upon what has previously occurred. I desire to allude to another question relating to the Post and Telegraph Department. Something occurred a short time ago in Tasmania, which appears to me to be rather serious, and requires the earnest and immediate consideration of the Department. It may appear to some honorable senators to be small, but it involves a very big question. The Department employs a detective to visit various places, and keep an eye on the work of officers of the Department. The detective, following up his occupation, was sent to make investigations in Tasmania. He made certain inquiries, but before there was time for his report to reach the head office of the Department an account of it appeared in the Launceston newspapers. A summary which, in its abbreviated form, appeared to be even more condemnatory, appeared in the Melbourne Age a, day or two afterwards, having apparently been telegraphed from Launceston. I am not going to say whether the charges1 made by the detective, practically against the whole of the officers in the Launceston Post Office were welT founded or not. If is for the responsible officers of the Department to determine that question. But I do say that it is absolutely unfair that charges should be scattered broadcast over the country against a number of officers, many of whom have for years borne an honorable name, and who have been associated for the best part of their lives with the Department, merely on a report by a detective, published before it reached the Department. The officers attacked are entirely powerless. They have not the right to rebut the charges. Any denial made on their behalf must be made through the head of the Department. I again call the attention of Senator Keating, who has charge of the business of the Post and Telegraph Department in the Senate, to my assertion that Detective McWilliams went entirely beyond his proper duty when, after making his investigations at Launceston, he gave information to the newspaper reporters - as he must have done, because the reporters could not have obtained it from any one else. The report was highly condemnatory of the work, the honesty, the integrity, and . the general fitness of officers in Tasmania, and especially in the Launceston office.
– The answer which I gave to the honorable senator’s question some days ago was that the Department regarded the action of the detective as highly irregular, and that an inquiry was being made into it. I do not know what has since been done.
– I am aware that the Minister informed me that the departmental view was that the conduct of the detective was highly irregular. I have heard nothing further since I put my question, and that is why I refer to the matter again to-day. I trust that the PostmasterGeneral will give the officers redress in the only way in which he can render justice to them,by allowing them to have their side of the question published. I have very good authority for saying that the charges made by the detective, branding a large number of officials practically as rogues, were flimsy and trivial in the extreme. I believe that the matters complainedof were merely little incidents, magnified by the detective for some reason unknown to me.
– The unfortunate fact was that, no names being mentioned, the whole of the officers were thrown under suspicion.
– Exactly. Every official connected with the Department in Launceston was thrown under suspicion, because no names were published. Naturally, every official resented this unworthy imputation on his character; and yet they are powerless to clear themselves. I think it is a very serious question that a detective of this character should be retained in the Department when he is guilty of such conduct.
.- I should like to know whether the Imperial Government has kept its part of the Naval Agreement towards which Australia contributes , £200,000 a year ? Is there an armoured vessel on our coast at the present time?
– No, but there is a vessel which is considered to be quite as good.
– On whose authority does the Minister make the statement that a protected cruiser is as good as an armoured vessel?
– On the authority of Captain Creswell, whose statement to me is that, taking the fleet as a whole, it is, in fighting strength, equal to, if not superior than, that which the Imperial Government promised to give us. It is not exactly in every detail what the agreement provided for, but in fighting strength it is superior.
– Then, it is true that there is no armoured vessel in these waters, but that we have a protected cruiser, which is considered to be as good. If that be the case, I wonder why it is that the Imperial Government spends millions in building armoured vessels. I understand that the deck of a protected cruiser is protected by 2 -inch plates, whereas an armoured vessel has its sides protected as well. If Captain Creswell says that the vessel which we have in our waters is equal to what was promised to us, I am satisfied, because I attach a good deal of weight to his opinion. Another point to which I wish to refer is that, under the agreement, the Royal Naval Reserve was to consist of 25 officers and 700 seamen. But, asa matter of fact, it consists of only 5 officers and 305 men. How is it that that portion of the agreement has not been adhered to by the Imperial Government ?
– We are told that it is necessary for the men who are trained in Australia to be brought up to a certain pitch of effectiveness before they can be put on board the vessels. The naval authorities are actually working up to what is provided for in the agreement, and it is only a question of time when we shall have the full complement.
– If the strength is increasing every year, I can understand the reason given by the Minister to be a sound one.
– I think it is.
– Steps should be taken to see that the agreement is being carried out in this respect. If it is shown that there is a substantial increase every year im the number, I shall be satisfied. Of course, I can understand that it would be impossible to put 700 men in the reserve all at once; but if the number is substantially increased annually, I shall be satisfied that the agreement is being carried out in the spirit in- which ‘it was made. I wish to ask, also, whether the attention of the Minister has been called to the fact that a warrant officer at Williamstown has been in the habit of training, at his own expense, a number of cadets? He has spent a large amount of his own money in doing this work.
– Those cadets are outside our control.
– Does the Minister say that they are not being properly trained by this officer?
– They are connected with some religious bodies.
– Are they any the worse for that?
– Not a bit.
– Is it not a fact that this officer has spent a good deal of his own money, and much of his own time, in training these cadets ; and does not the Minister think that the Department should do something to assist him?
– I have taken the matter into consideration, and am most willing to do something ; but how can we control what an officer is doing outside the Department ?
– I think that the Minister might strain a point to give some encouragement to a man who has the wellbeing of the country so much at heart as to train cadets at his own expense. Surely he should receive some sort of aid. I commend the matter to the Minister’s consideration, and hope he will see whether something cannot be done to recompense this officer for the trouble he has taken..
– There is a small matter which I should like to bring under the attention of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. In his absence, perhaps the Minister of Defence will make a note of it. Recently ai new station has been opened in Sydney, and one might have expected, under the circumstances, that a little business consideration would be given to it bv the Post and Telegraph Department. Provision has been made for a post-office at the station, but it is a curious thing that, whilst that post-office is situated on one of the platforms, the place at which one has to post one’s letters is 100 yards away. Any one knows that people who use a post-office at a railway station are generally those who are going by train, and have very little time to spare. Yet in this case it is necessary to go to the postoffice 011 one of the platforms to purchase a stamp, and then to go outside the station to post the letter. I ask the Minister to direct the attention of the Postmaster-General to this subject with the object of having a receiving box placed at the post-office, so that (those who address their letters there can immediately drop them into the box, and go away to catch their trains. I have a word or two to say in regard to defence. I do not pose as an authority on the matter, I admit at once that this is one of the subjects to which I have given very little attention. I say that with some regret. But I do wish to impress upon the Minister the fact that, so far as I can’ gauge the opinions entertained in my own State and elsewhere, there is a strong feeling that the Defence Forces of the Commonwealth are not in such a condition as they ought to be in. I join with those who have expressed regret that the Minister has not placed before Parliament, and the country, a complete defence scheme. I should like to know how long we have to wait for the long promised plan of the Minister. While I look forward to the appearance of his scheme, I am under the impression that the Minister is not retaining a fairly open mind with which to consider the suggestions of the Imperial Defence Committee. Only the other day, a paragraph appeared in a newspaper, the practical correctness of which the Minister admitted, in which he expressed an opinion adverse to the Imperial Defence Committee’s report before he had had reasonable time in which to consider it.
– Yet Senator Pearce complained that I had not made up my mind about it.
– There is no inconsistency in the criticism. What I ampointing out is that the Minister, on hisown showing, by admitting the authenticity of the paragraph, and by saying that he had not had time properly to consider the scheme, prejudiced himself by expressingan opinion adverse to it.
– I expressed a personal opinion, but that does not bind the Government.
– I am speaking of the Minister in his representative capacity as the head of the Defence Department. I am complaining that he expressed an opinion adverse to the report before he had even had time to digest it.
– It was complained a little while ago that I had had too much time to digest it, and that I had not expressed an opinion about it !
– I am not going to clear up any inconsistency between what the Minister said and what Senator Pearce has alleged, but I am showing out of the Minister’s own mouth that he stands convicted of expressing an opinion upon the report before he had had time to digest it. That indicates to my mind that the Minister is to some extent pledged. He has not kept an open mind which would enable him to act impartially and judicially in these matters. I am as anxious as any honorable senator to see all appointments to the Public Service and elsewhere given to Australians when there are no reasons to the contrary. But there is a danger before which some of my honorable friends opposite have fallen, that of allowing one’s partiality for this principle to warp his sense of justice. If I understand the criticism with regard to affairs in Papua, honorable senators, in order to secure an appointment for an Australian, are prepared to sweep on one side the occupant of the office without inquiring whether justice or injustice would be done to him by that act. It is one thing for an honorable senator to say that he believes that Australians should be appointed to such positions ; but even if we assent to that doctrine, as I do most cordially. it is quite another thing to say that without regard to the claim of the present occupants, they are all to be swept out of their offices. Apparently, that is what mv honorable friends are prepared to do. Without even allowing Captain Barton an opportunity to state his case, if he has one. thev. simply on the ground that he is not an Australian, are prepared to sweep him out of his office.
– Ob, no ! that is not the whole position.
– I can only draw that inference from the remarks of my honorable friends. Not only are thev blaming the Government for not pushing
Captain Barton on one side, and immediately making an Australian appointment, but according to the last speaker thev have prejudged the case of that gentleman.
– I regard the Government as weak in not having made an appointment, and in leading us astray by appointing a Royal Commission. Why do they not appoint Captain Barton if they think that he is suitable?
– There was a number of charges made against Captain Barton.
- Senator Croft will not deny that, even this morning, we have heard a statement from which it is quite clear that some honorable senators are prepared to condemn, in fact, have condemned Captain Barton from beginning to end. It is one thing to support the doctrine of making all appointments from our own people, but it is quite another thing to press the doctrine to such a length that the occupant of an office who may not be an Australian should be pushed on one side without the slightest regard to those reasonable, moral requirements which should restrain even a private employer.
– Were not the Government prepared to put him on one side when thev made overtures to Sir William McGregor ?
– For a very good reason. I do not suggest for a moment that Captain Barton has any pre-emptive right to the office. If there is one man in the world who stands out as particularly fitted for the position it is Sir William McGregor, and the Government in seeking the services of so experienced an Administrator did what I think was best in the interests of not merely Papua, but also Australia. Because it must be remembered that if any difficulty should arise in the Possession as the result of faulty administration Australia would, to some extent, be affected, and would possibly be called upon to suffer, even if only in a monetary sense. In view of the fact that these charges have been made with considerable frequency, and with, much emphasis and warmth, I think it was not an unreasonable concession to Captain Barton that an inquiry should be granted, in order to ascertain whether they had any foundation. If it be found that there is a foundation for the statements, it seems to me that he can have no cause of complaint if we dispense with his services.
-SUppOSe that after, the charges had been made we had refused - to grant the Royal Commission for which he asked, in what position should we be?
– Is it proposed to appoint a Royal Commission at the request of every man who takes exception to what is said about him ?
– - Are the honorable senators who made these charges afraid to have an inquiry into the truth of them? Do they claim the right to come here and slander every one towards whom, for some reason or other, they entertain a feeling of dislike, and then to resist a demand for an honest inquiry?
– Surely the right to demand an inquiry existed when the Government contemplated appointing Sir William McGregor.
– Certainly not. The question of appointing Sir William McGregor had nothing to do with charges derogatory to Captain Barton.
– It meant the displacement of Captain Barton.
– - Exactly. There can be no objection to appointing a superior man over the head of a less qualified man. But the point we are dealing with is that charges, almost amounting to accusations of maladministration, have been made against Captain Barton.
– They were made a year ago.
– What my honorable friends ought to have done was to criticise the Government for not having appointed a Royal Commission before. What did they do? They are not criticising the Government for delaying the matter, but for making an inquiry at all.
– Because it is common rumour that the Commission is taking with them a, consignment of brushes to do a lot of whitewashing.
– A remark of that kind answers itself. I deplore the growing tendency on the part of some public men to repeat tittle tattle which is gathered at the street corners, and which, if they were placed on their oath, could not be substantiated. With the exception of the Chairman, I know nothing of the members of the Royal Commission; but I am prepared to believe from their public work and reputation, that they have gone to Papua absolutely unfettered in their judgment, and that if any attempt had been made to place fetters upon them, they would have resented the attempt, and declined the appointment. In view of the charges which have been made here so frequently, I think that the Government have acted rightly in appointing the Commission. I would remind honorable senators that as regards any delay, the Government were hardly in a position to act until they had received a definite reply from Sir William McGregor. I hardly think it can be seriously contended that there has been undue delay since the Government were advised by Sir William McGregor that it was not possible for him to meet their wishes. I have spoken on this subject without the slightest knowledge of Captain Barton - I should not know him if I met him or any of the gentlemen who are involved. I have made these remarks because, it appears to me that, honorable senators, in their strong desire to give effect to a principle in which they and I believe, are allowing the ordinary elementary principles of justice to be entirely swept on one side or forgotten.
. I was very much surprised to hear three members of the Labour Party make an onslaught on the Minister of Defence. Judging by the intemperate language of Senator Pearce, I should think that we are coming to the parting of the ways, and that the Labour Party are going to leave the Government in the lurch. What is more astounding to me is that several honorable senators who have spoken, particularly about defence, have left out of their calculation the question of expense. It is really futile for honorable senators to talk about spending millions on defence, millions on a railway, and millions on a Federal Capital. I propose to bring the Minister back to his Estimates, and to ask him a very simple question in the direction of economy, which I think ought never to be lost sight of, and about which I think we shall yet hear a ‘great deal, when the Government will be compelled to adopt a policy of retrenchment. I desire to ask the Minister whether it is’ necessary to provide on the Estimates for two additional associates and tipstaffs because it has been decided to appoint two additional Judges. He can answer my question when he speaks in reply.
– I do not know, and therefore I cannot fell the honorable senator.
– Perhaps the honorable senator had better consider the matter. He might also consider whether the five Justices should go to the various. States - for instance, to hear two cases in Western Australia, and perhaps one case in Tasmania - and take with them five associates and five tipstaffs. Like other representatives of New South Wales, Senator Walker desires that the question of the Federal Capital Site should be settled without further delay. May I remind honorable senators, as I reminded the good people of Bungendore, that that question has been settled, and that it rests with those who desire to repeal our Act to make out a very strong case indeed? I hope that the Minister will not listen to the suggestion to repeal the Act during this session. I hope that within five weeks of the close of the session, and with more work to do than we could properly do in five months, he will not bring down another Bill which would provoke a protracted discussion. I have never heard of a more ridiculous suggestion than that at this late period of the session, when we still have so much work to do, we should be called upon to revoke our decision regarding the site of the Federal Capital. Before any step in that direction is taken we ought to have a business offer from New South Wales, telling us what she is prepared to do in regard to the area, means of access, and other matters. We ought not to listen to New South Wales if she deliberately submits three sites and withholds the very site that we have chosen.
– Why did the honorable senator go and inspect other sites, then ?
– I desired to give consideration to the feeling which exists in New South Wales that her interests and privileges ought to be studied. If it be proved that her interests and privileges have not been considered in the selection of Dalgety. then at the proper time, and under proper conditions, and when I see that that State is prepared to bow down to the Constitution, I shall be quite willing to reconsider the position. I do not undertake to revoke my vote for Dalgety, or to indicate what I may do.. If there is a just cause of complaint on the part of New South Wales, let us know where it lies, and let us have proposals which savour of statesmanship, and show regard to the fact that we are asked to fix upon a site which is to serve us for centuries. I object to Parliament being asked to deal with this question de novo during the present session. I should not like the remarks of Senator Pearce to pass without stating the other side of the case. Whenever the question of establishing an Australian Navy has been raised here, I have pointed out that no one could fortell what the cost would be. I have warned honorable senators that when we had gone to enormous expense we should find that our ships and torpedo boats were out of date, and that we should have to incur the expenditure again. We ought to be extremely careful before we decide to adopt the naval scheme which Captain Creswell has suggested. I am borne out in this view by the Minister’s interjection that since his return from England with fuller information Captain Creswell has admitted that his original estimate of nearly ,£3,000,000 would be considerably exceeded, and that, probably, in order to have a few torpedo boats and1 destroyers, and to maintain them, efficiently, we should have to expend £500,000 or £600,000 a year for the next seven years. In the present state of affairs, the Commonwealth cannot afford to incur that expenditure. In my opinion, Senator Pearce’s criticisms of the report of the Imperial Defence Committee are absolutely unjustifiable. In the report, I can hardly find a single sentence which can be fairly called in question. The Committee point out, as every writer on naval warfare has pointed out, that in time of war the great object is to find out the enemy’s ships, and defeat them on the high seas. Surely that is the primary object ! Senator Pearce objects to the Imperial Defence Committee telling us that it is of secondary importance that we should have a raider trying to interfere with our trade. Of course, that is of secondary importance. What is of ‘infinite importance is the great battle, or battles, which must be fought in order to decide who shall be mistress of the seas. Again, in the report I find a paragraph which suggests the wisdom of delay, which points out that armaments are always changing, indicates how expensive it is to fortify our ports, and suggests that if we go slow with expenditure we shall have more money to expend hereafter when improvements in armaments have been made, and when we are able to say with more certainty what we want. I feel some sympathy with the Minister, because, as I have previously said, his Department is a most difficult one to administer. If I were in his position I should not allow myself to be bullied by the Labour Party into formulating a system of defence before we appeal to our constituents. What proportion of the electors will care a dump about the question of defence, as compared with the personnel of the men for whom they are asked to vote? I cannot conceive that the Minister would be doing a wise thing if he attempted to formulate a complete military and naval policy for the Empire before we have the report of the Colonial Conference, which is to sit in London early next year.
– I cannot bring forward a policy for the Empire.
– No; but cannot my honorable friend see how the defence of every part of the Empire is mixedup with the defence of the Empire itself ? Can he not see that, although Australian nationalism may be a very good thing in nine cases out of ten, yet when we are talking about the defence of the Empire there is something more important than that? I should say that one of the most important subjects to be discussed at the Conference of Premiers in London will be that of defence, together with the reports of the Imperial Defence Committee and the report of Captain Creswell. The authorities at Home are seized most fully of the Australian aspiration for a navy. They are familiar with the report of Captain Creswell and the scheme of Australian defence which the Age like many members of the Senate, has been suggesting, but, notwithstanding that, the Imperial Defence Committee have compiled this memorandum. I think that Senator Pearce’s criticism of the memorandum is quite beside the mark, and that he has really misunderstood the whole subject. I hope that the Minister will not hurriedly formulate any scheme, because it is a most complicated subject to deal with. Colonel Bridges, who has gone Home about military matters, has not yet returned, and Captain Creswell has only just returned.
– Colonel Bridges has sent out his reports.
– The reports have only just been received, and I understand from the Minister that Captain Creswell’s supplementary report is not yet to hand. At the end of a session every Minister is confronted with more work than he can possibly do, and therefore, in my opinion, it would be very unwise to rush the Minister of Defence into formulating a scheme now, as my honorable friends opposite seem to want to do. I desire to quote, for the information of the Minister, a paragraph from the report, which bears on my favorite system of military education : -
At the same time it is necessary to extend opportunities of elementary military instruction in various forms to as large a proportion as possible of the population, with a view to rendering military training as universal as circumstances may for the time being permit.
I also wish to draw my honorable friend’s attention to the opinion of Major-General Babington, the New Zealand Commandant, who is reported in this morning’s Argus to have said that not every fifteenth, but every English-speaking boy, ought to be trained as a cadet. I am desirous of knowing whether the Minister has read the remarks of Brigadier-General Gordon, of New South Wales, as reported in the press about a week ago. As I understand, Brigadier-General Gordon picked out the weak spots in the scheme of the Minister of Defence, and it was that officer’s criticism which induced me to submit the motion. The important object is not only to get hold of the boys when at school, but also after they leave school, so that they may receive some military training worthy of the name.
– There are the senior cadets, the number of which could be increased afterwards. The honorable senator ought not to be in too violent a hurry.
– I am now calling attention to Brigadier-General Gordon’s criticism.
– What do I care about General Gordon’s criticism ?
– I presume the Minister of Defence will listen to the opinions of a military officer of great experience.
– If I listened to all the military officers we should be bankrupt very quickly !
– If the Minister listens to honorable senators who desire the establishment of an Australian Navy, we shall soon be bankrupt. There ought to be some adequate cadet scheme placed before the Senate.
– The honorable senator has said all this before.
– What I want to know is whether the Minister put this scheme before his officers, and, if so, did he get the opinion of Brieadier-General Gordon? I think it is fair criticism to say that the Minister has submitted a scheme which I regard as very meagre.
– Is the honorable senator not anticipating the debate on a motion on the notice-paper?
– I surely have a right to ask the Minister whether’ he was aware of the opinion expressed by BrigadierGeneral Gordon. I do not want the Minister to answerme now, but to do so when he replies on the debate.
– I am not going to waste time by anticipating the reply I shall have to make on the motion which the honorable senator has brought before the Senate.
– I ask the Minister to read’ Brigadier-General Gordon’s remarks, and, if he will have the courtesy, to inform us whether he was aware of that officer’s opinion.
– If I asked the opinion, of every officer in the service, I should have nothing else to do.
– That is not an answer. I wished to know from the Minister whether he had the opinion of BrigadierGeneral Gordon, and that of the MilitaryBoard. If theMinister- has not the courtesy toreply, I cannot help it.
– After the manner in which Senator Dobson has battered the Minister of Defence, it is only right that a member of the Labour Party should advise the Minister not to be bullied and hustled into a policy - of attempts at which Senator Dobson has before now accused the Labour Party. Senator Dobson has gone out of his way to try to “ jump “ the policy of the Minister of Defence. For my part, I do not think that any particular party is altogether to blame, but rather that we are all to blame for the absence of a proper defence policy. That has been very apparent from the commencement of our Federal career. No defence policy has been formulated by Parliament, and I suppose we shall muddle along from year to year spending money on defences that are far from satisfactory. I quite agree with Senator Pearce that, during the recess, we had every right to expect some definite declaration from the Minister. But the latter appears to have thrown aside all responsibility for the promise which was made last session. While I very much agree with the sentiments expressed by Captain Creswell in regard to an Australian Navy, I do not think that we are in a financial posi tion to carry out his scheme. Most Australians would be better satisfied with an Australian Navy than with the kind of naval defence we have at present ; but the question is whether 4,000,000 people can afford a navy worthy of the name. In my opinion, we cannot afford to undertake such an enterprise ; and, therefore, it would be a foolish policy to adopt Captain Creswell’s scheme, only to afterwards find out thatour finances were unable to bear the strain. I agree with Senator Dobson’s idea of having an army composed of the manhood of Australia, because that, in my opinion, is the only policy within our reach. I do not mean that men should be only trained for land defence ; they should be trained also for sea defence, because, although we have no vessels, and no money to buy vessels, these might be obtained when we require them. At all events, men trained on board ship are much more handy for any kind of defence than those who are simply drilled as soldiers. I should like to see Parliament set itself seriously to the task of settling on some national scheme of defence. We have been waiting in vain for some scheme from the Minister, but I am afraid that there is not much hope in this connexion, either now or in prospect. This is a matter which should stand high above all party feeling. Indeed, I do not know that it is regarded in the light of a party question; at any rate, it has never been so regarded in this Chamber. We have, therefore, a splendid opportunity ; and if the Minister is capable of treating anything seriously, I hope he will turn his mind to the matter. In thus speaking of the Minister. I may be making too sweeping an assertion, though I know that he attends other meetings, the business of which he considers of much more importance than that attached to the position he holds in this Chamber. It is just about time that the Senate was treated in the manner in which it deserves to be treated. The Minister of Defence has had a very fair innings, and every kind of consideration extended to him; and what have we got in return? I am far from satisfied, and I appeal to the Minister to devote a little more attention to his office than he has done hitherto’.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
– The repeated and savage attacks which have been made upon the Government to-day are enough to make one’s heart bleed. I am surprised to learn from the Minister that he intends to take those attacks lying down. In other words, he does not propose to reply to them. In. this connexion, I am irresistibly reminded of the couplet in an old costermonger song, which reads -
If I had a donkey, what wouldn’t go, « Wouldn’t I wallop him, Oh ! Oh ! Oh !
That seems to be the attitude which has been taken up by some of the most pronounced supporters of the Government. I think it is undesirable that all this amount of flagellation should take place in public. It is really very unseemly. But I rose chiefly to make a few observations in reference to New Guinea. Everybody must have remarked upon the difficulty which is experienced in obtaining definite information from the Possession. Last session I strongly urged the Government to consider the advisability of immediately connecting- New Guinea with the mainland by means of a system “of wireless telegraphy. I am quite sure that if the centres of New Guinea, which are now settled, were in telegraphic communication with Sydney, a great deal of the trouble which is at present experienced would disappear. The Department of External Affairs would then be able to communicate with its officers upon many matters regarding which we have only uncertain information, and to obtain a reply from them within a few hours. Senator Higgs has spoken very disparagingly of the members of the Royal Commission which has been appointed to investigate the conditions obtaining in New Guinea. The chairman of that body, Colonel Kenneth Mackay, is well-known in Sydnev. and I can certainly speak of him in every way as a gentleman. He is not a man who, either for love or money, could be induced to sign a report which was in any way at variance with the evidence placed before him. So far as he is concerned, the Senate may rest assured that the inquiry which is about to be conducted is in good hands. I aim not acquainted with the other members of the Commission, and therefore can say nothing of their qualifications. But I have no hesitation in saying that honorable senators may rest satisfied that, so far as Colonel Mackay is concerned, justice will be done. Not only will he aim at achieving that result, but he has the mental equipment necessary to bring it about. There is just one other matter - a very small one - which I desire to mention. Some two or three months ago a telegraphic chess match was played between the New South Wales and the Victorian Chess Associations. By arrangement with the authorities, the moves in the match were transmitted by wire from one capital to the other. But when a settlement came to be effected, the Victorian Association was charged only £2, whereas the New South Wales Association had to pay £8. The explanation of the discrepancy is that the messages transmitted from New South Wales were despatched as private messages, whilst those from Victoria were forwarded as press messages. I have already asked one or two questions upon this matter, but so far have been unable to obtain a satisfactory reply. It is quite evident that, if a mistake were made, and if as a result the New South Wales Association was overcharged, a refund ought to be made, so as to place the two associations upon an equality. I have been assured that prior to the match being played the New South Wales Association approached the representative of the Postmaster-General in Sydney, and endeavoured to arrange for the forwarding of the messages at press rates. Its application, however, was refused, and it had no alternative but to transmit them at private rates. While upon this subject, I cannot refrain from expressing regret that since the establishment of Federation, something in the nature of an anti-Federal spirit has been exhibited by Departments which formerly worked in harmony together. Prior to Federation, the Telegraphic Departments of New South Wales and Victoria were always willing upon any public holiday, when the wires were not being used to any appreciable extent, to allow the Chess Associations of those States to use them without any charge whatever, except a small fee to cover the time of the operator engaged at either end. In the light of these facts, it is very singular that since the advent of Federation no match has been played without occasioning a good deal of friction and trouble. 1 would point out that these contests directly contribute some revenue to the Department, inasmuch as the results of them are telegraphed to all the States. From that stand-point. I hold that the question should be viewed broadly. I am sorry that I have had occasion to speak upon such a very small matter, but I do so in the hope of securing an adjustment of the trouble to which I have referred.
– In reply. I merely wish to .say a few words concerning my own Department. I do not intend to answer the criticism of honorable senators upon other matters. Upon the most important one Senator Millen took up the cudgels on behalf of the Government. It is rather cheering to find a member of the Opposition supporting the Government after such a good friend of ours as Senator Pearce has worked himself up into a fury upon the question of defence, and has pitched into the Government in the way described by Senator Pulsford. The latter, however, misquoted the costermonger song, which I have always been taught should be rendered -
If I had a donkey and he wouldn’t go, Do you think I would wallop him ? No ! No ! No !
– When an attack on the Government causes the hearts of the Opposition to bleed, the Minister may be, sure that he is not altogether in the right.
– Perhaps so. None of us can hope to be always in the right. As to the criticism of “our defence policy, it is noteworthy that no two honorable senators adopt the same line of argument. As a rule, their arguments are mutually destructive. On the one hand, we have Senator Dobson declaring that he believes in economy, whilst on the other, he tells us he considers that the number of cadets should be increased. That certainly would not mean economy - it would involve a considerable increase in expenditure. Then we come to Senator Clemons, who champions the cause of the Navy and of naval cadets. He declared that he would sooner see the Commonwealth relying for its defence on 20,000 naval men than upon the whole of our present Volunteer, Militia, and* Permanent Forces. Senator Smith follows with a statement that what we have to do is to provide against invasion by securing an adequate land force, and that we have not gone far enough in that direction. Finally, we have Senator Pearce taking up the cudgels on behalf of Captain Creswell’s proposal to establish a small Australian Navy.
– Not a small navy; he urges that we should have a proper system of harbor .defence.
– Captain Creswell’s scheme means something more than that. He proposes a small navy which shall not necessarily be confined to harbor defence. Senator Pearce said in effect that I had promised to bring before Parliament this session a complete scheme of defence, that I had not fulfilled that promise, that apparently I had done nothing during the recess, that evidently I had been careless and indifferent, and that therefore I was deserving of a certain degree of censure. He then went on to criticise the report of the Imperial Council of Defence with regard to the naval defence of Australia. I am not here to take up the cudgels on behalf of that body, but in answer to the charge that I promised to bring before the Senate this session a complete system of defence, let me read from Hansard what I actually said -
As I have said, the task before me is a difficult one. I do not know whether I am capable of performing it ; but I shall do my best. I hope that I shall be in a position before next session to bring a scheme of defence before my colleagues.
If honorable senators choose to consider that statement an absolute promise, they may do so. I admitted the difficulties of the position, and expressed the hope that I should be able to overcome them. I tried my best to do so, but the more closely I looked into the question, the more difficult the position became. It was considered by my colleagues, when I brought the matter before them, that we ought if possible to obtain the advice of the Imperial Council of Defence on this exceedingly important question. That prevented the settlement of the question before we had prepared our Estimates. When the scheme has been completed, it must be considered very carefully. We cannot say at a moment’s notice that we ought to adopt this or that system. So far as the naval side of our defence is concerned, I have informed honorable senators privately, as I have informed the press, that personally I am favorable to the Naval Director’s report with regard to the acquirement of torpedo boats and destroyers. We sent Captain Creswell to England in order that he might obtain full information as to what it would cost to give effect to his scheme - to ascertain the best type of vessels to procure, and also to inquire whether it would not be possible for us to construct them in the Commonwealth. The latter is a most important consideration. I believe that, as far as possible, we ought to construct in the Commonwealth the vessels we require.
– The Department has practically reconstructed a torpedo boat here.
– Certainly ; but we have not all the plant necessary to undertake this work. Captain Creswell only returned recently, and I have now to consider the whole scheme. On one point I am still lacking information, which I need to secure before I shall be in a position to bring Captain Creswell’s scheme before my colleagues.
– Will not the Minister be powerless to take action, now that the Estimates have been framed?
– We cannot take action this session. Is there any violent hurry ?
– I should say that there is.
– Is an important question like this to be decided without proper consideration?
– Since the honorable senator takes that view, he will recognise that a delay of a week, or a month, or a year or so, is not a matter of vital concern.
– Are we to wait a “ year or so “ without making a start?
– We must thoroughly consider the scheme, and ascertain how it is likely to operate. One must be careful to bring before Parliament an intelligent scheme, which can be honestly recommended. I am. inclined to favour Captain Creswell’s proposals, and that fact makes me more anxious to carefully examine it before bringing it before my colleagues, and to thoroughly satisfy myself of its soundness, than I should be if I occupied a different position. What is his proposal? It is that we should have a certain number of torpedo boats and destroyers. What for t To drive the enemy’s cruisers . away from the entrance to our harbors, so that our shipping may be free to pass in and out without running the risk of being intercepted bv the enemy. In the case of Port Adelaide, for instance, it is said that we need these torpedo boats and destroyers to keep foreign cruisers, in time of war, beyond Kangaroo Island - outside Spencer Gulf - to drive them out into the open ocean, where our commerce would have a chance of evading them. We come now to the question to which I am seeking an answer : Would the proposed tor pedo boats and destroyers accomplish, that work ? I have put the question, ‘ ‘ Would it not be possible for a cruiser, with quick- firing guns, and with the assistance of her search-lights, to remain at night between Kangaroo Island and the mainland, and to ward off the attacks of torpedo boats and’ destroyers?’” If that could be done, what would be the use of this fleet? If we cannot make sure that these cruisers would have at night to seek safety on the open ocean, what would be the use of our fleet of torpedo boats and destroyers? I Save not yet had a satisfactory answer.
– Has not the honorable senator read that the Japanese torpedo boats, in spite of the search-lights and guns of the enemy, succeeded in making their way into Port Arthur and destroying half the Russian Fleet?
– They never destroyed half the Russian Fleet. At the outset they took the Russians by surprise, but after that they never had a show. I must satisfy myself - and I am not absolutely satisfied - that these torpedo boats and destroyers ‘.would accomplish what .Captain Creswell says they ought to accomplish. I have not obtained an absolutely satisfactory answer, but I am making inquiries, and hope in a short time to obtain one. I believe that within a month I shall be able to lay before my colleagues a scheme of defence to be dealt with by them as they think fit. That is all I can do. I can submit a scheme to my colleagues, but I cannot say whether they will adopt it. I have done my best, and it is my duty, as representing the Government, to be exceedingly careful before proposing an expenditure of millions of money. I must be perfectly satisfied in my own mind that the fleet which it is proposed to bring into existence will be able to do what its supporters claim for it.
– Will Parliament discuss the scheme this session?
– The chances are that it will not, but the matter will be placed before the country.
– When did the honorable gentleman get Captain Creswell’s report ?
– A’ little before I delivered my speech on the Budget last year.
– Then the honorable gentleman has had it for more than a year.
– Yes; but in the interval the scheme has been under the consideration of the Imperial Defence Committee, and now that that body’s recommendations have been received, I must satisfy myself in regard to the various points involved. It is my duty to do this, so that my personal inclination may not lead me into error. I did not make any definite promise. All I said was that I hoped to be able to do a certain thing, and should exert myself to that end. I have met with many difficulties. A large numberof schemes of defence have been suggested by honorable senators; indeed, the whole subject has been discussed here so fluently that one might imagine that we are an assembly of admirals, generals, and other high authorities, possessing expert knowledge on the subject of defence. It must be remembered that I must deal with this matter as a whole. I cannot have regard to any one branch of the Defence Force alone.
– Does the honorable gentleman object to honorable senators expressing such opinions as they hold?
SenatorPLAYFORD. - No; though those opinions have been expressed rather dogmatically.
– Why are reports laid before the Senate if we are not to discuss them?
– Honorable senatorsmay discuss them to their heart’s content. I merely mention that a large number of schemes have been put forward, many of them mutually destructive, to explain the difficulty ofmy position.
– The honorable senator is the arbiter.
– I must put my proposals before the Ministry.
– The honorable senator has had a long time inwhich to do so.
– The time has not been too long for a proper consideration of the matter. Indeed, the subject is one for the constituencies as much as for Parliament, since it is the people who will have to find the money. If the proposals of the Government receive the support of the majority returned after the next election, no great harm will have been done by delay. It is better to lose a little time than to adopt, without due consideration, a scheme which may turn out to be a failure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill passing through all its stages without delay.
– I do not think that the members of the Labour Partyhave been fairly treated by the Minister. Because he has had an expression of sympathy from a member of the Opposition, he tells us that he does not care much about our support.
– I did not say that.
– That is what the honorable senator’s words meant. When he wishes to dish the Opposition, he appeals to the Labour Party ; and when he wishes to dish the Labour Party, he appeals to the Opposition. We are not going to stand that any longer. I call attention to the state of the Senate.
– I would remind honorable senators that standing order 56 provides that -
When the attention of the President, or of the Chairman of Committees, has been called to the fact that there is not a quorum of senators present, no senator shall leave the Chamber until the Senate has been counted by the President.
As several honorable senators have left the Chamber since attention was called to the state of the Senate, I desire the Usher of the Black Rod to ask them to return. [Quorum formed.]
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill grants Supply for a period of two months. The sum of . £748,363 is being asked for. On the Last occasion we got Supply for one month, the sum then voted being £459,064, making £1,207,427 for the quarter. After deducting special appropriations, the Estimates for theyear provide for the expenditure of £4,434, 431, of which one-fourth is £1,108,608. We are therefore asking for a little in excess of an average quarter’s appropriation ; but we have to do so because of specially large expenditure in connexion with ocean mail contracts, which must be incurred this quarter. The amount voted in this Bill will not exceed the amounts set out in the Estimates for the various services of the Government.
– I call attentionto the state of the Senate?
– Will the names of those present be recorded?
– I presume so.
The President adjourned the Senate at 2.32 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 August 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19060824_senate_2_33/>.