3rd Parliament · 1st Session
The Senate met at 2.30 p.m. pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General .
The Clerk read the proclamation.
The Commissioner appointed by His Excellency the Governor-General, the Right Hon. Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, P.C., G.C.M.G., Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, having been introduced by the Usher of the Black Rod, directed the Usher to desire the attendance of the members of the House of Representatives.
The members of the House of Representatives being come,
Commission read by the Clerk.
The COMMISSIONER said-
Gentlemen of the Senate :
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives :
I have it in command from the GovernorGeneral to let you know that, as soon as the members of the Senate recently elected and the members of the House of Representatives shall have been sworn, and a President of the Senate and a Speaker of the House of Representatives shall have been chosen, the causes of His Excellency calling this Parliament will be declared to you by him in person in this place. You, therefore, Gentlemen of the Senate, will proceed to choose some proper person to be your President ; and you, Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, will repair to the place where you are to sit, and there proceed to the choice of some proper person to be your Speaker; and thereafter His Excellency will have pleasure in receiving the gentlemen, whom you shall respectively so choose, at such time and place as may be convenient.
The members of the House of Representatives having withdrawn,
The COMMISSIONER having produced a commission appointing him a Commissioner to administer the oath or affirmation of allegiance,
Commission read bv the Clerk.
The Clerk laid upon the table returns to the writs issued for the election of members to the Senate.
The following honorable senators made and subscribed the oath of allegiance: -
Lt. -Col. the Hon. Cyril St. Clair Cameron, Tasmania.
Lt.-CoI. the Hon. Albert John Gould, New South Wales.
The Hon. James Hiers McColl, Victoria.
Anthony James joseph St. Ledger, Queensland.
The following honorable senators made and subscribed an affirmation of allegiance : -
The Commissioner then withdrew.
– It is the duty of a Minister of the Crown at this stage, I understand, to remind the Senate that the time has arrived to proceed with the election of a President. May I presume, however, to intimate to honorable senators that I have accepted the office of Vice-President of the Executive Council, and the rather onerous and responsible duties of the leadership of the Senate? I realize the responsibilities of the office, and honorable senators will recognise that it is not altogether unamended with difficulty. But the characteristic fair play, not to say generosity that has at all times been extended to Ministers, certainly does encourage one to undertake duties of the kind. I also have to intimate to honorable senators that my honorable colleague, Senator Keating, has accepted the office of Minister of Home Affairs.
– It is my duty to remind the Senate that the time has arrived to proceed to the election of a President. I take it as a matter of very great pleasure indeed that before the formal meeting it has seen fit to make known its will and desire. Of course it was the duty of other aspirants to this honorable position to recognise at once that the will of the Senate must be accepted without demur and without complaint of any description. Under such circumstances, I have very great pleasure indeed, in moving -
That Senator Lt. -Col. Albert John Gould do take the chair of this Senate as President.
The Senate is fortunate indeed in securing the services of a gentleman of the recognised experience of Senator Gould. He has been a member of the Senate since it was established. He came here with a ripe experience, of which we have had the advantage ‘during his term of office, and he has been honoured by his State by re-election. As it is the will of honorable senators, that Senator Gould should be elected to the chair without any contest, I think we may proceed to his unanimous election with the confident assurance that he will discharge the duties of that great and responsible position with absolute fairness - with characteristic fairness, may I say - and with an anxiety to uphold its highest and best traditions. I havevery great pleasure indeed in submitting the motion.
– I have very much pleasure in seconding the motion.
-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [3.7] - I desire to express my sense of the honour which the Senate proposes to confer upon me, and I submit to its will.
Then the PRESIDENT-ELECT being taken out of his place by Senator Best and Senator McGregor and conducted to the chair, standing on the upper step, said - I desire once more to express my sense of the honour which has been conferred upon me by honorable senators. I feel that the duties of the Chair are of a very onerous character, calling for the application of whatever ability I possess. But I can assure honorable senators that it will be my earnest desire to discharge them, not alone to my satisfaction, but to theirs. I recognise that to a very large extent I shall be dependent upon their good-will and assistance. With that aid, which I believe I shall at all times receive, I shall do my utmost to maintain the dignity of the office, and I have no doubt that the Senate will continue to be regarded with the respect to which it is entitled by its position under the Constitution. I trust that however much, difference of opinion upon political questions there may be amongst honorable senators, they will always be good friends. I again thank honorable senators for the very great honour which they have done me.
– Mr. President. I desire to offer you my hearty congratulations upon your unanimous election to an important office, to which I am sure you will do honour. I quite admit with you, sir, that your success in the posiEon will be completely dependant upon the good-will and generous consideration of honorable senators. I am sure that from your observation of the treatment of the occupant of the Chair you can undertake the office with the utmost confidence, and with little anxiety, so far as our aid is concerned. I heartily congratulate you, sir.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia [3.10). - Mr. President, I rise with the greatest pleasure to congratulate you upon your accession to the Chair of the Senate. The position is one of the very highest and most dignified character, and its elevation and dignity are not less than the onerous responsibilities which axe connected with it. The duties which it entails upon you are not merely to preside over the deliberations of the Senate, not merely to be vigilant in seeing that its Standing Orders are faithfully and scrupulously observed, that its proceedings are conducted in an orderlv wav, and that what I may, I think, call the -traditional decorum of our debates is preserved, but also - what to my mind are far higher obligations - to uphold the dignity of the Senate, and to strive at all times to secure those great rights which it possesses under the Constitution, that they may in no respect be transgressed or whittled away. I look upon the observance of those matters as the higher duty which the President has to perform, inasmuch as they go, above all things, to secure the strength of the Senate and its efficiency for the high purposes that were designed for it under the Constitution. I think I may add that our experience of you during the past six years justifies the belief that you will faithfully and well fulfil these great functions of your office. And I think that you will not appeal in vain for that assistance and goodwill from every member of the Senate, which we all agree with you, sir, are essential to the fulfilment of your duties. I think we must all realize that, without the harmony, the concurrence, and the good-will of every member of the Senate, not merely would your position be an extremely difficult one, but it would be one to which it would be very hard for vou adequately to do justice. You must rely, as you said, upon the assistance of the Senate, and of every member of it. Speaking for myself and my honorable friends here, and, if it is not presumptuous, on behalf of every member of the Chamber, I think I mav say that on all occasions you can confidently rely upon the assistance of every member of the Chamber in the discharge of your higher duties. I again congratulate you.
– Mr. President, as the leader of the Government and the leader of the. Opposition have offered their congratulations to you, I desire, as I think I can, on behalf of the party I represent here, to offer similar congratulations. You have, sir, every reason to be proud, not only of having been elected to the position of President of the Senate, but of having been elected with such unanimity. No objection to your election has been raised ; and I regard that as an indication that the term of your Presidency will be characterized by harmonious work. I am aware that the members of the party to which I belong often get into conflict, not only with their fellow members, but also with the Chairman of Committees and the President; but I hope, sir, that in the future as in the past any such conflicts as may occur will leave no sting behind, and cause no regrets on the part of any senator. I congratulate you, sir, upon the honorable position which you have now assumed.
– I desire once again to thank honorable senators for the honour which they have conferred upon me, and to express my deep sense of gratification at the remarks which have been made bv the leader of the Government, the leader of the Opposition, and the leader of the Labour Party. I know - but nevertheless I am pleased to receive their assurance of the fact - that I shall at all times have the assistance of honorable senators in the discharge of the duties of the office w hich I have been called upon to occupy. I do regard it as a very great honour - as indeed the greatest honour that it is within the power of the Senate to confer upon any one of its members. I look upon the commencement we have made to-day, as being in the nature cf a happy augury; and believe that the kind expressions of opinion, and the promises of help made to me by honorable senators on their own behalf, and on behalf of others whom they represent, are assurances upon which I can rely. I feel confident that there is every prospect of our working harmoniously and comfortably together. I can only assure the Senate that if at any time difficulties arise, it will be my urgent desire to act fairly, justlv, and impartially, towards all honorable senators wherever they may sit, to whatever partv they may belong, and whatever position they may hold in the Senate.
– I have to acquaint the Senate that the GovernorGeneral will receive the President and honorable senators at 4.15 this afternoon, in the Library.
Sitting suspended from 3.17 to 4.30. p.m.
The Senate having reassembled,
NOR-GENERAL entered the chamber and took the chair. A message was forwarded to the House of Representatives intimating that His Excellency desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber, who, being come with their Speaker.
HIS EXCELLENCY was pleased to deliver the following speech : -
His Excellency the GovernorGeneral having retired,
The President took the chair at 4.42 p.m., and read prayers.
-I have to announce to the Senate that since my election to the office of President I have presented myself to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, who has been pleased to approve of the choice of the Senate.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral a question without notice. I wish to know what is the present position with regard to the new English mail contract, and whether it is true that not one keel has been laid of the vessels that will be required to carry out the contract? I also wish to inquire whether it is not a fact that the price of metals has risen so largely, and the cost of building vessels so increased, that it is probable that the con.tractors will prefer to allow the contract to lapse?
– Perhaps I shall best reply to the honorable senator if I indicate the information to be given to an honorable member of another place, who has given notice of a series of questions there. If I take this course, all the information: that another place receives will be equally before the Senate. In reply to Senator Pulsford’ s question, therefore, I will read the questions proposed “to be put in another place and the replies to be given by my colleague the Postmaster-General. The first question is -
If the Government is satisfied with the progress made to date by the contractors for the oversea mail contract entered into seven months ago ?
The answer to that is -
As the plans and specifications for the ships were not finally approved of by the agent of the Government in London and the contractors until the nth of this month, the Government cannot complain of any undue delay.
The second question is -
Has the construction of any of the new steamships been commenced, and, if so, how many ?
The reply to that is -
The information has been asked for.
The third and fourth questions are -
Is the report appearing in this morning’s press accurate, that a representative of the contractors is on his way to Australia with the view o* obtaining some variation of terms of the contract? Had the Government any previous knowledge of this proposed visit?
The replies to those questions, which my honorable colleague will give in another place, will be -
I have received no information other than the report in this morning’s papers, and cannot express any opinion as to its accuracy. The agent of the Government in London (Captain Collins) has been informed by cable of this statement, and has been asked for a report.
With regard to the question put by Senator Pulsford, as to the rise in the price of metals, and the probability of the contractors not carrying out their contract in consequence, I am not in a position to give any reply. Personally, I am not aware of a rise in the price of metals, nor of what the effect of such a rise, if it has taken place, will be upon the proposed undertaking.
– I propose to lay them upon the table this afternoon.
– Speaking subject to correction, I think that amongst the numerous papers that I have to lay upon the table, the document referred to by my honorable friend is included. If not, of course, I will see to the matter. I have not yet had a full opportunity of looking at all the papers before me.
– I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he will see that the report of the Papua Commission is promptly placed in the hands of honorable senators, either by being laid upon the table, or by being distributed amongst them?
– It will be.
– I wish to ask whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council will lay upon the table any modifications of the regulations under the Commerce Act which may have been made during the recess?
– If any have been made, I will take the earliest opportunity of doing so.
– The Act directs that it shall be done.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Memorandum setting out the terms on which the Northern Territory of South Australia is to be surrendered to the Commonwealth.
Correspondence relating to. the convention with France re the New Hebrides, dated 20th October, 1906.
Annual Report upon British New Guinea for the year ended 30th June, 1906.
Report of the International Workmen’s Congress in Vienna, 1905, with an account of the system of workmen’s insurance, including old-age pensions, in Germany, by the Hon. Sir John Cockburn, K.C.M.G.
Second Report of Dr. Danvsz’s experiments in rabbit destruction, by Dr. E. Angas Johnson and W. J. P. Giddings.
Despatch from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated 7th December, 1906, intimating that he proposed deferring, until after the Colonial Conference, rendering any advice to His Majesty regarding the Customs Tariff (British Preference) Bill, 1906.
Ordered to be printed.
Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the present conditions of Papua, and the best means of their improvement, together with Minutes of Evidences, appendices, and maps.
Ordinances (Nos. 4 to 10 of 1906) of the Territory of Papua.
Return of the number of persons to whom certificates of naturalization were granted during 1906 under the Naturalization Act.
Regulation No. 5A, S.R. rgo6, No. 70, under the Immigration Restriction Acts.
Regulations re orders for deportation, S.R.. 1906, No. 71, under the Pacific Island Labourers Act.
Copyright Act regulations, S.R. 1906, No.119.
Designs Act Regulations, S.R. 1906, No. 119.
Amended Distillation Act regulations, Nos. 48, 6g, 70, S.R. 1906, No.115.
Excise Act Sugar regulations, S.R. 1906, No. 120.
Excise Tariff and Excise Act regulations relating to scents and toilet preparations, S.R.1906, No. 116.
Spirits Act regulations, S.R. 1906, No.118.
Sugar Bounty Act regulations, S.R. 1906, No. 121.
Trade Marks Act regulations, S.R.1906, 122.
Transfers under the Audit Act approved 22nd January,1907, financial year1905-6.
Notifications pursuant to the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act of the acquisition of land at Epping, N.S.W., as a post office site; at Ross, Tasmania, as a drill hall site; and at Mount Nelson, Hobart, Tasmania, as a road of access to a battery site.
List of permanent officers in the Commonwealth Public Service, 1st January, 1907.
Amended Public Service Act regulations : - No. 104, telephone indoor supervisors, S.R.1906, No. 96 ; No. 276A, board of inquiry, S.R.1906, No. 100; No. 43A, soliciting presents, S.R. 1906, No. 113; Nos. 163A, 104,148, 17,18, 21,90, bicycles, fines, &c, S.R.1906, No.112; No. 40, performance of duties, S.R.,1907, No. 6.
Recommendation of the appointment of H. A. Hunt as Commonwealth Meteorologist.
Recommendation and approval of the appointment of C. H. U. Todd as Clerk of Works, Public Works Branch, Dept. of Home Affairs, and of the promotion of C. J. Murphy as Mana.ger, Telegraph Branch, P.M.G.’s Dept., Sydney.
– I have taken the opportunity to lay a number of papers upon the table in bulk, and I wish to intimate that now is the proper time for any honorable senator who wishes to move that any particular paper be printed to do so. Objections were raised on a previous occasion to papers which had been tabled escaping the attention of honorable senators.
– Does the honorable senator think that their attention is likely to be attracted by the reading of such a long list of papers?
– I thought that if I read a list of the papers, an honorable senator whose attention was attracted to one would have an opportunity to move that it be printed. As a matter of fact, I believe that those papers that are of any value at all are in print already. It may, however, be that some honorable senator may desire to have the papers in connexion with the acquisition of land for a particular purpose printed; and it is for that reason that I drew attention to the fact that I had laid them on the table in bulk.
– Will these papers not come before the Printing Committee?
– I have to report to the) Senate that His Excellency the Governor-General attended here to-day, and was pleased to deliver a Speech expressing the reasons for the calling together of Parliament.
-Col. CAMERON (Tasmania) [5.5]. - I beg to move -
That the following Address-in-Reply be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General : -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
In submitting this motion, I hope I mav be allowed to touch on one or two matters dealt with in the Speech itself. The first matter I desire to mention is referred to in paragraph 3, where it is set forth : -
A third Conference of Prime Ministers of the self-governing portions of the Empire has been summoned to assemble in London in April next. Many subjects of far-reaching importance will be submitted, a discussion of which should encourage the development of trade and commerce between the component parts of the Empire, lead to a wider and more intimate knowledge of our common interests, and strengthen the bonds of union between the United Kingdom and His Majesty’s Dominions beyond the seas.
Behind that statement there lies, I think, a very great and serious problem; and I think I shall be in order at this juncture in alluding to it. I desire first to call attention to a matter which must be within the intimate knowledge of all here. I refer to the unsatisfactory arrangement that has been come to between the Government of England and the Government of France in connexion with the New Hebrides. I should like to point out at this stage - I shall refer to my reasons later on - that when we send a representative from Australia to the Council of the Empire, unless that representative is backed up with a knowledge that behind his word there is power and might - unless hd can speak with the authority that force cam give him - his words will be of little or no avail where the vital interests of Australia are concerned.
– What does the honorable senator mean?
-Col. CAMERON.- Later on I shall allude to how we can provide that force, in order to give to our representative the ability to speak with authority and cause him to be listened to with attention. I should like also to touch on the question of the Tariff Commission. I desire to express the hope that the Tariff question may be considered and cleared out of the way of Australian politics - that all reasonable inequalities mav be rectified, and that, at all events, the Tariff4 may be given a certain amount of stability for some years to come at least. I ask you, sir, to allow me to refer to the matters dealt with in paragraph 8 of His Excellency’s speech, which is as follows : -
You will be called together again as soon as possible, in order that you may consider the legislative proposals laid before the electors, comprising, among others, measures to place our national industries upon a sound and permanent basis, under equitable conditions ; to develop the latent resources of the continent ; promote trade relations within the Empire; make adequate provision for our defences ; and augment the population of Australia by a judicious encouragement of immigration.
Iii this connexion, I may touch upon the question of defence. We can best understand this question, and how it affects Australia, by looking beyond our own shores, and taking cognisance of the conditions that surround us in the world. We are no longer a series of small Colonies. We have become the youngest nation in the world with immense responsibilities, and immense duties. The European situation must of necessity cause us to pause and to realize the forces that are at work - forces that will affect Australia directly as well as the British Empire. First of all, we have to realize that the war recently concluded between Russia and Japan has altered the whole balance of power in Europe. The forces of the old world were so held in equilibrium - were so arranged - that it was impossible for any one great power to move without dire consequences to the other powers and to itself .; and that gave the Empire of Great Britain immense freedom and immense advantages. But the recent war, as I have said, has altered the whole position. We have now to deal with a factor in Europe that is new and which must be noted. The factor is that Germany has acquired the paramount position - has become the overlord of European politics. When we realize what that means - when we realize thai the enormous Empire of Germany with its great potentialities, with a population that in the last thirty years, from 1 870-1, has increased from 40,000,000 to 65,000,000 - and a vast military organization behind it, controls the politics of Europe, we must look to the effects likely to be brought about by the change which has taken place. There can be little doubt in any one’s mind that the position of France is in immense jeopardy at the present time. With France controlled from Berlin, our home country - the power to which we look - will have all its energies called forth to maintain the Empire. Are we in Australia, I ask, to look on at this without realizing that there is a duty which lies upon us - a duty which not only affects us as part of the Empire, but also as influencing our own future, which depends on what we do now ? I should like to point out also that the development of Germany in regard to population and military power does not cease there. Germany has announced a naval policy and is prosecuting that policy with a definite and determined object. That object is to challenge the supremacy of our own home power at sea. Quite recently, it has been announced that Great Britain is being forced to recognise that Germany intends to have a naval power capable of commanding and imposing respect on the sea. With a policy such as that, publicly announced and openly prosecuted, and in view of the fact also that our own Naval authorities, on whom the safety of the Empire depends, have decided on concentrating their power in and around the mother country, we see that the danger is one to be apprehended and met.
– The honorable senator need not be frightened The Socialists were defeated in ‘Germany.
.- I will deal with the honorable senator presently. I would point out further that, in connexion with this European phase of politics, we have also to take note of the Indian aspect. It is commonly assumed that because we have a great and powerful navy we are absolutely secure. The Empire, however, is not only a ,great insular power, but a continental power as well, and in India we have to meet now the trained forces of great and powerful empires.
– Russia. I hope that this will sink deep into the mind of the honorable senator, who is an Englishman, and I hope also that the day is far distant when the trial will come. But Ave must, I say, take cognisance of this aspect of the case at the present time, and also of what Russia has gone through. With all her trials and troubles, after the difficulties of a great campaign, in which she has been unsuccessful, she is reasserting her authority, and then the national policy - the traditional requirements of Russia - will demand, at all events, an attempt at fulfilment. The traditional policy of Russia is to get an outlet to the sea”. Japan has stood in her way in the direction of the Far East, and Germany blocks the way to the Mediterranean. There remains only the direction of India for her to try to obtain what is a national necessity. Not only is it a national necessity, but it is a policy that has been persistently pursued since the time when Russia became a great power - for the last 150 years. Within mv own recollection I have seen Russia advance with rapid strides until now she is our neighbour on what is termed our feudatory - Afghanistan. I want honorable senators to grasp this simple fact, and the relation that it bears to the question of the defence of Australia - to realize that in India will be solved the question of whether Australia is to be white or coloured; that with the fall of India will fall Australia; and that India provides a vast amount of the trade and commerce with which the naval power of England is built up and sustained. We must recognise that we are inseparably mixed up with this great question of the military defence of India, and give heed to the opinion of our most expert soldier in England. Lord Roberts has declared that we should require half-a-million men to hope for any success in a campaign against a Russian attack. When honorable senators grasp the fact that Russia recently, at a distance of 6,000 miles from her base, carried on an immense war, in which even after some fifteen months of fighting, Japan, although successful in battle after battle, was unable to impose her will upon her, that Russia is still a great power, and that at half the distance from her base she has, instead of one line of- railway through most difficult country, two lines of railway on which she can concentrate a force to threaten our holding of India, they can grasp the gravity of the position. These are simple and undeniable facts. If Australia cannot grasp the fact that she is inseparably bound up with, and that her interests depend on, the defence of India, she loses sight of one of the main points in which her national policy and her ambitions are indissolubly bound up with the interests of the Empire. I would ask honorable senators to realize also that our military power has been so much called in question that in order to insure our ability to hold India, we have had to call in the successful Japanese to assist us in that task. I would like those who are in favour of a White Australia to ask themselves whether they are .going to admit and to allow the position that a coloured race is to sustain them? If they admit that this coloured race is going to sustain them, do they think that they will be able to keep them out of Australia?
– No, certainly not.
– Certainly not. If I cannot appeal to honorable senators in this Chamber, I appeal to the people throughout the length and breadth of Australia to realize the importance of this great question. Let us for a moment look at another aspect of it. For the last six years there lias unquestionably been a necessity for great attention to be paid to getting the machinery of the Commonwealth into working order. In so doing, I am sorry to have to say that the method and policy adopted, as regards the defence of Australia, is one that I think will not be found to.be of any effectual .use when the time and the hour of trial comes. I say this unquestionably as a soldier. I say it also as one of the Defence Force. ‘We have most excellent ma*terial in Australia, but if we think for one moment that we are going to obtain an efficient defence by organizing a body of half-trained troops, if we think for one moment that about 60,000 of the population are going to support the integrity of this country in a time of national emergency, then I am afraid we are living in pious hopes, and with a false sense of security.
– In a fool’s paradise.
.- I implore honorable senators earnestly to consider this. I wish I had the oratorical power of my honorable friend, for this is a matter of deep and vital importance to honorable senators. I ask them to realize that the time has come for something to be done.
– The difficulty is that you soldiers are not agreed amongst yourselves as to what should be done.
– -Neva, mind what we soldiers are agreed to. Let Parliament adopt a simple policy, which, as I hope I shall be able to make clear before I am done, will be an effective one.
– The honorable senator is appealing to us as a soldier?
-Yes ; but I ask honorable senators to realize that what they are doing now is insufficient for the day of trial. That is what I want honorable senators to grasp clearly. We have arrived at a time when a policy can be adopted. We have at the present moment the advantage of being under the aegis - the protection - of the Royal Navy ; but it has been found necessary for the Imperial Government to conclude a defensive and offensive alliance with Japan for the definite purpose of protecting Imperial interests in India. We must conclude, as a consequence, that our military resources are inadequate for the requirements of the Empire. I hope that this is clear and simple language. What we have to grasp in Australia is this : That the position of the Empire is such as I have described, and that a White Australia cannot exist a day in the face of a disaster to the Royal Navy, on which, and on, which alone, out existence at present depends. If we can grasp this, and realize that our state of helplessness must be altered - that we have the material here, but that we have lo adopt the proper means of making it efficient - then I think we can look forward to the future with some degree of hope. At the present time there is no possibility of our troops, trained as they are, being able to maintain themselves, or to maintain the country, in the face of the organized forces of the world. What I want honorable senators to realize is that we are now at the parting of the ways. We have arrived at that stage when a policy must be adopted, and. whatever the policy is; it must be one that can be made effective. I have found that, lurking behind the contention of that remarkably able naval authority, Captain Mahan, that the power of the Navy was ample for our requirements, there is a pious hope that the Navy could still fulfil all that was wanted. If we had no continental interests, that might be the case; but, as I have endeavoured to show honorable senators, ‘we have continental interests in India, and I . hope I have made it clear that if India falls we fall likewise. I hope also that I have made it clear that Japan has had to be called in to help our military establishment. Surely, then, there is some reason’ for us to look around our conditions in Australia, and to try to grasp what is the right thing to do, and to do it without delay. Remember that military forces cannot be improvised in a. short time. You have to lay the foundation, and then build them up slowly, thoroughly, and effectively. Without going into detail, I would ask honorable senators for a moment to’ survey our own position here. In Australia we have an immense territory, and we have a national ambition to provide for the defence of the Commonwealth. We have at the present time a certain force, but there is art inclination to oscillate between naval and military defence. No country yet in the history of the world - and you can go back to the distant ages of the past - has ever been able to build up its supremacy on naval power alone, or to sustain it. No Power in the world, either in the remote or ir.’ the immediate past, has ever been able to do it. We ourselves depend, as I have instanced, upon the military power that we have called in from Japan to enable us to keep our Navy effective. Now the policy of some parties and some people in Australia is to lean towards the creation here of a navy. No one who was in the Chamber three years ago will doubt me when I say that I am in favour of encouraging in every way possible the creation of a national spirit and the development of a local navy. But it is only part of a system to try to encourage and develop local and national aspirations. It is beside the question to think that any navy that Ave could form could be of any use to us for twenty-four hours in the face of any of the existing navies. What honorable senators have to realize is that we ha’e to build up a power to make secure the integrity of our Commonwealth ; and that must be done, and done alone by the land forces.
– With a coast line of 8,500 miles?
– Not only must it be done by the land forces, but every man in the community must assist. There must be no blinking this fact that rich and poor alike, no matter who they are, will have to take a hand in defending the territorial integrity of the Commonwealth. How is this to be carried out? The matter is one of detail, which I shall submit to the Senate later on. But I might again accentuate the statement that honorable senators must grasp this primary fact, that we cannot maintain the integrity of Australia by the development of our local naval power until
Ave have established beyond question that an invasion is impossible, because the manhood of the country has been trained to secure the Commonwealth. There is a point which I should like to clear up. It has been held by many persons that because .a handful of Boers in South Africa were able to hold at bay the whole military power of Great Britain, Australia, Avith her sharpshooters and riflemen, would be able to do the same. No greater piece of nonsense than that ever got into a man’s head. I hope that every honorable senator will discard the suggestion as trash, and not allow it even to be thought of as a possible solution of the question. I ask honorable senators to realize the (difference between the two countries. In South Africa the capitals - our obJectives - that Ave had to take were hundreds of miles from the sea-board. Here our capitals, in fact_ our whole population, are located along the fringe of Australia. There is another factor to be considered. Tile Boers, in fighting their battles, were able to move over practically the whole of South Africa, and to leave the most cherished hostages that a man or a nation can leave in the hands of the victors - their women and children. I ask any one here is that a policy to advocate? Does any honorable senator think that in Australia our fighting men, or those we call our fighting men, could go and leave the homes of Australian women without protection? It must be clear to honorable senators that the two conditions are in no way alike. Just now I overheard an honorable senator remark, “ That is an argument for, a navy.” Yes, it is an argument for a navy if we can build one and maintain it.
– What is to stop us from building a navy?
.- Let the honorable senator remember that a navy cannot be built in a day or in a year.
– Nor without money.
– Exactly. Not only that, but we are face to face with this fact : that the Japanese can dictate to 85,000,000 or 86,000,000 of Americans when they demand that their children shall be treated on terms of equality in American schools. Are honorable senators, forsooth, going to assume that we can impose our will upon a power like Japan ? What is the use of our flourishing Acts of Parliament and talking here about our might? We have to be in a position to enforce our will, and to do that we have to start without delay. What I am endeavouring to get honorable senators to realize is that there is danger before us, that it is imminent.
– We all realize that.
– I am verv glad to hear that admission. Consequently we must realize that we must build up a power. Is it to be a naval power or a military power? I unhesitatingly tell honorable senators that a naval power would be useless to us at the present juncture, and for half-a-century to come. But bv a simple and not expensive scheme we could build up a military power which would’ not only be able to protect our women and children and defend our interests but would give us the ability to follow out all the vagaries and ideas that “ government of the people by the people and for the people “ can. suggest. Let hon orable senators realize that we have reached the parting of the ways now and that defence must be made a live question, no matter who has to suffer. We have to grasp this factor: that at the present time the national existence of Australia is in jeopardy, and that we must, without delay, adopt such a policy as will give us absolute security in the future. Let me suggest how a great military force could be obtained here at a reasonable cost. We cannot take the wage earners and those who have given hostages to fortune, and who are maintaining practically the social structure of the Commonwealth. But we can lay the foundation of a system which would bring about the military training of all male citizens. Speaking from memory, I think we have between 25,000 and 30,000 male persons arriving at the age of eighteen annually, with the likelihood of a great increase in the immediate future. Allowing for casuals and casualties, we can take 25,000 as the number of youths whom we could annually train and pass into a great reserve force, and who would be available at any time for the defence of the Commonwealth. Passing that number through the requirements of training annually, then in the course of the next ten years we should have at least 200,000 men in the prime of life trained and fit to secure the integrity of the Commonwealth.
– Not allowing anything for death rate?
.- I am allowing for that, but up to that age the percentage is very small. That is our statistical position. If the process went on during the next twenty years we should have the prime of the manhood of Australia - nearly halfamillion persons between the ages of eighteen and thirty-seven - available for the defence of the country. It is of no use to think that greybeards and old persons would be of any use in the defence of the country. A few of them might be. We must have the best manhood of the country if we hope to hold our own against the great powers which have arisen. I desire to impress upon honorable senators that attention must be given to this question. Naturally they may well ask what would be the cost of this scheme? It could be carried out on the broad lines I have indicated for about .£1,500,000 per annum, and that would be equal to lj per cent, upon the gross value of our commerce.
– The honorable senator advocates one year’s compulsory service.
-Yes, that is absolutely necessary for the tactical training of the youth of the country.
– The honorable senator prefers that to the Swiss system?
– The Swiss system is a piece of absolute absurdity.
– Oh !
.- I ask the honorable senator to think of the configuration of Switzerland.
– It contains about 11,000,000 acres.
.- Switzerland is throughout a mountainous country. As soon as you pass the border it is a question of climbing. You rise something like 20.000 feet in some parts. The conditions are very different in Australia. Here you have a great wide plateau and a vast continent. I ask the Senate to realize that we must, under these conditions, have a mobile force - a force that is not to be tied up in a corner merely to defend Melbourne or Fremantle or some other point, but a force that can be called upon to operate wherever it may be required. We must have in Australia a force that can be directed against any enemy when it lands, at any time and anywhere.
– The Swiss are able to do that now.
Senator Lt.-Col. CAMERON.- No. The Swiss are not able to do it. Their system is essentially defensive. You must, if you hope to have Australia properly defended, provide an offensive system. If you train your men to sit behind earthworks and inside forts, you may very soon say good-bye to your White Australia and to your very existence as part of the Empire. Honorable senators who have been interjecting wanted it straight, and I am giving it to them. Now, I have told the Senate that the cost of such a system would be about lj per cent, upon the commerce of Australia. At the present time we spend something like ,£700,000 on our defences. For another .£800,000 we should have here a power - a trained force - equal to all our requirements. Not only that, but we should have the ability to send trained troops to help the Empire at any point in its hour of need. The proportion which the mother country pays towards the defence of the Empire is nearly 7 J per cent. upon the value of her import and export trade. So that it will be seen that there is a vast margin between the liabilities that we incur, the sum that we pay, and that which the mother country pays. I ask the Senate to realize that, no matter how willing the mother country may be to protect and shield us to the last drop of her blood and to the last pound in her purse, yet the day may come - as I have shown the complicated conditions of Europe may easily bring about such a contingency - when the resources of Great Britain may be strained to their uttermost to defend herself and to repel the naval powers which may be leagued against her. What power have we to develop and maintain a navy capable of preserving the integrity of this country ? But with a trained manhood we may look forward to a long - even to a vast - period of absolute security against any enemy, black, white, or yellow. It may be thought by some that I am urging these views merely in, the interest of a system of militarism. But in reply to that criticism,, I ask the Senate to allow me to allude to a paragraph in a report made by Dr. Shadwell on the industrial efficiency of Germany. Dr. Shadwell has gone fully into this question, and is an authority upon it. He says -
Under the German military system the liability comes just when a lad has learnt his trade and undoubtedly forms a break in his civil career -
He attains to that liability at the age of twenty in Germany. I propose the age of eighteen here. - but I have not met with two opinions about its educational value to the individual, and its industrial value to the nation. Perhaps the most striking fact is the physical benefit derived from the exercises of drill, gymnastics, and a regular life. It turns a weedy lad into a well-knit, upstanding man, with sound organs and welldeveloped limbs. It further teaches him cleanliness, discipline, order, authority, self-respect, and -
A quality that I say from my place in the Senate is wanting in young Australians - respect for others.
I conclude my remarks by urging, in the most sincere way I can, that this great problem that is before us, of providing for the adequate defence of Australia, is of urgent and paramount importance. I would also urge that the true solution is on the lines of a proper military organization, where the training and development of the manhood of the country can be utilized. That is the one and only means of providing for the security of the Commonwealth, and for the integrity of our country. With these few words, I have much pleasure in moving that the Address-in-Reply be agreed to.
Senator TRENWITH (Victoria) [5.54J. - I rise to second the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s speech; but, before speaking to it, I should like to congratulate you, sir, upon the great distinction that has been conferred upon you, and to express the hope that your term of office may be one of usefulness to the Senate as well as of pleasure and added dignity to yourself. I feel confident, and I think most honorable senators do, that if such a result does not follow your term of office, it will be due to no want of application and ability on your part. In reference to His Excellency’s speech, I agree with the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat, that the question, of defence is of supreme importance. I thoroughly sympathize with the intense urgency that was made manifest in his address in connexion with that question. I entirely agree as to the urgency and importance of wise and careful consideration and action. But I differ considerably from the honorable senator in some of his deductions. For instance, I do not agree that as yet Germany has achieved the position of entire overlord of European politics.
– What about Morocco?
– Nor do I believe that the Empire to which we belong, and of which I, at any rate, am proud, depends for its safety upon the alliance with Japan or upon the support of any other power. However, I do not propose to discuss the defence question at this juncture. The whole object of our meeting is expressed in paragraph 8 of His Excellency’s speech -
You will bc called together again as soon as possible.
It has to be remembered that we are here to-day entirely because of an extremely wise provision of the Constitution, that it should not be possible for Parliament to refrain from meeting within a reasonable time after its election. Were it not for that provision” of the Constitution, the circumstances are such that there would be no meeting of Parliament until probably about June. It is extremely wise that Parliament should be compelled to assemble in order that it should maintain at all times that absolute control of the Executive that it ought to have. It would be extremely unwise to think of going on with the despatch of business at this juncture.
– That seems to be running away from, or defeating, the object of the Constitution.
– No; the object of the Constitution is that Parliament should be afforded an opportunity to get control of the Executive ; and then it may exercise that opportunity as its idea of what is discreet may dictate. As I have said, the essence of the Governor- General’s speech is contained in paragraph 8, which says -
You will be called together again as soon as possible, in order that you may consider the legislative proposals laid before the electors, comprising, among others, measures to place our national industries upon a sound and permanent basis, under equitable conditions.
– Are they not being destroyed all this time? Will not more be destroyed before Parliament meets again?
– I will deal with that point in a moment -
To develop th« latent resources of the continent ; promote trade relations within the Empire; make adequate provision for our defences; and augment the population of Australia by a judicious encouragement of immigration.
It seems to me that the most important direction that Parliament received at the bte election - indeed, the only clear direction - was, as soon as possible, to place the industries of the country upon a sound basis, under equitable conditions. Senator Gray asks whether those industries may not be destroyed in the meantime if we do not proceed to deal with the Tariff. I only address myself to this phase of the question, because it has been discussed, and probably, I venture to say, will be discussed captiously : and the answer to the honorable senator is contained in paragraphs 3 and 4 of His Excellency’s speech, which inform us that there is to be a Conference of Prime Ministers in England. In view of the importance that the Commonwealth is achieving, and in view of the desirableness of amicable and reasonable arrangements with the rest of the Empire, it is absolutely imperative that our Prime Minister, whoever he may be, should lie present at that Conference. Honorable senators know that it is extremely inconvenient, to say the least, to proceed with public business in Parliament with the head of Parliament absent. That in itself is a very strong objection to our proceeding with business at the present time; but, further, as indicated in paragraph 4, the Government have wisely accepted an invitation from the Imperial Government to send representatives to a Navigation Conference, which is, perhaps, as important as a Conference of Prime Ministers. In view of the continually increasing power and speed of maritime means of locomotion and the consequent increase in the transit of people and goods from different parts of the world to various parts of the Empire, it is extremely important that maritime laws should be, as far as practicable, in consonance and harmony. While we have distinct, separate and fairly complete powers of legislation on the question of navigation—-
– We have not.
– At any rate, we have powers; I am not going to discuss how great or complete those powers may be. We have powers in connexion with navigation while the Empire in its various parts in the past has largely had to depend on the British Merchant Shipping Act. We are developing in the outlying parts of the Empire, the right to navigate independently, at any rate within certain limits.
– Does the honorable senator not think that the Senate should have some representation at the Navigation Conference?
– That does not seem to me to matter, so long as we are adequately represented as a Commonwealth. However, as I say, we are acquiring those legislative rights ; and it is extremely important that we should exercise them in a way that will create the least possible friction, while preserving! to the largest extent our own local convenience. That can only be done effectively with wisdom and completeness, where there are a large number or a number of independent powers, by those powers meeting and conferring together and endeavouring to ascertain how far, without infringing on local convenience, uniformity can be achieved. That, it seems to me, is a great object, in the direction of which much benefit may be obtained from the Conference to be held in England. To forego such an opportunity would be a disaster ; and I think the Government have acted wisely in accepting the invitation. The Navigation Conference presents another barrier to Parliament proceeding effectively and properly with Tariff reform, or any other legislative measures. The Conference will cause the absence of-
– Three or four members of the Parliament.
– The two Conferences will necessarily mean the absence, first of all, of the Prime Minister, who, without referring to persons, is an extremely important factor in Parliament, and they will also take away four other members. That, it seems to me, is only another reason why it would be inexpedient and unwise to go on at once with legislation on the Tariff. Any person who has had experience of dealing with a Tariff Bill knows that there is no legislative measure that is so difficult.
– The honorable senator is such a hard man to convince !
– I am so hard to convince, that I generally convince the other fellow ; and that is what I aim at. Honorable senators know that a Bill for a Tariff, particularly a comprehensive Tariff such as we hope to have, is more difficult than any other legislative measure of which we can conceive. It is .a difficult measure, even after careful and mature preparation.
– But the honorable senator’s party, three months ago, were giving an opposite opinion.
– I have only one party, and it is composed of one; I do not know to what party the honorable senator is referring. I am now speaking from considerable experience in dealing with Tariff questions ; and I say that the introduction of a Bill now would necessarily mean that it could not receive that careful consideration which ought to be given to it. There are an immense number of important comparisons, analyses and inquiries to be made in connexion with a Tariff Bill such as no other Bill demands. It may be as clear as daylight that it is a good thing to have a duty on a certain line of goods, but immediately we commence to see how a dutv would operate on other interests, it is shown that the duty, if imposed at all, requires to be safeguarded by other considerations ; and considerations of that sort are legion in connexion with the discussion of a Tariff.
– But reports of the Tariff Commission were submitted three months ago.
– The reports of the Tariff Commission are extremely important - it is impossible to over-rate their importance - but they are not binding. The evidence presented before the Commission will be of immense advantage to honorable senators. The careful study of the question by the Commission, and their recommendations, will, as I say, be of advantage; but, after all, those recommendations are binding neither on the Government nor on Parliament. The Government will have to exercise careful deliberation
– In London.
– It does not matter whether the deliberation be in London or anywhere else, so long as it is careful. At the present time a Tariff Bill without careful preparation would not secure expedition, but delay. Therefore, I say there are ample reasons why Parliament should not now proceed with the despatch of business. Certainly whenever Parliament does meet for the despatch of business, the first important consideration should be the Tariff. That is the only question on which this Parliament has received a distinct and unmistakable command.
– There are other questions.
– There are other questions, no doubt, on which there are widely differing opinions : but on the question of the Tariff there is in Parliament an overwhelming majority instructed to act in one way.
– The honorable senator is referring to Victoria.
– I say that in this Parliament, and throughout the Commonwealth, on this Question-
– On the question of Tariff reform, and of increased and more effective protection, there is an overwhelming opinion in favour throughout the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator cannot prove that.
– I shall come to that later on. This brings me to another consideration that is being vigorously discussed, namely, the attitude of the Government and its position. The question is raised, whether the Government can constitutionally continue to hold office- whether they have what has been described as a constitutional majority. I say unhesi tatingly that no Government since the Commonwealth was established have had such a majority as the present Government have on the issue that was submitted to the country.
– Who submitted the issue ?
– The Government submitted the issue.
– Only in Victoria.
– The honorable senator knows that the Government are the Executive of the Parliament of the Commonwealth ; and when the Government makes a declaration of policy, it is made, not to an individual or to a place, but to the entire Commonwealth. If the Commonwealth from all its parts returns a majority in favour of that policy, the Government are justified in assuming that they have a constitutional majority - a majority justifying their proceeding with business.
– Very cleverly put, but that is not the issue !
– As a proposition, that of Senator Trenwith is unanswerable.
– My honorable friend is aware that most of my propositions are unanswerable.
– But the honorable senator’s facts are invariably loose.
– I am not to be drawn from the point. My point is that the Government presented a single issue.
– But they did not present any candidates to carry it out.
– They presented a single issue - protection of Australian industries to be the first consideration of the new Parliament - and upon that issue they have an overwhelming majority. The wise provision of the Constitution to which I have referred has placed the Government in a position where Parliament can deal with them, and if there is not a majority in favour of the Government’s proposal, Parliament can easily remove them and put in a Government in connexion with whose proposals there is a majority. Therefore it seems to me the Government are in a perfectly tenable - a perfectly constitutional - position.
– Mr. Ramsay Macdonald did not put it exactly like the honorable senator does.
– I do not know what Mr. Ramsay Macdonald did. He does not know all about his own constitution, and I am afraid he does not know much about ours. At any rate, the test where Mr. Ramsay Macdonald came from is exactly the same as the test here - whenever Parliament is dissatisfied with a Government it removes them, and whereever a Government are net removed, there is a substantial inference that the Parliament up to the present has confidence in them.
– Are the people about whom the honorable senator is speaking satisfied to let the Prime Minister carry on the Government in violation of every principle ‘he has been uttering lately ?
– My honorable friend will have an opportunity of speaking when I am done, and he will be able to prove, with his usual lucidity, that the Government are so acting.
– The Prime Minister is, most undoubtedly.
– I have not been able to perceive’ it. There were two policies presented to the people - really only two issues - one by the Government, that increased, improved protection to national industries should be adopted ; and another, by the Opposition, that the people should vote against a factor in Australian politics that they described as Socialism.
– And another, by the Prime Minister, that we should not have three elevens, and could not carry on constitutional government with them.
– I think that what the Prime Minister pointed out was that you could not play cricket with three elevens. I am not now interested in considering sections in this Parliament. I am dealing with the broad facts that are presented to us. The broad facts of the election are that two issues were presented - one by the Government, that protection should be improved, extended, increased ; another, by the Opposition, that every citizen who desired the preservation of morality and happy homes should vote against Socialism.
– Where does the honorable senator put the Labour Party’s programme? Had it not one?
– The Labour Party’s programme is, and always has been, and I suppose always will be, that their party must entirely dominate political issues before the best government can be achieved. The Labour Party has come back as strong as it was.
– It is the one party of the three which has gained strength.
– The honorable senator will pardon me for submitting that he is wrong. It is not the one party that has gained strength. The party that has gained strength is the Protectionist Party.
– The honorable senator has evidently not been outside Victoria lately.
– I have been in New South Wales, and I have seen there a very extraordinary revulsion of feeling on that question.
– How many recruits did the honorable senator’s party get there?
– I am not dealing with that issue just now. I am dealing with the Parliament of Australia and the members returned.
– The Prime Minister of Australia accepted anti-Socialism at Ballarat, and he is one of our party, according to the statements he made there.
– I can hardly be expected to reply to so many speeches at once. I desire, if I can, to conclude my speech by 6.30. I want to present this issue, that before Parliament was dissolved parties were about as they are now. I want honorable’ senators to remember that fact. Parliament was dissolved, and in a general way, by one party at any rate, the people were asked to alter the relative positions of parties. The result is that after the appeal to the country, after all the enormities of having three or four parties in Parliament were presented to die people, the people have said that the sort of Parliament they want is that in which there are three parties. When there were three parties, before Parliament was dissolved, the present Government were in power, and, to use an expression that was commonly used, they depended for their continuance in power upon an. open alliance-
– Upon eating dirt.
– I do not know anything about people who eat dirt. I know I would not, and I do not like those who do, but the fact is that the present Government were in power before Parliament was dissolved under exactly the same conditions as prevail now.
– Does the honorable senator know ? The honorable senator does not know what the conditions are that prevail now.
– No, I do not.
– The honorable senator had better say that the present Government were in office, not in power.
– I can conceive of an honorable senator being in office without being in power, but I do not make that distinction about the present Government. To use the honorable senator’s expression, the present Government were in office before” Parliament was dissolved. They maintained their position in office by an open alliance with one of the three parties in Parliament. They went to the country, and the people have returned them in about the same strength. Therefore if there is - I do not know that there is - but if there is a continuance in office under exactly the same conditions as prevailed before Parliamentwas dissolved, there is every indication at any rate that that is what the people of Australia desire.
– But it is quite wrong according to the Prime Minister.
– From every point of view that it seems to me we can look at it from, the Government occupy an extremely tenable and constitutional position. Therefore for all these reasons we ought to congratulate ourselves upon the possibility, when Parliament is called together again, of the despatch quickly and effectively of an important Australian issue, but after that I do not profess to know what will happen ; I do not know exactly where I shall be myself.
– The honorable senator may be like Othello - his occupation may be gone.
– I do not think so; but I may have other occupation, possibly other views. At any rate, I think I have dealt fairly with the issues I have presented. I should like to refer also to the paragraph relating to the taking over of the Northern Territory. I think that is very closely akin to the question upon which Senator Cameron so earnestly pleaded. Ir seems to me impossible for Australia to be completely and effectively defended until it has under its control that great open door to our Commonwealth - the Northern Territory. I think, therefore, we ought to congratulate ourselves and the Government upon the fact that there are within reasonable distance conditions provided under which we can take over that Territory. There is another matter - the dealing with the finances - the taking over of the debts. That subject is also referred to ir. His Excellency’s speech. I think it is an extremely important question. To this Commonwealth, with its over £200,000,000 of public debt, interest upon which is being drained away from us every year, it is important that those debts should be consolidated upon some basis satisfactory to the Commonwealth and to the States. I know upon that issue, as upon others, some people airily and lightly ask “Why has it not been done before?” Honorable senators who know the subject know that, while it is extremely desirable, it is beset withinnumerable difficulties. The States themselves, while clamouring for the debts to be taken over individually, find it impossible amongst themselves, at their Premiers’ Conferences, to arrive at any degree of unanimity on this important issue. That does not, however, alter the fact that it is an extremely important issue, and I earnestly hope that Parliament will be afforded an opportunity of applying itself to its settlement. I remember that some years ago, when the question of the Federal referendum was under discussion, Mr. Larke, the Commissioner for Canada in New South Wales, speaking in Brisbane, said that when the Confederation took place among his own people, they could borrow immediately for1 per cent less than the separated States could borrow for. Of course, we could not expect to derive anything like so great an advantage as that in connexion with our future financial transactions upon the loan market..
– If the honorable senator intends to speak for any length of time, I would point out to him that this would be a convenient time for the sitting to be suspended.
– I will discontinue my speech if leave be granted for me to resume it to-morrow.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That theSenate,at itsrising, adjourn until tomorrow, at half-past 2 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 6.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 February 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1907/19070220_senate_3_36/>.