3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– With reference to the fleet of torpedo destroyers which are approaching completion in Great Britain, I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he will bring under the notice of the Minister of Defence the advisability of naming the boats after some of the more eminent early Australian navigators?
-I shall have very much pleasure in bringing the suggestion of my honorable friend under the notice of my colleague who I might add has through the press invited suggestions on that subject.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Has the Government noticed that the Institute of Journalists at Adelaide on Friday passed a resolution protesting against the rates paid for shorthand work by the Commonwealth, and is there any truth in the statement that the payment is only one-fifth of that made for similar work by the South Australian Government?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows -
The Commonwealth rates for shorthand work are£1 is per diem for reporting, and9d. per foliofor transcription. The rates paid by the South Australian Government are £1 is. per diem for reporting, and is. per folio for transcription. The statement that the payment by the. Commonwealth is only one-fifth of that made by the State Government is therefore incorrect.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Millen) read a firsttime.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from nth November, vide page 5696):
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) further considered -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “2a. After section one of the Principal Act the following section is inserted : - “1. a.In the constitution and maintenance of the Defence Force and in all regulations made under these Acts the following principles shall be followed : -
It is the duty of every Australian citizen to assist in the defence of Australia in time of war, and, in time of peace, to be so trained as to fit him to perform such duty.
The object of these Acts is the creation and maintenance of an efficient Defence Force for the protection of Australia.
The training, equipment, clothing, and all other provisions involving public expenditure shall be limited to what is required as a preparation for war.
In the allotment of persons to the several arms, the fixing of the numbers of the several arms to be maintained and the various ranks thereof, and in the transfer of members of the Defence Forces from one part of the forces to another or to the Reserve Forces, public necessity alone shall be considered.”
– I did not bear what the VicePresident of the Executive Council said about this amendment last night, but I gather from the report in the press that he looks upon it as superfluous, as being the mere pious expression of an opinion which can have no force with the administrators of the Defence Act.
– It is mere “piffle.”
– If the honorable senator thinks that the amendment, if inserted, would not have any effect or influence, I consider that we should insert a provision which would not be “ piffle.” It is extremely desirable that such an intimation of public opinion as that which is embodied in paragraph c should be made in the Defence Act. Hitherto there has been a tendency on the part of the officers of the Defence Force to attire themselves in amost extravagant and ridiculous fashion. They have been jeered at by boys, made the subject of many witty comments in the press, and generally subjected to the ridicule, and, in a great measure, to the contempt, of the man in the street. We should put our Defence Force on a plain business footing, , without any parade, show, or extravagance so far as the uniforms of the officers or the men are concerned. Apart altogether from the undesirability of men engaged in the defence of the country arraying themselves in magnificent attire, either at their own or at the country’s expense, there is another aspect to be considered. If officers are to be permitted or expected to so attire themselves, then only the sons of rich men can become officers. After the experience we have had of how inefficiently the British Army is officered, and what a useless gang of men its officers are, we should pause.
– Where did we get that experience?
– They have done pretty well sometimes.
– They have made asses of themselves. They made a holy show of themselves in South Africa.
– They have done good work for the flag.
– In the Boer War they incurred the ridicule and the contempt of every trained officer in Europe. Such things as were carried on in the British Army would not be tolerated in the army of Germany for a single instant. That is solely owing to the fact that the officers of the British Army are, with very few exceptions, drawn wholly from one class - the monied class, the aristocrats, who look upon being members of the Army as being something which gives them a certain added status in society.
– The remarks of the honorable senator are irrelevant to the amendment before the Committee.
– If I am not to be permitted to draw upon the experience of our own country in another part of the Empire with regard to the institution, the control, and the conduct of our Defence Force, what am I to do, sir?
– The honorable senator can do that with regard to training, equipment, and clothing.
– I began by point ing out that if the extravagant system of arraying the officers of the Defence Force which has hitherto been in vogue here is permitted to continue, then our officers can be drawn only from one section of society. I have pointed out that that section has conspicuously failed in its duties in Great Britain; and the inference is that if such a thing is permitted here, it will also fail. But there is a wider outlook than that, and that is that the career of an officer ought to be open to the humblest man in the community. If an officer’s uniforms are to cost £50 or £100, if he is to be set out like a gaudy peacock, for purposes of show only, not for purposes of defensive use, then only men of means can afford to become officers, and our choice must be limited to that section of society. Is it the desire of honorable senators that our Defence Force should be officered only from the middle and upper classes, if we have such classes here? I know that honorable senators on the other side desire that the officering should be strictly limited to professional and commercial men. I have not the slightest doubt that the very idea of an ordinary workman becoming an officer is enough to give them. fits. But if we are to have an effective Defence Force, then the position of officer ought to be open to every member of it, and the only way to bring that about is to sweep away those trappings which have been so conspicuous in the past. For that reason, if there were no other, I think it desirable that the Committee should agree to the amendment. Senator Neild says that this is merely “ piffle.” I should like to know why he thinks it is “piffle”? What does the word mean? Is it in Johnson’s dictionary ? If the honorable senator means that we desire that there shall be no frills, and no unnecessary ornamentation in connexion with the uniform of the Defence Forces, I agree with him. Such “ piffle “ as that is unnecessary. Not only so, but it is wholly undesirable. I appeal to honorable senators either to agree to the amendment, or to suggest an improvement upon it. Surely we can do something to place it on record in the statute-book that the people of the Commonwealth desire nothing in the way of unnecessary ornamentation in connexion with the Defence Forces of this country.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [10.46]. - The ridiculous harangue to which we have just listened would be highly proper for delivery on the Yarra bank, but it was stupendously out of place in a deliberative chamber, where men do not come together merely for the sake of inflaming the passions of the ignorant by the use of expressions and references that have not the smallest foundation in fact, and exist merely in the fevered or diseased imagination of those who utter them. “ Diseased imagination “ is a proper term under the circumstances, I think. The honorable senator tried to twist an observation which I used just now. He attempted to make it appear that I applied the very wellknown word “piffle “ to the costumes of our Defence Forces. The honorable senator surely cannot be so hopelessly ignorant” as not to know what I meant. Perhaps it is that he is suffering from an attack of radical rabies.
– Mad dog; let the honorable senator take care that he is not bitten !
– As the honorable senator is prepared to accept the proposition that he represents a mad dog, I recommend him to remember the fate that usually befalls animals so unhappily afflicted.
– This is not the place for dogs - or asses.
– Then the honorable senator had better absent himself on both grounds. But let us be goodtempered about these matters.
– After the honorable senator’s attack on Senator Stewart, that remark comes very gracefully.
– I should be glad if the honorable senator would address himself to the amendment.
– We have listened to a speech all about the enormities of officers who clothe themselves in certain garbs. Is not the honorable senator aware that no member of the Defence Forces can wear anything except that which is ordered by the Ministerial head of the Department?
– A great deal of it ought not to be ordered, and that is what I want to provide for.
– The whole of the honorable senator’s effort went to represent that certain officers garb themselves in a style that renders them ridiculous.
– So they do.
– For goodness sake stop this gabble, and let me proceed decently, and in order.
– The honorable senator should use decent language.
– When this Parliamentary “ zoo “. ceases its noise I will proceed. I am not to be interrupted successfully.
– I should be glad if the honorable senator would proceed with his speech.
– And I shall be glad if you will do your duty and keep order.
– I rise to order. I submit, sir, that the honorable senator ought to be called upon to withdraw that last statement, which was a reflection on the Chair. He asked that you should “ do your duty.” I submit that you are the judge as to whether you are doing your duty or not.
– It is quite impossible to keep order, without resorting to drastic measures, unless honorable senators refrain from interjecting. I do not think that my honorable friend, Senator Neild, meant to reflect on the Chair.
– Most certainly not.
– He ought to withdraw the remark which he made.
– If the Chairman wishes me to withdraw anything which I have said, I will do so.
– I accept the honorable senator’s statement.
– I was trying to explain that all the costumes that are worn by the members of any defence force in the world are those which are ordered by the chief authority, whatever that may be. Whether civil, military, or naval uniforms are worn, they are worn’ in accordance with regulations. All the war services in every civilized land on this earth wear uniforms. It seems to me quite possible that some honorable senators do not comprehend why uniforms are worn. Merely .because the Boers, in their war with Great Britain, did not wear uniforms, it seems’ to be assumed that they are not necessary. But Great Britain was the only nation in the world that would have permitted men to fight without uniforms on terms of equality of usage. Any other nation would have dealt with the Boer prisoners, not as prisoners of war, but as murderers, and would have strung them up ; because, wearing no uniforms, they did not wear the livery of military service that permits the killing of an enemy as lawful.
– So that you can only kill lawfully when you wear a uniform?
– That is an extraordinary doctrine !
– By any other nation in the world, prisoners who had been fighting out of uniform would, I say, have been treated as murderers and strung up to the first tree. If honorable senators opposite do not know these things, it simply shows their prejudice and lack of essential knowledge. During the FrancoPrussian war, the “free-shooters” of the French nation were invariably shot down as dogs, or hung to the nearest tree, because they were not in uniform. It is one of the broadest and best known rules of civilized warfare that a man must wear a uniform or livery to indicate that he is authorized to kill without committing crime.
– Authorized to defend his country.
– What about John Brown, at Gettysburgh?
– I ask honorable senators not to interject, as Senator Neild does not wish to be interrupted.
– I do not wish to be interrupted, it is true ; but at the same time if interjections are apposite, and are not intended to display personal ill-will or ignorance, I do not object. It has been the custom in every civilized nation, for I do not know how long, for the different branches of the military and naval services to wear uniforms that render them distinct and easily recognised. The Artillery wear one garb, the Mounted Troops another, the Infantry a third, and so forth. In the long-established armies of the world, there is nothing dearer to the honour and the enthusiastic feeling of soldiers than the trappings that indicate historical incidents which have distinguished the regiments that wear them. I do not for the moment recollect the regiment in the British Army that wears a ribbon attachment of some sort on the back of the neck as well as at the throat. Why? .Those bits of ribbons are worn as a reminder of an occasion when the men of the regiment, very few in number, fought back to back in Egypt against thi whole strength of an immensely superior French force.
– Each ribbon does not cost £50, I suppose?
– My honorable friend really should not make such infantile observations. Last night, we had Senator Lynch, in all good faith no doubt, reading out a list of articles which he referred to as the “uniform” which an officer has to wear. These so-called “ uniforms ‘ ‘ include sword, scabbards, belts, field-glasses, revolvers, and so forth.
– Not revolvers.
– I thank my honorable friend for the correction. I think field-glasses were included. At any rate, I am certain that there were boots, belts, and similar articles of equipment, such as are necessary to make an officer fit to perform his duties in the field. If Senator Lynch were about. to travel, in his private capacity, from here to London’, I suppose he would want a. few pounds’ worth of clothes. He would not like to be restricted to one shirt, a single pair of trousers, one suit of pyjamas, and so forth. He would want a few other things. He would absolutely require a hat. He would positively need a cap. For a certainty he would wish to have a pair of boots.
– He could do without feathers.
– And I can do without feather heads such as my honorable friend shows himself to be. We must not permit ourselves to be led away by speeches that indicate that officers wear different clothing from men in the ranks. There is only one set of officers that wear feathers, such as are so often referred to; and they are the officers of the General Staff. Whilst Major-General Hutton cut down very largely indeed the cost of uniforms for all ranks, he augmented the cost of the uniforms of the members of his own staff, to such an extent indeed as caused an outcry to be made privately. I have been spoken to by certain victims of this order of Major-General Hutton, one of whom complained very much to me because he had to pay 18 guineas for a coat. That sort of thing is absurd.
– Was not that done with the consent of the Minister?
– I suppose it was. Possibly, the Minister took it for granted that the order was all right, and did not trouble himself about it.
– The Minister might do the same sort of thing again.
– Officers do not wear different uniforms from the men in their regiments. They wear uniforms which, at the distance of a few yards, appear to be precisely the same. The exception is that a sergeant will have chevrons on his arm, and an officer will wear badges of rank on his shoulder, the cost of these badges being as much as half-a-crown.
– Do the men wear aiguillettes?
– Aiguillettes are worn only by officers on the staff of the Governor-General.
– They are worn by others also.
– If the honorable senator means to refer to the blind cords which “Curly” Hutton put on every one he could manage to hang them on, I admit that they are ridiculous. If those are what are objected to, let them go by all means. There is a matter about which I promised last night to speak when I had the opportunity, and I have the opportunity now. I refer to some remarks which were made by Senator Pearce in the very unfortunate speech which he delivered yesterday. I have heard of men “ playing to the gallery,” but I witnessed yesterday an ex-Minister of the Crown speaking to the gutter. It is deplorable that an ex-Minister should come here with a very large amount of ignorance, or a very small stock of knowledge, and seek to inflame honorable and well-meaning gentlemen like Senator Turley. That honorable senator made a speech in all good faith which showed that he had been led astray by Senator Pearce,, and he delivered himself of observationswhich I am quite sure his whole career in this Chamber forbids the belief that he would have delivered if he had known the facts.
– The honorable senator indorsed Senator Pearce’s speech bv his interjections.
– Let us get somewhere nearer the temple of truth. I do not know whether Senator Pearce specifically referred to the R.A.A.* men, but he told us that the professionally-employed men were not being prepared for war, but were being taught to ride sets of quadrilles, or to, do dancing master’s work for the pleasure of the ladies of officers who occupied certain exalted positions. Those may not be the exact words which the honorable senator used, but they represent the true meaning of what he said with the object of inflaming the minds of those who do not understand the matter.
– That is an absolute misrepresentation.
– Does not the honorable senator know very well that there are such things as military sports? Does he not know that competitions take place in military forces that are not conducted on positively battle lines? Is he aware that if this absurd declaration of his was embodied in the Bill it would absolutely prevent the drilling of men in barrack-yards, because barrack-yard drill is not used on the field of battle? If, in time of peace, the men are to discharge only the duties which they would.be called upon to discharge in time of war, they will have very little to do. The object of the evolutions carried out at military sports is to enable the men concerned in them to achieve the highest possible perfection in certain training. Of course, I know to what Senator Pearce referred. It was to that innocent, interesting, and highly instructive training for what is known as a “musical ride.” The horses and men are taught to perform so accurately and step so perfectly together that a most beautiful and harmonious evolution can beperformed with a degree of nicety which is indicative of the best discipline and training of both men and horses. What about driving competitions which are carried out at military sports, where men drive at a walk, a trot, and a gallop as closely as possible to certain pegs or - other slight obstacles. That is regarded as excellent training. Have not guns to be taken in action along hillsides, and on the brink of precipices where half an inch would mean the difference between a successful movement and a tragedy on the rocks below ? If men and horses are- trained in exact movements and with absolute precision, is that to be brought forward here as a subject for ridicule, and to afford an excuse for assailing even the wives and daughters of persons concerned who witnessed the performance? Are honorable senators so ignorant of military matters as to suppose that from the time the soldier gets out of bed in the morning until he gets into the blankets again at night he is doing nothing tout engaging in drill and military duties? Are there not some hours of leisure, in which these innocent and graceful arts may be acquired?
– Soldiers need recreation, surely?
– Certainly. I protest against attempts of this kind to create a belief, as Senator Stewart tried to do to-day, that officers are treated entirely differently from the men. The honorable senator told us that officers are attired differently from the men.
– So they are.
– Senator Givens should not indicate in that way his lack of knowledge. If he does not know that what he says is not correct, then he ought to know it.
– Did not the honorable senator tell the Committee during his present speech that it. was necessary that the officers should have some difference of dress to distinguish them from the men?
– I never said anything of the kind. The different arms of the service, artillery, horse, and foot, certainly wear different uniforms. It is preposterous that 1 should have to stand up here and repeat what every one who has watched a column of men marching down the street must know, and that is, that the officers’ uniform is not distinct from that worn by their men, except–
– Except ?
– The honorable senator should let me finish my sentence, and should not make himself ridiculous. I pointed out that a private wears no badge of rank on his sleeve, whilst a corporal or sergeant does, and that officers wear badges of rank on their shoulders, or on their cuffs, under a system introduced by MajorGeneral Hutton, which, however, I am glad to say, is going out of fashion, because it was a stupid arrangement under which, if in officer stood with his hands behind his back, you could not tell what his rank was. You could not say whether he was your junior or senior, and so did not know how to approach him properly. When the officer’s badge of rank is worn on the shoulder it is possible for any one approaching him to recognise his rank, and observe the niceties of military etiquette that are absolutely necessary if order and discipline is to be maintained in the forces. Senator Pearce’s amendment requires to be supplemented by an interpretation clause. In paragraph c of his proposed new section he speaks of “ the training, equipment, clothing, and all other provisions involving public expenditure.” Will some one come along and tell me what part of that is English, and what part of it is gibberish.? I do not see how it can be contended that either training, equipment, or clothing is “ provisions.” It seems to me that some words must have been omitted in the framing of the paragraph. I think that possibly it was intended to use the word “rations,” and then the word “other” should be omitted. The line would then read, “ the training, equipment, clothing, and all rations involving public expenditure.” If that is not what is meant, I do not know what the paragraph means, nor do I believe does anybody else. The thing is ridiculous, and the amendment, if agreed to, would be opposed to the rest of the Bill. I am disposed to raise the point of order that it proposes the enactment of a provision for universal compulsory military service as an amendment of a Bill which provides merely for limited compulsory service. Perhaps it will save trouble if 1 raise that point of order now. I direct the attention of the Chairman to the fact that Senator Pearce proposes by way of amendment the insertion of a declaration that “ it is the duty of every Australian citizen” - meaning universal service - “ to assist in the defence of Australia in time of war, and in time of peace to be so trained, as to fit him to perform such a duty.” Under the existing Defence Act provision is made for universal military service in time of. war, and I specially direct attention to the provision in the amendment for universal training of men in time of peace. I submit that it is not competent for the honorable senator to propose an amendment which would alter the whole policy of the measure. The old form of the motion for the committal of a Bill was “ That the House go into Committee to consider the Bill in detail.” It is not the business of this Committee to alter the entire character of this Bill, but to consider its provisions in detail, and I submit that an amendment which seeks the enactment of a policy totally different from that embodied in the Bill which was submitted to this Committee for consideration in detail, is out of order.
– On the point of order I submit, sir, that there is. nothing in any one of the paragraphs of the proposed new section which is outside the scope of the Bill. It might be argued that they would have the effect of extending its scope. I do not think that that is so. But, even if they did, that would not make them out of order, as all that is required is that they should be relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill. I propose to say, for instance, that.it is the duty of every Australian citizen to defend his country. Thatis practically contained in almost every provision of the Bill. I speak of the “ creation and maintenance of an efficient Defence Force.” That is the very object of the Bill, I refer in another paragraph to training, equipment, and clothing.
– I rise to a point of order. I have taken a. point of order on a particular paragraph of the proposed new section, and the honorable senator is now discussing matters which are not involved in the point of order I raised.
– I submit that the first paragraph to which Senator Neild specially refers is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, and that must be evident from every sentence of it.
– The point of order raised is a fine one. Senator Pearce, in paragraph a of his amendment is seeking to reverse the principle of the Bill, the second reading of which has been passed by the Senate. I must say that if the honorable senator succeeds in carrying it he will have taken the Bill out of the hands of the Government. If the Committee approves of the amendment they will have recorded a vote against the Government. The honorable senator is trying, under the specious guise of his amendment, to introduce a declaration which is against the whole spirit of the measure. In other words, under a plausible disguise this amendment strikes at the whole policy which is embodied in the Bill. The honorable senator is particularly ingenious in the way in which he attacks the measure. Yet nobody has insisted more strongly than he has done that the Bill should be considered absolutely free from party feeling.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that under cover of a point of order Senator St. Ledger is not in order in discussing my motives. Surely he must confine his remarks to the question of whether my amendment comes within the scope of our Standing Orders.
– Senator St. Ledger’s remarks are scarcely in order.
– I recognise that. But I say that inasmuch as paragraph a of the proposed new section is clearly opposed to the policy which is embodied in the Bill, it is not competent for him to move it.
– The speech which has just been delivered by Senator St. Ledger exemplifies the old saying that most lawyers know no law. I desire to show the honorable senator what the law upon the question really is. I would point out that even under the interpretation which hasbeen placed upon Senator Pearce’s amendment by Senator Neild, that amendment is perfectly in order. Under our. new Standing Orders it is not only competent for us to amend a Bill in a direction which is relevant to it, but it is also competent for us to consider any amendment which may be relevant to the subject matter of any Act which a Bill proposes to amend. The Defence Act of 1903, which this Bill proposes to amend, already embodies the principle of compulsory military service. Section 59 of that Act reads -
All male inhabitants of Australia (except being those who are exempt from service in the Defence Force) who have resided therein for six months and are British subjects and are between the ages of 18 and 60 years shall, in time of war, be liable to serve in. the Militia Forces.
Further, section 75 provides -
Any person who -
Fails to enlist when required by this Act so to do ; or
Counsels or aids any person, called upon by proclamation to enlist in the Militia Forces, to fail to enlist or to evade enlistment ; or
Counsels or aids any person who has enlisted, or who is liable to enlist, in any part of the Defence Force, not to perform any duty he is required by this Act to perform, shall be liable to imprisonment with or without hard labour, for any period not exceeding six months.
I submit, therefore, that the principle of compulsory military service, as well as a penalty for evading the obligation upon our citizens to serve in the Militia Forces, is already embodied in the Defence Act of 1903. Consequently it is perfectly competent for Senator Pearce to submit his amendment.
– The only point which I have to consider is whether the amendment is relevant to the Bill. . Looking at the scope of the measure which, in the most drastic manner, seeks to amend the Defence Act of 1903, it appears to me that it is most comprehensive, and I therefore rule that Senator Pearce’s amendment is relevant to it.
– Then I beg to intimate that I dissent from the ruling of the Chairman.
In the Senate:
– I have to report that in Committee, Senator Pearce moved that the following new clause be inserted - “ 2A. After section one of the principal Act the following section is inserted : -
A. In the constitution and maintenance of the Defence Force’ and in all regulations made under these Acts the following principles shall be followed : -
Senator Neild submitted that that proposed amendment was out of order upon the ground that it was not relevant to the Bill, inasmuch as it provided that men were to be trained in time of peace. Thereupon I ruled that the scope of the Bill was exceedingly comprehensive, and that para; graph a of Senator Pearce’s amendment was relevant to the measure. You will observe, sir, that the whole of the proposed new section is simply declaratory of certain principles to which effect is supposed to be given in the Bill. Senator Neild has dissented from my ruling in the following terms : -
I dissent from the decision of the Chairman that paragraph a of the proposed new section is in order inasmuch as it embraces the principle of universal training in time of peace.
– I would particularly draw attention to the wording of the proposed amendment. I shall read only so much of that amendment as is necessary for my purpose.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that under our Standing Orders when a dissent is moved from the ruling of the Chairman, the debate is automatically adjourned until the next day of sitting, unless the Senate declares that the matter is one which requires immediate determination.
– I would point out to Senator Givens that standing order 258 reads -
If any objection is taken to a decision of the Chairman of Committees, such objection must be stated at once in writing. The Chairman shall thereupon leave the chair, and the Senate resume. The matter having been laid before the President, and senators having addressed themselves thereto, shall be disposed of ; and the proceedings in Committee shall be resumed where they were interrupted.
It is perfectly clear that any dissent from the Chairman’s ruling must be at once remitted to the President for his decision. The standing order which Senator Givens has in his mind, has reference to any objection raised to a ruling of the President - not to that of the Chairman of Committees. That standing order reads -
If any objection is taken to the ruling or decision of the President, such objection must be taken at once, and in writing, and motion made, which, if seconded, shall be proposed to the Senate, and debate thereon forthwith adjourned to the next sitting day, unless the matter requires immediate determination.
Senator Givens will therefore see that standing order 415 does not apply to an objection which is taken to the ruling of the Chairman of Committees. Where such an objection is taken, it must be at once referred to the President, who, after hearing the views of honorable senators upon it, must give his decision. Unless objection be taken to that decision it is binding, and the Committee will resume its work. But if objection be taken to the decision of the President, the debate upon his ruling will be automatically adjourned until the next day of sitting, unless the Senate decides that the matter is one requiring immediate determination.
– My objection to the ruling of the Chairman is clearly expressed in a few words, which are contained in paragraph a of Senator Pearce’s proposed new section. I will just read so much of that paragraph as is necessary to enable the position to be understood. That paragraph declares : -
It is the duty of every Australian citizen. .
in time of peace to be so trained as to fit him to perform such duty,
I submit that proposed new section 125 of the Bill now under consideration distinctly limits the number of citizens who are to be liable to undergo military training. Their ages are limited and reference is made to those who are exempt. That provision reads -
All male inhabitants of Australia (excepting those who are exempted by this Act) -
That is a clear declaration that there are male inhabitants exempt under the Act, but the paragraph to which I take exception specifies that every Australian citizen shall in time of peace be trained for war. I submit that that is in direct violation of a provision of the Bill which was referred to the Committee. The object of the Committee stage is to consider the details of a measure and not to alter its character and scope. I submit that the paragraph distinctly enlarges the scope of service of every Australian male and requires his training in time of peace, which is a proposition directly opposed to the principles and intentions of the measure. I submit that the only manner in which it would have been possible for Senator Pearce to have got his proposal before the Committee would have been by carrying an instruction. An instruction is, I submit, a direction that the Committee is to do certain things which are outside the ordinary course of procedure. I hold that the paragraph is exactly on all fours with that proposition, that it seeks to alter the number of those who are to serve, and that such a proposal cannot even be considered in Committee except by an instruction.
– I think that the point at issue is a very simple one. Senator Neild does not contend that it affects the question in time of war.
– The Bill says that in time of war every Australian citizen is liable to serve.
– The Act says that.
– The Bill repeals section 60 of the Act, and enacts a different provision. Therefore both the Act and the Bill say that in time of war every male Australian is liable to be called on to serve. Clause11 seeks to substitute the following provision for section 60 : -
In time of war it shall be lawful for the Governor-General, by proclamation, to call upon all persons liable to serve in the Citizen Forces to enlist and serve as prescribed.
It sets forth the order in which those persons shall be called out. The question which Senator Neild raises is that paragraph a of my proposal says that in time of peace it is the duty of every Australian citizen to be trained. He tries to make out that it says that the citizen shall be trained, whereas it does nothing of the kind.
– Then it is of no use.
– That is not a question of order, but a question for the Committee to decide. Clearly the amendment does not say that every Australian citizen shall be trained.
– What is the use of it?
– It is a declaration that certain principles shall be followed by the Minister of Defence. As regards the point of order, sir, I would draw your attention to clause18, which seeks to insert in the Act the following new section : -
All male inhabitants of Australia (excepting those who are exempted by this Act) who have resided therein for six months, and are British subjects, shall be liable to be trained, as prescribed, as follows : -
Is it not within the power of the Committee to strike out the words “ excepting those who are exempted by this Act ‘ ‘ ? If that alteration were made, the proposed new section would read -
All male inhabitants of Australia who have resided therein for six months, and are British subjects, shall be liable to be trained-
– That is “ liable to be trained, as prescribed, as follows : -“
– Will the honorable senator deny that if the Committee is in favour of making training universal it has the power to’ do so? The very fact that we have in the Bill certain qualifications presupposes that the Committee has the power to strike them out. Clearly, if we have the power to so amend’ proposed new section 125 as to make training universal, any honorable senator has the right to propose an amendment setting forth a principle on which the administration of the Act shall proceed. Senator Neild is clearly in a difficulty. He is asking you, sir, to rule that we cannot do by means of my amendment what we could do directly in connexion with proposed new section 125. We could so alter that provision as to say that only youths between twenty and twenty-one years of age, or persons between eighteen and eighty years of age shall be trained, or strike out any qualifications as to the years. The quali- fications are within the scope of the Bill, and relevant to its subject-matter. If you, sir, should rule that we cannot insert a declaratory clause to the effect that it is the duty of every Australian citizen in time of peace to be trained, we shall be placed in a difficulty when we come to deal with proposed new section 125.
– Can the honorable senator give a definition of ‘ ‘ citizen ‘ ‘ ?
– I take a citizen to be every man who is over the age of twenty years.
– Then it does not include junior and senior cadets.
– I do not think so. I would point out to you, sir, that paragraph a of my amendment does not seek to enact anything, but merely to lay down <l principle which shall guide the Minister in the administration of the Act. It sets forth a guiding principle in connexion with the .Defence Forces of Australia. The matter seems to be so clear, sir, that I feel sure that you will sustain the ruling of the Chairman of Committees.
– Previous speakers seem to regard this matter as one of extreme simplicity. But I find myself in a little difficulty in determining on which side the merits of the case rest. First of all, a point which must be borne in mind in arriving at a decision is whether paragraph a has any meaning, whether it is anything more than a mere platitude. If it is simply a declaration and means nothing, can it be opposed to any principle of the Bill?
– It might be irrelevant.
– Yes, it might be like a chip in porridge, but it cannot be in opposition to a principle of the Bill. The view I take of it is that it does not mean anything, but is a mere pious declaration that every citizen ought to be good and to discharge his duty to the country. If that is so, 1 cannot share the view put forward by Senator Neild that it is opposed to a provision of the Bill. At the same time, taking the other view of the case, that the amendment does mean something, and seeks to place a specific obligation on a citizen, it seems to me that we have to take into consideration proposed new section 125. That provision is not limited to all male inhabitants of Australia except those who are exempted, but it is confined to youths from twelve to twenty-six years of age. The proposal of Senator Pearce, if adopted, would increase the number of persons liable to be trained. The whole crux of the matter is, I think, as to whether it is a declaration or not. I regard it as a declaration. It would be inoperative as having no substance other than the expression of an opinion as to what a good citizen ought to do. That being so, I find a little difficulty in regarding it as being out of order.
– I think that the declaration of Senator St. Ledger is going to be proved to be absolutely correct. The point of order is so fine that it is hardly discoverable. The Minister says that he is rather in a quandary, because if paragraph a is nothing more than a pious declaration he does not know what to do, but that if it comes in conflict with a provision in proposed new section 125-
– Which may not be in the Bill when it leaves the Senate.
– That is what I was going to point out. The question of whether paragraph a is a pious declaration has nothing .to do with the point of order. The only question to be considered is how it bears upon proposed new section 125, which provides for certain exemptions from military training. If it is competent for the Committee to knock out those exemptions, or to alter them in any way, how can any declaration made at this stage of the Bill be in conflict with that provision which really does not exist until it is passed ? The point of order raised by Senator Neild is so fine that I do not think that any sensible member of the Senate can see anything in it.
– I think that the question we have to consider is whether the proposal of Senator Pearce is within the scope of the Bill. This is a measure to make provision for defence. It seems to me, therefore, that anything that relates to defence is within the scope of the Bill. In Committee we have power to make this measure almost anything we like so far as it pertains to defence. The point at issue is whether the amendment is relevant to defence. If it be, it is within the scope of the Bill. The question whether the amendment is useful can be discussed hereafter. The Chairman of Committees was, however, obviously right, in my opinion, in ruling that the amendment - wise or unwise; useless or useful - was within the scope of the Bill.
– The question that has been raised by Senator Neild is not so easy to determine as might perhaps be imagined. We have first to answer the question1 - What is the subject-matter of the Bill under consideration? The subjectmatter of the Bill is the defence of Australia. It is perfectly true that it is only proposed that men up to the age of twenty - six shall be liable to undergo a regular period of training. But we have also to bear in mind that the Bill is to be read and construed in conjunction with the original Act. Although it would not be in order to amend the original Act in a manner beyond the scope of the present Bill, it is nevertheless a fair subject for consideration whether the words proposed to be inserted by Senator Pearce are in conflict with the general provisions of the Defence Act, and also whether they go beyond the intentions of the Senate when the motion for the second reading of the Bill was agreed to. I take it that it will be perfectly competent for honorable senators, when Part 12 of the Bill is reached, to follow the course indicated by Senator Pearce. That is to say, they may amend the Bill in such a way as to provide that all male inhabitants of Australia who are British subjects, and have resided in the country six months, shall be liable to be trained as prescribed. The subjectmatter of the Bill is wide, and it is quite in order to make it more comprehensive than it may at present be considered to be. The question arises as to whether the new clause proposed to be inserted by Senator Pearce would be effective: As has been observed, the amendment is little more than declaratory. It can have no binding effect upon any individual in the community. It simply lays down that -
In the constitution and maintenance of the Defence Force and in all regulations made under these Acts - certain principles shall be followed. The first is that - it is the duty of every Australian citizen to assist in the defence of Australia in time of war, and, in time of peace, to be so trained as to fit him to perform such duty.
It does not appear to me that that is an enforceable provision. It is comparable with the preambles which we used to have attached to Bills in the old days. A preamble recited - “ Whereas it is desirable “ to do so and so; and then were enumerated the purposes of the measure, after which cam/; the operative portions of it. The enacting portion of the Bill might or might not embrace all that was included in the preamble, but the mere fact that the preamble embraced more than the operative portion provided for did not render the preamble operative. Senator Pearce’s proposed new clause may be regarded as something like a preamble rather than as an enacting clause. But is it relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill ? There must be a certain amount of relevancy, as the clause relates to the defence of Australia, and the training, equipment, and clothing of troops. After giving the matter as full consideration as I could - because the point if order has been sprung upon me without warning - I am inclined to uphold the rul-ing given by the Chairman of Committees, that it is competent for Senator Pearce to submit the amendment under consideration.
In Committee :
– Senator Pearce has declared that what he has at heart is the interest of the Minister of Defence who may have to administer this Bill. He wishes to preserve the Minister from inconvenience. But it does not appear to me that the proposed new section is likely to be of any advantage to the Minister. Rather would it land him in difficulties. The proposed new section attempts to lay down four principles. The first is that it is the du.i.y of every Australian citizen, not only to assist in the defence of Australia in time of war, but “ in time of peace to be so trained as to fit him to perform such duty.” I am not prepared to agree to that as a principle. I agree thai: it is the duty of every citizen to assist in the defence of the country in time of war, but I am not prepared to allow that it is the duty of every citizen to drill in time of peace.
– How is the citizen to be prepared for war if he does not prepare in time of peace?
– There have beenmany occasions when citizens have prepared themselves for war within a fewweeks.
– Such men are nothingbetter than chopping blocks.
– Does the honorable senator mean that in time of peace it isthe duty of every citizen to give himself up to drill for a certain period every year?”
– Most certainly.
– Then I object to that. In time of war the country is welcome to my services, whatever they may be worth. But I do not wish to be put to the inconvenience of going out to drill every year, and there are many “old buffers”’ like me in the same position. Paragraph b seems to be superfluous. What is the use of it? The Bill itself sufficiently provides for - the creation and maintenance of an efficient Defence Force for the protection of Australia.
With regard to equipment and clothing, I quite admit that in time of war the simpler the uniform the better. It is necessary to have some mark to distinguish officers, but otherwise the war clothing of our troops should not be unnecessarily expensive. But at the same time we do not want our men to go intothe field as General Cronje did in the Boer War, in an oldfashioned top hat and a frock coat. We want our men and officers to be properly uniformed. As to the uniforms of officers in times of peace, I hold that if it is right for the Commonwealth to provide the uniform of the soldier it is equally right to provide the uniform of the officer. If a man has the capacity, the ability, and the enthusiasm to render good service as an officer, why should not his country pay for his uniform?
– That is what ought to be done.
– I am with the honorable senator so far. But I must confess that I do not mind a little display in the Army. I do not even mind seeing cock’s feathers on officers’ helmets. I like our soldiers to present a smart appearance. I should be quite prepared to vote for a provision requiring the uniforms of officers to be provided by the Commonwealth. I see no reason why we should penalize a man simply because we require his services as an officer.
– Poverty should not debar a man from becoming an officer.
– Certainlynot. In a democratic community the poorest man, if he has capacity to render earnest service, should be able to rise to the top. But at the same time I see no reason for agreeing to paragraph c of Senator Pearce’s proposed new section. All kinds of complications might arise under paragraph d. It speaks of “ the allotment of persons to the several arms.” I do not understand that. Then, what is to be the guiding principle in regard to “ the fixing of the numbers of the several arms.” Who is going to lay down the rule? Once more, Senator Pearce wishes to provide that in the matters mentioned in paragraph d, “ public necessity alone shall be considered.”
Who is going to lay down what is a matter of “ public necessity “ ? Would not that open up a great field for discontent and complaint? If a man who is shifted from one place to another is to be at liberty to say, “ Public necessity does not demand this, and I refuse to go,” the discipline of the force must entirely break down, and every one is agreed that strict discipline is essential to the efficiency of any military force. The proposal could only have the effect of introducing confusion and discontent intothe service.
– A man might say that public necessity demanded that he should be removed from one place to another.
– As Senator Trenwith reminds me, a man might claim that public necessity demanded that he should be moved, and that would be another source of discontent and confusion. The Military Board should be left to decide all these things, and the Minister following their advice should then be held responsible. I do not see the necessity for hampering the Bill with the declaration of these four principles. It is, I think, a unique proposal to ask for the insertion at the beginning of a Bill of a clause laying down principles of administration. The principles which should guide the administration of every Act of Parliament, and of this measure if it be passed, are those of justice, equity, and righteousness. So far as paragraph a of the amendment is concerned, I cannot agree that it is the duty of every citizen to undergo military training every year. I believe that the last paragraph could only have the effect of creating disturbance, and I feel that I must in consequence vote against the proposed new clause.
– Senator Vardon ‘s speech has really raised the question whether it is worth our while to have any Defence Force at all. Unless we have a fighting machine capable of performing the work required of it, should it ever be necessary for us to defend Australia, we might just as well have no Defence Force. We have for years been wasting a tremendous amount of money upon a totally inefficient force. In order that the force established under this Bill shall be efficient. Senator Pearce proposes that the members of it shall be called upon to undergo a certain amount of training. The honorable senator proposes to provide the means for making the force efficient.
– That is just the weak point of the proposed new section. It’ does not provide the means.
– It provides, for a certain amount of training.
– It affirms that a certain amount of training is necessary.
– That is my contention. The proposed new section affirms certain principles. It affirms, for instance, in paragraph c, that the training shall be limited to “ what is required as a prepara-tion for war.” “Unless we take steps for the proper training of our men we cannot expect to have an efficient force.
– The whole Bill makes provision for that.
– It is only supposed to do so. Any one who reads the Bill, and knows the history of it, and of the political party that is the father of it-
– The honorable senator should get away from the party question. He must know that it is almost the Bill of his own party.
– The honorable senator should have a little patience. I was about to say that the Bill has been introduced by a political party in which there is a conflict of opinion on the defence question. We know that the Minister of Defence has for years been an avowed opponent of the principle of compulsory military training.
– I think the honorable senator is going beyond the scope of the amendment.
– -I should be given the same latitude that has been allowed to other honorable senators to debate this question. It is well known that the Minister of Defence has for years expressed himself against the principle of compulsory military training. I mention the matter in order to show that the Bill is the product of a combination of confused ideas on the subject of defence. Senator Pearce has proposed his new clause inorder to make the measure harmonious. It is absolutely necessary to lay down the principles which should be followed in the administration of the measure. On the question of uniform I may say that in accordance with international usage men in the field, if they are to be recognised as belligerents, must wear some dis tinct feature of dress, indicating a uniform. That has been laid down, I think, by the Geneva Convention. It was laid down by the Convention that a number or mark indicating a regiment or military organization attached as a fixture to, it might be a civilian’s coat, is all that is necessary to comply with the international law. It has been argued, for instance, that a belt would not be sufficient, because it might be so readily removed, and could not be regarded as a fixture. There can be no doubt that it would be wise for us to lay it down as a principle that the dress of our forces shall be of an inexpensive character, lt is not necessary that in the matter of uniform we should have the frill which has been criticised and made the subject of ridicule in the p’ast. We shall be taking a very sensible course if we do away with that. I have heard the professional soldier declare more than once that it is the amateur and not the professional soldier who desires all the gewgaws and ornaments of dress. The professional soldier claims that the person whom it is most difficult to induce to take a common-sense view of the question of uniform is the honorary colonel, who likes to parade himself once a month, or oftener, in some ostentatious dress. As it is proposed that . we should undertake a more gigantic task than any attempted in the past, and should train every able-bodied man in the community, honorable senators must recognise that it would be quite beyond our financial ability to provide uniforms on anything like the scale hitherto adopted. That being so, it would be a great mistake if, in this measure, we were to recognise anything in the way of expensive uniforms, especially in view of the fact that if our men appeared in the field even in the dress of civilians, so long as they wore attached, as a fixture, to their coats or hats the number of the regiment or company to which they belonged, they would comply with the resolution of the Geneva Convention. I submit that the proposed new section lays down principles which should be followed in the Bill, and are necessary in order to make it a workable measure.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales) ri2.i2]. - I wish to draw attention to the fact that the Defence Act of 1903, with which this measure is to be incorporated, contains a preamble which is very much like paragraph b of Senator Pearce’s pro- posed new section, and, in my opinion, makes the insertion of that paragraph quite unnecessary. It reads -
An Act to provide for the Naval and Military Defence and protection of the Commonwealth and of the several States.
Senator Pearce now asks the Committee to add the words -
The object of these Acts is the creation and maintenance of. an efficient Defence Force for the protection of Australia.
That paragraph and the preamble of the Act of 1903 differ only in one point, though perhaps the difference is rather a significant one. The preamble of the Act of 1903 refers to the Military Defence and protection of the Commonwealth “and of the several States.” Senator Pearce proposes practically to re-enact that preamble without the reference to the States.
– Would not that have been superfluous, seeing that Australia embraces all the States?
– I will not discuss that question now. I do not think it is desirable that the words “ of the several States “ should be omitted. But I would specially point out that what Senator Pearce proposes in paragraph b of this proposed new section is really embodied in the preamble of the Defence Act of 1903, and is therefore superfluous.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator.
– After the violent tirade in which Senator Neild indulged, I had hoped that he would remain in the chamber to hear any arguments which might be advanced in reply to his statements. But with his characteristic courage and courtesy, the moment he finished his speech he walked out.
– A soldier-likequality.
– Exactly. We all recognise that -
He who fights and runs away
Shall live to fight another day.
– The honorable senator must admit that he made a most masterly retreat.
– That is one of the arts of war in which Senator Neild has become very proficient. In addressing himself to this question he declared that our officers did not wear gaudy uniforms - (hat their uniforms were the same as those of the men, except that they had certain distinguishing marks. Upon looking into this question, I find that the statement of the honorable senator is entirely in con flict with the testimony of Major-General Hoad, the Inspector-General of the Commonwealth Forces. But we need not go to any outside authority to learn that the uniforms of officers of our Defence Force are too expensive to be within the reach of our humblest citizens. We all know that every time this Parliament is opened there is a display of military uniforms in this chamber which is positively dazzling. Those uniforms are more gaudy than is the dress of any peacock that ever elevated its tail to call forth the admiration of a crowd. Upon beholding such a formidable array of gold tassel, the first thought which would occur to. any individual like myself, who has spent the best portion of his life in gold-mining operations, is that he would like to put the wearers through a battery, and pan them off in order to see how much of the precious metal they would return per ton. In his annual report for 1907, Major-General Hoad, under the headingof uniforms, says -
The dress regulations should be revised, with a view to reducing the cost of the uniforms with which the officers are required to provide themselves. The following shows the present approximate cost to young officers on joining the Infantry or Light Horse. It will be noted that some of the articles are shown as optional, but no officer cares to attend parades dressed differently from comrades.
Therefore, in reality, none of the articles are optional. If a man is not to be sent to Coventry, he has to dress in the same way as his brother officers. Major-General Hoad states that the approximate cost of the uniforms of a lieutenant of infantry - an officer of the lowest rank - is £39 16s. 6d. That is the amount which he has to expend upon a single outfit, and if that outfit should get spoiled he has to re-incur that expenditure. We must also recollect that as he rose in the forces, the cost of his uniforms would increase. For regiments for which scarlet is full dress, the total cost of an officer’s uniforms is . £44 8s. 6d. ; whilst the cost of the uniforms of a lieutenant of Light Horse is £41 os. 6d. Major-General Hoad adds -
The cost to an officer joining the Artillery or Engineers would be considerably more. .
– Senator Pearce’s amendment would not alter that position in the slightest.
– It contains a declaration, and when once we affirm a principle it will be easy to frame regulations to give effect to it. I would ask honorable senators if it is not desirable that every position in our Defence Forces shall be open to any man, no matter what may be his rank in life, so long as he is competent to fill it? As a general principle, nobody will deny that. Yet honorable senators who oppose this amendment will throw difficulties in the way of giving effect to that principle.
– Who will?
– Those honorable senators who will vote to retain unnecessary expenditure upon military dress. The average man in Australia does not earn £2 per week. As a matter of fact, the majority do not average that amount. How can such a man incur an expenditure of more than -£4.0 upon uniforms? Yet he may be the most capable man in the whole of our Defence Force. Do we not know that the greatest men in- the world have risen from the ranks? Every honorable senator who came to the city this morning from the suburbs by train is aware that the application of steam to locomotives was introduced by a boy who started life by earning fourpence a day. If we continue a system of gaudy and expensive uniforms in the case of the officers of our Defence Forces, we shall limit our choice of officers to the snobocracy of Australia - to men who wish to ape all sorts of ridiculous pageantry which would have been abolished centuries ago by any sensible people. Senator Vardon has declared that he likes a little show.
– So do I.
– What Senator Pulsford really likes is to preserve the officerships of our Defence Forces to the snobocracy of Australia. To be a good fighter, a good organizer, or a good strategist, does not necessitate a man wearing a cap which costs 17s. 6d., the bulk of the expenditure upon which is represented by a few feathers. His brains will .be just as capable if he does not wear that cap as they will be if he does wear it. In Australia the majority do not belong to the leisured class, but are wage earners, and I maintain that if we exclude them from becoming officers in our Defence Forces we shall restrict our choice of officers very seriously. We must all recognise that though an army may be thoroughly brave - though it may possess all the merits with which it is possible to endow it - if it be incapably led it must inevitably meet with disaster. Consequently, no limit should be imposed on our choice if we are to secure the most capable men. If we are going to restrict that choice to a small section of the community in order that the positions occupied by officers may be secured by the representatives of wealth, our Defence Forces will be rendered incapable and ineffective. I intend to support Senator Pearce’s amendment, and I shall endeavour to remove from the Bill every provision which makes for show. I want to see the measure made an effective one, and in order that it may be effective the humblest man in the community should be able to attain the highest rank.
– Senator Pearce has already expressed his willingness to withdraw paragraph b of his proposed new section. Seeing that’ he has arrived at such a complaisant state of mind, I would suggest to him that he should also consider the advisableness of withdrawing sub-clause 1 of the clause. In the course of his argument the honorable senator affirmed that with certain limitations proposed new section 125 of this Bill practically covers the ground which he wishes to cover’. That being so, it is surely unnecessary to again traverse it. Just now, I asked him to define what he meant by “ citizen.” I put the same question to him again. The term used .throughout the Bill is “ male inhabitants.” Now, the word “citizen” includes something more than our male inhabitants. Surely he doe’s not wish to drill our women.
– They are citizenesses
– No; though I am aware that that term is sometimes applied to them’.
– It is just as much the duty of a woman to fit herself to become a nurse as it is that of a man to qualify himself to defend his country.
– Is it the duty pf every woman to train for defence?
– No, I do not say that that is necessary.
– But the amendment says that it is the duty of every Australian citizen ,to train. I feel perfectly satisfied that my honorable friend used the word in a sense which is perfectly understandable and which we are all apt to inadvertently employ, but I suggest that the word is in sharp contradistinction to the phrase “ male inhabitants,” which is used throughout the Bill. If the amendment were adopted it might be assumed that as the phrase “ male inhabitants “ was used elsewhere in the Act obviously the phrase “every Australian citizen” was meant to go beyond the males and to include the females. With regard to paragraph c, I contend that it would be inoperative. It is indefinite, and everything would depend entirely upon the opinion of the Minister and the temper of Parliament.
– And the influence brought to bear upon him.
– Every Minister is more or less amenable to the influence of the public sentiment of the day and the sentiment of Parliament, to which, of course, he is responsible. In the absence of a definite instruction in the amendment it would be left to the Minister to determine what was necessary or unnecessary, just as it might suit him. One Minister, for instance, might say, “ I shall abolish bands. Not a penny of public money shall be spent on a band, because that is not absolutely necessary for war.” But another Minister might say, “ I believe that a band is desirable and advantageous as promoting training in time of peace and being useful on the march in time of war. ‘ ‘ Each Minister could decide the matter for himself. I ask Senator Pearce if he would abolish bands?
– No, I would limit them. I would not have a forty horsepower band with a fifty horse-power army.
– I am trying to point out how difficult it is to do more than leave the matter to the determination of the Minister, with a knowledge that Parliament could always voice a protest when necessary. Like Senator Pearce, I would not abolish bands, nor do I think any one else would. We should leave all such matters to be determined by the common sense of the Minister, who, of course, would realize that he must pay some reasonable regard to the sentiment of Parliament and that of the community at large. In view of the indefiniteness of the terms employed and the fact that they are merely broad declarations, I ask the honorable senator to withdraw the amendment.
– I appeal to Senator Pearce not to withdraw paragraph a of the proposed new section. It simply expresses the opinion that it is the duty of every Australian citizen to assist in the defence of Australia in time of war. If that is not the duty of every citizen, upon what section should it devolve? If it is admitted that that duty belongs to every citizen, then he certainly should endeavour to obtain the opportunity of being trained in order to enable him to effectually defend Australia in time of stress.
– Would the honorable senator expect me, at seventy-eight years of age, to train?
– No. If the honorable senator was very zealous he might act as a member of the ambulance corps, to go along with the nurses and assist to pick up the wounded. It is only intended by paragraph a that every citizen who is able to defend Australia shall be compelled to take up that duty.
– The paragraph would not compel him to do so.
– If the amendment is embodied in the Bill it will lay down the principle that Parliament considers that every Minister, in administering the Act, should bear in mind that it is the duty of every citizen to take his part in the defence of the country, and also to endeavour to qualify himself to play that part effectually.
– But paragraph a is only the affirmation of a principle.
– If it is enacted it will show that Parliament was of opinion that it should be borne in mind by the Minister of Defence. It is often said of an Act that the intention of Parliament was so-and-so.
– So the honorable senator wants to put in this Bill what the intention of Parliament is?
– One of the principal faults of the Bill is a fault which distinguishes every measure which has emanated from so-called Liberal Governments. A Liberal Government approves of a certain principle, but does not approve of giving effect to it, saying, “You must not go too far ; do the thing partially.”
– Is the purpose of this amendment to go further than what the Bill aims at?
– The purpose of the proposed new section is to declare to the electors that Parliament believes that every citizen should take his part in the defence of the country.
– Is the honorable senator seeking, under the guise of this provision, to go farther than the Bill does? If so, let him be candid, and admit it.
– I would be prepared to go farther than the Bill does, because I do not .think that it goes far enough., _ I believe that only for the unfortunate fusion which occurred a few months ago, the Fisher Government would have brought down a more complete Defence Bill than the one before the Committee. We are perfectly justified in seeking to improve upon the proposals of the Deakin Government. I want to appeal to Senator W. Russell.
– It is of no good.
– The honorable senator is a member of a party which has been chiefly instrumental in preventing a peaceful invasion of Australia by Asiatics. He is now called upon to consider a measure intended to prevent a hostile invasion. We are in close “proximity to Eastern nations, and, as regards one of them, a treaty will secure our safety for the next five years. The treaty cannot absolutely secure our safety, because the nation in question has been known not to pay much attention to treaties. It cannot be disputed that there is the danger of a hostile invasion by those people whom we have by our legislation prevented from coming here and taking posession of Australia in a peaceful manner. Senator W. Russell objects to young Australians being trained to serve in time of war.
– To being compelled to train against their principles.
– The honorable senator objects to young Australians being trained to defend Australia from a hostile invasion by those very people.
– In this amendment there is nothing about young Australians.
– It includes all Australians, -as it should do. The Bill only provides that Australians between certain ages shall be compelled to train if necessary.
– Is it the object of paragraph a of the amendment to go further than proposed new section 125, and to bring in all Australians?
– I cannot say what the object of Senator Pearce was in moving the insertion of this provision, but if it goes further than a provision of the Bill, so much the better.
– We say to the Minister, “ This is the duty of every Australian citizen. We are prepared so far as Parliament is willing to go in that direction.”
– If the Parliament is prepared to indorse the statement that it is the duty of every Australian citizen to train,, no matter what the Bill provides, it will certainly be a guide to the administration, in future.
– That question has never been raised before the electors.
– Does the honorable senator mean to suggest that in the case of” a sudden emergency or invasion, we should wait for a general, election to be held before taking any steps to defend Australia r because that is what the objection implies? Regarding paragraph c, I think it is anequally valuable provision, because, if it is the duty of every citizen to take his part in the defence of his country, it ought to be open to him to rise to the highest office in the Defence Force. If the uniforms of certain officers were to cost a very large sum, it would not be possible for every citizen, no matter what his natural military ability might be, to aspire to an office in thecitizen army. But paragraph c, if adopted, would declare that officers should not incur any expense beyond that which is incurred by every private.
– Why should not the uniforms be provided by the Commonwealth ?
– If any additional expense is to be incurred by citizens whohave sufficient ability to qualify themselves for the position of officer, the uniforms ought to be provided at the public expense. No citizen should be expected’ to pay out of his private purse for any additional uniform, simply because hehappened to have better qualifications than his fellow citizens.
– Could not theMinister under this Bill compel obedience to regulations that he might make with regard to uniforms?
– Possibly he might,, but our experience has been to the contrary.
– Is not that anapology for weak Ministers?
– Are we ever likely tohave a strong Ministry, unless Senator St. Ledger becomes Minister of Defence, which is not a very likely contingency? We should lay down the principle that this Parliament believes that a citizen who takes part in the defence of his country, should’ not incur expenses from his private pursesimply because, by reason of his ability, he rises to a higher rank than his fellows.
I consider that paragraph b, which Senator Pearce has agreed to withdraw, is superfluous. It goes without saying that the object of the measure is to provide for an efficient Defence Force. But paragraphs a, c and d would improve the Bill.
– We should first consider why we require an army at all. If we want one, let us have the best army our means will permit. But we must make the service popular. I believe in having a plain uniform, which should be supplied by the Commonwealth to every man, officer, or private. If we had a strong Minister of Defence he would follow that course.
– We have a strong Minister now ; he is as strong as mustard !
– An attractive uniform conduces to the popularity of an army. We see that in connexion with the cadets. A boy is not content with a badge on his arm or cap, but likes to wear a suit that shows that he is a cadet. The service will not be made popular by condemning men to wear clothes which they do not like.
– Khaki is good enough.
– Khaki is a good material to be worn in war time, but our troops will not be at war all the time.
– What about red coats ?
– Well, the traditions of the red coat are not to be despised. I like to see a regiment in. red coats. But at the same time, red is not a serviceable colour ; it is too conspicuous in war. The main point is that public sentiment must be respected. One of the main defects in this Bill, in my opinion, is that it makes no provision for keeping men who have undergone training in touch with the forces. They should not be allowed to drift. I should like to see a clause inserted requiring men up to the age of, say, forty-five to put in some drills every year. Changes in military tactics, evolutions, and armaments are continually being made. If a man has been trained as a gunner, he should be kept well informed about changes in gun construction and manipulation.
– An amendment designed to keep the men in touch with their corps is to be proposed. Will the honorable senator vote for it?
– It is to be proposed by those who did not think such a provision necessary when they were in office.
– I am prepared to support any amendment which will improve the Bill, but if I thought that an amendment was proposed for the purpose of defeating its objects I should vote against it.
– So should I.
– I shall have to decide for myself how I shall vote after I have heard the arguments in support of amendments.
– What about the honorable senator’s caucus ?
– My caucus is myself. Senator W. Russell himself has been kicking over the traces on this question and is not prepared to bow down to his party caucus. I feel strongly upon the necessity for providing an efficient defence of Australia, and desire to make this Bill serviceable to that end. It has been said that opportunities are not afforded for working men to become officers. Such has not been the case in Queensland. Some of our young men have devoted time, energy, and money to perfecting themselves; in military matters, and all honour is due to them. Some of our mostefficient officers are working men. Even in the British Army it is possible for a man to rise from the ranks. The late Sir Hector McDonald was a ranker and so was Major-General Finn.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– The criticism to which my amendment has been subjected has been of an unpractical character, and I have a right to complain that it has not been directed to the amendment itself. I was not surprised to hear Senator Neild’s diatribes. The honorable senator belongs to a time now happily fast passing away, when the Volunteer Forces of the country were looked upon as being established for merely ornamental and social purposes.. The Bill before us is evidence that we are now called upon to face a much sterner condition of things. We have been playing at soldiers in the past, but the introduction of this measure and the support it has received make it clear that it is generally recognised that we have now to deal with a very serious matter. It is admitted that what we require is a practical, and not a comic opera, force. We do not require a pretty force, a force which men might join because it would enable them to wear smart uniforms. We need now a force for defence, and we should provide for nothing but what would be effective for that purpose. It was astonishing to me to listen to an honorable senator, who poses as an expert in defence matters, justifying the training of troops in musical rides.
– I would be prepared to justify the honorable senator going to a picnic with hot and cold water supplied on the ground.
– After the honorable senators’ justification of useless drills and ceremonies, it would not astonish me to hear him justify anything. Some honorable senators, in dealing with the paragraph referring to clothing, have justified the retention of existing uniforms because of their historic associations. Senator Sayers justified the retention of the red coat on the groundof the patriotic sentiment expressed in the reference to “ the thin red line.” If we follow up historic associations, we shall find that, at the battle of Agincourt, the British soldiers fought with lances, in coats of mail and chain armour. Historic association would justify a return to lances, coats of mail, and chain armour, and to kilts, as Senator W. Russell reminds me.
– Or to the bow and arrow.
– It would justify the use of the bow and arrow. As a matter of fact, one of the British regiments today wears a sort of cuirass of polished steel, not because it would stop a bullet or a sword thrust, but because of some historic association connected with the regiment. When drafts from that regiment went to South Africa to take part in the Boer war, they did not take their cuirasses with them on to the battlefield ; they did not take them even as far as Cape Town.
– Would the honorable senator dispense with military bands?
– I have already admitted that I believe military bands are useful ; that they help to stir up a martial spirit.
– And bagpipes?
– I have to confess that the music of the bagpipes does not stir up a martial spirit in me; it tempts me to retreat, rather than to advance. There is a strong reason for the insertion of paragraph d of my amendment, which has not yet been touched upon. We shall require a large number of officers for the proposed new force. Under existing conditions, a number of captains maygo up for examination to fill a vacancy for a major, and five or six of them may pass. A practice has been followed in the past that where a captain has passed a brilliant examination for. the rank of major, if there has been no vacancy to which he could be appointed, he has beenmade a major “ supernumerary to the establishment.” He would hold the rank, but not the command, of a major, and would have to wait until some major dropped out, into whose place he might step. No one can doubt that the enthusiastic officers of the force will desire to go into the fighting line. But, as the Minister recognised in his speech on the second reading of the Bill, it is just as necessary that the first line of reserve should be fully officered with capable men. Immediately war is proclaimed, the first line of reserve would step into the fighting line. If five men passed the examination for a major, and there was a vacancy only for one in the fighting line,do honorable senators think that the other four would willingly accept positions in the first line reserve?
– I think that they ought to do so.
– It is not a question of what they ought to do. I know that this matter has given rise to a great deal of soreness in the past. The making of these appointments “ supernumerary to the establishment “ has led men to believe that they have a sort of pre-emptive right to certain positions, and I have used the words “in the public interest “ in my amendment, not as Senators Pulsford and Vardon have supposed, for the benefit of the men, but for the benefit of the Minister. I wish the Minister to be able to say, should the circumstances justify it, that a man who has passed his examination and is qualified to go into the fighting line, shall, although he may notwish to do so, go into the first line reserve, because the public interest requires it. With reference to the allotment to different arms of the service, honorable senators will find, if they make inquiry from any officer of the Head-quarters Staff, that some arms of the service are more popular than others. It is necessary to refuse applications to join some branches of the service, while it is difficult to keep others up to their full strength. My amendment would be a clear direction to the Minister in this matter that he should be guided by the public interest, and not by outside influence or the desire of a particular individual, or of the people of a particular district.
– The honorable senator proposes to tell the Minister that he must administer the law in the public interest. Is it not an insult to the Minister to assume that he would not do so?
– I believe that the Minister would find it very convenient to be able to turn to such a declaration in the Act, and to say to any person desiring to influence him, “ It would be very nice for me to do what you ask, but there is my direction; those are the lines on which I must proceed.” These declarations might be regarded as sailing directions for the Minister, and not for either the officers or the men.
– The honorable senator is not giving the Minister sailing directions, but he is placing him in a position to take a ship to sea, and then saying “ Go where you think it will be best to go-“
– I am doing nothing of the kind. As regards paragraph c of the amendment, I do think it is necessary to lay it down as a principle that the clothing and equipment shall be limited to what is required for war.
– Could not what the honorable senator proposes be better done under regulation?
– This is a direction as to the form the regulation should take. The honorable senator will see that in the covering words of the clause I have said, in “ the constitution and maintenance of the Defence Force, and in all regulations under these Acts.”
– Do officers receive an allowance for uniforms now?
– Yes, they do.
– They receive pay which they may use for the purchase of uniforms. But they receive no allowance for uniforms.
– They receive allowances from corporate funds.
– That is a matter for the consideration of a particular corps ; not for the Department. Difficulties in connexion with uniforms are of gradual growth, and are not to be charged to a particular Minister or officer. It is suggested, for instance, that one regiment should have a particular stripe or button to distinguish it from any other. I have here the official memorandum, supplied by the Quartermaster-General to myself as Min ister of Defence, on the question of uniforms. It includes a list of the things required ; for instance, for a second lieutenant’s uniforms. There are two kinds of uniform. One is the service uniform,, which the men would wear in time of war, and it is not an unattractive uniform. I venture to say that the khaki service uniform is smart and attractive when properlymade and worn.
– Is that uniform provided for ? It ought to be, if it is not.
– It is not provided for, and I agree with the honorable senator that it ought to be. I shall be prepared to assist him if he moves in that direction.
– Might I ask the honorable senator if he has considered the propriety of bringing here a document which is purely of an official nature?
– I intend merely to quote from it the list of articles connected with the uniforms which an officer must have, and the list which is optional. There can be no breach of confidence in that, because the particulars might be obtained from the regulations. I have no intention to quote any of the statements or expressions of opinion given in the memorandum, because I recognise that it would not be right to do so, seeing that it was prepared for my information as Minister of Defence. In the list of things required for the service uniform, there is not very much to cavil at. The only thing that might be regarded as unnecessary is the brown scabbard and sword knot. It might be argued that that could be dispensed with. It was dispensed with in South Africa. But in the_ Russo-Japanese war the Japanese wore their swords. I refer now to the full-dress uniform.
– Is this the ball uniform?
– No, the uniform for full-dress parade. The service uniform of a second lieutenant in a Militia regiment can be supplied at a cost of ^14 3s. 6d. For the full-dress uniform, the jacket costs £2 15s.; the trousers, £1 5s. ; a sash, 15s. The latter is a gold and green sash, which is worn over the shoulders and dropped down to the waist. In the Imperial Army a sash is used which, though’ not of similar material, is similar from a wearing stand-point, and costs only 30s. That, however, was not good enough for
Australia, and consequently, our officers decided to obtain a gold and green sash which costs £5 15s.
– Is the wearing of that article optional ?
– Are the honorable senator’s remarks aimed at the abolition of the sash, or does he merely favour the use of a more economical sash?
– My remarks are aimed at the abolition of the full-dress uniform. The other articles which constitute this full dress are - a steel scabbard and sword which costs £3 13s., a sword knot which costs 12s. 6d., breast lines and pads which cost £2 10s., and a sword belt and slings which cost 15s., making a total expenditure of ^17 5s. 6d. Not a penny of that expenditure can be justified as, clothing, which is required “as a preparation for war.” It can be justified only on the ground that it is necessary to supply a more attractive uniform to officers for parade purposes. The admission that we can maintain a voluntary force only by adopting an attractive uniform, is the most wholesale condemnation of the voluntary system which we can have. Do I understand the Government to say that without these attractive uniforms we cannot maintain a voluntary force ?
– Nobody has said so.
– Then the use of these extravagant uniforms cannot be justified. I come now to the articles in the full-dress uniform of a second lieutenant of militia infantry, which are optional. They consist of a mess dress which costs £&, a drill jacket which costs £1, dress boots which cost £1 is., and a waterproof cape which costs £2 12s. 6d., making a grand total of ^44 2s. 6d. I do not think that the proposed new section will result _ in the abolition of these uniforms, but it will certainly be a direction to the Minister of Defence to abolish them. If, for example, in the framing of his regulations it were proposed that a sash should be worn, he would have to ask himself, “What has the wearing of a sash to do with making preparations for war “ ? As the article could not withstand that test he would have to abandon it. In order- to obtain the true opinion of the Committee upon the various paragraphs of the proposed new section I ask honorable senators to allow the enacting words to pass upon the voices. A division can then be taken upon each separate paragraph. If the whole of these paragraphs are excised, there will then be no necessity for the enacting words which can also be struck out. I do not intend to press paragraph b.
– I must confess my surprise at the opposition with which this proposed new section has been, met. Paragraph a affirms that -
It is the duty of every Australian citizen to assist in the defence of Australia in ‘time of war, and in time of peace, to be so trained as to fit him to perform such duty.
I do not think that that paragraph goes further than either honorable senators or the Government themselves desire to go. It will be readily recognised that through the ballot-box the electors have practically declared that every citizen should be prepared to defend Australia.
– In time of war, “yes.”
– If a citizen is not trained in time of peace, how can he be prepared to defend his country in time of war?
– But under the Bill he will be well trained in time of peace.
– 1 do not desire to hear that qualification. It is the wish of Australia that every citizen should be trained to defend his country in time of trouble. But if we adopted Senator St Ledger’s line of reasoning, we should have to wait until perhaps an invading force was in possession of Port Darwin, or had blown Thursday Island off the map, before every citizen shouldered arms. We should then have merely an undisciplined force instead of a well-trained and wellorganized army. In other words we should have to depend, as our ancestors did years ago, upon a press gang.
-The present law provides for a press gang.
– We ought to recognise that the insertion of the clause in the Bill will enable the Minister of Defence to make our defence system a little more perfect than it is. There is not the slightest doubt that every Australian citizen is prepared to defend his country.
– Would the honorable senator go further than does the amendment, by declaring that he shall perform that duty ?
– With his usual ingenuity, Senator St. Ledger wishes to draw me off the track. I repeat that it is the duty of every Australian citizen to be prepared to defend his country, and he cannot be prepared unless he receives a proper training in time of peace. I know that Senator W. Russell considers that this question has not been before the electors. He affirms that he has no mandate from them.
– Neither has the honorable senator!
– 1 say that I have.
– The honorable senator’s leader says that even the motion which was adopted at the Brisbane Labour Conference does not bind the members of his party.
– That circumstance shows that we are not caucus-ridden, and that this question is not a party one.
– Then the honorable senator can have no mandate upon it from the people. If he had, it would be binding upon him.
– When I was before the electors of Western Australia I declared myself on every platform from which I spoke in favour of a Citizen Defence Force.
– For a compulsory Citizen Defence Force?
– I did not.
– The honorable senator takes a different view, and, in se doing, is asserting his independence. That circumstance in itself shows that members of the Labour party are not caucus-ridden. Coming to the question of uniforms, I cannot understand what is the* use of a gaudy uniform. This morning I listened attentively to the remarks of Senator Neild, who desires to maintain the old system of military frills and trappings. But will he say that a military uniform ever won a battle? I question whether the soldiers who fought on the Boer side in the Boer War would have been better men if ‘ they had. possessed the military fripperies which were worn by the British soldiery.
– The British soldiers did not have those fripperies there.
– If honorable senators will take the trouble to recall the first two or three decisive battles of that conflict, when the Empire was confronted with a very serious situation on account of the Boers proving victorious, they will recollect that during those battles a great number of British officers were killed. They will also remember that the reason assigned for this was that those officers wore gaudy uniforms - amongst other things a great red sash - which made them prominent targets for the quick eyes of the Boer marksmen. And as soon as the Imperial authorities understood the situation, they relieved the officers of many of their trappings, particularly of the red sash, which made an officer a prominent target for the Boer sharpshooters. I admit that in time: ‘of war it is necessary to have a smart service dress, not a cumbersome one; but who will tell me that in democratic Australia the uniforms of an officer should cost from ^25 to £44 ? A working man who is desirous of doing his duty to the country, and who is receiving a weekly remuneration of £2, is expected to be able to pay £44 for uniforms. No matter how great his ability or intelligence may be, he cannot rise above the position of an ordinary private unless he can afford to tuy these expensive uniforms. If it is the desire of the Ministry to reserve the higher positions in the Citizen Defence Force for certain persons, the sooner the Bill is thrown into the waste-paper basket the better it will be for the country. I have every desire to assist to pass a proper measure, and the sooner I see an efficient Defence Act on the statute-book the better I shall be pleased. But it should certainly afford to every man a chance to rise from the lowest to the highest position, and1 handicap no one. Let us look beyond the Military Department for a moment. Australia offers to every citizen the opportunity to rise from the humblest station to the highest possible position within the gift of the people. Why, then, should we handicap a citizen in the Defence Force? It iswell known that many persons will not be able to rise in our army if they are to be subjected to a heavy cost for uniforms.
– Hector Macdonald’ rose from the ranks to the highest positionto which he could attain.
– Yes, but that isno reason why we should follow an ironbound custom. I believe that if “ Fighting Mac “ were alive to-day, and were asked for his opinion, he would support the proposal of Senator Pearce. If it is adopted it will make the measuremore democratic than it is, and afford to every citizen who enters the Defence Force an opportunity to rise from the ranks to the highest position, without being called upon to pay a sum ranging from £25 to£44 for uniforms which are absolutely unnecessary. I would remind the Minister that uniforms have never been known to win a fight. What we need is a body of well-trained men, trained from boyhood until they have reached manhood, willing to fight and able to shoot straight.
Question- That all the words down to and including the word “ followed “ be agreed to - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That paragraph a be agreed to - resolved in the negative.
Question - That paragraph b be agreed to - resolved in the negative.
Question - That paragraph c be agreed to-put. The Committee divided.
Question resolved in the negative.
Question - That paragraph d be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause, as amended, negatived.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
After section eleven of the Principal Act the following section is inserted : - “ iia. All promotions in the Citizen Forces to the rank of officer and non-commissioned officer shall be from those who have served in the ranks of the Citizen Forces, and the appointments and promotions shall be allotted to those in the next lower grade who are most successful in competitive examinations. The standards and manner of holding such examinations shall be prescribed in the regulations. All books required for such examinations shall be issued to candidates without charge.”
– I move -
That after the word “examinations,” line 9, the following words be inserted : - “ The competitive examinations shall be of a practical character, and no written work shall be demanded other than of the nature required for the rank concerned in the field and in the ordinary exercise of duties.”
The amendment which has just been disposed of related, amongst other matters, to uniforms, and the Committee has decided that unless a man is possessed of some income, very little opportunity shall be afforded him of risingto the position of an officer.
– The Committee has not decided anything of the kind.
– That is practically what the decision amounted to. The amendment which I now submit formed part of a proposal made in another place, when there was very little discussion upon it. Senator Pearce during his secondreading speech alluded to the difficulty of. getting officers. At page 5045 of Hansard he is reported as having said -
In the existing Militia Forces we cannot keep the officers up to strength. We cannot get sufficient of them. The forces are under strength now. But the Government say that they are going to increase the Militia by 4,000 men. How are they going to get more officers? They say that they are going to take 2,000 officers out of the existing Militia. But what are they going to do to supply the places of the 2,000 who are going out?
Senator Cameron also pointed out, as reported at page 541 1 -
A man may get a smattering of his drill and may be able to intelligently pass an examination ; but he is then only at the beginning of his business. If in existing circumstances it takes a long time to produce a non-commissioned officer, how much longer time is required to turn out a competent officer? I admit that it is most difficult to get suitable officers. When I commanded a regiment in Australia it was most difficult to obtain from the regiment officers whom the men could respect, and in whom I could have confidence.
As there is such difficulty in getting officers, we should make the conditions as easy as possible. It is well known that the average worker does not care much about writing letters. The pursuit of a vocation involving physical labour causes a man to get out of practice in writing. The consequence is that many ‘a soldier, who would be well able to pass a practical examination, would shrink from submitting himself to one requiring theoretical knowledge and facility in writing answers to questions.
– Such a man would not be able to write orders in the field ; a very necessary duty.
– If the honorable senator wishes to prevent the young hornyhanded from being able to rise in the ranks which he himself adorned for so many years, why does he not say so in plain English ? Many a man who would not care about submitting himself to a written examination would be able to answer all the questions on matters of practical military work which were put to him. I have been told that it is not always the men who are well grounded in theory who are the most competent leaders in the field. The best officer is he who knows his practical work, and who can inspire his men with confidence in him. There is nothing in my amendment which can lead any one to believe that I desire that an officer should be unable to write or read orders. I desire that an officer shall be examined in matters concerned with his work in the field an the ordinary duties of the rank to which he aspires.
– I did not :utend to criticise the honorable senator’s amendment so much as his explanation of it.
– I may not be making the best explanation, but I have not much confidence in a person who changes his opinion on a matter within a few hours, as the honorable senator does.
– The honorable senator has no opinions to change that are worth changing.
– That may be. But I have always stuck to any principle which I have advocated until I found it necessary by reason of greater knowledge or experience to change my views ; and I have not done that within a few hours. We have been told by a practical soldier, who has seen service in the field, that there is great difficulty in getting officers in Australia.
– There has been a 35 per cent, shortage ever since “ Curly “ Hutton came here.
– Major-General Hutton seems to be a kind of King Charles’s head to Senator Neild. I do not know whether that officer “ sooled “ the honorable senator out of the forces, or took his uniform away from him, but whenever military matters are mentioned the honorable senator drags in Major-General Hutton’s name.
– The honorable senator knows that Major-General Hutton did nothing of the kind, and he ought not to be offensive.
– The subjects prescribed at the examinations for officers seem to me to be principally theoretical. As long as a man can show on examination that he can do all the writing necessary to communicate with his superior officer, and to issue such orders as may be necessary, what more can be required? The main thing is that an officer shall know his work.
– There will be more chance of favoritism if an officer is required merely to answer questions verbally, and no record is left of his answers.
– There will be practical proof of the competency of the officer in the work which he does. It has been stated to me by those who know, that the practical man is a far better officer than the one who has just left school, and can perhaps give a better account of himself from an educational point of view.’
– Suppose there were an unfair examiner ; in that case a verbal examination would be very much against the interest of the applicant.
– That presupposes that officers carrying out examinations would not seek to get the best men. We do not want to play into the hands of men simply because they have had a chance of obtaining a superior education, though they may not have shown energy and enthusiasm in military work; nor do we wish to impose upon applicants’ a mass of theoretical work that would be a bar to men desiring to rise from the ranks.
– The honorable senator’s argument tells against examinations under any circumstances.
– It does not. The examination for an officer is of a totally different kind from an examination for the Public Service. Candidates for the Public Service are examined when they are young, and a successful applicant rises from one position to another as he acquires experience.
– No matter how perfect we make our examinations some injustice will occur.
– The honorable senator thinks that, if a man cannot pass a fairly stiff theoretical examination, he should remain in the ranks, no matter what his practical knowledge of the work to be performed by a non-commissioned officer may be.
– No, the honorable senator must be aware that there are exceptions, and that men have risen from the ranks in the British Army.
– It is so rare for a man to rise from the ranks in the British Army that when one does his name is known all over the world. The reason for this is that there is a military caste in the’ Old Country who desire to retain all commissions for themselves. We do not want that kind of thing in Australia, and for that reason the amendment should be accepted. It does not say that a man shall be given promotion merely because he has a practical knowledge of the work he would be called upon to perform in the position to which he aspires. It provides also that he must have a sufficient knowledge of reading and writing to be able to carry out the duties of the position.
– The danger is the open door through which influence might be brought 10 bear.
– I have known many instances of the exercise of influence in securing admissions into the Public Services of the States. It is stated that influence can be used effectually even in con nexion with admissions to the Commonwealth Public Service. I have denied that, but I have been told that influence has been exercised even under our rigid system in quite a number of cases. No practical knowledge is required of those seeking to enter the Public Service, and the theoretical examination to which candidates are subjected is the only examination which they, are required to pass. But in the Defence Force all promotions must be by examination. A man might not be able to go very far in that service, but no obstacle should be placed in the way of his securing the two or three positions for which he is fitted. We have been told that it is very hard to get officers, and it will not be any easier in the future than it has been in the past. Senator Pearce has pointed out that years of training are required to fit men for some positions in the forces. It is true that the amendment was not accepted in another place, but that is no reason why it should not be accepted here.
– If there was any ground for the alarming picture which Senator Turley has drawn, I should not object to his amendment. The honorable senator’s fears are due entirely to his own imagination. Is it to be supposed that those in whose hands will be placed the drafting of the regulations will draw them up with a view to blocking the promotion of men whose writing may be a little defective?
– The honorable senator knows very well that it has been done.
– The honorable senator proposes to substitute an oral for a written examination, but he does not see that if those dealing with the matter wished to do so it would be as easy for them to set a trap for some unfortunate man by the one form of examination as by the other. We must leave the standard to be determined by those responsible for the administration of the Act. How is it possible to lay down in this Bill the lines on which the examinations shall proceed?
– It is possible to give a direction in the Bill.
– I have already said that if from any sinister motive there was a desire to block certain candidates it could be done as easily by one method of examination as by the other. The day when a writing test was an object of terror, because writing was an accomplishment of the few, has gone by. We have a public school system in operation in Australia, the effects of which are manifest, and the men now coming forward to join the Defence Force are able to read and write reasonably well. In trie case of the majority it would be an advantage to them to have questions set before them in writing, because they would not be asked to answer them on the spur of the moment. They would have the eye to assist the mind in discerning what was meant, and would have time to prepare their answers.
– An officer in the field would not have time to sit down and think.
– There is an examination which necessarily takes the form of question and answer, and Senator Turley asks the Committee to say that the questions shall be submitted orally and not in writing.
– No; the question is as to whether the test with respect to the writing shall be of a, practical character. It is proposed that a man shall not be disqualified because of the nature of his handwriting.
– That is not the proposal that is made in Senator Turley’s amendment.
– The honorable senator is wrong.
– I always am, according to. honorable senators opposite ; but it is some consolation that the results of divisions frequently show that I am right. Senator Pearce’s contention is that in’ the examination the quality of a man’s writing should not stand against him.
– The amendment provides that no written work shall be demanded of the candidate other than work of a practical character.
– It is not a question whether the writing is good or bad. Let us take, for instance, the case of a man seeking promotion as a gunnery officer. He must have some knowledge of mathematics. Questions could be put to him in two ways, by writing or by word of mouth, and Senator Turley says that questions should not be put to him on paper.
– That is what the amendment means. What may be in the minds of honorable senators opposite may ‘be something quite different. They now raise an entirely different question. If Senator Turley merely means to affirm that no can didate should be ruled out who, having the requisite knowledge, cannot write well, I agree with him.
– That is what is proposed.
–The amendment does not say so. It says, “ No written work shall be demanded-
– “ Other than “-
– The amendment makes it compulsory upon the examining body to conduct the examination by word of mouth.
– Why misrepresent it?
– It would be just as easy for me to turn round and say that honorable senators do not know the meaning of the amendment. That would not be an argument, and in the same way it is no argument from their side to say that I do not understand it. I say that if all that is intended is that no candidate shall be ruled out because of inferior writing, I am with honorable senators opposite.
– It means more than that.
– What does it mean? This amendment would give no protection to the man who writes badly. He must do some of his examination in writing, and in spite of this amendment it would be possible to rule him out. I say that if the object of honorable senators, opposite is to prevent a candidate from being ruled out on the ground of bad writing, though his writing might be legible and his written answers correct, it would be possible under the amendment to rule him out for bad writing. I am sure that that is not what honorable senators desire. I urge Senator Turley to withdraw the amendment.
– The honorable senator will do so.
– He will not. Honorable senators can depend upon that.
– I do not suppose that Senator Turley will withdraw his amendment. I have rarely found him reasonable in these matters. If honorable senators desire to provide some protection for those who, because, perhaps, of their ordinary occupations, write badly, I am with them. I should be willing to accept an amendment which would give that protection, but I say that the amendment! which Senator Turley has proposed will not effect what honorable senators opposite desire. If the amendment be adopted there will be absolutely nothing to prevent a candidate from being’ failed at an examination because he writes badly. On the other hand, it will provide any sinister-minded Board of Examiners with an opportunity to block any particular candidate whose qualifications they may regard as deficient. Unless Senator Turley is prepared to withdraw his amendment I shall have no option but to divide the Committee upon it.
– - Either the Vice-President of the Executive Council does not understand the object of this clause or he does not appreciate the way in which it will read if the amendment of Senator Turley be adopted. Probably honorable senators have read the amendment by itself, but I ask them to read it in conjunction with the clause. Assuming that Senator Turley1 s proposal be carried, the clause will then read -
All promotions in the Citizen Forces to the rank of officer and non-commissioned officer shall be from those who have served in the ranks of the Citizen Forces, and the appointments and promotions shall be allotted to those in the next lower grade who are most successful in competitive examinations. The competitive examinations shall be of a practical character, and no written work shall be demanded other than of the nature required for the rank concerned in the field and in the ordinary exercise of duties. The standards and manner of holding such examinations shall be prescribed in the regulations. All books required for such examinations shall be issued to candidates without charge.
Now, the present practice is to hold a practical and theoretical examination. Certain papers are set upon certain subjects, and . the candidate is required to supply answers to the questions put to him upon those subjects. In addition, a test is applied to his handwriting and spelling.
– A test which could still continue under the amendment.
– No. It would be prevented by the use of the words “ no written work shall be demanded other than of the nature required for the rank concerned in the field, and in the ordinary exercise of duties.” That is to say, provided a candidate’s writing and spelling were good enough for the rank which he held in the field they would not be subjected to a test.
– Provided that they satisfied the standard which was set up.
– Under the amendment the written work demanded of an officer would be of the nature required for his rank in the field. But at present if he mis-spells more than a certain number of words he is disqualified.
– What is required of an officer in the field will be set out in the regulations.
– And Senator Turley ‘s amendment amounts to a direction as to how those regulations shall be framed. It declares that .they shall be framed ‘with an eye to what is required of an officer in the field. I have in my mind a case in which a candidate passed a good examination in all other subjects, but made some lamentable mistakes in spelling. He exceeded the number of mistakes in spelling which was allowed-
– Could his meaning be understood?
– Certainly. The test, too, was a pretty severe one. Anybody who saw his writing, which was perfectly legible, could have understood his meaning. He apparently adopted the phonetic system of spelling.
– Under the amendment he would be disqualified for the same reason. Every applicant would have to do some writing.
– But the test of his ability should be, “ Can he write sufficiently well to make himself understood in x the work that would be required from his rank in the field?”
– The amendment does not say that.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council is endeavouring to make it appear that he is more dense than he really is.
– The denseness is on the other side. The honorable senator is confusing written work with writing. That is to say “ written work “ might be a leading article. The article might be a magnificent one, but the spelling of it might be too bad for words.
– But at present an officer is judged on his handwriting.
– But the written work and the handwriting are two different things.
– Suppose that a candidate said in very bad writing that twice two made four, would he be failed?
– Under the existing practice written work is demanded as a test. But under the amendment the standard of that work would be fixed by what is required of the officer in the field.
– Now, . he is judged by the quality of his writing and spelling.
– Exactly. We say that the test should be the duties which are demanded of him in the field. I think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council ought to accept the amendment.
– It seems to me marvellous that Senator Pearce can still argue that written work means writing. I say that a candidate’s written work might, from the standpoint of handwriting, be the most awful thing imaginable, and yet it might be magnificent written work. Take as an illustration a leading article in a newspaper. Usually such articles are written in an execrable hand, which nobody but a trained compositor can read, but they are, nevertheless, splendid written work. On the other hand, a man who would never be able to do the same class of work might write absolute copper-plate. When the Bill speaks of “written work” it merely means the answers which are given by candidates to the questions put to them - quite apart from the merits of their handwriting. I do not intend to labour the point. I have already been told that I am dense, but, nevertheless, I think that my view is the correct one. The amendment would not protect a candidate from being judged from the stand-point of his handwriting alone.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 4A. Provided that the limitation in the preceding section in respect to service in the ranks shall not apply, except as far as may be found possible, until the expiration of two years from the commencement of the training prescribed in section 125, paragraph c;
Provided also that the limitation in the preceding section shall not at any time apply to the appointment of officers in the Senior Cadets.”
Honorable senators will recognise that, whilst the principle which has just been assented to in clause 4 is a desirable one, it may not be possible to bring it into operation at once; and, therefore, a provision is required in order to give a little elasticity until the new scheme has been brought into fair working order.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 -
Section thirty-two of the Principal Act is repealed, and the following sections are substituted in lieu thereof : - “32. - (1) The Citizen Naval Forces shall be divided into Militia Forces, Volunteer Forces, and Reserve Forces.
– I move -
That the words “ Volunteer Forces “ be left out.
At the present time there are no Volunteer Forces in existence.
– Then there is no harm in leaving in the words.
– Their retention would allow a little snobbishness to be introduced in connexion with the Naval Forces. I am informed that a certain amount of pressure has been brought to bear, especially in Victoria, by a number of persons who are organized into a yacht club. They object to doing the work of the ordinary person so far as the Militia is concerned, but they are prepared to volunteer, provided that they are not to be compelled to do the full term of training which the average person will be required to do. Under these conditions, they are prepared to volunteer.
– If what the honorable senator says is true, they would not join the Militia.
– So far as I can gather, they would be of no value if they did join. I am told that some persons who have organized a yacht club desire to become connected with the Naval Forces.
What particular advantage they would be to those forces, I do not know.
– Have the men to whom the honorable senator objects, formed an organization?
– An application was sent into the Department of Defence on behalf of a yacht club, and so much pressure was brought to bear, that lately a regulation was gazetted to allow its members to volunteer to do much less work than the ordinary individual will be called upon to do.
– But, even then, our volunteers are honorary men.
– The man who enters the Defence Force as a volunteer does his work without receiving much remuneration. Certainly, he gets some remuneration, but not a great deal ; and he is not called upon to do the necessary amount of training or make himself anything like as effective as a man who goes into the Militia. If the object of this Bill is to render men efficient, we do not need the volunteer system at all. We want those who care to go into the Naval Forces to make themselves as proficient as possible. It is very hard to get men proficient in connexion with the Naval Militia. The Old Country had a system by which men could become members of the Naval Reserve. But they had to put in a month’s continuous training every year, for which they were paid £11s. a week. A large part of the force was composed of persons connected with the maritime marine, who received, in addition, a retaining fee of£6 a year, or, in all, £10 4s. If the latter wished to leave England for a voyage which would keep them away more than twelve months, they had to get what was practically a permit before they could sign on, and on their return from a voyage lasting, say, two years, they could not draw any money until they had put in two months’ continuous training. Of course, they became fairly efficient. But a man belonging to class A will have to put in only twenty-one days of continuous training, of which eighteen must be in periods of not less than six days’ continuous training afloat. Class B covers stokers chiefly. Regulation 99, relating to naval volunteers, is as follows : -
Naval Volunteers shall be required to attend the following drills annually : - 5 days’ continuous training. 12 half-day drills. 24 night drills.
A Naval Volunteer shall not be classed as efficient unless he has attended 5 days’ continuous training, 6 half-day drills, and 18 night drills during the year.
Day drills may be performed in lieu of night drills, but in no case can night drills be performed in lieu of day drills.
I understand that the present Militia is not too efficient, even with twenty-one full day’s training every year.
– Our men will be serving mostly on torpedo boats, where seamanship of a very high class is required.
– If we wish for efficiency, we must have a system which will give it to us. We should not, for the few men who may be connected with a sort of yacht club, and dodge about in a uniform, make provision for volunteers. We shall be able to get a sufficient number of men to join the Naval Militia and serve for the period required by the regulations. All who wish to render themselves efficient can join the Militia just as the “ ordinary garden variety “ of man does.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Millen), read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– The second reading of the Constitution Alteration (Finance) Bill, which deals with what is known as the financial agreement, will be taken first.
– Will an adjournment of the debate be allowed after the honorable senator has spoken to the motion for the second reading?
– If honorable senators desire it. Should there betime tor other business, I propose to continue the consideration of the Defence Bill
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 November 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19091112_senate_3_53/>.