4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator PEARCE laid upon the table the following papers: -
Defence Act 1903-1912. - Regulations, amended, &c, (Provisional)-
Military Forces. - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 218.
Universal Training. - Statutory Rules 191 2, Mo. 219.
asked the Vice-Presi dent of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the questions are -
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council called my attention to the second and third questions, and asked whether the information desired could be made available. I have now the replies submitted by the head of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff. The answer to No. 2 question is -
– In answer to question No. 2, sir, you said that the capabilities of the typists as shorthand-writers have not yet been tested. I wish to know whether they will be given an opportunity of demonstrating their qualities in that regard?
– The question of providing for the efficiency of the Hansard staff is under the consideration of myself and Mr. Speaker, and the matter to which the honorable senator has referred will receive attention in determining upon the best method to be adopted.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
– What was the date of his visit?
– I do not know.
– If that lighthouse has to be reconstructed, seeing that we have taken all these matters under our control, who willshoulder the cost of the work?
– The Commonwealth has not yet taken over the lighthouses; this lighthouse belongs to the State, and of course the State will replace it.
– When the lighthouses are taken over, is it not intended to erect another lighthouse there, and, if so, who will bear the cost ? The State will not rebuild it.
– The answer is only technically correct.
– That is all ; otherwise it is incorrect.
– I should like to know the date on which the lighthouse expert reported on the stability of this lighthouse, because everybody knows that during the last four months large dynamite experiments have been made around the lighthouse.
– I shall make inquiries, and give the information to the honorable senator later.
Motion(by Senator Needham) agreed to-
That a return be placed on the table of the Senate showing -
The number of the higher-paid officers of the Commonwealth Public Service who are recommended for an increase in the current Estimates.
Their names, grade, and length of service.
The number of the lower-paid officers in the Commonwealth Public Service who are recommended for an increase in the current Estimates.
Their names, grade, and length of service.
In Committee (Consideration of House ofRepresentatives’ message resumed from 20th November, vide page 5682) :
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Insert the following newclause : - “286. - (1.) A ship shall not engage in the coasting trade which is receiving, or which under any arrangement is to receive, or which in the immediately preceding twelve months has been receiving, directly or indirectly, any subsidy or bonus from arty Government other than that of a part of the British Dominions.
Penalty (on master, owner, or agent) : Five hundred pounds. (2.) Any payment for services bond fie rendered in the carriage of mails, passengers, or goods, at rates based solely on the actual commercial value of these services, shall not be taken to be a subsidywithin the meaning of this section.”
– I think that Senator St. Ledger will see that if he wishes to deal with the question of the coasting trade his remarks will come in better on the next amendment. This one deals’ simply with the question of ships which are subsidized; it embodies those portions of clauses 287 and 295 which related to foreign subsidies, and which have been excised. It applies to all ship’s alike, but the receipt of a subsidy from the Government of any part of the British Dominions will not be a bar to engaging in the coasting trade, subject, of course, to compliance with the prescribed conditions of the trade. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– I think that on this amendment the whole question of subsidizing the coasting trade is open. It seems to me that the proposed new clause 2 86a, if inserted, will provoke retaliation. It is evidently intended to strike, in some form or other, at those steam-ship lines owned by foreign companies which are seeking to compete for the trade of Australia. It is a case of blowing hot and cold. How the Government will be able to adjust the hot and cold breaths to the foreign companies is a matter which, of course, they have to determine for themselves. Sub-clause 2 of the provision simply means that if we consider that a subsidy which is offered to induce a foreign company to compete for the Australian trade is designed more for commercial purposes than for the carrying of mails, the Government will strike at that company. At any rate, the main intention of the provision is to put into the hands of the Government a weapon with which they can strike whenever they choose at foreign-owned ships, and possibly British ships, too. It is quite clear that the form of the provision will invite careful consideration by those shipping companies, and possibly provoke retaliation. As regards the coasting trade, it is well to consider the position we have got into after six years of deliberation from various points of view. The position will be best understood by recalling the history <of the various changes which have been made in the coasting clauses. Clause 279 of the 1907 Bill contained a clear definition of what’ the coasting trade was. The first proviso alters the meaning to some extent. The definition was-
Provided’ that the carrying of cargo on a through bill of lading and passengers on through tickets to and from a port beyond Australia shall not be deemed to be engaged in the coasting trade.
We have something similar in this Bill. In 1907 a further proviso was put in, which showed the difficulty from both an economical and a constitutional point of view -
Provided further that until the Western Australian and South Australian railways are connected, carrying passengers between Western Australia and another Australian port shall not be deemed coastal trade.
Iri other words, Western Australia was to’ have an advantage over any other State with regard to the coasting trade, and, as the’ proviso showed on the very face of it, the absence of railway connexion between the’ two States was the alleged cause of thaiconcession to Western Australia. It must’ have been, more or less, clearly evident thatsuch a proviso was unconstitutional. That opinion was expressed at the time. It is also clear that, by the subsequent alterations iri that clause, the Crown law advisers of the Government were of that opinion, because it does not appear again in that’ direct form. *
– What authority have you for making that statement ?
– The inference is irresistible. It is borne out by the changes that were made during the passing of - the Bill’ through both Houses.
– An inference is not: a fact.
– But the inference that I have made is a very fair one:>
– I rise to orderSenator St. Ledger will see that the particular amendment under consideration deals entirely with subsidized vessels. He is now entering, into the whole question of the coasting trade. That will arise on new clause 5A which I have promised to’ have reconsidered. An opportunity will then be afforded for the honorable senator to discuss the matter with which he has been dealing, but I suggest that he is out of order on this amendment.
– I thank the Minister for the way he is trying to meetme. As he assures me that I shall have an opportunity on the recommittal of clause 5A and on Senator Guthrie’s amendment, I shall be content with that.
– The whole scope of the clause will be open for consideration.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New ‘ South Wales) [2.53]. -This clause deals with’ ships en- gaged in the coasting trade, and particularly with subsidized vessels. I believe that the amendment, which Senator Guthrie contemplates moving at a later stage, is intended to provide that ships trading with Papua shall be deemed to be engaged in the coasting trade.It has been pointed out by the Papuan authorities that it is essential to the prosperity of the Possession that no hindrance should be placed in the way of steam-ship communication with the mainland. At present, Papua is in communication with the rest of the world through the medium of a Dutch line of steamers, a German line, and the ships of Messrs. Burns, Philp, & Co. I presume that under such a clause as this it would be possible to prohibit such of those vessels as were engaging in the coasting trade, and they would, therefore, be excluded from the Papuan trade if the Territory were declared to be within the scope of our coasting trade. Consequently, the clause will operate as an entire bar to the trade with the Possession.
– The question is not affected by this clause. So far, Papua is excluded.
– But we have on our files an amendment which will bring Papua within the coasting trade, and we also have an assurance from the Minister that he will not object to the recommittal of the clause upon which Senator Guthrie’s amendment will be moved.
– We can discuss the matter then.
– But we shall not then be able to go back upon a clause already dealt with.
– If it will convenience the honorable senator, I will promise that, if Senator Guthrie’s amendment is carried, I will also recommit the clause now under consideration.
– I am satisfied with that assurance. I should also like to mention another matter. I believe that Port Darwin is unmistakably within the coasting-trade provisions. I understand that considerable difficulty is experienced, even there, with regard to the receipt of mails. They are carried in different classes of ships. It is also considered desirable that additional facilities for communicating with the Territory should be afforded.
– The Governor- General, under clause 5A, can give permits to vessels.
– Would not this clause prevent a permit being given to a ship that was subsidized ?
– No; because the clause says that the Governor- General may declare that a vessel shall not be deemed to be engaged in the coasting trade; and, if it were not deemed to be engaged in the coasting trade, the prohibition would not. operate.
– We shall have an opportunity of discussing the matter more fully afterwards.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 287 - (1.) No foreign ship shall engage in the coast ing trade unless she is licensed so to do.
Penalty (on master, owner, or agent) : Five hundred pounds
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit all words of the clause after “ No,” and insert ship shall engage in the coasting trade unless licensed to do so.
Penalty (on master, owner, or agent) : Five hundred pounds. (2.) Licences to ships to engage in the coast ing trade shall be for such period, not exceeding three years, as is prescribed, and may be granted as prescribed. (3.) Every licence shall be issued subject to compliance on the part of the ship, her master, owner, and agent, during such time as she is engaged in the coasting trade, with the following conditions : -
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
There are certain foreign countries entitled, under ancient treaties with Great Britain, to trade on our coast on exactly the same terms and conditions as are accorded to our own and to British ships. To enable us to meet these treaty obligations clause 295 was inserted in the Bill. Under this clause the Governor-General was empowered to exempt such ships from the requirements, imposed generally upon foreign ships, to take out a licence to engage in the coasting trade. This, of course, implied exemption also from the conditions of the licence, viz., payment
Of Australian rates of wages, the carrying Of crews according to our manning scales, and the provision of accommodation as prescribed. A proviso to clause 295 prohibited the exemption of foreign ships in receipt of foreign subsidies. One at least of the nations entitled to trade on our coast under the conditions mentioned pays a subsidy to a line of her ships trading to these ports. This country is Austria. The proviso to clause 295 would, it was thought, operate to prevent exemption being granted in such a case, but it would appear that the Merchant Shipping Act provides specifically for the recognition of these treaty rights “ anything in any Colonial legislation notwithstanding.” In view of this the proviso in question is clearly ultra vires, as being repugnant to the Imperial provision. This is not all. There is yet another matter of great importance to be considered. There are, apart from these particular nations entitled to national treatment in the coasting trade, a large number of other and much more important nations which, although not entitled by express treaty provision to such concession, are entitled to “most-favoured-nation treatment.” Now, if we once exempted ships of those countries with treaties covering the coasting trade, as we would have to do, then we would be overwhelmed with applications from these other nations for a similar concession to their ships. To refuse would inevitably give offence, and in all probability lead to retaliation in the shape of restrictions on British shipping and on our exports to the markets of the countries concerned. There was one way only in which we could meet these difficulties, and that was by imposing on all ships - British, foreign, and Australian alike - all those particular conditions which we desired to have observed by ships trading on our coasts, viz., as to wages, manning scales, accommodation, with a bar against ships in receipt of foreign subsidies. No nation can under any treaty take exception to any requirement imposed on our own and on foreign ships alike. It has been decided, therefore, to recast Part VI. of the Bill to give effect to this. As foreign ships cannot well be dealt with except by a system of licences, all ships will be required to take out a licence before engaging in the coasting trade. We have a precedent for such a requirement in the navigation laws of Canada and United States of America. So far as our own local shipping is concerned there would be very little trouble involved in taking out a licence once in every two or three years. It will be nothing in comparison with the formalities now required to be observed in connexion with the clearance and entry of ships at the beginning and end of every voyage. The second point of difference between the original and the proposed new clause is that under the new proposal the Minister may require security that the conditions of the licence and of Part VI. will be complied with. This is on the lines of a very valuable provision in the Customs Act, and will insure, more particularly in the case of tramp steamers and traders having no owners or responsible representatives in Australia, the recovery of any penalties to which the owners or masters may become liable by reason of contravention of the coasting trade provisions. This will apply more particularly to the case of tramp steamers which may have no owner or representative in the Commonwealth, and on which therefore it would be impossible to force compliance with these conditions, unless we could get something in the nature of a bond before the licence was issued. Those are the reasons why the Government have recast this clause ; and while it attains the same end as the former clause did, it, at the same time, removes any possible objection that we are overriding, or attempting ‘to override - for, of course, we could not really override - those treaty obligations which the United Kingdom has entered into in the past. I may add that at the Imperial Conference last year this question of treaty obligations, and of the obligations of the Dominions under treaties, was discussed; and to my knowledge, during the last twelve months, in pursuance of a promise made by the British Prime Minister at that Conference, Great Britain has been seeking to denounce many treaties under which the Dominions, as well as the Mother Country, were bound. In all recent treaties the Dominions have been exempt. The right to take advantage of the provisions of treaties has been provided for each Dominion; but each Dominion has the power to come in, or remain out, as it chooses. But old treaties, which are still in operation, and which apply particularly to navigation and shipping in many cases, refer to the Dominions, and would prevent us from putting the shipping of the countries with which the treaties are made on a different footing to British ships, or our own local ships. However, many of these treaties are in course of being denounced, and we know that it will only be a matter of time when they will cease to operate. The amendment will not interfere with treaty obligations, and will carry out the intentions of the Bill with regard to the coasting trade.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.5].- The statement made by the Minister of Defence is very important, and demands consideration by honorable senators in connexion with this amendment. The extent to which foreign ships have the right to participate in our trade, on the same footing as British ships, is a matter of grave importance. To impose restrictive conditions might possibly lead to some amount of friction, and defer the operation of the Bill. If there is a treaty under which a foreign ship belonging to any particular nation is permitted to engage in any particular trade, the question arises whether we have a right to treat that ship differently from a British ship. I admit, of course, that all such matters will have to be dealt with in accordance with treaties themselves. It is questionable whether we have a right to require that on foreign ships the same accommodation shall be provided as on ships registered in Australia, or British ships engaged in our coasting trade. This Bill requires a large amount of space to be provided for seamen and officers.
– Not very much.
– I am speaking comparatively.
– What is 20 cubic feet?
– The extra amount of space required for a large number of men may make a great difference in the carrying capacity of the ship. Nearly all ships have their accommodation already provided, according to the scale laid down by their own nation. To compel compliance with this measure would mean compelling many ships to make important structural alterations which would involve considerable expenditure.
– Is the honorable senator barracking for the foreigner against British shipping?
– No, I am not. I am barracking for fair play and the observation of treaty rights. I do not desire to involve Great Britain in difficulties in consequence of our legislation, and I do not want the British Government to have to withhold their assent to this Bill. I want to do what is possible and practicable.
– The British Government would not refuse to assent to anything like this.
– It will refuse to assent to anything that interferes with treaties. I want honorable senators to realize that they cannot run the world as they see fit. Australia is a portion of the British Empire, and cannot do anything to interfere with rights that have been conceded by Great Britain to other nations. The British Government have denounced many treaties, and we should not be interfered with in connexion . with any of those that do not apply to the Dominions. I wish honorable senators to realize that they need to be wary in this matter, and should not lay down rules which may be found to be in conflict with treaty rights already conceded by Great Britain to the subjects of other countries. It should be remembered that the trade on our coasts is a bagatelle compared with the total shipping trade which Great Britain has to protect .
– Our trade will not always be a bagatelle.
.- I am aware of that, but it will always represent a small proportion of the trade done in British bottoms throughout the world.
– If we were to agree to the honorable senator’s proposal, we might as well hand over our coasting trade to foreigners.
– That is exactly the honorable senator’s argument.
– It is not my argument. I have already expressed my sympathy with the creation of a great Australian mercantile marine, and my readiness to give the people engaged in our own coasting trade advantages which we are not prepared to give to outsiders.
– What is the use of sympathy? Sympathy without relief is like mustard without beef.
– I am merely saying that it is unwise for honorable senators to agree to provisions which may have the effect of wrecking the Bill. Is the Minister of Defence prepared to give the Committee an assurance that the clause as recast will not in any way interfere with treaty obligations to which Great Britain is committed to-day? We should not pass legislation which may bring about friction between Great Britain and foreign nations, and possibly lead to reprisals against British shipping on the part of foreign nations.
– The clause as recast, and as it now appears before the Committee, was submitted to the Board of Trade, and no exception was taken to it.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD.- If the Minister had given the Committee that information in the first instance, he would have saved a lot of our time.
– The Minister said so when he was speaking.
– No; what he said was that, so far as he knew, the clause would not interfere with treaty obligations. We have now been informed that the clause, as recast, has been submitted to the Board of Trade, and no exception has been taken to it. We may assume, therefore, that the Board of Trade is satisfied that it will not abrogate Imperial treaties, and as I am satisfied with the Minister’s assurance, I am prepared to withdraw any opposition to the clause.
.- I move-
That the amendment be amended by adding to sub-clause (3) the following new paragraph : - ” [c) That in every ship registered in Australia or engaged in the .coasting trade where a library is provided for the use of passengers, members of the crew shall be entitled to obtain books therefrom under the same conditions as may regulate the issue of such books to the passengers.”
Penalty (on owner) Ten pounds.
I am aware that my proposal has not behind it the hallowed support of precedent, but we are not bound hand and foot by what may have been done in the past; and in making this departure we should only be doing what we have already done in connexion with many matters provided for in this Bill. I am moved to suggest this provision to enable seamen to enjoy the advantages of libraries established on board ship, because, for a very long time, they have been regarded as people of an inferior type. In my opinion, the time has come when this Parliament should do something to wipe out a class distinction which has been too long maintained. There are many instances in which employers of labour ashore have taken pleasure in furnishing their employes, in communities at a distance from centres of population, with libraries to promote their intellectual improvement, and it is not too much to ask that what is done in many places for trie benefit of employes on shore should be done at sea for the benefit of seamen. Those on board a ship at sea represent a self-contained community, cut off from association with other people. The master of a vessel is invested with judicial powers, can order the imprisonment of any. one on board the ship, and is, in fact, an autocrat of the most pronounced type. I can see no possible objection to libraries established by shipping companies for the benefit of passengers being used also for the improvement and edification of seamen. The sailor in the past, and to some extent tb-day, is very much the product of his environment, and the time has come when his environment should, as far as possible, be such as to lead to his improvement. Extensive libraries are provided on some of the large steamers trading to Australia, which are sometimes ten days away from communication with land ; but there is a forbidding notice posted on the library doors, and seamen or firemen dare not put a foot inside the sanctum, much less make use of any of the books. It is about time we altered such a state of affairs. There may be some opposition to my amendment, on the ground that it is novel and original, but I again remind honorable senators who take that view that we have already departed from precedents which no longer serve the purpose of the present age. I am not in the habit of quoting poetry, but I am disposed to quote, in this connexion, a few appropriate lines written by one of Australia’s most respected poets, and dealing with the difference between “ fore “ and “ aft.” Henry Lawson writes on this subject in the following terms -
But the curse of class distinctions from our shoulders shall be lurried,
And the influence of woman revolutionize the world;
There’ll be higher education for the toilin’, starvin’ clown,
And the rich and educated shall be educated down.
And we shall meet amidships on this stout old earthly craft,
And there won’t be any frictiontwixt the travellers fore and aft.
We’ll be brothers fore and aft,
Yes, and sisters fore and aft,
When the people work together and there ain’t no fore and aft.
I wish very much to emphasize the last line. Employers ashore, who have respected their employe’s, have shown themselves ready and willing to make the provision which I ask shall be made in the interests of seamen. I hope that we shall not have any more of this fore and aft business, and that honorable senators will assist me to afford seamen facilities for their intellectual and social improvement.
– I have very much pleasure in supporting Senator Lynch’s amendment. I think the Committee should agree to it. The only objection which might be urged would be on the ground of expense, but in view of the fact that many of our oversea and Inter- State steamers are already provided with libraries, it would be a matter of no expense for the ship-owners to allow their seamen to have the use of the books in those libraries. I am reminded by Senator de Largie that the libraries are very seldom used by passengers, and I venture to say that scarcely 2 per cent, of the passengers ever make use of these ships’ libraries. Senator Lynch merely asks that when a seaman has finished his watch, he shall be entitled to use the ship’s library, on the same conditions as passengers on the vessel. The seaman ashore is branded as a kind of wild man, and honorable senators will agree that where possible he should be given opportunities to free himself of this reputation.
– He might be asked to pay a small fee for the use of a ship’s library.
– That is included in Senator Lynch’s amendment, because he asks that the seaman should have the use of the library on the same terms as the passengers. I know that on the Orient Company’s steamers, when I de sired to take a book from the ship’s library, I was asked to make a deposit of 2s., which was returned when I returned the book. This provision will help to benefit the seaman. If he is of a studious nature, he will have the opportunity of reading the works of the best authors, and thus educating his mind. I hope that the amendment will be carried.
– On a point of order,. sir, I should like to ask whether, in your opinion the amendment is relevant to the subject-matter of the provision before the Committee. We are dealing with the conditions under which a licence shall issue, and the object of a licence, and the conditions attached thereto, is to put the various companies on the same footing. The question of the treatment of the crew is not involved, and therefore I think that the amendment is irrelevant.
– Honorable senators will see that paragraph b of sub-clause 3 of this provision raises the question of accommodation. I cannot say that the amendment of Senator Lynch is out of order, because, in my opinion, the provision of a library may be held to be involved in the question of accommodation.
– It is very easy for Senator Lynch to appeal to the sympathies of honorable senators by saying that a library ought to be provided for the crew of a steamer just as one is provided for the passengers. He might just as well use the same argument about the food to be supplied. Why should we not say that the crew ought to have the same food as is provided for the passengers?
– Do not the passengers pay extra?
– Yes; and so they do for the use of books in the library of the ship. The library is part of the accommodation for which passengers pay. It is put in’ by the ship-owners to attract passengers, and the extra food which they get comes under the same category. If there were no extra charges for passengers the ship-owners would not provide any better food for them than they do for the crew, and we should find it necessary to provide in the Bill a food scale for passengers. It is only because ship-owners try to induce persons to travel that we do not provide a food scale for passengers. It will be seen that when Senator Lynch makes this departure, he should not stop at the question of giving the crew access to the library on a ship. Why should we- not say that the crew shall have the same food as is served to the passengers? Why should we stop even there? Why should we not say that the crew shall be entitled to cabins on the same conditions as passengers? What argument can my honorable friend adduce for bringing in one thing and stopping at the other? We must get away from sentimental ideas, and realize what is the position of the crew as compared with the position of passengers. The crew are employed by the ship-owner under definite conditions to do certain work. If, in the opinion of the Committee, one of the obligations of the employer ought to be to provide a library for his employes, this is not the right way to proceed. There should be a provision to set apart a definite library for the use of the crew. We must realize that a modern passenger steamer is a floating hotel. What do we recognise in our land legislation and Wages Board legislation? Do we stipulate, for instance, that the employes at an hotel shall have the right of access to the smoking-room or the library? I have never heard a Labour member throughout Australia advocate such a thing.
– Because there are dozens of libraries of which an hotel employe can avail himself.
– This leads one to the conclusion that a library ought to be provided in the seamen’s- quarters. The employ^ is provided with separate quarters in order to cany out the work of the ship smoothly. Let me point out another oversight in this amendment. Why should not the passengers in the steerage and the second class also have the right of access to the library? It is exclusively reserved for the use of first class passengers.
– - Not at all ; there is a library provided in the second class quarters.
– An ounce of experience is worth a ton of theory. I have travelled steerage, second class, and first class to and from Western Australia, and I know from personal experience that no second class or steerage passenger has the right of entree to the library.
– On the Orient boats they have.
– I spent a month on a steamer going to England, and I know that none of the second class passengers could get a book from the library.
– A catalogue is placed in the second class cabins.
– Why does not Senator Lynch propose to provide reading for steerage passengers? Surely, if the crew are entitled to the use of the library on a steamer the steerage passengers have an equal right.
– The crew are there all the time, but the passengers are there only for a few days.
– It should be remembered that a ship is really a travelling hotel, and that, as in an hotel, separate quarters are provided for the employes. At an hotel the employes do not have their meals with the guests, or put in their recreation hours in the’ smoking-room or the library of the hotel. _ Why? Because it is recognised that the guests are paying for a definite service, and the employ^ is being paid to render that service. The employes at an hotel would not ask that they should be given the privileges for which the guests pay.
– An hotel proprietor is not compelled to supply medical stores oi: medicine, whereas a ship-owner is so compelled by this Bill.
– That is only because the employe on a ship has no resource; he cannot go elsewhere.
– He has no resource as regards books.
– He has the opportunity of bringing books with him, or of combining with his comrades and creating a library, replacing books when they go ashore. He could, by an arrangement with other libraries, get books to take the place of those which he has used. The amendment overlooks the vital difference between the position of the passenger and that of the employ^. What does Senator Lynch mean by the expression “ under the same conditions “ ? If I go on board a steamer, among other things, I have paid for the right to get books from the library; but if I take a steerage ticket, I do not acquire that privilege Now let us examine what are the conditions of a first class passenger. Between the hours of 10 and 12, and between the hours of 3 and 4 there is a steward in attendance at the library to give out books to passengers. At those hours every one who has the right of access to the library has the right to go up and take a book. Does Senator Lynch propose that a seaman who is on duty shall have the right to go into the library at that time?
– He might be off duty then.
– But the amendment does not say that. If it is carried, a member of the crew, no matter what he may be doing, will be entitled to go up to the library and get a book.
– That is very poor reasoning.
– That is the wording of the amendment. If Senator Lynch means that this privilege is to be availed of by any member of the crew when he is off duty he should say so. If we provided in the food scale that a seaman had the right to go to his meals under the same conditions as the passengers, it would mean that he could go at the same hours as they do, but we do not say that. I trust that the Committee will not carry the amendment, at any rate, in its present form.. If Senator Lynch wants to provide a library for the crew of a vessel he ought to lay an obligation on the owner to do so, and not to interfere with the purely local arrangement. In my opinion the amendment is altogether a mistake. It loses sight of the fact that the passenger pays for a service rendered, and that is the provision of a library.
– - 1 intend to support the “amendment. I think that the Minister fails to understand how it can be worked. During my last visit to Great Britain I visited one of the largest manufactories in the vicinity of Glasgow - the Singer’s Sewing Machine Company’s factory, employing 10,000 persons - and there I saw one of the best libraries which I have ever seen.
– It was not an employers’ private library
– It was a library provided for the employes at the factory. I found there men who were as conversant with the affairs of Australia as I was, because the Australian papers were filed regularly in the library. There are ships running along our coast which carry from 300 to 400 passengers. That is more than the population of a great number of towns in Australia that have public libraries subsidized by the State Government. Senator Lynch does not propose that we should subsidize ship libraries. He only proposes that if there is a library in a ship it should be accessible to the crew, who will pay . by means of their labour, if not in money, for any convenience we like to provide for in the Bill. If the ship-owner thinks that it is a charge upon him it will be a mere matter of him saying to the crew, “ If I have to supply a library you will have to take 5s. a month less,” and he will regulate the wages according to the service which he renders to the men.
– Would the honorable member advocate the reduction of the pay of the men by 5s. a month?
– I should not object if a sailor would increase his knowledge to the value of 10s. per month. The man himself would not object to paying 5s. for the advantage. The honorable senator buys books to improve his mind, and the sailor wishes to do the same. He is a member of a profession just as much as Senator Gould is. The Minister has raised the objection that the sailor would have to go off duty to get his books; but that is not so. He does not have to go off duty to get the food provided under the provisions scale. In some ships on which I have travelled library catalogues are placed in the steerage. A steerage passenger marks off the books he wants to obtain from the library, and the steerage steward obtains them for him at the proper time, j
– That is not obtaining the books “ under the same conditions “ as first class passengers, as the amendment provides.
- Senator Lynch does not want a stoker to come up black and grimy from the stoke-hold, go into the saloon, and choose his books.
– If I travel as a first class passenger, I can,’ if I Tike, go into the saloon dirty and get a book.
– I question that. On an Orient steamer a man cannot go out in pyjamas after 8 o’clock in the morning. A passenger who went into the saloon in a dirty condition would probably be reprimanded. The sailor could get his books just as he gets his provisions when off duty. There is no sound argument against what Senator Lynch has proposed. The Minister has urged that sailors can provide books for themselves. I buy as many books as I can afford, and have a fairly good stock of them. Yet I subscribe to a library to get more. A seaman, however, is not in so advantageous a position. He cannot carry many books with him, because, even under this Bill, no more than 140 cubic feet of space will be allowed him. I will guarantee that Senator Gould has more than 1,040 cubic feet of space in his library alone. Moreover, when a seaman is in port, and his ship is lying alongside a port, his quarters are a public highway, that every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the wharf can enter. Regulations could be made on board a ship to insure that if a sailor borrowing a book destroyed or lost it, a proper deduction should” be made from his wages. Indeed, “I should be prepared’ to go further than Senator Lynch proposes. In these days of wireless telegraphy, I see no reason why the crew should not be supplied with a newspaper every morning.
– What about sanitary paper, too?
– I leave such matters to the honorable senator. Sailors on board ship have no recreation.
– If they could listen 4o a speech by Senator Shannon, that would be recreation enough for them.
– It would be a great advantage for a sailor to get a book or two to enable him to profitably pass away a few hours. This proposal may be a departure, but we are here to make departures. I support the amendment.
– I have heard no strong reasons urged against Senator Lynch’ s amendment, which I support. There are exceptional circumstances surrounding ship life, and exceptional difficulties in the way of sailors providing books for themselves. In every little township in Australia we find the co-operative spirit manifesting itself in the form of mechanics’ institutes and other institutions, whereby the people are enabled to obtain new and standard literature. The cooperative spirit in this respect cannot be -exercised amongst sailors. A person living in a township may change his occupation ten or a dozen times, but still he can have access to a local library. But a sailor who changes his ship passes entirely out of the community with which he has been associated. Consequently, the exercise of the co-operative spirit is not possible in the same way amongst seafaring men. That alone is sufficient reason why we should re- quire ship-owners to make provision for supplying literature to men who have to work their ships.
– Would the honorable senator approve of conductors on railway trains being allowed to sit and yarn alongside the passengers?
– There is no analogy between that illustration and this proposal, which merely seeks to make reasonable provision for seamen to get access to books. The amendment does not provide that stokers are to be permitted to come straight up from the stoke-hold, go into the library in the saloon, and handle the books. It merely provides that they shall have the use of the books. Even although “ Jack “ is a fairly jolly fellow at times, I do not think that there is any considerable- element among Australian seamen who do not know how to behave themselves as well as any other citizens. We do not ask ship-owners to provide something for nothing. They may make a reasonable charge. There is no reason why ship life should make a man less desirous of reading than any other branch of business. A question has been asked about seamen associating with passengers. I am not sure that seamen are not really passengers. If they are not, why are they not paid full wages for their services? Why are deductions made on account of their board and lodgings? It is clear that sailors would receive a larger amount of money per month were it not that their food and accommodation have to be paid for. In that sense they may be regarded as passengers. I do not believe that ship-owners will manifest any opposition to this amendment. I do not believe that they are such an unreasonable body of men as that. The average ship-owner is as anxious as is any other employer to get as good a class of labour as he can, and he knows that if his employes can 6e induced to devote their minds to studies, they will be all the better men, and will render more effective service. From that point of view, I consider that the amendment will confer advantages on the Commonwealth as well as on sailors.
Senator- Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.4],- It would be a good thing if honorable senators would come down to the bedrock of common sense on this question. We have heard a great deal of talk to the effect that it is a good thing that the seaman should have an opportunity of improving his mind by being given access to books. But, as the Minister in charge of the Bill has pointed out, the difficulties in the way of carrying out Senator Lynch’s amendment are not slight.
– The honorable senator is a great admirer of the Minister’s logic sometimes.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - He stated the case on this question very fairly and very logically.
– He always does, but the honorable senator does not always follow his lead.
Senator (Long. - There is something wrong when Senator Gould agrees with the Minister. o Senator Lt. -Colonel Sir ALBERT
GOULD. - I always agree with him when he is right. Take the case of a ship carrying a Large number of passengers, and a fairly large crew. Suppose that there was a library in the saloon to which ‘every passenger had access ; in such a case, the second class saloon passengers would only have access to the library under certain stipulated conditions. A second class passenger has no business in the first class saloon, and if he goes there he will probably be told that it is not his place. In the same way, if a. first class passenger went into the second class saloon he would probably get a polite intimation that that was not his part of the ship. A person travelling on board a ship has no right to go into the first class saloon unless he has paid for that privilege. Yet Senator Lynch wishes to provide that a seaman shall have a right to go there to obtain books under the same conditions as apply to a first-class passenger. Cannot the honorable senator see in what an absurd position that would place passengers and crew? I do not desire to manifest any feeling of hostility towards seamen. I recognise that they have their rights, just as passengers have. They have their rights, just as have persons in other vocations of life. But a member of the crew of a ship is paid for a particular class of work. He is not expected, and does not himself expect, to get privileges of this character. I feel sure that sailors would ridicule, rather than support, such a proposal. When honorable senators opposite speak as they have done, in connexion with such a matter, they give evidence of a spurious Democracy which is endeavouring to establish the proposition that all men are alike, and that all should be reduced to one level.
– We want to level up, not down.
– Honorable senators opposite want to give stokers and seamen the same rights and privileges as passengers enjoy -
– Why not?
– I wonder the honorable senator does not seek to provide for a valet for each seaman, to dress him properly to do the duty which he has to perform.
– It is a wonder the honorable senator consents to have any relations with an artisan for fear of being “ levelled down.”
– I have no objection to mixing with the poorest man in the world, and I would show him as much respect as the honorable senator would.
– The honorable senator might do so as an individual, but he would not like doing it collectively.
– The honorable senator is quite mistaken. The supporters of this amendment will make themselves a laughingstock. Do they honestly believe that such a provision would, if carried in this Chamber, be retained? They may, on a division, carry the amendment, but do they anticipate that honorable members elsewhere will allow such a folly to be perpetrated in the Bill?
– The honorablesenator is an advocate of darkness.
– I am in favour of people having the readiest possible access to books. We establish public libraries for that purpose.
– Is there anyprovision by which a seaman can get a- book from a public library and take it tosea with him?
– I know of no law to prevent- that being allowed. Say what we will, there are differences of conditions in life, and it is a mistake to attempt by roughmeans to try to amalgamate people. IF” Senator Lynch had proposed that a library should be established on board every shipfor the use of the seamen, the matterwould bear an entirely different aspect. Such ‘a proposal might be objected to, butthe objection would not be on the samegrounds. Certainly, seamen have a right - to improve their minds by reading, and I” should say, “ By all means let a librarybe provided for their use.” Senator-
Guthrie has said that for this purpose he is prepared to agree to a deduction of 5s. a month from a seaman’s wages, but I should like to ask him how many seamen, in order to enjoy the advantages of a library at sea, would be prepared to accept at the end of each month £,7 15s. instead of ;£8?
– Would it not be as well to leave that to the seamen?
– I think it would be just as well to leave the whole matter to the seamen. Let them say whether they want legislation of this kind. The reasons given by the Minister not only justify, but demand, opposition to this amendment. We should not make ourselves a laughing-stock or subject ourselves to the possibility of a slap in the face from another place by inserting such an amendment in the Bill.
– At the risk of again being taunted with being an oppressor of the worker, I have no hesitation, on the grounds of common sense, in supporting the Minister in his opposition to this amendment. The consideration of this Bill has occupied the Senate for between five and six years. It has been under consideration for a considerable time in another place. Every interest connected with shipping, from the man who throws the lead to the’ captain on the bridge, and the man who stows the cargo to the man who has to pay for it, has been consulted in connexion with the provisions of this measure, and this is the first time such a proposal as that contained in Senator Lynch’ s amendment has been submitted for consideration.
– I put it on the noticepaper three years ago.
– I have been close in my attendance to my duties in the Senate, and I never heard this proposal previously referred to.
– Not a solitary witness who appeared before the Navigation Commission mentioned it.
– I assumed that that was so. The irresistible inference, with all respect to Senator Needham, is that the seamen do not regard the fact that they are not permitted to make uae of a ship’s library as a class grievance. If there has been for any time this yearning for learned leisure on the part of seamen so worthily, feelingly, and poetically expressed by Senator Lynch, how is it that until this last moment in the consideration of this Bill we have heard nothing of this glorious movement for theabolition of the distinctions between fore and aft. I agree with Senator Gould that this is either a mock appeal to Democracy or the expression of mock sentiment on the part of honorable senators who support the proposal.
– Does the honorable senator not want seamen to read his book?
– In moments of inspiration or foolishness I wrote a book, and it is now being hinted from the other side that if I oppose this amendment I may interfere with the sale and profit of the book, because sailors will not be able to get it ; whilst if I support the amendment copies of the work will be provided for sailors. I have a better opinion of the intelligence of the seamen of Australia than appears to prevail amongst honorable senators opposite. I believe that if they wish to have my book as a work of reference they will get it for themselves. I feel sure that honorable senators opposite really regard this proposal as preposterous. If there is a library in Australia to which the people generally should have access, it is that established just behind this chamber, and yet we find it necessary for the proper and orderly discharge of our duties to reserve that library for ourselves. It may be said to the credit of honorable senators opposite that no men use the Parliamentary Library more frequently thanthey do, but will they contend that the work of Parliament could be carried ore properly if any one might enter at the front door of this building, and say, “I am a taxpayer of Australia, I contribute to the upkeep of the Parliamentary Library, I shall walk in”? To argue that because the people pay for our library every one who chooses should be allowed to make use of it would be equivalent to making a declaration that one was entitled to entrance to a receptionhouse. A saloon library is intended tr> serve saloon passengers. If there be a library established in the secondclasssaloon it is intended for the second-class passengers, and if the seamen of Australia; have any desire to establish a library for themselves in their own quarters, there isnothing in this Bill to prevent them doing so. It may be urged that I do not understand the workers, but I think that in my early days I was as closely associated witta their struggles as any honorable senator on the other side. It is all very well to talk of these class distinctions, but we are none of us prepared to agree that any person should be allowed to intrude upon us at any time. A seaman would probably regard it as an intrusion for me to enter his quarters, in the same way as a saloon passenger might object to seamen unnecessarily intruding upon them. We make these class distinctions here, and no members of this Parliament are more jealous of their personal and individual rights than are honorable senators opposite. I say again that if the seamen had desired this privilege, they would long ago have drawn public attention to their desire, and-, so far as I know, not a single seaman in Australia has, during the last five years, mentioned such a proposal. It is too late now for honorable senators opposite to manufacture a proposal of this kind into a remedy for a class grievance.
– Two honorable senators on the other side have addressed themselves to Senator Lynch’s amendment, and the only, argument they have urged against it is that it is new.. Apparently because it >is new it must be opposed ; but we are not here as the slaves of precedent. We are here, if necessary, to establish precedent. Honorable senators should not confuse the issues in discussing the amendment. The Minister has referred to people in hotels, but there can be no analogy between people residing in hotels and seamen on board a ship. In most places in Australia people living on shore are within easy reach of public, libraries, of which they can avail themselves, but the seaman cannot take a library with him. On the question whether it is right or wrong that the humble occupant of the stokehold should dare to invade the sanctum sanctorum of the first-class passenger, I may say that I have travelled first class on board ship only since I became a member of Parliament. I travelled third class here from the Old Country because there was no fourth class ; and if the people of Western Australia do not again return me to Parliament I may have to travel steerage once more. I do not regard the saloon library as my sanctum, and I have no objection to any seaman coming into it to get a book. The Minister has said that under” the amendment seamen would be permitted to go off duty, &ut the honorable senator should know that a seaman on watch might say to a colleague who was off watch, “ Get me suchandsuch a book from the library.”
– That would not be “ on the same conditions as passengers.”
– The wording of Senator Lynch’s amendment may not be all that could be desired, but the principle of it is one which I think every member of the Committee should support. I agree with Senator Lynch that it is time we did away with class distinctions on board ship.
– Make all one class.
– I should be prepared to make all one class to-morrow. Our aim should be to give to the seaman every facility to improve his mind, and thus assist him to become even a better citizen than he is to-day. I hope that the Committee will carry the amendment.
.- If- we needed a reason for supporting the amendment, it is supplied by the hearty cc operation of the Minister and Senator Gould to heap ridicule upon it. When we find a prominent member of the Opposition and a member of the Government combining to defeat a proposal which means so much to a very large section of the industrial community, we might as well ponderand ask ourselves if there is not something substantial behind Senator Lynch’s amendment. The fact that it is a new proposal ought not to evoke any opposition, because the greatest reforms from which the world is deriving benefit to-day were once merely private opinions. We have gone to some trouble to lay down in the Bill that a seaman shall be entitled to a certain dietary scale. Surely we shall not exceed our duty now in making a provision to enable him to improve his mind, and relieve in some small measure the tediousness of his employment ! The Minister and Senator Gould have stated that it would be a calamity, and probably provoke a revolution, if the men who make it possible for others to travel on ships were to present themselves at the second class or first class library for the purpose of obtaining books.. There is no necessity for that anxiety on their part, because we can secure these sacred persons against the invasion of an objectionable class. We can provide that they shall be furnished with a catalogue and make written application for’ a book, and therefore there will be no occasion for any members of the crew to wait for the library to be opened. Through the proper officer written applications can be submitted.
– That is not what the amendment says.
– That is what it means, as the Minister must know. We could not hope to see the crew of a ship employ their leisure better than in improving their minds. I cannot understand the opposition of the Government to a very simple proposal, which, if carried, will mean so much to a class whose life at the very best is not all beer and skittles. I hope that a majority will support the amendment.
– In my opinion, this is a magnificent proposal. I do not think that Senator Gould’s suggestion that it may be ridiculed in another place should deter us from passing a democratic proposal. While I believe that, personally, he would have no objection to fraternise with seamen, yet I think that, collectively, it shocks his idea of conventionality that the man from the stokehold or the forecastle should be treated the same as a passenger. Senator Russell made an excellent point in remarking that a man gets so much with the accommodation, such as it is, virtually meaning that he is paying rent for his quarters, and therefore has a right to some consideration from us. To my mind, the strongest point is that a seaman spends a considerable portion of his life at sea, and, consequently, his opportunities of getting the use of free libraries on shore is very small. It is at sea only that he can hope to get any recreation or improvement by means of books. I have travelled about the coast of the different States, and my experience is that the libraries are very largely wasted on the passengers. The books are not very widely read, and therefore there will be any amount of opportunity for seamen to obtain books without inconveniencing passengers. Such as the books are, I do not think that we should object to the seamen sharing them with the passengers. There will be quite enough books to meet the demand that is made upon them. The idea that this provision, if carried, will bring everybody down to the same level, is absolutely wrong, because it is really an attempt to bring them up to the same level. When the Minister finds the Opposition united in opposing this proposal, it should be clear evidence to him that he is taking up the conservative side of the question. The fate of all men trusted with power and authority is to become more conservative, and it is the duty of the rank and file to see that that feeling, does not become crystallized. I believe that this amendment is on right lines, and the Minister knows very well that if the principle is approved, the actual wording can be amended.
– I believe that Senator Lynch’s amendment is a step in the right direction. I listened very attentively to the violent speeches of Senators Gould and St. Ledger, who seem to think that it is something in the nature of a sacrilege that the seamen should have the same access to the library on a ship as the first class passengers. I do not look upon the proposal in that light. I think that the seamen have just as much right to read the books on a ship as have the officers, who, I understand, have access to the library.
– And to the saloon table, too.
– They may dine wherever the owners of the ship allow them; that is another matter.
– Would the honorable senator have a committee appointed from the seamen to select the books?
– The details can be worked out by the seamen, in conjunction with the officer in charge of the library. The honorable senator is afraid that a dirty fireman may come up some day and rub shoulders with one of the first class passengers ; and if the passenger happens to be a lady, so much the worse for her. I would remind Senator Gould that the firemen can choose one of their number to go periodically to the library. It is very desirable that the seamen should have access to the reading matter on a ship.
-Why not have a library for them?
- T do not believe in having one library for the aristocracy, even on board a ship, and another library for the common people. The men who areworking in a stoke-hold are of as much importance, indeed, of more importance, than the average first class passenger. Seamen have, I think, four hours on and four hours off. A man cannot sleep through every alternate four hours, and the probability is that he will be very glad if a readable book is available during some portion of the time when he is off duty. The firemen have four hours on and eight hours off, and will, 1 think, many of them, at any rate, be very thankful if books are available. It is really impossible for seamen to take books to sea, and, therefore, it is very desirable that the ship’s library should be open to them. I cannot understand why the .Government do not accept an amendment of this kind, because it is strictly in Une with democratic thought and action, and is altogether out of harmony with the old idea that seamen are inferior creatures, or, perhaps, not much above the common beast of burden, and should not be allowed privileges which are freely bestowed on passengers.
– I am rather surprised that there is so much opposition to my proposal, unless, of course, honorable senators agree with Edmund Burke that there is nothing that kills thought like a library. I do not suppose for a moment that they will follow Edmund Burke, when he was in a satirical mood, but will rather be inclined to give seamen the same opportunity as every employ^ enjoys on shore, without let or hindrance. The argument of the Minister in regard to the difficulty of fixing upon suitable hours for distributing the books is a very flimsy one, because the authorities can so adjust conditions as to meet the convenience of every seaman. There would not be any difficulty in that regard. Senator Gould said that the library will only be availed of by a mere tithe of the seamen. Even so, I ask him to allow that tithe to be the leaven by which the whole mass may be leavened with intellectual food. I can speak with knowledge of the dull monotony of a seaman’s life in the forecastle. Very often language which is not edifying to ‘the listener is used. If there were one or two men amongst the crew who were in the habit of reading good books, that “ evil “ practice would be very much discouraged. By this amendment I am asking for nothing more in the case of seamen than is already provided by many good employers on shore. Large numbers of employers, who take an interest in the intellectual advancement of their employes, provide libraries for their servants, and I dp not see why a ship-owner should not do the same. I am rather surprised to find the Minister opposing the amendment, though I quite understand, the position which he occupies in regard to all amendments of the Bill. He is anxious that it should be preserved in its original outline; but I would ask him to remember the quarter from which he is deriving assistance on this question. He is getting it from a party, some of the members of which have often expressed themselves in an offensive manner concerning the Labour party, alleging want of intellect and of general information concerning modern questions, on account of improper mental equipment. I admit that, to some extent, that is a defect of the labouring class. But when an effort is made to wipe out that blot in the case of seamen, and to enable them to place themselves on an intellectual level with others, I do not understand why it should be opposed by some of those from whom we might have expected support. The sailor has been an object of reproach and persecution in the past because of the perpetuation of a narrow and bitter class prejudice that is nowhere more clearly manifested than on board ship. I remember on one occasion working on a vessel where the master saw his son going f or arc to associate with the sailors and firemen. The master at once said, “ Do not go for’ard to those sailors. . .,” just as though we were so many lepers. That master was an upstart, and I had the satisfaction of telling him so at a later date. I would with greater confidence confide those whom I hold dearest to the charge of sailors and firemen I have known than to that of many first class passengers, whom I have also known. Whatever may be said about class distinctions, moral distinctions are just as marked aft as they are in the forecastle. Here is one opportunity of wiping away a class distinction, which has been handed down from old times, and honorable senators should welcome the opportunity. In another part of this Bill, we have provided that ships shall carry medicines and surgical appliances, which shall be available to every person on board - passenger or member of the crew. Why not also, in the same fashion, provide a library where every person on board can go and get at his choice. There are provisions in this measure to insure the maintenance of health on board ship. Why also should not means be taken to promote the mental welfare of those on board? When a ship’s company are at sea, they are in an entirely different position to any community on shore. They are isolated, and are, so to speak, a community in themselves. The skipper of a ship is armed and clothed with a quasi- judicial power; he can order a person’s freedom to be circumscribed ; he can even put a person in irons, and, to a very large extent, he is a law to himself. A ship’s company being an isolated community, why should we not do all we can to promote their mental and moral welfare, as well as their physical health? It is true that my amendment is novel, but I do not see why we should not establish our own precedents. Why should we follow the musty precedents established elsewhere? Why should we any longer uphold class distinctions, which have been too long perpetuated? In this matter, at all events, the sailor man should be put on the same level as any person on board ship. If there is to be an aristocracy, let it be a mental one, and do not let us permit clothes to indicate distinctions. I feel satisfied that in this regard we are moving in the right direction, and I claim the support of many members of the Opposition who are inclined to improve the lot of “ Jack at sea.”
– I move -
That the amendment upon the amendment be amended by leaving out all the words after “That,” to “passengers” second occurring, and inserting in lieu thereof the words, “ a library be established for the crew in every ship carrying twenty hands and over, the same to be subsidized by the Commonwealth to an amount to be prescribed.”
With all respect to several speakers, I think that there is no necessity to bring in any questions regarding class distinction. We all believe that education is a good thing, and that it is only right that the humblest in the land, whether on board ship or ashore, should have the right to improve himself in that direction. I have always held that opinion, and I hold it strongly.
– I never said that Senator Walker would be guilty of holding a contrary view.
- Senator Gould is quite as liberal as I am in this regard. There may be differences of opinion as to the amount of the subsidy which should be given by the Commonwealth Government. Some honorable senators might be inclined to provide that the fines and penalties imposed under this Bill should be placed to a trust fund for the purpose of providing ships’ libraries. But, in some cases, penalties run up to £1,000 and perhaps the Treasurer would not be inclined to allow heavy fines to be devoted to this purpose. I certainly think that the establishment of libraries ought to be encouraged. I wonder that Mr. Carnegie has not thought of this idea. I was often surprised that in the old days, owing to the monotony of the life, men could be induced to go to sea in sailing ships. I remind honorable senators of what Dr. Johnson said about going to sea. He said that it was “ like going to prison with the chance of being drowned thrown in.” I have great sympathy with the sailor, and for that reason I submit this amendment upon the amendment.
– - Whilst we are all pleased at the kindly sentiment expressed by Senator Walker, I cannot see what improvement his amendment would make upon that proposed by Senator Lynch. It appears to me that, if carried, it would afford no indication of what kind of library there should be on board ship. SenatorLynch’s amendment has the advantage of providing that where a library is carried on a ship, the seamen shall have access to it. But if you prescribe that there shall be a library - and say no more - the one provided might be of the most meagre kind.
– There is nothing in Senator Lynch’s amendment to indicate the kind of library to be provided.
– But in most ships carrying a considerable number of passengers there is a library.
– It generally consists of mighty poor stuff. Sailors would not get much advantage from reading such books.
– Senator Walker’s amendment merely provides that there shall be a library, and it gives no indication as to its character. I am glad to see that Senator Walker favours the general principle of establishing ships’ libraries, but I am afraid that his amendment would not effect an improvement. Again, the provision in regard to the Commonwealth subsidy is vague. To what extent does Senator Walker intend that these libraries should be subsidized? I think his amendment has been hastily drafted, and that it would, in operation, prove to be worse than Senator Lynch’s proposal.
– If Senator Walker’s amendment: were carried, we might add to it a provision to the effect that fines and penalties imposed under this measure should be placed to a trust fund for the purpose of purchasing books for ships’ libraries. Forfeitures of wages should be devoted to the same purpose. I do not know of any factory on shore in which the owner puts fines and forfeitures into his own pocket.
– If there were no fines, there would be no library under that proposal. That is not good enough for me.
– In the British mercantile marine, fines and forfeitures have been paid into a general fund, out of which a hospital for old sailors has been maintained. Under this Bill, a sailor may be fined£10 for missing his passage. Why should that money go into the general revenue? Senator Stewart believes in direct taxation.
– Not of that kind. I do not believe in ear-marking any money.
– I do. This would be subsidized from funds contributed by seamen themselves. I believe that Senator Walker’s amendment would overcome the whole difficulty if the Government would agree to ear-mark penalties recovered under the Bill for the purpose of the subsidy.
– Why ear-mark anything if we agree to the subsidy?
– Because otherwise the subsidy would depend year by year on the passing of the Estimates.
– The honorable senator’s proposal would be even more precarious. No fines might be imposed. Senator GUTHRIE.- There can be no doubt that fines will be imposed under the Bill. Honorable senators are aware that fines imposed in many Police Court cases go to subsidize police superannuation funds. If a man runs away from a ship leaving£20 owing to him, who gets that money ? At the present time it is probably the master who gets it. Why should the money not go to the establishment of a library? The Committee would be well advised in adopting Senator Walker’s amendment.
– I believe that the excellent amendment moved by Senator Lynch is in great danger of shipwreck, owing to the very plausible amendment moved upon it by Senator Walker. I have been astonished to find an old seaman like Senator Guthrie supporting Senator Walker’s proposal, and still more astonished at the honorable senator’s favorite idea that the money derived from fines under the Bill should be devoted to the establishment of a library for seamen. I do not believe in ear-marking money for any special purpose.
– The honorable senator believed in the ear-marking of money for old-age pensions.
– I do not believe in it. We are in a different position from the States in this matter. If we have any revenue unexpended at the close of the financial year it must be given to the States. It is for that reason that our Trust Fund was established. I do not see why the Commonwealth should subsidize libraries for seamen. I consider that ship-owners should be held as responsible for the reading matter required by seamen as for their food and accommodation. The general standard of living is becoming higher every year. It is an old saying that “ man shall not live by bread alone,” and I regard the provision of reading matter for seamen as essential. It has been pointed out many times during the debate that they are isolated, and cannot enjoy the ordinary conditions of citizenship. Some provision should be made for their comfort and amusement during their leisure hours. We ask that the shipping companies should make this provision. Libraries already exist on board many ships, and why should they not be open to the seamen ? To establish a special library for seamen would be to carry the class distinction to an absurdity.
– If seaman damage any of the books they can be made to pay for them.
– If a passenger damages or fails to return a book to the ship’s library he has to pay for the damage or make good the loss, and seamen should be entitled to get books from the same library on exactly the same conditions as are imposed upon passengers. I advise Senator Lynch to adhere to his amendment. I regard Senator Walker’s amendment upon it as a subterfuge. Unless I hear stronger arguments than those to which we have so far listened in favour of subsidizing libraries on board ship I shall not vote for any proposal of the kind.
– I rise to a point of order. Is it in order, as proposed by Senator Walker’s amendment, for the Committee to decide that subsidies shall be paid by the Commonwealth for a library? Would not that be in the nature of an appropriation of money by the Senate; and is it not necessary that such an amendment should be put in the form of a request to the House of Representatives?
– I am not yet satisfied as to the exact wording of the amendment submitted by Senator Walker.
– I ask the leave of the Committee to amend my amendment in such a way as to overcome the objection urged by Senator Rae. There is a good deal of force in what the honorable senator said, and also in what was said by Senator Stewart. I ask leave to amend my amendment so as to make it read -
That all the words after “That” to “passengers “ second occurring be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ a library be established to which the crew shall have access on every ship carrying a crew of twenty persons and over, the same to be subsidized by* the Commonwealth to an amount to be prescribed.”
Amendment amended accordingly.
– This question of the establishment of a library for seamen came before the Minister responsible for this Bill, and he arrived at the decision that it was not a matter which should be provided for in the Bill. The amendment moved by Senator Walker meets some of the objections raised to that submitted by Senator Lynch. It overcomes the difficulty of the library being open to seamen on the same conditions as to passengers. That is a practical difficulty under Senator Lynch’s amendment, and it was not raised because of any class bias. I can claim to be as free from class bias as other honorable senators.
– Senator Walker’s amendment appeals to the Minister more, coming, as it does, from the Opposition.
– Senator Long is often in the company of the Opposition, and if it be an evil, it is one to which he is more prone than I am.
– I am beginning to feel that I am in better company there than in the honorable senator’s company.
– I wish to suggest that the amendment submitted by Senator Walker should be put in such a way as to conserve the rights of members of the Committee. It might be put in two sections, as it covers two proposals. One is that there shall be a library provided for the use of the crew of a vessel, and the other that it shall be subsidized. Some honorable sena tors in favour of the establishment of such a library may not be in favour of subsidizing it. I hope the amendment will be put in two sections.
– And we shall knockout both.
– Personally, I shall vote against all three propositions, although I recognise that probably a majority of honorable senators are in favour of the establishment of a library for the benefit of seamen. I shall not divide the Committee on the first proposition in Senator Walker’s amendment, but I shall be prepared to divide it on the amendment submitted by Senator Lynch, because, with all respect to that honorable senator, I contend that, in its present form, it would be unworkable. Even if it were accepted in another place, it would have to be amended there to make it workable.
– - I am sorry that I cannot accept the amendment of my amendment submitted by Senator Walker.
– I thought the honorable senator had agreed to do so.
– I cannot do so as I now understand the honorable senator’s proposal. Under Senator Walker’s amendment, a library might be established on board a ship, and access given to it to passengers and seamen on different conditions which might impose a disability upon seamen. I do not desire that. An essential condition of my proposal is that precisely the same conditions should apply to seamen as to passengers in obtaining books from a ship’s library. The Minister of Defence, apparently, regards the possibility of a departure from that principle as something in favour of Senator Walker’s amendment, but that is not the view which I hold. A further objection I have to Senator Walker’s amendment is that it would exempt all steamers carrying a crew of nineteen persons, or under that number, and so would differentiate unfairly in our maritime craft. A steamer of fair size might have a crew of only fifteen or eighteen persons, and I do not see why they should be denied this privilege. I see no reason for departing from my original amendment, which, if agreed to, would open ships’ libraries to seamen on the same terms . and conditions as to passengers.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Walker’s motion) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the proposed new paragraph c be inserted in the amendment (Senator Lynch’s motion) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of the House of Representatives, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 288 (Master to answer questions).
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit the clause.
– Clause 414 gives ample power to do all that is provided for in this clause. It provides that he Minister, or any person authorized by him,” may, among other things, “sum mon persons before him and require them to answer questions,” and may “ require and enforce the production of documents, and administer oaths.” Under the circumstances, clause 288 is redundant, and, if it has any effect at all, it rather restricts than enlarges the power of the Minister to make investigation into matters concerning the coasting trade. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 289 (Payment of Australian rates of wages).
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit sub-clause 2, and insert the following new subclause : - “ (2.) In the case of ships trading to places beyond Australia, the wages to which a seaman is entitled under this section shall be paid before the departure of the ship from Australia, and the master shall produce to the satisfaction of the Collector at the last port of departure in Australia evidence of their payment.”
– In the Bill as printed, separate provision is made in clauses 289 and 293 in regard to the payment of Australian rates of wages in nonlicensed and licensed vessels. As all ships will now be required to take out licences, this separate provision is unnecessary. Clause 289 is being addled to, to require that, in the case of ships trading to places beyond Australia, proof must be given, before she leaves her final port, that the men have been paid the wages earned while on the coast. Failing this proof, the clearance will be refused under amended clause 416. It is proposed later to omit clause 293. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 290 -
If the seamen employed on any British ship were not engaged in Australia, the master, owner, or agent shall, before the ship engages in the coasting trade, make and sign, before a superintendent, an indorsement or memorandum on the agreement specifying the wages to be paid to the seamen whilst the ship engages in the coasting trade, and that indorsement or memorandum, when countersigned by a superintendent, shall have effect as an agreement between the master and those seamen.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit “ owner or agent.”
– Under clauses 44 and 49 of the Bill, as also in the. Imperial and other’ British Shipping Acts, seamen’s agreements in foreign-going ships areinvariably with the master, never with the owner or agent. All engagements in such ships are also required to be made by the master in the presence of the superintendent. ‘ As the master must always attend at the Customs House to enter and clear his ship, there appears to be no good reason why he should not also attend to this very important matter of indorsing the agreement with the new rates of wages to be paid to the crew. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Add the following new sub-clause : - “(2.) Where under the original agreement a seaman is entitled to be paid at a higher rate of wages than the rate ruling in Australia for seamen in a corresponding rating, nothing in this section shall affect his right to such higher rate during the engagement of the ship in the coasting trade.”
– The object of the second amendment is to meet the case of a man engaged in, say, New Zealand, at a rate of wages which may be higher than the rate ruling here. In the absence of this provision, he might have them reduced to the Australian rate whilst he was on the coast. I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Amendments of clauses 292 and 294, and amendment omitting clause 293, agreed to.
Clause 295 (Power to exempt).
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit the clause.
– This clause, which gave power to exempt foreign ships from the necessity of obtaining a licence before engaging in the coasting trade, was, as I have already explained in connexion with a previous amendment, ‘ rendered necessary by reason of the fact that a number of treaties existing between Great Britain and certain foreign countries entitled the ships of those countries to engage in the coasting trade of all British Possessions upon exactly the same terms as British ships. Now that the conditions applicable to ships engaging in that trade have been made uniform in regard to British and foreign ships alike, there no longer exists any necessity to grant exemptions to those foreign ships, and it is considered desirable that the clause should be omitted, for so long as it remains it is an invitation to foreign Powers to apply for the exemption of their ships. This question of exemption was one of the most troublesome in the Bill, as any discrimination in favour of the ships of any one country would inevitably have involved considerable friction with other Powers whose ships were not exempted. The amendments already made in the clauses of Part VI., together with the omission of clause 295, will entirely obviate trouble on that score. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Amendments of clause 320 agreed to.
Clause 321 - (1.) Disputes as to salvage which are to be determined summarily shall -
House of Representatives’ Amendments. - Omit “ any wreck “ and insert “ the cargo or equipment thereof”; omit “or the wreck is”; omit “ or wreck.”
.- These three amendments are made merely to make the intention of the provision clearer. In the Merchant Shipping Act “ wreck “ is defined as including the cargo and equipment of a ship. There is no such definition in this Bill, and the amendment will make it unnecessary to insert one. I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 322 -
Where a dispute relating to salvage has been determined summarily in manner provided by this Act, any party aggrieved by the decision may appeal therefrom to the Supreme Court of the State.
House of Representatives’ Amendments. - After “ may “ insert “ if the sum in dispute exceeds One hundred pounds “ ; add the following new sub-clause - “ (2.) The appellant shall, within thirty days of the decision of the Court which has determined the matter summarily, take such proceedings as according to the practice of the Supreme Court of the State are necessary for the institution of an appeal.”
– These amendments are made from the point of view of legal procedure only ; they involve no change in the principle or effect of the clause. I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.46].- It appears that if the sum in dispute does not exceed£100 there is to be no appeal to the Supreme Court of the State. Do honorable senators think it is desirable to give summary jurisdiction to magistrates up to the sum of . £100 and not to allow a person who may feel himself aggrieved the right of appeal therefrom? There is subsequent provision made for a course of action to be taken. I should Tike to hear from the Minister why the sum is fixed at £100 instead of at something like £50? It is simply a matter of degree as to how much should give the right to appeal; but there may be very important points involved where the amount in dispute does not exceed£50. I suggest that, unless the Minister has some strong reason to the contrary, it would be well to provide that the sum in dispute shall not exceed£50. I do not propose to move an amendment until I hear what he has to say.
– If an appeal is allowed in the case of a sum not exceeding £100, the ship may be detained. If it is the only property attachable, the Court may grant an order of detention, and although, eventually, the owner may win the case, it would have been better for him to have paid the £100, and got away, than to have had the ship detained while appeal after appeal went on. That is why we have provided that there shall be summary jurisdiction as to small amounts. The object is to obtain some sort of justice, and to get a case disposed of.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment of clause 324 agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After clause 328 insert the following new clause : - “ 328A. Where any dispute arises as to the apportionment of any amount of salvage amongst the owners, master, pilot, crew, and other persons in the service of any foreign vessel, the amount shall be apportioned by the Court or person making the apportionment in accordance with the law of the country to which the vessel belongs.”
– This is one of the several alterations dealing with the subject of salvage, &c, which are being inserted to bring the Bill into line with the International Maritime Convention, and with the Imperial Maritime Conventions Act of 191 1, dealing with the subject. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 333- (1.) The Minister may, subject to the regulations, license persons (in this Act called “ coastal pilots”) to conduct ships from one port to another port in Australia. (2.) A coastal pilot shall not (except as authorized by his licence) act as a pilot for any port at which pilotage is compulsory.
Penalty : One hundred pounds.
House of Representatives’ Amendments. - Omit “ coastal,” line 2, insert “ licensed “ ; after “ Australia,” line 4, insert “ or to act as pilots for any port at which pilotage is not compulsory “ ; omit “ coastal,” line 5, insert “ licensed.”
– The amendments in this and the next two clauses deal with the question of licensed pilots. There are over 100 ports in Australia at which there are licensed pilots. In most places, the pilot acts in a number of other capacities, such as harbormaster, wharfinger, &c. At the larger ports, such as Melbourne, where the pilotage is already compulsory, or at ports where it appears desirable to make it compulsory, it is intended to take over the pilots and make them Government servants. But at the smaller ports, where there are only one or two vessels a week, that is impracticable, and in such cases it is desired to continue the present practice of licensing the pilot. The amendments in this and the next two clauses are to that end. I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
– The pilotage system of the Commonwealth varies in the different States. In Victoria, pilotage is practically a proprietary business.
– A co-operative concern.
– The pilots have a personal interest in it. A person who wishes to be a pilot in Victoria has to buy into the business. As far as Torres Straits pilotage is concerned, I understand that there is a private company in Sydney which appoints all the licensed men who pilot ships from Townsville to Cairns, Cooktown, and Thursday Island. I wish to know what steps it is proposed to take under this Bill to enable those men who are piloting vessels along the eastern coast of Queensland, or those who are engaged in the Port Phillip pilot service, to be recompensed for the capital which they have invested in what is, to all intents and purposes, their own business? I should also like to know when it is proposed that the whole pilot service is to be taken over by the Commonwealth.
– - It is pot possible to indicate a date when the pilot service will be taken over. I have already pointed out that in the larger ports, such as Melbourne, where pilotage is already compulsory, or in ports where it is considered desirable to make it compulsory, it is intended to make the pilots Government servants. As to how they are to be treated, I do not think any one need have any fear. Wherever services have been taken over by a Government, the Government if they have erred at all, have erred on the side of generosity. I have not the slightest doubt that the pilots, when taken over by the Commonwealth, will be treated generously. I have had conversations with some of the Port Phillip pilots, and I know that they are keenly looking forward to the time when they will be taken over by the Commonwealth. They have no fear but that they will get ample justice, and they feel that, as Government servants, they will be in a better position than they are under the present system.
– - Although the point which I wish to raise might be dealt with under a later clause, I should like to ask the Minister - in view of the alteration proposed in the designation of licensed pilots - whether the Government have taken into consideration the effect which this alteration will have in relation to other clauses ? Clause 333 deals with what we now propose to call “ licensed pilots.” Clause 334 deals with the same class of persons. But in clause 349 the term “ pilot “ only is used. Will it not be necessary, in many of these clauses, to designate which class of pilot is intended? Clause 349 provides that -
The master of any ship requiring the services of a pilot shall receive on board the first pilot offering himself, and shall on demand by that pilot give the ship into his charge.
There the word “pilot” only is used. One wants to know whether a provision of that kind, clearly intended to apply only to compulsory pilots, does not also cover licensed pilots? It makes no distinction between the two. It seems to me that, unless some distinction is set’ up by the clause under consideration, and other clauses, there may be confusion. The provisions with regard to compulsory pilots will be held to apply to others.
– No difficulty such as Senator Millen has indicated will arise. There are certain ports in Austra lia where pilotage will be compulsory. In those ports the pilots will be Government servants. Clause 349 simply provides that the captain of a ship shall take the first pilot who comes to his ship. In a port where pilotage is not compulsory, the pilots will not be Government servants, but will be licensed; and in those ports, also, a captain who requires a pilot must take the first one who offers. He must not pick and choose. Clause 349 applies to either licensed pilots or pilots who are Government servants.
– - I have rarely listened to a more marvellous statement from a responsible Minister than that which we have just heard. 1 never suggested that there would be any doubt as to which pilot was presenting himself to a captain. Take a case where pilotage is not compulsory. A pilot comes along to a ship because the master has signalled that he wants one. Is the master bound to take the first pilot who comes aboard, although pilotage is not compulsory at that port?
– Is it in order for Senator Millen to discuss clause 349 when we are dealing with clause 333?
– Before we pass clause 333, I submit that I am- entitled to point out that unless its language is made clearer, certain things will happen under a subsequent clause.
– The honorable senator is arguing as to whether it is right to compel the master of a ship to take the first pilot offering. It is immaterial whether the pilots are licensed or not. The Committee is not dealing with the subject-matter of clause 349.
– I cannot say that Senator Millen was out of order, because the amendment with which we are dealing is intended to affect existing licences. That necessarily makes the scope of the discussion fairly broad. ,
– I do not want to offend the susceptibilities of Senator Rae.
– I only wish Senator Millen to be dealt with as I should have been.
– If Senator Rae wishes to be dealt with the same as others, he should abstain from reflecting on the Chair. I should like to know, for my own information, whether it is intended to apply all the provisions, which are properly attached to compulsory pilots, to licensed pilots. It seems to me rather a serious thing to say that at a port where pilotage is optional, if the master of a ship chooses to engage the services of a pilot, he shall fall under the scope of all the provisions which may be and are proper to apply to a fully skilled and competent pilot, who would be possessed of a higher range of knowledge and wider experience than would the pilots dealt with in clause 333.
– A pilot would not be licensed unless he were properly qualified.
– The point is that this Bill contemplates two grades of pilots. For a person to seek to ply his calling as a pilot in a small port, it would be sufficient for him to satisfy the authorities that he has a knowledge of that port. But when you come to deal with public servants, I take it that a larger and wider range of knowledge would be expected. There would seem to be something radically wrong if, in regard to these lower grade pilots, the same stringent conditions should be applied as would attach to officers whose employment is compulsory.
– Senator Millen has characterized my former statement as extraordinary, but I think that he has shown an extraordinary lack of knowledge as to what the pilot system’ under this Bill is to be. There are to be two classes of pilots - compulsory pilots, who will be members of the Public Service, and licensed pilots, who will not be Government servants. The compulsory pilots will be employed where pilotage is absolutely necessary ; that is to say, in the larger ports. Let me give an illustration. A pilot is required on the voyage from Sydney through Torres Straits. It is a difficult piece of navigation, and the pilots who do that work will possibly be Government servants. Within reach from Thursday Island to Sydney there may be a dozen or a score or even a hundred licensed pilots. They will be limited in the scope of their operations. One may have a licence to pilot ships into Townsville, another to pilot ships into Byron Bay. These men will have a local knowledge of the ports for which they are licensed, and they will not be available for pilotage elsewhere. But each of them will be a pilot under this Bill, and each of them when on board a ship will necessarily be subject to the same conditions as apply to
Government pilots, because each of them is liable to cause the same sort of disasters. Inasmuch as the same liability must be upon both kinds of pilots, we must have the same conditions applying to them, although the scope of their services is different. Both kinds of pilots will have the same power, and run the same risk of causing loss of life and property, if they are negligent.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [6.9].- Under this clause, it is optional in certain ports for the master of a ship to take on board a pilot. I want to know what will be the position of a pilot with regard to the ship and to the master. We know perfectly well that the duty of a pilot in a port, where compulsory pilotage is in force, is subject to the authority of the master to take charge of the vessel. Is there a like provision with regard to a pilot who is brought on to a vessel simply at the option of the master? What will be his duty with regard to the ship, and in what relation will he stand to the master? If there is a mishap, or if there is carelessness, negligence, or incompetency, on the part of the licensed pilot, will the master of the ship be held responsible for any damage ensuing? The Bill provides that, where a master is compelled to take a pilot on board, he shall, nevertheless, be responsible, for any damage or mishap that may happen in consequence of the incompetency, negligence, or other misconduct of the pilot. Are we going to say, on the other hand, that a master who takes on board a licensed pilot of his own volition is to be free from all responsibility in the case of accidents to the ship?
– I rise to order. I wish to know whether it is competent for the honorable senator to discuss the whole matter relating to pilotage on the particular clause under consideration ? You, sir, ruled against me on the last point I raised, but in this instance Senator Gould is obviously discussing the whole question of pilotage and the liability of pilots and masters, whilst the clause and amendment before the Committee do not relate to that subject.
– Before you give your ruling, sir, I wish to say that I support the contention of Senator Rae. I hold that Senator Gould cannot discuss the whole question of the duties and liabilities of pilots on the amendment now before the Committee, in view of the fact that the House of Representatives’ amendments
Nos. 157 and 158 directly raise the ques-tions which the honorable senator was discussing.
– The clause makes provision for licensed pilots, who are to be subject to regulations which may be prescribed, and those regulations will prescribe the duty of licensed pilots. I am inquiring as to what power a licensed pilot will have over a ship. I wish to know whether he will be entirely independent of the master.
– That matter is dealt with by the House of Representatives’ amendments to clauses 351 and 352.
– Senator Gould will see that the House of Representatives’ amendments Nos. 157 and 158 open up the whole question which he has been discussing. I did not prevent the Minister or Senator Millen from discussing clause 349 when the Committee was considering the amendment to clause 333, because the matters dealt with in the clauses referred to are so closely related. I feel that I must uphold Senator Rae’s point of order on this occasion, and rule that Senator Gould cannot, on the amendment now before the Chair, deal with the question of the liability of pilots and masters. The honorable senator will have an opportunity to say all he desires to say on that subject when we come to deal with later amendments.
– I should like to know exactly where we are in connexion with this matter of licensed pilots. Australian coasttrade ships and foreign-going ships plying on the Queensland coast take on a pilot at Townsville or Cooktown, and cast h:m off” at Thursday Island. Vessels on the southern journey pick up the pilot at Thursday Island, and drop him at Cooktown or Townsville. The reason is that that is known to be a very dangerous part of the coast. I wish to know whether, in future, these pilots will be licensed pilots or Government servants. Assuming that they will be licensed pilots, I should like to know whether the Bill will alter their position in any way.
– The Bill is silent on the point.
– Senator Guthrie will admit that there is no part of the Australian coast where pilots are so necessary as the route along the Barrier Reef to which I have referred.
– Yet the Queensland Government never thought it necessary to make pilotage in those waters compulsory.
– What has that to do with the question? The honorable senator knows so much about the marine law of every country in the world that I am beginning to doubt the value of his knowledge. It is not possible for any intellect to acquire an accurate knowledge of so much marine law as Senator Guthrie would have us believe he knows. I am reminded by the honorable senator of Goldsmith’s lines -
And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew
That one small head should carry all he knew.
I have travelled the part of the Queensland coast to which I have referred oftener than has Senator Guthrie, and I know it is a fact that pilots take possession of vessels going through those waters, and are bosses of the ships until they leave them. I have known a case where the master of a ship thought it desirable to go ahead, and the pilot said “ No, you shall not go ahead ; you must anchor,” and the master and passengers had- to submit to the pilot’s decision. The question is : Will these pilots be licensed pilots or Government pilots?
– They will be licensed pilots.
– Then an important question arises, and ships may not take pilots on that part of the coast.
– Piloting is not compulsory on that route to-day.
– That probably arises from the fact that, as mentioned by Senator Guthrie, the Queensland law does not compel ships to take pilots in those waters.
– That is all that I said
– Then the honorable senator was right for. the twentieth or thirtieth time. I rather regret that pilotage is not compulsory on that part of our coast, but it is the invariable custom for ships to take pilots in those waters.
– I have come through there a few times without a pilot.
– I think it is the invariable custom of ships travelling from Hong Kong and Singapore to take pilots in those waters, and I would say that, unless the master of a vessel ha? special knowledge of that part of the
Queensland coast, he incurs a foolhardy risk in taking his vessel through those waters without a pilot.
– I was going through there one night when the order to go full speed astern was given, the vessel being within 20 feet of the reef, but that was when the Queensland Government had control, and masters were not compelled to employ pilots in those waters.
– No master will be compelled to employ a pilot in those waters under this Bill.
– That is so according to the statement of the Minister of Defence.
– There is a little compulsion apart from the law in connexion with the matter of insurance.
– I think that pilotage in those waters should be made compulsory.
– Under the Bill we shall have power to make pilotage compulsory in those waters.
– Then another question arises, and that is as to the difference of skill in the case of Government and licensed pilots.
– The licensed pilot will need to be more skilful than the Government pilot.
– It cuts both -ways. Will it be contended that a pilot who takes a vessel worth ^500,000, and carrying a cargo worth ,£500,000 more, up the Brisbane River should not be required to have any more skill than a pilot taking charge of a small vessel in comparatively : sate waters?
– There is no suggestion of that kind in the Bill.
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 8 p.m.
.- I move -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, the National Regiments connected with the Defence Force should not be abolished, but arrangements should be made to continue them as part of the Defence system.
I do not think that when the idea of proposing a new Defence Force for Australia was first mooted it entered the mind of any person that it meant doing away with national regiments, which have been in existence for so many years, and of which the people are so proud. I may mention here that I have received from the Minister of Defence a courteous note, in which he states that he has to be away from the chamber for a* little time, in order to keep an engagement. While my main object is to try to retain, if we can, the Scottish Regiments, I do not wish to speak for only those regiments, but also for the other regiments of which. I shall give a list. The object in forming these regiments was a truly patriotic one. They were formed at considerable expense, and men have devoted a great deal of time and money towards keeping them up. I believe that the various States in which they exist are very justly proud of them. These men desire, while forming regiments which would be of value in protecting Australia, from invasion, to have associated with those regiments the traditions of the lands from which they themselves and their fathers have come. I shall now enumerate the national regiments which we have at present. In New South Wales the first battalion of the Irish Rifle Regiment had an establishment of 520 all ranks; the strength on the 30th June last was 358 all ranks; on the rst July last they were merged into the 33rd Infantry, with an establishment of 1,120 all ranks. In New South Wales the first battalion of St. George’s English Rifle Regiment had an establishment of 250 all ranks ; the strength on the 30th June last was 453 all ranks; on. the 1st July three companies were merged into the 31st Infantry, with an establishment of 586 all ranks. The first battalion of Australian Rifle Regiment in New South Wales had an establishment of 520 all ranks; the strength on the 30th June last was 428 all ranks ; on the 1st July six companies were merged into the 29th Infantry, with an establishment of 710 all ranks. In NewSouth Wales the Scottish Regiment, with an establishment on the 30th June last of 29 officers and 419 others, is now merged into the 25th Infantry, with an establishment of 29 officers and 1,034 others. In Victoria, the Scottish Regiment, with aa establishment on 30th June of 21 officers and 369 others, is now merged into the 52nd Infantry, with an establishment of 25 officers and 519 others. In South Australia the Scottish Regiment, with an establishment, on the 30th June last, of 6 officers and 114 others, is now merged into the 76th Infantry, with an establishment of 15 officers and 476 others. These, it will be seen, are a very considerable number of men who have been in the Forces for a long time, and are thoroughly well-trained. In bringing forward this motion, I have no desire to weaken or disturb the existing system, but I claim that the abolition of these national regiments must tend to weaken that system. A great majority of the men, who have been keeping up the regiments largely at their own expense, will pass out of the ranks, at a time when well-trained men are really required to educate and train a number of younger men who are coming into the service. I hold that this is not a matter which any Minister, or even the Government, ought to decide off-hand without reference to Parliament. Now, Parliament represents the people, and as this is really a people’s question it should be referred, I think, to Parliament to be settled one way or the other, and that is why I am submitting this motion to-night. It is not for any Government, or Minister, or Board of Officers to say whether we shall have these regiments or not. The feeling in their favour is so strong that I feel sure that if the Government should determine to abolish the regiments, the matter will be made somewhat of a test question at the coming elections. To deal more particularly with the Scottish Regiments, in Australia we have over 100,000 Scottish-born citizens, and I suppose that their families comprise from 200,000 to 300,000 persons of Scottish blood. Nothing that has ever happened in Australia before has disturbed Scottish feeling and blood so much as has the proposed abolition of these regiments. Scots have contributed very largely to keep up the regiments, and they look upon their abolition somewhat as a slight upon their race, and as an insult. These people have brought from their land a love of Scotland and its institutions, and that feeling is as strong in the native-born here as it is in their parents. There is no other nationality that has so many associations connected with it as have the Scottish people in Australia. There are some hundreds of Highland Societies, Thistle Clubs, Robert Burns’ Clubs, and St. Andrew’s Societies scattered throughout the length and breadth of Australia, showing how strong is the feeling of affection for the Old Land, its traditions, and its dress. It is hardly necessary to mention that all over the world the kilt and the soldiers who wear it are famous. Its wearers have done great deeds, and assisted to make the Empire both feared and respected wherever they have gone forward. I know that the English, the Welsh, and the Trish have done just the same as the Scottish have .done, but their deeds and their work have not been so closely associated with a characteristic dress as have those of the Scottish folk. The dress, which it is proposed to abolish from the ranks of our soldiers, has become an outward and visible sign of an inward love and reverence for their home, their country, their traditions, and their race. The Scottish people have carried that feeling to all the lands to which they have gone and settled, and where they have been a potent influence for good. In Canada, India, Africa, and the United States of America we find these regiments in large numbers ; most of the large cities have their Highland Regiment, with kilts and pipes, and there is no talk of abolishing them. They work in with the ordinary system; there is no clashing, and when the time comes to do their duty and fight for the land, they are found at the front, just as they have been found in other places. The idea of abolishing the kilt from the British Army has been once or twice mooted. On one occasion it was very seriously attempted, but the feeling of sentiment in the minds of not only the Scottish, but the British, people was too strong, and the attempt was given up, and so the wearing of the kilt has been allowed to continue. When we find that the kilt has taken root, and is firmly planted in all these other lands, and that an attempt to abolish it in the Old Land could not succeed, shall we, of all the English-speaking peoples, be the first to abolish it? I am sure that the Scottish men and women who have done so much for this land will feel it as a very grievous slight, and take it as a deep stain upon the national character, if they are subjected to that affront, because the kilt is not only attractive to Scottish people, but the rest of the community take a delight in seeing these regiments, and are just as proud of them, probably, as are their Scottish friends. There is no need to recount to-night the deeds which have been done by the wearers of the kilt in all lands. A literary gentleman connected with Parliament has kindly sent to me a number of copies of a small book by himself, which have been distributed round the chamber, and for which I tender my thanks to him. It contains many stirring accounts of brave deeds done, which honorable senators can read at their leisure if they desire. I need not further labour that side of the question. It may be said that this is a pure matter of sentiment, but we know very, well that the world is ruled in that way. Sentiment is the strongest feeling in the human race, which makes people dare to do brave deeds. This is a national sentiment, strong in character, that springs from the highest motive, and that is an intense patriotism. It may be said by some honorable senators, “ We desire to encourage an Australian sentiment, and do not desire to encourage the sentiment of the Old Land.” Now, the encouraging of the Australian sentiment is all very good. I quite hold with the idea of encouraging Australian sentiment, but why should we destroy one noble sentiment in order to build up another ? Why should we not allow the two to go hand in hand, each one a strength and a support to the other, making them strong in the time when strength is needed. The whole history of Scotland has been one of a struggle for liberty and independence. Every one who knows its history for hundreds of years knows that it ‘has been one continuous struggle for liberty, independence, and freedom.. That struggle has always been associated with the wearing of the national dress, which our regiments are wearing here to-day. Some day we shall need to fight here; there is nothing surer than that. Will these men fight any the less worthily or bravely because they are associated with traditions of which they themselves and their fathers are so proud ? I believe they will be all the better for the association, and will do their duty more bravely and well in this country because of their regard for the traditions of the past. This is not merely a Victorian protest. While I am a Victorian, I am protesting, not only in the name of the Scottish folk of this State, but in the name of Scottish folk all over Australia. This is a protest which comes from all over this continent. I have here a letter which was addressed to the Minister of Defence in June last from the Highland Society of New South Wales, representing the feeling ofScottish people there. At a meeting held there there were two or three resolutions passed -
That this meeting of members of the Highland Society of New South Wales -
Records an emphatic protest against the abolition of the kilt in the Scottish Regiments of the Commonwealth Defence Forces.
Resolves that the Minister of Defence be approached with the earnest request that provisions be made which, while meeting all the necessities of modern warfare, will permit, as in the Forces of the United Kingdom, and in those of other British Dominions, of its retention.
Considers that the desire to live up to the high traditions of those who have worn it on the battlefields of history is the strongest incentive to the production of the best and bravest soldierly qualities in the wearers of to-day.
The letter concludes with- this paragraph -
As the substance of all that could be expressed in favour of the retention of these regiments, under existing conditions, and, above all, of the retention of their historic uniform, the kilt, which, I take leave to claim, is symbolic of the loyalty and patriotism towards the Empire of Scotsmen and their descendents throughout the world, is so concisely embodied in the terms of the resolutions, it is unnecessary to pursue the subject further in this letter, beyond directing your attention to an article on page 253 of the June number of the Scottish Australasian, a copy of which is transmitted herewith.
That protest came from Sydney, but away, in the Coolamon district there was a meeting called specially to protest against this change -
To join in the protest being made by Scotsmen all over Australia against the proposals of the Commonwealth Government to suppress the identity of the Scottish Regiments in the Commonwealth Defence Forces, and abolish their distinctive and historic uniforms, a large and enthusiastic meeting of the members of the Coolamon and District Caledonian Society and sympathisers was held in the School of Arts on Wednesday, 20th June. The president, Mr. Neil MacCallum, in briefly referring to the object of the meeting, said he was sure the suggestion to abolish the kilt, surrounded as it was by sentiments dear to their heart, and traditions of which every Scotsman was justly proud, had only to be mentioned to bring forth a vigorous protest. He also stated that the proposal to wipe out the identity of the Scottish Regiments must also apply to the Irish Regiments.
The following resolution was put before the meeting and unanimously carried : - “ We, the members of the Coolamon and District Caledonian Society, join most strongly in the protest of our fellow-countrymen and sympathisers against the proposed abolition of the kilt in the Scottish Regiments of the Commonwealth Defence Forces. We submit that, though the wearing of the kilt may be considered merely a matter of sentiment, it is a national sentiment, and one that has led the wearers to victory against overwhelming odds in many battlefields for centuries past. And we consider that provision can be made, as in the forces of the United Kingdom, and those of the other Dominions, for the retention of the kilt, and suiting it to the requirements of modern warfare. We therefore add our most earnest support to the appeal to the Minister for Defence, the Federal member for the district, and to the Highland Society of N.S.W.”
On the 15th August we had a deputation to the Minister of Defence, who, I am sure, will remember the earnestness of the appeal which was then made to him. It was a large deputation, representing not only
Victoria, but the other States as well. I Iknow that he was visibly touched by the strength of the appeal ; he was deeply impressed. In reply to the deputation he said that he took upon himself the whole responsibility for the change. It was good of him to do that, but I will repeat here what I said in his absence this evening. I do not think that a grave change, which touches hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens, ought to be made by any Minister, or Board, or even by the Government; it ought to be made only by the Parliament, which represents the people. The Minister stated that he had taken Lord Kitchener’s report as his chart and compass. He stated that he was basing the administration of the Department on the report, and claimed that it said nothing about national regiments, and, therefore, as Lord Kitchener had not made any reference to them, it was evident that he desired that they should be abolished. I do not hold with that view at all. I think that Lord Kitchener left it to the local people to find out a way by which they could be incorporated in the new system without being abolished. The Minister wound up his speech that day with the statement that there wastime for further consideration, and that it was to be discussed in Parliament. I am very glad to have this opportunity of initiating a discussion. It is somewhat difficult to find out the real reason for abolishing these regiments. It does not seem to me a necessary thing. We can carry on our Defence Force without altogether abolishing the regiments. Some persons say, “ Well, we must have all Australians.” I do not think that we shall lose anything by associating Australians with these Imperial regiments. He who is an Imperialist Australian is the best Australian of all. There may be some degenerate Imperialists, who would favour the abolition of these regiments, and who would affect a fervid Australian sentiment, not so much because they believe in it as because they would endeavour to use it as a cloak to wipe out reference to the Old Land, its customs, and its military regiments. It may be objected that it would interfere with the system as laid down by Lord Kitchener, in the matter of the uniformity of Australian dress. Why should we have one dull colour and pattern in our uniforms? Why should we not brighten the appearance of our military parades by hav ing other uniforms? If it be urged that it is not possible to engraft the Scottish regiments on to our new military system, how is it that the matter came “to be discussed at the Military Conference which met a few days ago in Melbourne?
– It was discussed at each conference that has been held, and also at the central conference in Melbourne.
– There was, I think, a conference in October.
– There was a conference in each State, and a separate conference in Melbourne. In fact, there were two conferences in Melbourne. One was a State conference, and the other was a Commonwealth conference.
– Earlier in the year I addressed some questions on this subject to the Minister of Defence, and, from the replies which I received, I had hopes that the Highland regiments would be allowed to continue in existence. My first questions were -
The Minister’s answer to those questions was -
No alteration has yet been made in the conditions of service or uniform.
My fifth question was -
Is it to be permitted to wear the uniform of a ‘Highland Regiment?
The Minister’s answer was -
Members of existing Scottish units will be permitted, on certain occasions, to wear their present uniforms.
The other questions were -
Have any orders been given to have the uniform changed ?
If so, what was their purport, and what has been the result of such orders, if any?
The Minister’s answer was -
The uniform to be issued in future to all members of the Australian Defence Force will be of a uniform type, known as. the Commonwealth pattern. All ordinary training will be performed in this uniform.
I understood from those replies, and from other information, that the Highland Regiment would be allowed to continue to wear the kilt. I see, from the report published in the Argus of 20th November, that the
Military Conference in Melbourne discussed this subject. The officers present were Lieutenant-Colonel Chauvel, AdjutantGeneral ; Lieutenant-Colonel Grant ; Lieutenant-Colonel Paton ; LieutenantColonel Monash; Major W. L. Raws; Lieutenant-Colonel Collett; Major R. P. Smith ; and Captain T. H. Dodds. Certain other officers were present for consultation purposes. No less than twenty-two matters were discussed. The fact that all these subjects were brought forward shows that our military system is not yet perfect, and that changes are to be introduced. Amongst the matters discussed was that of the retention of national regiments. The information published in the Argus on that point is as follows -
Four members of the Conference are against the principle of establishing national regiments. Two members (representatives of Second and Sixth Military Districts) are in favour of retention of those that existed on June 20 last, as efficient battalions of not less than six companies, provided that they can be maintained without extra cost to the Government, and by annual allotment of those liable for service under the Act.
The mere fact that that matter was discussed, and that two of the important representatives of the Military Forces at the Conference were in favour of retaining the kilt, shows that there is a way out if the Government choose to take advantage of it. It has been said that the cost of the Highland uniform is greater than that of the ordinary uniform. That statement is disputed. It is held that, on the whole, the Highland dress will last much longer and not be dearer than the ordinary service uniform. It is not disputed by any one that, for marching and parade purposes, it is the more suitable dress. I do not see any reason why an Australian tartan should not be adopted if the Government choose, and all unnecessary trimmings could be removed.
– An Australian tartan ? What nonsense 1
– The honorable senator is a Scotsman himself, and I do not think this is a matter to scoff at. There are certain other arguments., which are worthy the consideration of the Government. Lord Kitchener’s scheme was a broad one. It allowed, for variations, and was necessarily subject to modification and amendment. Many alterations have already been made. As to recruiting for national regiments, I may say that, in Victoria, there are twenty battalion areas which come within the metropolitan dis trict, and, of these, seventeen are sufficiently central to allow of those being: trained for military service in them to hedrawn as recruits for the Scottish Regi-ment. The full strength of a battalion- - that is, its war strength - is, roughly,. 1,020 of all ranks. Allowing for wastage,, this would mean an annual quota for the regiment of 150, or an average of nine recruits only from each of the seventeen areas. In order to avoid any possibility of the retention of these regiments upsetting or interfering with the working of the Kitchener scheme, it could be made a condition that only those regiments should be retained that the Military Board recommends. If it is thought that there isdanger of pressure being brought to bear to form new national regiments, the same condition could be made, namely, that nosuch new unit should be formed except or* the recommendation of the Military Board,, which is responsible for the efficiency of the working of the Defence Act and of the Defence Forces. It is not suggested* that such regiments should be formed all’ over the Commonwealth, but only in the larger capital cities, where they can bemaintained without interfering with theworking of the Kitchener scheme. It i* suggested that the abolition of these regiments means the destruction of some of the most efficient regiments at a most critical period, and at a time when there is not, and, for a considerable period, cannot be,, anything to replace them ; at a time, moreover, when their existence acts as an example and a stimulus to the rest of the Forces. It is also held that the Scottish uniform is not only not more expensivethan the ordinary uniform, but that it isless expensive. It is certainly quite asserviceable, and it is more healthy, 1 trust that the Government will take thismatter into their careful consideration. 1 hope that the Senate will carry the motion* unanimously. There is undoubtedly gravedissatisfaction all over the Commonwealth! on account of the suggested abolition of the Scottish Regiments. Our defence system is not as popular as it might be, and’ we should do nothing that would tend tomake it more unpopular. I am certain that if it ‘ could be left to the peopleto decide whether these regiments should be allowed to continue or not, they.would be almost unanimously in favour.of their retention. I trust that, if the motion is carried, it will be taken by the? Government as an intimation that they should give effect to the wishes of a very large number of people in Australia, and ;save these national regiments from abolition.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the debate be adjourned.
– May I ask the Minister to withdraw his motion for the adjournment of the debate. I should be sorry to lose the opportunity of supporting Senator McColl’s motion, and I am afraid that, under medical advice, I shall not be -able to be present next week.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales) 58.30]. - In the first place, I must express ,my appreciation of Senator McColl’s action :.in this matter. Personally, I have every reason to speak well of the advantage of having a Scottish Regiment. In i860, I had the honour of joining the London Scottish in England. We found that one of the great advantages of having the Scotirish Regiment was that it formed a bond for young Scotsmen who had no relatives in London. It brought them together, and induced a patriotic spirit to spring up amongst them. I believe that the fact of (having national regiments in Australia will have .a good effect in attracting immigrants, because when persons at Home know that young men can be taken in hand by those of their own nationality it will he an additional inducement for them to come to Australia. In Queensland, in days ;gone by, one of the very best elements amongst immigrants was brought to the country by the system of nominating friends or relations at Home. It is largely due to that cause alone that we have a very large proportion of Scottish people in Queensland. There cannot be the slightest doubt that the sight of the kilt has a great influence upon the feelings of very many people. We do not object to people from England, Ireland, and Wales forming their own national regiments. There is, for instance, a regiment an Sydney known as the St. George’s Rifles. The late Senator Neild instituted that regiment, and he was its first colonel. No one who reads the military history of Great Britain can fail to be aware that -no regiments have done better work than those raised in Scotland and Ireland. The Scottish regiments have made a name for themselves wherever there has been fighting to be done. It is considered to be an honour to belong to one of them. I knew -a young man who was a Volunteer officer in .Queensland, and who went to India on purpose to join the Gordon Highlanders. He fought with them on the heights of Dargai, and distinguished himself there. There is a large Scottish element in Australia who like to keep in touch with the traditions of their country. I remember that in December, 1861, I travelled from Dunkeld to Inverness, on a four-horse coach, along the old .Highland-road. We covered 100 miles in eight hours, and changed horses every twelve miles. When we came to the Pass of Killiecrankie, the school was coming out, and, to my great surprise and pleasure, every mother’s son wore a kilt. There were about forty boys coming out of school. I never before, or since, saw a school where every boy wore a kilt.
– The honorable senator never will again.
– My honorable friend, Senator Stewart, comes from Inverness, and has good Scottish blood in his veins. I hope he will support the motion. The formation of national regiments leads to the promotion of a healthy spirit of emulation between regiment and regiment. When one attends a review in Sydney, one notices that people make remarks as to the relative qualities of the regiments that pass. Remarks generally complimentary are made concerning the Lancers, the Light Horse, and the Artillery. When the infantry regiments march past, there is no regiment that is more loudly cheered than the Highland Regiment. Because a man is a Scotsman by birth, he is none the less an Australian. But we take pride in remembering that our ancestors came from the Old Country. Some years ago, when a remark was made, in my presence, in Queensland, by a certain person who was considered to have displayed prejudice and ignorance, Mr. Archer, afterwards Agent-General for Queensland, said to me, “ You must make allowance for the poor man’s ignorance; remember he was not born north of the Tweed.”
– “ Lord, gE us a guid conceit of oursel’.”
– The names upon, the map of Australia show how people like to remember the parts of the world from whence they came. There is a range north, of Rockhampton known as the Berserker
Range. It was so called because the Archers, who named it, came from Norway, where a Berserker was a hero who wore only a sark, or shirt when fighting in battle. In Tasmania, as well as in New South Wales, they have a Ben Lomond. In New Zealand, the Scottish names are so numerous in the South Island that one may almost imagine himself to be in Scotland. All these things show feeling for the country from which our people came. Then, again, the Capital of one of our States is named after the fair city of Perth on the Tay.
The ‘ PRESIDENT.- The honorable senator is rather getting away from the question.
– I want to show that this love of one’s native country gives great force to the military spirit, and tends to promote esprit de corps. When people in this country use familiar names, they remind themselves of their own home.
– Is not this their home?
– Their temporary home.
– Scotsmen never go back to Scotland. Ask Senator Stewart.
– In a little pamphlet - Our Kilted Soldiers - that has been circulated, some particulars are given about the deeds of Highland regiments. There is an interesting reference to the battle of Culloden, which was fought in 1745. Many of those who left Scotland after that battle went to Canada, and their descendants are amongst the most loyal and patriotic people in Canada today. There is an interesting reference in the pamphlet to the fact that Lord Chatham formed the first Highland regiment. Between 1778 and 1804, the Highlands of Scotland contributed no fewer than 80,000 men to the service of the Empire.
– It would seem that the Englishman is the only person who has cause to be ashamed of himself ! He makes no fuss about what he has done.
– Let the Englishman stand up for England, and the Irishman for Ireland; I -stand up for Scotland.
– What about the native born?
– I am a native, but of Scotland. In the South African war, no regiment showed greater vim, elan, and dash than did the Highland regiments - the Gordon Highlanders, the Black Watch, The Sutherland Highlanders, and the Highland Light Infantry. I agreewith what Senator McColl has said concerning the economical character of the Scottish dress. It is certain that the mart who wears the kilt has no trousers to get baggy and broken. I can testify, too, to the military spirit that prevails amongst Scotsmen. In i860 I was one of about 21,000 young volunteers who were reviewed in London, I think, by Lord Clyde. la the following year, there was a review of volunteers in Edinburgh. A number of us went there, and, to our surprise, we found that, although the population of the country is very much less than that of England, there were 22,500 volunteers on parade. That shows that in Scotland the military feeling was much stronger than it was in London. I do not wish to take up the time of the Senate unnecessarily, but I should not have liked the motion to be disposed of without saying a few words in favour of what I. consider a most useful element in connexion, with the defence of Australia.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland> [8.40]. - I should like to add a few word* on the motion submitted by Senator McColl, and so ably and eloquently supported by my honorable friend from the north of the Tweed, Senator Walker. I express the hope that the Minister of Defence and the Government will lend a more sympathetic ear to the request now made than they did on the last occasion when a motion of this character was presented for their consideration. I was astonished that the Minister of Defence did not think it proper, or was not ready, to continue the debate. On a matter of this kind we might reasonably have expected the honorable senator to be ready to express his mind. From some points of view, as Senator McColl has very properly put it, the question raised is a grave one. The last time the matter was discussed, the Minister defended his position on the ground that he desired that the Defence Force of Australia should be distinctly Australian in name, and, so far as he could bring it about, should be Australian from top to bottom. Although that is a sentiment which we might thoroughly appreciate and indorse, it ignores an important element in connexion with our defence. I submit, in common with Senators McColl and Walker, that the regiments associated with the great historical names of Scotch, Irish, and English are none the less Australian. The term “ Australian “ is obtruded at times- in a way that offends one’s national feelings. Speaking for myself, I must say that, as sometimes used, it becomes as offensive as the term “ Amurican,” when used by persons who speak down their noses, and suggest that there is no other place on earth but “ Amurica,” and no greater people than the “ Amuricans.” I hope that that form of “ Amuricanism “ will never be associated with the terms “Australia” and “Australians.” I agree with Senator McColl that the national spirit associated with the names of the nations mentioned is a most powerful and inspiring force. The vast majority of Britishers are not Australians, and it is quite true that for some time to come there will be nine-tenths of the Australian people who will be British all the time. We shall be none the less Australians because we are proud of our British descent, and try to cultivate the great racial and national ideals of the English, the Irish, and the Scotch. They represent the greatest blend on earth, and, happily for the Empire, their racial instincts and characteristics have been combined to build it up. Whatever may be the fate of Australia in the future, it will be the same happy combination of national characteristics which will, in the final issue and the hour of need, preserve Australia.
– Why is not this distinctive dress maintained in the Navy, as well as in the Army?
– I welcome an interjection from Senator Lynch, who has the blood of the same race as my own in his veins, and in reply I ask him to consider why the Irish regiments in the British Army to-day wear the harp and the shamrock on their uniforms. Until comparatively recent times they had no right to wear their national emblem; but because of their gallant deeds, and the leadership -of a brilliant Irishman at the time of the Empire’s greatest peril, Her late Gracious Majesty recognised the service of the Irish leaders and regiments by abolishing the -regulation which forbade them to wear their national emblem.
– And nothing pleased them better.
– Nothing ^pleased the soldiers better, or was more -calculated to stimulate the Irish national Spirit than that act of Her late Majesty.
– She simply did at the time what she knew would suit her Ministers.
– I merely mention the fact, and I would not attempt, for a moment, to analyze her motives. I point out that the kilt is no more to the Scotsman than the three-leaved shamrock on a military uniform is to the Irishman. It is not the form that is to be considered, but the spirit behind the form.
– Why was not this distinctive dress introduced ‘ into the Navy?
– Let us confine, ourselves to the subject with which we are dealing, and that is the Army. It is an historical fact, impossible to refute, that the cultivation of separate national characteristics has been a powerful incentive in promoting the courage, discipline, and loyalty of the British Army. There is no period in the history of Great Britain, or even of America, in which the national spirit encouraged by the establishment of national regiments has not been of immense benefit to the British and American armies. In the Civil War in America, Irish regiments fought against each other, just as did American regiments. I do not know whether any distinctively Scottish regiments were engaged in that war, but I do know that the Irish regiments fighting on the side of the Union were not less loyal to the Union because the Minister of War at the time availed himself of the fighting spirit of that martial race. It is of no use for the Minister of Defence to try to hide from himself the fact that the Irish and Scotch people in Australia retain the racial instincts which they display in their own land and in America. There is a desire to have something distinctly national in the way of uniform, and how can it weaken the fighting power of the Australian Army to stimulate the lighting instincts and loyalty of our soldiers?
– What about the Covenanters of Ulster? They may want a separate regiment.
– In the face of war, whatever differences may exist amongst Irishmen at other times are sunk, and the Ulstermen and Munstermen fight together in the same regiment, and do their duty. I hope that the Minister of Defence will give favorable consideration to the motion, and recognise that amongst Scotsmen, as amongst Irishmen, there is a special pride in taking up military duties, when, at the same time, they can gratify a desire to identify themselves with the national characteristics of the country from which they come.
– Being a Scotsman and a Highlander, a Highland Scot - which, with all deference to Senator Walker, is one better than an ordinary Scot - I might be expected to support the motion moved by Senator McColl. Before entering into the merits of the question, I should like to quote from a little book, a copy of which has probably been presented to every member of the Senate. It deals with the origin of the Highland regiments; and, speaking of the people from whom I have sprung, and of whom I am one, the writer says -
A century and a half ago the Highlanders were regarded as little better than savages, their dress, language, and manners being constant subjects of ridicule by their Southern neighbours, who, on account of the well-known attachment of the clans to the Stuarts, distrusted and suspected the fidelity of the Highlanders. In this mistrust and suspicion the Government shared. “ In fact,” says Macaulay, “ when the English thought of the Highlander at all, and it is seldom they did so, they considered him as a filthy, abject savage, a slave, a papist, a cutthroat, and a thief.”
– And he probably was.
- Senator Rae says that probably the indictment was, to a great extent, true. Possibly that was the reason why, a short time afterwards, the English Government ransacked the Highlands for soldiers. The English had probably, to a great extent, lost the fighting spirit, and the Government concluded that it would be wise to resort to that part of the United Kingdom where the people were savages, cut-throats, and thieves, to secure their fighting material. I wish honorable senators to realize that the Australian Army will be in quite a different position from that of Great Britain. Our Army is to be established for the purposes of defence only, and will not require to be made up of cut-throats or thieves. All we shall want in our Australian Army is a number of men who love their country and are prepared to fight and to die for it, if necessary, that country being, of course, Australia. The essential difference between the Australian Army to be and the British Army of the past is that the British Army of the past represented mainly a predatory expeditionary force. Wherever they went it was to rob and plunder ; and, in the circumstances, men possessing the characteristics mentioned by Macaulay aade the very best soldiers in those days. I may say at once that I am opposed wholly to the idea of national regiments. I believe we should have only one kind of soldier in Australia, and that is the Australian soldier, the citizen of Australia, the man who dedicates himself to the defence of his country because it is his country, and he desires to see it remain free. Whether he is an Englishman, a Scotsman, a Welshman, a German, a Swede, a Dane, or Norwegian, or from whatever part of Europe he may come, I maintain that here he is an Australian, and an Australian citizen serving under the Australian flag should be content to wear the uniform, whatever it may be, which the Government of Australia, as representing the people of this Commonwealth, decide that he shall wear. Senator Cameron was probably not greatly pleased with the quotation I have just made; but I remind him that the words were not mine, and that I have a very great pride in my country, which is also the country of the honorable senator’s ancestors. I have the Highlander’s contempt for the ordinary Lowland Scotsman. The only use we had for the Lowlanders was to make raids upon them, steal their cattle and corn, and everything that was theirs. We lived like gentlemen in the Highlands, waiting until the harvest ripened in the southern parts of Scotland and thenorthern parts of England, and then we sallied forth and reaped it. But that is beside the question. I agree with the attitude taken up on this matter by the Government. I say that there ought to be no national distinction, so far as our soldiers are concerned. A great deal has been made of the picturesque uniform of the Highland soldier. No doubt it is one of the most picturesque and artistic dresses that any one could wear, and a handsome man like Senator Walker or Senator McColl looks very much more handsome when attired in the Highland garment. ButI point out that, in addition to being picturesque and handsome, it is also a very expensive dress. I am informed that the busby used by members of Scottish regiments costs more than the entire uniform of an Australian citizen soldier. Why did the British Government need to attirethese soldiers so sumptuously ? Because they had to hold out every possible inducement to young men to join the Army. Taking the shilling was a last resource with a great majority of the young men who entered the British Army. At the time when these eighty regiments of 1,000 men each were raised in the highlands of Scotland, the people were so poor that they were compelled to take to soldiering. The outlet of the Colonies was not then available to them. They had either to enlist in the Army, and earn their living by their swords, or to perish miserably on their native heath. ‘ That, to a very great extent, explains why a large number of young men joined the Army in those days. There was absolutely no other outlet for “them, and the Government went on elaborating this magnificent dress in order to entice young men to join the Army. Highlanders are proverbially vain. I suppose that most people are vain more or less, tout it has been- said of the highland Scotsman that he has an extremely strong spice of vanity in his composition. Probably I am1 an exception to the general rule.
– The Highlanders are particularly vain.
– Yes ; and they have good reason for their vanity, being so much superior to other Scotsmen. Young fellows do not enter the Army here because they cannot do anything better. They do not go in for training because they are crushed or elbowed out of any other way of getting a living. They become members of our Citizen Army because they are compelled by law to train themselves for the defence of the country, and there is no need to hold out gew-gaws to induce them to join. I believe that, although the system is not working as smoothly as we would wish, still within a very few years 99 per cent, of our young men will enter the Citizen Defence Force willingly, and desirous of doing their best for the country which gave them birth. I know that the idea is largely entertained of establishing English, Scotch, and Irish regiments, probably more Scotch and Irish regiments, because the Englishman, although he gets credit for a great deal never was much of -a fighter. All the great fighting for the “British Army has been done by the Scotsman and the Irishman. It has been said that a Scotsman fights best when he is hungry, and an Irishman when he has had seven whiskies. Of course, an Englishman is never hungry, and he never drinks -whisky, so that he has not been of so much service as a warrior as have the Irishman and the Scotsman.
– He has not made nearly such a “skite” about it.
– He has been too busy doing things.
– Englishmen have always been what Napoleon said they were -a nation of shopkeepers. All their fighting and raiding and predatory expeditions have been led and carried on by Scotsmen, and Irishmen. I do not make this remark in any boastful way, because I regret the fact.
– Are you speaking of the cattle-sampling expeditions?
– As I heard a Highland agitator say many years ago, “ No doubt Highlanders were splendid soldiers, but they always cut the wrong throats.” I believe that if they had turned their own weapons against their oppressors, it would have been much more profitable to them, and probably to us, than doing what they did - going forth to all the ends of the earth, and capturing empires for Britain. I think it is very much better that we should have nothing but an Australian Citizen Defence Force, and that from whatever country a man may come to Australia, he should think first of Australia, and then of the country from which he has sprung. He has cast his lot in with us. With us he must sink or swim, and that being the case he should always think of himself as an Australian, and act as an Australian. Even if the Parliament should decide that these national regiments should be established, I do not think it is possible to carry out the idea, because our Defence Force is cut! up into areas throughout the Commonwealth. A quota is drawn from each area independently of the nationality, or any other quality of the men. Even if this motion were passed, it might be exceedingly difficult to carry it out. If the Scotsmen are allowed to indulge in this costly uniform-, will not the other citizen soldiers be filled with envy? Here is another element which honorable senators must never forget, and a reason which I omitted, for attiring Highland soldiers so finely. Being handsome fellows as a rule, they were very attractive to the ladies; it was almost a by-word. If we have Highland regiments here, fellows dressed up in all the finery of the Highland garment will cut the khaki-clad men right out of the young women - do not forget that - and immediately we shall find, an agitation for more feathers, more gewgaws, all round our Army. We want to keep the expense of our Defence Force down to the lowest limit with due reference to efficiency. We do not want to spend our money on costly uniforms. We want to spend any available cash on guns and ammunition, and all the various things for defence.
– Including a good tuckerbag, when the time comes.
– Yes ; we want plenty of food. The tucker-bag is probably the most essential thing of all, because no man can fight if he is hungry. That was the old adage.
– You said just now that a Scotsman could-
– A Scotsman was nearly always hungry when he captured a bullock from the Englishman, and roasted it by the wayside. I quite sympathize with Senator McColl in bringing forward this motion. No doubt it appeals to a certain section of the people, and I feel sure that’ they are perfectly sincere in the attitude which they take up. They think that it would be the finest thing imaginable to have national regiments with a distinctive attire. It is natural that they should think so, having been brought up and accustomed to that sort of thing. But it is extremely desirable that in Australia we should have one uniform only. There should be nothing to distinguish Englishmen, Scotsmen, or Irishmen, or any other nationality from the native-born Australians. In that way only can we have a homogeneous Army. In that way only can we stimulate the spirit of nationalism. And when all is said and done, it is only when the people of Australia, from whatever part of the world they have come, have begun to realize that this is not only their country, but a country of which they are proud, which is worth fighting for, and, if necessary, dying for, that we shall be approximately in a position to defend ourselves if unfortunately we are ever assailed by a foe from outside our own boundaries.
– I think that we are entitled to express some surprise that on a matter of this kind the Minister of Defence has not ventured to address the Senate. I can quite understand that there are occasions here, as in other Houses of Parliament, when a Minister may reasonably ask for time to consider a proposition concerning which he is called upon to speak. But this is not a new matter for his consideration, and seeing that he has already declared his policy elsewhere, one is tempted to ask why it was that he, instead of repeating here what he has said elsewhere, took a course which, if successful, as 1 presume it will be, will undoubtedly prevent the Senate from arriving at a determination on this matter. Because we cannot disguise from ourselves the fact that the time must shortly arrive when the Minister will be justified in asking the Senate to give up the time which is now devoted to the consideration of private business. It does appear to me that his action tonight was taken with the express purposeof denying to the Senate an opportunity of taking a vote on this matter. Now, in order to demonstrate my remark that he has arrived at an opinion on the matter, let me remind the Senate that it is only three months ago that a deputation waited upon him at the Department, and pressed upon his consideration the very matter which Senator McColl has brought forward to-night. Had he, in reply to thedeputation, displayed an open mind; hadhe declared that he was prepared to consider the matter, I could have understood even now, after the lapse of three months, a request for further time, knowing that any one who is called upon to administer the Department must have a great manycalls upon his time and attention. But, on the 16th August last, the Minister made no secret, in addressing the deputation, of thefact that his mind was definitely made upon this point. If that is so, why thissilence on his part to-night? Why was it that instead of giving us an opportunity of carrying this matter through, he is adopting a course which, as I said just now, will prevent the Senate from arriving at a determination? Let me remind both theSenate and -the Minister of what he said upon that occasion, and his declarationthen will stand repeating, because it is verydefinite as to the attitude which he lookup. If he does think of re-adjusting his: opinion, if anything has happened which causes him to withdraw from the position- he took up, he might very properly have: told the Senate and the country that he is contemplating or considering the possibility of some change. But on the 16th August,, he said -
He took the full responsibility of the change. Lord Kitchener’s report had to a large extentbeen his chart and compass in introducing the new defence system, and it was wrong to say that it recommended the retention of national regiments. It did not deal with national regiments as such. Its only key was territorial’ organization, and with such organization national regiments could not be retained. He had recommended the retention of. territorial designations- and the traditions associated with territorial regiments, but that referred to such district regiments as the Kennedy Regiment in Queensland, and not to national regiments. When the deputation grasped the fact that the basis of the scheme was territorial organization it was up against the first and greatest difficulty of maintaining national regiments. That was that the recruits in the areas were Australians and must be brought into the Australian scheme. Lord Kitchener had given no hint’ as to any way of meeting this difficulty, and they would agree that if he had thought it advisable to make a special provision for the retention of national regiments he would have proposed a way of meeting the difficulties. He had never contemplated the continuance of national regiments.
That statement by the Minister on the 16th August justifies my remark that we can only arrive at one conclusion, and that is that, up to that time, he had arrived at a hostile attitude regarding this request; that for the reasons which he set out then, he was not prepared to entertain the proposition, and so convinced was he of the correctness of his attitude that he did not even do as many Ministers do - say that he would consider the matter. He told the deputation distinctly that the proposal was, so far as he was concerned, an impossible one. In these circumstances, unless he is prepared to revise his views, he should not have required an adjournment of the debate, because he was in a position to tell the Senate at least as definitely and as clearly as he told the deputation, what he thought.
I wish now to deal with some of the reasons advanced by the Minister for his hostile attitude to this proposal. I do not know that I can go very far wrong if I take the very statement I have read, because there the Minister’s summary of Lord Kitchener’s report was his interpretation of what it means. He said that the report did not deal with national regiments as such, and without going over the quotation again, I would remind honorable senators that the Minister urged that if Lord Kitchener had wished to retain national regiments, he would have made some specific recommendation on that point. That is not conclusive. Lord Kitchener did not deal with national regiments, and did not make a specific recommendation on that point. But one is entitled to ask whether he had brought before him as definitely as we have had brought before us to-night the evidence of a strong desire to maintain them. There is nothing to suggest that the matter which we are now discussing was ever pressed upon his attention. I venture to say that the Ministry of the day, of which
I had the honour to be a member, was not at that time confronted with that difficulty, lt seems to me to be impossible to believe that, from any outside source, Lord Kitchener should have had brought) before him this strong and laudable desire to retain national identity. If the matter had been brought under his attention, and he had turned down the idea, we might have considered his advice as being worthy of our consideration. But there is no evidence that Lord Kitchener was, as a matter of fact, called upon or asked to consider the question that has been raised by Senator McColl’s motion. Passing from that consideration, I come to an argument used by the Minister to the deputation which waited upon him, to the effect that, our military organization being territorial, it is impossible that national regiments should find a place in it. I say at once that if there were no alternative, I should stand by the territorial organization. But I am convinced that it is not impossible to graft the one on to the other. Let me make clear what I mean. I say at the outset that I would not be one to impair the efficiency of our present defence system, even by yielding to the very natural demands of our Scottish and Irish friends. But I want to make a suggestion. Without going too much into details, it appears to me to be possible, at all events in the larger centres of population, to maintain the integrity of the territorial system, and at the same time make provision for gratifying these national desires on the part of the regiments referred to. Let me illustrate the point in this way : The smaller military areas are bracketed with others, and a certain number of them are placed under one military control. There is an area officer who has to deal with the units in his area. A certain number of training areas are again bracketed for other purposes. In a city like Sydney, where you have a number of training areas, surely, without destroying the territorial character of our military organization, it would be possible to say to the recruits in an area, “ If you are willing to incur the inconvenience and trouble yourselves of going from the area in which you are being trained, in order to form a national regiment, you are at liberty to do so.” In places like Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, it is quite possible to do that. That would merely mean a slight enlargement of the geographical area over which the officer had control. Let us suppose that there are 5,000 recruits in a given area being dealt with by one set of officers. We will assume that they are divided into five units. Surely it is possible, on the assumption that there would be 1,000 who desired to join a national regiment, to say to them, “You may form a unit of yourselves if you choose ; the inconvenience is yours; if you like to travel into another district for your training in order that you may be members of a national regiment, you are at liberty to do so.” That would not destroy the territorial organization, and it is a system that might very easily be carried out. Another argument which has been advanced is on the ground of expense. How much increased expense is involved in maintaining the Scottish regiments I am not in a position to say. We might have expected the Minister to furnish us with information on the subject. He must know. Otherwise, he would not have been in a position to make the reply he ‘did to the deputation. I am entitled to believe, however, judging from the experience of Australia and of other countries, that the matter of expense alone is not an insurmountable difficulty. The Scottish regiments themselves show a disposition to bear any extra cost which might be entailed. For these reasons, I feel, under the circumstances - especially as no clear case has been made out against Senator McColl’s proposal - that I must support it.
Senator Lt.-Colonel CAMERON (Tasmania) [9.24]. - I wish to support Senator McColl’ s motion. Senator Stewart has given us a very interesting speech, though he hardly touched on the merits of the question. I would urge the Minister not to deal with this matter lightly. I know that he has a very difficult position to handle. But surely there are not the difficulties in maintaining these national regiments that he made out in his reply to’ the deputation that waited upon him. I feel that the Minister is doing this Commonwealth a very grave injustice in the attitude he is maintaining towards the question. The abolition of the Scottish regiments would place a slight on all the traditions of the past. It is a matter fraught with more tragedy, as far as the future is concerned, than the Minister has yet grasped. When we realize that Australia has practically no history except that which has been made for us by the Mother Country, we should do our utmost to stimulate, rather than to lessen, the feeling of regard for the past. I know what it means for a regiment to have a spirit of emulation: I have seen the results of it with my own eyes on more than one. occasion. The best black troops in the world are the Gourkas. I have seen one of the finest white regiments in the world, the Gordon Highlanders, racing shoulder to shoulder with a regiment of Gourkas to see who should be first to reach a position under assault. That scene was due to the spirit of emulation and rivalry animating both “regiments. It is to the advantage of any country to encourage such a spirit. The expense of retaining the Highland regiments may involve a difficulty, but I understand that the regiments themselves are prepared to put their hands into their own pockets and to bear the extra cost. I do not think that that fact should be passed over lightly. Perhaps the Minister would not care to accept such an offer. But, at all events, he should not say that the expense prohibits permission to retain the regiments being given. The matter of filling up the ranks of the various regiments presents no great difficulty. It is admitted already that the Light Horse are recruited specially. Why should not the national regiments be specially recruited? The fact that we have a territorial organization is no reason against so doing. Another point that ought not to be forgotten is that, in military matters, we have not always to deal with a number of school boys. What lies before the Defence Forces of this country? They are not always to be kept in swaddling clothes. The youths of today will become men, and many of them will continue to take part in the defence of their country. Why should they not pass into the national regiments? The information that has been published in the newspapers during the last month or so must indicate that the work that lies before these citizen soldiers of ours, if Australia is to be maintained as part of the Empire, is a serious one. We must go for efficiency in every direction.
– Hear, hear ! I heartily agree to that.
.- If the Minister thinks that, by wiping out these regiments, he will be. making for efficiency, I am afraid that he and I view the matter from different stand-points. I say that we should encourage the spirit which these regiments represent by all means in our power. If we destroy that spirit, we shall destroy one of the foundations upon which our future as a nation must depend.
– Did the Australians fight any worse in South Africa because their country had practically no history?
.- I do not want to refer to South Africa and to what occurred there as being a campaign at all. I prefer not to refer to it, although I took part in the campaign. I do not regard it as a fighting experience. It was an excellent show of the right sort of spirit. It was really the suppression of a rebellion rather than a war. The honorable senator has forced me to say that. But let there be no misunderstanding. I do not wish any one to run away with the idea that Australians showed anything but the right spirit. They showed that they were excellent fighting material. I again urge the Minister to reconsider this matter as being one oi real importance. If he does nothing else, he should, agree to maintain the regiments that already exist, and do nothing to destroy the spirit by which they are animated.
. - I do not intend to give a silent vote on this question, as I have received letters regarding it from various parts of Australia. As Senator Lieutenant- Colonel Cameron has said, our cadets will not always be cadets, and surely, when they leave the Cadet Forces, they will want to go into other regiments. I am thoroughly in sympathy with Senator McColl’ s motion. I do not see how it can hurt our Army to have English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh regiments in it. I cannot understand why the Minister should raise any opposition to such an idea. When the volunteers were formed in Queensland, we had a Brisbane regiment of Irish Rifles, as well as a Highland Regiment, and a St. George’s Regiment. All these regiments were animated by the true Australian spirit.
– Why did not the honorable senator kick up a row when the Irish Rifles were abolished?
– I am as much in favour of having Irish Rifles as of having a Scottish Regiment.
– The honorable senator did not raise any protest.
– I have no recollection of the matter being brought before the Senate. I am prepared now to support an Irish Regiment. I have received letters from all sorts and conditions of people in favour of the retention of our national regiments. If Senator de Largie chooses to throw on one side the appeals that have been made, he is at liberty to do so ; but, in my opinion, Parliament ought to give them its earnest and favorable consideration. I trust that the motion will be agreed to.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [9.35].- We have had a remarkable exhibition on the part of Ministers and their supporters. Surely it was reasonable that the Minister should reply to the speech delivered by Senator McColl. Does he intend to treat this matter with silent contempt? Are Ministerial supporters prepared to give a silent vote upon the question, or do they want to dodge the responsibility and publicity which would attach to expressing their opinions?
– We are listening with the utmost interest to the honorable senator’s eloquence.
– We want to hear the eloquence of Ministerial supporters.
– We are paralyzed by the honorable senator’s eloquence.
– It may suit honorable senators opposite to dodge the issue by postponing a decision, but we shall be able to draw our own conclusions if they resort to such tactics. I challenge them to express their opinion on the subject. Good reasons have been given for supporting the motion and for preserving the Scottish regiments. Senator Cameron has spoken with strong feeling, and with experience and knowledge at the back of his utterances. He knows what has been done by soldiers who have been actuated by a national spirit and by pride in the race from which they sprang. They felt when they were fighting that the eyes of their countrymen abroad were upon them. I need only refer to the spirit displayed by our own people when a parade takes place. Who are the men who get the applause as the soldiers march past ? They are the men in kilts. Why is this? It is not because they march better than other regiments, but because they represent a distinctive body, dressed in their national garb, and seem to say, “ Here we are, and we desire to be recognised as a body occupying a different position from that of our comrades in arms, not because we would belittle them, or think any the less of them, but because we wish to be recognised as representatives of a distinct nation, and not to be included in the great mass of the people.” I, of course, recognise that we want to inculcate a spirit of Australian feeling in our Defence Force. We desire our men to realize that they are Australians ; but we cannot blind ourselves to the fact that they are descended from one or other of the great nations of the Mother Country, and feel a natural pride in them. To abolish all feeling of this kind would be to strike a serious blow at the spirit of emulation which we should encourage amongst our regiments. Even amongst honorable senators there is a spirit of emulation, and some desire to stand out more prominently than others, and let the public know what is their worth. Honorable senators who belong to various associations and societies take a pride in wearing the special garb or mark to distinguish them from the members of other societies. When that feeling animates members of ordinary associations, it is not surprising that it is expressed more strongly in the case of men joining distinctive regiments for the defence of their country. I cannot imagine that any body of men would not be prepared to express an active sympathy with this motion.
– It is good electioneering clap-trap.
– Is that why honorable senators opposite are fighting shy of the vote?
– I can understand honorable senators who are afraid to express their opinion talking in such a way, because by-and-by, when they go before the electors, they will be able to hedge. They will no doubt say, “We were entirely in favour of the motion, but for special reasons we did not speak on that occasion. We did not wish to occupy the time of the Senate, or to embarrass the Minister of Defence, but, of course, our feelings and votes were all right.” There is a great deal too much of that kind of thing on the part of some honorable senators, who withhold the expression of their opinion until what they consider an opportune time has arrived, and they have discovered the views which will meet with most approval. I should prefer honorable senators to have the manliness to stand up for the faith that is in them. If they make a mistake, the people will not be very angry with them. They will recognise that even learned sena tors at times make mistakes, and, if they approve of their general opinions, will be prepared to overlook them. I hope that some honorable senators opposite will let us hear what their views on this subject are, if they have any at the present time, and are not waiting until they find how the cat jumps in order to express views which will secure votes for them when they seek re-election.
– I do not know whether, in rising, it will be assumed that I have accepted the challenge thrown out by honorable senators opposite. I have a great respect for much that has been said upon the motion tonight, but, listening to the debate, my mind instinctively turned to the history of the countries from which we are supposed to draw our sole inspiration, according to honorable senators opposite. If we take the case of England, we do not need to go back very far to the time when that portion of the United Kingdom was divided into seven separate provinces. Presumably, there were at the time seven separate uniforms worn by the soldiers of the different divisions of the Heptarchy. What happened in the course of time? All those uniforms were discarded, until the only uniform recognised was the “ British Redcoat,” for -which, in the part of the world from which T come, we had a distinct and profound contempt. Of course, I come from Ireland, and I mention the fact that honorable senators may have no misunderstanding on the matter. In the long ago, while that island was still in a state of turmoil, there were five distinct authorities. There were five provinces, whose people never were at peace unless they were at war. Each province had. of course, its distinctive type of dress and uniform, but, in the course of time, those five different uniforms were sent to the rag-shop, and there was a distinctive Irish dress, with the green predominating, which has been known throughout the world ever since. We are to-day going through precisely the same process of evolution in Australia. We are striving to build up here a national army upon a system totally different from the systems under which distinctive regiments were raised in the Old Country. I have a good deal of reverence for anything that Senator Cameron says in this chamber, but I am bound to re-echo the statement that the Australian soldiers who were foolish enough to go to South Africa did not fight any the less bravely because they had not on their uniforms stripes indicative of distinctive nationalities, but the plain, drab, colourless uniform which we know they wore. The time will come when, in this country, we shall have, instead of a handful of 4,000,000, perhaps as many as. 100.000,000 of people. When that time comes, the native element will predominate, and will overwhelm those recently come from the Old Land, and bound to it by close ties. Just as England and Ireland we’re forced, in process of evolution, to adopt one national uniform, so shall we be.
– Why be in a hurry?
– I hope that we shall be slow to sever the ties of sentiment, but evolution will follow the same course here that was followed in the older countries of the world, whether we remain part and parcel of the Empire’ or work out our destiny alone. We cannot stop the progress of time, or fashion for ourselves different laws of evolution from those which have prevailed in older lands, where the most cherished memories and customs have been outlived and swept aside for the accomplishment of greater things. Those who wish to retain distinctive badges in Australia shut their eyes to the fact that, ‘ in the older countries, evolution has gone on until Ireland has but one uniform, England but one, and Scotland but one.
– Is there no difference between the uniform of the Grenadier Guards and that of a line regiment?
– No doubt there is, and to that I do not object.
– Scarlet is recognised as the English colour.
– It is the colour that I used to hate. Our aim must be to have one army, organized very differently from those systems which lent them selves to the recognition of distinctive badges. In dealing with this matter I have paid no regard to the question of expense. In the past, attempts have been made to assert the individuality of one part of a country and another, but the. inexorable exigencies of national greatness have brought that to an end. Those on this side have as much courage in the expression of their opinions as honorable members opposite, though I listened with the greatest respect and. admiration to what Senator Lt.-Colonel Cameron had to say, because his words were spoken with the ring of sincerity, and he has been in the firing line, and has seen men tested to the utmost, both as to their moral fibre and their physical determination to do or die. For the rest, the speeches to-night have been so much kite-flying, in view of the approaching elections. To my. mind, it does not matter whether the badges which have been referred to are retained or not; but, as I pointed out, it is inevitable that in the future we shall have but one uniform, and one organization, which, I trust, will so closely co-ordinate its various parts that there will be no room forjealousy. Australia will follow the course taken by other countries in this matter, and, perhaps, at a faster rate, and the courage and mettle of those who, in the future,may be called on to defend our hearths and homes will not depend on the colour of their attire. Their courage will be the same whether they are clothed in black, blue, pink, purple, green, or any other colour, their sole determination being to preserve this land inviolate from foreign interference. I shall oppose the motion, though, as I say, I do not regard the matter as important; but as decisive action must be taken in the future, I think that it might as well be taken now. I desire our Army to be developed on our own lines, with the least expense consistent with efficiency, so that we may insure the safety and integrity of this island continent.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 4
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 November 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19121121_senate_4_68/>.