5th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Fares and Freights
– Has the attention of the Minister of Defence been directed to a statement in to-day’s Age, that the Australian Shipping Combine has decided to increase fares and freights as from the 1st June, and, if so, what steps, if any, does the Government intend to take to save the public from the ravages of this combine?
– Ask him if be has read its leading article of to-day 1
– It is my misfortune that I have not had time to read the paragraph in question.
– The honorable senator does not read the Age.-
– I have been so busy reading other portions of the Age, that I have overlooked the paragraph to which the honorable senator refers.
– During my short stay in this august Chamber, I have never evaded, as far as I could possibly avoid it, giving a vote on any question. When I took up my newspaper this morning, and learned that a very vital question, namely, the abolition of preference to unionists, was decided here last night, in rather a hurried, and, if I may say so, summary manner, I regretted very much that I was not present to vote, one way or the other. I informed the Whip of our party that I was going away to keep a prior appointment to address a public meeting at Preston, and that was the cause of my absence. I had not, and I think nobody else had, the slightest idea that events were going to take the trend they did last night. I want to put it on record, that, if I had been here, I would not have had the slightest hesitation in voting against the first reading of the Bill. I do not want anybody to say that I was not present because I was not game to vote on that question. I only want to make my position clear.
” TRANSFER OF POST OFFICE.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers are -
I understand that the papers have been sent to the Librarian.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice^-
– The answers are -
Fakes and Freights
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
If, in accordance with the terms of the contract entered into between the Commonwealth Government and the Shipping Companies for the transport of mails between the mainland and Tasmania, the proposed increase of fares and freights from 1st June, has been submitted to the Postmaster-General for his approval, and has the Postmaster-General given such approval ?
– The answer is -
No proposal for an increase of fares or freights has been submitted to the Department by the contractors for the conveyance of mails between Tasmania and the mainland.
– May I be permitted, sir, to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs if he can give any information concerning the two linemen who were killed as the result of a trolly accident on the Port Augusta end of the transcontinental railway?
– Inquiries are being made in regard to this matter, but no information is yet to hand. I made special ‘ inquiries up to the very last moment; but, as the honorable senator knows, there has not been much time to get any information.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) pro posed -
That in order to enable notice of motion No. 1, Private Business, for the. disallowance of a regulation, tobe dealt with forthwith, so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent that being done before the Address-in- Reply has been agreed to.
– Not only do I offer no objection, but I rather welcome this motion. I have only risen in order that it may be placed on record that in the action it is about to take the Senate does not in any way wish it to be thought that it is neglectful of the obvious spirit of its standing order, which requires that the Address-in-Reply to the opening Speech should be dealt with before other business is entered upon. The object which Senator Pearce has in view is, of course, to enable his motion to be dealt with before the effluxion of the stated time which would cause it to drop off the notice-paper. It seemed to me that it was, perhaps, rather due to the representatives of the Crown that it should be intimated here that in the action which the Senate is, I presume, about to take, no discourtesy is intended in any way.
Several Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear !
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move-
That new regulation 109a. part of Statutory Rule No. 32 of 1914, under the Defence Act, be disallowed.
I am taking this course entirely on my own responsibility. The motion is in no sense a party one, nor has its subjectmatter any party significance. I have not approached a single member of the Labour party to ask him for his vote. I have not canvassed the members of the Senate, and I do not know how honorable senators generally propose to vote on this question. One or two of them voluntarily told me how they intend to vote, but, with these exceptions, I do not know how honorable senators generally propose to vote.
– It means that they are perfectly free to vote as they think fit?
– Yes. I thought it was necessary to make this statement, because otherwise it might possibly be construed that this is a party action. It has no party significance, nor has it been discussed by the party with which I am associated. I have felt it my duty to submit the motion, because I believe conscientiously that the action proposed to be taken by the Minister of Defence would be detrimental to the defence scheme, and would introduce a very undesirable condition of affairs. In the first place, I will read the regulation which I ask the Senate to disallow, and which I understand is being distributed -
Regulations (Provisional) for Universal Training, Part V., Citizen Forces, 1914. (Vide Statutory Rule 19 of 1914).
Insert new Regulation - “ 109a. (1) National Regiments which existed prior to 1st July, 1912, as efficient battalions of not less than four companies may be retained as extra-territorial units. “ (2) A National Regiment shall only be retained as such provided that it is maintained at the approved annual establishment with not less than ninety per cent, of efficient members of such establishment in each year. “ (3) The strength of National Regiments will be maintained by voluntary enrolment from those liable for training under Section 125 (c) of the Defence Act, recruits being drawn from certain convenient Brigade Areas approved by the Military Board. “ (4) Candidates for enrolment in a National Regiment will be required to prove that they are substantially of English, Scottish, or Irish descent, as the case may be. “ (5) Uniforms of a distinct pattern approved by the Military Board shall be provided for National Regiments in accordance with Section 123e of the Defence Act.”
It is essential, too, that we should look at the official notice constituting these units. In the Commonwealth Gazette of the 18th April, 1914, No. 20, we find this notification -
Department of Defence,
Melbourne, 18th April, 1914.
Ex. Min. No. 331.
MILITARY FORCES OF THE COMMONWEALTH.
Re-establishment of Units, Militia Forces.
His Excellency the Governor-General, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, has been pleased to approve of the reestablishment of the following units of the Militia Forces which existed prior to 1st July, 1912, as efficient battalions of not less than four companies, namely : -
Infantry. 2nd Military District.
New South Wales Scottish Regiment,
St. George’s English Regiment,
New South Wales Irish Regiment. 3rd Military District.
Victorian Scottish Regiment.
Minister of State for Defence.
My object in reading that notification is to bring out the point that this proposal is to apply to only two States of the Commonwealth.
– At present.
– Yes. It is to apply, in the case of New South Wales, to three branches of British nationality, and, in the case of Victoria, to one branch of British nationality, and no provision is made for the same sections of British nationality in any other State. I know it may be said that national units did not exist in other States previously, except that in Adelaide, I believe, there was a company of the Scottish battalion, and I think in Perth too.
– I - In South Australia also there was an Irish corps.
– These companies had got down below the strength, but still they had existed. No proposal is made to resuscitate them, nor is there under this minute any possibility of their being established unless it is extended by some later action of the Ministry as regards the other sections of the British nationality. No proposal is made for that at all. Various Scottish societies have taken this action of mine as being aimed particularly at them. I have just as much admiration for the Scottish people as I have for any other section of the British race, and fully recognise the glorious part they haveplayed in building up the Empire. I have not a word to say derogatory of them, nor have I any feeling whatever against them. I have nothing but admiration for all the sections of the race that have done so much to add lustre to the British name, but it is quite compatible with holding these views to have a desire to build up in Australiaa strong Australian national sentiment based on Australian tradition and associated with Australian ideals. Those who believe that the proper way to build up the national sentiment is to give promin ence to the branches of the British race from which the various sections in our community have descended must also claim to extend the principle to every State of the Commonwealth, and of every section of the British race. They cannot justify giving permission to depart from the territorial organization of the existing defence scheme to build up an Irish, Scottish, or English regiment in Sydney, and deny the same right to Perth, Brisbane, or Hobart. If it is going to be done it ought to be done thoroughly. If it is going to have a good effect on the Defence Forces, why stop short at a partial application of it in one State only?
– If it was proposed in all the capitals would you be in favour of it then ?
– I shall show clearly where I stand on the question before I finish. If it is right, the proposed action is incomplete, and the very way in which it has been introduced shows that those who have brought it forward are not themselves thorough believers in their own proposal. The argument that these units did not exist in some of the capitals before has no force, because there is quite sufficient of Scottish, Irish, or English descent to form at least a company, and probably a battalion of each nationality in each of the capitals.
– Have they not tried to do so and been refused per mission?
– When Minister, I had applications, not only from the capitals, but from places like the Boulder and Launceston, from people of various nationalities, asking that they should be allowed to form national regiments. The applications were refused at the time because we recognised that the militia system, which was then in existence, was passing. A new system had not yet been drafted, and it was decided to hold the applications over until we had decided on what organization the future system was to be based. I want to lay it down as a cardinal principle that we have adopted Lord Kitchener’s method of organization for our Forces, and that method is based on the territorial system. The training area is the king-pin of the whole position - an area for a company, so many areas for a battalion, and so many for a brigade. If we depart from the territorial system, where shall we land ourselves? It is proposed to bring in a new sectional national or racial factor - it is hard to know what is the correct term to use. All the branches of the British race are nations in the racial sense, but not in the political sense unless they have self-government. If we recognise the Scottish, Irish, and English races we must recognise also the Welsh, and probably the Cornish. It has been urged outside that Lord Kitchener gave a tentative approval to this proposal, because he recommended that the old system of giving a territorial designation should be continued. What Lord Kitchener meant was the designation of a territory within Australia. Thus before the new scheme camo into operation we had a regiment in Queensland known as the Kennedy regiment. There were various others throughout the Commonwealth with titles indicating the territorial position they occupied. Lord Kitchener, recognising this, advocated the continuance of these designations, and to-day practically every regiment in Australia, in addition to its number, has a territorial designation, such as the Yarra Borderers, at Richmond, the Launceston regiment, in Tasmania, and so on. Prior to the new scheme there were certain military units known as the English, Scottish, or Irish regiments. On the new scheme being promulgated, numbers of these were permitted to retain their distinctive uniform, but the regiments themselves were absorbed into the new Forces, and given a territorial standing based on area. The members of the old militia, not only in these regiments but in all regiments, did not then necessarily belong to the territorial portions to which the regiment was attached, but, as in all cases their services ran out at the expiry of three years, it meant that in the case of all new persons added to the Forces within three years at the longest, and in the greater number of cases earlier than that, the whole of the regiments would be raised within the territories where they themselves were living, and do their hometraining within those territories. The officers also would live in those territories, and thus Lord Kitchener’s ideal would be arrived at. He lays it down very strongly in his report that the home-training should be home-training in reality, near the men’s homes, and that the officers should live in the vicinity, thus gaining all the advantages arising from personal knowledge. The proposal to superimpose sectional, racial, or national regiments on the area or territorial system will mean this: We shall have the ordinary regiment raised on the territorial basis. To get the others brought up to strength we shall have to invite applications from trainees scattered over varying areas for admission as recruits. When they are admitted they will probably have to go out of their own area for home-training, hav-. ing to travel to some other district, and the regiment itself will not be allied or associated with any particular area in which the men live.
– Does that not apply as between the Military and the Naval Forces?
– The compulsory portions of the Naval Forces have a territorial area.
– They are confined to the sea coast. Why?
– That is not pertinent to the issue. We have applied the territorial system equally to the Naval and Military Forces, and a lad living in Camberwell is not allowed to join a naval militia force. He must train with his area at Camberwell; but a lad living at Williamstown can join the naval reserve there if he wishes.
– That is one of the drawbacks of the system.
– At any rate that is the system as now applied. It was not difficult to find a reason for the establishment of sectional or national units before the new scheme came into existence. It was almost impossible under the old voluntary system to keep the militia regiment up to the strength, and all sorts of expedients had to be used to attract men into them. One well-known expedient used in every regular army throughout the world, based on voluntary action, is a showy uniform, or an appeal to some sentiment. So English, Irish, and Scotch regiments were organized on a voluntary basis, in the hope that men who had not previously joined the old militia force would find something in the national character of the regiment to attract them into it.
– So that there is a close connexion between military and millinery.
– Any one who has seen the regular regiments in the Old Country will recognise that millinery plays a very prominent part in the recruiting for the regular army. At the Horse
Guards I saw a trooper on a horse, dressed in almost medieval uniform, in which he would never be allowed to go on the field of battle. One prominent feature of it was a metal cuirass, polished and shining like silver, and a helmet with an enormous plume of feathers. There he sat like a rock, and the country people would come and stare at him, thinking what a splendid fellow he was. As soon as a likely-looking man stopped, the recruiting sergeant would be after him, asking him if he would like to look like that. To keep the voluntary system up to strength, you must have recourse to these adventitious aids. At the trooping of the colours during the Coronation week, the military officer who was told off to give me any information that I wanted, told me that the busby that he wore cost him £4 10s. I said, “ We clothe a soldier from head to foot in Australia for less than that,” and he replied, “ I wish to God we could do it in Great Britain.” Here is a country, at its wits’ ends for money for defence purposes, spending it freely on millinery, because the authorities recognise that these things are necessary to keep the volunteer system up to strength. ,
– I - In the British service the officers pay for their own uniforms, some of them costing from £100 to £200.
– The soldiers do not buy theirs; and if the officer’s busby costs £4 10s., the men’s would cost at least half that amount, because I could not see any difference. We departed from the voluntary system with our eyes open, because we recognised that it was a hopeless failure. It was found impossible under that to keep the Forces up to their proper strength. Their nominal strength was 25,000 men, but there were not more than 22,000 efficients in the Commonwealth at any time for five years prior to the abandonment of the voluntary system. We purposely departed from that system, and adopted the system of universal and compulsory military training. Having adopted this latter system with our eyes open, why should we go back, and spend a lot of money on fripperies that are absolutely unnecessary for war ? Let us ask ourselves why our soldiers are supplied with a uniform at all. There is only one reason why men do not go to drill or to war in their ordinary clothes. The reason is that if a man is found with a rifle in his hand in time of war, and without a uniform, he is shot as soon as he is captured. It is forbidden by international law for a man to take up arms unless he has a uniform. In the Franco-German war, irregulars who were not supplied with uniforms were shot as soon as they were captured. This is” the one commonsense reason why soldiers must be supplied with a uniform. As they must have a uniform, it should be one which will attract as little attention as possible, will offer no mark to the enemy, and will, in fact, be as invisible as possible. When I watched the trooping of the colours, I asked the officer who accompanied me whether the regiment to which I have a2 ready referred took with them to war any of the uniform in which I saw them, and he said, “ Not a single scrap of it. That is their full dress uniform. . It will never leave England in any circumstances whatsoever, unless it be for some ceremonial purpose in India, or elsewhere in the Empire. We should never dream of sending soldiers to war in that uniform. When the regiment goes to war the men will be dressed in plain khaki from head to heel. Even the buttons on the khaki will be painted over. There will then be no pipe-claying and polishing of buttons. Everything will be painted over, so that the uniform will attract as little attention and will be as invisible as possible.” Honorable senators are talking about economy in connexion with our military system.
– So are the electors.
– We have at the present time a uniform of which General Hamilton speaks in the highest terms in his report. He describes it as “ smart and serviceable.” We have to remember that the uniform to be adopted should be one that can be worn with the least discomfort to those who have to wear it in time of war. We have had a description of one national uniform proposed put before us, and I am able to discuss it. I regret that I am unable to discuss the others because we have not yet been told what are to be the uniforms adopted for the Irish and English regiments. We can discuss the uniform proposed for the Scottish regiments, because a proposal in connexion with it has been received from the Military Board, although I understand the Minister of Defence has not yet assented to it. The Military Board has put forward a proposal for a uniform for the Scottish regiments which is contained in a parliamentary paper that was ordered to be printed on the 22nd of this month. Accompanying the proposal is an estimate of the cost, and I direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that the cost is spread over eight years. The military authorities have had experience of khaki uniforms, but I should like to know where they got their experience of the proposed Scottish uniform. If they are being guided by experience of the uniform previously worn by the Scottish regiments, I have only to say that that which is now proposed, is nothing like the uniform previously worn by those regiments. Honorable senators have, no doubt, often seen the uniform which the Scottish regiments used to wear. The new uniform proposed for Scottish regiments includes a khaki coat, and, I assume, a khaki kilt. The old uniform of the Scottish regiments included a scarlet coat.
– And a kilt of many colours.
– Yes; a scarlet coat and a kilt of many colours. There is no provision in the proposed new uniform for a scarlet coat. I say that, as the uniform now proposed is not that which was previously worn by Scottish regiments in Australia, there is no guarantee that it will last for eight years, as it is claimed it will”.
– If it is only worn on parade, it will last for twenty years.>
– I should like to know whether the proposed new uniform is only to be worn on parade, or whether it is a service kit.
– The uniform referred to is a service uniform.
– I thought so, and that is indicated by the fact that no provision is made for a service kit. If it had been intended that it should be considered only a full-dress uniform, it would have been necessary to add to the estimate of cost the, price of another uniform for service purposes. Our Defence Forces exist for one purpose, and that is for war.
– No; for show.
– They exist absolutely for defence purposes. If that were not so we should wipe them out, and should not spend a half-penny upon them. I ask the Minister of Defence whether he would send a Scottish regiment into war with the proposed new uniform.
– Yes; and they would lead the way every time.
– I assure Senator McDougall that I recognise to the full the very valuable services that the Scottish regiments, and particularly the Highland regiments, have given to the British Empire in every campaign. The honorable senator is probably correct in saying that the Scottish regiments would lead the way.
– Away from the field.
– I do not share that view, and I know that the honorable senator’s interjection was merely jocular. Honorable senators should bear in mind that the uniform described in the parliamentary paper, unless it is to be of khaki, with a khaki kilt, will not be the uniform which the Scottish regiments will use in war. What is my reason for saying that? I refer honorable senators to what happened in South Africa. Did the Scottish regiments wear their full-dress uniform in the South African war ? Is it not a fact that they wore khaki aprons over their kilts.
– They had the kilts.
– Yes; but they wore khaki aprons over them. I see no provision in the estimate before me for khaki aprons.
– Would not the quickest way to deal with the matter be to let the Scotchmen have the khaki kilts? The difficulty would be at an end in six months.
– The honorable senator does not know Scotchmen when he talks like that.
– -What I am afraid of is that the proposal is not to provide a khaki kilt, but some other kilt which will not be used in war. I am afraid that this uniform will not be used in war, and that we are going to be asked to spend money on a uniform for show. I shall give my vote every time against the expenditure of any money on uniforms for show. If this is not to be a show uniform, it will’ be a khaki uniform, and’ if the Government ask the Scottish people of Australia to accept a khaki kilt, they will tell them to keep it. They will say that it is not a kilt at all. Every penny we spend on defence should be spent for war purposes. This proposal of the Military Board is put forward in a very cunning way. The cost is spread over eight years, and the assumption is that, while a soldier of the ordinary regiments of the Defence Forces will wear out three uniforms in that time, the Scottish soldier will wear out only one. I am aware of the reputation which our Scotch friends have for economy, but I hardly think they expect that they will be able to attend eight camps for training, in addition to the home training, and then have a presentable appearance in a uniform given to them eight years before. We have to remember that the kilt is the customary dress of the Highlander, but how many Scotch or Irish people in Australia wear kilts? The kilt is said to be a sanitary dress, and is much belauded for health reasons. There is no restriction upon its use here, but we do not find people wearing it as part of their ordinary dress in Australia. The young men who will be put into this uniform have been accustomed to wear trousers, and in nearly every case, underpants inside the trousers. We are going to put them into camp in the middle of winter in kilts.
– We do not put them there; they go there.
– I do not care how they get there. The point is that, having worn trousers with underpants all the year round, they are sent into camp for eight days, in the middle of winter, and when it may be raining all the time, without their trousers or underpants.
– H - How do they manage in the Highlands of Scotland?
– I have just said that they are accustomed to wear kilts there, and never wear breeks or underpants at any time. When Senator Stewart was in Scotland, with his kilt flapping around his legs, the cold blasts of the north never troubled him in the slightest.
– Not a bit.
– But put Senator Stewart into kilts now.
– I would not wear a khaki kilt.
– After years of association with the effeminate Sassenach, and the adoption of his peculiar clothes, the honorable senator would die in a week if he were put into kilts. Viewed in the light of common sense, this proposal is a fantastic one. I shall compare the first cost of the different articles. I take, first, the Australian uniform - one pair of breeches, lis. 9d.; one cap, 2s.; one hat, 6s. 3d.; one pair of putties, 6s. 9d.; one shirt, 10s. ; total, £1 13s. 9d. According to the paper submitted, the proposed Scottish uniform will cover - One cap, 2s. ; one hat, 6s. 3d. j one pair of gaiters, 6d. ; kilts, £1 Ss. 6d. ; hose tops, one pair, 4s. 3d. ; shirt, 10s. ; sporan, 8s. 6d. ; spats, one pair, 3s. 3d. ; or a total of £3 3s. 3d. Let us now look at the system which it is proposed shall be adopted. During the past few weeks, the Military Orders in the metropolitan area have practically been converted into leaflets for the purpose of beating up enthusiasm on this question. Those leaflets have contained appeals to men to come forward and recruit for these national regiments. I have been informed by one brigade-major that in his brigade he has, so far, been successful in securing only twelve recruits.
– It is only fair to say that there has also been a report going round, through the mouths of officers, that they need not bother to get recruits because the Senate was going to knock the system on the head.
– I do not know what this Chamber is going to do. I do not know whether the statement of the brigadier in question is correct. But let us suppose that more recruits offer than the establishment will permit. What will happen? Take the case of an Australian who is the son of Irish parents living at Woolloomooloo, and who desires to join the Irish regiment. When all the applications have been received, let us assume that it is found that there are more applicants than the Gazette establishment will allow. What will then happen? Obviously, some will be rejected and others selected. To-day we allow recruiting for the Artillery, the Army Service Corps, and the Medical Corps. Why? We permit it in the case of the Artillery in order that we may get the services of men who are used to mechanical trades. But the question of their nationality or of their ability to pay does not enter into their selection. But who will make the selection for these national regments? Why, the .officers of the regiments. Thus we may have two
Irish -Australians applying for selection. One will be taken, and the other left. In effect, the latter will be told that he is not thought good enough to be a member of the Irish regiment, but that he is good enough for an Australian regiment.
– I - It is not a question of being good enough at all.
– I, am an Australian before I am an Englishman, and, if there is to be a process of selection, I hold that we should make the flower regiments of this country the Australian regiments.
– T - They will all be Australian regiments.
– In a sense, that is true enough.
– Suppose that a Scotch boy’s application for admission to a Scotch regiment is turned down, will he be allowed to wear a kilt in an Australian regiment ?
– No. The mere fact that he has not been selected for the Scottish regiment will prevent him from wearing the national dress, but another applicant who is selected for the Scottish regiment will be allowed to wear it.
– The honorable senator has just been telling us that we cannot keep up the establishment of these regimen te.
– The honorable senator has put words into my mouth which I did not utter. I said that one brigade-major had told me that he had secured only twelve recruits. Such a system as. that under discussion will undoubtedly lead to the establishment of class regiments. Unfortunately, it is a fact that the great majority of our officers, especially officers of the higher rank, have been chosen practically from one class. Owing to the cost of uniforms and to the demands made upon their time, it has, until recently, been practically impossible for a working man tomaintain a position as an officer. In all ranks practically above that of captain, the great majority of our officers have been drawn from one social class. I am glad to say, however, that under the universal training system - under which promotion can be obtained only as the result of competitive examination - a far greater proportion of our officers are working men, and the sons of working men, than was ever the case before. But the selection of men for these national regiments will be in the hands of the senior officers, who have, in the past,, been chosen from one class. Thus we are going to make a distinction-
– Is not there a distinction when one set of boys is trained in the college grounds while another set is trained at night?
– Yes, and the only way to overcome that trouble is to adopt the suggestion of Mr. Fisher, and train the boys in their working hours. Had the referenda proposals been carried, it was our firm intention to bring forward a proposition to that effect. Indeed, we had pledged ourselves to bring forward a Bill, if necessary, to provide for PaY. ment for the period that the lads were absent from work. If the present Ministry will do that, on behalf of my colleagues in this Chamber, I can promise them our support to a man. Before closing, I wish to tell honorable senators that this matter has been discussed by persons other than politicians. During the time that I held office as Minister of Defence, I inaugurated a system under which the commanding officers in each State are brought together once a year for the purpose of making suggestions for the improvement of the organization of our Defence Forces. These State conferences elect delegates to a central conference, which goes carefully through the whole of the recommendations submitted to it, preparatory to making recommendations to the Military Board. I am glad, indeed, that Senator Millen has continued that system. These militia officers’ conferences met last year, and discussed this question. They almost unanimously voted against the proposal to re-establish national regiments.
– W - Were any officers from the national regiments present at those conferences?
– I cannot say. The Australian Natives’ Association in this State - an association which has done a great deal to propagate Australian sentiment - at its annual conference at Wangaratta on 24th March last passed a resolution condemning the establishment of these regiments.
– T - The Australian Natives’ Association in Victoria is the only association of that kind” which has done so.
– This matter came before me when I was Minister of Defence in various ways. A deputation waited upon me in respect of it, and it was made the subject of a resolution in another place. It has been said that in taking up my present stand I have gone back upon the view which I expressed in reply to that deputation. As a matter of fact, I have done nothing of the sort. At the time the deputation waited upon me the motion submitted in another place had not been dealt with. I told that deputation that if Parliament gave me a direction on this question I was, of course, bound to accept it. At the same time I did not pledge myself to accept a direction from the House of Representatives only. The Military Board has also dealt with the question, and has recommended the establishment of these national regiments, subject to a condition, as has also the Inspector-General. That condition is that the regiments should be established provided that those who join them pledge themselves to be liable for service in any part of the Empire. I refused to sanction that. I took up the position that as these regiments were in existence, and as the militia forces in three years would be totally absorbed by the new citizen forces, I would not do anything to disturb their distinctive dress until by effluxion of time their members retired from our Defence Forces. But I have never given any sanction to making these regiments part of our national defence scheme, which is based on territorial lines. I have moved this motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders because it is only fair, both to the Minister and myself, that the matter should be dealt with before the expiry of the fifteen days from the date on which the regulation was laid on the table of the Senate. I ask honorable senators to deal with this question impartially, and upon its merits. I ask them to remember that we owe a duty to Australia - that of doing all we can to build up an Australian national sentiment. We are the sons of the British race, and we want to fuse all the members of that race in Australia into one. We want to forget the differences that very often divided us in the Old Country.
– I do not.
– I think that we all .do. I want to remember every historic association which will be of value in bringing the different members of our race together, and which can be of service here in helping us to create a sound, healthy, national Australian sentiment. Let us be Australians first, and if we are true to Australia we shall be true to the Empire of which Australia is a part. Our first duty is to Australia, and whether we be Scotch, Irish, or English, if we wish to be Australians in the truest sense of the word we will do everything possible to foster a national sentiment, and we will discourage everything that is calculated to divide Australian sentiment into apartments, be they racial, religious, or social.
.- I think the Senate will agree with me when I say that we all welcome the action taken by Senator Pearce. So long as it is within the competency of any branch of the Legislature to disturb an action being taken by a Department there is an element of uncertainty as to what the outcome will be. It is desirable that that uncertainty should be cleared up, and the submission of this motion will have that effect. The proposal is not a mere abstract one, but one which, if carried, will have the effect of stopping the action which has been taken to maintain national regiments. For that reason I welcome it. Senator Pearce is entirely consistent in the attitude which he has taken up to-day. But so am I. Long ago I expressed my views on this matter, and therefore both Senator Pearce and myself occupy to-day exactly the position that we have occupied for some time. The Senate is now invited to determine which policy shall be adopted. I venture to say that if the proposal which I have put forward to continue these national regiments within certain limits is turned down, it will be a long while before an effort can be made to revive it.
– It would be a breach of faith later to alter the system.
– I - If it is allowed to continue now and turned down afterwards, there will be, I think, a legitimate grievance. Therefore, I intend to ask the Senate, in voting, to regard its decision as being as near an approach to finality as can be got in any matter determined by a parliamentary vote.
– Do you want to make this a test question for the elections?
– I do not think that anything I have said justifies that interjection. I did not bring this matter forward, and therefore, if any politics is being introduced, it is not being done by me, who was going on quietly in my own way.
– You did bring the regulation forward.
– Unquestionably, I did. Shortly after taking office - that is, nearly twelve months ago - I sought to give effect to the views I had expressed here. Can fault be found with me for doing that? If any one is to be charged with reviving this matter to-day, in view of future elections, it cannot be I, who did not make a move at this stage, but Senator Pearce, though I do not think that he did it with that object.
– No, it is the regulation that did it.
– The regulation is there giving effect to a policy which I took the preliminary steps to introduce months ago.
– We could not deal with the matter till you had framed your regulation.
– That is quite right. I do not suggest that there is a political motive underlying the action of Senator Pearce; it was his own colleague who made the suggestion. My honorable friend has gone into a lot of the details of the board’s recommendation to myself as to the uniform. I am quite prepared, if necessary, to follow him through all these details. But I want to put them on one side. There is a main question to decide here, quite irrespective of what the colour of the tartan or other details of the uniforms may be. The question is:] Is the Senate favorable to the continuance of a limited number of national regiments or not? The details can be altered as occasion may require, or expediency may suggest. But the main question which the Senate has to decide to-day by vote is whether or not it approves of the action I have taken in authorizing the continuance of certain of these regiments. That being so, I do not propose to occupy very much time in dealing with the details, except so far as they relate to cost. First, I wish to deal with what I regard as the main objection to this proposal. Senator Pearce has stressed the fact that the territorial system which has been adopted cannot work side by side or concurrently with this proposal for national regiments, and he used the phrase that the territorial system would break down if we con tinued the national regiments. I must express my surprise that one who is so well informed as to what is going on in the Department should ever have made a statement of that kind. The territorial system does not break down to-day, and yet it is violated in every State of the Union. I refer to the technical units. We have first of all the ordinary area - the territorial area designed by Lord Kitchener, or in conformity with his scheme - and within this area is raised the ordinary infantry regiment. But from a number of these areas we secure the recruits necessary for the formation of the technical units. That is not really a violation of the principle of the territorial system. It is merely altering the boundaries of the territorial area within which we raise a different unit. That is going on to-day, and it has gone on with the sanction of Senator Pearce from the time the defence scheme was launched, and the system has not broken down. As a matter of fact, the term “ territorial “ is rather a fetish with my honorable friend. The technical units are territorial just the same as the ordinary infantry regiments in the sense that they are raised from certain areas. The only difference is that we may still raise them in a smaller or a larger area, but the territorial connexion is there all the same. The territorial system does not mean that a complete unit shall be raised in an ordinary training area, or even in a battalion area. How, for instance, are the Light Horse raised? Light Horse regiments are raised sometimes outside the ordinary training area, but more frequently overlapping that area. A case in point is the Light Horse regiment which centres at New England. I mention this case, because in the course of departmental business1 the particulars have come under my notice; but it is only indicative of what prevails in regard to other mounted regiments. These regiments overlap the infantry areas. In one of these areas we give a lad a choice, up to the numbers required, as to whether he will join an infantry regiment or a Light Horse regiment.
– Why do you not do that in the Navy?
– I will come to that point directly, and I thank my honorable friend for the interjection. When my honorable friend speaks about preference in regard to this system, I ask, What about the preference he showed to the Light Horse? Then we say to a boy, “ The Act compels you to serve.”
– It is not a qualification of birth.
– I understand that every Australian has the same right to join the Light Horse ; is not that so ?
– No, because when certain boys are mustered they are asked whether they will join the infantry or the Light Horse. A boy who wishes to join the Light Horse has to show that he has a horse on which to mount himself. That is the first distinction which arises. I only mention this matter because Senator Pearce tried to make out that the Scottish regiments would be regiments reserved for the wealthier section of the community.
– So they would be.
– What about your Light Horsemen ?
– They are not reserved for the wealthier section of the community.
– Senator Russell has asked what will happen when two brothers want to join a Scottish regiment. What happens to-day when two brothers desire to join a mounted force? They cannot join if it is above the establishment.
– What do you allow the men for a horse ?
– Previously the Department allowed £1 a year under the liberal administration of the honorable senator’s party, and I have raised the allowance to £4. But even £4 a year, in my judgment - and I think that Senator Pearce will agree with me - is not enough.
– It will not buy a horse, anyhow.
– No. When the two brothers Senator Russell spoke about come along and offer themselves for a Light Horse regiment, two things may turn them down. One thing is that one boy has not a horse, and the other thing is that if there are more persons applying for admission to the mounted regiment than are needed, somebody has to be pushed on one side. There is exactly the same position as will happen with a national regiment.
– Are they pushed aside for all time?
– Can they get a transfer subsequently if a vacancy happens ?
– That will depend very much on circumstances. If the regiment is made up to its strength, there is no room for a transfer to it.
– Vacancies are always occurring.
– That is so. On the other hand, if a young soldier has been trained in a particular unit for a time, obviously there are reasons why he should remain in that line of service, though, of course, transfers can be, and are, permitted. I think that honorable senators will see that once a boy has gone into one arm of the service there is a tendency for him to remain there, and it is desirable, as far as possible, that he should do so.
– As a matter of fact, where there is a Light Horse regiment, in most cases there are no other units.
– It is not always so. I forget the name of the Light Horse brigade which centres on Armidale; but I know that it encroaches on the territorial area of the fourteenth regiment.
– The desire is to get country men into the Light Horse?
– That is so. But I would point out that the Light Horse regiments are drawn from areas in which boys have not only a choice, but two openings. They are compelled to go into the infantry unless they volunteer for the Light Horse. If the volunteers for the latter are more than are required, somebody has to be pushed on one side. I have heard no objection to this system from Senator Pearce. When he was Minister of Defence that was not held to be a fatal objection. Senator Russell never trotted it out, because of two brothers one of whom was taken and the other left. Yet it is the same as the position which has been pointed to to-day. When you come to the question of the possession of a little more wealth, a distinction is made. A boy who is the proud possessor of an animal he has purchased or has obtained by other means is privileged to go into a Light Horse regiment, but his less fortunate brother on foot is told that he must go into an infantry regiment. No one has made a protest against that differentiation. The position is entirely similar to that which will be created by the continuance of the national regiments. Let me turn to the question of the Naval Branch of the Citizen Forces, to which Senator Guthrie has referred. My honorable friends did not make any “bones” about saying to a boy who was very anxious to go into the Navy, ‘ ‘ No, you shall not go into the Navy; you shall train with the Land Force,” and to another boy, who was training with the Navy, and would have given a great deal to get away from it, and join a land regiment, “ You cannot do it.”
– You do.
– My honorable friend must- misunderstand me.
– A boy living in Port Melbourne can join the Land Force or the Naval Force, but a boy living at Essendon cannot.
– My honorable friend is wrong. When a boy is in an area marked out for the recruiting for the Navy, he is compelled to go into the Naval Force.
– No; you are absolutely wrong
– That is the case where that particular area has only a Naval Unit, but most of the areas have both a naval and a military unit, and where that is the case they have a choice.
– I am dealing with a case where the Department have marked out an area for a Naval Unit.
– I have had cases where one brother was forced to go into a land regiment and another brother into the Navy. The Department had always been ready to let brothers go together into the Navy.
– To-day, there are two systems in vogue. There has been no objection by my honorable friends opposite to using force to compel a boy to go into a particular service, or stand down when he was not wanted. So far as the Naval Units are concerned, they obtain in two ways - either one area is a unit for entirely the Navy, and there is no military unit in it-
– Where are these areas ?
– I cannot indicate them at present!.
– There is one at Portland.
– There is one area close here. I think that Williamstown is another area. In that case a boy may say, “ I much prefer to be a soldier than a sailor.” It is rather curious that in this matter Williamstown does not appear to take to naval training very keenly.
– And nobody else.
– There is a difficulty there compared with places like Geelong, where there is a naval unit. But my honorable friends did not ‘ stop to consider that boy. They said to him, “ No ; it is the design of the scheme, and you have to do it.” They had no objection to telling that boy that he must do this, or stand on one side. Why, then, should Senator Pearce make a pathetic appeal about the position which is going to be created when somebody is asking to join a national regiment, ana. is told, “ The regiment is not large enough to admit you. It is already filled up?” If there is anything in his argument at all, my honorable friends will have to revise their own scheme. But we have gone on the assumption that, as far as we possibly can, in these matters we will meet the wishes of the individual, but, beyond that, the needs of the Service must prevail. Let me go a little farther, and show what else has to be done in the matter of the territorial system. In Great Britain they have a territorial system, but, like ourselves, they have been obliged to meet the requirements of special arms of the Service.
– It is not compulsory.;
– No. So far as the territorial aspect is concerned, it is much the same whether you are dealing with a compulsory or a voluntary system.
– It is quite a different thing altogether.
– The territorial portion is not. What is meant by a territorial system is, as Senator Pearce explained, a system in which the troops raised’ within a given area shall form a unit attached to that territorial area.In Great Britain, where they have adopted the territorial system for purposes of organization, they find it necessary, as we do, to go outside any particular area for the recruiting of certain units. We have had to follow their example, and have found it to our advantage to do so. The honorable senator said we were going to destroy the Australian national sentiment and patriotism by this proposal, and create a measure of ill-feeling. I cannot think the honorable senator was serious. I am inclined to think he has allowed certain preconceived notions to sway him without seriously thinking out the logical consequences of his action. This aspect of the matter was very well put, on the Estimates last year, by Senator O’Loghlin, who spoke from practical experience, in these words -
I can say from my personal experience that the ex-Minister of Defence greatly exaggerated the difficulties likely to arise, and I do not think there was any foundation at all for his claim that the establishment of these national regiments would detract in any way from our Australian patriotism. My weakness, if it may be so described, or inclination to honour the traditions of the race from which I have sprung, does not in any way detract from my Australian patriotism. In South Australia we had, in addition to the Irish corps, a Scotch corps, and an Australian Natives corps. These comrades in arms and rivals in renown met together in camp and on the drill ground, and the best spirit prevailed amongst them. There was no jealousy, and none of the racial feeling which Senator Pearce seemed to indicate as likely to result from the establishment of these national regiments. The Irish and Scotch corps held annual competitions, rifle matches, football matches, and tugs-of-war and I make bold to say that the result was that we had superimposed upon our Australian patriotism an additional patriotism drawn from the traditions of the country from which we sprang. Actual experience is worth a lot of imaginary supposition in estimating a matter of this kind.
– You would not let Senator O’Loghlin join an Irish regiment in Victoria.
– I - If that is the defect in this scheme, let the House indicate it, and the regulations can be varied as circumstances require or expediency suggests.
– You will admit that Senator O’Loghlin has not got the same privileges as an Irishman in Sydney has.
– L - Let me point out one reason why a limit was imposed. First it was a very reasonable supposition that there was not likely to be a strong desire to form national regiments where no efforts to form them had previously been made. If they were in existence at the time they could be continued under the regulation that has been adopted.
– Your Gazette order does not provide for them.
– For the simple reason that they were not in existence. as regiments. If there is a sufficient desire in other capitals to have them, neither logically nor by inclination can I refuse the request. But we were confronted with the position that there had been a feeling sufficiently strong in certain places to form and maintain these regiments, and it was not unnatural to suppose that only in those places would the desire to continue them be manifest. I am not going to take up the illogical position that a privilege granted to the capital of one State should be denied to another.
– “Will you agree to introduce another regulation giving the other States that privilege?
– There is no proof that they want it.
– Yes, it was refused here.
– I am now told that there is an overwhelming desire to form national regiments in certain other places, yet Senator Pearce says they cannot find twelve recruits for one regiment in the whole city of Melbourne.
– Y - You can safely give them the privilege if they can raise half a battalion.
– T - There must be certain limits.
– Will you give them a limit?
– If the concession is made to certain, units in certain cities I can see no reason why the same privilege should not be extended to other capital cities, but there must be a limit. Every country town cannot be allowed to form a regiment of this kind. We do not allow an artillery regiment to form itself where it likes.
– Will you allow the Scottish regiments to have a really national dress, and not the khaki?
– What does the honorable senator mean by a national dress? The uniform now under consideration is to be a service uniform, and so far as I can ascertain, meets the approval of those who have been most active in the matter. It apparently satisfies the Scottish people, and meets the requirements laid down by Senator Pearce for a service uniform.
– Is it a khaki kilt?
– They have themselves supplied the samples of khaki tartan which is likely to be approved. It has been objected that no provision has been made for the Welsh. That is true, but so far as I know, the Welsh in Australia have never displayed any inclination or desire to have a unit of their own. Senator Pearce himself gave a reason why no provision was made for the Welsh, because a little later on he referred to the three principal sections of the British race. If any large body of Welsh people had expressed a wish for their own unit I should not have discriminated against them. I come now to the question of cost. Every time the matter of this uniform comes up, Senator Pearce tries to impress the House with the fact that it is going to cost more, and that he would not consent to sacrifice the efficiency of the Army or the interests of the taxpayers to extravagance in dress. The first deputation that waited on me after taking office was on this matter. I replied to them in exactly the same terms as Senator Pearce, that I was not prepared to sanction the departure if it impaired the efficiency of the defence system, or if the cost was to be materially increased. On the technical matter of the cost, I deputed the Military Board to make the necessary inquiries, and have in ray hand the information which enabled me to act. According to what they told me, the additional cost is ls. 9d. per man, spread over eight years. A small sum like that does not justify our talking about a question of cost in this matter at all.
– The additional cost is £1 9s. 6d. in the first year for each man.
– I hope that neither these regiments nor our Defence Forces generally are for one year only.
– Is it thought that the costume will last longer than the Australian uniform because of its superior quality?
– I have no personal experience of its durability. I have taken the advice of experts in the matter. The question of quality is not involved, because the whole difference is ls. 9d.
– The difference in the first cost is that between £1 9s. 9d. and £3 3s.
– The initial expenditure will be greater, but those who ought to know estimate that the extra cost for the whole period of service will be only ls. 9d. per man.
– If the Australians ask for a uniform of the same quality at an original cost of £3 3s., what will your answer be?
– My answer will be “ No,” because, before the eight years are up, the Australian requires to replace certain articles more freely than the Scottish-clothed regiment does. I admit at once that there is a small disadvantage in the Commonwealth being required to face a slightly larger initial cost, but in the course of eight years the total financial disability under which the Commonwealth will stagger is ls. 9d. per man enlisted. Senator Pearce spoke about the purpose of a Defence Force being for use in war, and that all the requirements should be designed with that end in view. He explained that, although there are many gaudy uniforms in the British Army when men were sent on service, all distinctive marks likely to attract the eye of the enemy’s marksmen were obliterated. That is true, but did it not occur to Senator Pearce that the whole of the disabilities which he imagines exists on that account were ignored by his trusted adviser, MajorGeneral Fitzpatrick, when he proceeded to equip and clothe regiments for service abroad in this proposed Scottish uniform 1
– He made no proposal as to uniform.
– What was the nature of the recommendation which the honorable senator turned down, and in which that officer proposed to continue these national regiments, with the one proviso that they should volunteer for service abroad?
– He simply made a proposition to me, and I dissented from it on both grounds.
– He was a military officer of considerable experience and reputation, and was, I believe, the trusted adviser of Senator Pearce in these matters. He put forward a proposal to continue the national regiments in order to make a brigade ready for instant service outside Australia.
– They would have required two sets of uniform.
– There is no proof of that.
– Yes, because they had scarlet coats.
– There is nothing said about the uniform.
– No, but the honorable senator knows as a matter of fact that the Scottish uniform included a scarlet coat.
– I know that the regiment would not go into the field with scarlet coats and bright tartan kilts.
– The members of the Scottish regiments can be seen wearing khaki coats and tartan kilts in Melbourne.
– That is so. We have the authority of a gentleman who was not the least experienced officer who has favoured Australia with his services, for saying that there would be no injury to the territorial system and no disadvantage in the field of battle if these national regiments were formed and uniformed as proposed. If there was no disability on either of these grounds to the formation of these national regiments not for service within Australia, but for service outside, I want to know what possible harm could be done by the formation of such regiments for service within Australia.
– The honorable senator will find that General Kirkpatrick did not recommend the formation of national regiments, but said that if we formed them they should be ear-marked for foreign service only.
– I think that Senator Pearce is wrong there. I am sorry I have not General Kirkpatrick’s report here, but I have a minute upon it by the Military Board.
– Does the honorable senator not think that the fact that General Kirkpatrick attaches the condition of foreign service to these regiments bears out what I have said ?
– I quite understand that what General Kirkpatrick was aiming at was the formation of a brigade that could be mobilized instantly for foreign service. He knew as well as any man the basis of Lord Kitchener’s scheme, yet he evidently recognised that it would not be injurious to that scheme, or to the territorial system, to allow a certain number of men, regardless of the areas in which they lived, to enlist in national regiments, with the proviso that they should then become available for foreign service. If it is not injurious to the territorial system to allow men to enlist in national regiments for foreign service, I want to know how any harm could come of the formation of such regiments for service within Australia. That appears to me to be a complete answer to the imaginary fears Senator Pearce has conjured up to influence honorable senators this morning. There is another danger which Senator Pearce tried to move us with, and that is the danger to the health of these delicate Scotchmen. He pictured the frightful havoc which would result if these citizens, who go about clothed like ordinary mortals most of their time, should occasionally, when called upon to drill, or to go into camp, discard what may be called ordinary garb, and put on their own particular national dress. Senator Pearce has probably been, as I have, in this city on a dark and stormy night, and has seen a number of citizens turn out garbed in that way to attend their annual banquet, but we have never heard that any of them suffered in consequence.
– Perhaps the whisky kept out the cold.
– The Minister would not suggest that they only attend banquets in their national dress?
– No; but I have seen them in that dress on many occasions. What happened to the old Scotch regiments that were here ? They used to dress in ordinary clothes while following their usual avocations, and it was only when they went to drill or into camp that they put their regimental uniform on. Nothing frightful happened as a consequence. We did not hear of any fatal results. There was no big death roll amongst Scottish regiments in camp under the militia system, and why should we suppose that Scotchmen here have suddenly become feeble and delicate so that disastrous consequences will follow if they are allowed to continue, under a system of compulsion, the service which they previously rendered as volunteers. Senator Pearce has rather been looking around for imaginary evils with which to strengthen a case which he possibly feels is not very strong after all.
– Is this uniform to be for war purposes, or will these national regiments, in the event of war, need to bo supplied with another uniform?
– I am very pleased to again answer that question. The uniform it is proposed to equip them with is a service uniform.
– Except the sporran.
– Senator Pearce spoke of public opinion in the matter, and referred to the action of the Australian Natives Association, and also to the fact that a conference of militia officers had passed resolutions against the proposal to have these national regiments. I do not think that that was very remarkable. Senator O’Loghlin punctured that particular tyre when he asked Senator Pearce whether the representatives of the national regiments were present at the conference. Senator O’Loghlin imagined quite rightly what the answer to his question would be. I value the opinion of these gentlemen on all m jitters connected with the training and efficiency of the forces “under their command, but this is a matter on which a layman is as competent to express an opinion as is any military officer. When referring to expressions of public opinion I noticed that Senator Pearce did not lay very much stress upon the action of this Parliament. The Australian Natives Association is a body for which I have every respect. I know that that organization has passed a resolution adverse to my action, but there is an Australian institution which ought not to be brushed on one side too lightly, and that is the Federal Parliament. What has the action of this Parliament been ? The year before last the House of Representatives passed a resolution affirming the desirability of continuing these national regiments. That is an important expression of opinion.
– Of continuing the distinctive national uniforms.
– The honorable senator knows perfectly well that what was meant was that we should continue til© national regiments then existing. That is what the House of Representatives decided was desirable.
– I - Is there likely to be a dead-lock over this question ?
– I have no wish to further depress my honorable friend, but if there is to be trouble about this, I hope that the matter will be dealt with, as peremptorily as was another matter last night.
– The honorable senator is more depressed about what happened last night than we are.
– Senator Long could not have seen himself or his friends or he would not say that. If public opinion is a factor to be taken into account- in this matter, I say that I have been’ to some extent strengthened in the action I took up by the knowledge that the larger House of this Parliament, and the House which is more closely in touch with the people in many respects than is the Senate, passed a resolution affirming the desirability of continuing these regiments. What happened here? It is not denied, never was, and cannot be, denied, that a similar motion submitted in the Senate would have been carried on thenight it was submitted but for the fact that Senator Pearce secured the adjournment of the debate.
– The honorable senator admitted that. When the matter came up on the Estimates last year, and’ I was referring to the fact, just as I am doing now, that the Senate would havepassed the motion but for the strategyof Senator Pearce, who, knowing that the numbers were against him, sought to side-track the motion by moving theadjournment of the debate, the honorable senator, as will be seen by reference to page 4591 of Hansard for last year, did not deny my statement. He tried to explain it away by saying, “Yes, but they were on the eve of an election.” That was practically, I say, an admission.
– I do not take as correct everything that is said over there. What did I say “Yes” to?
– I hope to oblige the honorable senator by reading the exact words. The statement has been made frequently, and I never heard it disputed, that the numbers were in favour of the motion, and that Senator Pearce, with an exhibition of generalship, got the matter adjourned. I am entitled to ask honorable senators, so far as my action requires commendation, or it may be condemnation, to remember that I acted with the knowledge that one branch of the Parliament had approved in anticipation of what I was doing, and that tha other Chamber, as then constituted, was certainly in favour of it also. If we are to be guided by public opinion, I wish honorable senators to place those two facts side by side with the knowledge that a large section of the public are favorable to what has been done. Whether that section represents a majority opinion I do nob know, but it is a considerable section, and they are Australians, as loyal as Senator Pearce is, or would wish them to be, and they are extremely anxious to have those regiments retained. When I look at that aspect of the question, I ask myself whether there is any advantage or disadvantage to the military system in doing those things which gratify and please a number of people, provided they are done without injury to the system. I have not been able to discover that any injury can result by the retention of these regiments, which, I believe, will prove very gratifying, and increase the enthusiasm of a large number of people. When we consider the question of attraction *versus compulsion, I must break another lance with Senator Pearce. He has reminded us that we have a compulsory system ; and he has expressed similar sentiments on a previous occasion. I admit that our system is one of legal compulsion, but I do not like to think that it is only on compulsion that we are relying. Even if the law does place an obligation on every one, it is much more gratifying to think that we can make a public duty attractive, rather than that its performance depends entirely on compulsion. Senator Pearce, in replying to the deputation to which I have previously referred, made use of these words -
In Australia it was different. We had a compulsory system, and it was different. We had no need of any such attraction.
I am not now speaking only in regard to uniforms; it ought to be the object of Parliament, and those charged with the administration, to do everything possible, short of touching its efficiency, to make the Service attractive iu every way.
– But the Service is being made repulsive to some, in order to please a few.
– Has service in the infantry been made repulsive because men cannot get into the technical units?
– That is a question of technical ability.
– Or into the light horse?
– That is a question of technical ability.
– No, it is not, because any number of lads would give a good deal to get into either unit. Every technical unit is over-applied for, and there is not one to-day that could not more than double its numbers.
– Because the pay is better.
– It is not a question of pay.
– They are all paid alike.
– The fact is that, not only are those units attractive to those engaged in particular trades, but there is the harder work, and the possibility of wider knowledge. It is a common experience to have to refuse the applications of numbers of boys, and to send them back into the infantry.
– Not because of their birth ?
– The reason is another matter - we are doing it. I do not suppose that when these lads find they cannot get into the artillery, or into the electrical unit, they go back and say, “Anything is good enough for the infantry; we are under some cloud, and these ‘superior’ men have been picked.” On the contrary, I think that they recognise that their luck is against them, and that they must take their place in an ordinary infantry regiment.
Senator Pearce said just now he would like to see what answer he gave, and suggested that he does not always accept what is conveyed from this side. When I was speaking on the Appropriation Bill, on the 17th December last year, I said -
In the Senate last session we had a very animated discussion on this matter, and I think I am only stating what was recognised at the time, when I affirmed that a similar motion would have been carried here but for the Opposition, and, I may say, the skilful tactics of Senator Pearce. The numbers on that occasion - and it was not an empty House - were undoubtedly such as would have carried a motion.
– Do you know that it was just on the eve of an election for both Houses?
– Where is the “Yes”? You quoted me as saying “Yes.”
– All I said was that, when the matter was brought on, Senator Pearce practically admitted, by his interjection, that it was on the eve of an election. I say that that interjection was an admission that my statement was correct.
– You stated that I said “Yes,” thus giving assent to your proposition.
– I said that Senator Pearce assented to my proposition, and I say so now.
– That there was a majority vote?
– I did not assent to anything of the kind.
– Senator Millen tried to make out that Senator Pearce, as a good general, adjourned the Senate because the majority was against him.
– I say so now.
– The honorable senator’s statement, as reported, does not bear that out.
– Senator Millen stated that when he said that I adjourned the House for that reason, I interjected “ Yes.”
– I shall have a great deal of pleasure in showing Senator Pearce the Hansard report of what I did say. What I said was that Senator Pearce, by his interjection, assented to the affirmation that he secured the adjournment of the Senate because he knew the numbers were against him.
– Senator Millen will remember that I stated that I would like to know what I said “Yes” to.
– I know; but I did not use the word “Yes.” Why did Senator Pearce not contradict the statement when it was made ? Instead of doing that, however, he simply said, “Don’t you know that it was on the eve of an election?” I find no fault with Senator Pearce for securing the adjournment of the debate, for, possibly, had I been in the same tight fix, I should have done so myself. I have no wish to detain the Senate longer; but I should like to say a word on the question of whether national regiments are destructive of Australian sentiment. Are those who form the national regiments less Australian than their brothers who remain in the ordinary Forces? It is an insult to throw the slightest doubt on the patriotism of men of English, Scotch, or Irish birth, because they desire to retain some public emblem of their ancestors. When
I am told that we ought to try to bind an. Australian Force with one sentiment - an idea which I indorse - I ask Senator Pearce whether he would go so far as to find fault with the gatherings of Highlanders on St. Andrew’s Day, or of Irishmen on St. Patrick’s Day?
– Certainly not. Those gatherings are not instigated by the Government, or carried out by the Government.
– Considerable countenance is lent to the gatherings by the Government, because there are public holidays on such occasions. It is ridiculous to suppose that, because a man looks with pride on the traditions, customs, and characteristics of his immediate ancestors, he is, therefore, less loyal to Australia. If these regiments are continued, as I hope they will be, the only feeling that will exist between them and the regular forces will be one of keen rivalry, in order to see which will display the most efficiency, and render the most loyal service to the country. It is quite correct, as Senator Pearce said, that the first duty of all our soldiers should be to Australia, but that is not the point. The question that I wish Senator Pearce to answer is whether he thinks that the men who form these national regiments will render that first duty to Australia less loyally and less thoroughly than if they were enrolled in the regular forces of Australia.
– Certainly not !
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN” (South Australia) [12.51]. - I assisted Senator Pearce to have the Standing Orders suspended so that this matter might be discussed. It was only a fair thing to have it brought before the Senate and settled to-day, seeing that the time within which action can be taken will so soon expire. The honorable senator, in dealing with this question, dealt with it as if it were a previously unheardof proposition, as if it were something we had not had experience of, or, even if we had had experience of it), something that our experience would induce us to discontinue. As a matter of fact, the system of national regiments has been in force in Australia for many years, and is based on a similar system to that which has been in existence in the Old Country for a century, and all the imaginary evils that Senator Pearc© trotted out have not been shown in practice to accrue from that system, either in Great Britain or in the Dominions.
– The conditions are different in the Old Country. There are distinct races there.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN The territorial system in Great Britain does not interfere with the national regiments, and there are also county regiments and provincial regiments.
– But there is no compulsory service there.
– I - I do not see that the compulsory service applies to this matter. There is no compulsion on any one to join a national regiment.
– The compulsion is that some must remain out of those regiments because there is no room for them.
– There is plenty of room.- The Minister says that there are always vacancies.
– U - Under the volunteer system, when the numbers were restricted by the financial obligations of the country, there was not always opportunity to join these regiments. I know that in South Australia, under the old system, there was only a certain amount of money devoted to a military organization, and when an infantry or light horse company arrived at the statutory number, no more volunteers could be enrolled in that company. That has been the system for years, and this pathetic trouble about one brother joining a particular company or regiment, and another brother not being able to get a place in it on account of the statutory number having already been reached, is nonsense. The difficulties which Senator Pearce brought forward in this connexion are imaginary. There is no substantial ground for putting them before the Senate. The honorable senator also drew a pathetic picture of our poor, effeminate Australian youth, after wearing ordinary clothing for the greater part of the year, having to wear kilts in the camps, which are usually held at Easter, when the weather is not inclement. He harrowed our feelings in describing the trials of these poor, unfortunate creatures from having to wear kilts at that time of the year. I interjected a question as to the Highlands of Scotland, where there is really incle ment weather, and where the kilts used to be the national garb of the people. Surely if the people in the Highlands can bear the rigours of their climate the wearing of kilts should not affect our soldiers very much in our semi-tropical climate. It has been said that the regiments could only be raised in the two principal capitals, and the Minister has indicated that he is willing to consider a modification of that proposition. In my opinion this could be safely done, because it is doubtful whether a sufficient number would come forward in the other capitals of the States to fulfil the condition which, I think, should be laid down, namely, that in any part of Australia where a sufficient number may be guaranteed to establish a half battalion - that is, four companies - the same privilege should be allowed. I think the Minister would be willing to fall in with that suggestion. I am confident that there is little likelihood of a sufficient number of Irish, English, or Scotch soldiers volunteering to form national regiments to the extent of four companies in any place but Sydney or Melbourne. It would mean some 200 or 300 men for each half battalion.
– Under the present peace establishment a company consists of 100 men.
– T - That would mean 400 men for the half battalion, and there would be no possibility, except in the two large capitals, of sufficient numbers coming forward to form national regiments. In South Australia Ave had Irish and Scotch corps which consisted of less than half a battalion, but we got over the difficulty in relation to the Irish battalion by adopting a uniform which was not specially distinct from the regiment to which the corps was attached. The men wore the khaki and national emblems sufficient to appeal to the national instinct, and distinguish them from the members of the ordinary regiments with whom they had to drill and take part in manoeuvres. They simply wore the harp on the collar and the shamrock on the sleeve of the uniform, which was the same in other respects as the other members of the regiment wore. Senator Millen has quoted the words I used last session when this matter came up. I have only to say that those words express my sentiments, that in practical experience there has been no difficulty whatever, that there is no rivalry of an injurious nature owing to the establishment of national regiments, that the experience of the Old Country and our newer Dominions has been that national regiments conduce to friendly rivalry and emulation, and that only the best results have accrued from adopting this system.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30p.m.
– It is my intention to oppose the motion which has been submitted by Senator Pearce. In doing so, I desire to warmly congratulate the Minister of Defence upon his action in seeking to perpetuate these distinctive national regiments. I do not claim to have any Scottish blood in my veins, but I do claim to be an Australian, and to have a deep regard for the traditions of the Mother Country. I entertain the view that anything we can do to make our defence scheme more efficient we ought to do. The population of this country consists, in the main, of descendants of the English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh people. Anything that we can do to maintain their distinctive traditions we ought most certainly to do. Senator Pearce has claimed that the proposal of the Government cuts right across our territorial scheme of defence. But it must be recollected that our local conditions may suggest the wisdom of modifying that scheme if by so doing we can give play to sentimental considerations, and thus increase efficiency. I need scarcely remind honorable senators that there is a territorial scheme of defence in operation in Great Britain. Yet that scheme makes provision for the Gordon Highlanders, the Welsh Fusileers, the Inniskillen Dragoons, and the St. George’s Rifles.
– They are in the regular forces. They are not in the territorial forces.
– I say that they are provided for in the territorial scheme of defence. I see no particular merit in the word “ territorial,” although it may serve a useful purpose in the matter of administrati ve control. When it is suggested by Senator Pearce that we shall make our Army more efficient if we cut out all sentimental considerations, I say that he is making a serious error. I have seen both schemes in operation in New South Wales. Under the old volunteer scheme we had various units under different names in that State. Amongst these units there was always the keenest competition to catch the public eye. I know that on ceremonial occasions there was one unit which always used to stand out pre-eminent - I refer to the Scottish Rifles. Why? Because the members of that body seemed to be more keen and alert than did the others. There appeared to be associated with them a tradition that they were really fighting men, who came from fighting stock. The same remark is applicable to the Irish Rifles, and to the English Rifles. We, as descendants of the British race, ought not to do anything to impair that inspiriting feeling in connexion with our Defence Forces.
– When the enemy see the kilts, they run away.
– I know there is a story told in an American work to the effect that the Indians of North. America, when they first saw the Highlanders, thought that they were women, and, as they held the view that when women took to fighting it was time for them to get out, they promptly did so. I am sure that Senator Stewart likes to feel that he is an individual unit of a great Empire. I am speaking now more from an Empire than a local point of view. The idea that Australia can be defended by Australians is positively ridiculous. No more narrow and provincial view was ever put before any deliberative body of men. The time may come when we may be able to defend Australia; but that time is not yet. It is a long way off. Until then, we must be dependent upon the strength of Great Britain, which is behind us, more particularly upon the sea. Senator Pearce has told us that when he went to Great Britain he saw one of the Horse Guards arrayed in a gorgeous uniform, and that it was nothing but the millinery side of the Army that attracted the people. Let me tell him that the most attractive uniforms to be seen anywhere are to be found in the Prussian and French armies. Seeing that such uniforms are adopted in conscription armies, surely there must be some basic principle behind them.
– The Boers did not have any distinctive uniforms.
– I am quite aware of that. Some time ago I saw in New South Wales a parade of about 30,000 cadets. It was a fine spectacle. I saw 30,000 young Australians, who will ultimately make good fighting men ; but they were all dressed in one drab uniform. Consequently there was nothing to attract the public or to excite enthusiasm.
– Does the uniform make the soldier?
– Not any more than Parliament makes the politician. General Sir Ian Hamilton, in an interview which he subsequently gave to a press representative, stated that what had impressed him most about that parade was the lack of public applause and approval.
– They were thinking of the cost of the scheme.
– Just after the present Government came into office, a social function was held at Waverley in connexion with Mr. Kelly’s appointment to the Ministry. At that gathering I pointed out that the time was not far distant when the people of the Commonwealth would bitterly complain of the cost of our defence. I said that the working classes would be the first to complain. However, I do not wish to discuss that aspect of the matter now. All I desire to say is that we ought to encourage everything, whether it be either of a sentimental or practical character, which will contribute to the efficiency of our Defence Forces. We cannot put aside at one sweep all the military traditions of the Empire. Senator Pearce has said that a uniform is necessary for one reason only, that is, to prevent the men found carrying rifles in war-time from being shot as irregulars.
– There are many other reasons for the wearing of a uniform.
– There is a great deal to be said for a uniform, both in the Navy and in the Army. There is as much gold lace on the uniforms of the officers in the Australian Navy as on those of the officers of the Imperial Navy, and I do not regret it. It is proper that we should adopt the customs of the Old World, which have proved their soundness during hundreds of years of service. Australia is generally credited with legis lating by experiment rather than by experience, but, although we are starting a new system of defence, we cannot afford to disregard the experience of the Old Country, and should not be above altering our methods when it seems wise to do so. We shall do well to take advantage of the sentiment and patriotic feeling of our people, by keeping up the Scottish and other national regiments.
– This question has been discussed, unfortunately, as though it concerned chiefly the maintenance of Scottish regiments. Every one must recognise the magnificent services that have been rendered to the Empire by the so-called national regiments of the British Army; but we here in Australia are a new people, who have not yet had time to develop national characteristics, though it is the aim of every true Australian to encourage that development. Australia has been populated by those who have come here because they were dissatisfied with the conditions of the Old World. Scotchmen did not leave Scotland because they did not love their bonnie country; they came here to obtain greater freedom, and to escape conditions which they disliked. The same may be said of Englishmen and of Irishmen. Consequently, for many years the bulk of the people here were opposed to militarism in any form. But with the dawn of a national spirit there has come the desire to forget much of what was displeasing in the Old World. It is felt that Australia, being a country good enough to live in, is a country worth defending. Before I entered Parliament, not having given close consideration to the matter, I was one of those who hated the sight of a soldier, and the thought of war; but we must yield to common sense. Australia must be defended.
– You have put it on to the “ kids.”
– I would rather try to make a capable soldier of an Australian youth than take a man at the honorable senator’s stage of life. The boy of to-day will be the man of tomorrow. This Parliament has determined that every youth shall be trained for the defence of Australia. Our defence system has the support of all soundthinking Australians, and it has done more to develop our national spirit than anything else. I have never been enthusiastic about the national or sectional regiments, such as existed prior to 1912, though I have introduced deputations to the Minister composed of persons whose patriotic ardour desired the encouragement of such regiments. They were told that the old system had ceased to exist, the determination being to create one uniform national army. To give special privileges to certain persons would be a breach of faith on the part of the Defence Department and an abandonment of the policy laid down by Senator Pearce. Senator O’loghlin would like to establish Irish regiments. Had he been in New South Wales he could have joined a regiment composed of his fellowcountrymen, but there is no such regiment in Victoria, though it is not because the Irish here are not willing to take part in the defence of Australia. As far back as 1909 the Irish residents of Victoria wished to form an Irish regiment, but the Defence Department would not permit them to do so. There is no Welsh regiment in Australia, though Wales has played a very important part in the development of the Empire. I understand that Senator Pearce would not allow the Scotchmen on the goldfields of Western Australia to form a regiment. Why should a Scotchman living in Melbourne be able to join a Scotch regiment and one living in Kalgoorlie be prevented from doing so? Our system should be uniform. Senator Millen says that the creation of national regiments will not affect the territorial system. I do not know whether that is so. I think, however, that it is better to have an army in which all are alike.
– It would be only in large centres that men could join national regiments in any case.
– Yes. Brothers and boys going to the same school should stand side by side in our National Army. With sectional regiments they might not do so. I can imagine how a warmhearted old Scotchman would swear if, having one son in a Scotch regiment, he desired to get a second son into it, and was told that Senator Millen would not permit him to do so.
– How much more would he swear under your system?
– He would not swear, because probably the boys would be Australian born, and their first duty would be to the land of their birth. I do not believe that Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotchmen, or Welshmen are any less good Australians because they are good Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotchmen, or Welshmen. But they have adopted this land, where they are going to win everything necessary to happiness, and their first duty should be to Australia, and, as a Parliament, our duty is to give them the best opportunity we can of serving Australia. If in their spare time they desire to serve in any other way, there can be no objection to their being good Scotchmen or Irishmen as well. I come to a suggestion which I have made in this chamber before. There are a. number of men of the several nationalities who desire to form these regiments, not with any anti-Australian feeling, but with a genuine desire to cooperate with the Australian Military Forces. Instead of losing the boys at twenty-six years of. age, as we do at present, why not permit them to be formed into secondary or reserve regiments, so that, having completed their service with the regular Australian Forces, they could then continue service in national volunteer regiments.
– That knocks out the objection to national regiments on the score of uniform.
– That objection could be mct. For that matter, there is no reason why such volunteers should not provide their cwn uniforms if they desire to do so. I have a national pride in the race from which I sprang, and I am as proud of my ancestors as any other man, but, being born in Australia, and committed to Australia, I desire to see the development of a national feeling, and I will vote against any system which will enable boys of any nationality to avoid service which the Australian-born boy is required to give.
– I do not desire to speak on this subject at any length, but I am not going to give an altogether silent vote on the matter, which I regard as much more important than some of my colleagues seem to think it is. I awaited a good, sound reason for the taking of the new step proposed by Senator Pearce, because a new step it undoubtedly is, but I have heard nothing to convince me or justify the motion. We must remember that the Highland uniform has been part and parcel of whatever military forces we have had from the very inception of military forces in Australia. It has been identified with our defence system so long that I was anxious to hear a good sound reason advanced for its abolition. But I must say that I have not heard a sufficient reason to justify mc in supporting the abandonment of a well-established custom. I quite agree that there is something in the cry against millinery in connexion with the Military Forces. But we cannot get away from the fact that, whether wo have the kilts or not, that feature will still obtain in the Forces. There is just as much millinery in other uniforms as in the Highland costume. The question of expense has been raised as an objection to the kilts, but we find from figures which have been published that there is a difference of only ls. 9d. between the cost of the Highland uniform and that of the ordinary uniform of our Defence Forces. If we are to go in for simplicity in military dress, let us have it by all means, but we have not got it at the present time, and the statement that the Highland uniform is more expensive than the uniform in more general use is disproved by figures.
– What are the figures?
– The cost is £4 lis. for the ordinary uniform as compared with £4 12s. 9d. for the kilts. Therefore, there is nothing in the objection to the kilts on the score of expense.
– No trousers are provided for in that price.
– That is not so. The people who made out this estimate of cost reckoned one set of kilts equivalent to three pairs of “ breeks,’ and I appreciate their good taste. When you can get a set of kilts for £1 8s. 6d. ii is throwing away money to buy trousers at £1 15s. od. There is nothing whatever in the expense argument. I listened with interest to Senator Pearce on the question of the inconvenience caused to the Highland recruits in having to go from one suburb to another to drill. I hold that men who volunteer for service in any national regiment will take that inconvenience upon themselves. It is a voluntary action on their part, and if they have to go from one district to another to get their training they are voluntarily undertaking that disability, and we have no right to object. Therefore, I see very little indeed in that argument. In regard to uniforms generally, we have heard militarism decried from time to time. I am just as anxious as any one to see it kept within reasonable bounds, and we have affirmed the principle of a Citizen Force. But do we dress our soldiers as citizens ? Certainly not. I might very well argue that we would be getting much nearer a citizen costume if we were to adopt the kilt than we are with the present uniform, because the kilt is a civilian as well as a military costume. I have heard nothing during this debate to induce me to change the opinion I have always held, that we should not make changes unless there are good and sound reasons for thom. In doing such a thing as is proposed by the motion we are running counter to an old and wellestablished national sentiment, and I am not going to offend national sentiment without good and sound reasons.
– There is more esprit de corps in national regiments than in any other.
– I quite believe it. I hope we shall have a vote on this matter, and I intend to vote in favour of allowing things to remain as they are. As regards other States that have not had this privilege extended to them, if we agree to continue these national regiments the privilege can be extended to other States if they ask for it. When the Irishmen of Australia were refused permission to form national regiments I was opposed to that refusal, because I held that it was an offence to those people. But if opportunity occurs, and we have national regiments, we can easily correct that mistake by extending to Irishmen the same privileges as it is proposed to give to Scotchmen.
– I desire to state in a few words my reasons for opposing the motion of Senator Pearce. It is not because I am a hot-blooded Scotchman, but simply because I believe that an injustice will be done to a certain class in the community. We hear a lot about the great Australian sentiment, and I claim that no one possesses that in a higher degree than I do. 2?o one has been a stronger advocate of universal training than I have been; but, at the same time, I feel that certain little pin-pricks in connexion with the defence system should be avoided. Many persons are inconvenienced without reason. Scarcely a day elapses without my having to interview the Minister of Defence to ask- him to remedy certain grievances, and I must admit that he is doing his best to remove them. The innovation proposed by Senator Pearce is entirely unnecessary. What we desire to secure is a force of good fighting men to defend Australia in the time of need. It should not matter to us how they dress, as long as they can fight. If any body of men desire to wear the kilts, then, by all means, let them wear them. I glory in the man who, coming here from another part of the British Empire, continues to hold dear the traditions of the race from which he sprang. I intend to oppose the motion. In putting it before us, Senator Pearce said that one reason why the regulation should be disallowed was that many who desired to enter these distinctive regiments would not have an opportunity to do so. A little while ago he told us that men were not desirous of entering such regiments. In the one breath he said that they did not desire to join them, and in the next that there was no room for those who wished to join them. Some of the volunteer regiments in New South Wales did yeoman service for the country in years gone by, devoting practically a lifetime to the work of making themselves proficient in defence matters; but their ardour has been destroyed by the treatment to which they have been subjected by the Department. One of the finest regiments in Australia has almost been disbanded because of the disabilities imposed upon it by the Department of Defence in its effort not to carry out Lord Kitchener’s scheme. The trouble is that the Department has never attempted to provide for certain features of that scheme. That is particularly so in respect of coastal defence. We had in New South Wales a volunteer regiment which was able to take its place with any of the regular Defence Forces in manning the forts along the coast. That regiment, however, has been almost disbanded because of the shabby treatment meted out to it. And the result is that we have not got to-day either the first or the second line of relief proposed by Lord Kitchener. Why should the Scottish regiment or the Irish regiment be wiped out? Senator Oakes has said that a march past to-day is one of the dullest sights that could be seen, because of the uniform worn by the troops. I fully agree with him. I have been in communication with a number of military officers - both militia and permanent officers - and have not discovered one who offers any objection to the wearing of the kilts by the Scottish Regiment The lack of enthusiasm which is noticeable in connexion with marches past today is due, I think, to the want of distinguishing uniforms. At present, in a march-past, one regiment cannot be distinguished from another. I read in a newspaper some time ago an opinion expressed by a prominent military officer on the question of distinctive dress, which, I think, hits the nail on the head. The report of the interview with this officer is as follows : - “ It is a serious mistake,” said a prominent military officer, “to deprive regiments of longexisting distinctive characteristics of uniform. It has a very bad effect. Men lose interest in their regiment - not merely because of the alteration of uniform, but because that alteration seems to indicate antagonism towards them, or, at any rate, disregard for their predilections, rather than kindly sympathy. “Even in a conscription country like Germany, regiments have striking and distinctive uniforms. There are the Scarlet Hussars, Blue Hussars, and so on. Here we are dressed like convicts, and one regiment looks like another. It is an unfortunate blunder. It would be thought that the desire of the authorities all the time would be to increase interest in the regiments rather than to slacken it. If it is their desire to increase interest they are going a very peculiar way about it. They will surely deaden it. “At present there is a very great deal of bitterness on the subject, and if the Federal Government really understood the feeling they would alter their attitude towards those who arc entrusted with the great national duty of securing the safety of this country. “ I am sure, anyhow,” lie concluded, “ that if the people thoroughly understood the question they would sympathize with us so heartily that the Government would have to revise its plans in respect of a deadly dull similarity of all uniforms. Any one who says there is nothing in distinctive uniforms immediately indicates lack of knowledge of the world’s history. Let him read up the histories of the wars of all countries, and the lives of the great soldiers of bygone days, and he cannot fail to come to the conclusion that there is a lot in the uniform.”
Senator Pearce drew a very pathetic picture of the plight of an Australian lad being compelled to go into camp, wearing only his kilts, during a spell of cold weather. I do not think he understands the Australian. We have had walking about Sydney, in bitterly cold weather, a man who is wearing scarcely anything.
– And he has been locked up for it.
– Not because of the scantiness of his attire, but for other reasons. He wears very little, but stands the cold weather well, and is. the picture of health. This reason advanced by Senator Pearce for the abolition of the kilts is about the most sickly and sentimental I have ever heard. Scotchmen are willing to- wear the kilts in the coldest weather, and it is ridiculous to say that to send them into camp so attired in cold weather would be to subject them to hardship. The honorable senator objects to distinctions in dress, but at the present time in connexion with our universal training system distinctions are drawn to which I am strongly opposed. The Fisher Government were responsible for their introduction, and I opposed them then, as I do now. I refer specially to the distinction in the matter of drill between boys whose parents can afford to keep them at school, and those who have to work. Youths attending school may drill during school hours; but the unfortunate lads who have to work for their living are compelled to undergo a training in their own time. It is idle for the honorable senator to complain that distinctive regimental dress would make an undesirable distinction between one citizen and another in our Defence Forces. Why not get rid of other distinctions which now exist? I hope that the motion will not be carried, my opinion being that the Scotch, the Irish, the Welsh, or any other section of the community strong enough to form a regiment, or a half-battalion, should be allowed to wear whatever uniform they please.
– I regret very much that the Minister of Defence has yielded to the pressure brought to bear upon him by a very small section of the citizens of Australia to introduce into the Citizens’ Army sectional differences.
– Seeing that I advocated this system long before I became Minister of Defence, that is not a correct statement to make.
– I have never at any time been wildly enthusiastic in regard to any phase of militarism, but I realize to the full that Australia has declared emphatically in favour of the citizen soldiery that we have established, and that that citizen soldiery appeals to every true Australian. When Senator Oakes said that recently he saw 30,000 cadets marching through the streets of Sydney, and that the sight to him was by no means inspiring - that it was a disappointment to him - one asked himself why, and the honorable senator answered the question by saying it was because the boys all wore the same uniform.
– No; I said lack of enthusiasm.
– Because there was a lack of enthusiasm due, according to the reasoning of the honorable senator, to the fact that there were not multicoloured uniforms in the procession.
– Not necessarily that, but there was the fact.
– If there is one thing in connexion with our citizen soldiery that does particularly appeal to me and makes that citizen soldiery inspiring when parading the streets of a capital, it is that they are all dressed alike, and are all subject to the same training and drill.
– A garden would not appeal to me if it was all of one colour.
– Are we to judge of the capacity of our soldiers by the uniforms they wear? According to Senator Oakes, the uniform makes the soldier. Senator Pearce, who had charge of the Defence Department, knows different from that, and so does every other man who gives to the matter any thought at all. What does this proposal mean?
– Like Senator Senior, I would not like to have a garden of the one colour.
– I would, as long as the colour was green.
– I ask the Minister of Defence what does the proposed innovation mean ? Does it mean that if sectional regiments come into existence the cost of the uniforms they will be permitted to wear will be borne by those who are not going to wear them, but who are to contribute, like every other citizen, to the taxation for the defence of Australia ?
– They will be paid for just the same as other uniforms.
– “We are informed that if sectional regiments come “into existence, the cost incidental to them will be borne by the Commonwealth. In the event of an invasion, is it the intention that, in addition to the expenditure for uniforms, the sectional regiments shall not go to war in their gaudy uniforms, but shall be all dressed alike on the battlefield? If that is so, the sectional regiments will have an advantage over others.
– Because the men in the sectional regiments will not go to war in kilts.
– Will they not? They have always done so.
– Then we are encouraging the growth of sectional regiments, and if the Highlanders are to go into the battlefield with vari-coloured uniforms, the Irish, the English, and every other section of the community are to be encouraged to wear national dress if they go into the Defence Forces. What a beautiful army it would be!
– Did we send any Australian soldiers in kilts to South Africa?
– I do not think that we did. I do not believe that many of our soldiers would have returned if they had gone there in that kind of dress.
– Men in kilts were there all the same ; right in the front fighting line. °
– We ought never to forget that while old systems die hard we have established a new system in Australia, and one that is different from any other system of defence in the world. As all the trainees in our citizen soldiery will be native-born Australians, they ought to dress in accordance with the conditions laid down in regard to uniformity of dress, and irrespective of their position. Whether they be the sons of wealthy parents or of poor parents, they all have to undergo the same course of training and drill. As soon as we make an invidious distinction with regard to sectional regiments, so soon shall we create class distinctions in our citizen soldiery.
– The English Army ought to have gone to pieces long ago.
– Why make any distinction in the ranks?
– I know of no distinction so far as the citizen soldiery are concerned. The Fisher Government opened the doorway to every Australian boy to qualify for the highest position in the citizen soldiery, as well as in the Australian Navy, and the only passport to a position was by competitive examination. But here is a serious proposition by the Minister of Defence to bring into existence sectional regiments, and the boys whose parents happen to be Scotch, and to have a fairly well-lined purse-
– What has the purse to do with the matter?
– It has a good deal to do with the matter, because the cost of the uniform for a national regiment will be much more than the cost of the uniform worn by the majority of the Australian trainees.
– That is not so; and, in any case, the uniform is to be paid for by the Commonwealth.
– Without having, perhaps, the knowledge which the Minister apparently possesses-
– I know what I am proposing to do.
– I say that the regimental costume worn by the average Scotchman is much more expensive than the one worn by the Australian trainees.
– It costs nearly twice as much.
– The former costs ls. 9d. more than the latter.
– On your basis of wearing out, which is a guess.
– It does seem absurd to me that, in connexion with the Australian Army, the Minister should give special facilities to the boys of those parents who happen to be better circumstanced than the parents of the poorest boys.
– How can you say that that affects the position when, whatever the cost of the uniform may be, the Commonwealth is going to pay it?
– I want to emphasize this point: that if the uniform is going to cost more-
– But it is not.
– In my opinion it is. Why should a small minority have that advantage over the great majority?
– Why should we pay more for certain uniforms to-day than for others ?
– In the Continental armies there is always a difference in the uniforms.
– For a moment it is immaterial to me whether the uniform will cost more or less. My opinion is that once the Minister of Defence creates sectional regiments he weakens the citizen soldiery, and if there is anything that an Australian ought to stand for it is the system of defence which puts all Australian boys on the same footing in regard to dress, training, and drill.
– “Why did you not do it, then?
– However, the Minister wants to make a departure from that, and, if he does, I venture to say that instead of strengthening the citizen soldiery, it will immeasurably weaken that soldiery in the course of years.
– It has not done so in Germany or France.
– I am not concerned with any other country than Australia for the time being. We are not legislating for France, or Germany, or any other Continental country, but in the interests of the Commonwealth. I feel strongly on this matter, and sincerely regret that the Minister of Defence has yielded to pressure, possibly in order to placate a minority who desire this kind of thing. It may or may not mean votes; but, irrespective of whether it means votes in favour of me or against me, I am giving an honest vote on the question. I believe that the Minister’s proposal will have a tendency to seriously undermine and weaken our Citizen Defence Forces, and create class distinctions that ought not to be tolerated here.
– My views on this matter are well known in this Chamber, as I put them forward very clearly some time ago in advocating the retention of these regiments. Senator Findley said that the Minister’s proposal would weaken the Forces, and that the Minister had introduced the innovation in the interests of a small section of the community. The Minister did not introduce it. He found it in the Department when he went there. He found it approved of by the Military Board, and by the Inspector-General. Senator Pearce asks the reason for the regulation. I ask him the reason for his motion? Why has he pursued this matter with such eagerness and animosity, since he occupied the position of Minister of Defence? Does he want to blot out altogether our connexion with the Empire, with its memories of the past? He seems entirely to ignore the fact that we are dependent on the Empire, and that we ought to try to strengthen, instead of weaken, the links.
– Give that sort of “ tripe “ to the National League to-night; it is no good here.
– I am not a tripe seller like the honorable senator, nor a tripe dealer, and I want none of his insults when I am speaking. We are asked why there is so much talk on the part of the Scottish portion of the community about this matter. It is because there is no other section of the community, and perhaps no other people, who have the same distinctive national garb as the Scotch. It is connected with their youth, and all their memories and historic traditions, and is dearer to their hearts than perhaps the garb of any other nation is to its people. There are over 100,000 Scottishborn people in Australia, and they have, I suppose, 300,000 or 400,000 dependent on them. Nothing has so stirred them throughout the Commonwealth as this question has done’. What they ask is a small thing. It is simply that the regiments that have been in existence for years should be allowed to continue. Surely it is not very difficult to fall in with their wishes ! I listened for one sound argument from Senator Pearce why these regiments should be abolished, but he gave us nothing but “ tripe.” I, like Senator de Largie, fail to see a single reason for the motion. If these regiments are abolished, there will be a great feeling of disappointment on the part of a large section of our people. Instead of their retention weakening the interest taken in the Forces, it will be found that their abolition is much more likely to do so.
– I want to say a word on behalf of the Scottish people in this community, whose voice has not been heard on either side of the chamber to-day. If Senator McColl, or the Government, are satisfied that they are placating Scottish sentiment by this miserable proposal, I am not. We have heard a great deal about the sentiment of the Scotch, but no one could say too much about the part they have played in building up the Empire. Of course, the same applies to the Irish, Welsh, and English; but the Minister’s proposal is the most miserable back-down to the demand made when our party was in power that I have ever seen. The Scottish ask for their national dress, and the Government are offering them - a khaki uniform.
– With which they are satisfied.
– I am not satisfied with it; and I am speaking on behalf of that Scottish sentiment which exists so strongly to-day, although I suppose that very little Scotch blood runs in my veins. Senator Oakes spoke of the dull monotony of the khaki uniform at the recent parade at Centennial Park, Sydney, and its depressing effect; but he forgot to mention that the march past took place after one of the severest thunderstorms that ever occurred in Sydney. The lads were drenched to the skin, and the people were sheltering under umbrellas; so that, in the circumstances, there was not much room for enthusiasm. The heart of every one who- loves a soldier warmed to those lads as they faced that terrific downpour. The honorable senator does not realize the enthusiasm of the Australian people for their young soldiers.
– I was only repeating what Ian Hamilton said.
– And I want to put in Hansard something to go along with what the honorable senator said, to show that there were other reasons for the lack of enthusiasm on that occasion. If colour is all that is required to arouse enthusiasm, let all the Scottish clans be represented by their tartans and plaids, and then our parades will have all the colours of a flower garden, as Senator Senior and Senator Oakes apparently think desirable. Is the Minister of Defence prepared to say that he will encourage these national regiments?
– I am encouraging them by what I am proposing to do.
– But will the Minister do more? Will he give them opportunities to form their regiments, battalions, or brigades, in all the centres where they can get sufficient numbers?
– I could not answer that question, because that might mean other units.
– If there is only going to be this little concession to Scottish and Irish sentiment, I am going to vote against the Minister. This is not what the Scottish people outside want. I shall be indeed surprised if the strong Scottish sentiment in the community is satisfied with this miserable concession., A powerful party in the Commonwealth demanded, while our Government were in power, that their national and distinctive dress should be retained in our Forces, and many of us who are far removed from Old World prejudices were willing to back them up in that demand; but, if they accept a miserable khaki Millen tartan, or Millen plaid, like the sulu of the Fijian or Papuan, I shall be extremely surprised and disappointed.
– You will admit that I am giving a kilt; your party took one away.
– I would rather see it taken away than have this miserable thing in place of it.
– In what condition are you going to leave the Scotchman if you take it away ?
– The Scotchmen say, “ We prefer a national dress or none. If we cannot get the real Scottish national dress, we want nothing at all at the hands of the Minister of Defence.” We want nothing that is given in order to disguise the real intentions of the Go<vernment. They are going to disgust the Scottish people by offering to allow the use of a uniform which is not Scotch, English, Irish, or anything else. The Government are pretending to meet the loud clamour of the Scottish people for the retention of their distinctive national dress in the Military Service. The dress recommended includes. -
Hat, universal pattern; khaki shirt, universal pattern (or khaki jumper, if preferred, which lias the same appearance, is considered more suitable, and is somewhat cheaper). Field service cap; kilt; sporran; hose tops; spats.
What is there of the Scottish national dress in a uniform such as that ? Of what use is it for the Minister of Defence to pretend’ that in permitting members of Scottish regiments to wear such a uniform he is conceding the demand for their distinctive national dress? I am up against pretence wherever I find it, and this proposed concession to Scottish national sentiment is a pretence. The Scotch people have asked for the kilts, and the Minister proposes to give them sulus, such as are worn by Fijians and Papuans. So far as we can learn, the Minister does not propose to permit of the formation of these national regiments in every part of the Commonwealth. If the intention is to keep alive the sentiment of the folk of the Old World these regiments should be formed everywhere.
– We should have all our regiments national regiments, and no Australian regiment.
– I think that we can let the Australian sentiment grow of itself. There is no need to force its growth, though it will probably be forced by the action of the Government, as they are likely to make us more active in our advocacy of our Australian nationalism than we have hitherto been. The Government are claiming credit for having given the Scottish people what they asked for, when, as a matter of fact, they have done nothing of the kind. They have proposed a uniform which a Scotchman would be ashamed to wear.
– A - Are Scotchmen ashamed of the khaki ?
– I do not wish* to split words, hut I say that when a Scotchman has demanded his distinctive national dress, and is offered a khaki dress instead, he will be ashamed to wear it. I am reminded of what was said by an Irishman, when asked by a distinguished Liberal what he would be if he were not an Irishman. He replied that he would be ashamed of himself. Senator Pearce stated the matter very fairly, and I was surprised that Senator McColl should accuse him of having displayed animosity. To my mind the honorable senator showed no feeling. His was a determined statesman-like utterance of a man who puts Australian national sentiment before such shoddy sentiments as were put forward by Senator McColl. Senator McColl has professed to speak in the name of Scotchmen, and he is willing on their behalf to accept a dress which is neither one thing nor another. I rose to put a little life into those who advocate the use of the Scottish national dress. It would seem that it is to be crushed between two parties. Senator Pearce put forward a demand for a distinctive Australian uniform, suitable to our climate and conditions, in the hope that it may weld all sections of British people here together in a common Australian nationality. That is a worthy ideal, though we may not be quite ready for it yet. On the other side, there is put forward in response to an outside clamour for the retention of the Scottish national dress a proposal for a uniform which has nothing distinctively Scotch about it. If the Minister of Defence would promise to give additional facilities for the establishment of national regiments, there might be something to be said for the proposal. I take it that people coming from Ulster will very shortly expect to be represented in this way. I can well imagine that the events which are likely to take place in the next twelve months in the United Kingdom may result in giving us a lot of recruits from Ulster, who will have been accustomed to drill, and will wish to wear the distinctive uniform which they may have worn against the British Crown. Senator Millen should make provision for them.
– Senator McColl would put in a word for them.
– The honorable senator has no right to make a remark of that kind. I think it is a very dirty remark.
– If the people of the south of Ireland have found that government, by a majority opposed to them, and who did not understand them, has meant the depletion, of their population by the emigration of hundreds of thousands, it may be that government of the north of Ireland by the south will lead to the depletion of the northern portion. People from that part of the country may come here in sufficient numbers, and have a voting power which will warrant them in demanding the right to wear a distinctive national dress as, I will not say rebels, but as men who had to leave their own country because they fought against their Crown and King. We should take a broad and comprehensive view of this matter, and if we do it is difficult to say where this question of national dress begins and ends.
– Is the honorable senator not aware that the Ulster men have given special attention to training in running.
– When it comes to a question of running, I think that all sections of British people can point with pride to the fact that they have always proved themselves to be good fighters. As an Australian, and a son of Australian parents, I can take a calmer view of these Old World questions than can some other people. I am satisfied with the glorious fighting qualities which splendid writers have attributed to all sections of the British people. When I rise from reading some of the glowing accounts of the fame achieved by different sections of the British people on the field of battle I am forced to the conclusion that the pen is really mightier than the sword. If a distinctly national uniform is to be allowed for national regiments, I think that it should be approved by the national regiments themselves. I intended to move an amendment upon the regulation, but I understand that I should not be in order in doing so. The amendment I would propose would be an effective one. Instead of saying that the uniform should meet with the approval of “ the Military Board,” I proposed to suggest that it should have the approval of “the national regiments.”
– Is it not possible to move such an amendment?
– Any way out.
– I understood that I could not move such an amendment.
– I think the honorable senator ought to move the amendment.
– I should like to do so.
– I should like the honorable senator to move it, because it would give Senator Pearce and myself a chance of voting together.
– Very well; I move -
That the words “Military Board” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ National Regiments.”
This will give Irish or Scotch regiments the right to select their distinctive uniforms.
– And also any other regiments that may come into existence?
– Yes, of Ulster, Italy, or any other place.
– Afghans and Hindoos, too?
– Any other nationality. If the present Government get another lease of office we shall probably have enough kanakas and islanders here to form a regiment of their own.
– Does the honorable senator put Highlanders on the same plane as kanakas?
– No, but I do associate kanakas with the Minister of Defence and his party. It is worthy of the lowest type of manhood to twist one’s utterances out of their real meaning; indeed, I think I ought to apologize to the kanakas for associating them with Senator Millen, and I do apologize.
– I cannot accept this amendment. The motion before us is to disallow the regulation, and the amendment proposes to strike out words that are not in the motion, but are in the regulation. The authority for a motion of this character does not rest on our Standing Orders only, but is conveyed by the Act itself. The Act gives the Minister power to make regulations, and gives to either House of Parliament the right to disallow any regulation within a certain time. The only right the Senate has is the right of disallowance; there is no right to alter, and, therefore, I cannot accept the amendment.
.- I am inclined to think that honorable senators on both sides are unnecessarily magnifying the importance of this question. If the desires of the Scottish people are to be given effect to, there will be ample time in the course of two or three years for them to manifest their enthusiasm on the subject of national regiments. Personally, I think that, under our system, Austraiian sentiment will overshadow everything in the nature of Scottish or Irish sentiment.
– T - They are not in opposition in any sense.
– I am aware of that. I am not at all anxious to do anything to damp the ardour of either Scottish or Irish people who are anxious to form national regiments. It has been contended that such regiments will have a decided tendency to interfere with that spirit of rivalry we desire to see throughout the Citizen Forces, and that, therefore, interest in our defence scheme will wane or cease to exist. That is not my opinion, in view of the fact that our system 13 absolutely compulsory.
– The honorable senator will admit that there is a great deal of difference between mechanical service and heartfelt service.
– But patriotic service will be rendered by the great bulk of Australian citizens, and, as I say, I think Australian sentiment will overshadow any other national feeling. I am going to vote for, the right to create national regiments, with a view to their development to the highest point.
– Not in Perth or Hobart.
– I understand that there is to be no limitation, but that the policy will be extended to every part of the Commonwealth.
– Senator Millen did not say so.
– There is, however, one fundamental objection to distinct uniforms. If the Minister of Defence is serious in his statement that, in the event of war, those regiments will continue to wear their national uniforms, he ought to realize that this would be flying in the face of the experience of the Imperial authorities during the South African war. ‘
– The kilts were not taken off the Scottish regiments at that time.’
– The kilts had to be taken off when the men came in contact with the barbed-wire fences and other obstructions.
– I. asked Senator Pearce to say whether the Scottish regiments did not go to South Africa wearing their kilts.
– Yes, but when they got to Capetown they were supplied with khaki aprons to put over the kilts.
– That was to disguise the gaudy colours.
– Of course. The Minister knows that, on that occasion, uniforms of a distinctive character were set aside, and ordinary khaki uniforms substituted. To send regiments to war with distinctive uniforms is to simply make a target of thom.
– I do not think that the honorable senator can have seen the proposed Scottish uniform, or he would not speak like that.
– I confess that I have’ not seen the uniform, but the description in the regulation is sufficient to enable one to . judge as to its effect. Sending these men to the scene of operations equipped with a uniform of this character would be absolutely suicidal; and if this policy is carried into effect, and if the response on behalf of the Scottish people is as great as the Minister anticipates, and as I hope it will be, we shall find that further expense will have to be undertaken by the Commonwealth in order to provide these regiments with another uniform that will be less conspicuous on the field of battle. Notwithstanding this, I am not going to deny to the Scottish or the Irish the opportunity of establishing regiments in Australia. I am of Irish extraction, but I am, an Australian all the time, and I have three boys who are trainees) and, no matter whether the Scottish or Irish regiments are inaugurated, now or in years to come, the Australian system of defence will be good enough for them.
– Do you go’ to the sports on St. Patrick’s Day ? .
– Sports and the defence of the country are quite different things. Of course, I respect the Irish people; I respect the Scotch; I have tho greatest love for all sections of the British race: hut I would be less than human if I did not give my wholehearted support to the grand, splendid, and free institutions that we enjoy in Australia. They are good enough for me, and I make bold to prophesy that they will he good enough for my boys’. I have no desire to “ stone-wall “ the motion, nor to throw cold water on the establishment of these regiments; but I feel certain that the results anticipated will not be attained. It was my privilege a couple of years ago to pay a flying visit to Scotland. One thing I did not see there was people wearing the kilts. Senator Stewart and other Scotchmen will bear me out when I say that the kilts in Scotland are as rare a sight as snow in summer. I have no desire to hear all sections of the Senate ejaculating “ Sit down !” I do not trouble honorable senators more than once a . week. However, I shall not speak any longer. I am opposed to the motion submitted by Senator Pearce.
Question - That new regulation 109a, part of Statutory Rule No. 32 of 1914, under the Defence Act, be disallowed - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 May 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1914/19140529_senate_5_74/>.