8th Parliament · 1st Session
ThePresident (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following Papers were presented : -
Defence . Act. - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1921, Nos. 69, 70, 73, 74, 75, 79, 80, 81.
Lands Acquisition Act. - Land acquired at Darlington, Western Australia, for . Postal purposes.
Navy Losses. - Return showing losses of Ships and Auxiliary Ships of Royal Navy for period 4th August, 1914, to 11th November, 1918. (Paper presented to British Parliament.)
Papua- Annual Report for the year 1919-80. Public Service Act -
Appointments. - Department of Trade and Customs- R. P. Allen, R. Grant, J. M. Davidson, H. O’Boyle, J. J. Bourke, R. A.Dowling, F. V. Collins, R. H. Heywood, H. W. Bennetts, W. H. B. Finney, C. McNicol, C. W. Nye, E. J. Tomlin. Promotion of J. R. Halligan, Home and Territories Department.
Shipping Casualties - Merchant Shipping, 1st July, 1914, to 31st December, 1918- Return of . Shipping Casualties . and Loss of Life for period ended 31st December, 1918. (Paper presented to British Parliament.) Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act. - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1921, No. 78.
War Service Homes Act. - Land acquired in New South Wales at Campbelltown, Double Bay, Goulburn, Kogarah, Waratah (two notifications).
Cost of Cleaning Aerial Landing Grounds
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether it is a fact, as reported in the press, that it has cost a sum of £670 odd to grub out two trees in order to permit of the landing of aeroplanes in the Northern Territory?
– The honorable senator intimated to me that it was his intention to ask this question, and I had the file looked up. As the extracts from it which I wish to read are somewhat lengthy, I thinkthat, under the StandingOrders, I should ask leave to read a statement. - (Leave granted.) - I should mention that there are two landing places in the Northern Terrritory - one at Fanny Bay, and the other at Katharine. I have here’ a number of extracts from the file dealing with the particular matter to which the honorable senator has referrred. The first is a telegram dated 21st October, 1919, from Lieutenant Fysh, at Port Darwin, stating that the Fanny Bay site was the only suit able emergency site. Then, on the 25th October, a letterwas sent to the Homo and Territories Department asking for permission to use the Fanny Bay site, and. stating the probable cost at about £100; There was then a wire from Lieutenant Fysh, stating that labour was costing 4s. per hour, and owing to the high rate the estimate of cost would be increased to £205. On the 30th October the following report was received, from Lieutenant Fysh on the Fanny Bay landing ground.
The landing place is situated at Fanny Bay, and 2 miles out of Darwin in a northerly direction….. The present obstructions which are being cleared are 700 yards wire fencing, two banyan trees, two’ large earth mounds, and several small trees on the edges of the site.
The work, which is being carried out by the Public Works Department, was began at midday on the 27th October. A gang of twelve men are employed on the work, whichis being pushed on as speedily as possible. The rate of pay is 4s. per hour, and a conveyance to and from the ground is supplied.
– Motor car?’
– Yes, motorcar.?
He then stated -
Thehigh rates make . the work very costly, but., they are unavoidable. Mr. Kellaway, Superintendent of Public Works, estimates the cost to be £205, and the work to be finished about ‘ the 7th November.
On the 10th November, 1919, a further report was received from Lieutenant Fysh, who I may say is a flying officer, who was sent up to Port Darwin at the request of the Prime Minister’s Department to make arrangements for the arrival of Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith. He then stated : -
Work was started on the fanny Bay landing ground on the 27th October; a gang varying from twelve to seventeen menwere employed up to the 8th November, when the majority were knocked off, and four men left on to complete a few . odd jobs.
The principal work done was the clearing of two large banyan trees and two earth mounds. The banyan trees proved very tough work indeed, not being, solid, and having, a tangled mass of roots explosives had little effect. However, they were finallyremoved, as were the earth mounds. Seven hundred yards of fencing were also removed and stacked, post holes were filled up and the gravel from the mounds spread in a slight depression of the ground.
On the 15th November a further report was received on the cost of the Fanny Bay landing ground, showing that, the estimate of £205 had been exceeded, the cost being £390. The report reads: -
The original estimate of the cost of preparing the Fanny Bay landing place was £205. This estimatewas submitted to me by Mr. Kellaway, Superintendent of Public Works. Since this estimate was made, several unforeseen jobs have been carried out, such as’ the clearing of two large earth mounds, instead of. one, marking circle and telephone lines, &c. On the first - day the men went on at £1 per day, but casual rates were demanded by the Union, which are 4s. per hour. A conveyance to and from the landing place had also to be provided.
The above mentioned rates are put of all reason,but they had to be paid if the work was to be done without a strike, and as the work was required immediately their demands had to be granted. The casual rate of 4s. per hour has been in - force, I believe, for some months here. -
Owing to the high wages (32s. per day) the total cost of clearing and finally fixing . up has reached £300.
On the 4th’ December a telegram was sent from the Defence Department to Lieutenant Fysh asking for a statement of expenditure; and on the 5th of December a reply was received from Lieutenant Fysh that the total expenditure at Fanny Bay and Katherine reached £350. On the 6th December a further report from Lieutenant Fysh, intimating that the final cost of Fanny Bay was £449 2s. 5d., reads as follows : - “
The figures £300 . were given,” to me by Mr. Kellaway as the final cost of “the Fanny Bay ground, but evidently one or two small accounts were overlooked, and a part of his salary which should have gone on was also omitted.
A detailed account of the expenditure will be prepared and forwarded on to you.
The total under the heading of Fanny Bay comes to £449 2s. 5d., as notified by the SubTreasury Account. Some of the accounts have only just come to band.
It will be seen that the press report of this matter is inaccurate as to the cost, which is stated at £650, and also because the work included the removal of. two large mounds and the erection of a tele phone wire, as well as the removal of the banyan trees.
– Still the papers represent a great reflection upon the capacity of the officers concerned to estimate the cost of the work.
– I . quite agree with the honorable senator. It has to be borne in mind that at the time the work was undertaken Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith were approaching Australia, and in the circumstance’s we. had to surrender to the “ hold up “ and give whatever was asked.
Report (No. 3) of the Printing Com mittee presented by Senator Senior.
Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, with minutes of evidence, relating to the proposed extension of the General Post Office, Perth, Western Australia, presented by Senator Newland.
West Australian Coast
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade ‘ and Customs; upon notice -
Whether, in view of the fact that the Government expert, Captain Brewis, in his report on lighthouse improvement in the Commonwealth, eight years ago, recommended that twelve new lights be erected on the West Australian coast, and that nothing has been done since in the matter, while a number of lighthouses have been erected elsewhere, the Minister will explain why no action has been taken during the interval?
– The policy followed is, to establish lights on. the trade routes most used. Comparatively speaking, a very limited number of ships use the north-west coast of Australia from Fremantle northwards, although the coast from Fremantleto the south is frequently used, that being the shipping track from overseas to other States. Consideration is being given to the establishment of a high-po-wered light at D’Entrecasteaux, or in that vicinity, also for a light at Eclipse Island. In addition to these, a buoy will be established in Cambridge Gulf next financial year.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers are : - 1.(a) Twenty, exclusive of Naval Stations at Garden Island, Williamstown,’, and Jervis Bay. (b) Eight under the jurisdiction’ of the Administrator of the New Guinea Territory, Rabaul.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether the Government will decide on the compilation of a list giving the names of all persons who enlisted in each State in the Australia Imperial Force, and the names of such persons who have been killed, wounded, or missing; also the names of all persons who have offered for service in the Australian Imperial Force and been rejected. The lists to be kept in responsible custody in each State capital city, and open for public inspection on the payment of a small fee?
– Without knowing exactly what form this list is to take, or what date is to be shown, it is impossible to give any accurate estimate of cost. A somewhat similar proposal was put forward on a previous occasion to compile and publish a’ list to show thewar service, in very brief form, of those who served in the Overseas Forces, as well as the names and addresses only of those who volunteered,butwere not accepted or permitted to serve outside Australia. This proposal embraced putting the list on the market for sale in each of the States, and was estimated to cost not less than £25,000; and,after due consideration, the Cabinet decided not to proceed with it. Even if the compilation of such a list were . approved, it would have to be printed to be of any use for public scrutiny, and it is calculated that, providing for only sufficient copies to meet such requirements, the minimumcost would be - Preliminary work by Defence Department, £5,728; printing i,000 copies (just as cheap as 100), £4,500; total, £10,228; or not less than £10,000. It would take from eighteen months to two years to make the list available. It would never be complete owing to new arrivals in the country, who would require their particulars inserted as well as those who were temporarily absent at the time of compilation. After full consideration, it is not thought advisable to take action in the direction suggested by the honorable senator.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers are: -
Payment could have been made in full on 16th February, or any subsequent day under discount at the rate of 6 per cent, per annum. The loan is redeemable on 1st March, 1941, or at the option of the Treasurer, on or after 1st March, 1931.
Debate resumed from 13th April (vide page 7372), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I had hoped to have a little f urther opportunity of going into this measure before the debate was resumed. There are, to my mind, very grave And serious objections to the measure now submitted to us. One of the greatest objections is the attempt to import into our Defence legislation the whole of the Army Act which relates to the British Standing Army, and to make it applicable, without the Senate or Parliament having a chance to discuss it, to our Citizen Force, a Force which absolutely differs from the regular British. Army. The British Army is recruited from men who volun teer, who are presumed to . know what are the conditions of the Service they enter, and who accept with their eyes open the yoke of militarism; but in Australia, on the other hand, every man irrespective of his position or class, is compelled to submit to military discipline for a certain period. It is essential, therefore, that before imposing this yoke on our young manhood Parliament should examine every separate detail of legislation dealing with this particular matter. The Bill goes even further than the existing Army Act. It would be bad to. import the British Act at one stroke, but if some notice had been given us, we might have deemed it our duty, as members of this Senate, to scrutinize the amending provisions more carefully. The Bill provides that not only shall the existing legislation of the British Parliament on the subject be adopted, but, as I have said, it goes further by insuring that every future amendment and regulation made under that Act shall be adopted by the Commonwealth. It is quite true that these regulations are to be subject to review, but who is going to keep watch? What will happen here is that any regulation, which does not suit Head-quarters will be brought under the notice of Ministers, and steps taken to disallow it; while, on the other hand, if new regulations authorized by the British Parliament increase the power, already too great, which administrative
Head-quarters wields in . the Commonwealth, we shall hear nothing about the matter until, perhaps, some scandal causes us to realize that we have’ been landed in a difficulty.
– Will these regulations be operative if they are not indorsed by this Parliament?
– Apparently they, will. As soon as a regulation is passed by the British Parliament it will, ipso facto, become operative under this Bill unless some steps are taken to disallow it.
– Do you not think that honorable senators ought to be supplied with copies of the British Army Act?
– I think we should. If we had copies of the Act referred to, we should be able better to see what this Bill means. But quite apart from that, it is wrong in principle to introduce into this Parliament, which has the widest of self-governing powers, legislation to allow any other Parliament to make laws for us in matters of this kind. That, undoubtedly, is what the people who are responsible for this measure are aiming at. Apparently they do not want too critical an examination of provisions which they desire, rightly or otherwise, to introduce for the more effective discipline of our young manhood in military affairs. No doubt it would suit them much better if they could insure that legislation passed by the British Parliament should automatically become operative in the Comwealth, although, as I have pointed out, the British legislation applies to Forces entirely different in character from those of the Commonwealth.
– Do your remarks apply to any particular clause of the Bill or the Bill as a whole?
– The honorable senator is referring to clause 18.
– That is so.
Clause 18 makes certain amendments to section 55 of the principal Act. Section 55 provides, with certain reservations, that the Military Forces shall at all times, whilst on war service, be subject to the Army Act, and the amendment sought by clause 18 is to insert the words, “ or on duty.” They are simple . enough, no doubt, but they mean a very great deal, for their effect is to bring the Military Forces of the Commonwealth at all times within the provisions of the British Army Act, and to that extent they abrogate our independence as a self-governing. Dominion.
There is another very objectionable feature of the Bill, namely, the introduction of a proposed new section 21ab, which provides -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, persons who have been engaged on active service abroad may be -
At’ present, appointments to commissioned rank in the Commonwealth Military Forces are reserved for those who have served three years in the Citizen Forces, such appointmentsand promotions to be in the order in which candidates pass the prescribed examination. This Bill sweeps all that away, and, in lieu, provides for the appointment . or promotion of men who maynever have been in the Australian Forces at any time, but simply have been on active service abroad.
– But is it not intended to apply to men of the Australian Imperial Force?
– The clause does not say so.
-Itmay apply to an Australian who has been with the Imperial Forces.
– It may apply to the Australian or the Imperial Forces; and, in view of what. I shall subsequently tell honorable senators, I think this is a matter which we should regard with very great suspicion. We could provide that preference in the matter of promotion should be given to the officers of the Australian Imperial Force, naming them as such. I am going to object strongly to any one who served with the British Army or in any other service getting appointments over the heads of our own men. Undoubtedly that is what this provision is aimed at.
– The honorable senator would also exclude an Australian who had hot served in the Citizen Forces before the war, and who had served solely with the Australian Imperial Force.
– That could be provided for quite easily, and at the same time provision made to prevent all possibility of abuse.
There is another objectionable provision in clause 10 of the Bill, which amends section 20a of the principal Act to make it read -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, an officer who is eligible for promotion to a higher rank, and who has served, as prescribed, on active service, shall, other things being equal, be granted preference in promotion to an officer of the same rank who is eligible for promotion to that higher rank, - and who has not so served on active service.
I cannot understand the meaning of the words “ as prescribed,” as the section as it now stands seems perfectly sound. Power is being taken to make any regulations which the Government may desire to suit particular officers to whom it is. proposed to give preference. I cannot see the necessity for inserting the words “ as prescribed.” Similarly, I find that in the principal Act there is nothing to prevent the supersession of officers at the sweet will of the higher authorities. In my speech on the. second reading of the Air Defence Bill I pointed out that it was admirable to provide that no officer should ‘be dismissed without just cause, but so is it absolutely necessary that no officer should be superseded in the matter of promotion unless he was distinctly informed and given an opportunity of showing cause why he should not be so . treated.
– Is an officer not so informed ?
– Not under the original Act.
– He has to be notified in times of peace, but not during war time.
– It is prescribed in the regulations that he shall be given notice.
– In times of peace.
– No reference is. made in the regulations to times of peace. Moreover, in the regulations relating, to the promotion of officers which were actually in force in France’ there is no such limitation, and I know they were absolutelydisregarded by those in authority. That was because the point was covered in regulations instead of being embodied in the Act, in which case any disregard was not illegal. The regulations are deliberately and contemptuously disregarded by those in authority.
– Can the honorable senator mention a case where the regulations have been disregarded in times of peace?
– I do not say they are disregarded in peace time, but the regulations should be equally applicable in war time, and should be embodied in the Act. In the Army Act there are provisions under which an officer who is injured or suffers any wrong as a result of the actions of his superior officers oan appeal, and such appeal can ultimately reach the King, who has the final word in the redress of grievances. In our Act there is absolutely no such provision. It is true that there is a regulation which can be, and is, disregarded by those who have sufficient power. If it is necessary in the case of the British Army, where volunteers subject themselves to the harshest of discipline, how much greater is the obligation on us to insure the insertion of such a provision in our Act as will not. be disregarded in times of peace or war.
At present , the regulations provide that the . ultimate Court of Appeal shall be the Military Board, which was constituted some time ago to take the place of the Commander-in-Chief. Our Military Board is similar to the British War Council, but the Army Act was not modified to dispense with an officer’s right of appeal. An officer still has the right of appeal, notwithstanding that there is a War Council in Great Britain.
– What is the difference in the powers of the Board and the CommanderinChief in the’ matter of appeals ?
– A CommanderinChief never considered that he was the ultimate Court of Appeal, but admitted that he was under the control of Cabinet. When the Commander-in-Chief was dispensed with the Military Board was made the ultimate Court of Appeal.
– So is the Army Council in Great Britain.
– The provision in the Army Act which gives an officer the right of appeal to the King has not been dispensed with.
– Neither has the right to appeal from the Board to the Minister. His Majesty acts on the advice of his Ministers, and in Australia there is the right to appeal from the Board ito the Minister.
– Here an officer cannot appeal to the Minister.
– There is that right, and I shall show the honorable senator that it is so.
– There are admirable -provisions in the Army Act which we are incorporating in our Defence” Act ; but there are others which should not be included.
– There is no danger.
– Not in . some directions. Portions of the Army Act are included in this measure, and will be in force if they do not conflict with our own Act and regulations. We have a Military Board, and.it would seem that by having such a Board, instead of a single man, such as Commander-in-Chief, there would be more likelihood of justice being done. , But when we come to examine the personnel of the Military Board, what do we find? With the exception of those honorable senators who served in the Australian Imperial Force, I suppose that honorable senators are absolutely ignorant of the constitution of the Military Board in Australia. If my memory serves me accurately, it consists of the following members: - General Sir C. B., White, who during General Birdwood’s term of command of the Australian Forces in France, acted as his Chief of Staff. When General Birdwood left us, and1 . General Monash assumed command, General White washed his hands of the Australian Forces, and went off to become Chief of Staff of the 5th British Army. General Monash was thus left to improvise a. Chief of Staff for himself, and to carry on the war as best he could.
– General White could not have acted in that way “ off his own bat.”
– I am telling the Senate the facts.
– Did General White get the “huff/’? We can use plain language here.
– I am not going to say what happened.
– The honorable senator should tell us the whole of the facts. His statement is a travesty of them.
– The head of the Military Board here is General Sir C. B. White.
– No. It is the Minister.
– Associated with General White is Major-General Sellheim. He went to the war-
– Not really.
– He has absolutely no knowledge of the capabilities of any officer, but by the mere fact that he wears the returned soldier’s medal he impresses people in the streets with the idea that he is a man who knows his job from beginning to end.
– Did he not get farther than London ?
– He got to Gallipoli for a couple of days. The honorable senator may accept that statement as an accurate one. Associated with him is Brigadier-General Forsyth. I would be the last to say a word against him, but he broke down badly in health at the first battle in which, we were engaged in France.- Consequently he has no knowledge of the later developments of the war, nor of the qualities exhibited by the Australian leaders, particularly during the last phases of the war. The other member of the Military Board is Colonel Thomas. As far as I know, he has absolutely no title to the rank which he holds, his service having been confined to the Pay Corps, in which he graduated through the various grades.
– What the honorable senator is saying is that there is not a man at the head of the Defence Department who has seen active service.
– Senator Elliott knows very well that General Forsyth served right through the Gallipoli campaign.
– I say that he broke down badly in health at our first battle in France.
– In what- year?
– In 1916.
– He had served all through the Gallipoli campaign. Why does not the honorable senator admit that ?
– I have said that he’ knows nothing of the later developments of the war in France. I admit that he served in Gallipoli, and that he superseded me in command there, if the Minister ‘wishes to know that. For General Forsyth I have the greatest admiration, but I submit that it is idle to nominally substitute a Board for a Commander-in-Chief, whilst actually continuing the old system. The « only man on the Board who is in a position to speak authoritatively on the training which the Australian Forces received in France is General Sir C. B. White.
– He is the officer who is charged with the training of our Forces here. The other officers mentioned by the honorable senator have nothing whatever to do with that training.
– But this Board is the final Courts of Appeal - the tribunal which has been substituted for the appeal to the King under the British Army Act.
– The honorable senator is now referring to Major-General Sellheim, Colonel Thomas, and BrigadierGeneral Forsyth?
– If General White stood alone as commander of our Australian Forces, we should know who to blame when anything went wrong, and to whom credit was due when any thing went right. But the existing state of affairs is a travesty of what it should be. Moreover, there is no need for it. We have here General Monash, who commanded the Au’stralian Forces in France with the utmost success, and who excited the admiration of the whole world. He has not been admitted to the Board-
– But he was consulted about the divisional appointments.
– Since the Minister has raised that question, I have the best authority for saying that, although General Monash has been consulted upon numerous occasions, upon no occasion has his recommendation been followed.
– The honorable senator is wrong there. I have the signature of General Monash to his recommendations, and I can produce it.
– The honorable senator appears to be indulging in a criticism of the administration of the Defence Department, rather than in a discussion of the main principles of the Bill.
– We are now considering certain amendments of our Defence Act, and if that measure requires to be amended in directions other than those set out in the Bill, surely I am in order in calling attention to the fact.
Several Honorable Senators - Quite right.
– But the President says it is quite wrong.
– The honorable senator is at perfect liberty to refer to the administration of the Defence . Department for the purpose of illustrating his argument, but he has been going beyond that.
– - Does Senator Elliott say that the Military Board will administer the British Army Act as applied to our Forces, and that, beyond the Board, there -will be no appeal ?
– That is how I read this Bill.
There is one provision in the- Bill which, is of an admirable character. It is contained in clause 19, and reads -
After section fifty-five of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - “ 56. The application of this Act shall extend to members of the Military Forces * who are serving outside the limits of the Commonwealth.”
I am not quite sure that such a provision is constitutional. I am not certain that we have power to extend our Defence Act to wherever our Forces may be serving.
– - Upon a transport, for example?
– Is that the intention of it?
There is another provision to which I wish, to invite attention. It is a proposed new section embodied in clause 29 of the measure which provides that no person shall, unless lawfully entitled thereto, amongst other things, sell any badge, and provision is made for a penalty of £50. We are legislating for the youths of the Commonwealth, and here is proposed an absolutely savage penalty of £50 if a boy sells his badge or gives it to his best girl.
– Not “gives”?
– Yes, the proposed new section makes use of the words “ Offer for sale, sell, use, wear, barter, exchange, trade in, five away, or in any manner ‘ whatsoever dispose of.”
– Is not £50 the maximum penalty and not the minimum ?
– Even if it is the maximum, is there any justification for it?
– Suppose a man sells his Victoria Cross?
– This provision does not refer to Victoria Crosses.
– Yes it does.
– In any case, if a man wishes to give away his Victoria Cross why should he be fined £50 ? Under the proposed’ provision, if the mother of a deceased soldier wears his medal she may be hauled into Court and fined £50.
– No. There are many mothers wearing their sons’ medals now.
– There is a provision in the existing law which permits the female relatives -of a deceased soldier to wear his decorations. But that provision is to be repealed by clause 21 of the Bill now before the Senate.
– The Minister says “ No.”
– Then he has not read the Bill.
– If the honorable senator had read it as often as I have done, he would not be making the speech he is now making.
– Honorable senators will see, by reference to the memorandum showing the alterations proposed to be made in the existing Act, that under sub-section (2) of section 80e of that Act, it is provided that -
Nothing in this section shall prevent a female relative of the person upon whom a military decoration has been conferred, from wearing the decoration after the decease of that person.
It is proposed by the Bill now under consideration to repeal that provision, and I have indicated how an unfortunate widow or mother is going to be dealt with.
– The female relative of the deceased soldier cannot, under this Bill, even wear the ribbon of his decoration.
– That is so. She could not even wear the ribbon. The Minister’s interjection shows that he has not read the Bill, but has swallowed it whole from his advisers.
I proceed now to refer to the necessity for inserting in the Bill some new provisions, on the lines of the Army Act, for the’ due protection of officers and men who are compelled by the law of the country to serve in our Forces. I hope that the Minister will see his way to accept my suggestions in this connexion. The amendments I propose have been hurriedly prepared, and I trust that some more able person will draft them into shape. I trust that they will be embodied in the Bill, and provision made to enforce them by such sanctions as no officer in peace or in war will be ‘prepared to disregard . I intend to propose, in connexion with the consideration of complaints, that-
If an officer whose duty it is to investigate such complaints shall wilfully or knowingly disregard the provisions of this Act, or any regulations for the redress of grievances, he shall, upon proof thereof, be deemed unfit to serve His Majesty in any capacity whatsoever.
That is a drastic provision; but I do not think honorable senators Trill consider it too severe.
– It is more drastic than the Army Act.
– Such a provision is not in the Army Act; but I think that our law should, in this regard, be more drastic than the Army Act. “Whilst in words the provision I suggest may appear to be more drastic than the Army Act, it 13 actually not so, inasmuch as under the Army Act the King has power to say to any officer that he shall not serve him any longer. We have not that power here, and we should have .a somewhat similar provision in our laws. I intend, also, to propose that -
If an officer shall; by means of any promise, threat, representation, or other means, induce or persuade any complainant not to proceed with a complaint or appeal which he has made to such officer, or of which such officer shall have knowledge, then, in addition to the last.mentioned disqualification, such officer shall be liable to an action for damages at the suit of the complainant in any Court in Australia.
As a matter of fact, the civil Courts have always regarded the Army as a body te whom the general law of the land does not apply. They say, in effect, “ Here is a body of men who, with their eyes open, volunteer to submit themselves to discipline, and with the enforcement of that discipline the civil Courts have nothing to do.” There are some very important limitations of that policy, since the Courts will not allow the Military to go too far. 1 can cite some cases to indicate those limitations. Some time,- ago, a man sued his Colonel for flogging Kim. The Colonel set up the plea that it was the custom of the Service to flog a man.
– Was this an Australian officer ?
– ‘No; this occurred in the British Army. The man brought an action for damages, and the custom of the Service was pleaded by the Colonel. The evidence showed that it was customary to give a man fifty lashes, whereas the Colonel had given this particular man 500 lashes. The civil Court, very properly, found that that was an abuse of the disciplinary powers of the Army Act, and the Colonel had. to pay £1,000 damages. Whenever any case of the kind has occurred, there has been a general howl, suggesting that the interference of the civil Courts would be the ruination of military discipline. That claim was set up in a very famous case, known as Frye’s case, which occurred so long ago as 1743, and of which I can give honorable senators the facts. It is a leading authority respecting the liability of all who are parties to illegal sentences passed by courts martial. These are the facts of the case : -
Lieut. Frye, of the Marines, was brought to a court martial at Port Royal, in Jamaica, by his captain for disobedience in refusing to assist another lieutenant in carrying an officer prisoner on board ship without a written order from the captain. Part of the evidence produced against Lieut. Frye at the court martial consisted of depositions made by illiterate natives whom he had never seen or heard of, and reduced into writing several days before lie was brought to trial; and upon his objecting to the evidence he was browbeaten and overruled. Lieut. Frye was sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment and rendered for ever incapable of serving His Majesty, though the Court had only power to award two years’ imprisonment. On his arrival in England his case was laid before the Privy Council, and the punishment remitted by His Majesty.
Some time afterwards he brought an action in the Court of Common Pleas against Sir Chaloner Ogle, the president of the court martial, and obtained a verdict in his favour for £1,000 damages. The Chief Justice Willes, moreover, informed him that ho was at liberty to bring his action against any of the other members of the court martial. Accordingly Lieut. Frye obtained writs against RearAdmiral Mayne and Captain Kenton, which were served on them at the breaking up of another court martial held on Vice-Admiral Lostock, at Deptford, at which they were members.
The members of this court highly resented this proceeding, and drew up resolutions in which they expressed themselves with some acrimony against the Chief Justice, and forwarded them to the Lords of the Admiralty. In these resolutions they demanded “ satisfaction for the high insult on their president from all persons how high soever in office, who have set on foot” this arrest or in any degree advised or promoted it.” The Lords of the Admiralty laid the resolutions before his Majesty, and the Duke of Newcastle, by His Majesty’s command, wrote to the Lords of the Admiralty expressing “ His Majesty’s great displeasure at the insult offered to the court martial, by which the military discipline of the Navy is so much affected; and the King highly disapproves of the conduct of Lieut. Frye on the occasion.”
That was pretty strong.
The Chief Justice, as soon as he heard of the resolutions of the court martial, caused each individual- member to be taken into custody, and was proceeding further to assert and maintain the authority of his office, when the following submission (signed by the president and all the members of the court martial on Vice- Admiral Lestock) was transmitted to him: - “As- nothing is more becoming a gentleman than to acknowledge himself to be in’ the wrong so soon as he is sensible he is so, and to make satisfaction to any person he has injured, we therefore, whose names are under, written, being thoroughly convinced that we were entirely mistaken in the opinion we had conceived of Mr. Chief Justice Willes, think ourselves obliged, in honour as well as justice, to make -him satisfaction as far as in our power. And as the injury we did him was of a public nature we do in this public manner declare that we are now satisfied the reflections cast upon him in our resolutions of the 16th and 21st May last were unjust, unwarrantable, and without any foundation whatsoever; and we do ask pardon of his lordship and of the Court of Common Pleas for the indignity offered both to him and the Court.” This paper was dated the 10th November, 1746, and on its reception in the Court of Common Pleas was read aloud and ordered to be registered “ as a memorial,” said the Chief Justice, “to the present and future ages ‘that whosoever set themselves up in opposition to the law, or think themselves above the law, will in the end find themselves mistaken.”
– I think that that should be put into Orders, and sent to the whole of our military officers.
– That law is in force here, but the Courts make very fine distinctions. If a man is injured in his property or person by the imposition of excessive punishment in the way of flogging, fines, or imprisonment, the Courts will interfere, no matter what protests are made about the danger to discipline. But where a man suffers injury only in his military reputation by being superseded, or otherwise dealt with, the civil Courts will not interfere. The ground they gave was the ground I have given to the Senate, that a man goes into it with his eyes open, and must take the consequences ; he cannot squeal. That posi tion is very different from ours. We compel every member of our community to undergo this discipline, and, therefore, % any injury to an officer in his military reputation or character hurts him in a far wider sense than in the case of the British Army, which is .only an infinitesimal portion of the population. Every man in this country is, or will be, a member of the Forces. Any injury done to an officer in that way which affects his military character or reputation will inevitably reflect upon him in his civil capacity. We should, therefore, enlarge the law so that civil remedies will be given to every officer who suffers injury whether in his military reputation or character or in his civil k character, or property, or person, where he is already protected by the common law.
– Appointments to courts martial would be very popular^ under those conditions, would they not?
– There is absolutely no fear so long as the officers act fairly, and without any improper motive. I do not suggest that any officer should be punished for acting in good faith.
– Of which, under your amendment, they are not to be the judge, but somebody else is.
– The judges of their conduct will be the same men as are the judges of the conduct of anybody else at the present day. Every day in the Courts the question is tried of whether an act is done maliciously or improperly. If a man has acted bond fide and honestly, he has nothing to f ear either under my amendment or under the common law.
– Or under the Army Act either.
– Or under the Army Act, either.
– They have the right of appeal to civil Courts in certain cases. There was a case a few weeks ago where a permanent officer appealed to the civil Court in New South Wales.
– I fancy that he appealed, but did not succeed. The position is that where the Court decides that only a man’s military reputation is affected, the civil Courts will not interfere. While that law is properly applicable in England to a voluntary Force, it ought not to apply to a Force like ours, in which every man is compelled, willynilly, to serve.
Let me give honorable senators some idea of the wrong that can be done by people in. a position of authority, and the impunity with which the regulations as they now exist can be disregarded. We* have in existence an absolute regulation, which can be produced to any Court, providing that no officer shall be superseded unless he is notified of it, and is given an opportunity of showing cause against it. I am reluctant to bring in anything of a personal nature ; but I want to show the Senate that I have had bitter experience of this sort of thing. I joined up with the first of those who went to the war. 1 had certain success, and eventually became a senior officer available for promotion to a divisional command. I may say that just about that time I had certain differences of opinion with both General Birdwood and General White, and, thinking there was no harm in it, and being a free man, I had expressed my opinions with the utmost’ freedom. This final incident, however, occurred. In, March, 1918, the Fifth British Army was shattered by the German attack at the end of the month, and I received orders to march south to assist in repelling the attack. I reached a place called Doullens at about 3 o’clock in the morning, detrained our troops and marched them all night under, orders to take over a billeting area in a certain district. We arrived at the village at daylight. I found that the area, which had been said to be completely cleared of British troops, was packed to the utmost of its capacity with fugitives from the British Army, and, in addition, a small nucleus of officers. I went and found the senior officer of the . Forces there, and discovered him to be an acting staff-captain of a certain British Brigade. To quote from my report on the matter to Major-General Hobbs, my divisional commander -
About 9.30 a.m., together with Major Wootten, of- your staff, and my own staff, I went to the chateau at Hedauville. after reconnoitring a line for outposts in the vicinity of Senlis. I found the chateau literally packed with officers, all of whom were still in bed, and the village full of details of two brigades. At my request Major Wootten interviewed a staff officer, who appeared to be in command. The latter, who was still in a very undressed state, stated that he had no orders whatever about leaving, and until he did so he could not move.
He stated that there were “plenty of other buildings” in the village for me to take as head-quarters, without turning them out.
I said I had no desire whatever to turn them out, but pointed out that my orders re- med from you were to occupy the village of Hedauville with two battalions, and unless his details moved there would not be any accommodation for my men. I would mention that a large number of the latter had travelled all the previous day, and then marched all night from Doullens to Harponville, arriving there at about 5.30 a.m. on the 29th, an 18- mile march.
We were also under orders to be ready to go into the line on an hour’s notice.
By this officer not being ready to move out, these men were forced to halt in the fields? sodden with rain falling at the time, and wait his convenience.’
Not wishing to appear the least unreasonable, I told him in Major Wootten’s presence that I would try to get a building for headquarters, and leave the men outside until midday, whilst he was getting orders.
I asked him where his division was. He said it was at Senlis. I reported the situation by telephone.
I found a ruined school-house with all the windows shattered by shell fire, and with the yard defiled by human excrement.
I remained here, wet through, until about midday. Meantime I had sent my intelligence officer to Senlis to get in touch with the division.
He returned about midday and informed me that he had been to Senlis, and that the division had gone to Toutencourt leaving two brigades in line under the division, whose headquarters were at Varennes. He mct, however, at Senlis a major of the Machine Gun Corps. His remarks on the subject of the division were literally unprintable. He said he cursed the day he was born a fellow-subject of such mcn. He stated that his Machine Gun Battalion had been attached to them in the line; that they had retired without informing him - “ ran away “ he put it - and, as a result, he had men and guns captured.
My intelligence officer then inquired of the division at Varennes regarding these details at Hedauville. It was the signal officer that he spoke to. My recollection of the result was that he knew little of them, and cared less, for they had been nothing but a nuisance since they were attached to the- Division.
I then sent for the acting staff captain and asked him had he received any orders yet.
He replied that he had not. I asked why he had not telephoned or gone to Varennes to find out.
He replied that he had no telephone. I told him that I had a telephone he could use, and then, being irritated by his listless manner and want of interest, and by the fact that my men were being drenched to wait his convenience, I told him that I had formed a most unfavorable opinion from what I had heard of his division, and that his own want of energy and initiative were strong confirmation of what I had heard,’ and that unless he got orders and moved his men out of the village immediately, I would assume command and march them out of the village, if necessary, under arrest. He then got a “ move on,” and about 2 p.m. waa clear of the village.
At 6.30 p.m. we -were told that we should be at “ 3-hour “ notice. We had just settled to rest when at 7.30 p’.m. we were ordered to march within an hour to Corbie to “ guard the right flank “ of the Third Army.
I at once arranged for this march, called in the outposts and patrols, which had pushed n to Mesnil, and in a car provided by division moved to Franvillers, where I met General Monash. He expressed great astonishment that the men were marching, as Corps had informed him that busses were being provided.
He directed me to push through Corbie both north and south, and hold the line of the Somme. The men who had furthest to go did not reach the position until 5 a.m., after having marched, since .passing the starting point, a distance of 26 miles. Not one man in the whole brigade fell out, but at the end were utterly exhausted. For this fatigue this staff officer was largely responsible. Three hours later they had to be roused and sent into action, as the enemy attacked Hamel.
I should be the last to place undeserved reproach upon any one. On the other hand, I feel strongly that the shielding of incompetent officers and unworthy conduct of individuals, particularly staff officers, can do no good, but adds to the difficulties we are in. I gladly testify to the most gallant conduct of the cavalry of the Third Cavalry Brigade. I shall be glad to give evidence in any Court of Inquiry that may be held in the instance I have mentioned.
That report was addressed to MajorGeneral Hobbs in response to a complaint which this officer had made, and which General Birdwood had received instructions to investigate. Honorable senators will hardly believe the sequel, but this is what happened. Three weeks later General Hobbs called to see me. He said, “I want to speak to you privately,” and took me out into the garden. He then said to me, “General, I have instructions to tell you that while you are in the Australian Imperial Force you will receive no further promotion by reason of your conduct to the officers.” When he said that, I turned away rather dumbfounded, and he struck me on the back and said, “I have got to tell you that; but, by God ! you were right.” It turned out that this staff officer was the son of a Duke, and “ put the acid “ on General Birdwood - for my conduct, and you see the result. Notwithstanding that, I did not worry very much.
– Was that conversation with General Hobbs private or public?
– Private, but he spoke to me officially as my commander. He did not say it was confidential, if that .is what the honorable senator means.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Extension of time granted, on motionby Senator Pearce.
– The sequel was that three weeks or so later I was in-, formed that General Gellibrand, who was my junior officer, was to be promoted over my head, although the regulation which was then in force contained the provison to which I have referred.
– He was promoted to command the division?
– The regulation provides that certain action may be taken by an officer who has been superseded by the appointment* of a junior officer over his head, as in my case. Accordingly, I wrote to General White, drawing attention to the’ regulation, and expressing surprise that an opportunity had not been given to me of stating my case. I have his letter -
Your letter >has greatly pained me; but I refrain from a detailed reply, as I hope to substitute a visit to you, and perhaps you may wish to withdraw something of what you have written. There are one or two points upon which I must touch. . . . Supersession is an act which is only possible within an. established unit - the battalion, to wit. Once an officer is out of the regimental list his future employment is determined by selection,’ and if he is not selected he is not informed of the fact.
I had, in my letter to him, informed him that I proposed to test the validity of the action taken in my case by appealing to’ the Minister. This is the way he treats tha’t statements -
Finally, you actually threaten me with political influence. You have obviously written hurriedly, and I am therefore not going to regard your letter as written. But let me say this: If the decision rested with me, I should send you off to Australia without the least hesitation if, calmly and deliberately, you repeated your assertion to seek political aid. And if you managed to raise a dozen political and “ military “ inquiries, I would fight you to a standstill on them.
The position, therefore, was that I had either to submit or be returned to Aus-‘ tralia as undesirable. We were then preparing for the big attack on the 8th and 9th August, so if I had accepted the terms and come back to Australia, where, would my reputation have been with my’ men ? Now, the first instruction to .a recruit is that, as a soldier, if he gets an,’ incorrect order, he must carry it out and complain afterwards. I said nothing until the armistice,, and then approached Major-General Hobbs, who had become my corps commander in succession to General Monash, who by this time had gone to London to arrange for the return of our troops. I may say that at that time, and subsequent to the events I have mentioned, General Hobbs and General McCay, under whom I had served previously, had repeatedly, and in the most marked manner, expressed their belief in my capacity to command. As a matter of fact, I omitted’ portion of General White’s letter which may be eft some interest in that respect -
Do you think that any one doubts your courage? No one in the Australian Imperial Force, I assure you. Or your ability? It is well known. But you mar it by not keeping your judgment under complete control.
By not “kow-towing,” in other words, to unworthy staff officers with political and social influence.
– But; apparently, you were threatening to use political influence yourself, by saying that you intended to appeal to the Minister.
– Yes, because under the Defence Act regulations, the Minister for Defence is the ultimate Court of Appeal. .
– I am glad to have that admission. Hitherto, you have denied it.
– There was absolutely nothing against me on the score of capacity to command or lead, so honorable senators will see that the regulations should be very carefully scrutinized in order to prevent injustice and to give an officer a chance to have his case reviewed. At present, when the rear test comes, they prove futile.
I come now to a later stage in the story. On my return to Australia, I was appointed to the corresponding command which I had held in the field, the 15th Brigade, here. Under the provisions of the Defence Act, officers of the Citizen Forces can only be appointed by promotion from the ranks, and promoted to higher ranks, in accordance with the regulations; but recently, when certain divisional commands were being allotted, this course was departed from. Sir John
Gellibrand was then in Tasmania, and at a send-off dinner he said that the reason he had accepted a position in Victoria was that he had been promised a divisional command. I asked the Minister at the time if this was so,, and he denied that any promise had been given.
– I do not think Sir John Gellibrand said that he was promised a command. I think he said he was going over to take some position.
– His words were, “ I have been promised a command,” and when I questioned the Minister on the subject he said he assumed Sir John meant that he was coming. over to Vie* toria in order to be available for a command, notwithstanding the fact that ‘his appointment would be absolutely illegal. la order that I should not lose my rights by sleeping on them, I at once wrote, to the Board and asked why I had been again superseded.” My letter was dealt. with ia due course, and. this is the reply I rerceived from General Brand -
I am commanded by the Military Board to acquaint you,, for the information of Colonel (Hon. Brigadier-General) H. E. Elliott, CIB., C.M.G., D.S.O., D.C.M., with reference to your C. 21/8, of 16th March, 1921, that the further representations made by that officer have been considered by the Board.
The Minister now says that he can bo appealed to; but the Military Board dis-; agree with the. Minister) and say that I have to take their ruling. My reading of the Act is that Cabinet, the King, in Council, and in Australia the GovernorGeneral in Council, is the. ultimate Court of Appeal. I want to point out that om the Military Board there is only one man, General White, who can speak with authority. I have appealed from him te himself, and honorable senators can see the result. Surely there is something wrong in regulations which allow this. I had asked the Board for an inquiry te be held before a Judge of one of the civil Courts, and they raised the cry that was raised 200 yeaTS ago and was dealt with by a British Chief Justice -
Quite apart from this aspect of the case, it has never been customary, nor is it at all advisable, that a purely military matter should’ be inquired into by a Supreme Court Judge, or other , civil Commissioner.
For 200 years -it has been the custom te overrule harsh decisions of military officers.
SenatorWilson. - And that practice ought to be continued.
– It ought to be extended. I am endeavouring to convince honorable senators of the absolute necessity of testing illegal and arbitrary acts by military officers in the civil Courts of the country. General Brand’s letter continues -
I am further to say, in) reference to the contention of Brigadier-General Elliott, that he has been superseded - (a) It is the custom of the Service to promote senior officers, and appoint them to commands by selection, and not seniority. Frequently the choice lies between several good and well-qualified officers, and those not selected can have no just right or cause to cavil atthe action of those whose duty it is to makethe selection.
There is no doubt about the general proposition. There ought to be power to select, and where the choice lies between officers, equally qualified, it is obvious that the appointment ought to go to the senior officer, otherwise an officer senior in the Service might be called upon to take his orders from a junior; and no man would care to get a slap in the face like that, specially when, as in my case, neither the courage nor the capacity of the senior officer is called into question.
– No wonder the privates growl a good deal about military discipline when officers get treated like that.
– That is the point I am trying to make. If, under the regulations, an officer in my position and of my standing can be treated with contumely, what chance has a junior officer or a private of getting justice?
I think I have said enough to convince honorable senators that the Act requires more drastic amendment than is provided for in the Bill now before the Senate, and I trust that when I move certain amendments in ‘Committee I shall have their support, in order to do away with the possibility of such things occurring in the future. As far as I am concerned, the matter will not affect me, because I am so sick of the whole business that I have sent in my papers. I shall no longer serve in the Citizen Forces of the Commonwealth under the present heads. But I have a boy ten years of age who will ultimately have to undergo training under these conditions, and, so far as I can insure it, the conditions are going to be better than they are at the present time.
.- I did not intend to address myself to this measure, for the very good reason that we were debating an Air Defence Bill when the discussion was interrupted by what occurred in another place. To my surprise, I discovered on perusing the notice-paper to-day that we were going on with a new measure, and I was not disposed to address myself to so important . a question on such short notice. I cannot see any reason why the Senate should not take up the business where it left off, as we were prepared to deal with the measure that was under discussion when we last adjourned. This is a very important Bill, and there are important clauses in it, which, I suppose, can be dealt with in Committee.
– I have no intention of going beyond the Committee stage today. When we reach the first clause in Committee, I shall be prepared: to report progress and to allow the discussion on the other measure to he resumed.
– I am very glad to have the Minister’s assurance that such will be the case, because I was afraid, in view of the speed at which he generally travels, that this measure would be dispensed with by the dinner hour
I am sure that the Australian people will be very grateful to Senator Elliott for the glimpse he has given us of military life, and I can quite understand how very keenly he feels the position, particularly when absolute injustice is done to noncommissioned officers or men in the ranks by not giving them the Tight to appeal. It offends one’s sense of fairness that any man should have the right to mete out to another what he considers to be justice, and that there should be no means by which the case can be tried on its merits. I will welcome any amendment that will lay it down so clearly that officers will fully understand that, whatever their decision may be, there will be the right to appeal from that decision.
– So there is.
– And I hope, before this Bill is disposed of, that we will be quite sure that there will be no possibility of escape.
There are one or two provisions in the measure to which I desire to refer. Tate the question of compulsory military training. There is a clause in this measure calling upon all male adults who have been resident in the Commonwealth for six months to submit themselves to compulsory military training for a considerable period. We can quite understand from what the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) said when moving the second reading of the Bill that, although there is no clause in the measure to provide for a seventy-days’ training,’ all the arrangements have been made by which such a provision can be added after the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has returned from the Imperial Conference.
– By regulations “ as prescribed,” and so on.
– Exactly. The Government have done so much by regulation that I am justified in anticipating that they will do almost anything. I am anxious to ascertain whether compulsory military training has been a success or not. I am not one of those who rages against compulsory training, but I endeavour to take an intelligent interest in what is being done. If we go back a few years, werealize that there are, at present, two Ministers who have occupied the position of Minister for Defence at present sitting at the Ministers’ desk.
– And one who is now addressing the Senate.
– I can be regarded as an offsider.
I shall endeavour to crystallize in a few sentences what I think of our defence system. We had a system that aimed at reasonable efficiency by means of a skeleton army controlled by trained officers, who would, be efficient in the event of war, and quite capable of training the necessary men to be added should the occasion arise. We have tried to supersede that, or we have superseded it, by a system of compulsory training, under which every one who is eligible is to be drilled and trained. But what we have to consider is whether the system we prate about is a success or not. I venture to say that the very officers and men who are called upon to carry out our present scheme of compulsory training find themselves so overloaded with the work of recording who is on, parade, and who is not, that there is not much time at their disposal to devote to the training. of the young menof Australia. By endeavouring to train a large number we are failing to efficiently train even a small number.
– There are men in training camps at present.
– Yes ; but what, a handful ! I look upon compulsory . training as an experiment that has been in operation for some years, and before we extend the system by taking men from their usual occupations, we should inquire very closely into the results that have been achieved in an endeavour to ascertain whether, in the attempt to secure every eligible person in, the community, we are omitting to efficiently train any. I believe we are. Apart altogether from the question of compulsory military training, I would like the Minister for Defence to arrange for his experts to inquire into the actual results. We know that there are cases in which proceedings have to be taken because a trainee has not put in the requisite number of drills. In a’ number of these cases there is a most complete system of recording the attendances of trainees which take’s up most of the officers’ time, and even after that has been done, the most extraordinary results have been brought about. I have watched very closely the endeavours of military men to spread the training over the whole of Australia. In my deliberate judgment, the result has not been as satisfactory as that which would have been achieved by the efficient training of a smaller number of men. In my opinion, it would be better to have an efficient skeleton army so that, in case of war, wo. would have an adequate number of officers and men well trained and capable of handling the others who would ultimately come in.
– The honorable senator would not be in favour of the necessary, expenditure.
– The expenditure would be less, and the results more satisfactory. I think it was in this chamber, or in another place, that an officer said that a man going intoaction at Gallipoli informed him that he had never had the opportunity of firing a rifle.
– I do not think that statement is correct.
– I am merely repeating what I have heard.
– I think it is a deliberate lie. .
– I am trying to repeat something that is in my mind to demonstrate the inefficiency of our training system. I know that Senator Cox will defend the military authorities.
– I am anxious to give justice where it is due. I know that the men who went to Gallipoli were trained to the last ounce.
– I do not like to repeat statements that are inaccurate; but I believe that such a case was mentioned.
– I saw the men being trained. It may have been possible for one man not to have fired a rifle, but that would be an isloated case.
– Order !
– I do not mind interruptions, because interjections at times are helpful. A statement similar to that I have made was uttered by an officer who was present at the time.
– The honorable senator cannot base his argument on one case.
– I know that, and I also know that the Minister for Defence is aware of the fact that when troops were leaving Australia the charge was levelled against the Government that the men were not adequately trained.
– The honorable senator is referring to reinforcements, and not to the original troops.
– I realize that the case I have mentioned might be an’ isolated one; but it demonstrates the fact that the present system, which is considered to be so satisfactory, is altogether inefficient, ‘because, in our endeavour to train a large number, we are not efficiently training even a small section of the eligible men in the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator is quite wrong.
– I do not think so. If the recent war has not taught us. something in the matter of organization, it will be unfortunate for Australia. A skeleton army of . fully trained men is infinitely better than an army consisting of a large number inefficiently trained. I am certainly of the opinion that we are not making the most of our opportunities for training men for. the defence ofthis country.
I am not going to enter into the question of the efficiency or inefficienoy of the members of the staff . I have no particular desire or reason to criticise or commend the general staff, because I make it my business, as a member of the Senate, to interfere as little as possible with the administration of any Commonwealth Department. I endeavour to stand aloof as far as is possible from all complaints that one could be associated with by allowing himself to become the agent of the people who wish their grievances to have the backing of a- member of Parliament. My. conduct has always shown a desire to keep from interfering with the administration, not only of the Defence, but of any otherDepartment. But when we hear grave statements such as those which have been made by Senator Elliott, I think something should be done. Two years ago I advocated in this Senate the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into what happened at Gallipoli, and generally into the conduct of our Forces during their absence abroad. In connexion with the Gallipoli campaign, the British Government appointed a Court of inquiry, and this country, which suffered the most from it-
– Was represented on the Commission.
– The Commonwealth should have appointed a similar tribunal. Probably Australia was represented on the British inquiry; but now that our men have returned inquiries should be made, not only into the Gallipoli campaign, but into all the grave complaints that have reached us from time to time. The Minister for Defence shakes his head, because he thinks it would be too big a contract.
– We would know when it began, but no one could say when it would end.
– There axe people moving about in this community who are suffering injustices, and their grievances are never likely to see the light of day. The Government, by taking the matter in hand, couldclear up complaints such as have been made here by Senator Elliott, and a. great many, other serious complaints which affect both the men and officers of the Australian Imperial Force. I think that Australia
Bhould demand an inquiry into the Gallipoli blunder. Of course, every man is at liberty to form his own opinion upon it. But one has merely to recollect the unpreparedness of our Expeditionary Force, as evidenced by the fact that during the first few days of the fighting it was unable to carry the wounded from the field of battle, to realize that there was a blunder committed. In view of the remarks of, Senator Elliott to-day, the Ministry would be well advised if they appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into the conduct of the war, so far as the Australian Forces were concerned, in Egypt, Gallipoli,. and France.
– Including all cases of supersession.
– The superseding of a man may not mean very much to the Miniter. Of course, I am not reflecting upon his sense of justice in any way.
– The only point of which I was thinking was the number of cases that would be involved.
– The Minister shrinks from the appointment of a Royal Commission because of the number of cases of supersession of officers. To my mind, that is another good reason why we should have an inquiry.
I intend to oppose the Bill, because it provides for compulsory training, and because I have convinced myself that compulsory training-
– Or did the Conference convince the honorable senator?
– If Senator Duncan thinks that I think as my Conference thinks, I wish to tell him that when I attended that Conference I spoke most earnestly in favour of compulsory training. There is just this difference between Senator Duncan and myself, that the people whom I represent in the Labour movement trust me so well that they do not want me to think exactly as they th’.nk upon every question.
– They, accept the honorable senator’s pledge. That is enough.
– There is no pledge in the Labour movement against compulsory training. I can quite understand a new senator being engaged in the task of adapting himself to the discipline and regulation of a party which is opposed to the best interests of the party with which he has always been connected. I can quite understand that with him a change of conscience to suit his environment may be very easily effected. But so far as I am concerned, I intend to deal with the question of compulsory training from the stand-point of its efficiency. Does that system really make for the efficiency of our troops? Take, for example, the youths who are taken away from their football on Saturday afternoons.
-brockman. - Looking on at football is the trouble.
– I am speaking of those youths who play football.. If 150 of the lads who would be playing football on Saturday afternoon are required to attend a military parade, I appeal to my military friends to say in which department they would be more profitably employed. To my mind, physical culture is of more importance than is military training. Why, then, should we take these youths away from such a strenuous game as football ? When I visited the Military College some years ago, the late General Bridges was in; charge of it, and he. pointed with pride to the fact that 130 out of the 170 students there were playing football.
– Take Sydney as an example. There there are forty men playing football upon a Saturday afternoon and 40,000 persons barracking.
– The Minister may laugh at the barracker, but he is the fellow who has to pay for the sport. ‘ When speaking upon the Air Defence Bill I stressed the fact that too much attention is now being devoted to military drill. If I were the Minister for Defence I would frame a regulation providing that playing at a game of football should count as military drill. In New South Wales the. youths who are’ engaged in compulsory training are also encouraged to take part in boxing contests. I witnessed quite a’ number of these contests between the men of two divisions in that State some time ago.
– The noble art of self-defence.
– Yes. The Defence Department is encouraging it, with a good deal of advantage to . the Service. That being so, surely the youth who is actively engaged in physical training is fitting himself for war. I think that some regulation might be framed under which attendance at a military parade would be excused if the trainee is engaged in playing football.
– We must have some drill. It was drill, as well as games, which made the Roman Legions what they were.
– I think that the feats of the Roman Legions depended to a large extent upon the writers of that day. I would like to see the Roman Legions up against some of our “ Ginger Micks.”
– That ‘would not be fair.
– The things which we most prize in history are those which have been most written about. Blessed is the military force which has an historian who is capable of writing something which will go down to posterity !
– It is not always wise to have one’s record written.
– I realize that some training for the defence of this country is essential. But there is another thing which is equally essential, especially in a Democracy like our own, namely, that we do not make that training repugnant to the people. If we provide for seventy days’ training throughout the year, that provision will so harass the employment of the youths of this country, and will prove so annoying to the whole community, that it will become positively repugnant to them. Immediately we reach that state of affairs, all our attempts at compulsory training will go by the board. We should, therefore, endeavour to make our Defence Acts as palatable to the people as possible. Of course, while the Government have a majority in Parliament they may put just what provisions they please in our Defence Acts. But nevertheless they will be well advised if they frame all our measures relating to defence in such a form as will be acceptable to the Democracy. After all, it is upon the goodwill of the people themselves that we must depend for the successful working of our Statutes. Take such a case as that presented by Senator Elliott this afternoon. The Minister for Defence, I suppose, will be quite willing to defend the action of the military authorities, because it was in accordance with law and military custom.
That being so, I presume that there i3 nothing to be said about it. But in this Bill, the Minister intends to make it compulsory for students who have completed their term at the Military College, to be bound to the Military Forces for a period of seven or eight years.
– I hope that we shall not permit such a provision to be retained in the Bill. Doubtless the Minister will say that these men have been trained at the cost of the Commonwealth, and will ask why they should be at liberty, upon finishing their term of training, to leave the Military Forces immediately. But letus view the matter from the stand-point of the man himself. He enters the college as a youth, passes through his training, and becomes an excellent officer. But .he may possess a still greater capacity for service in some other avocation. Why should he be tied to a profession which has grown obnoxious to him?
– The honorable senator would give the military authorities power to call him up?
– When once he has been trained, he is as good a man in one place as he would be in another. Should his services be required, he can always be called upon. But to keep any man in the Military Forces against his will, and particularly to keep young men there, would be disastrous, not only to the men themselves, but also to the Service. If they have any desire to leave the Service, it must be because adequate rewards are not given to them.
– Just now the honorable senator was advocating the establishment of a school in which other men might be educated. Where are the instructors to come from?
– I rise to .a point of order.. Inasmuch as either parts or the whole of the British Army Act is incorporated in this Bill, and no copy of that Act is before us, I submit that the Bill is improperly before the Senate.
– There is no need for me to argue the point which has been raised by Senator Pratten, because, as a matter of fact, no point of order is involved. The Bill is perfectly in order, and is properly 4 before the Senate, in that it has been read a first time, ordered to be printed, and honorable senators have been supplied with good copies of it.
– I shall not, sir, comment ‘on your decision; but I thought the point taken by Senator Pratten was fatal to the Bill, for the reason that I assume that our business should be conducted on common-sense lines, and we should not be called upon to incorporate the Army Act in the Bill before the Senate unless we have that Act before us.
I was referring to the provision under which young men who enter the Military College are to be bound to the Military Service after their college term has expired. What would honorable senators say if it were suggested that a young man, after he has served a number of years of apprenticeship to a particular calling, should be compelled to continue for a term of years to work for his master ? I served my apprenticeship to a carpenter and, by analogy to the proposal of the Minister for Defence, my employer might have said after I had completed my apprenticeship, “ I had you here for five years teaching you your trade when you could not do very much for me, and now you must work for’ me for another eight years in order that I may receive the benefit of your efficiency to meet what I lost by your inefficiency whilst you were being taught your trade.” That is wrong reasoning to apply to any service. It must not be forgotten that young men, when they enter the Military College, are not of an age to decide whether they would prefer a military career. Under the Bill it is proposed to compel these young mon, whether they like it or not, to remain in the Military Service for eight years after they have completed their college term.
-brockman. - I understood that the party to which the honorable senator belongs desired that youths df eighteen years should be given a vote. There will be youths of eighteen years in the Military College.
– The point I wish to make is that we can easily keep in the Military Service young men trained in the Military College if we pay them sufficiently for the work they d “. A youth entering the college will probably be unable to form any idea of the career df a military officer yet we are to say that he shall serve five or six years in the college, and at the end of that period, though he may be fitted to become an ornament to the highest profession in the land, he must remain attached to the Military Forces for another eight years. To my mind, that is an absolutely cruel provision.
– Was it not a Labour Government that passed the Act ?
– Yes, and they intended at the time to do what is now sought to be done by the Bill before the Senate.
– I am fairly strong; but I confess that I am not able to bear responsibility for all the mistakes we made. I am, however, always prepared to face a position squarely, and do what I can to remedy what I have discovered to be a mistake. There can be no reason for compelling men to continue in an employment which may be distasteful to them. Honorable senators will know the many changes in life which they have themselves made. Young men. starting in life may possess qualifications which would fit them to become great merchants.
– Or successful politicians.
– I have never referred very enthusiastically to successful politicians, because my experience has been that the lot of those who have been regarded as successful politicians has been rather a sad one. I do not know where to look for a successful politician. I can remember that one of the most distinguished politicians we had in New South Wales was obliged in his declining years to sell his library to maintain himself. A young man trained in the Military College may, when he reaches the ago of twenty-one years, possess qualifications which would enable him to become a successful politician, but under this Bill the military will not permit him to do so, and insists upon control over him until he is twenty-nine years of age. I take the case of a young man who at about seventeen years of age enters the college, where he secures excellent training. I do not cavil at that, because T am aware that apart from military training very valuable civil instruction is given at the college. It may happen that when he reaches the age of twenty-one years an opening may be afforded him to do real service for his family, but under the Bill it is proposed to tell such a young man that he must remain in the Military Service for the pittance paid to him there, because his parents sent him to the Military College when he was too young to decide on a career for himself. I say that when a youth reaches twenty-one years of age he should receive the freedom of the country, and should not be compelled, whether he likes it or not, to continue in the Military Service.
– Naval and military men have to enlist for a term of years.
– I realize that with the Military College we might turn out a great number of ‘well-trained military officers, so many in fact that if half of those necessary went down their places might be filled at once, and there is no reason why we should load up training at the college with conditions which must make it more difficult to secure young men who will become efficient officers.
– The honorable senator should know that when the war broke out the one thing we lacked was a sufficient number of efficient officers.
– I believe that we shall never have sufficient of them when war breaks out, and we shall be less likely io have them if we handicap youths entering the college with the condition that after spending five years there in learning the military business they are to be bound to military service for the next eight years.
– It will have a tendency to make them mechanical.
– The tendency will bc to make parents more careful about sending their boys to the college. It will make the parents of boys who might make very efficient officers wonder whether it will be wise for them to determine not merely how their boys shall spend four or five years of their time, but their whole career. I ask honorable senators to bring reason to bear on their consideration of the proposed provision. There will be no need for compulsion to induce young Australians to fight if their country needs to be defended, and young men trained in the Military College will be all the more efficient if, after their college training, they, by engaging in civil occupations, obtain some knowledge of the world outside the Military Service. A young man who has gone through the college term, and passed all his examina tions with credit, may, at the close of the term, desire to go on to a station to assist his father, or, it may be, to take full control of its management. The Defence Department says, “ No. You must remain in our service for the next eight years.” I venture to say that the training he would get on the station would make that young man twice as efficient as he would be if he remained in the Military Service’. In the same way, two or three years’ training in a warehouse would increase his efficiency to a greater extent than two or three years devoted to drilling youths.
– What did we establish the Military College for?
– For the same reason that other colleges have been established.
– No, for a very different purpose. It was to train young men as officers in order that they might be able to train our Citizen Forces.
– I am sorry if I am not sufficiently familiar with the subject to make myself clear to the honorable senator, but the point I am making is that eight years’ compulsory military service after an officer has received the training of the Military College will lessen rather than increase his efficiency. Should war come, the man who has two or three years’ warehouse experience would be of far more service to the Commonwealth in preparing for the war than the man who spent the same time in drilling, youth§. To prepare effectively for war requires not only a knowledge of drill, but of all the activities that are covered by the whole business life of the community. I dare say there were fewer failures in connexion with Australia’s preparation for war than in the preparation for war in most other countries, but I venture to say that half the failures in Australia were due to inefficiency on the part of those engaged in the service of supplies. We should let these young men take up civil occupations after their college term, so that, in the event of war, we may have the benefit of their business as well as their military knowledge. I suppose that we shall turn out 100 officers a year from the college.
– No; only thirty are to enter now each year, so how can we turn out 100 each year?
– I was judging by what I saw on a visit I made to the
Military College some, years ago, when I think there were some 150 students there.
– Thora -are four ©lasses; they serve a. four years’ term, and thirty como out each year.
– I believe thai in tie New South Wales Public Service young men entering certain offices bind themselves to serve for a certain time, but not for an extraordinary time. They axe not obliged to continue in the Service until ft becomes impossible for them to secure work outside.
– Will not the Military College students have good opportunities for promotion?
– That is very questionable. I venture to say that with the exception of the positions held by the “ brass hats “ the Military Service cannot be regarded as a very attractive Service for young men.
– The student, after his term, will start with £5 per week, and he will be .but a very young man.
– How far will the remuneration go 1 Five ‘ pounds per week may be very attractive to a young man when he can earn no more, but some of these young men may possess talents which in other walks of life might enable them to earn handsome incomes or an early competence. Why should any of these young men be prevented by our Defence Act from making the best use of their intellects? These lads will start their military training as boys, and at the close of their college term, when they may be twenty-one years of age, it is proposed that they shall still remain slaves to the military system for another eight years.
– Their military training will have cost the country hundreds of pounds, and why should they not render some service for it?
– There would be force in the honorable senator’s interjection if these young men were’ leaving Australia when their college course came to an end. They will be well-trained officers when their college term closes, and in my view they will be of far greater value to the .Commonwealth if they are subsequently permitted to engage in civil occupations.
I appreciate very much the statement made by Senator Elliott, and T trust that the Minister will accept the reasonable amendments which the honorable senator has suggested. If any man in the Military Service feels that he has been, unjustly treated, he should be given the right of appeal’ to an authority that will not be influenced by the petty jealousies of officers. Such an amendment would materially improve the Bill. I know that the old military idea of discipline is that no one should complain against the authorities, and that there must be submission to them without question. Nothing is more out of date than a position of that kind. Here in the Senate we have authority which I am, beyond all others, always setting the ex’ample of obeying, but if that authority treats us unfairly we have the right of appeal to the whole of the members of the Senate. That does not detract from the dignity of the authority or from its power to enforce the rules of the Senate. Rather, it adds to and strengthens it, because my experience has been that, right or wrong, a decision of that authority is generally upheld. That is merely an illustration of’ the need for the right of appeal. There is rib organized body which I am aware of that does not provide for an appeal. In the big railway systems of New South Wales and Victoria Appeal Boards became necessary, because the service would have broken down without them.
A big military scheme is put forward under this Bill. I venture to say, knowing the many hardships which have coane under my personal notice, caused by decisions given by men who on some occasions, I am inclined to think, were perhaps actuated by a feeling’ of enmity towards the person they were hitting at-
– Does ‘not the honorable senator think that some civilian connexion with the outside people would be an improvement on such a Board of Appeal ?
– If we could get the Minister, an officer, and some person selected by the two of them, I think they would make an excellent Board.
– Would you recommend that sort of Board of Appeal to- the Political Labour Council ?
– Our organizations, are remarkable for their many appeals. They are always on the alert to prevent any one authority from usurping functions beyond those which properly belong to it. On the question of improving our military methods, and providing some remedy where there is a flagrant wrong done, I ask the Minister to consider the aspect put forward by Senator Elliott, and to see whether he cannot draft some amendment which will be acceptable to Senator Ellott and to other honorable senators, because that will possibly bs better done by the Minister in charge of the Bill than by a majority of the Senate, who may vote for an amendment which would not altogether meet with the Minister’s approval ; I regret that the Bill contains so much of. the military method. It is all compulsion from beginning to end. It all goes towards strengthening the power of the military authority. I had my mind turned to two or three clauses in it that seem to be altogether out of date in time of peace. I have no doubt the Bill will operate in time of war as well, and that the Minister is looking for a time of war when the Bill will operate, while in peaceful times we shall not hear much about it. We shall be able to deal with the various clauses in Committee. In the meantime, I hope to be able to make myself better acquainted with some of its provisions than I have done up to the . present.
.- I v/as interested in the point of order taken by Senator Pratten, that we ought to have before us a copy of the Army Act when we are dealing with this Bill. I endeavoured to obtain a copy from the Library, but I found that the copy kept there had’ gone. The members of this Chamber, particularly those who have had no military experience, and who know nothing of military methods, would do well to inform themselves of the big changes that will be effected by the substitution’ of the Army Act for our present Defence Act. We have heard this afterneon from Senator Elliott, who has been a Brigadier-General, and who in the past has probably had the honour, or otherwise, cf being called by the “ diggers “ a “brass hat,” or “one of the heads,” how a man in his position can’ be treated bv others higher in the Military Service. If that is so, honorable senators can probably appreciate the view-point of a man like myself, who has served in the ranks, regarding some of the alterations that would be brought about in the Australian Citizen Army by the introduction of the Army Act, and its administration under the provisions of this Bill as introduced by the Minister. “When a Court of Appealwas suggested, the Minister rather smilingly asked whether every case of’ supersession and so on should be dealt with; but to the man who suffers an injustice, or sometimes, let us say, a supposed injustice, it is a matter of very great moment that he should have some Court of Appeal. There are mon who know, and who have felt at times in their own persons, the injustices that are done in the Army, and if honorable senators had -had similar experiences they would see to it that the youth of Australia are not brought under the iron heel of militarism. God knows, I hate militarism as much as I hate anything, and no man can hate it more. I wish to say very definitely, not in any bitter spirit, but because I believe it my duty to say it, that there is in Australia to-day a military clique, and that that clique are Tunning the military machine of Australia as suits themselves, despite the fact that we have occupying the position of Minister for Defence a gentleman who, as he has said himself this afternoon, in effect represents the King. There is an old saying that the King can do no wrong. I know the Minister (Senator Pearce) would not go so far as that, nor do we think- that the Military Board can do no wrong; but we do say that a great deal of the attempt that is being made at the present timo to alter our scheme of defence in Australia, and to give greater authority to the military’ heads, is being caused at the instigation of those “ red-tabbed “ gentlemen who are there for a living, and who are there to make the military machine to suit themselves.
Under the Army Act in Great Britain an officer is appointed who bears the title of Judge-Advocate-General. In most cases he has to review, as a sort of final Court of Appeal, the sentences of courts martial, and in some cases the appeals of those who have been subject to courts martial. I find no provision for that sort of thing in Australia. I believe there are legal gentlemen somewhere - during my service with the Australian Imperial Force I never knew where to find the man who filled such a position - or there is perhaps a legal man somewhere, if you can find him, who reviews the findings and sentences imposed by courts martial. That is supposed to be done. “Senator Cox. - It is not “supposed” to be done, it is done. (Senator FOSTER. - I will agree with the honorable senator that it is done. I go further, however, and say that if we give the power which this Bill proposes to military, officers in Australia, whether constituting courts martial or not, we should at least give’ to the man who is tried the right to appeal on any point of law or fact to the JudgeAdvocateGeneral.
– Everything goes to the Judge- Advocate-General as a matter of right and course, without recourse to appeal.
– I have admitted that; but what I am suggesting is that, if a case goes to the Judge- Advocate-General for review the man himself should, if he so desires, have the right to put his case before that officer on a question either of law or of fact. Let me cite a case in point. I know a man abroad who was brought up on a trivial charge before his Officer Commanding, and, carrying one stripe, he elected to be dealt with by a Court martial. When he came before the court martial, he found that there were two charges against him, instead of one. He ‘took the point that the second charge could not be laid against him before a court martial, without his having been given a previous opportunity to plead to it before his Officer Commanding. The court martial told him he did not know what he was talking about, and proceeded to hear the two charges, and found him guilty of both. That man should have had the right w> put his case before the Judge-Advocate-General. The same thing might occur in Australia. The duty of the Judge-Advocate-General is a very onerous one. I remember a case abroad, where a fellow in my own regiment went to sleep one night whilst standing on guard in a trench. The sergeant coming along, and seeing him asleep, took away the rifle that was standing by him, and went* to call another sergeant as a witness. When he returned he found that the man had leant back, and got his own rifle, and was standing there on duty. The sergeant charged him with having been asleep on duty, and told him that he had actually taken away his rifle while he was asleep. The man replied, “ You are quite wrong. This is my rifle,” and showed by the number that it was his own rifle. What had happened was that, when he went on duty he had taken the rifle of the man he had relieved. He had been asleep all right, and the case went before his Officer Commanding, and then before a court martial of our own officers. They sentenced him to ten years’ imprisonment. He would’ have served that sentence, but for the fact that the case went before the Judge-Advocate-General, and to the General Officer Commanding. The General Officer Commanding said, “ There h no case. This matter should not have gone beyond the orderly room,” and annulled the whole proceeding. He came to that decision on a question of law as to the value of evidence, I take it. There are other cases where the accused should, have had the opportunity of putting his side of the question before the JudgeAdvocateGeneral or the Officer Commanding.
In the American Army, I understand that one member of a court martial in the case of non-commissioned officers, called I believe the waiting member, is a man of the same rank as the accused. I do not know whether I should be prepared to go to that extent, but I think’ that in every case, and this can be provided for by regulation, there should be on every court martial some man with legal knowledge. That should be provided for even in our Citizen Forces, where courts martial may be held. I am not saying that it has not been done in the past, but he should be there in every case to advise the other members of the court martial on matters of law.
– That was one of the things that we did in the latter part of the war. We deliberately trained officers for that purpose, for courts martial.
– I know that, but the men who were trained in that way for courts martial were trained to fill the position of prosecutor.
– To sit on the Court.
– They went to the Court as prosecutor.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon. I know men, and can give the names of two of them, who went to the war and have returned, whose job was to act as the prosecutor. Nonmilitary senators should be told that the prosecutor at a court martial is not the prosecutor in the same sense of the word as the prosecutor in a Criminal Court.
He is also supposed to advise the court upon points of law, but is never a member of the court martial itself. I do not think that Senator Cox could say he had knowledge of any standing or permanent court martial abroad. These were always convened by the commanding officer as offences came up for consideration.
I think, also, that greater attention might be directed to the question of training our Citizen Force officers in the duties pertaining to a court martial, and inculcating in them something of the judicial mind, so that with their knowledge of military law they should be able to arrive at just decisions, and, in the words of the popular opera, “make the punishment fit the crime.” I am afraid that on many occasions officers presiding over a court, martial - I am not referring to cases that came before a Judge-Advocate-General - did not know very much about their duties. In this connexion I may relate a story which, perhaps, is a little farfetched, but which will illustrate my point. It is the story of a young commanding officer presiding over a court, and not knowing much what to do, so, turned to the sergeant-major, who was advising him, and said, “ Sergeant-major, what shall I do? Shall I fine him £1?” “ No, sir,” said the sergeant-major; “ you eannot do that.” “ Well, shall I fine him 10s.?” “No. sir; you cannot do that.” “Well,” said the commanding officer, “what shall I do?” “I think, sir,” replied the sergeant-major,’ ‘ ‘ that I would admonish him.” “Very good,” said the commanding officer; and, turning to the man on trial, he said, “ You are admonished; and, Sergeant-Major, you see that he does it!” This story, though probably an exaggeration, reflects the experiences of the men, not at the top in military affairs, but at the bottom.
-brockman. - We have all been there from the bottom upwards.
– Well, not recently, at all events. I can speak from experience, and I hope I shall not be accused of bitterness when I say that it would be as well to have our officers trained in a knowledge of military law and in the cultivation of a judicial mind.
– I have been informed by a man who served in our Forces that, taking the Australian Imperial Force courts martial by and large, they would compare more than favorably with the administration of justice in the Australian Courts.
– I would agree with that statement. Indeed, I go further, and say that 999 men out of 1,000 who served abroad believed that they received better treatment from Australian officers in Australian courts martial ‘than was meted out by English officers to their men. I think I have previously mentioned the case of a man who approached me in Tasmania with a complaint about some deductions that had been made in his pay. He said that when he was in prison in England he was sent for one day, and had to appear in the governor’s office, where he found the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) going through the pile of papers dealing with his case. He told me that Mr. Hughes said, “ I see that you have got two years for being absent without leave for a few days. What do you think of it? Pretty hot, isn’t it?” “Yes, sir,” replied the man. “ Why did you not make a fuss about it?” asked the Prime Minister. “ Because I did not think it would be any good,” he replied. “ All right,” said the Prime Minister, ‘ ‘ you will be out of this in forty-eight hours.” I am merely quoting this incident to illustrate what the Prime Minister thought of the sentence.
– Was that sentence imposed by an Australian court martial ?
-Yes. The man got two years.
– That hardly bears out what you said just now about Australian courts martial.
– I think I said that 999 out of every 1000 soldiers were satisfied that they got better treatment from Australian officers, than British officers dealt out to. British, soldiers. It is probable that for a similar offence, a British court martial would have imposed a sentence of ten years.
– The offence “ absent without leave “ means a lot or nothing. Everything depends upon whether the regiment was in the line or in the back areas.
– I am not passing any judgment on the sentence. I am merely relating to the Senate the opinion of the Prime Minister after his perusal of the papers. This man who had served six months was released within 48 hours of the Prime Minister’s intervention, and was sent back to his unit, but on his return to -Australia he found that he had been debited with two years’ deduction of his pay, because, as I have shown, he had been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. When he spoke to me on the subject, he said, “ I went back into the line and got ‘ cracked ‘ and gassed, and now I find they have deducted two years’ pay. It is a bit rough to be hit up like this. Do you think it is a fair deal “ ? I replied that, of course, -I did not think it was a fair deal. And the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) expressed the same view when the papers came before him.
I am not cavilling at the treatment meted out to our men on active service, because it was war time and mistakes inevitably occurred, hardships were borne, and lives were laid down at times. But I do say that we should see to it that the militarism, which, during the war, we were taught to hate, is not introduced into the training of the Citizen Forces of this country. I understand that under this Bill an officer may order a man to be imprisoned for three months for offences against the military law. I do not want the youth of Australia to run that risk; and without any disrespect to the Minister I warn the Senate against adopting holus bolus the provisions of the British Army Act, and against accepting something which has been foisted upon this community by the military clique which we have in Australia.
Senator PRATTEN (New South Wales) [5.451 - During the debate we have had very interesting speeches from two honorable senators, who have had actual military experience in the field. This is a Bill of twenty-five pages and seventy-one clauses, so I can quite understand that in it there is something more than the mere machinery of the Defence Act, as was suggested by the Minister (Senator Pearce) earlier in the session. It would be extremely advantageous if the eight or nine honorable senators who served this country at the Front during the late war, gave us the benefit of their experiences in relation to this measure, and I trust those gallant gentlemen will do so. I agree with
Senator Elliott and Senator Foster that we should hesitate before agreeing, to the continued imposition upon the people of Australia of that militarism which was typified in the war, and what went on during the war.
My honorable friend, Senator Elliott, has opened up an extremely grave position. He has had the courage to state some of his own experiences, and has risked a retort from those concerned that he has done so from personal motives, though I do not think his standing in Victoria will enable a retort of this nature to be made effectively. He has put up a case that calls for further inquiry. Aa I understand him, he stated most deliberately and emphatically, that because of certain actions he related in connexion with hie own command at the Front, he was threatened or told by General Birdwood that what he had done was a bar against his future military career. I have never been an admirer of General Birdwood. I say quite frankly and openly now, and I think I have said it before, that I regard General Birdwood to some extent as a : ‘ lime lighter. ‘ ‘ I have reasons for saying this, but do not desire to recapitulate them now. We have been told this afternoon by a man who was there, that General Birdwood’s Chief of Staff, General Sir Brudenell White, left the Australian command when it was taken over by Sir John Monash.
– That is not correct. You know General Birdwood retained the general command till the end of the war.
– We have been, told by General Elliott that when the command of the Australian Division was taken over by Sir John Monash, General Sir Brudenell White left that section of the line, at all events.
– But you know , that General Birdwood was Commander of the Australian Imperial Force until the end of the war.
– I know he was Commander of the Fifth or Sixth British Army in connexion with operations in France and Belgium. I am endeavouring to put the events in their chronological order.
– But why should the honorable senator endeavour to mislead himself ?
– I think I am clear in the statement I am making.
– Why accept a state-, ment which you know to be incorrect? The honorable senator is assuming that General Birdwood severed his connexion with the Australian Imperial Force.
– So he did for all practical purposes. He took another’ command.
– I was not there because I was over age. If I understood the honorable senator aright, he said that General Sir Brudenell White left the Australian Head -quarters with General Sir William Birdwood when General Sir John Monash took over the supreme command of the Australian Imperial Force.
– General Monash took over an Arm)’ Corps, and General Birdwood still remained in command of the Australian Imperial Force.
– Not in the field.
– When experts differ perhaps honest men will get their rights. I do not know the facts ; but I am endeavouring to follow the honorable sena tor up to this point. The suggestion he left in my mind was that General Sir Brudenell White was not an Australian, but an officer of the British Army, whose, inclinations and sentiments were with the British, and not with the Australian Army under General Monash.
We now come to the point made by Senator Elliott that General Sir Brudenell White is now in the Defence Department, and has associated with him General Sellheim, General Forsyth, and Colonel Thomas, who constitute the Australian Military Beard. I am not clear as to whether an appeal can be made from that Board to the Minister, and perhaps the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) will assist me.
– The Minister presides over the Board, and can veto any action of the Board.
– Supposing the Minister as presiding officer should be absent, can an appeal be made direct to the Minister ?
– Even if the Minister is absent, the Board cannot function without the approval’ of the Minister, or some other Minister acting on his behalf.
– We have reached the point that, by implication, General Sir Brudenell White is more British in sentiment than Australian.
– Does the honorable senator say t-h it ?
– That is the implication, and it has been so stated by Senator Elliott.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to say that General Sir Brudenell White is more British in sentiment than Australian?
– I am not saying that, but endeavouring to understand the position as set out by some honorable senators. I am sorry that Senator Glasgow is not present, and I- am hoping that Senator Drake-Brockman and Senator Duncan will tell us more about this very interesting position. I am endeavouring, so far as a layman can, to follow the remarks that have been made, and with my non-military mind to come to a fair conclusion as to what is the actual position. In reverting to General Sir Brudenell White, who, by inclination and service, we have been told, is more British than Australian, we come to General Sellheim, who wears a soldiers’ badge, and who, it has been said, was at the front for only two days. I have been informed that this officer spent the principal part of his time in the Paymaster’s office in London.. Then we come to Colonel Thomas.
– General Sellheim was. at the administrative Head-quarters in Egypt.
– I am willing to accept the correction; but it makes no difference whether he was in London or in Egypt, because that is immaterial to my argument. At any rate, he was performing civilian Service, and Colonel Thomas, I understand, was in a similar position.
– He is not a soldier ah all. He was head of the Pay Branch.
– Then i shall describe him as a “civilian soldier.” Thenwe have General Forsyth, whose experience on active service covers the whole of the Gallipoli campaign. The Board’ consists of these four men, and is presided over by the Minister for Defence,, who we know was a non-combatant.
– Very much so.
– These gentlemen are controlling the military situation in Australia, and are, in effect, responsiblefor the expenditure of a large sum of money.
Coming to the Bill, which is to be administered by these men, I may say that my major objection to its provisions- is the incorporation of the British Army Act in our military regulations, both in peace time and in war, in so far as they do not conflict with our . defence legislation. I have never seen the British Army Act, and, temperamentally, I am not likely to record an affirmative vote in favour of something I have never seen. In my capacity as a responsible legislator, I am not likely to record a vote in favour of something I do not understand. In my early days, I can recall seeing a number of red coats, and I am going to assume for the purpose of my argument that the British Army Act has been built up possibly from the days of the periwig, pipeclay belts, and the rope’s end, and has been added to as the result of the experience gained during the recent war. I feel that I am on safe ground in assuming that an Army Act was in force before the last war commenced, and that that Act has been amended and added to, and is now the British Army Act. I do not know anything of the British Army Act or nf the powers it gives. Neither do I know anything of the decisions come to by the council of five, comprising the Minister for Defence and the four persons I have mentioned. I consider that the point of order I raised in connexion with this Bill was justified, because the question needs some consideration, inasmuch as if we passed clause 18 we would be grafting the British Army Act on to this Bill. I think I am safe in saying that the majority of the members of this Senate do not know what they are doing. Senator Foster said that he endeavoured to secure a copy of the British Army Act from the Library without success, and in these circumstances I am not inclined to give an affirmative vote, at any rate on clause 18, until I have further information.
With my honorable friend I am an intense anti-militarist, and I am not enamoured of those gentlemen, past and present, who have so largely controlled the operations of the Defence Department. I am not enamoured of giving power to any one to impose savage sentences for minor offences in times of peace. I am not inclined to give power to military authorities, with little experience and no sympathy, to harshly discipline men who, by virtue of being in the Citizen Forces, show that they possess the civic spirit.
– Can the honorable senator give an instance of a savage sentence being imposed?
– My argument refers to the possibility of it occurring if the British Army Act is grafted on to the military system of Australia as designed in this Bill. I am not at all enamoured of our military policy. The last conflict was not a war of human units, but one of machines. It was a war of chemists, and as a result of the forthcoming Imperial Conference ‘ in London, I trust that the whole of our Naval and Defence policies will go into the melting pot, and earnest consideration be given, not to red-tape, red tabs, military discipline, forming fours, or doing the goose-step, but to the manufacture in Australia of machinery and the necessary appliances which would help us in times of emergency. We should establish laboratories so that chemists would be able to work on the manufacture of munitions.
– All that has been done, and is being continued.
– Where, and how ?
– By the red tabs.
– By General Sellheim?
– We must have the men to man the guns.
– I have already said that the recent war was one of chemists and mechanics, and the next war will probably be. not only one of machinery and chemicals, but of nations, and the Australian nation will have to mobilize and organize for defence. No defence scheme will be effective unless we mobilize the whole of our resources, particularly if it is a war of defence.
It was pointed out by Senator Elliott that the provisions in the Bill regarding badges are more military than is reasonable, and any amendment he may move in the direction he indicated will have my support.
Something has been said about compulsory training. I am not at all clear that the present system is producing the best results. In view of what occurred during the recent war, I am not sure that it is not a system which is as dead as Julius Caesar. Whilst I do not wish to attack the principle of universal compulsory military training, I am inclined to think that the system is getting more and more into narrow official circles, and that the reason which underlies it is being lost sight of in heaps of red-tape.
– There was never a time when the citizens of this country were taking a greater part in compulsory training.
– So far as my own State is concerned, there are many bitter complaints against the action of the’ military authorities in “dragnetting “ every youth into a camp, irrespective of his domestic or other circumstances.
– That is an argument against compulsory training.
– Quite so. I am merely voicing some of the complaints which are being made in my own State in regard to the administration of the present law.
I have no wish to delay the Senate unnecessarily, but I feel that a Bill which covers twenty-five pages of print, which contains seventy-one clauses, accompanied, as it is, by another explanatory measure consisting of fortyfour pages of printed matter, together with the British Army Act, which contains almost as many words as does the Bible, ought not to be dealt with hurriedly. In addition, we have to consider the regulations in connexion with the whole of our defence scheme. In these circumstances I hope that honorable senators, and especially those who possess military experience, will not allow this occasion to pass without offering some comments upon the whole position - past, present, and future. I trust that they will give us some more interesting personal reminiscences, such as were narrated this afternoon by Senator Elliott and Senator Foster. In view of the voluminous matter which has to be carefully considered in connexion with this Bill, and seeing that military policies are in a state of flux by reason of the world’s position, of the establishment of the League of Nations, and of the attitude of America towards that body, the consideration of the measure might very well be postponed till a more fitting period towards the close of the present year. A revolution is necessary in military methods in Australia as the result of the lessons which were learned during the recent war.
– We are very fortunate in that the Senate possesses a body of military men who can render us valuable assistance in the consideration of this measure.
– We are.
– I have listened very patiently to a lot of harrowing details concerning the way in which courts martial were conducted during the recent war. The Australian Imperial Force had a good deal of experience of these tribunals, and, as time passed, and we found that all our senior officers and officers with experience were being shot out, young men had to be appointed in their places who were probably not familiar with the procedure adopted by courts martial. Arrangements were therefore made whereby every officer who was granted a commission was to be trained in that procedure. I say, without fear of contradiction, that every member of the mounted portion of the Australian Imperial Force who was tried by court martial received a fair deal. We were most particular about having officers thoroughly instructed in the ways of courts martial. Upon top of that we had the Judge Advocate-General, who renewed the proceedings of all these courts martial, and who, whenever he found anything in favour of the prisoner, always gave him the benefit of it. It is wrong for any honorable senator to throw dirty water upon these officers. I recognise that we had to make officers on the field because we had not sufficient trained men in Australia, and because it was impossible for any nation to foresee the number of officers that would be required during the war. Thus it came about that men who were troopers or noncommissioned ‘ officers to-day were lieutenants to-morrow. Upon Gallipoli our losses were so great that we could not send these men away in order that they might secure the necessary training, but they were men who had landed on the Peninsula, and who had been thoroughly trained in Egypt before they went there. The first Force which landed on Gallipoli was as thoroughly trained as it was possible for them to be, and so also were the officers who accompanied them. They were a fine:fighting machine. The casualties suffered were tremendous, and we had not sufficient trained men in reserve to £11 the gaps thus created. But the men who took the “places of the fallen had been trained as troopers and noncommissioned officers. As soon as the opportunity occurred, these men were sent to schools of instruction in order that they might be fitted for the commissions which they held, and which included the conduct of courts martial. It is part of an officer’s duty to understand that. It is absolutely wrong to decry our own officers. It is admitted that our men were well cared for, and that they received fair and honest treatment. We must remember that all the men who went away from here were not angels. Let me give the other side of the picture. I remember having a man under my command who deliberately told an officer on board ship that he would not go on shore at Gallipoli. He was taken ashore, and he then said that he would not go into the front line.
– Did you shoot him?
– The honorable senator ought to know what is the law of this country. An Australian cannot be shot for refusing to enter the front line. If a man were shot for such an offence there would be a big row about it. This particular fellow was tried by court martial. His regiment happened to be in the front line, and he had to go pretty close to that line in order to have the court martial constituted. The divisional commander afterwards told me that he had received a pretty severe sentence, and that I ought to give him a chance. I replied, “ I will not have him. Do what you like with him.” The man was then given certain work to do at Anzac Cove. Evidently he had made up his mind that he would not fight and that he would not work. While he was down in the front line and was being nursed by this divisional general, one of the latter’s staff officers while walking past this man was set upon by him and received a terrible doing. The offender was further court martialled, and as a result was sent off Gallipoli. Yet that man had the temerity to come along the other day and ask me to assist him in obtaining his gratuity.
– Did you do it?
– I do not think that I did. We must be just to both sides. Our men, I contend, received a fair and honest deal. During the latter part of the war practically all the officers had risen from the ranks and had been given the best possible training.
– They were a very good lot.
– Their record will bear fair comparison with that of any officers in the world.
– Did the honorable senator have any practical experience of the working of the British Army Act, so far as its application to Australia is concerned ?
– We were always working under the British Army Act, except in two or three particulars, one of which was that we could not order a man to be shot. That prohibition was imposed at the express wish of the Commonwealth Government.
– Our Defence Act prohibits that.
– We worked practically, under the British Army Act.
– Did the honorable senator find that its application to the Australian Forces involved any hardship to them as compared with the Tommies?
– No. It provides for every possible contingency. When we place officers in the field we must give them absolute control of the Forces under them. If a commander-in-chief has a man under him who will not do exactly what he has been told to do, the former will be left in the lurch. It does not matter how fine the intentions of the commander-in-chief may be if his subordinates will not co-operate with him. Consequently I would vest the commanderinchief with plenary powers. Immediately he was appointed, every man who did not implicitly obey him’ should be told that he ought to get back to Australia, in order that another man might be put in his place.
– How far would the honorable senator go?
– To the limit. I would say to my subordinate, “You do what I tell you or I will out you.”
– Commit murder, for instance?
– I would say that if he disobeyed my orders he should get off the field or I would do so.
– What we are objecting to is the application of the Army Act in time of peace.
– We must have the Army Act. How otherwise can we administer the Army? If I am commanderinchief of the Army, and the honorable senator is to be my boss and tell me what I am to do, I . might as well leave my position.
– In administering the Army Act, did Australian officers find any difficulty in being humane and generous to those charged with offences ?
– No. they did not.
– Did they make any bad use of the Army Act, from the honorable senator’s experience?
– Absolutely no.
– Does the honorable senator say that the whole of the officers of the Australian Imperial Force had a practical working knowledge of the Army Act?
– I do nob say that the whole of them had such a knowledge. I have tried to explain that. I say that we did our level best to give them a practical knowledge of ocurts martial.
– The Army Act covers a great deal more than that.
– I am aware of that; but a young subaltern, a major, or a colonel constituting an ordinary court martial for the trial of offences of drunkenness and absence without leave do not require all” tha’t knowledge. It must be remembered also that there are senior staff officers who may be called upon to give advice. Then an serious cases inexperienced men are not put on courts martial. There are senior officers to advise as to the persons to constitute a court martial. Sergeant Jones, or any Tom, Dick, or Harry cannot form a court martial. The members of a court martial are nominated by senior officers. I say that the British Army Act is absolutely necessary.
Senator Fairbairn. Our officers, must understand it in peace time as well as in war time.
– That is so.
– Is it necessary to apply it to our Forces in peacetime?
– The Minister for Defence can explain its application in peace 14 time. Honorable senators are aware that quite a number of young fellows passively resist the present form *of compulsory training, and their parents deliberately encourage them in doing so. If we have not the power to make these boys undergo training, what are we to do?
– The objection of the parents may be a conscientious objection.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
– That is all I have to say. I should like to put it on record that I really believe that our men got fair and honest treatment by all the courts martial.
– Does the honorable senator think that Australian soldiers will submit to the same kind and degree of discipline as will the ordinary British soldier ?
– Absolutely. Put Australian men under Australian officers and they will submit to discipline. I say that without ‘fear of contradiction.
– Before the honorable senator resumes his seat, I should like to ask him one question,
– Order.! This is not a cross-examination.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 8 p.m.
– My friend, Senator Pratten, has, I think, deliberately set out to try to draw on this Bill those members of the Senate who have served in His Majesty’s Forces. So> far as I am concerned he has succeeded in drawing me. I do not propose to deal with all the subjects that have been brought up this afternoon at any great length, because this must be regarded as in a great measure a Committee Bill, and there are many provisions in it that need very careful consideration before we adopt them. The first thing that, needs most careful consideration by the Senate is the proposal to adopt the whole of the British Army Act and incorporate it in this measure. Particularly is that a large pill to ask the Senate to swallow when honorable senators have not had an opportunity of examining that Act. Consequently, it is an advantage that those members of the ‘ Senate who have worked under the Act should express their opinions regarding it.
I am sure Senator Pratten will be glad to know my opinion of it. I have no hesitation in saying that the British Army Act is one of the most perfect specimens of draftsmanship in existence on any statute-book in the world. It is not a thing that has been thought out in five minutes. It has been growing and developing with the British Army. In it is incorporated the experience of 300 or 400 years of soldiering in peace time and soldiering in war time. We who were in the Australian Imperial Force had an opportunity of appreciating the merits of that measure, and so far as I know the members of the Australian Imperial Force have not suffered by reason of- the fact that they were administered under it. Ex-soldiers here this afternoon have said clearly and distinctly that the form of trial used on active service for soldiers is the fairest form of trial that exists under any system in the world. With that I entirely agree.
– Would you qualify that by saying “ military form of trial “ ?
– I shall do nothing of the sort. I shall stick to my guns and say it is the fairest form of trial I have ever been associated with or have ever read of. I need not remind honorable. Senators that I have had some little experience in the Courts of Law in at least two States of Australia, and, moreover, I have appeared in several capacities in connexion with many courts martial on active service. I - have presided over many courts martial on active service, I have been a’ member of many courts over which I have not presided on. active service, and I have no hesitation in giving my opinion in very definite terms. I agree with the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) that it is very desirable that the Act which governs the Military Forces of Australia should be the same in peace as in. war. Did this Parliament hesitate to send the men .of Australia on active service to be governed by the Army Act? Net in the least. I would remind the Senate that - and in some respects it was a rather fortunate thing - that Act was being administered by Australian officers 10,000 miles away from this Parliament and from public criticism in Australia. Can honorable senators point to any occasion when those Australian officers abused the confidence that this Parliament placed. - in them.? Mistakes may ‘ have been made, but they were very rare. If, then, Parliament- was prepared to trust the men of Australia 10,000 miles away from home, and from the criticism that counted, and from this Parliament, how much more, ought it to be prepared to trust Australian officers to administer this Act here, where there is a very free press, which certainly does not hesitate to criticise anybody and everybody^ and a Parliament that is most vigilant to see that no abuse is perpetrated under this or any other Act?
– Do you not think that we, who do not know the Act, should have it before us?
– I have said that the Ministry are asking this Parliament to swallow a very big pill in expecting it to accept the Army Act, which members have not had an opportunity of seeing or reading. It “is because they have not had an opportunity of seeing or reading it, and because I have had an opportunity of working under it, that I thought that the members of the Senate would like to have my opinion on it. I have given that opinion as straight a3 I know how to give it. If honorable senators were prepared to trust Australian officers to administer that Act when there was practically no possibility of criticism, why do they hesitate to allow Australian officers in peace time to administer the same Act, when they have every opportunity of watching most carefully everything that those officers do ? . Senator Earle. - Does the honorable senator say that the Act is as applicable to the Citizen Forces of Australia as it is to the Permanent Forces of England ?
– I do. I say that that Act, administered by conscientious and capable officers, is such a perfect document, and of such perfect draftsmanship, that it is just as applicable to the Citizen Forces of Australia in time of peace as it is to the Forces of Australia, or of the Empire, in time of war.
– Do you not think the lay members of the Senate ought to have an opportunity of judging, too?
– I agree with the honorable senator.
– It was embodied in the South Australian Act and was operative until Federation.
– It was, and I believe it was embodied in the West Australian Act. I arn not sure about tha other States, but I fancy that most of the Forces in Australia, at one time ‘or’ other, have been administered under that Act. Those -who are familiar with the Australian Defence Act and regulations, and have tried to work under it, can bear me out that it is a most indifferent instrument to work under, as compared with the British Act. It is a thing that- was produced a few years ago, and’ it has disclosed many weaknesses. If I had the choice as to which I would administer or under which I would be administered, I should have no hesitation in accepting the British Act.
– Why not bring it in in the Bill «
– That is not my business. Perhaps it would have been a great deal better if the Ministry had seen fit to bring down the whole of that Act as a new measure for us to consider in detail. However, that has not been done, and because it has not been done I desire to give the Senate the benefit of what little experience and knowledge I have of it, so that the pill which the members of the Senate ure asked to swallow may have a little coating of sugar on it before they try to digest it.
There is one matter which my gallant and distinguished friend, Senator Elliott, has referred to and in referring to which he has ‘ displayed the same courage that he was so celebrated for in the field’. He has not hesitated to bring up a matter which concerns himself very closely, in order to illustrate what he considers a great defect in our present system. He has pointed out that when an officer of his seniority has to appeal to the Military Board, it is a case of appealing from Caesar to Caesar; because, when you boil it down, the only man who can give a ruling or an order that can affect a man of the gallant and distinguished senator’s seniority in the Military forces, is a member of that Board. When he is dissatisfied with any ruling that may be given against him, ‘ he is virtually compelled to appeal to the same man as has already decided it. I do not propose to go into the merits or otherwise- of the honorable senator’s complaint, but it is a matter that ought to be considered by the Government, so that, when a senior officer feels that he has a grievance, there may be some Court to which he can appeal for finality and satisfaction. I am most careful not to go into the merits of the matter that my gallant and distinguished friend referred to this afternoon. I know nothing more about it than he has told us here, and we have heard one side, but, with the courage for which he is so famous, he has not hesitated to illustrate here, with his own personal experience and grievance, what he considers to be a grave defect in our present system. I am very much inclined to agree with the honorable senator that there should be a further appeal to the Governor-General and the Executive Council from the decisions of the Military Board.
– Would you confine that appeal to senior officers ?
– I was about to point out that the Military Board may be a very useful final Court of appeal from decisions affecting lower formations. That is to say, where a commanding officer has given a decision that affects any one junior to him - and by “commanding officer” I mean, broadly speaking, anybody who is in command of a unit, that is, from a colonel downwards - an appeal from him to the Military Board, or to the divisional commander first, and finally to the Military Board, may be effective. There a man is not appealing from Caesar to Caesar, but, in the case of a senior officer, I think I describe the appeal correctly in oalling.it an appeal from Caesar to Caesar However, there is no reason why the matter should’ not be carried further, just as it is under the British system, where there is a final appeal in every case right up to His Majesty. Why should it not be the same here? That system is the result of hundreds of years of experience. It must be remembered that that perfect piece of legislation to which I have already referred was designed- not merely to effect discipline but also’ to protect the people who were disciplined. While I advocate the introduction of this Bill, I also think it would be advisable to accept the suggestion made by my gallant and distinguished friend, General Elliott, that we’ should adopt the British system of appeal to His Majesty’s representative in Australia. I dp not suggest, as Senator Pearce thought I did, that this right of appeal should be confined only to senior officers, but, . if it were, and the present Board were the final Court of Appeal for everybody else, we would probably have a very good working system.
I comer now to the comments made by Senator Pratten,1 whose remarks, _ in a great measure, were instrumental in inducing me- to address the Senate. In the course of his speech he criticised two very distinguished officers who have been associated with the Australian Imperial Force. His first criticism was levelled against General Birdwood, whom he characterized as a . “limelighter.” If General Birdwood were merely a “limelighter,” why was he received so enthusiastically by the “diggers” of Australia on the occasion of his recent visit? I am not here to defend General Birdwood. I think that his reception by our soldiers was a greater defence than any words of mine could possibly be. He is not only a. very able and distinguished General, but I have no hesitation in saying he created for himself an affection from the men who served under him that is seldom inspired by one man towards another.
– There are two opinions about that.
– BROCKMAN. - There may be two opinions as the honorable senator suggests. The opinion I’ have expressed is held by 99.9 per cent, of . the men who served under him. The other opinion may be held by .1 per cent, of the men referred to. I have had an’ opportunity of judging, because I have served with these men under General Birdwood. I have been amongst men of all ranks and all classes, and this is the conclusion I have come to, and is the reason -why I protest so strongly against the attack made upon him by Senator Pratten. The other officer attacked was Sir Brudenell White, who, according to Senator Pratten, was an importation. I believe I am correct in
Baying that General White was born in Queensland, and was educated there.
– No. He was born in Victoria.
– BROOKMAN. - Well, at all events, he was born’ in Australia and educated here. He started life, I understand, as a clerk in a Queensland bank. Prom there, he went into the Military Forces; and it was not long before he made himself fairly prominent. Then he was elected to go to England for instruction at a staff college, through which he passed.
– The first Australian officer to do so.
– BROOKMAN. - That is so. He was the first Australian officer to pass through the college, anil, moreover, he passed at the head of his year. Then after a short service in England, .he returned to Australia and went on active service with the Australian (Imperial Force, so that this very distinguished officer, who has been described by Senator Pratten as an importation, with leanings towards troops from other parts of the Empire rather than to those of Australia, has, with the exception’ of portion of his educational period, served exclusively with the Australian troops. Moreover, he was the chief staff officer of the first Australian Division on Gallipoli, and it was under his direction, subject to the supervision of General Bridges, that the efficient training of the first Australian troops m Egypt was carried out, and to which, in no small measure, they owed their wonderfuL success in the field and at the landing cm Gallipoli. The work which this officer performed has evoked praise from every military scientist and critic of any note within the British Empire. The evacuation of Gallipoli was principally his work. T have no hesitation in Baying that, next to General Monash, General Sir Brudenell White is the most distinguished and capable officer that Australia has produced.
– Then you do place General Monash first?
– I have stated that, next to General Monash General White is the most distinguished and capable officer that Australia has produced, and I do not hesitate to add that he is the most distinguished and capable permanent officer in Australia at the present time. But that he should be Caesar and that there should be an appeal only from Caesar to Caesar, I do not advocate, despite my admiration of his ability and integrity.
There has been criticism of other officers of the Australian staff. Perhaps, before the war, we were not in a position to assess the value of members of the permanent staff, but those of us who had the honour to serve with the Australian Imperial Force are only too well aware that, in the permanent Forces, there’ are many men who should be pensioned off. and got rid of. The war disclosed their strength and their weaknesses. I do not
Bee any provision in the Bill giving to the Minister power to dispense with these inefficient officers, and I do not suppose w’e shall ever get rid of them until we establish some system of pensions, which I should like to see incorporated in this measure, so that we would not have this unfortunate weight of inefficients attached to the military machine.
– We want a superannuation scheme.
– Probably that would meet the difficulty. The Minister knows this ss we’l as I ‘do, but he is powerless to get rid of the inefficient officers. I used to think that 1 would like to be Minister for Defence for just about three months, so sis to be able to clean up some sections of the Defence Department, but I have since learned that the Minister is almost powerless. Knowing as 1 do that the Department is saddled with sn many inefficients, my only surprise is that lie lias not asked for authority to dispose of them.
– What would happen if they were placed on the h aif -pay list?
– At the end of twelve months they would automatically go out. But could wc do this? Those officers, when they entered upon a military carper ns young mcn were, no doubt, thought capable of rising to all its possibilities; but when tested in tha crucible of war, they proved to be not all they were thought tn be. But they are older. Tho$ have devoted the whole, of their lives, on very small pay, to the service of their country. They may have been. the wrong mcn in the first place; they may not have been as efficient or capable ks the board of selection that chose them in the first instance thought they were. But cun we throw these men, many of whom are now over forty years of age, on to the scrap-heap?
– Then, according to the honorable senator’s argument, the. mi.lita.rv machine, is at an inpasse
– I do not any that.
– Yon might ais well say that because- some honorable senators are not up to the mark, the Senate is also at an impasse.
– The Govern ment put off 2,000 men at Cockatoo Island
Dock recently without much thought as to their future.
– I am not dealing with the affairs of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. I am dealing with the affairs of the Defence Department.
– But I have quoted the Cockatoo Island Dock employees as an illustration why it should not be so difficult to get rid of the Defence Force inefficients
– During the debate an assertion that many, of the men who landed at Gallipoli had never fired a shot brought an indignant denial from Senator Cox; but I regret to say that there is a certain amount of truth in it. This probably arose from the fact that when the First Australian Division loft Australia they took out of the country pretty well every rifle that was available, so that subsequently, when the first reinforcements were sent to Egypt, they wore shot across to Gallipoli without further training. But that did not happen with very many of the reinforcements, sud it ip. one of the lessons that we have learned from the war. We realized that wc did not have in -Australia sufficient equipment. The Minister, by interjection, told us this afternoon that these shortcomings with regard to equipment arc under consideration, and are being dealt with. Personally, I arn extremely glad to know that this is so.
– General White, (lie man you have been talking about, was the author et’ that statement.
– I would not be in ibo. least surprised, because I know from personal experience that the statement, was true. I was an officer in the original Force. I waa in command of n. company ov. Gallipoli, and received as reinforcements forty or fifty men who. according to their own statements, had never used a rifle. This, no doubt, was due to the fact -flint the Commonwealth Parliament in tha early days of the war. had not the good fortune to number amongst its- members men of military experience; tut in future perhaps we shall not repeat these mistakes. I sincerely hope not.
This is all I desire to say on the Bill to-night There are many other points which I hope to have an opportunity to refer to later; but they occur to me as being principally matters for the Committee, and when that stage is reached, I propose to deal with them.
.- I am glad the Bill has received the close attention of honorable senators, because I would be the last to desire that, in connexion with defence, we should place on our statute-book any measure that was unsound in principle, or, speaking in the strict and not the ordinary sense of the word, unpopular. Ours is a citizen Force, and, accordingly, we have to be more careful in our legislative provisions than if we were dealing with a regular army.We must see to it that the legislation commends itself to the good judgment of the people of Australia, and that in every -sense of the word it is popular. I suppose there is no more unpopular subject at the present time than that of defence. We are now in the backwash of the war, and those who, afew years ago, were applauding the “ brass hats “ and the “ tabs,” and were cheering them as they went down the street, are now prepared to heave a half a. brick at them. The soldier a few years ago was apopular figure, but now the war is over he is viewed from a different, stand-point. There are many who called for three cheers a little while ago who now have nothing but sneers for him and the system under which he is trained.
– That is hardly a fair statement of the position.
– We should not be led away, in considering this question, by the catch-cries used by those who depreciate anything done by our Military Forces. In the discussion to-dayI have heard the same terms applied to our Forbes that were used when any proposition was brought forward to provide for the defence of the Commonwealth. We have hoard terras this afternoon that were employed during the war by those who were, doing their very best to prevent the Commonwealth providing an efficient Military Force to assist in our protection.
– I am the one who referred to “ brass hats “ ; but I do not wish it to be thought that I was in any sense referring to the soldiers and the -service they rendered.
– Senator Foster used the term “ brasshats,” and he is one of those who rendered service to, his country. But some of the expressions that . were used by him this afternoon were used at the street comers and at meetings by those who were doing their best to obstruct our military programme and prevent Australia from doing what was right and proper during a time of crisis. I do not wish to suggest that Senator Foster used those terms in the same way.
I am somewhat disappointed that, with the exception of Senator . Drake-Brockman, none of . those honorable senators who criticised the application of the British Army Act to our Forces in time of peace, as well as in time of war, dealt with the question which I raised in introducing the measure, and which is really the pivot of this matter. If we do not train our officers under one disciplinary code in time of peace, on the outbreak of war they have to curry out certain disciplinary measures under a system with which they are unfamiliar. Senator Elliott did not deal with that question, nor. did any of the other honorable senators who criticised the proposal to embody the British Army Act in our legislation. But it is an essential point to be considered, because if we do not apply the British Army Act in time of peace we fire bound to apply it in time of war. Parliament has recognised that, and in the Defence Act has provided that when our Forcesgo to war they mustautomatically come under the British Army Act. That provision has always been on our statute-book. The point has never been raised that we should not embody the. Army Act in our legislation ;but the soldiers want to know what code they are to operate under.
– But it should have beenraised.
– We have been goingon in this way for a period of twenty years, and no one, either in the discussion this afternoon or elsewhere, has shown that our Forces suffered any hardship by reason of the fact that- they came under the British Army Act in time of war. Every honorable senator who hold military command in the recent war knew that, although he was operating under a Commonwealth Defence Act. and its regulations, he was automatically transferred to the British
Army Act, and it took him some time, especially during the stress of war, to familiarise himself with’ the new code.
– Does the Minister for Defence maintain that the same dis- ciplinary measures are . required in Australia in times of peace !
– No; nor is that intended. I mentioned during my secondreading speech that any punishment laid down in the British Army Act which is in excess of what is provided in our Act cannot be imposed. That provision will operate in time of war as well as in time of peace’. I mentioned that under the Army Act desertion is punishable by death, and that during the war, because that provision was inconsistent with our Act, or was a punishment in excess of what we had provided, no Australian soldier was punished by death for desertion.
– Would not the British Army Act increase the number of offences?
– No; we provide, for exactly tho same offences, and, as Senator Drake-Brockman pointed out, the British Army code is the result of centuries of experience during war and peace. Re said it was a perfect code, and that was demonstrated in the recent war, because it imposed no greater hardship than our own code would have imposed in the matter of punishment for offences. It has worked well as the result of experience, and in the judgment of those officers who have’ operated under it we think it advisable, to embody it in our legislation, so that our officers will go on training under conditions which they will have to submit to ‘ in time of war.
I think it was Senator Pratten who pointed out that officers should be trained in the operations of courts martial., so that they might be familiar with the instrument they were to handle.
– I think some of us are in trouble because we are of opinion that the British Army Act was designed for a regular army.
– The British Army Act applies to the Regular Army, and also to tile British Territorial Army, which is a volunteer citizen force, and always has applied to the volunteer forces of Great Britain. If the honorable senator will peruse our Defence Act in conjunction with the. clause we are embodying in the -amending Bill, he will find that a great part of it does not affect our Citizen Forces’ in their capacity as citizens, “as they will not be dealt with under the Army Act, but under our own Defence Act. For instance, the provisions of the British Army Act will not affect the training of our Senior Cadets, neither will they affect their registration, liability to train, and detention, as all those matters will be dealt with under our Defence Act and its regulations. These are the points which affect the man or the boy, as the case may ‘be, in his capacity as a citizen, as it is only when the Forces go into camp to train for war that the British Army Act will operate, as far as the disciplinary code is concerned. In these circumstances, officers and men in camp will be operating under a code under which they will be dealt with in time of war.
– The Army Act will not increase the number of military offences ?
I desire to follow up the criticism directed against the Bill, and to come to the question raised by Senator Elliott in regard to the portion of the measure which deals with appointment to commissions in the Citizen Forces. If the honorable senator’s intention were given effect to in Committee we would exclude from appointment to commissions in our Forces, except by going through the ranks, and undergoing subsequent examination for promotion step by step, any Australian who was not a member of the Citizen Forces before the outbreak of the war, although he might have served in the Australian Imperial Force during the war. We would also exclude all Australians who served, with the British Forces and obtained commissions during the war - as well as all Canadians, New Zealanders, and South Africans who had rendered similar service - and who subsequent to the war took up their residence in Australia. We would be prevented from including such men irrespective of the rank they obtained in the field. Above all ‘ things, we require in Australia during, the next few years the benefit of the experience gained by men who have won their rank on -the battlefield, and we should be broad-minded enough to put them on an equal footing whether they were members of the Australian Imperial Force, served in the British Forces, or were New Zealanders, Canadians, or men from ‘ South Africa who served and won their rank on active service. The clause in the Bill will give the. Governor-General power to grant commissions in the Citizen Forces to such men. To do other than what the Bill provides would be to make a close preserve for those who were in the Citizen Forces of Australia before the outbreak of war, irrespective of the service they may have rendered during the war. The provision in the Bill is a broadening one, is intended to give a wider field of choice, and above all, to give us the opportunity of utilizing the experience of mee, no matter where they come from, and particularly of those men who won their commissions in the field.
– Does the Bill pro ride for preference over those who never went away?
– There is another clause dealing with the question of preference. Where a Citizen. Force officer has had war experience he will have preference over one who has not; but the clause to which I have referred does not deal with that particular phase of the question. Senator Elliott has given notice of certain amendments, and he stated during the course of his second-reading speech that’ he intended to submit proposals which will provide that no officer shall be superseded in war time or in peace without notice, and that consequent on that notice he shall have the right of appeal ultimately to the civil Courts of the land and to obtain damages against the officer who superseded him.
– That is a travesty of what I meant.
– That is the essence of the propositi on.
– I do not think that is correct because the honorable senator did »ot refer to the question of damages.
– I am not concerned with what the honorable senator aid, but what his. amendment really Hwang.
– Will the Minister read my amendment?
– I must confess that in my early days as a Minister for Defence I knew very little or nothing about military matters. It was once said that when a Federal Cabinet was being formed all the portfolios were filled with, the exception of that of Minister for Defence, which was left for “ the fool of the family.” I do not know whether that was so when I was first appointed; but I admit that I knew nothing or little about military matters, although I had, to the best of my ability, given attention to such matters when they came’ before Parliament. Knowing that, I set myself to study military matters from the political standpoint, and endeavoured to ascertain what was the duty of the political head of a Military Department. In this connexion I remember a conversation which I had with the late General Bridges, who advised me to read a, book which was written by Colonel Henderson, namely, The Life of Stonewall Jackson. I invite honorable senators to read that book, because it contains a very good lesson for politicians. During the Civil War between the North and South of America, Abraham Lincoln was the political head in the. North, and in the earlier stages of that war, he continually interfered with his general officers in the field. He interfered with their strategy, with their appointments, with their commands, and it is a noteworthy fact that, during the first period of the struggle, the North sustained a succession of defeats. Upon the other hand, the President of the Southern States did not interfere with his general officers in the field, but gave them an absolutely free hand, the result being that they had a succession of victories. Lincoln was a big enough man to look around him with a view to discovering where the blame lay. Having done so, he altered his policy, and after the second year of the war, he gave his generals an absolutely free hand m regard to appointments and strategy. He told them that he would judge them by their performances, and that, if necessary, he would displace them in their commands. From the time of this change of policy, the North became victorious, and the South, which, strange to say, altered its policy during the last years of the war, met with a succession of defeats. This latter period was marked by con,tinual interference on the part of the
President of the Southern States with his generals in the field.
– All I have to say is that the Minister’s generals should have been - a great success. ‘
– I took the lesson to heart, and when I came into office, my predecessor, Senator E. D. Millen, had already appointed General Bridges to the command of the 1st Division. I sent for General Bridges, and said to him, “You will find that, as regards the choice of your subordinate officers and appointments tq commands, I shall give you a free hand. The Government will judge you by the results which are obtained in the training camps, and in the field, and if the time should ever come when we think you are unfitted for your , present command wo shall recall you. But while you are. there, we shall not interfere with you.” When General Birdwood was appointed to command the Australian Imperial Force, ‘I wrote him a letter in similar terms. From the commencement to the close of the war, I never interfered with General Birdwood or with General Bridges either, in the matter of their appointments, or in the disposition of their commands. How could I at the other end of the world, even if I knew anything about military matters, rightly tell GeDera-1 Bridges who he was to appoint to the command of his battalions or brigades? How could I tell General Birdwood that? Undoubtedly, in the discharge of their duties,- with the responsibility which rested upon them, they continually had to supersede officers. Why, Senator Elliott . himself has superseded plenty of other officers who were senior to him in the Citizen Forces, simply because of his ability as a soldier and his qualifications as a commander. He was placed over their heads on account of his possession of those very qualities. These officers had no grievance against him. I suppose that soldiers are just as human as we are. Does anybody mean to tell me that the commander of a division or of an army corps is going deliberately to place in command of his division, brigade, or battalion, men whom he knows to be incompetent, and to. pass over competent men? Is it not a fact that the commander of a battalion, if ho is incompetent, may bring. about the defeat of an army, corps? Will a commander p’ace an incompetent there, knowing that if that defeat comes, he himself will be disgraced? During the recent war we saw some soldiers whose names loomed large, recalled, and to-day they are numbered amongst the “duds,” as they are described. Surely every soldier, recognising that, will choose the man who he thinks is the most competent to fill any particular position. Senator Elliott used for quite a different purpose an illustration which T intend to apply in this connexion. He spoke of a staff officer who., according to his statement, had exhibited great incompetency. If that officer were under General Elliott’s command, will anybody say that the decision of General Elliott to supersede him should be liable to an appeal by that officer to me, and that, ultimately, perhaps, General Elliott should have to defend an action for damages ? What sort of a time would a general officer commanding have if he knew that every time he superseded an officer, not only would his action probably be brought before his political head upon the other side of the world, but that when he returned to Australia he might have to face litigation with heavy damages and costs?
– Is the Minister arguing that General Elliott was superseded because of incompetency?
– No. But if General Elliott’s ideas are incorporated in this Bill, an incompetent officer will have a right of appeal to the Minister for Defence i’” Australia, and also the right to go before a Supreme Court Judge in an action for damages.
– Only if he can show that I had acted from malice or from improper motives.
– That would be a matter of evidence But there is the possibility. General Elliott might say, “ I superseded this officer because I regarded him as incompetent.” In reply,’ the officer might say, “ I was superseded because of malice. General Elli 0:r showed malice upon a previous occasion by using towards mo language which was more’ forcible than polite.” In dealing with these matters, we have not merely to insure justice being done to the officer whohas been superseded, but also to his’ superior officer. We must have some regard for the position in which we place, that superior officer. Shall we get efficient forces and efficient commanding officers if we lay the latter open to the anxiety, harassment, and possibly monetary loss that would, be involved by the insertion in this Bill of a provision such as Senator Elliott proposes?
– Only if they act improperly.
– Right does not always triumph,, even in our Law Courts.
– But if an employer displaces- a man in the industrial world, he has to show just cause for his action.
– Dealing with industrial matters in the “’ piping times of peace” is vastly different from dealing with men on the battlefield.
– But when we get back to peace times, we should right as many wrongs as possible.
– Let. me deal with that aspect of the matter. I have had many applications made to me by officers and men who have felt aggrieved at something which was done during the war. Years after the events have occurred, these individuals have demanded that there should be an inquiry into them. There was an inquiry into them upon the other side of the world, where the events actually occurred - such an inquiry as could be made at the time - and a certain judgment was passed. It may have been the judgment of the commanding officer or of a court martial, or of an army corps commander, who had to choose his divisional generals. But at any rate, he was on the spot, he had all the circumstances before him, and he gave his. judgment. Our fighting force has since been scattered to the four winds of the earth, and all we now have is the paper record of these events. In such circumstances, what sort of an inquiry could we institute? We cannot summon the witnesses, many of whom are dead, whilst many others are outside of Australia. Even those who are in Australia have not to-day the same recollection of the events in question that they possessed at the time of their occurrence.
– The honorable gentleman will admit that, in some instances, the accused was not even called’ Upon to state his case?
– Quite so. An army corps commander, in choosing his divisional general, would say, “ I think that Jones is a better man than Smith or Robertson.” Would he be likely to alter his opinion if Jones argued for a month that he was a better man than Robinson ?
– I am not referring to events of that sort. 1 am alluding to cases in which there was a miscarriage of justice.
– That matter has been so ably dealt with by Senator DrakeBrockman, Senator Foster, and others, that I do not propose to traverse the ground again. Of course, there are abuses of justice from time to time, even in our civil Courts; but taking the Australian Imperial Force by and large, its members got a “ fair spin,” as the saying goes.
– I know of corporals who thought their colonels were a joke, simply because they themselves were not made sergeants.
– There has been some criticism indulged in, both of the personnel of the Military Board and of the exercise of its functions. But in the case that is troubling Senator , Elliott, another body than the Military Board had a say. , Senator Elliott’s trouble is that certain officers who were junior to him when the war began, attained, improperly he alleges, by the exercise of the functions of General Birdwood, a higher rank than he did, and that the Commonwealth Government arrived at the decision in regard to citizen officers, that they should retain in the Citizen Forces the same substantive rank that they held in the Australian Imperial Force. I should like to say here that the Government, which is supposed to be so much tinder the domination of the permanent military officers, did not give them a like concession. In some cases they obtained three or four steps in rank on active service, but where they are given higher rank they get only one step in substantive rank and one step in honorary rank. The res ‘lt of the decision of the Government, and of what took place in the Australian Imperial Force, was that there were officers of the Citizen Forces here senior to Senator Elliott who were junior to him before the war commenced.
When the divisional organization was formed, we had to choose the divisional commanders. Senator Elliott is wrong in saying that they were chosen by the Military Board. There is a Promotion Board in existence which consists of General White, another distinguished soldier who has not been mentioned, but will . stand criticism in this Chamber - I refer to General Chauvel, the InspectorGeneral who was Commander of the Desert Mounted Column - and also General Sellheim. These three officers form the Promotion Board, and they brought forward their recommendations, as to those who should command the divisions in the Citizen Forces. Senator Pratten raised a question’ about General Monash, and, for his information, I may say that I was anxious to obtain General Monash’s view of the recommendations made by the Promotion Board. So, before the recommendations went to the Military Board, I gave instructions that General Monash was to be consulted because he had been the Corps Commander, and these officers had served under him. General Monash concurred in the recommendations that were made by the Promotion Board, and they then went to the Military Board. They were confirmed by the Military Board, and were then presented to me for Ministerial approval, and I approved of them.
Senator Pratten__ The Minister will remember that I did not object to the appointment of the. divisional commanders.
– That is so, but the honorable senator mentioned General Monash, and I desire to inform him and other honorable senators that General Monash’s opinion of the recommendations of the Promotion Board was obtained.
General Elliott appealed against the decision of the Military Board, and I have here the papers connected with his appeal. I propose only to read the summing up of the final letter. It has an important bearing on this Bill, because it is assumed by General Elliott that an injustice was done him in this matter. I want to show clearly that no injustice was done, and that, in these appointments, no supersession took place even on the ground of seniority.
– Did not Senator Elliott suggest that there was something in the nature of a threat having been carried out?
– I do not know what the honorable senator suggests. I am dealing with the facts. The- following is the final letter, dated 12th April, sent to the District Commandant to be sent, on to General Elliott : -
I am commanded by the Military Board to acquaint you, for the information of Colonel (Hon. Brigadier-General) H. E. Elliott, CB., C.M.G., D.S.O., D.C.M., with reference to your C21/8 of 16th March, 1921, that the further representations made by that officer have been considered by the Board.
Quite apart from this aspect of the case, it has never been customary, nor is it at all advisable, that a purely military matter should be inquired into by a Supreme Court Judge,
This course had been suggested by General Elliott. or other civil Commissioner. The creation of such a precedent would have far-reaching effects, and militate against the very foundations of military discipline. Attention is also invited to the fact that by A.M.R. 115 no officer is entitled to claim promotion as a right.
I am further to say, in reference to the contention of Brigadier-General Elliott, that he has been superseded -
It will be seen, therefore, that there was really no question of supersession, but rather the carrying out of a principle of which the Government of this country had approved, and under which Brigadier-General Elliott himself was advanced over a large number of Lieutenant-Colonels who were senior to him in the Australian Military Forces, but who did not obtain the rank of Colonel or Brigadier-General in the Australian Imperial Force.
I have here a list of those officers.
It is obvious if Brigadier-General Elliott’s contention is sound and pursued to a logical conclusion he has superseded a number of officers who should have been senior to him.
– If they had a right, it should be conceded. Two wrongs do not make a right. If I superseded, other officers, they may have a grouch, too.
– The letter continues : -
Whilst General Birdwood was here I got these officers to advise me as to seniority in the Australian Imperial Force, because that seniority was being carried over into the Australian Military Force -
In this connexion it may be pointed out that section 16a of the Act gives power to grant such rank and allots such regimental seniority to officers of the Citizen Forces as are approved by the Governor-General, on the recommendation of the Military Board, and that section 22 empowers the Governor-General to appoint or promote any person for distinguished service in time of war in certain circumstances.
It is recommended -
That Brigadier-General Elliott be informed of the substance of the above, and
that the Board do not consider that Brigadier-General Elliott has any just or reasonable grounds for considering himself aggrieved.
That the Military Board do not propose to take any further action with regard to his complaint, which has received the fullest consideration by the highest tribunal to which any officer or soldier has the right under the regulations to appeal.
I may say that on both occasions when General Elliott, in his capacity . as a citizen officer appealed, the appeals came to me, but I did not attend the Board meetings.
The procedure in the Defence Department is this: These matters come to the Minister although he is President of the Board. Even if he attends the Board meeting, and the Board, by a majority, decide upon a certain course, that does not bind the Minister. I have always claimed for myself the right to veto any recommendation of the Board, if, in my judgment, it is wrong, notwithstanding that, as President of the Board, it might be held that I was bound by its recommendation, because I was present at the meeting. These recommendations came from the Board meeting to me along with other papers. I read the whole of the proceedings of the Board, and General Elliott’s letters amongst other papers, and to the best of . my ability informed my mind as to the right ‘course to adopt.
Senator Elliott raised the question of the wearing of medals by relatives of soldiers. The repeal of the section in the original Act which is proposed by this. Bill does not mean that we shall prevent the wearing of medals by soldiers’ relatives. There are to-day regulations which, incertain circumstances, permit of medals and other decorations being worn. When the Defence Bill was under consideration here, that particular provision was put in, and we have the anomaly that in one case the wearing of medals is provided for under the Act, and in other cases by regulation. If Senator Elliott will refer to the clause to which he takes exception he will see that there is a reference to those who are “lawfully entitled to wear” a decoration. By the use of the phrase “lawfully entitled to wear,” it will be possible for us, by regulation, to define the persons who are lawfully entitled to wear decorations, and we propose to deal with the matter in that way.
– Why not put all in the Bill?
– Because, as Senator Elliott as a soldier knows, different decorations are proposed, and frequently there is a change made with respect to those who may, or may not wear them. These matters cannot be dealt with in the Bill,, because the conditions are always being altered. I understand that there is still to come a medal to be known as the “Allies’ Medal.” We do not yet know what conditions are to be attached to the wearing of that decoration. When we know the conditions, we . shall be able to deal -with the matter by regulation. If we did not adopt that course, it would be necessary, every time a fresh decoration was proposed, to introduce ‘an amending Bill to provide how, and by wham, it should be worn. Honorable senators will see that it is obviously better to deal with such a matter by regulation than by an Act of Parliament.
There is one other point I wish to mention in regard to the supersession of officers and the right of appeal to . the Governor-General in Council. I have been very much impressed by the point made by Senator Drake-Brockman as to the senior officers. I do say that a senior officer stands in a different relation in this regard from a junior’ officer, because as the honorable senator has rightly pointed out, a junior officer appeals, not against what the Military Board have done, but against what his commanding officer has done. On the other hand, in the case of a senior officer, as in the case of the divisional generals, the matter will have been dealt with first by the Promotion Board, and then by the Military Board, and the appeal would go from the Military Board to’ the Minister. The only appeal which I conceive it would be possible to make to give effect to General Elliott’s proposal would be an appeal to the Governor-General in Council, and that, after all, would involve no alteration in substance of the present practice. I have already pointed out that the Minister has the right to veto a recommendation of the Military Board. If the appeal were to the GovernorGeneral in Council, by whom would the Governor-General be advised ? He would be advised by the Minister for Defence. So that what the honorable senator proposes would be a change’ of form, but not a change of substance.
– The GovernorGeneral in Council might disregard the Minister’s advice.
– No. The GovernorGeneral would never do that. Let me take the case of an appeal to the King. It is not an appeal to the King in person, but an appeal to the King in Council. It is the Army Council that gives the decision, and the soldier appeals agains* ‘that; ‘decision to the King in Council. The King takes the advice of the Minister for War, and I say that in practice the chances are fifty to one that the Minister fox War sends the matter to the Army Council.
-brockman. - The difficulty will not be got over in the way I suggested; but it ought to be got over somehow.
– The only way it might be got over is not so much by a provision in the Bill as by the Government making a statement of policy that, in the case of senior officers, where appointments are made direct from the Military Board, appeals would be made a Cabinet matter. We cannot do that in a Bill, because we do not recognise the Cabinet in our legislation, I can give an instance of a similar undertaking being given to Parliament. In the. early stages of the war we gave an undertaking to Parliament that every case of a German who was a naturalized British subject would be dealt with by the Cabinet. As a fact, every one of those cases was dealt with by the different Cabinets. Similarly, an undertaking could be given that in the case of senior officers any appeal would go to the Cabinet. I would have no objection to that personally; but I do not know how Cabinet would view it. That, however, is the only anneal that it seems to me would be any real change in substance. The appeal to the GovernorGeneral in Council would be a change merely- in form.
I deprecate discussion on the personal matters that Senator Elliott has brought forward, I am 6ure he And other honorable senators will understand that if I do not ‘follow them here I am not to be understood as agreeing with them. I simply do not know anything about the matter that Senator Elliott mentions. I am not aware whether General Hobbs clapped him on the shoulder and told him that “ this would be remembered against him.” It is an ex-parte statement made by a man who is interested in the matter, and it must be taken for what it ii worth. I am not in a position to say what took place between the honorable senator and General Hobbs or General White.
– Then why not grant the inquiry that is asked for?
– I do not see that any good purpose can be served by an inquiry. If I granted an inquiry for General Elliott, because he is a member of the Senate, I would also have to grant an inquiry for Bill Smith who is not in the Senate. I do not see that I am called upon to grant an inquiry to an officer because he happens to be a member of Parliament, and to refuse one to an officer who is not a member of Parliament.
– le it not the custom to accept the word of a member of Parliament ?
– It is the custom, and it is also the custom to allow the other side to put their case. I do not propose to accept a statement made here without hearing what other people concerned have to say in reply. Personally, I should not be willing to grant such an inquiry unless this Parliament and this country are prepared to concede a similar inquiry to every other officer who feels himself aggrieved. If we opened up that sort of thing we should be kept busy for years to come, because Senator Elliott is not the only officer by scores, or even hundreds, who feels that at some-time or other he has had a grievance.
– You have admitted that senior officers ought to have some sort of appeal.
– I have not; at least, not in war time. What I have been saying refers to the remark of Senator Drake-Brockman that, in appointments to our Citizen Forces in Australia, something of the sort should be provided in the case of senior officers. This is new matter, because a new set of circumstances has come in. We never had divisional commands before, and we never had citizen officers administering these things. !N”ow we have them, and they are appointed upon the recommendation of the Military Board. I see that there might be a set of circumstances which would make it necessary to allow an appeal to somebody other than the Minister who has approved of the Board’s recommendation. I am prepared to look into that question to see whether something can be done, but I do not want it to be understood that ? commit myself to that in time of war. I certainly do not, nor do I think Senator Drake-Brockman would ask it. In time of war, if you appoint an army corps commander you must leave him to pick his divisional generals.
Some criticism was offered by Senator Gardiner regarding compulsory training being, as he said, overloaded and noneffective because a good deal of the time of the Instructional Staff is taken up in what might be termed clerical work. That certainly is very cogent criticism, and has been, in the past, very justifiable criticism. We are endeavouring, so far as the finances will permit, to give den. cal assistance to the Instructional Staff, so that that portion of their time which has hitherto been occupied in making up returns will not “be so occupied, and that they will be able to give more attention to actual instruction, but we are hampered in that matter by financial considerations.
Senator Gardiner’s other criticism comes down to this: That, in effect, he says that a citizen army such as ours is less efficient than a standing army. He said that, instead of spreading our training which is of a limited character over such a large number, we would get a more efficient army if we had fewer to train, according to our ability to train and arm them, and had them trained properly. ~No doubt, that is true; but I am satisfied that there is one thing that this country will not stand for, and that is a regular standing army. The principle upon which the defence of this country is based is that of a citizen army. If it is to be a citizen army, then military training should be the obligation of all citizens who are physically fit. The king-pin of our Defence Act is that it makes no difference between rich and poor. AH haw to do their, service. If we narrow down the number; if we say that we will eliminate some, we shall bring in the fatal criticism that in that elimination social and other factors have been given a part. The only way to avoid that is by the ballot, and even against that I heard and saw, during the war, criticism by our American cousins that the ballot could be got at.
In his criticism of the obligation, which we are placing upon those who enter the Military College, Senator Gardiner seems to misapprehend what the college is for. It is not an ordinary educational establishment in the sense that a university or high school is. The college is established for the definite purpose of training the instructors of our Citizen Forces. It is not to train the men who are to command our Citizen Forces, but to train the schoolmasters for our Forces. When we have put them through the college, entirely at the expense of the Commonwealth, giving them a free university training and keeping them while they are there, Senator Gardiner says that we should let them elect whether they will come to us or go to somebody else. That would be a very generous sporting offer, but I think it would be very disastrous to the Military Forces, because the best of our graduates, the men who would really make the best instructors, would all be culled out. and we should get what was left. Thus, instead of our Military Forces being made more efficient, they would hecome less and less efficient If the country is of opinion that the Commonwealth is in a position financially and otherwise to do that sort of thing, let it start a university or high school for that purpose, but do not turn this institution, which was intended for that specific purpose, into an entirely different one.
– What are ou* Universities doing in providing training for doctors and lawyers?
– They are formed for that specific purpose. I do not know that all the Australian Universities give free training. In Western Australia the “University gives practically free training, but it does not keep the students, whereas in our Military College, we not only train them but practically keep them.
Senator Foster spoke about tho JudgeAdvocateGeneral. We have such an officer connected with our Citizen Forces, and so we are working along the lines that the honorable senator suggests.
Senator Pratten referred to this Bill as dealing with the imposition of militarism such as went on in the war. This Bill does not impose militarism. I sometimes rub my eyes when I see the term “ militarism “ applied to Australia, the least military of all the nations, and one of the few that does not possess a standing army. Citizen defence is the very antithesis of militarism. This Bill is to assist in perfecting our Citizen Forces. It does not add a single permanent soldier to our Forces. How can it be said that this Bill is fostering militarism ?
I ask Senator Pratten to remember also, when he tacks that criticism on to the Army Act, that it is not an Act of itself that brings militarism, but the way in which that Act is administered and the persons by whom it is administered. This
Act is going to be administered, not by permanent officers, for tlie permanent officers, will be but as a drop in the bucket so far as the administration of the Army Act is concerned, but entirely by citizen officers, with the exception of our Permanent Forces. Let me show Senator Pratten how that comes about. If a citizen soldier commits an offence it will be when he is either on parade or in camp. The citizen soldiers are commanded in almost every case by Citizen Force officers, although there are a few exceptions in the technical Forces, and therefore it will be the citizen officer who will set the Army Act in motion. If a court martial is constituted, it will be composed of citizen officers belonging to the particular unit that happens to be in training or on parade.
– And not permanent officers ?
– No ; they are Citizen Force officers. The permanent officer is the instructor of the Citizen Force officer, except as to the General Staff and in one or two other cases. It is the Citizen Force officer who has the actual command, and carries out the. training in camp. He has under him a staff of permanent sergeants-major, and he has permanent adjutants to assist him in his command; but the actual command is with the Citizen Force officer. The Army Act, therefore, will not be administered by the militarist with the brass hat, but by the citizen, the man who, after the camp is finished, will go back to his factory, his farm, or his shop. There is an exception, which is that our Permanent Forces are commanded by permanent officers ; and if a permanent soldier commits an offence he will be. tried by a court martial consisting of permanent officers. But our Permanent Forces number altogether about 2,000, as compared with 60,000 or 70,000 or S0,000 in our Citizen Forces, and are, therefore, insignificant in numbers.
– How long will it be before you have permanent divisional commanders?
– We have one permanent divisional commander in General Brand, but, with that exception, they are all Citizen Force officers.
– For how long?
– I do not know. It will depend on experience, because this system is on trial. It may be found to work satisfactorily. Personally, I hope and believe it will, and I trust the day will come when all our divisions will be commanded by Citizen Force officers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 9.88 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 April 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210421_senate_8_95/>.