8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 8 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
In view of a statement made by the Prime Minister that practically the only business which will be dealt with during his visit to England will be the Tariff, will the Minister state what will be the business df the Senate during that period?
– Until some idea can be formed as to the date on which the Tariff will reach the Senate, it is not possible to state -what, if any, business will be added to that already on the notice-paper.
– May I be allowed to say that what I desired to know was what the- business of the Senate is intended to be pending the arrival of the Tariff !
– I cannot say, because I do not know when the
Tariff will reach the Senate.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the Army Act in Greet Britain is re-enacted every year by Parliament!
– Yes; the Army Act is brought into force annually by the Army (Annual) Act.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will lie place Parliament, and also the Tasmanian Government, iri possession of all particulars of negotiations before consenting to any variation of the terms of the existing agreement between the Commonwealth Government and certain steam-ship companies which would sanction a Bass Strait service in any respect inferior to that set forth in the present agreement?
– Before any variation of the existing agreement is made, or any new agreement, entered into, the PostmasterGeneral will be glad to confer with the Tasmanian Government thereon, and inform Parliament of the variation! or agreement proposed to be entered into.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Did the Eight Honorable the Prime Minister, when speaking at Bendigo on 30th October, 1019, say -
– The answers are: - 1. (a) and (6). Yes.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice-^-
Does the Government purpose introducing a Bill dealing with a superannuation allowance for the Public Service; if so, when?
– Yes. A Bill has been drafted, and’ is now in the hands of* the Treasurer. As soon as it has been considered by the Treasurer the Bill will be introduced.
– I move -
That Order of the Day, Government Business, No. 1, be postponed until after the consideration of Order of the Day No. 2.
I have not been able .to see all the members of the Senate in connexion with this proposed alteration of the order of Government business, or to speak to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) concerning it. My object in submitting the motion is to consult the convenience of honorable senators in the discussion of a very important principle, namely, the incorporation of the Army Act in the Defence Bill, and also in the Air Defence Bill. The Army Act is proposed to be incorporated directly in the Defence Bill and indirectly in the Air Defence Bill by the incorporation of the Imperial Air Force Act in that measure. It has occurred to me that as there is a difference of opinion on the application of the Army Act to our Forces, it would be better to have- the discussion on the Defence Bill, in which it is applied directly. If honorable senators, in considering the Defence Bill in Committee, indicate by their vote that they are against the direct incorporation of the Army Act in that Bill, the Government will be justified in assuming that they are also opposed to its incorporation indirectly in the Air Defence Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 21st April, vide page 7598) :
Clause 2 - (Commencement.)
– Have I correctly understood the Minister for Defence to indicate that the discussion upon the application of the Army Act to our Forces will be taken on clause 55 of this Bill?
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Defence [3.8]. - No. Clause 18 of this Bill is the one which applies the Army Act to the Defence Force. I may say that if there are any clauses of the Bill before clause 18 that refer to the Army Act, I shall agree to their postponement until clause18 has been dealt with. I intend when we come to it, to move the postponement of the definition.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 (Amendment of principal Act).
SenatorFOSTER (Tasmania) [3.9].- I do not know whether this clause should notbe postponed until clause 18 has been dealt with. There may be some reference to the Army Act in the schedule referred to in this clause.
– We shall have decided the question involved in clause 18 before we come to the schedule.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 postponed.
Clause 5 (Definition of District Base Commandant).
– This definition is necessary because of the change in organization by which the position of District Commandant is done away with and the divisional organization adopted, and the Base Commandant who deals practically with the administration in the training of our troops, is brought in.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 -
Section 11a of the principal Act is amended -
by inserting therein after the words “Veterinary Corps” the words “or any corps for appointment to which a civil professional qualification is prescribed”; and
by adding at the end thereof the following proviso: - “Provided also that notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, any person possessing special scientific or professional qualifications’ “ may be appointed an officer in the Citizen Military Forces, and promoted as prescribed by the regulations.
Section proposed tobe amended - 11a. All promotions in the Citizen Military Forces to the rank of officer and noncommissioned officer shall be from those who have served in the ranks of the Citizen Military Forces, and the appointments and promotions shall be allotted to those in the next lower grade who are most successful in competitive examinations. The standards and manner of holding such examinations shall be prescribed in the regulations. All books required for such examinations shall be issued to candidates without charge.
Provided that the limitation in this section shall not at any time apply to the appointment of officers of the Army Medical Corps, the Army Veterinary Corps, or the Senior Cadets:
Provided further, that, in time of war, notwithstanding anything contained in this Act officers, warrant officers and noncommissioned officers may be appointed and promoted as prescribed by the regulations.
.- I am not quite clear as to the meaning of paragraph (b). I should like to know whether “professional” qualification means a “military” qualification. If so, I intend to move to insert after the word “professional” the words “other than military.” I have very great objection t o power being given to promote, as prescribed by regulations, whatever they may be, any officer who is said to possess professional qualifications, if by that is meant military qualifications, because officers may come from abroad and receive appointments to high rank in our Forces over the heads of our own men.
– I am not sure whether it was the honorable senator or Senator Drake-Brockman who, during the second-reading debate, spoke of the necessity for a Judge- Advocate- General. In connexion with that it might be necessary to have a legal corps, so that officers appointed to it would receive their commissions because of their professional,not their military qualifications. Paragraph (a) deals with those who may possess civil professional qualifications such as would be necessary for appointment to a veterinary corps, a medical corps, or similar corps. In appointments to the Army Medical Corps, for instance, a, doctor is given rank at once. He is not required to pass a military examination. These amendments are required te cover this class of cases. In order to understand their effect, honorable senators will do well to peruse the memorandum which I have.had prepared and circulated. Some corps may be of a semi-military character, like the tunnelling or mining units established during the war. Officers appointed to that unit were given rank not because of military qualifications at all. For instance, Professor David, of the Sydney University, was given a commission.
– That was because of his civil qualification.
– One could hardly describe Professor David’s qualification as a civil qualification. In like manner, we have the Railways Commissioners as members of the Railway Council, and members of their staffs are given commissions in the railway unit, not because of their military qualifications, but because of their civil or professional knowledge. A civil qualification, I take it, is an occupational term, and so railway officers would be regarded as possessing civil or professional qualifications.
– Then, would there be any objection to inserting, after the word “ professional,” the words “ other than military “ ?
– I cannot accept that. I have already stated what the object of the clause is. “We cannot draft the Bill on our feet. I can assure the honorable senator, however, that the legal draftsmen have advised that the amendment conveys, and conveys only, what I have said. I do not wish to add anything to the clause.
.- Undoubtedly the word “ professional,” as it stands in paragraph (6) might be taken to mean a military qualification, and, if so, the whole idea of making appointments by means of competitive examinations might be done away with. It is possible I am mistaken ;. but looking at it from the legal point of view, it seems to me that the paragraph is dangerous unless it is interpreted to mean a person with professional, apart from military, qualifications.
– It must mean what I have said, otherwise the words “ professional or military “ qualifications would have been used.
– I do not feel at all satisfied with the Minister’s explanation. ‘ But Senator Drake-Brockman thinks there is not very much danger to be apprehended, and, therefore, with some very grave doubt I am prepared to waive my objection to the clause.
.- I ask the Minister to make clear the position in regard to the use of the words “ civil professional qualification.” I have always understood that the word “civil” includes anything outside of military duties. That is the interpretation which I have always placed upon it in our Defence Acts.
.- The only reason for the amendment of the principal Act, which is proposed in this clause, is that the recent war was really a war of machinery and science, and it has shown the necessity for the insertion of the words to which Senator Foll has directed my -attention. A well-equipped modern army contains mining units, a geological section, a tunnelling force, railway units, and chemical units, the lastnamed being employed in the manufacture of gas, though not the kind of gas to which we are accustomed here: For a man to be in charge of any of these corps it is not necessary that he should possess military qualifications, but it is essential that he should possess special scientific, professional, or civil professional qualifications. Take, for example, the head of the goods transport section of the Railway Department, and a professional geologist. It may be correct to say that the railway officer is a civil professional officer, but one could hardly speak of a professional’ geologist as a civil professional officer.
– Undoubtedly one could.
– If the honorable senator will look at the memorandum which has been circulated, and which sets out the alterations proposed to be made in the principal Act, he will see that each class is dealt with in a separate sub-clause. The purely military class is dealt with in the first sub-clause, which defines how they may get their commissions. Then the Army Medical and the Army Veterinary Corps are’ dealt with. These are provided for in the civil professional class. Then follows the non-commissioned officers, and in the fourth class there might be included a JudgeAdvoca’teGeneral or a legal officer, their qualifications being legal instead of military.
– The clause, as it stands, seems to be entirely analogous to the preceding clause. Consequently, a man connected with the veterinary corps cannot be said to be a military man, because his work is not of a military character. But he may obtain his promotion because of his appointment to a position to which a civil professional qualification is attached. The danger with which we are confronted does not lie so much in the clause itself as in the provision for legislation by regulations. If we leave the position undefined in the Bill, we shall give a wider scope for the framing of regulations.
– No. The only thing that is prescribed by regulations is promotion, not appointment.
– The method of appointment, I know, is not prescribed by regulation. But we ought to make it quite clear that the clause is not to be interpreted’ as confined to persons with military qualifications.
– I do not know how the honorable senator can read into the clause that any person who possesses special qualifications must be connected with the military force.
– But it may be argued that this clause refers only to persons with military qualifications, because the on© immediately preceding it relates exclusively to persons with civil qualifications.
– What is the honorable senator’s interpretation of the word “civil”?
– The term “military “ is exclusive, whilst the term “civil” is inclusive.
– The term “military” is pretty wide these days.
– We know that. I fear that a person might be disqualified under this provision because he is not connected with “ the military, notwithstanding that he might possess qualifications that would come under the head ing of scientific and professional. The objection which was regarded as valid by the Minister in regard to the previous clause is, I contend, equally valid here.
.- At first I did not think there was anything in Senator Elliott’s contention; but, having referred to the memorandum which has been circulated amongst honorable senators, and which shows the alterations which it is proposed to make in the principal Act, I think that there is a great deal in it. The proviso, if adopted, will follow another proviso which distinctly deals with military appointments. Its meaning might be made quite clear by transposing it so that it would immediately follow the first proviso dealing with scientific appointments.
– I have no objection to the adoption of the course which has been suggested by Senator Crawford. It would certainly make the clause clearer. Both provisos deal with the appointment of officers. I always hesitate to accept drafting amendments suggested hurriedly in the course of Committee discussion. The point under review is a matter of drafting. I suggest, therefore, that the clause be agreed to as it stands, whereupon I will ask the draftsman to give attention to the criticism now raised. There may be good reasons for the present sequence, although at first blush it would appear that a transposition would be advantageous.
.- I cannot see the force of the Minister’s argument, and, in order to test the feeling of the Committee, I move -
That after the word “ or “, in paragraph (Jj), the word “civil” be inserted.
– I do not think there is anything in the proposed amendment and am prepared tq let it go.
– There is a danger here of trouble arising, in that there will be a dividing up of scientific and professional qualifications. Military science would appear to be the only science existing. Listening to the Minister, one is led to the conclusion that- professional qualifications are really scientific qualifications. I do not see that the insertion of the word “civil” clarifies the matter one whit.
Clause agreed to.
.- I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 7a. Section 16 of the principal Act is amended by omitting the words ‘ without the holder thereof and inserting in their stead the words nor shall any officer be superseded without such officer.”
Section proposed to be amended: -
Officers shall hold their appointments during the pleasure of the GovernorGeneral, but the commission of an officer shall not be conceited without the holder thereof being notified, in writing, of any complaint or charge made, and ofany action proposed to be taken against him, nor without his being called upon to showcause in relation thereto. Provided that no such notification shall be necessary in the case of an officer absent from duty without leave for a period of three months or upwards.
My object is to give additional rights to officers serving in the Forces. I have already dealt at some length with the need for such a provision. In the section which I seek to amend, provision is made that an officer shall not be removed from the Force’s without being given a chance to ascertain the nature of the charge against him, and he is provided with an opportunity to show cause why he should not be removed. I desire to confer ona superseded officer similar rights in every respect. If an officer is to be dismissed, it is reasonable and just that he should be told why. But a far greater evil is sometimes caused by an officer being supersededwithout explanation. He may be told, indeed, that it is the custom of the Service. He is sometimes told that there is nothing which can be brought against his capacity to command or his courage in the field. Yet he is superseded by men who are manifestly “wasters.” I will give an instance of the kind of thing that happens under the Army Act. Albert Jacka, who won his Victoria Cross at Gallipoli, was the first to secure the distinction, which was followed shortly after by the granting of a commission. He was always foremost in the fights of his battalion on the peninsula. Later, he proceeded to France, where he repeatedly distinguished himself, and his name will be seen in despatches up to March or April, 1916. After what was known as the first battle of Bullecourt there was a strange silence, as his name was not mentioned in the promotion or decoration lists or despatches, although he was con stantly at the Front and participating in the fighting as before. He led dozens of desperate charges, he was worshipped by his men, and, notwithstanding this, officers were repeatedly placed over him. The position became so critical that men in Jacka’s battalion refused to go into action unless under his command. Honorable senators may think that is an astonishing statement; but it is an, absolute fact, and one which has been substantiated by Colonel Peck of the Instructional Staff and by Jacka himself. What is the reason that such a cruel embargo has been placed on Jacka? He is known by men associated with the Australian Imperial Force as the bravest of the brave. He may be somewhat rough in his manners, because he was a fencer before the war; but I absolutely deny that there can be applied to him with any degree of truth the statement made by many British officer’s, that ‘ ‘ Australians were good fighters, but that socially they were impossible.” The facts are these : The result of the first battle of Bullecourt was cabled to Australia as a great victory, but as a matter of fact it was the most disastrous engagement in which the Australian Imperial Force took part.Honorable senators will doubtless recall that the British Tank Corps under the direction of General Monash proved a brilliant success, because it was scientifically and properly controlled. General Monash never sent tanks into action without protecting them with an artificial fog of phosphorescent smoke and shell-fire. The tanks went into action fully protected, and General Monash even had aeroplanes buzzing up and down above to confuse the enemy listeners. But the position was somewhat different when these operations were conducted by General Birdwood and General White, who, instead of providing an artificial fog, sent the tanks forward when the ground was white with snow, so that every tank stood out like a nigger on a whitewashed fence. Before General Monash assisted in re-organizing the corps it was manned and officered in a most amazing manner. When the tanks were first allotted to the Army, those who were to control them scratched their heads and said, “ We have not seen these things. To what branch of the Army- do ‘they belong?” They ultimately discovered that motors were installed in the tanks, and that as the only other motors in use were in the Army Service Corps they classified the Tank Corps as a branch of the Army Service Corps, and detailed drivers of that corps to control them. The type of men who volunteered at a critical time in our Empire’s history to drive motors in the Army Service Corps were looking for a good soft job, and it’ was to their utter horror and amazement that they were transferred from a cosy billet into a most nerve-racking job. Those who understand the position realize that as a result of a single direct hit a person driving a tank would not be killed outright, but would be slowly burned to a cinder as a result of an explosion of petrol. When these officers and men of the Army Service Corps found’ that they were detailed for this work without the protection of a smoke screen, and were showing up like niggers on a fence, they were absolutely panic-stricken. On this occasion thirteen tanks set off, but only one went into action ; and there was strong suspicion’ that the men controlling some of the others had poured sand into the motors. One eventually got through the lines and cut the wires; and through that breach the devoted men of the Australian Imperial Force streamed and forced their way out like a fan until the Germans made the discovery, when they sent down a heavy barrage over the gap and attacked from both flanks. Reinforcements or ammunition could not be sent to their assistance, for, as I have said, only one tank did its job. One of them suddenly blundered into a sunken road in which the members of the 14th Victorian Battalion were waiting to attack. The man in charge was so utterly panic-stricken that he turned his guns on our own men, and at a Tange of 5 or 10 yards killed at least thirty. It was said at the time that if the men had had a tin-opener they would have murdered the man who was responsible; but he was inside the tank. Albert Jacka was the Intelligence Officer of that battalion, and as he is now in Melbourne he can be questioned. Jacka prepared a war diary which is absolutely sacred, because it gives the history of his unit. He recorded the details of the time and place, and a copy was sent to General Birdwood, who sent for Jacka and said, “ You must destroy all your notes of this occurrence. You will destroy every copy of your report sent to Horseferry-road, so that every trace of the incident will disappear.” General Birdwood assembled the battalion on parade, and congratulated the men on their magnificent bravery. He said, “You have fought like demigods. I am sure you will not be unwilling to share the glory with the magnificent men- of the Tank Corps.” Colonel Peck said that it required a great effort to prevent those men from rushing General Birdwood and hooting him off the’ ground.
– .They did hoot him off in Flanders.
– I am not dealing with that. From that time onward Jacka led every charge, though he was wounded again and again. The moment he was out of hospital he went with unhealed wounds into the line. *
– Was he allowed out of hospital with unhealed wound’s?
– He led his men time after time with unhealed wounds. He got away from the hospital.
– Then he was away illegally.
– He chanced that. That is the sort of man he was. He has never been able to get any satisfaction. No doubt, if he applied to the Minister for Defence, as I have done, the Minister would say, “ There is nothing against your character. It is a magnificent character, but by the custom of the Service we select what officers we please, and you have absolutely no ground of complaint.” Is that the sort of thing that is going to assist us in building up an efficient Army?
– Jacka’s case differs from that of the honorable senator, inasmuch as it was a regimental matter, and he was entitled to the ordinary promotion.
– That is so, but when it suited the higher officers they abrogated all the regulations of the Service. ‘
– No wonder the privates said their prayers regularly every night.
– If we had a regulation such as Senator Foster has referred to, or, better still, an absolute provision of the Defence Act, supported by such a sanction as I propose, it would put an end to that kind of thing, because those responsible would know that there would be an appeal to a civil Court for the redress of wrongs, and not to a Minister who obediently puts a rubber stamp refusal upon an application for redress, and so’ expects to blot out all that has gone before.
– I rise to a point of order now that the honorable senator has come to a reference to the amendment he proposes. I should have done so before, but it might have been thought that I desired to prevent the honorable senator indulging in his reminiscences. He has given notice of a new clause to amend section 16 of the principal Act. The Bill before the Committee does not deal with section 16, and yet the honorable senator is seeking to tack on to clause 7 of the Bill, which deals with section 11a of the principal Act, an amendment of section 16 of the Act, which deals with an altogether different subject. I submit that the honorable senator’s - proposal is an offence against the standing order, which says that amendments must be relevant to the subject-matter of the motion before the Chair. The Senate, through the Standing Orders Committee, has made provision lo enable honorable senators to do in the proper way what Senator Elliott is trying to do in the wrong way, by giving an instruction to the Committee on a Bill. It is provided by standing orders 328 to 333 that if in an amending Bill it is desired to amend sections of the principal Act which are not dealt with in the Bill, an honorable senator, after the second reading of “the measure, may move that it be an instruction to the Committee on the Bill to consider sections of the princi- ?al Act which are not dealt with by it. f Senator Elliott desired the amendment of section 16 of ‘the principal Act, his proper course was to have availed himself of the standing orders provided for the purpose, and have an instruction given to the Committee to consider sections of the principal Act not dealt with by the Bill. Having failed to adopt that course, I contend that the honorable senator cannot now, by ‘tacking an amendment on to a clause of this Bill, dealing with one section of the principal Act, amend a section of that Act which is not before the Committee, and which deals with a matter foreign to the section of the principal Act which is sought to be amended by the clause before the Committee. If my point of order is sustained Senator Elliott’s amendment must be ruled out of order; otherwise it would be quite unnecessary for us to have standing orders enabling an instruction to be given to the Committee on a Bill.
– Do I apprehend the point of order correctly when I understand the Minister to contend that Senator Elliott’s amendment is irrelevant because it is not an amendment of clause 7 ?
– My point of order is that Senator Elliott’s amendment is not relevant to the Bill, and it is the Bill and not the principal Act that the Committee is considering. The section of the Act which Senator Elliott is seeking to amend is not dealt with by the Bill. The section of the Act which it is proposed .to amend by the clause now before the Committee is section 11a. Senator Elliott is seeking to introduce an amendment of section 16 of the principal Act, which is not brought under the consideration of the Committee by this Bill at all. I haVe pointed out that when an amending Bill is presented and an honorable senator desires to bring up for consideration sections of an Act which are not dealt with by that Bill, he must, under the Standing Orders, take the course of moving, after the second reading of the Bill, an instruction to the Committee on the measure to deal with the matters which in his opinion should be considered. The honorable senator should have adopted the course provided by the Standing Orders.
– I have listened carefully to the Minister for Defence, but it appears to me that the whole question of promotion is raised by the clause now before the Committee. If the section which Senator Elliott’s proposal will amend is not dealt’ with in the Bill, that might be a good reason for the’ introduction by the Minister for Defence of an amending Bill to deal with that section, but it is not a good reason for refusing to consider an amendment dealing with the question of promotion which is opened up by the clause now under consideration.
– There is a proper way in which to do what the honorable senator suggests.
– The question is whether clause 7, the marginal note to which is “Promotion from the ranks,” opens up the question of promotion, and whether, if it does, the amendment proposed by Senator Elliott is relevant to that question. I believe that the amendment is in order.
– I think that if the point of order raised by the Minister for Defence is sustained, honorable senators will be placed in a very difficult position in dealing with any Bill of this character. I admit that I was quite unaware of standing orders which would prevent an honorable senator dealing with any section of an Act which a Bill has been introduced to amend. If there are standing orders which prevent honorable senators dealing with sections of an Act other than those which are dealt with in a Bill submitted to the Senate, I consider that the difficulty has been overcome by the fact that Senator Elliott has had his amendment printed and circulated from the beginning of the consideration of this Bill, and before the passing of the second reading.
– The Standing Orders provide another method for dealing with such matters, and Senator Elliott has not availed himself of it.
– If the contention of the Minister for Defence is correct, an honorable senator cannot discuss on an amending Bill any section of the principal Act other than those sections with which the Bill deals.
– I do not say that they cannot be discussed, but that they cannot be amended unless an instruction has been given to the Committee on the Bill to consider them.
– Of what use is it to discuss sections of a principal Act which are not dealt with in an amending Bill if they cannot be amended? I contend that Senator Elliott has overcome the difficulty by the printing and circulation, of his amendment before the second reading of the Bill. They were put before honorable senators at the inception of the discussion of this measure.
– And yet they might be ruled out of order’ when they were moved.
– Not unless they were incompatible with the principles of the Bill.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
Sitting suspended from .4 to 5 p.m.
In Committee: Consideration resumed.
– I have given some consideration to the point of order raised by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce). The Bill, in clauses 7, 10, and 11, contains provisions dealing with the appointment and promotion of officers, and the amendment proposed by Senator Elliott is to a section of the Act relating to the appointment of officers. Standing order 201 provides -
Any amendment may be made to any part of a Bill, provided the same be relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill ….
Standing order 332 states -
An instruction can be given to a Committee of the Whole on a Bill to amend an existing Act, to consider amendments which are not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, but are relevant to the subject-matter of the Act it is proposed to. amend, . . . .
Presumably, therefore, no instruction is required where the proposed amendment is relevant to the subject-matter , of the amending Bill. Our Standing Orders are provided to prevent what I might term irrelevant redundancy in discussion and in the proposing of amendments, ‘and, while I must observe their spirit for the purposes indicated, at the same time it is beyond my province to interpret them in such a way as to materially impair the privileges of the Committee during a discussion of a clause in any measure. I am of the opinion that the amendment submitted by Senator Elliott is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, and, therefore, the’ point of -order taken by the Minister cannot be sustained. In support of this view, I should like to quote a ruling by a former illustrious
Presidentof this Chamber - I refer to the late Sir Richard Baker - .
Amendments in Committee must be relevant to the subject-matter of a Bill as read a second time. The question to be considered is whether an amendment is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill. If so, it can be moved whether it contains a new principle or not. Neither the title of the Bill, nor the scope or intent of the Bill is the test.
To be fair, I must say that another ruling exists in connexion with amendments moved to a Customs Tariff Bill, but, although it would seem to be quotable in opposition to the ruling I have just read, the nature of a Customs Tariff Bill is such that it is practically a schedule, and the relation of each item one to the other is so clearly defined that the analogy between such a Bill and the measure now under discussion is not complete. The ruling given by President Baker is more applicable to the point of order raised by Senator Pearce.
– I want honorable senators to clearly understand that my remarks this afternoon were based, in the main, on statements made to me by officers. I cannot, of course, vouch for their absolute accuracy, as I had no means of investigating . them. I only know that the statements made to me by Colonel Peck were confirmed by Jacka, and that the essential fact to be borne in mind is that, whereas Jacka, up to a certain stage in the history of the Australian Imperial Force, was marked out for rapid advancement and decoration, he suddenly disappeared from the ken of the military gazettes, although he was fighting all the time in the front line. The Minister may deny these statements, or say that even if they are correct they do not show that General Birdwood was responsible. If this is so, it is advisable that, if ever we send ‘our men away again, the officer in command of them should have very wide powers to refuse to carry out any manifestly impossible orders.I have heard it stated that General Birdwood knew that the action to which I have referred was hopeless from the beginning, but, nevertheless, ithad to be carried out.
– If that is so, does not it show a great want of character in General Birdwood?
– I am not going to discuss General Birdwood’s character on this measure. I say that an officer can and shouldprotest if called on to attempt impossible attacks. I have done so on two occasions. I received orders to make an attack which was manifestly impossible. Being in the front line with the men, I could see it was impracticable, so I rang up my divisional commander, and said, “ You are ordering me to do the impossible. If I am to carry out your orders, I want you to send them to me in writing, to relieve me from all responsibility, and also to relieve me from my command in the event of the. order having to be carried out.” I know that time after time officers were damned because they were compelled to carry out orders that were utterly impossible, and I may point out that Marshal Foch has laid it down that no general should order his troops to attack until every battalion com- mander in the front line is satisfied that the attack will be successful. After all, the men who are the best judges are those who are on the spot, not men 25 and 30 miles back from the front lines in a magnificent chateau, and with the fat of the land available to them. As a rule, they know nothing about the position in the front line at all. However, I will leave this subject now, and confinemyself to the amendment.
This power to supersede disheartens and disgusts officers. Yesterday Senator Pearce said that two officers who were senior to me had also been superseded, but had raised no objection. . That statement was absolutely false. I do not say that the Minister knowingly made a false statement, but it was false, nevertheless. General McNicoll, one of the officers referred to by the Minister is my oldest friend in military and civil life. In fact, I selected General McNicoll to join the Australian Imperial Force. I knew what a magnificent officer he was. He was in the Reserves at Geelong and I said to him, “ Look here, Mac, I have been appointed to a battalion command. Will you come as my second ? “ He said “ Certainly.” And so we went away together. We both fell early in the war- I was shot at the landing, and he a few days later, only whereas my wound was comparatively slight, and I was able to get back into the field again within four weeks, he was shot through the stomach; and the bullet went into the thigh nailing his pelvis to his thigh joint. The result was that he had to face six very painful and difficult operations, and for months ivaa at death’s door. The King took such an interest in his case that he sent the Duke of Teck to present General McNicoll with the D.S.O., because it was believed then that the final operation would be fatal. However, he was tremendously tough, and after the operation had given him relief, he was soon on his feet again, though permanently lame, and was able to resume his duties. At about this time the 3rd Division was raised, and ‘he was appointed to the command of a. brigade. By some accident - I do not know how H happened - McNicoll’s promotion to a full colonel was dated one month antecedent to my own, although I started out as a colonel and he as a major, and, as I have shown, I had been fighting almost continuously whilst he was in hospital. When the orders came out I said to him, “Mac, this is not fair; I have to salute you now, and take your orders.” In ‘his reply he said, “ Yes, it does seem funny, and if you care to make representations, I shall be satisfied to have the matter put light.” I approached General Birdwood, but he absolutely refused to make any alteration, although it was easily within his power to have the date altered.
Senator Pearce yesterday said that General McNicoll raised no objection to supersession; and his statement is absolutely, false. By a strange coincidence, I found a letter from General McNicoll on my table last night, written from Goulburn, New South Wales, and the following is an extract : -
Herewith a note of mutual good wishes on the sixth anniversary of Anzac. I was delighted -to see that at lost a voice had been raised publicly against the “close, corporation,” and I must- congratulate you on your speech in the House last night. … I hare -never recovered from having stood up for a decent thing.
The latter sentence is a reference bo our joint protest made at the -time, for, like myself, he felt it hard that he should have been superseded by General Gellibrand. He saw General White, who said, “ General Gellibrand has been in the field all the time, while you have been in hospital, so he. has very much more experience.” General- White quite suppressed the fact that during the major portion of the time General Gellibrand was at Salisbury Plain, in England, though he fought at Pozieres and Bullecourt, and in several intermediate and minor engagements, while General McNicoll went through the great Messines1 Ridge engagement under General Monash, and fought through the bitter and successful battle of Polygon Wood, also at Passchendaele. As a matter of fact, it was his brigade that was chiefly responsible for checking the Germans on the Somme in the first in. stance in March, 1918. Therefore he had all the latest information as to successful attacks ; but all this was brushed aside. After his unsuccessful interview, McNicoll came to me and said, “What can we do? Can we write a joint letter to the Minister?” Now, I am a lawyer, and so I said to him, “Look here, , you will have both of us court martialled if we do that. We are each at liberty to write a letter to the Minister, but if we write a joint letter to him we shall bo guilty of mutiny.”
– Is that the Army Act? ‘
– Yes. It will be seen, therefore, that under that Act the higher authorities are in a position to smite one hip and thigh.
– And that is what some honorable senators desire to see incorporated in this Bill.
– Exactly. This sort of conduct was upon the point of ruining the discipline of the Australian Imperial Force. All the senior officers, including McNicoll, Tivey, and myself, were absolutely “fed up.” I am not in a position to say definitely what General Tivey said, but .what his batman -told my batman that his General said was very much to tha point.
– It was not printable.
– Probably. Gene ral McNicoll says -
I do not know whether I told you that in June, 1018, after Sir John Gellibrand had been appointed to the 3rd Division over- me, he treated me so abominably that I asked to be relieved of my command and sent back to Australia.
That was the direct result of the procedure to which I have already referred. General McNicoll continues -
This Sir John Monash would not permit. He made an inquiry, and the Divisional Commander, Sir John Gellibrand, was compelled to withdraw his offensive remarks to me and apologize.
Honorable senators will note the ‘ difference between the treatment ‘which, was meted out to General McNicoll by General Monash and that which was meted out to -him by General Birdwood. What actually happened was this : It was the “first occasion when the new Divisional Commander came to inspect McNicoll’s command. McNicoll led the way into the saps. A “ digger “ coming out saluted, and McNicoll instinctively returned the salute. Now it is an offence in the British Army for a junior officer to take a salute which is intended for his senior.
– I would like to remind the honorable senator that while he is quite at liberty to adduce any argument bearing upon the subject-matter of his amendment, he is not entitled to go beyond that.
– I wish to show the evils which are attached to the unrestricted operation of what is called the “ custom “ of the Service-
– Is the saluting business provided for in the Army. Act, too?
– And is what General Tivey’s batman said to Senator Elliott’s batman also contained in the Army Act?
– Naturally when a junior officer is raised over - a senior officer, and the latter cannot’ see any reason for it except that of gross favoritism, he becomes riled, and in the ‘ nature of things is unable to co-operate genuinely with the officer who is above him. In addition, the former junior officer naturally becomes . alert to teach his former superior his place. This is what happened upon the occasion to which I am referring. The “ digger “ came out and saluted McNicoll, and McNicoll acknowledged the salute. Sir John Gellibrand immediately dashed at him with blazing eyes and said, ‘” How dare you take a salute which was intended for your senior officer. I will have you removed from your command.” McNicoll attempted to explain, but Sir John Gellibrand would not listen to a word. Then McNicoll did the only thing which a self-respecting officer could do. He said, “ Take my papers. I cannot serve under you.” Fortunately, the incident came under the notice of Sir John
Monash, who had just succeeded to the command of the Australian Imperial Force. He inspected the documents, and said, “ Look, Gellibrand, McNicoll is one of the finest officers we have. You- have treated him rottenly. N!ow apologize or leave.” That is the difference between the treatment which was meted out by an Australian officer and that which was meted out by an officer who is imbued with the ideals which are embodied in the British Army Act.
– What has this to do with the amendment?
– I am endeavouring to show the very great importance of the amendment.
– I must direct the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that the time which he is allowed under the standing order has expired.
– I am not sure that some of the things which I desire to say are altogether pertinent to the amendment: but since certain matters upon which I have a particular knowledge have been mentioned, I wish to make some allusion to them.
– If the honorable senator can connect his remarks in any reasonable way with the proposed new clause he will be at perfect liberty to make them.
– I think I can do that. In support of the amendment which has been submitted by my gallant and distinguished friend, Senator Elliott, an illustration has been drawn from the ‘battle of Bullecourt which he has described as one of the greatest disasters in the war.. I happened to be in that battle, and his description of it may to a certain extent be justified, though other descriptions have been applied to it by very distinguished officers in the British Army. In that battle .1 was in command of the 16th Battalion, which was a portion of the 4th Brigade. The 14th Battalion, to which Deference has been made, was also a portion of that brigade. As a matter of fact, in this particular attack that battalion was on the left of my own. My battalion went into that action with a strength of 870 other ranks, and of twenty-three officers. We came out of it with a strength of three officers and eighty-seven of other ranks. I have very good cause, therefore, to remember moat of the incidents connected with that battle, which took place on the 11th April, 1917. It is true that the tanks and the Tanks Corps were so rottenly officered in those days’ that they were a complete failure in that particular battle. It is true that a number of the officers in those tanks behaved in such a way as to call forth a very strong protest from Captain Jacka and other officers. When the operation was over, Captain Jacka, in his capacity as Intelligence Officer to his battalion, put in a report to his -Commanding Officer, Colonel Peck. Mv own Intelligence Officer, Captain Wadge, also put in a report which was upon very similar lines. These reports were pretty strong, and Colonel Perk and I’ were engaged in drafting reports when we, received them. We did not follow the usual course of simply forwarding those intelligence reports to the higher authorities. The complaints and charges which they contained were so serious and far-reaching a character that we decided that it would not be a fair thing to allow two of our juniors to put their -names to them. Accordingly we drafted a report which we both signed. The .next day the Divisional Commander saw me, and said: “ This is the strongest thing in the way of a military report that I have ever seen. I want you to consider most carefully whether.it should go forward or not. Can you substantiate everything that is in ‘ it, because if you cannot it may mean very serious consequences to you officers who signed it?” We stuck to our guns, and asked that it should be forwarded. Upon the day after we had withdrawn from the line at Bullecourt General Birdwood came down, saw the 14th Battalion and my own battalion, and addressed .them. He also delivered a message which he had received from, the Army Commander. The Army Commander’s message stated that what was accomplished upon the occasion in question by the 4th Australian Brigade was the* most wonderful feat of arms in the history of the war. He finished up by congratulating the Tanks Corps upon their success. All the High Command at that time believed that the tanks had been a success, because a report had been sent in by the Senior Tanks Commander claiming that they had done everything that they had been ordered to do. As a result, all the members of the Senior Command thought that the tanks had been successful in doing what they were set to do. It was not until the reports written by Colonel Peck and myself were received by General Birdwood that he realized that the report which he had received from the Tank Corps was incorrect. He had not received our report at the time that he addressed the troops. I happen to know that General Birdwood put up the most strenuous opposition to this particular battle, both to the Army Commander and the General HeadQuarters.
– Who was the Army Commander !
– BROCKMAN . - General Gough. A comparison has been drawn between the action of the’ Tanks Corps when controlled by General Monash and its action when controlled by Generals Birdwood and White. However, this particular battle was . not, as suggested, designed by General Birdwood or General White. It was designed by the General Head-Quarters, and the orders were sent down through the usual channels to the 4th Division, and particularly to the 4th Brigade, to carry them out. After I had personally seen the situation I realized that it was pretty hopeless, and at the eleventh hour I sent a protest, which, with the assistance of General Birdwood, went right up to the General Head-Quarters. ‘ The reply was that the designed action had been most carefully thought out, and that we would do just what we were told to do. We did so, with the results which I have mentioned. It will be seen, therefore, that my gallant and distinguished friend, Senator- Elliott, is not quite right’ when he draws a comparison between ‘ the tank actions which were designed by General Monash - and which were wonderful, I admit-t-and the tank actions which were designed by General Birdwood.
– After -the tanks had had very much more experience.
– Precisely. I am sure that the honorable gentleman did not mean to be unfair, but he has certainly been misinformed. I do not doubt that Captain Jacka is under the impression that his report upon these operations was sent forward. But I can assure the Senate that it- was not, and that the report which did go forward was that which was signed by two com- ‘ manding officers of the brigade, which I have mentioned, because we did not think it fair to hide ourselves behind the skirts of our Intelligence Officers “when such serious allegations were being, made. We demanded that an inquiry should” be held .into the whole thing. But it was never held. The insinuation that Captain Jacka was penalized on account of this action is certainly based upon false premises.
I wish to add that nobody has a greater admiration for Captain Jacka than myself, and I wish to say, further, that he is a personal friend of mine. It has been suggested that Captain Jacka, on account of this particular incident, was superseded in respect to the command of the 14th Battalion. I was very closely associated with the 14th Battalion and its history during the whole of its operations in France. I was either a battalion commander alongside it or was . commanding the brigade of which the 14th was one of the battalions. Captain Jacka was never superseded in my time; but what did happen was this: Senior officers from outside the battalion, who were available and fit for promotion, were brought in to command the 14th Battalion. I do not know whether honorable senators realize that it was only in the early stages of the war that strict regimental promotion was observed. It was thereafter found that on account of the rapid decrease of officers there would be left ‘ very often only a junior and inexperienced officer in a battalion. It was deemed necessary, therefore, to bring in officers from other units, who were experienced and, in other respects also, qualified to take command of the battalions in question. So the principle became established - and, I think, rightly so- that the whole of the officers of the Australian Imperial Force should be regarded as being upon one regimental list.
– Was it also a fact that in the early stages of the war’ while some officers were away, for example, in hospital, suffering from casualties, they received promotions, while .junior officers who remained behind and carried on did not get promotion, and that this was for the reason that their seniors were still on the active list T”
– No. I may be allowed to illustrate the facts from my own experience. I was away for’ some months owing to a wound, and, while thus’ compulsorily absent, fifty-six men. were promoted over my head. Incidentally, I would like to add, I subsequently superseded all but six of those officers; and, if the war had gone on long enough, I am conceited enough to think that I would have superseded those siz others also in due course. I am trying to show how the principle grew of appointing officers from outside, and to indicate - since the illustration has been specifically advanced - what happened in the case of Captain Jacka. That officer never got beyond the stage of a captain in his own battalion. And I think I am right in saying that at no time was he. superseded by any officer in his own battalion. If it can be said that he was superseded by Colonel Peck - a very distinguished and capable officer, who took over the command of the battalion - then Captain Jacka was indeed superseded. If it can be said that he was superseded by Colonel Smyth, similarly, then obviously such was the case. If it can be said that he was superseded by the appointment of Colonel Crowther to take the command of the battalion, then again it is selfevident that Captain Jacka was superseded. But all these three were senior officers, and two of them, to my own knowledge, were experienced, and wholly capable to command. Captain Jacka was at best a company commander. The other officers were majors or colonels, and were specifically appointed to command the 14th Battalion. Such appointments were in the nature of a universal practice throughout the Australian Imperial’ Force, and it was a procedure which was in every way proper. Why should a man in the “ X “ battalion find himself promoted in a few months from the rank of second lieutenant to that of colonel because the officers above him happened to have been killed, while a major in the “T “ battalion should be compelled to continue in that Tank during the whole war merely because his colonel did not chance to have been killed ?
– Did Captain Jacka complain? ^
– To my knowledge, he has never complained officially, and I do not know that he has ever complained unofficially. It has been suggested that he was penalized because he had the courage - and it will be admitted by every one that he had a superabundance of that quality - to set down on paper what he observed on the 11th April, 1917. But he had for his battalion commanding officer Colonel Peek,, one of the officers -who had been brought in over his head, and who possessed enough backbone to say; “ I will not hide behind Captain .Jacka, but -will take the responsibility for this report myself.” So far as this particular incident is concerned, I suggest that it has no very great bearing upon, nor does it materially support, the proposed new clause moved by my gallant and distinguished friend, Senator Elliott.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
, - I suggest that the Committee should now devote a little attention to the amendment.
– Order! I cannot permit the Minister to cast upon the Chair the imputation that discussion has been allowed to proceed outside the scope of the amendment. The debate has .had bearing upon the question of promotion, to which the proposed new clause clearly refers.
– The bearing which the question of what General Elliott’s batman said to General Tivey’s batman’ may have upon the amendment is, at any rate, beyond my comprehension.
Tie CHAIRMAN- The reference to which . the Minister has drawn attention was a mere passing, observation. In their general purport the remarks of honorable senators have been distinctly directed to the question of promotion, which is involved in the proposed new clause.
– I dp not propose to follow Senator Elliott in the discussion of personal matters such as he has been bringing forward in regard to differences of opinion between himself and- other officers of the Australian Imperial Force. I suggest that honorable senators confine themselves to considering whether the amendment, if it should be agreed to, would prove to be in the best interests of our Citizen Forces. . The section of the Act which Senator Elliott proposes to amend is not brought within the scope of the Bill as it stands. Honorable senators, therefore, must turn to the Defence Act itself. Section 16 does not deal with the question of supersession at all. It reads -
Officers shall hold their appointments dur- - ing the pleasure pf the Governor-General, but the commission of an officer shall not be cancelled without the holder thereof being notified in writing of any complaint or charge made and of airy action proposed to be taken against him, nor without his being called upon to show cause in relation thereto. ‘Provided that no such notification shall be necessary in the case of an officer absent from duty without leave for a period of three months or upwards.
Senator Elliott is now proposing the insertion of words therein which will introduce a subject entirely foreign to the section. That is to say, he desires to include, in a reference to the cancellation of commissions, the matter of supersession. It may be desirable from his view-point; but, if he were to succeed, hopeless confusion would result, and a state of affairs would be brought about in our legislation for -which no Government could be responsible.
I now come to the question whether the Committee should deal, in the manner suggested by Senator Elliott, with the subject of supersession. First, that matter is determined not by seniority, because all promotions above those on the regimental list - as indicated in the cases quoted by Senator Drake-Brockman - are determined by selection. If the amendment is agreed to, the effect will he that in a section of our Defence legislation dealing with cancellation of commissions, there will -be a- provision that, before any. supersession can be given effect to, any officer and all officers who are to be superseded shall have the right of -having their cases gone into in writing, so that no supersession can take place until their complaints have been dealt with. I ask honorable senators to imagine what it would mean in the cases of those fifty officers among the fifty-six who superseded General DrakeBrockman, and whom, again, he subsequently superseded.
– But would this procedure apply in time of war?
– During peace or war.
– We would have to ask the enemy for an armistice while we decided these things.-
– Yes, an armistice, or even a prolonged postponement of the conflict, until we had settled the quarrels which, apparently, are plentiful even on the field of battle. I do not know whether the cases which have just been quoted are correct or otherwise; but I can imagine the distraction of commanding’ officers who may be carrying on operations attended with frightful loss of life. Honorable senators should try to picture these commanders turning aside from their efforts to conquer the enemy in order to inquire into the circumstances of officers who complain of having been superseded. Let us take the very instance quoted by Senator Elliott and substantiated by Senator Drake-Brockman, namely, the incident having to do with the mismanagement of the tanks at Bullecourt. Let us suppose that the officer commanding said, in the very midst of the battle, “ Colonel Jones is to take the place of Colonel Smith owing to this muddle over the tanks. You, Colonel Smith, are to be superseded because of your mismanagement; and Colonel Jones is to carry on and finish the action.” But Colonel Smith would say, “ ~No, you don’t. Please remember the Defence Act as amended by Senator Elliott. Before you can supersede me I have the right to protest - and you must give me notice in writing - against such supersession. You must first hold an inquiry and hear my side of the case.” So Colonel Smith continues to carry on, and to lose more lives, until General Elliott, or whoever may be the brigadier involved, can find time in the middle of his harrowing responsibilities to inaugurate an inquiry.
– Stick to facts.
– I am doing so.
– Regulations exactly similar were in force throughout the war.
– I will read the section as Senator Elliott proposes to amend it -
Officers shall hold their appointments during the pleasure of the Governor-General, but the commission of an officer shall not be cancelled nor shall any officer be superseded without such officer being notified in writing of any complaint or charge made and of any action proposed to be taken against him, nor without his being called upon to show cause in relation thereto.
I appeal to honorable senators to seriously consider if they are prepared to support such an amendment as that moved by the honorable senator, knowing that it must lead to hopeless confusion if the illustration which he has himself given the Senate is true. In giving the illustration, Senator Elliott seemed quite unable to realize that it was the best justification we could have for’ the right of, immediate supersession without the formalities of the giving notice and the hearing of evidence. The amendment is not in the interests of the Army, and in conclusion I warn the Senate that ° if it is carried a principle that is absolutely foreign to any Army Act in the world would be established, because the logical consequence of it would be that promotion would not be by selection on the ground of ability, but on seniority alone.
– It would be on the same basis as the Public. Service.
– It would be worse.
I cannot discuss the other amendments of which Senator Elliott has given notice; but I may say that they are even more far-reaching than this one, as they embody the right of civil action in the event of an officer being charged with having been actuated by. improper motives. I ask the Senate* not to bring about a state of chaos which can have only a disastrous effect.
.- When my candidature for the Senate was first announced I received a letter from a man who had been in my battalion, and who, although I had sentenced him to two years’ hard labour, still remains my friend, in which he said, “ For God’s sake, don’t go into Parliament. It is no -place for an honest man.”
– Surely the honorable senator does not consider such a man an authority ?
– No. I took no notice of him at the time. I do not ever remember hearing such a travesty of facts as I have heard from the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce’) this afternoon, and since hearing him, I am forced to concede that there is something in what the person I have mentioned stated. The Minister (Senator Pearce) has said that all sorts of disaster would occur if the amendment I have moved were embodied in the Act.
– So they would.
– I can prove that during the whole period of the war those rights which I desire to see embodied in the Bill were given to officers by regulation, and none of the disasters to which the Minister has referred ever occurred. The Minister taunted me the other day, during a similar discussion, by saying, “You had a ‘dud’ staff officer, of whom you told us, and he made a shocking blunder; with such a provision as. this in the Act you would have to keep him there until an inquiry had been held.” The Minister knows very well that an officer can be placed under suspension at any moment, when his place is taken by another officer whose, duty it is to carry on the work. In the very case mentioned by the Minister during the war I suspended the officer and placed the next Senior officer in charge, and having done that, could ask him to write out the history of what occurred, and place it before the suspended officer with a request to state if the facts were correct or otherwise. This report was sent to the Divisional Commander for investigation, after which it would be transmitted to General Birdwood, during all which time the officer remained suspended. In the meantime another officer was carrying on, and . I am amazed to think that a responsible Minister should suggest the possibility of tlie catastrophes he has mentioned, because he must know he is merely fighting shadows.
– If it were the law, it would have to” be obeyed.
– To relieve an officer from duty is not any infringement oi the law, because there is power to suspend an officer, and that is frequently done.
– Is not suspension anact of supersession?
– No. It was frequently done. During the war, owing to the constant strain of going into the front line we used to relieve officers from their commands every second battle. . If a captain went in with his company during one engagement, his second lieutenant would lead on the next occasion.
– That is not so.
– There is nothing whatever to prevent it, and it was frequently done by reasonable officers. To suspend an officer until an inquiry was held would not be regarded as an unfair supersession of an officer who had absolutely no charges against him. In the letter which the Military Board forwarded to me, it was stated, “Suppose there are three or four officers with an absolutely unblemished reputation and promotion comes along for some one. If one is chosen, the others have no cause of complaint.” But a junior may be placed in , command. The decision rests with some irresponsible person, and this frequently happens, because some officers have their favorites. A very able man -in England dealt very drastically with this question, and pointed out that the practice was ruinous to the discipline of the Army. These were his words -
That such practices have been common, I admit. But they are common just as all wickedness to which there is strong temptation always was and always will be common. They are common just as theft, cheating, perjury, and adultery have always been common. They are common, not because people do not know what is right, but ‘because people like to do wrong. They are common, though prohibited by law.
The regulations are the law; but they are disregarded.
– To what practice is the honorable senator referring?
– The supersession, of officers.
– The writer of what the honorable senator is reading does not say so.
– This authority further slates -
They are common though condemned by public opinion. They are common because in this age, as in others, the law, when administered by a weak Administration, has. not sufficient force to restrain the power of unprincipled persons. They are common just as every crime will be common when the gain to which it leads is great and the chance of punishment small. But, although common, they arc universally allowed, although altogether unjustifiable.
– Whose words are those ?
– They are the words of a greater authority than I am.
– Who is the author of that statement?
– At present I am the author.
– The honorable senator said that they are the words of an authority greater than himself, and I was wondering who it was.
– I could give the name if necessary.
– The statement isof little value without it.
– Numerous instances could be quoted illustrating the result of placing unrestricted power in the hands of some men. In France, one of the biggest “duds” I know of commanded a regiment of Light Horse, and he was stationed in a village behind the lines for the whole period of the war. During practically the whole of the time he was there he was intoxicated, and the villagers, in pity and contempt, named him Le Toujours Zig-Zag, by which they meant that he was always drunk. Notwithstanding this he was placed in command of a regiment of cavalry.
– By whom?
– By the Officer Commanding the Australian Imperial Force. He returned to Australia and is now in command of the troops in Tasmania. Tasmanian senators should watch this very carefully; because this officer was never with the Light Horse in Palestine, and his experience, such as it was, was confined to service in a village in France. Such officers as the honorable member for Darwin, Colonel George Bell, have to take their instructions from a man who, so far as I know, never commanded his regiment in action. If we do not include some provision such as I have outlined, promotion will continue to be made by selection, as is the custom in the Army.
It is not my desire to embarrass the Government, but an amendment such as I have moved must be embodied in the Bill if officers are to receive fair treatment. In the event of an officer with a good record being superseded he would naturally want to state his case. In the instance I have quoted, he would say, “ This officer was intoxicated all the time he was in France, and he should not be placed over me.” Supposing General Birdwood had come to me in a fair manner, and said that in a particular battle I did certain things, or that my hair was not curled to suit him, trouble would not arise. At Gallipoli I was superseded by General Forsyth, who was my junior. General White approached me, and said : “ We propose placing General Smyth, of the British Army, over you.” I replied, “ I object. I do not see why a British officer should be brought here, as it implies thatI do not understand my job.” He followed that up by saying, “ The only alternative is to place General Forsyth over you.” To that I replied, “ If Jack Forsyth comes along I will help to carry him up to the front line.”
– What did that mean ?
– It meant that I did not mind being superseded by an officer whom I knew possessed qualifications better than mine. I objected to an officer from the Egyptian Army being placed over me, who might have been the biggest “ dud “ in the whole Army, without a chance of being heard.
– But does not General Smyth hold the Victoria Cross ?
– Yes; but I did not know that at the time.
– But the honorable senator was asking the right to make a selection.
– Not at all.
– But you offered to carry him to the front line, and wanted to kick the other man out.
– Not at all. If I had been informed that it was the intention of the authorities to appoint a capable Egyptian officer, who had won the Victoria Cross, I would not have raised any objection; but I was not in favour of being superseded without being informed of the qualifications of the officer who was to relieve me.
Let us take the case of General Gellibrand, who joined the British Army in 1893.
– Does the honorable senator think it fair to mention here the names of officers, when they have not the opportunity of replying to any charges that may be made against them?
– Very well; I shall say that an officer who joined the British Army did not reach a higher rank than that of captain after twenty years’ service. He then retired and undertook farming, and, though he was a civilian at the outbreak of war, he was given the rank of major. He came to the Peninsula, and during the whole of the time he was there he remained onthe Staff, and did not command a company in the field. At the same time, there were other officers senior to him fighting in the line day after day. He was promoted colonel, and that made him of the same rank as officers who had commanded their battalions for six months in actual battle fighting. Three weeks later he was promoted brigadier over the heads of other officers, and I ask honorable senators to say whether they consider that a fair thing.
– I should say that he had friends.
– Exactly. Referring again to General McNicoll, who objected as I did to being superseded, I may tell honorable senators that rightly or wrongly he says in a letter to me: -
On my taking up residence in the 2nd Military District - that is New South Wales -
I offered for employment in the Citizen Forces, and the reply was, “ There is no avenue of employment for you in the Commonwealth Military Forces.” Generals Brand and Rosenthal command the divisions in this State while the Brigades go to Mackay, Paton, Heane, Bennett, and Goddard, all of whom, with the exception of Paton, are very much my junior.
– All the men quoted are excellent men.
– The officer from whose letter I quote is very much senior to them. The Minister for Defence has himself stamped General McNicoll as a magnificent soldier, yet men junior to him have been selected for these positions. The only inference he can draw is that the protest he made jointly with me in France is now proving a bar to his employment.
– That was about the saluting.
– No. I refer to the protest against being, superseded. If, in view of what I have said, honorable senators still believe that absolute power should be given to any officer in high command to favour his relatives or any one else, and that no protest should bo permitted, I am ‘at a loss to know what their ideas of a Defence Force can be. As Senator Duncan has pointed out, we preserve a man’s right to promotion in the Public Service, and in the management of the Defence Force, a vitally more important organization, we should strive to secure justice for our fellow men and fellow comrades.
– Senator Elliott, in the course of his last remarks, made one very serious statement, which should certainly be given further consideration, if not by the Committee, then by the Government. The honorable senator has made a deliberate charge against a high officer who has been placed in command of the Commonwealth Military Forces in one of the States. I submit .that Senator Elliott has said too little or too much. A statement has been made in this chamber where the officer charged is not in a position to defend himself, and in view of the fact that he is a gentleman occupying a high position in a certain State carrying with it great responsibility, it is up to the Committee to see to it that he is given a fair opportunity to defend himself if he is in the right.
– To whom is the honorable senator referring?
– To the officer to whom Senator Elliott referred, who has been placed in charge of the Commonwealth Military Forces in Tasmania. Senator Elliott has made a definite charge against that officer.
– I understood the honorable senator to be referring to officers placed in command of divisions in New South Wales and other States.
– Senator Elliott has made the charge that an officer who was referred to in France by those who knew him as “ Toujours Zigzag,” which, means in English “ always drunk,” has been placed by the Government in command of the Commonwealth Military Forces in Tasmania.
– I did not hear that statement.
– I submit that the charge is a very serious one. If the Government has been guilty of placing a man of that calibre in charge of the Commonwealth Military Forces of Tasmania they are deserving of censure. If Senator Elliott makes such a charge without being able to prove it, he is deserving of censure. In either case, honorable senators should determine that a charge of that sort shall be fully investigated. I should like to hear something from the Minister for Defence in reply to the charge made by Senator Elliott. Surely he knows the records of the officers whom he has placed in command of the Commonwealth Military Forces in the various States. If he does not, then he ought to know them. If the officer given the command in Tasmania is a person of the calibre suggested by Senator Elliott, it is entirely in ‘ the best interests of Australia that he. for one, should be immediately superseded. If the charge made against him is false, honorable senators should see that something further is done, because, as I have previously said, it is grossly unfair to attack any man, not only in his absence, but in a place like this Chamber, -where it is not possible for him to defend himself.
– Is a statement of facts to be regarded as an attack ?
– We do not know that what we have heard is a statement of facts.
– It is for honorable senators in this Chamber to expose what they regard as abuses.
– Certainly ; and that is why I say that Senator Elliott has said too little or too much, and that the charge he has made should be carried further.
– Having listened with a good deal of enjoyment to the whole of the discussion this afternoon, I suggest that whoever is engaged in writing up the history of the war should be supplied with a special desk in this chamber and should be given a special invitation to be in regular attendance in the Senate, because matters of the greatest interest to them may crop up here at any time. What is the amendment we are asked to consider? We know that from one end of the Military Service to the other there are grievances m connexion with supersessions. Senator Elliott, with a good deal of courage, has made use of his own case, not with a view to “ pushing his own barrow,” but to give facts which show what may happen in the Service.
– I propose to submit an amendment to provide that no senator or member of the House of Representatives shall hold an active command while occupying that position; and that would debar me ‘from a command.
– That seems aimed at somebody else.
– I ask honorable senators to proceed with the discussion of the proposed new clause before the Committee.
– I am- endeavouring to discuss it. The proposed new clause is intended to deal with a grievance which is known to exist in the Defence Department. If the Minister for Defence will nOt make provision in the Defence Bill to remedy that grievance, he must submit, at least, to the discussion of the matter by the Committee. I do not believe that we have any chance of carrying an amendment, as the Senate is constituted. ‘ “With such a majority behind the. Government we cannot expect to carry anything against it.
– The members of the Committee will vote on the merits of the proposal.
– The merits of the matter will be held to be that the Bill has been introduced by the Government, and honorable senators are bound to support it.
– Nothing of the kind.
– I am glad to learn that the Minister for Defence is prepared to accept the democratic view of the Senate that honorable senators,, without regard to the possible embarrassment of the Government, may vote as they think right on matters submitted to them. I believe that Senator Elliott’s amendment would be more in order if proposed upon a later clause; but there is not an intelligent man in the community who will deny the existence of the evil for which the honorable senator is seeking a remedy. The Minister for Defence has made no proposal to remedy that evil, and as Senator Elliott’s amendment is the only remedy put forward, I shall vote for it if a division is taken upon it.
.- I wish to give my reasons for ‘registering a vote ‘against the amendment, as I intend to do. My -first objection to it is that it applies only to senior officers. I consider that supersession and promotion should be grouped under one heading; and if Senator Elliott’s idea is a good one, it should apply to other than senior officers. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has admitted that in the case of ordinary regimental promotion the men of a regiment receive promotion up to the rank of major, in due course, by virtue of seniority. If, in the case of ordinary regimental promotion, a man believes that he has been superseded for two or three stripes, Senator Elliott is not prepared to give him a chance to make and ‘ defend his complaint. My experience abroad was that such men did not get very much of a hearing if they complained that they had not received one or two stripes which they considered they were entitled to. “When we were on Gallipoli, I remember hearing the statement made that there was more row amongst the “ heads “ over an extra star than there was amongst the “diggers” over one stripe.
– The “ digger “ only wants his tucker ready at the right time.
– So long as he got three meals a day and a sleep, and not too much work in the trenches at night, the “ digger “ did not worry. I regard the amendment as conferring a privilege upon officers, and if such a privilege be granted, it should be extended to all ranks.
– Even to the men in the ranks.
– Exactly. I am not prepared to support- such a proposal. Senator Elliott referred to some anonymous “ war lord “ in England who expressed the opinion that supersession in the Army was as common, I think he said, as prostitution, and a number of other things which he placed in the same category. It is very difficult for us to judge the merits of any case of alleged supersession such as Senator Elliott has referred to. I think it is unfortunate that men in the position of General Sir John Gellibrand, and’ others similarly highly placed, should have been mentioned by name in this debate when they are not in a position to reply to what has bor said concerning them. I do not believe that Senator Elliott would have us consider that, in his opinion, Sir John Gellibrand is a “ dud “ officer.
– Not at all.
– Not by a long way. It is a fact that it rested with the officer in superior command to decide between certain officers which should receive a divisional command.
– He had to pick the best of a good lot.
– Quite so. And I take it that when objection is taken to the supersession of an officer, it is not suggested that the officer who is given the job to which the superseded officer thinks he was entitled is a “ dud “ and should not have received it. After all, then, whether a supersession is right or wrong, is a matter depending on the judgment of the senior command. I am inclined to think that just as a great many of us in the lower ranks of the Service were talked to very freely by those who occupied higher positions, so even men in command of brigades must be content to be judged by their senior commanders. What would be the position if these Boards were set up and every officer who felt he was not receiving due recognition of his merits could go before a Board and say He was 6 ft. 6 in. in height and his fighting weight 12 st. 7 lbs.” ?
– Then why give this right to the Civil Service ?
– If the discipline of a military damp were applied to the Public Service I feel sure that Senator Elliott would, for seven days of the week, be fully occupied telling us about complaints from among his constituents. I do not think for one moment that the discipline, so necessary in an army, would work .satisfactorily in the Public Service. While an officer may feel aggrieved at his treatment, it would be unbecoming the dignity of an officer and a gentleman, unless of course he were very deeply injured in his position, to appear before a board of senior officers and present his views as to his own status as a soldier and a man. Seeing that the question of suppression has been raised by the honorable senator apart from the question of promotion, for which he proposes no remedy-
– There is provision already in the Act for promotion by examination.
– I suppose that on many occasions during his military career General Elliott has had to determine questions as to the relative merits of men under his command, and say whether a man was to have one stripe or two stripes ; and I have no doubt that his judgment has not always been indorsed by the men concerned. In the Army, I found that when a man squealed most about what he did not get, he was usually properly adjudged by his senior officers as being in his right place. Because it is not suggested to apply this remedy from the private upwards, I propose to leave the matter as it is.
– I want to continue my rôle as a peacemaker in the Senate. It seems to me that some compromise may be made with regard to the clause under discus. sion. Undoubtedly it is a tradition - indeed, it is a truth - that in the Army “kissing goes by favour,” and, as I understand it, Senator Elliott’s amendment proposes to do away with this system, and to provide for appointments and promotions on well-defined lines, so as to prevent a continuance of that favoritism which, he asserts, exists at present. During the second-reading debate Senator Drake-Brockman made a suggestion that senior officers might have the right of appeal to some other tribunal than the Board, and I understand his suggestion was favorably received by the Minister. It has occurred to me that a new clause might be drafted to give effect to this suggestion.
– What I said was that I would see if we could give senior officers the right of appeal to some higher tribunal.
– Senator Elliott’s contention, as I understand it, is that senior officers may be superseded by men of junior rank without such senior officers being informed of the reason, so if they can get. this right of appeal, perhaps to an equivalent to a Judge AdvocateGeneral, their position might bo more satisfactory.
.- I stand to what I said, but I do not think that that is what Senator Elliott is trying to accomplish at all. Senator DrakeBrockman, in his second-reading speech, pointed out that at present senior officers had only the right of appeal from Cæsar to Cæsar, and that they should have the right of appeal to the Governor-General in Council. I tEen interjected that that would be only a change in form, because the Governor-General in Council would be advised by the Minister.
– In time of war, as well as in peace?
– No: not in time of war. If Senator Elliott will accept my assurance that I will find some way OUt of the difficulty, so that officers appointed by the Board will have the right of appeal to some other tribunal, the difficulty should disappear. May I point out that if, at the inception of the Australian Imperial Force, the principle of promotion by seniority had been observed,
General Bridges, the man selected for the post by Senator E. D. Millen, would not have ‘been intrusted with that responsibility, because he was not the senior officer. There were senior to him seven Citizen Force officers, as well as several permanent officers, but yet not a solitary voice was raised in protest when they were passed over and the choice, fell upon General Bridges. Honorable senators surely will realize how important it is that there should be freedom in selection in such circumstances, and how inadvisable it is to hamper a commanding officer by the authorization of inquiries in regard to his selection of his senior officers. No doubt Senator Elliott himself has many times exercised hi3 untrammelled choice in regard to the men under his command, and, as we all like to think well of ourselves, it is natural that some of the men who were passed over .by him would not agree that his selection was the wisest that could have been made. It is not in ‘human nature to be so. As Senator Foster has pointed out, this matter goes right down through the ranks. I trust Senator Elliott will not press his amendment. He will see, from the general expression of opinion, that it is not palatable to the Committee. I trust, therefore, he will rest satisfied with my assurance that I shall endeavour to provide a satisfactory form of appeal for the military officers.
.- I am not clear why the Minister opposes my amendment, because, as a matter of fact, it is only an attempt to insert in the Act what is already provided by regulation.
– Only to officers on the regimental list; not to any officer outside the list.
– We now have the Minister pinned down to the admission that this right has been recognised.
– There is no pinning down at all. I made this statement yesterday.
– The right has always been in the Act.
– Then why trouble about it now ?
– Senator Elliott’s proposal deals with senior officers.
– Ne, every officer. It has been put to us that it is an entirely now principle-
– This is only applied to senior officers.
– It is not new. Senator Poster has indicated that as this right is not available to junior officers, therefore it should nob apply to senior officers. But I have pointed out that already junior officers have this right secured to them by regulation.
– Da not put word6 into my mouth. I did not say I would not give this right of appeal to the senior officers because the junior officers do not get it. I said you only applied it to senior officers, not to junior officers.
– No. My amendment refers to all officers. As regards the junior officers this right is actually secured to them now.. They cannot be superseded unless they are told, and have a chance to make representations by way of appeal.
– You mean those who hold commissioned rank.
– Those in the regimental list.
– Well, if the principle is applicable to those officers, why not give the officers a little higher up a chance too? Surely this is a democratic principle. I may add that in the Australian Imperial Force there were Australian Imperial Force regulations as well as Commonwealth Military Force regulations, and the Minister must know there was no limitation in those regulations to junior or senior commanders. I knew that, but General White tried to bluff me that the regulations only applied to officers in the regimental list, when, as a matter of fact, they are absolutely definite that no officer shall be superseded unless he is informed.
– Would you go so far as to say that you know .of a colonel who ought to have been off the regimental list before he was a lieutenant? Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was addressing myself to a point upon which there seems to be considerable misunderstanding amongst honorable senators regarding the object which I have in view. This amendment might well be termed a provision to prevent favoritism in the Army. Honorable senators have frequently interjected during the course of the debate that the amendment, if adopted, would result in promotion by seniority. But if it be viewed critically it will be seen, that it will accomplish no such thing. It merely provides that if it be desired to supersede an officer by the promotion of a junior over his head, the officer to be superseded shall be told in what respect he has failed to gain the confidence of those who are above him. This disclosure should be in writing, so that he may know that there is a definite charge against him instead of merely possessing the consciousness that he is being superseded from personal spite, or because the man who has been promoted has a wife who is making things sweet with the head.
– That is stretching it a bit too far.
– Not at all. In England it is recognised as a crying scandal that petticoat influence is rampant to secure advancement in the Army. Even during the late war, the headquarters of General French were the rendezvous of thousands of fashionable women who resorted there in order to bring their personal influence to bear upon the Commander-in-Chief with a view to getting their favorites pushed forward.
– The honorable senator does not imply that General French was so influenced. I do not doubt that the women tried to influence him, but I cannot imagine that a. general would submit to such influence. ,
– The fact of which I am speaking was published in the English newspapers far and wide. By a very remarkable coincidence, I have here some documents, which show that such things can be done. Whilst I was in England recently I visited the home of my people, and there I was shown some old family letters written by my great grandfather, who was a lieutenant in the Navy at the time Lord Nelson was in command.
– There are no Lady Hamiltons now.
– I am going to quote that very instance. This great’ grandfather of mine was an officer of the Foudroyant, at the time he wrote the letter which I intend to quote, when Nelson was in command.
– But we want te know the wives who are working the oracle to-day.
– This system of promoting a junior out of a group of good officers, none of whom is visibly better than the other, is justified by the fact that it is the custom of the Service. If I were in the position of the Military Board to-day I could, by searching the precedents of the British Army from which the customs of the Service are drawn, discover cases which show that officers in the Navy were promoted on the nomination of a pandar - Sir “William Hamilton, and countersigned by a harlot, his wife. That appears here in the correspondence. The letter which I desire to quote reads: -
Lord Nelson, as I have said, remains on shore - he resides with Sir William Hamilton and his lady. This lady is not only literally Admiral of the British Fleet (for she absolutely governs the Admiral, who is infatuated with her), but she, in conjunction with the Queen, governs the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies - this I know from those whose authority cannot be doubted. She is consequently the fountain-head of all interest - I myself know two captains who have been promoted by her means. One of these is an old shipmate. You will probably doubt some part of this account and think I exaggerate, but I assure my dear aunt that it is strictly and literally true.
This custom of the Service is usually invoked when the authorities have some rotten case which cannot be bolstered up otherwise. It is the constant complaint in Great Britain to-day that such influences are still at work.
– Still it is not the custom of the Service that the women should have control.
– The custom of the Service is based upon precedent, and if sufficient precedent were obtainable, the Military Board, under this Bill. could adopt any system that it chose. Thus there is a strong probability that we shall have the same kind of influence creeping in to the detriment of eur own Service. This Bill, which some honorable senators appear to regard merely as a means to enable me to voice my own personal grievances, has far deeper roots than that. It is not a new principle that I am endeavouring to establish. The Minister himself has admitted that there are in existence regulations which are designed to accomplish my aim. But that is a very different thing from inserting the requisite provisions in ‘this Bill. At the present time, if a senior officer disregards the regulations, there is no means of bringing him to book except by voicing the matter in this Parliament. The Minister can then deal with it.
– Cannot he deal with it upon his own responsibility?
– I can see no effective method whereby observance of such regulations can be enforced. During the late war they were repeatedly disregarded by those who were powerful enough to escape the consequence of their acts. During the whole term of my association with the Australian Imperial Force I never failed to observe’ the regulations with the utmost strictness, and I had none of the advantages which honorable senators imagine that I possessed. Upon one occasion I considered that an officer, who was the senior subaltern of the battalion was not fit to be promoted to the position of captain. I told him so, whereupon he appealed to my Divisional Commander, General Hobbs. The latter said, “ This man has something to say in his defence. He admits that for the moment he is inefficient, because he has been absent from the division) for a long time, and consequently has not had a chance of familiarizing himself with the present conditions of warfare. Suspend the promotion you. are going to make for three months. Give the man in whom you have confidence the promotion temporarily, but do not make it permanent for three months. If, in the meantime, the senior subaltern justifies himself, drop the . temporary appointee, and give him his fair due.” That course was followed. In point of fact, in the British Army it had to be followed, because, when the war started, that Army was a tiny one, though it subsequently expanded into a huge force. Assuming that it was desirable to appoint one of a group of brigade commanders to the command of a division, and there was an. argument as to who should be appointed, the commander of the force would notify each of the senior officers, “ You will be superseded because of such and such.”
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I do not know that I can contribute anything very useful to this debate, but I. would not like to record a silent vote upon the amendment. I cannot quite follow all the arguments which Senator Elliott has advanced in favour of it. As far as I can understand, it is merely intended to prevent the supersession of officers. It has nothing whatever to do with appointments. But, under the amendment, when once an officer had been appointed, he could not be superseded unless he had had a hearing and been given a trial.
-That is the object of it.
– I am not a military man, but I imagine that it would be absolutely impossible for a general charged with the conduct of a. war to conduct it upon those lines. If he had not the power to supersede an officer whom he thought was inefficient for reasons which probably he could not put in black and white, he might lose a whole battalion. A whole battalion might be sacrificed simply because of the inefficiency of an officer whom he could not supersede without a trial. During the late war one of the achievements which led to the triumph of the Allied arms was the centralization of the control of the Allied Forces. The appointment of General Foch as- Generalissimo, was the beginning of the Allied successes.
– No. The beginning of their successes was when the Germans were turned back from Paris in 1914.
– That is so. We do not require military knowledge to know that whilst each of the Allies was at liberty to plan its own separate campaign, it was hopeless to expect success’ against a wellorganized army like that of Germany. If Foch could not remove a general-
– He could not remove any British. general.
– With all the honorable senator’s military knowledge, .he cannot tell me that. I cannot quote instances to specifically disprove his assertion, but I know .that Foch had the power to remove any officer under his command if he deemed him inefficient. Senator Elliott, in support of his argument, went so far as to say that an officer commanding a battalion should have the right to give his own decision concerning whether a movement should be carried out or not. How could any general hope to successfully conduct a campaign in such circumstances ? He might make mistakes. He might appear, to the battalion commander immediately concerned, to be committing- a blunder in ordering that battalion into a position which courted disaster ; but’ if the general, in the conduct of his campaign, were subject to the will of his battalion commanders, there would certainly be disaster and chaos. It may be that the’ general would see fit to risk the sacrifice of a’ battalion in order to achieve success all along his line. Such a sacrifice might appear to the battalion commander, from his restricted view-point, to be unwarrantable. Yet, if he were to disobey orders, and to refrain from taking up the hazardous position to which his command was allotted, the result might entail the obliteration of half-a-dozen battalions. And, if a battalion commander were permitted to question an order, why should not the officer commanding a company be similarly privileged, and also the lieutenant in command of a platoon, and so on, right down to the unit? What an impossible situation there would be ! What chance would there be of achieving victory ?
– Does the honorable senator deny that Foch laid it down that the infantry commands, actually in the line, should be the judges as to when they should make an attack ?
– I cannot credit that General Foch would consent to any subordinate officer having the right to obey or disobey orders at his own sweet will. Foch would naturally look for advice from those best equipped to give it; but I am sure he would demand that his orders be carried out promptly and to the letter. I am as keen upon doing away with favoritism in the Army as is Senator Elliott.
– Well, what does the honorable senator suggest?
– I do not know of anything better or other than is provided in the Bill. Human nature is human nature, in peace or in war. If the Committee were to accept the amendment with the object of preventing favoritism in respect of the supersession of officers, vastly more harm would be done than if the circumstances which have been criticised by Senator Elliott were permitted to remain.
– How does the honorable senator account for the fact that the very provision which I am trying to have inserted in our Act was actually in force throughout the war?
– Only regimen tally.
– No; but generally.
– I would suggest that if the procedure which Senator Elliott now seeks to embrace in our Defence laws has been in general practice, it would be wiser to allow matters to remain as they are. At any rate, I have not heard the honorable senator advance any convincing arguments, and, therefore, I intend to oppose the amendment.
.- Before the dinner adjournment the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) practically promised to give some consideration to means whereby the evils complained of by Senator Elliott could be overcame, and I was hopeful that by now the Committee would have reached a further stage in the considera- tion of the Bill. I cannot refrain, however, from replying to some of the assertions of Senator Earle. He suggested that if the amendment is accepted the hands of officers commanding in the field would be weakened. Nothing of the kind could occur. Senator Earle will not wish this Committee to believe that . General Foch had any authority over individuals in the British Forces.
– -He had none at all. He could not remove one man.
– The appointment of Foch as Generalissimo was purely an arrangement for the most efficient consolidation and co-ordination of the Allied Armies. While that move was a wise one, there is no question that the authority given to Foch was such as to hand over to him- the control of the British Forces, right down to the matter of individual discipline. The successes gained by the Allies during the closing months of the war, under the supreme command of Foch, were but the outcome and climax of the retreat of the Germans to the Marne in 1914, followed, as that was, by our constant hammering of the enemy lines, and brought to a conclusion by the eventual break-down of morale within the German nation itself. In saying this I do not desire to detract from the supreme qualifications of General Foch, nor to refrain from the acknowledgment of his allconquering strategy during the closing months of the conflict.
– There were a lot of people here who did not recognise those things when they said we ought to seek for peace by negotiation.
– Who advocated peace by negotiation?
– The honorable senator himself, for one.
– The rules of debate in this Chamber will not permit me to describe Senator Millen as a deliberate liar, if he says that. It is not only not true, but it is not fair, to make these allegations at a time and in a place when and where I may not counter them.
– Who was it, then, that advocated peace by negotiation ?
– I may not enter upon a discussion of the matter. But I resent any imputations being levelled at myself in this regard ; for honorable senators know my own attitude.
– I did not accuse the honorable senator.
– Senator Duncan made a general statement, and the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) pointed it at me.
I desire to show that the beginning of ‘ victory was seen when the Germans retreated before the turning round of the Allied ranks in 1914. When the morale of the German people gave way - at a stage when the forces and warlike machinery of the Allies were at their summit - actual victory swiftly followed. But to say that the credit of winning the war belongs to one general-
– I did not indicate that the credit belonged to any one man, but that it was due chiefly to the centralization of control ; and I do not care whether the individual in supreme command happened to be Foch or Haig or any one else.
- Senator Elliott, . with his military experience, made it quite clear that there has been favoritism in the ranks of the Australian Imperial Force. And he has established a good case for the institution, of the right of appeal in the event of promotions being brought about unfairly, due to favoritism, through petticoat influence, and the like. I understand that the Minister for Defence has undertaken to look into the whole matter, and that he will endeavour to devise some means whereby favoritism shall have no scope. We should never seek to make a law which would take from a general the right to suspend or supersede any officer, according to his own judgment, at any time. But, surely, no one will argue that the officer affected should not have the right of invoking an appeal. Why should such an, individual be denied the ordinary measure of justice which would be naturally available to him in civilian walks of life?
– There can be no analogy between the two sets of circumstances.
– I deny that there can be no analogy between the position of an. official in the Civil Service - say, in the Railways Department - and of a military officer. If injustice has been done, why should we shut out the application of common sense just because the circumstances have to do with the Army ?
– In time of war?
– An enginedriver, while in control of his express on the run between Melbourne and Sydney, would not be suspended. His suspension would be notified to him at the conclusion of his task.
– Does the honorable senator suggest, then, that so long as the war continues, no officer should be suspended ?
– I hope and believe this measure will be applied to our Military Forces through many years of peace to come. Will it not be wise, therefore, to accept the proposal of an experienced military officer, who states that it is necessary to provide a court of appeal to deal with cases of supersession ? I I maintain that such a court, by the very fact of its existence, would militate against injustice. I do not suggest that the mere institution of the right of appeal would prove a strong factor for fair play ; but the realization that any instance of injustice might be exposed by that medium would be bound to have considerable effect. In such circumstances injustice would not occur.
– Does the honorable senator think that the amendment would overcome that difficulty?
– Then if it is right and proper, surely we have sufficient ability to make it effective, and the Government or the Minister for Defence will not brush it aside. Before the dinner adjournment I was under the impression that it was the intention of the Minister to give the matter his careful consideration. In legislating as rapidly as we do there is always the possibility of mistakes occurring, and when Senator Elliott first lodged hi3 complaint I asked the Minister if he would not endeavour to have an amendment drafted to meet the case. I think the Minister will remember that during the second-reading debate, I made such a suggestion, and now we have the Bill before us in Committee it is a good opportunity to make some provision in the direction Senator Elliott has indicated. If the amendment moved by the honorable senator does not meet with the approval of the Government, surely this Committee can take the question in hand, and decide upon something that will be acceptable. We do not have to consider an amending Defence Bill every twelve months, .and in view of the extraordinary statements that have been made during the course of the debate, it appears that it is our duty to embody something in the measure which will be the means of preventing officers exercising powers to which they are not entitled. 1 trust the Minister will adhere to what he has in mind, and have an amendment drafted or introduce an amending Bill later so that every officer and man in our Military Forces will have the right to appeal to some tribunal when he considers that he has been unfairly treated.
– It will not be necessary to wait for the introduction of an amending Bill, because I shall endeavour to have an amendment drafted before this measure leaves the Senate.
– In view of such a definite promise, I have no desire to detain the Committee any longer, but if Senator Elliott persists in pressing the matter, to a division I shall help him.
.- If the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) carefully peruses my subsequent amendments he will see that under them the Minister would in time of war have power to suspend an inquiry until hostilities had terminated, but that facilities would be given for the recording of evidence. The work of promotion could be carried on, but it is my endeavour to insert a provision so that when war is over what is, perhaps, an unnecessary stain on an officer’s character may be removed. Although the Minister has said that an officer’s character i3 not necessarily affected by supersession, he is always a marked man, because it has been decided by a high authority that he is absolutely unfitted for promotion.
– No; that he is not as suitable as some other officer.
– That is the effect, and when once a man is superseded he is to some extent damned. If I were to succeed a commander in the field, and I ascertained that Brown and Jones had been superseded by Smith and Edwards, I would be very careful before I promoted those officers, and I would not do so until I had kept them under close observation for a considerable time. The Minister pointed out that there was some doubt cast upon my judgment, but if there is a scintilla of evidence on that point, I should be told of the occasion on which it was displayed, and of the exact nature of the charge. It may not have been a lack of judgment in military matters, but lack of judgment in some minor matter. That is the extraordinary position in which an officer is placed under the present law. I notice, with regret,that I cannot expect the support of the majority of the Committee, and it is, therefore, not my intention to press my amendment to a division.
– That is very largely owing to the conciliatory attitude of the Minister. v .Senator ELLIOTT.- I trust the Minister will very carefully peruse the amendments I have placed- before him, which have been framed, not with the idea of redressing some personal grievance, but for the general betterment of our Military Forces
Proposed new clause negatived.
Clause 8 -
Section 16a “of the principal Act is repealed.
– Senator Elliott has given notice of the following amendment: -
After “ repealed “ insert “ and the following section inserted in its stead : - “ 16a. Any officer on the active list, and being a member of the Senate or House of Representatives or who shall hereafter be elected to the Senate or House of Representatives, shall be forthwith placed upon the unattached list, but in time of war any such officer may be re-appointed . to the active list, and thereupon shall be entitled to leave from either House until he shall cease to be employed on the active list or until the period for which he was elected shall expire whichever event shall 6rst happen.”
I have perused the proposed amendment very carefully, and while I shall accept it down to the words “ active list,” I cannot accept the concluding words of the proposed amendment, which read: - and thereupon shall be entitled to leave from either House until he shall cease to be employed on the active list or until the period for which he was elected shall expire, whichever event shall first happen.
I must, of course, in declining to accept an amendment of that character, state my reason, which is that constitutionally such an amendment is not in order. Section 20 of the Constitution reads -
The place of a senator shall become vacant if, for two consecutive months of any session of the Parliament he, without the permission of the Senate, fails to attend the Senate.
Honorable senators will see that the Senate itself claims the complete powerin respect to the giving of leave of any senators, and I cannot accept an amendment which would unconstitutionally, I think, propose to confer upon another place the power of giving leave to a senator, which right is jealously preserved to us not only by the Constitution, but also by our Standing Orders. If the honorable senator still desires to move his amendment, I must excise all the words after “ active list,” although I do not intend to take upon myself die duty of interpreting the Constitution on all occasions.
.- I am willing to delete the words mentioned, and I therefore move -
That after the word “ repealed “ the follow: ing words be inserted, “ and the following section inserted in its stead : - ‘ 16a. Any officer on the active list and being a member of the Senate or House of Representatives or who shall hereafter be elected to the House of Representatives, shall be forthwith placed upon the unattached list, but in time of war any such officer mav be re-appointed to the active list.’ “
The object of my proposed amendment is to remove what I fear may ultimately become an evil. “We can never hope to have a. satisfactory military force unless we are entirely separated from politics. Our military force is developing, and from time to time -very important commands, with considerable remuneration attached to them, will become available. For instance, a divisional command at present carries a salary of £350 a year, which can be earned by a few hours’ work in an office.
– A few hours?
– Is that the annual salary ?
– Yes. I do not know what provision has been made regarding the duties; but perhaps the Minister can enlighten us. Before the divisional commands were made General Brand wrote to me and said that as one of the senior officers I might be considered suitable for a command, and he wanted to know if I would be prepared to accept such a position. I wrote declining ,to express any opinion until the conditions of service were made known. I told him that I did not know whether such work would interfere with my duties here, quite apart from the aspect of introducing politics into the Army. It is my_ duty at times to bitterly attack the policy of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner). A great many of Senator Gardiner’s supporters are in the ranks, and I fear . that during . an election campaign his supporters would be able to get a bit of their own back at political meetings.
– The honorable senator has given us some very excellent ammunition during the last few days.
– Apart from that, there is the danger of these appointments being deliberately sought, and we may find a number of comparatively junior officers in Parliament approaching members of the Ministry in an endeavour to secure support. In view of the recent decision of the Committee on the amendment I moved, the question of their suitability could not be raised. “We are sent here by our constituents to do our duty and criticise with the utmost severity the proposals of the Ministry, not only in matters of defence, but in other directions, and it is questionable whether it would be desirable for members of Parliament to hold such positions.
– Are not those appointments made by the Military Board?
– They are approved by the Minister.
– I put it to Senator Fairbairn that if the Cabinet desired to make appointments to commands, they would not find the Military Board an insuperable obstacle to the accomplishment of their desire. As was well stated in a recent issue of the Bulletin, it seems to me that we are tending to the position that the Government might conceivably have a rather awkward opponent or semiopponent in Parliament, and might seek to pacify him by giving him a billet at £350 a year. That might considerably abate the keenness of his criticism.
– The honorable senator is shifting his ground. He said this afternoon that the Minister was a rubber stamp for the Military Board, and he is now suggesting that the Military Board may be a rubber stamp for the Minister.
– The positions might be reciprocal. In return for the Minister submitting to acts of the Military Board not strictly legal or somewhat shady in character, the members of - the Board might say to him, “ We will agree to appoint your figureheads, if you in turn will wink when we put our brothers, uncles and nephews into comfortable positions around the barracks, and send men without family influence out into the backblocks.”
– One good turn deserves another.
– I believe that grave difficulties are likely to arise if the present practice is continued. I find that under the British Army Act officers elected to the House of Commons were’ formerly placed on half pay. n
– That refers to officers of the Regular Army.
– That is so. But they are now, if below the substantive rank of colonel given the option of being placed on the seconded list or on the half- pay list. In every case it will be found that they are removed from the active force list. The Minister for Defence has interjected that this applies only to officers of the Regular Army.
– And not the Territorial Army.
– That is so, but it will be found that there are no Territorial officers holding commands above the rank of colonel. I never heard of a divisional commander being appointed from any but the Regular Army. One of the most bitter complaints voiced in England and in France was that no Territorial officer, and no officer of the Kitchener Army ever had a chance of any Staff billet. There were many most brilliant men in the business and scientific world who joined the Kitchener Army and rose to the rank of colonel. It was well known that their ability was far superior to that of their brigadiers, but the close corporation of the old Regular Army effectively shut them out from promotion beyond the rank of colonel. Honorable senators can see that such a position as is contemplated here could not arise in Gre’at Britain.
– Would not the honorable senator’s amendment cover cases like mine? I happen to be a poor lieutenant in the Citizen Forces. Does the honorable senator think that I should not have anything to do with the military.
– I think that the honorable senator should be placed on the unattached list. If I were his company commander, I would say to him, “Look here, old man, you had better go on the unattached list.” The honorable senator could not possibly attend to the training of his company while lie was over here attending the Senate.
– He could do so if his company were in Melbourne.
– I think that the honorable senator would feel that he was entitled to the leisure of the week end after his strenuous exertions in this chamber night after night. I commend my amendment to the careful consideration of honorable senators.
.- There have been occasions, especially during the last few days, when I have felt a very great deal of sympathy for this amendment. At the same time, I must say that my judgment is against the acceptance of the principle it involves. I contend that we do not give up our rights as citizens when we become members of this Parliament. Senator Elliott proposes this discrimination against members of the Federal Parliament, but not against members of the State Parliaments. That may be. because State Governments have no say in the making of military appointments.
– Or in any Defence matters.
– We have never previously had this disqualification imposed upon citizens who become members of. this Parliament. Ours is a citizen army, and we have universal training. A man may be elected to the Senate or to the House of Representatives at the age of twenty-one years, when, under our Defence Act, he may be still liable to six years of compulsory training. Yet, according to Senator Elliott’s amendment, he must not be permitted to accept a commission.
– No; that is not so. My proposal is that if he is given a commission he must be placed on the unattached list while he remains a member of the Parliament. If a man goes out of a training area, he is placed on the unattached list, and if the Senate sat at Canberra many officers would have to be placed on the unattached list willy-nilly.
– I am informed that the unattached list is part of the active list, and an officer on the unattached list might be appointed to a command. The honorable senator to accomplish his desire should provide, that officers who are members of Parliament should be placed on the reserve list.
– The honorable senator could accomplish his desire by supporting the transfer of the Seat of Government to Canberra.
– I wish to correct one statement made by Senator Elliott to the effect that divisional commanders are expected to give only a few hours’ service in the year. That is a totally erroneous idea. Speaking from memory, they are expected to give the equivalent of ninety days’ service in the year. They must be at call and give attention to any matters that may arise for their decision.
What Senator Elliott appears to regard as a disability has existed since the inception of our Defence Act. There has never been a Federal Parliament “in which there have been no officers of the Citizen Forces.
– I can recall the case of Colonel Crouch, and the fact that because of his criticism of defence matters at Queenscliff, he was placed on the seconded list.
– I do not know whether he was or was not, nor do I know what that has to do with the matter. In every Federal Parliament there has been in one House or the other one or more citizen officers holding commands, and I never heard it suggested, even by the most virulent Opposition, that the Government of the day, in keeping an officer in a particular position, were doing so for political purposes. When I was Minister for Defence in a Labour Government, I venture’ to say that, with the exception of Lieut. - Colonel O’loghlin, who was a member of the Labour party, every Citizen Force officer in the Parliament was on the opposite side to me in politics, but no one ever suggested that because they were paid they might come over to our side.
– The pay was not more than £30 a year.
– They received some pay, and occupied positions that were, much sought after. With a citizen army such as ours, the difficulty raised by Senator Elliott is inescapable. We have to decide whether we shall have a citizen army, and then to decide whether it is to ‘be open to all citizens, or a disqualification should be imposed upon a certain section. Senator Elliott said that we should disqualify members of the Federal Parliament from holding these offices, and I say that if we did so we should stigmatize ourselves as ‘ corrupt. The honorable senator wishes us to say that we have men amongst us in this Parliament who may be tempted by these positions, who are prepared to sell their votes to the Government, and that the Government are going to buy them for £300 a year, though they will be at the same time expected to give the equivalent of ninety days’ service for that pay. I think that an officer who takes one of these positions will have a pretty hard time, and will not grow very fat on the pay he will receive.
– Brigadiers are only to be paid £80 a year. I got a notice .to that effect to-day.
– I ask Senator Elliott not to press his amendment. He has said that in time of war the seconded officer may be brought on to the active list and given an appointment. The honorable senator overlooks the fact that he must keep himself up-to-date in training during time of peace if he is to be of any use in time of war.
– He may be superseded.
– He may be superseded by the electors. That has happened before now. Senator Elliott suggests that in order to favour a political supporter the Government may in time of war give a command to a man who has been out of training for six years. At present these officers, who are also members of Parliament, may be appointed to positions in which they- will have a great deal of hard and unthankful work to do, which is not very much appreciated by the general public. I cannot for the life of me ‘believe that the dangers which Senator Elliott anticipates are ever likely to arise. Nothing of the kind has so far occurred, though the existing practice has continued from the inception of the Defence Act.
– I have been listening for so long now that I began to be afraid that if I did not get up I would take root. From the discussion we have had this evening, I think that if I had to start again as a member of Parliament I should like also to be a military man so that I might join in such discussions. I think that the amendment proposed by Senator Elliott is entirely unnecessary. If we have prided ourselves in Australia upon one thing more than another, it has’ been upon the purity of our Parliaments. I do not recollect any scandal in our parliamentary life such as seems to be anticipated by Senator Elliott. I do not understand how Senator Elliott can suggest that we could trust the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) not to exercise political influence in giving a man a job worth £30 a year, but we could not trust him if he were in a position to give a man a job worth £300 a year. If the honorable senator made it £30,000 a year it would at least have the merit or demerit of a good bold swindle. I think that Senator Elliott may trust the Minister for Defence not to make an unworthy appointment for £300 a ye.Ar for political purposes. I point out’40 the honorable senator that both Houses of this Parliament have power to grant leave to their members, and I do not know of a single case where leave of absence has been refused a member to attend to urgent private business much more to attend to the business of the country which, was so recently and so gloriously performed by our citizen soldiers. The presence of citizen soldiers in this Parliament may be of the greatest assistance. I am sure that the Minister for Defence, when he was on the other side politically, received valuable assistance from the single-minded worthy military officers in this Parliament who were opposed to him. It is derogatory to the Parliament to suppose that any of its members could be actuated by the motives suggested by the amendment. No member of the Senate would succumb to the terrible temptation to become a political advocate for £350 a year. Members of this Parliament are not likely to stoop to anything so low as that.
– Will the Minister state the reason for the repeal of section 16a?
– Section 16a is repealed and re-enacted in wider terms in 21aa and 21ab of clause 11.
.- The Minister has explained the reason for the repeal of section 16a, but he has not given any reason why we should substitute 21ab.
– .Perhaps it would be as well if I read section 16a which it is proposed to repeal - 16a. Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, members of the Citizen Forces who have been employed on* active service abroad may, upon their return to duty with the Citizen Forces, be given such rank and allotted such regimental seniority as are approved by the Governor-General, on the recommendation of the Military Board.
This amendment will enable us to appoint persons who served on active service, whether with the Commonwealth Forces or with the British Forces. It will meet the case of a fairly large number of men who did not join the Australian Imperial Force at all - men who were British Reservists, and at the outbreak of war returned to Great Britain to serve with the British Forces. They ‘have since come back to Australia, and are Australian citizens in every sense of the term. Some of them gained commissions on active service, but under the law as it stands we could not give then! commissions in the Citizen Forces of this country unless they went all through the mill again.
– But will not this amendment leave it open to the Government to import officers?
– No. We could not import citizen officers, and we could not appoint permanent officers unless they went through their training again.
– But an English officer would be eligible for appointment if he came to Australia.
– Yes. if he settled in Australia, and wished to join the Citizen Forces, the Governor-General could grant him a commission if he held, a commission on active service. *»
– That does not quite fit im with the Minister’s previous denial when I stated that the amendment would leave it open to the Government to import officers.
– But we would not import officers; that is to say, we would not bring an officer out here. If an officer serving in the war with the British Army won a commission, and then came to Australia and joined the Citizen Forces, the Government should have the power to grant him a commission without requiring him to pass through the ranks again and qualify .by examination.
Senator- Pratten. - But you will also have power to appoint an officer who has never been in the Commonwealth, and bring him to Australia. . .
– No. He must be in Australia.
– Would you not have power to bring him to Australia, and appoint him afterwards?
– No. This will not give the Government power to bring anybody to Australia. It may ‘be said that, it will throw open commissions in the Citizen Forces to everybody. Well, do we not wish to have the gate open wide enough to secure the very best officers available? If a man served on active service with the King’s Army anywhere and came to Australia and became a citizen of this country,, he should be in the same position as anybody else. At present the Act confines all appointments to members of the Citizen Forces-; and there are officers in Australia to-day, men who were born in this country and won commissions on active service, but were never members of the Citizen Forces.
– Have you not placed them ? I understood from your answer to my question that General Gellibrand and oi;her officers had been granted an equivalent rank in the Citizen Forces.
– That is so.
– Then why the necessity for this?
– Because it will re-‘ move any doubt as to our power, which Senator Elliott says we do not possess. It will enable us to meet the case of Australians who gained commissions in the war, and also those persons who served with the British Forces, by giving them equivalent rank without requiring them to pass the -prescribed examination.
.- I have no very great objection to the clause now that the Committee has ruled against me on my amendment with regard to the supersession of officers. There is nothing now to prevent the Military Board appointing a man who was second lieutenant in the British Army, and about whose services little or nothing may be known, to ‘the position of lieutenant-colonel in the Commonwealth Military Forces, because he may be appointed to such commissioned rank and allotted such seniority as are recommended by the Military Board.
– Do you think it reasonable to say that the Military Board would recommend a second lieutenant to be appointed lieutenant-colonel ?
– I do not know; but I have known the Board to do some very unreasonable things, and I would be failing in my duty now if I did not point to the possibilities. In an interjection during my second-reading speech, the Minister most unfairly remarked .that my amendment would have the effect of making the officering of our present Forces a close preserve for members of the Citizen Forces. As a matter of fact, I had no such intention. My amendment was merely designed to prevent a second lieutenant, or a first lieutenant, for that matter, .of a British regiment being granted the rank of captain or major to the pre-, judice of Australian officers. As my amendment was negatived, I content myself bow- with pointing out that it is open to the Military Board to bring out an English officer and, without examination, to appoint him. to any rank in the Citizen Forces they think fit. That would be perfectly legal, and quite justifiable, if we pass a measure giving them this power.
– What do you mean when you say they might “ bring out “ an officer? Do you mean that they would pay his fare?
– I do not say that at all. I mean that there’ might be this additional inducement to a British officer to come to Australia and take up an appointment. ‘
– To get £20 a year?
– Not necessarily £20 a year;. perhaps £350 or more for one of the higher commands. The way is now . open for the Board to do this, and it would be utterly useless for any honorable senator to make objections, because the Board would have absolutely unrestricted powers.
– I listened to Senator Elliott with some interest, but it appears to me that there is another aspect to the case which he quoted. Let me state it. I had on my scientific staff in Tasmania . a young fellow who had been appointed as a Rhodes scholar. He had just completed his .work at Oxford when the war broke out, and as he could not come back to Australia .he promptly enlisted im the British Army, where he served with distinction, rose to the rank of major, and got the Military Cross. We must- have some provision .in our legislation to give such men a chance when they come back to Australia. This young man’s whole military training was outside of the Australian imperial Force, but he was nevertheless a distinguished military officer, and we should provide for him and others who may be of material advantage, from a military point of view, to this country. He left Australia, not. with the idea of losing his Australian citizenship, but to train in one of the great Universities of the world. I am in entire sympathy with the Minister.
.- Such cases could be met by granting equivalent rank to that held on. active service, and my proposal, had the previous amendment been accepted, would have been designed to this end. This provision is unique. The Military Board has no power to appoint an Australian Imperial Force officer- above the rank he held in the Australian- Imperial Force without requiring him to pass an examination, but a major in the British Army may be appointed by the Board to a lieutenantcolonelcy over the heads of equally worthy Australian officers.
– I can quite conceive “of a man coming out from Home who has had a special training such as that possessed by some officers who had gone through a course of fort engineering. The Military Board, after very serious consideration, might desire to have such a man here for the purpose of imparting instruction. Surely we must make provision for cases of that kind. We might have a man who has had a specific training in a special branch of military science, and whom we- wished to push forward for the- benefit of our’ own Forces. Surely we must make- some’ provision by which we may be able to utilize his services for the benefit of Australia ?
-. - Should not the same provision apply to an Australian officer who possesses similar scientific attainments.?
Senator - J. D. MILLEN. - Yes.
– The Bill makes no provision’ for that.
.- I think that the explanation which has been given by the Minister (Senator Millen) must be regarded as satisfactory to- the Committee. The honorable gentleman seeks to insure that no injustice shall be done to those men who, during four years of strenuous work on the battlefield,, earned their commissions,, and proved their fitness to command men. We desire to make our Citizen Forces as valuable as possible, and it would be an injustice to those Forces’ if’ the officers- of whom I speak were’ prevented from giving’ their services to- the country in time of’ peace. I am glad that the explanation has been given so- lucidly by the Minister. ‘ That is- the reason’ why I asked him what later clause must be read in con junction- with that which we are now considering.
– Clause 11.
– That is so. I am quite prepared to vote, for the repeal of section 16a of the principal Act,, with a view to the substitution of something which will be more, effective;
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 - ‘
Section seventeen of the Principal. Act is amended by omitting sub-section (I) thereof and inserting in its stead the following subsection : - , “ (1) An officer may at any time, by writing under his hand, tender the resignation of his commission, and a resignation so tendered, unless sooner withdrawn or accepted, shall take effect at the expiration of three months after the tender thereof unless a time of war exists at the date of such tender or expiration, in which case it shall take effect at the expiration of three months after the cessation of the time of war:
Provided that an officer who is. a graduate of the Military College shall not, during the first eight years of his service as an officer, be entitled to resign his commission except; on ‘ the approval of the Military Board and upon payment of the prescribed amount.”
.- This is merely an amplification of the existing law in regard to the resignation of officers. The proviso deals with the question df the Duntroon graduates. It sets out that, except under penalty, they shall be prevented from resigning prior to the expiration of the twelve years’ service which ‘ they undertook to render upon entering the College. Every student admitted to that institution is obliged to subscribe to the” arrangement to which I have referred; but under the law, it is doubtful whether the agreement is binding after a graduate leaves the College and enter’s our permanent Forces. »
– Oan a minor be bound?
– That is the question. Though every graduate and his parents enter into the agreement to which I have alluded, . in case of hardship, a graduate may resign under certain conditions. For instance, we might make it. a condition that he should refund some portion of the cost’ of his training to which the Commonwealth has been put. Or we might say to him, “Well, under these) circumstance’s, we will permit you to resign.” But he cannot resign as- a matter of right. The conditions under which he may resign,, short of rendering twelve years’ service, will be determined by the Military Board.
– I should like an explanation as to why a period of three months must elapse between the. tender of a ‘ resignation and its acceptance. It. is. rather a departure from the ordinary practice, under which an officer may resign his commission at any time, provided that nowar is in existence.
– Senator Drake-Brockman knows that every citizen officer is responsible for the equipment which he controls. If we allowed him to resign forthwith, we might not have time to geta report upon that equipment, and to ascertain that everything is all right with his command. I take it that the intention of the provision is to give time for inquiries to be made, so as to insure that everything is straight before he is permitted to resign.
– I notice here a provision which purports to bind graduates of the Military College to eight years’ service as officers. I recognise that the Commonwealth gives to the young men of this institution quite a valuable education. But I do not think that this gift by the Commonwealth warrants us in insisting upon an agreement that the services of these young men shall be retained for eight years after they leave the College. It is not an extraordinarily generous thing for a Government which really requires the services of highly-trained military men to say to our youths, “We will give you a free education at the Military College.” In almost every State of the Commonwealth, the State Government has provided bursaries which not only permit young men attending the University to become doctors or lawyers, but are sufficiently liberal to maintain them in reaonable comfort whilst they are completing their course. Why does the State do this? Because it is a distinct advantage to the State that it should have welltrained medical men. It is equally a distinct advantage to the Commonwealth that it should possess highly-trained military officers. Why, then, should we compel Duntroon graduates to complete eight years’ service as officers?
– They can pull out if they like to pay the expense to which the Commonwealth has been put in training them.
– I do not think so.
– Does the honorable senator mean to tell me that they cannot pull out if the Government chooses to allow them to do so upon payment of the expense to which the Commonwealth has been subjected.
– Of course they can pull out if the Government will permit them to do so. But when they have reached the full age of twenty-one years, why should we seek to bind them to eight years’ service?
– Because the Commonwealth has paid them, and the country has been put to a tremendous expense in educating them.
– Governments all over the world lay themselves out to fit men for all professions. Yet I never heard of a Government wishing to bind those men to give their services to the country for a period of years.
– They do not get their training gratuitously.
– What about the. young medical student who is maintained throughout his medical career by means of a bursary?
– The community afterwards gets the benefit of his services.
– And will not the Commonwealth get the benefit of the services of these officers?We do not bind a doctor down to render service to the communityfor a period of years.
– Because it is unnecessary to do so.
– There is a great difference between a bursary and what is offered at Duntroon College. In the latter case, we feed, clothe, house, and train the students, whereas in the former he ismerely given a bursary, which is a very small thing indeed.
– There are quite a number of cases in which bursaries cover all the incidental expenses to which Senator Millen has referred. In regard to our Military College, we all aim at efficiency. Will it make for efficiency if we retain in the Service for a single day after he wishes to get out of it a man who is dissatisfied ?
– We do not want to do that. If he is dissatisfied, let him recoup the Government the amount which has been expended upon him.
– In any ca3e, .he must obtain the approval of the Military Board.
– Senator Cox is under a misapprehension regarding the proviso in the Bill, which reads: -
Provided that an officer who is a graduate of the military shall not, during the first eight years of his service as an officer, be entitled to resign his position except upon the approval of the Military Board and upon payment of the prescribed amount.
Suppose that the Service is quite distasteful to a man, and that the Military Board will not permit him to resign. What can we get from an obstinate man who is retained in the Service against his will! I recollect a very distinguished parliamentarian in New South Wales, who in the early days became a member of the Artillery Force there - I refer to the late A. G. Taylor. In those days a man had to pay £25 if he wished to get out of that Service. They were the days of the nice, white, pipe-clayed belts. Taylor had no £25 to enable him to get out of the Service, and, accordingly, he appeared on parade one morning with his boots whitewashed and his belt blackened. The military records of that State contain the intimation that he was ‘ ‘ incapable of being taught,” and that is how he got out of the Service. I suppose that it costs £200 for the maintenance of every student who enters the Duntroon College.
– Probably it takes £5,000 to make an officer at that College.
– I dare say that Senator Pratten, who usually speaks with authority upon financial matters, may be somewhat : near the mark. But I was viewing the position from the stand-point of a student’s maintenance. I do not anticipate that there will be any sudden break away of graduates from that College, but I do anticipate that occasionally a man will desire to leave a Service which has grown distasteful to him. In that case we can only charge him the cost of his maintenance, because in the event of war we could still count upon getting his services.
– The honorable senator knows very well that an officer would be out of date after he had been out of the College for years.
– I might retort that the honorable senator has never been in the College, and yet he will never be out of date. It must be remembered that we have thousands of capable young officers who received their training, not in the Duntroon Military College, but on the battle-fields of France.’
– The man who won his commission there would not be capable of instructing recruits.
– I realize that it is not the same training, but I am also persuaded that, so far as men trained in actual warfare are concerned, they could easily adapt themselves to requirements, and that some of those who have never seen the inside of a Military College would prove better than certain of the Duntroon-trained men. S.o far as Duntroon graduates are concerned, I am sure they did all that was expected of them, and more. Their . war-time services demonstrated that they had been raised to the highest standard of efficiency.
– I agree with the honorable senator.
– Men who were made officers on the field compared favorably as fighting men- with Duntroon graduates.
– I do not doubt it. For the next ten years, at least, there will be thousands of young Australian fighting men available and adaptable for imparting military training. There need be no fear that during that period we shall suffer any lack of material necessary for being turned into training officers for our Forces.
– Such men have been excluded from our permanent staffs, in the interests of the Duntroon graduates. So, why not keep the Duntroon men, sinoe we cannot use the others ?
– Does that not involve the restriction of our choice of proficient men?
– The Duntroon officers were a very fine lot. The war proved that.
– And some of the Duntroon students were anxious to get out of the Service.
– They are not anxious to get out now.
– I recall recent newspaper reports having to do with the case- of oneil graduate who- was anxious to get out..
– A number were anxious to get out, but are not now; and others who were anxious’ have since asked- to1 come1 back.
– I am glad to bear it. Their services, however, should not be made compulsory- for ‘a specific* term of years ; The’ Military Service1 should1 be made to compare favorably in its’ scope and opportunities with, the chances of advancement, afforded, in civilian’ avenues. Why. should Duntroon, cadets be bound down by conditions: which take* away all prospects comparable with the opportunities, open in. private life? Our military Service to-day shuts out scope for a brilliant, career, even though a cadet might be so gifted as, in ordinary walks,, to become a successful business- man of- the type of Senator Pratten, and: - like the. honorable senator. - an. adornment to this Chamber..
– Order. ! I point out to- the honorable senator that his allotted time has expired.
– I am sorry; It is a shame’ that. I should have> to sit down owing to an idiotic decision - I do not mean yours, Mr. Chairman - whereby a matter of such importance as that- under discussion cannot be consecutively debated oy any honorable senator for more than fifteen minutes.
.: - I have been so interested in listening to- the remarks of Senator- Gardiner that I desire to hear him continue.
– Order i I. draw attention to the fact that Standing Orders’ for the conduct of debate have been established,- and that ai certain.- ruling of the- President has overthrown a decision which. I had. given on this- matter in Committee: I cannot allow the spirit of. the President’s rulings to be set. aside by what I. might term a nominal compliance with the provision that, one honorable senator must rise in his. place and speak before the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat may get up and1 address the Committee again. The Standing Orders must be observed in the spirit as- well”, as* in the- letter, and it would ill become me to permit a ruling of the President to be over-ridden’ by the< merely formal intervention’ of one- honorable senator’ in order to> allow another who has been arbitrarily interrupted^ to resume . his remarks. It is my duty to see that an honorable senator who rises at the conclusion of the fifteen minutes occupied, by another- shall address himself, intelligently and. for a reasonable period, at least, to the matter under discussion-.
– I think that after that lengthy speech, from, the Chair I shall, be complying with the: Standing Orders- if I now resume 1 my remarks’.
– Order ! Will, the honorable senator please, resume his seat, r cannot admit that the fact of Senator Pratten having risen and merely addressed one sentence to the Chair has fulfilled the spirit of the Standing Orders. Will he, therefore, please resume his remarks upon the clause under discussion ?
-. - My recollection of the Standing Orders bearing upon the present situation- ist that any honorable senator has the right to speak- for fifteen minutes any number of times, in Committee, provided that some other honorable, senator has intervened on each occasion .
– Is the honorable senator dissenting’ from the Chairman’.’ s ruling-?’
– Do I understand that Senator Pratten, has objected, to. my interpretation of the Standing. Orders, and; the President’s rulings, thereon,, in which, he set aside a- decision of my own as Chairman of Committees?
– No, sir..,
– Then the question before the Committee has- to do ‘with clause 9 - “ Resignation of commission1.” Does the honorable senator- propose to address himself to that matter?’
– I desire, to debate the clause,. but I wish to remark’ inter- aida’ that so- much -do I appreciate your many generous decisions,, as. Chairman, of. Committees, that. even, if I thought; you were. ‘in. the wrong- 1 would, hesitate before questioning any of your rulings.
With ‘ regard to the clause -itself,.’ the position-, can’ be summed up> in a. fewwords. It. appears to- be- a very fair provision that the Commonwealth, having spent a considerable sum on the five years’ training of a young officer at Duntroon, should be entitled -to the benefit of his services -over an appreciable term. I have mentioned a ‘sum approaching £5,000 as the capital cost of each officer when <turned out from Duntroon. It is fair, then, that if a cadet, with the consent of his parents, deliberately chooses, . and sets out upon a military .career by way of five years’ training at Duntroon, which involves the Commonwealth in an expenditure of several thousand pounds, the country should be entitled, in return, to the benefit of his services for a reasonable length of time. This clause should not provide an option for the= officer to get out; but it rightly permits the Commonwealth to dispense with his services or to allow him to get out if deemed proper.-
– I propose to continue the remarks which - were so idiotically interrupted by the enforcement of our ridiculous Standing Orders. In addressing myself to a serious subject it is absurd, and shameful,- that I should be interrupted as the Chairman was bound to do. Surely in this Chamber, one’s opportunities for debate should not be restricted. On the second reading of this .Bill I referred to .this matter, and I now desire to repeat that .what I desire to see in the Service is the highest efficiency. Any. man who knows anything at all about the conduct of the last war will realize that efficiency was secured only “by having highly-trained men. What was the position of the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce). He came through the war period very creditably as the Minister conducting the Defence Department, and. no matter what my opposition may have been, I have always maintained that he did hie work well under difficult circumstances’. But how much better would he have succeeded’ if he could have -organized the business side of the Military Department by having men to .assist him with a college training and commercial experience as well. If men -had had five years’ military training, . and had drifted into other occupations in the commercial world, their ser-‘ vices would have ‘been available, and would have been of .great -advantage to the Department.
The War : Peace by Negotiation : Statement by Senator Gardiner - Business of Senate.
– I move -
That ;the Senate .do now .adjourn.
I desire to take this opportunity of referring to an incident which occurred in the presence of a number of honorable senators I now see around me, when I made a statement that amongst those who had advocated peace by negotiation during the progress of the war was Senator Gardiner. That honorable senator, retorted in a way which was tantamount to calling me a liar.
– I did.
– The honorable senator has not departed from that - statement, , and I think :that under the circumstances I should be allowed to read a few brief extracts from a speech delivered by Senator Gardiner in this chamber, on the 13th June, 1918. My quotations will be brief when compared with the length of the speech delivered. I shall give quotations, 60 far. as I can, which are not affected by anything which precedes or follows them, but which in themselves are sufficiently concise and definite to support the ‘statement which I made. The first quotation reads-
We ‘have had the Labour party’s platform, in which ‘there has-.been put forward their proposal for peace by negotiation.
Further ion he said1 -
Not only is peace by negotiation within ‘the realm of practical politics, but it is pressing for consideration.
– What date was that?
– On the 13th June, 1918. Later on he said -
If, .there were an armistice to discuss peace, Britain, France, Italy, America, and the smaller nations- would say to Germany, “ If you do not accept just >and honorable terms of peace, the war must continue.”
These - expressions by Senator Gardiner were not continuous, and I -am merely selecting them .as I proceed. , Later he said- r
What objection would there be if the Peace Delegates sat around the table to-morrow, and looked for a just and honorable -ending to the war? What if there was a German, peace agent on one side of the table, and an Allied peace agent on the other side ?
Here is another -
The second possible ending is peace by negotiation. If it came to-morrow, it would come without loss of dignity or loss of position.
– But with loss of safety.
– It would come without loss of safety.
Later on I interjected -
Do you think you are helping them when you talk peace by negotiation?
Senator Gardiner replied
Is talking peace by negotiation leaving off fighting unless both sides leave off?
I think I have read sufficient to justify the statement that a proposition was submitted by the party to which Senator Gardiner belongs for peace by negotiation. During the same speech* Senator Gardiner 6aid -
To me there are three possible endings to the war. I put first, Victory for the Allied arms, j . . . for which I believe all Australia long3; secondly, peace by negotiation, which I and the party to which I belong would accept to-morrow; and the third dread possibility is peace after a German victory.
The first was extremely difficult, though highly desirable, the second could not be considered, and the third was unthinkable.
– May I look at the volume of Hansard from which the Minister for Repatriation is quoting?
– Certainly. I invite honorable senators in this Chamber, if they have any doubt concerning the impression conveyed by the speech of the honorable senator, to peruse the records and draw their own conclusions. If they do that,,. I have not the slightest doubt that they will realize that I have not twisted the honorable senator’s remarks in any way. I have taken, as far as I can, sentences which are complete in themselves, and nowhere can I find anything which would justify me in modifying the statement I made, that on that occasion he was specially urging us to direct our attention to arriving at peace by negotiation.
.- The Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) has produced a speech of mine, in which he says that I advocated peace by negotiation. I desire to say - I suppose it is about .the hardest words one could have used - that I regret that in the heat of the moment I used such an expression towards the Minister as has been referred to. I have not had an opportunity of carefully perusing the speech to which he has referred, but I believe it was made on an occasion when I said in this Senate that we were “ in this fight to a finish.”
– But the honorable senator was advocating peace by negotiation.
– I think it was when I was placing before the Senate the Labour party’s proposals in , full, and Senator Earle will probably remember the occasion when he interjected, “ If those are the proposals, there is nothing wrong with them.”
– I cannot recall the incident, but the honorable senator may be right.
– I think I am correct, but I shall quote from a speech of mine delivered on 1st May, 1918, because, after all, it is possible to take portions from a speech which do not convey the real meaning. When the matter was under discussion, three possible conclusions were mentioned, and the one which the Labour party stood for was a complete Allied victory.
– The honorable senator’s policy was peace by negotiation.
– The one ending that the Labour party looked for was complete victory for the Allies.
– Why was that not included in the party’s programme?
– When I can lay my hands on our programme, I will place it before the Senate.
– At the Perth Conference peace by negotiation was advocated.
– A statement was made by a prominent official of the Labour party in which he put forward the following: -
I then made the following statement: -
I wish to take a portion of that statement, which, if torn from the context and read by itself, might put the movement of which I am a member in a very false position. It is this: “The Labour party stands for the immediate cessation of fighting.” I am emphatically and firmly to repudiate that. So far as the peace policy of the Labour party is concerned, Mr. Arch. Stewart has no more right to publish what is Labour’s peace policy than I or any other member of the community. I say emphatically that so far as the Australian Labour party are concerned, we are in this fight to a finish. Let there be no mistake about that. I shall try to put before the Senate the peace policy of the Labour party as decided in conference in my own State. I do not want to do Mr. Stewart an injustice, but I believe his State has adopted practically the same peace proposals as the Labour party at their conference last June. The resolutions of theNew South Wales conference are somewhat lengthy, but in view of the interest in the matter at the present time, it is only fair that I should quote sufficient toput Labour’s peace policy fully before the Senate.
– Is that the State or Federal conference?
– The State conference. The Federal conference has not yet given us a peace or war policy.
I then went on to read the peace proposals, which were -
That as the Governments of Europe, founded on class rule, and adopting the methods of secret diplomacy, have failed utterly to preserve peace, or to bring the present war within measurable distance of a conclusion, and whereas the existing capitalistic system of production forprofit compels every nation constantly to seek new markets to exploits -
It is unnecessary for me to read them in full.
SenatorRowell. - Was that before the Perth conference?
– I believe it was.
– I think the honorable senator is wrong.
– Then it was immediately after the conference. I was quoting Labour’s proposals, and when I had finished SenatorRowell interjected -
They are all right, but how are you going to carry them out?
Senator Earle then interjected
If you could get Germany to adopt them it would be all right.
I made a hasty and offensive statement to Senator E. D. Millen, for which I apologize.
– I accept that.
– I did so because I resented, first of all, the statement by Senator Duncan that I advocated peace by negotiation. I venture to say that when the speech which I delivered in the Senate at that particular juncture, in which I said that the Labour party was in the fight to a finish, is read it will be admitted that it does not indicate the stand of a man who was out to advocate peace by negotiation. In the quotations made by Senator E. D. Millen I discussed the question of peace by negotiation, considering how the war would end, and what would happen when it came to an end. After all, we know now that when the Armistice was signed negotiations were commenced, and they are still going on. The few words I have quoted from my speech will show that my attitude to the war was that we were in the fight to a finish.
– Then why did the honorable senator try to stop recruits? How were we going to fight without recruits?
– To answer that interjection I should be led into the discussion of matters about which I do not wish to talk now. I will, however, say that in the two years during which the Labour party conducted the war they sent from Australia 266,000 men, and in the two years during which the party to which Senator Cox belongs conducted the war they did not sendmore than 60,000.
– They never sent the men.
– No ; the men went themselves. I have used the word “sent” in the sense that we provided ships for them in which to go to the Front, in the same way as honorable senators are sending the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) across the water at the present time. Senator E. D. Millen’s quotations show what my attitude was. I put as the first possibility victory for the Allies; the second possibility for the ending of the war I put as peace by negotiation, and it will be remembered that President Wil- son, in January of that year, had put his proposals fornegotiation before ‘the people. I then mentioned the third possible ending of the war, and I do not think that a man was wrong when discussing the possibilitiesof the war in including, as a third possibility, a German victory. I object very strongly to being told that I was an advocate of peace by negotiation..
– I do- not think the honorable senator was personally charged with: that, but the party to which he belonged.
– Senator Duncan’1 interjected about advocating peace by negotiation.
– I assured the honorable senator that I did not apply my inter jection ta him.
– That is so, but Senator E. D. Millen immediately did so apply it. Then I made the offensive remark for which I have apologized. T realize that no man has a right to be offensive in this chamber or anywhere else. If he is in the wrong, possibly the easiest way out of the difficulty is to admit it. I’ think at the same time that, holding, as I do, a public position as a member of the Senate, I have a right, when the attitude I took up during the whole of the war, in. spite of the risks, if there are risks in opposing popular feeling in certain quarters, is misrepresented by interjection or otherwise, to resent being placed in the position of one who desired to end the war by a peace, no matter what the consequences. Honorable senators who were here discussing military matters day after day know what my attitude was. and they know that I never once shifted from the view that everything we could do intelligently to win the war should be done, but that, failing .to win the war, I realized the possible consequences of failure quite as clearly as “ did the most enthusiastic loyalists, as they term themselves. Regarding my use of an offensive expression to Senator Millen, I wish again to say that any attempt to put me in the position of advocating peace by negotiation, irrespective of the consequences, does not fairly represent my attitude during the whole of the war.
,.: - Let me say that I appreciate Senator Gardiner’s explanation. I assumed that his remark was made hastily, or I should have taken exception! to it at the. time.- I still, however, wish to stress the . point that there- is sufficient in the. quotation, which I read- to justify me in making the interjection I did.
Senator Gardiner has not attempted to deal with the portions of his speech which I quoted.
– I could not find them.
– I marked them for the honorable senator in. pencil1. Senator Gardiner distinctly ‘‘referred - to the Labour party’s proposals, and they were very clear and definite. The honorable senator would not venture to put himself in opposition to them. This statement was published in the press in the early part of the month, of June, 1918 -
We are of opinion that a complete military victory by the Allies over the Central Powers can only be -accomplished by the further sacrifice of millions of human lives, the infliction of incalculable misery and suffering upon the survivors, and the creation of an intolerable burden of debt to the impoverishment of the workers who must bear such burdens, and the practical destruction of civilization among the white races of the world. We therefore urge that immediate negotiations be initiated for an international Conference for the purpose of arranging equitable terms of peace, on which Conference the working class organizations shall have adequate representation, and the inclusion of women delegates, and. we further urge that the British self-governing dominions and Ireland shall be granted separate representation thereon.
– That is what I referred to when I made my interjection.
– I wish only to say, in conclusion,, that I do not think that even Senator Gardiner will seriously contend that I misrepresented him when I referred to the picture he drew for the consideration of members of this Chamber: He made for us a sketch of the peace delegates around the peace table - a’ sketch of the German peace delegates- on one side and the Allied peace delegates on the other side - and asked what harm could come from that. Honorable senators, I think, will see that I was- justified in the interjection I made.
– Before the honorable senator resumes his seat, will he say what is to be the business for next week?
– The usual occupation of the Senate is work, and I see no prospect of any alteration of that programme, in view of the somewhat congested state of our business-paper. There are three Bills’ to be considered. There is the Def ence Bill, which I had hoped would have made better progress than has been found possible to-day; the Air Defence
Bill, and the Public Service Bill. In addition, there is a Ministerial statement to bediscussed, if honorable senators desire to discuss it. In the circumstances, I do not see a prospect of any alteration of our programme for this or next week.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 April 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210428_senate_8_95/>.