9th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 8 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is it a fact that the visit of the Treasurer, Dr. Earle Page, to Adelaide during the last fewdays, was for the purpose of endeavouring to settle a dispute between the “job controllers” of South Australia and Senator Wilson?
– Never interfere in a domestic quarrel.
– If it is a fact, as stated in the press, that the closest secrecy was observed in the enrolment and swearingin of Commonwealth peace officers in Sydney, will the Leader of the Government in the Senate be good enough to state the reason for such secrecy?
- Senator Findley should not be led away by reports in the press, probably published in the hope of creating a sensation. In giving effect to the measure which was passed by Parliament, the Government will act with due decorum and with due regard to the proprieties.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 138, 141.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 139, 140.
Petroleum - Report on Petroleum prospects in parts of Western Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, by Dr. A. Wade, D.Sc. (Lond.), M.I.P.T., M.I.M.M., A.R.C.Sc, F.G.S., F.G.S. (America).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
When does the Minister propose to make available to members of the Senate the Tariff Board reports on which the recent alterations of the tariff tabled in another place are based?
– A number of the reports will be placed on the table of the Senate to-morrow. As soon as possible the whole will be made available.
In committee (Consideration resumed from 4th September, vide page 2246) :
– Formerly the reports of the Tariff Board were printed and circulated amongst honorable senators, but recently, although the meetings of the board have been held in public, the reports have not been furnished to us.
– I have just said, in reply to a question, that a number of the reports of the Tariff Board will be laid on the table to-morrow.
– I should like to know whether it is intended to publish the whole of the reports, or only a limited number of them.
– The whole of them will be tabled. I also said that the balance of the reports would be made available as soon as possible.
– Provision is made in the schedule for an expenditure of £83,000 on the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway, and £250,000 on railway connexion to Alice Springs. I should like to know when the line to Alice Springs will be completed, and whether the proposed alternative route from Kingoonya on the east-west railway will interfere with the construction of the north-south railway.
– Although the proposed vote under the heading of Trade and Customs hasbeen disposed of, perhaps the Minister (Senator Crawford) will be good enough to supply the particulars regarding wire netting which I asked for on Friday, and which he promised to furnish?
– In the circumstances, I think the information may be asked for and supplied, but not debated.
Senator CRAWFORD (Queensland -
Findley asked for particulars of the allocation between the various States and the Northern Territory of the amount of £250,000 made available for advances to settlers for the purchase of wire netting, together with the amounts actually advanced. The details are as follow: -
– Did not South Australia receive any?
– No. Particulars in regard to the sum of £83,000 required in connexion with the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta line are as follow : -
Those figures relate to the existing line. A sum of £250,000 is provided for an extension of the line from Oodnadatta, but a bill must be passed by Parliament before that sum can be spent.
.. - An amount is provided for the erection of a post office at Denmark, Western Australia. I should like to know whether provision has been made for the erection of postmaster’s quarters there ?’
– Working drawings and specifications are being prepared for the invitation of tenders, and will include provision for a residence. In regard to the point raised on Friday last by Senator Findley in relation to loan moneys advanced to assisted immigrants, I now desire to inform the honorable senator that the total amount advanced by the Commonwealth and British Governments jointly to assisted migrants in respect of passage money to date is £544,089, of which£188,979 has been repaid, leaving a balance of £355,110 outstanding, of which half is, of course, Commonwealth money and the remaining half British Government money. Assisted migrants before leaving England are required to give a written undertaking that they will repay the advances made to them at the rate of so much per month, but repayment at the specified rate is not always insisted upon. Substantial reductions in the rate of repayment are frequently agreed to after the merits of each application for relief are inquired into. No case can. be recalled where a migrant has given a blank refusal to honour his: undertaking to repay theloan advanced to him, but, as may be expected where such a large number of people are being, dealt with, there have been cases of evasion.; Also, in cases where migrants arrive in Australia and move about, either within a State or from State to State, without notifying the Migration Offices concerned of their movements, the instalments f all into arrear. These would, of course, be classed as cases of evasion. Approximately, 60 per cent. of the instalments are, however, paid on the due date. In all cases where migrants are able to show that they are unable to meet their obligations, sympathetic consideration in the matter of deferring payment of the instalments due is given.
First schedule agreed to.
Second schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
– I move-
That so much of the standing, and sessional orders be suspended as would preventthe bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
There is only the. formal stage of the. bill left, and it is desirable, from the
Treasury point of view, that it should be assented to as soon as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
in committee (Consideration resumed from 3rd September, vide page 2166) :
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
After Part VIA. of the principal act the following part is inserted: -
PARTV1b.- Rural Credits Department. “ 60abi. Advances may be made by the Rural Credits Department, upon the security of primary produce placed under the legal control of the Bank, to -
– Sub-clause 60abd provides that 25 per cent. of the net annual profits of the Note Issue Department shall be paid into the Rural Credits Department. I should like to know whether this is to be regarded as a loan, and, if so, what will be the rate of interest.
– It will not be a loan, but a payment into the Rural Credits Department.
– I presume the Treasurer has given the matter careful consideration, but in my opinion the principle is unsound, and I enter my protest against it. The money should be raised by some other means than a grant from the Note Issue Department. I also direct attention to sub-clause 60abe, under which the bank may issue debentures. I should like the Minister to indicate the procedure contemplated to synchronize the date of retirement of the debentures with the returns from the produce involved.
.- There should be no difficulty, such as is anticipated by the honorable senator, in regard to the date of retirement of debentures. The board which controls the note issue will also administer the Rural Credits Department, and will be able so to arrange the purchase and retirement of debentures as to avoid payment of interest on debentures after the produce has been sold and payment received.
.- I move-
That the words “ or other banks,” paragraph a of proposed new section 60abi be left out.
The purpose of my amendment is to eliminate, as far as possible, the intervention of the middleman. If the clause is passed as it stands there will be nothing to prevent middlemen operating at the expense of the producer. Theunderlying principle of the measure is to assist the man on the land. “ It is a very laudable object, and has my cordial endorsement. It is a principle for which honorable senators on this side have always stood. The bill as drafted will enable the middleman to intervene, and if it becomes law in its present form it will prove a curse instead of a blessing to the producer. I can see no reason why the Rural Credits Department should lend money to another bank. Senator Pearce the other day twitted certain honorable senators with a lack of knowledge of finance. The veriest tyro in finance knows perfectly well that private banks are not philanthropic institutions.
– Nor is the Commonwealth Bank. The honorable senator would have that fact brought home to him if he sought an overdraft from it without ample security.
– The private banks charge the highest interest rate possible. In times of stress they have foreclosed on mortgagors, and made the lot of the producer very difficult. The Commonwealth Bank should not encourage such practices. I want the primary producer to be able to go direct to the Rural Credits Department.
– The Government cannot accept the amendment, and I ask the committee to reject it. There will be no compulsion on producers’ organizations to go to private banks; under the bill they will have the undoubted right to go direct to the Rural Credits Department. Surely it must be conceded that they are the best judges of what is in their interests? If they prefer to go to a private bank, why should we decline to allow them? The clause merely provides that producers’ organizations may obtain the necessary credits either direct from the Rural Credits Department or from a private bank.
– I regard this provision as the best feature of the bill. If the wheat crop and the wool clip in any one year were of a bounteous nature, with the private banks given facilities to assist in financing them, the operation would be comparatively simple. But if, on the other hand, the Commonwealth Bank alone had to be relied upon, difficulties might be encountered, since these operations would follow closely upon each other. I hope that the amendment will not be agreed to. I should like the Minister to inform me whether a large grower of wheat or wool, who is also a shipper, will be able to approach the Rural Credits Department. There does not appear to be any provision to meet such a contingency. I can imagine a man having perhaps, 20,000 or 30,000 bushels of wheat or a large wool clip in a single bottom. Will such a man be able to obtain an advance under this scheme ?
. -We should try to save the producer from himself. The Minister (SenatorPearce) said that the primary producer should be the best judge of the way in which his business ought to be transacted. That is all very well; but if there is one institution only to which the primary producer can go, he will necessarily have to confine his dealings to it. The private banks may make it more difficult to secure credits. The operation will certainly be more expensive, and for that reason I prefer that there should be only one bank, and that the Commonwealth Bank, with which the. primary producer can deal.
– The clause should remain as printed. The private banks serve a very useful purpose in our community. How would the Commonwealth have fared in the flotation of its war loans but for the assistance that was given by the private banks? It will cost no more to obtain money from a private bank than directly fromthe Rural Credits Department.If every one is driven to do business with the Commonwealth Bank, competition will be eliminated. Why should any one be debarred from doing business with a bank with which he has had business relations for many years? I support the bill as it stands. Its usefulness would be destroyed if the clause were amended as proposed.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Needham’s amendment) - put.The committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I desire that the primary producer shall have direct access to the Rural Credits Department, and with that object in view, I move the following further amendment: -
That after the word “ banks,” paragrapha of proposed new section 60ab1, the following words be added : - “ or a primary producer.”
Under the clause as it stands the producer would be able to apply to the Commonwealth Bank or to a private bank, but it would be useless for him to make an individual application to the Rural Credits Department.
– Could he not receive the benefit through his co-operative association?
– Whether he could or could not, the position would not be made any worse by giving him direct access to the department, for it would save him from the exploitation of the middleman.
– I am rather surprised at Senator Needham moving this amendment. The whole object of the bill, and of the associated legislation, is to encourage orderly marketing through collective agencies. Judging by the protestations of theparty opposite of its belief in collectivism, one would haveexpected it to support this measure strongly, because it seeks to encourage collective effort. If the producers are to dispose of their crops to the best advantage in the overseas markets orderly and collective marketing is required-. To that end recent legislation has been shaped, and the present bill represents a further step in the direction of encouraging co-operative societies and cooperative marketing. If an individual refuses to join in the co-operative efforts of his fellow-producers, the bill does not deprive him of an opportunity of obtaining finance. He can still approach either the Commonwealth Bank or any of the other banks as an individual. But ha cannot have the latter privilege and at the same time receive the benefit of this special legislation, which is specially directed at assisting cooperative effort. The Government believes that the measure will be to the distinct advantage of the producer. If he wishes to escape from the middleman, who is said to be exploiting him, it is obvious that he cannot do so by operating as an individual. Even if the producer were able to obtain credit on his own behalf, he would be unable to market his produce except through the middleman. Imagine an individual apple-grower proceeding to place his fruit on the London market without resort to the middleman. He could not do it unless he werevery wealthy, since he would need to have a representative on the other side of the world to look after his produce. Producers of butter and other commodities are similarly dependent on the middleman, and if honorable senators opposite wish to assist the producers to escape him, their best plan is to support this bill, which encourages co-operative marketing. I hope that the amendment will be rejected.
– I presume that the assistance will not apply solely to the marketing of produce that is exported ?
SenatorPearce. - It relates to produce that is to be exported.
– Is it not intended to help men on the land prior to their produce reaching the stage when it is ready for export? Surely assistance should be rendered in the earlier stages, otherwise a man might have no produce to export. The man who reaches the export stage referred to by Senator Pearce may be independent of any bank, and it should be our object to assist him to reach that position.
– He needs assistance at the export stage, because he has to wait so long for realization of his exported produce.
– If an individual is at liberty at any time to apply to the Commonwealth Bank or a private bank for an advance, why should he not also be able to obtain an advance from the Rural Credits Department of the Commonwealth Bank, to assist him to reach the stage at which he can export? I think there is every justification for my amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 10
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
– The Governor-General is in Sydney, and this bill must be passed before the train leaves for Sydney to-morrow afternoon, so that it may be forwarded for His. Excellency’s assent, which will give the Government the necessary warrantto pay the amounts authorized by the measure. Had the bill reached us on Friday, I should have moved the first reading on that day. As it is, I have now to move the suspension of the Standing Orders, so that honorable senators will have to-day, and, if necessary, until 4 p.m. to-morrow, for a full discussion. I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– The Minister should have given us some information. I have not the least idea of what is contained in this bill.
– On the first reading of a Supply Bill details cannot be furnished.
– Surely the Minister could give those details. I have not even seen the bill.
– It was circulated with other papers this morning.
– It was my intention to deliver a speech on the financial position. This I am prevented from doing, because I have not the details of the Government’s proposals before me.
.- I should like to know what action the Government propose to take against persons., and certain sections of the press, who are condemning the men whose cases are now being considered by the Deportation Board. If these men were being tried in an ordinary court, those persons who are publicly condemning them would be guilty of contempt of court. I should like to know if the Government intends to take steps to prevent a continuance of this practice of condemning men whose case is still sub judice. The Government was responsible for the amendment of the Immigration Act which gave power to deport men found guilty of creating industrial strife, and isalso responsible for the appointment of a deportation board, and special police officers to act in accordance with the instructions of the Government. Personally, I think it is a dastardly act on the part of the members and supporters of the Government and the press of this country to convict men before evidence has been given on their behalf, and the board has come to a decision.
– The Government really convicted them before it introduced legislation providing for the appointment of a board and peace officers.
– It is a travesty on British justice. During a tour through the country, the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) said yesterday that as the Labour movement and trade union organizations had failed to remove certain men from their official positions, the Government had appointed a board to protect trade unionism by putting these people out of the country. That is a damnable admission for the Prime Minister to make. I do not think the farce should be permitted to continue further without some protest being made in Parliament.
A good deal of publicity has been given lately to the attitude of the Labour party on the question of defence, and our opponents have charged us with not having a defence policy. My attention has been drawn to the fact that £30,000,000 has been spent on defence in Australia since the Peace Treaty was signed. Is it not a fact that despite that enormous expenditure all the guns in our forts are obsolete, and that we would be at the mercy of any third-class cruiser that chose to attack us.
– That is not a fact.
– The information I have is that the whole of our defence system is obsolete, notwithstanding that £30,000,000 has been spent on defence since the signing of the Treaty of Peace. The Government has nothing to show for the expenditure of this large sum. I take the strongest possible exception to the statement that the Labour party has no adequate defence system for Australia. We have a clear and definite policy. We believe that this country is worth defending, and are prepared to put a practical system of defence into operation.
– What is it?
– Has the Government a factory in Australia in which munitions other than machine-guns can be manufactured?
– The honorable senator should first answer my question.
– I am asking the Minister if the Government has a factory in Australia in which other than machine-guns can be manufactured. The Minister knows That the answer is in the negative. It is the Labour party’s policy to establish such a factory.
– The honorable senator and his party are too late in that respect, as a factory such as the honorable senator mentions is already in course of construction.
– We are now informed by the Minister that, although £30,000,000 has been spent on defence, the Government is now only commencing to construct a big-gun factory.
– A portion of the £30,000,000 has been spent on that factory.
– I understood from what I read in the press recently, that the Government had a complete defence system, which it could put into operation if the occasion arose. The preparations which the Government have made for the defence of Australia, however, are practically nil. Even if the Labour party had been in power during the last ten years, and had been opposed to any system of defence, the result could not have been worse than it is to-day. As so much political capital has been made out of this question, I should like the Minister to explain to the Senate and to the country exactly what the Government’s defence policy is, and what has been done to give effect to it. Although we have been informed that a factory is in course of erection, we have not been assured that it will eventually be completed, or guns suitable for the defence of Australia manufactured in it. It is an indictment against the Government that, although it has spent on defence an enormous sum of money, such a factory is not already in operation. As the Minister seems to be under the impression that the Labour party has not a defence policy, I wish to place on record the policy which was adopted at the last interstate Labour conference, and which every Labour candidate must undertake to support if elected to Parliament. It reads -
There is also a proposal in regard to the raising of forces for service outside theCommonwealth, and to so amend theConstitution that men cannot be conscripted for overseas service.
– Is there no mention of the election of officers?
– It is not here.
– The Labour conference affirmed the principle.
– Neither was it affirmed. The honorable senator knows I am referring to our defence policy as finally adopted at the last interstate Labour conference.
– Is there not something about trainees retaining their rifles ?
– So that there may be no misunderstanding, I shall read it all. I wish it to be placed on record.
– So do we.
– It continues -
Amendment of Defence Act to secure -
– The honorable senator knows quite well that it would be impossible to consult the people in such circumstances.
– The people could be consulted just as they were on the conscription issue.
– The enemy then was 16,000 miles away.
-We do not say that the people should be consulted in an emergency such as the threatened invasion of Australia.
– What would happen if the enemy was in New Guinea?
– Or if Britain had lost command of the sea?
– If Australia had the necessary defence equipment, the country could be successfully defended.
– The honorable senator is very optimistic.
– For this view I have the endorsement of recognized military experts, who declare that the most powerful nation in the world would find it extremely difficult to transport a big invading force to Australia. No member of the Labour party is justified, in Parliament or out of Parliament, in repudiating the first eight proposals of the party for the defence of Australia. My leader in this chamber and every honorable senator on this side of the Senate, prior to selection signed the party platform, and gave an undertaking that, if elected, and if the Labour party came into power, he would loyally abide by the platform of the party. I mention this because certain newspapers in Australia and a number of our political opponents are trying to create an impression throughout the Commonwealth that the Labour party is not prepared to defend Australia. I give this allegation an unqualified denial. If returned to power Labour will give effect to its defence policy. Had Labour been in power since the declaration of peace, it would have had more to show for the £30,000,000 that has been expended on defence by the National Government. All the Minister (Senator Pearce) can say is that the Government has started to build a factory for the manufacture of big guns. I have been assured that obsolete guns are mounted in most of our forts, so our existing system of defence is little better than a sham.
– I am sure that all honorable senators listened with a great deal of interest to Senator Hannan’s statement of the defence policy of the latter-day Labour party. We have been endeavouring for some time to extract from honorable senators opposite information on this point. Senator Hannan has at last left the beaten track, and has given us some idea of the policy of his party.
– The honorable senator knows very well that the defence policy of the Labour party has been published in practically every paper throughout Australia.
– What we do know is that the defence policy of the Labour party, which rendered such faithful service to Australiaduring the war, has since then radically changed. As a defence measure it bears no more resemblance to the defence policy of the old Labour party than the brightest noonday sun bears to the darkest night. Senator Hannan has frankly admitted that the party has eliminated the compulsory provisions of the Defence Act from its platform. This, notwithstanding the pious assertions of the party that it stands for the defence of Australia ! The policy really invites the people to please themselves whether or not they take any part in the defence of Australia. Even the aboriginal inhabitants of this country, or of the remote South Sea Islands, adopted some form of compulsion to ensure the defence of their possessions. It has remained for the latter-day Labour party to tell the people that the freedom they enjoy - a freedom which is not equalled in any other country - is not worth defending. Although I am not yet an old man, I remember when the liberty which I enjoy to-day was the dream of my youth. I prize it very highly indeed, and I realize how much I owe to those who, by their self-sacrifice and devotion to the cause of individual freedom, made it possible for this generation.
– The honorable senator would not have thought so if he had been in Ireland in recent years.
– This, Mr. President, is how the idle rabble meet the situation which confronts them, without giving chapter or verse for the faith which is in them, if they have any faith at all. They tell us that liberty is not worth defending. It is about time that the thinking people of this country had the real truth brought home to them. Why does the Labour party take this stand? Is it not because its members are afraid of the votes of a certain section of the people at the ballot-box? Members of the old Labour party -were courageous and patriotic enough to tell the people that the glorious liberty which they enjoyed was worth fighting for.
– Of what use is it to organize 500,000 men for defence purposes if the Government cannot supply the necessary equipment?
– Have we not evidence on every hand that anything of value in a material or moral sense is worth defending? Even the beer bottle by the way-side, if it be full, has value. Empty, it is valueless. No one takes pleasure in its possession. Does Senator Hannan suggest that when he was in the ranks of the workers he was in the habit of scattering his wages around on the verandah of his dwelling house? Of course he did not. He took very good care to protect the return which he received for his labour. So, then, should we be prepared to defend our liberty, because, in my judgment, it is the last expression in human freedom, and it is enjoyed in Australia in a measure unknown to the people of any other country. It is obvious that members of the latterday Labour party seek to evade their responsibilities as public men and leaders of political thought, because they fear the results of the ballot-box. We on this side are not afraid. That is one reason why I am here. This freedom, to secure which some members of the Labour party never lifted a finger, is not the exclusive privilege of citizens of the British Empire, much as that organization has done for it. lt has been fought for in other countries as well. The first shots fired at Lexington were as much in the cause of our freedon as any other outstanding episode in modern history. The late Lord Northcote did well to remind us that the experience gained by the North American Britishers - by the revolting colonies - was not lost on Britain. But it is deplorable that a party aspiring to power should say that this country - and by this we mean the liberties of the people - is not worth defending. We on this side repudiate that sentiment. We say that we are prepared to defend Australia and all that it means to us. That is the difference between the two opposing parties. Although Senator Hannan gave chapter and verse for his statement of Labour’s new landed defence policy, he slurred over a few of its obviously embarrassing features. The party, wc are told, has deliberately cut out the compulsory provisions of the Defence Act, and we understand that it has some fantastic notions about the election of military officers. There is the further proposal that Citizen Force trainees should retain possession of their rifles when they have finished their period of training. The reason for that has not been explained. Whilst Senator Hannan was speaking I asked, by way of interjection, whether the rifles were to be used to shoot polar bears in the Northern Territory. There is a rumour afloat that the sheep in the Western District of Queensland have developed venomous tendencies, and show an inclination to bite people, rendering it necessary to provide the citizens with rifles to enable them to protect themselves. There is also the rumour that in a dry corner of New South Wales, where fdr years the crops have been very poor, the rabbits have become vicious, and the proletariat should be given rifles to shoot them down. Honorable senators opposite should rise in their places and tell the world why the party to which they belong has in its platform this important plank that the trainees shall retain possession of their rifles. Is it so that they may be armed in the event of an outbreak of civil war? Perish the thought! Honorable senators opposite are actuated by a spirit of comradeship, and would reject as base and unwarranted the insinuation that there is -any possibility of their followers levelling rifles at their fellowAustralians.
They claim to believe in the brotherhood of man. Such protestations by them amount merely to lip service. Men have been sent from the Trades Hall in Sydney to learn the conditions that exist in Russia. Who is providing the funds for such an expedition, and what is the real reason for it? Australia must be allowed to run its household in its own way. We should rid ourselves of the idea that this country does not need defending. Until the other fellow shows an inclination to hold out the olive branch, we should not make it possible for the liberties that we now possess to be taken from us. We on this side are keenly anxious to hear honorable senators opposite expound the defence policy of the Labour party. What do they propose to do? What do they expect the other fellow will do? I presume that they have a defence policy of some kind, even though they argue that every man should be at liberty to defend his country in the way that best suits him. My reading of history has taught me that sooner or later every country has had to defend itself, no matter what policy or social order it possessed. Unless Australia is to be the single exception to -that rule, we shall need to be up and -doing. We must cast from us this contemptible substitute for a defence policy that is offered to us, and that even its greatest champions will not explain. When we receive the ultimatum that our White Australia policy, or something else, is obnoxious to another country, and the warships of that country appear on the horizon, I suppose honorable senators opposite and their friends will raise the red flag, and say, “ This will save us.” When the enemy sees the red flag, it will surely throw its guns overboard! Perhaps our friends will hoist a report of the proceedings of the Third Internationale, or those who are more piously inclined may raise the Sermon on the Mount. In such a case the gun* of the enemy would surely be silenced ! No army would bear down upon our shores, no one would attack us, in those circumstances! Let us not be so foolish. If other countries were as peacefully inclined as Australia, and showed a friendly feeling towards each other, instead of glaring at each other in a warlike attitude as Russia has lately been doing Avith other countries, I could understand the attitude that is taken up by honorable senators opposite. But we must not sacrifice our liberty by an adherence to a policy that is not shared by other nations less advanced than we are.
My purpose in rising, however, was to refer to a far more important matter than the duty of honorable senators opposite, who have been elected to high and responsible positions to speak their minds, and suggest measures that will best secure the safety of Australia. I desire to refer to what is happening in the industrial field. In the. sphere of legislation we can lend a helping hand in advancing the interests of the nation as a whole. I ask that the Commonwealth Government shall come to the assistance of the gold-mining industry. That industry is now, and has been for some time, in a bad way. In 1914, 2,050,000 ounces of gold were produced. By 1923 the production had shrunk to 700,000 ounces. The decline in the number of men employed directly in gold mining in Australia was almost as great, the figures being 29,000 in 1914, and 11,000 in 1923. The men who lost their employment in the industry during that period had to seek a livelihood in other directions. On a previous occasion I had the honour to put before this Chamber the case of the gold-mining industry. I then gave facts and figures which led the Senate to come to a very definite and praiseworthy conclusion. It agreed that the gold-mining industry was hard pressed, and that it was the duty of the Commonwealth Government to go to its rescue. The industry is in a most parlous condition, and is still going down hill. Those who are acquainted with the history of its progress believe that it can be rescued; that if the Government will lend a helping hand the decline can be arrested, and a good measure of prosperity secured. I remind honorable senators of what the Commonwealth Government did for other industries when it considered that a little governmental assistance would prove beneficial. Hardly an industry, except a few in the rural . section, has not had some form of assistance from the public treasury. I do not argue that that assistance was not warranted. Were I to do so, I should merely stultify my. self, because, on many occasions in this chamber and outside I have urged a recognition of the position in which many industries were placed, and their right to receive help from the Government. The gold-mining industry has for years stood patiently by and lent a helping hand to other industries, and the time has come when its necessities should be considered. I have here figures showing how it suffered during the war period. I do not claim that it should be immune from the liability to assist other industries, but I do stipulate that it has too lone borne that burden without adequate recompense. It has been penalized in the interests of not only Australia, but also that wider family of nations, the British Empire. During the war period it became necessary for the Government of the day to prohibit the export of gold, for the ample reason that it was indispensable in the prosecution of the war. It was required for the purchase of those goods and services which, could not be obtained in Australia, and, gold being the only negotiable element outside this country, it was neces-sary to conserve it. But who had to sacrifice themselves to that end? None other than those who- were supplying the gold. Therefore, when the embargo was placed on the export of gold, when the exchanges of the world were “pegged,” and when a free market had no further influence on them, the gold suppliers were compelled to accept a lower figure than the price at which they could have sold their output in the markets of the world. The statement has been made that the Government of the day, of which the present Government is a kind of lineal descendant, of which Senator Gardiner was a member, and which I supported, gained something from the introduction of the embargo. I have never subscribed to that conclusion, except to the extent to which an explanation was given, namely, that the gain was merely a few thousand pounds.
– It was £11,000.
– -From a perusal of the annual financial statements I have not discovered that there was any verygreat advantage gained over the transaction. As 1 have already indicated? while the exchanges were “ pegged,” and? an artificial condition set up regarding the value of gold, the producers of that metal, unlike the sellers of any other commodity, did not have the free market, limited though it was under war conditions, which other producers enjoyed.. They were obliged to sell at prewarrates, losing the difference between them; and the prices they could have obtained! outside Australia. I am informed. on the authority of the Australian Gold Producers’ Association, that during the years 1915-18 the industry lost a total sum of £3,000,000, which represents the difference between the price at which the Government of the day compelled the producers to sell, and that which buyers outside Australia were prepared to give. Thus it is clear that the gold-mining industry has some claim on. the community, and particularly on the Government of the day, for assistanceHaving come to the help of the Government, the people of Australia, and the* Empire,, at a critical period - having been placed in an exceptionally disadvantageous position by the action of the* Government in imposing an embargo ora the export of gold, and having suffered! in the interests of the community - there is no reason why this industry should ba penalized permanently.
It was said that the transport of gold to China, which was the principal buyer at the time, would be a, risky undertaking. During that period], however, Japanese boats were trading between Austrafia and Eastern countries, and there were ample opportunities for the export of gold if the Government had allowed that to be done. But the Government did not allow it, for the all-sufficient reason that the gold was required in this country for our own purposes. Australian notes are useless beyond our own borders. Their face value dies at our boundary lines, unless there is something to support them in the shape of either gold or goods. Therefore, the gold producers were placed in the exceptional position of having to suffer serious losses owing to the necessities of Australia during the war period. China was free to buy gold during the years 1915, 1916, and 1917, and was one of the chief purchasers during that period. China did not enter the war until 1917, and while it remained a neutral nation it would have purchased our gold, had the producers been free to export it, at a price very much more profitable than that received by them.Had our gold producers been in the same position as the producers of wheat, wool, fruit, and dairy produce, enjoying the enhanced values arising out of war conditions, they would have benefited to the extent, as I have already said, of £3,000,000. There are many reasons in addition to those T have cited for giving some belated assistance to this much neglected and patient industry. The arguments, it is true, have been worn threadbare, but some of them will bear repetition.
Ample justification for giving some assistance is contained in a statement by the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) appearing in to-day’s issue of the Melbourne Age. Under the heading “ Protection for All “ the Treasurer is reported to have stated in Adelaide that “While the rest of the community was protected the primary producers must receive protection.” I know of no better phrase’ to describe the gold-mining industry than that of primary production. Those engaged in it go to the unknown spots of Australia, and under all kinds of difficulties, adversities and besetting dangers, bring to light this precious metal to the great benefit of some who engage in this hazardous occupation, but to the greater benefit of the community at large. We remember what the discovery of gold did for Western Australia, and incidentally, for the whole Commonwealth. In the early nineties Western Australia was a neglected, and by some people, a despised part of Australia; but when gold was found there a complete change was wrought. The western State became a magnet that attracted a large population from all other parts of Australia, to the great and lasting benefit of those who took part in the rush. New homes were found for over 100,000 workless people. Many men arrived in Western Australia “ stony broke,” as the result of experiences in the other States, and recovered their vanished good fortune. Subsequently, when the gold-mining industry underwent a period of adversity the prospectors, always a superior type, and mostly from the eastern States, turned their attention to other forms of primary production. The result is that to-day that State is within measurable distance of an annual output of wheat approaching 30,000,000 bushels, although when gold was discovered’ there it was importing wheat and flour. I could recount instances in your own State, Mr. President, of the discovery of gold having led to the agricultural settlement of large tracts of country. The huge pastoral areas in the Kimberley district, and other northern parts of Western Australia. owe their settlement to the discovery of this precious metal, and Australia has reaped great benefit thereby.
I shall outline briefly a few of the other reasons to be advanced in favour of the claim I am making. The first is that it is a white man’s industry; it promotes and encourages the White Australia policy, and we are entitled, therefore, to call upon the national policy of protection to be put into operation in its favour. If we are to protect other industries by tariff advantages to the exclusion of the gold-mining industry, I say plainly, that we shall not be doing a fair thing to this all-important industry which is the parent of many others. I have already referred to its effect on Western Australia, and I remind honorable senators of its influence in a similar direction in the eastern States, where armies of young men on relinquishing gold mining turned their attention to other industries and made them profitable. No one can say that gold mining in the Commonwealth has come to the end of its tether. Far from it. A- long as there are districts that are not tho-i roughly prospected, and, indeed, not well known, and as long as the hardy pioneer is willing to go to them, gold will be won. Bm under present conditions sufficient inducement is not held out to these men. They will calculate the chances of success many times before taking the risk of discovering further fields. Therefore, the industry needs adequate protection and encouragement, especially from the Government of the day. Remembering the experience through which the industry has passed during and since the war period I maintain that it has not received that assistance from the Government to which it is entitled. Any other industry in Victoria and New South Wales, for which half a dozen sponsors in the form of members of this Parliament can be found, can secure Government assistance, but the gold-mining industry is too far removed from the Seat of Government to obtain the benefits meted out to industries that are carried on under the eyes of those in authority. The gold-mining industry is one whose home is essentially in the back-blocks. It belongs to all the States. There is no State of the Commonwealth that is not a contributor to the gold production of the Commonwealth. It is true that the contribution of Western Australia is in the neighbourhood of 70 per cent., which may change, but those of us who are large-minded enough to let our eyes wander beyond the boundaries of our States realize that if good can be done to any one State, especially in a pioneering industry, the benefit it creates is not confined within the boundaries of that State, but necessarily overflows into the neighbouring States with a consequent advantage to the whole of the Commonwealth. If we can keep a number of men in the inland areas, we are making our position stronger and giving more scope to the whole community. The gold-fields of Western Australia buy the products of Victoria. Goods to the value of £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 are annually sent from the eastern States to supply the requirements of Western Australia, and the goldfields of that State are very substantial contributors to the amount that is thus paid to the people in the eastern States. Consequently, if we can induce a large number of consumers to go to those parts of the Commonwealth that are least known - the Northern Territory, Northern Queensland, Western Australia, and western New South Wales - it will be all the better for those who supply the requirements of those consumers.
What is needed is to give a bonus of £1 an oz. on gold produced, that is to say, a bonus of 25 per cent. If we were to suggest that 25 per cent, was sufficient assistance for some other industries, what would the sponsors of those industries say? They would not even look upon those who made the suggestion as friends. They would declare that such meagre help would mean starvation for them. Yet the percentage which they would reject is all we want for the gold-mining industry, and that only temporarily. If we could get only that amount of encouragement which many industries in Australia are disposed to refuse, and which many others are constantly moving members of this Parliament to have increased, we should make a most excellent showing, and return to the people of the Commonwealth an ample reward and profit. I have already stressed the fact that by assisting the gold-mining industry we would create labour in sister industries.
In the past the Senate has shown itself sufficiently sympathetic, broad-minded, and economically advanced to recognize the position of gold-mining by heartily supporting the proposals I have put before it. I have reason to thank honorable senators for that support, and if the form of help for which I am asking is given, I hope that I shall have a further opportunity of thanking them. There is an old saying that “ hope deferred maketh the heart sick.” Here is an industry that ever since the closing days of the war has been told to live on hope. It has been trying to do so, but it is gradually dwindling and dwindling until compared w;th its former robust outline it has almost reached the vanishing point. I think we are entitled to give it that small form of encouragement that has been asked for by those who are intimately connected with its control. I could stress the increased area of activity that would be created by the giving of this bonus. There are in the Commonwealth quite a number of what are now known as abandoned mines. For want of a little friendly assistance, or for want of striking a rich vein in their underground parts, because the ore got too poor to pay,they have closed down. There are innumerable mines in Queensland with their toes, so to speak, almost at the paying limit, but they have had to close down for the lack of that sympathetic help for which I am asking.
We should not allow this condition of affairs to continue. We are entitled to ask ourselves some pertinent questions. Has this industry done anything for the nation? The answer must be that it has done something for the nation which all the other industries put together could not do. Has it suffered by befriend ing the nation ? The answer, again is that it has unmistakably suffered by so doing. Will it benefit by getting this form of assistance ? The answer is that, as other industries helped from the Commonwealth Treasury with the consent of Parliament have given a very creditable reply in due course, in the shape of increased activity, so also we believe that the gold-mining industry will do likewise. Then the next question is whether it is proposed to’ withhold any form of assistance. My answer is, “ If it is, why is an industry that in the past has fathered so much prosperity for the Commonwealth singled out for a special form of severity and discouragement?” It is safe to say, on the authority of men who are engaged in the industry, and who haveweighed up the possibilities of further development, that there are millions of tons of ore lying in the bowels of the earth that, by means of this bonus system, could be brought to the surface, with a consequent increase in the carrying capacity of the interior and a further consequent direct reflection on the general prosperity of the whole community. If we could only keep men working lowgrade ores, it would be better for all concerned. Men seeking work could be employed. More employment would be afforded to those engaged in subsidiary industries and in supplying the necessaries of life to the men employed in goldmining. There is no warrant for any person to say that the gold-mining industry is coming to the end of its existence. On the contrary, we have the assurance of those connected with the industry that if this form of assistance is given a new era of prosperity will open up and long con tinue. That is not an. extravagant statement. Not only would it open up a new era of prosperity for the. industry, but it would also bring great benefit to those employed in other interests, thus increasing the general prosperity. A basic industry, such as gold mining, needs to be preserved, otherwise other industries on the superstructure are bound to suffer.
Mr. Bruce has said that . what Australia chiefly wants is “men, money, and markets.” Stimulating the gold-mining industry on the lines suggested by myself and others would go a long way towards supplying those three prime essentials of the country. . If we can only ensure profitable employment in gold mining, men will come here to engage in it, new money will be created, and new wealth will be discovered’; but that can be brought about only by the granting of this bonus. The industry supplies a valuable home market, giving a more ample reward to those people who are producing the requirements of the mining community than is given by any other industry.
During the war the silver producers of the United States of America helped the nation in a very praiseworthy way, and the American Government, simply obeying the desires of the American people, subsequently came forward, and said to the silver producers, “ Since you have helped us through our trouble, we will in turn help you.” The form of help was to raise the price of silver to an artificial level above what the world’s markets would give. That action placed within reach of the silver producers of America something like £50,000,000. Japan has recently raised the price of gold for the purpose of encouraging gold mining. Japan, that has risen from the lower levels of advanced economics, has recognized the necessity of doing the very thing that is virtually proposed in Australia. We do not propose to increase the price of gold in the market. All we ask is that an opportunity shall be given to bring within the profitable zone the latent wealth in many of the abandoned mines of Australia. I feel that the Government will do something in the matter ; I feel that it should have done something earlier than this. I recognize that previous Governments of varying shades of political thought have neglected the gold-mining industry because those associated with it have been specially patient and have not asked for anything until now. When I use the word “now” 1 apply it to the period from a few years after the war until the present day. We have asked and asked, and we are still asking. No one can contend that the industry has not conferred on the nation a boon and benefit. It is acknowledged that no other industry has done more for the Commonwealth. Therefore, in the spirit of fair-play and gratitude, we should be prompted to come to its aid. It is quite clear that unless something is done it will die. It is equally clear that millions of pounds of wealth will remain where it lies to-day, dormant and useless, and not brought to light and not availed of for the benefit of the whole community unless a helping hand is given.
While we are endeavouring by the giving of bonuses and Customs protection to help industries in other spheres of activity in Australia - it is acknowledged that if only a dozen men are employed in an industry they should be given the benefit of increased protection - we have equal warrant for doing something fair, just, and substantial for the gold-mining industry, which has done so much for the nation in the past, but which is now, unfortunately, in a bad way. Those who are acquainted with mining in Australia know that there is nothing more calculated to make one downhearted than to see a deserted mining township with empty houses, poppet heads, reduction plants, and everything ready to be utilized, as soon as new discoveries of payable ore are made. We know from calculations that this can be found and will be found if the . Government treat the gold-mining industry as it has treated all other industries. Although I come from the western State, I hope it will not prejudice my case in the least. So long as we can maintain a body of men engaging in an industry on a profitable basis, it is better for all concerned. Therefore, I trust that honorable senators will not confine their consideration of this subject to the mere fact that if a bonus is given on the production of gold, most of that bonus will be paid to the western State. I dislike making comparisons, but, when the Meat Bounty Bill was before this chamber, and we were told that the bulk of the assistance would go to the so-called beef barons of Queensland, there was no opposition raised. It was recognized by all that something must be done to save the meat industry of Australia at a critical period. Every other consideration vanished. All political arguments ‘and sophistries were blown to the wind in the face of ‘ the stern necessity for doing something for the meat industry in the Commonwealth. The fact that 75 per cent, of the amount voted was likely to go to Queensland did not prevent me or other honorable senators from cheerfully supporting the proposal, because we were of the opinion that assistance could be given only in that direction. We are now asking for similar treatment, and for additional reasons which are specially applicable to the mining industry, in the belief that the Government, in giving this matter immediate consideration, will look sympathetically upon the mining industry of Australia. If it does, it will have acquitted itself in the way it should; it will have recognized, if only in a small degree, the service the industry has rendered to the people of Australia, and, indeed, the British Empire.
On a former occasion honorable senators stood solidly behind the proposition which I placed before this chamber. I now thank them for the action they took when I introduced a deputation to the Prime Minister consisting of members of all political parties. I wish also to thank Senator Grant for continuing his speech as he did on that occasion, without calling attention to the lack of a quorum^ so that honorable senators generally might take part in the deputation. On that occasion the Prime Minister’s room was practically filled with honorable senators in favour of the proposal, and we were then encouraged to hope. Certainly the Government has agreed to remit certain taxation, but the relief afforded is not what the commissioner’s report makes it appear to be. The returns from gold mining are very small, and the taxation gathered is therefore small, as will be seen by a full investigation of the position*, Whilst I am thankful for the slight assistance given and for the sympathy shown, those engaged in the industry cannot allow matters to rest where they are. They earnestly ask for the payment of a bonus in order to get the industry back on its feet, which will be of great benefit to the whole of the people of the Commonwealth.
. - I am indebted to Senator Hannan for introducing the question of defence, but, before referring to that topic, I should like to support what he has said concerning the position of the Deportation Board now sitting in Sydney. I am not going- to complain of the attitude being adopted, because every decent citizen must feel that it is a degrading action on the part of the Government to file a charge against certain individuals, and then to allow Ministers and others to endeavour to prove such charges at public meetings. The action is so indecent that I shall not mention it further. I do not expect anything better from this Government.
If I did not know Senator Lynch as well as I do, I should imagine, from his utterances concerning the Labour party and its defence policy, that he has become an arrant hypocrite and a humbug, but, knowing the honorable senator as well as I do, I would not level such a charge against him. If he is the honest man that I believe him to be, he should., instead of attacking the Labour party and its defence policy, attack this Government. It is the culprit. The honorable senator has challenged the Labour party to produce its defence policy. He says that the policy of the Labour party to-day does not compare favorably with the policy of the Labour party in the good old days when he was a member of it. On looking along the front bench on this side of the chamber, however, I see Senator Grant, Senator Barnes, aud Senator Findley, all of whom were members of the Labour party in “ the good old days.” It has lost the magnificent services of Senator Lynch, but it still has magnificent blood in it. Let us see what is being done by the Government of which Senator Lynch is now a supporter. But before doing so, I intend to quote from the official report .of the proceedings of the Australian Labour party at the tenth con- ference, held at the Trades Hall, Melbourne, on the 27th October, 1924. This is not a secret publication. It is the report of the latest conference. Nothing was done in secret.
– Were the representatives of the press admitted ?
– This report has been circulated. If Senator Lynch wants to know what is in our platform, I shall hand him a copy of the proceedings. It is not a confidential document, but one issued for the information of the public. In this publication I find, under the heading of “Defence,” “Adequate home defence against possible foreign aggression.” If there was not another line in the Labour party’s defence policy, that which I have quoted would be all comprehensive. Senator Lynch is now supporting a government which is making no pretence at adequate defence. There is no military authority whose opinion is worth anything who Will claim that we have an adequate defence system for Australia, although governments of which Senator Lynch has been a follower have spent £30,000,000 since the Peace Treaty was signed.
– What does the honorable senator mean by “ adequate “ defence ?
– The word is all-embracing. It means everything needed for defence against possible foreign aggression. I shall deal with our defence policy and shall quote the military authorities’ charges against this Government for having no adequate defence policy.
– Does the honorable senator recognize that there is now greater preparation for defence than there was before the war, when Labour was in power ?
– This “crowd” - I mean those who govern the country to-day - has spent £30,000,000 since the war, and we are now worse off than we were in” 1914.
– The honorable senator cannot establish that.
– I can. I shall take, first of all, the statements of Sir John Monash, who is a recognized authority on defence, and shall quote extracts from his speeches. He said - “ The Air Force was a sham.” “ There were no tanks.” “They had no Mills bombs.” “ There were not enough munitions in the country to last 24 hours.” “ Conditions in regard to the defence of Australia were most unsatisfactory. Things were going to pieces. … It is a deplorable thing to realize that the men we are training to-day could not be adequately equipped. … In my opinion, the position of Australia in 1924 is not as favorable, as it was in 1914. The present compulsory system of training Australian youths is farcical.” Those are extracts from different published speeches of Sir John Monash.
– When was that speech delivered?
– The last quotation was published in the Sun on the 1st May, 1924.
– Sir John Monash does not say we were then in a worse position than we were in 1914.
– These are his words - “ In my opinion, the position of Australia in 1924 is not as favorable as it was in 1914.”
– In regard to what?
– In regard to defence, and the Minister knows that the statement cannot be denied.
– The honorable senator has quoted from four or five speeches delivered on different dates. In the last there is no mention of defence.
– The whole of the speeches are in relation to defence.
– There is no mention of defence in the last quotation.
– I have taken the statements word for word from Sir John Monash’s speeches, and have shown what, in his opinion, our position then was in regard to defence.
– Why not give the context ?
– I have not the time, and later I presume the Minister will impose further limitations. If the Minister desires additional details, I shall supply them on the motion for the adoption of the report. Sir John Monash has stated that the present compulsory system of training Australian youths is farcical.
– -From how many separate speeches is the honorable senator quoting? Obviously not from one.
– Largely from one speech, but from different reports. Where the reports vary I have quoted them fairly and squarely. I have shown that Sir John Monash believes that this Government has made no preparation for defence.
– He has not said so.
– In the opinion of the authority I have quoted, compulsory training, of which Senator Lynch is such a strong supporter, is farcical. If leading military men express such opinions, surely we cannot be blamed if our views do not coincide with those of Senator Lynch. Surely we cannot be blamed if we prefer to follow General Monash rather than General Lynch.
– What did the Labour party do to improve the position?
– I believe the Labour party is on the right track.
– What is that track?
– The policy of the Labour party provides for adequate defence against foreign aggression. That covers everything.
– lt does not.
– What else is there to cover ?
– A number of the honorable senator’s supporters contend that “ adequate “ does not mean anything at all.
– If a distinguished lawyer such as Senator Elliott does not understand the meaning of “ adequate,” it is hopeless to argue with him.
– What is the honorable senator’s argument? What does his policy mean. Take the Army, what does his party stand for?
– I shall deal with that matter in good time. I know the Minister would rather have argument than facts. The ex-Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) emphasized the point that Australia was not prepared to meet an emergency, and that the greatest problems were those of the supply of arm’ and munitions. The supply on hand was, he said, very inadequate. He also said, “ The coast defences of Australia are in a deplorable condition. The loss of efficiency in the Australian Navy is staggering.”
– The honorable senator’s party does not favour a navy at all.
– I shall quote the policy we support.
– We have no navy now.
– Yes, we have.
– Where is it, in China?
– Further statements made by Mr. Bowden were - “ When I came to realize the appalling conditions of the defence of Australia. . . . The greatest problems were those of the supply of arms and munitions. ‘ The supply on hand was inadequate … It was no good saying we had seven or eight submarines when those in charge of naval defence knew these were obsolete, and could not be used. . . . The question of airdefence was not as satisfactory as it might be.”
– What is the date of that?
– That statement was made when Mr. Bowden was Minister for Defence. The latest date is the 14th November, 1923. I shall show from reports the position at the end of 1923, and our present position according to the Inspector-General.
– Will the honorable senator tell us what his party would do?
– Yes. I shall show from the Inspector-General’s report that the need of officers is great, and that the Government is not doing anything.
– The honorable senator believes in officers being elected by ballot.
-Andsuch a method would probably be more effective than selecting officers according to their social rank. A distinguished gentleman now doing service for Australia abroad - Senator Drake-Brockman - said, “I can say that at the moment Australia could not equip one division, let alone five.” That is where this Government has left defence. What has it done since? Senator Pearce, when he replies, may be able to show us. Some time ago we were told definitely by Senator Drake-Brockman that even if we put one division in the field we could not provide sufficient equipment for it. What has the Government done since then? Nothing.
– What would the Labour party do?
– The Minister is now trying to find reason for a quarrel with the policy of Labour, not in office, to cover up the ineptitude of an anti-
Labour Government in office. Senator Drake-Brockman went on to say - .
If we were suddenly called upon to defend ourselves we wouldnot have enough munitions, war equipment, and the tilings necessary to maintain an army for 24 hours.
This, I remind honorable senators, is the opinion of a high military authority, a general in the late war, and a loyal supporter of the Government. Could the position be worse even with a Labour Government in office? The Government is spending £5,000,000 a year on defence, and this is the result. What is the’ use of Senator Pearce finding fault with the defence policy of the Labour party?
– We cannot find any policy to quarrel about.
– Then for the information of the Minister let me state the defence policy of the Labour party -
Surely, that covers everything -
Is not that something very definite for the defence of Australia?
Is not that something for defence? Are not these three planks of our policy the very essentials of defence ? Ours is a policy of real defence; that of the Government is mere pretence.
– The Government is providing for those essentials now.
– The Government is not. It is because of this neglect to provide for the real defence of Australia that the public will deal with the Government and its supporters at the forthcoming elections. Why does the Inspector-General, in his annual report, complain of the unsatisfactory state of our defence scheme?
– It is his duty to show wherein our defence arrangements may be incomplete.
– Letme again state the defence policy of the Labour party, and put the various planks in their proper order -
– The honorable senator says that the Labour party proposes to raise land forces, and yet the party is opposed to compulsory military training. Would it have a standing army ?
– Unlike the policy of the present Government, we would not have an army that exists only in the imagination of Government supporters.
– But tell us how the Labour party proposes to raise this army. Will it be by voluntary enlistment?
– I invite Senator Pearce, when he replies, to state in the same way as I have, line by line, the defence policy of this Government, and allow the two schemes to be judged on their merits. The Labour party is prepared to take all practical measures necessary to ensure the defence of this country.
– The honorable senator’s party would scrap the present defence policy. What would it put in its place ?
– What is wrong with the old policy ?
– Because of faulty administration it has broken down.
– But tell us what you would put in its place.
– I have already stated what the Labour party would put in place of the present scheme of defence. These proposals include land forces, fortifications, &c. Surely that covers everything.
– How would the land forces be raised?
– In the time at my disposal it is not possible for me to answer off-hand every interjection made by the Minister. He knows quite well that the Labour party would not hesitate to put its policy into effect.
– What was wrong with the old policy?
– The world has moved since it was adopted. The policy I have so far outlined provides all the essentials for the adequate defence of the Commonwealth. Another plank in our defence policy is -
Utilization of Bureau of Science and Industry for the purpose of standardization of railway and motor rolling-stock and materials.
If the £30,000,000 which has been spent on defence proposals by this Government since the war had been expended in one direction alone, namely, the uni fication of the railway gauges, we would have been in a better position to-day to defend Australia.
– The State Governments would not fall in with the proposal to unify the gauges.
– What a petty excuse ! If this Government realized its responsibility to the people of Australia in defence matters it would not allow considerations like that to stand in the way.
– The Labour party’s defence scheme is a little general. Perhaps the honorable senator could supply more details.
– The details were fully dealt with by the Labour conference. I am prepared to state my own views on the scheme.
– Well, tell us how the Labour party would raise adequate land forces.
– I cannot do better than remind the honorable senator that when Australia joined with Britain in prosecuting the Boer war this country raised a considerable force of men outside the existing military organization. We could do the same to-morrow if the necessity arose. Again, in 1914, and without conscripting the manhood of Australia, we raised over 400,000 men.
– Under the Labour party’s policy, will no forces be raised until war breaks out.?
– Apparently the Minister does not wishto discuss military matters in a straightforward manner. He wishes to give honorable senators the impression that the intelligent men who drafted the Labour party’s proposal for defence would have no means at their command to give effect to it.
– Who would hold the enemy while men were being trained under the Labour party’s proposal?
– We would, because under our scheme of defence we should be able to arm and equip our forces; this is something which, even according to the Government’s supporters, is not possible at the present time. Let me read, for the information of honorable senators, some extracts from the report of General H. G. Chauvel, InspectorGeneral of Commonwealth Military Forces : -
Department of Defence,
Inspector -General, 31st May, 1925.
The Hon. the Minister of State for Defence.
In accordance with A.M.R 18 (1) I submit herewith the annual report required from the
Inspector-General of the Australian Military Forces: -
During the year under review the following developments designed to improve the condition of thearmy have taken place with the approval of the Government: -
This shows that nothing has been done to remedy the deplorable state of affairs complained of by Senator DrakeBrockman, by General Monash, and by the exMinister for Defence (Mr. Bowden). Again I quote the opinion of the highest military authority in the Commonwealth.
– I should like to hear his comment on the defence policy of the Labour party.
– The Minister is ever ready to misrepresent our policy, in order to cover up the defects of his own administration. What could be more condemnatory of the incompetence of the Government than this further extract from the Inspector-General’s report: -
With reference to the purchase of armament and munitions, it is gratifying to note that a start has been made on a definite programme. A sum of £300,000 was approved, in addition to ordinary maintenance votes, towards the development of the army. Owing to reductions in the ordinary Estimates by the Treasury, and to various commitments approved by the Government, legitimately considered progress, and therefore not included in ordinary estimate, the sum available for the munitions programme was £205,795. Although such a commencement is gratifying, it is my duty to point out that the extent of the progress made in this respect was, in comparison with the requirements, relatively insignificant.
That is the opinion of the InspectorGeneral regarding the Government’s preparations for munitions supply. Although on all hands it was admitted that the position was deplorable, the expenditure was only £205,000.
– I remind the honorable senator that the Labour Opposition in another place moved to strike out that sum from the Estimates.
– That is an old story. The sooner the Minister deals with facts the sooner will he realize that the measures which the Government has taken are insignificant. If ever an Opposition was so strong that it was able to prevent a Labour government from giving effect to its defence policy, Labour would hand over the government of the country to it.
– A Labour government would not allow the InspectorGeneral to report in the way in which MajorGeneral Chauvel has reported.
– I am sorry that Senator Elliott has not had as wide an experience of Labour men as I have had, and cannot, therefore, speak of them with accuracy. The report proceeds -
Requirements of the Army in regard to ammunition, field, pack, medium, heavy, and anti-aircraft guns, tanks, and other armament and equipment necessary to enable it to meet a modern enemy on equal terms, are great. The cost of all this essential equipment is very considerable, and, assuming that the programme of armament and equipment purchase is limited to the amount which was made available during the year, the requirements would not be met for many years.
What is the good of honorable senators opposite saying that we have not a defence policy when their own InspectorGeneral says that at the rate at which they are going it will take many years to make that preparation which is essential for defence, and in the meantime we are at the mercy of any foe that might attack us? Surely honorable senators realize that effect ought to be given to the suggestions of their military advisers ! If I were Minister for Defence I would carry out theproposals of my military advisors or relinquish office.
– The honorable senator would not hold office long if he adopted such an attitude.
– I would do one of two things. Either I would provide for the defence of Australia along the lines suggested by experts, or have no de- fence policy. There would be no pretence about me.
– Has any expert approved of the defence policy of the Labour party ?
– I do not know ; but it invites intelligent discussion. Major-General Chauvel goes oh to say -
This is undoubtedly a very serious state of affairs. I feel that the issues in this matter cannot be made too clear. There is a choice between the provision within a reasonable time, at a very considerable cost, of the material necessary to enable the Army to become an effective instrument of defence, or, on the other hand, of taking the risks which must accompany the non-provision of this equipment, which most certainly cannot be improvised after the outbreak of war. If the latter choice be taken, it must be remembered that, not only will the Army be not fully ‘ effective as a modern instrument of defence, but its personnel - citizens of this country - will, in the unhappy event of their being required to undertake active operations in the defence of Australia, be subjected to the unfair handicap and the certainty of increased loss of life which inferiority in armament^ and shortage -of ammunition must inevitably entail.
That is not an indictment of Labour’s programme; it is a charge by the InspectorGeneral against the administration of this Government since the termination of the war.
– Not at all; he is merely urging an improvement.
- Senator Pearce wanted me to say how I would call into existence an adequate force, and train, arm, and equip it, under the proposals devised by the Labour conference in 1924. I tell him that in defence matters the workers of Australia will be as honest as they are in their everyday lives. Those who endeavour to make them appear dishonest will be held accountable when the opportunity presents itself. I have shown honorable senators that the Inspector-General has reported that if Australia were called upon to defend herself at the present time she would do so under a great handicap and with much unnecessary loss of life, notwithstanding the fact that this Government has had charge of defence matters for the last seven years, and in that time has expended upon it no less a sum than £30,000,000. A further paragraph in the report of the Inspector-General states -
Whether this country is or is not able to meet the cost of the provision of modern equipment on an adequate scale, or whether, if it is able to do so, it would be correct policy now to undertake considerable expenditure in that connexion, are matters upon which it is not within my province to express an opinion. But it certainly is my duty to make perfectly plain the consequences which are liable to ensue, for the information of those who are responsible for deciding the policy to be followed.
Could more condemnatory language be used? If he spoke more strongly, the distinguished general would be deported by the Government. Honorable senators may decide to support the Government whether it be right or wrong, but should injury be caused to Australia because of the Government’s ineptitude they will have to accept their share of the responsibility. The Government may satisfy them by saying, “Bad as our policy is, it is better than Labour’s.” That is their concern. The Labour party’s attempt to originate a defence policy is the most intelligent that has yet been made in Australia. I shall read a little further from the report of the Inspector-General. He says: -
Should it be decided to take up the question of the provision of armament, ammunition, and equipment in an effective manner -
The inference is inescapable, that it has not yet been taken up in an effective manner - the attainment of the object in view should, as far as possible, be achieved by, or at any rate be accompanied by, a policy designed to make Australia self-contained in the production of war material.
That is what the policy of the Labour party aims at. The Government is doing nothing in that direction. The report proceeds -
How far it is possible, within any calculable period of time to place Australia in this position, I am unable to say, but that object most certainly cannot be achieved without a very groat extension of the limited programme which, with the funds at its disposal, the Munition Supply Board is now capable of undertaking.
The board is handicapped by lack of funds.’ Although we have many hard fights in this chamber, do not honorable senators think that the question of defence could be lifted out of the sphere of party politics? Why does, not the Government realize that it cannot increase its length of life by attempting to make political capital out of the defence programme of another party ? The programme of the Labour party provides for an adequate measure of defence by land forces, aeroplanes and submarines, and the construction in Australia of cruisers.
– Not one of those is provided for; they are merely set out in a printed platform, which does not explain how the necessary provision is to be made.
– No platform has yet contained details.
– No Labour mau will say what he means by “ adequate defence.”
– To me, “ adequate defence” means a comprehensive, all-absorbing defence policy, that will enable Australia to be defended.
– Does the honorable senator say that the Labour party would have built two cruisers in Australia?
– The Labour party would have cruisers built in Australia; its policy provides for that. I can do no more than any other member of the Labour party towards carrying out its programme, which provides for “submarines, and adequate above-water craft and mines.” I can say with certainty that if cruisers are necessary for the defence of Australia they will be built by the Labour party in Australia by Australian workmen.
– The Labour party voted against their being manufactured anywhere.
– If the Labour party is in favour of adequate defence measures, why did it vote against the construction of the two cruisers?
– Because the information was published in Scotland that the contract for the construction of the two cruisers was let by Mr. Bruce whilst he was in England. Although the statement was denied by Mr. Bruce and other members of the Government, its truth was proved. The Labour party wanted the cruisers to. be built in Australia. In the event of war Australia will need to be self -contained in the matter of the supply of military and naval requirements. The great military experts will have to get that fact firmly fixed in their minds. Once our shipping yards had turned out cruisers, it would be a simple matter to turn them out again. But if, on the other hand, we were dependent for our cruisers on yards in other countries, they would have to run the risk of a 13,000-mile trip before we would have the benefit of their services. That is too great a risk. There are highly qualified naval men who say that the day of the big battleship is past. I take it that that applies also to the cruiser. Rear-Admiral Sims, giving evidence before the Congress committee that investigated aircraft, said -
I think the Navy should build light aeroplane carriers instead of cruisers. It is a curious thing, but you cannot alter the minds of naval conservatives. You have to shed their blood before they will change, or they hang on until disaster comes. With adequate air and submarine protection no nation can bother us.
A book has recently been published, written by a man who, drawing largely on his imagination, visualized a great war between Japan and America.
– How does the honorable senator square his statement with that of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) in this chamber, as follows : - “ From the outset the members of the Labour party in both Houses of this Parliament opposed the construction of cruisers.”
– I have already explained that the Labour party opposed the construction of the cruisers for Avhich Mr. Bruce let a contract while he was in England. A Scottish paper, of which I saw a copy at the time, published a statement before Mr. Bruce returned to Australia, that he had let the contract to a Scottish firm. I. have in my hand an authority greater than the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Opposition - the authority of Labour in congress, which decided in favour of submarines and adequate above-water craft and mines. There is no getting away from that wording. I tell honorable senators opposite they are on a very sticky wicket when they endeavour to prolong their political existence by discrediting the defence proposals of the Labour party, and covering up the fact that after seven years of ofiice the present Government has not provided a defence system worthy of the name. Theirs is a policy of pretence, not of defence. Rear-Admiral Simsalso said -
Despite the Washington Conference, the race in armaments still proceeds. Japanhas 30 cruisers, built or building, and has laid down about 80,000 tons of submarines since the war. . . .
There will never again be naval expeditions carried across the sea to an enemy port, the establishment of an advance base on ais coast, and the pouring in of soldiers and supplies. This has been rendered impossible against any country that has adequate air and submarine forces. If our coast is protected by airplanes and submarines, no ships can reach our shores or land troops. The success of transporting 2,000,000 men to France furnishes no precedeut. It was not a landing on enemy territory. The German submarines were not operating in home waters. They had no air forces to act as eyes, to convey information or to co-operate in attacks on our convoys. It would have been an entirely different proposition if we had attempted to land on enemy territory occupied by enemy forces through hostile waters held by enemy submarines operating in conjunction with an aerial fleet.
Rear-Admiral Sims is a man of considerable ability and high moral courage. We know of the stand that he has taken on other matters. His belief is that, with aircraft and submarines, America will be safe. I have referred to a work of fiction dealing with a war between Japan and the United States of America. The writer evidently possesses a considerable knowledge of military and naval matters, or he has had the assistance of some one else who possesses that knowledge. From the beginning to the end of his book he does not describe one action as having been fought in either Japan or America. Why? Because no writer of fiction would be read if he supported the theory that a battleship could come within range of aircraft or submarines. The most ill-informed person knows that; ignorance upon the subject exists only in the minds of the members of the Government and its supporters, and it will be some time before they reach that stage of enlightenment.
– Is it not curious, in view of what the honorable senator has read, that Japan is building cruisers ?
– Surely we can sometimes be sane in discussing the defence of our country. If I made a high admiral of an honorable senator opposite, and placed him in charge of a squadron of battleships, would he venture within 200 miles of the Australian coast, supposing that this country was well equipped with submarines ?
– Of course he would.
– I should expect an answer like that only from a most courageous man like the honorable senator who interjected.
– How does the honorable senator account for the fact that, during the war, there was no serious interference with shipping between France and England, although submarines were operating in those waters ?
– That little strip of water was protected in an admirable manner. The honorable senator was doing excellent work at the time at the front, and perhaps had not as good an opportunity to follow the progress of the war and all that took place as I and others had. I call his attention to the fact that, when the war broke out, Britain was as well prepared with her navy as Germany was with her army, but she never succeeded in landing her troops on the enemy’s coast.
– But she prevented the enemy from landing on her shores.
– Yes ; and how great an assistance it would have been had aeroplane and submarine forces been developed then to the extent that they are now! The late Admiral Sir Percy Scott, of the British Navy, referring to aerial fleets, submarines, and mines, said -
Another bogy put before the Australians is that, on account of their enormous coast-line, they must have battleships. That is just what they do not want. If the waters of all countries are protected by submarines, all waters will be wrong waters for battleships.
That was the opinion of a high authority on naval matters.
– There is another school that holds an opposite view.
– Of course there is, but this officer’s opinion always appealed to me. Another British officer, Admiral Kerr, remarked -
The Australian line of defence obviously comprised aeroplanes, submarines, and torpedo boats, against which no hostile fleet dare approach within 200 miles.
– Was he an admiral during the war?
– He was out of dato before the war commenced.
– I do not intend to go into that question. Labour may take the wrong view, as Senator Greene suggests, but we take the side that appears to us to be right. RearAdmiral Hall, another British naval officer, said -
We had a grand fleet with a preponderance of nearly two to one over Germany alone. We had the assistance of the American, French, Italian and Japanese navies, and yet our main naval purpose - the protection of our trade - could not be carried out. The Navy itself could not put out to sea without being itself protected by flotillas of little quick-turning devil-dodgers.
Lieut.Commander Rawson remarked: -
It needs little technical knowledge to see that Australia must concentrate on submarines, mine-layers, fast torpedo boats, and air craft Sixteen submarines can be built forthe price of one battleship. No extensive dry docks are required. Flotilla warfare is a form of defence particularly suitable to our needs and our resources.
Senator Pearce wishes to know why the Labour party does not rush in to spend millions of pounds on giving work to Scottish people. I love the Scots, because of Robert Burns. They gladly accepted our. orders for the building of cruisers, and passed a motion of thanks to Australia; but I do not love them sufficiently to say that Australia can alford to waste £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 to provide work for the people of Scotland in their own shipyards while our own are left idle.
– On the occasion of the debate on cruiser construction the honorable senator did not want any ships at all. The argument that they should be built in Australia was an afterthought.
– I think that even Senator Lynch will admit that the Australian Labour party has a defence policy which it believes to be in the best interests of this country, irrespective of party considerations. If he will not admit it, I am sorry for him.
– The honorable senator did not explain what was wrong with the old policy of the party.
– We have the statement of General Sir John Monash that the policy of compulsory training is farcical. I entered into an argument on one occasion with a highly intelligent military officer. I adopt many different means of eliciting information that is useful to me as a senator. He proceeded to show me bv lists of names, ages, and measurements how lads taken in hand at the age of twelve years had been physically developed, as he ‘said, by means of military training. At twelve years of age some of them were 5 ft. 1 in. in height and had a chest measurement of 29 inches. At sixteen years of age they were 5 ft. 8 in. in height, and had a chest measurement of 37 inches. He wanted me to believe that that development was entirely due to military training. That is the way these men argue. But if we had gone into some of the exempt areas I could have shown him lads who, through living under healthful conditions in the country, had made, without military training, far more rapid physical development than those employed in overcrowded factories in the cities. But the officer in question was adamant. He contended that his argument was unanswerable. Military training, in his opinion, was the entire cause of the physical development obtained.
– Did the Labour party act on the advice of any military authority in Australia when it changed the basis of its defence policy ?
– If Senator Lynch does not know it, I do, that this military Government that is now in power takes whatever Great Britain gives it. I remember when Senator Pearce wished to place on the statute-book of the Commonwealth all the regulations under the British Army Act since the time of King William IV. He wanted to make them the statute law of Australia, merely because they came from Great Britain. The one thing that the party opposite will not take from Great Britain is the goods and the machinery and the other articles that Australia needs. I wanted to build the cruisers here, because in the event of war it would be of great value to have shipyards already established. Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow will agree that the Britisher is not quite as tall as the average Australian. The regulations of the British Army stipulated that a soldier should march in paces of 30 inches, and when those regulations were applied to Australians, the authorities didnot have sufficient brains to realize that our lanky Australians required to take longer paces than the Britishers. It was amusing to think that they were expected to take little “cock sparrow” steps instead of adopting the good Australian swing. I take Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow’s smile as an indication that I have put my finger on a matter which shows the foolishness of following Britain in everything. The Labour party is not now responsible for the defence of Australia, but the National party has wasted - and I use the word after due consideration - £30,000,000 for which it has nothing to show. When the Labour party is returned to power, factories will spring up in every State. It will employ all the miners that have been thrown out of work owing to the Protectionist policy advocated by Senator Lynch. The Labour party will give employment to the canecutters in Queensland, and in every State men will be employed in factories, making those things that are required both in peace and war. Do honorable senators opposite understand what preparation for defence means? Every worker in his every-day employment is fitting himself to be a defender of the country perhaps a good deal more effectively than he would do if he were marching to and fro, and performing various military evolutions. Thus the every-day life of the community as actual preparation for war, and 90 per cent, of the people are compelled to undergo that preparation in the course of earning their livelihood. But what is the use of it 5f we have no equipment? It would be a great incentive to the lads of to-day to take more kindly to military training if no distinction was drawn between commissioned and non-commissioned officers, and if they knew that the highest positions in the force were open to those that have the necessary ability.
– Is that not the case to-day ?
– No, and nobody knows it better than the honorable senator.
– I think it is.
– Men rose “from the ranks and became colonels in the recent war.
– Under the conditions of war the best men were required, but in peace times those occupying the highest positions in society are promoted. Merit is not taken into consideration. When I practised military manoeuvres in a partially paid corps, we had a coloursergeant who was the brains and driving force of the regiment. A vacancy arose for a commissioned office, and as the men wanted to see the best man appointed they decided to equip the colour-sergeant to’ enable him to accept commissioned rank. The colour-sergeant was only a carpenter, and the captain, who was an architect, said that he must draw the line at a tradesman. And draw the line he did, for he would not recommend him for the vacancy. I did not feel hurt over it. It was the custom then just as it is the custom to-day.
– It is not.
– It is, and the honorable senator knows it.
– I do not know it.
– Then so much the worse for the country that is governed by a man who will not recognize what is happening. Look how costly the Naval College is to the parents of the cadets.
– I know the sons of working men who are there now.
– So do I. I met the father of one on a tramcar recently. I happened to know him through looking after his son when he was travelling to Jervis Bay. When I asked him how the lad” was getting on he replied, “It is the worst day’s work I ever did. It is so costly that it has half ruined me, and has quite ruined him.” Social position must cease to be a factor in military and naval appointments. Merit alone should be the guiding qualification in a democratic country like Australia. Honorable senators laugh at the idea of an election being the best method of obtaining the best. Sometimes when I look at honorable senators opposite I doubt it myself. Would an elective system for the appointment of officers prove unsatisfactory ? I hardly like to quote Russia.
– It is very appropriate to do so.
– The officers elected by the Russian soldiers proved to be equal to any that had been appointed under the Czarist regime. The Russian Army, under its elected officers, has frequently caused invading armies fitted out by aggressive and powerful capitalistic .nations to retire beaten and shattered. I do not regard it as an absurdity to abolish the distinction between commissioned and non-commissioned officers. The only absurdity is that this distinction should be permitted to remain in a democratic community like this.
– What is the distinction!
– That a noncommissioned officer may not easily become a commissioned officer. Even if one does rise from the ranks and become a commissioned officer the service is never at rest until he is “ booted out.”
– Practically every officer holding rank in Australia has risen from the ranks.
– I should like to go through the list of officers to test the accuracy of the honorable senator’s assertion. The fact that a man is a noncommissioned officer should be a recommendation for his fitness for promotion.
– So it is.
– A man should be able to rise gradually, step by step, on the ladder of promotion to the highest rung. Surely Labour is not to be ridiculed for proposing that that should be made possible. As it is to-day, a commissioned officer would choke or get a fit of apoplexy if he found himself dining at a table with a non-commissioned officer. Commissioned officers and noncommissioned officers dine separately, and they have separate tents. Commissioned officers have batmen to clean their boots and accoutrements. Non-commissioned officers clean their own. The Labour party believes in -
Recognition of principle of election of qualified candidates as officers.
There is nothing wrong with that principle in the Labour party’s defence policy. It also believes in -
Citizens on completion of training to retain arms delivered to them during training.
I think it was Senator Lynch who asked whether the purpose of this was to arm somebody against something. I venture to say that there is no section of the people of Australia that cannot be trusted with arms. If every man in New South Wales fit to carry arms was given a rifle, the peace, order, and good government of the State would be as good as it has ever “been. The other day I attended a sale of surplus military material, and I saw 10,000 first-class leather grenade carriers, probably worth from 2s. to 5s. each, sold for £5. By the way, the money spent in submitting this material to auction came out of loan funds. Would it not have been better to give this material to the men who formerly used it?
– The reason given at the Labour Conference for the insertion of this particular plank in the platform of the Labour party was that the rifles would be useful when the industrial revolution came on.
– Any man with brains would realize that the revolution is on now. What becomes of the obsolete rifles ? Are they wasted ? If we gave them to the men who’ used them they would be kept in order, and if at any time it became necessary to defend Australia a big percentage of these rifles would be available for use.
– Rifles are now reconditioned and re-barrelled.
– I know that a lot of good work is done in that direction, but I remember when one could buy an old military rifle for 5s.
– Those were obsolete rifles.
– Rifles become obsolete when a manufacturer, having supplied a large order, invents a new type.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– In concluding my remarks, which, under the Standing Orders I must do within 20 minutes, T wish to say that I addressed myself to this question in consequence of the newspaper articles, and the statements made by Senator Lynch and others, in which an attempt has been made to prove that the Labour party has no defence policy. Therefore, my chief aim in discussing this question has been to explain our policy, and allow it to be considered on its merits. The policy of the Labour party was adopted at a conference, which in all essentials .resembled a public meeting. It consisted of delegates from the various State Labour organization-‘, and when the policy drafted, at that gathering is taken as a whole - I do not say that there are no spots on it - I think it will be regarded as a masterpiece of draftsmanship. It shows clearly that, although Labour is not in office, it has a very clear idea of the best methods to- adopt for the defence of Australia. The Labour party’s policy provides -
Amendment of Defence Act to secure -
That is everyline of Labour’s defence policy. I do not say that it is above criticism. If I were on the opposite side of the chamber I am sure I could find something in it to criticize. I ask honorable senators, however, to consider the policy as one adopted by men holding varying opinions, but which meets the views of all the delegates. Under such a policy we would have defence instead of pretence such as we have at present. It is pretence to suggest that Australia can be protected without arms, munitions, or factories. The next important branch of defence involves the question of battle-cruisers. I have already quoted prominent naval authorities who strongly advocate the use of aeroplanes, submarines, and torpedoes, which are largly taking the place of battleships. In the days of Nelson the sailors threw grappling irons on board the vessels of the enemy, but those days have goneforever, and new discoveries and invention have brought about a new type of fighting vessel.We are now in the transition stage in which aeroplanes, submarines, and torpedoes can be used most effectively, and to properly defend Australia provision should be made for adequate supply of aeroplanes, submarines, &c, and for the establishment of munition factories. That is what Labour proposes. Expert mechanics should also be trained in the manufacture of the articles likely to bc required in the event of war. Are we to wait until war is declared before such factories are established? It appears to me that the Government is waiting for another war before it does anything. Since 1913 to the present year Governments similar to the one now in office have been in charge of the defence of the Commonwealth., and all they have done has been tospend money, for which they have practically nothing to show. I believe in factories being established in every State of the Commonwealth, because magnificent machinery may, as a result of one bomb, be thrown out of action. The man is not yet born who can prophesy the conditions under which the next war will be fought. The last great conflict was an object-lesson of the changes which have come about, and even since the signing of the armistice inventors have been devising new means of conducting future wars. The bayonet is a deadly and effective weapon if troops ever get together, but nowadays wars oan be fought for twelve months without bayonets ever cominginto use. The members of the Labour party say that we have gone as far as we should ir participating in overseas wars, and that we must reserve the money hitherto wasted on a pretence at defence in providing means for the real defence of the Commonwealth. If it is thought that we should assist in conflicts overseas the opinions of the people should be obtained by means of a referendum. War was declared between Germany and Great Britain on the 4th August, 1914. What happened in Austraia ? As a general electionwas held on the 5th September a referendum could have been taken then, if necessary.
– And preparations could not have been made until a referendum had been taken.
– Of course they could, because as I have stated, ar: election was held about five weeks after the declaration of war, and a referendum could have been taken to decide whether the troops should serve outside Australia. After years of experience I believe the people would have voted solidly in favour of doing so. The Minister should remember that two years afterwards, when he was head of the Defence Department the Government endeavoured to conscript certain people.
– We had the power under the Defence Act.
– That may be so, but the Government, from their point of view, foolishly called up the men first. The men who were in camp had a vote, and the proposal was naturally turned down.
– We had the statutory power under the Defence Act.
– Of course the Government had power, as any government should when the security of the country is at stake. As a result of the general election in 1914 the Government was defeated, but the Labour Government which came into power did not interfere with the despatch of troops. In fact, the new Government continued the defence programme more vigorously and with a wider outlook than that of its predecessors. In consequence of the statements published, and the utterances made here from time to time concerning the defence policy of the Labour party, I have included it in full in Hansard, so that newspaper writers, parliamentarians, and others will know what our defence proposals actually are. The Labour party, if in power, would not carry on the present inefficient training methods. The Inspector-General of the Commonwealth Military Forces now advocates that the height at which trainees shall be accepted shall be increased by 1 inch. What difference does it make if a soldier is 5 ft. 5 in. or 5 ft. 6 in. ? It is also proposed to increase the chest measurement.
– Compulsory training can do a good deal to expand the chests of trainees.
– And compulsory speaking also assists in expanding the chest. On this point the InspectorGeneral states -
The physique of a certain proportion of the Citizen Forces, especially Infantry, has been noticed to be extremely poor, and, while it is realized that the personnel are all very young and undeveloped, it is obvious that some will never be able to attain a satisfactory physical development. It is not economical to train personnel who would bc rejected as unfit for active service. It has been decided to raise the Citizen Force medical standard by 1 inch in height, and½ inch in chest measurement.
In actual warfare Senator Needham should be quite as effective as I, and a shot that would hit me would probably miss him.
– The honorable senator has spoken of bayonet work. Strong men are required to use bayonets.
– I believe that small active men can be just as useful as big men. The point I wish to make is that, according to this authority, we must add half an inch to the standard height, and an inch or two to the chest measurement of our manhood to ensure efficiency.
– What is the present standard height ?
– I cannot say. When war broke out it was fixed at 5 ft. 6 in. Subsequently it was brought down by stages to 5 ft. 3 in., and towards the end of the war there was practically no standard height at all, because every efficient man was needed, irrespective of his inches. Events have disclosed that our whole system of training is a mistake; that it is pretence, not defence. The Labour party has evolved a scheme which, without waste of money, will ensure the adequate defence of Australia.
– If adopted it will mean, I suppose, that there will be no training on present lines.
– Compulsory training, and the whole of the existing defence organization will have to go. Were I in the position occupied by the present Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse) it would be scrapped* from end to end, and be replaced by a scheme which, not being handicapped by faults disclosed in the administration of the present system, would prove efficient without asking Australia’s sons to go outside its borders to defend it.
– I have often listened with great pleasure to Senator Gardiner, but though I did not have the privilege of hearing the whole of his speech this afternoon and this evening, I do not think I ever listened to an utterance that was so utterly illogical or so bristling with inconsistencies. It is not my purpose to detail the whole of these inconsistencies. It would take far too long to do that. But I cannot help wondering whither the honorable gentleman is drifting. Just now he applauded the defence platform of the Labour party, one plank of which stands for the abolition of compulsory training. It is not very long ago since I heard Senator Gardiner claiming for the Labour party the sole authorship of that system. No other party, he said, had had a hand in it.
– I made that claim for the Labour party.
– I can also recall the time when Senator Gardiner assisted Senator Pearce in the administration of the act.
– And because of his experience as a Minister he realized its foolishness.
- Senator Gardiner has not told us that. On the contrary, he claimed for the Labour party all the virtues which the system of compulsory training possesses. In the speech which he has just delivered, the honorable gentleman did not advance one single reason why it should be abolished. But I will explain how it is that the honorable senator has changed his attitude. He has been obliged to fall in behind the communists who are really leading the Labour party to-day. They are the people who have laid down the law for Senator Gardiner, who, it would appear, is prepared to eat all his words, and to do what his masters, the communists, tell him he must do so.
– A good servant does what he is told, and as the honorable senator knows, the people are our masters.
– I am glad to hear the honorable senator’s admission that he is merely obeying the behests of his masters.
– And would not the honorable senator himself do that?
– I have not yet seen the necessity to eat my own words on our defence policy, as Senator Gardiner has. However, I do not believe for an instant that Senator Gardiner’s heart is in this new policy.
– I believe in every line of it.
– I am sure the honorable senator believes, in his heart, that Australia should take its place, and do its part, in any scheme for the defence of the Empire. He knows that, from the point of view of Australia’s interests, to put it on its lowest plane, it would be most foolish for Australia to restrict defence proposals to Australia’s shores, as has been suggested by the Labour party. The honorable senator claims that Australia’s defence should be entrusted to vessels of comparatively short range of action, to air forces, and such other preparations as we may be able to make within our own borders.
– And all on a voluntary basis.
– Of course.
– Do not forget that over 400,000 men were raised in the last war, on the voluntary basis.
- Senator Gardiner is the champion in the Senate of freetrade. He believes that we should import everything that we require. He has not told us how this free’ interchange of goods can be carried on without the adequate protection of our trade routes. Does he suggest that we should offer no contribution towards the defence of trade routes that are so vital to the existence of Australia? The honorable senator also spoke of the establishment of factories for the manufacture of munitions. I cannot reconcile this portion of his speech with freetrade views which he has enunciated so often in this Senate.
– On this question of freetrade and protection, may I suggest that a force of enemy battleships, which would prevent the entry of any foreign goods to Australia, would also be the most efficient form of protection we could devise for the encouragement of our growing industries.
– If Senator Gardiner thinks that foreign battleships, for the protection of trade routes, are better than our own, then I have nothing to say to him on that subject, except that I would prefer to rely upon our own battleships. The honorable senator has told us that he believes in the establishment of factories for the manufacture of munitions. So do I. He drew a vivid picture of factories here and there throughout Australia, all engaged in this important business. He did not tell us, but he inferred, that all these establishments are to be government factories.
– Hear, hear!
– I do not know if the honorable senator has ever attempted to visualize what sort of an industrial organization would be required to establish and staff government factories for the manufacture of munitions necessary to carry on a first-class war.
– Or how long these factories could be worked iti times of peace
– I am endeavouring to argue this scheme from the point of view adopted by Senator Gardiner. He suggests that these government factories should be established in times of peace.
– Hear, hear!
– Ail I can say is that if his policy were adopted the whole of the revenues of the Commonwealth would not be sufficient to maintain the factories. I am quite satisfied from the more or less cursory knowledge I possess, through having presided over the department, that it would be utterly impossible to create an effective war machine along the lines suggested by the honorable senator. He agrees, of course, that we must have highly trained officers. Since this training must extend over a number of years, some time must elapse before we could gather together an effective staff of government employees. However, I shall leave to other honorable senators the privilege of instructing Senator Gardiner on this phase of his defence policy. It is very evident that he needs instruction. But I should like to impress upon the honorable senator that it is utterly impossible, in times of peace, to create a munitions organization, staffed by government employees, sufficient to meet war requirements unless the Government is prepared to spend practically the whole of its revenue, year after year, in the production of manufactured articles necessary for the prosecution of war, but which, in the event of no war arising, having no commercial value, would have to be periodically scrapped. The reason is that you- are not engaged in war every year, and it would1 be necessary to build, up an organization sufficiently large to deal with war conditions. An examination proves how utterly impossible the proposal is.
My reason for rising to speak was not” so much to answer Senator Gardiner’s contentions as to say a word or two about this very essential part of our defence scheme. Senator Pearce and some other honorable senators know very well that the foundations have been laid of the nucleus of a munitions organization. I believe that those foundations have been well and truly laid. It is extraordinary that Senator Gardiner has no knowledge of what has been and is being done. From his remarks one would judge that he does not’ know that the very large sum of money which for many years has been voted annually has been expended in the establishment of munitions factories. Those factories have not been designed to meet the whole of the requirements of the Commonwealth in time of war. Anybody who has given a moment’s real thought to the matter must know that it would be utterly ridiculous to attempt such a thing. What we require very urgently, however., is the nucleus organization round which we can, if necessary, in time of war gather the whole of the industrial organization of Australia, and convert our great industrial machine into huge munitions factories.
– Was not that Senator Gardiner’s argument?
– No. I asked the honorable senator whether .he proposed that these should all be government factories, and he said that he did.
– Absolutely, yes.
– I say that that is utterly impossible.
– The Governments of the States have some of the finest en- gineering works in Australia. They could be subsidized.
– What we can do is to set up a nucleus organization in which we can train men, and around which can be gathered the whole of the great industrial establishments. Something has already been done along those lines. We have quite a number of Government factories that are being carried on under nucleus conditions - that is to say, they are not turning out year by year a vast quantity of munitions, which if there is no war will ultimately have ‘to be scrapped, but they are turning out sufficient to meet the ordinary routine requirements of defence and training. And they form a training ground, too, for artisans, in the factories themselves, and afford possibilities for that training to be extended to outside establishments, capable of being converted into munition factories in time of war. There are two directions, it seems to me, in which that policy needs to be developed. As soon as possible we should classify all the great industrial establishments, so that in the event of war we should know immediately the purpose for which each was best fitted and equipped, even though it be only the making of a buckle. There are other things necessary in addition to guns, high explosives, and the hundred and one things that are required for actual warlike operations. That matter should be carefully gone into so that if war were declared to-morrow the Government could say to one factory, “ Do this,” and to another factory, “Do that.”
– I am glad to hear the honorable senator advocating one of the planks in the platform of the Labour party.
– That is not a plank in the platform of the Labour party.
– It is.
– If it is, then I agree with it. There is another matter that the Government might very well consider. There are quite a number of absolutely vital munitions of war that we are not manufacturing or attempting to manufacture. Take, for instance, the internal combustion engine. We have not a factory that is making or is able to make that. If war broke out tomorrow and our sea communications were cut, there is not in Australia a factory that could make a motor car or an aeroplane.
– We will never havethose factories whilst the Government continues to place orders in Scotland or other countries for such things as cruisers. Once the yards were established that work could be done here.
– I am not referring to the assembling work. At the present time we have not the organization that would enable us to turn out many essentials in time of war. Under Senator Gardiner’s policy those factories could not be established in Australia. The honorable senator believes in freetrade, not in the principle of establishing. Australian industries. Several thingsthat in time of war would be absolutely vital to Australia are not being made here because it would not, pay anybody to make them. I sometimes tremble when I think of what might happen to Australia if international complications arose rendering it impossible, for the time being at any rate, for the British Navy to protect our shores. Stripped temporarily of that security, does any honorable senator think, with the enemy knocking at our doors, it would be possible for us to undertake, under those conditions, the manufacture of many of the things we do not produce to-day, which would be absolutely vital to our existence? Take aeroplanes’, for instance.
– We can make the bodies here.
– The engine, which is the vital part of an aeroplane, cannot be made in Australia, because we have not a factory equipped for the purpose. The same thing applies to motor cars. Motor lorries and all classes of motor transport are absolutely vital to the defence of Australia.
– We have factories which could be converted to that purpose.
– How long would that conversion take? If we set to work to-morrow in any factory to make an aeroplane engine, at least two years would elapse before one could be turned out that would be airworthy.
– A start must sooner or later be made.
– I am coming to that point. Let us look at the experience of America. Our industrial development has been a mere nothing compared with that of America. How long did it take that country, after it entered the war, to put into the heavens an aeroplane equipped with an airworthy engine that had been made in America?
– They did not have in the fighting area a single aeroplane equipped with an American engine.
– The Minister’s interjection has answered the question put to me by Senator H. Hays. I believe that the time is coming when the Government should seriously consider whether, as a part of the defence policy of Australia, something cannot be done to establish on definite lines the motor car industry. I do not say it should be established as a government-owned concern, because in that direction we should court disaster. In order to succeed, we must secure the bestbrains that the industry possesses; we must bring to Australia those who have the requisite experience and knowledge, and are prepared to make the machine for us.
-Why does the honorable senator want the nation to own battleships, when he does not want it to manufacture motor cars?
– If the honorable senator can find private citizens who are prepared to own battleships and maintain them for the benefit of the community, I shall back him up. There is no analogy between the making of a motorcar and the construction of a battleship. I believe that the time has come when this problem should be seriously considered. I yield to no one in my desire to see Australia taking anactivepart in the general scheme of Imperial defence. It is as much our duty to do that as to defend this country. But, reduced to its last analysis, Australian defence is the defence of Australia. We shall be merely living in a fool’s paradise if we continue along the lines that we are now following, knowing that we do not possess the organization necessary to manufacture many things that are vital to the defence of Australia. The only way in which it can be done is to induce some firm or firms to come to Australia to engage in the manufacture of motor cars. They should be given a liberal subsidy. I would make it an absolute condition of that subsidy thatthey should also turn out a certain number of aeroplane engines every year. We should then have a neucleus organization around which it would be possible, if the necessity arose in time of war, to build up a great industry. One serious trouble is the testing of raw material. The quality of raw materials and their characteristics varying enormously in different parts of the world. At Maribyrnong a great laboratory has been established by the Commonwealth Government in connexion with its munition plant, and one of its duties is the testing of material of all kinds that may be required in time of war. This is most necessary work, and I believe it is being done thoroughly as far as the funds available will permit, but until factories are established to give practical effect to the discoveries that have been made, full advantage will not be derived from the operations. I hope that the Government will give this matter its urgent consideration. I realize that it has ahundred and one important problems to deal with, but if there is one thing that is more necessary than another in connexion with our defence system, it is the establishment of these industries on a commercial basis. It would be a waste of money to establish government factories, for it is essentially a commercial undertaking.
– That argument did not apply to the building of battleships.
– One must recognize the difference between a battleship - or even a commercial ship - and a motor car.
– Are they both vital?
– Yes; but if I had to choose to-day between spending £500,000 a year for the building up of the air force, and spending a similar sum in subsidizing the manufacture in Australia of motor vehicles, I would advocate the latter, for I believe that motor transport is vitally important in facilitating the mobilization of troops and the transport of supplies. In the event of war the railways alone would be. unable to cope with the country’s needs.
– Roads, too, would be required.
– That is a plank of the Labour party’s platform. t
– It is also a plank of the National party’s platform. The establishment of the vital industries to which I have referred would naturally bring to our shores a great deal of capital and a large number of people. It would be of material assistance in carrying out our immigration policy. If we do not sooner or later take action along the lines I have indicated, we may have cause to regret it.
– I desire to support the attitude of the Labour party as indicated by Senator Gardiner and others. I am interested in the proposal by Senator Greene for the establishment of the nuclei of factories for the purpose of building aeroplane engines and motor cars in Australia. It is gratifying to hear an honorable senator opposite putting forward a strong plea for the protection of Australian industries. I take it that such factories would be subsidized by the Government. It should be patent to everybody that if it is necessary to establish works for that purpose, it is equally desirable that any vessels required for the Australian Navy should be built in the country. Australia’s defence policy should be broad and bold. Senators Elliott, Glasgow, *and Thompson have served with distinction in the Great War, and they may be regarded as having had considerable experience of what Australia’s requirements in time of war would be. But I point out that, should peace prevail for the next ten years, the opinion of these honorable senators, no doubt, will then be regarded as out of date. The opinions of admirals of the British Navy have been cited regarding Australia’s defence requirements. One honorable senator said that they had not been permitted to take part in the recent war, the inference being that their views were of little value, but the same argument may be applied to the opinions of present-day naval officers in years to come. If Australia is to have a Navy built and equipped by Australians, we should lose no time in establishing shipyards, and if it is necessary to build the smaller engines of destruction in this country, it is equally desirable to build cruisers here. The two cruisers for which, orders have been sent to Great Britain will be attached to the British Fleet, and, in the event of their being sent to China-
– Keeping the enemy as far away from Australia as possible.
– If they were sent to China they would not be policing the sea to keep our trade routes open.
– Australian waters extend only 3 miles from the coast.
– I am aware of that.
– We do a big trade with China. That is an important trade route.
– It is very important to Australia.
– It has been said that £30,000,000 has been spent on defence since tho armistice was signed, and we have very little to show for it. I want to know how that money has been expended. Has it been devoted to the establishment of factories along the lines recommended by Senator Greene, or has it largely been used in providing the salaries of highly-paid officers?
– If the honorable senator reads the budget papers he will see how the money has been disbursed.
– The Melbourne Age, of the 5th January, 1924, in a leading article referring to the Prime Minister and his Government, stated -
The increasing inconsistency- of his actions not calculated to serve as an inspiration to the robust spirit of the Australian nation, while his speeches on defence, and in justification of his actions are unlikely to impress even the feeblest intelligence.
That journal is not a supporter of the Labour party, and its comments indicate that the present Government has done little for the defence of Australia. In regard to economic preparedness, the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), when speaking in Sydney at a meeeting of the Chamber of Commerce, said -
The development of our industries, trade, and commerce is of more importance” to the defence of Australia than are the armies of Australia.
I would go a long way with the right honorable gentleman in that direction. The building up of the industries of
Australia is one of the main essentials in its defence, and it is the duty of the National Government to see that more industries ave built up for the protection of the country. Lord Jellicoe, speaking on this subject, said -
A sound policy must aim at promoting Australia’s capacity to make or produce everything essential to its own protection.
According to the Age of the 31st July, 1924, the importance of industrial power was stressed by Lord Jellicoe in his Australian report. The same journal, in its issue of the 20th November, 1924, said that the Chamber of Manufactures had made the suggestion that Australian industries should be organized to make them convertible for war purposes. One of the main points of Labour’s defence policy is the establishment and organiza.tion of industries which, in times of peace, can manufacture the things necessary for the development of the country, but which, in times of war, may be so converted as to turn out everything essential and necessary for war. When Mr. Bowden was Minister for Defence he said, on the 11th August, 1924 -
At present there was only one unit of the Air Force in Australia. They had a tremendous lot of gift equipment from Great Britain, but a great deal of it was still stowed away in the packages in which it came to Australia two or three years ago.
Prominent naval authorities, such as Sir Percy Scott, Admiral Kerr, BearAdmiral Hall, Commander Rawson, AdmiralFullar, Admiral Sims, Admiral von Scheer, and others, are of the opinion that the main things essential for the defence of & country, especially a country like Australia with a huge coastline, are aerial forces, submarines, mines, torpedo boats, and such like. That is the opinion of men whoknow what they are talking about.
– There are men with equal experience who hold a different view.
– As I am a layman, I do not profess to know anything about the subject, but I accept the opinions of men who are experts. As a member of the Labour party, I stand for the defence of Australia. If Labour was in power to-morrow, it would have to supply a proper defence force for the protection of this great country, and what that force should consist of is purely a matter of opinion.
– Does the honorable senator believe in compulsory training?
– No. I could quote quite a number of expert opinions in support of Labour’s defence policy.
This afternoon Senator Lynch dealt very exhaustively with the need for the payment of a bonus on gold production. I want to follow on where he left off, and. appeal to the Government to do something to assist the great mining industry in Western Australia, which is practically languishing for want of help. When it was pointed out this afternoon that the gold mines of Western Australia lost, £3,000,000 through not being able to export gold, Senator Pearce interjected that the only profit the Commonwealth got out of the business was about £11,000. It would be interesting to know where the balance went. Had the gold-mining industry been permitted to export its product as other industries could do, it would have been wealthy enough to-day to carry on operations. I think it is time the Government did something to put it on a sound footing. I make no apology for quoting at length the views of Mr. Richard Hamilton, one of the leading mining managers of Kalgoorlie -
Mr. Richard Hamilton, president of the Chamber of Mines of Western Australia and general manager of the Great Boulder Proprietary Gold Mines Limited, is at present in Melbourne, and is conferring with representatives of the gold producers of the eastern States on the best means of checking the present serious decline in the gold output of the Commonwealth, and in considering proposals designed to bring about a revival of gold mining. In an interview, Mr. Hamilton said that the gold mining industry in Australia was declining at such a rate that unless something was done to assist it, not many more years would pass before it became practically extinct. This might appear to the general public to be due to the gold “ petering out,” but the rate of the decline in the average grade of the ore was not nearly so pronounced as the falling away. The output figures would suggest that Western Australia possessed the largest auriferous area in the world, the belt having a length of 1,000 miles and a width of 250 miles, while the grade of ore at present being treated averaged about 12 dwt. to the ton, which was higher than any other in the world. Taking into consideration the quantity treated, and bearing in mind that £152,000,000 worth of gold had been won in that State alone, it would be absurd to conclude that the gold resources of Western Australia, or the Commonwealth for that matter, had been ex- hausted. lt was not the poorness of the ore which had brought about the decline, said Mr. Hamilton. It was due almost entirely to the change in the economic conditions which had taken place during the last eight years. The changed conditions were directly reflected in the costs of production. Official statistics showed that the average mining costs throughout Western Australia had risen from 19s. per ton of ore in 1910 to 38s. a ton in 1924. Under the present conditions, said Mr. Hamilton, practically all tho mines at Kalgoorlie would exhaust the available profitable ore inside of five years, and would have to close. Apart from the mines at present being -operated in Western Australia, there were over 4,000 abandoned leases, all of which had produced gold. A large number of these were abandoned, not because the gold gave out, but because of the general difficulties and increased costs when Worked to the water level, while more attractive fields were -seeking capital. Many of these smaller but promising prospecting properties were neglected. The deepest workings at Kalgoorlie were at 3,000 feet, while in the Ivanhoe Mine the continuation of the ore had been proved to a depth of 4,000 feet by diamond drilling. Its value was estimated at from fi dwt. to 8 dwt., and the lode still continued under foot. In Western Australia alone, said Mr. Hamilton, 5,000 men were employed in gold mining, while fully 30,000 of the population on the mining fields were dependent on the industry. These figures were less than half of those ruling tcn years ago. Mr. Hamilton expressed himself as certain that there was a great number of new gold-fields awaiting discover, but these wore much more difficult to locate than the original fields, as in most instances they would need to be looked for in flat country, more or less covered with overburden. How to arrest this decline and bring about a general mining revival, said Mr. Hamilton, was a question that had received serious and studied consideration in Western Australia during the last year. As a result, mining and other authorities there had reached the conclusion that tho payment by the Commonwealth Government of a bonus on gold for a definite tarin of years would have the desired effect. ‘ This, it was contended, would result in tho gradual replacing of the present fields by new ones and the opening up of leases prematurely abandoned iri the early days. In submitting these proposals to the Western Australian sectional committee of the Commonwealth Board of Trade, the Chamber of Mines of Western Australia suggested that after any company had returned the whole of its capital expenditure to its shareholders, cither with or without the aid of the bonus received, it should then be allowed to retain from the bonus ls. per ton on the ore treated, and return the balance to the Government should the profits in excess of ls. a ton he earned. With regard to individuals, syndicates, or unregistered companies carrying on the work of gold mining, these should submit annual accounts, and their incomes should be liable to Commonwealth taxation as a private person.
If the average value of the ore now being treated is 12 dwt. it means that the best of the ore is being picked out to1 enable operations to continue. When that ore is exhausted the companies will have to depend upon 6-dwt. ore, which means, as Mr. Hamilton has pointed out, that in five years’ time, unless some assistance is afforded in the direction proposed, the mines will be closed down and numbers of business people, who mostly own their own premises, will have to walk out and leave them. With a bonus low-grade ores can be worked at a profit, whereas to-day they cannot be touched. I trust that when the question of giving a bonus on gold production comes before this Chamber honorable senators will give it their sympathetic consideration.
.- I have listened with considerable interest to the exposition of the Labour defence policy by Senator Gardiner and other honorable senators opposite, and the further they have gone the more they have convinced me - and I think most of those who listened to them - that their defence platform is a hollow sham. It may be made to mean anything or nothing, just as their masters may direct. The word “ adequate” is used again and again. A more ambiguous’ term could not have been employed had the party been advised by the most eminent King’s Counsel in Australia to draft a clause to .conceal their real meaning.
– What does an adequate defence mean ?
– lt may mean a great force or nothing at all. In certain circumstances a considerable standing army might be adequate for our defence, but as we have been told over and over again by honorable senators opposite, and most emphatically by members of the Labour organizations outside, that there is no possibility of Australia being invaded, what in their opinion, was an adequate defence force for Australia might mean no defence force at all. If honorable senators opposite were sincere they would have moved at the conference some such qualification as “ adequate in the opinion of Sir John Monash, or Stir Harry Chauvel, or some other recognized expert.” But as the platform is now worded, I do not think that honorable senators can hope to delude even the blindest of their followers into the belief that the defence policy of the Labour party has any real meaning.
– What would the honorable senator regard as an adequate defence force ?
– A force which could be readily expanded to the utmost dimensions, which could be permanently maintained on a war footing. That is to say, a skeleton force such as the Government proposes; one which could be expanded in the event of war. We should have the nucleus of five divisions of infantry and two of cavalry, which is regarded as being the greatest force which. Australia is capable of maintaining in a state of efficiency with our present population. It would be useless to have a larger organization, because it could not be maintained at effective strength.
– The Labour party’s platformprovides for such a skeleton force.
– It does not provide anything of the kind. If the Labour party advocated a skeleton force to be maintained by voluntary effort, and the compulsory system to be introduced if necessary, the sincerity of honorable senators opposite would not be doubted as it -is at present. The whole defence policy of the Labour party, however, is a delusion and a sham. At present there is an opportunity for voluntary enrolment, inasmuch as non-commissioned officers in the infantry can extend their service. We have not had any evidence, however, of a desire on the part of noncommissioned officers to prolong their period of service. The Light Horse are recruited on a voluntary basis, but they are not up to strength. If I were Minister for Defence I would advise the Government to introduce a measure under, which we could have a voluntary infantry force as well as a voluntary light horse such as we have to-day. Such a scheme would show in some measure the extent to which we could rely upon the voluntary system. It is all very well for the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) to refer to what was done during the war, but honorable senators opposite must know that what was done then was owing largely to the enthusiasm and patriotism of the men who came forward. Many would not have served on a peace basis, and many would not have been in a. position to serve at all but for the fact that trained men were available in consequence of the compulsory training system. These latter men provided a skeleton force on which the whole structure of the Australian Imperial Force was built up.
– It would not have been so but for our compulsory training scheme.
– No; we would not have had the officers. I remember an incident which occurred at Broadmeadows when I was instructed to take only men who had had previous training. My recruiting area was the northern part of Victoria, where there had been practically no military forces, and it became apparent to me that if 1 followed my instructions, I should not be able to raise a regiment at all. I told my recruiting officers to interpret their instructions very liberally, but my action was discovered shortly afterwards by my superior officer, who ordered me to discharge all those who had not previously had infantry training. I replied, “ If you will allow me three weeks I will discharge every one whom you can pick out as not having had previous training.” He agreed, and in three weeks reviewed the battalion, and said that he was absolutely unable to pick out a single man who had not had previous training. He then asked, “ What is the use of all this expenditure on compulsory military training to-day?” I replied, “ I disagree with your suggestion, because without the compulsory training of officers I could not have presented you with a regiment to-day.” We do not hope to maintain anything in the nature of a standing army or even a large militia force, but we hope to keep a nucleus of an army in training and well equipped. With all its faults and shortcomings, I am convinced that the force, as maintained at present, is capable of being rapidly extended into a very large force. Very severe criticisms have been made by the Inspector-General concerning the position, of our present military forces, but these criticisms should be studied with a mind attuned to the military aspect. The Inspector-General and other prominent soldiers have in mind a scheme to keep in training practically the whole of the Australian Imperial Force as it existed at the end of the war, and to send citizen soldiers into camp for three or four months in each year. Doubtless, if we could have afforded it, an efficient force couldhave been provided, which would have been much nearer the InspectorGeneral’s idea of efficient military protection than the present force can possibly be. Hadwe done so, however, we should have been charged, and- perhaps rightly, with accepting militarism, and of being stampeded in the way the French and others were stampeded when it was thought that a renewed outbreak of war was imminent. We resisted the proposal, and I think the results have shown the wisdom of our action. We would have been placing a very heavy burden on the people without obtaining benefits commensurate with the expenditure. There are certain degrees of readiness in which a force has to be held in time of peace and in time of war. When in close grips with the enemy the officers and men have to sleep in their clothes and be fully equipped for action; but further back, easier conditions are available. It is so in times of peace. We have to preserve different degrees of readiness, according to the advices received as to the possible outbreak of war. I have no doubt that the Government is kept in close touch with the international situation through the British War Office, and if unsettled conditions developed, our state of readiness could be improved. It is unnecessary to accept the InspectorGeneral’s statements literally, and the utterances he has made are doubtless with the intention of preventing us living in a fool’s paradise. It would be wrong for him to allow us to go to sleep on the question, and I think that we have done everything in our power towards rapidly placing our forces on a war basis. A good deal has, of course, to be done before that stage is reached, but we are not yet at the point where we must be ready for immediate action. Although there does not appear to be any great danger, or any indication that any other nation has any intention of attacking us, that should not prevent us perfecting the necessary preparations. But what is the position which honorable senators opposite have reached? They appear to desire to abolish the military force altogether for the time being; I warn them that if they allow the vital spark to become extinguished, it will be a very difficult task to kindle it again.
– We do not propose to do that.
– I understand that the Labour party do, unless by some means, such as exceptionally high pay, it, is proposed to encourage men to come forward to train. If the Labour party’s policy provided for compulsory military training, if necessary, there would be some hope. It is said that we should organize our factories, so that we would be in a position in the event of war to mobilize the forces ofindustry to provide the necessary munitions of war. 1 understand that the Munitions Board is already engaged upon that task, and has proceeded to a considerable extent in the direction indicated by the Leader of the Opposition. To establish factories, however, throughout Australia is unnecessary and absurd. When I was instructed to proceed to Broadmeadows in 1914, we did not possess even a watercart. I remember introducing General Forsyth to the officer in control of the agricultural machinery works controlled by Mr. H. V. McKay, in order . to obtain some assurance as to the provision of ordinary munition, baggage, and water carts for the forces. At that time that was the only firm which had a sufficient accumulation of seasoned wood in Australia with which to equip the forces with the vehicles required. The ultimate result was that the whole of the transport equipment for the First. Australian Division was turned out by that company at very short notice. It has been said to-day that Sir John Monash has stated that we have no Mills bombs, but such bombs are easily manufactured. I decline . to believe that any ordinary machinery factory could not readily be converted to the production of these bombs if the necessary plans and specifications were furnished. It would, however, be necessary to provide the explosives. Honorable gentlemen opposite must bear, equally with honorable senators on this side, any blame that . may be attached to the Government in connexion with this matter. They know whence came the pressure when the tariff was under consideration to prevent protection being given to this Australian industry.
– There has always been a big majority of protectionists in this Parliament. Why did not they put their policy into operation?
– I think Senator Grant will recall that the pressure on his own party came from outside, with the result that the manufacturers of explosives in Australia did not get that measure of tariff protection given to many other industries.
– There has always been a majority of more than two to one in favour of protection.
– Unfortunately, when explosives were being dealt with in the tariff debate there was an extraordinary conversion of protectionists to the principles of free trade. I remember protesting, perhaps more vehemently than is usual for me, against the absolute folly of denying protection to this industry. I pointed out that under the proposal made to us, instead of depending upon ourselves in this vital matter of explosives we should be dependent, not even upon Great Britain, but upon the product of black labour in South Africa. If honorable senators opposite expect the people of Australia to believe in their protestations of sincerity, they will have toradically amend, their defence policy.
– The debate up to the present has dealt mainly with the defence of Australia. I followed with interest the speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner). It was a remarkable utterance for one who has occupied a seat in this chamber so long, and who held ministerial office when Australia, in common with the whole of the Empire, was passing through a critical time. The honorable senator outlined the defence policy of the Labour party, but failed to indicate how the party proposed to give effect to it. When the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) asked him how the Labour party intended to raise its land forces for the adequate protection of Australia, he said it would follow the course adopted in 1902, when troops were raised for the South African war, and also during the years of the late great war. Although the honorable senator condemned that system, he could not have paid a higher tribute to its efficiency than by saying that if the necessity arose the Labour party would adopt the same means to raise its land forces. He also stated that, were he entrusted with ministerial office, he would- take the advice ofexpert military advisers. This is exactly what the Government is doing to-day. In connexion with any scheme of defence it is very desirable to impress the rising generation with the great advantages which this country offers to them as citizens of the Empire. This should be a sacred duty laid upon all public men. The youth of Australia should not be instructed that there are only two classes in the community, the capitalistic and working classes, and that necessarily the former is the enemy of the latter. They should be taught to co-operate for the general good of the Commonwealth and for the Empire as a whole. Whilst honorable gentlemen opposite may disagree with Government supporters concerning certain legislation recently passed by this Parliament they should not forget that for many years prior to the outbreak of the war, there was an enemy in this country white-anting its institutions, and endeavouring to bring about its downfall. We should ever be mindful of that danger, and watchful that it does not recur. Senator Greene this evening delivered a very interesting and instructive address, in the course of which he replied to many statements made by the Leader of theOpposition. Referring to the proposed establishment of peace factories which, in time of war, could be converted for the manufacture of munitions, he instanced the desirability of encouraging the establishment of concerns for the manufacture of motor cars and internal-combustion engines. These, of course, are essential, but something more is needed. Considerable sums of money have been spent from time to time in the search for oil fuel in Australia. I am not complaining about that expenditure, because, as far as information available to us indicates, the work has been carried out in localities recommended by experts well qualified to express an opinion. But in Tasmania and in some of the mainland States there exist exceedingly rich shale deposits, which with sufficient encouragement could be developed, and should prove of inestimable value to the Commonwealth. Of what use would it be to build warships in Australia, or to manufacture motor cars and munitions, if we were without an adequate supply of oil fuel for our warships and transport vehicles. It may prove a little more costly to exploit our shale-oil deposits, but as their resources are almost unlimited, and as oil fuel is an essential in time of war, the industry should receive substantial encouragement.
– By a subsidy?
– Yes,as is done in connexion with so many other indus- tries. I hope, therefore, that the Government will give this matter very careful consideration, and agree to assist the shale-oil industry. One of the difficulties up to the present has been to get a suitable retort. I understand that a company will begin operations in the near future. It claims to have devised a suitable process for the extraction of the oil from the shale deposits. The matter is so important that the Commonwealth Government could very well offer a reasonably substantial reward to a company which gave practical proof that it could invent and work a retort which would produce on a commercial basis oil from these shale beds. There is the further question of the big hydro-electric power scheme. It was established to assist what at the time was considered a national industry. I refer to the big zinc industry, which would be indispensable to Australia in time of war. That scheme cost Tasmania between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000, but the Commonwealth did not give the slightest relief in the shape of . a remission of duty upon the machinery that was required. The industry is essential to the well-being of the whole of Australia, and it should have some consideration extended to it. Further developments are taking place, and I urge upon the Government the desirability of affording relief in connexion with the duty on the additional machinery that will be required. The Government should do all it can to encourage the establishment in Tasmania of industries that are made possible by the cheap power that can be obtained.
I take this opportunity to refer to the timber industry, which, not only in Tasmania, but also throughout Australia is languishing. It is well known that large quantities of softwoods ‘are ‘being imported into Australia, the average over a twelve-monthly period being at the rate of1,000,000 feet a day. The result is that half our mills are closed down and our workmen have been thrown out of employment.-
– Is it all Oregon that is being imported?
– A lot of it is Baltic pine. I am disappointed that the Government did not afford further protection to this industry in its new tariff schedule.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that Oregon timber should be excluded from Australia?
– I do not. I recognize that there is work in which only oregon and similar woods can be used; but our mills and workmen would be kept fully employed if our own timbers were used in the general building trade.
– Does the honorable senator know that the Holden Motor Body Works in Adelaide has transferred the whole of its custom from America to Tasmania.?
– Yes. The serious aspect of the matter is that each year our imports show a substantial increase, whilst there is a decrease in the use of our own timbers.
– Is imported softwood being sold for less than the cost . of production in Australia?
– Yes. Protection is the established policy of Australia, and that, combined with the standard of living that has been set up - and to which I take no exception - undoubtedly increases the cost of production. The Government should take such steps as will prevent the wiping out of some of our best industries.
– If the honorable senator does not urge that American oregon should be excluded, what benefit would it confer upon the local timberowners if the price of that timber were increased ?
– I do not suggest that we should place an embargo upon the importation of timber. What I say is that protection has increased the price of many articles that are required in the timber industry, and has thus had the effect of raising the cost of production. The Government should follow up that policy by granting adequate protection to this industry.
– Is there in Australia the efficiency that exists in other countries ?
– Such a comparison could hardly be -made, because they are handling softwoods, whilst we handle hardwood.
I desire to refer also to the fact that goods, which, in the ordinary course, would by this time have been distributed, are still lying in the holds of overseas steamers, and when they are released they will be subject to thi increased duties provided for by the new tariff schedule. That is most unfair. I am not aware of the view of other honorable senators, because I have not discussed the matter with them. If I remember rightly, a promise was made last year that action would be taken to remove such an injustice. If the he-ld-up of overseas shipping had not occurred, these cargoes would have been landed, and thus would have escaped, the higher duties. I know that it is difficult for a “Minister to determine whether they would have been distributed immediately or would have remained in bond for some time. It is, however, fair to assume that a big proportion would have been distributed. The matter is causing importers a great deal of concern, and I believe that they have a just grievance. I ask the Minister in his reply to indicate the attitude of the Government.
.- I do not know whether I should express surprise at the attitude which was adopted this afternoon by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner). I have almost reached the stage of not feeling any surprise at an utterance of his on the floor of the Senate. It appears to me that whenever we have before us a measure which contains a reference to expenditure upon our defence policy, the honorable senator immediately seizes upon it as a justification for attaeking the Government. I listened with keen interest to his vigorous statements, and I could not avoid coming to the conclusion that he condemned himself out of his own mouth. I took the trouble to turn up some of the statements that he made last year. He cannot deny that to-day he adopted the attitude of entire opposition to the spending .of any money on the defence of Australia-
– That is not so.
– Excepting only such proposals as he considered were necessary. He vigorously protested against the expenditure of approximately £4,000,000 a year on defence, because, he contended, no results were being obtained. Last year the honorable senator spoke very strongly against the attempt of the Government to ensure the more adequate defence of Australia by the building of wo cruisers.
– The honorable senator stated that in a few years’ time those cruisers would be obsolete, and ihat, consequently, the money would be wasted. His argument was that there was no need for cruisers, and that we should rely upon submarines and aircraft and the manhood of Australia. On the 7th August, 1924, Senator Gardiner, according to Hansard, page 2906, made this extraordinary statement: -
If then we are to start with a serious defence scheme, and if we are to spend £4,500,000 on cruisers, what better proposal could we have than to start building cruisers now,, even if they cost £10,000,000?
That shows clearly that the honorable senator believed in the Government’s policy of defence, but the fly in the ointment was that the Government was not prepared to spend £10.000,000, when it could obtain a corresponding measure of defence for £4,500,000. I always advocate avoiding the closing of the door after the steed has departed, and I think that the Government is to be complimented upon its defence policy. To-day we have heard severe criticism about the money being wasted, but I challenge any honorable senator to take up the budget proposals for this year and show where any substantial saving could be effected with safety in connexion with the Defence Department. The honorable senator urged to-day that the whole scheme should be scrapped, but would he scrap our military college? Would he not retain, at all events, the nucleus of an army in the shape of a staff? Does he suggest that we should abandon our munition factory? I defy any honorable senator to show that we could afford to scrap any of these services, and yet maintain what is necessary if Australia is to be defended. There must be an expenditure in connexion with the central administration. The following, items show how the proposed expenditure for 1925-26 is distributed:-
I desire to refer to another item in the bill. Senator H. Hays referred to the necessity for the Government giving every encouragement that it fairly could to the shale oil industry. I have taken keen interest in the efforts of the past few years to locate flow oil in Australia and in its dependencies, and I deeply regret that so far the efforts have not been successful. I am inclined to think that we should devote more attention than we have in the past to the extraction of oil. from our shale deposits, which are practically inexhaustible.
– How much a gallon would it cost?
– That is problematical. If as much vigour had been put into the development of the shale oil industry as into the attempt to discover flow oil, probably by this time machinery would have been invented which would have insured the economical production of shale oil. After all, the success of the undertaking depends largely upon the yield that can be obtained from the shale beds. I know one locality where bulk samples of shale have produced 130 gallons to the ton. The average bed would probably yield from 30 to 40 gallons. We have millions of tons of oil-bearing material in Australia that will produce high yields. Senator H. Hays was correct in saying that if we could ensure the production of oil on a commercial basis, even though it might mean a large expenditure, the cost would be more than justified since it is highly necessary for Australia to be independent of outside sources of supply.
There is another matter of which Senator H. Hays reminded me when he mentioned the hydro-electric power now available in Australia. We should do all we can to encourage the building up of local industries. In every State unemployment is rife, but we have such a productive country that the sooner we add materially to our population the better it will be for our primary producers. Great benefit would result if we did everything possible to attract the attention of people with capital to what Australia can offer to-day. I draw attention to the enormous value of the cotton textile fabrics imported into the Commonwealth. They represent nearly twenty million pounds annually. During the last few years it has been proved beyOnd doubt that Australia can produce cotton on a commercial basis. Cotton that is equal to any in the world has been grown in Queensland.. In Papua the cotton industry will be eminently successful from the point of view of quality, and I have no doubt that it has come to stay in Australia. Seeing that we have established factories in the Commonwealth for the manufacture of woollen textile fabrics and other woollen goods, it is just as imperative to turn our attention to the spinning of cotton and the manufacture of cotton textile goods. It is appalling to learn of the ignorance regarding Australia that exists in Great Britain among some of the head officials of the large cotton textile manufacturing concerns. Last year the Governor of Victoria, when paying a visit to England, visited the large cotton textile works of Horrocks, Crewdson and Company. During his tour through the works he referred to the fact that cotton was being produced commercially and satisfactorily in Australia. The chairman of directors of the company admitted that, but said that there was no possibility of ever entertaining the idea of cotton spinning and the manufacture of textile fabrics being undertaken in Australia. . It, had been proved beyond doubt, he said, that the industry could not be carried on in such a hot,, arid climate, because the cotton would break in the spinning process. But, I ask, is Australia, an island a hundred miles in circumference with only one climate 1 There are hot, arid portions, and there are also cold and foggy portions, where the humidity is very great. I could mention one portion of Australia where the conditions are almost the same as obtain in Lancashire, the Cottonopolis of the Empire. I refer to my own State. There are portions of Tasmania where ‘every requisite from a climatic point of view is to be found. I do not contend that these conditions are essential to the successful carrying on of the industry, but I know that they are highly desirable, and, when they are present, manufacture can be much more economically carried on than if machines for producing humidity have to be employed, as they are in some parts of the world. Tasmania has pure water, suitable atmospheric conditions, and. best of all, absolutely cheap power. My desire is to impress upon the Government that the High Commissioner’s Office in London should never weary of rectifying the errors of opinion existing in Great Britain regarding Australia.
– Would the quantity of cotton used in Australia justify the establishment of a factory here ?
– Yes. If we entered only into the manufacture of plain cotton fabrics, grey and white, bleached and unbleached, suoh as calicoes and sheetings, we could give employment to many hundreds of operatives. As far back as 1873 or 1874 grey calico of an excellent quality was manufactured as an experiment at Ipswich, in Queensland, but those engaged in the venture had not much capital, and also for other reasons they could not extend their operations. I ask the Minister to bring this matter before Cabinet with a view to awakening some enthusiasm in the High Commissioner’s office on this matter, because the statements reported to have been made can only be harmful to Australia. Efforts should be made to rectify the false impression that evidently exists as to Australia having a hot, arid climate, which would never permit of the manufacture of cotton textiles.
I support what Senator H. Hays has said about goods in ships’ bottoms held up owing to the present unfortunate shipping strike. I do not know whether the Minister for Trade and Customs has any power to deal with the matter in the direction suggested by the honorable senator, but when I was coming through Launceston yesterday a deputation of business men waited upon me, and pointed out how unfortunately they were situated. They knew that portions of cargoes had been landed and cleared, and placed on the markets, and that they’ were goods of the same description as those on which they would have to pay a higher, rate of duty than had been paid by their more fortunate competitors in the same lines of business. I ask Senator Pearce to get in touch with the Minister for Trade and Customs to see if there is any possibility of having something done to relieve this unfortunate situation, even if it be necessary to amend the Customs Act, to prevent a. recurrence of it in the future. I trust that this will be the last occasion on which we shall hear such unjust and unfair criticism levelled against the defence policy of the Government.
– I shall bring the remarks of Senators H. Hays and Payne under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs. This afternoon Senator Hannan complained that certain statements were being made about two gentlemen who are now appearing, before a board in Sydney. I remind the honorable senator that the board is not a court, and that while certain statements may have been made, about these two gentlemen, they themselves have not since the case commenced hesitated to make statements reflecting on the British Empire, and most offensive to every true Australian. Senator Hannan rebuked the Prime Minister for statements he is alleged to have made, but he has not a word of protest against the gentlemen who are making the statements to which I have referred.
I have just a few brief words to say about Senator Gardiner’s utterances today. The honorable senator said that he would tell the Senate what the Labour party’s defence policy was. We were intensely interested, but when he sat down we were as wise as we were when he. commenced. We still did not know what was the Labour party’s defence policy. He read a statement showing that included in the Labour party’s defence platform was the abolition of the military oath. What is that oath? It is simply the oath of allegiance to His Majesty the King. Why should it be abolished? Are our friends opposite opposed to anybody proclaiming his loyalty to the King? Do honorable senators opposite know where the principles, if they can be so called, of the election, of officers, the abolition of saluting, and the abolition of the death penalty first originated? They were inaugurated by Kerensky after the downfall of the Czarist Government. But when Kerensky was in turn overthrown by the Bolsheviks, Trotsky very quickly re-established all of them. Have honorable senators seen in the illustrated papers a picture representing Trotsky reviewing the Red army? If so, they will have noticed that the Red army was going past Trotsky at the salute. Trotsky also re-instituted the death penalty.
– And he was very liberal with it.
– He was. He instituted it not merely, as in the British Army, for desertion, but for a great many other offences which in the British Army would not be regarded as crimes. Senator Gardiner says that the Labour party stands for “ adequate defence.” Let us see what that means. First of all, the party does not want defence at sea, because last year Mr. Anstey; its Deputy Leader in another place, who was acting Leader during the absence of Mr. Chariton, submitted the following amendment : -
That after the word “That” the following words be inserted: - “as efforts are being made by the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Great Britain to convene another conference to deal with the question of further- disarmament, and in view of the early sitting of the League of Nations, it is the opinion of this House that expenditure on naval construction should be deferred for the present.”
Every member of the Labour party in another place voted for that amendment, which was against the construction of cruisers or any other form of naval construction.
– If cruisers are to be constructed, why not have them built in Australia?
– That amendment did not relate to construction in Australia. It was against construction at all.
– The honorable senator is not fair in his statement. The amendment was for the postponement of construction pending a conference then being convened. Why does not the Minister be fair and quote the whole of it?
– I have quoted the whole of the amendment. As recorded on page 2906 of Hansard of last year, Senator Gardiner said -
I hold the view that the expenditure of money outside Australia for the defence of Australia is worse than useless. I have heard it said that we want these cruisers for the protection of our trade routes. I believe Senator Payne will agree with that statement.
-I do, indeed.
– Dohonorable senators really believe that the trade routes of Australia could he protected by two cruisers of the type which the Government has in mind?
Later on he said -
Our exportable commodities are chiefly primary products. We require no fleet for the protection of. our food supplies.
Further on, as reported at. page 2911, he said -
To spend £4,500,000 on building cruisers for our defence is equivalent to throwing the money into the sea, because their construction will not be completed for two years, and they will have to be scrapped in ten years.
Then Senator Needham, now Deputy Leader of the Labour party in the Senate, said, as recorded on page 2925 of Hansard of last year-
A cruiser, in . my opinion, is a . battleship. Instead of devoting our energies to the building of ‘battleships, we should be giving our attention to the building of friendships.
– But why not both?
– Friendship is a more effective means of defence than a battleship..
On’ page 2928, Senator Needham is recorded to have said -
I wish to again emphasize the point that I am opposed to the construction of cruisers; but, if Parliament determines that two are to be built, I shall strongly advocate that the work of construction be undertaken in Australia by Australian workmen.
And he moved the following amendment : -
That after the word “That” the following words he inserted: - “as efforts are being made by the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Great Britain to convene another conference to deal with the question of further disarmament, and in view of the early sitting of the League of Nations, it is the opinion of this Senate that expenditure upon naval construction should be deferred for the present.”
This amendment was supported on a division by every honorable senator of the Labour party in the Senate. According to page 373 of Hansard for this session, Senator Needham said -
From the outset, the members of the Labour party in both Houses of this Parliament opposed the construction of cruisers, and said that, if Parliament decided that they should be built, their construction should be undertaken in Australia.
They were opposed to the construction of cruisers. So much for naval defence:
Now we come to military defence. Senator Gardiner says that his party stands for adequate home defence. How can a country be defended without an army ? First of all our friends opposite will have no Navy, and they say that they will take no part in war outside Australia. Therefore, having no Navy, and not being prepared to meet an enemy away from our shores, we must be ready to meet one within Australia, and to do so we must, have an army . But as honorable senators opposite are opposed to compulsory training, they will have no army on a compulsory basis, and as they are equally opposed to what they call militarism, they will have no standing army. In these circumstances the only force on which they can rely is a voluntary army. Senator Gardiner says that, because we raised an army of 400, 000 men during the war on the voluntary principle, we should still rely on voluntary training. But surely he can see the difference between a spirit of enthusiasm generated by the patriotism of a people during a war and that cold spirit which exists in peace time, when men are called upon to give up their spare time and train. Does not the honorable senator know that the voluntary system has been tried in Australia and proved a. failure? Is there anything more undemocratic than the system he proposes ? Why should one mau give up his time to train if another will not do so ? Both have an equal stake in the country. Why should one give up his time and not the other? If the Labour party believes in democracy it must hold that the obligation to defend the country rests on all and not on any section. As a party it claims that it does not stand for classes, but the base of its defence policy is class. It would have one class called upon voluntarily to defend Australia while another class would be taking all the benefits given by the country and doing nothing to defend it. How can honorable senators stand by such a policy?
– That is not quite correct. Our programme makes provision for the defence of Australia, but it does not mean that every kiddy in the’ country shall be taken away from his Saturday afternoon football to train. It makes provision for all the training staff necessary.
– Who would there be to train ? What is the use of having sergeant-majors and instructors, and no men to train?
– We have equipped and trained the staff necessary for instructional purposes, and it is only a question of calling up the men when training is necessary.
– I ask Senator* Barnes to ask any military officer whether he could have an efficient corps of instructors if they never had an opportunity of actually training men. They must have some one to train. How are- they themselves to be kept efficient in the art of training men if they have no one to train? They can not. They must have some personnel on which to work. If honorable senators opposite are logical at all they, are forced into one of two positions. They must favour a standing army - a military class - or accept the voluntary system. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) said that he favoured the voluntary system. That system was tried in Australia before we had the compulsory system,, and it was a. hideous failure. Whatever may be said about our Defence Forces to-day, the forces in those days could well be compared with comic opera soldiery. They were inefficient, hopeless, and helpless. It was a most unfair system, and the officers had no control over the men. Supposing there was a normal strength of 1,000 in each unit, and a camp was arranged, those in control did not know how many were likely to attend. The men could please themselves when they came and when they left. Every man was a law unto himself. How could efficiency be obtained even amongst the instructional staff under such a system ? The Leader of the Opposition is arguing on the foolish and unqualified assumption that the 400,000 men trained during the war were trained under the voluntary system. That is not so. They were trained under the compulsory system. When those men had enlisted, and had taken the oath, they were serving under compulsion. They surrendered their liberty; they could not resign; they could not please themselves whether they went into camp or not. When once they enlisted they were under compulsion for the duration of the war. It was a compulsory and not a voluntary system. Senator Gardiner must realize that that is not the system which he advocates. He favours a complete voluntary system, under which a man can voluntarily enlist and resign.
– I cannot understand the Minister making such state- ments when he was largely responsible for - the voluntary system.
– I did not inaugurate the voluntary system. It was in force when I took office.
– A soldier is not a volunteer when once he has enlisted. He enlists for the duration of the war.
– He is under compulsion then, and if that is what Senator Gardiner wants, why does he not tell the country so? The honorable senator says ho is opposed to compulsion.
– SoI am.
– Then why does not the honorable senator let us know where he stands ?
– I am with Sir John Monash.
– The honorable senator cannot shelter himself behind Sir John Monash, because that gentleman does not favour the voluntary system. Sir John Monash has had experience with the voluntary system, and I have heard him describe it.
– He is one of the distinguished officers trained under the voluntary system.
– Yes ; but like a number of other patriotic men, he gave up every minute of his spare time to military work, whilst others were enjoying themselves. There is a foolish assumption amongst some people, especially those on the opposite side of the chamber, that those men who distinguished themselves in the great war. learned the military art after the outbreak of hostilities; but I venture to say that men such as Senator Elliott, Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow, Senator Cox, and Senator Thompson gave up from ten to twenty years of their life to military study and training before the outbreak of war.
– Under the voluntary system.
– But they gave up the whole of their time.I remember conversing with an officer holding a very prominent position at the Langwarrin camp, who told me that for 25 years he had never had an Easter holiday. Every Easter had been given up to service with the military forces, whilst others were enjoying themselves. It is ridiculous to say that these men distinguished themselves and performed the splendidwork they did merely because they were trained under the voluntary system. Senator Elliott has told us of what was a common experience during the early stages of the war, and how difficult it was to obtain the services of any one who knew the rudiments of training. I remember going to Broadmeadows, and seeing men train ing there in squads of ten under the direction of sergeant-majors, or any one else who had any experience at all in’ training. If it had not been that we had had the compulsory system, even to a small degree, even that would not have been possible. If the Labour party have a defence policy, they should tell us what it is. We have not been told it to-day. I shall now give the Government’s policy for this year. We have a five years’ programme outlined, and last year’s programme is being continued this year. We intend to improve the navy, the army, and the air services, and to enlarge the organization of the munitions supplies. Contracts have been let for two new cruisers and two ocean-going submarines. We have decided, in addition, to construct a seaplane-carrier, and to subsidize the construction of a floating dock in Australia. Steps have also been taken to provide depots for the oil the cruisers will burn as fuel. The personnel of the navy is being increased. Field artillery, ammunition, and a supply of gasmasks for units of the field army, technical stores for equipment of field artillery, and a nucleus of tanks and antiaircraft artillery have been provided for. We now have factories capable of making cordite, rifles, and small arms ammunition. Provision is being made for the establishment of nucleus factories for making guns and carriages up to 4.5-in.. also artillery ammunition, including cartridge-cases, fuses, primers, detonators, and high explosives, and machine guns and pistols. The erection of an aircraftdepot at Laverton has been rapidly pushedahead. Plans for the provision of units in New South Wales have received parliamentary approval. The permanent nucleus of a land plane squadron, together with the necessary machines to be used in training the Citizen Forces, has now been established at Richmond, in New South Wales. Machines have been ordered for one flight of amphibians, to be used for co-operation, with the navy, and for training the air force personnel required by the seaplane carrier. The programme for this year is not altogether an ambitious one, but in view of our financial resources, it is satisfactory, and one which Sir John Monash believes should be proceeded with.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Towards the close of last financial year Parliament granted Supply for the ordinary purposes of government to cover a period of two months. This grant is now exhausted, and the Government is now asking for Supply for a further two months. The total of the bill is £3,322,820, made up as follows: -
When the previous Supply Bill was passed, Estimates for the current year had not been prepared. The schedule to the bill was, therefore, based on the Estimates for 1924-5 and not in the form just presented. A comparison of the first two months’ bill with the present bill, which is for a similar period, can be made on totals only. The total of the Supply already granted is £4,459,235, as compared with £3,322,820, the total of the present bill. It should be stated, however, that the first bill contained, under Treasurer’s advance, an amount of £1,000,000 to provide for a continuation of works pending the passing of the revenue and loan works bills, whilst no such provision is necessary in the present bill. In addition, a larger amount was included in the first bill for refunds of revenue, to provide for special refunds of direct taxation following on High Court judgments and amendments in the law. Omitting Treasurer’s advance and refunds of revenue, the total of the present bill is £3,122,820, whilst the amount of the first Supply was £3,109,235. This slight increase of £13,585 is unimportant when it is remembered that many thousands of pounds will be expended in quarterly and half-yearly contract payments which fall due in the period covered by the Supply. The total of the two Supply bills, which cover four months’ expenditure, excluding Treasurer’s advance and refunds of revenue, is £6,232,055, whilst one-third of the total expenditure under votes in the main Estimates in respect of which Supply is granted is £6,358,780. These figures show that the Supply bills are £126,725 less than one-third of the total estimated expenditure for the year. When it is remembered that in the four months covered by Supply there are ten pay days, the requirements for which are considerably in excess of one-third of the total salary provision for the year, it will be seen that the proposed expenditure is well within the programme for the year.
Debate (on motion by Senator J . Grant) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Crawford) read a first time.
Senate adjourned at 10.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 September 1925, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1925/19250909_senate_9_111/>.