1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the Chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. HUME COOK presented a petition from Mr. John Robertson, M.A., of Moonee Fonda, in the State of Victoria, praying the House to take into consideration the question of the Commonwealth coinage, and’ the desirability of its immediate reform.
– I noticed a paragraph in the press this morning to the effect that certain reports have been made to the Ministry regarding the payment of bonuses, and I shall be glad if the Minister for Trade and Customs will lay upon the table of the House all the papers, so that we may have an opportunity to deal fully with the subject when the Bonus Bill is brought up for consideration.
– I am sure that honorable members do not wish to cause any unnecessary expense, but the papers will be made available to them.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he has made any inquiries into the collection of duty on unset precious stones f Last week I asked a question on the subject, and he promised to bring forward an answer.
– I shall bring forward an answer during the week. It is not so simple a matter as the honorable member appears to think.
-With reference to some papers which the Prime Minister laid on the table of the House respecting the appointment of Mr. Justice Dash wood, and Mr. Wharton, as’ a commission of inquiry into the pearl-shelling industry ; I desire to know if they are to act in unison or separately?
– I intend that these gentlemen shall act separately, as they will be at a distance of a good deal over 1,000 miles from each other in their investigations.
CABLE RATES : VICTORIA.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice. -
Whetherin view of the great loss suffered by Victorian and Queensland traders through their State Governments’ loyal adherence to the Pacific cable arrangement, he can see his way to refund to them later the loss they have suffered in paying higher cable rates than the traders of other States, for what appears to be the eventual advantage of the whole of the Commonwealth ?
– I do not see my way to take the course suggested, hut I trust that an agreement will soon he made which will relieve the States mentioned for the future.
TRANSFERRED OFFICERS: ARREARS.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Does the Government accept the interpretation of section 19 of the Victorian Public Service Act, No. 1721, given by Mr. Topp, barrister-at-law, which has been submitted to the Prime Minister by the transferred officers ; and, if so, will he make provision on the Estimates of this session for paying the arrears due ?
– I have referred the matter to the Attorney-General for consideration of the question of law involved.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What is the exact position in regard to penny postage between Great Britain and Australia ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The exact position in regard to penny postage between Great Britain and Australia is that it has been decided, subject to the approval of Great Britain, to treat letters not exceeding halfanounce in weight and prepaid at one penny as fully prepaid.
DUTY ON SECOND-HAND CASKS.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether the Customs authorities in Tasmania are justified by law in demanding duty upon second-hand casks imported into Tasmania from other States of the Commonwealth in which they have been used ?
– The answer to. the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Second-hand empty casks on the first InterState transfer, unless of Australian manufacture, are liable to 20 per cent, duty (Division X. , item III , of Tariff), less any duty already paid on importation. Having once paid they are thereafter free between State and State. Casks are free as ordinary packages when containing goods ordinarily imported in them, but not when, as has been attempted, containing other goods.
NAVIGATION : WATER CONSERVATION.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I should like to preface my reply with the statement that the Commonwealth is not joining in the appointment of this commission, which is being appointed by the Governments of’ the three States concerned. The following are the answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions : - 1 and 2. I understood the proposal to be that the commission was to concern itself with the waters of the Murray River only, with instructions to report on the best method of securing the waters for the purposes of navigation as well as conservation and distribution.
– It is useless, confining it to the Murray.
– I think we shall find out about that when the report is made.
– The commission will be futile, judging from the terms of its appointment.
– I t I think not.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The following are the answers to the honorable member’s questions : -
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– As the honorable member is probably aware, the legal business of the Commonwealth is transacted for us at present by the various Crown Law-offices in the States, who have, as a rule, for all cases except those of special importance, selected the counsel. The Crown Lawoffice in Western Australia has been instructed to avail itself of the services of Mr. Walter James, except in cases in which special instructions are given. Of course no salary is ever paid : I am not even aware that a retainer has been given. If it has it will be for the nominal amount customary.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether it is proposed to interfere with any State Government in distributing bonuses or bounties for the production or export of goods granted by the State Legislature prior to 30th June, 1898, or the subject of lawful agreement between the State Government and producers of goods, made prior to the said date?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The law officer of the Commonwealth advises that the bonuses provided in Victoria for the cultivation of vines and fruit trees, and for the production of oil and fibre, and for the export of fruit, fruit-pulp, and tobacco, continue good as grants or agreements under the last paragraph of section 90 of the Constitution. It is, therefore, proposed to allow the distribution of the balances still remaining as heretofore. The total amount remaining to be distributed is £29,330, and is entirely provided by Victoria.
COMMENTS IN THE “ Argus.”
– As a matter of privilege, sir, I desire to draw your attention to a leading article in the Argus this morning. You may remember that yesterday afternoon we had a discussion on the propriety of an honorable member retaining his seat on the Elections and Qualifications Committee. I am glad to say that the debate did not touch on the question of the justifiableness or otherwise of the petition being lodged by Mr. Whitelaw ; but the journal in question has commented, to a large degree, on the question itself, amounting, in my mind, to a contempt of the tribunal which has to adjudicate on the case. I ask you, sir, as the custodian of the rights and privileges of the House, whether it is not a proper thing to take some action against the journal for contempt, in regard to a case which is sub judice. If the inquiry were being held by the High Court, supposing that it were in existence, it would allow one or other of the parties to take action, if any comment were held to be in contempt of its authority. As the Elections and Qualifications Committee is endowed for this purpose, with all the attributes and powers of a Court, it seems to me, sir, that it is possible for you to take action in such a manner as will prevent any comment upon a case which has yet to be decided, from appearing in any journal. I do not wish to make any comment, sir, but merely to ask, first, whether you have considered the matter, and secondly, whether you think that there is any course which can be taken to safeguard the committee from any unfair attempt to influence its decision one way or the other.
– The House has appointed a select committee, which is for the time the court to inquire into this and other cases. If that select committee deems that its privileges have been in any way trenched upon, it will be for it to take action. If, in its opinion, it has sufficient power, it can take such action as it may think ought to be taken, or it can appeal to the House to take action. I think that the first body before which the question ought to be brought is certainly the committee ; and I suggest that the honorable member should bring the matter under its notice.
At a later stage :
– As regards the question of privilege raised by the honorable member for Bland, I wish to say that the matter will be taken into consideration to-morrow by the committee.
– In reference to the reply given by the Minister for Trade and Customs to the question of the honorable member for Gippsland-
– Order. I cannot allow any comments on an answer to be made at this stage.
– I wish to show the Minister why I am referring to the matter-
M r. SPEAKER.- It is impossible at the present stage; the questions upon notice have all been answered.
– I shall have to move the adjournment of the House.
– As the business has been called upon, it will not be competent for the honorable member to move the adjournment of the House to-day. .
– I shall move the adjournment to-morrow.
– I may say, if it will relieve any anxiety on the part of my honorable friend, that no action is proposed to be taken in this matter during this week.
In Committee :
– I move -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of moneys be made for the purpose of a Bill for an Act relating to the Governor-General’s establish ment.
I need not enter into any explanation at this stage. I ask honorable members to reserve the expression of their views until I explain the reasons for the introduction of the Bill. I propose to have it read a first time and circulated almost immediately, and to move its second reading to-morrow, as a matter of duty before my departure from the Commonwealth.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported, and agreed to.
Resolved (on motion by Mr. Barton) -
That the Prime Minister and Attorney-General be appointed a committee to prepare and bring in the Bill.
Bill presented (by Mr. Barton) and read a first time.
In Committee : Consideration resumed from 29th April (vide page 12087).
– I do not rise with the intention of making a financial statement, nor with the object of reviewing these Estimates, but my wish is to place before honorable members a few facts as to the position of affairs. When I have said the little I desire to say, I hope honorable members will be satisfied to pass the Estimates after malting but a few observations. I enter upon my task with some trepidation, because for some time past I have heard from my friends all round the House that these Estimates are to be very violently attacked, and that I am to get what is called a “ good doing.” I have no fear on that score, however, as I feel quite sure that all my honorable friends are reasonable men, and that they will act as such. The Defence department of Australia, if one can judge from what one hears, is not a very popular one, and I have regretted a good many times that it should have fallen to- my lot to be associated with it; for it is more pleasant to be identified with what is regarded in the public mind as a popular institution. The Defence- department is not a revenue producer, and is, to that extent, unpopular. A great deal of money is spent in connexion with it for what appears to some as very little return in times of peace, so far as the national exchequer is concerned. In time of war we might get a good haul now and again, but in time of peace this is purely a spending department, and I do not wonder, therefore, that those who are sent here specially to protect the taxpayers view any abnormal growth with some alarm. These Estimates have run the gauntlet of the Treasurer’s and of my own scrutiny, but I do not claim to be altogether responsible for them. They ure not our Estimates, but those of the States, which we found in existence when we took over the departments on the 1st March, 1901. Of course, it may be said that we should have reorganized the department and reconstructed the Estimates upon a basis that we might call our own, quite independently of the Estimates which had previously existed ; but those who speak in this way are not practical men, because it would have been absolutely impossible to do anything of the kind, as I think I shall show in a few moments.
– Why did not the Government delay the transfer of the department until they were ready to take up the work of reorganization ?
– The position would not ‘have been improved if we had delayed the transfer. Supposing that the Commonwealth had not taken over the Defence department, the States would probably have incurred the same amount of expenditure as before. Does the honorable and learned member suppose that they would have reorganized their departments and cut down their expenses to any large extent ?
– Certainly, in some cases.
– They might have reduced the expenditure in South Australia by £5,000 or so, but that would not have materially helped the Commonwealth. All we have done in the way of organization has been to appoint a General Officer, who has been here now a few months, and to also provide him with a staff. I may say, in passing, that the officers appointed by the General, with the exception of one clerk or secretary, were in the service of the States at the time they were selected.
– That does not prove that they were qualified.
– I do not think any question has been raised as to their qualifications. I do not suppose that the General Officer would have selected as members of his staff, upon whom he would have to depend for the management of the defences, men who are not thoroughly qualified. ‘ If he has done so, he is not the man I take him to be. It would be a very suicidal policy on his part to appoint. incompetent officers, because he could not expect to get good work out of them. We took the Defence department over on the 1st March, and everything was then new to me. I was not familiar with the Defence departments of Australia, although I had managed the small Defence department of Western Australia. Then we had the elections immediately afterwards, and following upon those the meeting of Parliament, the Royal visit, and, since that date, Parliament in full session. Before we even had time to look round after the Royal visit, the Treasurer demanded, at the point of the bayonet, that the Estimates should be submitted to him. All we could do was to gather the material for these Estimates from the six corners of Australia, and we instructed the officers in the various States to send in their Estimates. The Estimates furnished by them were not those which honorable members now have before them. With the kind assistance of the Treasurer, who is always an excellent friend where any cutting down is necessary, we brought these Estimates into the shape - if I except one or two items, which I shall explain - in which they were passed by the States last year. Since then we have had additional Estimates placed on the table, and all the votes have been lumped together in the shape in which they now appear. It must be remembered, too, that we have been tied down a good deal by our parliamentary duties, and that we have had no General Officer on whom we were depending for the re-organization of the department. It would have been impossible for me to re-organize the department, or to effect economies without some one to advise me, and for several months I had to carry on the duties of General Officer commanding as well as I could until the arrival of General Hutton. The first few months were devoted to collecting information, so that we could base our Estimates on the state of affairs existing at the time that we took the departmentoover. To do more than that for the year ending 30th June next never entered my mind. Without a General Officer I knew that it was impracticable for me to re-organise the department ; and I never thought of attempting it. These Estimates - leaving out such items as the votes for rifles and ammunition - are merely a compilation of the Estimates that we found in existence in the various States, and there have been no increases of salaries. No man who held office in the States, and who retains his old position, has had any increase of salary, if I except one or two cases in which I have increased the salaries of men who were receiving less than £100 a year. These men were being paid only £50 or £60 a year. Throughout these Estimates there are practically no increases of salary.
– But the State Governments inflated their Estimates by a quarter of a million of money during the previous year.
– The honorable member was in the State Parliament of New South Wales, and he should have opposed the Estimates.
– So we did.
– I am prepared to admit that, looking at these Estimates without any knowledge of the expenditure previously in force in the States, honorable members might think they were rather high. An amount closely approaching a million of money seems a very large one, but it must be remembered that £106,000 of this amount has to be paid for the auxiliary squadron. Furthermore, I am informed, and I believe, that when the 30th June comes, and the Treasurer shuts down, as he does pretty sharply, there will be a saving on these Estimates of probably £100,000.
– That will be carried into next year.
– No; it will lapse. There will be a saving effected of something like £100,000 on these Estimates.
– Why does the Minister not cut down these Estimates by that amount 1
– The right honorable member has been Treasurer of Tasmania, and he must know that that £100,000 is distributed over the whole of these Estimates. Therefore, it would be impossible to cut them down by that amount without recasting the whole. Is it not sufficient when I tell honorable members that I believe there will bea saving of £100,000? We must also remember that these Estimates include £25,000 for the purchase of new rifles - a very small sum indeed when one reflects that £100,000 ought to be devoted to that purpose. I do not know where the additional money which is required is to come from - whether out of revenue or loan - but it is absolutely certain that we require more rifles.
– Certainly the money should not come out of loan.
– May I remind the honorable and learned member that a greater country than Australia pays for rifles out of loan money when it is necessary to do so. Then, a sum of £40,000 is provided in excess of the amount which was spent last year for the purchase of ammunition. We propose to set apart £110,000 for this purpose, although last year only £70,000 was spent in this connexion. Of course, it is not intended to use the whole of this ammunition during the cm-rent year, but we are endeavouring to make up our reserves, which are very much depleted. Even the expenditure of this money will not suffice to accumulate the reserve which, it is generally admitted, is necessary. When we consider that £25,000 is to be spent upon rifles, £40,000 extra upon ammunition £106,000 for naval defence, and that nearly £1 00,000 will be saved throughout the whole of the Estimates, it will be seen how it comes about that these Estimates are apparently so large. These amounts represent a large sum of money. I ask honorable members to be reasonable in regard to this matter. No one can say with justice that up to the present time there has been any opportunity to re-organize the Military department, and to place it upon a better footing - to make it more effective, whilst at the same time exercising more rigid economy. The General Officer himself has been in Australia only a few months, and has not yet been able to visit every part of the Commonwealth. I can assure honorable members that, equally with themselves, I am prepared to economize. It may not be generally known, but I have been economically disposed all my life I do not mean to say that I am niggardly, but it has ever been my aim to see that public money is expended wisely and economically.
– Yet the right honorable gentleman feels it necessary to inform the committee of the fact.
– If my whole life were better known to the honorable member it would prove what I say. Where one is unknown it is necessary to say things which would not be necessary where one is known. Further, we must re-arrange our naval expenditure. Upon our permanent naval force I find that we spend over £70,000 annually. I do not think that that money is expended in a way which is most likely to render that force efficient in time of need. I have not the slightest doubt that we shall have to re-organize our local naval defences. They cost too much, having regard to their efficiency in time of war. That is the general opinion of those with an intimate knowledge of this question. But even in regard to that expenditure, I have made up my mind that considerable reductions must take place. The permanent men can be largely reduced, and consequently the expenditure can be decreased. However, I have not felt justified in dealing with this matter precipitately. We must move slowly and with deliberation, and then we shall be able to act wisely and justly. At the present time we pay £106,000 to the Imperial Navy, towards which New Zealand also contributes £20,000, and our Australian navy in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia costs from £70,000 to £75,000 annually. Therefore we are already paying £181,000 for naval defence. No doubt we shall have to spend more than that in the future, but at the same time I believe we can secure a far better service for the expenditu re. What we want is a service that will be effective in time of war, not one that is merely effective for harbor defence or in smooth waters. We require a naval defence that will protect our trade and commerce, and consisting of ships which will be able to proceed to sea. No doubt that matter will receive the consideration of the Prime Minister when he is in England, and probably upon his return he will have something to submit to Parliament regarding the means by which our trade and commerce can be best protected with the least possible expenditure. I agree with those who think that the expenditure upon our military and naval forces requires the closest vigilance and scrutiny. AVe must have an effective service upon economic principles.
– Will the right honorable gentleman move the first reduction ?
– We do not require to make any reduction. Instead of doing that I advise honorablemembers to pass these Estimates as they stand, and to regard them as representing the transferred expenditure of the various States upon military and naval defence. Honorablemembers should recollect that we have a very big continent to defend, and that we haveonly just entered into federation. These are the first Estimates of the Defence department. Hitherto there have been six States with their different military and naval systems.
– Does not the same state of affairs prevail to-day ?
– Yes : but hitherto the States have had their own military and naval commandants independently of each other. Now, however, we are bringing all these different systems under one head, and it is only reasonable to believe that more efficiency and economy are possible in the management of one large machine than in the management of six separate machines. My object in rising was to explain to honorable members the true position in regard to these Estimates. During their passage I shall be only too glad to give honorable members the fullest information in my possession in regard to any particular item.
– Nobody will deny for a moment that the obligation rests upon us to see that theCommonwealth is effectively defended by its. own people. To the extent that that is. necessary by means of a citizen force, all should be pleased to pass any Estimates that may be required. But we should certainly not commence our career by an exhibition of extreme militarism or by extravagant expenditure upon defence, any more than upon anything else. Several very important points in regard to these Estimates have been overlooked - points which must inevitably tend, if due regard be givento them, to a reduction in the expenditure upon this department. The Minister for Defence spoke of a possible saving of £100,000, but he rather let the cat out of the bag by putting down the amount which would be saved at£200,000.
– He did not say that.
– Then I gave the light honorable gentleman credit forgreater discrimination regarding the possibilities of the case, than he is apparently capable of. To my mind we might very well cut down these Estimates by £200,000.
– By £400,000.
– I propose in the course of the debate to move a reduction upon some item by way of indicating, if happily it should be carried, that this committee instructs Ministers to cut down these Estimates by £200,000.
– The right honorable member should cut them down himself.
– Private members have not the obligation thrust upon them of arranging the Estimates. They are not paid for doing that work.
– The right honorable member ought to indicate the direction in which he thinks the saving can be made.
– I wish to point out a few reasons which influence my belief that these Estimates can fairly and properly be reduced.
– Point to the items.
– I will speak generally as to the items.
– It is the easiest way of speaking.
– We have had presented to us the report of the Commandant, which I have not had time to read very closely, but I see in it evidence of one or two points to which attention should be given, and to which, I think, due attention has not been paid at present. One of those points is that we have not taken sufficiently into account the valuable extent to which the defence of this Commonwealth can be assured by purely voluntary means. I have had some little experience in ‘the small State of Tasmania, where the voluntary spirit was killed by the introduction of the system of payment, which was not required by the men, and which, to some extent, effaced the volunteer spirit.
– Not required by the men? They have been crying out for it for the last six months in Tasmania !
– When the
Government educate themin that way they will no doubt cry out for payment, but they did not do so until after the new system was introduced. We may all reasonably expect that our defence force will not be called on again to serve anywhere outside the Commonwealth.
– That isa question.
– It is a contingency which I prefer to believe is exceedingly remote. The chance of our troops being called upon to serve in any foreign country or anywhere outside our own shores is a very remote one. There was to my mind ample justification for sending our men to South Africa, because Australia is as largely concerned in the preservation and protection of British power in South Africa as is any portion of the Empire. South Africa constitutes for us the one safe trade route available in time of war when the Suez Canal might be closed against all the belligerent vessels. That war has given us evidence ofsomething further - thatis,of thevalueina field such as that - and the field in Australia would be very much the same - of mounted men not drilled into mere machines, but left largely to their own initiative, men with some capacity in the way of riding, which every Australian soldier probably will possess, and with the ability to shoot straight. We have exactly those qualities abundantly amongst us to provide for a citizen soldiery which could be called upon in time of emergency to serve ably and well in the field in the defence of the Austraiian Commonwealth.
– At half the cost now proposed.
– At any rate at a considerably reduced cost. There is also to my mind an omission in the report of the Major-General commanding of all consideration in regard to possible reserves. We need not have a force of so many thousand men all actually in service at the same time ; but if time after time our men are retired and placed in reserve for different orders of service, according to the term which they have served, we shall have a possibility of having available a very much larger armed, and moderately trained, force than we shall have under the system for which provision is made in these Estimates. There can be no question whatever that in some of the States the defence force is very much in excess of the ‘requirements. One great sinner in this respect is’ Tasmania. In the return which accompanies the report of the Major- General commanding, I find that Tasmania has >a total of 3,016 men in the defence force. That is -to say, Tasmania, with a population of 180,000, has a third of the number of troops possessed -by New South Wales with her population of 1,200,000, and half the number of Victoria with her population of 1,100,000. Tasmania has more men serving than South Australia, which has double her population, and half as many men as Western Australia, which has a population slightly greater than that of Tasmania. It was all very well when these different States ‘were independent each of the other, that -each should have a force sufficient for its own particular requirements. But the occasion for that has entirely changed. We are federated, and the defence force of Australia will operate from one end of the continent to the other, including also the island of Tasmania. The force is under one control and one commanding head, and will be available equally for the defence of any portion of the territory that may be subjected to attack. Therefore, our federation would be barren of its fruit in one of the principal directions if we did not economize an regard to the number of men in the defence force, so as to reduce that number, not State by State, but ‘for the whole Commonwealth,’ -to the actual minimum required for our defence.
– ‘But who is to decide that minimum 1
– Parliament will decide the minimum amount to be spent.
– The right honorable member speaks of the ‘minimum force.
– Parliament will assist Ministers in regard to the minimum amount to >be spent in a very short time ; but the responsibility surely rests with those who1 are governing, and with those upon whom rests, for the time being, the responsibility not only of directing the affairs of the defence force, but of directing our financial affairs so that we may live in smooth water, of deciding how reductions shall be made.
– We have employed a military officer of great experience and at 34 n 2
– To a large extent, no .doubt, but there are -matters of opinion in connexion with many of these questions. As to those matters this House is as competent to judge as is any general officer in the world. I do not mean as to technical matters or those military points about which presumably noneus of can express an intelligent opinion ; but as to questions such as that of the number of men required for our defence, whether those men shall be volunteers or paid militia, or. a permanent force, whether we shall have a reserve force with a reserve again at the back of that, and so on.
– We shall have to pay them.
– We shall not necessarily have to pay our reserves.
– Oh, yes, we shall. We shall not have a reserve if we do not.
– That is not so in this country. The peoplehave exhibited a splendid spirit of patriotism when they have been called on to give their time and their lives to the -defence of their country, and are -we to expect that they will, be languishing and backward to any greater extent than, say, the men of Germany? I am surprised that Ministers should take such a view of the spirit that, animates Australians. Here we have in -Major-General Hutton’s report a splendid- admission, as to what that spirit is : -
A voluntary military service is the pride of all Anglo-Saxon communities, and it is safe to accept the fact that whenever a national emergency occurs a sufficient number of citizens will always be found read y and willing to voluntarily undertake the duty of defence.
For my own part - I know not what opinions are entertained by other honorable members, but I think the honorable member for West Sydney, at any rate, is at one with me in this respect - I think that as it is the duty of every able-bodied man to defend the hearths and homes of his country, so every. able-bodied man should be liable for service if called upon. That principle I hope to see embodied in our Defence Bill. I hope also that the volunteer spirit will be encouraged in those who are willing to serve, and that the few who do hold back will not be released from their natural obligations. By way of indication that this committee desires of Ministers, and expects of them, and holds them responsible for the reduction of the Estimates to the extent of £200,000, I move-
That the vote be reduced by the sum of £1.
– I quite agree with the amendment of the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon. I purposed moving a similar amendment, avid, strange to say, there is agreement also, without consultation, in the matter of the amount. There is greater necessity to offer some opinion in regard to the expenditure on defence than might otherwise be the case, in view of the fact that for at least six months after this financial year has closed the finances will, inall probability, be carried on by Supply Bills without the passage of Estimates for next year. We cannot anticipate that the Estimates for the next financial year will be passed before next December, or possibly before March ; and if the latter be the month, it means that for nine months we shall practically be in the hands of the Ministry as to the amount spent on defence and other services. During the whole of this year the Government, from various circumstances, have been constrained to bring in Supply Bills month after month, with the result that we have had no control over the amounts spent in the military department and other services. In view of the fact that the Government have been authorized by means of Supply Bills to spend these various sums on the basis of the expenditure of last year by the States, I do not think it would be proper for us to cut down this year’s Estimates. We have ourselves authorized this expenditure, and the proper course for those who believe there should be a material reduction in the defence expenditure is to propose a reduction by a nominal amount as an indication of what is desired in the next financial year. The Minister for Defence uttered at least one true word when he said that the people of the Commonwealth would view with some degree of alarm the continued expansion of the military Estimates. During the last year that the military departments were, under the control of the various colonies there was an expansion of, roughly speaking, £250,000. Personally, I objected all along to this in New South Wales, but, unfortunately, the majority for the time being were in favour of the expansion. There was, however, an expectation on the part of a very considerable proportion, if not the majority, of the people of Australia, that one result of federation would be to secure, not only greater efficiency in the defence force, but a saving in the expenditure. The question, of defence, amongst a comparatively few functions of importance, offers greater opportunity for honorable members to devote their attention to it than was the case in the various States, where it was only a comparatively small function amongst very many others. The expenditure in the various States, so far as I have been able to ascertain, amounted in 1899-1900 to something . over £500,000, leaving out of account the contribution to the auxiliary squadron.
– A. large number of the men were then away,
– I do not think that two years ago the military strength in the various States was much under the usual strength. So far as New South Wales is concerned, the Government there took credit in the Estimates for the full strength of the several corps, not making any reduction on account of the men who were away in South Africa.
– But there was large provision for savings.
– I am speaking of the Estimates irrespective of expected savings. In 1900-1, practically the year in which the Commonwealth took control, the Estimates had been expanded to the extent of over £250,000 by the various State Parliaments. I do not hold the Ministry responsible for that, but at least we owe it to those States which to-day are suffering financial embarrassment, and about the condition of which a great deal of wailing has been heard in this Chamber, to see that no unnecessary expenditure, or, to put it more strongly, no expenditure except that which is absolutely essential, is guaranteed or allowed by this Parliament. There is one matter, however, for which the Ministry arc responsible. The staffs :hat exist to-day in the six States have recently had superadded to them the seventh or Commonwealth staff, .under the control of Major-General Hutton.
– The members of the Commonwealth staff have been taken from the State staffs.
– It is strange that the amount asked for by the department in regard to the expenditure in the various
States is, on the whole, larger than ever it was before. For the magnificent army which, according to Major-General Hutton’s return, consists roughly of 30,000 men, putting aside rifle clubs, the cost is £2 10s. per head for the staffs. This is irrespective of the regimental staffs, and takes into account only the central staffs in the various States, and the headquarters staff in connexion with the Commonwealth. That is an absolutely outrageous expenditure. For every man, whether he be a volunteer, partially-paid man, or permanent man, there is an expenditure of £2 10s. on management, leaving out, as I say, the various regimental staffs, which, so far as I know, are absolutely necessary. The actual sum spent in the various States is £56,000 odd, which, with the addition of £16,000 odd for the head-quarters start7, brings the amount to £72,720, or roughly £2 10s. per head. Taking allowances, contingencies, and so on, so far as they do not apply to individual officers, the amount spent in New South Wales is £15,124; in Victoria, £10,230 odd; in Queensland, £17,147; in South Australia, £6,346 odd; in Western Australia, £5,000 odd ; and. in Tasmania, £2,548. The amount put down for the head-quarters staff is £13,000 odd, but that is the amount for only a part of the year, and is not a proper guide as to the yearly expenditure, which is £16,325. It goes without saying that the various State staffs should be either totally abolished, or very materially reduced as a consequence of the establishment of the central administration.
– They will be reduced.
– But the Minister has given us no indication of what saving he anticipates making in this direction even for next year.
– The matter has not been quite worked out yet, but I can give some information.
– In New South Wales, with which State I am most familiar, a general officer commanding is provided at £1,000 a vear, a salary which seems to me to be higher than is necessary for what is a subordinate post pure and simple. In addition to this salary, there are, of course, allowances for furniture, stabling, and so on.
– Do these allowances not apply to the new commandant 1
– There are no allowances.
– All the allowances have been abolished.
– That makes a considerable difference. But we have an assistant Adjutant-General, a chief staffofficer, an assistant Quartermaster-General, a chief clerk, a military secretary, and an examiner of accounts.
– If the honorable member is referring to New South Wales, these offices will not be continued.
– Practically the whole should disappear.
– A great many of them will disappear.
– We ought to know from the Minister, the extent of the saving which may reasonably be anticipated from the absorption or abolition of the State staffs.
– Major-General Hutton expects to pay for the Headquarters staff out of the savings in connexion with the States’ staffs.
– Major-General Hutton should, I think, do better than that. A saving of £16,000 out of £56,000 will still leave £40,000 to be spent on six separate staffs throughout the Commonwealth, an expenditure which I cannot conceive to be’ necessary, in view of the small number who have to be drilled and the nature of the accounts which have to be kept.
– The trouble is that a large number of the officers referred to have permanent positions, and we cannot get rid of them at once without paying compensation or pensions.
– It would be better to give reasonable compensation than to continue them in employment for which there is no necessity.
– I quite agree with that view.
– The first loss is the cheapest in matters of this sort. I do not suppose these officers are entitled to much by way of pension.
– They are not entitled to any pension.
– Then we ought to buy them out, if we cannot do any better. Another point to which I would like to direct attention is that the amount of money proposed to be voted is not likely, according to the indications given by the
Major-General commanding,.to be spentint the best manner so far as efficiency is concerned. Of course, I recognise that it is a. difficult thing for a layman to pronounce upon military matters an opinion to which, any attention will be given ; but it seems to me- that Parliament has a right to lay* down thebroad principles- and policy of our defenceforces. The expert knowledge of the general in command should be utilized only in making the best of what expenditure Parliament thinks is justified-. A certain sum of - money has to be spent. We vote,- say, £500,000 foc defence, purposes ; and we say, further, that out of that sum we are going- ,. to encourage rifle shooting; by means of the formation of rifle clubs to whatever extent is considered ‘requisite ; but it is only inside well-defined lines that the expert knowledge of the general in command should come into play. I think that the General has underrated the importance which ought to be attached to the establishment of rifle clubs. I am sorry to say that in New South Wales we- have- not had so many men enrolled as members of rifle clubs as there have been in Victoria, for- example, nor nearly as many as we should have had if proper encouragement had been given. General Hutton seems to me to be ‘imbued with that notion which apparently afflicts nearly all men who have passed their lives in the military service, that without pipeclay and drill a man cannot be- a soldier that without the close discipline- that years in a trained force gives, there is no possibility of obtaining an efficient service in- war time. I feel, and I think many others agree with me, in view of recent developments, that if men are well armed and mounted and know how to use the rifle properly, a force very superior in numbers is necessary in order to- effect any very great result in opposing them. That has been proved by the Boer war, and the probability is that if we have a large body of expert rifle shots in Australia, we- shall be able to do with a much smaller number of well-disciplined and trained military men than would be necessary , under ordinary circumstances. Therefore I consider that a large proportion of whatever sum we votefor military purposes should be devoted to the encouragement of rifle shooting. I do not mean to say that we should devote the money especially to rifle association matches, for in that way I think a great deal is wasted to-day, even in New South
Wales. Last year a sum of £3,000 was voted for the various rifle associations of” New- South Wales,- and a similar sun] is pro. posed to- be voted this year foc the same purpose.
– For- -prizes-.
– For prizes; fares; and grants generally. I do not think that is the best way of encouraging’ rifle shooting. The encouragement of rifle clubs, and local practice; is to my mind the best method of securing a large number of good rifleshots. As showing the class of1 administration, that we have- had in New South Wales, I would mention’ that recently the military authorities, there - became dissatisfied with the National. Rifle Association, but instead of absolutely withdrawing, their grant from, it, they proceeded to- create another body known as the Defence Force Association, and” the two are- continued side by side. It cannot be urged that there is any justification: for an action of that kind.. If the authorities believe that rifle associa-tions ought to be encouraged, they should have only one- system; and grant subsidies only to those bodies which conform to the methods which, in their opinion, will result in. efficiency with the rifle under service conditions. If that were done; a considerable saving might be- effected in- New South Wales, and, I believe, in some of the other States. There has been a disposition not only to discourage but practically to prohibit the volunteer forces that were- possible in the various States. In the past very little encouragement has been given to the volunteer forces of New South Wales, and recently some of them were turned into a partiallypaid force, although there was no necessity for doing so.
– It meant a big expenditure.
– Of course it did ; but I never heard of any demand- for payment on the part of the men themselves; and, practically, the public were not consulted. So far as the one regiment to which I refer is concerned, the item relating to it was allowed to slip through without any trouble. Amongst other things these- facts, to my mind, point to the- conclusion that we are working on wrong lines. There is too great a disposition to encourage- display rather than effectiveness. As an. instance- of this I would point to the Melbourne cavalry, an arm of the service which, as cavalry, so far as I can read, is practically out of date; but since the new commandant has come into power, they have beenallowed to con tinue recruiting.
– They do not receive any assistancefrom us. Our only expenditure is in providing an instructor for. them..
– But that costs money. In New South Wales the Lancers - another arm of the service more obsolete than cavalry, as ordinarily understood - are encouraged to prance round in fine uniforms with a pig-sticking instrument on their arm. But of what value would that instrument be in timeof war?
– A good deal.
– I read that in the Boer war, they have never used the lance on the enemy; the Lancer regiments which were there had their lances taken f rom them.
– MajorGeneral Finn thinks that the lanceis anexccllent weapon.
– Has he been to the war ?
– He was at Omdurman.
– Against the blackfellows whom the British had. to fight there, and who would stand together in one big mass, no. doubt the lance would be an excellent weapon. But fighting blackfellows is very different from, fighting the white people whom we might expect to invade us, and who would not be foolish enough to stand together in solid masses and allow us to stick them with lances.
– The rifle in the hands of mounted men. is not very handy in time of war.
– General Hutton’s own dictum in relation to this matter ought to be accepted. When in command of the New South Wales forces, he gave expression to the opinion - which has been rather emphasized by thelessons of the Boer war - that mounted infantry was the proper arm of defence for Australia.
– Mounted infantry fight on foot.
-.- Of course they do, and that is the only kind of cavalrv, to use a paradox, that we ought to permit in Australia. But the mounted infantry of New South Wales are not receiving the encouragement in the way of establishment, which is given to the Lancers or the Australian Horse, for instance ; they are restricted to some 400 men, while the other two arms of the service, cavalry pure and simple, are each allowed some 600 odd men. That is not a. proper disposition of the men, and I look in vain for any indication in General Hutton’s report that he intends to alter the system. The inference is that he has gone back upon the opinion which he expressed some years ago in regard to mounted infantry.
– General Hutton said recently that he proposed ‘to convert the Melbourne cavalry into mounted infantry, because he did not regard cavalry as being useful for. defence purposes in Australia.
– I am glad to hear that. There is nothing in his report to show that he entertains that opinion, except that he says he is in favour of a detachment of. light horse. But the term “ light horse “ might mean anything. In the past it has been understood to mean cavalry. We should have had some pronouncement from him in regard to whether he will permit a continuance of what are purely cavalry regiments, or insist upon their conversion into mounted infantry. I should like to know whether the Minister has any information as to what proposals, if any, have been made by General. Hutton, in regard to raising the Australian defence forces from a peace to a war footing. Who are to. compose the reserves to be used in making good the numbers required for a war footing? I do not see anything in General Hutton’s report as to the class of reserves to be created and drawn upon in order to raise the forces to a war footing of some 40,000 odd, which he has suggested.
– I think it is clear that so far as they are ayailable, rifle clubs will be looked to for the reserves.
-But the General does not indicate that intention in his report. The degree of attention given to rifle clubs in the report rather leads me to. believe that there is no particular intention of encouraging rifle clubs.
– I think the honorable member is mistaken.
– General Hutton says that he intends to encourage them.
– Under conditions which will make rifle clubs practically impossible. They must be held as reserves, and they must perform a certain amount of drill.
– The General says specifically in his report that he will use the rifle’ clubs as a reserve. That statement will be found in the last four lines of his report relating to rifle clubs.
– I must have misunderstood it ; but in any case, I think the objection applies that the basis for rifle clubs proposed by the General will not lead to their successful extension.
– Rifle clubs will never be valuable until they practice at moving targets.
– I agree that they should be asked to become expert riflemen under service conditions.
– They do not object to that.
– I do not’ think so : but a, great number of them will object to undergo the proposed military training, while also making themselves reasonably proficient in the use of the rifle. That is quite a different proposition from the matter of encouraging rifle shooting under military conditions.
– They do not even object to drill.
– I know that a very large number of them are opposed to drill : not that they have any intrinsic objection to it, but they cannot spare the time to drill if they are also to become expert shots.
– Some little knowledge of drill will be necessary.
– I admit that wherever it can be obtained the better it will be.
– At first there was some objection to it in Queensland, but the -members of the clubs soon fell in for squad drill.
– My experience is that a large number of ‘ those who are willing to join rifle clubs are not prepared to conform to the drilling conditions which the military officials in New South Wales, at all events, desire to lay down. I do not suppose that they would object to the minimum conditions proposed, but some of the authorities carried them so far that rifle clubs were discouraged. There is one point upon which the committee might congratulate the Government, and the Treasurer particularly, and that is upon the inclusion of the amount required for rifles under the heading of “ ordinary “ expenditure instead of loan. It seems to me that while we have, as we always shall have, a fair revenue coming into the Commonwealth Treasury, we are not justified in expending loan moneys upon undertakings which do not bring in revenue.
We can quite conceive that if it were necessary to engage in a large work beyond the resources of any one year’s revenue it would be justifiable, under proper conditions, to pay for the undertaking out of loan moneys, but in regard to the expenditure of, say, £100,000 on the purchase of rifles, or matters of that kind, I think the Treasurer is to be congratulated upon having given us at least some instalment in this direction.
– The general feeling of the Cabinet was that the money should come out of revenue. We are sorry that we cannot provide at once for all the rifles out of revenue.
– I would sooner- vote £100,000 for rifles and munitions of war generally, than an additional £50,000 for the training of men who, if they had to engage in war under present conditions, would have only obsolete weapons to use, or none at all. It seems to me to be the most foolish thing in the world to spend a vast sum in training men, and to give them no weapons to fight with. We ought to have some understanding, even at this early stage, about what is to be done with respect to the establishment of at least an ammunition factory. It is foolish on our part to depend on the old world for a month longer than is absolutely necessary for a supply of ammunition.
– We do not depend on. the old world.
– A large portion of the Commonwealth has to depend on the old world for its supply. In any case, the matter is too important for us to have to rely on any private company. If we do not have a small arms factory, we should manufacture our own ammunition, so that we can always get it fresh and be secure in the knowledge that, whatever the requirements may be, we can provide the necessary machinery and labour to meet them. With regard to the cost of this defence system, the Minister seemed to think that we were doing fairly well so long as we kept down to the amount at which the accounts stood when the forces were taken over.
– He did not put it in that way. He said that we were forced into that because the Estimates had to be brought forward, and he had no time to consider anything, but that when the House rises he will have an opportunity to go into the whole subject and see whether reductions can be made. It is not fair to say that he thinks that he has done all he can do.
– I do not speak as to the method upon which the vote is to be spent, but as to the total sum to be expended. The Minister’s speech gave me the impression that he had no idea of doing the work for less than the amount at which it stood when the Commonwealth took over the forces.
– That is for this year only.
– I understood the Minister to mean for the future. In the appendix, to the report of Major-General Hutton, it is shown that whereas the expenditure of the Commonwealth amounts to 4s. 6d. per head per annum, the expenditure in Canada, which is in a much worse position than is Australia, because she has a possible enemy - I hope the time will never come when the United States will be the enemy of England and Canada - on her frontier for a distance of 3,000 miles, the expenditure is only ls. 6d. per head per annum. Notwithstanding that Canada has a population of a third more than has Australia, her expenditure is under £600,000, while ours for this year approaches ‘ very nearly to £1,000,000. These figures show that it is possible to have an efficient defence without the large expenditure which is most unwarrantably sought to be placed on the people of the Commonwealth in continuation of the wasteful policy in which some of the States have engaged. I do not know how honorable members feel, but before the debate on this item is closed, I think it would be well if we had some indication from the Prime Minister as to his views in respect of the Empire defence scheme that was put forward a little while ago in England, and cabled out here, I believe, as one of the subjects likely to come up before the conference of Premiers in England. I tlo not know how far it is likely to be considered by the Premiers, but there have been wild suggestions made that Australia should hold on all occasions a reserve force, practically at the command of the Empire, for outside defence. I. think that the total force suggested for Australia is about 50,000 men.
– When did that come out? I do not remember it. Does the honorable member refer to a telegram in the newspapers ?
– I do not take any notice of that. In the first place, I do not think it was genuine.
– It is significant that the correspondents of the newspapers are moving in the matter, because our friend Mr. Seddon is going to bring up the question of Empire defence according to his own statement, and in various other ways it is being pushed on. In the Army and Navy Gazette, from which a quotation is made in the Argus of to-day, a suggestion is put forward that it would be a proper thing for Australia to contribute to the defence of the Empire in the same ratio to its revenue that Great Britain does.
– They have been asking for that for many years.
– I hope they will ask for it for many years without result.
– It shows how dangerous a man like Mr. Seddon may become.
– Just so. The Army and Navy Gazette omitted to draw attention to the fact that a large proportion of the revenue of each State in Australia is made up of the return from the railways, the postoffices, water and sewerage boards, water conservation, and a hundred and one items which have nothing to do with the ordinary functions of a central Government, such as England has, and which should not enter into the question of revenue or taxation. Therefore, any comparison of that sort is wide of the mark. We ought to have from the Prime Minister some indication of the line of conduct that he is going to follow in respect to these grave matters concerning defence which are likely to arise at the Conference. I feel sure that there is no desire on the part of the people of Australia to launch into any wild scheme, or even any scheme of large expenditure, so far as the Empire Defence League is concerned. I think I can fairly reiterate what I have said before here - that- our share of the defence of the Empire will have been fairly, honestly, and fully carried out if we safeguard this portion of it from attack, and beyond that I am not prepared to go.
– I wonder what that would cost?
– Our land defence is . well within our reach, but our sea defence is absolutely beyond our reach, and no possible method has yet been suggested by which we can efficiently secure the protection of the merchant service in the waters of Australia. That is a matter which theBritish Government will, in its own interests,, attend to, and which; if we were a foreign power, Great Britain would, still have to attend to in the interests of her own merchant fleet.
– Does that view of it entirely relieve us of responsibility ?
– No. We should make some provision commensurate with ourmeans in that regard. But we ought not to be expected to- enter on any large- scheme that will cripple a country such as this, which, after all, is not so rich, as some persons try to make out, and which involves a. vast expenditure disproportionate to the population in the ordinary services ofGovernment. I trust that in- all the circumstances the committee will see the wisdom of cutting down this vote by £200,000.
– That is independent of the naval subsidy 1
– Yes. That would leave aja expenditure of between £600,000 and. £700,000. I am convinced that for even £500,000 it is possible to have a force on proper lines sufficient for the defence of Australia, sufficient against all possibilities of invasion - which, in the report laid before Parliament, Major-General Hutton very rightly discounts. He implies that the chances of invasion are comparatively small, and, while I agree with him that so far as possible the men we have- should be trained, that it is necessary to have a proper proportion of highly-trained men as artillery and engineers to look after the technical work of defence, I hold that-the rest of our defence can be achieved without any great expenditure, and that we are not justified in spending the amount which the Ministry have asked us to vote on these Estimates.
– I am not prepared to enter into a discussion of the Estimates to-night, as I feel indisposed. I wish to call the attention of the Minister to a matter which I have brought before him several times, and to which I cannot get a satisfactory answer. Honorable members must be- aware that the- people of this country take an interest in the military movement, and that there are partially-paid or volunteer forces scattered throughout Australia. What we require is some principle on which the department should I act. Our electorate*- extend over a vast area. For instance, in my electorate two towns have a half troop of Australian Horse, while another town, has mounted rifles. Tenterfield and Glen- Innes, which are just outside my electorate, have mounted rifles, but Glen Innes; which is- inside- my electorate, cannot have any, although its people have repeatedly applied, by petition and through their representatives in the State Parliament in former times, and through me since the Commonwealth Parliament came into existence. I cannot get any satisfaction from the department.
– We had no money.
– We require some organization, so that while one place has a force, another place equally entitled to one shall also have it, and shall not have cause-to be jealous of the other.
– Give the Minister money and he will give the- honorable member a troop in- every town
– I am quite willing to vote any amount of money that the Minister likes to ask for. I am prepared to put ‘ the responsibility on him. My constituents are extremely dissatisfied with- this style of answer from the department : - “ The matter will be referred to the- General in command, and after we- get his report the matter will be taken into consideration.” This is the- work which we want the General in command to do - to organize the- forces of this country on some principle. So far as I am able to sees the report sent in by General Hutton contains no reference to the organization of the defence forces, or to the matters to which I have drawn the Minister’s attention. The General goes out of his way to speak of defending. Australia, not from the inside, but from the outside. More than one- paragraph indicates that in his opinion we should defend ourselves best by fighting for Australian interests outsideour own borders. If -any attempt is made to introduce that principle when the Defence Bill comes before, us, it-will ha ve- my most uncompromising opposition. We want to defend our shores from inside and not from, places beyond. Dissatisfaction exists not only in my own constituency but in various others, because one centre is allowed to raise a force of mounted rifles whilst other places, equally entitled to do so meet with a point blank refusal. Some system should be adopted with reference to this matter. I think that the Commonwealth should make a. handsome and worthy contribution towards the maintenance of the Imperial navy, which is the best defence we can have. As I have said bef ore; I am absolutely opposed to the establishment of an Australian navy, for which this country will not be financially prepared” for another two or three generations.
-All Parliaments under the British Constitution have very carefully safeguarded their rights in connexion with the military Estimates. Since 1688 the British Parliament has so jealously conserved’ its powers in this regard that the Estimates have provided for yearly payments only, and I think that the care exercised by the Imperial legislature affords us an example which we should do extremely well to follow. It is perfectly true, as the Minister for . Defence has said, that the increase in the Estimates is not so very great in comparison with the amounts voted for the year prior to the taking over of the department. It must be remembered, however, that in the year 1900 a great deal of entirely exceptional expenditure was incurred’. The war in South Africa was proceeding, and the various States were being rushed into a very heavy outlay.
– The expenses in connexion with the various contingents were not included.
– The cost of sending away the contingents themselves was not included, but a great deal of money was expended upon administrative work connected with the preparation of the contingents for despatch to South Africa. This expense should have ceased long ago, because lately the whole of the cost in connexion with the despatch of men to South Africa has been borneby the Imperial authorities. The total sum now asked for is £937,000. We may fairly deduct from that the £10,000 spent in connexion with the Royal reception, because that is an item which will not probably recur for many years. Wemay also deduct the amount of £25,000 set down for rifles. That expenditure will not be necessary everyyear, and it might very well be extended over two or three years. Roughly, therefore, the Estimates amount to£900,000. In 1897 the total amount contributed for defence purposes by all the States was £520,000.
– Does that include the contribution, towards the Australian auxiliary squadron.
– I do not think so.
– Yes, it does. In the following year the expenditure upon defence by the States was £598,000. So that during the last six years the expenditure upon defence has been increased to the extent of £400,000 per annum. Still, I do not think it will be argued that we are now in a very much more efficient state of defence than we were six years ago. I desire to see the Commonwealth defences organized upon the principle of defence and not upon that of aggression. If we are to join in every war and quarrel of the mother country, or, to indulge in language, with regard to other nations, such as has been sometimes used in this Chamber, I admit that three or four times the amount now asked for would not be too much. Our intention, however, is to act upon peaceful lines, holding ourselves in readiness for defence when we are attacked, and not before. A cry has been raised in favour of our taking a share- in the naval expenditure of the Empire. The sum we now contribute is not a large one, but it must be remembered that we have no voice in the affairs of the nation, or in the making of peace or war. There should certainly be no tax imposed on the people for the purposes of general naval defence until we have some representation in the councils of the Empire. Then it will be time enough for us to considerwhatourincreased contribution shall be. At present, we have to deal with matters as they are, and, in view of all other circumstances, our contribution, although not large, cannot reasonably be cavilled at. I decline to look forward into the future and say what it may bring forth in this respect ; but, for the present, I refer honorable members to that sound constitutional and economic authority, John Stuart Mill, who pointed out that as we had no voice in the making of either peace or war, no contribution should be asked from us toward the maintenance of the Imperial navy. If we asked England to join in a war with us we should place ourselves in a very different position. It has been argued that we ought to point out special items and deal with them.
– Honorable members might give ns the advantage of any knowledge they may possess.
– I entirely dissent from that view. I would not interfere with the administration of the department in any way. We should give the administrator a certain sum to expend to the best of his ability.
– Until he acts, and then every one will grumble.
– So far as I am concerned, after once placing the administrator in authority, I should support him through thick and thin, no matter whether I agreed with him or not.
– Suppose we reduce the militia pay in New South Wales from £10 to £5 ; will there not be a howl of indignation?
– Not from me. If we bring men here to administer the department, we should give them a free hand, and not interfere with them. No sound administration can take place if we require that this shall be done and that shall be done, and thus hamper the administrator in every way. I understood that the administrator of the Defence department was to have a free hand, and that was why I was ready to offer high salaries, in order to attract the best men. I should not quarrel if the salaries allotted to the head-quarters staff were double the present amounts if they brought about such reductions, combined with efficiency, as would result in the saving of many thousands of pounds. It would be easy to point out how money could be saved in all the States. We know how hundreds of pounds are wasted, but, as a Parliament, we. cannot take the responsibility of saying what particular item should be reduced.
– We can say whether reductions should be made upon the votes for the permanent forces, or for other branches of the service.
– I made reductions in Victoria, and every one growled at me.
– People are to be found who will growl at anything ; but Parliament, having once appointed an administrator, and having consented to an increase of the central staff, should not interfere in the administration. We should look to the administrator for general results in the course of a year, and then see whether he has done well or ill. It will be most unfortunate if the administrator, who has a very unpleasant task before him, is hampered by doubts or fears that Parliament will step in and upset the whole of his work. This Parliament certainly desires that economies should be effected in the Defence department, and is determined to secure them, even though it be at the cost of what military men may consider efficiency. But until the administrator has had a chance of exercising his organizing ability, I am not prepared to bring forward any complaint. For that reason I do not cavil at any of the amounts which have been provided for the head-quarters staff. Nor should I object if, in order to secure efficiency, the Executive had thought fit even to double those amounts. That is a matter in regard to which the Government are the best judges. But we are face to face with the fact that the present expenditure upon defence is nearly £400,000 in excess of what it was six years ago. So far as honorable members are aware, the bulk of the forces are not more efficient now than they were at the period indicated - save that 20,000 men have to a certain extent been trained to warfare in South A.f rica. Of course, if we were an aggressive nation, that fact would constitute a very great gain to us, but inasmuch as we are a peaceful community, and can only hope to prosper by the maintenance of peace, we cannot but regret the occasion which called for the services of those troops. I am sure that many honorable members are in sympathy with the views held by the great liberal party in England. They are bitterly opposed to war, and the only consideration which can soften their hostility to the campaign at present in progress in South Africa is that it was unavoidable. As the Minister for Defence has told us that we can save £100,000 upon these Estimates, I should like to see them reduced by that amount, with an intimation to the Government that they are expected to save another £100,000 next year. In fact, they should be given distinctly to understand that we intend to keep our military expenditure down to £700,000.
– Does that include the Naval vote?
– And the purchase of rifles?
– If the life of a rifle be five years, the Government would be perfectly justified in distributing any expenditure incurved in the purchase of such weapons over that period.
– But we cannot have onehalf of the force armed with a certain rifle and the remainder equipped with a different weapon.
– We could set aside a fund out of which these rifles could be purchased within four or five years. That would distribute the expenditure.
– But month by month we have to return to the States all the money which we collect. Whatever money we collect must be immediately debited to the States. Otherwise I should have set down £100,000 instead of £25,000 for the purchase of rifles. We have’ no money of our own.
– I recognise that that is one of the difficulties of the position, which it is not easy to overcome. Next year I shall not object if it be found necessary to place upon the Estimates a further sum of £25,000 for the purchase of rifles. I admit also that a difficulty exists in regard to the men who are already in the military service. Although a private individual can dismiss a man at a moment’s notice, I hold that we should not make the Government service insecure by adopting a similar practice. ‘ That is one of the serious difficulties encountered whenever radical changes are contemplated in the public service ; but against that honorable members have equally to consider the great hardship involved upon the taxpayers if strict economy benotenforced. I think tthat theGovernment should evidence their determination to cut down the whole cost of the military department o the lowest point consistent with a certain amount of efficiency. It has been argued that military men alone are capable of deciding what constitutes efficiency. I do not share that view. The reason why the Battle of Bunker’s Hill was so celebrated is that it was a skirmish between untrained and trained troops. The fact that the former drove back the regulars two or three times, although the irregulars were ultimately conquered, showed that with a very little practice the latter would become the equal of the former. At the Battle of Yalmy, in 1791, when the allied forces of the Duke of Brunswick were entering France, the untrained peasant soldiery of the republic held their own against some of the troops who had been trained upon the model of Frederick the Great. The result of that skirmish showed that the citizen soldiers were well able to hold their own. Again, in South Africa we have recently seen the Boer citizen soldiers performing extremely well. I believe that it was M. de Bloch who first pointed out what would be the result of rifle fire, and how individual action would be brought more into play than it had ever been previously. In the new military training which is now being adopted, the main object aimed at is to develop initiative on the part of the soldier. It is imperative, therefore, that the power of initiative should be fostered in every possible way. Of course I make an exception in the case of artillerymen and engineers, because it is impossible for such men to acquire the scientific knowledge necessary to the proper discharge of their duties in a few weeks. But in regard to the expenditure in all the other branches of the service, I think that a very great reduction might be made with advantage. I support the proposal of the right honorable member for Tasmania, not with the object of interfering with the salaries of officers for the present year, but as an intimation to the Government that they must reduce these Estimates by £200,000.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I would point out that the report of MajorGeneral Hutton has been circulated amongst honorable members only to-day. It is hardly fair to ask us to consider these Estimates, which to a certain extent involve the scheme of reorganization reported upon by that officer, before we have had an opportunity of seeing that document.
– These Estimates are not framed upon that scheme of reorganization, but next year’s Estimates will be.
– The present is the best opportunity which honorable members have of placing before the Government their opinions regarding the general principles upon which military reorganization should take place. Therefore it would have been of immense advantage to us if General Hutton’s report had been placed in our hands at least 24 hours earlier, especially as leading articles commenting upon that report have appeared in the daily newspapers for several days past. That is not fair to the committee. A report which has been made to the Government ought to be placed before honorable members, at any rate, quite as soon as Ministers allow it to be perused by the .newspaper representatives.
– The report would take a little .time to print.
– That is not the question. It-ought not to be .printed in the newspaper before it has been placed in the hands of honorable members. I think we have a right to complain “when newspapers can comment upon State documents for days - and in some cases -for weeks - before honorable members have an opportunity of seeing them.
– The honorable member could read the report in the newspapers.
– I do not go to the the newspaper ;for my - State documents ; I come here for them. Surely the right honorable .gentleman realizes the position which he occupies as a Minister of the Crown.
– When a paper is laid upon the table it becomes public property, and it is then open to the newspapers to print it.
– As a rule a paper ought not to be tabled until it is printed. I should like to ask whether the - report in question was laid upon the table in manuscript ?
– No, it was printed.
– Exactly, and the right honorable gentleman knows that when once the matter is in type, it would not occupy much time to get enough copies struck off with which to supply honorable members. It could be done - in a few minutes.
– Will the honorable member permit me to say a few words? The Government have nothing to do with the printing of documents.
– Who has ?
– The Clerk of the House. ‘ I am told that there were some clerical mistakes in some of the- additions in the schedules of the document, and the Clerk had to communicate with the department and have the errors rectified before the order for printing could be. given. That occasioned some little delay.
– I accept the state-, ment of the Treasurer as accounting for the greater part of the delay, which is, however, regrettable. His statement also shows that the newspapers were commenting upon a report which was not accurate.
I .intend to support as strongly as I can the amendment of the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon. My only regret is that he has not gone further. The total amount asked -for by the Government for the Defence department is £937,000. In theDominion of Canada,, where the population is 50 per cent, greater, where there is a possible enemy right alongside, and an extended frontier has -to be guarded, the military expenditure is less than £500,000 per annum. In the last available year’s estimates the expenditure was cut down from 2,000,000 to 1,600,000 dollars. If honorable members take the trouble to go through the Canadian Estimates, they will see that from top to bottom’ - from the General Officer Commanding through all the ranks - there is a less lavish -scale of payment than in Australia. For instance, the salaries of the Canadian General Officer Commanding, the Adjutant-General, and the Quartermaster-General, amount in the aggregate to a sum which -is somewhat less than the salary of our General Officer Commanding alone. I am referring to the Estimates for 1901. I wish particularly to direct the Minister’s attention to a statement he made, and which, if he inquires further, he will find to be incorrect. He said that in no case had there been any increase ‘upon the previous State Estimates except -in certain lines which he mentioned.
– I said that in no case where a person held the same appointment in a State was the salary increased.
– I think the right honorable gentleman went a little further than that. I do not want to misrepresent what he intended to put to the committee : but I think he said that there was an increase in the expenditure on ammunition and rifles, and he -led us to believe that there were no other increases in these Estimates.
– I said of salaries.
– I can point out one or two instances where the salary is not the same ; but I do not know whether it is worth while to -do so, as the cases are not very material. I could also -point to the case of a new officer being appointed for whom no provision was made upon the State Estimates.
– I expect he was there before, but the honorable member did not see him.
– Agood many officers have been paid out of the general vote, and we have putas many as possible in detail upon these Estimates.
– I do not think-that can be the case in the instance I have in mind. The; South Australian Estimates for theyear ending 30th June, 1901, at page 21, show that provision was made for an acting artillery staff-officer at £270. On the Government’s Estimates there are these two items - Artillery staff-officer, £310 assistant artillery staff-officer, £270.
– They are the same salaries as the officers received when they came over to the Commonwealth.
– I do not say they are not.
– Thehonorable member is making it appear that we have increased the Estimates.
– I do not say that the Government have done it. I am refuting the statement of the Minister for Defence, ‘because in an interjection just now he somewhat doubted my wordin reference to his own statement that in no case had there been increases in salaries as compared with Stale Estimates. The artillery staff officer does not appear upon the South Australian Estimates.
– Major Hawker is the officer the honorable member refers to, and he has been there for many a long year.
Mr.BATCHELOR.-South an officer does not appear upon the State Estimates which I hold in my hand.
– The officer may have been paid out of some other vote.
– He must have been there before we took over the department. I did not appoint him.
– We are led to believe bythe Minister for Defencethat the scale of military expenditure now is the same as it was when defence affairs were taken over from the States. But I want to draw attention to a very extraordinary increase as compared with ‘the South Australian Estimates. In the yearending 30th June, 1900, the total expenditure on military affairs in that State was £22,392. In the year ending 30th June, 1901 - that is the last available Estimates - the amount put down was £38,629.
– Does that include the naval Estimates?
– Yes ; but under the Commonwealth Government the amount set down in the military Estimates for South Australia is £58,264.
– But there is the expenditure on the auxiliarysquadron and for King George’s Sound in the one which does not appear in the other.
– The amount for the auxiliary squadron is £10,000. I am going to mention ho w the difference is made up. The amount actually intended to be spent by South Australia in the year 1900-1 was £38,629. But the “approximate annual expenditure as at date of transfer “ was £50,243. Then the Government say that they are going to spend this year £47,596, and they claim that there is a decrease on the South Australian expenditure of nearly £3,000. But, as a matter of fact, there is nothing of the kind. The expenditure on military affairs that would havebeen carried out in South Australia, had the Federal Government not taken over defence, was equal to £38,629.
– Does the honorable member saythat the Government would not have provided an additional sum on the supplementary Estimates for expenditure over that amount ?
– Certainly I know perfectly well that the South Australian Treasurer would not have allowed those Estimates to be increased bevond the £38,629.
– Then the honorable member says that we have increased the expenditure ?
– I do not say anything of the kind.
– The honorable member makes it appear that we have increased the expenditure, and that’ is not correct.
– I am going to show how the military officers who control this expenditure have rushed the amount up beyond what wasintended by the State Legislature and the’ State Government. The fact of the matter is this - It was decided by the State Government to cut down the military vote to the lowest possible figure at which we thought we could get through. For that purpose, though the amount of £50,000 or £60,000 was asked for by the military authorities, the Cabinet cut it down to £38,000, and the Estimates were put through in that form. The expenditure, of course, was nearly all incurred during the seven months before the department was taken over by the Commonwealth.
– The South Australian Defence department had no. money when we took it over.
– Because they had spent the whole of the year’s income in the seven months.
– Who spent it? The South Australian Government.
– The South Australian Government would not have spent any more money during the twelve months than was provided by Parliament. The way the military expenditure was fixed up in that State was that there were so many drills to be held during the year, which would cost so much. That was the method of arranging the cost for the year. In fact, all the drills for the year were put in during the seven months before the Commonwealth took over the Defence department.
– Were the drills paid for?
– Presumably. Further, we may assume that as soon as the Estimates were passed orders were given for the necessary arms and equipment ; and it was decided by the Commonwealth Government not to increase the rate of expenditure which had prevailed during the previous seven months.
– Were not the forces largely increased just before the transfer to the Commonwealth, and no provision made for equipment 1
– No authority had been given for any large increase of the forces, though requests for increases were being inquired’ into. Honorable members sympathize with the Treasurer and the Minister for Defence in the difficulties with which they have to contend. From 1900 to the present time, great pressure has been brought to bear on all the Governments concerned to establish rifle clubs and other military organizations. In the small State of South Australia, to comply with the re quests made would have meant the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds, and the State Government placed obstacles in the way ; but I am afraid that, owing to the transfer of the department to the Commonwealth, the military authorities were able to do what would not have been possible had the control remained with the State Government. The Speaker of this House was Treasurer of the South Australian Government, and had he remained in that position, I am sure the vote would not have been exceeded. However, it does not matter very much who is to blame. The main point is, that since the South Australian legislature had an opportunity of reviewing this expenditure, there has been an increase of 11,000, apart from the £10,000 which the State has to contribute to the auxiliarysquadron ; and such an increase, in six months, on a total expenditure of £38,000 is very considerable. If the expenditure had been for ammunition and rifles, there would not have been much to question, but, as a matter of fact, the money has not gone in that direction. In 1899 the vote for small arms ammunition was £450, and in 1900 it had increased to £1500, whilst under the Commonwealth the amount is reduced to £1,160.
– The South Australian Government had actually spent £2,7SS in the previous year, and the Commonwealth Government reduced the expenditure to the old rate.
– Can the Treasurer ascertain how much has been spent since the Commonwealth tookoverthedepartment, seeing that the South Australian military authorities had exhausted all they had a right to spend? In 1899, the vote for ammunition for forts was £250, and, in 1900, and the present year, £750. Some honorable members think it a great mistake to increase the number of permanent men, urging that it would be more desirable to encourage volunteers and rifle associations. But there has been an increase in the number of permanent men. In 1S99, the expenditure on non-commissioned officers and men of the permanent force, leaving out the headquarters staff, was £1,853, and, in 1900, it was £1,828, while under the Commonwealth the amount is £2,877.
– That increase is owing to the fact that extra men were enrolled, and the burden of the expenditure falls on the Commonwealth. I should have no objection to striking off these extra men.
– It is my desire to impress on the committee the necessity of striking off some of this largely increased expenditure, and I am showing that in six months the expenditure was increased beyond the intentions of the South Australian legislature.
– Somebody ought to have checked the increase in the South Australian Parliament.
Mr.BATCHELOR. - I take my share of the responsibility as a member of that Parliament. Up to the time the department was taken over by the Commonwealth the South Australian Government were being pressed by honorable members, by the public, and by the newspapers, to spend a lot of money on military expansion. The votes were, however, cut down to the lowest reasonable figure.
– Did not the South Australian Government increase their forces before the department was transferred to the Commonwealth, and not provide equipment for them? The Commonwealth Government have had to provide equipment for increased forces.
-I did not know that was a fact.
– The vote asked for was £11,000, and I reduced it to £3,000.
– I desire to have this expenditure reduced to the figure which was considered reasonable before the sudden agitation for military expansion. In 1899, the pay of the whole South Australian forces, active and reserve, apart from the permanent men, amounted to £5,550. In the following year the amount had increased to £9,000, and this year it is £12,000. The vote for clothing and equipment has increased from £1,400 in 1899 to £8,S00 this year.
– The vote is £5,800.
– But subsequently in the Estimates there is a further £3,000 for equipment.
– That is the £3,000 for the equipment of the men for whom the South Australian Government did not provide.
– The expenditure on railway transport increased from £750 in 1899 to £1,500 in 1900, and to £2,500 this year.
– That is accounted for by the fact that there was no encampment in the first year mentioned, and, therefore, there were no railway travelling expenses.
– Probably that is the reason. Horse allowance for mounted men cost £700 in 1899, while £1,000 was provided in 1900, and a similar amount is proposed this year. Any increase has not been in connexion with the mounted men, and I am rather surprised that that should be so. “Where the increase has really occurred it is difficult to say. The expenditure on the naval force in South Australia has increased in three years from £6,532 to £9,710, in addition to £10,000 which South Australia has now to contribute to the auxiliary squadron as one of the obligations under federation. In South Australia the military vote increased from £22,392 in 1899 to £38,629 in 1900, while the estimated expenditure this year is £5S,264. I do not intend to allot the blame for this tremendous increase. It is hardly fair to calculate the contribution of £10,000 to the auxiliary squadron ; but, even with that amount deducted, the military expenditure of South Australia stands at £48,264. In view of the way in which this expenditure has increased, is it not natural that people should be led to the conclusion that there is a real danger of militarism in Australia?
– The great trouble is that at one time the pendulum of expenditure swung to one extreme, and that after the South African wa started it swung to the other.
– Quite so. The pendulum, which before the war swung probably too far back, is now at the other extreme, and this is not the time to reorganize our forces and fix up our military Estimates unless we do so very carefully. The expenditure of £22,392 at the end of 1900 was not the minimum by any means, because for several years we ran the South Australian naval and military forces, including a battle-ship, for some £16,000 per annum. That really was the minimum, but taking the expenditure at £22,392 in 1900, the swing of the pendulum is now in the other direction. If we cut down the expenditure in this direction to about £36,000, so far as South Australia is concerned, and multiply that amount by 10, because the population of South Australia is about onetenth of the total of the Commonwealth-
– Why take the lowest expenditure ? Why not take the average of the States in preference to the average for South Australia?
– I think it is best to take as a pattern for the Commonwealth the State which has run its business on fairly economical lines rather than some of the States that have run riot in their military expenditure, and which perhaps have no better defences to show for it than has South Australia. I do not intend to labour this matter further. I have endeavoured to show the great increase which has taken place in the naval and military expenditure of all the States. Under General Hutton’s scheme-
– This House has not had a chance of saying anything about it.
– No. Under General Hutton’s scheme South Australia’s contribution would come to some £70,000. Honorable members will see that it would thus be nearly four times as much as was the expenditure of two years ago. There has been a wild cry from one end of the country to the other in regard to the loss of revenue due to the removal of certain revenue duties, but we can lay our hands upon an increase in military expenditure which could be reduced so as to more than compensate for the loss of revenue occasioned by the remission of the duties in question. I am not going to assist in the establishment of anything in connexion with our defence forces save that which, in my opinion, is necessary in order to secure effectiveness under presentday conditions. The less we have of expenditure on uniforms and such matters the better it will be. We are all agreed on that point. I take Canada as my guide in this matter. There they have an expenditure of less than £500,000 on defence, although they have a much greater and wealthier population than we have, and notwithstanding that they are more likely to be attacked than we are.
– They have a splendid militia.
– Yes ; and are quite as capable as are Australians in taking a part in the wars of the nation, with credit to themselves and the Empire to which they belong.
– Is Canada’s wealth per head greater than that of Australia 1
– I do not say that her wealth per head is greater, but taken as a whole it is. She has a population of about 6,000,000, as against 4,000,000 in the Common wealth. Taking the Canadian expenditure as our guide, it must be seen that we are much more lavish in our ideas of what constitutes a proper military expenditure than are thepeopleof that country. If we get back to something like their standard we shall do a good work, at which Australia will be pleased. The States when single-handed were not strong enough to stand out against panic proposals, but we oan now take the initiative and help them out of the difficulty by cutting down this military vote.
– I do not propose to detain the committee at anT great length this afternoon, because I feel that, although this debate may, to some extent, be of value as a guide, and as a source of suggestion to the Government, it cannot have any practical effect upon the Estimates now before us. I feel more inclined to say that, as these Estimates must be passed, they might as well be passed with as little delay as possible, and that after consultation with their experts, and especially with the general officer commanding, the Government must take the responsibility of bringing down their scheme. Theymust especially take the responsibility of th e expenditure in connexion wi th the scheme. At the same time I have no doubt that the Government is listening carefully to all that is said in the debate, and possibly it may afford them information of a kind which Governments are never loath to acquire when they can do so, as on this occasion, without any loss of dignity. I should like to say a few words as to the confusion of thought, if I may be permitted to so term it, without disrespect, that appears to exist in the minds of some honorable members in regard to the basis on which our forces should be constituted. I think the key-note of that idea was struck by the honorable member for Bland when he said, in effect, that as long as we trained our men in rifleshooting, everything else could look after itself. It seems to me - and of course I utter only my own opinion, which is just as likely to be wrong as is that of any other man - that the so-called lessons that many members of the public have drawn from the present war in South Africa have been drawn directly contrary to the fact. Instead of drawing the conclusion, as many men do, that it has shown that we do not require training and discipline among our troops, I venture to say that the South African war, which has afforded the first actual test of war with smokeless powder and more loose formations than before - those are the radical changes - has shown the necessity for greater discipline and training than was ever necessary before in any army. The Boer troops themselves, who are continually being held up to us as examples of what untrained troops can do, were themselves as highly trained for the particular class of work they had to do as are any troops in the world. Many years have elapsed since British troops have had to face troops so highly trained to fight under the particular circumstances which confront them in action there.
– They were not trained in the stiffness of the barracks.
– I - I was just going to say that I did not refer to the training in the stiffness of the barrack-yard, or to the beautiful whiteness of pipe clay, which bytheway, many troops, in addition to those in South Africa, use. Nor did I refer to the precision shown by 1,000 men in presenting arms at the one moment. I do not think that those things are of the least use in war at the present time. The great fault in the models we have followed in Australia is that far too much attention has been bestowed upon work of that kind in comparison with training in field work. That has not been the fault of the regimental officers. The regimental commander knows that when the staff-officer comes to inspect his troops he will expect to see them present arms, draw back the head, and turn eyes to the right with precision, and so forth, and that the state of efficiency of the troops will be judged in that way ; and he knows that he must attend to it.
– It all tends to greater discipline.
– It is true that exercises of that kind tend necessarily, not to a higher state of discipline, but to a higher state of mechanical accuracy, which is a very different thing. If our troops were permanent troops, devoting the whole of their attention to military training, there would be time to train them in pretty parade-ground movements, as well as in other work ; but with the limited time at their disposal, I have always thought - even as a juniorofficer, whenno doubt I had no right to have any thoughts on thesubject - that far too much time was wasted on that class of work. I am glad to say, however, that from what little we have seen since the arrival of the new commandant, he too recognises that parade-ground movements, although very nice in their way, are not as important as is the wider discipline of fieldtraining. Discipline and training are not only not less essential, but more essential than they used to be, simply because men have to be left more to their own initiative and independent action in the field than ever they were before. The instincts and habits which discipline and training induce in thern, and the practices which their training teaches them that they are to follow when their own initiative is to be acted upon, are essentials. I say without hesitation that it is purely farcical to say - “ Teach the men to shoot, and nature will do the rest in regard to their training as effectivefield forces.”
– Is it not a fact that nearly all the men who went to the South African war from South Australia were trained in about six weeks’ time ?
– Exactly; andif the honorable member will promise me that before the Australian forces have to take the field in earnest the enemy will leave them six weeks in which to be brained, I shall not ask for another day’s drill for them, because in those six weeks they would get more training than any citizen soldiers in Australia can geb in six years. It seems to me that, whatever the committee differson, it is practicallyagreedthat there should be some land forces in Australia, and that such forces should be fit to take the field if the occasion should arise.It is a radical and fatal error to suppose that we can do without proper discipline and proper training for our men. That proper discipline and proper training consist in giving the men a reasonable opportunity of learning the principles to guide them in the field in the presence of an enemy. If we could insure even a month’s training for our men before they went into the field we should have no necessity to brain them in the interval, but we must be ready at any moment. The average experience that a man gebs with the forces in Ausbralia is about equal to sixteen days’ training in a year. They are nob drilling morning, noon, or night, nor are they in the barrack ground all the time when they are drilling. In Vicboria the maximum period for which a man can draw pay is eighteen days in bhe year. The commandanb’s scheme proposes sixteen days’ braining all round bhroughoub bhe
Commonwealth. Sixteen days’ training is not a bit too much to allow to train a man, and then to enable him to keep up to that state of efficiency which he must continue to possess, if the preliminary training is to be of any use. That is the reason why we must have something more than rifle shooting, important as it is. I admit that nothing is of any service unless we get a man able to shoot after his discipline and training have enabled him to get into a position in which he can use his rifle. I must protest most emphatically against what appears to me to be an entire misconception in thinking that the Boer war has shown that troops can go into the field without any training, or that troops without training can hold their own against troops which have been trained.
– They have held their own against superior numbers.
– I regret that the honorable member did not hear whatIsaid at the beginning of my remarks. I said that in my opinion the Boers were highly trained soldiers for the service they had to perform. Surely the honorable member knows that there was a system of compulsory service in the two Republics under commandoes.
– Not disciplined, as the honorable and learned member understands it.
– The honorable member does not know what I understand by discipline, because he has not heard all that I said on the subject.
– I heard the honorable and learned member’s speech on the Defence Bill.
– On that occasion I did not discuss the question of what discipline consistedof. I did not mention what it consisted of except to say, as I said this afternoon, that there has always been in Australia far too much parade ground work. The discipline and training, which will take time,are more essential now than ever they were ; not barrack-room work, not pipeclay work, not the precision of 1,000 men presenting arms as one man, but training in moving over ground of all kinds, iri all the formations necessary for work in the field. During the last year or two we have recognised that fact, and have altered our work as far as possible in those direc tions. But that the men should be trained is absolutely essential.
– That would be more expensive ?
– No ; it is only a question of what kind of work they should do, of pointing out what work is necessary to enable them to be effective soldiers. I wish to say a word or two about a suggestion which I think an honorable member made as to the excess of officers in the Commonwealth forces. The more officers we have in proportion to our forces the better, provided that they are properly trained, because an officer cannot be trained to do properly the work of an officer in the time in which a man can be’ trained to do properly the work of a private, or even of a non-commissioned officer. The essential idea of any scheme of peace establishment which allows for a sudden expansion of its numbers in war time must be a complement of officers, and also sufficient noncommissioned officers, proportioned to the total strength of the forces in wartime, and not to their strength in peace time. Consequently, when it is said - “ Here is a captain commanding 50 or 100 men, whereas in war time he might be commanding 250 men “ - probably he would not be commanding so many - it must be remembered that when we increase the strength of our rank and file in war time we shall not increase the number of the officers. We cannot train officers, if they are to be properly trained and know their work, with the same rapidity that we can train private soldiers. It is essential that our peace establishment should be over officered in order that our war establishment, if it should ever be required, should be sufficiently officered. The question which the committee has to face, in regard to large economies, is whether the troops are to be partially paid or volunteers. I have taken a deep interest in this question for a great many years, and my judgment is that, admitting all the good qualities of volunteer troops, all the experience and skill they may acquire, all the perfection of training or discipline to which they may attain, nevertheless in the long run the partially-paid forces do better work and produce better results. I have watched partially -paid troops and volunteer troops, and speaking with more or less knowledge, I believe that partiallypaid troops have produced better results on the whole than have volunteers.
– I should like to see that proved. I have not seen it proved so far.
– It is impossible of proof; it rests on the conclusions drawn from observation by those who watch these troops do their work, and who are acquainted with the extent to which they have worked. The honorable member for Dalley has pointed out one reason why that should be so, and it is that we shall get better attendances at a larger number of parades. I most emphatically disapprove of the principle of trading on men’s patriotism in order to get cheap service from them. If we desire a man to be trained, and to be immediately capable of serving his country in the first line of defence, if it should be called for, he is just as much entitled to be paid for his training as .to be paid for his services. We might as well ask men to serve their country without pay, and trust to their patriotism to do it. I have no doubt that we could get men to do it - I refer the honorable member for Bland to his own words the other day, when he applauded the idea that all the members of the Coronation contingent should be paid for their work. A man who is trained for service in the field is just as much entitled to be paid for his work–
– We cannot compare the two cases, because in one case we send men away from their homes for months, and their families have to be provided for.
– I see no difference in principle between men getting paid for going away from their homes for a half day and men getting paid for going away from their homes for half a year. I am not reflecting in any way on the individuals who compose the volunteer forces. It is the difference in circumstances which produces the difference in results. In ray opinion, the partially paid forces produce better results, and it is meanness on the part of any community to trade on the patriotism of any of its citizens and ask them to do work for nothing - because it is not play. The idea must be grasped that all this is serious work, and not merely a pastime or an occupation, whether it be drilling or rifle shooting, and we have no right to ask the men to work for nothing. I shall take a case which I know : Out of a corps of 300 men there are not one hundred who live within two miles of the drill ground. Some of them live 20 and 25 miles away, and the others at varying distances within that limit. Very often these men have to walk for miles to the parade, and walk back for miles, because in the country there are not trams and trains all over the place as there are in the suburbs and the city. These men give up practically a large portion of their time. On many occasions they have to leave their work to attend to their drills. On many ‘occasions the)’ give up their half-holiday to drill, which is not a holiday occupation. If they gave up their holidays to any other avocation, some honorable members on the other side would be the first to cry out and ask for payment, not only for the time occupied, but for time and a quarter, or time and a half, or double time. If men work on holidays at training themselves to serve their country, surely they are as much entitled to be paid as are men who work at any other trade on holidays to serve their country 1 No one who advocates the cause of labour is entitled to support the principle of getting cheap service out of the enthusiasm of others. It is all very well, perhaps, for a man to allow his own enthusiasm to carry him so far, but to trade on the enthusiasm of other men seems to me a contravention of any right principle. I believe in voluntary service to the extent of giving a man the choice whether he will serve or not. I do not believe in conscription or in universal service. When a man does choose to serve, however, and it is found that he is physically fit for the work, and he is trained and is told that he must hold himself prepared to fight, we are bound to pay him for the time spent by him in training, just as much as if he did any other kind of work. Although I may be regarded as an enthusiast on this subject, and as therefore somewhat inclined to excessive expenditure, I think that substantial savings can be effected in these Estimates. At the same time, the suggestion that the Government should be asked to pledge themselves to submit £200,000 less in their next Estimates is an unfair one.
– They say themselves that they can save £100,000.
– I know that. I have gone through the Estimates, and I believe that £120,000 could be saved without affecting the efficiency of the forces, or to any material extent the number required under the Commandant’s scheme.
– We could save fully half the amount provided for in the Estimates.
– If that were done we might as well do without defence forces.
– How do they manage in Canada 1
– The scale of revenue and expenditure in Canada is quite different from that which obtains in Australia. The honorable member might as well compare the payments made to forces here with the payments made in Switzerland, as contrast our case with that of Canada. The conditions are entirely different.
– Is the cost of living so much less?
– No. I do not think that it is as muck less in Canada as in Switzerland, or that there is such a great difference between the standards of comfort in Canada and Australia as between those of Switzerland and Australia. Rightly or wrongly, however, the ideas regarding expenditure, and fair remuneration for public servants of all kinds, are much more modest in Canada than in Australia, and anxious as I am for economy, I would not be prepared to cut down the payment that every one receives from the Commonwealth of Australia to the rates paid in Canada. I do not think that that would be, feasible in Australia, in regard to the payment either of troops or of. any other servants of the State. If we choose to abolish payment for the services of our troops, excepting those in the permanent forces, undoubtedly we can save a very large sum of money ; or, if instead of having 30,000 men we retain only 2.0,000 men, a very large sum could be saved, that is, assuming that the forces are partially paid only. But it would not be fair to the Government to ask them to reduce their Estimates by £.200, 000, and, at the same time, to devise a scheme that would satisfy us. Their expert adviser would tell them that he could not propound any such scheme, and then the Government would be on the horns of a dilemma.
– If we cut down the vote they will devise a scheme all. right.
– As I have stated, the money could be saved in two ways ; but either way would be equivalent to cutting the Gordian knot instead of untying it. By cutting down numbers we can always reduce our expenditure,but if our expert adviser tells us that for the proper defence of Australia our land forces must number so many on a peace f ootiang, with a capability of expansion to a much larger number on a war footing, and we do not give him the funds necessary to enable him to carry out his scheme, the responsibility must rest upon us. The Treasurer, when he was Premier of Victoria, very nearly ruined the defence forces by leaving the numbers “practically the same, and reducing the- money available for maintaining them. If the numbers of the forces had been reduced by half, and half the money previously appropriated had been voted, the position would have been different; but, as it was, the right honorable gentleman worked an injury to the defence forces of Victoria, from which it has taken them a long time to recover, if they have recovered even now. The right honorable gentleman paid the members of the forces for the time they spent upon their military duties at the rate of 4d. an hour, and I am sure that honorable members will agree that that was not sufficient. I rose chiefly to emphasize my opinion that we must not run away with the idea that training and discipline are not necessary. What we require is a change in the method and manner of imparting it. I do not believe in asking men. to. work for nothing, or, as I have put it, trading upon their patriotism. Our rifle clubs should be prepared to form the- reserves, from which the war strength of the defence forces can be made up, whenever required. In order that the men. may be capable of acting as reserves, they must be physically fit for the work, and they must attend to their riflepractice in order to make themselves reasonably efficient shots. To that extent I think the rifle clubs are bound to submit to military control. In the third place it is not unreasonable to ask the members of these clubs to turn out two or three times a year, in order that they may have a little instruction in the elements of the work they would have to do in the field.
– Does not the. honorable and learned member think that the Defence department should supply the- men with rifles - they now haveto pay for their own.
– That raises a question of finance. I regret to say there is not a sufficient number of decent rifles within the Commonwealth toequip our defence forces upon a war footing ; and I hardly like to think of the condition of the reserve of ammunition.
– It is fairly good now..
– That may be; but it would frighten some of us if. we hadhad any idea of the condition in which our ammunition reserve was until very recently. We are not in a position, at the present moment to equip the members of our defence force with good modern rifles-. Whether we have a purely volunteer or a partially-paid force that will be anything like sufficient in numbers for the work of defence, it is of no use to think of properly equpping them with money appropriated from revenue unless we are prepared to wait for some years. Our forces have been allowed to drift into such a state of inefficiency, so far as outfit is concerned, that it is impossible to put them right with any money that will be available from the revenue. They will have to be equipped with a new rifle. The present small bares, good as they are, and representing as theydo a vast improvement upon the oldMartiniHenri, are not equal to the magazine rifles in many respects, quite apart from the want of the magazine. I am perfectly certain that in the course of two or three years we shall have to fit out the whole of the forces of Australia with the best possible rifle. Under present conditions we have not a proper field equipment for our troops in Victoria. We have not any field guns fit to take out on a Sunday afternoon, to say nothing of going into action.
– What is the use of spending money upon men who are not properly equipped?
– What I say is that we shall never be able to equip our forces efficiently from revenue, and consequently we shall have to spend loan money for the purpose.
– General Hutton estimates that £500,000 will be sufficient, and we shall have that much surplus revenue this year.
– What General Hutton says is that £500,000 will meet immediate requirements. I have ventured to make an estimate in connexion with this matter, and I conclude that we should require £1,000,000, which I am prepared to borrow or the purpose of equipping our troops.
– I am. not.
– It is impossible for us to spare such a large amount of money from our revenue; I do not wish to be extravagant. I think there is waste shown in every page, of these Estimates, but I do not wish money to be saved at the cost of the efficiency of the troops or at the expense of the men themselves.
– I should like to know of some of the items upon which the honorable and learned member could effect a saving..
– Well, to commence with, there is not a staff within the Commonwealth that is not too big. With regard to the staff of the General Officer Commanding, we must do what he wants. He has certain work to do, and he requires certain instruments to enable him to perform it ; but if I had been the general officer commanding I think I could have done with a staff half the size of the present one, and many general officers could also have done so. The difficulty is, however, that all these officers have gone into the State services in good faith to spend their lives there ; we can, however, avoid making fresh appointments in the years to come. There is not a State staff that is not twice as large as it ought to be. InVictoria, in 1884-5-6, when the militia movement was inaugurated, the forces were then nearly as strong numerically as now, and yet the staff was not half its present size. The staffs have grown from time to time until they are much larger than they need be. To my mind the State staffs, at any rate, should contain just as much of the citizen as of the permanently-paid element. It must not be forgotten that in the last resort we have to rely upon the citizen soldiery, and the citizen officer, whether he be well or ill trained, is the man upon whom we have to fall back in actual, time of emergency.
– But we cannot make a big saving upon these items except by dismissals.
– One word more in reference to the question of naval defence. It is idle to think that we can establish anything like an adequate Australian navy. Whatever we pay to the Imperial Government as our contribution towards naval expenditure will be ten times better expended than if it were spent in Australia. We do not wish to occupy a similar position to that of some of the South, American republics, or even of some of the Australian States prior to the accomplishment of federation. We have no desire to o.wn a fleet consisting of one obsolete vessel, the destruction of which would be synonymous with the ruination of the fleet. Even if we expended money in the purchase of war-ships, extending over long periods, we should acquire only vessels which would soon become obsolete, and which at their best would not be as efficient as they ought to be. If the Government proposed to build one first-class battle-ship, what would this House say ? The expenditure that would be involved in such an undertaking would pay for Imperial protection for many years, and secure it in a much more efficient and complete form. Moreover, it would require a big fleet to protect the Australian coast. The amount which we are now paying to the Imperial authorities represents all that we can afford, and all that the Home Government expect us to contribute. The latter know that, as far as our means will allow us, we are perfectly willing to assist them in every possible way. I wish to say one word in regard to the paragraph in the Commandant’s report which states that the second essential for the defence of Australian interests, wherever they may be threatened, is -
The possession of a field force capable of undertaking ‘military operations in whatever part of the world it may be desired by Australia to employ them. The field force above indicated in (») could, if necessity arose, be made available for this purpose.
If that view be adopted, I say that the Minister controlling the. Defence department, instead of being called the Minister for Defence, should be designated the Minister for War. The great merit connected with the despatch of Australian troops to South Africa lies in the fact that every one of them went of his own accord. I do not think that men in Australia should be sworn for service in any other part of the world. Otherwise, they would constitute an Australian army, as distinct from an Australian defence force. Every man who wears the King’s uniform will be willing to offer his services elsewhere should occasion require, but we ought to allow him to be a free agent in regard to this matter. Essentially Australia is forming a defence force, and not an army. If an army is required for work abroad, Australians will be perfectly ready to offer their services. But, whilst we have a Minister for Defence and a Defence Act, let us state definitely that the service for which the men are enrolled is that of Australian defence.
– I will not detain the committee very long, because, unlike the honorable and learned member for Corinella, I am not a military expert. He is a colonel, and I am simply a humble man of peace and law. I have always found, as a lawyer, that it is just as well to doubt what one hears from experts.
Nearly every expert is likely to be in the wrong. When the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, was speaking, the honorable and learned member for Corinella interjected something to the effect that the contribution of South Australia was not proportionate to its population.
– I said that the figures quoted by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, seemed to show that South Australia maintained its military force at less expense than did any of the other States, and that if such were the case it was not fair for him to take the position in that State as the basis of- his calculation.
– The honorable and learned member said something to the effect that the South Australian proportion was a very small one.
– I never said anything of the sort. I made a comparison between the cost of the South Australian force and that of the other forces.
– I am glad that the honorable and learned member did make some qualification, fie is so precise that I have almost to become apologetic when I make any reference to him. I find from the report of Major-General Hutton that South Australia has a total of 3,000-odd troops as against Victoria’s 6,452. Therefore, if one considers the relative population, South Australia’s contribution does not compare unfavorably with that of Victoria.
– I was referring solely to cost.
– The honorable and learned member seems to have “ cost “ upon the brain. , He does not like volunteers, but prefers the partially-paid troops. Now we all admit that the Boers have made a pretty good stand against perhaps the best army in the world. We also acknowledge that the American troops of 1774 were “ raw levies,” who for several years were unpaid - a “ ragged lot,” -as they were called in the days of Washington. The American troops of 1861 were also “ raw levies.” The cheer of the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley, brings to my mind an essay, which I am sure, from his utterances, he must have studied - a tribute by that rhapsodical writer, Walt Whitman. In one of his Leaves of Grass, he refers to the fact that one of the finest stands in history was made by the “raw levies” in America.
If we trace the history of Switzerland from the beginning of its federal union to the present time, we shall find that it has more or less depended, not upon skilled troops, but upon volunteers. As regards Canada, to which the honorable and learned member has referred, it is certainly something in favour of economy that that country, with a contribution of 1 -G shilling per head of its population, has an army which actually numbers little less than does the Australian, although our contribution is 3-6 shillings per head, or more than twice as much, according to the figures of 1899. These are broad facts which a nonexpert cannot possibly explain, but at all events they tell in favour of the possibility of effecting very large economies, because Canada, with a population of over 5,000,000, is in a better position to indulge in extravagance than is Australia. Yet we have the fact before us that its contribution to defence represents a considerably smaller outlay fora lessnumberof soldiers than isinvolved in the case in Australia. Upon the whole I cannot compliment the Government upon their so-called defence policy. They really have no such policy, because at the beginning of the session, nearly twelve months ago, they appointed a committee of experts, in the persons of the commandants of the various States, to recommend some scheme upon which they might base a Defence Bill. A scheme was recommended, and the Government submitted a Bill, which the commandants, at a second conference, repudiated. The Government have now imported a commandant at a pretty stiff salary, and one which is largely in excess of that paid to the occupant of a similar post in Canada. This officer, Major-General Hutton, has submitted a report which seems to differ from the recommendations which the State commandants made last year upon some matters which were considered by them to be vital. For instance, they discountenanced the affiliation of rifle clubs with the regular soldiery, whilst Major-General Hutton, in his report, thinks that their affiliation is essential, and adds that whereever the system has existed it has proved a marked success. It is somewhat significant to find that the report of MajorGeneral Hutton shows, in one respect, at any rate, a repudiation of the recommendations made by our military experts nine months ago. This fact should impress upon us the necessity of caution in military matters. The name of M. de Bloch has been referred to. That gentleman, who was a military expert, lectured in June, 1901, before the Boya! United Service Institute, upon the lessons learned from the Transvaal war in regard to military tactics and army organizations. Taking a quotation from the Times, here is what that great authority said -
The Transvaal war proved that military science as practised, to-day was absurd, and that the sacrifices made upon the Continent to support conscription, and into which it was proposed to drag England, were unnecessary.
To some extent the system of conscription was embodied in the defence proposals of the Government, but evidently they became so ashamed of the Bill, which was repudiated by the State commandants, that they withdrew it, probably for ever, from legislative light. In one of their reports the State commandants declared that they took no responsibility for that Bill in the form in which it was submitted by the Ministry.
– Not upon that point. The honorable and learned member must not misrepresent facts. I say that the commandants were absolutely in accord with the Government upon that point, and that the principle of conscription was not provided for in the Bill.
– I did not say that the State commandants differed from the Go- ‘vernment upon the point. I was merely pointing out the necessity which exists for the exercise of caution. I refer to the question of conscription merely to show that the principle has been repudiated by no less an authority than M. de Bloch. He adds -
Gorgeous uniforms, with showy lace, were maintained, and at manoeuvres one was stupefied by the prodigies and aberrations performed by the military tailor with cloth, leather, and steel.
His reference there was principally to Germany, upon which so many experts rely for information in regard to military matters. According to the recommendations of General Hutton, I find that we must at once increase the military force from 29,000-odd to 44,000-odd. In schedule 3 on page 4 of his report, Major-General Hutton recommends an increase to 44,218 men, which shows .an increase of about 14,000 in the field force. That is an increase of 50 per cent.; and it certainly does indicate the necessity of this committee, being anxious about the military expenditure, and giving a general direction to the Government by striking about £200,000 off the total vote. The Major-General himself in his report points out that we really have, through our geographical position, almost an immunity from attack in Australia. He states that -
Oversea aggression can only be attempted (1) by a raid of two or more crusiers with a small striking force for the purpose of landing; (2) by a large and well-equipped force conveyed in numerous transports and escorted by an enemy’s fleet.
He then passes on to point out that -
The latter attempt may, under . existing conditions, be considered difficult in the extreme, more especially in view of the military spirit which animates the inhabitants of Australia.
I do not want to pursue the quotation, but he amplifies that point afterwards, and says in the conclusion of the paragraph that -
The small landing force available even from a strong fleet of cruisers would find such a task impossibie.
In other words, Major-General Hutton himself points out that we have practically nothing to fear from an invading force.
– Where is any other enemy to come from ?
– The other enemy may be a raid by two or more cruisers. But Major- General Hutton goes on to point out why it is that the defence force should be strengthened. Although he points out our immunity from attack and thinks that our security is sufficiently great already, he thinks we should give to the world a greater proof of that immunity. If honorable members read down page 2 of his report they will find that he mentions that -
Complete security for life and capital must therefore be insured not only for the population existing, in Australia against foreign aggression and domestic violence, But that security must be further assured in the eyes of the commercial world beyond its shores.
He says that we have nothing to fear locally, but that really what he wants is that we shall create such a capacity for resisting aggression that though we ace not threatened, or likely to be threatened, the commercial world outside ourselves may be given overt proof and ostensible evidence of our security. Surely we are not going, on considerations of this, sort, to add to our military expenditure, and keep it up at a rate which amounts practically to £1,000,000 a year? I do not want to go minutely into- the Major-General’s report, but I do say that his own words plead strongly in favour of economy. Reference has been made to the question of naval defence, and I find that Major-General Hutton’s report also deals with the fact that the immunity of our commerce from attack depends upon the strength of the Imperial navy. We have a delegation going to England very shortly. Some of the delegates have very large Imperial notions. Mr. Seddon, the Premier of New Zealand, who was once an out and out democrat, may be supposed by reason of that fact to have had a bias towards peace and against excessive Imperialism. But he has now gone home as the chief - I do not like to use the term jingo, but I will say the’ chief supporter of extravagance in connexion with the Imperialistic idea.
– We have the most extravagant Minister for the most greedy department.
– Present company is always excepted from a comparison. When we come to analyse the character of the men who are going home there seems to me to be good reason, for reading them a little lesson, in order that the Prime Minister may not bind Australia - he cannot bind us legally, but he might bind us morally - as regards military and naval expenditure. What is the position in reference to om* naval defence? Many times the suggestion has been made in the House of Commons, in Canada, and. by lecturers who have come out here, that Australia should contribute more largely towards the cost of the Imperial navy. I remember that Mr. Parkin when he was lecturing in this country, urged, that we should largely -increase our contribution to the navy. In 1891, when the Canadian lecturer arrived on our shores he stirred up an agitationin favour of Imperial federation and its concomitant of joining inImperial defence. At that time the naval expenditure of England was £14,000,000. General Hutton bases his statements in regard to the comparative amount paid by the colonies and various dependencies of Great Britain towards the army and navy upon the naval statistics of,. I think, 1898. He gives the amount at £26,594,500. As a matter of fact,, in 1 900, the naval estimates of Great Britain were £29,000,000,. and last year they reached the total of £32,000,000] and we find statisticians like Sir Robert Giffin stating that the complete- security that has been demanded by the Times - and I am quoting from a leading article in the Times - is not possible without an annual outlay of £40,000,000 upon the navy. Let honorable members look at our position, supposing we were asked to make an equitable contribution towards naval defence. I am hot saying that the demand is not equitable from an English point of view - that we should be asked to increase our proportion of payment towards the cost of the navy. I know that the Imperial Government can make out a strong case for a greater levy, not only upon the Australian Commonwealth, but also upon Canada and India ; because a few years ago the amount paid by Australia, Canada,.and India towards the Imperial navy was less than £600,000 a year, or one-sixtieth of the then total naval Estimates. But I say that we cannot afford largely to increase our contribution. We pay now, taking the estimates submitted to us, in contributions towards the auxiliary squadron, and towards the local defence a total of about £178,065 a year. If our contribution were based upon wealth and population combined - which would be a. very fair way of estimating the proportionate amount that ought to be paid - instead of our paying £178,000 a year our contribution would have to be about £3, 000, 000 a year.. That is, England has a case to ask us to consent to an equitable apportionment of an annual expenditure which would land Australia in a contribution of over £3,000,000 a year. We cannot stand even a fourth of that. Those who go to England at this juncture should be particularly careful when we are asked, as members of the Imperial Parliament are asking us, and as the Times on more than one occasion in the last twelve months has asked us to do, to make a more equitable contribution towards the cost of the Navy. I am. not speaking against the morality of the Imperial position, but I am, impressing upon honorable members the reality of the Australian position ; and we ought to give a caution to some of the bellicose gentlemen who are going home to be careful that no arrangement is entered into which will bind the Commonwealth.
– The Prime Minister has undertaken not to. bind the. Commonwealth.
-I am not suggesting that anything will be done which will bind the Commonwealth legally, but very often things are done which cast a moral obligation upon the country. In the case of the Immigration
Restriction Act something of the kind was done. The principle laid down at the London conference in regard to that matter was put before us as a binding obligation - binding, at any rate upon our consciences. I particularly rose with the object of pointing out the necessity of caution as regards military and naval expenditure, which has already run up to close upon £1,000,000 per annum. We cannot give the Government the details of a retrenchment scheme, but we can do what has been done in South Australia. There, when a Ministry refused to make retrenchments and asked for details, the matter was taken in hand by three members of the House, and they cut down the Estimates by about £130,000, and the Ministry had to fall into line with what was recommended. I say that if this committee strikes off a total of £200,000 from the military Estimates, the Government will be able to find a way out of the difficulty that will bring about a reasonable economy in our military expenditure. It behoves us in this Federal Parliament to make some strong plea for economy in this direction.
– From the debate I have no doubt that the views of honorable members who have spoken, are quite in accord with my own, in that they desire this great spending department of theGovernment to be carried on as economically as possible. Honorable members recognize that these Estimates are merely the Estimates of the various States at the time of transfer, so far as the establishments are concerned. Some items are, of course, far in excess of the Estimates of the States, but speaking generally, the proposed votes are those which were in existence on the 1st March, 1901, when the Commonwealth took over the Defence department. I hope I made it clear that these Estimates are no criterion of what may be done in the way of organization and economy. I am full of expectation that next year we shall be able toput the forces of the Commonwealth on a better and more efficient footing, at a reduced cost. The Estimates amount to £937,000, but of that amount, £106,000 is scarcely chargeable to ordinary expenditure. It represents the statutory contribution of all the States to the auxiliary squadron.
– It is the best money we have spent.
– Yes; but this money, under ordinary conditions, would not appear on the Estimates of the States, and I shall, therefore, deduct it in dealing with the Estimates before us. We may take it, therefore, that the Estimates for the Defence department amount to £831,000.
-But the expenditure on naval defence was always included in the States’ Estimates.
– It may have been included in the Estimates of New South Wales, but I know that the States’ contributions to the auxiliary squadron were under special appropriations.
– That was so in New South Wales.
– At any rate the contributions were under an agreement fortified by statute, and, therefore, the expenditure was one which each Government had to meet, and which each State Parliament had no power to refuse. Having made that deduction, I am prepared, on behalf of the Government, to undertake that the next Defence Estimates introduced in this House shall not exceed £700,000, or £131,000 less than the proposed votes now before us. That undertaking will, I trust, be regarded as reasonable.
– The reduction by £131,000 is not enough.
– It does not follow, of course, that that is the limit to which the Government may go in reducing the expenditure, because we shall do our best to be even more economical. I should like to point out, however - and I do not think honorable members have sufficiently considered the question from this point of view - that there has arisen in the States, especially inVictoria, a new system of defence; which is, I believe, very popular. That new system consists in the establishment of rifle clubs, and in connexion with these organizations, the expenditure on ammunition is enormous. On the Estimates this year £110,000 is provided for ammunition, and there will have tobe as much provided nextyear, and in fact, every succeeding year.
– Is that amount for ammunition for rifle clubs only, or for the whole force?
– It is for the whole force, but it must be remembered that there are 20,000 members of rifle clubs in the State ofVictoria.
– When practising, they pay for their own ammunition.
– Each man is supplied with 200 rounds of ammunition free, and can get another 200 rounds at a reduced rate. The fact remains that there is a considerable expenditure under this head.
– Is this £110,000 additional expenditure ?
– It is the expenditure for ammunition, and is £40,000 more than was provided last year. So far as I can see, this outlay will go on increasing year by year, because, instead of having, as now, about 30,000 members of rifle clubs in the Commonwealth, we may have as many in New South Wales as there are inVictoria.
Mr.Watson. - I hope so.
– The sum of £32,000 is spent for rifle club ammunition inVictoria alone, so that a new engine of expenditure has been created in connexion with defence.
– We want a Commonwealth ammunition factory at an early date.
– Ammunition would not be supplied more cheaply by a Commonwealth factory. There is a factory in Australia already, and it costs more to buy ammunition locally than to import it.
Mr.Watson. - That is not a Government factory.
– Whether we have a Government factory or not, I do not believe that ammunition can be made in Australia as cheaply as it can be imported from England. There is only the freight to pay, and the wages, hours, and general condition of the workmen are better in Australia than in England. The difference in cost is not very much, though I believe it amounts to from 5 to 10 per cent, in favour of the imported article.
– Surely the Government would not rely on importations in the case of ammunition?
– I am not advocating that we should rely on importations. I should like to see all the ammunition made here ; and we must be prepared, at the beginning, to pay a little more for the local article. I ‘was merely answering an interjection to the effect that we ought to have a Government factory, the inference being that the ammunition could be bought more cheaply by that means.
– Is not the arrangement made with the Australian factory the reason of the shortness of ammunition in Victoria now ?
– No; the Australian factory is a very good one, and complies with all our demands.
– The rifle clubs cannot get the ammunition they want, owing, I am informed, to the arrangement which the Government have entered into with the local factory.
SirJOHN FORREST.- I do not think that is so, because I have heard no complaint as to contracts not being carried out, and I know that the factory is supplying ammunition to States other than Victoria. Then the Government propose to buy 5,000 rifles, which will cost £25,000. At the present time we want 20,000 rifles, but we shall have to go slowly and obtain them in small quantities year by year. I mention these facts because when I undertake that the Estimates next year shall be less than the present Estimates by £131,000, I do not wish to promise more than I may be able to perform. No doubt we shall not spend so much this year as we should had the Estimates been brought in earlier. There are votes for works which have not been carried out, because the Government had no authority from the House, and the Treasurer would not advance the necessary money. We are now at the end of the tenth month of the year, and honorable members will see that these votes lapse, because we should not be able to get the works completed by the 30th June.
Mr.Watson. - Has the Minister for Defence not a large amount under the Estimates of the Minister for Home Affairs?
– But the Defence department has no control over that expenditure. The Minister for Home Affairs is pretty much in the same position as myself, inasmuch as included in his Estimates are works which, owing to want of time, he will not be able to carry out, except in cases of great urgency, when the Treasurer may authorize the necessary expenditure. It always happens, if the Estimates are delayed, that a great many votes must lapse. This, however, will not prevent the works being carried out in another year. I do not think I need say more except to repeat the undertaking I have already given as to the reduction of the Estimates next year. If the Government find they can make even further reductions in the expenditure in the direction desired by honorable members they will be very glad to do so. We may not be able to do better than we promise, but we shall make the attempt. I should like to say, before I resume my seat, that although I rose with trepidation to make my statements in regard to these Estimates, I have none now, and I desire to thank honorable members for the way in which they have dealt with the matter. I do not suppose that I shall speak again on the subject, and I should like to say that honorable members appear to have recognised the difficulties under which we labour.
– After hearing the speech just delivered by the Minister for Defence, I cannot help thinking that this will be far and away the best day’s work which the Parliament has ever done. If we succeed in obtaining what the right honorable gentleman now in point of fact concedes, we shall have done good work for the Commonwealth. Indeed, I go further than that, and say thatI fail to see why we should not carry out the intention expressed by the acting leader of the Opposition and make a reduction to the full extent of £200,000.
– Do not force matters too far until we see how we get on
– Quite so. Conciliation and compromise are the very soul of politics, and as the right honorable gentleman has promised a certain reduction, and promised further that if possible a still greater reduction will be made, I. think the committee may very well be content. I intended to address myself rather fully to this question, but in view of these facts, I feel that I ought to confine myself to the making of as few remarks as are necessary to enable me to express the belief that we are justified in what we are doing, and that nothing less than what is now proposed to be done would have satisfied the people of the Commonwealth.
Mr.Watson. -We shall get a little more off next vear.
-We shall know more about these Estimates next year.
– Although I have not the slightest pretension to any knowledge as a military expert, I honestly entertain the opinion that the Commonwealth can be defended, so as to be able to cope with, any difficulties that it may be called upon to face, for a sum much less than what we have been in the habit of spending, and less than that which some of us seem inclined to spend on behalf of the Commonwealth. I am pleased to know that the Minister for Defence entertains the same opinion. In the speech made by the Treasurer, when submitting the Estimates of Expenditure to us last October, there is passage after passage which goes to prove that he himself believes that these defence items should be very vigorously cut down. The right honorable gentleman is probably the most popular Minister in the Commonwealth, because he has a great deal of the good-will of this side of the House, as well as that of Government supporters, and I do not think that anything he has clone or said in this Parliament has met with so much approval and public good- will as did his expression of opinion last October, that the defence expenditure had grown abnormally, and was far higher than the Commonwealth could afford. I have marked several passages in the right honorable gentleman’s speech, but as I wish to curtail my remarks as much as. possible, I shall confine myself to the statement that in four or five of these passages the right honorable gentleman indorsed the views of the most rigid economist in the House in regard to the possibility, nay the necessity, of cutting down the defence vote. We are not justified in taking up the stand which some supporters of the Ministerial proposals have taken up, that we should be content to keep this expenditure within the limits of what it was when the Commonwealth took over the duty of defending the States, because during the last few years prior to the creation of the Commonwealth, the defence estimates of the various State Governments were unusually swollen. We have no right to think of keeping up the expenditure in the same ratio, still less to think of increasing it, as we should, if we followed the proposals tabled ‘by the Minister. In 1895-96, the total expenditure on defence in the States was £522,448 ; in 1901, it was £811,000 ; at the date of the transfer to the Commonwealth it had grown to £861,000, and, subsequently, the Government proposed practically to make it £869,000. The Government call it £850,000, but that amount refers, only to ordinary expenditure, and does ‘not take into account what is called “ other “ or new expenditure incurred by the Commonwealth. That proposal would have been bad enough, in view of the Treasurer’s own statement that the items were far too great, and that, in one case, he was positively afraid to count up the total in reference to the transferred forces, because it would be so great that it would give him a further shock. But the new estimates, as now submitted, are still further increased. What the Government have done further in the matter of defence expenditure is somewhat hidden, owing to the way ‘in which the votes have been presented to us.
– The additional items are made up of the cost of rifles and ammunition, and of the amount we have to pay New South Wales, which really should have been paid out of loan funds.
– Still, we have to deal with the total expenditure of the Commonwealth, and while on the ordinary items it amounts to £26,000 in excess of the normal expenditure at the highest point reached in Australia, we have to add nearly £50,000 for new expenditure on the part of the Commonwealth. Further, we have to add to the total a series of items amounting, I think, to £25/000, which have been placed in the Estimates for the Minister for Home Affairs, and which relate to buildings and other works for defence purposes.
– - They have been left out of the comparison with last year’s expenditure, and we have to put them on both sides if we take them into consideration now.
– That is quite fair ; but it leaves us in this position, which is the main point of my contention, that the total amount to be paid for the defences of the Commonwealth, in the . ratio of the figures presented to us this year, would assume next year the gigantic proportions of £1,000,000. We are ‘brought face to face with the question of whether we can ‘afford it. In view of our position and of what is done elsewhere, any honorable member who has the slightest wish to see economy practised is bound to raise his voice against this abnormal expenditure for defence purposes. An expenditure of £1,000,000 next year - and we should have to spend it if we followed the course upon which we have already embarked - would mean a tax on the population of the Commonwealth of 5s. per head, notwithstanding that we are far removed from any possible enemy, and that the Commonwealth is placed in the happy position of being outside the turmoils of the rest of the world, and, in the opinion of ordinary men, cannot be attacked without receiving a notice of three, four, or probably six months. Such an expenditure would be far too extravagant for any ordinary common-sense individual to indorse. The taxation required for the enormous military defences of European countries comes to an average of 1 ls. per head ; but that average is swollen by the enormous vote rendered necessary in Great Britain, and by the maintenance of the vast armies of Germany and of Trance. When we come to smaller countries we find that the cost of the military forces in Belgium is 6s. per head, in Switzerland 7s. per head, and in Greece 8s. per head of the population. All those countries are subject to almost sudden dangers. War might be declared within a few days, ‘ and they might be thrown into the vortex. Here, as I have said, we have no such difficulty ; we are not likely to be called upon to defend ourselves without receiving a very reasonable notice, during which we could do something more to meet the emergency. In the United States the cost per head of the population is 5s. - the same as that which the Commonwealth expenditure would amount to if we continued on our present course - but out of that the United States of America supports one of the first-class navies ‘ of the world. In Japan the cost, according to Mulhall, is only 3s. per head of the total inhabitants. ‘If we embark in an expenditure of 5s. per head upon our defences, we shall do more than the circumstances demand, and far more than can be justified. If we were situated like some countries, if we had imminent danger before us, we should be able to find the money and the means, but it is useless to throw away money in this way when it is really not required, and when such an expenditure would be unwarranted. I listened with considerable interest to the speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and was much struck with some of his remarks. With his experience as a militia officer he said that he believed he could make a saving in these Estimates of £120,000 or £130,000 without marring the provisions made for the safety of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable and learned member did not give us any suggestion.
– He said, quite reasonably, I think, that this was not the place for him to make these suggestions; but he volunteered to give the Treasurer two or three hours of his time in order to make good his assertion.
– I shall be happy to see the honorable :and learned member.
– He pointed out several directions in which these savings could be made - directions in which I think they could ‘be made. I agree with him that there is too great a tendency to preserve the military traditions of the old world. The fault is that we do not take our circumstances into consideration, nor meet those circumstances in our own way, without copying all the ramifications of the military systems of the old world. I was sorry to hear him make a statement - although I do not think he intended to go so far as his words seem to imply - which was calculated to diminish, in some respects, the importance which most of us attach to the formation of rifle clubs in the Commonwealth. He said, and perhaps rightly, that if we had good shots alone, without discipline and training in military exercises, we would not have an efficient body of men to serve in the hour of need. To some extent he may be right, but it is the common opinion of most authorities that it is more difficult to make a good shot out of raw material than it is to make a trained soldier out of a good shot. The first thing we ought to lay ourselves out to do is to secure the largest possible enrolment of men in rifle clubs, and to impart, if possible, a certain degree of military discipline to the ordering and regulation of those clubs. Then, if an emergency arose, and we had thousands of men who had passed through the rifle clubs - men who were trained shots, and who had undergone some of the minor training of military discipline - we should have material out of which skilled officers could make a first-class army in a few weeks.
– We commence the training in our public schools.
– Yes. The whole of the trouble in relation to defence is that we have no policy before us. If we had some definite policy it would be very much better. As it is, we have nothing more to do than to carry out the system as bequeathed to us by the States, and to evolve, at the earliest possible moment, a system of our own, which I hope will meet the circumstances and the difficulties of Australia at a lower cost than has been incurred by the various States individually. But, first of all, the whole question should be considered, not from the point of view of military experts alone, because it involves considerations of naval defence. We ought to placea great deal more reliance than most of us seem to place on the navy as our first line of defence. We shall have to go in for some extension or some improvement of the system under which we contribute to the Imperial navy defence, and, after that, if we carry this rifle movement still further than it has gone, we should approach the question of volunteer, or militia, or whichever kind of force we choose to adopt. I believe that a purely volunteer force is the best, although I agree with the honorable and learned member for Corinella, that the highest results have been shown by the partially-paid force. We have had two systems running side by side, and the purely volunteer force, through being brought into competition with the partially-paid force, has suffered in consequence ; but if we had had a purely volunteer force all through, the average of it in effect, discipline, and usefulness would have been as high as that of the partially-paid forces in the different States. I hope that whatever is done, we shall not settle the question from the point of view of merely military expertsor merely military and naval experts, but that the Government will have the advice of various classes of minds, and that we shall evolve a system of defence which will meet the circumstances of Australia, and be free to a very large extent from the trammels of old-world traditions.
– I am hardly satisfied with the compromise offered by the Minister. It does not appear to me to be quite enough. It is a remarkable fact thathe can afford to reduce the Estimates for next year by that amount, but not the Estimates for this year. It must be recollected that while the Commonwealth is being charged with extravagance in this connexion, the military Estimates for the various States were largely inflated just before the transfer of the departments. While we do not blame the Commonwealth Ministry for that inflation, we do expect them to correct any extravagances, or any errors, that we may conceive to exist. At that time the military Estimates for the different States were inflated by over £230,000, and by £50,000 in Queensland alone. The increased expenditure in each State can be ascertained by reference to the Estimates for that year. If we reduce the Federal Estimates by £130,000, it will still leave the department with £100,000 to the good. Practically it is only making a half job of the work. We have to distinctly recollect that when federation was being urged upon the people of Australia one of the economies which were promised was in the organization and management of the military forces. We were told that by having one Commandant and one Ministerial department for Australia we should, to a large extent, obviate the necessity of having a commandant and head-quarters’ staff for each State. But in these Estimates, just as happened before, not one single reduction is proposed in the expenditure of any State in this connexion. The head- quarters staff is kept up exactly as it was before.
– Not the same salaries in New South Wales andVictoria.
– These are the only two exceptions. For this year they will have paid more in New South Wales, inasmuch as there has been some extra money paid for sending the Commandant to England, £500 I think, and for other things. I am not going to express an opinion as to the best scheme of defence for Australia, as I prefer to leave that to military experts. The people of Australia have spoken with no uncertain sound as to the kind of military force they wish to have established. They have declared that they will have only a minimum permanent force, and that the rest shall be practically composed of the militia, as they are commonly called, and volunteers. I am not with those who go in for what is termed a purely volunteer system, because I recognise that the particallypaid forces are little more than volunteers, and the money they have received from time to time has been just sufficient to recoup out-of-pocket expenses. I shall not ask any man to give his time to the country for nothing. If Canada can manage her military forces on an effective basis for less than £500,000 per annum we ought to do very nearly as well, because our conditions are better than hers. An invasion of Australia would mean much more to a foreign power than would an invasion of Canada, which is nearer than Australia to any possible base. I think that we can provide an effective system of defence for £500,000 per annum under present circumstances. Even though last year the military Estimates for the States were inflated by about £230,000, it must not be forgotten that this year - I do not mean to say that it is in the way of salaries or anything of that sort - there is an increase of £25,000 in the total sum for the different States.
– I mentioned that £40,000 is asked for ammunition alone, and £25,000 for rifles.
– Are we to get £40,000 worth of ammunition more than we did previously ?
– When the report on the proposed rearrangement comes down I hope that the oft-repeated promises to abolish the allowances and to pay a stated salary will be redeemed. In New South Wales year after year promises were made, but instead of the allowances being struck out and the officers paid at fixed rates, invariably the amounts were increased. I have a list of the allowances which have been paid in that State. Take, for example, the first officer on the list, who is supposed to get £369 per annum. He receives £82 for lighting, whatever that is, £34 for forage £14 for stabling, £27 for servants, £15 for rations, and £14 for fuel and light, making a total of £555.
– Why did you pass it up there for so many years ?
– We were always in a minority when we came to deal with the military estimates. We are doing the same here to-night as we did there, the only difference being that we hope that the Minister will carry out his promise to abolish these allowances.
– We have already started that with the appointments we have made ; we have given no allowances.
– There are a good many old errors here which could be rectified. One officer, who is not a general, is paid £1,048 a year. He receives £730 for salary, £125 for lighting, £68 for forage, £27 for stabling, £55 for servants, and £1S for rations. It takes £68 a year to keep his horse, as against £34 to feed the other officer’s, and evidently he eats £3 worth more of rations than does the other. These are only two cases out of many that could be cited. It must be patent to honorable members that we shall not get the next Estimates in the early part of the year. If
Parliament is prorogued, as we hope, within a month or two, the financialyear will have nearly expired, and next year the Government will be asking for monthly Supply Bills. Do I understand that their compromise is to be embodied in the Estimates for next year ?
– And any Supply Bills which may be required will be taken on that basis ?
– They will have to be taken on a reduced basis. It will be of no use to go on for six months spending at the high rate, and then try to curtail the expenditure.
– Before the Estimates for next year come on for consideration will the Commandant have had time to go thoroughly into the matter, and to let us have full information concerning the re-arranged scheme? I do not think any honorable member desires to be parsimonious, but when we see large allowances provided for in addition to high salaries we recognise that we might have a more efficient service at a smaller cost. No objection will be urged against anything that may be done in the direction of encouraging the volunteer movement or rifle clubs, or the partially paid system, to a moderate extent, but it is plain to every one that there must be a big reduction in the various permanent staffs. Even if these staffs were necessary in the,past there cannot be the same need for them now that we have a central staff to supervise the whole of the forces of Australia. ,
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - I can understand that the Minister for Defence felt a considerable amount of trepidation in introducing these Estimates, because it would require some one with the courage of a lion and the hide of a rhinoceros to defend them. As a matter of fact, the right honorable gentleman never intended to defend them, but was “ riding for a fall.” He was prepared to accept a very considerable reduction, and he has now agreed that a saving shall be effected upon the next Estimates of at least £131,000.
– That is not enough.
– That is very much the view I take, but it must be remembered that the Minister does not limit himself to that amount. He says that he may be able to make still further reductions.
– The right honorable member knows what Government promises are.
– It is to our interest to reduce the Estimates as much as we possibly can.
– After all, we shall have the power to make still further reductions upon the next Estimates if we think it desirable to do so. Therefore, as the mover of the amendment, which was intended to indicate to the Ministry that they should effect a reduction of at least £200,000, I am ready to accept the promise of the Minister. We have gained so much-
-We shall gain more if the right honorable gentleman sticks to his guns.
– We have at any rate gained so much, and I think that the country will approve of what we have done, and that in the confirmation of the attitude we have taken up public opinion will bring to bear upon Ministers a force which will compel them to make still further reductions.
– It was my intention to support the amendment of the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon ; but, in view of the promise made by the Minister for Defence, I think the right honorable member has acted rightly in withdrawing it.
– He has not withdrawn it. He may wish to withdraw it, but we object.
– I think that the Government have gone so far that the amendment may very well be withdrawn. They have named £13 1,000 as the minimum only, and have promised to go as much further as they possibly can. We must remember that after all we cannot drop from an inflated scale of expenditure down to the level desired by some honorable members in the one year.
– They did it in Queensland.
– It could only be done by adopting very drastic measures. In the Defence department, perhaps to a greater degree than in other branches of the public service, we need’ to continually watch the expenditure; otherwise it will increase until it becomes an intolerable burden on the taxpayers.
– It is an intolerable burden now.
– No doubt it is, because the amount to be voted on these Estimates is equivalent to within a shade of 5s. per head of the population of the Commonwealth. I understand, however, that the Government hope to effect a saving of £100,000 even for the present year. The Estimates for the last two or three years have been increased by leaps and bounds. We know that the war fever was rife throughout the Commonwealth for a considerable time, and as the military authorities no doubt took advantage of this, and found Ministers a little more pliable than usual, the expenses were unduly inflated. It will be the duty of this Parliament to see that the expenditure is kept within proper limits in the future. I do not expect to see the whole of the retrenchment possible effected in one year, but I hope that the Government will be able to reduce the expenditure to an even greater extent than they have indicated. We should not seek to bind them by a vote, as that would be ungracious and ungenerous in the face of their offer. 1 hope that any economies that may be effected will not be made in such a! way as to reduce the facilities for imparting to our citizens the knowledge necessary to qualify them to take part in the defence of the country. The rifle clubs represent the cheapest branch of our defence forces, because the total expenditure incurred, including the cost involved in the supply of ammunition at reduced prices, does not exceed £1 15s. per rifleman. A great many of the younger members of these clubs have been cadets in the public schools, and have received an excellent training that will cling to them throughout their lives. They are nearly all excellent horsemen, because in the country districts every young fellow learns to ride. With such men available it will cost very little to give them theadditional training and discipline necessary to make them first-class soldiers. The Boers when they entered upon the present war were simply good horsemen, and bushmen, and fair rifle shots, and I believe that we can achieve the best results by encouraging rifle clubs in every possible way, and by offering every reasonable facility to men to qualify themselves as good marksmen. We shall obtain better value for the same money in that direction than in any other. The honorable and Learned member for Corinella told us that the partially -paid forces did better work than did volunteers pure and simple, but I doubt very much if in proportion to cost they are as valuable. It must be remembered that three or four riflemen can be provided for with the money that has to be spent upon one partially-paid soldier, and that makes a very wide difference. I do not wish, however, to discuss the general question of defence, because that can be done with greater advantage when the Defence Bill is before us next session. I hope the Ministry will reduce staffs which need not be kept up to their former strength, now that a central control is provided for. A great saving can be effected in that direction.
– Not at once. My honorable friend knows the difficulty of getting rid of the men who are there.
– Yes ; and I know, further, that the right honorable gentleman is the man to meet that difficulty. He can put his foot down as well as any one. If he does that, and the Minister for Defence has no money, he cannot spend it. I was very glad indeed toobserve the cordial manner in which the Minister for Defence met the views of the committee, and I think honorable members should meet him in an equally frank and candid manner, and accept his promise. Our principal line of defence must necessarily be on the water. Inhabiting as we do an island continent, our first object should be to keep the enemy from landing on our shores, and that can only be done by strengthening our naval and harbour defences. Itmay be said that the enemy would land at some part of our coast remote from settlement, but in such a case our land forces would be able to give a good account of any invaders before they could reach the centres of population. I hope that the Government will pay attention to this aspect of the matter. As far as our permanent forces are concerned, they should represent the merest skeleton of our provision for defence. Of course it will be necessary to keep up skeleton regiments, to be filled up as occasion may require. They can be filled up only by drawing upon the rifle clubs and other branches of our citizen soldiers.
– That is just what the. honorable and learned member for Corinella says we must not do under any circumstances. That is what I did, and he declares that I ruined the service.
– Notwithstanding that statement I confidently point to the result of the American war. There were no better soldiers in the world than the volunteers who took part in that struggle. They were soldiers of whom any nation might well be proud, and I think that we have just as good material in Australia to-day.
– All our men who went to South Africa were volunteers.
– Yes ; and they gave a very good account of themselves. Indeed the manner in which they acquitted themselves reflects credit upon Australia. I feel perfectly sure that by utilizing the services of the various rifle clubs, we shall obtain the best possible result at the minimum of cost. Before sitting down I merely desire to add that it is the duty of the Government and of Parliament to see that the cost of our defence forces does not exceed the lowest amount that is compatible with efficiency, and I am sure that that efficiency can be obtained at a much less expenditure than 5s. per head of our total population.
– Honorable members have been told by the Minister for Defence that the Estimates which are now submitted for their consideration, are those which have been taken over from the various States, and that he is in no way responsible for them. But I would point out over twelve months have elapsed since the Defence department was transferred. The Government therefore have had a year in which to ascertain whether these estimates were inflated. Any one who has watched the growth of military expenditure in the various Australian States during the past few years must have come to the conclusion that the military authorities exercise an hypnotic power over Ministers. Scarcely a Minister has controlled the defence forces in the various States who has been possessed of sufficient courage to fight this growth of military expenditure. The military gentlemen have merely intimated that they required a certain amount of money, and the various Ministers have replied, “ All right, we will grant it toyou.” Last year in Queensland, the expenditure upon the defence forceswas £53,000 in excess of that of the previous year.
– Does that amount include expenditure incurred in despatching contingents to South Africa?
– The amount does not cover any such expenditure. It is idle for the Government to declare that they have had no opportunity of reducing the cost of our defence forces. One of the advantages which it was predicted the public would derive from federation was that it would enable large savings to be effected in the Defence department. Yet the Government have the temerity to openly admit that they have had these Estimates before them for twelve months, and have neglected to ascertain whether they could reduce them without impairing the efficiency of the force.
– The Estimates provided for nearly £1,250,000 when they were first submitted to me.
– If they aggregated over a million sterling, an attempt must have been made by the Commonwealth authorities to still furtherinflate them ; because even now they are largely in excess of the expenditure of the various States last year.
– Military men will ask for everything which they think they can get.
– Precisely; and there has not been a Minister for Defence with sufficient courage to resist their demands. The proposed compromise to reduce the military expenditure by £131,000 is scarcely worth considering. It is a disgrace to those in authority that with a total population of four millions, this House should be asked to vote £700,000 odd for the defence of the Commonwealth, whilst in Canada, upon whose frontier line there are 80,000,000 of people, with whom the Canadians at any time may come into conflict, an expenditure of £490,000 is deemed sufficient.
– The defence of England represents 25s, per head of its population.
– Would the right honorable gentleman like to bring about a similar state of affairs here ? In Switzerland I might remind him that the expenditure upon defence represents only 7s. per head of its population ; whilst in Belgium it is 6s. It should be the desire of the Minister of Defence to emulate the example of those countries in which the military expenditure is least.
– Things are very much more expensive here than they are in Canada. There a member of Parliament receives only £50 a year.
– My experience is that in Australia prior to the introduction of the principleof payment of members, the members of State Parliaments reimbursed themselves in some other way. I know of one gentleman who opposed that reform, and who proved to be in receipt of £S00 a year from commissions. In Canada the Government conduct their own arms factory, and manufacture their own ammunition, and the expenditure in connexion with these works comes out of less than £500,000 per annum. The Minister for Defence, however, wishes this young nation, which is to be built up on the peaceful industries of the country, to incur an expenditure of not less than £700,000 for our military requirements. If we include our contribution to the naval squadron the aggregate sum absorbed for defence purposes is approximately £800,000 That amount is out of all proportion to the requirements of the Commonwealth. In the light of these facts, how do the Government justify their oft-repeated desire to economise in order that they may return to the various States all the money which they possibly can? Here is an opportunity for them to save £200,000, and yet they are not prepared to accept it, simply because they fear the frowns of the military people.
– I think the right honorable gentleman is just as amenable to the desires of the military gentlemen to whom I refer as most Ministers for Defence have been. If every member in this Chamber honestly recorded his vote tonight I have no hesitation in affirming that the military vote would not exceed £500,000. But a compromise having been arrived at, honorable members are prepared to sacrifice their principles.
– The honorable member does not want any military force.
Mr.Mcdonald.- Yes,I do.
– How much would the honorable member be prepared to vote for its maintenance?
Mr.Mcdonald. -I think that £500,000 would be adequate.
– That is £100,000 too much.
– During the first year of our national life, we are asked to spend nearly £1,000,000 upon defence.
– Do I understand that the Government intend to reduce these Estimates by £131,000?
– I say that we hope to save £100,000 upon them.
– Exactly ; but the right honorable gentleman will not give an undertaking to effect that saving. Seeing that this year the Ministry have a right to spend nearly £1,000,000 for defence purposes, I say it would be only a fair thing if they promised to instruct the military authorities that not more than £500,000 should, in future, be expended upon our defences. Personally, I intend to vote for the reduction of these estimates by £200,000, and I am sorry that the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, did not move to make a still larger reduction. I shall certainly oppose any attempt to withdraw the amendment. The right honorable gentleman must not try and get out of the difficulty upon this question by merely taking it as an instruction from the committee that, if the amendment is carried, it only means a saving of £131,000 per year. The amendment was originally moved with the view of giving an instruction that the vote was to be reduced by £200,000. If that is not to be the idea, we shall take the course of moving the reduction of the whole item, when the question is before us, by the amount of £200,000. But I regret very much that, in a matter like this, a large number of honorable members are not prepared to vote as they think they ought to vote. They are prepared to support the Government now, because the Government have come down with a sort of white-wash compromise. That, in my opinion, is certainly not very creditable to a large number of honorable members.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I am not sorry that this debate has taken a general turn at this particular stage, because the Minister for Defence is going to England shortly. The debate will be an indication to him as to the general feeling in this Parliament with regard to military expenditure. I am glad that the Minister is going Home. I understood him to say to-night that he rose with much trepidation. I did not know that trepidation was one of the qualities of the right honorable gentleman. I only hope that he will not show trepidation when he is in the Colonial-office, or under the powerful influences which will surround him in London. When the question is put to him, of whether he will help the Home authorities in organizing an Imperial force for the defence of the Empire, I feel sure that he will know very well the view of this House - that the House, whether rightly or wrongly, is not prepared to go in for any extravagant scheme. More than that, I hope that he will recommend to the consideration of the Colonial authorities the frank and admirable report which has been made by Major-General Hutton. If that report be read - it is not hard to understand, even by a layman like myself - it is perfectly clear that in the Major General’s opinion it is “difficult in the extreme “ - those are his words - to land a large and well-equipped force in Australia at any time. He also thinks that a small force, even for the purpose of making a raid, is out of the question. No one would attempt the task with any feeling of security. But if a big force is impossible, and a little force is out of the question, why are we to have a defence force at all ?
– The Major-General says that such an attempt will be unsuccessful if we have our force.
– Far from that. MajorGeneral Hutton says that oversea aggression might be attempted either by a raid of two or more cruisers, or by a large and well-equipped force conveyed in numerous transports, and escorted by an enemy’s fleet. He says that -
The latter attempt may, under existing condi tions, be considered difficult in the extreme, more especially in view of the military spirit which animates the inhabitants of Australia.
– That is the force which, will oppose the invading force.
– It is one thing to havea military spirit, but quite another thingto have a standing army. At all events, . there is running right through this report a mistake, inasmuch as Major-General Hutton assumes that it is competent for this Commonwealth to organize a force which can be used in other parts of. the Empire. He says, after dealing with the impossibility of an invasion, that there are
Two factors that may be considered as governing the future organization and administration of the military forces of the Commonwealth, namely,
He refers to any demand for the presence of our forces in Asia, or America, or Europe.
– He gives his reasons for ifc.
– This is the gist of it- “ The defence of Australian interests, whereever they may be threatened.” The only power which we, as a Federal Parliament, have to organize a military force is contained in section 119 of the Constitution. Under that section we can only organize a force “ to protect every State against invasion.” The word “defence” is not used, because that word may be twisted so as to have all sorts of wide meanings. You may defend a country by attacking another country. But this section says -
The Commonwealth shall ‘protect every State against invasion, and, on the application of the Executive Government of the State, against domestic violence.
If ever there was an occasion in which I have felt rather glad to know that we are encumbered by debt, it is this. I have always, as my honorable friends know, been against State borrowing. But the effect of our borrowing has been that all our Customs receipts are practically hypothecated to meet the interest upon our big debts. Our taxation is heavy through the Customs, and we cannot afford, ‘ even if we had the will, to enter into any big scheme of Imperial defence - under present conditions, at all events. So far as our men are concerned, we have no objection to their volunteering, and proffering their aid when the mother country is in difficulties ; but I object ‘strongly to any army, or even any militia, which may be liable to be ordered away or compelled to lea vb this country to put foot in India, China, or anywhere else.
– There are no Imperial ideas with the honorable and learned member, then ?
– I have as many Imperial ideas as the right honorable gentleman, but at the same time I never had £500,000 to spend as I liked. I am exceedingly glad that I have an occasion to withdraw a slanderous statement which I made by way of interjection to-night, that this most greedy department of defence is in the hands of a most extravagant Minister. I can recognise from the right honorable gentleman’s speech that he is as anxious as any of us to reduce the expenditure. I think he feels - and he is very quick to feel - the tone of the House, and knows that this is about the last House in the world to countenance extravagant military expenditure. It is awkward that the Estimates should come on at this stage. I do not blame Ministers. In a transition stage, it is natural that they should bring their Estimates before Parliament as soon as they find time. But a good deal of this discussion might more properly have taken place upon the Defence Bill. I feel that before we are asked to deal with the ordinary Estimates for military and naval expenditure we ought to come to some kind of decision as to what we want. We ought to have some principle which will guide Ministers as to what we wish to get. I recollect that, with a good deal of reason, it was urged in favour of federation that it would reduce the military expenditure, because in place of having a number of staff officers in the different centres, and a great deal of expense connected therewith, we should secure by centralization a greatly reduced expenditure.
– I think the argument used was more on the ground of efficiency.
– I think that economy was also the idea. It is natural to expect that where businesses are amalgamated, economy should result. Similarly where colonies or States have amalgamated for certain purposes, I do not see why we should not look for economies. There is no department that is less productive and so extravagant - it is like the horse leech - as the Defence department. If I had my way I should prefer to see the means for defence made a matter to be attended to by the Education department. Every youngster should be taught how to use his rifle, how to ride, and how to use his eyes’ and fingers.
– That is a proper starting point.
– It is a starting point which has been adopted in Victoria, where our cadet force has not cost very much. There has been some splendid work done in connexion with that force, and I think honorable members who witnessed the march past, when the Prince of Wales was here, will recognise that the cadet force of this State has shown results which are fully commensurate with the expenditure upon it. With regard to what has been said as to what we want, I think there is a great tendency for us to lean upon British officers, who come here with all their British traditions and British ideas as to defence and drill. Upon this subject I feel myself somewhat like a bull in a china shop, and therefore I shall not venture very far. But I think I may at , least lean on the testimony of LieutenantColonel Henderson, -who has been on the staff of Lord Roberts in the Transvaal, and who has written an introduction to Count Sternberg’s book upon his experience in the war. In that introduction, which is most interesting to me, particularly as coming from a man who has had recent experience in a very difficult class of warfare, one who has read the German and French works on military matters, and who has at the same time a strong British and professional spirit, he says this with regard to the lessons which the war has taught : -
A long peace is generally fatal to military efficiency. Too little experience of war and too much experience of field-days have always the same results - rigid and unvarying formations, attacks ruled by regulations instead of commonsense, and the uniformity of the drill-ground in every phase of the soldier’s training. Uniformity is simple ; it is easily taught, mid it is eminently picturesque ; it simplifies the task of inspectingofficers ; it is agreeable to the centralizing tendencies of human nature ; and when it appears in the guise of well-ordered lines, advancing with mechanical precision, it has a specious appearance of power and discipline, especially when compared with the irregular movements of a swarm of skirmishers. Furthermore* it is far less difficult to train men to work in mass than independently. Thus order, steadiness, and uniformity become a fetish ; officers and men are drilled, not trained ; and all individuality, however it may be encouraged by regulations, in practice is quietly repressed.
The essence of that is that officers and men are drilled and not trained. The two things are quite distinct. He goes on to show that the massed formations, the stiff shoulders, the padded uniforms, the pipe-clay, and the eye run down the ranks to see that no man even moves his hand when the regiment is being inspected on parade, is ridiculous. And this testimony comes from a soldier of considerable recent experience, and of very high position, What we want in Australia is defence for a country well worth defending, so that no invader shall be able to gain a footing on our soil. I agree with honorable members who have said that we must look chiefly to the navy forthis defence, and we are paving an annual contribution of £106,000 to that end.
– That is not much.
– But it would be better if we adopted some system such as that suggested by Captain Creswell, and, in place of giving £106,000 for the maintenance of ships which are out of date, and which are getting more out of date, applied an equal sum, or a little more, to gradually buying one ship after another.
– Which would also get out of date.
– The whole point is that by continually buying we should always keep up to date, discarding the old ships gradually.
– It would take five years to buy one ship.
– No doubt it would take a long time.
– We should have inflated Estimates then.
– I do not advocate the scheme to the full extent as laid down by Captain Creswell, but that officer struck a vital point when he said that it would be much better if we applied such money as we have to apply to naval purposes, in the direction of the gradual purchase of ships rather than in the direction of maintaining a fleet which would not be effective in case of need.
– And dispensed with the Australian squadron which now watches our shores ?
– The right honorable gentleman, I apprehend, knows that the ships which now watch our shores are not up to date.
– They are being changed from time to time.
– I am afraid the right honorable member has not followed the details of the criticism which has been applied to these vessels.
– It costs £100,000 a year to keep the Royal Arthur here.
– I feel strongly that more attention ought to be given to the navy than to the array. If we have enough men to look after Thursday Island, King George’s Sound, and other strategical points, and enough men for the forts which defend our big commercial centres, and, at the same time, give every youngster in the schools such a training as will render him able’ to take part in the defence of our shores, that is as far as we need go in regard to the land forces. We have already spent five-sixths of the money available for the defence forces, so that there is little use in trying to reduce the Estimates. I understand that the Government hope to save nearly £100,000 this year.
– We shall not save that amount ; but as we are now so near the end of the year we shall not have an opportunity of spending it.
– And I further understand that the Government hope next year to reduce the Estimates by an additional £131,000 at least.
– Not an additional £131,000. The Estimates, instead of being £831,000, will be £700,000.
– I am glad to understand that the Estimates next year will be reduced by £131,000, including everything. I can well understand that the Government in this transition stage find great difficulty in making any change. They have taken over six different defence systems, and they cannot discharge the men and straightway alter the whole arrangements.
– Why not ?
– If a man has been employed for a year he must be paid for a year, and I do not think we ought to go to extremes with the Estimates for the present year. We do not want to embarrass the Government, nor do we desire to do injustice to men who have been doing work on certain expectations. If we employ men we must pay them properly ; but I think the committee will insist on the Government very soon reducing the number of staff members in the different States, and cutting down expenditure as far as possible. I am strongly inclined to trust Ministers who, as far as I know, have not failed us hitherto, and’ I hope a vote will not be taken on the amendment, which after all is reckless. No one has put his hand on an item and said that it can be reduced. If an honorable member can show me .any definite vote which can be cut down without injustice, I will vote with him, but otherwise I cannot vote for this proposed reduction.
– I have listened with considerable interest to the debate on this huge spending department, and I have become more than ever convinced that it is one of the most wasteful departments. I realize from the report of that highly competent officer, Major-General Hutton, fortified by the military experts in this Chamber, that after half a century of self-government in Australia, and after setting up six different sets of military authorities, we -are now not at all ready to meet an invasion. Our equipment is altogether a failure; we have no modern rifles and no cartridges, and we are told that our heavy guns are obsolete and not good enough even for a Sunday parade. How many millions have been spent in obtaining this measure of failure I do not know ; but it occurs to me that the time has come when we ought to consider whether it is worth while spending this money. At any rate we have brought home to us the fact that the work we have to do is one of complete reorganization - of managing the defences of the country on a system of efficiency, combined with economy. I am glad that at the head of this department we have a gentleman who, in his opening remarks, told us that the department required watching with all the vigilance possible, and that one branch already costs too much. Honorable members cannot but feel satisfied with the Minister’s frankness and his realization of the fact that there must be economy, and some efficiency in return for the money expended. About militarism there is a great deal too much pomp and show which is not at all suited to this age or to the Australian people. Magnificent uniforms may be necessary in some of the older countries in order to attract young men to the army, but they are not needed in a democratic country like Australia, where the people, if there was not a uniformed soldier here, would not allow an invader to gain our shores. There has always been too much “ glory “ and “ heroism “ associated with the soldier’s calling. As a matter of fact, the soldier’s occupation is about the safest that a man could follow. Amongst sailors and miners there are more killed and wounded than amongstsoldiers. In the whole history of Australia our soldiers have taken no risks, and no one can say that at present there is any prospect of an invasion of this country. Much greater risks are run in an industrial life than in a military life. The American railways kill 300 persons per annum, and wound over 23,000, which is as big a record as could be found on any battlefield in twelve months. People talk about soldiers being very brave, but I have seen greater bravery displayed by a miner who, with known and imminent danger staring him in the face, has risked his life to recover the dead body of his fellow man. That is greater heroism than is displayed by a soldier who attempts to rescue a comrade on the battlefield, though for the latter service a Victoria Cross is granted. There is no Victoria Cross for industrial heroes; for them there is no £1 a day, with living allowances, and no grand uniforms to display at society balls. If it is considered necessary to have men figuring in uniforms at society gatherings, the Defence department might, in each of the capitals, have an establishment where uniforms could be hired out. Gold-lace uniforms are not used in the practical work of soldiery, and there is no necessity why the country should supply them, or compel officers to spend £70, or other big sums, on ornamental parade clothes to display at fashionable functions. We know, of course, that the object of these expensive uniforms is to restrict officers’ positions to the wealthier classes ; but it is time that, in this connexion, Parliament used a little common sense. I do not contend that we have attained the age of civilization yet, although we consider that we are somewhat civilized. The nations of the earth cannot be regarded as civilized when they have failed to establish any other method of settling international disputes except that of shooting oneanother’s subjects. But on the island continent of Australia, which is far away from the turmoil of Europe, we ought to mind our own business, and build up a country worth fighting for - a country which will belong to the people, and not to British or foreign money-lenders. If we do that, we need not have the pomp and show of militarism ; we can have training and discipline, and, above all, we can spend our defence vote of very nearly a million in providing a good equipment, and finding the men afterwards. I am not complaining of the remarks of the Minister for Defence, because .1 am pleased with the tone adopted by the right honorable gentleman. We may differ as to the amount to be expended, which in my opinion is too high, but I have regard to the spirit which the Minister displayed in laying ( before us the intentions of the Government. It does not seem to me that those who have spoken during this debate have paid consideration to the fact that a report has been presented to the Government, with which I presume they have not yet dealt, proposing the re-organization of the whole military system. In that report Major-General Hutton suggests that several departments will have to be set up. I believe that it is the business of the Government to own its own factories for the production of all that is required in connexion with defence, and that it will be cheaper and more effective to do so than to bolster up private contractors, who may or may not give us an honest return for our money. These private enterprises have never done so in the old country. I am not prepared to trust the military requirements of Australia to these men after the experiences of the old land, which has done as much good fighting as has any country in the world, but whose soldiers have been supplied by contractors with swords that have doubled up and cut off the swordsman’s head instead of that of the other fellow, as well as with revolvers that would not go off.
– They copied the boomerang in the matter of swords.
– They did not copy its effectiveness. I want to emphasize the view that before anything is done in this matter the Government should take the House into their confidence, and that we should have another chance, which, I understand, the Minister has promised, to discuss the proposals made by the Major-General. We should certainly have our own small arms and ammunition factories, and, iu fact, make all the material to be used by our troops in fighting. I do not anticipate that we shall ever have any fighting to do in order to hold Australia. Surely we have enough faith in the development of mankind to believe that the risk of war will be lessened year by year. That very fact in itself is a strong reason why we should not spend a great deal of time and energy and money in building up a huge department which may never be wanted, or in purchasing things which may become obsolete a year or two later. Of course rifles and ammunition are absolutely essential, and we shall never be safe until we have our own sources of supply. Then if the route between Australia and the old country were blocked by a foe, as it would be if Great Britain were at war, we should not have, to depend on her to line it with ironclads in order to clear the way and enable ammunition to be sent out to us. I hope that the Government will support the recommendation of the MajorGeneral in regard to setting up all these factories as soon as possible. One of the wisest and best means of securing that end would be to cut down expenditure. There are various ways in which it can be done. Some reference has been made to allowances, and it seems to me that the military experts ought to be as cute in getting out of a difficulty as is De Wet, because in the Estimates handed to us by the States, they have been skilful enough to hide a great many of the allowances which no Parliament would pass with its eyes open. It is absurd to think of a man drawing a big screw in addition to being supplied with stables, horses, horse feed, clothing, table delicacies, and servants to wait on them as well. Why do we provide them with these salaries 1 Most of us are glad to get food, clothes, and a house to live in ; but these military men seem to require a big “screw “ in addition to that. They are too highly paid, and there is a pomp and glory associated with military men which is denied to the ordinary civil servant, who is doing a great deal more good in the world, and without whose existence we could not have a people. I believe in a citizen soldiery, and in giving men opportunities to learn the use of the rifle. So far as the question of drill is concerned I recognise that we must have the skeleton ; we must have some men to keep pace with military movements. I have done some drill myself, and although I do not claim to be an expert, I deny the right of experts to say that we are not fit to express opinions upon these questions. We have to find the money, but it has always been a good move on their part to say to Parliament and other people, “You do not understand anything about military matters.” We have some military experts in the House, and one who has spoken does not give a very good account of what has been done. Therefore, I do not feel satisfied that these experts know very much about their business. Either their supplies have been cut off, or they have been devoted to their own allowances, and nothing has been left for ammunition and all the equipments necessary. I realize that the object of militarism is display. That is the mission of these people in life, but they would be alarmed if they thought we had found out that that really was the case. Prom the earliest day down to the present time we have had autocrats first and then militarism alongside them. We have a democratic Government for the Commonwealth, and it is time that they made a new departure ; it is time they asserted themselves as representatives of a democratic people, and said - “ We do not want all this tinsel and show associated with government.” The force behind the Government is the great mass of the people, who do not need to be labelled as soldiers in order to be capable of fighting for their country. All through history the salvation of a country has depended not on men with red coats on their .backs, but on the people themselves. Indeed, it is said now that red coats are useless for soldiers, and they are discarding them for coats of colours which are not so visible to the enemy. After all, these red coats are put on only with the object of making people admire the wearers of them. There has been a waste of energy, money, and admiration showered on this department, and it is time we made a new departure. A sum of £700,000 is altogether too much to waste on it in view of the results obtained. I should like honorable members who have not perused Major-General Hutton’s report to read it carefull V. If they do so, they will see that the Major-General, who is a high military authority, thinks that there is no great danger of Australia being attacked by anybody or anything save bandicoots and rabbits, but that we want to be aggressive - that we want to have a cut at the other fellow before he comes here. He does not tell us what is to be done in order to carry an. army from Australia to somewhere else - he does not say where - but to do so we should require a big navy. Where are we to raise the money for that 1 There is a great deal in the report which is left unsaid, but what is stated in it is straight enough. It shows that we are not in a very efficient state, so far as our equipment is concerned, although very efficient in the matter of large staffs, and heads of departments who are useful for ornamental purposes, and for the grand shows which, in spite of the fact that we are a democratic and a peace-loving people who do not want to have a war of our own, or to take a hand in any one else’s, we cannot do without. It is time we put a stop to this sort of thing, and the only way in which Parliament can do so is by exercising the power possessed by the House of Commons, of cutting off supplies. We have a Minister of Defence who has the courage to declare against waste, and who says that we shall have all the economy and efficiency possible. The question of efficiency is a matter of opinion. We know that military people have always been notorious for their spending power. They consider that everything they desire must be obtained, no matter what it costs. The Minister will be a strong man if he mak&9 a stand against the demands of these people, and, as we hope, fights for a curtailment of expenditure which has given a result that is very unsatisfactory. The money might be diverted with better effect into channels which are necessary for the development of rifle clubs. “Victoria made a good move in enrolling 20,000 riflemen shortly before the creation of the Commonwealth. I forgive the people of Victoria for that, for it was a rather sensible step to take. New South Wales, however, took care to starve the rifle clubs. It was impossible to get any money for a target or anything else for them. But did not the authorities pile on the allowances and the cost of heads of departments? And did thev not squeeze a semi-volunteer regiment into a partially-paid one, and give some of the men permanent appointments, and do other things of that kind ! I was one of the members of the State Legislature who made some protest against the practice at the time, and I am glad to be able to follow up my protest here. Such methods of administration will not be tolerated by the Commonwealth Parliament. We desire value for our money, by giving the people a chance to be prepared to take a hand in the defence, of the country if they are ever called upon to do so. If they are, they will do so readily and efficiently enough, without the military system which is sought to be foisted upon us by men trained in the old country, where militarism has been rampant.
– I think that the debate has now taken a turn that will be acceptable to those who will be responsible for the future expenditure in connexion with this department. I regret that the time at our disposal has not been long enough to enable us to become better acquainted with the admirable report which has been presented to the Government by Major-General Hutton. I only ‘ received my copy this morning, and have not had an opportunity of thoroughly reading it ; but from what I have seen in it,< I feel there is evidence of careful thought and of an earnest desire to do the best for Australia in every line of the report. There is, in my opinion, evidence that the Major-General - who, we must admit, will in the future be responsible for the cost of the Defence department - has formed the opinion, as has been pointed out by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, that it will be neces-sary for us to organize forces not only for the defence of the soil of Australia, but for the defence of the interests of Australia wherever those interests may be-affected. I agree also with the honorable and learned member that we should not consider the latter proposal. I am concerned only with the defence of the soil of Australia, and I believe with the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne that the section of the Constitution which he quoted absolutely prohibits this Parliament from taking any steps in the direction which the Major-General desires us to go. In these circumstances I consider that it will be of value to Major-General Hutton to know what is the feeling of the committee in regard to that question, because upon it will depend the re-organization of our forces. A force for the protection of Australia would not be anything like that which would be required if we were to lay ourselves out for the defence of Australian interests, if we were to have what is known as a field force of sufficient strength to be transported to an)r part of the globe where it might be needed, in order that our commerce or our interests might be defended. I shall oppose by every means in my power the establishment of such a force as that. What we require is a force which will adequately protect our soil and prevent an invader from getting a footing thereon. The general officer commanding also alludes to the necessity of discipline for foreign service. That is true, but only true to a limited extent as regards Australia. All the military experts who have turned their attention to this question have made one initial blunder. They have omitted one factor, I believe the prime factor in the sum when coming to their conclusions. They have taken for granted that the Australian is of the same nature and of the same capacity as the man who stands in the rank and file of the British army. We who, I am thankful to say, have a system of education second to none in an)’ part of the world, stand in a very different position. I believe that his education places the Australian in a different category and on a totally different footing from the inhabitant of the United Kingdom in this regard. The success of the Australian in South Africa was not due to drill or to previous military experience.
Honorable members would be astounded if they were aware of the slight knowledge, and in some cases almost absolute want of knowledge held not only by the men, but by the officers who went with some of the contingents. Men who had been only a month or two in a volunteer regiment as, an officer, and men who had never served as a private, and in one case, to my certain knowledge, a man who had never worn a uniform, were selected as officers to go to South Africa, learnt a certain amount on the voyage, found themselves in somewhat similar surroundings to those which they had in Australia, and by the exercise of their mental faculties, and by taking every advantage of their previous training, not as soldiers, but as inhabitants of a country similar in conformation, and inhabited by people of similar pursuits, were able to make themselves, not only efficient soldiers, but the objects of admiration and of favorable report. That, in my opinion, has been the real reason of the success of our men there, and the great mistake which is made by military experts who all hail from the other side of the globe is that they do not recognise these differences in the rank and file of our Australian volunteer and partially-paid regiments, and the rank and file of the British army. It is undoubted that the power of initiative shown by the Australian is unknown amongst the highly trained machine-like soldier of the British army. I am not saying a word against Tommy Atkins ; I have the greatest admiration for him, and I believe that when the history of that war comes to be written, the highest and most deserved tributes of praise will be showered upon him. He has shown powers of endurance, and powers of submission to discipline which arc in the highest degree to be desired and praised, but he has not had the opportunity to show. the same power of initiative as has been shown by our Australian soldiers, and if the opportunity had arisen he would not have been able to use it, because unfortunately he lacks education and previous experience.
– Nonsense. He is as well educated as the average man in Australia. There is free education in Great Britain as well as here.
– The honorable and learned member is “blowing” too loudly for Australia.
– I am sorry if my remarks have been taken in the wrong spirit by honorable members who hail from the other side of the globe.
– It is a very invidious comparison to make.
– I do not for one moment decry the mental capacity of the rank and file of the British array, but I feel I am on perfectly safe ground when I say that comparing them with the Australians who went to South Africa, they are not in the same street as regards education. I defy the honorable members who have interrupted me to prove the contrary. I had a good deal to do with the men who went from Victoria, and when I tell honorable members that those men were not agricultural labourers, did not occupy the same position, or had not the same education, as the men who went from Yorkshire or from the southern parts of England-
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Mr. Batchelor). - Does the honorable and learned member think that his remarks have any bearing on the military Estimates 1
– Yes : we are discussing the whole question of defence, and I am endeavouring to show where, in my opinion, an initial fault lies in the report which has been referred to over and over again during the debate - that the difference in education is not recognised by experts who write such reports; but perhaps this is hardly the time to pursue that line of argument. I believe that the system to be adopted here is tocommence at the beginning with a further development and perfection of our cadet system, where men need not.be taken from their work, where the industrial life of the community need not be interfered with. The teaching of drill sufficient for all future purposes, with slight modifications perhaps as developments may occur, can be made part of the ordinary school curriculum. The lads are very much benefited by this drill, physically and mentally. They learn discipline ; they learn to respect those who are placed in authority over them, and the effect on their bodies is no less marked. The rifle clubs should receive every assistance. I am proud indeed to have been a member of the Victorian Legislature which did so much to foster the rifle club movement. It was done at great expense. The inflation of the defence Estimates for Victoria the year before last was almost entirely due to the votes for fostering that movement.
I am in favour of the volunteer system. I am against paid men being used to protect the country. If we were going in for foreign aggression, then we should have an a*rmy of mercenaries. We should not expect men to go beyond the confines of their own country in order to fight battles without being paid. The defence of the country is part of the citizen’s duty. I would prefer to see a citizen soldiery here, and to train our cadets and foster the rifle clubs in a proper and sensible fashion, not by coercing them to fire at fixed targets, but by giving them opportunities not only to have such practice as would be useful for them in the field, but also to come together during the year in order that they might get ah experience of camp life, and thus fit themselves for any call which might be made upon them in that direction. I agree that there must be a permanent force, but it should be limited to a small head-quarters staff, with an efficient body of instructors, and a skeleton force for our forts. The forts can be sufficiently manned by a small number of men in times of peace.
– The forts on Thursday Island 1
– Yes ; I am more familiar with our own forts - we have a splendid system of fortifications at Queenscliff. I have seen them manned by a skeleton force, and also by a full force drawn from the reserves. All the forts are kept in a perfect state of repair, and also of preparedness, and the reserves who from time to time have been called in for the purpose of exercise and practice have shown themselves capable of fitting in readily to the work which is required of them, and proving themselves equal to any emergency which might reasonably be expected to arise. In the report of the General Officer commanding there is one suggestion which might be referred to, and that is with respect to the manufacturing departments. The necessity for an ammunition factory in Australia, under Government control, cannot, I think, be over-estimated. It is an urgent necessity. It should precede almost any other work in this direction. A small arms factory and a gun foundry could come later on ; but the manufacture of ammunition is an urgent necessity. Our riflemen, and those whoareengagedin preparingthemselves for the defence of the country, should be able always to get an adequate supply at a reasonable cost, and the factory should be under Government control, because commercial reasons might interfere to a considerable extent with the value of the explosives. Only this morning we had a very terrible indication of what might happen on a larger scale if sufficient control and supervision were not exercised. A blank cartridge was found to contain a piece of iron in the shape of a nail. Goodness only knows where that cartridge might have been aimed, if used by one of the troops, and perhaps a life might have been sacrificed. It is quite possible that from want of proper supervision, from want of Government control, we might have an explosion of very much greater proportions occurring, and for that reason very largely I am in favour of the factory, when it is erected, being placed absolutely under the Government. I am sorry to see, however, that the general officer has committed himself to one part of the Commonwealth. He names Sydney as being a suitable place for the establishment of such a factory, and the principle reason he gives, is that it is nearest to the naval base of Australia.
– - And because of the supply of coal and iron.
– That would apply very strongly, no doubt, to the establishment of a gun foundry, and even to the establishment of a small arms factory ; but it does not apply with anything like the same strength to the establishment of an ammunition factory. I went into this question with an officer of the Victorian department, who is, I suppose the greatest expert in the southern hemisphere, Mr. Napier Hake, who was brought out from England some years ago by the Victorian Government, and who is now I believe an officer of the Commonwealth. It was shown that for a very small sum, comparatively, a factory which exists in Victoria could be fitted up for the manufacture of cordite and other high explosives, and that we should then be independent of outside supplies. It was also shown that there is one great reason why it should be established in the southern State. I need not point out to honorable members that the question of temperature comes in when dealing with these high explosives. It has not been considered advisable, at any rate by the Imperial authorities, to use India up to the present time, although very urgent representations Live been made from time to time with regard to its being used, in order that it might be self - contained and self-supplied in that respect. An additional reason was that India might draw her supplies from us, and thus enable us to recoup ourselves for the outlay, which would be something under £100,000. I had intended to direct attention to the increases in the defence Estimates of Victoria, but time will not permit of more than a passing reference to them. There was an increase in the year before last of £26,000, which was mainly owing to the grants to rifle clubs and the purchase of rifles for the cadets. In the following year the expenditure jumped up by £36,000. Last year’s Estimates amounted to £232,000, and now we find that the Commonwealth Estimates for Victoria amount to £249,000, or an increase of about £16,000.
– £12,000 of that is to be devoted to the formation of a reserve of ammunition.
– -That of course partly explains the increase upon last year’s Estimates, but it does not affect the increase upon the previous year. The honorable member for .Darling referred to the allowances made to military officers, to which I am strongly opposed, mainly because we never know ‘how the money is spent, or even that it is spent. An officer may have an allowance for forage for two horses, but, as one honorable member has pointed out, he may use a motor car. The object of providing for forage allowances is to enable officers to keep two horses ready for use at any time, but I am sorry’ to say that in nine cases out of ten the money is not expended in the Way lt should be. Thehorses and forage required for military purposes should be supplied by the Government in the same way as are the police horses, and the officers who use them should be responsible for their safe keeping. The Minister for Defence has promised that a reduction shall be made, but I am not satisfied with that. I should prefer to see the amendment carried in order that reductions may be made to the extent of £200,000. I was one of those honorable members who went about the country telling the people of the enormous savings that would be effected under federation. Amongst other things I said that instead of our having six military commandants we should have only one. I find, however, that we now have seven instead of six, and
I should not be keeping faith with the electors if I countenanced the continuance of such a state of affairs. I have always kept my election pledges, and I am not going to break faith with the people now. I shall endeavour to carry out the premise I made, that economy should be exercised in carrying on the Federal Government, and I intend to vote for the amendment if it is pressed to a division.
– One of the principal functions of Parliament, perhaps more important even than that of passing legislation, is to exercise control over the public expenditure, and if we are to perform our duty in this respect, it will be necessary for us to consider the. Estimates before we reach the eleventh month of the year to which they relate. We are now discussing the question of reducing expenditure which has really passed beyond our control. By passing a series of Supply Bills we have absolutely voted this money away. I am pleased to say, however, that for some reason or other the Defence department has unexpended balances amountingto£130,000 which the Minister for Defence Says will be saved. It is apparently through no fault of the military authorities that this amount stands to their credit.
– It has not been put in Supply.
– Provision is made for the expenditure in these Estimates. I am pleased that the Commonwealth Parliament have on two occasions within the last week given undoubted proof of their democratic and liberal tendencies. This is unquestionably the most democratic, advanced, and liberal deliberative assembly in Australia. Last week the members of the committee were worshipping at the shrine of Venus. We then liberated the women folk of the continent, and armed them with the franchise. Now we are before the altar of Mars, but we are not prepared to immolate ourselves upon it. We are crying loudly for the retrenchment of the military expenditure, and are raising our voice in favour of a gradual and continuous reduction, with greater effect than any of the State Parliaments have done. I am pleased that the Minister for Defence has expressed his willingness to prune his Estimates to the extent of £130,000, and to make further retrenchments in the near future.” The people of the Commonwealth will be gratified to read this announcement, and will n consequence look with greater favour upon Parliament than heretofore. I find that the total voce proposed for the Department of Defence is £937,000, against an approximate expenditure at the date of transfer of £S61,000. As the honorable member for Laanecoorie said, the people were told that drastic retrenchment would be effected in the Defence department, and yet we find a large increase. I trust that the means by which the savings indicated by the Minister for Defence are to be effected will not be left to the discretion of the officer commanding the Commonwealth forces. If so, the partially-paid and volunteer forces, and the rank and file of the defence forces generally will suffer. The high salaries paid to officers - higher than are given in any other portion of” the British Empire - and the allowances now made, will not be continued. This is not a matter of speculation, but has been the experience of nearly all the States. Whenever retrenchment has been decided upon, the military authorities have always avoided the reduction of the salaries paid to the principal officers, and the efficiency of the service has Suffered in consequence. In New South Wales, for instance, the Easter encampment was abandoned on one occasion in order that economy might be served. Some valuable information has been afforded by honorable members who have spoken during this debate. It has been shown that Canada, with a larger population, with a greater frontier than our own, and with a foreign Power on her borders, spends less upon her defence forces by £300,000 per annum than the amount provided for in these Estimates. I notice that the expenditure upon the New South Wales Defence forces has been increased by £6,000, and upon those of Victoria by £16,000.
– That is due to the rifle clubs.
– I understand that that is so, and I hope that the policy of the Minister for Defence will be to encourage the establishment and maintenance of those clubs throughout the Commonwealth. In this connexion I may instance some of the disabilities under which- our various volunteer forces labour at the present time. In New South Wales a corps has recently been established which is mainly composed of civil servants, who, from the nature of their occupation, make admirable volunteers, inasmuch as they are skilled mechanics, who work at such establishments as the Government dock upon Cockatoo Island, &c. Despite the fact that these men give their services voluntarily, they cannot secure from the Government up-to-date rifles. They do not possess even one Lee-Metford or Lee-Enfield rifle. The only reply which they have received to their application to be supplied with modern weapons is that the Government have not Lee-Enfield rifles in stock. This fact evidences the inadequacy of the arms department of the Commonwealth. I hope that the Minister for Defence, whilst allowing the Military Commandant untrammelled sway in all matters connected with the internal management of the forces, will keep a watchful eye upon the expenditure. Although Australia has repeatedly exhibited her loyalty to the Empire during the progress of the South African campaign, I am satisfied that the public will not countenance the squandering of large sums of money upon the Defence department. When the honorable member for Laanecoorie was speakinghe instituted a comparison between the Australian troops who have been fighting in South Africa and those from the United Kingdom. He declared that’ the former were better educated than the latter. I do not think that he intended to convey exactly that impression, because the success of our Australian- troops has been due to the exercise of intelligence, and not the result of school instruction. They happened to be more adapted to the Boer methods of warfare than were the Imperial soldiers. The Australian contingents were chiefly composed of men * drawn from provincial districts, who had had experience of country similar to that inhabited by the Boers. I respectfully submit that the South African campaign has proved that there is no necessity for Australia to maintain a large standing army. The long and formidable stand which the Boers have made against the greatest power in the world has conclusively demonstrated that. Seeing that the Boers have held their country under such conditions, I say that it is impossible, not only for any one power, but for several powers combined, to conquer Australia, especially when one comes to consider its geographical position and the enormous difficulties of transport which an invading force would have to encounter. In this connexion, Major-General Hutton has admitted what has been transparent to most people for a very long period. Consequent^, there is no need for any lavish expenditure, either in regard to the maintenance of a permanent force or of a staff. I do hope that the Minister will not allow any reduction, to be made at the expense of the various regiments of the Commonwealth. Any saving which is made should be effected by attacking the high and inordinate salaries paid to members of the staffs. There is no necessity whatever to maintain the staffs which existed prior to federation. Instead of encouraging any further expenditure upon a land force, T should like to see more attention paid to the building up of a naval reserve. There are hundreds and thousands of men in Australia who would serve more zealously in a naval reserve than they would in any land force. These men should be trained, so that they may be of use to the Commonwealth, and of service to the Empire should occasion require it. I hope that in future sessions the consideration of the Estimates will form one of the first items of our parliamentary business. I believe the Ministry have saved time by their promise, and that the general discussion which has taken place will have its effect. All we can do is to indicate the direction in which reform should take place, and I trust that we shall find that the military authorities will carry out the intention and direction of the committee.
– The debate has travelled over a great deal of ground, and much has been said which in my opinion would have been more appropriate in a de- bate upon the Defence Bill, which we have not had time to consider fully. I am one of those who believe that the Minister for Defence has dealt fairly and frankly with the committee. He has realized what the feeling is, and has at once come down with proposals for a considerable reduction of his Estimates. It must be recognised that the Minister and the Government generally are heirs to the inflated expenditure of the various States before federation was accomplished. This applies to all the departments, but more particularly to the Defence department. The Minister has agreed, however, to make a reduction of £131,000. My primary object in rising is to express the hope that such reductions as he will have to make will not diminish the allowances which are at present given to the rifle clubs. I believe that if the sense of the committee were taken, the Minister would ascertain that the encourage- ment of rifle clubs throughout the Commonwealth is in the direction of the policy which should be pursued in regard to the defence of Australia. Therefore I would ask the right honorable gentleman to consider, when he is making the necessary reductions, the value of the rifle clubs, and not allow them to suffer. On the contrary, I trust that he will render assistance to them and encourage them. While I am on my feet I may say that I believe that the cadets are the foundation of the whole of our citizen soldiery. I further believe that every man who has the rights of citizenship should maintain those rights by being in the position to show that he is able to use his rifle for the defence of his country should the need arise. As one of the representatives of the people, I recognise that many of the ‘statements made ave true, that there are no departments of the Commonwealth in which there has possibly been greater extravagance in expenditure than in connexion with our military departments. It will be necessary to watch the expenditure closely, and I trust that the Minister, before we are again asked to consider the Estimates, will give us an opportunity of considering the whole policy of defence in the form of a Bill. Before sitting down, I again express the hope that that useful line of reserve which we have in the rifle- clubs, and which is the basis of our soldiery, will be encouraged and not injured by the economies that have to be effected.
– In connexion with the affairs of his department, the Minister for Defence has shown himself amenable to the influences of the majority of the members of this committee in a degree that would excite considerable surprise in the minds of his old friends in the State of Western Australia. Any of those friends of his who might have come into this chamber and heard the right honorable gentleman make his last speech, would have been at a loss indeed to identify our Minister for Defence with the gentleman who for so many years presided in such an autocratic fashion over the destinies of Western Australia. But I am very glad indeed to take this opportunity of complimenting the right honorable gentleman on his adaptability to altered circumstances : and I only hope that that adaptability has not gone so far as to allow the officers of his department to influence him to a degree that possibly his better judgment might otherwise repudiate, in relation to these Estimates. I do not wish to indulge in any captious criticism on the right honorable gentleman or his department. Irecognise that he has made an honest attempt to meet the wishes of the committee in coming down to the degree that he has done. But I object in general to the proposals of the officers of the Defence department - because the Minister for Defence has repudiated the principal amount of responsibility - in connexion with these Estimates. So far, then, as the action of the officers of the department is concerned, I consider that they have failed almost entirely to apprehend what has been required of them by this Parliament as evidenced in the debates on defence matters which have taken place in this Chamber and elsewhere. We have still too much of bureaucratic government in connexion with this particular department - too much frill and frippery, and too much inefficiency of the most palpable kind. I do not want to object for one moment to necessary expenditure. I fully realize that perhaps a considerable amount of expenditure is required by the Commonwealth Defence department to begin with. But I regret that I cannot see that the additional expenditure is going to be incurred in the direction that the majority of honorable members have indicated. The efficiency of the defence force is a matter we must be prepared to vote for. I, for one, fully realize that the wonderful ideas which have been floating in the minds of some Australians with regard to the efficiency and invulnerability of the Australian soldier is apt to lead some of us somewhat astray. The honorable member for Laanecoorie has given us a remarkable illustration of a complaint that a popular illustrated periodical sometimes charges against young Australians - that of swelled head. He instituted a comparison between the Australian soldier and the British soldier, not only as regards fighting qualities, but also as regards ordinary intelligence. I was very sorry, indeed, to hear such a comparison attempted. I feel sure that there is not a single Australian soldier who has fought side by side with the British troops in South Africa but would laugh at such a comparison as the honorable member attempted. There is no doubt that the Australian soldier has fought well, and has earned and deserved the encomiums which have been bestowed upon him in no stinted manner by Imperial soldiers.
– We expected him to fight well.
– We did, and we shall never be disappointed in him, I feel sure. But it must be remembered that the conditions of warfare in South Africa were particularly those in which the Australian soldier was likely to be most effective, and they were at the same time likely to act against the experience of the British soldier. On the other hand, if the Australian soldier had to fight amongst the hedge-rows and lanes of England, I feel sure that he would be almost as much at a loss there as theaverage English soldier was in South Africa.. So that these attempted comparisons are entirely beside the question we have to deal with. So far as efficiency is concerned, I am not one of those who believe that merely by making a man proficient in the use of the rifle we make an effective soldier of him Something more than that is required.. With all the power which the rifle gives in the hands of a man able to use it, we must stilt give due consideration to matters of strategy and tactics in modern warfare; and I am afraid that the South African war is responsible, to a considerable extent, for some ideas that are very prevalent in Australia, and that are likely to act injuriously upon our defence forces if they are not corrected. We have been told to-night that we have an excellent illustration in the caseof the Boers, of men who have received no training in warfare beyond being able to ride a horse and handle a rifle Eminent European soldiers who have been associated with the Boers have placed on record their opinion that the latter failed precisely in the degree in which they were unable to act unitedly and follow ordinary strategy and tactics. Colonel Villebois deMareuil, a French officer, who was with the Boers until he was killed in one of thefights, points out in the book which he wrote that the Boers largely owed their non-success to the fact that they were entirely deficient in that training and discipline which is necessary even in the case of the best rifle shots in the world. That officer tells us that at times the Boer leaders had to sjambok their men in order to compel them to obey orders. With such an example before us, it would be criminal for this Government or the military authorities to neglect the training of the men in discipline and of the officers in strategy and tactics, while making the rank and file proficient in the use of the rifle. The Defence Estimates of the Government must be taken in conjunction with the excellent report of Major-General Hutton, who has, however, to a considerable extent, failed to realize the conditions that are asked for by the representatives of the people of Australia. He deals with a permanent force, rifle clubs, the cadets, and with a field force, composed entirely of paid or partially-paid men, but there is not a single reference to volunteers. I listened with a good deal of interest to the excellent address of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, but I was unable to follow him, in so far as he deprecated the formation or continuance of volunteer regiments. But there are various volunteer regiments in the Commonwealth which, in my opinion, are as likely to be effective on the field of battle or in mimic warfare as a good many of the militia regiments.
– I said that, on the whole, the partially-paid men did better work than the volunteers.
– In many cases that may be so, but I see no reason why some encouragement should not be given to the volunteer regiments throughout the Commonwealth, because I believe that in this direction we can augment the defence forces very considerably. I recognise the right of men to be paid for services rendered in connexion with the defence of the Commonwealth ; but where we have men willing, anxious, and proud to give their services free, I do not see why those services should be refused, either on the ground that men are entitled to payment, or that volunteers are not likely to be as effective as partiallypaid men. So long as we impose certain conditions, which are inseparable from military training, there is no reason to apprehend that a volunteer regiment will not prove as valuable as the average militia regiment. In Western Australia, material for an excellent volunteer regiment has been waiting for over two years, and so far as the Estimates give any indication, that materia] is likely to wait much longer for enrolment. In that State the proportion of members of the defence force to the rest of the community is possibly equal to that of the other States, but Western Australia is at present entirely detached, and on that ground some latitude might be allowed, and the force made somewhat stronger’. Major-General Hutton in his report says, in effect, that the Commonwealth has undertaken to protect each State against invasion. But what would the Commonwealth be in a position to do if Western Australia should be invaded ? I hope that at the earliest possible opportunity this Parliament will take into consideration the absolute necessity of constructing the transcontinental railway. The representatives of Western Australia do not wish to force this question on Parliament, because they feel sure that as soon as the financial way is clear this honorable obligation will be undertaken by the Commonwealth. Western Australia is earnestly, looking for this railway, which, I hope, will in the very early future be part of the national defences. I complained that in some respects there was a good deal of very apparent inefficiency which the Government did not intend to remedy, and it was the artillery which I was particularly indicating. It would be interesting to know how many obsolete muzzle-loading guns are still in commission throughout the Commonwealth ; how much expenditure is incurred owing to the presence of these guns in our defence equipment. They all ought to be on the scrap heap, and I arn sorry that no indication is given on behalf of the department of an intention to send them to their proper place at the earliest possible moment. The supply of effective, weapons for our artillerymen is an absolute necessity. To send men into the field with the present guns could only have the effect of certain Chinese weapons, which, by their noise, frighten the more timorous of the enemy. Had I seen any desire or intention on the part of the Government to substitute modern uptodate weapons, I should have been prepared to stretch a point and give them more money than might be justified under ordinary circumstances. But we are proceeding on the old lines without a single serious attempt to make the equipment thoroughly effective, or to do away with all the unnecessary frippery which has been referred to several times. For these reasons I feel it my duty to insist upon the utmost possible reduction in the expenditure, as a protest against a system which is by no means representative of the desires of the people of the Commonwealth, and which cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be described as effective defence. I hope the committee have given sufficient indication of a desire for a thorough reorganization of the defence forces at the earliest possible moment.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - In view of the fact that the Ministers have pledged themselves to next year make a reduction of at least £131,000 on the present Defence Estimates, or even a greater reduction if it can be effected, I do not desire to press my amendment. The promise that Ministers have given has secured that which I desired to gain by carrying the amendment and forcing on the Government the opinion of the committee as a guide in the matter. The Government have agreed to so much in a fair spirit of compromise, and I accept their undertaking, and desire to withdraw my amendment.
– No, no.
Mr. POYNTON (South Australia).When I was before the electors, some twelve months ago, this was a very live question. There was scarcely a candidate who did not include in his platform the keeping down of military expenditure, and as I came in personal contact with many of the electors I found that it was a burning question with them. If we look into the figures and the abnormal growth which has taken place in the military expenditure of Australia during the last few years, we shall not be surprised at the fear which has been expressed by the electors that this huge engine of expenditure is becoming quite an octopus. Even at the present stage it is so far-reaching in its demands upon the Treasury that it is absorbing practically one-ninth of the total Customs revenue. When we compare this expenditure with that which is taking place in other countries, which are not so favorably situated as is Australia, we find that the figures are still more striking. Canada, with a population of 5,500,000-
– S - Six millions.
– The military commandant has based his figures on a population of five and a half millions, and in round numbers Canada’s military expenditure totals only £433,000. In Australia, with a population of 3,750,000 in round numbers, we are already expending£S59,000 a year on our defences. Although Canada has a population of 1,500,000 in excess of the population of Australia, we are expending over £425,000 more than it is devoting to this purpose. With these facts before us I feel that even the reduced proposal for an expenditure of £700,000 is a most extravagant one. Why is it necessary for Australia to build up a huge military system such as is proposed ? Why should we cultivate this military spirit ? As far as I can see there is no necessity to do so ; there is no real danger.
– Why have the States been doing it for years past?
– We are not to be guided by the States. Already they are complaining. They say that in administering this department the Minister has, so far as South Australia is concerned at all events, considerably increased the expenditure.
– That is not so.
– The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, showed very clearly that an increase had taken place.
– He did not do so, in my opinion.
– He showed that the Government had increased the expenditure on defence in South Australia from £38,000 to some £48,000.
SirJohn Forrest. - We have had to pay debts.
– Some of the States seem to have been starving the service.
– I am sure that the honorable member is not anxious to see a high military expenditure in Australia.
– No. But some of the States increased their expenditure immediately before transferring the department to the Commonwealth.
– And now find fault with us.
– In proportion the military expenditure in South Australia was in excess of that in Canada, but smaller than that of New South Wales. In our State schools we are teaching our boys elementary drill, and it is only a matter of time when these boys, having been taught how to use the rifle, will be quite competent to defend our shores if necessary. We have had an example of that during the last two years. The only experience possessed by the great bulk of the men who have left here for South Africa was that which they had learnt in the use of their rifles in the bush, and yet they have proved most efficient. If there is anything which ought to teach us a lesson it is the fact that on three or four weeks’ notice we have been able to turn out men who, although they did not know anything of the elementary principles of drill, have proved themselves competent to take a place on the veldt in South Africa, and to do their work very successfully as compared with others on the field. I am not satisfied with the Government proposal, and I am going to vote for a reduction of the Defence Estimates by £200,000.
– The honorable member will find that it will fall on shoulders on which he does not expect it to fall. I speak from experience.
– Even so; does the honorable member think it a profitable thing to maintain a military staff merely for the purpose of paying them? Is it a profitable thing for a growing young country to keep a number cif soldiers on the principle that we are going to pay them, and that if we do not, the Estimates will be reduced? It is an unprofitable concern at the best of times.
– If it is left to the department, the men will suffer.
– There is a very strong feeling that the military defences should bc cut down, and if a vote of the people were taken on the question, it would bc found that they were with us. They desire to see the expenditure kept down. They cannot see the necessity for absorbing the revenue in this way. Surely they have enough to bear already. The expenditure on defences that we are proposing to agree to to-night will mean 4s. 6d. per head of the population of Australia. Yet we are only in our infancy. If we do not take a firm stand, on this the first chance that we have had of dealing with the matter, this octopus will become so powerful that we shall not be able to control it. This is the proper time to take stops to control it. The total expenditure is a long way in excess of what they are spending in Canada in this direction. Yet we have not so much to fear as Canada has.
– Are things satisfactory there ?
– There is no proposal, so far as I know, for any increase. They do not appear to be so much afraid of an invasion, as the honorable member seems to be in regard to Australia.
– I have never expressed any opinion on that point.
– Does the honorable member think that there is any existing power that could make the transport and other arrangements that would be necessary to enable it to take this continent? There is no power which could do what Great Britain has done in South Africa. And yet the featperformed by the mother country there is small compared with what would have to be done in order to take Australia.
House adjourned at 10.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 April 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020430_reps_1_9/>.