6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Some weeks ago I asked the Assistant Minister of Defence if consideration would be given to the sending of a naval contingent to the Imperial Government for service during the war. I wish to know now if any decision has been arrived at?
– The matter is under consideration, and is being dealt with by Sir William Creswell and the Minister.
– I ask the Prime Minister if the statement in to-day’s Age that the Government has decided to remit the duty on the parcel of sugar which must be imported to meet the shortage between last season’s and next season’s crops, which is said to be affirmed by the statement of the Premier of Queensland, is correct?
– I have not seen the report referred to, but I do not think that it is correct.
– As the right honorable member has not seen the newspaper reports on this subject, will he permit me to call his attention to them ? The statements of the Argus and Age conflict, and I should like to ask which is correct. The Age statement is this: -
Mr. Ryan, with regard to the suggested remission of duty on imported sugar, said he had received a communication from Mr. Fisher some time ago intimating that the duty would be remitted.
This is the Argus statement: -
Mr. Ryan said that he had received an intimation from the Prime Minister some time ago in which it was intimated thattheduty would not be remitted.
– The truth lies between the two statements, but I have turned over the matter to the Attorney-General, and if honorable members will have patience, he will make a statement to the House on the subject at an early date.
– Surely the right honorable gentleman can say which of the statements that I have read is correct ?
– I could not do that without making a lengthy explanation.
– Will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of fixing a recruiting week for the whole of Australia, on lines similar to those proposed by the Government of Victoria for this State?
– This Government is in. favour, not only of a recruiting week, but of fifty-two recruiting weeks a year for the duration of the war.
– Will the right honorable gentleman consider the advisability of proposing the adjournment of this House over the week during which a recruiting campaign is to be carried on in Victoria? I shall be glad to hear any information that he may have to give to the House on the subject.
– I have conveyed to the gentlemen who are organizing for both parties the opinion that, as the movement is at present confined to Victoria, it is not desirable for the National Parliament to adjourn; but it might be agreed to pair off those taking part in the work, this House proceeding with its business in the usual way.
– Will the right honorable gentleman promise not to introduce contentious business, such as the Tariff, during the absence of members?
– Nothing will be done by the Government that would affect the political views of honorable members in any way. I am prepared to talk over the matter with the Leader of the Opposition, but I do not think that the National Parliament should adjourn.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister if he will definitely clear up, for the convenience of Victorian members, a point regarding next week’s recruiting campaign in Victoria. 1 have now three telegrams awaiting answers which I cannot give until this point is settled. Will the Prime Minister give me the assurance that during our absence next week no contentious legislation or the Tariff will be dealt with?
– Why did you not say it long ago?
– I have already given such an assurance.
– I ask the Prime Minister if his attention has been called to the rebuke which was yesterday administered to the Leader of the Opposition, and the honorable member for Balaclava, by the Farmers’ Convention at Wangaratta, in its refusal to allow those gentlemen to–
– Questions of this sort may not be asked. Were I to allow the honorable member to proceed, I might be put in an awkward position, because he might conclude with a perfectly legitimate question, though one not really designed to elicit information. Very often questions are asked which, are not prompted by the desire to obtain information, and such questions should not be asked. I shall be glad if the honorable member will say straight out what it is that he wishes to know.
– I ask if the attention of the Prime Minister has been called to the inconsistency of these gentlemen in advocating the cessation of party warfare–
– Questions such as the honorable member is proceeding to ask are not permissible. When a member founds a question on a newspaper report, it is very often difficult for me to divine what he really intends to say. I have warned the House on several occasions that questions such as this should not be asked. As a matter of fact, I do not think that questions should be founded on newspaper reports, and if the practice continues, I shall have to put a stop to it. I have allowed, as far as possible, legitimate questions for the eliciting of information, but I must prevent the asking of questions of the sort now being asked.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that his Department is calling for tenders for carrying on the work of the West Tamworth Post Office at a salary considerably less than is now paid? Will the honorable gentleman look into the circumstances of those who are at present managing that post-office for the Department, and have been man aging it for many years, and will he take into consideration the expense to which they have been put in erecting premises specially for the Department’s work?
– I do not know anything of the matter, but I shall look into it.
Recruiting : Non-Delivery of Letters and Cables : Criminals in Military Police : Rejects : Deserters.
– I ask the Assistant Minister of Defence if the call for more men for the Expeditionary Forces means that the Defence Department will accept all men fit for military service, equip, in Australia, all that it can, and send the balance to Egypt to be equipped by the British Government there?
– Owing to the number of letters that are returned from Egypt on account of the Postal Department not being able to find the addressees, and owing to cable messages to Egypt not being delivered, and those from Egypt not being received at this end, will the Prime Minister take into consideration the suggestion made by the honorable member for Wannon last night, that some individual should be appointed to organize arrangements in Egypt so that correspondence to and from the Expeditionary Forces may be attended to with the utmost despatch?
– The idea of the honorable member is one of which everybody is in favour, and the only point in question is the best method of giving effect to it. I will consult with the Minister of Defence with a view to improving the correspondence service if that be possible.
– I had a letter yesterday from a man who stated that he had written to his son thirty-four times, and he had not received one of his letters.
– I ask honorable members to be patient, because the circumstances are beyond our control; but anything that the Government can do to improve the conditions will be done.
– In reference to a question I asked yesterday regarding a member of the Expeditionary Forces who had a record of several convictions against him in the criminal Court, is the Assistant Minister of Defence aware that the police have declared that they warned the military authorities that the man in question was a confirmed criminal, and that, despite that warning, the man was made amember of the military police ? I understand that that is not the only such case.
– I promise the honorable member that the matter will be investigated.
– Does not the Assistant Minister of Defence consider the enormous number of rejects on account of physical unfitness amongst those who volunteer for active service serious enough to warrant an investigationby a Board ?
– I shall bring the question under the notice of the Minister of Defence with a view to ascertaining the best means of investigating the point which the honorable member has raised.
– I should like to bring - under the notice of the Assistant Minister of Defence the fact that, owing to a number of men deserting on the eve of embarkation for the front, other men have been selected to fill the vacant places in the ranks at such short notice that they have had no opportunity of taking a farewell of their relatives and friends, and making necessary final arrangements.
– I shall bring that matter under the notice of the Minister of Defence, and give the honorable member a reply later.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the action of the New Zealand Government in having already appointed a Committee of both Houses to deal with war matters, and their expressed willingness to consider the formation of a National Cabinet, so that the whole strength of the Dominion Parliament may be concentrated on war matters? Is it the intention of the Commonwealth Government to take any action which will enable this Parliament to similarly concentrate its energies ?
– I have received from New Zealand a cable message which states the facts practically as obtained by the honorable member. All I desire to say on the subject is that, in the Dominion Parliament, the parties are practically even in numbers.
– In view of the excellent prospects of the next wheat harvest, and the shortage of food supplies in the United Kingdom, will the Minister of Trade and Customs get into touch with, the Imperial Government, and also with the shipping trade and the Chambers of Commerce, with a view to securing tonnage for the carriage of our surplus wheat overseas?
– I informed the honorable member for Calare yesterday that the Government are taking steps in regard to this matter, but I am not yet in a position to state what is being done. The Government hope that the anticipations of the honorable member for Wannon that we shall have a bumper harvest will be realized, and that adequate arrangements for its transport overseas may be made.
– I was asked by the Minister of Home Affairs yesterday to place on the notice-paper a question I desired to ask without notice with regard to voting facilities for Australian citizens serving at the front. I accordingly gave notice of a question in which I asked what facilities could be given to any Australian voters who, at the time of the forthcoming referenda, might be prisoners of war. That question has been omitted from the notice-paper, I understand under your instructions, Mr. Speaker. May I ask the reason for that course?
– When there is any doubt as to whether a question is one which should appear on the notice-paper, it is referred to me. In my opinion the latter portion of the question asked by the honorable member not only could serve no useful purpose, but was satirical in tone, and was so worded that it should- not appear on the notice-paper. I instructed that that portion should be omitted.
– I should like to say, by way of personal explanation, that many of the electors in my constituency have gone to the front. When an important question is to be submitted to the people, am I nob justified in asking what voting facilities will be given to those who . are at the front ?
– The honorable member will certainly be justified in asking such a question if it is couched in proper language.
– Has the Prime Minister read the report in the Melbourne press of a speech in which the Leader of the Opposition warned the farmers that these were days when people had to look after themselves, and he had never believed, and did not now believe, in the State fixing prices? Does the Prime Minister think it would be useless to point out to the right honorable gentleman that he should follow the noble example of Mr. Lloyd George-
-If questions of this character are to continue, I shall have to take steps to compel honorable members to give notice of all questions. The honorable member is endeavouring to introduce a debatable point by way of question without notice. I ask honorable members not to follow that course, because it will only oblige me to take steps which will prevent many legitimate questions being asked.
– This Government has, very rightly, decided to remit the probate duties on the estates of soldiers who may die at the front. Will the Prime Minister bring this decision under the notice of the various State Governments, with the suggestion that they should take a similar course? Will he also consider the desirability of providing some central means whereby the administration of these estates may be carried out cheaply and economically?
– It is a rule of etiquette, and a very good one, that one Parliament shall not interfere with any other in its legislative capacity.
– But they are our soldiers !
– I do not think that would justify interference on our part.
– Send the suggestion along without comment.
– All the Parliaments have agreed that none shall deal with the affairs of the other. Otherwise there might be much inconvenience and misunderstanding. If the honorable member would send his suggestion to the proper officer, it would, no doubt, receive sympathetic consideration.
– I should like the Prime Minister to say what was the nature of the arrangement entered into between himself and the Leader of the Opposition in regard to private members’ business last Thursday afternoon?
– There was no arrangement.
– In moving the adjournment of the debate on my motion in regard to sugar, the Prime Minister is reported, on page 4324 of Hansard, to have said, “I have made an arrangement with the Opposition that other important matters shall be dealt with.” It appears from that that I was breaking some arrangement entered into by both sides of the House, to practically dispense with private members’ time.
-Order! Is the honorable member making a personal explanation ?
– I want to ask the Prime Minister what was the nature of the agreement ?
– Briefly, may I say that I made a statement that the time would be required for dealing with the referenda.
– That was some time ago.
– I announced some time previously that both sides would be agreeable that the time should be devoted to the discussion of these Bills. That was the reason I said what I did. I think it was expected that the time would be given entirely to# the discussion of the referenda proposals.
– I should like to make a personal explanation. I understood that the only portion of private members’ time that was to be taken away was the time usually devoted, on Thursdays, to dealing with private members’ notices of motion, but I also understood that the usual arrangement regarding the third Thursday was not to be interfered with. Consequently when I proposed the amendment I did last Thursday I considered that I was quite within the arrangement by which this time at least was guaranteed to private members. I met with a number of interjections, and in the confusion hardly knew whether an arrangement had been made or not with the Opposition that this particular private members’ time should be also sacrificed. Certainly I did not know of any arrangement. I offered then to give way if any arrangement had been made. This offer was refused. I can quite see that the Prime Minister did not intend the statement as it appears in Hansard, which might lead readers to believe that the time I was occupying was part of the time covered by an arrangement previously entered into.
– There was no arrangement of any sort.
– I made a public statement in Parliament that these days were required for the discussion of the Referenda Bills.
– You made a public statement that you would like to debate the Bills in that time; that was all.
– The Opposition Whip now supports his leader in stating there was no arrangement. I did not understand that the third Thursday was to be taken away from private members. If that had been the intention there is a proper way of doing it - by moving to take such time for Government business. The fact that the Order of the Day being called on shows it was not arranged or understood that it should be dispensed with.
– The honorable member is now going beyond the bounds of a personal explanation.
– I do not want the people of this country who read Hansard to be under the impression that I had broken any arrangement. It appears now that this was not an arrangement made to do away with the time allotted to private members on the third Thursday. It came as a surprise to me to find that the Opposition had only occupied about fifteen minutes in dealing with the referenda business, which shows that they could not have arranged for the whole afternoon beforehand.
– I have received a letter from the honorable member for Nepean, in which he states his desire to move the adjournment of the House in order to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ the administration of the military camp at Liverpool.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
.- For a considerable time past rumours have been in persistent circulation regarding the condition of affairs at the Liverpool . Camp.
– You might have given me an intimation of this.
– It is not hostile, and is not intended to be. What does it matter?
– I had no desire to be discourteous to the Minister. Probably my inexperience in these matters - this is the first time I have taken a course like this - is responsible for no notice having been given. I wished to consult my leader, but, unfortunately, he was not here. I hope the Minister will accept my assurance that I intended no discourtesy.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
– For some time past rumours have been persistently circulating in New South Wales, and are still being circulated, to the effect that a good deal of mismanagement exists at the Liverpool Camp. So serious were some of the allegations that I determined to investigate for myself, and to place the results before the members of this House. Honorable members will well understand the difficulty that lies before anyone who endeavours to obtain confirmation of these matters from the officers. My experience has been that, however well an officer may be personally known to an inquirer, immediately an attempt is made to obtain from him some definite statement regarding any complaint, he becomes as dumb as the proverbial oyster. Therefore, I sought my information elsewhere. There are in the Liverpool Camp a number of men whom I have known for many years. I have had the opportunity of judging of their veracity, and the statements I am about to make have been given to me by men whose truthfulness and sincerity I have not the slightest occasion to doubt. One of the chief causes of complaint concerns the lack of uniforms at the camp. I spoke to one man who was acting as guard. There are forty men whose duty it is to act as pickets, sentries,’ and guards in and around the camp. He informed me that there were only twelve overcoats available for the use of these forty men. I saw some of the overcoats. They were a disgrace to the Department, and, in my opinion, would have been rejected by any decent old clothes purchaser. I asked my informant whether it was a fact that all the men wore these coats at different times. He replied’ that most of them did, though some men wore their own coats in preference to military overcoats which had been worn by men some of whom had been sent to hospital suffering from various complaints.
– This is the way to encourage recruiting!
– If the Government want to encourage recruiting they should see that the camp is decently managed.
– My informant went on to say that it was hurtful to the men in camp to find that at the German concentration camp every requirement was provided. He stated that only the week previous 1,000 overcoats were sent out to the German camp to be worn by the prisoners interned there.
– That is the way to encourage recruiting !
– I paid a visit to the German concentration camp, and found that every statement that had been made to me in regard to it was correct. There are 1,300 prisoners interned there, and every man is provided with a new, warm overcoat. What is more, there is a surplus stock in the racks waiting for other prisoners who may be sent there. The lack of uniforms at the Liverpool Military Camp is general. Some men who have been in camp for two months have had only the clothes they were wearing at the time they enlisted. They have been training and doing the ordinary work of the camp in these clothes, with the result that their garments have speedily become almost unfit to wear. I was assured that many of these young fellows had been unable to go home to say farewell to their parents or .friends, because they could not appear before them* decently clad. One man assured me that ho had spent nearly £20 on clothes which he had been compelled to wear since he had gone into camp. He had been there over two months.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that he had worn out £20 worth of- clothes in two months?
– I should have said that he had been in camp for four months. At the Redfern railway station, a few weeks ago, I met a young fellow whom I have known for some years, and who told me that he was leaving for the front with the 13th Regiment two days later. When I inquired why he was not in uniform he said, “ I have no uniform, but we have been told that uniforms will be issued on the morning of the day upon which we embark.” He told me that he had been in camp six weeks, that he had never handled a rifle in his life before he enlisted, and that he had not undergone any rifle practice since he had been in camp. No ammunition, he said, was available at the butts, and no blank cartridge was obtainable to demonstrate to the men how to fill the magazines of their rifles. This young fellow told me further that there were only thirty rifles available for 500 men for training purposes, and that they were of an obsolete pattern, so that any instruction given to the men regarding the use of them would be valueless when they received the Lithgow rifles. That statement was confirmed by scores of men upon my visit to the camp. Men also told me that some of the rifles coming from Lithgow are defective, inasmuch as the screws attached to the “ sights,” which regulate the distance you desire to shoot at, were becoming detached and lost, thus making one of the most important sections of the rifle quite useless. This lack of rifle practice constitutes the gravest charge against the military authorities. I am bringing forward this matter, not in any party spirit, but in the interests of the men themselves. It is almost criminal to send away these boys before they have received the necessary rifle practice. In all probability the authorities will say that they will obtain the necessary practice when they’ reach Egypt.
– What practice does the honorable member say a man needs ?
– It takes a long time to make a man an efficient rifle shot.
– A man can become efficient in three months.
– But these men have had no practice.
– I know what I am speaking about. I have done my trials after three months’ practice.
– A lot of these troops are now leaving as reinforcements, and if they are to be useful as reinforcements they will not be able to stop at Egypt, but must go direct to the front. One of my complaints is that there have been sent away as reinforcements men who have been in camp at Liverpool for only a week. If the authorities wish to send seasoned men - or men who have had some degree of practice - as reinforcements, why should they not select those who have been longest in camp, and who have had some training, instead of calling for volunteers from men who have been in camp for only a few days? Continuing my investigations, I found that the huts which are being erected for the men a Liverpool, while a big improvement in many respects on the tents, are really no improvement in the direction of conserving health. They are too draughty. The floors of these huts, which are laid on brick piers, have a space of from 1 foot to 2 feet beneath them, and since they are laid down in sections, openings arc left through which the draught comes up. The men are provided only with a waterproof sheet and three blankets for bedding, so that honorable members can understand the discomfort which they suffer and the liability to catch cold under which they labour. Fogs are very prevalent at Liverpool and colds are common. The principal sickness amongst the men consists of chest and throat troubles. These huts do not protect them from such complaints. The men in their spare time are filling in the openings in their huts in order to try to keep out the draught Hundreds of cases of pneumonia and kindred complaints have gone through the hospital, and numerous deaths have resulted. I would earnestly suggest to the Department the necessity of supplying the men in camp with mattresses. Straw is cheap enough, and straw mattresses would add to the comfort and protection of the men. I do not suggest that our soldiers in the making should be pampered and coddled, but we must take into consideration the fact that many of the men in camp have gone there direct from good homes, and that they have never had to rough it. One of the first considerations of the Government should be to insure the health of the troops. These men at Liverpool Camp at present are not receiving the consideration they deserve. Owing to the draughty character of the huts those occupying them are liable to catch cold even more readily than would be the case if they were under canvas. Considering the hardships and suffering which lie before them, we should at least make our lads decently comfortable while they are learning the work of a soldier. Each of these huts is occupied by forty-six men, and I find that no provision is made in them for the storage of bread. Bread is issued every night, and lies exposed in the huts all night, without even a partition between the bread and the men who are sleeping there. The Government should consider the desirableness of applying to our military camps some of the provisions that the various State Governments apply to ordinary employers of labour, to protect the well-being of their men. I ask the House to consider the difference between the treatment of the Germans at the concentration camp and our men at Liverpool. I found that those interned at the German concentration camp had everything possible to make them comfortable. They had straw mattresses and decent bunks, whereas our men at the Liverpool Military Camp say anything apparently is good enough for them. They say, “ We are treated not like men, but like dogs.”
– A disgraceful statement to make.
– I am only stating the truth in repeating what is said in the camp.
– A speech like this will do a lot to encourage recruiting !
– No, no; let the honorable member proceed.
– I think it my duty to bring the matter before the House.
– Hear, hear!
– If the Assistant Minister of Defence wants to know why more recruits are not offering, let him go to this camp and he will find out for him. self. A want of system also prevails in connexion with the hospital arrangements. It is said that men are asked to line up at 6.45 in the morning, and if they are not in the ranks at that hour they cannot be seen again, by a medical man until evening, they being called upon to do their ordinary duties during the day. It iB quite common for men to be lined up for an hour and a half or two hours waiting for the doctors to examine them, and this in wet weather, when the men have only their dungarees on. The result is that men, when they are admitted to the hospital, are in an infinitely worse condition than when they first applied.
– Do you say that the men are in their dungarees only?
– In their dungaree outer clothing only.
– Have they not woollen underclothes?
– Possibly they have, but that is not much protection with only dungarees over them.
– At the camp of the German prisoners every man has a woollen undervest, though only a proportion - about one-third of our men - at the Liverpool Camp have such a garment. I am sorry that the Minister should regard my action to-day from a hostile point of view.
– I can assure the honorable member that I do not.
– What I am doing is for the best; and I earnestly suggest that one of the huts should be lined and placed near the hospital, in order to afford the men some protection when they are seeking medical aid. This would be an innovation highly appreciated by every man; and I feel confident that it would prevent a good deal of sickness. When a man is not sick enough to go into hospital, and is given a prescription, the first thing the chemist asks is, “ Where is your bottle ?” Naturally, the man replies that he has no bottle; and he is then informed that he cannot have any medicine until he produces one. Just imagine asking men, who are offering their services and their lives, to have the forethought to provide themselves with medicine bottles in case they should become sick ! All the details mentioned are such as should be attended to, in the interests of the men themselves.
– You ought to make specific charges, and attempt to prove them.
– Give names.
– I challenge the Minister to go to the camp and make inquiries. I could go direct to the men who have made the charges, and I am prepared to go through the camp with the Minister, and take him to the sources of my information.
– Well, I shall give you the opportunity.
– If my action today results in improved conditions, I shall feel that I have not spoken in vain.
– Will you accept the Assistant Minister’s invitation?
– I shall be very pleased to take the Minister direct to the men who gave me the information. I am sure that the Assistant Minister does not know what is going on.
– May I ask the honorable’ member whether he laid these statements before the Minister before introducing the subject in the House ?
– No, I did not. The military machine moves so slowly that the men will be gone before any improvements are made. I find that men who have gone through the hospital speak of it in the strongest terms of condemnation. One man went so far as to say that if he were sick again he would sooner do something in order to get dismissed the Forces than go to the hospital.
– Some men have said that sort of thing about the best private hospitals in Australia.
– The men say that the doctors are callous and indifferent, and show no sympathy for them. One man told mo that he had been informed that a man had been in the hospital three days before he was examined by the doctors. Another made the statement - and it was acquiesced in by others standing around - that the reason they had no confidence in the hospital was that the doctor in charge is a German - of German parentage - and believed to have German sympathies.
– Who is the doctor? .
– Dr. Schlink. Men who have devoted their lives to the study of first-aid, and have gained certificates and medals, have been rejected in favour of men with no experience or service in the Army Medical Corps. One man with over eleven years’ experience, who had been an instructor in connexion with the Railways and Tramways Ambulance Corps, was told by the doctor in charge, when his certificates had been read, that he had too much experience - all that waa wanted was a man who could “ wash a face.” It is impossible for a man to have too much experience for such work. It is said that this doctor, who is of
German parentage and sympathies, is endeavouring to make the work of the Army Medical Corps as ineffective as possible at the front. That is the statement made, though it may be correct or otherwise.
– Do you believe it?
– Just one moment, let me bring forward the facts. What opinion can honorable members hold oi the military authorities who have selected for such a highly important position as that of Chief Medical Officer a man who has already been reported for disloyal utterances at the Australia Club, and who, according to a letter which Senator Pearce said in the Senate last week he had received, has relatives fighting against us on the German side.
– This is very poor stuff - ib ought to be proved.
– The men at the camp ha ve been through the hospital, and have seen this doctor’s demeanour and methods, and have arrived at the opinion I have expressed.
– How near are the relatives ?
– I understand they are brothers. I say that the presence of this doctor in the hospital is an insult to the people of Australia, and an outrage on those boys who are freely offering their lives in this time of the Empire’s need, and he ought not to be permitted to remain there one moment longer. We have plenty of fully-equipped Australian doctors, and some of these ought to be placed in charge. I should now like to refer to the matter of the horses. Last week I asked the Assistant Minister of Defence a question in regard to 1,200 horses having been left at the Liverpool Remount Depot without feed, and the honorable gentleman practically admitted the fact. Here we have horses - a living asset of £30,000 - left without feed. At Liverpool the horses are tied in an enclosure, the ground of which is as bare as the floor of this chamber. The animals receive a few handfuls of feed per day, but as no nose-bags are available, these have to be improvised. Until very recently there were no halters, and I was informed, on reliable authority, that some horses had to be tied up with string.
– Why do you not say cotton ?
– It is a libel on the horses !
– This is a serious question, and is not a subject for unseemly levity. The men of the 12th Light Horse, who left recently, were compelled, after asking in vain for halters, to purchase some out of the money privately subscribed to provide comforts for the troops; and they had difficulty in getting a refund. At the same time, I am informed that at the Ordnance Department there are halters galore, and that their non-supply is all due to red-tape, with which the place is reeking. It does not seem to matter how urgent the need, weeks may elapse before it is supplied. In order to show how wasteful the Department can be in some directions and penurious in others, I may point out that, though a water main passes within a few yard’s of one hospital, and could be connected with the institution at a cost of about £5, the authorities have been paying a contractor 15s. a day for months past to cart water to this hospital. They can waste money in this direction, but they have no money to spare in order to provide medicine bottles for the troops. I have a few further facts which I would like to bring before the House if honorable members will grant me permission.
– We want to hear the facts; we are as anxious as the honorable member is to get them. I move -
That the honorable member be granted an extension of time.
– The honorable member’s time has not yet expired.
– From the Liverpool military camp I went to the German concentration camp.
– In his notice the honorable member distinctly referred to the administration of the military camp at Liverpool. I take it that the internment camp is not a military camp.
– Both camps are at Liverpool. I must confess that I can speak in the highest terms of the excellent management of the concentration camp. There are brains behind it. The sleeping arrangements are infinitely better than those provided in the military camp. Whereas in the military camp the men sleep in enclosed huts, the huts in the concentration camp are open to the north, and waterproof blinds are provided, which are dropped at night and rolled up during the day”, allowing the sun and air to heat and ventilate the huts. In the concentration camp the prisoners are allowed to use the floors of the huts as places on which to have their meals. Quite properly, at the military camp the authorities will not permit the men to have their meals in their tents, but this means that the men have to get outside their tents and eat where they can in all sorts of weather. At the German concentration camp there is a better system of serving meals. The meals are served on the principle of a sheep race, and I saw 1,300 men served in fourteen minutes, each man getting his food steaming hot. The system is not so good at the military camp; neither is the cooking. I earnestly commend to the Minister the desirability of sending an officer to copy some of the innovations made at the concentration camp.
– Made by the Germans? They are their own cooks and waiters.
– I do not care who has been responsible for inaugurating those arrangements at the German camp. The ideas are very good, and they should be copied. The system of distributing the food is excellent. The huts are built of fibro-cement ; a hut to hold 110 men costs £184, whereas at the military camp a hut to hold forty-six men costs £250, and is not nearly so effective or healthy. Before the authorities erect any mora huts at the military camp they should certainly go to the concentration camp, and take a leaf out of the books of the authorities there. As an Australian, I felt my blood boil when I went to Liverpool and found that our own men were suffering disadvantages,- while men were living in the concentration camp in comparative luxury at our expense.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired. Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member have leave to proceed ?
– I take up my newspaper and read the following : -
Studied Cruelty. - Foul-mouthed German’. - British Major Flung into Filth
Official papers forwarded to the Premier by the Agent-General contain copies of correspondence between Sir Edward Grey and the American Ambassador respecting the treatment of English prisoners of war in Germany.
Advices, dated 25th March, stated that everything possible was being* done by the United States Ambassador at Berlin for the inspection of camps and relief of prisoners. The correspondence shows that British prisoners, with a few notable exceptions, have been treated with studied cruelty. Sir Edward Grey quotes a report by Major Vandeleur (1st Cameronians), who escaped from Crefeld, after being taken prisoner. The major stated, on the authority of a French priest : - “ The German soldiers kick the British prisoners in the stomach, and break their guns over their backs. They force them to sleep out in marshy places, so that many are now consumptive. The British are almost starved, and such have been their tortures that thirty of them asked to be shot.”
Describing his own experience, the major wrote : - “ All along the line we were cursed by officers and soldiers alike at the various stations, and at Mons Bergen I was pulled out in front of the waggon by the order of the officer in charge or the station, and, after cursing me in filthy language for some ten minutes, he ordered one of his soldiers to kick me back into the waggon, which he did, sending me sprawling into the filthy mess at the bottom of the waggon.”
– That German officer must have been nearly as bad as the military policeman to whom attention wasdrawn to-day.
– The honorable member is trying to set up a very unfortunate parallel.
– Considering what our men are endeavouring to do for Australia, we should do our best for them. We should give them better, and not worse, treatment than is given to the Germans in this concentration camp.
– Shame ! It is a shame for you to insinuate such a tiling. It isscandalous.
– The Assistant Minister had better hold his silly tongue and hear the facts. We have had enough of his bluff.
– Order ! I point out . to the right honorable member for Parramatta and the Assistant Minister that it is my duty to conduct the business of the Chamber. I ask the honorable members, not to interfere.
– Notwithstanding theMinister’s interjection as to my statement being scandalous, it is the truth. Then another complaint concerns the officers who have volunteered for the front. Many of these men are giving up excellent positions in order to discharge their duty to the Empire, many of them are makinggreat sacrifices by enlisting. We all know the type that they represent. They have proved their worth on the heights of Gallipoli. The officers of whom I speak are about to take the places of officers who have sacrificed their lives there, and who, by their fearless daring and dash - assisted by their gallant men - have made one of the most glorious pages in the eventful history of our Empire. The officers who are about to go to the front are men who have been engaged in various professions and businesses, and naturally a good many details in connexion with their private affairs require to be attended to before they leave Australia. It has been generally understood that the military authorities have been in the habit of allowing them ample time to complete these arrangements. But recently an order was issued under which these officers are required to appear at 10 o’clock in the morning before the Commanding Officer at the Camp, and to state their reasons for desiring leave. If the reasons advanced are satisfactory, passes are issued under which they are permitted to leave the Camp. But at the gates they are stopped by a sentry who examines their passes before they are allowed to proceed. On reaching the bridge, another sentry is encountered, and the same procedure is. repeated. On the day of my visit to the Camp an officer chanced to be leaving it in a cab, with the result that nearly the whole of the traffic on the road was hung up whilst his pass was -being examined. I do not say that the precaution is altogether unnecessary from a military point of view, but considering that these men have big private interests, I think that more latitude should be allowed them to arrange their private affairs. By adopting the password a good deal of the existing friction in respect of officers’ leave might be avoided. My investigations have convinced me that some very great change is necessary if we desire to make our military machine an effective one. I am sure that one of the causes of dissatisfaction in the Liverpool Camp arises from the evil of centralization. I am assured that it is necessary to send to head-quarters in Melbourne for official confirmation of everything that is done at the Camp. The officers dare not act without that official confirmation. In his report last year General Ian Hamilton predicted that this would be the case if war ever broke out. He expressed his -opinion in very strong terms, as will be seen by reference to paragraph 73, at page 25 of his report -
Actually, the Australian system, as it exists to-day, is so purely a product -of peace procedure that it could not hope to carry on beyond ‘ the first few weeks of war. The centralization in the Defence Department at Melbourne excoeds anything I have experienced during more than forty years’ service in India, in the United Kingdom, and in every part of the world where troops administered by the British War Office are stationed. That this centralization is due wholly to the existing system of financial control I am not prepared to assert; but, unquestionably, it is on financial grounds that the present mass of petty questions, which in a well-ordered business would be dealt with locally, are now referred from districts to head-quarters. Hence an inevitable tendency to centralize in other brandies of work. Hence* also, an increasing unwillingness on the part of officers to act on their own responsibility. Hence, again, a real danger that, in course of time, the spirit of initiative throughout the Army may suffer. Hence, finally, the most fruitful cause of disaster in time of war - namely, the collapse of the officer trained for many years to be frightened to death of a sixpence when he is suddenly called upon to decide a matter in which thousands of pounds may be involved.
That prediction is being verified to-day. I am of opinion that many of our high officers, as the result of living for years in an atmosphere of red-tape, have become absolutely incompetent to deal with the present position. It is only too true that men who have been long accustomed to such an atmosphere fail to utilize their full powers of initiative. Whether the security of Government positions induces mental laziness, or whether there is some peculiar germ in the atmosphere of redtape which results in a kind of sleeping sickness, I cannot say. But I’ am justified in affirming that our military system is suffering from what may be termed- “the blight of the official mind, which sits ‘u’pon the service like a frost, and which nips the most promising shoots of originality in the bud. This blight is’ cementing the whole of the service into a hard, inelastic mass, which is incapable of initiative or original thought. The Minister of Defence has a unique opportunity at the present time, but he is hampered - as anybody else in his position would be hampered - if he does not possess the courage to break the bonds which bind the service as effectively as Gulliver was ever bound by the Lilliputians. I am quite prepared to accept full responsibility for my action to-day. Nobody regrets more than I do the necessity for bringing these matters before tha
House. But honorable members talk about recruiting. With the knowledge I possess as the result of my visits to the Liverpool Camp, how can I conscientiously go on the public platform and advise people to send their sons to the front? If my own son were of age, I would have to seriously consider the wisdom of allowing him to enter the Liverpool Camp unless some better conditions are substituted for those at present existing.
– And yet the honorable member says that the fate of the nation is hanging in the balance.
– It is not fair to send raw recruits against trained men - against veteran soldiers like the Turks.
– Our troops are better equipped than are any other troops in the world.
– We are sending men to the front who lack necessary experience with the rifle. Upon this matter, I entertain very strong feelings. I invite honorable members opposite to visit the Liverpool Camp, and to see for themselves the conditions which obtain there. To send lads to the front in an unprepared state is criminal. It is not fair to Australia; it is not fair to those parents who are giving their lads to the Empire; and it is not fair to the bravo boys who, by their heroic deeds, have made a name for Australia which will live for ever in the imperishable annals of our race.
.- I have only a few words to say on this motion, but at the outset I wish to express my impatience at the exclamations with which honorable members opposite greet any honorable member on this side who endeavours to bring about some improvement of a condition of things that is notorious regarding the’ training and equipment of our Expeditionary Forces. Speaking for myself, I have during recent months had to exercise a very considerable degree of self-restraint indeed, because I did not wish even to suggest anything which might discourage recruiting, or interfere with the work which I was’ hoping that the Minister of ‘Defence and the Assistant Minister were performing to remedy shortcomings so notorious. The honorable member has referred to conditions prevailing at the Liverpool Camp, but they are not confined to that camp. I have been for many months in close touch with both officers and privates of “the Expeditionary Forces of this
State, and if only a tithe of what they inform me is correct, some very radical change is required at head-quarters. I do not know how it is, but the Defence Department seems to be considerably lacking in ordinary horse-sense. Things are done which make one’s blood boil, and are repeated again and again until one wonders where we have obtained the men who have control of these matters. I have a very high personal regard for the Minister of Defence. I do not care to criticise him too harshly in the circumstances. Again, in this connexion I deprecate the cry which is heard from the Government benches, whenever any matter connected with the Defence Department is discussed, that we should not blame the Minister, but some one else. Senator Pearce appears to be sacrosanct in the opinion of honorable members opposite. I know that he has been kept well to the front as an ideal Labour Minister. I am aware that he has achieved a high reputation in this respect merely by leaving himself almost entirely in the hands of his officers, and speaking such words as they have instructed him to speak. Knowing the Minister of Defence well, I say deliberately that he is almost the last man of “the party opposite who ought to be in charge of the Defence Department at the present time.
– Order! The honorable member is now, in my opinion, making a general attack on the Defence Department.
– Will the honorable gentleman resume his seat? The adjournment of the House has been moved to deal with a specific and urgent matter. T have listened carefully to the honorable member, and have been waiting for him to come to the point, and to say something in relation to the matter which the House has been asked to deal with by the honorable member for Nepean. The honorable member for Perth has not yet touched on that matter.
– If you had waited, sir, I would have immediately connected my remarks with the matter before the House. I was going to say that, in regard to the reforms that have been suggested by the honorable member for Nepean at the Liverpool Military Camp, and which are equally necessary at other camps, if the Minister of Defence had the necessary power of initiative which we have a right to expect in the occupant pf his office, many of those reforms would have been achieved long ago. I want to complain in regard to the necessity for improvement in these respects that a grave mistake was made when the permanent Secretary of the Department was sent-
– Order ! The honorable member is now going into the general question of the administration of the Defence Department. He must not do that. He must confine himself to the matter before the House.
– I want to be allowed to say that the reforms which are demanded at the Liverpool Camp and other military camps must come through the action of the Defence Department.
– Hear, hear! Tha Minister of Defence is surely responsible for the conditions at the Liverpool Camp.
– It is of no use for the honorable member for Perth to try to evade my ruling. I know what the honorable member is doing exactly. He is making a deliberate attack upon the Defence Department. The honorable member for Nepean has moved the adjournment of the House upon a matter of urgent and definite public importance, namely, the administration of the military camp at Liverpool, but the honorable member for Perth is going far beyond that.
– The question is, Who is administering that camp 1
– The honorable member for Perth will be in order in referring to any matter of administration affecting the military camp at Liverpool, but he is going beyond that, and is making a general attack on the Defence Department. The honorable member knows as well as I do that if I permitted debate on those lines we should have a general discussion in relation to the whole administration of the Defence Department, and not, as we should have, a debate upon the matter of urgent and definite public importance referred to in his notice of the motion for the adjournment of the House by the honorable member for Nepean.
– I am always ready to obey the ruling of the Chair, and I shall accept your instruction; but I fail to see how I can discuss the matter of making improvements in the conditions of Liverpool Camp, or anywhere else, without discussing the means whereby those improve ments may be effected. Knowing as I do, and as we all do, something about the constitution and administration of the Defence Department, it is necessary that I should point out the source from which proposals to effect the improvements de-, sired must emanate.
– The honorable mem. ber was going much further. He was making a personal attack on the Minister of Defence.
– I hope that my remarks regarding the Minister of Defence had not any personal, application at all. If they had, I have not been able to express myself clearly. I pointed out that, so far as the Minister is concerned, I have the highest personal regard for him.
– Will the honorable member confine himself to the matter before the Chair ?
– Very well. I want to revert to the question of the reforms that are necessary at the Liverpool Camp. I say that we require, in regard to the improvements that have been sought, and have not yet been achieved, the assistance, at least, of the permanent Secretary of the Defence Department, instead of having him away in the remote islands of the South Seas. I suggest to the Assistant Minister that, in consultation with the Minister of Defence, they should consider, not only the questions brought up by the honorable member for Nepean, but the method by which the improvements he looks for can be accomplished. It is only from head-quarters that the necessary initiative can proceed, and I contend that we have a perfect right to look for that initiative from that source.
– In reply to the honorable member for Nepean, who moved the adjournment of the House in order to bring this matter up for consideration, I wish to say just a few words. Senator Pearce, the Minister of Defence, was in Sydney this week. While there, he sent for the State Commandant in order to ascertain from the lips of that officer how everything was going on there. The Commandant assured the Minister that everything was going on in a satisfactory way at the Liverpool Camp.
– Surely the Minister did not expect him to say anything else !
– I want to say that, unless the Minister receives complaints, or is told that certain articles are short in supply at the camp, he can in no way interfere.
– Will the honorable gentleman undertake to see the principal medical officer who is responsible for that camp, and ask him about these things ?
– I will. I make the right honorable gentleman that promise. I do not want anything to be kept in the dark. The Government want everything to come out, and they desire to do the right thing. This matter has been sprung on me quite unexpectedly. I had no notice of it, although I accept the assurance of the honorable member for Nepean that this was unintentional. ‘ The Minister has told me over the telephone within the last half-hour that while in Sydney he made it his special business to inquire into everything in New South Wales, and especially in regard to the Liverpool Camp. He says he was not informed of any shortage of uniforms, or anything else in that camp. I told him of the main complaints made by the honorable member in the earlier portion of his speech, and he says- that the reports he has received from the Commandant of New South Wales do not bear out the honorable member’s accusations. I shall have the honorable member’s speech posted to the Commandant, and ask for a report on it.
– When are you coming with me personally to visit the camp ?
– At any time the honorable member likes. The Minister says he has been assured by the Commandant that there is no shortage in New South Wales of uniforms or anything else; but it must be borne in mind that every recruit at the Liverpool Camp has not got a uniform, and many of them have to wait for them until a week or perhaps even two or three days before they embark. That is quite true; but I would point out that every woollen factory in Australia is going at top speed in order bo mako cloth.
– No; they are not; you know better than that.
– We have practically commandeered the output of every woollen mill in Australia that can do that class of work.
– No, you have not.
– Then the honorable member knows more than I do, and more that the Minister does. Will the honorable member tell me the name of a wool len mill that can turn out cloth satisfactory to the Department that we have not called on?
– Yes. There are some in Adelaide that you will not look at except on your own terms.
– The honorable member for Wakefield mentioned some.
– If- they like to stand aloof and refuse to do the work, except on their own terms, that is their own look out. As soon as we get a roll of material from a woollen factory, it goes straight into the clothing department, to be made into uniforms. There is no delay whatever, and we cannot do more than- we are doing as regards the turning out of uniforms. I assure the House that the troops and the recruits in the camps get the first call in connexion with uniforms, and everything else. The honorable member inferred by his speech that the interned Germans were getting better treatment than our own troops. That is absolutely untrue.
– He did not infer it. He said it.
– It is not so. At the same time, we shall extend a certain amount of kindness even to interned Germans. We shall not treat them as beasts; but I deny, as the representative of the Minister of Defence, that we’ are giving the Germans the same treatment as we give our own troops. Our own men come first.
– You are giving better food conditions to the Germans than to our own men.
– We are not.
– You are giving them more variety.
– Evidently you do not know anything about it.
– I do not like to mention honorable members by name; but I must ask them not to continue these interjections.
– It is well known to every honorable member that every interned German receives ls. a day in wages, and has the right to buy any material comforts that he needs. He has the right to buy straw to lie on if he needs it. The honorable member for Parkes laughs, but let me assure the honorable member that the interned Germans are buying themselves; nearly everything they are getting out of the ls. a day that they receive, and perhaps that accounts for the things which the honorable member for Nepean says they are getting over and above what our own troops receive.
– There are about 1,000 of them, and they can buy a good deal with £50 a day.
– Are we to stop that? It must be remembered, also, that they are doing their own cooking.
– Yes; we have no cooks looking after them. Some of .their own number are told off to look after their cooking.
– You have a big cookery there.
– We may provide housing and ovens and bakeries, but they do their own work.
– Leave all that until you settle it up there.
– I am not going to have statements put forward without trying to rebut them.
– Rebut them, if you can, with facts.
– These are facts.
– I was suggesting that you take a leaf out of the book of the German concentration camp, and copy its methods at Liverpool.
– I am telling the honorable member what! has happened. He said we had served out 1,300 overcoats to the interned Germans, every one of whom had received one. These are overcoats that have been worn by other persons, and laid aside. They are secondhand coats.
– They are brand-new.
– I was assured by the Minister, not more than half-an-hour ago, that the coats sent to the interned Germans are all secondhand.
– The soldiers are wearing secondhand coats, and sometimes even thirdhand coats.
– The QuartermasterGeneral is now in Sydney making inquiries at the Liverpool Camp to ascertain what necessaries are wanted there. I shall have a telegram sent to him this afternoon intimating, as briefly as possible, the complaints of the honorable member for Nepean, and he shall look into them forthwith.
– Will you send an Inspector of Health to inquire into the condition of the latrines?
– The honorable member also complained about defective rifles having been turned, out at Lithgow and supplied to our soldiers. In last Monday’s press, a report was published from the British Ordnance Officer in Egypt stating -that the rifles supplied to the Australians came up to anything he had seen, and were of very -superior quality.
– That may be; but that is not to say that some are not defective.
– There may be one or two defective, but the honorable member’sallegation was that we were giving our men rifles that were practically not fit to shoot with. No doubt there is room for some little complaints.
– Do not say that.
– I should be very foolish to stand here and say that in -all these camps throughout the Commonwealth not one genuine complaint can be made.
– What does the honorable member say as to the absolute lack of rifle practice?
– That is not general. The Minister will not admit such a thing. It must be remembered that nearly every soldier in the firing line had three or four months’ experience in Egypt in solid training and firing practice before he went to the Dardanelles. If the troops have not received quite sufficient training here, they have sufficient before being put into the firing line. I promise the honorable member that his complaints will be looked into to see if there is any foundation for them.
– Would you not have looked into them if the honorable member had come to you privately?
– Certainly; and if the honorable member had sent the Minister a letter containing these allegations they would have been promptly looked into.
– I want to say just a few words about the Liverpool Camp. I have not been there on this occasion, but I know the place very well, and I am afraid that a great many of the troubles! arise from the lay-out of the camp itself, its location being on the edge of the river.
– It is very low ground.
– Yes; but 2 or 3 miles away there is an area of high ground, in every way suitable for a camp, and I am given to understand that that is where the German internment camp has been placed. There is high and dry ground only 3 or 4 miles from the river, but yet our camp is dotted over the river, so to speak. I am afraid, therefore, that a good many of the medical cases reported there are due to the location of the camp itself on the edge of the river. Now, may I suggest another thing? I very much doubt whether the principal medical officer is given the requisite discretion and authority necessary for the preservation of the health of the camp, and when I say that, I am not speaking without book.
– Have you any information ?
– Yes, I have some information, but it is of a private character. I know the principal medical officer there, Colonel Perkins, and so does the honorable member.
– It is the third best camp in Australia.
– The principal medical officer is a good man, in my judgment, and from what I know of him. I think in the old days he used to be a Labour man.
– Like yourself.
– I am only pointing out that fact to suggest that if he has any bias it would be in the direction of this Government, and against the Opposition. But, as I have said, he is a good medical officer, in my judgment, and if he were given the necessary freedom, and had full responsibility thrust upon his shoulders, he would see that a Jot of the troubles lately reported were rectified. That is my firm opinion, and I urge upon the Minister that he should consult with this officer, who is on the spot, and is responsible foi- the health of the troops. If the medical officer has to shoulder the responsibility, he should have the requisite freedom to act according to his own judgment. At any rate, he cannot be held responsible until the Minister has taken his advice, as the responsible officer on the spot.
I now want to point to a case within my own knowledge. I had a complaint the other day, but I did not trouble honorable members with it. A man in my electorate rang me up to say that one of these young doctors at the camp had sent his brother-in-law, who resides with him, home for a day or two on account of a bad cold. When the man got home, however, the local doctor found that he was suffering from measles seven days old. The camp doctor had not diagnosed the illness, and had sent the man home for a day or two on account of a bad cold. The man, of course, was very indignant that his brother-in-law should have been allowed to roam about the camp, taking all the risks which come in cold weather to people suffering from measles, if not properly treated.
– And spreading the disease.
– It has been admitted time and again that, during this cold weather, the men on the sick list should not be lined up for medical inspection, but it is still being done. They are rounded up in batches of twenty and thirty in the morning for medical inspection. If the Minister were sick, I should guarantee he would want the doctor to come to him, and not be required to go to the doctor. .
– Hear, hear.
– The Minister, I am sure, would not like to be rounded up and taken some distance to see a doctor.
– If that is still going on, it will be stopped.
– It is still going on, in spite of what the Minister has said, and it is time that this matter was rectified. The honorable the Minister makes assertions so freely from time to time that I can only conclude he has no knowledge of the facts.
– It is a duplication of Broadmeadows.
– The Minister has a habit of saying point blank that such and such things are not as reported; but I venture to say that all honorable members will acquit the honorable member for Nepean of party bias. I do not think that he ever laid himself open to such a charge, and we have been informed this afternoon that he has, been to the Liverpool Camp, and has investigated these matters for himself. The honorable member for Nepean is_ a man of the world. He has made his own way in his own business, and is able to pass judgment on these matters as well as any of the honorable members on the other side of the House who have been hurling interjections at him. He has been to the camp to see things for himself. Is it not unfair that honorable members who have never seen the camp should gibe and jeer at him when he gives first-hand information?
– You say you have never seen the camp?
– No. It was in my electorate, and I know the ground very well.
– What did you say in the beginning of your speech?
– I said that I had not been there on this occasion. The honorable member seems to be so obsessed with party bias that he cannot hear anything said on this side of the House. Meantime I should like to mention another case, while we are on these details. Last evening, as we came out of the hall from a very crowded and enthusiastic meeting at Wangaratta-
– A purely non-party meeting?
– Why did the farmers turn you down as they did ?
– I have never had a more excellent reception in my life from the farmers. The only people the farmers turned down, I think, were the Prime Minister and his party.
– What has that to do with the Liverpool Camp?
– Nothing at all; but honorable members opposite cannot keep these things out of a debate even of this nature.
– Who introduced them ?
– I did not. I was merely about to point out that last evening, as we came out of the hall at Wangaratta, one of the farmers bailed me up and told me that a relative of his, who had been sent away as one of the reinforcements to the Dardanelles, had never fired a shot out of a rifle during the whole of his training here.
– That is the whole trouble.
– That is not the only instance, either.
– I did not ask him-
– Rifle practice is the one thing that gives a man a fighting chance for his life at the Dardanelles.
– What has this to do with the Liverpool Camp?
– It confirms what the honorable member for Nepean says is taking place at Liverpool. Men are being sent away without sufficient rifle training.
– But have you not urged time and again that men should be sent away without delay?
– I am urging that the men should have rifle training, which is an important matter, in my judgment. The necessity for this training evidently has not been grasped by the Department during the last eleven months, for in front of my house there is a rifle range which, with a little expenditure, could be so improved as to double its capacity. The Department cannot be persuaded to spend n fraction over it, and still the men are not getting rifle shooting.
– Will the honorable member answer me this question: Does he think the British Generals who would have charge of these men would send them to the front without sufficient rifle practice ?
– I am sure they would not if they could help it. I do not think they would even then.
– They would not do it.
– Is that a sufficient reason why Ave should send them away without any rifle training here? What nonsense this is !
– Since they cannot be sent to the front until they are efficient, there is the greater reason for their being trained here.
– That is the very reason which I was going to point out. It is because the General cannot send the men straight to the front that they ought to receive the training here. Let it be remembered that all the while the men will be getting three or four months’ training in Egypt our numbers in the trenches will be depleted. It is really a serious matter, and party considerations ought not to come into play. Here are the facts; the Minister cannot deny them, because they are facts within my own knowledge; they are occurring every day.
– Do you not think that they could be brought under the notice of the Minister without being laid before the House? - ,
– All that I have to say to my honorable friend is that I have brought these things before the Minister many a time. The rang© to which I have referred is the same range the settlement in connexion with which occupied five years. It now requires only a little extra expenditure.
– Order ! Will the right honorable member confine himself to the subject-matter of the motion?
– I am discussing the question of rifle training at the Liverpool Camp, and pointing out that my own place is close to that locality, and that the authorities could easily take troops there and train them in the use of rifles if they would only go to the expense of duplicating the existing targets. That is one instance of reform which I am mentioning. We cannot get the authorities to incur the little expenditure necessary in such matters. Year in and year out we are at the Department, and here is a chance when the authorities have unlimited funds at their disposal. Nobody is questioning them on matters of economy, yet with all this infinite pressure upon us the trouble still exists, though it could be at once obviated by the Department if it would only spend a little money. As regards the matters of administration referred to at Liverpool, I know that there are very serious complaints. The question of the supply of cloth has been referred to. The honorable gentleman made the statement that every place in the Commonwealth which can turn out a roll of cloth is doing so at top speed, but that is not so. Notwithstanding the statement of the Assistant Minister, it is not the case.
– Except one mill.
– In the Commonwealth there are mills which are not supplying cloth to the Department, while there are other mills which are not working full time. In a time like this every ounce of energy ought to be pressed into all the preparations, no matter where they may be made, because the matter is as serious as it can be, both for our troops and for our cause and all that relates to the preservation of our Empire. I ask the Minister himself to look into these matters, particularly .into the health of the troops. I have suggested to him a way of getting at the truth. I suggest to him that, instead of being content to ask a general question of the Commandant, who no doubt answers to the best of his ability, and on whom I make no reflection, the man for him to consult in regard to the medical conditions of the camp is the Chief Medical Officer in charge of the camp and of the State. If the honorable gentleman will do that, I shall await with the greatest possible interest the outcome.
– I promise you that we will ask him for a report.
– The honorable gentleman should do more than ask him for a report; I have no doubt that he has’ already had yards of reports from the medical officer which he has turned down.
– I will ask him for a recommendation, too.
– It is of no use for the honorable gentleman to call for a report if he is not going to act upon it. That is the thing which we want done. The medical officer is the only man who is responsible for these things, and the Minister should not only ask him for a report - and I have not any doubt in my mind that he has his reports.
– The Minister has never denied any expenditure of money.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the negative.
Order for Cement
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Deaths in Camp: Separation Allowance.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
What was the percentage of deaths in connexion with Broadmeadows Camp as compared with the percentage of deaths in connexion with the main camps in New South Wales and the other States, for the period since the beginning of the war?
– The answer is-
Owing to the fact that transfers of men in training from one State to another have been frequently necessary, it is not possible to work out a percentage which would accurately indicate the ratio of deaths to the number of men trained in each of the several camps. Men have done part of their training in one district, and completed it in another. The percentage of deaths, calculated on the number of men enlisted, in each State is as follows: - 1st Military District (Queensland), . 019. 2nd Military District- (New South Wales), 037. 3rd Military District (Victoria), . 040. 4th Military District (South Australia), 071. 5th Military District (Western Austra lia), . 014. 6th Military District (Tasmania), nil.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Enrolment of Soldiers : Costof General Election and Referenda : Voting Facilities for Troops Abroad
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Will he have instructions issued to all Divisional Returning Officers and Electoral Regis trars not to remove the name of any elector who has enlisted for service in the Military or Naval Forces?
– The answer is-
Instructions were issued by the Chief Electoral Officer to the Commonwealth electoral officers, and the Divisional Returning Officers throughout Australia, after the despatch of the first contingent, that every possible effort must be made to guard against the removal from the rolls of the names of electors serving their country abroad.
– They are doing it in some cases.
-I do not think so. State a case.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Mr. Griffin’s Requests
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
If, in view of the papers being printed re Mr. Griffin and the Federal Capital, asked to be laid on the table by the honorable member for Wentworth, the Minister will make such papers complete by having the papers pertaining to Mr. Griffin’s requests for assistance added to the above papers and printed with them ?
– The answer is-
I am quite willing to lay upon the table copies of any correspondence with Mr. Griffin. At that gentleman’s request, copies of papers relating to the services of Mr. Macdonald are being tabled to-day.
Small Arms Factory
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are-
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is it a fact that acting lieutenants only receive privates’ pay, and are compelled to dine in the officers’ mess?
– The reply is “No,” but if information can be given to the Minister of any irregularities, the matter will receive immediate attention.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Will the Minister take steps to prevent persons who are licensed to sell tobacco and cigarettes from charging more to the troops at Liverpool Camp than is charged outside?
– Inquiries are being made into this matter, and a reply will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether he will state the number of volunteers who have been sent from Australia since the fighting started in Gallipoli?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is: -
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
The number of recruits (single and married, separately stated) between the ages of twenty-one and thirty years who have enrolled within the Commonwealth since the war commenced?
– The preparation of such information at the present time will involve the employment of a number of additional clerks, and will take a considerable period to complete, as the records are in daily use in connexion with the compilation of casualty lists. It cannot, be undertaken at the present time.
The following papers were presented: -
Defence Act - Financial and Allowance Regulation Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 90.
Federal Capital - Correspondence re temporary transfer of Mr.- A. J. MacDonald to assist Mr. Griffin.
Naval Defence Act - Financial and Allowance Regulation Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 91.
Preference to Unionists - Sugar Industry - Introduction of Compulsory Military Training - Naval Defence - Ordnance Department, Sydney : Overtime - Gift of Motor Ambulance - Supply of Signalling . Lamps - - Field Bakery - Expeditionary Forces: Pay of Dependants of Guards accompanying Convalescents - Centralization - Defence Adminis- tration - Military Contracts - Bureau of Agriculture Bill - Small, Arms Factory - Revenue and Expenditure, 1914-1915: Financial Statement.
Resolution of Committee of Supply adopted.
– I move -
That, towards making good the supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year 1914-15, a sum not exceeding £3,096 be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
We have already appropriated, by our Supply Acts of the last financial year, practically the whole amount included in the Appropriation Bill for the year, and the small sum mentioned in the motion is the unappropriated balance.
– Had I been present yesterday when the Estimates of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department were under discussion, I should have asked some questions about a matter of some importance to the working of that Department - the application of preference to unionists in its administration. Some time ago, the line repairers and others obtained from Mr. Justice Higgins, as President of the Arbitration Court, an award whose benefits were conferred only on those who were parties to the plaint. As these did not constitute nearly the whole of the employees of the Department, the Public Service Commissioner recommended to the last Government that the terms of the award should be applied generally throughout the Department.
– That the award should be made a common rule.
– So far as the Department was concerned. That was done, but I understand that this Ministry has repealed the act of its predecessors. The award, amongst other things, fixed the terms and conditions of officers as well as of the men in the Department, and, I understand, affected officers of salaries as high as £400 a year. This Government, in reversing the act of their predecessors, have practically decided that from to-day no man in the Department may expect an increase of wages or of salary until he has joined a union. As there are no unions of officers for this section of the Public Service, that means thai a manager or overseer must join the men’s union, whence it will follow that, while the men may be under the control of their overseers during the day, they can at night haul them before the union and place them under control. Are you likely to have discipline under a system of that kind? This is, in my judgment, carrying unionism to aa absurd extreme. Outside the Service, men in many cases refuse to allow bosses to join their unions, objecting to their influence there, but in the Department of the PostmasterGeneral you compel the managers and overseers to join the men’s union, because you refuse to pay them increases unless they do so.
– -Do officers receiving £400 a year obtain increases under the award ?
– The salaries of such officers were fixed by the award.
– And they have got increases 3
– A great many officers are in the union.
– Yes, and the honorable gentleman is forcing the others to join.
– The officers are moving now to form a union of their own.
– I. am not raising the question of unionism per se; I am dealing now only with its application. Ministers are so tying themselves up by this action that they will ultimately be glad to get out of it. How can you expect discipline if the bosses can be hauled before a union to be brought to book by the men under their control ? What does it all mean? It means that honorable members have had to say to the men, “ We, your special representatives, have been unable to give you justice, and have, therefore, set up an outside court to do so.” Their action in that matter was a confession of failure.
– Is the Leader of the Opposition referring only to the increases made by the arbitration award?
– Precisely. No man may get the benefit of the award until he has joined the men’s union. I understand that the Public Service Commissioner, under the new regulation, will have no right to recommend men for increases unless they have joined a union. Thus the administration of the Service is taken out of his hands.
– That is another matter.
– The two things are inseparable. Honorable members opposite say, in effect, through the medium of Mr. Justice Higgins, that the men are going to manage the Department from the bottom. That is the result in the last analysis. My honorable friends are running mad over this matter of unionism when they apply the principles of uinonism in this way. and will ultimately wish that they had not gone to these extremes. Things cannot continue as they are. There cannot be discipline in the Department unless those in control are free from any but reasonable restrictions on their conduct. The overseers and managers must have control of those under them, but proper control’ is impossible if they themselves are to be subjected to discipline imposed by the men. Indeed, that is a contradiction of terms. But, as things are, the men in control are, by the fiat of the Ministry, subjected to the discipline of the men. This is a reversal of the position outside the Service, and I dp not think the results obtained will be good for unionism in the long run, nor beneficial to the public interests. I say that the men employed by the Government should have the best conditions possible. State employees should be treated well ; but to say to the bosses, ‘ ‘ Unless you join the men’s union, and thus subject yourself to the discipline they may impose, you will not get increases of salary,” is absurd.
Mi. Mahony. - Are the bosses told that they must join the men’s union, or are they merely told that they must become unionists ?
– What I have said is the interpretation put by the Public Service Commissioner on the determination of the Ministry. That officer is not entitled to recommend officials for increases until . they have joined these unions.
– What is the right honorable member’s authority for that statement ?
– The Public Service Commissioner is my authority for it. We discussed the whole question when I was Prime Minister.
– What is the meaning of the regulation if it does not mean that?
– Does it say that the officers must join the men’s union ?
– They must join a union, and as they have no union of their own, they must join the men’s union.
– What is to prevent them from forming a union of their own?
– I understand that an association cannot be formed linder the Act unless it has a certain number of members.
– Those officers are forming a union.
– Is not twenty the minimum number requisite for the formation of a union?
– There are more than twenty of these officers ; 100 is the minimum.
– Will the honorable member tell m& that there are 100 of these managers of linemen? Theirs must be a separate and distinct union. The officers cannot form a linemen officers’ union ; they must ally themselves with some other officers in another Department with which they have nothing to do, or they must join the men’s union, and be subject to the men’s discipline at night, while the men are subject to their discipline during the day.
– You ought to know; you have experienced it.
– I never experienced this sort of thing. This is unionism run mad.
– Those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.
– This sort of thing can only lead to future trouble to the unions themselves. I cannot see, and no honorable member can tell me, how this system is going to work satisfactorily, but honorable members are driven on by the logic of this policy, and they must go wherever the logic leads them. The logic is leading them to some very curious developments in these later days.
– I confess that I cannot see your point.
– I thought the honorable member knew as much about the Arbitration Court as I do, if not a great deal more. Does not the honorable member know that no officer can have his salary increased by the Court unless he is a party to the plaint, and he cannot be a party to the plaint unless he is in the union ?
– Unless he is in a union.
– He must be in the men’s union ; there can be no officers’ union.
– In any union he chooses.
– There are not enough officers to form a union of their own in that particular branch of the service. Those men are managers receiving, in some cases, £400 a year, and the Government is saying to them, “ You cannot get any increase; you cannot be recommended for promotion; you can get nothing, unless you first join the union.”
– He must be a member of the claimant union in order to get the benefit of the award.
– He must be a party to the plaint, and therefore in the claimant’s union. °
– That provision does not limit the discretion of the Public Service Commissioner. _ Mr. JOSEPH COOK.- The Public Service Commissioner says that it does.
– We must realize that the Public Service Commissioner is somewhat antagonistic to the Arbitration Court.
– Then the position is that the Government are directing the Public Service Commissioner how he should administer the Act.
– We realize that he is fighting us on this question.
– The Government are doing with the Public Service Commissioner precisely what they are doing with the officials, and, in my judgment, they are running the principle of unionism to ruin.
– The officers will remain on the salaries they were receiving at the time of the award.
– Of course they will, but not a penny increase is. to be given under the award unless the officers first join the union.
– What would the honorable member do if he were administering the Public Service Act and knew that the officers could not join a union?
– I should do as the Public Service Commissioner did; I should recommend that these officers be exempt from the provisions of the award, and should be given the salaries fixed by the Court. But the Government will not allow the Public Service Commissioner to fix the salaries, nor will they allow the Court to fix them unless the officers- join a union. They are not only taking the matter out of the hands of the Commissioner entirely, but they are making it impossible for the officers to get increases unless they join the union.
– Is not the Public Service Commissioner taking a peculiar stand when he knows that the officers cannot join a union ? Why should not he deal with them?
– The Government are preventing the Commissioner from dealing with them. He said, “In order to get over the difficulty, I propose to give the men the increases they are entitled to, just the same as if they were parties to the plaint.” Now the Government say that he must do no such thing. They are reversing the very regulation which was intended to get over the difficulty which the Commissioner pointed out. The Government’s attitude is so utterly foolish and fatuous that I cannot conceive that a great many honorable members know what is actually taking place. In a memorandum to me, when I was Prime Minister, the Public Service Commissioner pointed out what the decision of the Court would lead to, and how it would be destructive of discipline in the Department. To get over the difficulty, he proposed to give the officers justice by making a regulation exempting them from the award of tho Court, and yet paying them the increments to which they are entitled.
– The increments they are entitled to under the award ?
– They want the benefits of the award, but they do not desire to join a union.
– They would probably get higher pay than is given under the award if the Government had not refused to give any increments unless the managers first joined a union.
– Good enough for them !
– That is unionism run stark mad. It means that the manager controls the men in the daytime, and subjects them to the proper discipline necessary for the efficiency of the Department, and the men, in turn, bring him up before the union at night and subject him to discipline. That is a sort of unionism with which I was never associated. In the unionism I knew we wanted the bosses to be outside the union, and not in it.
– Why cannot the officers form a union ?
– Because there must be 100 members before a union can be registered, and there are not 100 of these managers in the Service.
– Whom do you call a manager ?
– I refer to’ managers of linemen’s districts receiving up to £400 a year.
– Surely they do not come under the award?
– They do. Mr. Justice Higgins fixed their salaries at from £325 to £400, and the Government say that the managers cannot get any increases unless they join the men’s union.
– A union of less than 100 members may register under the Act if it comprises two-thirds of the employees in that industry.
– I suppose the officers I am referring to number halfadozen in Victoria. I refer to those men receiving from £325 to £400.
– There are no line foremen getting that salary.
– No, they are really managers, and the Government are compelling those officers to join the men’s union before they can get any increments for themselves. That is absolutely destructive of discipline in the Department; it must minister to inefficiency in the end, it must lead to all sorts of complications, and it cannot be advantageous to the union in the long run. It is unfair to apply this form of coercion to the officers.
.- In view of the statement made in regard to the sugar question, I think the Ministry ought to carefully avoid entering into any understanding with the Queensland Government that might forestall the deliberate judgment of this House as to the contract or arrangement. I do not think that any Government ought to give a contractual undertaking to, or make any binding agreement -with, any person in relation to the Tariff, and I include in that opinion the State Governments, because we cannot regard one State as representing the whole people of Australia, whom it is our duty to protect. There are one or two facts in connexion with the sugar industry which we must not leave out of account. The Royal Commission which reported in 1912 stated that the adjustments made up to that date in connexion with the sugar industry meant an annual subsidy by the Commonwealth of about £1,000,000 a year, and an obligation on the consumer of about £1,500,000 annually. I have been endeavouring to look up some figures, but I find it difficult, without checking, to present them as I should like to do. However, there are a few statistics to which I wish to draw attention. When we began to deal with the sugar question in 1901, the. import duties produced £780,000 per annum. Looking at the Budget figures for this year, I find that in 191? the Commonwealth received only £351,821, and that the estimate for this year - a time of drought and of shrinkage in production as well as in importation - is’ £90,212.
What is apparent is that we have wiped out at least three-quarters of the revenue we were receiving in 1901 from a smaller population, whilst the sugar industry itself, though better in that white labour has been practically substituted for coloured labour, does not show that development which was one of the chief grounds upon which some honorable members advocated the adjustments that were made in 1901. For instance, we had at first an import duty on cane sugar of £6 a ton, and I think there was a rebate of £4 a ton for sugar grown by white labour. There was also, until 1907, an Excise duty of £3 a ton. About 1903, at the instance of Sir George Turner, we changed the rebate into a bounty. We continued to give this bounty until about, twelve months ago, and imposed an Excise duty, keeping an effective rate of £6 a ton on cane sugar, with a comparatively ineffective rate of £10 a ton on beet sugar. The result of that policy is seen in the figures I have given. I am not going to deal with the development of the sugar industry throughout the world during these years, but, taking normal times, there is no doubt that there has been a large increase in the world’s production of sugar, and had the more normal import duties that prevailed before 1901, which, I think, averaged £3 a ton, been maintained, we (should probably have been able to benefit more than we have done by the increased world’s production - I mean that the large consumers in Australia, the purchasers for various industries such as jam making and confectionery, who use something like 60,000. or 70,000 tons a year, must have obtained a large benefit by the competition in the world’s markets which would have been caused by a more moderate import duty. The thing we have to remember is that in 1905, when Dr. Maxwell reported on the sugar industry, and before we came to the arrangement which was to end in 1913 or 1914, there were 28,614 persons directly or indirectly engaged in the sugar industry. Of these 21,970 were in Queensland, and 6,644 in New South Wales. The number in New South Wales has greatly declined, but for many years we had a rather foolish policy as regards bounties. We so framed our bounties that we paid New South Wales a fairly large sum - it ran to over £70,000 in one year, I remember - for growing sugar by white labour, but not for substituting white labour for black labour, because almost all the production in New South Wales before 1901, when we brought in our Federal policy, was grown by white labour. Against the remonstrances of one or two of us, we made this blunder in arranging our policy, thinking that the Constitution would not permit the provision as regards bounties to be framed otherwise, and we actually paid New South Wales a very large sum, although it did not involve the substitution of white labour for black labour, which was the policy we wished to encourage, simply because the labour was white before. I might go on to show how misplaced that policy- was by following up the figures for the last three or four years, showing the numbers engaged in the industry in New South Wales, but I” think the Budget-papers disclose that there has been a considerable diminution. I have not got the Queensland figures for 1912, but I do not think there has been a great variation in the proportion as against earlier years. I think the Budget-papers show that ou 31st December, 1912, there were 24,789 persons directly or indirectly engaged in the production of sugar “n Queensland and New South Wales - that is, practically in all Australia. These figures compare with 28,614 in 1905, so that the prophecies that there would be a large development in the sugar industry which were made in support of the policy of 1905 and 1906, when wo extended the provisions of the Acts of 1903 and 1901, have been falsified by the figures given in the Budget-papers. This is a somewhat serious matter for the people of Australia. Let us remember in connexion with the sugar industry that from the first we have been legislating on the basis of understandings and undertakings. I hope that this Government will not again make the mistake of entering into any undertaking with the Government of Queensland that will forestall the better judgment of this House, because I say deliberately that there is no precedent anywhere for binding a Government with a private party, or even with a State, to continue duties, or to modify duties, or to abolish duties. If we do such a thing at all, we ought to do it, as we did in 1901, by making it part of the schedule of a Tariff Act. We have acted similarly with regard to bounties; we have done so with the import duties ; we have done so in connexion with the Excise Tariff on stripperharvesters. The matter is one of general policy, which should be incorporated in the schedule of an Act of Parliament. I repeat that our legislation has all through been based on understandings. In 1B85, Queensland determined to put an end to the importation of kanakas, and, in 1889, in consequence of the report of a Commission which then sat, ten years’ grace was granted - from 1892 to 1902 - in the matter of the introduction of kanakas. We then had a sort of implied undertaking - some called it a contract - with the producers of Queensland to take up the sugar question under some sense of moral obligation, which led to the policy to which I have made reference. I could go further, and show that it is a great mistake to enter into any understandings of this sort. Let us look at the report of the Royal Commission of 1912. That Royal Commission gave the net revenue of 1910-11 as £157,000. The figures for 1901-2 were £780,000. The Royal Commission spoke of the futility of bounty and Excise systems as a means of promoting a just apportionment of the profits of the industry, in that it virtually abolished all competition by placing the control of prices in the hands of large industrial concerns. It spoke of the failure cf these. systems as a means of securing fair wages. We have, since then, provided by Act of Parliament for better means of accomplishing that end. The report also spoke of the connexion between Tariff and Trusts, citing two American authorities, one the President of the American Sugar Trust, to show that the mother of all Trusts is the Tariff, though the Commission regarded that statement as too sweeping. Nevertheless, the Commission did admit that it must be apparent that an unnecessarily high import duty, unless it is stringently safeguarded, by tending to eliminate internal competition, renders the formation of Trusts more easy, and their despotic control very effective and enduring. It did not for a moment declare that there was a Trust of the class established as a result of the bounties in Australia, as had been suggested before the inquiry of the Commission. I am not, however, going to- enter into that question at all. I am merely giving the evidence of an American authority, cited by that Commission, as to the effect of the policy that had operated in Australia, as well as in America, up to that date. The Commission also suggested that there should be a standard price fixed for both raw and refined sugar. It said that the standard price for Australian refined sugar should be fixed on a basis of not less than £21 10s. per ton, adding that, on account of the Australian cost of production, the price of raw sugar should be fixed on a sliding scale by the Inter-State Commission. I am not going to defend or to criticise that policy. I am only referring to it now because it is the occasion of correspondence between the Premier of Queensland and the Prime Minister of Australia. Luckily, at the time Mr. Fisher was not led into any arrangement with the State which would have had the effect of binding the hands of the Commonwealth as regards what the rate of duty should be. I notice that in one telegram sent between 6th December and 11th December, 1912, the then Premier of Queensland asked, “Will you, by Statute, fix the minimum price at £21 10s. ? If so, it will be necessary for you to secure such power under the Tariff as will preclude foreign sugar being sold in Australia under that price.” To some extent, at least, a State speaks with a continuous desire, if not on a continuous policy. Governments change, but there is generally a fairly well-marked inclination existing from year to year as to what the State’s view is, and I am merely referring to this matter now by way of caution, because I think it is only fair that we should beforehand, to some exteat, indicate the trend of our desires in this matter, which is, at present, in an unsettled condition as between the two Governments. I do not know exactly what direct interest in the sugar question, apart from this matter of purchase, which I am not dealing with, the Government of Queensland have. At the time Dr. Maxwell reported a return was obtained, which stated that the Queensland Government had an indirect, if not direct, relation with the mills established in that State under the Sugar Works Guarantee Act of 1893-5. I notice that an estimate was given of the obligations due to the Government in respect of thirteen mills and one tramway, which amounted to about £584,000. That is a pretty large sum, and I should be only too glad if the Government would give us a statement of the exact financial relations between the Queensland Government and the sugarproducing industries in Queensland at the present time. They are all factors which must influence the Ministry when they are asked to enter into an arrangement with a particular State on the basis of the purchase of all the sugar available. I am only throwing out a few words of caution, but I do say that, considering the enormous sacrifices of revenue that we are making, and the tremendous burden upon the consumer - the big sacrifices that we have made to attain a good end regarding the kanakas - which have by no means given the large benefits that were anticipated, the Ministry should be particularly cautious as regards the terms of any contract or undertaking that they may enter into or make with the Government of Queensland. At the beginning of the war Mr. McKenna made a large purchase of sugar for the United Kingdom.
– What was the effect on the English market?
– The result was that there was a tremendous slump. Nothing that he anticipated actually resulted. That shows how very careful Ministers ought to be. Estimates were submitted of the loss that would be incurred on that purchase amounting to some hundreds of thousands of pounds. I have seen very high figures quoted, but as some are rather contradictory, I do not propose to put them before the House. I howe that what I have said will have some effect upon the Ministry, and help them in the consideration of this matter, which is of vital importance to the consumers of Australia.
.- In a letter to the London Times a few weeks ago, Lord Denman, a former GovernorGeneral, commended the Commonwealth Parliament for having brought into operation a system of compulsory military training for Australia; and, in doing so, gave credit to the present Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence, and the AttorneyGeneral, for having been chiefly responsible for the great piece of legislation by which it was enacted. In a subsequent issue of the Times, however, he rather modified his previous statement, and commended the Liberal Government for having invited Lord Kitchener to come to Australia to inquire into and report upon a system of military defence for the Commonwealth. The question of which party was responsible for the Military and Naval defence system–of Australia was revived a few days ago by the Attorney-General, who, when speaking to the motion for leave to introduce one of the Referenda Bills, said -
I wish to show clearly that this party and the Government are not only keenly alive to our present danger, and their duty to prosecute the war with all its energy, but foresaw this war and took steps to prepare for it, when the voices of honorable gentlemen opposite were dumb - when there was neither enthusiasm nor prudence, not even common sense, displayed by them.
That was a straight-out declaration that the Liberal party, in the early history of this Parliament, had been recreant to its duty in failing to provide for Australia an adequate scheme of defence. I propose this afternoon to place on record the facts as disclosed by authoritative historical documents, with the object of proving that the Liberal party, whom the Attorney-General said failed to make provision for the defence of Australia, were, in reality, actually responsible for giving effect to the present system. 1 shall go back to the genesis of this matter feeling that the time has come when we should have placed on record, by a recital from authoritative sources, the history of the development of the defence movement in Australia in order that credit may be given to whom credit is due. When the Defence Bill of 1901 was before this House on 24th July, Colonel Crouch a member of the Liberal party, who then represented Corio–
– And who is now fighting at the front.
– And who is now fighting at the front, said, in the course of the debate, on the motion for the second reading of the Bill, as reported in Hansard, of 24th July, page 2960 -
I hope that when honorable members are discussing this Bill they will try to remember what arguments have been put forward in other countries in favour of conscription. I see that the Prime Minister, in answering a deputation from the Peace and Humanity Society, ‘said he would not favour “a conscription system but I think there are very strong arguments to be used in connexion with conscription and compulsory drill. … I think that the proposal that has been made that every man should be compelled to make himself perfect in the use of the rifle, as a sort of preliminary to his right to vote, is a very good one. . . . There is one matter that should be provided for in the Bill, and that is that the cadet system should be compulsory. I would make it compulsory for every boy between the ages of thirteen and eighteen to join a cadet corps.
This speech by Colonel Crouch, who is” now commanding a battalion serving at the front, was the first to be made in this House in support of a system of compulsory military training for Australia. The present Attorney-General, in the course of the same debate, said, as reported in Hansard, page 3297 -
It appears to me that the responsibility of citizenship carries with it the right of defending one’s country. It is in return for the privileges we enjoy in a free country that we should do something - do everything in our power - to defend it in the hour of need. . . . It appears to me that the only remedy, the only sure and certain method of defence, is a scheme - if you like to call it so - of a national militia.
After referring to the sytem in force in Switzerland, he went on to say -
What I propose is simply this: that every adult male in this country from the age of eighteen to sixty should undergo a period of training. I propose that from eighteen years of age to twenty-one, every man should put in a period of six weeks’ training, of which three weeks should be continuous, and three weeks’ isolated drill; that from the age of twentyone years to thirty years each man should put in a period of six weeks, of which ten days should be continuous, and the rest isolated drill; that from the age of thirty-one to forty or forty-five, every man should put in a period of six weeks’ training, of which seven days should be continuous, and the rest spread over isolated drill.
It will thus be seen that the present AttorneyGeneral then advocated a system of three years’ compulsory drill commencing with youths eighteen years of age* His remaining proposals were founded chiefly on the system prevailing in Switzerland. I could, if necessary, quote a number of statements made in 1903 by the present Prime Minister and by Mr. Watson, which show very clearly that, at that time, there was not, on the part of the Labour party, any concrete proposal for a system of compulsory military training.
– In those days the Labour party did not believe in the military.
– It was the right honorable member for Swan who introduced in this House the Defence Bill of 1903. When the House went into Committee on that Bill, the present AttorneyGeneral moved, as reported in Hansard, page 3093, the following amendment: -
That all the words after the word “ officers,” line 1, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ duly appointed and all male inhabitants (excepting those who are exempted as hereinafter provided) who have resided in the Commonwealth for six months and arc British subjects, and are between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one years. The male population liable to serve in the national militia forces shall -
Speaking to that amendment, he said, as reported in Hansard, page 3094 -
I propose that they shall present themselves at such places as may be determined upon, not all at once, but in such numbers as may be considered convenient.
Colonel McCay, another member of the Liberal party, who is now serving at the front, interjected, “ Are they to be paid ?” To which the present Attorney-General replied, “Most emphatically no.” Further on Mr. Hughes said -
I merely propose to make compulsory, in reference to the male population between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one years, attendance at certain detached drills, and the undergoing of fourteen days’ continuous training each year, which has been regarded both here and in England as sufficient for the Volunteer Forces.
That was the original proposal made by the present Attorney-General. Colonel Crouch, a member of the Liberal party, was the first to propose in this House a system of compulsory training for cadets, but the first member of this Parliament to put into concrete form a proposal for the compulsory military training of junior and senior cadets was ex-Senator Dobson, another member of the Liberal party. On 5th September, 1907, he introduced in the Senate a Bill which provided that-
All boys and youths over twelve and under nineteen years of age shall join, and continue to be members of a naval or military cadet corps, and shall receive such instruction in naval or military drill as may be prescribed.
That Bill lapsed at the second-reading stage. As we are all aware, Mr. Deakin, in the course of a brilliant speech in this House on 13th December, 1907, outlined the proposal of his Government with regard to defence. As reported in Hansard, page 7528, he said, in the course of that statement -
We propose a system of universal training in order to form a National Guard of Defence in which every young man in the Commonwealth shall be required to serve during his nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first years.
In that celebrated speech Mr. Deakin laid down a comprehensive scheme of defence for Australia, and his proposal for a National Guard of Defence was the first of a comprehensive character to be made. It has since become law, and today leads the whole Empire on the important subject of citizen defence. In July, 1908 - twelve months after the introduction of Senator Dobson’s Bill, and several months after Mr. Deakin had placed before this House the comprehensive defence policy of which his Government approved - the question of defence was considered at a Labour Conference held in Brisbane, when, for the first time, the policy of a “ Citizens Defence Force “ was embodied in the fighting platform of the party; while in its general platform the following plank was inserted : -
Citizen Defence Force, with compulsory military training, and Australian-owned and controlled Navy.
On 29th September, 1908, Sir Thomas Ewing, a member of the Liberal Government of that day, introduced in this House a Bill providing for the compulsory training of cadets between the ages of twelve and eighteen years, and for the compulsory training of all males between eighteen years and twenty-six years of age. That measure, however, lapsed at the second-reading stage. The present Prime Minister came into office on 13th November, 1908, but did little in the matter of defence until 30th March, 1909, or eighteen months after the defence policy of the Deakin Government had been enunciated. On that date Mr. Fisher enunciated the policy of his Government, which made provision only for three years’ compulsory training. In June, 1909, the Fisher Government were defeated, and the Deakin-Cook Government came into office. During the sestion of 1909 the right honorable member for Parramatta, aa Minister of Defence in that Administration, introduced and placed upon the statute-book of the Commonwealth the first measure to provide for compulsory military training of junior and senior cadets. The whole groundwork of the scheme, as we have it to-day, was placed on the statute-book in 1909 by the present Leader of the Opposition, as Minister of Defence. The Government, however, were not satisfied; and it was decided to invite Lord Kitchener, the greatest living soldier in the world, to come to Australia.
– In the world?
– Well . we thought so, and rightly. Lord Kitchener was invited here in the following terms, in a cable sent to him at Simla, in India, by the Prime Minister on the 9th July, 1909 -
The Government of the Commonwealth is now proposing to Parliament large and costly schemes for the defence of Australia by land and sea. In respect to Naval Defence, the consultative conference in London this month, at which we shall be represented, is certain to bo most valuable. It would bc a very great advantage to the Commonwealth were this supplemented on the military side. If, in the course of your projected tour this year, we can bo honoured by a visit of sufficient duration to enable you to inspect our forces and fixed defences, in order to advise this Government upon the best means of developing and perfecting the land defence of the country, we should have much more confidence in completing our schemes.
That meant the completion of the scheme which had already been passed into law.
– Under that scheme nineteen years was the maximum age.
– That is so; but we had the whole scheme in operation as the law of the’ land before Lord Kitchener came. The Bill did not become law until after the invitation had been sent to Lord Kitchener, but it was law before he made his visit -
A visit from you will .be particularly welcome to Australia on personal grounds, and we trust you will consent to be our guest during your stay.
As a Government, we venture to urge your acceptance, not only in the public interests of the Commonwealth, but also for Imperial reasons, as, for instance, the recent arrangements regarding the General Staff, so as to associate the military forces of all the Dominions with those of the Mother Country.
The following was the cable sent by Lord Kitchener to the Prime Minister -
With reference to your telegram 9th July, after attending foreign manoeuvres, Japan, early in November, it will give me pleasure to accept your kind invitation to visit Australia. I will be glad of this opportunity of meeting again the men who served so well under me in South Africa, and to help the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia with any advice that I- can give.
Then the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth cabled to Lord Kitchener on the same date -
Government of the Commonwealth of Australia extremely gratified your cordial acceptance, which is warmly appreciated throughout Australia. At your convenience, would be glad to learn probable date of and place arrival, probable duration of stay, and of any preparations that can be made in advance to facilitate your inspection.
It is a matter of history now that Lord Kitchener came here, and reported on the whole military system, suggesting improvements and extensions of the scheme that has become law. In his report, dated 12th February, 1910, he says, in paragraph 12 - I desire to place the facts before honorable members with as little comment as possible -
The new Defence Act will give sufficient numbers to defend the country effectively if the force provided under it is efficiently trained, organized, and equipped.
He is speaking there of the law of the land - of the Defence Act that had been passed by both Houses of Parliament, and had received the Royal assent -
It must, however, be distinctly recognised that a national force, maintained at a high standard of efficiency, can only be produced by the work of years, and that such work must be steady and continuous; any divergence from the policy decided on may, and probably will, lead to chaos and useless expenditure of money.
On page 5 of his report, in paragraph 6, he says -
The Defence Bill 1909, which has just been passed by the Commonwealth Parliament, gives effect to the principle that every citizen should be trained to defend his country, and I therefore propose to base the following advice as to the manner in which the force of 80,000 fighting men should be enrolled, organized, and trained on the principle embodied in that Act, which is designed to call into existence a National Citizen Force.
It will be noted that he did not make any alteration in the fundamental principle of the Act, but simply presented a scheme of organization based on those principles which had received his indorsement and approval. I think that the only substantial alteration he did make was an extension of the period of training from twenty to twenty-five years of age. All these facts show that it was a Liberal member who first, in this House, suggested compulsory cadet training.
– The first? Why, the present Attorney-General was the first.
- Colonel Crouch was the first member in this House to propose the system of compulsory cadet training. My time is limited, and if honorable members dispute the facts, they must do so at the proper time. Then Senator Dobson introduced the first Rill in the Senate providing for compulsory training of that kind. Mr. Deakin, in 1907, unfoldedthe Liberal defence policy in this House, and this was embodied in a Bill by Sir Thomas Ewing in 1908, though the first Government to give effect to the policy of that Bill was the Liberal Government of 1909. The policy then adopted was that in operation today, and that which was indorsed by Lord Kitchener without alteration, except in the way of organization. I think that the facts do not require further comment. I have not time to go into any comparison of the schemes, or even refer to that laid down by the present Prime Minister in March, 1909. That scheme provided for only three years’ training; but, however that may be, I desire now to refer, as rapidly as I may, to one or two documents which have reference to the Naval Unit. It has been claimed by the Labour party that they have to be credited, not only with the scheme of military defence, but also with the scheme of naval defence. The present Prime Minister, in his Gympie speech, on the 29th March, 1909, a few months after the Imperial Naval Conference, detailed the proposals of the Labour party. His scheme, however, was quite different from that proposed at the Imperial Conference. The unit was to consist of twenty-four vessels - four ocean destroyers, with a speed of ten knots, and with twenty-six knots in an emergency; nineteen destroyers of the River class ; and one armed vessel for police duties. That would have been an insufficient defence for Australia. I am afraid that we should have found ourselves very insecure if that had -been recently the only naval defence in the Pacific. In response to the invitation of the Imperial Government, the Liberal
Government sent Colonel. Foxton to England as the representative of the Commonwealth. At that Conference the lines for the Naval Unit of the Commonwealth were laid down - a scheme which would fit in with the Imperial system of defence.
– I notice that the honorable member is not going back to the days when Mr. Watson was here, and first suggested a Navy.
– I have some of Mr. Watson’s proposals or statements amongst my notes, but do not wish to detract from the Labour party’s advocacy of an Australian Navy in the early, years of Federation. All I am endeavouring to show now is that the crystallized .efforts of the Labour party for years and years meant this proposal by the present Prime Min- ister in 1909. I guarantee that the two vessels which were sunk at Falkland Islands would have blown such a unit out of the water in an hour. As against that scheme, we had the one enunciated when our representative was present at the Colonial Conference in 1909. It was decided that the Commonwealth should construct one armoured cruiser, the Australia; three second-class protected cruisers, Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane; six destroyers, Parramatta, Warrego, Tarra, Torrens, Derwent, and Swan; and two submarines. A certain number of these have already been sent out, and one of our second-class cruisers is almost ready for launching, although it should have been launched long ago. The Australia, in my opinion, was really a substitute for the proposal of the Liberal party to present a Dreadnought to- Great Britain - a step which would have been more effective than halfadozen fleets such as those suggested by the present Prime Minister in March, 1909.
I think I have shown very .clearly that the first member within this House who suggested compulsory military training was Colonel Crouch. Subsequent debates on the subject took place here in which members on both sides spoke, the views being of a more or less declaratory character, affirming in some form or another a citizen soldiery responsibility. Resolutions were moved by Senator Dobson on the one side, and afterwards by the present AttorneyGeneral on the other side. These were individual and preliminary views on a subject which was occupying much public attention in the press, and in the thoughts of the people. The first real authoritative responsible pronouncement was the unfolding of a comprehensive compulsory system of cadet and citizen soldiery, also an Australian Naval policy, by Mr. Deakin, in 1907. This was followed by a Bill embodying that policy by Sir Thomas Ewing, then Minister of Defence, in September, 1908. That Bill, however, did not pass the second reading. It was not until after Mr. Deakin- s declaration, in 1907, that the citizen defence scheme found its way into the Labour party’s programme. Soon after Sir Thomas Ewing’s Bill of the 29th September, 1908, the Labour party gave the Deakin Government notice that it withdrew its support, and the Fisher Labour Government came into power in December of the same year, and held office until June, 1909, during which period it did nothing. Then the DeakinCook Government came into power, and Mr. Cook, as Minister of Defence in that Government, carried through the House, and passed into law, amidst the stormiest scenes and fiercest opposition from the Labour party yet experienced in ‘ this House, the great scheme of citizen and compulsory training, which provided for the training of our youths from twelve to twenty years of age. . That system is now in force. The same Minister, in the same session, gave us the proposals for the Australian Naval Unit, of which we are so proud, and which has done such valuable service to Australia and to the Empire; and, not satisfied with these two monumental, colossal pieces of achieved statesmanship, he also advised that Lord Kitchener, the greatest active soldier of the Empire and the world, be invited to Australia. This was agreed to by Cabinet, and an invitation, in the terms already read to the House, was extended to Lord Kitchener by Mr. Deakin. Lord Kitchener accepted the invitation in 1909, and in February, 1910, finished his notable and comprehensive report, which, while indorsing in toto the Australian law of 1909 then, in force, proposed a complete scheme of extended territorial organization to enable general effect to be given to the Cook military law, and advised that the age, as already contemplated, should be increased to twenty-five years. It was in April, 1910, two months after Lord Kitchener reported, that the Deakin-Cook Government were defeated and the Labour party proceeded to extend the existing Defence Act on the lines he had recommended. In the case of the Naval Unit, the representative at the Imperial Conference in 1909 was a Liberal Minister, and the Unit agreed upon, including the Australia, was ordered by Mr. Cook, Hie Minister of Defence. This Unit superseded the obsolete, low-speed, River class destroyers, which were the policy of the’ Labour party, as enunciated by Mr. Fisher at Gympie in 1909. Whatever may have been the nature of the preliminary discussions and suggestions on the question of defence by land or sea, and whatever may be the ultimate achievement of our system, these facts from the history of the Defence schemes of Australia prove irrefragably that, whilst a substantial majority of the House has indorsed the policy laid down in the Deakin-Cook law of 1909, the authors of the two schemes - the military scheme, which is attracting world-wide attention and approval, and the existing Naval scheme, which satisfies Australian aspirations, and forms a substantial addition to the Imperial Naval defence strength - can rightly be claimed to be the Liberal party.
– It is due that we should give to one honorable member of this House the merit of having a considerable and early hand in the formation of our defence system. I refer to the present Attorney-General, the honorable member for West Sydney. Very early in the history of this Parliament, when Sir John Forrest, the then Minister of Defence, introduced the first Defence Bill, the honorable member for West Sydney had some words to say upon the subject which indicated the trend of his mind at that time, and those of us who knew what he had been saying on public platforms in regard to Defence matters knew that he was heartily in favour of an Australian-owned and controlled Navy, and of what is known as our compulsory training system. I quote from the first volume of the Commonwealth Hansard, at page 744, 5th June, 1901, the following: -
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) proposedThat leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide for the defences of the Commonwealth.
-Will the Minister make the order of leave of such an elastic character as to permit of the insertion of an amendment, if the House should think fit, to provide for any system of defence? I do not think it would be a good thing to be tied down to the honorable gentleman’s idea of defence, though I do not know whether that idea be good or bad.
Mr. Barton. ; The order of leave could not bc made wider than it is.
– The House should have an opportunity of discussing the question fairly without being compelled to vote against the Bill, and I want, if the occasion should arise, to insert an amendment providing for a system of defence which I believe to be reasonable.
Mr. Barton. ; I can assure the honorable member the order of leave could not bc made wider than it is.
– I mention the matter because the order of leave would be held to restrict the terms of the Bill.
– I may point out that the title of the Bill must agree with the wording of the resolution.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
That was but a short discussion, but the system which the honorable member for West Sydney had in mind at the time, as indicated by . him on public platforms, was a system of compulsory training and an Australian-owned and controlled Navy. He had given expression to these views sometimes in the face of much opposition, and, at that time, at considerable risk to his political reputation. If I had gone to the same trouble as that taken by the honorable member for Wimmera, I could, no doubt, bring forward convincing proof as to who was the first to take a stand in regard to our present defence system. I am open to correction in regard to the quotation that I shall now read from page 2960 of Hansard of the first session of the Commonwealth Parliament. On the 24th July, 1901, Colonel Crouch, the then member for Corio, was speaking on the second reading of the Defence Bill, introduced by Sir John Forrest: but I shall not make from it the same deduction that was made from it by the honorable member for Wimmera. Colonel Crouch said -
Although we cannot adopt the principle of conscription, because of labour and sentimental difficulties, in regard to able-bodied men, every boy should be in a position, on reaching the age of eighteen, to join some militia or volunteer corps, and take a part, if necessary, in the defence of his country. This cadet system is one of the cheapest forms of military training that has yet been designed. At the present time the metropolitan corps of senior cadets, consisting of SOO youths, costs only ?400 a year; and when we remember the extravagance that military organization usually involves, I think that that is a very creditable result. The cadet movement should be very largely extended and encouraged, and I would suggest to the Minister that the system should be made compulsory to the extent I have indicated.
The words “ to the extent I have indicated “ qualify Colonel Crouch’s claim that the system should be made compulsory.
– I merely quoted Colonel Crouch in order to show that he was the first man who gave expression to the principle of compulsory training.
– At that time Colonel Crouch did not have in mind the compulsory training we now have, and I say so with considerable knowledge of that gentleman.
On the 31st July, 1901, the honorable member for West Sydney, speaking to the same Bill, and dealing with naval matters, said -
Now, since our chief danger to Australia must take the form of a bombardment, we have a right to demand that the first feature of our defence scheme should bc to provide complete and satisfactory means for protecting us from that possible and even probable contingency. I want honorable members to realize that this question of a bombardment, or of an attack from a marauding expedition, or whatever you may please to term it, is by no means a chimerical idea, but it is the one thing which has made Federation possible in these States.
As a matter of fact, does any man believe that Australia - since she has elected to take the part, for good or for ill, of standing by the Motherland - will over be permitted to stand out as though she were an indifferent factor, entirely unconnected with the great British Empire? . I do not think so. For good or for evil, she has allied herself to the fortunes of Great Britain, and she must share alike in her glories and in her defeats. Whenever the time to which I refer comes, whether it be soon or late, we shall have to rely upon ourselves.
There he indicates, in respect of the Navy, that we would have to rely upon ourselves.
From the public journals of Victoria and New South Wales I could . quote speeches delivered by the honorable member for West Sydney, in which he laid before the public, and sometimes before meetings almost exclusively Labour, his ideas in respect to the defence of Australia - 1
Well, “ a volunteer,” the maxim goes, “ is worth a dozen pressed men.” Yet the volunteer is very like snow in the summer. He melts away when the glamour and the novelty of the thing has worn off, when he realizes that after all there is in military tactics and preparation a good deal of hard work to be done. The volunteer, unless he be an enthusiast, such its these shores do not contain a large proportion of, melts away in such circumstances. Take the case of the nien who volunteered for service in South Africa. They were largely composed of men who never belonged to any volunteer force at all. If any man can sit easily down under the volunteer forces of this country, and believe that, with all their virtues and enthusiasm, they constitute a sufficient force to repel an invasion from a European or Asiatic source, he is easily content.
Honorable members would do well to read that speech.
– The honorable member himself will not read it all. He is merely selecting portions of it. Let him tell us what was the scheme of the honorable member for “West Sydney. It is set out in that very speech.
– I have not the time at my disposal.
– Let the honorable member tell us what was the scheme of the honorable member for West Sydney.
– I can assure the Leader of the Opposition that I have not made a particular selection from that speech with a view to suiting my own argument. I have not gone right through the speech. I will leave that task to the honorable member. I will be very glad if he can quote anything from the speech in question which will refute my argument. I say that one of the cardinal principles laid down by the honorable member for West Sydney in that utterance was the establishment of an Australian Navy.
– I am not talking about the Navy, but about the Army.
– I can hardly conceive of a logical man like the AttorneyGeneral adducing mutually destructive arguments in the course of the same speech.
– Tell us what he said in his speech in March, 1909 - after nine years of thought.
– The honorable member for Wimmera, and most other honorable members on the Opposition side of the Chamber, got the verdict of the people on their defence policy when the elections took place in 1910. The Fusion policy was irrevocably turned down. Honorable members opposite, who belong to the procrastinating party, would never have been in a position to meet the present crisis but for the three years’ tenure of a Labour Government from 1910 to 1913.
– The morality of everything is to be decided by a vote?
– The honorable member is a good judge of political morality.
– The honorable member should let morality alone.
– So also should the honorable member. He himself introduced it.
– I decline to submit everything to the test of a vote. That is all. That is the difference between the honorable member and myself.
– I have no desire to introduce into this debate anything of a personal character.
– Vox populi, vox Dei.
– If the honorable member will go out and pronounce that dictum in connexion with the referenda proposals I shall be very glad.
– It is the honorable member’s standard, and I do not agree with it.
– Will the honorable member refrain from interjecting?
– The Leader of the Opposition is an adept in the art of sidetracking any speaker, who, like myself, is inexperienced in public life. In a very brief way I have attempted to put the real facts connected with our defence policy before honorable members, and to contrast them with the facts presented by the honorable member for Wimmera. I have given him more facts than he can refute between the present time and the end of December next.
– The honorable member has not told us-
– Will the. honorable member for Wimmera cease interjecting?
– I will now leave defence matters, because I desire to say a few words in reference to the Postal Department.
– Surely there is nothing wrong with that Department now. The honorable member’s party is in office. What can be wrong with it?
– I would remind, honorable members that yesterday we passed an exceptionally pleasant day. The Leader of the Opposition was rusticating at Wangaratta, and as a result harmony prevailed. To-day his presence provides the disturbing factor in our deliberations.
I believe that the Postmaster-General is sympathetic with many of the views expressed by honorable members in this Chamber. My own opinion is that we ought to’do more work in our postal workshops, instead of sending out of Australia for many of our requirements. I am informed that there is in progress a “ wetblanketing “ process in connexion with some schemes recently evolved for providing the equipment and material necessary in the carrying out of telephonic and postal work. I understand that the Department is waiting until the more commodious workshop at the corner of Spencer and Bourke streets. Melbourne, is in a position to turn out the articles that we need. In. this connexion I have received numerous complaints, not merely from workmen, but from contractors. The latter complain that some of the articles which we require are being imported from other countries. For instance, there are telephone boxes the manufacture of which is very simple. I am sure that the PostmasterGeneral will admit that Australia can turn out woodwork equal to that turned out in any part of the world.
– It is all made in Australia.
– The PostmasterGeneral will find that, while some officers are very desirous of manufacturing our own materials, others wish to throw cold water upon any such scheme.
– That is merely .supposition on the part of the honorable member.
– I wish to see all the activities of this Department confined to our own workshops. When that is done, we shall be able to manufacture articles for our own requirements cheaper than contractors can supply them.
– But we shall employ fewer men..
– No. When once we have provided the machinery and plant, we shall be able to do work cheaper than contractors can do it. This has been well illustrated at the Newport Workshops, which are turning out a particular class of engine for £1,000 less than it can be manufactured by the Baldwin works in America.
– The honorable member is an apostle of cheapness.
– No. . I am commending the good qualities of our Australian workmen. I say that their superiors cannot be found in any part of the world. I would counsel the Postmaster-General not to defer action in this connexion until the completion of the new building at the corner of Bourke and Spencer streets. The requisite plant might easily be transferred to that building when it is completed. I believe that private contractors are doing well out of the Postal and other Departments, just as they are doing well out of other Departments. The sooner we eliminate them from the manufacture of our requirements, the sooner we shall be in a position to pay our employees better wages, and to give them better conditions generally.
I presume that this year’s Estimates will make provision for giving effect to the award of the Arbitration Court in the case of the letter sorters. That award will come into operation on the 1st August.
In the Postal Department I find that there are 17,322 permanent employees and 12,969 non-official or temporary employees, making a total of approximately 30,000. It will be seen, therefore, that the Postmaster-General is a very large employer of labour. Amongst that large body of employees there must be some who are in a position to give the Department the benefit of new ideas, and I hope that the honorable gentleman will lend a willing ear to any representations of this character. There must be men in the Department who are capable of making valuable suggestions.
– Quite a number of them have already made suggestions, and have been rewarded for so doing.
– That is as it should be. The leading firms of the world recognise the worth of employees who aid them by making valuable suggestions. I would like to see the same plan operative in connexion with most of our Departments. As an old public servant, I know that it sometimes happens that when a junior places a brilliant idea before his superior officer, it is either turned down or some months later is suddenly evolved in quite another quarter, and the superior officer very often obtains credit for the invention or improvement. I hope that the Postmaster-General will confer with the Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Defence, in connexion with the matter to which I have referred, and that, as a result, we shall have workshops established in which it will be possible for us to manufacture much of the material we require more cheaply than we are now getting it from contractors.
.- I have never been much of a party man during my political career, and, at the present time, I cannot help congratulating myself that, throughout the British Empire, party considerations are receding very much into the back-ground. I have noticed with much satisfaction that my ideal of a Ministry has recently been carried into effect in London, namely, a Ministry of all the talents in the Parliament, irrespective of the political party to which they belong. I welcome that innovation as an indication of what can be done under the stress of urgent necessity, and a step which will probably lead in the near future to what I regard as a very great reform in parliamentary government. I regret that members of the present Government, and those who are behind them, cry out to the Opposition to cease party warfare, especially when we happen to be offering some useful and necessary criticism, and yet, when they get outside this chamber, they are ready to claim for their party, and in relation to the war, a credit to which they have no right whatever, unless they are prepared to give equal credit to their political opponents. I refer to the claim made time and again that it is to the Labour party, and to that party alone, that our present defence system should be credited.
– Hear, hear !
– I say that that statement is absolutely without foundation, and I speak as one who knows, perhaps, more about this matter than does any other member of the Committee.
– In what way?
– In this way, that I have a fairly good knowledge of the position of both parties in this connexion. I wish to indorse what has been said here this afternoon with regard to the magnificent work done by the honorable member for West Sydney, the present AttorneyGeneral. There is no doubt whatever that the honorable gentleman has done great work in educating the members of his parliamentary party, and also the supporters of that party outside. There has been, and still is, a section of the Labour party very strongly antagonistic to any kind of war preparation whatever. The honorable member for Maranoa will agree with me when I say that, at one time, the members of the Labour party holding the views which the honorable member for West Sydney has so ably and forcibly expressed inside and outside of this House, were not particularly numerous.
– Hear, hear!
– They had a very hard row to hoe for years, but in view of the developments taking place in the world the conviction gradually grew in the Labour party that Australia should do something definite, and do it soon, in order to prepare for the evil day that was coming on the Empire. There was an essential difference between the attitude taken ug by the Labour party as a whole, or at least by a large majority of its members, and that taken up by the members of the opposite political party. The ideal of a majority of the Labour party was preparation solely for local defence in connexion with both our Naval and Military Forces. Our Naval Force, according to their idea, was to be a purely local fighting unit.
– They would not permit our vessels to leave Australian waters.
– That was undoubtedly their position. There were members of the Labour party who did not take that view, but they were in a hopeless minority. The attitude of the party, as a whole, was that we had really nothing to do with the affairs of the Empire, and were concerned only with our local defences. Again the present Attorney-General came to the rescue with his magnificent enthusiasm, and made the supporters of Labour outside Parliament realize that we are vitally associated with the interests of the Empire in all respects, for good or for evil; that the cause of the Motherland is our cause, and that we have to stand or fall with the people of the Old Country. Again I deprecate the claim that the Labour party should be credited with the defence system of Australia.
– What matter who originated it, so long as we have it?
– I agree with the honorable member. It is most deplorable that these claims should be made. It is not more than three weeks since I read in the newspapers that a member of another place, on a public platform, declared that we should have had no naval or military system in Australia if it had not been for the Labour party.
– AH of us know that that is bosh.
– We do know that it is bosh, but the trouble is that if a statement of that kind is repeated loudly enough and often enough, the bulk of the people come to believe it. That preposterous claim has actually been recognised in the Old Country. Again, I say that these questions should be altogether above party considerations. I feel sure that where the welfare of Australia or of the Empire as a whole is concerned, there are sufficient men in both political parties to take the true, broad, national, and patriotic view that will insure the establishment of a condition of affairs which will make for the security of Australia and of the Empire at the same time. I was interrupted earlier in the day when making a reference to the necessity for vigorous action by the Defence Department. I want to repeat my statement that the present Minister of Defence is a very estimable man in all respects, but that he does lack the initiative we have a right to look for from the head of his Department at the present time. This has been proved in no way more conclusively than by his action in regard to the Small Arms Factory. Our whole difficulty in connexion with the Expeditionary Forces begins and ends there. It is because of the insufficient output of the Small Arms Factory that we have not been able to take all the recruits that have offered. It is because of it that we have not been able to arm our men in sufficient time. We are now told, after several months have elapsed, that steps are to.be taken to institute a double shift at the Factory. We had two reports from Parliamentary Com.mittees, but, not content with them, the Minister of Defence called for a third report, and he has since received that report. In my opinion, that third report should not have been called for at all. It was practically an insult to Parliament that the Minister should have waited for that third report in view of the opinions expressed by both the Parliamentary Committees that investigated this matter. They said in no hesitating words that the introduction of a second shift at the Factory was both desirable and practicable. I say that if a Liberal Minister had permitted matters to slide for so long as Sena tor Pearce has done, the Liberals in this country would not for a long time have heard the last of it. We should have had the neglect and delay discussed morning, noon, and night, as not so long ago a mistake made by a Liberal Minister was dinned into our ears in .similar fashion. I have already said in this Chamber today, and now repeat the statement, that Senator Pearce is almost the last man of the party opposite who should occupy the position of Minister of Defence at the present time. I can imagine the honorable member for Maranoa in the chair of the Minister of Defence, asking why a second shift was not going at the Small Arms Factory, and being told that it was not practicable at the present time. Would the honorable member have given the same instructions as Senator Pearce gave, “If it is not practicable at present, do it as soon as you can?” I can imagine the honorable member for Maranoa saying, “ I will give you a month, and if it is not going then you will have to get out.” That is what Senator Pearce should have said at least six months ago. If a Liberal Minister had made the mistake that has been made with regard to the cruiser Brisbane, I wonder whether we would have heard so little about it as we have heard. Just imagine a ship of that kind being constructed high and dry at a place where no preparation was made to launch her. Imagine, too, the time that has been lost in the building of the vessel, the unnecessary additional expense that has been incurred, and, above all, the deplorable fact that if she had been built as the Liberal Government proposed, she would be afloat and fighting the battles of Australia and the Empire to-day.
– And enough money saved to build another boat.
– And this sacrosanct and omniscient Minister, whom no one should criticise at all, has allowed the matter to drift on in the way it has been doing up to the present time. Let me remind honorable members of what happened under the Labour regime in the Defence Department with regard to the rifle clubs. Honorable members opposite know, as we all do, that the present Minister of Defence permitted the rifle clubs to be almost starved out of existence, deliberately and intentionally, by the per- manent officers responsible for the management of defence affairs. They did not want to be bothered with rifle clubs. They wanted all the frills and furbelows for military style and swagger, and, as the rifle clubs did not fit in with that sort of thing, they had to go to the wall. The present Minister of Defence has got off very lightly in connexion with this matter.
– We are spending thousands of pounds on rifle butts now.
– The Minister of Defence now realizes the mistake he made in allowing his officers to influence him in that direction. My complaint is that Senator Pearce has left himself almost unreservedly in the hands of his subordinate officers. Unfortunately, he had to do it, because, until he took the position of Minister of Defence, he was a man who by natural bent and inclination kept as far away from military matters, soldiers, rifles, and bayonets, as he could possibly get. That was his disposition, and he found himself in charge of a Department to which he had previously given very little attention. He had to leave himself in the hands of his permanent officers, who, of course, exercised the influence they had under those conditions, as they thought, for the benefit nf the country, but sometimes to their own advantage as well. Consequently, the present Minister of Defence has had his reputation created for him by those same gentlemen who will, one and all, tell you that he is the best Minister they ever had. If you ask them why, they will tell you, “ He has done just as we wanted him to do, including the multiplication of well-paid positions and the increase of salaries where any kind of excuse was offered for it.,”
– They used to say, “ We will get no money till Pearce comes back.”
– One great regret that I have always had in regard to our Defence Forces concerns the manufacture of our own rifles. At the time it was first mooted I did my level best to get the Defence people to consider the question of adopting the Ross rifle. It is a notorious fact that the rifle we are manufacturing to-day, in common with the rifle manufactured by the British Government, is the worst-shooting military rifle in Europe. I can bring competent authorities to prove that the rifle that we and the British Army are using is absolutely the worst-shooting rifle in Europe.
– On whose authority?
– They are killing a few Germans with them.
– There is no doubt they are doing very well with them, but if they had had better rifles we should have had even better shooting results. I would remind the honorable member for Maranoa that in international matches in which Canadian teams have competed the Bisley authorities have found it necessary to handicap the Ross rifles. It is a better rifle in all respects than ours, and I feel sure that, instead of the trouble we have bad in equipping the Small Arms Factory and getting it to work, with its excessive initial cost, if we had made a business-like arrangement with the Ross Company of Canada we could have had the best military rifle in the world, as the Ross rifle undoubtedly is, at half the cost of the present one, so far at any rate as regards equipping and getting the Factory to work.
– Has there not been some trouble about the Ross rifle quite recently ?
– No. A contract has been given only recently by the Imperial authorities to the Ross Rifle Company of Canada for 170,000 rifles. It may be that some of these have not been quite up to the mark on account of the haste with which they have been turned out. But I have gone into the matter very thoroughly, and I know that the Ross rifle, up to quite lately, was recognised as the best military rifle in existence.
– They have recently had to recall soine of them, in order to refix some of -the sights.
– I do not think there is anything of consequence in that matter, any more than there has been in regard to our own rifle. There is not the slightest doubt that the Australian rifle, within the limitations -of the pattern, is as well made as possible, and any minor defect is of no material consequence. But my trouble in regard to the Defence Department is that it persists in proceeding on the old-fashioned jog-trot lines. Sir Ian Hamilton, in his valuable report, pointed out time and again that the organization of the Department would probably go to pieces in a few weeks if it were actually face to face with war, and I believe it has done so. He also said that it badly needed a business head to deal with business matters in a business-like way, and we have not got that yet either. There is no doubt that at a time like the present a little more energy and common sense than we have seen up to the present needs to be shown by some individual in a responsible position in the Department; and we cannot but hold the political head of the Department responsible. That. is what constitutional government means. I do not regard the present Minister of Defence as by any means sacrosanct, and if I do not see more activity and common sense at work in the Department than has so far been in evidence, the Minister will hear from me not infrequently in the future.
– Do you mean Archibald’s brand of common sense?
– I have not had much occasion to complain of the Minister of Home Affairs, who, I have no doubt, welcomes criticism - unlike the present occupant of the chair in the Defence Department, who is very impatient under criticism of any kind. No one should resent criticism offered, as it is offered, in my case, in all good faith, and with no per- sonal meaning or application, and I hope that, following those lines, we shall long be able to stir up any inactive Minister or Government, whichever side they may represent.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 745 p.m.
.- I would not have had anything to say on this Bill but for the remarks made by the honorable member for Wimmera.
– Are you going to quote the cruiser Brisbane?
– I would shoot some of them over the cruiser Brisbane if I had my way. The honorable member for Wimmera went to a good deal of trouble bo let the Committee and the country know who originated the defence system, both naval and military, in Australia. It appeared to me that he searched Hansard ever since the inception of Federation to find out who did anything in connexion with our defence scheme. He quoted just -as much as suited his book, and I suppose he thought he was going to sneak it into Hansard without any reply whatever. But, having been a member of this House from the beginning of Federation, and having taken a very lively interest in defence matters myself, I know a little about the subject; and it is only right that I should give the Committee the benefit of the knowledge I possess. I am pleased to know that I had something to do in the framing of the first Defence Bill in this House; but I want to say that, at that particular time, the man who was most consistent and persistent over the whole business of soldiering and compulsory drill for the juniors of Australia was the Honorable William Morris Hughes, member for West Sydney, and our present Attorney-General. At that time, too, it was a most unpopular thing for a Labour member to advocate soldiering ; and I might tell the honorable member for Wimmera that, after the experience we had in the 1891 strike, with what we called the “scab” protectors, or the Military Forces of Queensland, I came into this House with the fixed determination to singe the wings and cut the spurs of the “gold-spurred roosters’-‘ as the honorable member for Darwin would call them. But, after I listened to the several debates, I came to the conclusion that the time had arrived when something should be done to protect this young nation from the peril which we then thought confronted it- I refer to the Japanese. That was the consideration which induced me, and several other members of the Labour party, to advocate compulsory training, and I was very pleased indeed to hear the honorable member for Perth give a small meed of praise to the AttorneyGeneral for his consistency at that time in regard to the compulsory training system. But, after all, what does it matter to us to-day who was the father of, or who was the sponsor for, our system of continuous military training and the establishment of. the Naval Unit? What does it matter to Australia, so long as we have it? I give the Opposition credit for being just as anxious as we were to introduce compulsory training, only I want to make it clear that if the Labour party had not been in favour of it, we would not have had it in Australia to-day. I take that much credit for our party. Had we opposed it as a party, the system, would not have been in force to-day, and the honorable member for Wimmera would have had some other tale to chronicle. Let us get down to. the facts. We know very well that the then honorable member for Richmond, Sir Thomas Ewing. introduced compulsory training in this House; and we all know the fate of that Bill. Sir Thomas Ewing, who was then Minister of
Defence, waa enthusiastically in favour of the system. I am not saying this in a carping spirit, but I think that was about the only time in my life that I saw Sir Thomas Ewing serious about anything.
– He was pretty serious one day in, his criticism of the Opposition.
– Yes; that was the time when he was taking the seven skins off the present Leader of the Opposition. Sir Thomas Ewing was Minister of Defence in the Deakin Ministry - I mean the old Liberal Ministry, not the Fusion mob - and he moved the second reading of the Defence Bill on the 29th September, 1908. On that occasion, he said -
The main principle remained the same as in the scheme outlined by the Prime Minister in December, 1907, in almost every detail. . . . It provided for compulsory military training.
Now, the honorable member for Wimmera this afternoon sought to lead honorable members of this House and the country to believe that the Liberals, as he called them, were then whole-heartedly in favour of compulsory training; but Mr., now Sir George, Reid, then member for East Sydney, as Leader of the Opposition, said -
But all I want to say is that within the next ten years no such training, beyond the training of our Militia, and Volunteer Forces, is necessary. I am speaking of the land forces. I look to the training ‘of the British Navy as good enough for us for many years ahead. . . Our present forces, developed, expanded, and properly equipped, are good enough for the next ten years; believing that, I am not going to drag all the young men who may be eighteen years next year in Australia out of the industries into camps. That would be a criminal, cruel wrong to them. . . In my opinion, the only justification for compulsion in the matter of service is a national emergency within n reasonable prospect of time. … Do not let us forget that Great Britain, the Dominion of Canada, South Africa, and every other British Dominion have been able from time immemorial to solve their difficulties in even darker hours than these without resort to this foreign method of compulsory training. … I sum up my attitude upon this subject by. stating that I regard these projects as wild and impracticable, as being not founded on necessity, or even in prudence, but arising either from hysteria, fear, or from a craze for militarism that is foreign to the history and the spirit nf the British race.
That’ was a statement of Sir George- Reid’s views, and well we remember the day he spoke, for we cheered him to the echo.
– Senator Pearce said something very much the same in 1910. What is the use of it all?
– The honorable member can tell the country what Senator Pearce said. I am telling him what his leader said on that occasion.
– But what is the use of it all ?
– The honorable member for Wimmera has been trying to fix things on to this party, and, as I said before, it is not my wish to have any quarrel as to who started the movement. We are in it now, and I believe every honorable member on both sides of the House is eager to do the best he can for Australia, and to do it as quickly as possible. But the honorable member for Wimmera went out of his way to launch a tirade against the Labour party, simply because one or two members of the party talked bosh on the platform. But what does it matter who inaugurated the scheme? All honorable members of this House glory in the results of our compulsory training as ‘ disclosed in the recent operations at the Dardanelles, and in the achievements of the Naval Unit, and surely the time has come when we should cease to use these arguments as to who was responsible for the defence scheme for political purposes. Members should cease trying to get these into Hansard to be used against one another at the earliest possible opportunity. Yet that is what the honorable member for Wimmera has done. His whole object was to use the facts, as he presented them, against us for party purposes, and “ paste “ us over the referenda.
– It might be put in the Warracknabeal paper. That is what it is for.
– Well, sometimes they get a paper like that up my way. At the time of which I speak the present AttorneyGeneral supported the Bill.
– I think both sides of the House were pretty mixed over it.
– Yes. There was a small minority in the Labour party who had the courage to tackle it. But, after all, it was only a question of time, for this, like all other great movements, had to spring from a mustard seed. What I dislike about the whole business is that the honorable member for Wimmera should try to belittle our Attorney-General over this subject, because, if there is one man deserving of credit for consistency in connexion with compulsory training ever since the inception of Federation, it is the present Attorney-General.
– That is the method of non-party warfare adopted by the honorable member for Wimmera.
– Yes; and when the Empire is in danger.
– I find, also, that the honorable member for Flinders opposed the Bill, and moved the following amendment: -
That, in the opinion of this House, the defence of Australia depending upon control of the sca, it would be unwise to commit the country to any scheme of compulsory universal military service until Parliament is in a position to determine the naval policy of the Commonwealth.
I give the Liberals credit for introducing the Bill; but no one knows better than the honorable member for Angas that, in Australian politics, there was no greater “whale” than Mr. Alfred Deakin for presenting memoranda to the House; and that is how far they went. Mr. Deakin would come down every day for a week with memoranda as to what should be done, but with the good old Liberal rally, “ The time is not yet ripe.” The time was ripe in this instance, for when the Labour party came into power they found that something had to be done, and they did it.
– I always thought that Sir Edmund Barton declared, in 1901, that the Government would tackle the local Navy after the Braddon section expired.
– The honorable member for Angas will remember that that was the stalking horse of every Government up to the time of the extinction of the Braddon section, and the Labour party did not escape it any more than the Liberal party.
– When it expired the question was considered seriously.
– Yes; something had to be done, and the honorable member for West Sydney was like a voice crying in the wilderness. Yet he kept at it until he saw the fruition of his ideas.
– He spoke on the subject in England, I remember.
– Yes; the present AttorneyGeneral spoke on the subject at every opportunity, and no one knows better than the honorable member for Angas how unpopular the movement was with, supporters, of the Labour party outside. Most of the Labour party’s supporters outside of Parliament ab horred the sight of a military uniform, just as I did particularly after the action taken in the 1891 strike in Queensland. If there was anything I detested more than a rat on earth at that particular time it was a soldier in uniform. Having experienced what we did in 1891, no one can blame us for having that feeling. Yet, despite that, the honorable member for West Sydney was persistent, and in the Labour ranks - I do not say in the whole of the country - his persistency was’ the means of bringing compulsory training to what it is to-day. Here is what the honorable member for Echuca said at that time -
A scheme which, in the first place, is unnecessary, and in the second is likely to be ineffective and inequitable in its operation.
You, sir, know the sway the honorable member wields in the House, and the attention with which his ideas and opinions are listened to, and that is what that giant of a statesman had to say then about compulsory training. Again, here is what the right honorable member for Swan said -
Why should we, in tin’s offhand and hurried way, be called upon to subscribe to the principle of compulsory service or training as put forward by the Prime Minister?
The right honorable gentleman, I might explain, was sitting in opposition to the then Prime Minister, Mr. Alfred Deakin -
Who has asked for its application to Australia? . . . Let is stand firm and selfreliant, following the well-known paths of experience and knowledge. ‘
Then we find some remarks by the honorable member for Lang, another big Liberal gun -
I do not see any need to go to the extent proposed by this - Bill, and, as I think the amendment expresses the true position, I shall support it. I’ am sure that in time of need Australians will be found ready and willing enough to offer voluntary service in defence of their country.
The Bill was not proceeded with; the Budget was introduced, and the Government was defeated on the 10th November, 1908. That was the end of the first Defence Bill introduced by Sir Thomas Ewing, providing for compulsory training. The next stage was the introduction of a Bill by that famous Coalition known as the Deakin-Cook Fusion, and God knows they were hurrying to destruction. They thought, that they should dp something, and do something quickly, and bo they brought in a Defence Bill, also providing for compulsory training. The honorable member for Parramatta, who was Minister of Defence at the time, said -
We propose also to recruit the fighting line to war strength from the reserves of the young manhood of Australia - that is to say, we propose to train young men compulsorily up to twenty years of age, and from those we hope to get enough to make the Militia the first fighting force, equipped at war strength, ready to meet any emergency that may arise.
The honorable member for Gippsland, who was sitting in opposition, said, “Another Liberal plank given away.” Continuing, the honorable member for Parramatta said -
We begin, then, with the cadets at twelve years of age, training them chiefly by physical exercise. After they attain the age of fourteen years they will enter upon more advanced military training, and from the age of fourteen to eighteen a number amounting in the aggregate to 75,000 will be organized uniformly.
Then he apologized for going beyond that, and said -
We propose to brigade him in the higher formations, and take him into the field and camp ‘and compel him to train for another two years.
Mr. Hall, the present AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales, interjected, “The honorable member alludes to those between eighteen and twenty years of age,” and the honorable member for Parramatta said -
That number includes the cadets, and represents all that we can hope to grapple with for the purposes of compulsory training at the oresent time.
He told us next that the Government had invited Lord Kitchener to come to Australia. The Bill introduced by Sir Thomas Ewing for the Deakin Government provided that f*r the first three years the trainees must put in every year eighteen working days. The honorable member for Parramatta, when he was Minister of Defence, proposed to have only one muster parade per year. Mr. Hutchison, the honorable member for Hindmarsh, moved this amendment -
That the words “ on registration of one muster parade” be left out, with a view to insert “ seven whole days in camp of continuous training.”
The ‘ amendment was lost by thirty-two votes to seventeen, Sir Thomas Ewing and the old Liberals in the Fusion voting against it. The honorable member for
Wimmera has a lot to take credit for, indeed. With regard to the Naval Unit, it is not five years since a battle raged here over the Naval Loan Bill introduced by the right honorable member for Swan, as Treasurer for the Deakin-Cook Fusion party, to raise a loan of ?3,500,000. For what purpose? Not to start an Australian Navy, but to present a Dreadnought to the Old Country. We all know how that memorable division was taken. After a good deal of fighting in the House, we got an amendment made to the effect that the loan was not to be proceeded with until after the elections.
– That was a loan to provide a Fleet, not to present a Dreadnought to the Old Country. The question at issue was whether the Fleet should be provided out of loan money or out of revenue.
– The honorable member is right, and I am right. You, sir, recollect very well what took place when the Fusion, party wanted to present the Old Country with a Dreadnought, and continue the subsidy.
– It was not the DeakinCook Government. They, .never decided on giving a Dreadnought.
– It was just before that.
– It was individual members who talked on the platform about it.
– The honorable member for Swan talked about giving an increased subsidy to the Old Country, and presenting it with a Dreadnought. You, sir, remember as well as I do that we went to the country with that proposal fresh in our minds, and you recollect, too, the fiasco that occurred. You know well what took place in Sydney. There were bands playing in the streets, .with much flag-wagging, and a great dinner was given in the Town Hall. Patriotic speeches were made. Men went round with a subscription list, and said that they would show the Old Country and the Imperial Government what the sentiments of the Labour party in Australia amounted to. They declared that they would present the Old Country with a Dreadnought raised by public subscriptions. They had a great bean-feast that night in the Town Hall, and while the champagne was flowing a pad was taken round the room for the banqueters to put down the amount which they would subscribe.
Some of them put their names down for several thousand pounds; one of them went so far as to put his name down for many thousands of pounds, and when the list was totted up it was found that about £2,500,000 had been promised. On the following morning, when the mayor and his secretary went round the city to collect the money to present it to the Old Country, many of the banqueters were found with a bandage round their heads, or sitting in their office with elbows on the table and chin in their hands: while some of them did not even recollect putting their names on the pad, and when the entries were shown to them, they did not recognise their signatures. You, sir, remember the trouble which was experienced in collecting the money. It was announced in the press in Melbourne by the Fusionists that they were going to show the loyalty of the citizens of Sydney and the loyalty of the people of New South Wales by subscribing the money for a Dreadnought. It is a matter of history now how much money they raised. I think £46,000 was collected from this great wealth-producing centre - the Chicago of Australia. Their loyalty was worth £46,000 !
– What did they do with the money?
– I will tell the honorable member directly. On the night the banqueters had the “ shicker “ in them, and did not know what they were doing with the pad, they subscribed £2,500,000; but when the mayor went to collect the actual cash, after several weeks or months, the great patriots who had done the flag-wagging and set the bands playing, had to part up to the tune of £46,000. They offered that sum to the Old Country to purchase a Dreadnought, and the Imperial Government said, “ No, thanks; we are not that hard up. We do not want your money. You had better do something with it in Australia.” The Fusionists put the money in a bank at fixed deposit, and found that nobody would have anything to do with it. They were like the kid in the advertisement for Pears’ soap. They were not happy till they got it, and when they got it they did not know what they were going to do with it. After all the “ flapdoodle “ and flag-wagging, the Fusionists had £46,000, and they wanted to present the Minister of Defence with the money to furnish the Naval College on condition that it was to be built within so many miles of Sydney. The Minister could not accept the offer conditionally, and the consequence was that the money was handed over unconditionally to the Federal Government to buy furniture with which to furnish the Naval College now being built at Jervis Bay. It is of no use for honorable members on the Opposition side to think that the public have such a short memory that they do not remember these things. I, for one, have never claimed, either on the platform or in this House, that the Labour party did anything more than its just share, and it should only get its just reward. in connexion with the starting of compulsory military training and the establishment of the Naval Unit of Australia. We know very well what the honorable member for Parramatta said, or was reported to have said, in Adelaide about the “River” boats. He wanted to know what rivers there were in Australia for the “ River “ boats to go up.
– That has been explained over and over again.
– There it is in the press. If the honorable member does not believe it-
– I do not dispute that it is there, but I say that it was denied and explained.
– It was not Labour. papers in which the statement was reported. I ask any representative from South Australia whether the Register printed in Adelaide is a. Labour newspaper ?
– No ; it is Conservative.
– Well, that is one newspaper in which I saw the statement.
– That does not alter the fact that it was explained over and over again in the House that it was not a correct statement.
– It has been answered. here often.
– I have never heard the answer.
– Surely you can trot out something new ! The story of the banquet is entirely new; it is a good yarn.
– Of course the honorable gentleman does not like the story because he was one of those at the banquet. That is the trouble with him.
– I was one of the contributors.
– The- honorable member does not like it, because he was one of those who were going to show the Imperial Government that the private citizens of Australia could put the Labour party in their proper place. I can well understand him not wanting to hear about the banquet, These old tales are true. The honorable member for Wimmera has gone back to the days of Noah. Surely, then, there can be no harm in referring to matters of a little more recent date !
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- What impressed me in the remarks of the honorable member for Maranoa was the apparent sincerity with which he deprecated the importation of party feeling into the speech of the honorable member for Wimmera, and the gusto with which he himself made free and unjustifiable use of recent history in an attempt to gain kudos for the Labour party in regard to Australia’s preparations for defence. The speech was an extraordinary mixture of half-facts and whole nonsense ; but I must congratulate the honorable member on his imagination in referring to a banquet which he should have known did not take place, because, had it been held, he would have contrived to be at it.
– The honorable member attended it.
– I have not attended a banquet such as the honorable member referred to. He seems not to think that any on© could do a generous thing unless as the result of a good dinner. As a matter of strict fact, a considerable sum was raised in Sydney, and has been used by the Department of Home Affairs in the construction of the Naval College at Jervis Bay. Although the honorable member threw gibes ‘ at the donors, other honorable members are thankful for their generosity.
– I, and others, voted against the acceptance of the money.
– The honorable member would not have done so had it been offered to himself. The inventive- genius of the honorable member is considerable, but it is playing it low down to cast ridicule upon the generosity of others; and I do not think that the Committee wishes to hear anything more about the matter.
I do not propose to quarrel about how the dreadnought Australia came into be ing; about how our Citizen Forces came to be created ; or about the party, or set of persons, to whom credit is due for what has been done in the past for the defence of this country. Our business now is to do the best we can at the present time, and to put past squabbles behind us. It is not as if we were facing an election, and had to be constantly taking liberties with the truth; we are confronted by a serious national crisis; and, unless we concentrate our attention upon the problem of making our offensive abroad efficient, we shall be false to the trust which the people have reposed in us. I regret the absence of the Assistant Minister of Defence, because there are one or two matters to which I wish to direct his attention; but I have no doubt that he will read the Hansard report of my speech.
I cannot help thinking that there is something wrong with the Central Administration of the Defence Department, though whether the fault is in its organization or in the allocation of duties I am not in a position to say. I strongly sug-. gest that Ministers should look into this matter, and wipe away the corroding dust which is clogging wheels that should revolve silently and expeditiously. I will take a few matters which have come within my own notice. It should not be impossible for the Department to pay witH reasonable expedition; yet the overtime payments of the ordnance storemen in Sydney are about ten months overdue. These men have waited for their money month after month, and a week or so ago they had not been paid overtime since last September ;. and, so far as I know, have not yet received it. My last question to the Minister on the subject drew forth the reply that one must expect delays during a time of considerable stress. But these are delays which should not occur after the initial stress. The Department ought to have expanded, and if it has not yet expanded, ought immediately to expand sufficiently to enable all questions of payment to be settled with expedition, and facility.
Let me give another instance- of departmental demoralization : I hold in my hand papers relating to a matter which was placed in my charge in Sydney last week by the representative of two ladies who had given money to provide a motor ambulance for the First Australian Light
Horse Brigade, and had recently received a cablegram from the officer in charge at the front, saying -
Motor ambulance not arrived. No advice. Urgently needed. Make inquiries.
They made inquiries in Sydney, and found that their draft, which was dated 8th February last, was forwarded by the New South Wales Commandant to the Minister at Melbourne on the 8th or 9th of that month. But, according to a letter which I have received from the Secretary to the Defence Department, it was not until the 30th March - seven weeks after the money had been received in Melbourne - that a cablegram was sent to the High Commissioner in London advising him that this donation, with others, had been received, and asking him to make the necessary arrangements for the purchase of the ambulance, and to inform the Department here what action had been taken in the matter. The letter added that this advice, which it was expected would come by mail, had not yet been received. A donation is given to provide a vehicle which is urgently needed for the use of our wounded soldiers, and yet the money is kept unused in Melbourne for seven weeks. Something must be radically wrong for that to have been possible. I am not bringing forward these matters to give offence to honorable members opposite.
– It looks as if the honorable member was trying to make political capital out of them.
– I am not actuated by the paltry motive suggested by the honorable member ; my concern is to get matters of urgency dealt with speedily. Why should our wounded men have to: suffer needless misery because of the inaction of some one in Melbourne, or for the want of some one here to take action ?
A few days ago another instance of the same sort of slackness was brought under my notice, but in this case there was some excuse for the Department. Some time ago a friend came to see me on behalf of a contractor in Sydney who was the lowest tenderer for a Defence contract for the manufacture in Australia of signalling lamps. Certain parts of the signalling lamps could not be obtained in Australia. I went to the Department, and suggested to the officer in charge of contracts that, in the circumstances, the best thing to do would be to cable at the contractor’s cost to the
High Commissioner to obtain quotations, and arrange for the immediate shipping of the goods, and then the contract could proceed with facility. The officer in charge of that sub-department recognised the suggestion as a sane one, and I thought there would be no further trouble. To my astonishment, however, about a week ago my friend, together with the contractor, who had been obliged to come across from Sydney, interviewed me and asked me to see the Department about the matter. There I found that the cable, which ought to have gone to the High Commissioner the day after my previous visit, because the matter was allegedly one of urgency, had been delayed for some reason for three weeks, and was then sent, not as an urgent cable at the cost of the contractor, but as a week-end letter at the cost of the Department.
– It was an instance of most absurd red-tapism, but in this case there was the excuse, which did not exist in regard to the more serious instance I previously mentioned, that the Defence Department has never had a roughandready method of solving a difficulty of this kind. The Department had never previously had to inquire at the contractor’s cost for some essential of his contract. Apparently, the practice would be to call for tenders afresh, or to start negotiations with one of the unsuccessful tenderers. I had suggested a rough-and-ready method hitherto unknown in the Department of overcoming the difficulty and of bringing the lamps into existence a couple of months earlier than they will now be available.
Stories of the wildest character are in circulation as to happenings in the Department, and I have no wish to foist any of those stories on the Committee, but I shall mention one incident which has been related to me, of the truth of which I know nothing. I heard in Sydney, about ten days ago, that a telegram had some time previously been received from Melbourne asking for twenty-eight bakers for a field bakery. The men were needed urgently, the wire said. The twenty-eight bakers were engaged the next day, and the Sydney office, for the following two or three weeks, was telegraphing to Melbourne without result to ascertain what to do with them !
I have another instance in mind. A number of guards were appointed to ac- company convalescents from Alexandria to Malta, and Base Records at Cairo notified Australia that the men had embarked at Alexandria, and had been struck off the strength. Promptly the pay of the dependants in Australia was also struck off. One lady who interviewed me in Sydney was in the greatest difficulty owing to the pay of her son being denied her, as though he had been dismissed, although she was able to produce letters from her son at Malta which showed that he was still in the Commonwealth service. I went to the pay officer in Sydney, and he produced his file. He said, “ Yes, I have been asking Melbourne for authority to regard this man and others similarly situated as not having been struck off the strength.” The officer desired to pay, but the file showed that he could not get an answer from Melbourne.
– No doubt the Department sent the answer by bullock waggon.
– If there is one portion of the Defence Department that ought to be efficiently conducted, it is the Central Office in Melbourne. If we have a state of centralization, such as does exist to an exceptional degree in the Defence Department, the Central Office, which is the focal point of the centralization, must essentially be supremely efficient, or the whole ‘machinery will be clogged. I believe ‘ that a great number of “ the disappointments in the Department are due to the fact that the Central Administration is utterly clogged. I heard of another instance in relation to Colonel Ryrie’s Light Horse Brigade. Heel pegs were required so that the horses could be lined approximately near the men, but will honorable members believe that it was necessary to requisition Melbourne for those heel pegs? Any one of us would have taken an axe and gone out into the bush and cut the pegs; but it was necessary in this case to requisition Melbourne, and I understand that the pegs were not received until a week or two before the Brigade embarked for the front. That there is some laxity in the administration is obvious, and I am mentioning these matters in the hope that the Ministry will take the matter in hand. If there is too much work for one man, let it be divided amongst others. I do not suggest that honorable members opposite ought to divide up the:.r salaries with any honor able member on this side of the House. There are plenty of private members on the Government side, and if there is too much work on one Minister’s shoulders, let the work be distributed so that it can be. done expeditiously. At the present time the work- is not being done. I do not wish to say more. I shall not touch upon the obvious failure of the Department in connexion with the camps of training; that is knowledge within the brain of every honorable member. I direct attention solely to those branches of the Department which ought to work automatically without a hitch. The authorization of pay and the sending on of accounts are things in themselves of the utmost simplicity, and the failure to properly attend to them is proof of serious demoralization in the Department. I have addressed these remarks to the Assistant Minister of Defence, and, in his absence, I hope the Minister of Home Affairs will do me the favour of asking the Minister to look at my Hansard proof to-morrow.
.- I admit that there might be some improvement in the administration of the Defence Department, but I do not think that it lies in the mouth of the , Opposition to complain, because the chaos and disorder in the Department prior to the Labour party taking office last year were publicly acknowledged by the Liberal press throughout Australia. The position is infinitely better than it was or could have been under a Fusion Government. The newspaper champions of honorable members opposite, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph, the Melbourne Punch, the Age, and the Argus - the Conservative press of Australia, the newspapers that support Conservative politicians, and are known as the anti-Labour press - recognised that disorder, chaos, and maladministration were so rife in the Defence Department under the Fusion regime in 1913 and 1914 that it was impossible to hide the condition of affairs existing. The idea was prevalent that those then in charge of the Defence Department were opposed to compulsory service in Australia, and that they were not sympathetically administering the Naval Branch. To show that these were not mere statements, I will give chapter and verse for them
– That will not help the present position.
– If it will not help the present position, why does not the honorable member stop railing at this Government, and turn his eyes to his own party, in order to discover whether they made improvements when they werein office.
The proposals for compulsory military service and an Australian Navy have been advocated by leading members of the Labour party for many years.
The right honorable member for Parramatta, during the Defence debates in this Parliament in 1903, said - he objected to the proposals for a Citizen
Army compulsorily trained. The old volunteer system was sufficient, and compulsory training contrary to the genius of our race.
Then there was the attitude of the present Leader of the Opposition on the subject of the Australian Navy so recently as 1909. At a meeting held in the Sydney Town Hall in that year, he said -
I nail my flag once and for all to an increased subsidy to Great Britain.
The right honorable member for Swan also said in this House that he hoped an Australian Navy would never come in his time.
-Where do you quote the words I used from ?
– That is the effect of what the honorable member said. If he insists upon it, I will “ dig up “ Hansard, and give him chapter and verse.
– I was certainly opposed to an Australian Navy at that time. I believed in one Navy for the whole Empire.
– When the Deakin party came into office a few weak efforts were made to deal with the subject, and speeches galore were delivered in Parliament, but it was not on the platform of the Deakin party.
– Yes, it was.
– No, it was not. They did not go to the country with it. The position was this : There were twentysix Labour members supporting thirteen Deakinites in office. Mr. Watson and Mr. Hughes, and twenty-four other members of the Labour party sitting in this corner, advocated the establishment of an Australian Navy and a citizen soldiery. It was on our platform, and the Deakin Government took parts of our platform and made some effort to deal with them, because we formed the bulk of their support, and compelled some semblance of action. The honorable member for Parramatta then derided the Deakin party for conceding our demands in return for our support. But really they did nothing. A Bill was passed to come into operation by proclamation, but the proclamation was never issued. When the Labour party came into office they put into operation, sympathetically, the platform they had been fighting for for years. While the leaders of the present Opposition were jeering at these proposals, the Labour party had to educate public opinion up to- them, and, though the then Deakin section under duress made a somewhat lame move, it was the Labour party that organized and set the scheme in motion.
– When was it put on the Labour platform ?
– My honorable friend would be very glad to side-track my argument, but I shall not permit him.
– You said it was for years on your platform.
– My honorable friend is putting words into my mouth. I said it was advocated by leaders of the party in this corner of the House year in and year out for years.
– Bythe party, you said.
– Yes ; it was advocated by the party, and at the Brisbane Labour Conference, in 1908, it was made a portion of the fighting platform.
– In 1909.
– Pardon me; I was present at, and took part in, the Conference in 1908, at Brisbane, and it was then that “ Compulsory Military Training, and Australian-owned and controlled Navy “ was made part of the platform of the Labour party.
– May I ask the honorable member a question ? What is the good, at the present time, of all these studies in ancient history ?
– I make these quotations because members of the party opposite are seeking to make political capital out of the present position. My honorable friend has not been in the House while members of his own party have been seeking to cast ridicule on the Labour party in connexion with their attitude on the subject of defence. The Liberal party came into office in 1913, and had charge of the reins of government for twelve short months. I am going to quote what the Conservative press of Australia had to say about their administration of Defence matters during that time, for it was upon this that the people of Australia turned them out of office, if it was upon anything. The Sydney Morning Herald, which is well known as an anti-Labour paper, on the 12th August, 1914, said this about Senator Pearce’s administration for 1910- 1913-
Senator Pearce, as Minister of Defence, left the Defence Department after the 1913 elections a wonderfully compact and orderly piece of machinery.
What was said about the administration of the Liberal party, which came into power afterwards? The Sydney Morning Herald, on the 15th June, 1914, said -
Naval Administration a public scandal.
– These are the papers which you say help us.
– I say these are facts which helped to put the Labour party back into office.
– They are not facts; they are statements.
– They are statements from witnesses belonging to the honorable member’s own side. The Age newspaper, on the 18th June, 1914, in discussing the Cook-Millen administration of the Navy Office, said -
Prime Minister seeks excuses for Senator Milien’s naval disaster.
Melbourne Punch, which supports my honorable friends opposite, and has always opposed the Labour party, said, on the 18th June, 1914-
Waste and inefficiency characterized Senator Milieu’s administration of naval defence.
The Age, on the 18th June, 1914, said-
Senator Millen sacked Captain Hughes Onslow and Mr. Manisty (Admiralty officers) before their work in Australia was completed. Asked Admiralty to appoint successors. Admiralty refused. British Admiralty resents Senator Millen’s conduct.
The British Admiralty resented Senator Millen’s conduct of the Defence Department and the manner in which he had treated British officers sent out here. It was so incensed that it refused to nominate officers to act in the place of the men whom Senator Millen, presuming to know more about the conduct of these matters than the British Admiralty, had sacked, although they had been sent to Australia far a special purpose.
A special committee was appointed by my honorable friends opposite to make an investigation as to their own administration in regard to the Easter Encampment of 1914, and in its report, which was printed on 6th June, 1914, and is one of the official records of this House, it said -
So far as the 14th Infantry are concerned, this camp was a waste of time and money.
It is well known that the greatest secrecy was necessary to prevent the enemy from obtaining information regarding our wireless stations round the coast of Australia, but the honorable member for Flinders, Sir William Irvine, held a retainer from the Marconi Company, and that company obtained from the High Court an order to inspect the whole of our wireless internal arrangement.
– Does the honorable member think that is a fair statement of the case?
– It is a statement of fact.
– But it is not a fair statement.
– It is. The honorable member knows very well that a motion of censure on the Cook Administration was moved in this House because the Attorney-General, Sir William Irvine, at the time . that the Marconi Company was fighting the Commonwealth, and thousands of pounds were involved in that litigation, refused to give up his retainer from the company, or his position as the legal adviser of the Commonwealth.
– A very complete answer was given to that motion.
– My honorable friend may have regarded it as satisfactory; but the fact remains that the Marconi Company had retained the services of Sir William Irvine, who was then Attorney-General to the Commonwealth, and that it obtained an order from the High Court to inspect our wireless stations; that it sent officers to examine them ; and that they took photographs, and inspected the whole of the secret workings of our wireless stations.
– Did the Marconi Company retain the honorable member for Flinders in that particular case?
– He held a general retainer from the company.
– That is a different statement.
– It was a general retainer that the honorable member for Flinders, then Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, held from the Marconi Company, and under it that company had the first call on his services, although, at the same time, he was the legal adviser of the Commonwealth and in its pay.
– But did he advise the Commonwealth at the time?
– The honorable member knows that the honorable member for Flinders, Sir William Irvine, felt his position so keenly that he made a statement in this House to the effect that he had arranged with his colleague, the honorable member for Angas, Mr. Glynn, to deal with all matters relating to the action. While he was in the pay of the Commonwealth as Attorney-General, he felt in his own conscience that he ought not to act as its legal adviser, and, therefore, handed over to his colleague, the honorable member for Angas, all matters relating to the Marconi Company’s litigation with the Commonwealth. That fact shows that his own conscience convicted him! The Commonwealth was entitled to his services as Attorney-General, but it was deprived of them because he held a general retainer from the Marconi Company.
I come now to a report made by Sir Ian Hamilton, one of the great soldiers of the Empire, who came to Australia to investigate the workings of the Defence Department under the Liberal Administration. What did he have to say in dealing with the twelve months during which the Liberal party were in office ?
– Did he deal only with that period?
Mr.J. H. CATTS.- The Liberal party had been in office for twelve months when he dealt with the Department.
– That is a different statement.
– Sir Ian Hamilton came out here and investigated the administration during the Liberal party’s term of office, and in a report presented to Parliament in June, 1914, this is what he had to say concerning the administration of the Department after the Liberal
Government, which was supposed to comprise the business brains of the community, had been in office for twelve months -
The centralization in the Defence Department exceeds anything I have experienced during more than forty years of service in India, in the United Kingdom, and in every part of the world where troops administered by the British War Office are stationed.
He said, in other words, that the organization of the Defence Department under the administration of my honorable friends opposite was so hide-bound that he had never seen the like of it during his forty years’ experience as a soldier.
I come now to the Department of External Affairs, concerning which the honorable member for Wentworth, who was an Honorary Minister in the Cook Administration, made the statement that it was not performing the very functions for which it was instituted, since it was not in a position to give us information as to what was occurring in the outside world. In the course of a speech which was reported in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 13th July, 1914, he said-
Of real external affairs - of what is happening in the world outside, on the borders of the Pacific; - we have no adequate official channels of information to-day.
That was after the Liberal party had been twelve months in office. The Sydney Daily Telegraph, in a leading article commenting upon this speech by the honorable member for Wentworth, said -
Mr. Kelly is undoubtedly right in regarding our present lack of information as dangerous.
The next quotation I propose to make is from the London Times. Surely it will not be said that the Times has any particularly affectionate regard for the Labour party. In its issue of 6th June, 1914, it wrote -
In their zeal to demonstrate the iniquities of their opponents, they (the Cook Government) have seriously hampered the routine of the national defence in Australia. . . . One by one the unfounded and usually malicious charges were disproved. . . . The Minister of Defence . . . has ever since dangerously hampered the simplest processes of Defence administration by attempting to discover justification for the charges so recklessly made.
The Liberal party had been making all sorts of unfounded charges against the administration of the Defence Department by its predecessors in office. It had said, amongst other things, that at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard there were boilers the condition of which was such as to render it unsafe to work alongside them, and, that the menworking there were endangering their lives. It condemned the Labour Government for taking over Cockatoo Island Dockyard; but the fact remains that that dockyard has been of invaluable assistance to the Commonwealth, not only in building ships, but in repairing our own war vessels, and in assembling war-ships. Several war-ships have been assembled there, and one is now ready for launching. The dock is now working at high pressure to meet the exigencies of the present international situation, so far as is necessary from our Australian point of- view. We know the charges that were made. It was stated that the property taken over, with the machinery therein, was obsolete, and represented a robbery of the Commonwealth taxpayer. As the Times points out, when the Cook Government assumed office, Senator Millen set about, by the most extraordinary means, and at great expenditure of public money, to endeavour to prove, by all sorts of inquiries, that the statements made were true. I have quite a budget of that kind of matter; but my time is limited, and there is another subject to which I desire to refer.
Agricultural Bureau. On the 27th May, in the House, the Leader of the Opposition made some statements in reference to the Agricultural Bureau Bill. Some of my honorable friends on this side, who knew that I had looked up the record in Hansard, asked me to have the facts placed on record, so that they might be accessible whenever necessary. The figures may not sound very interesting, but under the circumstances I ask honorable members to bear with me. The reading of the facts I have tabulated will be very convincing. The Leader of the Opposition on the date mentioned said -
The substantial fact remains, and cannot be rebutted, that every effort to pass an Agricultural Bureau Bill has been strangled by honorable members opposite, and I wish to put this on record because it will be useful in the near future.
The right honorable gentleman further said -
I made a statement at Maryborough which was wrong in one small detail. I said that every effort that had been made to pass the Agricultural Bureau Bill had been defeated by the Labour party. . . . The only particular in which I was incorrect was in the statement that the Bill had not left this Chamber. As a matter of fact, the Bill had left this Chamber on the day before Parliament was prorogued. In those circumstances, I think, I might well have been forgiven for making that small mistake. The honorable members who prevented that Bill from reaching the statute-book were the supporters of the party now in power. I say, moreover, that the honorable members on the Government side of the House have defeated every effort to date to place a similar measure on the statute-book. That statement cannot be controverted.
The Leader of the Opposition very cleverly confuses events, and refers to statements that were made when the Agricultural Bureau Bill was previously before the House. To be fair, he should have confined himself to the effort that he said was made by his party to pass that Bill during the session they were in power. The records show that it was the Liberal party that, in the 1913 session - the last term they were in office - evidently had no sincere desire to promote this Bill; and this I can prove from the records. The Leader of the Opposition, in his policy speech at Parramatta, reported in the Sydney DailyTelegraph of 16th July, 1914, said-
It is with infinite regret, and not a little disgust, that I have to announce that the Bill to establish a ‘Federal Agricultural Bureau is still among the proposals for legislation. It should have been on the statute-book, and would have been there but for the determination to prevent it on the part of the Senate.
In the Senate, of course, the Labour party had a majority. The facts are that the Government made no serious effort to go on with the measure until the day before the House adjourned for Christmas in 1913. There was only about nineteen hours’ debate on all stages of the Bill, and the time was almost equally divided between Liberal and Labour members. Here are the facts as taken from the Hansard records -
July 9, 1913.
Bill presented by Mr. Cook, and read a first time.
No opposition; no debate.
September 5, 1913.
Cook (Lib.), 2.16 to 2.53 p.m., moved second reading.
Tudor (Lab.), 2.53-3.10 p.m.
Debate adjourned on motion of Roberts (Lab.).
When debate called on, Roberts (Lab.) did not exercise his right to speak.
Rodgers (Lib.), 9.32-9.50 p.m.
Rodgers’ (Lib.) moved to adjourn the debate, and obtained leave to speak again.
Rodgers (Lib.), 2.18-2.50 p.m.
Resolution moved to put the question voted against by whole Government.
Dankel (Lab.), 2.55-3.40 p.m.
Debate adjourned on motion of Patten (Lib.).
Patten (Lib.), 11.30-12.8 a.m.
Higgs (Lab.), 12.8-1 p.m., and 2.15-2.25 p.m.
Debate adjourned on motion of Falkiner (Lib.). ‘
Falkiner (Lib.), 7.2-8.16 p.m. (malley (Lab.), 8.10-8.25 p.m.
Groom (Lib.), 8.25-8.40 p.m.
Sharpe (Lab.), 8.40-8.57 p.m.
Arthur (Lab.), 8.57-0.18 p.m.
Pigott (Lib.), 9.18-0.37 p.m.
Spence (Lab.), 9.37-9.55 p.m.
Fleming (Lib.), 9.55-10.3 p.m.
Fenton (Lab.), 10.3-10.14 p.m.
Sampson (Lib.), 10.14-10.20 p.m.
Second Reading Carried without Opposition, in committee.
December 17, 1913.
Dr. Maloney (Lab.), 10.20-10.28 p.m.
Adjourned by Mr. Cook (Lib.).
December 18, 1913.
Sampson (Lib.), 12.18-12.33 p.m.
Tudor (Lab.), 12.33-12.54 p.m.
Best (Lib.), 12.54-1 p.m.
Best (Lib.), 2.30-2.52 p.m.
McDonald (Lab.), 2.52-3.1.5 p.m.
Higgs (Lab.), 3.15-3.39 p.m.
Higgs (Lab.), 3.39-3.54 p.m.
Committee stages passed.
December 18, 1913.
Fleming (Lib.), 3.54-4.7 p.m.
Charlton (Lab.), 4.7-4.14 p.m.
Bennett (Lib.), 4.16-4.20 p.m.
Thirdreading Carried Without Opposition. the senate.
December 18, 1913.
Bill read a first time.
Never Brought on Again.
The above constitute the total of the speeches. The House adjourned on December 18, 1913, for Christmas. The Bureau of Agriculture Bill was not brought forward at all in the 1914 session.
– The time of the honorable member has expired.
– My reason for rising at the present time is to draw the attention of the Government and the Minister of Home Affairs to what I consider to be an improper as well as an illegal regulation that has been framed and issued by the Government, I presume, with the assistance of the Crown Law officers; because it seems to me that it is not in accordance with the law. I refer to the regulation dealing with the appointment of temporary employees in the Public Service. The regulation states that any temporary appointments shall be given to those who are members of a trade union or industrial organization ; that is to say, shall be given to them in the first place. The object and spirit of the Public Service Act is to remove patronage of Ministers, influence of members of Parliament, and influence of all sorts generally from the Public Service, and to intrust all appointments to a Commissioner, who is supposed to be removed entirely from political life, and to be in a position to deal with appointments on merit alone, subject to no influence from Ministers and members of Parliament or any other person. That was the intention of the Legislature when the Public Service Bill was introduced in the first Commonwealth Parliament in 1901. I have taken the trouble to refer to what was said on that occasion; and, as I recognised that the quoting of what was said by persons no longer in the House, or persons not in the present Ministry, would be of little use, I looked up what had been said on the subject by the present Attorney-General when the Bill was under discussion in 1901. A change seems to have come o’er the spirit of his dream since those days.
– Is it not as the result of the last election ?
– Probably it may be so in his case. Under the present policy of the Labour Government, appointments of temporary employees in the Public Service no longer depend upon merit, but upon favoritism and preference. The realization of this has come as a great shock to me. I have had experience of Ministerial life: but I had no idea that under our Public Service Act I had the right to influence the appointment of persons to the Public Service. I knew the object the Legislature had in view, and knew the law as it was passed. The present AttorneyGeneral must have held the same views as I in 1901, as he said, as recorded on page 1628, Ilansard, 1901, when dealing with the Bill which had been introduced, first, that it was “ most eminently undesirable to give the Ministry political power in the Public Service”; and then went on to say exactly what I thought then, and still think, and what I believed everybody thought, though it seems it is not now so -
We all want appointments to be made on the merits of the case, so that there shall be no influence, political, bureaucratic or social, and that the right man may be appointed to the right place.
Shortly afterwards, he further said that “ to set up a political tribunal would be disastrous to the Service.” Those were the views I held; and, as I say, it has come as a great shock to me to learn that this principle, which has been in force for so many years - ever since the establishment of the Commonwealth - has been departed from by the present Government. It is section 40 of the original Public Service Act which provides for temporary employment. This section reads -
Whenever, in the opinion of the Minister of a Department, the prompt despatch of the business of a Department renders temporary assistance necessary, and the Commissioner is unable to provide such assistance from other Departments in the State in ‘which such assistance is required, the permanent head or the chief officer shall select in such manner as may be prescribed-
– Hear, hear ! “As may be prescribed.”
– I shall have something to say about those words directly. The section proceeds - from the persons whose names are on the prescribed register in the State in which such assistance is required, such person or persons who are available as appear to be best qualified for such work.
The governing words of the section are “as appear to be best qualified for such work,” and any regulation based upon the subsidiary words “ as may be prescribed “ cannot interfere with them. There is a clear direction in the Statute that the selection of employees must be from those who “ appear to be best qualified for the work.” Regulations were framed under section 40 of the Public Service Act, and regulation 121, which dealt with this question of temporary employment, repeated almost word for word section 40 of the Act. It is as follows: -
Whenever, in the opinion of the Minister, the business of a Department renders temporary assistance necessary, the permanent head or the chief officer shall select, in order of registration as far as possible, having regard to the nature of the work, from the persons whose names are upon the register in the State in which such assistance is required, such available person or persons as appear to be best qualified for such work.
Almost the very words of the Statute are repeated. That has been the mode of appointing temporary employees in the Public Service until very recently. My excuse for speaking to-night is that I was nob aware, until to-day, of what the Government had actually done in this regard. I knew that a rule had been established giving preference to members of trade unions or industrial organizations, but I was not aware of the way in which it had been done. I am sure honorable members on both sides of the chamber will be astonished to hear that, as a result of my inquiries, I found that regulation 121, founded on the very words of the Statute, namely, “ that the persons selected should be the best qualified for the work,” has been so altered that these words have been omitted from the new regulation that has come into force. Why were these words omitted ? The new regulation reads -
In the selection of temporary assistants, under section 40 of the Act, preference shall be given, other things being equal -
But the words “ other things being equal “ cannot override the terms of the Statute.
– The regulation was drawn up by a sound lawyer.
– I do not care about that. Why were the words “ as appear best qualified for such work” omitted ?
– Because they were superfluous.
– The right honorable gentleman has himself pointed out that they cannot affect the Statute.
– Exactly. I hold that this regulation, which purports to direct that members of trade unions shall have preference irrespective of whether they are the best qualified applicants or not, is legally not worth the paper upon which it is printed. To declare by regulation that, no matter how incompetent a mau may be, he shall have preference for employment in the Commonwealth Service over a better qualified man because he is a member of a trade union, is absolutely contrary both to the letter aud spirit of the Statute. The contention of the Minister of External Affairs that the words “ as appear best qualified for such work “ have been omitted because they are superfluous is a very weak one. Why did the Government cancel the old regulation 1
– Why is the right honorable gentleman always looking for a bad motive ?
– I say that the granting of preference is absolutely wrong.
– What does the right honorable gentleman suggest is the reason for it?
– It is an attempt on the part of the Government to make people believe that they have the power to frame such an illegal regulation.
– The right honorable gentleman implies that we wish to appoint incompetents.
– I say that the regulation is ultra vires of the Statute, which it cannot override. Because a man is a member of a trade union or an industrial organization-
– That is what hurts.
– How does it hurt?
– Of course it hurts honorable members opposite, because trade unionists are coming into their own.
– There is no reason why a trade unionist should not receive a Government appointment. He has as much right to consideration as has anybody else, but he has no more. The Statute does not declare that the man best qualified. for any position shall not be a unionist. If the regulation is valid the Government might frame a regulation affirming that only an adherent of the Church of England, or the Baptist Church, or the Roman Catholic Church, should receive an appointment in the Commonwealth Service. What is the difference?
– There is a lot of difference.
– -To say that because a man is a trade unionist he shall have a preference, and be given favoritism over his fellow man, notwithstanding that he may not be the most qualified applicant for the position, is contrary to the law.
– Does not the right honorable gentleman know that unionists are always the best workmen? : Sir JOHN FORREST. - It is idle to argue with men who have made up their minds to do wrong. The Government have declared by regulation that a man who is a member of a trade union or industrial organization shall have a preference over all others who may be better qualified for such work.
– Other things being equal.
– What are the “otherthings “?
– That he is equally competent.
– Does the Minister mean that if two men - one a unionist and the other a more competent non-unionist - are applicants for employment, the unionist will not get it ? I believe that, as an honorable man, this idea of preference is revolting to the honorable gentleman.
– Then why did the right honorable gentleman’s party go to the country upon the question?
– I submit that the country did not decide that question.
– The country was against the party to which the right honorable gentleman belongs.
– The Minister ought not to say that. Only a very little swing of the pendulum was required for the vote to go the other way. ‘ Why . cannot a member of a trades union or industrial organization stand upon his own merits? Why does he require to be bolstered up by being granted a preference, and shown favoritism ?
– He should be given a preference in recognition of the work thathas been done by his trade organizations.
– I hope that the day will come when men who entertain unjust views of that description will be swept out of public life. I should like to know whether the Public Service Commissioner recommended the framing of this regulation in itspresent form.
– Who is the Public Service Commissioner, anyhow?
– I wish to know whether the amendment to regulation 121 emanated from the Public Service Commissioner.
– I do not know.
– Did it emanate from the Government? If so, the
Government have no right whatever to direct the Commissioner to frame such a regulation. The fact is that a reign of terror exists in our Public Service, and, as a result, public officers are afraid to do their duty. I do not blame them much, because I know that they would be venomously pursued for the rest of their lives if they offended the party now in power.
– That is a nice statement to make.
– It is perfectly true anyhow. If any one offends the Labour party he is never forgiven. However, I do not wish to say anything offensive, and I withdraw it if I have done so. I ask whether it is right for the Government, with a Public Service Act such’ as we have, to order the Public Service Commissioner to frame such a regulation for the carrying out of his responsible and independent powers or . duties under the Act ? I know the Public Service Commissioner pretty well, and have always found him to be an upright, independent, honorable man, most anxious to do his duty to the best of his ability. I confidently make the statement that I do not believe that Mr. McLachlan of his own motion ever framed such a regulation as that to which I have referred, and” must, therefore, have been directed to do so by the Government. If he was directed to do so, and I believe he was, the action of the Government was absolutely wrong and illegal, being contrary to the Public Service Act. .It imports political influence into the administration of the Public Service in a way which I very much regret, and which, in my opinion, cannot be defended.
– I should like to take advantage of this opportunity, not to follow the right honorable member for Swan, but to make a statement upon one or two matters, including the revenue and expenditure of the year just passed.
– Will this wind up the debate for to-night? I am tired, and want to go home.
– That is a sentiment we can all applaud.
– I. heard a good Scotchman at Wangaratta yesterday say, “ I move that the question be now patt.’ “ I said that I had heard that before.
– For a considerable time the Government have been receiving a good deal of criticism in connexion with the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. I do not propose to discuss the matter any further than to say that steps have been taken to accelerate the production of rifles there.
– The right honorable gentleman knows in his heart that the criticism was right.
– Whether it was right or wrong, I can say from my heart that, whatever opinion any honorable member may hold, if he express it honestly here, I am prepared to give him credit for it, whether his remarks be aimed at the Government or not. By the honest expression of opinion in this free House we should be able to achieve some good results. The Assistant Minister of Defence has told honorable members what has been done regarding the working of the Small Arms Factory as it stands to-day. I have taken the responsibility, in conjunction with - the Minister of Defence, of taking further action, involving considerable expenditure, which will provide for the future. Perhaps it would be better that I should read a statement in reference to the matter. It is as follows : -
Small Arms Factory. The question of duplicating the present capacity of the Small Arms Factory has been under consideration for some time, and meanwhile inquiries were made regarding the additional plant required. The Government having decided to proceed with the duplication, an order for the bulk of the necessary machines has been placed with the Pratt, Whitney Company, the firm that supplied the existing rifle-making plant, at an approximate cost of about £48,000. Further machines and tools, at an estimated cost of £3,700, are to be obtained from other sources, and it is anticipated that nearly all bf. these will be made or obtained in Australia. The placing of an order for duplicate plant was also recommended in a report by the Public Works Committee.
– Within what time is the plant to be supplied?
– Exceedingly early, as compared with the time which, according to the advices we had from London, it was thought would be required.
– The American machinery will be imported?
– Yes. The probability is that some of it will be landed in six months, whilst, according to the reports of our advisers in London, it was anticipated that it would take a year or more to provide the necessary plant. Under the proposal now made, a slightly increased price will have to be paid, but the increase amounts to not more than 10 per cent. Taking everything into consideration, if all goes well with these arrangements we shall be placed in a position of advantage, should the war continue, as compared with the position we occupy at the present time.
Mr.Groom. - In the meantime, arrangements will be made for housing the machinery immediately it arrives?
– All works incidental to giving effect to this order will be proceeded with without delay. This will mean, of course, that before this Parliament goes into recess I shall have to make a financial statement dealing with the whole question, and get the necessary appropriation, not only for this, but for other purposes.
As honorable members are aware, yesterday marked the close of the financial year, a year the most eventful in the history of Australia, and perhaps in the history of the whole world. 1 am glad to be in a position to say that the financial difficulties of the Commonwealth are not at the present moment visible, but there are reasons for care, caution, and courage, if I may put the matter in that way. The following statement will indicate the position better than I could explain it in the course of a speech : -
– The Government have been rolling in money.
– After the amendments were made, the Attorney-General reduced the estimate of £1,000,000 to £700,000.
– The revenue from probate and succession duties is always uncertain. The difficulty arose out of mistaken advice tendered to me in the first instance.Anything that is due under this head will be received later on. I want honorable members to follow this statement -
– That goes into revenue ? Mr. FISHER. - Yes.
Expenditure. Our expenditure amounted exactly to the last-mentioned sum, i.e., Australian notes were issued for the exact amount of the difference between the funds available and the expenditure. The Budget estimate of the requirement from the Australian Notes Fund was £2,588,314, but the amount required was only £658,504.
On the expenditure side we expended on,
To recapitulate -
– Does that mean that the surplus of £1,222.401 has been spent also ?
– That is not quite so. As I pointed out, had it not been for the special war expenditure, we should have closed with an accumulated surplus of £347,678.
– What amount has been paid by way of interest for the £14,000,000 war loan ?
– Interest on instalments to end of March last has been paid.
– What is the exact position as regards the loans to the States of an equivalent amount?
– The States have received an amount equivalent to that which we have received on account of the war loan of £18,000,000. We get ours for nothing, and they pay for theirs at a lower rate than they could get it at otherwise. I desire again to take this opportunity of thanking the private financial institutions for the manner in which they came forward to meet the crisis, for their own advantage as well as for the advantage of the nation. The emergency was met by the use of the national credit, which is, I think, safe beyond any dreams of trouble. It was the desire of the Government at the time not to borrow any money at all for war expenditure. It was obvious that what we are doing now could have been done without borrowing at all ; but at that time it was impossible for the States to borrow, and it was impossible for the Commonwealth itself at the time to borrow except for war purposes. Both private institutions and Governments were in a high state of tension lest their credit should fail at the period when they wanted money. I have secret documents with me, which can be seen if there is any doubt in the matter, to show that it became absolutely necessary that credit should be got in London for the purposes of the Commonwealth and State Governments. An arrangement was made with the consent of all parties for the Commonwealth to pledge its credit, not at first for war purposes, but ultimately for war purposes, because that was the only way in which we could get the money. We told the British Government frankly at the time the whole story of our troubles, and they raised the money for us. ‘ The Commonwealth gets the loan, and in turn lends to the States an equivalent amount. The agreement is that, whatever the price of the loan may be, the States,, on receiving the money from us, pay interest for the time being, at a rate agreed upon, but that when the Commonwealth comes to borrow money for its own purposes to an amount equivalent to the total £18,000,000 to be lent to the States, if the interest is then higher than the amount which the States are paying, the States shall indemnify the Commonwealth the difference. That was a perfectly fair and legitimate bargain for the mutual advantage of both parties.
So far as regards the criticisms of the note issue, I ask honorable members and the public to believe that there is no shadow of a doubt as to its stability at the present time. There has been no trouble, and really no apprehension up to the present, but, having said this, I am in duty bound in my official position to say that, although the issue can be increased up to a certain stage, it is inevitable that a point will be reached at which it would be dangerous to go further. I want, therefore, to warn honorable members and the people that it is not the business of the Government to reach that danger point.
– I do not hear any cheers on the other side.
Several Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
– I think my right honorable friend, the Leader of the Opposition, might have refrained from that interjection, because honorable members behind me understood the note issue when it was inaugurated, and they do not get excited when they are told of its success, that being nothing new to them. Be that as it may, there is no citizen of Australia who does not appreciate the fact that, by our own credit, and without the shadow of a doubt or difficulty, we have been able practically to avoid raising another £20,000,000 upon which we would have had to pay interest, and without being in any way helped further forward than we are under present conditions. I take this opportunity of saying to the Committee that I hope to have an early opportunity of making a Budget statement forecasting, as far as can be seen, the financial position for the next half-year, and providing for any eventualities that may arise. In a Democracy like ours, with an educated and free people, it is the business of Ministers to lay the financial position before them at the earliest opportunity; and I shall endeavour, on behalf of the Government, to do so. I am sure that whatever view honorable gentlemen opposite may take of it, I shall be able to claim their assistance in giving effect to the policy of this country for the prosecution of the war, the carrying on of our industries, and the protection of our own people.
– I can only say, in reply to the right honorable the Prime Minister, that he will at all times receive the assistance which he has just now sought from members of the Opposition.
– But you will give it in such a curious way.
– There you are again ! The honorable member is only saying over again what his Leader said the other night, that we never gave the Government any assistance except in a nagging way. Whether we nag or not, this assistance is sought, and I hope it will always be freely rendered. I want now to congratulate my honorable friends over there on the unanimous cheer that went up just now when the possible limitation of the note issue was mentioned, and when they were warned by their own Prime Minister of the dangers of an unlimited note issue. May I suggest that the war has done one good thing ? It has heaved overboard that old-time notion, of the invulnerability of a note issue, which honorable members opposite preached assiduously over the length and breadth of this country. A little practical application of the principle has knocked all that nonsense out of their heads, and I congratulate them sincerely on their financial conversion, at any rate.
Now, I want to say a word of congratulation concerning the magnificent revenue which has been derived from Customs and Excise during this war year. Is this not the best of all tributes to the might and invulnerability of the British Navy, which has kept our seaways open for us, with the result that our trade has been unmolested from the beginning until the end of the year ? I remember, when this war broke out, that the officials of the Treasury wore an aspect of gloom for some days, and they were talking of having no revenue, if the war lasted, by the end of the year. Thanks, however, to the way in which Jellicoe has kept the seas open, there has been no diminution in our Customs revenue, which means that our acti- vities have flowed on, as usual, our commerce has been borne over the sea without let or hindrance, it has reached its market at the other side of the world, and in return we received those things which we need for our own use. For this we ought to be profoundly thankful as we close the financial year. To my mind, that is the outstanding feature of the financial statement which has been made by the Prime Minister. There is just on© other matter upon which I would like the attention of the Prime Minister for a moment. As I follow his figures here, I take it that the result of the year’s financing - I mean the ordinary financing, and eliminating the war altogether - is that we have spent, roughly, £1,500,000 more than we received.
– No; let me get at the facts. There is a balance of £300,000 odd to be accounted for.
– We left you- £1,222,000.
– But you have to take £300,000 odd off that. ‘
– I am going to add £650,000 in Treasury-bills.
– You will see another cross entry of £650,000- a debit and credit.
– Yes; I see the Prime Minister is quite right. It is £1,222,000 less £347,000. The debit for the year, therefore, i3, roughly, £900,000.
– We have £700,000 outstanding on account of land taxation.
– But that is outstanding from fresh taxation to the extent of about £3,000,000 that has been imposed. Leaving out the war expenditure altogether, the statement shows that the Government have imposed fresh taxation to the extent of considerably over £2,000,000; and during the year the expenditure exceeded the revenue by nearly £1,000,000 sterling. That is to say, the Government have over £2,000,000 extra taxation-
– Not £2,000,000.
– I am talking about what you have added to the burden of taxation. I do not care what your yield is.
– Well, so long as you say that, it will be all right.
– Have T said anything else? The fact remains that, notwithstanding that the Government put on over £2,000,000 in the way of taxa- tion, they have not been able to finance the year from income by about £900,000.
– Because we did not collect on the £2,000,000.
– You collected some of it.
– You have been asking u3 to give these poor farmers time, have you not?
– Altogether, we can congratulate ourselves, notwithstanding this criticism which I am making. I am trying to get at the facts, for this reason. We ought to remember that in war time all special expenditure arising out of the war should be met generously and without question. But that only lays upon us a greater obligation to see that our ordinary administrative expenditure is kept to the lowest possible point The more we can save reasonably and consistently with efficiency on the ordinary administration, the more we shall have to spend for special war administration. Those two things are being kept separately, as they ought to be. They show here that there is a very steady increase in the cost of ordinary administration, leaving out the war altogether.’ They show, too, that, notwithstanding the additional taxation which the Government have imposed during the year, they have gone to the bacl on the year’s financing to the tune of nearly a million sterling. All this needs careful financing, so that we may not go further to the rear. In the meantime, our income has kept up; it i3 better than we anticipated at the beginning of the year, and the intrusion of the war has not materially altered the revenue from Customs duties and other sources. All that is a magnificent tribute to our defensive resources, looking at the Empire as a whole. I cannot sit down without making mention, also, of the way in which our own defence preparation, particularly in’ respect to the Australian Navy, has helped to keep the seas open during this terrible year. T want to make another remark about the Small Arms Factory. I have read the new proposal of the Government, and I want to say that I do not object to them duplicating the plant, but I do hope that my right honorable friend will not rely on the duplicated plant for much relief during this war time.
– I have already said that.
– The right honorable gentleman spoke of six mouths in which to get the machinery. One does not forget that we were to have the original machinery making guns in twelve months. But it is not making guns up to the contract in five years.
– We are shaking them up.
– I know that; and the Government will have to do .a lot more shaking up before the duplication will be of any service in this war.
– Is it to be obtained from the same firm as supplied the other plant 1
– Yes. I am afraid that the months will lengthen out in connexion with the duplication, if not to the same extent as the original duration, yet to a very considerable time beyond what I hope will be the termination of the war. At any rate, I trust that the Government will not make that an excuse for staying their hand in any way concerning the full utilization of the means already at their disposal in the Factory.
– You can rely on that.
– I would rather see the Government now, if I had my way, devote this money, and some more, to working three shifts a day with the plant they already have.
– We will do that if they say that they can do it.
– It will be of no use to, duplicate the plant if it is to be idle for one or two shifts out of the twenty-four hours.
– The Minister told you that the present manager says that he is not now in a position to do it.
– I do not care what he says.
– He says that to us officially.
– I know that, but while the manager says that, there are in Australia other experts who say quite the contrary.
– We have sent an expert there to see.
– Not only are there in Australia experts who say quite the contrary, but the opinion of a practical working engineer there is, I think, in this matter, as valuable as that of any expert. I would just as soon take the opinion of the man who is associated with the machinery every day, arid knows what it can do, as the opinion of any one else. He knows what he can do, and he has told the Government that they ought to have had two shifts long ago. The point I got up to stress is that the Government ought not to rely on the duplicated plant for any relief during the war. They will be building on an insecure foundation if they do. Let them lose not a minute in their preparation for running the Factory all the twenty-four hours, with all the trained experience and ability that is already in Australia, and is placed freely and unreservedly at their disposal.
– We have sent a man there with the fullest power to act.
– I hope that lie will get a move on; that is all. We have a plant here, and the Government’s own chairman says in his report that it can supply, and ought to supply, 20,000 rifles per annum on the basis of an eight hours’ shift. I do not see any reason why, in these stressful days, the Factory should not very soon work up to an output for three shifts of 50,000 rifles per annum. There is hope in that direction. There is not very much immediate hope here.
.- The financial statement presented by the Treasurer to-night must afford to every member of the House, as well as to the public generally, considerable satisfaction. The knowledge that we have financed the ordinary governmental Departments of Australia, and finished with a surplus of £347.000, is a matter for very sincere congratulation. But perhaps the most cheering and satisfactory feature of the whole statement, is that, for actual war expenditure, Australia has been able to finance itself. The Prime Minister need have no hesitation in believing that there is still left, in Australia an amount of capital available for carrying on the war if necessary, or at any rate, for carrying on the work of the Government in every Department. If the Treasurer will give the people an opportunity, I believe that their patriotism will find its outlet in rendering financial assistance to the Government during this time of crisis.
– They will get it.
– I suppose that they will in time. The Leader of the Opposition is not generally charged with possessing any humour; but it was decidedly amusing to notice the cool and assured way in which he referred to the surplus of £1,222,000 which he left to the present Government. It forces one’s mind back to the end of 1913, when the Labour Government left £2,600,000 in the Treasury.
– Which you promptly said that we disposed of.
– Oh, yes.
– The ex-Treasurer, Sir John Forrest, was honest enough to say, “ We spent all that we could, but there was £1,200,000 which we were unable to spend, and we left it as a surplus.”
– Your Prime Minister and his Attorney-General said that we spent all that we could lay our hands on.
– So the late Government did. The ex-Treasurer said so, and if he had continued in office to this time that surplus would have gone too.
– At least you will admit that we did not put on any more taxes.
– No. The honorable member was too much concerned in putting the “ gag “ on to have time to put taxes on.
– That is pretty good after the occurrences of last week.
– The Prime Minister blushes at the recollection of applying the “.gag “. twenty-four times on a Friday.
– The point is that the extra taxation which the Leader of the Opposition has suggested ought to be considered in estimating the financial, statement to-night is taxation which has not yet been made available.
– You are wrong.
– The law has been passed, the machinery is in motion, but it has not produced anything.
– You have a million of it here.
– ‘Even so, the functions of our Government have extended, as the right honorable member himself has admitted. Our expenditure on defence has greatly increased, and the increased expenditure on pensions and the maternity allowance alone would almost account for the difference to. which he has referred. But I heartily agree with him in the statement that the expenditure of all our Departments needs careful attention and supervision. I am convinced that in the Defence Department the country is losing hundreds of thousands of pounds annually. I am prepared to believe that by the military contracts entered into in the early stages of the war, and to some extent even now, the country has been made to pay for services that have not been rendered, and to give high prices for inferior goods. I believe that the supervision exercised by the defence officers is not satisfactory, and that, generally speaking, these officers are incapable of managing financial matters.
– I should think so, after what we have heard of the Enoggera bakery contract.
– That matter will come up again.
– It will-.
– In the past, particularly during war time, the tendency of military departments has always been to extravagance, and sometimes to corruption. I am not prepared to say that our officers are corrupt, but some of their transactions are open to suspicion, and we shall not get satisfaction in the supply of military requirements until business matters have been taken out of the hands of the defence officers.
– Ian Hamilton stated in his report that that was necessary.
– Yes;and there is on the business-paper a motion for the appointment of a Supply and Tender Board. My knowledge of facts gained, not merely as a private member, but also as a member of the Works Committee, convinces me that the less our military officers have to do with finance the better for the country.
– What does the honorable member mean by “transactions open to suspicion “ ?
– Some accounts have gone through the defence office of which it is very difficult to get an explanation that would satisfy a business man, and contracts have been let, and goods accepted, which gave ground for the suspicion of favoritism, at any rate. I do not think that the inspection is satisfactory, nor that the inspectors are competent. I do not think that the defence officers in charge of these matters are competent. Generally speaking, the military officer has no business ability, and it is not his business to possess it
– They are not paid for their business ability.
– No; but they are put in charge of business concerns. I was told some time ago that in the calling for tenders for materials connected with the management of horses, the Imperial specifications were followed so closely that stable forks, such as are used in the Old Country for the laying out of straw beds, were ordered, and that to-day some thousands of forks and rakes lie at the barracks - merely useless lumber. There is no consideration of value and finance in the administration of the Defence Department. For this I do not blame the Minister; he is altogether overloaded. The country expects one man to do more than two should be expected to do, particularly at this juncture.
– Who sanctioned the purchase of the forks?
– I do not know.
– How long is it since they were bought?
– Eighteen months or two years. The Leader of the Opposition is correct in stating that the new machinery which has been ordered for the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow will not increase the output of rifles during the war, unless the war lasts much longer than we anticipate. It will probably be at least six months before that machinery reaches here, and, if it is turning out new rifles within a year, that is all that can be expected.I agree with those who complain about the condition of affairs at Lithgow. The remedy is to get new management. Mr. Wright’s term of office does nob expire too soon, and personally I am glad that he is going. Privately, he is an estimable gentleman, but his conduct of affairs at the Factory cannot be regarded as satisfactory by the Government or by the country. I am not so concerned about his failure to do the work of the Factory - he has an airy and easy way of explaining why certain things were not done, why rifles were not produced - what I am more concerned about is the perpetuation of the trouble. The assistant manager has been appointed acting manager in Mr. Wright’s place, the latter being due to leave very soon. “ God speed the parting guest !”
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
The first business to-morrow will be, according to arrangement, the third reading of the Referendum Bills. I hope, after the display of good feeling this evening, that honorable members will remember old times.
– I can only say that none of us over here will give the right honorable gentleman the slightest trouble to-morrow.
.- I ask the Prime Minister if he will consider, between now and to-morrow, the advisability of adjourning the House over next week ? Victorian members are being pressed by their constituents to address meetings during a week that is to be set apart for the stimulation of recruiting. The State Parliament has adjourned, and appointed a Committee, which is working in conjunction with the mayors of all municipalities throughout the State. Federal members are being requested to attend meetings, and I ask the Prime Minister to take into consideration the adjournment of this House over next week.
.- The honorable member for Henty was not in the House this afternoon, when I stated that I had informed the organizers in Victoria that I would assist them in every way by giving pairs to the representatives of Victoria and all other members who wished to take part in the campaign, and that we would deal with no contentious business next week.
– That is not sufficient. Why not give us a week’s holiday?
– I said, also, that I did not think that the’ National Parliament should adjourn, because, if similar campaigns were started in New South Wales or Queensland, we should have to adjourn for them also. We will, however, give every facility to those who wish to’ take part in the campaign, and if an arrangement can bo made between the two parties no contentious business will be taken next week.
– The trouble is that honorable members will not leave the House when it is in session.
– I give honorable members my word that they will not suffer because of their absence.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.17 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 July 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1915/19150701_reps_6_77/>.