1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD presented two petitions from 146 electors of New South Wales, praying the Senate to prohibit the introduction, sale and manufacture of intoxicating liquors in British New Guinea.
– I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, if it is the intention of the Government, at an early date, to bring in a measure dealing with the question of quarantine 1
– I - It will be impossible to bring in any legislation on that subject this session. It is the intention of the Government to deal with it as early as possible.
– The The answers to the honorable senator’s questions areas follow : -
– How can the minutes be his property?
– T - They are.
– It is an unheard of thing.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– T - The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for
Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– Can the honorable Senator tell me in what dictionary I may find a definition of the term “ defacing?”
– Probably in a heraldic dictionary, but I cannot speak positively.
asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– -Th -The answers to the honorable and learned senator’s questions are as follow : -
The Tasmanian portion was taken from the railway station immediately upon receipt, and shipped by the only available steamer, the Easby. 2 and 3. Answered by the reply to question No. 1.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable and learned senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council,upon notice -
– The The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Senator DRAKE laid upon the table
Agreements between the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company and the Governments of New South Wales,South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania.
Ordered (on motion by Senator Pearce) -
That there be laid upon the table of the Senate a return showing -
The amount of money paid as rent, in the State of Victoria, for the offices of the Commonwealth Ministers, showing the amount for each office separately.
The amount so paid for the rent of offices for Departments established under Acts of Parliament of the Commonwealth.
– I move -
That this Senate records its disapprobation of the action of the Prime Minister in failing, when reconstructing the Cabinet, togive effect to the resolution of the Senate, unanimously adopted on the 26th day of June last, viz: - “That this Senate affirms that, in view of the position and status of this branch of the Legislature, as defined by and in the Constitution, it is desirable that there be more adequate representation of the Government in the Senate by the appointment of at least two paid Ministers.”
The form of the motion seems to me almost sufficiently plain to render needless any lengthy remarks on my part. On the 26th June, the Senate unanimously - the Minister present concurring - passed the resolution embodied in my motion. An opportunity recently occurred for givingeffect to this claim, based, not so much on, I imagine, the personal ambition of any honorable senator as on a desire to giveexpression to the view of the Senate, that there should be more adequate representation of the Government here, involving and permitting the introduction of a larger number of measures directly rather than at second-hand. Itwill be in the recollection of honorable senators that the motion in its original form, submitted in its second part a proposition that it was desirable that more measures of the Government should be introduced directly in the Senate. During the course of the debate I withdrew that portion of the motion, deeming that it was not necessary to go to the vote. But this seems to me to be a suitable opportunity to refer to the fact that my action on the 26th June was taken with the object of getting more measures of the Government initiated here. That would be accomplished unquestionably if a larger number of Ministers, having charge ofDepartments, were in the Chamber. Recently there was a certain amount of Cabinet-repairing, and the opportunity was given to the Prime Minister to give effect to the unanimous wish of the Senate. So far as we know, no inclination has been manifested to give effect to its resolution, and we only hear now from the lips of an honorable senator that he is to take up the position of an unpaid Minister here before very long. How soon we do not know, but, as the honorable senator has pleaded guilty to the gentle indictment, I suppose there cannot be any doubt about it. That being the case, we find that not only in the past has the resolution of the Senate been ignored by the Prime Minister, but that he is still proposing to ignore it by the appointment of an unpaid Minister here, rather than a salaried Minister having charge of a Department. I disclaim all desire now to do more than afford to the Senate an opportunity of confirming the action which it took at my instance a few weeks ago. It appeared to me then, and it appears to me still, that if we were to allow the matter to pass without any comment or explanation we should be absolutely stultifying ourselves. Deliberately, after considerable argument, we arrived at a resolution to make a certain demand ; opportunity for giving effect to the wish of the Senate arose ; but no such effect was given, and as far as we know it was not attempted to be given. I consider that it is my duty to afford an opportunity to the Senate of indorsing its previous vote, or an opportunity for an explanation to be offered which would satisfy the Senate that its deliberate resolution has not beenas deliberately ignored. I shall not go into the question of who might have been appointed, or what might have been done, but I consider that the Senate was entitled to at least an explanation as to why nothing was done to give effect to its unanimous decision on a question of large public importance, arrived at, not in a light or airy manner, not without due consideration, but with all the impressiveness which attaches to a carefully considered and deliberately debated proposition.
– Senator Neild is a little at fault in stating that the Minister agreed to his motion. I was present in the Senate at the time it was being discussed, and I opposed the motion. I did not call for a division, and I presume that is what the honorable senator has in his mind when he says that the resolution was concurred in by the Minister. I did not call for a division, because I had no doubt as to what was the feeling of the majority of the members of the Senate at the time, and I did not therefore think it necessary to call for a division. The motion was submitted to the Senate after a languid debate in a very thin House; and there was apparently very little interest taken in the question. I admit that most of those who did speak were in favour of it. I must concede that ; but I do not think it was considered by the Senate, or even by those who supported the motion,thatthe Government was expected at once to make such a re-arrangement of portfolios as would give effect to what was proposed.
– Only when a suitable occasion arose.
– I think the view generally held was that possibly such rearrangements as would give effect to the motion might be made after the next general election. Perhaps Senator Neild has in his mind the recent changes which have taken place in the Cabinet; but the honorable senator, if he looks into the matter, must see that the composition of the two Chambers is such that each portfolio requires to be administered by a member of either one House or the other. An occasion has not yet arisen when we could do what the Senate desires ; but the matter has not been overlooked, and no doubt in course of time, when an opportunity occurs, the Government will accede to the wishes of the Senate. I do not think there is any necessity for the honorable senator to press the proposal. According to its terms it is really in the nature of a vote of censure against the Government for not having, since the passing of the motion proposed by the honorable senator on the 26th June, altered their arrangements, so . that there would be a second Minister with a portfolio in this Chamber. If the desire of Senator Neild is to draw attention to the matter again he has already done so, and it is hardly necessary that he should now initiate a long debate on the subject.
– I should like to say two or three words with reference to the motion submitted and the remarks made by the Minister of Defence. I was not present when the original motion to which this motion refers was discussed, but I think that the affirmation of the original motion, without any division, was sufficient to justify Senator Neild in regarding it as having been carried unanimously, and with the consent of the Government. The question is one which I know has been discussed several times amongst members of the Senate, and the feeling generally expressed is that, all tilings being equal, in the formation of a Ministry, it is very desirable that a proportionate representation of paid Ministers should be given to the Senate. We know perfectly well that it has been the custom generally in the States, in deal with the second Chamber, to act upon the principle of having one paid Minister and one honorary Minister as a sufficient representation of the Ministry in that Chamber. But under our Constitution, the Senate as directly responsible to the people of the country, and it is therefore but reasonable and fair that proportionate representation should be given to this Chamber in the administration of public affairs. It may sometimes happen that it will be impossible to carry that out, and a great deal of discretion must be left in the hands of the gentleman called upon to form the Ministry. On the recent occasion of the re-arrangement of the Ministry, I recognise that, instead of introducing another Minister into the ranks of the Ministry, an honorary Minister has merely been removed into a position rendered vacant through a resignation which has taken place from the Cabinet. The fact that under these circumstances attention has not been paid to the motion carried in the Senate, can hardly be regarded as showing any desire on the part of the Ministry to flout or disregard the representations of the Senate upon a question of some importance as affecting the position and dignity of this Chamber in the eyes of the community. I do hope that when the time comes round when it may be necessary to make changes in the Ministry, involving the introduction of new men, the desire of the Senate in this matter will receive the fullest and most favorable consideration on the part of the Prime Minister. The Government have some reason for the course they have recently adopted, but Senator Neild cannot be blamed for having brought the matter under the notice of the Senate, in order that we should be reminded that we have affirmed a motion of this character, and in order also that it may be impressed upon the members of the other Chamber, where we recognise that, in all probability, the Prime Minister of any administration will be found. Honorable senators feel that it is due to the position of the Senate as a constituent part of the governing body of the community that it should be fully represented by paid Ministers in the proportion suggested by Senator Neild.
Senator Lt.-Col NEILD (New South Wales). - I notice that the Minister for Defence has characterized the debate which took place on the motion, I proposed on the 26th June, as a languid debate, in which little or no interest was taken. I find, however, that there were only two speeches made against my motion, one by the honorable and learned senator himself, and the other by Senator Dobson. Senator Keating delivered a speech and favoured the motion to some extent, and was to some extent adverse to it. We can leave that honorable and learned senator’s speech out of consideration, not because it lacked value, but because it was not verydecisive. On the other hand, I find that, in addition to the mover, the motion was supported by Senators Glassey, Staniforth Smith, Walker, Pulsford, Styles, Symon, and Higgs. It was supported with some enthusiasm, and there are a good many pages taken up with the report of the debate. If my honorable and learned friend, Senator Drake, did not think it worth while to call for a division, or did not desire to take the hazard of a division in which he would have been defeated, as the honorable and learned senator must know-
– I have admitted that.
– I think the honorable and learned senator must further admit that I was perfectly justified in stating that the motion I submitted was unanimously adopted.
– There are twenty-eight members of the Senate recorded as having been in attendance on the day when the honorable senator’s motion was moved.
– I am very much obliged to the honorable and learned senator, because the Minister for Defence has told us that there was a thin House on that occasion. Twenty-eight must be admitted to be a very fair attendance, considering the distance so many honorable senators have to come.
– They were not all in the chamber during the debate on thehonorable senator’s motion.
– If the honorable and learned senator desires to have the value of the Government measures which he pilots through this Chamber estimated by the attendance from time to time, I hope for the sake of himself and his colleagues that the fragmentary attendance at intervals will be carefully kept in the background. I have seen my honorable and learned friend busily engaged in piloting a measure through the Senate, and being most anxious that no attention should be called to the absence of a quorum. The honorable and learned senator is cutting his objections to this motion very fine when he suggests imputations based upon the attendance during the various stages of a fairly long discussion. In putting the motion on the paper, I regarded it, if I may use a military phrase, as a kind of reconnaissance in force, my object being to direct attention to the absence of any compliance with the decision and requirements of the Senate, as expressed in the motion agreed to on the 26th June. If honorable senators are prepared to afford the Government another opportunity, it shall not be said that a precedent has been created by silence on the present occasion. I will promise my honorable and learned friend that if another occasion arises I shall not fail to do my duty, supposing no other honorable senator brings the question forward, because I take it that this Senate does not. intend to deliberately place records in the Journals, and then stultify itself by ignoring their existence.
– Will the honorable senator resign if this motion is not carried ?
.- I hope I shall be quite as resigned to all the circumstances of this unhappy life as Senator McGregor. I leave the motion in the hands of honorable senators. It is for them to say whether the occasion is one upon which the previous decision of the Senate should be forced upon the notice of the Government or otherwise.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 9
Questions so resolved in the affirmative.
– Since this Bill was introduced we have passed a measure repealing the Claims Against the Commonwealth Act, and I therefore move -
That the order of the day for the second reading of the Bill be read and discharged.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I am quite sure that at this period of the session, and knowing that this Bill, beforeany effect can be given to it, must be passed by the otherChamber, it is quite useless for me to proceed with it further. I think I shall be meeting the views of honorable senators generally when I move -
That the order of the day for the second readng of the Bill be read and discharged.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed (from 18th August, vide page 37 23), on motion by Senator O’Connor -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia).I am in the unfortunate position of not having known that Senator Best, who moved the adjournment of the debate last night, did not intend to speak first this afternoon, and therefore I am not prepared to discuss the measure at any length. But, in view of the speech of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, that it is a Bill against which an honorable senator should not vote without stating his reasons. I must make a short statement. Senator O’Connor, in a very exhaustive speech, indicated the . quarters from which he thought Australia has most to fear in the way of aggression. There are, I think, very few of us who would be disposed to disagree with Senator O’Connor in that respect; and in any remarks I have to make I do not intend to deal with the Bill from the point of view of a naval expert. In my opinion it is altogether a mistake for a Member of Parliament to approach a question of the kind as an expert. None of us dispute the principle that the might and power of Great Britain depend on her control of the sea. What we do dispute is that the payment of £200,000 per annum will in any way affect that principle. We dispute the argument that in order to enable Great Britain to maintain her naval supremacy the proposed contribution of £200,000 per annum is necessary, or that if the payment is not made, British supremacy will be weakened and British interests neglected. Are we to assume that if we reject this measure Great Britain will at once withdraw all her fleets from these waters - that there will be no Australian Squadron - and that in time of war we shall be left at the mercy of any enemy of the Empire ? If that is the view taken, we have a very small opinion of the value which Great Britain places on her commerce in these seas.
– But who does get the greatest benefit ?
– Great Britain.
– Great Britain, undoubtedly. An attempt has been made to draw an analogy between Australia and the United Kingdom. Was there ever such a poor analogy ? Australia, in the matter of food supplies, is absolutely selfcontained, and in ordinary times is an exporter. If our ‘Commerce were interfered with, the only effect at the very worst would be our inability to export food supplies ; there would not be a scarcity, but a glut.
– That was not so last year.
– Last year the conditions were abnormal.For the past fifty years Australia has been an. exporter, whereas Great Britain depends for her supplies absolutely on foreign countries. If the commerce of Great Britain were interfered with to the extent that her food supplies were cut off, a state of starvation would exist there in two months : and, if that were the position of Australia, an argument could be found for the Naval Agreement submitted tous. But if the commerce of Australia were totally interrupted, Great Britain and not this country would be the greatest sufferer. We have also to iremember that our ocean commerce is not carried in Australian vessels, but in British and foreign vessels, and it is for the protection of that commerce that Great Britain has her navy. The British Navy is not kept in a state of efficiency primarily for the protection of these States or to insure that these States shall be maintained as British possessions. The British Navy is kept in a state of efficiency primarily for the sake of safeguarding British commerce. I have yet to learn that in order to safeguard foreign possessions a strong navy is needed. The map which was on exhibition in the chamber yesterday strikingly illustrates the fact that one of the greatest colonial powers is Holland, which has possessions scattered all over the world. Java, I believe, has a population exceeding that of Australia.
– It has a population of 40,000,000 or 50,000,000.
– Java would be an exceedingly rich prize for any foreign country. Yet the naval power of Holland is a thing of the past ; and if the retention of colonial possessions depended on naval defence, Holland could not have kept her position as a colonizing power for one day. Holland’s possessions are many thousands of miles away from the mother country, and yet they are absolutely unprotected so far as naval defence is concerned.
– Holland is protected by the jealousy of the European powers.
– And by her abandonment of any great ambition.
– And would not Australia, in the same way, be protected by the jealousy of the powers in the absence of any naval defence by Great Britain? If the jealousy of the great European powers is sufficient to guard the interests of a tropical country like Java, which is not fitted to be the home of the white races, how much more would that jealousy operate in the case of a rich prize like Australia, which is eminently suited for European colonization ! Which are the countries which exercise the predominating influence in the seas the British Navy assists to control? Senator O’Connor seems to think that Russia and Japan are the predominating powers, but, in my opinion, the nation which is the dominant power, and which, I believe, is destined to achieve still greater strength in the future, is the United States. If there is a power which will effectually check Russia in her designs on Manchuria, it is not Japan, but the United States.
– The United States fleet cannot do it, because it is very small.
– The fleet of the United States could check Russia at the present time, and will be able to more effectually do so in the future when the ship-building programme of the great Republic is nearer completion.. The navy of the United States has been largely increased during the past five or six years, especially since the Spanish-American war.
– Why ?
– For the purpose of safeguarding the interests of the United States..
– I thought the honorable senator said that a navy was no protection.
– The United States has no colonial possessions worth the name, and her navy exists and is being improved, not for the purpose of defence, but for the purpose of aggression and aggrandizement.
– Is it not primarily to enforce the Monroe doctrine?
– Until the Monroe doctrine was extended beyond the boundaries of America the United States never felt the need of a navy. It was not until the Spanish- American war altered the foreign policy of the United States that any necessity was felt for a navy sufficiently powerful for aggression. If we carry on the policy which has been observed in the past in Australia- that is, a self-contained policy, with no interference with the affairs of others - we shall not need a navy. As I have pointed out, the United States is one of the most powerful nations represented in the Eastern seas, and is destined to be still more powerful. What have we to fear from the United States ? Is it likely that the United States will attempt in any way to injure Australian interests ? Is it not a fact that the great Republic has been working hand in hand during the past five or six years with the Empire of which we form a part ?
– N - Nobody has ever suggested that the United States will be our enemy.
- Senator O’Connor has not been present in the chamber, and does not know that I am dealing with his; argument that the predominating powers in the Eastern seas are Japan and Russia. Senator O’Connor left the United States out of account, though she is a greater power than either of the two former. The United States is friendly towards the British Empire, and will, I feel sure, become more friendly as time goes on. By no stretch of the imagination can we conceive of the United States being hostile to Australia even if she were to be hostile to. the British Empire. We have on the one hand the protection of the British fleet, and on the other we have the jealousy of European nations and the friendly feeling entertained by the United States towards the Commonwealth and the British Empire.
– T - That friendly feeling would not be. of much use unless the United States took up our quarrel.
– I have already pointed out that Holland, with absolutely no naval strength, has been able to keep her vast colonial possessions.
– Holland is kept out of European war.
– Holland is just as likely to be involved in a European war as is Great Britain.
– The moment Holland is so involved she loses Java.
– The very fact that the frontier of Holland is the frontier of two semi-hostile nations may involve her in war nt any moment.
– Holland will probably be merged in Germany before long.
– Would not any attempt in that direction be a fruitful source of trouble.? IE Germany attempted to annex Holland, w.ould France remain quiescent?
– Yes, if Prance got Belgium.-
– The dismemberment of China is ‘a ticklish problem ; but I fancy the dismemberment of Europe would prove so much more ticklish that it is not likely to be attempted. I deny the contention that the payment of £200,000 per annum by Australia will help the supremacy of the British Navy. If it is necessary for the naval defence of Australia that this payment should be made, why do we not disband our militia, and pay £750,000 per annum to the British Army for land protection?
– We had an opportunity of doing that at one time, but we sent the British troops away.
– Is it now proposed to reverse the policy then adopted 1
– We are not proposing anything of the sort.
– We are practically preparing to hand over the naval defence of Australia to Great Britain.
– We are not adopting “ the cheap and nasty.” principle, any way.
– Doubtless Senator Zeal will presently charge us with having a more extravagant scheme tq take the place of. that proposed by the Government. If it is necessary for naval defence to pay a subsidy of £200,000, the same argument might be used in the case of military defence. For £750,000 per annum we could have some of ‘ the Royal Artillery and trained regiments of British cavalry and infantry, who would be much more efficient from the “ parade “ point of view, at any rate, than our halftrained militia. The building up of an Australian Navy will not in any way be detrimental to the power and strength of the British fleet. It is said that we must make this payment, because it may be necessary to concentrate the forces of the British Navy in Chinese waters or elsewhere in order to crush the enemy there. But if we do not make this payment, are -we to presume that in the next war the British Admiral who happens to command the Australian Squadron will say - “Tactics demand that I shall go to China, but the Australian Government having refused to pay the £200,000, I must stay-in Australian waters and let the Chinese Admiral look after himself ?” That is the position to which the arguments in favour of this subsidy lead us. The argument that it is good tactics to concentrate our fleet in Chinese waters is used as an argument for voting£200,000 per annum to the British Navy. But where is the connexion ? How shall we interfere with the policy of the ‘ British Government by refusing to vote the money and spending it in other channels? The argument for an Australian Navy is that the British Navy has its own work to do, namely, the work of guarding the commerce and defending the interests ‘ of the Empire, keeping open those channels of commerce which are her life’s blood, because they are the channels along which her food supplies must go. Are we in any way treasonable to that work if we say that we would be doing our duty to ourselves and to our own country by providing cruisers which in the event of war would be able to assist in defending Australian commerce and Australian’ ports from, the depredations of foreign vessels? What is good policy for Great Britain cannot be treason on the part of Australia.. Is it to be assumed that the enemy we shall have to fight is going by one great amp to attempt to wipe out the British Navy ? Is it tobe assumed that the policy of harassing the- commerce of an enemy and raiding an enemy’s country is to be abandoned? If the Government can guarantee that, whether the naval battle of the future is fought in the China seas, the Indian seas, or the Australian seas, the enemy will not, while our squadron is absent, send cruisers here to raid our ports, and intercept our Inter-State traffic, we need not provide for coastal defence at all. But I am sure that the policy which the Powers have always followed in the past, of raiding commerce in sections, and making descents on the coasts of the enemy, will be adopted in the future. While the fleet for which Australian money has been spent is fighting the great battle which will decide the naval supremacy of the China seas, the raiders of the enemy will be able to “ play old Harry “ with our commerce and ports. We shall be found helpless with not a single vessel under our control.
– Where does the honorable senator think the commerce is of which he speaks?
– I am speaking of the commerce between State and State.
– Is the commerce not between here and London and Liverpool, and every port in the world?
– Not more than a third of it.
– And it is all in English ships.
– One can easily conceive that with the rapid advance in the steaming capacity of warships, and the possession of coaling bases within steaming distance of our coast, the European countries with which Great Britain may be involved will have at those places cruisers, which can be detached for the purpose of raiding our coal supplies and our chief ports. Is it possible by a system of land defence to provide for the efficient protection of all our ports and coaling places? It is manifestly impossible. It would cost us more to provide efficient coast defence at all those points than a navy equal to the one provided for in this Bill would cost us. We have no guarantee that this protection will be efficient. Naval experts have told us that the scheme is necessary. On the other hand, naval experts have told us that an Australian Squadron is necessary, and would be just as effective.
– W - What experts?
– Captain Creswell for one.
– They want billets.
– That is a rather unworthy remark. Just after the establishment of Federation a body called the Colonial Defence Committee reported on the Defence Forces and Defences. Naturally, it was their duty to go into this question. I have read their report, and I fail to find anywhere that they came to the conclusion that the scheme embodied in this Bill was absolutely necessary. On the other hand, they seem to clearly indicate that the policy which had been laid down in the past by the naval officers . of the States was good - that is, that we should get a number of war vessels built to deal with any hostile cruiser which might appear off our coast. I can quite imagine that the officer in charge of the squadron which this Bill proposes to establish would have great compunction about taking hisfleet off the Australian coast in order to join his confreres in the China or Indian Sea if he knew that at New Caledonia or some other adjacent point there was lying a fast and well-armed cruiser. He would feel that it was his primary responsibility to defend Australia, and that, in concentrating in other waters and leaving our coast open to any cruiser, he would not be carrying out the obligations which rested upon him.
– The best thing for him to do would be to go and smash it up.
– I am very doubtful whether he could if the cruiser was lying under the protection of a fort. At any rate, here is the report of the Colonial Defence Committee, which the Government seem to have overlooked.
– N - No.
– This report, which was laid on the table of the Senate on the 19th September, 1901, contains these passages relating to measures of defence -
The defensive measures required on land to give security against coast attacks by raiding cruisers acting with these objects, and under these limitations, can be estimated with a near approach to accuracy. In dealing with such questions it is essential to keep in view the conditions as they present themselves to the enemy, as the extent of the protection required at any port is evidently that which will increase the risks involved in an attack to a point at which they will outweigh in the opinion of an enemy the possible advantages to be derived from the enterprise.
Further on the Committee state -
In addition to a military force, fixed defences, consisting of shore batteries and sometimes submarine mine fields, are required for certain Australian ports and harbors. This is the case where valuable and vulnerable resources such as docks, naval stores, or large masses of shipping are collected within such a limited and exposed space that they are liable to be easily destroyed by the gun-fire of hostile cruisers with a small expenditure of ammunition. The object of fixed defences is to deter the enemy’s vessels from approaching within the range at which his fire would be effective :a such objects. As already pointed out, the measure of defence required will vary according to the advantages to be derived by the enemy from the particular attack con templated. Thus naval bases or mercantile strategic harbors in the neighbourhood of points where the routes followed by Australian floating trade converge would offer more inducement to attack than a commercial port where only a small amount of shipping might be lying of value incommensurate with the risks involved in coming under the fire of light fixed defences or even of troops on shore.
That is to say, the enemy would not try to force its way into Port Phillip and come under the fire of the forts at the Heads and of the Cerberus ia the Bay, when it could do all the damage which was necessary by laying out in Bass Strait. From that point it could practically blockade the port of Melbourne, and capture any inward ships. So that when the advocates of the Bill claim that the Auxiliary Squadron will safeguard the commerce of Australia,. I reply that we will not get what is bargained for, because it has been stated by Senator O’Connor that in time of war the fleet will be liable to be called away to China or some other part of the Empire. I should like to know the reason why the Government entirely overlooked the statements in the report of this committee, which may be assumed to know something about colonial defence. We find no recommendation in the report that the only safety for the defence of Australia is to be found in a contribution to the up-keep of the British Squadron. I believe that if we did not contribute a single pound directly to the British Navy, the British authorities would still recognise that it was necessary ‘ to maintain a British fleet in Australian waters.
– That is, a reproach on them for their generosity.
– Surely the honorable and Learned senator is not flattering himself that the payment of £200,000 a year is any appreciable generosity to a nation which spends about £35,000,000 or £40,000,000 on naval defence annually. It is like a drop in the bucket. The money could be more effectively spent in securing -an Australian - owned Squadron which would leave the British Squadron in Australian waters free to go to any other part of the Empire where danger called, knowing that it was not leaving us to the tender mercies of the enemy, but leaving us able to defend ourselves. I think that Senator O’Connor depicted the possible dangers yesterday in much overdrawn language. It has not been the policy of Australia to interfere with the concerns of other countries, though it may have been the policy of the Empire of which we form a part. I believe that a saner feeling is coming over the minds of the statesmen of the Empire, and that in the future they will not interfere so much with other countries as they have done. I believe that they will mind their own business to a greater extent than they have done In any case the complications in the East, to which Senator O’Connor referred yesterday, are the result of the spirit of aggrandizement.
– I - If it brings- war to us, what will it matter what the reason of it is?
– What I am pointing out is that in any case the war would be likely to be localized. Suppose that the cause of dispute were the holding of territory in China or the partitioning of China, surely the war would be centralized very largely in conquering or holding the territories in dispute ? I have pointed -out that the idea of the partition or the conquest of Australia is ridiculous. First, the internal jealousies of European nations would keep that from becoming a realized fact, and further it would not be to the interests of the United States to see Australia pass into the hands of any European power, and its policy of aggrandizement has not developed to such an extent as to suggest that it would attempt to make Australia an American possession. Seeing that the Commonwealth is so young, it is not reasonable, I submit, to ask us yet to take that part in the burdens of Empire which may involve us in a policy of aggrandizement. Will the annual payment of £200,000 help the Empire to any appreciable extent when it is spent on the up-keep of warships which are not intended for Australia’s defence? On the other hand, the judicious expenditure ofl the money on the building of am Australian fleet, which would make Australia safe from foreign attack, if that is possible, would relieve the Empire to a considerable extent.
– How many cruisers would it build ?
– Senator O’Connor quoted an estimate yesterday to the effect that by the annual payment of £350,000 for ten years we should acquire a fleet of four cruisers by 1909.
– Every one of them would be obsolete by that time ?
– Is it assumed that in ten years the cruisers will be modern ?
– I - It is assumed that they will be fit for their work, and that all dangers and complications will wait until that year.
– Senator O’Connor assumes that, immediately weentertain such a proposal, the British Goverment will “skiddaddle “ from both the Pacific and the Atlantic, that they wild say” - As Australia has purchased a warship,we shall withdraw our fleet from Australia).” It is a most absurd argument to use.
– Where are we to get the men to man the cruisers?
– We have plenty of men in Australia. The honorable senator referred to the “ Yarra bankers,” but I do not think that we need to worry about the men. If, with our disjointed naval forces, we have been able to raise 1,700 men, surely in the course of a few years; when we have adopted some policy of naval defence, we should be able to man the necessary number of warships.
– Does the honorable senator adhere to his statement that this squadron is not intended for the protection of Australia ?
– Certainly. It is designed by the naval authorities for the safeguarding of British interests inAustralian waters primarily.
– Is the honorable senator opposed to any squadron?
SenatorPEARCE. - No ; I am in favour of a local squadron, and I hold that we should make a start to lay the foundation of an Australian Navy. I am not prepared to indicate on what lines we should proceed, as
I am not a naval expert; nor am I prepared to say of what class the vessels should be ; but I hold that any money to be spent should be expended om vessel’s which would be the property; and under the control of the Government of Australia. I think it is a vicious thing to ask the Senate to vote money to the Government of another country, and to have no control over its expenditure.It is a very bad commencement to make in Australian national life. I would rather support a proposal, such as that which was made by the Government of Cape Colony when they proposed to build and equip’ a warship for presentation to the British Navy. That is a much more patriotic proposal than the present one, which assumes the form of a tribute to a power outside Australia. I fail to see that any patriotism can be claimed for this action, because it cannot have any appreciable effect on the naval policy of the Empire. I shall oppose the. Bill.. I am certainly very sorry that in the first Parliament of Australia the Government have been able to get a majority to vote for the continuance of a policy which, I believe, has been against the best interests, and which has never received the indorsement of the people. Everybody contemplated that when the present agreement ran out we should be federated, and! be able to make an arrangement for our naval defence, as we have done for our military defence.
– But surely in the meantime the honorable senator does not object to pay £200,000 a year?
– I do.
– Why cannot the existing state of things continue?
– B - Because it is altogether inadequate. It is all out of date.
– It has been very adequate up to date.
– We are not competent to deal with its adequacy, but the naval authorities are. If they are not properly safeguarding their commerce in different parts of the world, they will be called to account in the House of Commons. The object of this Bill is to continue a vote which has outlived its usefulness, and to establish an Australian policy in naval matters. When we are in a position to act we ought to proceed on Australian lines, and unless we are in that position the Government ought to agree to continue the existing arrangement for a year or two.
– The new agreement opens the way for all the honorable senator wants.
– I do not think it does. For instance, if, as the Government and their supporters claim, the safety of Australia will depend most likely on a naval battle to be .fought hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles away from Australia, what will become of the boast of British naval supremacy if it has to depend on an annual subsidy of £200,000 from Australia ? Because it is put to us that if we do not pass this Bill we shall vote against the naval supremacy of the Empire, against that policy which demands that the naval authorities shall be able to concentrate their fleets in any part of the world. That policy will be just as tenable if the Bill be rejected as if it be accepted. It does not depend upon our acceptance or our rejection of the Bill. We can acquiesce in that as a question of strategy, and yet say that, for the defence of our Inter-State commerce and of our ports, it is advisable that whatever money we have to spare should be devoted to the establishment of an Australian Navy.
– :The whole of this controversy seems to me to be reducible to this question : - Do we need any naval defence at all 1 That is the question which, upon listening to some of the speeches made here and elsewhere upon this ‘ subject, seems to me to come to the surface in many ways. It has again been presented to my mind by . the remarks which have been made by Senator Pearce. In reply to a question, the honorable senator admitted that he was in favour of a local squadron, and I take that to be an admission that a naval defence in some form or other is essential. Not even the most rigid opponent of militarism or the most rigid apostle of economy has ventured to deny that in some form or other we require to provide for the naval defence of these shores. That being so, speaking naturally, in view of the financial position of the Commonwealth and its power to secure a naval defence, what is the best means to adopt? I shall endeavour to show that the agreement now proposed offers us a reasonable solution of the problem, and probably the best solution which we can hope to obtain. Before submitting a few arguments on the matter I should like to refer to one or two statements which have been made by Senator Pearce. I join issue with the honorable senator at once when he states that the commerce of Australia would not be disturbed by a naval war ; and if there were no commerce carried by ships to and from Australia, the Commonwealth would be a self-sustaining community.
– I said there was no analogy between Great Britain and Australia in that respect.
– I understood the honorable senator to say that in the event of a naval war in which Great Britain was engaged we should not be seriously inconvenienced.
– I said that there was no analogy between the position of the United Kingdom in the case of a naval war, and the position of Australia.
– Probably there is not, but I think the inference which may be drawn from the honorable senator’s remarks is that in his opinion the injury which might result to Australia in the event of a naval war would be infinitesimal. I desire to interpret the honorable senator fairly, and if that is his contention I join issue with him at once. It may be contended that because we can grow all the bread-stuffs and raise all the meat we require here, our commerce would not be seriously injured, but what would become of our great exports of wool and minerals ? Is that trade to stand still for a number of years ; and are those products to accumulate on wharfs and in warehouses while a maritime war lasts 1
– A large proportion of that trade is carried in German bottoms.
– But does it matter where it goes, or whether it is carried in British or German bottoms ?
– If England were at war with France the German ships would be neutral.
– But supposing England were at war with Germany % Honorable senators may pick out a particular nation whose naval operations would not seriously affect us ; but I am not speaking with regard to particular nations at all. The position advanced by Senator Pearce was that the interruption of Australian, commerce would not seriously affect us. And I say that no matter where the interruption . came from we should be seriously affected by it, if only in the way I mention, by the accumulation within our borders of produce for which we have no use here, and which is only of value to us in proportion as we can export it. Senator Pearce referred to Holland, and endeavoured to draw a deduction applicable to our case. Surely the honorable senator cannot institute comparisons between the position of Holland and Great Britain. Java is safe for the same reason that Holland is safe, but that does not insure the safety of Australia, because Great Britain, of all the maritime powers, is most likely to be engaged in a naval war. And if she were engaged in a naval war there is no example which we can draw from history or experience which suggests that- Australia would escape the natural consequences of being under the British Crown. Whether we liked it or not, and indeed whether we were visited by a hostile fleet or not, we should be required to make all the necessary preparations for such a visitation. The honorable senator also spoke of the United States Navy, which is being built and added to, as being established for offensive purposes. The little reading I have been able to devote to the subject only strengthens the view I have held, as a layman, that we cannot separate offence and defence in naval warfare. The most effective defensive operations of Great Britian have always been those which have appeared at first sight to be offensive.
– We know that they were offensive at all times. Senator MILLEN. - They were offensive to her enemies no doubt.
– They were offensive operations against countries that were not Great Britian’s enemies. She was their enemy, and they were attacked.
– Captian Mahan, a well-known American writer, has pointed out that at the time the British fleet blockaded the French ports, though ostensibly that was an offensive action, it was in reality the truest defence which could have been set up to protect the shores of Great Britain.
– France was not attacking England.
– Then I do not know what I should call it.
– I know what I should call it.
– Very well, I amnot concerned about that. War having been declared, it must be the desire of every Britisher - I am not speaking of Senator Stewart now - to see his country come well out of the conflict, and carry the war to a successful issue. I repeatagain, on the authority of the naval writer to whom I have referred, and who isaccepted as an authority, that the best defence that England could have made at thetin]e referred to, as was proved by the result, was the blockading of the French ports. If, following the argument of Senator Pearce, we are not likely to beattacked at all, why should we have any army ? If Australia really lived this charmed life and is going to escape all the trouble which must come from her position as part of an Empire in close touch with European nations who are not too friendly, why should we bother about having a single soldier in the different States.
– Why not subsidize the British Army ?
– For the simple reason that there is a great difference between bodies of troops operating on land, and in consequence not so easily moved from point to point, and a mobile force like a navy.
– I fail to see the difference.
– The honorable senator will admit that I am not responsible for that.
– We are going in for’ a fleet on the hire system - on the timepayment system.
– The argument isadvanced that there is really no need for us to pay this money, as we shall obtain somemeasure of protection from the Imperial Navy whether we contribute or not. I shall declineseriously to consider that argument. I know of no words which, if we look into the argument, are too stong to affirm the meanness of a proposition of that kind. I ask Senator Pearce to draw a parallel between the case he sets up and that of a workman asked to join a union and to contribute a little of his time and money for the support of such an association of his fellow-workmen. Suppose that the workman answered - “ No, I shall not pay anything. The little amount I could give to the union would not make any difference. I know that the union will go on just as well, and my trade and interests will be equally protected whether I join or not.” That is an absolute parallel to the proposition advanced that we need not contribute because we shall get all the protection we need without paying anything for it.
– And that America will look after us also.
– I have not suspected our American cousins of so much generosity. If the Empire did become engaged in a war, I think, speaking so far as one can see into the future, that America would be likely to adopt a neutral attitude. I cannot for a moment believe that the public spirit of Australia has fallen so low as to be willing to accept an advantage because force of circumstances may compel Great Britian to grant it without our being ready to the extent of our limited means to contribute something to the cost of it. I come back to the question whether there is any need of a naval defence of Australia at all. I take it that it is generally admitted, and even Senator Pearce has admitted, that some naval defence is necessary. The question then arises whether it will be best secured by the establishment of a purely local squadron, or by the assistance of the Imperial authorities in some such form as that provided by this agreement. While I have every sympathy with the very natural aspiration - I suppose we all share it - to see Australia with her own ships, manned by her own men, I remind honorable senators that we must be always bound in what we determine upon not altogether by what we want, but by what we can afford to have. In this matter there are two alternatives before us. First of all, are we in a position to pay a much larger amount to maintain an equally adequate force to that proposed under this agreement t
– Do we need an equal force 1
– I am coming to that. I do not pretend to have any special knowledge of the figures, but I do not see how the Commonwealth can maintain an equally efficient force for anything less than £500,000 a year. I think the cost would be very much greater than that ; but I submit figures at which no one can cavil.
– The honorable senator should first prove that we need such a force.
– Senator Matheson will, perhaps, allow me to argue in my own way. In order to maintain an equally efficient naval force to that proposed under this agreement, the cost would amount to a sum of money which, I venture to think, is beyond the finances of the Commonwealth at the present time. The cost of the squadron proposed to be provided under the agreement is somewhere about £2,500,000. Ten per cent, on that amount for interest, maintenance, and sinking fund would not be an excessive charge to assume. In addition to that, we should have the men to provide for, and we should have to allow for the rapidity with which ships of war become obsolete.
– How long will they last %
– On the authority of the Imperial Navy authorities the ships supplied under the existing agreement, which has been in force for only fourteen years, are obsolete for the work required of them here.
– They are not obsolete ; they are inefficient.
– They are obsolete in the opinion of naval experts for the work required’ of them here, but they are not necessarily obsolete for work required in other places.
– Four of them are to be continued under the new agreement.
– There is a clause in this agreement which provides that they are to be kept of a modern type.
– Four of the present ships are to be continued.
– T - Three are to be continued as drill ships. .
– I have no doubt that, though they may become obsolete for one kind of work, a very useful sphere of action may be found for them in the larger Imperial naval system. As a layman, I accept the statement of the Imperial naval authorities, that the ships supplied under the existing agreement are to-day obsolete for the work Australia may require of them, should occasion arise.
– They were inefficient when they came out.
– That being so, I am estimating the charge for interest;, sinking fund, and maintenance at £250,000 a year. I am satisfied that the cost involved in the wages of seamen and officers, and the continual replacing of the ships’ armament, will be equal to a similar amount. That would involve an expenditure of £500,000 a year.
I am certain the amount would be very much greater, but I prefer to use figures to which no objection can be taken. Is Australia prepared, or in a position, to pay £500,000 a year?
– Is it necessary ?
– I shall come to that point directly. I say that to maintain a purely Australian Squadron as adequate for our protection as the force which the Imperial authorities offer us under this agreement would be to make a financial demand upon us which we are not in a position to meet. I will take now the question which seems to be agitating the mind of Senator M atheson very much at the present moment, as to whether a force of this character is required. I will assume that it is not ; and I will assume also that the moneywe are asked to pay under this agreement is voted for a purely Australian Squadron. What shall we get for £200,000 a year? Allowing for all the necessary contingent expenses, can a naval force that will be efficient be maintained here for £200,000 a year?
– Yes ; to make a start.
– Yes ; but the other powers will not wait until we get going.
– C - Captain Creswell says that it will require £350,000 a year, and he is the only authority who has spoken on that subject.
– I understand also that Captain Creswell is an authority upon whom certain honorable senators place great value. That is £350,000 a year for a force which Senator Matheson thinks would be sufficient.
– For four ships.
– F - For four ships, to be completed in . 1909.
– If Senator Matheson could obtain an assurance that the other powers will hold Australia sacred until we have time to develop our navy, there would be something in the contention.
– Sir George Turner has said that we have that assurance for the development of our land forces.
– I say that if such an assurance were given it might have some weight, but not very much, because I do not place too great a stress upon the friendly assurances of nations which, as circumstances appear to require it, can become hostile.
– What about the Commonwealth Treasurer?
– I am not now dealing with the Commonwealth Treasurer, but with the Naval Agreement.
– We are insured peace for four years.
– By whom ?
– By Sir George Turner ; in order that we may get our land forces completed.
– The honorable senator knows perfectly well that the hand of the Government, so far as our military establishment is concerned, was forced by the apostles of economy, and that the Government military programme to-day is not the Government military programme as first introduced. The honorable senator is now begging the question I am raising, which is this : Can he pretend that £200,000 a year will give us a purely Australian Squadron which will be efficient ?
– We can start it.
– We cannot hope to stand still until we have time to develop our navy, and we cannot, during its development, be without the adequate protection which I think we ought to have.
– We are without adequate protection at the present moment. We have neither ammunition, guns, nor equipment.
– The honorable senator says we have neither guns, equipment, nor anything else ; but it is just the purpose of this agreement to provide them. I take it that within a . reasonable time after this agreement is signed the force provided for under it will be sent here.
– T - The agreement will commence to take effect as soon as the first moneys are appropriated, and the ships will, of course, be supplied immediately.
– I think it may be safely assumed, and the interjections of Senator Matheson have but strengthened me in my belief, that for a sum of £200,000 no Australian Navy can be established which will be half as powerful, or nearly half as efficient as the force provided for under the agreement. If that is so, the only point I care to consider in addition, is whether the agreement contains any objectionable features. I remind Senator Pearce, who has denounced the contribution under the agreement as a tribute, that this is not a new departure ; it is but carrying a little’ further a system which has been in operation here for the last fourteen years. Senator Symon asked just now whether we could not continue the existing agreement, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I think, gave the honorable and learned senator a very appropriate answer when he said that the protection provided by the existing agreement was not sufficient. It is true that under the new agreement we are being asked to pay something more, but even a casual glance at its terms will show that we are getting a very much more substantial additional protection than is represented by the extra amount we shall be called upon to pay. We are to have a squadron superior in numbers and efficiency, and one very remarkable and substantial advantage provided by the agreement is that opportunities are to be afforded for the training of Australian seamen. If we are to start an Australian Navy, as I assume we will in due course, we shall not make seamen in five minutes, and under this agreement opportunities will be provided for training our own men in modern ships, under skilful instructors and commanders, and under theconditions which would prevail in time of war. Under this provision of the agreement, when the time arrives when we shall have an Australian Navy, we shall have perhaps not all the men we require, but a sufficient number of trained men to take charge of and man our ships, and to provide a training school for fresh material. This is an advantage of a very important character, and one which in itself would in my opinion be absolutely cheap at the additional amount we are called upon to pay.
– We have had facilities for training 1,700 men.
– Does the honorable senator compare the facilities provided for training men under the existing agreement with those provided under the agreement now proposed ?
– I say that we have had these facilities before.
– W - We have no facilities under the existing agreement, except that we may train men in our own naval service.
– That is so.
– W - What training goes on there?
– We have a good example of that in Sydney, in our Naval Brigade.
– There are no ships there.
-I believe that they have the ships in Adelaide and not the men.
– We sent away the Protector in three days fully manned and equipped for foreign service, and with a crew that was praised by the Commander-in-Chief on the China station.
– Where did that crew come from?
– Were they all Adelaide men?
– They were all Adelaide men, and they were as fine a crew as ever stepped on board a manofwar.
– I do not wish to depreciate the men of the Protector, nor the Protector herself, but my point is that the facilities for training Australian seamen are much greater under the proposed agreement than under the existing agreement. As we are getting a much better naval force, the question is whether it is needed, and whether we are justified in paying the extra amount. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that, with our growing trade, this defence expenditure may be regarded only as an insurance fund ; and if we were justified in agreeing to pay £106,000 per annum fourteen years ago, we are more justified now in agreeing to pay £200,000 per annum. There is not only the growing trade, but the increased naval activity of nations which may become hostile. Germany, particularly, is making strenuous efforts to extend her navy, and we have seen the gradual approach of the great northern power, Russia, which on the Asian coast to-day has a large portion of her naval forces, and is in touch with them by means of her transcontinental railway. All these facts increase our obligation to provide more adequate defence than was deemed sufficient fourteen years ago. The other objection, and, so far, as I can see, the primary objection to the agreement, is that it takes the Australian Squadron away from Australian control. That is a point on which I am prepared to accept authority rather than to deal with argument. It seems to me that laymen who attempt to deal with this branch of the subject from their own reasoning are rushing in where, we are told, “angels fear to bread.” I am content to take advantage of the best authorities I can find in order to ascertain whether there is. in central control any advantage which is more than counterbalanced by some possible advantage in local control. I propose to ask the Senate to bear with me while I give one or two short quotations from Captain Mahan’s book entitled Retrospect and Prospect. At page 55 of that book, which is perhaps better described as a series of papers Captain Mahan says -
The necessary aim of both (contending nations) is superiorityat the point of contact.
In that one sentence it appears to me there is summed up the whole of the policy which ought to direct naval operations in actual warfare. Let us suppose that there is a strong Russian fleet, as there really is, in Chinese waters, and that the British fleet is only equal to the Russian force. We know that the British fleet as a whole is far the superior, but at this particular point of contact it may be inferior or only equal. Under the circumstances, would it be good or bad policy to strengthen the British fleet by adding the Australian Squadron in order to demolish the Russian force before the latter could join hands with the other portion of the Russian fleet ? I do not regard the question as arguable.
– The other portion of the Russian fleet might be in Port Jackson.
– I take it that long before the other portion of the Russian fleet could get to Port Jackson, the British fleet, if doing its duty, and not disabled, would be close alongside.
– But supposing the British fleet were disabled ?
– Then the little squadron proposed under the agreement could not save Australia.
– Then of what good is the agreement ?
– It has never been contended that the force provided under the agreement is adequate for the protection of Australia. We could not bear the financial strain of providing an adequate force. Britain herself could not do it.
– Who is going to touch Australia?
– Any nation which happens to be at war with England.
– Then why is Java not touched ?
– Who is at war with Holland?
– Holland is just as likely to go to war as is any other nation.
– Holland is practically under the protection of the powers, and has withdrawn from the first rank of ambitious nations. Holland is no longer a menace, and, though she might prove so, such is the international jealousy that the powers have practically agreed to regard her as neutral territory ; and so long as she preserves that neutrality she is not likely to be attacked. Is Great Britain in that position ?
– Australia ought to be.
– If honorable senators will say at once that they are anxious to “ cut the painter,” I shall understand the force of their arguments. I did not, however, suspect Senator Pearce of such an idea.
– The honorable and learned senator never heard me express such an idea.
– Captain Mahan, at page 203 of the same book from which I have already quoted, says -
What Australia needs is not her petty fraction of the Imperial Navy, a squadron assigned to her in perpetual presence, but anorganization of naval force which constitutes a firm grasp of the universal naval situation.
– What does that mean?
– Surely honorable senators do not come here to have explained to them the meaning of ordinary language ?
– I have puzzled over that passage, and I confess that I do not understand it.
– If ordinary language is not plain to the honorable senator, it can only be because he has an extraordinary mind.
– Will Senator Millen make the language clear to the Senate ?
– I think the language isclear, and I do not propose to detain nineteen or twenty honorable senators in order to explain ordinary language to an extraordinary mind. It seems to me that I should be simply trifling with the Senate if, merely to suit Senator Matheson, I were to interpret words of the kind. A little further on, Captain Mahan says -
The essence of the matter is that local security does not necessarily nor usually’ depend upon he constant local presence of a protector or squadron, but upon general disposition.
Does that language require any explanation % Captain Mahan further says -
As was said to and of Rodney, “ Unless men take the great line, as you do, and consider the King’s whole dominions as under their care, the enemy must find us unprepared somewhere. It is impossible to have a superior fleet in every port.
I venture to say that these quotations, for what they are worth, sum up- the whole position in favour of central control as against divided control. The advantage of central control is that in an instant, or, at any rate, as rapidly as communication cau be despatched from one part of the world to another, it is possible to mass a superior force against an enemy at a given point. That cannot be done if there is tied to these shores a squadron quite unable to cope with a big or superior naval force, but which would be able to render useful and, it may be, greatly needed assistance if sent to join hands with any other portion of the British Navy. I think we might draw something of a parallel from the arguments used in urging the adoption of Australian Federation. It was pointed out then that each of the States with its little army would be an easy prey to any invading force, but that the capacity in military matters of two men is more than twice that of one man - that by joining hands it would be possible to,mass all the troops at a certain point, and so make our defences effective. The same principle underlies the proposition that there ought to be central control in naval matters. The sea is a broad thoroughfare along which all may pass - unlike land warfare the enemy on the sea may be anywhere. For that reason, it is necessary to have central control, in order to meet an ever-changing front, and to repeat the words I previously used - to be able to mass a superior force at any point where the enemy may be present. That is necessary in order to secure an advantage which I contend is obtainable only under central control. That is the proposition and principle maintained by every writer that I have had an opportunity of reading.
– I rise to oppose the measure. I should like to say at the outset, that I do not know that any one could, under similar circumstances, have made a better bargain than the Prime Minister made; but the conditions were such, that no one, with the limited knowledge of the subject which the Prime Minister necessarily must have, could make a good bargain against the experts on the other side. Aman when he is putting up a large building does not himself arrange with the builder, but employs a skilled architect to make the bargain, and see the work carried out. The Prime Minister was at a disadvantage in not having the advice of experts interested on his side, especially when he was at the very fountain head where more is known of these subjects, perhaps, in the way of making bargains than is known in any part of the British Empire. The Prime Minister made the best bargain he could under the circumstances, but the bargain is not good enough. It has now been asked - “ Why not keep to the old agreement 1 “ but to that question Senator Millen made no reply. The reason, however, is obvious enough. The old agreement provides that the Australian Auxiliary Squadron shall not be removed from Australian waterswithout the consent of six separate Governments. That is a condition which the Admiralty wish to overcome, and they desire a fresh arrangement in order that they may be able to move the shipsat any time they think fit. One argument used against the establishment of an Australian Navy is that vessels become obsolete in ten or fifteen years. If it be true, why did the British Admiralty allow us to pay £106,000 a year for obsolete vessels ? Why did the Admiralty allow us to live in a fool’s paradise and make us pay for the privilege ? The vessels may be obsolete as fa* as their class is ‘concerned, but they can, no doubt, be used for purposes other than those for which they were specially built. In the British Navy there are no fewer than thirty-nine vesselsfourteen years old and upwards which are still in commission. The Orlando, the formerflagship of the Australian station, now on the China station, is fifteen years old, and still “ going strong.” The machinery and the armaments to a greater extent may become obsolete, but the vessels can scarcely be so described.
– The Royal Arthur is ten or twelve years old.
– I believe the Royal Arthur is twelve years old, and the
Cerberus, which is thirty years old, is to be re-armed at a cost of £20,000 or £25,000. When the work on the latter vessel is carried out, the Cerberus, will be more than a. match for any enemy’s vessel which may find its way into Port Phillip Bay. I hope I am able to speak with some little authority on the management of men ; and, from my experience, I am firmly of opinion that the provision for two separate rates of pay will not prove satisfactory. If the Australians are paid bigger wages than the men in the British Navy there is bound to be grumbling and dissatisfaction ; and when men are dissatisfied they do not give their best services. The term “ special “ rates of pay is rather vague. Are the- wages to be specially high or specially low 1 A difference of 6d. or 3d. a day might be described as a special rate, and I think that in this respect there ought to be some clearer definition. Is it likely that the Admiralty will employ Australians and pay them wages, say, 50 per cent, higher than are paid to the other men on the ships, when men can be got in the United Kingdom at lower rates As a fact, the contribution of £200,000” is only £94,000’ per annum more than we have paid hitherto,, and the whole is a contribution, top the support of the navy, which costs £34,000,000 per annum. The proposed contribution has. been described as a “-drop in the bucket,” but to my mind it can more justly be compared to. a drop in two buckets. It has been said that the spirit of the agreement ought to be kept; and on this point I should like to read an extract from the report of the Conference of naval experts- representative of the now federated States, which was held in 189>9;. This is what that report says about the spirit of the agreement entered into between Australia and. the Admiralty :: -
When the Auxiliary Squadron was first established: by agreement between tha- Colonies and Admiralty, it was generally understood, in Australia at any rate, that the ships would form a means of drilling and training Australian seamen .. This expectation has never been realized, the vessels, in reserve having been, always laid up in Sydney,, and uo attempt has been made to utilize them for the benefit of the- local naval force. There has consequently been no advance in Australia’s ability to undertake any honorable share in her sea defences The present policy, viz., that of the payment in> specie in return for naval defence furnished in toto by the mother country, makes no advance whatever. Twenty or fifty years hence Australia’s ability for sea defence - self-defence - will be- as to-day and as it was ten years ago. A continuance of the present policy involves either the periodical increase of the amount paid to the Imperial Government for naval defence, that the growing trade and interests of the Federation may be adequately protected or, if that amount be not increased, we must expect a justifiable complaint from the British taxpayer. In this connexion it is well to remember the high point already reached by the Imperial Naval Estimates. In the event of a European combination of such strength as to occupy the attention of the British fleets, the continuance of a policy which in no way advances Australian ability for sea defence might have disastrous consequences.
This is the deliberate opinion of naval experts, who are presumed to be men of ability and well acquainted with the conditions prevailing in Australia. They are men who should be able to give us the best possible advice. The- Conference in question was composed of Captain Hixson Captain Creswell, Captain Collins, Commander Drake,, and Commander Tickell. Senator Millen made reference to an estimate that nothing less than. £500,000 would be sufficient to provide an adequate naval force for Australia.
– I do not say that. I said to maintain a force equal to .the one we should obtain under the agreement. I did’ not speak of its adequacy.
– Presumably the force provided under the agreement is adequate, otherwise the Admiralty is at fault. The experts from whom I have quoted go on to say-
The cost of the maintenance of the local naval forces in Australia is at present about £65,000 per annum, which, together with that of £l’26i000 contributed each year towards the cost of the Australian- Squadron, makes- a total annual expenditure on Australian naval defence of £191,000.
I ask honorable senators to pay particular attention to this, paragraph -
The Conference are of opinion that this expenditure, controlled by the Federal Government, would be sufficient to provide for the maintenance of fi ve- second-class cruisers. £191,000 for five second-class cruisers.
– Who is going to pay for the cruisers ?
– The honorable senator is allowing nothing for cost, and nothing for interest, maintenance, and replacing;
– We Will hear what Captain Creswell’ says about that. He says -
An Appropriation. Act extending over ten years, setting aside £300,000 to £350,000 annually for naval defences, would be a more satisfactory arrangement.
That includes the cost of purchasing the vessels.
– No ; because theamount which we shall pay under the agreement does not provide anything like the interest on the money spent in building the vessels.
– I am showing what CaptainCres well says, and he is regarded as being, perhaps, one of the best, if not the best, authority on this subject in Australia.
– From what source is the honorable senator quoting?
-From Captain Creswell’s report on Australian Marine Defence, page 5. He goes on to say -
It would suffice to provide a fleet of five cruisers suitable for our defence and leave no debt. If continued, even at a reduced amount, it would provide for all renewals as required. The total vote for defence is £850,000. The naval vote of £350,000 is a moderate proportion in a country only liable to a naval attack.
Further on he gives details as to how he arrives at that particular figure. So far as a landsman can judge, Captain Creswell’s conclusions are satisfactory. I will leave honorable Senators to judge for themselves ; but I take this to be an authoritative statement by a man who is an expert in naval affairs. The Vice-President of the Executive Council stated that if we had a fleet of our own, men would have to be brought from England. He also dwelt at some length upon the fact that a good deal of the money spent on the squadron by Australia would return to us in the form of expenditure by the British Government in Australia and New Zealand. That remark would be quite true if Australians were employed in the navy. Butvery few of them would be employed. Suppose the agreement is not adhered to in its spirit as well as in its letter in this respect. How can we compel the Admiralty to fulfil their part in it 1 We have no means of compelling them. They can put pressure upon us by taking away the ships, but we shall have no influence whatever over them. Senator O’Connor also stated yesterday that there would be great difficulty in obtaining suitable men in Australia to man the fleet. I do not think there would be the least difficulty in obtaining as many men as were required. It is quite true that we may require skilled officers from England, but I have no doubt that Australia could supply the men. Similar statements were made when our troops were being sent to South Africa. Imperial officers said that they would be mere wood and water “joeys.” At first when they arrived in South Africa they were set to fetch and carry for the “ Tommies “ from London. But it was very soon discovered that Australian troops compared favorably with any soldiers in South Africa. I do not see why Australian sailors should not compare equally favorably with sailors from England. Trade must be protected, said Senator O’Connor. That argument has been replied to very effectively by Senator Pearce. It is not the cargo that has to be protected, but the vessels which belong to Germany, to France, to the United States, to Great Britain, and to other countries. There is not a single vessel carrying oversea goods between Australia and other parts of the world which belongs to Australia.
– What about Archibald Currie’s vessels trading between Australia and India ?
– How many of them? They are little coasting vessels, I suppose.
– They are big vessels.
– I think that if the British Government undertook to protect our oversea trade, and Australia provided a squadron to protect the coastal trade in the event of the Imperial fleet being taken away from our waters, sufficient would be done. I quite admit that no amount of talking will affect the vote ; but I am speaking because I desire to show why I am not in favour of the proposed subsidy, and why I should like to see an Australian Navy established. The estimated cost of the new fleet is £480,000. I am sure that the people of Australia would not begrudge paying £300,000 per annum- that is £100,000 per annum more than we are asked to pay - to secure a fleet of their own. Captain Creswell showed us how we could obtain a fleet by such means. He does not say that it would be an efficient defence for Australia in the first year or two, but for every ship of our own which we purchased the British Governmentcould remove one of theirs, and that process could be continued until we had a fleet sufficiently strong for our purposes. We have heard a. great deal about what has been said by various authorities, but there is one authority who has not been mentioned to whom we should pay a little attention. That is the late Admiral Tryon, who is said by some to- have understood the question of Australian defence better than any other expert who has ever been in these waters. Admiral Tryon was in favour of the establishment of an Australian Navy. It was on his advice that the Auxilary Squadron was established. He expressed his views in favour of a development of that kind over and over again. He says in his letter to Governor Loch upon this question -
As a general principle we come to this in each case of war. Wherever your enemy is you must get as near him as possible if you would frustrate his designs and the further you are from him the less likely you are to meet him and the less able you are to hinder him.
That is the principle that is being advanced by the advocates of the subsidy. But Admiral Tryon qualifies his view in this way-
If the above is accepted it will follow that any force that is localised may be one whose action is limited designedly for special purposes and to special seas. While it may be of the greatest value and its existence but a sequence to the general principles above sketched it does not fall into place side by side with the main force, but is rather an adjunct to it and a very important necessary adjunct, as I shall now endeavour to show, for on my so doing depends whether from a wide and national point of view we are right in localizing a naval sea-going force at all.
– That shows the necessity of attacking an enemy by means of a fleet under one control.
– I ‘ quite admit that in the case of war our navy should be under the command of the British Admiral, but with the limitation that he should not be able to remove our vessels from our own waters. So long as our vessels remain in our own waters they should be under the command of the Admiral on the station in time of war, but he should have no power to send them where he thought fit outside of Australian waters. In another letter Admiral Tryon. says -
It is well to consider what a small squadron could do -
He is speaking of a flying squadron coming against us. supposing it arrived off our coast having avoided detection, the Admiral in command deceived by false reports gone to New Zealand, with the telegraphs cut.
He points out many contingencies that might arise, all going to show that the wisest thing for us is to have a naval force permanently stationed in Australian waters, and not removable, though under the. control of the Admiral on the station in case of war. That is to say, the Australian vessels should work in harmony with the Admiral’s ships. Admiral Tryon who took great interest in the subject sketches out an agreement in the document from which I have just quoted. One clause provides that at no time should these vessels be removable from the waters of Australia without the consent of the Governments of the Colonies. I have nothing further tosay except that I am determined to oppose the agreement. I have expressed my opposition to it on previous occasions. It is not the amount of money to which I object so much as the principle. I shall always support the establishment of an Australian Navy.
– We have heard many interesting and many diverse views upon the subject under discussion, and I fancy that I shall add to that diversity by the observations which I shall make. In the first place, I may state that I have already pledged myself to support the agreement.
– It is never too late to mend.
– But it is always too late for me to go back on my word.
– The honorable senator is not a politician.
– I am not a politician, and I do not aspire to be one.
– Did the honorable senator know what the agreement was when he pledged himself to vote for it 1
.- I had not read the whole of the agreement; but I will deal with that point as I proceed. The first thing that strikes my attention in the agreement is this : In the schedule it is set forth, first of all, that it is necessary to have a single navy, under one authority, to insure concerted action ; and, secondly, there are set forth the advantages to be derived from developing the sea power of Australia and New Zealand. Those are the two main principles contained in the schedule. The first - the necessity for a single navy under one control to insure concerted action - is almost a truism. It must be patent to every one that a navy under a single authority would be far more effective, and, other things being equal, more successful, than a series of small units operating separately. In fact, if I may use another truism to explain my view, the successful general, or successful commander, is he who can heat his enemy in detail ; that is to say, who can concentrate upon a series of weak points; and generally roll up his adversary. That is the great principle which is applicable not only to operations on land, but by water also. There is a point that I should like to emphasize before going any further. It is this : There is nothing inconsistent in the proposal that we should have an Australian Navy, manned and controlled entirely in Australia, with all the morale and all the advantages that would attach to a local force, and the broad principle that in time of war every State in the Empire having the control of its local forces should place them voluntarily and without question underonesupremehead, whoever he might be. It might be the Admiralty in England, or in the future it might be the Admiraltyin Australia. The second point to which I desire to call attention is the advantage to be derived from the development of the sea power of Australia. That is recognised. Will the agreement carry out what we desire? Speaking: without hesitation or reservation, I very much doubt if it will. The whole point of this agreement is the aim of the Admiralty to raise an Australian force as a supplement to what I may call for the moment the British Navy. Will any one believe that the annual contribution of £200,000 is an important consideration with the Admiralty ? The whole question with the Admiralty is the raising of a naval force of Australians in these States. That is the point round which the interests of the British Government centre, and which no one seems, as yet to have touched.
– The First Lord of the Admiralty has practically told us so in his memorandum, but not so strongly as the honorable senator is putting it.
– I have not seen it.. That is the point on which I join issue with the agreement ; although I am prepared to support its adoption for reasons which I shall state by-and-by. To my mind, the blot on the agreement is that it will be the means of raising, in our midst, or, at all events, of ear-marking, anumber of men who will be trained without acquiring those qualities which go to create an interest in local surroundings - with feelings foreign to Australia. It may be said that later on these men would form the nucleus of an Australian Navy if we should decide to make a departure and to establish it. That might be so, but there must be a beginning. Why should we not make it ourselves ?. Are we effete ? Have we not that spirit of self-reliance which has enabled us to build- up these States, and which has done so much to advance what we now call the British Empire? At the present stage of our history shall we hand over our dutyto the mother country and say - “ For God’s sake take this burden from us ; we are unable todefend ourselves?”
– If the honorable senator goes on in that way he will be called a pro-Boer.
– Never mind. This agreement strikes at the foundation of our national life. It will tend to keep us from realizing our responsibilities.
– Suppose that they should not succeed in raising the men here, what then ?
– All these little points are beside the question.
– Would not that meet the honorable senator’s objections ?
-Col. CAMERON.- The agreement will be the means of raising in Australia a force who will be alien in sympathy to their local surroundings. I doubt whether the naval authorities will succeed in raising a force here. We ought not to calculate upon that possibility. We ought to take the agreement as it is, and to be prepared loyally to support its provisions for a limited term. We should not hide ourselves behind the possibility of saying- “ Here is a contribution of £200,000, but we shall not let you have the men. We shall put every obstacle in the way of your getting them.” If we accept the agreement we ought to do all in our power to carry out its spirit. The foundation of patriotism is laid in our homes, and radiates to the farthest limits of the Empire. Let it be clearly understood that the agreement is only of a temporary nature ; and that on the expiration of the ten years we shall undertake the formation of a Davy, and accept the duties and responsibilities of our local naval defence. Unless we take that course, we shall have the naval authorities raising up in Australia a force with sympathies foreign to local institutions, and to our own people. What benefit would accrue to the Empire if the navy were off the shores of Europe, or in the Eastern seas, and we were without any protection ? Would that system, I ask, foster in any way that pride of Empire, that spirit of union, which every one of us - without exception, I believe - hope will continue to animate the Anglo-Saxon race under the Union Jack?
– Does the honorable senator mean that the men trained in these ships will be foreign to Australian ideals ?
– If a force of Australians is raised under British officers^and British institutions their sympathies and views will be foreign to Australian aspirations. I speak as a practical man who has had some experience. The agreement is an excellent bargain for us ; but there are matters of more importance to be considered. It involves the surrender of. the right of the people of the Commonwealth to protect not only their mercantile interests but their shores. It would appear that we are incapable of undertaking the responsibilities of national life. Through the Prime Minister we have practically pledged ourselves to accept the agreement, and on that ground I support its adoption for ten years.
– The existing agreement was made for ten years, but it has lasted for fourteen or fifteen years.
N- In the life of a nation, a year or two is nothing.
– The Prime Minister has not pledged the Parliament.
.- I shall never be one to repudiate or to tie the hands of the Prime Minister, when he is endeavouring to do his best according to his lights.
– But Senator O’Connor says the Prime Minister has not pledged the Parliament.
.- Senator O’Connor has said that the Prime Minister is pledged, subject to the approval of Parliament.
– I - I said that Parliament is not pledged.
.- The Prime Minister has indicated that he is prepared to resign his position if the Bill is not accepted, and that action ha3 weighed so much with the British Government that they have built hopes upon it. With war clouds, which any one who turns his eye towards the East can see, this is not the time to be too critical on minor points.
– My first duty is to congratulate the supporters of the Bill on the easy way in which they are satisfied with the kind of support it is receiving. I listened with the greatest interest to Senator Cameron. His speech did him, I think, infinite credit. A more crushing denunciation of the agreement it would be difficult to conceive. A more fatal analysis of what he described as the blots of the measure could scarcely have been presented. I only regret that he does not feel that an instrument which he described, I think accurately, as one which strikes a blow at our national life ought not to. be supported. Like my honorable friend, I adhere to the views which I expressed in my speech on the address in reply. I also adhere to the course which I then indicated I should take of voting against the agreement in every form in which the issue may be put to the Senate. T do not intend to speak at particular length, because there are honorable senators who are much more copiously informed on the details of this subject than I could possibly be. I should have liked to listen to some of them before offering my views, but I intend to adhere to my decision to vote against the Bill. I certainly have been surprised to hear the statement made by Senator Cameron, who, I am sure would not have made the statement if he did not implicitly believe it to be true that the Prime Minister had declared that if this agreement were defeated he would resign - that it would amount to a violation of a compact binding upon him, and therefore,’ in the circumstances, binding upon the Commonwealth of Australia. I deny that that is the situation. I do not believe for an instant that it ever entered into the Prime Minister’s head to take a course which would have been playing false with the conditions upon which he went to London last year, and entered into the Conference which then took place, an outcome of which was this Naval Agreement. I give credit to the Prime Minister for having a desire to make the best possible arrangement for Australia. I give the fullest credit to the right honorable gentleman that, so far as the mere bargain is concerned, it is an excellent one ; so far as the amount is concerned, it is a mere bagatelle.
But that is not the question. I am sorry that a suggestion should be made which would hamper debate, which would hamper us in the expression of our views upon a great national question, in ‘ respect to an agreement which, in its present form, strikes at the foundations of our national life.
– The Prime Minister did threaten to resign if a certain amendment were carried in the Bill.
– That is another matter altogether. I am quite sure the Prime Minister is too good a son of Australia to utter a threat of that kind with a view to burking discussion, or preventing the free exercise of our votes in regard to the approval or disapproval of this agreement. Of course I do not ask Senator Cameron to change his determination as to the way in which he shall vote ; but I . do hope that this question will be considered free from any . influence of party, and free from any such fetter as would be imported into a discussion of this kind by such an intimation as the honorable senator has suggested to the Senate. My ‘honorable friend, Senator Millen, in referring to the agreement, said one or two things to which I should like very briefly to refer. One view which the honorable senator put before us was founded upon certain quotations from Captain Mahan. We may very well have the utmost respect for Captain Mahan, but
We know that, with all his power as a theorist and as a naval biographer - and no man has written a finer biography than Captain Mahan has written of Nelson - Captain Mahan is not in the position of our own British Admirals to speak upon this question of the naval defence of Australia. And when I find British Admirals supporting the view which I take, and disagreeing with this subsidy, I feel that I am on fairly solid ground in following their guidance’ so far as regards the expert side of this question. When we are told that it is necessary that we should have a grasp of the universal naval situation, all 1 can say is that that is a misapprehension under which many people have been labouring. We do not need to have an aggressive naval force, which may be sent all over the world. We are not, nor do we require to be, in the position of the mother country, whose very existence depends upon the control of the sea.
– She is always looking for fight.
– I do not say that she is always looking for fight; my belief is perhaps the other way, that she is always looking for security and peace ; but it is the security and peace which can only be obtained by the possession of the dominant power. The position of the mother country is quite different from ours. The mother country is dependent upon the control of the sea for her sustenance, to preserve her from invasion, to preserve her mercantile marine, and that commercial supremacy, that trade which is the very life-blood of Britain. That is not our situation. It is true that we cannot separate, as Senator Millen has said, the offensive and the defensive in naval operations. Senator Cameron cheered that view, and if I may humbly . say so, I am a follower of his in that respect. But that is an expression which can only properly be used when we are dealing with a great fleet like that which England, Prance, or Germany possesses, or when we are dealing with a condition of things totally opposed to that which prevails in Australia. What we require here, independently of the posses-: sion of the Imperial fleet, is a coastal defence of our own. We require to defend ourselves.
– How many ships shall we require ?
– Senator Zeal is a far greater naval expert than I can pretend to be. But I am not now dealing with the number of vessels required, but with the principle raised by this particular agreement, and our situation. Our situation is that of a nation which undoubtedly has foi its first line of defence the sea surrounding its shores. Then my honorable friend, Senator Millen, said - “ Surely the public spirit of Australia would not permit us to refuse so small a contribution as this.” My feeling is that the public spirit of Australia ought to take; and does take, quite a different direction. The public spirit of Australia ought to reject a mercenary fleet and a hireling defence. I say that we ought to be prouder, it seems to me, of our new nationhood, our union, our self-government, than to consent to be tied to the apronstrings of any country, whether the mother country or not, for- the defence of our shores.
– Everything apparently is “ hireling ; “ first of all we had “ hireling “
Judges, now we have a hireling mother country and a hireling navy.
– My honorable and learned friend knows that the Senate would have none of the hireling Judges and I hope it will have none of the hireling fleet. I do not take any exception at all to the amount proposed. Some honorable senators have interjected something about generosity. I think that £200,000 is a mere drop in the ocean. I say it is a contemptible thing, and I cannot, for the life of me, understand how the authorities in England can ever have asked for or ever suggested such a huckstering petty contribution–
– They did not suggest it ; we suggested it.
– As a part of the bargain for which we, a nation of over 4,000,000 people, are, if you please, to hang on to the skirts of the mother country for our coastal defence.
– This is only the beginning of the game.
– I admit that there is great force in the contention of Senator Cameron, who says that he objects root and branch to this agreement as striking at the foundations of our national life ; but the honorable senator says that it is only going to last for ten or twelve years. I desire to remind the honorable senator of the extreme danger of the position.
– I - It is the thin end of the wedge.
– As my honorable friend says, it is the thin end of the wedge.
– W - We have had the wedge in for fourteen years already. ‘
– I think it is a pity that we have had it in, but I shall say a word or two about that in a minute. I point out that we are now proposing to do the very thing from which Senator Cameron apprehends such serious danger. W e shall be converting our own men, who are animated by the maritime spirit, into an alien body of men - alien in the sense of which the honorable senator spoke, alien, without any disparagement, in the sense of being foreign. We shall be giving them a connexion and a tie with a navy which is not ours ; with a fleet over which we shall not have one particle of control, and into which there would be some sense in introducing our own flesh and blood only if we were partners in the Imperial Navy, and shared all the responsibilities of foreign wars of aggression and whatever might flow from, them. In the meantime we shall bring about the very state of things which Senator Cameron so very rightly deprecates and warns us against, and we propose to give twelve years in which to bring that about. We shall also suppress the naval spirit of our people, which ought to be stimulated in every possible way, and we shall lull Australia into a false security, because she will be dependent, not upon her self-reliant spirit, but upon the aid of somebody else. 13 it not true that if a man has a hired bravo to protect him when walking out at night, his own self-reliance and power of self-defence are liable to be weakened ?
– That Ls an admirable illustration, I must say.
– Will it not destroy his own sense of self-reliance 1 That is the attitude which Senator Cameron takes towards this question, and I think it is a very sensible and correct attitude upon this question. I take the view that this agreement proposes an altogether new departure. It proposes a new departure in this respect, that hitherto- we have been paying a contribution for an Auxiliary Squadron. The contribution was made up by the various separate States, and under the arrangement we had the absolute control of the squadron, which could not be sent anywhere beyond the shores of Australia without the consent of each of the separate States. In all respects the Auxiliary Squadron was an Australian Squadron, and the new departure, is that we are now getting not an Australian Squadron at all, but simply a section of the Imperial Navy, over which we shall have no control whatever. The moment the Admiralty authorities in England desire that this squadron should operate in some other waters within the sphere of influence, as it is called, it will depart altogether from the shores of Australia.
– Whether in time of peace or in time of war.
– It is only in time of peace that we shall have any assurance of having it here.
– It may be removed, even then.
– It may be removed even in time of peace ; but we shall have the assurance of having it in these waters only during a time of peace. The moment war breaks out, what happens? Away goesour Auxiliary Squadron, whether we like it or not.
– How on the earth can the honorable and learned senator tell that?
-Because it is provided in the agreement that it shall be so.
– No, it is not.
– It is provided in the agreement that it shall be so, at the behest of an outside power.
– We do not know that that behest will be made.
– Of course we do not ; but it is proposed that this self-governing Commonwealth shall put the disposition of its naval forces in the hands of an outside power.
– What outside power ?
– Britain. It is an outside power in this connexion.
-i thought we formed a portion of the British Empire.
– I point out to my honorable and learned friend that if we retain the control of our land forces, there is surely no reason why we should not control our naval forces. We control our Defence Forces at present ourselves.
– I thought that naval defence was a matter of Empire policy.
– The honorable and learned senator has spoken of Great Britain as a man holding a bludgeon.
– I never spoke of Great Britain as a man holding a bludgeon.
– The honorable and learned senator compared Great Britain to a hired bravo.
– The honorable senator does not listen. We shall have no control over the squadron provided under this agreement. I ask honorable senators just to look at the agreement.
– That is the vital difference between the two agreements.
– That being so, why should we, without consulting the people of Australia, adopt an agreement which involves the departure from a state of things which has lasted fourteen years ? We are now onthe eve of the elections, and I see no reason why the opinion of the people of
Australia should not be taken on this question. We have no right, in the expiring weeks of this Parliament, to enter into an arrangement which will pledge Australia for the next ten years. The proposed subsidy is admittedly unappreciable as a payment towards the maintenance of the British Navy. It is a mere tribute - nominal, if honorable senators like - and I do not see why the taxpayers of Australia should be pledged until they have an opportunity of saying whether or not they would prefer a navy of their own. It has been pointed out by one honorable senator that in the course of a number of years we have paid in this way some £1,500,000, and have now absolutely nothing to show for the money except an inefficient squadron.
– Which may be taken away.
– That is so. In the course of ten years, under the new agreement, we shall have paid £2,000,000, and then we shall not only have no navy or coast defence of our own, but we shall have men who, to use Senator Cameron’s expression, have been alienated. Those considerations ought to give us pause. In considering the question of our Imperial relationship, we should have regard to the prospect of differences and difficulties, and even quarrels, which may arise between Australia and England as to the conditions under which the squadron shall be removed from Australian waters.
– There cannot be any squabbles.
– I know the angelic temperament of Senator Dobson ; but intime of war and danger angelic temperaments are very apt to be much ruffled. Under the agreement, the naval force may wander to certain points which are described as imaginary lines on the east coast of Africa, and while it is there skirmishing, we may have privateers and single cruisers descending on our shores and doing incalculable mischief to our land possessions, as well as to our floating trade, withoutthe possibility of intervention for our protection.
– Do not the British Admiralty anticipate these dangers as much as we do?
– If so, they are not provided for in the agreement. The fleet which we shall get must go wherever the Admiralty choose to send it. The Admiralty consist of gentlemen sitting in an office in England ; and in the present day, when there is cable communication over the greater part of the world, many of the naval operations are directed from head-quarters. Under the agreement the fleet has to protect us against vesselswhich threaten the trade or interests of Australia or New Zealand. Will anybody tell me that there is not a fruitful source of difference between Australia and the Admiralty in the determination of the question of when and. by what vessels the trade and interests of New Zealand and Australia are threatened ? The Admiralty may take the view that there is no danger, and send the fleet away to the China seas, although we in Australia may feel that the danger is very real, and wish to have the protection of the warships.
– The Admiralty lay down the basis, and the Admiral of the fleet has to decide.
– The Admiral is subject to the control of the Admiralty.
– In time of war?
– The Admiralty has superior control, and I ask honorable senators seriously to take this provision in the agreement into consideration. Heaven forbid that there should ever be a great war, but suppose there “were, and, with the Empire involved, the sea forces of Britain were called on for service within this sphere of operations, I ask honorable senators to consider the fruitful source of dispute between Australia and England which they are planting in this agreement.
– The honorable senator might as well talk of a dispute between a soldier and his general.
– One loses patience with Senator Dobson. ‘ I am not a soldier of England, and I decline to be dictated to by England in the matter I desire to protect Australia and Australia’s interest. I am not saying whether or not a better agreement could have been made. I am not criticising the measure from that point of view - -but I ask honorable senators in all seriousness to say whether it will not provide a fruitful source of dispute between England and Australia, if ever the unhappy contingency, to which I have referred should arise.
– Any honorable senator who says “ no “-
– I say “ no.”
– I do not want to say anything as to the value which I should ordinarily attach to an assertion of that kind by the honorable senator.
– I do not care whether the honorable senator does so or not j it is quite immaterial.
– It being immaterial, I am content to point out to other honorable senators, who bring a more impartial judgment to bear, that the question of whether or not the trade and interests of Australia and New Zealand are threatened will have to be decided by some one else.’
– Does the honorable senator not think that the mother country has as great a regard for our interests as for her own in this connexion ?
– But there may be a difference of opinion. Senator Best seems to think that I do not suppose the mother, country would fairly consider our trade and interests, whereas I am simply pointing out the possibility that there may be a difference of opinion. We are ready to give our blood and treasure to the Empire ; but if we have to make a contribution, let it be a contribution of men and not of money.
– Where should we get the men?
– Where did we get the men for South Africa ?
– But these were land forces.
– Where did we get the men who went to China ?
– There were only about twenty of them.
– I - If the contribution were given in men, would not that raise the alien feeling of which Senator Symon spoke 1
– When we contribute men we do so with our eyes open, and the alien feeling is a different point. Senator Cameron was one of the first to volunteer for South Africa.
– And he came back as good an Australian as ever.
– We are prepared again to give our blood and treasure, but we want to have a voice in the question whether we shall do so or not. But the taxpayers of Australia, without representation, and without a voice in the decision of peace or war - without an opportunity of saying one word as to the foreign policy of England, which may plunge the Empire into war at any moment - are asked to contribute to the Imperial Exchequer.
– The sum of £200,000 is not a very excessive insurance premium, is it?
– I decline to regard this as a question of insurance. If it be regarded from that point of view, let us adopt the plan of insuring ourselves. Senator Best can see at once that if it is an insurance, it is an insurance only against fire arising from a particular cause in a particular direction. It is not an insurance against all fire, but an insurance which may be taken away when the Admiralty, or the Admiral on the Australian station under the direction of the Admiralty, thinks fit. As to the danger which may come in the shape of a predatory descent we are absolutely where we were before.
– With all our navy, we should look very foolish without the aid of the mother country.
– We all admit that the Imperial authorities must keep up the navy. If, as has been suggested, a proposition were brought down to contribute a battleship, or a sum of money equivalent to a battleship, to the Empire, I should be prepared to give it my support. But I object to paying tribute. I object to this contribution being placed before the people of Australia in the nature of a bargain which leaves our defence to some One else. To a self-governing country such as Australia, with 4,000,000, such a position is absolutely humiliating. When Senator Best alluded to the matter of insurance, I was about to refer to Captain Creswell, whose name has already been mentioned. Within my knowledge Captain Creswell is as competent a naval officer as if he had already been High Admiral. I know of no man more enthusiastic in his profession or more devoted to it than that gentleman, and, moreover, I believe him to have as great a devotion to the mother country as he has to Australia. Captain Creswell would be the last man in the world to suggest anything which could possibly weaken the ties which unite Australia to the Empire ; and in his report he so appropriately and so lucidly expresses what I think ought to be the feeling of every Australian, that I ask honorable senators’ indulgence whilst I read an extract. Let it be understood that I should like to see an Australian Squadron of the Imperial Navy on the shores of Australia, ready and obliged to go anywhere - a squadron which would be part of the Imperial Navy. At the same time 1 desire to see an Australian Naval Force which should also be prepared to go anywhere if necessary, but only by the orders of the Australian authorities. In fact, we must all admit that, whether we pass this Bill or not, the Imperial Navy must have a rendezvous in Australia ; indeed that is set forth in the agreement. If honorable senators will bear that in mind, and listen to Captain Creswell’s words, they will see exactly the point at issue, lt is not a question of amount. It is not a question of maintaining the connexion which we all desire and which I hope we shall live and die to maintain between Australia and the mother country. The question is one which affects our nationality and our self respect. It is from that point of view that Captain Creswell himself has looked at it. He quotes a passage from the Edinburgh Review -
For a maritime State unfurnished with a navy, the sea, so far from being a safe frontier, is rather a highway for her enemies ; but with a navy it surpasses all other frontiers in strength.
Then Captain Creswell goes on -
The above quotation from the Edinburgh Revieu) is of close application to Australia. Our future must be that of a maritime State. It is a truism that the defence of the frontier of a State should be in the hands of its frontiersmen. In Australia our seamen are our frontiersmen. They numbered 32,000 in 1891.
That is twelve years ago. My honorable friends ask, “ Where are we to get the men from?” There were 32,000 seamen, according to Captain Creswell’s statistics, in 1891, and I think we may take it that the number is not fewer now.
– How many of them are British subjects ?
– All of them, I believe.
– Then Captain Creswell goes on -
That Australia should take an active and personal share in her own defence, and especially in that which is her main protection, is so directly in accord with the first principles of defence and our soundest policy as a portion of the Empire, that only reasons of an insuperable kind, such as national incapacity, could compel any other course.
Surely that is so. As has been said, this very agreement is an acknowledgment that we are not able to defend ourselves - that we have not the self-reliance or the courage or the capacity to defend ourselves.
– Nothing of the kind.
– Well, that is how I view it. If my honorable and learned friend is’ willing to be tied to the apron strings of the mother country for his defence, I am not, if I can help it. “ On the other hand,” says Captain Creswell - the alternative proposed, that of an increased contribution to the Imperial Government, is one of stagnation and continued naval impotence for Australia - tying up for an indefinite time the country’s best defensive arm.
– It is tying up nothing ; the agreement allows us to go in for a navy of our own if we choose.
– But does the honorable and learned senator suppose that Australia is going in for a naval expenditure of her own after spending £200,000 a year in a contribution to the British fleet ?
– A mere flea-bite !
– A fleabite to England ; but it is not a flea-bite to us.
– The honorable and learned senator’s own words were “ a paltry contribution.”
– From the point of view of England, with her expenditure of £35,000,000 per annum on naval affairs, £200,000 is a paltry contribution.
– They simply jeer at it in the House of Commons.
– If they jeer at it why do they accept it?
– I will tell my honorable and learned friend why they accept it - because it is supposed to be one of those absurd visible links which a mistaken Imperialism thinks are necessary to bind Australia to the mother country. But I say that it is nothing of the kind.
I say that it is these links, forged in this way, that are the very worst possible systems by which the connexion can be maintained between Australia and the mother country. They become fetters and sources of irritation as time goes on.
– The mother country does not think so.
– The mother country does think so. It is not only Captain Creswell in Australia who takes that view. My honorable and learned friend seems to think that it is only some Australians who are opposed to this particular method of obtaining naval defence.
– The London Spectator has been denouncing it all along.
– The Spectator has always denounced it; but I will quote from the Speaker, one of the best informed papers published in London. Some time ago the Speaker wrote this -
We desire to see local supplementary navies owned by the colonies, and manned and officered by the colonists. Such a squadron would be a help in war time, and in peace would train the colonists in the duties of self-defence - duties which no body of Englishmen would depute. We would not care to see the colonists, as it were, hiring British ships, at so much per ton per annum, to guard their shores. find that some of the most distinguished British admirals take the same view. For instance, Admiral Hopkins a. little while ago, in a letter to the Spectator, wrote this -
In my judgment the reiteration of our demands for money, and moreof it, is undignified, and more likely to estrange and weaken their regard for the mother country than to strengthen their desire for Imperialism. And it is Imperialism we want, and not a miserable contribution in money, which would hardly provide a thirdclass cruiser, and only tends to wound the pride of a young and rising nation, whose susceptibilities should be soothed rather than ruffled. In fact, as you suggest, let them contribute in their own way, and be encouraged to provide reserves, &c. , which would be, as their military volunteers have been, of the greatest use when men are wanted in war time, and of real value on the side where we are navally weakest. On the North American continent, Canada, whose Imperialism none can doubt, refuses to give a money contribution, whilst Newfoundland, a comparatively poor country, supplies her quota of hardy fishermen as naval volunteers - a far better gift than any money concession. I am aware, sir, that you and I are advocating an unpalatable doctrine to many who apparently cannot see that for England (in the plenitude of her wealth), to extract a valueless sum of hard cash from those” who, in their pride of race, consanguinity, and country, would cheerfully pour out their blood for us is rather to retard than advance the Imperialism we desire.
I thoroughly agree with every word of that. And it does not stand by any means alone, because I find that’ another distinguished naval officer, Vice- AdmiralFitzgerald, says the same thing. He uses these words -
One can quite understand this idea of personal service, and the feeling that to have a little thing which you can call your own is much better than to have a share in a bigger business which you cannot call your own. As Touchstone said to Audrey - “ ‘Tis a poor thing, but mine own.” Now, the first Australian navy would be a very poor thing, but their own.
-Th -That is a very unfortunate quotation to make.
– We shall see in a moment whether it is unfortunate. People often call things unfortunate which are against them -
It would come to a vigorous manhood, but if it does not have a beginning I do not see how it is going to get on. No one can doubt that twentyfive years hence Australia will have a navy. Why not start them, andlet them have the money now given to us - a very small drop ? Why not start the navy, even a gunboat, in which they can train their men ?
– We are doing it.
– Doing it ! The Admiral says-“ Pay your £200,000 for a gunboat.” We are not making a beginning. We are simply hiring British ships. The men on board those ships will not be our own. It is said that some of our own men will be trained. But immediately they get on board the vessels of the Britishfleet they will come under the discipline that prevails on those ships.
– They will become Imperial seamen.
– They will become foreign seamen, using the word “ foreign “ in the sense in which Senator Cameron has employed it in this debate. They may be sent to other parts of the world. It may be that at the very time when they would like to be near at hand defending their own hearths and homes they may be sent thousands of miles from our coasts. They may be drafted to other ships. Where shall we be then ? If, in addition to providing ships of our own, it were determined to give this money contribution to the Imperial Navy, I should say - “ By all means, give it.” But it should be detached from this miserable agreement ; as Admiral Hopkins calls it - from this miserable contribution. It should be no part of this bargain. It should be voted independently as a gift from Australia. But do not let us have a bargain of this kind, which does not give us what we want for our coastal defence, and which is totally inadequate, even as an expression of that generosity which some honorable senators say they are willing to show towards that mother country. Then the authority from whom I have quoted says -
I think that is the true policy to be pursued. I sincerely hope the manhood of Australia will insist on giving personal service, and I cannot doubt they will be as ready to go to any part of the world and fight the battles of the Empire as they were in the case of South Africa.
That is the attitude which we ought to adopt. The amount to be paid is not what we have to deal with. If the mere voting of a sum of money were the issue, and if the people of Australia desired to do it in any shape, disconnected with a bargain of this description, I should be one of the first to support the proposal. If the people of Australia wished to contribute in any direct fashion to the navy a battleship, we could consider any proposal of that kind from the most generous and favorable stand-point. But I object to any contribution of the kind for our naval defence. Under this agreement, we shall be paying a tribute which willnotbe an adequate contribution to Imperial expenditure, whilst at the same time it will not secure for us what is adequate for the defence of Australia, so far as we require to provide against any predatory descent by foreign ships, which is the only danger to which we are exposed, and our protection against which is a mere sham. If we put off the making of provision for what is necessary, we ought to allow the present condition of things to continue.
– That is where the sham would come in - in continuing an obsolete force.
– Every naval expert says that the Royal Arthur is not obsolete. If there is no present danger of any foreign naval force coming here, as we are led to believe, there is ample time for us to make provision for our coastal defence.
– The Royal Arthur is no part of the Australian Squadron at all. It is not provided for in the present agreement.
– I always understood that that vessel was a part of the squadron. Certainly I believe she is.
– She is a portion of the Imperial Squadron.
-Of course if she is no part of the squadron it is of no use for us to speak about her. But at any rate she is one of the vessels on the Australian station. I am speaking of the squadron which is under the command of the Admiral on the Australian station. If that squadron is efficient, and is provided for under the existing agreement, it could remain here. This is not a mere question of paying £200,000 to the Admiralty. “We are all ready to do that. What we are dealing with is the hiring of our defence in ships and men under the agreement, which, first of all, does not give us what we want ; and, even if it did, is humiliating to the Commonwealth. Surely we might take an example from Canada, which has refused to contribute toward the support of the Imperial Navy. We find that Sir Wilfrid Laurier, its Prime Minister, made this most statesmanlike declaration -
Do not be in a hurry ; the question is not yet ripe. Above all, do not imagine that Canada could beinduced to furnish an annual fixed subsidy for Imperial purposes. We prefer to strengthen the Empire in other ways. Take, for example, the Canadian-Pacific Railway, by which we have created, at our own expense, a continuous line of communications between the Atlantic and Pacific ports ; or think of the improvements we have made by telegraphs and ocean liners in the communications between England and the Ear East. Such things, which directly benefit the Dominion, are indirectly a valuable contribution to the cause of Imperial unity. . . . Believe me, the best way of strengthening the Empire is not to rush into premature centralization, but to strengthen the constituent parts, and to develop trade relations between them.
Upon that policy Canada has acted. It has refused to give a naval contribution. Surely it is quite as loyal, quite as desirous of assisting the Empire, quite as much alive to the interests of its own naval protection as Australia. Honorable senators will find that Canada has in Newfoundland and the western portion of the Dominion got together a magnificent body of seamen, and organized a naval defence, which is simply for the protection of its interests. That is a statesman-like proceeding.
– Newfoundland has nothing to do with the Dominion.
– Newfoundland is not coming in under this agreement. The honorable senator will find from the latest reports on the subject that the number which it has to contribute to naval defence a force of not less than 600 men. There we have an example which I think we might well imitate. The Dominion has arranged for its own naval defence under its own control. It is years and years since the Imperial Government told Australia that it must not look to them for any portion of its land defence.
– N - Newfoundland is to provide £3,000 per annum, and £1,800 for a drill ship.
– That is under another agreement of a kind which I wish to see made by Australia. It relates to its own naval defence. It does not stand on the same footing as this agreement does.
– Newfoundland supplies 600 men.
– Quite apart from any modified arrangement made with Newfoundland, Canada has steadfastly refused any naval contribution, and it has refused for the same reasons as are given in a memorandum by our naval experts. We cannot have anything better than the statement of the Colonial Defence Committee in its memorandum of 1901 -
The action of fast cruisers or armed merchant auxiliaries against Australian trade on the high seas constitutes a far greater danger than attacks upon Australian ports, as it involves much less risk to the enemy and can be made to return no less profit, while, except indirectly at mercantile strategic harbors near points of convergence of ocean routes, no protection can be afforded against it by expenditure on land forces. . . . It is recognised, however, that while His Majesty’s ships are engaged in destroying or disabling the enemy’s squadrons they may not always be in a position to prevent raids by hostile cruisers on places of such importance as to justify, in the opinion of the enemy, the very considerable risks which an attack on them would involve.
That is exactly the footing on which the Canadian policy rests. Our own experts, assembled in conference, warned us that if we entered into an arrangement of this kind, whilst our squadron or our section of the Imperial Navy was mobilized with the China fleet, or the East Indies fleet, and carrying on war against the enemy onthe east coast of Africa, we might have their cruisers coming down on our shores, which would be absolutely defenceless, and preying on our coastal commerce free from any possibility of interruption. Senator Styles has quoted from the report of Admiral Tryon to the same effect. Surely we ought to look at this question from the national stand-point - that every self-governing community abdicates its functions when it does not keep control of its military and naval defence.
-We are a part of the Empire, yet.
– Yes ; but is the honorable and learned senator always going to have Australia tied to the apron-strings of the mother country for her defence?
– I hope so.
– I do not hope so. I trust that we shall relieve England of the obligation and expense of defending us. I feel that it would be impossible to be proud of being an Australian if we had to always depend on England for our defence.
– One Empire defence policv.
– I deny that we can have one entire defence policy. It will be a bad day for Australia when we embark as partners in an Imperial policy in which we have no voice. I should fear the possibility that one of the first results, if it were carried to the conclusion which my honorable and learned friend seems to indicate, might be that Australia would be on the highway to separate from England - a result that I should bitterly deplore.
– The sooner the better.
– I hope that nothing of the kind will arise. Those of us who desire to strengthen the silken bonds ought to avoid every possibility of our becoming partners in an Imperial foreign policy, in an Imperial Navy, when we have no voice in saying whether a particular cause of war is just or unjust.
– Exactly ; and that is what we did in the case of South Afriea.
– What happened there? We had our choice. The manhood of Australia rose and said, “ The mother country is in danger and difficulty ; we shall go to her relief.” That spirit will always animate Australians.
– It was a volunteer movement.
– Australia will never stand by idle while England is in a difficulty which may threaten her national life.
– I wish that the honorable and learned senator would use the term Great Britain,so as not to hurt my feelings.
– I shall use that term. Like my honorable friend, I am a Scotchman ; but I regard the term “ England “ as quite good enough to describe the British Isles. With Senator Pearce I believe that the United States of America would be one of the first to come forward should the mother country, be in peril. I believe that blood is thicker than water, and that although the United States does not subsidize the Imperial Navy with £200,000 a year, it would come forward with its fleets and armies and take precious good care that England was not wiped out.
– There has often been an apparent danger of war between England and the United States.
– The members of a family quarrel, and they are none the worse friends afterwards.
– But they would not allow other persons to quarrel with them.
– Exactly; they will fight their own battles, but will not take knocks from strangers. Whilst I give every credit to my honorable friends for thinking that this is a patriotic thing to do, I take with great deference exactly the opposite view. I hold that it is imperilling our patriotism, that it is doing the very thing which may cause an estrangement between England and Australia. That I wish to avoid. Wecouldeasily afford to give the £200,000. I am not one of those who are addicted to the views of economy which needlessly prevail. I place the proposition on the higher level - that we are a self-governing community, and that one of the first considerations with us ought to be to provide out of our own pocket for and have under our own control our naval and military defence. A recent writer in the Edinburgh Review, from which Captain Creswell quoted, says -
A strong movement exists in Australia in favor of obtaining control of their navy, and it found expression, as we believe, at the Colonial Conference. The tendency is inevitable. State sovereignty is inextricably bound u p with the military power. No colony can really be self-governing which has not also control of its own forces. And as the desire for self-government is the profoundest and strongest motive in colonial politics, so the dislike to any idea of military consolidation is unqualified and universal. It seemed plain to the colonies that this was a movement backwards - a movement away from the autonomous principle on which our Empire is based. That the colonies should undertake their own self-defence, and should in the end establish entire self-dependence on this matter, is only right and just both to them and to ourselves.
– I - Is it signed ?
– No. Evidently it was written by a publicist of great power and discrimination, and from the point of view of magnifying the position of the Commonwealth. Regarding the whole matter from that point of view,I cannot understand how it is possible for us, with contented minds, to support such an arrangement as this. I hope that the provisions in the agreement to which I have referred will have the attention of honorable senators, particularly those which provide for a form of control which I think will lead to the possibility of endless disputes. In article 3 it is provided -
This force shall be under the control and orders of the naval Commander-in-Chief for the time being appointed to command His Majesty’s ships and vessels on the Australian Station.
So that we have a double external control, so to speak, the control of the CommanderinChief, who is in turn subject to the direction of the Lords of the Admiralty. And we find that a sort of “sop,” as I call it, is offered in article 6, which seems to me to be perfectly contemptible. It is there provided that -
In order to insure that the naval service shall include officers born in Australia and New Zealand, who will be able to rise to the highest positions in the Royal Navy, the undermentioned nominations for naval cadetships will be given annually.
If we had a navy of our own we could control our own admissions to it, but this, which has the aspect of a favour, is offered to us to induce us to enter into a bargain which involves what is to them a petty tribute, but to us the tying of our hands in regard to our naval defence. As I think Senators Cameron and Pearce have said, let us view it from the point of view which we have reached in our self-government. We have established our union. The supreme act of unityhas been that we have, I hope, gone at least one step towards the destiny which we look forward to of supremacy in these southern seas. But it does seem to me that it will be a very sorry preparation for that destiny, and a still sorrier preparation for a future of harmony with the motherland, that we should enter into such an agreement as this or that we should assent to this Bill.
– I hope I shall be able to deal shortly with the measurebefore us, because such admirable speeches have been made in another place, and the subject has been dealt with so exhaustively, that it appears to me that very little fresh matter can be introduced into the debate, though certainly Senator Symon seems to have surpassed himself in his eloquence in ‘trying to introduce one or two new points. The more I listen to the debate and the arguments of those who. are opposed to the agreement, the more I am convinced that there are really very few points of difference between the one side and the other on this question. I think it will be found when the whole subject has been thrashed out that we are practically in agreement as to what should be our policy of naval defence. Senator Symon must forgive me if I try to answer as forcibly as I possibly can what I believe to be the very fallacious, as well as the very unpatriotic, arguments which he has advanced.
– The honorable senator must not say “ unpatriotic.”
– I do say that they were unpatriotic ; and I say, further, that to adopt the views advanced by the honorable and learned senatorwould be unworthy of this Senate. Senator Symon has touched me in my Imperialism, and he has wounded me in my patriotism. The honorable and learned senator has set up a policy which, I undertake to say, he will himself shrink from in his cooler moments. In one interjection he gave his whole policy away. The honorable and learned senator told us that this is a most miserable and wretched agreement; that it does not meet the patriotism of Australians ; and that the contribution of £200,000 a year is a fleabite, and has practically little or nothing to do with the agreement. But in an interjection he made when Senator Pearce was speaking, the honorable and learned senator said - “Why can we not be content with things as they are, and goon under the old agreement?”
– That is for the present, until we have the elections and go before our constituents.
– Senator Symon thinks that we may continue for perhaps another ten years under the old agreement.
– I do not say for ten years. I say until the elections.
– The naval authorities in all parts of the Empire assert that we require better ships. My honorable and learned friend says - “ No ; let us go on with the old out-of-date ships.” Everybody suggests that we should make a larger contribution, and my honorable and learned friend who thinks nothing of the contribution says - “No ; let us go on with the contribution of £106,000 a year and save the balance between that and the proposed contribution of £200,000.” Every one says that we must move ahead in advance, because the other nations of the world have done so. Every one knows that we must progress, because there have been improvements in armaments and changes have taken place whichhaverendered the ships we have now out of date. My honorable and learned friend says - “No, let us have no progress, let us stop where we are. We can go on very well as we are at present for the next ten years, or five years at all events.” We know that in the opinion of everybody, including even my honorable friend Senator Matheson, we are at present absolutely unprotected. Our armament is out of date, and we are absolutely out of date with regard to all kinds of defence.
– No, I consider that we can get just the same protection without paying a penny. I hope the honorable and learned senator will not misquote me.
– I thought those views emanated to a large extent from the Labour corner.
– I merely state a fact.
– Here we have Senators Symon and. Matheson saying that we should not vote this £200,000 a year, and that we should not confirm this agreement, simply because we can secure the same defence and protection from the motherland without it.
– I never said that.
– I never said so.
– I said that as as matter of fact we can get the same protection without paying a penny.
– All I can say is that it is an unworthy thought. We all know that the important consideration in this matter is to foster, encourage, and promote the maritime spirit. We all know that although the Australian in the past has not shown himself to be a particularly good sailor-
– Who said so?
– I hope honorable senators will allow me to finish my sentence. In the past, Australians have not shown themselves to be very desirous of becoming sailors; but we know the spirit evinced in the time of war by our land forces, and we know perfectly well that if we foster the maritime spirit in the Commonwealth it will be found there, and men will be forthcoming. No one believes for a moment that we have not in the Commonwealth as good men as ever walked a deck. But we cannot do all that is required in a day. We must have time to organize, and we must have time to get our ships. My honorable friends Senators Symon and Pearce do not appear to recognise or to understand that under the agreement we are now discussing all these things which they require are practically offered to us. Senator Symon spent some time in picking up quotations from newspapers - articles written, I suppose, by men late at night and with but a few moments for thought - but he has given us very few quotations from official documents.
– I gave two quotations from Admirals. Those should be good enough.
– They were out of date, but I propose to give some quotations which are up to date.
– MayIcorrect my honorable and learned friend ? One statement which I quoted was made as recently as March last.
– I am referring particularly to the quotations which the honorable and learned senator made from newspapers.
– I gave no quotations from newspapers.
– Let me read to the Senate what the First Lord of the Admiralty has said -
The Australasian Governments pay us a certain contribution ; for this contribution we supply them with a certain article. Now, this is good, so far as it goes. But it docs not, to my mind, go far enough. It does not give our New Zealand and Australian fellow-countrymen the sense of personal interest, of personal possession in the British Navy, which I most of all desiderate for the future, and I want not only the Colonial Governments to understand that on the naval protection of the Empire, exercised through a wise naval strategy, depends our future existence as a united Empire, but I want them to regard the navy as their own, at least as much as ours, and with that object I wish to see in the navy more colonial officers, and a contribution of colonial seamen.
My honorable friends Senators Symon and Pearce will see that Lord Selborne is enunciating the very policy that they desire, and which we all desire to see adopted. To some extent this discussion is mere smoke. It will end in nothing, because I think we are all looking forward to an Australian Navy and the development of Australian patriotism in naval affairs.We all believe in educating and training our own sailors, and the agreement before the Senate provides for that. If it did not I do not know that I should not be found supporting my honorable friends opposite. Senator Symon says - “ Let us not give this miserable contribution ; I should rather that we gave men.” I prefer to give both. I prefer thatwe should give this contribution of £200,000 a year, because at this moment we haveneither the men nor the ships ready. It may be that what is proposed is an infinitesimal contribution towards our local defence, but we are not in a position to bear anything like our proportion of the cost of naval defence, and I therefore believe in making this contribution of £200,000 to secure drill-ships in which to train our men, and in that way to prepare for the Australian Navy which Senator Symon desires to see. While we are doing that I think it is wise to adopt a continuity of policy and to go on paying the extra sum represented by the difference between the present contribution of £106,000 and £200,000 a year. Senator Symon has introduced a matter which it appears to me might be argued for weeks, though I should hope we shall never settle things in the way he proposes. The honorable and learned senator absolutely tries to separate Australia fromtheEmpire. Hewould shrink from saying that he desires to “cut the painter,” but my honorable and learned friend talked of a “ hireling fleet,” and suggested that we were giving this contribution he did not say to a foreign power, but to “ an outside power.”
– A power outside our control.
– The honorable and learned senator went on to say that he would shed his blood and die to maintain the links that bind us to the Empire.
– Quite right.
– I do not think the Senate ever expected that such a “ YesNo” policy would come to us from the model State of South Australia and from the lips of my honorable and learned friend opposite. On the one hand the honorable and learned senator would have nothing to do with the Empire and would have no connexion with a “hireling navy.” We must have sole control. We must have a few boats and wash-tubs of our own floating about our shores. And yet the honorable senator tells us that he is prepared to die for the Empire.
– Does the honorable and learned senator call the Protector a wash-tub ?
– I am only following the example of my honorable and learned friend. He applied very exaggerated language, to which, I suppose, barristers of his fame become accustomed, to the whole of this subject, and by doing so he descended from the high standard of oratory which he generally reaches. I should like the honorable and learned senator to say how there can be any links between us and the Empire, or how we can be said to belong to the Empire if we do not acknowledge loyally the enormous protection of the Empire’s Navy. Let me quote again from Lord Selborne’s report. He says -
The real problem which this Empire has to face in the case of a naval war is ‘simply and absolutely to find out where the ships of the enemy are, to concentrate the greatest possible force where those ships are, and to destroy those ships. That is the only possible method of protecting this Empire from theefforts which other navies may make to damage her commerce or her territory. It follows from this that there can be no localization of naval forces in the strict sense of the word. There can be no local allocation of ships to protect the mouth of the Thames, to protect Liverpool, to protect Sydney, to protect Halifax.
– All the same, there is. ,
– I understand that Senator Matheson is going to contradict that view, as Senator Symon has already done. Here, however, is the First Lord of the Admiralty surrounded, I suppose, by the most efficient naval men in the world ; and that is the policy which he suggests, and the policy which, to some extent, the agreement incorporates. I shall listen with pleasure to Senator Matheson when he shows us how the Australian Navy can be localized. Let us take a practical view. Senator Symon, in order to have a. practical argument on his side, and to shut one eye and three quarters to everything in the agreement except what suits himself, takes it for granted that the moment war breaks out, away will go the Australian Squadron.
– May it not ?
– That will depend on circumstances.
– I repeat, may it not ?
– Senator Symon has the temerity to believe that he knows better than the Admiralty what the circumstances will be - that he knows better than the Admiral on the flagship and the Admiral at the other two stations. When war breaks out the Admiralty will have to decide what kind of war it is, and they will gather whether it is a war which will require one or two big battles to decide. They will find out whether the enemy we are fighting proposes to send out cruisers in order to intercept and obstruct our trade routes ; and in accordance with the enemy’s tactics, so will the Admiralty control the ‘fleet in these waters. Does Senator Symon for a moment seriously contend that if war broke out, the Australian Navy, supplied by the Imperial authorities, should be controlled by Captain Creswell or anybody else at this end of the southern hemisphere, so to speak, thousands of miles from the seat of war and from the. best information to be obtained ? Senator Symon astounde’d me with his localization idea - with his idea of these local washtubs, as I must again call them, being controlled in the event of war by the Commonwealth Parliament and Ministers. ‘ I said at the commencement that I would get a little warm, and the arguments which have been used have indeed had that effect. Are not the arguments I am using, the arguments which would prevail with regard to the control of our fleet ? I cannot conceive how anybody living in Australia could wisely control a fleet which had its base in the East Indian or China seas, though Senator Symon seems to think it would be very easy, indeed, for somebody to do so.
– It would be the Minister for Defence.
– Supposing ohe fleet had to be under the control of somebody besides the Admiral in charge, whom would Senator Symon suggest ?
– The. Commonwealth and its officers.
– Now we’ have got Senator Symon to say something, namely, that the fleet of eight or ten ships is to be controlled by the Commonwealth Government. Does not Senator Symon recollect that in the House of Commons when certain questions were put to the Minister for War, he replied that the Generals who went to South Africa - not only Roberts and Buller, but others - went there with absolutely free hands ? It was felt that the men on the spot, with a full knowledge of the local circumstances, ought to have complete control. Does Senator Symon mean to say that in* case of a naval war, the Australian Navy should be controlled by eight Ministers sitting in a room in Spring-street, Melbourne?. Such an idea is, to my mind, childish and silly.
– Could an English general in South Africa have sent troops to South America?
– No; but he could have sent the .troops to any part of the theatre of war he chose. Having criticised the extraordinary idea that the Australian fleet in time of war is to be governed by the eight Ministers sitting in Spring-street, Melbourne, let me pass on to speak on the question of trade routes. I think my honorable friend Senator Pearce tried to accomplish the impossible in endeavouring to separate the trade of Australia from the trade of the Empire ; and my honorable and learned friend, Senator Symon, fell into the same stupid error of trying to point out the difference between the two. A wool ship leaving Hobson’s Bay may be said to be carrying on the trade of Australia. Does it cease to be the trade of Australia when it gets 6,000 miles across the ocean, or when it gets within 50 yards of the Liverpool or London docks?
– We might as well leave the Auxiliary Squadron there.
– I think that the honorable senator “ takes the cake “ for irrelevant interjections. When my .honorable and learned friends opposite try absolutely to separate things which are inseparable, I believe it to be my duty to point out the mistake they make. When our ships containing our wool, our fruit, our butter, and our minerals, get to the other end of the world, is it to be said that Australian trade ceases ? We have to get paid for our produce, and we receive payment in the form of shipments of machinery, -groceries, apparel, and goods of every description. Indeed, I am not at all certain that Australian trade ceases until we actually get back the shipments in return for the goods which we have sent to Europe. How, then, is it possible to draw these distinctions? It appears to me that the whole question is governed by the fact that there is one sea. It is impossible to divide the sea. For purposes of convenience we call parts of it by different names, but the ocean is one. There is one Empire, there is one trade, and there ought to be and must be one Imperial Navy. We may have an Australian branch of it - I hope we shall; we may have a Canadian and a Natal branch. But it must be one federated Imperial Navy ; and unless we have that, we cannot have a perfect system of defence, nor a perfect system of protection. With regard to the question of trade, I should like to read these remarks from the memorandum of the First Lord of the Admiralty, which was laid before the Colonial Conference in London -
In the year 1900, the sea-borne trade of the Empire may be roughly stated to have been worth between eleven and twelve hundred millions sterling ; but of this vast sum, a proportion of certainly not less than one-fourth was trade in which the taxpayer of the United Kingdom had no interest, either as buyer or seller, of the particular goods represented by these values. It was either intercolonial trade or trade between ‘the British -dominions beyond the seas and foreign countries. The taxpayer of the United Kingdom has therefore the privilege not only of taking upon himself the lion’s share of the burden, the interest in which is shared between himself and his fellow subjects in the dominions beyond the seas, but also a not less share of the burden in respect of interests which are not his own, in respect of but exclusively those of his fellow subjects beyond the seas.
That statement is in direct contradiction to Senator Pearce, who said that this navy was required in Australian waters for the protection of British commerce. Of . course it is ; but it is required also for the protection of Australian commerce, and onefourth of - the commerce which it has to protect, as Lord Selborne points out, has nothing whatever to do with the .British taxpayer. If we turn to a table which is given in the memorandum of the First Lord of the Admiralty, we find set out the sums which are paid by the dependencies of the Empire towards the maintenance of the navy, including our own contribution. The United Kingdom pays 15s. 2d. per head of population, Australia pays ls. 0#d. per head, and New Zealand ls. id. per head.
– How is it that the table leaves out from that calculation the honorable and learned senator’s Indian fellow subjects ?
– If, as the honorable senator would say, one white man is equal to fifty black men, he himself is more capable, of answering that question than I am. Does he consider that the unfortunate 280,000,000 black people, who earn hardly enough to live upon, should be included as taxpayers ? If we include the military expenditure, we find that the people in the United Kingdom pay 29s. 3d. per head, whereas, before Federation the people of Victoria paid 3s. ‘3d., the people of New South Wales 3s. 5d., and those of New Zealand 3s. 4d. So that I think it must be apparent that the Commonwealth of Australia is not paying its fair share towards the defence of that portion of the trade of the Empire which is undoubtedly hers, and in which she has the greatest interest. I find that some authorities estimate our trade at about £114,000,000. Of this our trade with Great Britain amounts to £50,500,000, our trade with British possessions to £11,500,000, with foreign nations £25,000,000, and our trade between States to £27,000,000. Here is an enormous trade which has to be protected, and the protection of which has to be provided for over the whole 12,000 miles - or whatever the distance may be - which divide the places of export in the Commonwealth from the places of import that receive our produce. Any Australian Navy which we can ever hope to have, can never take the place of that portion of the Imperial Navy which defends our coasts arid ports.
– All that trade is carried in British ships.
– Suppose it is carried in British ships. Would it be any solace to the honorable senator if my house were burnt down and he had a thousand pounds worth of uninsured goods inside? I do not see that that fact alters the matter. I should now like to refer to the extraordinary argument used by my honorable and esteemed friend, Senator Cameron. Though he said he would vote for the agreement because he had promised to do so, yet he went on to criticise it, and said that the Australians who served on board the vessels of the squadron would grow up practically as aliens, with foreign ideas. How the honorable senator could justify such a sentiment I do not know. 1” take it that the ships of the squadron will be at our doors. They will be cruising about from port to port. The crew will take part in our festivities and our functions, and will be regarded as the Australian handy men. They will, we know, be officered and trained by Englishmen, but will that make them foreigners? Because they mix with their brother Jack Tar, the English handy man, will that give them foreign ideas ? Will they not continue to be Australians, filled with Australian patriotism? The ideas which the honorable senator has expressed startle me, and I think that he can hardly have digested the agreement which he was criticising.
– W - We have hundreds of old man- of -wars’ men in our naval brigades, and they are as good Australians as we have in the. country.
– There must be absolutely hundreds of them, both in our own naval service and in Canada. They enjoy their pensions from the Imperial Navy, and in the event of war breaking out, there would be one patriotism and one spirit animating them all. Why I think that the opposition to this agreement is so weak, is that it appears to me that the agreement absolutely provides for all that we require. That is to say, it provides for the training of our own men, for the manning of three, if not four of the vessels with Australian sailors, and presently, I hope, with Australian officers. I presume that the first thing to do is not to build, buy, or rent ships before we have the men, but to have the men trained and ready before we acquire the ships.
- We have 1,400 permanent trained men now.
– I do not think they are men trained for the work of modern ships, understanding electricity, modern gunnery, and the other things that are requisite.
– They are absolutely trained first-class men.
– I do not doubt that they are well trained up to the Australian standard.
– Disparage the Australian standard !
– I am not doing that, but I am not going to talk jingoism.
– Disparage your native country !
-I believe that they are thoroughly trained men up to the Australian standard, but will the honorable senator contend that the Australian standard in everything is the same as the Imperial standard ?
– It is, in naval training.
– Probably our men have never seen a submarine boat.
-Very few British seamen out here have seen a submarine boat.
– I think that the honorable senator has so studied this question that he is a little bit muddled over it. I desire to read a passage which will show clearly what it is that we require and how this agreement provides for our necessities. The quotation is from a prize essay on naval matters. It appears that the authorities in England sometimes give a prize for the best essay on naval defence, and the document from which I shall quote was awarded a prize.
– Who was the essayist ?
– I do not know his. name. He is talking of the necessity of training for naval men, and dealing with training schools he says -
The schools themselves might with advantage be the ships to be commissioned there in war time, so that there would be nucleus of highlytrained officers and men always ready and familiar with the ships they would have to serve in. The local naval force should be encouraged in every way, both officers and men, and made to feel that they had a definite part allotted to them in the naval defence of the Empire.
Not in the defence of Australia.
Thisforceon ordinary occasions is separated from the navy, and is under their own rules, but they should be required to amalgamate for periodical training with the navy, under naval regulations, “in the ships which they would actually serve in during a war. With tact on the part of the part of the officers of the Schools, there should be no difficulty about this, but it should be arranged that on mobilisation this force should be directly under the command of the Admiral on the station, and entirely independent of the Colonial Government. The navy must be directly under the Admiralty in war time. There must be no divided responsibility or command, and there should be no difficulty about this if the true functions of the navy are recognised.
This writer has given thought to every branch of the subject.
Local considerations must, however, be taken into consideration. Local rates of pay, local ideas of discipline, local ideas of dress even, should be given due thought where such exist, and must not be allowed to prevent the thorough -amalgamation of the service into one efficient whole.
I venture to say that that is common sense. I also venture to say that it is provided for by this agreement, under which’ we can have just as good a local auxiliary naval force as we like to pay for. “We can commence with a naval reserve of 1,600 men, and add the 1,400 men of whom :Senator Matheson has spoken. I dare say that within two or three years we could double that number if we liked ; and if we had not enough ships to carry the men, I believe most firmly that the British Government would send out more ships. What hollow hypocrisy it is, then, to complain that this is an unpatriotic agreement, that it does not give play to the maritime spirit of Australia, that it prevents us from developing our own navy, and having our own seamen? Everything is provided except the money. If my honorable friends in the Labour corner, and Senators Symon and Matheson, like to form a little party of their own, let the sum of £200,000 be paid ; let them force the Government, if they can, to bring forward a proposal for further expenditure, and begin to buy their ships at once. Do they not know that this agreement was all thought out in London at a time when Australia was getting into a little financial trouble, and that when it came to be formulated and signed we were in the middle of a most disastrous drought 1 Do we not know that we all desired to save every shilling we -could 1 Was it not known and flashed to every part of the Empire that the Labour party was cutting down the Defence vote in every possible way ; that it had knocked off a couple of hundred thousand pounds, and wished to knock off still more ? The clause in the agreement which provides for three training ships says that they are to be manned by New Zealand and Australian seamen, if procurable. All the gentlemen at the Conference - the Prime Minister, Sir John Forrest, and the great Mr. Seddon - allowed those words to pass. They never said, “We haave thousands of men to be trained.” The very agreement says that the three ships are to be filled with Australians and New Zealanders, if they are procurable. I believe that they are procurable.
– At what rate of pay ?
– They must get a special rate, one which can with decency be offered to Australian seamen. I am inclined to think that’ this has a little to do with the inconstancy of my. honorable friends in the Labour corner.
– The Britisher must be inferior to the Australian when he is to be paid a smaller rate of wages ?
– Who says that he is to be paid an inferior rate of wages ?
– The honorable and learned senator said that a special rate would have to be paid to the Australian seaman ; therefore, they pay a lower rate to the Britisher.
– It does not at all follow that the Britisher is inferior to the Australian. Until he is trained the Australian seamen will probably be inferior.
– Why should he get a special rate of pay ?
– He is to get a higher rate of pay for his inferiority.
– Do my honorable friends expect me to go into that question 1 It only bears out what I once said before - that’ with the Labour corner every blessed’ thing resolves itself into a question of wages. The reasons why the Imperial men cannot be paid the same rate as the Australians is, .first, because the cost of living at home is much cheaper than here, and secondly, because the Empire could not afford to pay more. I suppose that my honorable friends in the Labour corner would like the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to apply all over the world, even to Imperial sailors. If the men in our ships get a special rate of wages: - a rate which, considering all the circumstances and the pension which they may or may not get, is fair - what have we to do with the Imperial rate of pay ? “We all know that the pay of the Imperial sailor is improving, that his food is better, that his life -is sought to be made more pleasant iu order to induce men to ship in larger -numbers.
– By employing lascars.
– The honorable senator, if he knows anything, as I think he does, knows that no lascars are employed on British war-ships.
– The honorable and learned senator would like them to be.
– I happen to know that lascars are ready and willing to be employed on British, ships and fight for the Empire to which they belong. I venture to think that the lascars, whom my honorable friends think not good enough to carry their mails, will one day, not far distant, be found in British ships, and probably fighting our battles, while they are comfortably enjoying themselves on the morocco benches yonder. May I ask my honorable friends a question ? When a war came, would not a victory or a defeat practically decide everything? If the command of the seas were lost, I take it that Australia would, to some extent, fall with the Empire. On the other hand, I take it that, if the battle were won, it would matter very little to us whether two or three million pounds worth of property in this port or two or three million pounds worth of property in another’ port had been blown to pieces or taken out of the bank, because, as .victor, Great Britain would see that the aggressor recouped us the whole of our losses. So that everything comes back to the question of whether in a maritime war Great Britain would win or loose. I cannot mix up that large question with the pettifogging question of whether we are bound to have a 1 vessel ready to meet every raiding cruiser that might happen to come here. The chances are that if a raiding cruiser were smart she might destroy some of our ports, even if we had that Australian Navy which my honorable friends want controlled by the Government under an Australian Admiral. While we might lose halfadozen little battles between a local fort and a raiding cruiser, we might be winning elsewhere a battle which would determine for the next quarter of a century whether England should or should not remain mistress of the seas. . In trying to localize this question of defence and cutting ourselves off from the navy and the trade of the Empire, I find myself unable to follow the arguments that have come from my honorable freinds. I am utterly unable to conceive how we could ever have a navy,, floating batteries, or armed cruisers ready to meet every cruiser which might once in a blue moon chance to attack Melbourne, Brisbane, Hobart, or any other port. We must run that risk, and a very small one it is. Why 1 Because no likely enemy that I know has a naval base within 4,000 or 5,000 miles of this city.
– What about Noumea ?
– That.is not much of: a naval base.
– It is a very important one.
– That argument cutsagainst my honorable friends. What is the use of having an Australian Navy which would be chained to the rocks outside, which would never go beyond Australian waters? I made a note to ask my honorable friends what would become of New Guinea and the New Hebrides if we should ever get intotrouble. What would become of Australia if we should get into a disturbance in the South Pacific ? Should we not want our navy free to go instantly to the scene of the trouble ? Is it not one hundred chances to« one that it would be sent there rather than be left to hug the Australian coast ? The argument tells against my honorable friend. Again I venture to assert that there is no proper base within 4,000 miles of Melbourne which would be likely to be used by any nation ‘with which we might be at war. I do not think there would be much chance of anything but a stray cruiser coming down to raid our cities* and, if one did come, she would act like a pirate, making up her mind that the chances would be ten to. one that she would lose. If she did gain, the men would, perhaps, obtain great kudos and get their pockets well lined. But the chances, are ten to one that she would fail. We know that these desperate undertakings are sometimes entered upon, but I do not think that we need bother, ourselves much on that score. Then, with regard to the question of officers,, the agreement provides that cadetships may be started at once.- The cadets might in due course rise to the highest command in the navy. A cadet who as a lad entered! the Australian Navy might be transferred to the Imperial branch, and come out by-and-by as the Admiral of our fleet. So that, in every way, the agreement does promote and encourage the aspirations which we all have. I have one more quotation from Lord Selborne to read before I .resume my seat. He says -
The British Empire owes its existence to the sea, and it can only continue to exist, if all parts of it regard the sea as their material source of existence and strength. It is, therefore, desirable, that our fellow subjects in the dominions beyond the seas should appreciate the importance of naval questions. If they will undertake a greater share of the naval burden, well and good.
They do not ask us to undertake it. They leave it to our generosity. As I understand, this sum of £200,000 is practically offered. They do not. levy taxation upon us. It will be ungrudgingly given by us, at least I hope so.
But I regard it as of even more importance that they should cultivate the maritime spirit ; that their populations should become maritime as ours are, and that they should become convinced oE the truth of the proposition, that there is no possibility of the localisation of naval force, and that the problem of the British Empire is in no sense one of local defence.
Do my honorable friends in the Labour corner recognise the truth of those words ? I hope that they do.
The sea is all one, and the British Navy must therefore be all one, and its solitary task in war must be to seek out the ships of the enemy, wherever they are to be found, and destroy them A t whatever spot, in whatever sea, these ships are found and destroyed, there the whole Empire will be simultaneously defended in its territory, its trade, and its interests. If, on the contrary, the idea should unfortunately prevail that the problem is one of local defence, and that each part of the Empire can be content to have its allotment of ships for the purpose of the separate protection of an individual Spot, the only possible result would be that an enemy who had discarded this heresy, and combined his fleets, will attack in detail and destroy those separated British Squadrons which, united, could have defied defeat.
I take it that the naval authorities at home are absolutely opposed to every argument which may come from the Labour corner and Senator Matheson. With regard to this talk of cutting ourselves away from the Empire, what becomes of the policy about which we hear so much - the consolidation of the Empire and the maintenance of its sea power 1 It is all so much nonsense if the arguments of the Labour corner are to prevail. Some honorable senators - and no one more strongly than Senator Symon - positively object to vote this money because we are to have no control,’ and urge that nothing could be more suicidal than to embark on a great Imperial policy, and at the same time to have no voice in the foreign policy of the. Empire. No one knows better than Senator Symon that we are moving on by slow steps towards the Federation of the Empire - towards Imperial unity. Scores of men have written and’ spoken about a Council of Defence for the Empire in which Australia, Canada, India, and all its parts shall have a voice.’ That idea cannot be realized in a day, and when it is realized what will it amount to ? I believe that the Council of Defence for Great Britain consists of only seven or nine men. In time of war we must leave the control of the ships to the Admiral on the flagship, I presume. But suppose that in time of peace and in time of preparation for war the Australian Navy, or the branch of the Imperial Navy in Australia, were placed under the control of the Council of Defence, what representation would Australia have? Suppose that this d ream of Imperial u n itv were realized, does any one believe for a moment that there would be the slightest objection by the Imperial authorities to allow Australia to nominate one man to sit on that Council of Defence ? Do they suppose that Canada, with ite population of 5,800,000, would not be granted at once the privilege of nominating one man to sit on the Council of Defence ?
– But how much is Canada contributing to this business ?
– Canada, for reasons of its own, is contributing nothing, I regret to say, but it has spent millions and millions in making a railway from sea to sea, expended millions in putting splendid ships on the Atlantic, and done a great deal more than Australia to promote the unity and defence of the Empire. This talk about taxation without representation and of having no voice in controlling the policy of the Empire is practically all moonshine. I believe that if the Prime Minister or our friend Mr. Seddon were to ask to-morrow for a conference on the question of defence, and were to suggest that each of the outlying portions of the Empire should nominate a representative who should have some voice in the councils of the Empire, Great Britain would at once consent. I believe that to be so, because all the thought of the Empire is in the direction of the unity of which I have spoken. I have nothing more of importance to say. I hope that, the agreement will be carried, and that we shall show our friends throughout the Empire that we are one with them, and that we recognise that there is one sea, onetrade, one Empire, and one navy.
– I do not know that much can be gained by making any speech with the hope of converting honorable senators to one side or the other. I fancy that the members of the Senate have made up their minds as to how their votes will be cast, and the chief object I have in speaking is to give a brief statement of the reasons for the vote I shall give. I do not propose to attempt any proselytising, but merely to state the reasons for my vote, and I shall be content to do so very briefly. To begin with, I am absolutely in favour of an Australian navy. Butwhen I find that the ruling party in another place, the party that would rule here if possible, has absolutely refused to allow money to be borrowed for the purposes of the Commonwealth, I fail to see how it is possible to find funds from revenue, to the extent of even £2,000,000, which would be about the smallest cost of any adequate naval force including ships, armament, stores, and all the etceteras which go to make up a squadron, let alone a fleet.
– We could not do it for the money.
– I am suggesting the smallest possible sum. I do not know where £2,000,000, let alone a much larger sum, is to come from. In speaking of the sum which would be required I, of course, can only give an opinion formed from reading the official reports of men who do know something about the subject. There is no member of the Senate who can speak of his own personal knowledge as to the necessary expense. We can speak only as we have gained information at the hands or lips of those who are competent to give an authoritative statement. To begin with, I do not know where the money is comingfrom toexpend on a navy of our own at present. When the time comes, no doubt the moneywill be borrowed, and we shall have our own fleet. I have written in favour of a Commonwealth Squadron, and I am prepared to advocate a Commonwealth Squadron if I see any chance, of getting it, and if I see any chance of its being under proper management when we have got it. What I specially draw attention to, and what I wish specially to emphasize, is this : that, as one of those charged with a public trust in connexion, with the Commonwealth, I am not at present disposed, and am never likely to be. disposed, to place the management in detail of the naval defence of the Commonwealth in the grasp of those who for the last two years have been doing their utmost, and doing it successfully, to destroy our land forces. If the same persons as those who have destroyed our land forces are to have the management of our naval forces in detail, then God help Australia ! If the Australian Squadron is tobe made subject to such a preposterous mangling as the Defence Force of the Commonwealth has had to endure for the last two years or so, then I again say God help the Commonwealth ! One other observation occurs to me in connexion with this question of expense, and as a reason why we should seek to embrace the favorable terms which are offered to us. I suppose that in some form or another we are all customers of, or connected in some way with, insurance companies. I daresay that every honorable senator present possesses either a life or fire assurance policy in a colonial office. It sometimes happens that those who are most enthusiastic supporters of colonial institutions cannot obtain the full extent of cover or protection they require from colonial offices. What do they do under those circumstances? No matter how enthusiastic they may be as supporters of colonial institutions they pay their money to a larger, longer established, and more extensively funded English office. But do they consider that payment as a tribute ? I find people using the term “naval tribute” as applied to this agreement, but will honorable senators say that the premium paid for fire,life, or marine assurance to a British office is a tribute? The payment is made in order to secure the protection or “cover” desired.
– But a guaranteed protection is given.
.- Do those who make the payment characterize it as a tribute ? Do they not get value for their money ?
– Do we get value for our money in the other case?
-Col. NEILD. - Senator Mather son will perhaps allow me to continue. I know what’ he refers to, and I shall deal with the interjection in a minute, though the honorable senator will probably induce me to make a longer speech than I intended. It is a fair bargain to pay our money to an institution that will give us the best protection, and we do not recognise it as a tribute or as a badge of inferiority. We transact the business with the same spirit that we transact any ordinary obligation of life. We pay so much money and we get so much in return. Senator Matheson’s interjections lead me to believe that he sees a difference between effecting an assurance with an English company, and the payment of contributions towards the services of a fleet that may be ordered away from our shores. I admit that there would be a large element of truth in my honorable friend’s proposition if it could be shown that we should get the best value for our money by breaking up our forces, and allowing an opportunity to have them cut off in detail, rather than by amalgamating our forces.
– What does the honorable senator think of the idea of calling for tenders for the insurance of Australia ?
– I think that the honorable senator should know that that proposition is not within the limits of common sense. I ask those honorable senators who believe that Australia can only be properly defended by keeping a naval force at home to look through English history, or the history of any nation that has had to do with a maritime force. Where were the naval battles of England fought? Where they all fought in the English Channel ? Were they not all fought off foreign coasts ever since the days of the Armada. Have not the great majority of the great naval battles of England been fought off foreign coasts ? Did Nelson stop in the Channell when he desired to destroy the fleet of Napoleon ?’ Did he not plough the waters of almost every corner of the Mediterannean back and forth until, on the shores of Egypt, hean nihilated the them naval power ofFrance? What about the expeditions that sailed every year and every six months attimes of acti ve conflict to the East and West Indies , wheresome of England’s greatest naval fights have taken place ? What about the fleets that have sailed the Atlantic ? What about the fights that have taken place off the coastsof Spainand Portugal ? All these events plainly show that the object to be achieved in naval warfare is the same as in land warfare - to concentrate and to crush. The whole business is summed up in those two words. We must concentrate and crush the enemy ; we must not wait until the enemy has concentrated and crushed us in detail. We must take time by the forelock, and concentrate our forces in order to crush our enemy.
– Get your steam roller in first.
– There are various uses for steam rollers, and I could find a very satisfactory one without going far, to show how it might be applied. I have been led into an argument without having intended it.
– The honorable senator has overlooked the battle of Chowder Bay.
-Col. NEILD. - I do not know to what Senator Higgs refers. I do not know any thing about the battle of Chowder Bay, and I never saw or heard of any military or naval operations conducted in Chowder Bay.
-We should not need a naval force at all, if the honorable” senator would but sing “ The Kookaburra “ for us.
– I believe Senator McGregor has just used the native name for the laughing jackass, and I think I could find a specimen of that interesting bird, without wings, at no great distance. The agreement offered seems to me, from the monetary stand-point, to be a good bargain. I know by the action which has been taken elsewhere, that it is hopeless for us to expect to find the money for thepurchase of a fleet of our own, and if we could purchase it, I do not know where we are to go to buy it. Though we certainly have excellent men in our colonial naval forces, granted that they were all of them experts, and I know they are not, we have but 1,400 of them all told, and a large proportion of these are partially paid people who get a few shillings for a drill.
– The 1,400 are permanent men.
.- No ; the l,400 includes men of allranks in the naval forces of the Commonwealth.
– The senator will see from the return I submit to him that there were l, 4 28 permanent men in 1902.
.- If the honorable senator will look againstthe returnwhich he has placed in my hands he will find that he has been looking at the wrong page. I find that the total of all ranks of our naval forces is given at 1,477. Senator Matheson quoted the number of permanent men in the military force. These 1,400 men are the partiallypaid militia, who receive something like 2s. an hour for a drill, which in the case of many of them may be under a lamp-post. There is nothing to their discredit in their position, because they are only too anxious to have vessels on which to learn their work. One of the grievances of these men in New South Wales is that they have no opportunity of doing sailor work - that they are practically a land force, who in their drill have to drag old-fashioned ships’ guns about.
– Will they have an opportunity under the new agreement ?
– I take it that they will, and that is one of the reasons why I support the Bill, which seems to me to give the earliest promise of bringing into existence an Australian naval force.-
– Why was the opportunity not given to them under, the old agreement 1
.- The proposed agreement is an immense advance on the old one. I was not in favour of renewing the old agreement, because I do not think that its conditions are nearly so favorable as those now presented. The new agreement gives us that mode of naval protection which appears necessary in the estimation of the experts of the Empire, and it is given without compelling us to make any outlay of a capital kind. We are only asked to give a contribution ; and here I may say that I regard the word “tribute” as an insult alike to the Commonwealth and the mother country. “Tribute” implies a recognition of inferiority, and the Commonwealth owes no obligation of inferiority to the mother country, nor does the mother country demean herself by imposing such a condition on her children. The proposed agreement, as I say, without the outlay of a . heavy capital, gives not only the immediate advantage of naval protection, but also an opportunity,, which we in Australia have never possessed before, of securing ah adequate training for our sons. An opening is., here presented for our stalwart men and ‘the young chaps who are growing up and are. anxious to take their place in the defence forces, not only of the Commonwealth, but of the Empire. . The heart of the Commonwealth beats true enough torecognise that in unity with the rest of the greatest Empire upon which the sun has ever shone there, are advantages to be gained. The conditions of the mutual exchange of support are honorable and beneficent - they are advantageous to the buyer and advantageous to the seller. There are the advantages which flow from an honest and honorable understanding, and from a mutual effort to secure the greatest good of both he who gives and he who takes.
– At the outset I may say that it is my intention to vote for the Bill. As Senator Neild said, it is improbable that anything which is now said will alter the voting,, although I did a few minutes ago come across an honorable senator who apparently had not made up his mind. I agree very much with what has fallen from Senators Dobson and Neild ; and I strongly disapprove of the expression “tribute.” We must remember that it is anticipated this naval force will’ require for its support £480,000 per annum, towards which New Zealand is called upon to pay £40,000 and the Commonwealth £200,000. It will be seen that, to begin with, one-half of the cost is borne by the mother country. As to purchasing ships of’ our own, it must not be forgotten that Great. Britain can always borrow money at some- . thing like 3- per cent. I do not speak on this question as an expert, although I have a nephew who is a great naval engineer at home. I believe, however, that some of the ships which it is proposed to send out here will cost from £500,000 to £750,000 each, so that the probable total outlay will not be less than- £4,000,000. Not only do we have those eleven ships provided, but in article 2 of’ the agreement it is stated that the agreement shall not be taken to mean that that force shall be the only force provided for use- in Australian waters should necessity arise for a larger force. Why should we not during the term of this; agreement provide a certain amount of coastal defence for ourselves 1 I have heard of nothing to prevent that course beingtaken, and during the ten* years we shall, be raising up the personnel, at all events, for an Australian portion of the British Navy. I do not for one moment supposethat we intend to cease to be a portion of the Empire ; at any rate I do not intend to- cease being a Britisher first and an Australian afterwards. I cannot understand honorable senators from north of the Tweed imagining that they can get rid of their nationality so easily.
– Australia is much better than Scotland.
– Article 5 of the agreement provides -
The three vessels used as drill ships and one other vessel shall be manned by Australians and New Zealanders as far as procurable, paid at special rates, and enrolled in proportion to the population of the Commonwealth and New Zealand.
The article goes on to provide that the ships shall be officered by officers of the Royal Navy, supplemented by officers of the Royal Naval Reserve. Article 6 provides for eight annual nominations for naval cadetships to be given to Australia, and two to Ney Zealand. It is within the knowledge of many honorable senators that this by no means represents all the Australian naval cadets who enter the British service yearly. I know one bank manager in Queensland who has a son a major in the army, and another a lieutenant in the navy, these young men having gone home in order to join the services. There is a considerable contingent of Australian officers in the navy now ; and the more there are the better we shall be pleased. We are extremely indebted to the Imperial authorities for the protection of our mercantile marine. We must not judge our commerce by the exports from Australia to Great Britain, or by the imports from the old country ; we must recognise that the confidence given by the protection of the British Navy enables our ships to go to all parts of the world. At the end of ten years we shall be more free than we are at present to spend money on naval defence. For the first ten years of the Commonwealth we are under the “ Braddon “ section of the Constitution, and the expenditure of the Commonwealth is limited ; but at the end of that period, if we wish to be more extravagant in the way of naval expenditure, we shall have the opportunity. At present, however, we cannot afford more than we are asked to pay under the agreement. As to descents by privateers in the absence of the fleet, I take it that in these days of cable communication the home authorities will know very well from whence and when such descents are likely to be made ; at any rate they will be better informed on those points than we can be. The navy is not localized at home, but at the same time every vulnerable point is well protected. About 100 years ago there used to be Martello Towers along the coasts of Great Britain. These are now obsolete, but I well remember the lines from the poem Ye Harmers qf England, written by Thomas Campbell, himself a Scotchman, as follows : -
Britannia needs no bulwarks,
No towers along the steep ;
Her march is o’er the mountain waves.
Her home is on the deep.
That is’ the case to-day, and I hope it always will be, and I for one should be delighted to see young Australians take more to the sea than they do at present.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).Honorable senators who have preceded me have opened their speeches by declaring in which way they intend to vote, and I shall follow their excellent example by saying that I intend to vote against the Bill. I listened with great pleasure to the able speech of Senator O’Connor in support of the measure; but while he spoke I could not help thinking he did so from a brief - that his purpose was to get the agreement ratified by the Senate. In his endeavour to achieve that purpose Senator O’Connor argued now in one way and now in another, and on several occasions he reminded me very much of the juggler who produces whisky, brandy, gin, rum, and a number of other nice drinks, all out of one bottle. The arguments of the honorable and learned senator now dealt with one phase of the question and then with another, but, when analyzed, they did not seem to apply with equal effect in each instance. It is the duty of every nationality, so far as it is able, to provide for its own defence We hear a great deal about the Australian nation - about the Commonwealth, and our marvellous resources and position in the world. But when it comes to finding a comparatively small sum of money every year to provide for our sea defence, we immediately descend from that lofty pedestal, and. become, so to speak, mere mendicants at the gate of the British taxpayer. As I have said, I conceive it to be one of the first duties of every community to provide for its defence, so far as it is able to do so ; and the question arises - Is Australia in a position to provide that defence 1
I think Australia is in the position to do so. I am not one who believes, or affects to believe, that Australia is in serious danger of invasion, and that she requires a large and powerful fleet - that a descent is likely to be made on her by any European Power. The “United States are between 3,000 and 4,000 miles from Europe, and that country, so far as I remember, has never been attacked by any Power except that whose colony she once was. The only occasion, I think, on which the people of the United States have hud to meet a foreign foe was when Britain invaded her. The other European Powers, although within comparatively easy striking distance, never made the slightest demonstration against the United States. We are, in my opinion, much safer than even the United States was, seeing that we are separated from Europe by about 16,000 miles of sea. One honorable senator told us that the nearest naval base to Australia was 4,000 miles distant. Ho urged that our coasts would be exposed to the ravages of cruisers if the British fleet were taken away, but at the same time he tried to show that there was very little fear of foreign vessels coming to Australian coasts. He argued one way when it suited him, but he argued exactly the opposite way when that aspect of the case served his purpose. It has been said that the centre of danger in the event of a great war would not be near to us, but somewhere far distant from our shores.’ In considering “this question. I ask myself what should we do if we were an independent community. I know that the idea of Australia ever separating herself from the mother country is repugnant to the minds of many of our citizens. I sympathize with them. But in the ordinary course of events, one day Australia will be separated. She will “ set up house” for herself in every particular. Instead of this Commonwealth being injured by a state of severance - instead of Great Britain being injured by it - I believe that it would be better for both. There would be a friendly alliance between the two countries. There would not be dependence on the one hand and charity on ti le other - for that is practically what the present situation amounts to. Those honorable senators who care to look back into the pages of history can read about the crisis which resulted in the great American war - how the governing classes of Great Britain prophesied the ruin of England if the United States were not firmly bound to her chariot wheels. But we know what resulted. The United States achieved its liberty.
– That day has passed.
– If we cannot learn lessons from history, there is no earthly use in our coming here. History is daily repeating itself. The people of those times claimed that unless Great Britain could, maintain a tight hold upon the United States, she would go to rack and ruin. But what was the result 1 After the separation it seemed almost as if Great Britain were in the position of a man who had had a stone tied round his neck and ‘ been thrown into the water. He sinks, and sinks, and sinks ; but immediately the stone is severed he bounds to the surface. Instead of Great Britain being dragged down in consequence of her severance from the United States, she immediately entered, on a period of almost unexampled prosperity. Exactly the same thing happened too with regard to America after the States achieved their independence. That country suddenly blazed forth into almost incomparable splendour. The shackles of dependence upon Great Britain being cast from its limbs, it seemed as if that young giant expanded and grew with almost unprecedented force and power. I believe .that exactly the same thing would happen with regard to Australia. I often ask myself what we should do if we were an independent community. What should we have to do ?. If we made up our minds that we required a fleet, we should have a fleet. It would be a small fleet undoubtedly, because we cannot afford a big one. But as I have already pointed out, I do not think that we require a big fleet. I need not say again that I have no faith in the fears of those who are always looking out for invasions. I do not believe that invasion will happen in our time, or even in a period that we can possibly foresee. We often hear a great deal about the trouble in the Eastern seas in consequence of the doings of Japan, Russia, and China. The more those powers fight amongst themselves and the more they tear each other, the safer Australia will be. If they engage in war and exhaust themselves they will not be in a position to invade this country. But, so far as I can see, not one of them appears to have the slightest desire to do so. In any case, our duty as a self-governing community is to provide, as far as is in our power, for our own defence. This Bill does not do that. We are merely placed in a position of one who hires a piece of furniture - a sewing machine or a piano - from a time-payment man. Indeed, we are in a very much worse position. The person who hires a piano can usually depend upon that instrument being left upon his premises so long as he keeps up his payments. It is there when it is wanted for a musical evening or something of that kind. But the very moment when this fleet is wanted is exactly the time when Great Britain reserves to herself the right to call it away to some other portion of the globe, leaving our coasts practically undefended. When those who are opposed to this agreement contend that by adopting it We should be doing something which ought not to be done in the interests of Australia, we are assured that it is an unassailable maxim in naval warfare that you must go to the ends of the earth,if possible, to find your enemy, and there destroy him. I have read of cases where navies did seek out their enemy upon the enemy’s own shore, and came to grief. Has no honorable senator ever read of a certain navy which left the shores of Spain in the sixteenth century with a fixed determination to seek out and beat the English Navy on its own coasts ? The Spanish Navy came to grief in one way or another.
– That I suppose is “the exception which proves the rule.”
– I suppose that would be said. Supposing that Lord Howard of Effingham, who was the High Admiral of the British fleet, hearing that Spain intended to make this attack, had said - “ We will go down to the coasts of Spain and beat the Spanish fleet on its own shores,” does any oneimagine that England would have come so triumphantly out of that contest as she did? I do not think so. My view is that her fleet would have been annihilated, that Spain would have become absolute mistress of the seas, and that England’s prestige and position would have had a set back for 100 years at least. I will take another instance - not a naval one this time. It is the case of a great general, who conceived the idea of beating his enemy on that enemy’s own ground. Napoleon took it into his head that he would bait the Russian bear in his lair. He tried to do so. He marched into Russia. He encountered the snows and frosts of that inhospitable region, and was met by the fires of Moscow. Instead of defeating his enemy, he came back a broken and defeated man. I am not one of those who believe that if I have a quarrel with a man, or imagine that I have reason to dispute with him, it is my business to go and search him out wherever he may be. I think that would be a waste of energy. I prefer to let him do the travelling, and conserve my energy until he comes before me and squares up. Then I am ready to engage in combat with him. The question of insurance has been referred to by some speakers. It is said that the amount we are paying is merely insurance money. But whose are the ships which carry all the produce from our shores, and bring goods from England? Has Great Britain no interest in Australia? I believe that she has something like £400,000,000 sterling invested here. She receives an annual tribute of something like £15,000,000 from us. Does any one imagine that the bond-holders in Great Britain are going to allow anything to happen to Australia so long as their interest or their stake in the country is so large? In Great Britain’s own interest, for her own sake, and for the sake of her subjects, she must protect her own commerce, and, by so doing, protect Australian interests.
– It is partly our commerce, too.
– It is partly ours, and I am quite willing that we should contribute in proportion to our means to its defence and preservation. Indeed, I find that those who are opposed to this agreement are prepared to spend a much larger sum of money than are those who are in favour of it. It is not a question of grudging the expenditure. We are now spending, I think, nearly a million pounds per annum on coastal defence.
– Half-a-million Senator STEWART.- If we only spend half-a-million we might very well spend another half-million per annum upon naval defence. If we did so we should lay the foundations of a snug little navy, which would belong to the Commonwealth, which would be manned by the sons of the Commonwealth, and which would be at the disposal of the Commonwealth. That is the policy which those of us who are opposed to this agreement advocate. It is, in my judgment, a much more patriotic policy, a much more national policy, than this other scheme, which merely means hanging on to the skirts of Great Britain. As I have said, the ships which come into our harbors belong to British ship-owners, German ship-owners, and the ship-owners of other countries. The shipping engaged in the Australian coastal trade belongs largely, I believe, to people who live in Australia; A considerable portion of the capital invested in our shipping belongs to people who live here. We have some duty in regard to the defence of that shipping ; whilst Britain may safely be left to look after the interests of the vessels which come to us from the other end of the earth. Several honorable senators have been playing, or have been attempting to play, on the vanity of Australia. We have had a quotation read from Lord Selborne. That distinguished nobleman hopes that the Australians will become a maritime people, as those of Great Britian have been and are. I have no ambition that we should become a maritime people in the same sense as the people of Great Britain. I do not think that we shall become a maritime people in that sense. Why? Great Britain is a mere dot in the ocean. Her people are compelled by their very position to be a maritime community. Great Britain is now a mere ocean teamster. What we have to do is not to turn our attention to the sea. Why, there are not even fish on the shores of Australia.
– Comparatively, speaking, there are very few. Anywhere on the coast of Great Britain you can cast your net and haul in plenty of fish.
– So you can here.
– I cast my net and did not fare particularly well. Our first duty is to pay attention to the development of this great continent of over 3,000,000 square miles, and not to be diverted from that great purpose by the prospect of any considerable traffic on the sea. Take the case of the United States. Have its people troubled about a navy? Why, they did not begin to establish a navy until very lately, and a very large proportion of the population was, opposed to the new departure. Does any one imagine that the people of that country would have been so prosperous, would have achieved such a high state of industrial efficiency, would have reached their present social level, if, instead of paying strict attention to the business of developing their internal industries and commerce, they had frittered away their energies in trying to establish themselves as a maritime power, for which nature had evidently unsuited them ? I do not think so. What we ought to do is to follow their example, and instead of having our attention diverted into making an attempt to become a maritime community, to increase the development of our internal resources. I also oppose this proposition because it is only the beginning of a policy which I conceive to be detrimental both to the interests of the Empire, as it is called, and to the interests of Australia. We know that Mr. Chamberlain is above and beyond everything what is known as an Imperialist, a landgrabber on a- big scale, a man afflicted with an unnatural appetite for land - a land-glutton. His ambition is to see a big, bloated, swollen, unwieldy Empire. I am what is called in England a little Englander. I find that your big Englander, so to speak, with his great ambition, which I am afraid will some day overleap itself while trying to extend his territory to all the corners of the earth, neglects, the domestic legislation which I believe is of very much greater consequence to the people of England, and allows things at home to drift into a position which will sooner or later land the Empire in serious danger. I believe that unless a man has a good strong heart which pumps the blood through his system, no matter how fat or big he may be, even if he weigh 24 stone, it is only a question of time when he will suddenly drop dead in the street. I .Gan only compare Great Britain to one of those big, unwieldy carcasses.
– - She has not dropped dead yet.
– No ; but if she does not alter her policy, if she does not pay less attention to grabbing land in every corner of the globe, and turn her attention to the domestic legislation which will avail her. very much more in the end, then some day she will inevitably drop dead in the race of nations.
– Does the honorable senator think that domestic legislation in Great Britain has anything to do with this naval subsidy ?
– I do. Honorable senators may laugh, but I know perfectly well what I am doing. I was referring, sir, to the’ Imperial policy of which Mr. Chamberlain is the high priest, and attempting to show that to my mind it was injurious to the people of the Empire, and that if pursued it would probably in the end be fatal. I have no desire that Australia should be dragged down to the bottom of the sea when Great Britain suddenly sinks as she may do. For that reason I think it is highly desirable that we should not be dragged into this Imperial net which Mr. Chamberlain has so skilfully prepared and set out in sight of the various colonies.
– That is what his preferential trade will do.
– I am not now referring to preferential trade - I would not be allowed to proceed if I did - but to something which I conceive is highly pertinent to the question before the Senate. I object to Imperialism. I am a little Englander, if you will, or a little Australian, if you will. I have no ambition for a huge Empire. There is no virtue in size. We have an excellent example of that fact in Senator Zeal, who, although one of the smallest men in the Chamber, is one cif the most effective. There is nothing in mere bulk. What we want is quality. If your Empire is good, if it is sound at the heart, you need not care two straws about its size. Some of the greatest Powers that the world has ever seen have been small Powers. Look at Greece, Rome, “Venice, England herself. Nearly all the great powers have been small powers, concentrated powers if you will. When did the Roman Empire tumble to pieces 1
– I ask the honorable senator if he thinks that the Roman Empire has anything to do with the subject under discussion ?
-I am referring, sir, to the attempts made by Mr. Chamberlain to drag Australia and the other colonies into the Imperial net, and endeavouring to show how inimical to their interests it would be. What will be the next move in this grand game? This agreement will, I suppose, be entered into now, as I understand that the Bill commands a majority in the Senate, and it will continue in operation for ten years. At the end of that time an increased subsidy will be asked for ; Australia will say “ We shall not contribute anything more towards the cost of the navy unless we are to be allowed to have a voice in its management.” That is the very thing which Mr. Chamberlain wants. Honorable senators have all read, I suppose, the little poem about the spider and the fly- “Will you walk into my parlour”? said the spider to the fly.
In this case Mr. Chamberlain is the spider, who is weaving the Imperial web very cunningly. The threads are so finely spun that a great number of our people do not see them. “ Well,” Australia says to Great Britain, “ we shall not pay you any more subsidy unless we get a voice in the management of the navy.” “All right,” says Great Britain, ‘’ we shall give you a voice.” Senator Dobson has said to-night that . the Council of Defence consists of only nine men, and .that Australia will probably be entitled to one representative.
– Send Senator Dobson.
– If Senator Dobson were sent to England, we know what the result would be. It would be like the lamb walking into the wolf’s den. We ought to keep clear of any complications of that character. Whatever matter we are considering in relation to our connexion with Britain, we ought never to forget that her dominions are larger in Asia than in Europe ; that our great danger does not lie in Europe, but in Asia. And anything which would tend to take away from us complete freedom of action at any time ought to be opposed by every patriotic man, not only in the Senate, but in the entire Commonwealth. At the most crucial moment we might find this fleet taken away from us, or its guns turned even against ourselves.
– The honorable senator seems to think it could not happen. Will the causes of a quarrel never arise between Great Britain and Australia ?
– When we wish to part she will let us go peacefully.
– We do not know what may happen. She has quarrelled with her children before now, and may quarrel with them again.
– Take the New Guinea case ; did she npt say that she would send a gun-boat to prevent our taking action up there 1
– Yes There is always the danger of the fleet belonging to, and under the orders of Great Britain, turning its guns, not upon the enemies of Australia, but upon its people. We ought not to lay ourselves open to a contingency of that character, however remote it may seem to the minds of honorable senators. It may never happen, and I hope it never will happen, but it is quite within the bounds of possibility.
– The way to prevent it happening is to provide our own force.
– The very way to prevent it happening,’ as my honorable friend says, is to maintain our independence so far as this question of naval defence is concerned. Again, it is not a manly position for a young and rich community - and undoubtedly Australia is a rich country - to hang on to the skirts of a poor, wretched country like Great Britain. Senator Styles laughs, but did not the honorable” senator read in that Bible of his, the Melbourne Age, how 12,000,000 of the people of Great Britain, one-third of the population of the country, are actually on the verge of starvation? These are the people whom we are asking to provide for our defence. These are the people whom we are asking to provide us with ships, guns, ammunition, and all the other accessories of war required to defend us from foreign aggression. I think we ought to be animated by a higher principle than that.
– Senator Styles proved a few months ago that Great Britian was bankrupt.
– 1 know that the honorable senator is an expert at figures. We are called upon to pay an annual subsidy of £200,000 a year.
– That is not very much for a rich country.
– No, it is not very much, and I am not complaining of the” expenditure. I do not grudge the money, and I would not grudge it if it were £500,000 a year, if it were spent in what I believe to oe the right direction. I should like, before going further, just to say that I think it would be in the interests of the Commonwealth if an Act of Parliament were passed prohibiting any Prime Minister of the Commonwealth visiting Great Britain whilst he is in office. I find that no matter how Australian a statesman may be in sentiment, whilst his feet are upon Australian soil, no sooner does he get his legs under - Mr. Chamberlain’s mahogany than all his Australian aspirations vanish into thin air.
– What about George Dibbs f
– I do not know much about George Dibbs, but I know what has happened in the case of Sir Edmund Barton, and it has been merely a repetition of the old story of the spider and the fly. But to get back to the question. We are now asked to make an annual contribution of £200,000 for ten years. At the end of that period, what will we have for our money ? Nothing.
– What experience ? As Senator Cameron has pointed out soforcibly this afternoon, we will have this experience : A number of our young men will become officers in the fleet, and another portion of our young community will become seamen in that fleet; and instead of being Australian in sentiment, they will havebecome British in sentiment. The honorable senator put it in very much strongerlanguage than I have done. He said that they will become “ alien” in sentiment. I do not think that that will be of advantage to Australia. What we require tocultivate here more than anything else is Australian sentiment. We want tocreate a feeling in the minds of our young’ men that Australia is a country, that it is. their country, and that their loyalty is to it and to no other portion of the globe. This is the feeling which I think we should cultivate. But, as has been pointed out by a more competent authority than I can aspire to be, the very opposite will be theresult of this agreement. If there were no other reason why this agreement should be rejected, that surely is a good and sufficient reason for its rejection. But there are other and even stronger reasons. As I said, we shall pay in ten years about £2,000,000.
– We shall receive back more than £4,000,000.
– How shall we receive back more than £4,000,000 1
– The £2,000,000 is only part of the expense.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council brought upthat argument. He said that we shall pay the money, but that the whole of it will be spent here in Australia.
– Twice over.
– That is but a repetition of the honorable senator’s argument the other evening, when he said that we might as well pay a man 10,000 a year, as he would spend it all amongst us, and we should be just as well off as before.
– The honorable senator does not hand his money over to us to spend.
– No ; he takes very good care not to do that. This is a very beautiful argument from the point of view of the man who gets the £10,000, but it does not appear so nice from the point of view of the man who has to live a hard and penurious life,in order that the other may receive a magnificent salary. The idea that though we shall spend £200,000 a year, we shall get double that sum in return, does not weigh with me for a single moment. What does weigh with me is the fact that we are placing ourselves in the position, as Senator Symon very forcibly and truly put it this evening, of securing the services ofa “hireling navy.”
– A time-payment navy.
– It is not even a time-payment navy ; it is a payment without the navy, and without time. We just pay, and when we want the navy it is not there. When we do not want it, the Admiral of the fleet will come round to Melbourne, and he will give an entertainment to the people of Toorak. The people of Toorak will return the compliment, and the daily newspapers will be full of reports of these grand functions, with extended descriptions of the ladies’ dresses, and all the other fine things. Then, after being entertained by the aristocracy of Melbourne, and after entertaining them, the fleet will proceed round to Sydney and repeat the operation there. I do not know that it will ever go near the other capitals in the Commonwealth, though it may look in at them once in a few years.
– It will go to Tasmania in the apple season.
– Our £200,000 a year will be spent upon a fleet sailing up and down the coast between Sydney and Melbourne.
– Does not the honorable senator think that will cultivate the maritime spirit?
– I do not think it will cultivate the maritime spirit in any way. That is not the kind of thing which induces any man to take to the sea, and, as I have said before, I should muchratherseeour young men taking to the land than taking to the sea. There is a great deal more to be made out of land settlement, so far as Australia is concerned, than either settlement on or in the sea. I think that if, instead of making this annual payment to Great Britain - and it is admitted on all hands, even by those who advocate this Bill, that the contribution will be of no earthly consequence to Great Britain herself, seeing that her annual expenditure upon the navy is about 150 times that amount - we spent it upon acquiring a fleet of our own, vessel after vessel, or if we spent double that amount, at the end of ten years we should not certainly have a very large fleet, but we should have the beginnings of a fleet. .
– They would be obsolete vessels by that time.
– The honorable senator talks about obsolete vessels.I had a look at the Naval Almanac this afternoon, and I find that a very large number - fully 33 per cent. of the vessels now in commission in the British Navy - are about twenty-three years old, and some of them are twenty-five years old.
– They are always altering them.
– I know they are always altering them, and we cannot have everything up to date here. If we had a small fleet of our own, I contend that we should be acting a much more patriotic part than we shall be acting in carrying out the policy submitted to us by the Government. What we ought to do with respect to Great Britain is this : We ought to say to her, “ We will provide for our own coastal defence. We will establish and support a fleet of our own, sufficient to look after the Australian coast, and we will thus relieve you of so much of your responsibility.” That is the position which the people of Australia ought to take up, and which they would take up if only the Government had the courage and the common sense to guide them aright. Whereever I went during the recess I found the feeling strongly in favour of an Australian fleet. This proposed subsidy was opposed in nearly every place I went to. It may be that the people did not fully understand the thing.
– Hear, hear.
– I admit that they may not have understood the question thoroughly. It may be that the people with whom I conferred on the subject did not grasp what is the amount of money involved in the institution of an Australian fleet. But what they did grasp was that Australia, being to all intents and purposes a- self-governing country, should at any rate begin to have a fleet of her own. That was the idea which appeared to be firmly imbedded in the minds of the great majority of the people whom I met. As I have said, if, instead of paying £200,000 a year to Britain, we expended £500,000 per annum - and I am sure the people of the Commonwealth would not grudge that amount - on the establishment of a fleet of our own, would that not be a policy much more calculated to promote the best interests of .the Commonwealth? In ten or fifteen years probably we should have quite a respectable fleet on these Australian coasts, manned by Australians, under the control of the Australian Government, and ready, if need be, to go to any part in conjunction with the British fleet. The last condition would of course be entirely at the will of the Government of the day. Whereas, the position, as at present laid down, is that the people of Australia have absolutely no control over this arm of defence but are placed entirely in the hands of the British Government. I do not think that is a position we ought to be asked to occupy - it is not a position which carries with it any selfrespect. No community, which respects itself, could for a moment think of entering into an arrangement of that character. I really cannot conceive what was in the mind of the Prime Minister when he so weakly became a party to the agreement during his visit to Great Britain. I do not intend to’ occupy the time of the Senate any longer. I have given a few reasons for the vote I intend to cast, and, if this measure is passed, I trust that when the agreement expires a Parliament sufficiently patriotic to make some attempt towards the establishment of a purely Australian fleet will be found sitting at the capital of the Commonwealth, wherever that may be.
– I do not know that there is much use in speaking at any length on the subject. We know that every honorable senator has already made up his mind, and that nothing that can be said will influence a vote. But, after the several speeches we have listened to, it is perfectly clear that a good deal of misapprehension still prevails as to our present position with respect to the existing agreement. It will be worth while I think, in’ the interests of posterity, if posterity ever does read Hansard, to endeavour to recapitulate the circumstances which led to the present position of affairs. We must go back to 1885. Prior t6 that year there had been a good a eai of agitation on the part of the various colonies which now constitute the Commonwealth, with respect to the weakness of theBritish fleet in these waters. The colonies were convinced that the fleet in Australian waters was very much weakerthan it ought to be, and meetings had been held and considerable agitation had arisen in reference to the matter. In that 3’ear Admiral Tryon was sent by the Admiralty to take command on the Australian Station,, and with him he brought a ‘ proposal fromthe British Admiralty to the effect that the Australian Colonies should actually purchase - each subscribing a certain proportion of the cost - a fleet of seven ships, five of which were to be what are called “ Archers,” and two torpedo boats or gun boats. Admiral* Tryon was perfectly outspoken in his. views. He pointed out that the timehad come when Australia should commence making provision for her own defence but I do not think I need quote from thememoranda he published, because any honorable senator can refer to the document in which they are contained. Admiral Tryon was strongly of opinion that theproper course for Australia was to purchase her own fleet, and ma,ke arrangements forthe protection of the floating commerce in her own seas. That proposal failed toplease the Premiers of the various colonies, who pointed out that if an arrangementof that sort were made there would be considerable difficulty at the end of the suggested term of ten years in distributing the fleet amongst those interested. Each colony would have had a proportionate interest in the whole number of boats - atthat time New Zealand was included - and itwas felt that considerable difficulty would arise. As the result of much negotiation, and of a Conference of Premiers in 1887, an agreement was arrived at to theeffect that the British Admiralty was to provide five “Archer” vessels and two’ gun-boats, and that the colonies should pay something like £126,000 per annum towards their maintenance, and to meet the interest on the cost of their construction. Itis on this point that a good deal of misapprehension existsin the minds of members of the Senate. When the question was being discussed a little while a,go we were told that at the present time the Royal Arthur could be removed at any moment, and the separate British Squadron taken away from Australian waters. To guard against that contingency, however, there was an article inserted in the agreement of 1887, which appears as No. 5, and is as follows : -
That in consequence of the creation of this joint naval force, no reduction is to take place in the normal strength of Her Majesty’s naval force employed on the Australian Station, exclusive of surveying vessels.
Nothing could be more explicit. We were to pay for the services of seven ships which were to form an Auxiliary Squadron, entirely controlled byourselves politically, but under the control of the Admiralty so far as service conditions were concerned. In addition to that, we were entitled to a British Squadron of seven ships perpetually remaining in Australian waters, and these are represented by the Royal Arthur and other ships which I need not mention now. The position, then, was perfectly clear. We were paying the whole cost of the Auxiliary Squadron, and the British Government were paying the whole cost of that section of the British fleet which was stationed in Australian waters. Therefore, when Senator O’Connor was drawing his comparison yesterday between the advantages we shall get under the proposed arrangement and the advantages under the previous arrangement he was entirely in error when he left out of consideration the sum of money the Admiralty are bound to spend year after year on the fleet in these waters.
– That will be so under the new arrangement.
– The honorable senator is quite right, but that is not the point. Senator O’Connor left completely out of consideration the amount the Admiralty had then, and have now to pay for the British Squadron in these waters - an amount considerably more than the cost of the five “ Archers “ and the two gun-boats which we are obliged to keep up.
– T - That is quite right;. I did not mention the amount, but it is admitted that it is spent by the Admiralty.
– I understood Senator O’Connor to say that it was proportionately a considerably smaller sum while, as a matter of fact, it is a considerably larger sum.
– I - I did not go into the question of the amount.
– I speak subject to correction, but I think Senator O’Connor suggested it was a smaller sum, and that we should benefit proportionately, because we were paying half and the Admiralty was paying half.
– T - That is as compared with the old agreement, and leaving out the ships of the British Navy.
– But you cannot leave out the ships of the British Navy, because they form part of the agreement and that is what I want honorable senators on the other side to realize. The British fleet at present in Australian waters forms part of the force provided under the original agreement of 1887, and they cannot be removed - they, in fact, represent half, and more than half, of the expense of maintaining naval protection in these waters at the present time. These vessels are as much a part of the agreement as is the Auxiliary Squadron of which we hear so much, and cannot be dispensed with. We have heard a great deal to-day about the vessels of the squadron being obsolete. Although I have rashly used the word “ obsolete “ in interjection, I do not think that that is the proper word to apply to the squadron. Senator O’Connor has pointed out that the vessels are. not absolutely obsolete, but that they are inefficient.
– Under the changed conditions.
– I take exception to that remark ; it is not under any changed conditions. As a matter of fact, when the boats came out they were not only inefficient in structure but inefficiently armed. The Admiralty, or rather Admiral Tryon, had led us to believe that’ these boats were to be armed with 6-inch guns, but as a matter of fact they came out armed, I believe, with 47-inch guns. Admiral Tryon, in his memorandum dated 25th March, 1885, says, on page 21 S : -
In Parliament in London lately, it was .an nounced that ten additional vessels of what are termed “scout” class should be added to the navy ; these vessels, admirably adapted for the service for which they are designed, would, in my opinion, not have sufficient gun power ; but a design might be got outgiving them 6-inch breechloading guns in lieu of 5-inch ; these guns at moderate ranges penetrate ordinary ironclads.
It will be seen that 5-inch guns, and not 4-7 guns, are mentioned. What happened was that Admiral Tryon’s suggestion was adopted and an improved style of “ Archer “ was built. But while we were repeatedly led to believe throughout the whole negotiation that the armament would be 6-inch breach-loading guns the armament was really 4’7-inch guns. I shall quote another paragraph from Admiral Tryon’s memorandum, page 221, as corroboratory evidence. “This statement appears in an Admiralty minute of 9th September, 1885 -
The class of vessels which would in their lordships’ opinion be most suitable for the service are the Archer class, ten of which are ordered for our own navy. They are 1,630 tons displacement, will steam 17 knots, and are to be armed with six <6-inch B.L.R. guns.
Again, on page 242, we have the following -
Naval Defences. Proposals as agreed to.
I would particularly beg the Senate to mark that this proposal was agreed to -
Note. - It is understood that the Archer is a vessel of 1,630 tons displacement, will steam 17 knots and be armed with six 6-inch B.L.R. guns, and would also cany torpedoes.
I do not think I need say anything more to prove that these boats were sent out to us deliberately under-armed, and that from the date they arrived in these waters we could .never be considered efficiently protected.
– Then there was a breach of Contract.
– It was not a breach of contract for this reason - that these explicit words, though clearly understood by our delegates, and by everyone concerned, were not inserted word for word in- the agreement: At a later stage I shall call attention to the fact that throughout the whole of the speeches made by the VicePresident of the Executive Council, and by other members of the Government in another place, on innumerable occasions, facts or understandings have been read into the agreement which are net to be found. there, and which 1 venture to say will never be given effect to because it is absolutely impossible that they should be given effect to.
– Is the honorable senator going to mention one or two instances 1
– I will call attention to them- at a later stage, .because we have been asked to believe that it is not necessary in this agreement that word for word should be set out as though it were a legal contract. It is said that we ‘have here a contract which is not going to be taken into court. It is not a document upon which the opinion of a Judge is to be asked. But when we find that stipulations and proposals agreed to have been deliberately ignored by the Admiralty, and have been with equal deliberation overlooked by those in this Commonwealth to whom we look to protect our interests, it is absolutely necessary that every “t” should be crossed, and every “i” dotted in the agreement which we are now asked to adopt.
– The honorable senator will find it out if they are not !
– My honorable friend is right ; but I fancy that he will be found voting for this agreement in spite of the common-sense which leads him to make the interjection.’.
– Senator Clemons’ interjection was a compliment to the honorable senators penetration.
– I understood him to say that we should all find it out.
– If the honorable senator finds it out he will be accused of having a personal animosity against Lord Selborne.
– Whilst we are on this point of the breaking of understandings and breaches of faith - because I want to rub, it well in, and have it clearly understood that these breaches of faith have been deliberate - I will touch upon- the question of the inefficiency of these boats at-the present moment. It was clearly understood by every party to the agreement in 1887, that the boats were to be replaced at the end of ten years if found to be inefficient.
– That was not in the agreement. ,
– It is not in the agreement, but it is found clearly expressed throughout the whole of the records of the Colonial Conference of 1887. I will take them one by one in short extracts to prove my case. On page 30, a calculation is given showing that at 5 per cent. sinking fund and interest paid by the colonies would give £31,500, leaving the Imperial Government to provide the difference of £42,536 ; and the paragraph then goes on to say -
This is calculated on the assumption that the vessels would have been entirely replaced by new ones at the end of the ten years.
That was the original calculation. It is contained in an Admiralty minute dated 25th February, 1887.
– Did we ever ask for a renewal of the vessels?
– The honorable and learned senator asks if our Ministers have performed their duty in this regard. No, they have not, and they will never be found to do so. What Minister is going to make himself unpopular with the British Government? What Minister is going to risk his chance of getting a star of a garter, or some other decoration, by calling attention to breaches of faith 1 No one knows better than the honorable and learned senator himself that Ministers will never call attention to breaches of faith of this kind. Lord George Hamilton,who was then an Admiralty official, addressed the Conference, and in explaining the policy of the Government he said, as reported on page 43 -
Our idea was that if the colonies would pay a certain proportion of the expenditure, say 5 per cent. , we, at the end of ten or five years, when the arrangement had to be re-considered, would be ready to replace any vessels which were not up to modern requirements with new vessels, and thus keep the colonies supplied with the most efficient vessels of modern warfare. I think that is a consideration which ought to carry weight with it.
Then there is an interval, after which he again alludes to the subject, and says -
I do not know whether it would better meet the views of Victoria and the colonies that agree with them, that we should try to make another arrangement - that is,that the whole cost of manuing and maintenance, including indirect charges, should be borne by them ; but I think when they consider whatI said that at the end of ten years we may have to be called upon to undertake an expenditure of upwards of £600,000 in the construction of new vessels, and that in every year during the interval we have to bear a largely increased charge for providing the men and the boys and the pensions additional under this scheme, I repeat, I think they will see that the proposition to pay 5 per cent. is not a very unreasonable one.
The difficulty that had arisen was this: The Victorian Government, and I think also the South Australian Government, which was represented by Sir John Downer, were objecting to pay the sinking fund - that is, 5 per cent. They claimed that this fund should be defrayed entirely by the Imperial Government. Lord George Hamilton was protesting that they should pay the sinking fund, and the undertaking he gave was that there was to be on the part of the Admiralty an absolute obligation to replace these vessels.
– The words were, I think - “We may have to do it.”
– The honorable senator has been sleeping. I will read them again -
When they consider what I said that at the end of ten years we may have to be called upon to undertake an expenditure of upwards of £600,000 in the construction of new vessels.
– Does the honorable senator say that that is a solemn obligation to do it?
– Undoubtedly, it is an obligation ; and it is in consequence of that obligation that Lord George Hamilton contends that the 5 per cent. is not an unreasonable charge by way of a quid pro quo. On the one hand, he asks Australia to pay 5 per cent. sinking fund, and on the other hand the British Government were to be called upon to replace these vessels at the end of ten years. The agreement was for ten years, and then was to continue on from year to year, pending notice to cancel. The Premiers also discussed this matter at a later date ; and I think that Mr. Kingston was the only one with sufficient backbone to object to the extension of the agreement. He maintained that the money could be very much better spent in educating Australians as seamen than by wasting it as it was being wasted at that time. I now go on to page 305. The proceedings of the Conference had almost come to an end, and I quote the following passage to show that the same considerations ran through the whole proceedings. Mr. Burt, the Western Australian representative, said -
Before we leave the subject, mightI ask if there is an understanding of any sort with regard to what will take place at the end of 10 years - whether the matter will be reconsidered or whether the Imperial Government will undertake now to replace the ships which may need replacing by others of an improved type ; because we shall be asked probably on our return by our respective Governments special questions upon this matter.
Lord George Hamilton replied as follows : -
What was stated the other day was that, supposing the colonies wished to renew the arrangement for another period, we would undertake either to make these vessels thoroughly efficient, or if any of them became obsolete by that time, to replace them by vessels more in accord with what then might be the naval requirements of the day.
Yet we are deliberately told, either in the Senate or in the House of Representatives - I cannot remember which at the moment - that if we do not accept this proposed new Naval Agreement which has been thrust upon us by Sir Edmund Barton we must be content to remain protected by the inefficient squadron which is at present in these waters. I put it to the Senate that in spite of the deliberate undertakings of the Imperial Government that these vessels were to be made efficient if we adopted the agreement, and although we have kept the agreement in existence for five years beyond the stipulated term, we still find ourselves with these absolutely inefficient boats upon our coasts. No question can arise about their inefficiency. They have been pronounced inefficient by the Admiralty itself. There are allusions to their inefficiency in the documents which I have before me, but the information is within the knowledge of every one. They are mentioned as inefficient in two separate issues of Brassey’s Naval Annual. It was in the early nineties that these vessels were announced to be absolutely inefficient in trials made off the coast of Ireland.
– Suppose the Admirality were to give us new vessels to cost £600,000 should we be much better off? Would they he equal to our requirements?
– The honorable and learned senator is begging the question. He forgets that the auxiliary vessels formed & separate squadron for distinct purposes. I was going to allude to. that point later on, hut, as it has. been mentioned, I will deal with it now. This squadron, composed of five vessels of the Archer class and two gun-boats, was for the specific protection of Australian trade in Australian waters. The British fleet was an entirely different squadron. The squadron which we are now proposing to subsidize is really an equivalent to the British Squadron which exists in these waters at the present moment. The separate auxiliary squadron drops out of sight. It disappears ; it is cancelled.
– I do not think so.
– But , it is a matter of fact.
– Does not the agreement contemplate a separate Australian Squadron ?
– It is all a matter of the way we label a thing. If you label a building a public-house you are led to believe that it is a public-house. But, as a matter of fact, we are going to subscribe to that very squadron to which we are now subscribing nothing, and it. is for that reason alone that the Admiralty say that it is absolutely impossible for us to put in a stipulation as regards its movements. The Admiralty are quite right in theircontention. If we pay a sum of money to relieve the British taxpayer of a liability, as we are doing, we cannot expect to control the fleet. But while we were paying for a separate fleet, which was built with our money, and which was under our control–
– In a sense it was built with our money. We did not find the cash, but we have paid the interest, and contributed to a sinking fund. That fleet is to disappear entirely. All the statements I am making will apply to that squadron, which the British Government would have to make efficient if we continued the present arrangement, always assuming that they recognise their liabilities in respect of understandings, which apparently they donot.
– When the honorable senator comes to a convenient break, he might ask for an adjournment of the debate.
– If the Senate has no objection, I should like to deal with these breaches of faith, and then I shall stop.
– There is no practice or procedure by which an honorable senator can continue his speech on a following day.
– Except by leave of the Senate.
– It was done on one occasion, when Senator Fraser was speaking.
– I shall move, if necessary, that leave be given to Senator Matheson to continue his speech to-morrow.
– It was also done in the case of Senator Pulsford.
– In any case, it is competent for any honorable senator to move that leave be given.
– There was another absolute understanding in connexion with this Auxiliary Squadron, and that was that its officers should be used to instruct our naval militia.
– I - Is the honorable senator speaking of something in the agreement, or something outside it?
– I am speaking of an absolute obligation, which can be found in the proceedings of the Colonial Conference, which is not in the agreement, but which was understood in exactly the same way as the honorable and learned gentleman understands that certain seamen are to be employed on the boats to be provided under the new arrangement.
– It arose out of the general discussion which led up to the agreement.
– These are simply understandings, because they do not figure in the agreement.
– Oh, yes, they do.
– The honorable and learned gentleman is mistaken.
– Australian seamen are to be employed on the boats.
– Yes ; but there is nothing in the agreement about the number of the seamen, or the. boats on which they are to be employed.
– My recollection is that there is something about the number in the agreement.
– If the honorable and learned gentleman will refresh his memory, he will find that that is not the case. I shall now refer Senator O’Connor to the second volume of the proceedings of the Colonial Conference of 1887. On page 219, he will see a memorandum which was enclosed in Rear- Admiral Tryon’s letter to the Governor of Victoria, in March, 1885. Among the twelve points which he said would present themselves for decision, I find the following : -
During a time of peace, the officers and others of such ships as are not in active position could be well employed to instruct the reserve forces and volunteers. A special arrangement on this subject would be necessary.
In the naval report of 1899, which I have not got here, special attention is called to that fact, and also to the fact that owing to no special arrangement having been come to - that is to say, owing to the “ t’s “ not having been crossed, and the “ i’s “ dotted - the Admiralty have always refused to place the services of either an officer or a ship at the disposal of the colonial authorities for the purpose of ‘training their militia. Although there were men, officers, and ships - the officers whose salaries were paid, and the ships for whose maintenance we were paying a large sum year by year - it is an almost incredible fact that those officers could not be utilized for drilling our men in times of peace, for giving them that very knowledge of guns and the internal parts of ships for the want of which they are now twitted. Honorable members on the other side disparage their own naval militia, say that they are inefficient, and twit them for conditions which arose simply because the “ t’s “ were not crossed and the “i’s” dotted. Senator Downer was present at the Conference of 1887. There is no doubt that every member of the Conference thought that these officers and ships were going to be used in the way indicated in the memorandum which I have quoted.
– Of course we did.
– That was clearly understood, and yet, because it was not inserted in an agreement, because this special arrangement which it was pointed out would be necessary was not made, we have failed to get the assistance of these officers to this very day. There was another distinct breach of faith, and that was in regard to the fleet visiting the capital cities. In the first volume of the proceedings of the Conference, at pages 157 and 158, Lord George Hamilton explains the objects for which the squadron was established.
Our idea was that this squadron would not be engaged in the work that the small ships of the present squadron are - that is to say, visiting the Islands, and doing police work. Our idea was that this squadron should be always kept in Australian waters, and go round from one capital to another therefore they would be constantly in view of the different colonies, and would never, so to speak, leave Australasian waters. As a matter of course they would visit New Zealand in their tour.
Seneator Pearce. - He would be called a naval heretic to-day.
– Judging from this report, he seems to have been one of the most enlightened men of that year. He certainly seems to have advocated this auxiliary fleet, and to have done everything he possibly could to see the arrangement put through. On the next page, I find a speech by Admiral Sir Arthur Hood. Lord George Hamilton had said that he . would not be disposed to let the vessels go among the Islands, whereupon Admiral Sir Arthur Hood said -
Certainly not. I should say that they should be in peace time properly employed visiting, as yon said just now, the principal ports in the different colonies, putting New Zealand upon practically the same footing as Victoria, New South Wales, and the other colonies, and that they would visit the different colonies as often as the necessities of the service required.
If we turn to the second volume, we find a letter on this question from the Government of Western Australia to the Admiral, in which this paragraph occurs -
Each contributing colony would, of course, desire to see Her Majesty’s ships in its waters, as frequently as possible: To avoid future difficulties, perhaps some understanding or arrangement on this head would be expedient -
What has been the position 1 From the date that agreement was signed I do not believe that the Australian fleet has been in Western Australian waters more than three times, and that has arisen simply because, in their blind belief in the Admiralty, our representatives did not have a binding stipulation put into the agreement that thevessels should visit the capital of ever)’ Australian State. On page 235 I find this statement in a memorandum from RearAdmiral Tryon to Sir Robert Stout, who, I believe, was Premier of New Zealand -
The wishes of the Ministers will be fully met by an assurance that the ports of New Zealand will be frequently visited either by single ships or at intervals by several ships cruising together as a squadron, an arrangement which is ‘ in accord with my existing orders, but which is rarely done, owing to the numerous calls made for vessels to visit distant islands.
It is abundantly evident by the records of the Conference that its intention was that this Australian fleet should spend its time in visiting the capitals of the Australian States in order to foster that spirit of naval enterprise which we all desire to see fostered throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. But owing to the fact that the “ t’s “ were not crossed and the “ i’s “ dotted - that a stipulation was not actually put into the working agreement - that intention was not carried out. I think I have said sufficient to. answer the contention of Senator O’Connor that it is unnecessary that every understood stipulation should be put into this agreement as if it were a legal document. I warn honorable senators that unless every word that we consider essential in the proposal, as explained by Senator O’Connor, is embraced in the terms of the agreement, it will not be carried out in the way which he honestly believes is the intention of the Admiralty. I am convinced of that, and now, sir, if I could have the permission of the Senate, I think that this would be a convenient time to make a break in my address, because I have matter left which it will take me several hours to express.
– There is no standing order, no practice, and no procedure which will permit of that course being adopted. Under our first standing order, the practice of the House of Commons prevails in any case not otherwise provided for ; and there no honorable member” is permitted to divide his speech in two parts unless he is interrupted by the adjournment of the House, which takes place on some rule or order. We have several standing orders which provide that the proceedings may be continued at the stage at which they, were interrupted by a count out, or for some reason of that sort. But on two occasions an honorable senator has been permitted to divide his speech into two parts. It is my duty to observe and to carry out the standing orders, and I think that the course adopted on the 22nd May, 1902, will be the best one to take, if the Senate desire that Senator Matheson should be allowed to resume the debate to-morrow. On that occasion, Senator Glassey moved that the standing orders be suspended to enable Senator Pulsford to continue his speech on the next day of sitting.
– That was in accordance with Standing Order 427.
– The motion was carried, and if a similar motion is now moved, it will be put to the Senate.
– I have risen for the purpose of moving that Senator Matheson have leave to continue his speech to-morrow. In my opinion there are two ways in which that object may be obtained. In the first place it may be done by leave of the Senate.
– I do not think so.
– I am glad to have your ruling on the question.
– I do think it is the proper course to take.
– But I am still of the opinion, with the greatest respect to you, sir, that the Senate has the right to give the honorable senator permission to resume his speech to-morrow. I do not wish to debate the question. I propose to move in accordance with No. 427 of the standing orders which govern us now, and which, with all respect for the President’s ruling, appears to me to meet this case. I think we may stretch our view of the matter to such an extent as to describe this as a case of “ urgent necessity,” and that is the only phrase which would appear to offer any impediment to the motion I propose to move. I move -
That the standing orders be suspended to enable Senator Matheson to continue his speech to-morrow.
Motion agreed to.
Debate (on motion by Senator Matheson) adjourned.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) pro posed -
That the report be adopted, and that the standing orders be printed and come into force on the 1st September next .
– They must be printed and circulated amongst honorable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 August 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030819_senate_1_15/>.