2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Senator HIGGS.- Iwish to ask the Minister of Defence without notice, whether he has read the report of the proceedings in another place, in which the administration of the Military Forces has been questioned, and if so, whether he proposes to have a general inquiry made as to our military’ system as a whole, and not merely as to the regulations?
Senator PLAYFORD.- I have only glanced through the Age report of the proceedings in another place. Not one of the cases therein mentioned was known tome except that of the man called Watts, who had applied to be examined, so that he might qualify himself for promotion from the ranks to the position of an officer, but whose application the late Minister of Defence, Mr. McCay, acting upon the advice of his officers, had refused. When I looked through the papers, I came to the conclusion that the application should be granted, and I gave orders at once accordingly, but it so happened that the examination had taken place. However, he is to go up at the next examination. That is the only case mentioned by Mr. Crouch of which I have any knowledge. I cannot give a definite answer to the question as to whether I shall have a full inquiry held into matters outside the complaintswhich have been made. But I promise thatallthe complaints which have been, made shall be thoroughly investigated, and that justice shall be done so far as lies in my power. With regard to the broader question of administration, I shall have to consult my honorable colleagues as to what’ course I should adopt. But, individually, I shall take care that, as regards officers and men, no injustice or unfair treatment shall be permitted ; that the officers shall deal impartially and considerately with their men, and that if there is any unjust or unfair treatment of them, punishment shall be meted out to those who are responsible for it.
– Preliminary to asking a question, I desire to draw the attention of the leader of the Senate to the fact that he did riot give an answer yesterday to my question concerning the exclusion of aboriginal quadroons and octoroons from the. sugar industry. At Bundaberg I have seen quadroons as light in colour as many an honorable senator, and I desire to know whether my honorable friend’s answer is intended to apply to quadroons and octoroons, as well as to half-castes ?
– I think that the Act refers to only half-castes. I do not know in what category quarter-castes or eighth-castes would come, and therefore I cannot answer the question. It is a matter for lawyers to determine. I believe that the Act alludes to only coloured people and half-castes. Whether quadroons and octoroons would be treated as white people I cannot say. At all events, they would have more white than black blood in their veins, and perhaps they might be given the benefit of the doubt.
Debate resumed from 14th September (vide page 2289), on motion by Senator Playford -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Bill asks for a grant of £418,000, but I observe that if it be passed we shall really commit ourselves to an expenditure of about £575,000 - in fact, to more than that sum, because the amounts which are to be appropriated total nearly £500,000, and £81,000 is deducted on the ground that it may not be spent during the financial year. It should be remembered that the Treasurer definitely said that he desired to spend during the financial year the full amount of the votes, and we ought to be told whether any special effort is to be made* to carry out that desire, because in that case the States might have to provide during the current year for rather more than is asked for.
– The Treasurer only meant the amount which is set down here.
– If the works individually are carried out, then the aggregate must be greater than the total sum asked for here, because the Treasurer deducts £81,000.
– He cannot do it.
– If the Treasurer gets power to do the individual pieces of. work mentioned here, and they aggregate £500,000, then that amount will be spent quite apart from the fact that he deducts £81,000. That is a peculiarity of the statement which I think wants a little attention. In passing this Bill, we are not only granting the amount of £418,000 which is asked for, and the £81,000 which is to be carried on, but there is a total of about £75,000 more which appears item by item in footnotes. That is a system which is open, I think, to some abuse. For instance, we are committed here to an expenditure of £30,000 in connexion with the General Post Office at Melbourne, the vote for this year being £10,000. ‘ I presume that if the work is once commenced it must be completed.
– We do not want the Parliament to vote the money if we cannot spend it.
– I am not discussing that point now. I am pointing out that by passing this vote to begin the work we commit ourselves practically to its completion, and that therefore the request for a vote of £10,000 practically means committing the Commonwealth to an expenditure of. £30,000.
– Undoubtedly ; that is fully shown here.
– I do not instance the case of the Melbourne General Post Office for the sake of drawing an invidious comparison, because every New South Welshman admits that in point of accommodation it is far behind the Sydney General Post Office, and that the people of the former city are quite entitled to look for increased accommodation. I am not complaining about the amount now asked for. What I wish to draw attention to is the policy, and I think the Senate ought to look at the amount as £30,000, not as £10,000. If a sum of £30,000 is to be spent in this way, ought not the Senate to have some information on the point ? I think so, because as the Commonwealth grows the expenditure will become very large indeed, and by voting a small amount to begin a work it may at times be committed to an expenditure which, if seriously considered, would have been objected to. The amount asked for really aggregates, not £418,000, but ,£575,000. But it does not quite stop there. There is a footnote on page 7, which says, in regard to the item of £1,000 for a rifle “ range at Brisbane, “ Total estimated cost, exclusive of land, £5,000.” I do not know whether the land will cost a small or a large sum, but it is desirable that the Senate should know the estimated purchase price. Another point which must strike us all is the very” large sum which is required for Western Australia. Taking the amounts which it is proposed to spend this year and the amounts to which the Commonwealth will be committed, I find a total of £122,000, plus that proportion which goes to Western Australia under the grant for special defence material, so that that State is doing very well out of the Federation.. By a contribution of between 6 and 7 per cent, it is obtaining this large expenditure. ,Of course, as a matter of defence, I recognise that an expenditure in the West is practically an expenditure in the East. Any expenditure for the defence of a vulnerable part of Australia is a payment for the defence of the whole, and therefore I shall always take a broad view of any such proposal. As Western Australia is growing more rapidly than any other State, it is natural that the expenditure for new buildings must be on a large scale. I remark this because I am willing at all times to view such matters as they should be viewed, in a truly Federal spirit, and from the broad stand-point of the welfare of the Commonwealth. There is one question on which I wish’ to dwell, and that has to do with the distribution of what is known as “ other “ expenditure. In the papers distributed in connexion with the Budget, are included, on page 14, figures showing the population of the States year by year since Federation and the percentage of each State in the total population of the Commonwealth. I find on the basis of these figures that four of the six States are paying towards expenditure a smaller percentage than their share. They are all paying a larger amount in the aggregate, but four are paying a smaller percentage this year than they did in the census year of 1901. Tasmania, according to this statement, will pay a somewhat smaller proportion,; South Australia’s contribution will be slightly smaller ; and Western Australia’s contribution will also be slightly smaller. In the case of those three States the fall in the percentage is so small that we may say that it is practically stationary.. However, to make the point clear I will give the difference. The Tasmanian contribution falls off by 0 IO ; that of South* Australia by 032 ; that of Queensland by 015. Victoria’s proportion, however, fallsoff by the substantial amount of 179. TwoStates are paying a heavier proportionWestern Australia is one. She is estimated’ to pay this year 635 - her total having; risen from the census year by i”5o. I maysay, in passing, that under the Constitution’ Western Australia, by virtue of her increase of population, is actually entitled now to five members in the House of Representatives. New South Wales is theother State that is showing an increase of population, and a consequent increase of payment. This brings me to what I consider to foe a very important and seriousmatter. The Government has deliberately refused to recognise the crying need for the redistribution of representation on the ground’ that the population figures of the Statists cannot be relied upon. But they proceed todistribute the expenditure on the basis of figures which they decline to acknowledgein regard to representation, and which they and their friends for a considerable timepast have done their best to prejudice and’ to discredit. To come ta the exact result, I find that if what is known as the “ other ‘ ‘” expenditure for this current year* were distributed on the basis of the population of the census year - that is, the basis on which the representation is fixed - the State of Victoria would have to pay £16,000- more than she is debited with in these accounts. On the other hand, if New South’ Wales were debited on the figures on which her representation is fixed she would save- £7,000. I say that that is a very seriousmatter. The Government has deliberately done its utmost to put back the rearrangement of representation. Not only sinceMinisters have been in office have certaingentlemen done this, but before they reached office they did their best to block the reform. I desire especially that theSenate should notice the fact that NewSouth Wales is called upon to pay - and” rightly called upon to pay; I am not objecting to the fact - according to her population. _ What I object to is that as her population is growing she has been refused-‘ that ‘increase of representation which isshown to be her right,
– That is, the expenditure is distributed on figures which the Government refuse to accept for representation purposes?
– That is it. In the case of Victoria there is a very material reduction in the debit.
– These are the Estimates of the previous Government.
– But the Government dispute the estimates of population, except when they want to distribute expenditure.
– Evidently that is what the previous Government did.
– Just so; the previous Government accepted these figures.
– Does the honorable senator think that that is relevant to the subject-matter of this Bill?
– I do. I do not think that anything can be more important than the distribution of expenditure. That is the point I am raising. Yesterday, I ‘had intended to move the following words, as an amendment to the motion, “ That the Bill be now read a second time “ -
But, in view of the fact that the division amongst the States of the proposed expenditure is to be made on the basis of the estimates of population made by the Statists, this Senate expresses its regret at the delay that has taken place in rearranging the distribution of seats in the House of Representatives on the same basis, as repre- mentation and taxation ought to go together.
– That amendment could not be moved.
– Since drafting that suggested amendment, I find that the Standing Orders stand in the way. My ammunition and my weapon do not fit. But though I am precluded from moving such an amendment, I am not precluded from drawing the attention of the Senate to the fact that New South’ Wales is charged a great deal more, and Victoria a great deal less, on the basis of population figures -which’ the present Government say are not to be trusted for the purpose of readjusting the representation. This, therefore, is a matter which’ calls for the attention of the Government. If they discredit the figures, they ought to re-adjust the distribution of the expenditure, but if they admit that the figures are right, they should proceed to deal with the matter of the representation.
– I have a few words to say on this
Bill. In the first place, I should like to allude to Senator Pulsford’s statement that Western Australia is doing very well out of the expenditure on public works.
– It is obvious.
– I have heard other honorable senators make exactly the same remark. But they, seem to overlook something which is very important. It is this : That, supposing these public works had been treated as a continuation of old services, and these amounts had been debited to the States instead of to new services, the .Commonwealth at an early date would have had to pay the States for the properties transferred in exactly the same way as the Commonwealth is now being debited with the cost of their construction.
– That was, no doubt, Sir George Turner’s reason for altering the arrangement.
– I will come to the reason directly. The rate of distribution would have been exactly the same ; and when once it is admitted that Western Australia requires to have these works executed, the question of proportion between the States is quite immaterial.
– I admit that.
– The money has to be spent in the West, and, for all practical purposes, it is immaterial whether the whole of the States are debited per capita to-day or to-morrow.
– That argument is affected by any ultimate scheme which we may adopt for the distribution of surplus revenue after the expiration of the book-‘ keeping period.
– I think the honorable senator is wrong there, because until the transferred properties are paid for, his contention would not affect the case. At the present time, they have not been paid for. However, the position is this: In my opinion, the reason which influenced Sir George Turner in making this arrangement had nothing to do with Western Australia, but arose from the desire to placate the Treasurers and Premiers of the Eastern States. Suppose the States’ were debited, as they were in the first two or three years, with the expenditure on these works, then the expenditure of the Commonwealth would be largely reduced. The Treasurers of the Eastern States were with one accord anxious to make it appear that the expenditure of the Commonwealth was very much larger than was actually the case. Therefore, they took exception to the method adopted by Sir George Turner in the first two years of the Commonwealth, which was to debit the States directly with additions to old services. The Premiers and Treasurers insisted that these amounts should be debited to the Commonwealth as new services, and the expenditure of the Commonwealth was therefore considerably increased. As honorable senators can see on reference to the Bill, this year it amounts to a total of £418,911. The greater portion of that sum would under the old system have been debited to the States as a continuation of the transferred services, and would not have appeared as Commonwealth expenditure at all. Therefore, the States Treasurers, who have talked so much about the extravagance of the Commonwealth, would have been deprived of the pleasure which that action apparently affords them. That is the reason, as I understand, why the method was adopted, and it is just as well that the reason should be clearly understood, and that the effect of the present procedure should be appreciated by honorable senators when considering these Estimates. To come to the Bill itself, I want, first of all, to deal with the votes on page 17. I think that Senator Playford, with the best intentions in the world, is adopting an extremely unwise policy, which I deprecate very strongly indeed. The Minister of Defence proposes, in dealing with the special defence material items, to omit a large portion of the expenditure which we are asked to authorize, in order that he may apply the funds so saved to the purchase of rifles and cordite, a purchase upon which we shall have no opportunity to express an opinion. The Minister explained perfectly candidly that he proposes to lay a statement before the Senate at a later date.
– The Senate will then have an opportunity to criticise the expenditure.
– Yes; after the cordite has been purchased and shot away.
– I quite grant that the Senate will” have an opportunity to criticise, but we shall have no opportunity to refuse the vote. This, I consider, one of the most important rights of the Senate, and one which ought to be very carefully safeguarded. I do not in the least wish to impute any want of good faith to the Min ister of Defence. I know that the honorable senator is approaching the matter with the best intentions in the world, but the procedure which he proposes to adopt seems open to very grave criticism. I shall now proceed to explain why I think, on thefigures before us, that the proposed actionis unwise. I cannot think that Senator Playford has cast up the sum total of the figures, or he would see that what he proposes is hardly feasible, so long as he retains a certain portion of any of the voteshere. In the first place, the vote of £58,882 for the field artillery cannot be reduced. As ‘ a member of the Senate, i most strongly object to any reduction of that vote.
– It is not proposed to touch that vote under any circumstances.
– I am glad to hear that the vote is to remain intact; and if the Minister of Defence will enlighten me as to each vote as I proceed, he will shorten my remarks considerably. Then there is trie vote of £10,260 for machine guns.
– It is not proposed” to touch that vote.
– In my opinion that is absolutely essential expenditure,, which ought not to be interfered with under any possible circumstances.
– Hear, hear !
– But I most strongly deprecate the proposed expenditure for two 7”s guns.
– Those guns have been ordered.
– The Ministerhas “ given the show away.” We now thoroughly understand the way in which these Estimates are presented to us. After most careful consideration, I have come tothe conclusion that these two guns are absolutely useless for our purposes. They aremost excellent guns for specific purposesand ranges, but for our purposes they are, as I say, absolutely useless. I ask by whom were these guns ordered?
– The guns wereordered long before the present Government came into office.
– We can get no information from this Government, except that something has been done by somebody else.
– This may be called the no-responsibility Government.
– I have always, argued that there is no responsibility in connexion with this Department, and apparently no one pretends that there is, except when we are discussing a Bill for its control. We are then told that this or that necessary reform cannot) be carried out because to do so would interfere with Ministerial responsibility. That was the one reason why the amendments I proposed in the Bill last session were not accepted. The fact is that there is no such thing as Ministerial responsibility in connexion with this or any other Department of the Government.
– When . a. Government is turned out of office their responsibility ends.
– That is quite right. When a Government is turned out, members of that Government very often turn round and vote against the very measures they introduced.
– Or stay away and do not vote.
– Could responsible government be reduced to a greater farce? I do not aim those words at any particular Government, because such is the habit and custom, of every Ministry, so far as I can see, no matter from what party it may be formed. As I said before, this vote of £24,000 is one that it is of no use discussing - the matter comes before us cut and dried.
– These guns are for the fortifications of Fremantle.
– Surely, if these Estimates are of any value they ought to come before us in such a condition that we can exercise our deliberative judgment in dealing with the votes asked for ? We ought to be iri a position to debate this question, and if we come to the conclusion that the guns are not necessary, to decide that they shall not be purchased. Suppose that after the Senate has listened to me this morning, it comes to the conclusion that these guns are unsuitable?
– Did we not commit ourselves to this expenditure last session, seeing that in the Bill then passed it was indicated that two guns were to be procured ?
– The honorable senator is right in saying that the Government were going to procure two guns, but they were not im-the Bill. I may say that I saw people connected with the Depart ment, and told them my reasons for strongly opposing the purchase’ of the guns.
– How long ago was that ?
– That was at the commencement of last year, when I came over from Western Australia and heard that it was proposed to place the guns in the fort at Fremantle. The guns were not ordered at that time, but were only spoken of outside Parliament.
– I think that in the Bill of last session the calibre of the guns was mentioned.
– The honorable senator is wrong; there was no vote proposed, and no possibility of debating the matter. I want to know what procedure we could possibly adopt if the Senate came to the conclusion that these guns are unsuitable.
– When it was mentioned that these guns were about to be purchased was the time to bring forward a motion affirming that they were unsuitable.
– The honorable senator is not talking sense. I ask him, as a practised parliamentarian, how the Senate could express an opinion on a subject which was not before it? Indeed, the matter has never been before us until to-day.
– It was known, and, so far as I remember, it was stated in the papers before the Senate, that the Government proposed to purchase two guns, the calibre of which was mentioned. The honorable senator then had a perfect right to submit a motion on the question.
– The honorable senator is wrong in stating that we had an opportunity to express an opinion on the question.
– An opportunitycould have been afforded by giving notice of motion.
– I have been watching the matter carefully with a view to expressing an opinion. I have had my notes ready for the last twelve months, and if any occasion had presented itself, the Minister of Defence may be perfectly certain that,’ whatever Government were in power, I should have expressed my opinion. It is not my habit to keep my opinions in the dark, wHen there ais a possibility of making them public.
– The Minister of Defence suggests that the honorable senator should have moved as a private member a motion which would have led to nothing.
– The Minister oi Defence is showing some little heat in this matter, and I should like him clearly to understand that I make no attack on him. The Minister is apparently helpless in the hands of fate - a fate provided for him by a predecessor. In all earnestness, I ask the Minister what means are open to us tb get the order for those guns withdrawn if the Senate comes to the conclusion that they are not suitable? Is the person who ordered the guns to be asked to pay for them, and be left to utilize them ‘for the ornamentation of his back garden or either side of his front door? We are supposed to be here controlling the finances of the Commonwealth, and I should like an answer to the question, which I have just put. The Minister of Defence said just now that I did not take advantage of a previous opportunity. I now ask the Minister the question in advance, in order that I may take advantage of the proper procedure. What have we to do if the Senate concludes that these guns, which have already been ordered, are not necessary or suitable?
– Unfortunate.lv, the honorable senator, Tike myself, is in the hands of fate; the guns have been ordered.
– Then what is the use of asking us to express a deliberative vote on the expenditure? Is this not reducing parliamentary procedure to a farce ? »
– It is “ responsible government.”
– The same sort of thing has occurred in the Parliaments of all the States ever since I can remember.
– The Minister of Defence excuses himself by saying that the same thing has occurred in the Parliaments of the States. I know that it has occurred time after time in Western Australia, and protests have been raised again and again. That fact, however, affords no justification for our continuing the same evil method under the Commonwealth.
– The past Minister cannot be blamed - the blame rests with his advisers, who recommended the purchase of the guns.
– I do not blame the advisers, but I blame the Minister of Defence for the time being.
– The Minister of Defence has no knowledge of gunnery, and must trust to the advice of experts.
– On whose authority are those guns said to be unsuitable?
– The only authority I know is that of the honorable senator who is speaking. I know the reasons the honorable senator is going to bring forward, because I supplied him with the “ ammunition “ he is going to fire off. I always give honorable senators every opportunity to get at facts.
– I am very loth to interrupt this conversation, which is eliciting a good deal of information. I must admit frankly that I have received every assistance from the Minister of Defence, and, as I said before, I make these remarks in no spirit of animosity against either the present Minister of Defence or the present Government.
– All I say is that it is not fair to blame a past Minister in a matter of this sort ; the blame is attachable to the advisers of the Government who recommended the purchase of the guns.
– There I distinctly join issue with the Minister. It is quite contrary to parliamentary procedure for any Minister to embark in a purchase of this sort without the authority of Parliament. I do not care what responsible advisers advise; it is the Minister’s duty before embarking on such a policy to secure the approval of Parliament.
– The approval of Parliament for the erection of fortifications at Fremantle, and to certain guns being mounted there, was obtained.
– There the honorable senator is mistaken. The approval of Parliament was obtained for the fortifications at Fremantle, and for the mounting of two 6-inch guns at Arthur’s Head. That matter received careful consideration, and if I had had any objection to the proposal I should have expressed it. Indeed, I had intended to oppose the proposal, but Colonel Owen gave me information which convinced me that the only policy to adopt was to mount those guns at Arthur’s Head. I, therefore, raised no objection to what I had considered at first to be a mistake. The three items I have enumerated give a sum total .of £93,142. We have to add to that a sum of £41,060, which it is stated here is not to be expended, making a total of £134,202. That leaves £46,858 available for all other expenditure. Out of that amount, according to the Estimates placed before us, provision must be made for various other items, involving a total expenditure of £87,918. So that the Minister starts off with a list of reducible items involving a total expenditure which is double the amount available for the purpose. It must be reduced, therefore, by 50 per cent, inany case. I cannot see how the purchase of cordite and rifles as proposed can cost much less than £40,000.
– We propose to spend £10,000 on cordite, and £22,000 on 5,000 rifles. That makes £32,000, which is rather less than the honorable senator’s estimate.
– I was only £8,000 out, but I do not know exactly what the price of cordite is, and I estimated the cost of the rifles at £5 each, instead of at a lesser sum. ,1 think it will be found that the Minister of Defence has given the cost of the rifles without bayonets, and, as I assume that bayonets will have to be provided, it is likely that the cost will amount to £5 for each rifle and bayonet. The honorable senator proposes to spend £32,000 on these two items out of an available sum of £46,000. That will leave £14,000 to be expended, on items in this list, which involve a total expenditure of £87,918. It is ridiculous that Parliament should be asked to expend that amount on specific items when, according to the Minister’s own showing, he will have only £*4j°°° at his disposal for the purpose. Senator Playford may smile, but he will find it impossible to dispute the figures.
– There is a vote of £58,000 down for field artillery, and a great deal of that may. not be spent.
– When I mentioned that item, the honorable senator said that the vote could not be reduced by ohe penny.
– We have no desire to reduce it, but whether the whole of that amount will be spent during the year is very problematical.
– The expenditure proposed on field artillery is one of the most justifiable items placed -before us.
In the circumstances which I have stated, Parliament has some right to object to the way in which these votes are submitted to it.
– I can now give ;the honorable senator the date at which the guns he referred to were ordered. It was 17th April, 1905.
– If they were ordered at so late a date, I have some hope that the order could be countermanded by cable.
– To get the guns the honorable senator suggests would double the expenditure straight away.
– I shall come to . that later on. In going through the Estimates, I find a number of votes for rifle ranges, but there is absolutely no provision made for an artillery range, unless some of these rifle ranges would be suitable for the purpose.
– No, they are not. We are considering the matter of artillery ranges, but we have not sufficient information on the subject.
– Is not that- an extraordinary statement for a Minister of Defence to make? We have a vote here for 18-pounder guns for field artillery. They have an effective range of 10,000 yards - about 6 miles. It is essential for any purpose of defence that our, field artillerymen should be exercised in the firing of those guns. They must be taught to train and aim them accurately, and the only way in which they can be given such instruction is by practise on ranges. A certain number of these guns are to be provided for each State, and it is almost incredible that we should be told that throughout the Commonwealth there is no place where these guns can be used with safety. No provision is made on these Estimates for acquiring artillery ranges, and the Minister of Defence says that he cannot get the necessary information on the subject.
– Information as to where suitable sites can Le obtained.
– Exactly ; no steps have been taken to investigate the question.
– Yes, it has been investigated.
– I am aware that the military authorities have directed the attention .of previous Governments to the question, but it has been shelved, and simply because, as I stated last year, in defence matters the Government are unwilling to come to Parliament for money.
– - It is want of money that prevents us from going farther.
– It is not want of money, because, so far as I can judge, Parliament is quite prepared to vote all the money required. It is because the Government will not come to Parliament and tell the truth on these subjects, and ask for the necessary money. Although the departmental authorities, when these guns were ordered, called attention to the fact that artillery ranges were necessary, and although that notification has been repeated with each change of Government, nothing has yet been done in the matter, and the present Minister of Defence lacks information on the subject.
– A range 6 miles long would cost some money.
-These ranges must be 10 miles long by 4 miles wide to be of any use at all. What on earth is the use of buying these guns if they are not to be used in practise?
– The guns can be fired all right if they are taken to the sea coast.
– The Minister of Defence treats the matter in a jocose spirit, but the defence of our homes is one of the most serious questions that can possibly occupy our attention. It is of far greater importance than is any social question in the States, yet it is a question to which ap- . parently no Federal Government is prepared to give five minutes’ serious consideration. As a consequence, we have the present extraordinary state of affairs, in which first-class guns are ordered, and there will be no means of practising with them.
– We will find a way to practise with them. What does the honorable senator think it would cost to purchase an artillery range 10 miles long by 4 miles wide in each of the States?
– If the expense of providing ranges is prohibitive, we had better sell the guns, and have done with it. We have a Defence Force in which no one is effective, because no one is trained. The men of our defence force are very willing, but no opportunity is afforded them to become efficient. I come now to deal with the Department under the control of the Postmaster-General. I have something tq say in connexion with a proposal for a trunk telephone line between Sydney and Melbourne. In these Estimates I find a vote of £23,000 put down for the construction of the New South Wales branch of the line, and another of £11,000 for the Victorian branch, making a total o£ £30,000. There is no indication of the additional amount which will hereafter have to be spent to make the service complete. However, I have an official document, in which I find that the total amount required for the purpose will be £50,000. This particular service is included in a series of works submitted to the Commonwealth Parliament by Sir George Turner in 1902. I think the year was 1902, but, curiously enough, this parliamentary paper is undated. Sir George Turner, as Commonwealth Treasurer at the time, proposed to issue a Commonwealth loan, and in the schedule of works which it was intended to cover, this direct telephone line between Sydney and Melbourne is included, and the amount put down as necessary to complete the scheme is £50,000. We have now a proposal made to spend £30,000 of that sum. When the proper time arrives I shall move to strike out this vote. What is proposed is an absolute luxury, and a totally unnecessary expenditure of Commonwealth money. At present there are a number of works required in connexion with existing telephone systems in the various States, and essential to their proper working, which have not been carried out. In Melbourne, for instance, a departmental committee recommended that the whole of the telephone and telegraph lines should be laid underground in conduits, and an amount of £54,653 is stated to be required for this work, which has not yet been completed. It is, I believe, being carried on slowly, and is not likely to be completed for several years under the present scale of expenditure. This is, I contend, an absolutely essential work, and ought to be completed before we go in for luxuries such as a through telephone line from1 Melbourne to Sydney. Then there is the question of a common battery switchboard in the telephone office at Melbourne. That is an absolute essential. It was pointed out by the departmental committee that the present switchboard was utterly inefficient. It is the reason, I believe, for half the delay that takes place in using the telephone,- and all the inconvenience which subscribers suffer and which every honorable senator has experienced. It is of the verv first importance that that work should be put in hand and completed.
– If it is merely a question of expense the fee to the subscribers might be increased rather than have the service out of date.
– The cost of the switchboard is set out in the Estimates at £30,000. That expenditure, which I see receives the approval of Senator Higgs, ought to be authorized long prior to this luxury of a through telephone. The departmental committee called attention to the fact that the switchboard in Adelaide is also quite out of date, and causes a largely increased expense in manipulation, which would be saved to the State if a common battery switchboard were put in. That, again, is a work which ought to be taken in hand in preference to this through telephone line. It would cost £13,000. Then the departmental committee strongly urged that the telephone > system in Western Australia should be put underground. That would cost £23,500, and is an absolute essential to the working of the system. That also ought to ‘be put in hand before this unnecessary expenditure is incurred. Sydney, I may mention, had not a common battery switchboard at the time the report was drafted1, but curiously enough it has received one since. The estimate for the switchboard for Sydney, as for Melbourne, was £30,000; and I understand that the work has been completed. While these essential works in the other States remain untouched, I shall do my best to prevent the erection of the through telephone. I wish to call attention to the fact that it cannot possibly pay. The revenue is based on the estimate that a person will pay 6s. 6d. for a three minutes’ conversation. Itf would be practically impossible to find in each State more than two or three persons who would be prepared to pay that fee. I appeal to Senator Walker as a business man to say whether it is likely that business persons would pay the fee.-
– Probably the shipping companies and the banks might do so*.
– Very often they would pay a guinea for a three minutes’ conversation, and it would pay them, too, to do so.
– I have grave doubts about it.
– The real question is how many persons would pay that fee in a year.
– The estimate requires that thirty-two of these conversations should take place every day of the year except Sundays to provide the necessary income. The suggestion that thirty-two persons would be found ready every day to converse between the points at that cost is preposterous. The margin of time is twelve minutes, so that unless persons spoke every twelve minutes thirty-two conversations would not be held. It is perfectly clear, to my mind, that this telephone service would be monopolized during the working hours of the day by conversations between Ministers residing in Sydney, and the heads of their Departments residing in Melbourne. These conversations, of course, would not be paid for. If perchance any commercial man came along and wished to ring up Sydney or Melbourne, as the case might be, he would be told that the line was occupied. We should have no means of testing how many paid conversations were held, and the Commonwealth would be saddled with this enormous expenditure of £50,000 without the least probability of ever seeing any return therefrom. It has been said in another place that that loss would fall upon Victoria and New South Wales, and that, therefore, it is unnecessary for the representatives of other States to take exception to it. But no means will exist for ascertaining the loss of interest on that sum.
– If this through telephone line comes under the head of a new work, are not the representatives of every State very much interested in the expenditure of this sum?
– “Undoubtedly, because the expenditure is to be distributed per capita. The interest on £50,000 at 4 per cent, would amount to £2,000 per annum. We are entitled to expect that return to the Commonwealth if it is submitted as a remunerative work, as it is. We are told that the conversations would earn sufficient to cover the expense and the interest In the paper I had before me the interest was put down at 3 J per cent., but” I prefer to take the rate at 4 per cent. There would be no possible means of ascertaining whether the interest was earned. So that although the mere expense of working the line might fall upon New South Wales and Victoria, the interest on the outlay would never be identified, and would have to be a dead loss to the Commonwealth. Therefore, the representatives of every State are materially interested in preventing the grant of this luxury at the present moment.
– Do not the officials say that the line will pay 5 per cent, on the outlay ?
– The official estimate is that thirty-two talks on 300 working days at 6s. 6d. per conversation will produce £3,412, which is estimated to cover the interest on £50,000 at 3J per cent., and the cost of maintenance.
– Would it be possible for more than one conversation to be carried on at the same time? Has the honorable senator gone into that aspect of the question?
– There is no indication in the report, which I read most carefully, that anything but separate conversations would take place. I think it is likely that, if more than one conversation did take place at the same time, in each case neither party would hear .anything of the conversation in which he was specially interested. To justify my objection, and to illustrate my argument, let me call attention to the expenditure of £14,000 made by the Commonwealth ‘on the telegraph line to Tarcoola, in South Australia. This line appeared on the list of <public works which Sir George Turner proposed to construct out of loan money. It was constructed without the prior authority of Parliament being obtained, and, therefore, the Commonwealth had1, in due course, to foot the bill. Only two or three days ago I called for a return of the traffic on the line, which, I may say, was not opened under any guarantee. In the first year the receipts amounted to £115. The revenue for the first’ half of this year was £57 3s. 8d., and for the succeeding two months £12 17s. 2d. The line is not earning 1 per cent, on the outlay, to say nothing of the cost of maintenance and working. I maintain that exactly the same thing would happen in the case of a through telephone line from Melbourne to Sydney. We now reach what, to me, is the most interesting portion of this Bill, and that is the question of the two 7’5-in. guns and their ammunition. It is proposed to put these guns into a fort at Fremantle, and the question I want honorable senators to> consider is whether the guns are worth buying - whether they will do the Work which, the people of Fremantle and Australia, generally will expect them to do. The first point that arises is the object of thisfort. That has been clearly laid down, by the Colonial Defence Committee - a body of experts who sit in London, and; from time to time send out reports tothe Defence Department in Australia. They have stated the object of this and similarforts in two or three separate papers. Thelast one was dated 25th November, 1903.. They stated there that -
The object of fixed defences at Fremantle is to deter not more than four cruisers from, lying outside the breakwater and destroying the wharfs and shipping by gun-fire.
There we have a definite statement of what these guns are for. The Defence Committee finish up their memorandum by saying, “ Some of the cruisers might bearmoured.” Therefore, we have to consider whether these guns are sufficiently strong to keep at bay cruisers, some of” which may be armoured, and to prevent them ‘ from destroying the wharfs and’ shipping of Fremantle. This merely repeats what the Colonial Defence Committee said in other words in their report for 1 901, which, consequently, I need not quote. The next point that we have reconsider is this : What is the object of having heavy guns at all? Brassey, in the- 1904 edition of his Naval Annual, clearly lays down the object. I am quoting authorities, because, whenever I speak orv these subjects, some frivolous senator gets up and says, “ Oh, you pose as being a. military expert. “ I do not pose as a military expert in the slightest degree, but I do like to look at these things from a practical point of view, and, therefore, I quotethe opinions of people’ who are expertsBrassey is an acknowledged naval authority, and he says -
The principal function of the heavy guns is to* pierce the enemy’s armour, and either to let in water, or to destroy engines, boilers, guns and’ mountings, or the men protected by that armour.
We have first of all laid down by authorities the force that we have to deal with ; and, secondly, the function of the guns weintend to employ. The matter, therefore, is brought down to a nutshell. Are these 7’ 5 guns capable of piercing the armour of armoured ships which are likely to lieoff the harbor of Fremantle?
– It depends upon the thickness of the armour.
– Exactly, and I am going to deal with that question. Fortunately, I can again fall back upon the Colonial Defence Committee’s report. They give us officially the penetrative power of these 7.5 guns.
– It is necessary to know what they have to penetrate - whether the cruisers are armoured with plates 5 inches, or 6, 7, or 8 inches thick,
– Exactly, and I have here all the information that can be obtained on that subject. I intended to place it at the disposal of the Minister because I know that he has every desire to do the right thing. He admits that he has very little knowledge of the subject himself - in fact, that he only looked into this question for the first time the day before yesterday.
– Oh, a day or two before that.
– The Minister stated in his speech last night, that these supplementary works estimates never came under his cognizance until they were before the other House; and I think he will admit that he did not give any very serious attention to the penetrative power of these guns until I called his attention to the matter.
– Hear, hear ; that is quite right. The honorable senator called my attention to it.
– And I asked the Minister how he came to order these guns. He told me in his explanation that he was; reiving on his experts.
– I did not order them, but I have no doubt that the Minister who did relied on his experts, and he is in no way to blame.
– The Colonial Defence Committee, in an official document, inform us that the projectile from a7.5 inch breech-loading gun has a penetrative power on Krupp steel of 55.5 inches.
– At what range?
– At 6,000 yards. For fear that any honorable senator should cavil at the range, I may mention that that is the range chosen by the Colonial Defence Committee as being an ordinary range. I have a cutting which states that three and a half miles - which is about equivalent to 6,000 yards - is a close battle range for ships.In addition to that, in the Boer war guns were silenced at a range of ten and a half miles; others were silenced at a range of 9,000 yards, and the practise range in Sydney is from 4,450 yards to 4,500. So that a range of 6,000 yards is not at all unusual, and is a range at which battleships or cruisers would be likely to fire. Under these circumstances, we have to consider whether the ships which are likely to come to Fremantle harbor will carry more than 51/2 inches of Krupp steel armour or not. In this connexion I have obtained some very interesting information. We have to bear in mind, first of all, that armoured cruisers are the kind of vessels that will probably be despatched to these waters in time of war. Out of the whole- of the armoured cruisers and battleships in the British fleet - that is to say, out of 107 ships - there are . only ten having armour that these7.5 guns could affect at that range. I go a little further than that; and without any desire to suggest that we are likely to be at war with France, I take the French Navy as that of a foreign Power with which we might very well draw comparisons. I find that out of seventy-four armoured cruisers and battleships in the French Navy, there are only nine against which these guns would be effective.
– What is the average thickness of the armour of men-of-war”?
– It varies from 9 inches of Krupp steel in English battleships down to 4. inches on the new county type of cruisers.
– Some ships have an armour of 14 inches.
– I am speaking of the armoured belt. No ships, I think, have armour of Krupp steel 14 inches in thickness. Some ships of an older type have thicker armour of wrought iron, but they are now out of date.
– Then these guns are useless ?
– They are absolutely useless for all practical purposes.
– That is a very serious statementto make, and there should be some reply from the experts who are responsible.
– Under these circumstances, I wish to put this on record, and it is perfectly well known to everybody who studies defence matters, that Major-General Huttonand a number of the staff officers employed under him were
– Hear, hear.
– The Minister admits that what I say is true. I also wish to place on record my contention that it is an absolute waste of money to spend one single penny on the fortifications of either Fremantle, Sydney, or Melbourne, unless guns of a higher calibre than7.5 are to be employed.
– Was that MajorGeneral Hutton’s reason?
– No; the reason, I think - I have it only on hearsay - was that the more you increase the defensive power of Fremantle the greater would be the force employed against it if any enemy desired to attack it.
– He wanted only one fortified place in the neighbourhood.
– Major-General Hutton’s opinion was that Sydney was the only place in Australia that he would fortify if it were left to him, because if was a naval base. Whether his point of view was right, or whether it is a point of view which we need adopt, is another question.
– What is the price of these two guns apart from ammunition?
– About£40,000 odd ; and the price of 9-inch guns would be about£80,000.
– Two 7.5 guns, according to the estimate of the Colonial Defence Committee, would cost about £16,600.
– That is for the guns alone, but I was taking into accountguns, mounting, and everything concerned.
– Then there is £5,600 for ammunition, and the cost of erection would be£12,000, according to the estimate.
– What is the effective range of a 9.2 gun?
– The range does not matter so much as the penetrative power at any given range. It appears that the first local recommendation in connexion with the defence of Fremantle was to mount an old 9.2 gun which is called “EOC 1887,” and was lying at Sydney in store.
– That is a muzzleloader, I think.
– No. It was a-good enough gun in its day. The proposal was that that gun should
– Are any of theseguns quick-firers?
– No ; no gunover 6 inches is a quick-firing gun.
– Are there any quick-firing guns in Australia?
– There are a few.
– There are some quick-firing guns at Sydney.
– That, however, is not the material point. The idea is to- . have heavy ordnance, capable of penetrating armour at a distance of 6,000 yards, whereas quick-firing guns are short rangeguns, and do not meet that requirement. When, with the consent of the Minister in each case, I went to discuss the matter with, the departmental officials, I was always met with the reply that in the opinion of the Defence Committee the 7.5 gun was quite as good as the 9.2 gun. In 1903 the new9.2 gun was perfectly well known, in England asa first-rate weapon. It is “ mark x” wire-woven, and a most excellent weapon; but every time I spoke of it I received the reply I have just indicated. But now, curiously enough, the Defence Committee report in another paper - and I think the Minister will admit that I am not committing any breach of confidence - that thepenetrative power of the 9.2 gun is 7.8 inches of Krupp’s steel at 6,000 yards.
– As against the penetrative power of51/2 inches of the 7-5 gun ?
– That is so. I then turn to Brassey to see what effect our having such a gun would be, because I maintain that, if we make any purchase at all, we ought to purchase new9.2 guns for all our forts. I found that if we had thisgun at Fremantle there are only twenty-five battle-ships out of the 107 in the British Navy that would dare bombard that port. The difference in the position would be that if we had the 9.2 gun, only twenty-five ships,instead of ninety-seven, would be able to make an expedition with any hope of success, in destroying the shipping and wharfs at Fremantle. It struck me that this was a gun which would really be worth having. We have to bear in mind that an enemy would know exactly our armament ; there is no use in trying to deceive an enemy, who would know our position as well as we do, if not better. If an enemy knew that there were 9.2 guns waiting for them they would be obliged, either to abandon the idea of a hostile expedition, or to send down ships capable of dealing with the situation. What would happen? If we were at war with a country possessed with a fleet equal to that of England, only twenty-five ships any one of which would be able to attack Fremantle with any chance of success.-
– And possibly none of those vessels could be spared.
– Not only is there that possibility ; but, on the principles of naval fighting adopted at the present day, those twenty-five ships would undoubtedly be most carefully watched by the vessels of the opposing force, and would never have an opportunity to reach Fremantle. “ From my point of view, therefore, Fremantle, in the absence of some most unforseen accident, would practically be immune from attack. When I mention Fremantle, I must be taken as referring to all the ports of Australia; I simply mention the western port, because it happens to be the one dealt with in the Estimates.
– What is the price of the 92 gun?
– Double the price of the 7.5 gun, and the unfortunate fact is that our fortifications are built for7.5 guns, and 9.2 guns cannot be mounted there.
– When the Minister of Defence says that the price is just about double he is simply making a guess, because he does not know.
– Officers of the Department gave me the information.
– I do not think that it is a breach of confidence to say that the officer whom I saw told me that he really had no accurate information, and had only given an estimate.
– The officer never pretended to give anything more.
– I wish to mention another fact by way of illustration. It was only last year that the question of the 18-pounder field guns arose. Those field guns were well known in England in 1903, and’ in August, 1904, I had occasion to ask the then Minister of Defence what would be the cost of obtaining this gun, as compared with the cost of changing the antique guns already in the Commonwealth, into breech-loading guns. The answer I received as reported in Hansard of the11th August, 1904, was, “ No information.” That meant that there was absolutely no information in the hands of the Defence Department of a gun which was being largely talked of in England. In July- Mr. Balfour had spoken about this gun in the House of Commons, and pictures of it had appeared in the service magazines in 1903 ; and it seems inconceivable that our Intelligence Department in Australia should know nothing about the weapon. What happened ? The there Government went out of office, and the succeeding Government ordered twenty of those guns by cable a little prior to the 16thNovember. The position then was exactly the position we find now in regard to the 9.2 gun. The latter is well known in Europe, and is being placed on every modern, battle-ship launched; and yet our Intelligence Department has not even received from our correspondents in Europe any information regarding it. I saw in the newspaper the other day that the British Government are using the9.2 gun for the defence of Sierra Leone, and I believe that it hasbeen sent to other Crown Colonies for the defence of the shipping ; yet we are told that this weapon is absolutely beyond our means.
– The Government do not say that ; we only say that the9.2 gun will cost a great deal more than the other gun.
– I should now like to deal with the question of the site for the fort at Fremantle. These gunsare to be mounted on a ridge to the north of the town. I do not understand that there is any lack of room for placing the guns if the Department wish that to be done, because more land can be acquired from the State Government. I myself think that the Minister of Defence is confusingthis site with the position at Arthur’s Head. 6- inch guns. It was for that reason that I withdrew my objection to the installation of 6-inch guns. Turning once more to my argument, which was broken by Senator Dobson’ s question about price, I may say that I then turned to the French Navy to see what the result would be in that connexion, if there were9.2 guns at Fremantle. I find that out of the whole French Navy of seventy-four armoured ships, only thirteen could possibly lie 6,000 yards off Fremantle - that is, only thirteen in comparison with the sixty-three which would be available for the bombardment of the shipping of that port if we had only 7.5 guns. I do not wish to be understood to maintain that, if we had 9.2 guns we should be immune from attack. But I do say that if we had those guns, it would be almost impossible for any foreign Power to organize an expedition against us with any chance of success ; and, under the circumstances, so far as the capitals of Australia are concerned, we might be considered practically immune from attack. What would happen undoubtedly- and this is a very serious question - is that an expeditionary force would never attempt to attack the forts, but would go to some suitable landing place on the coast, and there disembark troops. The Minister of Defence knows that this is the view held by military experts, and it is that possibility which makes the eighteen-pounder field, guns necessary.
– Would an enemy take up the railway line along the coast ?
– I can hardly conceive an enemytaking up the railway line, which they would probably use for the purpose of attack.
– And import their own engines and rolling-stock, I suppose?
– An enemy who wished to use the lines would undoubtedly have to do something of that sort. But one can hardly imagine a permanently settled place along the coast where such a landing of troops would be made. I do not think I can with advantage say more on the subject. I have tried to make clear the reasons why I so bitterly resent the purchase of those 7 5 guns without the authority of Parliament. What would be the use of my moving to strike out this item? As has been pointed out, somebody must pay for the guns, and the result is
– Could a vessel with 9.2 guns lie far enough out of range of 7.5 guns to be able to destroy the battery ?
– The 7 5 guns shoot as far as the 9.2 guns, but they have not the same penetrative power.
– The 7 5 guns do not shoot quite so far as the 92 gun ; but it all depends on the elevation. With a higher elevation, a longer range is obtained; but with a flat trajectory - I think that is the right word - the two guns have practically the same range. But at 6,000 yards the penetrative power of the 9.2 gun is 7.8, and that of the 7.5 gun is only inches. I had forgotten to say that, out of the ninety-seven vessels in the British Navy which could bombard Fremantle if we had only 7.5 guns, there are only six not armed with 9.2 guns. The result is that those vessels would not only be able to bombard the port, but they would be able to silence our 7.5 guns with a shot or two. In fact, our guns would have no chance against the guns on the men-of-war. Then, again, the best effective shooting cannot be obtained from guns in forts, which, like that at Fremantle, are only 50 feet or 60 feet high. We must bear in mind, however, that the ships against which the guns would have to fire would be on the water, so that, whatever drawback there might be from want of elevation in the forts, the ships would be at a greater disadvantage.
– There are two or three items to which I should like to direct attention. Under the Department of Defence there is an item of £181,060 for special defence material, less an amount which it is. anticipated will not be expended during the year of £41,000, leaving the amount to be expended at , £140,000. I take it that this vote will cover the expenditure necessary for providing a number of new rifles. I ask the Minister of Defence, when replying, to give some information on the point. I should like to know if it is the intention of the Government, when purchasing new rifles, to be absolutely assured that the rifles purchased shall be of the most effective pattern, and of proved superiority. It occurs to me that there ought to be a good opportunity now to find out what were the most effective rifles used in the late war between Japan and Russia.. I have noticed that a number of people who profess to have a knowledge of the inner workings of the Defence Department of Australia, have stated that a large number of the rifles now in the possession of the Defence Force are almost useless, and belong to the category of discarded weapons.
– Certainly not. The Lee-Enfield magazine rifles are the most up-to-date rifles.
– Are all the rifles which successive Federal Governments have been purchasing Lee-Enfield magazine rifles?
– Has the Minister of Defence any knowledge as to whether a new and superior rifle is not likely to be introduced to supersede the Lee-Enfield, as the results of a number of tests that have been made within the last year?
– No; so far as we know, the Lee-Enfield magazine rifle is the most up-to-date rifle.
– The Minister will acknowledge that the matter to which I refer is one of the greatest importance. I have seen some controversy on the point, which would lead one to believe that there is a great deal of doubt as to whether the rifles most recently imported into Australia are of the most effective kind. It is to be hoped that the Government will not purchase weapons which may, in a very little time, have to be discarded in favour of a more improved type. I notice in the Estimates a number of votes for drill halls, and I direct attention to an item of £1,000 for a drill hall at Newcastle, to which a note is attached that the estimated cost of the hall is £2,000. It seems to me that that is a very large expenditure for a drill hall. There is another item of £800 for a drill hall at Boulder City, Western Australia, and an item of £400 for a gun shed and drill room at Launceston, Tasmania. There seems to me to be a somewhat serious discrepancy in these items. It may be satisfactorily explained. It may be that a very much larger drill hall is required at Newcastle than at Boulder City or at Launceston, but I find it difficult to understand how any hall used solely for purposes of, drill should cost £2,000, unless it is provided1 with a number of unnecessary embellishments. My view that a drill hall might be built forvery much less than £2,000 is con firmed by the fact disclosed in these Estimates that a room to be used in Launceston* for the joint purposes of a gun shed and; drill room is estimated to cost only400I direct attention to the disparity which isapparent between the amounts proposed tobe expended in the different States. In Tasmania the expenditure proposed under the Defence Department is £3,196. Of this amount £1,652 is to be re-voted,, leaving only £1,544 for “new” expenditure. I should like here to refer the Minister of Defence to a statement made in the Tasmanian Parliament by the Premier of that State to the effect that while Tasmania is about ten times worse off under Federation than she was before, her defences are costing about three times as much* as they did prior to Federation.
– Of course thestatement is untrue.
– Do I understand the Minister to say that the statement isuntrue.
– It is just as well that that should be placed on record.
– It has been placed on record in another place.
– The Minister of Defence, representing the Government in the Senate, says that the statement is untrue. I believe that it is absolutely untrue, and I am sorry to think that the Premier of the State I have the honour to represent here should have made such astatement. I am sorry also that theTreasurer of Tasmania, in his recent Budget speech, should have made statements reflecting on the intelligenceand capacity which the members; of the Federal Parliament have shown for the work they have to do. It is just as well that we should have the plain unqualified announcement of the representative of the Government in the Senate that the statement of the Premier of Tasmania to which I have referred is untrue, because it is natural that a large number of the people of Tasmania should believe that there is a certain amount of truth in any statement made by a gentleman occupying so important a position as that of Premier of the State.
– Who is the Premier of Tasmania?
– Mr. Evans.
– Have not Tasmanian fanners benefited greatlyby Federation?
– It is not necessary that I should go into that question now. Some notice might be taken of the important difference between the amount now returned to Tasmania from Customs and Excise revenue, and the amount which the State received from that source of revenue prior to Federation.
– The difference is largely due to Inter-State free-trade.
– No doubt it is. In spite of the fact that some of the statements made by the Premier of Tasmania are untrue, in common with all the representatives of that State in this Parliament, I am aware that there is a considerable under-current of dissatisfaction in the State as to the results of Federation generally. There is still greater dissatisfaction as to what has been done in connexion with the Defence matters, and with the existing condition of the military force in that State. According to the statement made by the Prime Minister the otherday, and according to the Estimates, Tasmania is to be debited with a considerably larger amount for defence than she paid prior to Federation, while, at the same time, she will not benefit very largely by expenditure on new works in this Department. I have given the figures, which show that . £1,544 is to be voted for new expenditure, and £1,652 re- voted, making a total of £3,196 for that State, as against a total of £25,223 in Western Australia, and £38,000 in South Australia.
– The amount for South Australia is £4,985.
– I am obliged to the honorable senator for the correction. I looked rather hurriedly at the column. I find that there is very little discrepancy between the amounts set down for South Australia and Tasmania. I do not take exception to the comparatively large amount proposed to be expended in Western Australia, if the officers of the Defence Force consider that it is absolutely necessary that this money should be expended for the proper purposes of the defence of the Commonwealth generally. While I am willing to accept the official Estimates of Expenditure in each of the States, I direct attention to a much more serious question, in connexion with expenditure on works and buildings, whether in the Defence Department, the Customs Department, or the Post and Telegraph.
Department. It seems to me that it is unfair that” new “ expenditure in the whole of the Commonwealth should be distributed on a population basis until we have a common purse. I cannot see that the system is fair under which, while granting to each State the Customs and Excise revenue collected in that State, we call upon the people in each State to contribute a per capita proportion of the “ new “ expenditure for the whole of the Commonwealth. I agree that it is not Federal to have the bookkeeping system, but while we do, it is not fair, I consider, to have that system for revenue and a Federal system for expenditure. I understand that this innovation was made last year when the Estimates were submitted. I do not remember the exact words of the Treasurer, but what he said was to the effect that it was considered necessaryunder the Constitution to distribute all new expenditure per capita over the whole Commonwealth, and that the previous system of charging new works according to the bookkeeping system had been unconstitutional. Probably we shall get some information on that point from the Minister of Defence when he is replying. I am quite sure that my colleagues will agree with me that Tasmania has suffered, and will suffer under the new system. Some States may suffer for a time, and derive an exceptional benefit at another time.
– Tasmania will not suffer under this Bill.
– If the honorable senator takes the Estimates altogether he will find that Tasmania will be a sufferer.
– I have taken the items in this Bill, and find that it is not so.
-Whether Tasmania or any other State suffers now and benefits at a future time, or vice versa, is only a small matter. The serious point is that it is absolutely unfair that while we maintain the bookkeeping system the expenditure on new buildings should be distributed over the whole of Australia, and at the same time only the, Custom’s and Excise revenue drawn from each State should be used therein. The situation may, however, have one redeeming feature. The system! which was adopted last year, and is to be continued, may hasten the time when the bookkeeping system will be abolished. I think that all new expenditure and all revenue should be treated on a per capita basis. I hope that when we come to the end of the bookkeeping period the system will not be renewed, and that all the revenue collected by the Commonwealth will be distributed on a per capita basis, thereby getting rid of a hybrid kind of Federation, which charges the whole of the people for a very costly work in a particular State, and at the same time-
– Does the honorable senator think that the question he is discussing is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill?
– I certainly do, sir.
– The honorable senator is now turning from the expenditure provided for in the Bill to some other proposed expenditure, and discussing the general question of bookkeeping.
– It is difficult, sir, for me to give the reasons for my exception to certain items in this Bill without discussing the question of the bookkeeping system.
– The honorable senator can discuss that question so far as it relates to this Bill.
– I had no intention, sir, to go outside the scope of the Bill, and if I have transgressed, of course I bow to your ruling. In the Estimates we may find a very large sum proposed to be expended in a particular State during the financial year. We are not going to take exception to a proposed expenditure if it is necessary. Perhaps, in the case of the Defence Department, the system of distributing new expenditure on a per capita basis is less objectionable and more reasonable, and, possibly, can be defended with greater force than in the case of other Departments. If no objection can be taken in the case of that Department very grave objection can be taken in the case of other Departments, such as the Trade and Customs and Post and Telegraph Departments. A very large sum - I think the total amount is £35,000 - is proposed to be expended upon some additions to the Melbourne General Post Office. The people in other portions of the Commonwealth who think, whether correctly or incorrectly, that they will not receive any benefit from that expenditure, either directly or indirectly, are likely to ask ~” Why should we be called upon to contribute our quota to the expenditure while the bookkeeping system remains in force?” True federalists, who have gone into this matter, think, as I do, that not until we have substituted for that sys tem a common purse should the expenditure be distributed on a per capita basis.
– Tasmania has gained by it.
– In that case I cannot be accused of taking a parochial view. I dislike the principle of the system, because it does not exhibit the true Federal spirit. Until we have a common purse for revenue we should not have a common pocket for expenditure; one thing should go hand in hand with the other. , There is only one other matter to which I wish’ Ito call attention. If the figures of Senator Matheson, and the official estimate of the revenue to be earned by the through telephone line between Melbourne and Sydney, are correct, they certainly give us cause to ask whether it is wise to pass the item. He said that it would require thirty-two conversations on every day except Sunday at a cost of 6s. 6d. per conversation, to pay 5 per cent, interest on the cost of construction and maintenance. I agree with him that it is very unlikely that thirty-two conversations per day will take place at that cost. I can Hardly conceive the possibility of the line earning sufficient revenue to pay the cost of maintenance and 5 per cent, on the outlay. I know that a number of business men in Melbourne and Sydney believe in the correctness of the official estimate. But there is one phase of the subject which ought to be considered. It is a certainty that if a new kind of telephone business be developed by the erection of the through line there will be a large loss of revenue to the telegraph line between the two points.
– The estimate allows for a loss of about £1,900.
– Is it represented that, notwithstanding that allowance, the through telephone line would earn 5 per cent, interest on the outlay?
– I am not satisfied that it would, and I feel very doubtful about voting for the item. But for the fact that some Ministers reside in New South Wales and others in Victoria, and find it necessary at times to communicate with each other, this proposal might not have been submitted. The weakness of the proposal is the possibility that a large proportion of the working time would be occupied by Ministers conversing with each other.
– The time should be recorded.
– Of course a record would be kept. I do not suppose for a moment that Ministers would talk to each other for the mere pleasure of conversing, or to bid each other good-morning, ;and so on. If these conversations did take place they would be considered by Ministers to be of sufficient importance to justify the use of the telephone line. But still it is quite possible that the communication might be made with equal effectiveness and sufficient despatch in the ordinary way, either by telegraph or by post. It is not a very strong argument in favour of communication being established “by telephone to say that Ministers might want to converse with each other when some of them were in Sydney and others in Melbourne. That argument has, I know, been held in some quarters to be a good one.
– They would simply live in Sydney-, instead of being in their offices.
– I think so.
– The time taken up by Ministers would be recorded.
– If Ministers and heads of Departments had been established in the Federal Capital this proposal would not have been submitted. If, however, the Minister of Defence in his reply can show that the line would pay 5 per cent, interest on the outlay I should feel very diffident about opposing the item. But I am not satisfied that a good case has been made out. No demand has been made by the public for this telephone. Have any representations whatever been made to the Department concerning it ?
– Will anybody give a guarantee?
– If the proposal were the outcome of representations made by business people it might be wise to authorize it. Prior to Federation a guarantee always had to be given whenever a request was made for the construction of a telephone for the convenience of one of the smaller towns. I know of an important mining town in Tasmania as to which there was not the slightest doubt that a telephone service would pay, but it took a long time to convince the Post and Telegraph Department to establish a service, and satisfactory guarantees had to be given. It is not unreasonable that the taxpayers should ask that a guarantee should be forthcoming in this case.
– It is quite impossible. No one can say who will use the telephone.
– That is a strong argument against its construction. Senator Pulsford is acknowledged by honorable senators to have a close insight info the trade relations of our principal cities, and his opinion on commercial matters is always listened to with considerable attention. He says that no one can say who will use the telephone. If nobody knows who is going to use it, we certainly do not know how much money it is likely to earn, and the estimate cannot be based on sound reasons.
– Is it not an advance on lines of scientific development?
– But we might advance in other directions than this. I hope that the Minister, in his reply, will make it quite clear that the line will pay an interest of 5 per cent, on the cost of construction. If he does not, there will be an opportunity to vote against it.
– I think it must be admitted that the defence of the Commonwealth is the most difficult problem with which the Federal Parliament has yet had to deal. It cannot be claimed that we have dealt with it either intelligently or effectively. There appears to be no unanimous opinion in Parliament as to how we should proceed. Some members desire to see an Australian Navy established - about the most costly scheme we could possibly enter upon. About three years ago some members were instrumental in cutting down the Defence Estimates without inquiring how they could safely be reduced. That was a bad start. Others think that if we cannot have an Australian Navy, we should at all events try to defend our ports by floating batteries, gun boats, and shore batteries. There are others - and I belong to this category - who think that we ought to depend upon the Imperial Navy, and at the same time see to it that a number of our boys are trained as efficient sailors. Above all things, I think we ought to have a national army, and that every citizen should be a soldier, and every soldier a citizen. Although I am not going to anticipate discussion on a motion about universal service, of which I have given notice, I should like to read a passage from a pamphlet written by Lt.:Col. Gerald Campbell, of
Sydney, on the Swiss military system. It was on the strength of this pamphlet that the New South Wales people recently formed a Defence League. Lt. -Col. Campbell says -
The actual strength of the Swiss Military Forces in “effectives” for an annual expenditure of about ^1, 120,000 was, on the 1st January, 1904, 530,819. . . . The active army is entirely on a war establishment basis, though the whole of the troops are not actually in yearly training. Our present Military Forces, on the other hand, do not amount to more than about 20,000 at full peace establishment - the actual strength being about 20,000 (much less than authorized) - and cost about ^560,000.
– How many, people are there in. Switzerland ?
– About 3,500,000 - a smaller population that we have here in Australia -
In time of war the Swiss army would be able to take the field at once. In our “case, we should have to draft in large numbers - more or less (chiefly more) untrained - to bring up the establishment to a war basis, before our army could properly take the field. In this matter we suffer considerably in the comparison.
An army of 530,000 men all more or less trained and fit for war at any moment for a cost of £1,120,000 affords an object lesson which I recommend to the Minister of Defence. It appears to me that we shall have to begin over again, and inaugurate an entirely new system.
– The Swiss are practically unpaid forces
– I do not care about that. I am in favour of a national army in which the citizens of the Commonwealth shall be made to do their duty.
– Is the honorable and learned senator discussing this Bill?
– -I am simply answering an interjection, by the Minister.
The PRESIDENT. The honorable senator is anticipating discussion on a motion of which he has given notice.
– I hope the time will come when we shall show some patriotism that will lead us to have an effective army.
– I must ask the honorable senator not to anticipate discussion on his own motion.
– I do not think I am doing so.
– If compulsory service means conscription, let us have it.
– That is a remark to which I must reply.
– The honorable senator must not anticipate discussion on another motion.
– But, sir, you allowed Senator O’Keefe to interject.
– The honorable senator need not notice the interjection.
– I do not want conscription. The Swiss people have no conscription. I should like to ask Senator Playford how it is that he has allowed himself to father the items, £32,500 for accoutrements, £10,250 for saddle-tree’s, stirrups, and bits, and £22,500 for making saddles ?
– I have not fathered them. I did not see the wretched things until the Estimates were brought forward elsewhere.
– This seems to me to be playing with a very important subject. I have already described my honorable friend as belonging to a “ No responsibility Government,” but it is idle for him to say that he has no responsibility for anything^ When we get into Committee I shall move that those items be omitted. When we have not sufficient ammunition, and are deficient in guns and rifles, we should not be asked to vote large sums for great coats and saddles. The military officers who prepared these estimates ought to be asked to reconsider them, and to give us a scheme in accordance with our needs and conditions. I am inclined to think that Major-General Hutton gave us good advice when he pointed out that there are sT number of places in the Commonwealth which it is not necessary to defend, and that we should first of all look after the defence of Sydney, because it is a naval1 base. I have always thought that as soon as we attempted to defend our ports by floating batteries and shore batteries, we should land ourselves in enormous expense. So fast do improvements in armaments take place, that if we were to purchase the most magnificent floating batteries and shore batteries, and the best gunboats, armed with the latest weapons that money could provide, in five or six years our weapons would be outranged, and the whole of our expenditure rendered useless. I should not like to say that all our ports should go undefended, but I am at a loss to know how we can defend them, except on the seas by means of one great navy. With regard to. the Melbourne and Sydney telephone Une,. I think my honorable friend should giveus more details about the scheme, and as- to whether it will pay. lt seems probable that the line will lead to a large increase of business, and that in a very short time it can be made to pay. Some honorable senators have inquired whether more than two persons could speak at once over a long-distance telephone line between Melbourne and Sydney. I have just had an opportunity to speak to an electrical engineer, who informs me that he does not think that that could be done; and, therefore, I take it that Senator Matheson’s estimate is substantially correct. The electrical engineer also informed me that he does not think that at intermediate places the line could be used, if it were engaged between Melbourne and Sydney. It is for that reason the charges over longdistance telephone lines are always so heavy. Between Chicago and New York, a distance of over 1,000 miles, the price is five dollars, and between London and Paris it is 8s. - in each case for a three minutes’ conversation. I had intended to say something about the altered arrangement in charging public works per capita, instead of to the individual States, but, as this is a short afternoon, I shall find a more fitting time to express my opinion. I desire to ask the . Minister, in regard to the desired change of the rifle range at Hobart, whether he will, if necessary, instruct an officer, at present stationed there, to inspect certain sites, in company with representatives of the local authorities, so that the latter may have the benefit of military advice. I take it that if two or more suitable sites are found, the Minister will then send an officer from head-quarters, without delay to make an inspection.
– I desire to support Senator Matheson’s proposal to obtain heavier guns for the defence of Fremantle and other ports in the Commonwealth. Indeed, I would go further and advocate our securing the most powerful guns that can be bought. The difference in the expense of mounting would be very small as between the two classes of guns, while we should have a much more effective defence. I do not see why we should not purchase 12 -inch guns, because, to me, as a layman, the object would appear to be to keep battle-ships at a safe distance from our cities and shipping. According to Senator Matheson,’ the 75 gun is ineffective on an ordinary cruiser at any distance over 6,000 yards ; but if we had 92 guns, or 12-inch guns, no war vessels of the smaller classes could get near enough to do any damage, and it is more than likely that the larger vessels could not toe spared for such work. It has been shown that if we possessed 9’2 guns only a small percentage of any foreign navy could approach near enough to do any harm; and the object should be to keep even those vessels at a distance. As a layman, I can hardly understand Sir Edward Hutton’s argument that the bigger the guns the more likely an enemy is to send big war-ships to attack us. In my opinion, Senator Matheson has knocked the bottom out of that argument by showing that very few battle-ships could be spared by an ‘enemy in case of a naval war between the United Kingdom and a foreign Power. It is a waste of money to buy big guns which are not of sufficient calibre to deal with any enemy that may possibly attack us. Senator Matheson could have pointed out that an enemy, with a vessel heavily armed with 9’2 guns, might, at a distance of 7,000 or 8,000 yards, silence the fort, and then come in and take away the shipping. The result would be the same to us as though the shipping had been destroyed, but the capture of sound vessels would be of great advantage to an enemy. I hope the Government will reconsider this matter, and take care to procure guns which will be a match for any possible enemy. I am sure we all feel indebted, as I do personally, to Senator Matheson for having gone so fully into a question about which laymen, as a rule, know so very little. The honorable senator may be ridiculed by some,! because, in their opinion, he poses as an expert. I do not think Senator Matheson does so pose, but. whether he does or not, I pay a great deal of attention to what he says, because he has devoted a good deal of time to the question of defence. Experts are not always right, and there may be influences at work to prevent them recommending what they think would be the best kind of artillery for the defence of our. ports and capitals. Do I understand that the 7*5 guns have been ordered ?
– The guns have been ordered.
– Then I should like to see the order countermanded, with a view to procuring heavier guns, even up to a 1 2 -inch calibre. While a member of this Chamber, I shall’ at any time be prepared to spend a good, stiff sum with that object.
– I thought the honorable senator was a man of peace?
– So I am; and if our batteries were armed with guns with which an enemy knew he could not cope, there could be no greater security for peace. If our batteries are armed with guns which are ineffective at 6.000 yards, all that an enemy will have to do to make a successful attack will be to select a battle-ship armed with weapons effective at 8,000 yards.
– The Senate owes a debt of gratitude to Senator Matheson for what I regard as the most effective and practical speech ever delivered in this Chamber on the question of defence. I am glad that honorable senators recognise that Senator Matheson was not dealing with the particular fortification at Fremantle, except as an object lesson which may be applied to all the other ports of the Commonwealth. The honorable senator has made out so strong a case that, unless the Government can answer his arguments, they ought to countermand the order for the 7*5 guns. Senator Dobson, who has suddenly left the Chamber - a not infrequent occurrence after he has criticised members of the Labour Party - referred to the reduction in the military vote which was made at the instance of that party, and in the course of his remarks used, as an illustration, the small military expenditure, in proportion to the service rendered, in Switzerland. Senator Matheson has placed his finger on the weakness which in the past has caused very heavy expenditure for very little return. In Switzerland, for an expenditure of a little over £1,000,000, an army of 500,000 men can be placed in the field, whereas in the Commonwealth, with an expenditure of close on £1,000,000, the strength of our forces on a peacefooting is a little over 20,000 men. It is all very well for honorable senators to point to those facts, but the man who does a real service, is he who points out the way in which we spend the money for which we get no adequate return in efficient defence. The order for these guns was given in April last. Is it not possible to countermand the order, and substitute one for guns of 1a heavier calibre? If, as Senator Matheson pointed out, these guns are not efficient for the defence of our ports, it would be far better to let the matter rest until we are in a position to buy heavier weapons. If
Senator Matheson’ s contentions are correct, it is not a mere question of difference in cost, but a question of absolutely wasting the money on 7^5 guns. The position seems to be so serious, that I do not think the Senate will pass this item, until Senator Matheson’s arguments are refuted, or there is some proposal to cancel the order. We are asked by this Bill to vote a sum of £140,000 for military material ; and of course any criticism of that proposal must be of a technical character. We have in this Chamber the Minister of Defence, but, so far as I know, there is no military expert here ‘ to give us any information of a technical or expert character. When the Estimates for other Departments are before us, it is customary to have officials from each Department to advise the Minister in charge, and the question raised to-‘day by Senator Matheson shows the necessity for a similar arrangement in regard to the Defence Department. We pay the salaries of those military advisers, and surely the Parliament which is called upon to vote this money for military material, should have the advantage of expert assistance, so that honorable senators may be informed at short notice on technical points. I understand that so far as the works and buildings are concerned, there is an official present to advise, but, as I say, there is no one here to whom we can appeal on technical points in purely military matters. Senator Dobson, in a veiled reference, charges the Labour Party with cutting down -the Military Estimates which were submitted to the first Federal Parliament. But the position in military matters, though it has improved since, was then very bad. We were voting upwards of £1,000,000 for an army without arms or accoutrements, and the Labour Party took up the position that it was useless to expend such’ a vast sum on a force which consisted mostly of braid, gilt, and parade. At the same time, the Labour Party showed their sincerity by voting the whole sum asked for to provide the forces with arms. The honorable senator who made that charge, knowing, as he did, that we voted that sum for armament without hesitation, might have done us the justice of acknowledging that, whilst we saved some hundreds of thousands of pounds, in the first years of Federation, there were no members of Parliament more ready to vote the money required for armament than the members of the party who had taken action to cut down useless military expenditure when it was proposed. I am satisfied that I have the support of my electors, when I promise that I will vote for any reasonable expenditure on armament, ammunition, and accoutrements recommended by our military advisers. Ministers are aware that members’ of both Houses of this Parliament are willing to vote whatever may be shown to be necessary for defence. But we require some guarantee that the money we are asked to expend will be of real service to the Commonwealth. On this point, the Minister of Defence has made a most alarming statement. He has said that, new rifles are urgently required. So serious is the position, from” the honorable gentleman’s point of view, that he proposes, later on, practically to amend the schedule to this Bill to enable him to divert sums of money proposed to be voted to less urgent purposes, to the purchase of rifles. Surely the whole difficulty might be overcome in a very simple manner? I take it that the Senate is prepared to accept from the Minister a statement as to what is urgently required, and1 what is not. If the Minister tells honorable senators that the sum of- £32, 500, proposed to be voted for accoutrements, will not all be required for that purpose, what could be more simple than to insert in the item the words “ and rifles “ ? We should then give the Minister of Defence discretion to spend so much of that amount as he deemed advisable on the purchase of new rifles. That would throw upon the Minister the onus of proving his capacity as an administrator of the Department of Defence, and it would be better to do that than to give the honorable gentleman power to wander indefinitely over the whole of the votes in the schedule, to alter votes as he might see fit, and then to come to Parliament with a statement which we should be asked to indorse. I am personally prepared to give the Minister a blank cheque, and let him fill it in for any amount which he is able to say he is advised by the Department will be necessary for the purchase of armament and ammunition. A matter to which I think some attention should be given is the proposal to mount 8-inch guns on the Cerberus. My information is that the engines of this boat are almost useless, and the vessel is practically nothing more than a floating battery.
– That is what she was designed for.
– The guns are not to be put on the boat, and I cannot understand why the vote appears in these Estimates’.
– I should like tohave some assurance from the Minister of Defence on that point.
– I have said that the guns are not to be placed on the Cerberus.
– Then for what reason is this item included in the schedule?
– The other branch’ of the Legislature did not strike out the item, as honorable members knew we could save the money.
– I think that it ismost unfortunate that we should be practically misleading the people of the Commonwealth. We are stewards appointed’ to provide for their defence, and we tell them that we propose to spend £140,000- on armament. We tell them, also, that wepropose to spend ,£2,000 in mounting 8-inch, guns on the Cerberus, when we know that it is not our intention to do so.
– That amount is presumably a part of the £41,000 which weare told is to be deducted.
– It may be, but there are many other votes included in the schedule which the Minister has intimated* it is not the intention of the Government to expend for the purpose for which they are set down.
– It is a very absurd ‘ arrangement.
– I think it is. Every item included in the schedule tothis Bill should mean business. If any of these votes are not needed they should not appear in the schedule. If this sum of £2,000 is to be devoted to the purchase of rifles, why are we not asked to vote it for that purpose? I remind honorable senators that if we pass the Bill in its present form the Minister of Defence will not be authorized to purchase rifles, which it is admitted we need, whilst he will Reauthorized to mount 8-inch guns on the Cerberus, which we do not need. I should be glad if the honorable gentleman could’ see his way to delay the measure until he is; in a position to ask the Senate to vote money which he does need. It is not a matter of” great urgency.
– We desire to get om with these works. People in all the Statesare clamouring for work.
– The honorable gentle- . *nan is asking for money which the Government do not intend to spend.
– We are also asking for money which we do intend to spend.
– A delay of a day or two in the passing of the measure will not have been in vain if in the meantime the Minister is enabled to ask for money which is really needed. I presume that 5 the Council of Defence1 has met on several occasions, and has considered, these matters,
– It has not’ met since I called it together and laid my statement before it.
– We have been paying an Intelligence Department and a staff of officers for the last four years, and they should surely be able to tell the Minister of Defence what sum of money is required for the purchase of rifles. They should also be able to say how much of the amount proposed to be voted for accoutrements, saddle-trees, saddles, and- so on, might be safely diverted to that purpose. I think the Minister would do well to allow the Bill to stand over until next week, and in the meantime place himself in a position to submit a definite proposition. I am prepared to vote for all the items which the Minister, on advice, declares to be necessary, and even more than is asked for in this Bill. I recognise the urgency and necessity of being prepared for war, but preparedness does not consist in paying salaries to military officers to drill men unless we have rifles ‘ with which to arm them.
– We have sufficient
Titles to arm all the men we have:
– It does not consist in voting money which we do not intend to spend;
– Certainly it does not. I feel very strongly on this question, and Senator Matheson has increased my interest in it. I am afraid that the Minister will find some difficulty in getting some of the items in this Bill passed unless he can put up a better defence against Senator Matheson’s attack than seems possible at the present time. Senator O’Keefe found fault with the distribution of this expenditure on a per capita basis. If the question of the distribution of expenditure is to be dealt with at all, lt should be as a principle by itself, and not in connexion with the expenditure under a particular Department. Senator O’Keefe seemed to be of the opinion that, defence being an Australian matter, a per capita distribution of expenditure in this Department could be justified, although almost the whole of the expenditure proposed in any particular year might be for works in one State. The honorable senator is unable to find the same justification for charging expenditure in the Post and Telegraph Department on a per capita basis. That is incomprehensible to me, because in my opinion the Post and Telegraph service is as much a national service as is Defence. The expenditure proposed in this Bill in Western Australia is very much in excess of what that State’s share of the total expenditure would be if it were distributed on a per capita basis, but we must take into account the stage of development reached in each State ; and I remind honorable senators that had Western Australia reached “the same stage of development as the other States, there can be no doubt that the new works proposed under the Post and Telegraph Department, and a large number of additional works which have been refused by the Federal Government, would have been constructed by the State Government. The position would then have been that the Commonwealth, taking over the Post and Telegraph service, would have had to pay for those works ‘ as transferred properties, whereas under the present circumstances these works will have to be paid for only as new works. It is unreasonable to contend that States having reached a certain stage of development must mark time in the construction of works and buildings urgently needed, because one or more of the other States have reached a further stage of development. That is an argument which I think will not find support in the Senate. As regards the telephone service proposed between Sydney and Melbourne, I do not think that we can accurately forecast the revenue to be derived from it. It is a peculiar feature of post, telegraph and telephone services that, wherever new conveniences are given, the forecast of revenue is in nearly every case exceeded. It used to be urged against the lowering of the postage that it would result in tremendous loss; and it was also urged against the lowering of the cost of telegrams that it would result in loss. As a matter of fact, the reduction in the cost of telegrams has led to such an increase of business that, if there has been any loss of revenue at all, it has been infinitesimal. I am therefore glad to find this new convenience provided for, because I believe the line will be found to attract enough new business to make it payable. I understand that we have the assurance of the departmental officers that, on the figures before them, the line will pay handsomely, because it will lead to an increase in a class of business which is not accommodated by either the mail or telegraph services. For these reasons I have no objection to this particular item.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).I should like to say a word or two primarily with the object of indorsing the suggestion made by Senator Pearce, that the Minister should consent to a little delay in this matter, not merely in the interests of the Senate, but to enable him to obtain certain information which’ he candidly admits he is not at present in possession of. These Estimates come before us as a proposition that we should sanction the expenditure of a certain amount of money. For what purpose? Surely, if we have any regard for business principles, we require to know how the money is to be expended ! The Minister makes no secret of the fact that he is asking for a sum which he does not intend to spend this year. That seems to me a most extraordinary state of affairs. Why does he submit any Estimates at all if he is to proceed in this way ? Why does he not come down and say, “ I may require a quarter of a million, but I ami asking you to vote me a million, as it will come in handy as petty cash at the Treasury.” If our consideration of the Estimates is to be anything more than a farce, we ought not to be asked to proceed in, this way. I draw particular attention to the point, because, rightly or wrongly, I fear that the Senate is losing that proper control which it ought to have over the national- expenditure. If it were a single instance I should not perhaps have risen to object, but honorable senators cannot shut their eyes to the fact that from the time the Federation was launched, the Senate has never been placed in a position to exercise an effective control over the finances. I shall now go further, and say that, although the Constitution differentiates in the powers of the Houses in regard to Money Bills, if there is one question which more than any other should appeal to the Senate, as the particular representative of the States, it is that of finance. And whilst the Constitution limits, perhaps, the methods by which. We may deal with financial questions, our power is none the less recognised and clear. We have absolute power if we Gare to exercise it. I would impress upon every honorable member who may occupy Ministerial office that this continual slighting of the Senate - unintentionally it may be - is likely to bring about a position which neither the Senate wishes to take up, nor the Government would” care to see adopted. It is quite evident that the Senate must do one of two things. Either it must fall back into the position of an ordinary Legislative Council and merely register the financial proposals of the other House, or, unless the Government methods are altered, put down its foot, and refuse to pass financial Bills sent up in this way. I am sure that the Government does not wish to force the Senate into, a position of that kind. I believe I echo the opinion of every honorable senator when I say that the Senate has no desire to hamper the transaction of public business by administering « drastic check of that sort. But what are we to do if time after time the Government bring forward its financial proposals in the loose way in which they have been submitted to us? . It is clear thatsooner or later we must make up our minds to refuse to proceed with business, unless it be presented to us properly. For that reason I would ask the Minister whether in view of the hour we have now reached, and the impossibility of dealing with the measure to-day in Committee, it would not be as well for him to allow its consideration to stand over until next meeting-day, .when he could produce the information which admittedly he has not at his command now, ‘‘and even take into serious consideration the question _ of whether or not the proposed appropriations ought not to be reduced to the _ actual amounts required for the public service. As a further reason for the wisdom of the delay I suggest, honorable senators must have recognised that Senator Matheson has offered some criticisms which ought to be .answered before we vote a single penny. These criticisms may, or may not, be well founded!, but at present they remain unanswered. They have created in my mind very serious doubts as to the correctness of certain items in the Bill, and so far the Minister has not given any satisfactory explanation.
– I have not had an opportunity to speak yer.
– No; but the Minister anticipated the objections in very many particulars by his candid admission that he had not the information at his command, and, on one occasion, by an attempt to defend himself^ behind the very weak plea that another ‘Ministry had approved these Estimates. That, however, is no justification for our adopting them.
– If an honorable senator tries to make me personally responsible, I have a perfect right to say that I am not. I only used the remark in that connexion.
– I have made no such attempt. I am acting solely in the interest of the good conduct of business, and with a regard to the preservation of the rights of the Senate, not with a desire to hamper the Minister. These matters justify us in asking the honorable gentleman for that information which at present he does not possess. The question of the distribution of the expenditure on a per capita as against a State basis is to some extent brought under review by the Bill. While I do not propose at the present time either to express an opinion or to take any action with regard to it, I trust it will not be assumed that, because honorable senators like myself do not take any action to-day, we necessarily indorse that system, or place ourselves out of court if at a future time we should desire to raise the whole question in a more convenient way than can be done to-day. With regard to the erection of a through telephone between Melbourne and Sydney, one of the obligations which rest upon the Commonwealth, which has a monopoly, is to see that the reasonable requirements of the public are met. The sound business character of this proposal may be easily shown. If the Government were not prepared to erect the line, and would intimate that they would- allow a private company to do so, within a fortnight I could form a company fo,r that purpose; and, what is more, I could get very many shareholders in the Chamber.
– Especially if the honorable senator could make them a present of .shares.
– The very fact that I had an option of that kind would show what a good thing’ it was. <
– Then there can be no difficulty about getting a guarantee.
– Yes, there is, because the benefits of the line would -be spread over such a wide area. The Commonwealth has no right, merely by creating a monopoly, to prevent reasonable facilities being given to the business of any particular section of the people under its control.
– Why do the Government always ask for a guarantee?
– I am not defending the action of the Government in that regard. If this is a sufficiently good business matter for a private company to take up, it ought to be good enough for the Government of the Commonwealth to take up. I apply, if I may use the term, the touchstone of business to the proposal. Would the business likely to result from the erection of the line justify the proposed expenditure? If it would, then the work . ought to be carried out by the Commonwealth, and that it would is shown by the fact, which any commercial man in Sydney or Melbourne will attest, that private enterprise is ready to undertake it. That is the best guarantee that the Government are adopting sound commercial principles.
– Does the honorable senator think it is quite fair that the profits, if any, should be divided between Victoria and New South Wales, and that the losses, if any, should be shared by all the States?
– The honorable senator is raising the very question on which I said I did not propose to express an opinion to-day, and that Ls whether these so-called new services should be charged at this stage on a per capita), or State basis.
– This is a convenient time for raising the question.
– It may be convenient to the honorable senator, but it is not convenient to me. Whilst I have no doubt that he can at a moment’s notice make up his mind on the most intricate financial problems, I candidly admit that I cannot. This is too big a question for me to come to a decision about without very serious thought.
– Of course, if it affects New South Wales and Victoria.
– It is not a question of affecting those States. I think I have made it quite clear to the Senate that I do not desire to-day to express an” opinion as to whether the per capita or State basis should be adopted. If the question for me to judge was whether it affected New South Wales or not, I know which system I should adopt straight away. I would say, “ I believe in the system which financially benefits my State-.” But I am not prepared to take that course.
– It is a case of “ heads I win, tails you lose.”
– That, if I may be pardoned for saying so, is an extremely foolish remark, because, as I said, if I wanted to adopt that system which would put money into the Treasury of New South Wales, my course would be clear. I should say at once, “ I want the expenditure distributed on a State basis.”
– New South Wales will suffer severely if the per capita) basis be adopted. ,
– Exactly. I am not committing myself to a policy which would benefit my State, because- 1 recognise that while a system might temporarily or permanently penalize my State, it might still have a great deal to be said in its defence.
– In his opening speech the Minister of Defence spoke about the supply of cordite for the Commonwealth. I think I am correct in saying that no cordite is manufactured in Australia. If that be the case, the supply of cordite we have, even when supplemented by the purchase which is provided for in these Estimates, will -be exceedingly small. When I was at Albany not very long ago, there was some gunnery practice with black powder from the forts at a floating target two or three miles off. It was only when the wind had quickly blown away the cloud of smoke we were enveloped in after a 7*2 gun was fired that we were fortunate enough to see whether the bullet struck the target or not. Gunnery practice with black powder is of very little use. Seeing that this is one of the most important branches of our defence, if there is to be any practice at all, the men should, use cordite .md not black powder, which militates so much against effective work.
– And let it be manufactured in Australia?
– Surely the honorable senator does not say that black powder is not good enough to practise with?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Surely . the honorable senator can realize that sometimes, owing to a. cloud of smoke, the men cannot see whether the bullet strikes the target or the water.
– Did the honorable member ever see a smoke that did not clear off?
– Does my honorable friend think that a bullet will take half-an-hour to travel three miles? A cloud of smoke does not need to last very long in order to make it impossible to see whether a bullet strikes the target or how far from the target it strikes the water.
– What is the difference in the cost of the two powders?
– I do not know what the difference is, but I know that cordite powder should be used. We now come to the question of the manufacture of cordite, and the question of whether or not we should have a small arms factory in Australia. We are spending something like £600,000 on our internal forces. We must assume that those forces will never be brought into operation except in certain eventualities - when the British Navy is either defeated or evaded. Therefore, if ever we require to bring our third line of defence into operation, we shall be cut “off from the rest of the world. We are practically admitting that the comparatively large sum that we are now spending on our internal forces can lae useful only so long as we have sufficient cordite and small arms. It is a most dangerous position to be in. The most important aspect of the whole defence question is that we should have, within our own country, the capacity to manufacture small arms and ammunition, so that we shall not be left undefended if ever we are cut off from the rest of the world. The cost of establishing a small arms factory may be large. Nevertheless, we certainly should have an estimate, or the Government should tell us why they do not think it advisable that such a factory should be established. When we were looking over the fort at Albany, I asked whether there were mines there for use in an emergency.*
– Fixed mines are being given up in Great Britain.
– Thev were very useful at Port Arthur.
– I think the Minister must toe mistaken as to the use of mines for the defence of harbors.
– The information comes from our Secretary of Defence - Captain Collins.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Probably that opinion has been modified by the results of the war in the East.
– Probably what is meant is that fixed mines are being given up in favour of floating, or partlysubmerged mines.
– I asked at Albany, whether they had submarine miners to lay the mines, and, to my absolute astonishment, was told that there were none. I said, “ In the event of your having to lay those mines, what should you do?” The reply was, “We should have to get submarine miners from Melbourne.” The position seems to me to be absolutely absurd. What is the use of the mines if there are no trained men to lay them ? It would take a considerable time to take men from Melbourne, and there might be a need to lay the mines rapidly.
– That is “another reason for the construction of the transcontinental railway.
– In the absence of the railway it would certainly be very advisable to have, at Albany, the requisite number of miners. The position requires attention from the Minister, who should insure that some action is taken. We have, in Western Australia, a military force of only 1,620 men, on a peace footing, to defend one-third of Australia. That apportionment, I understand, was fixed under one of Major-General Hutton’s schemes. The number is exceedingly small. It means that if any enemy could land with a superior force he would have practically the whole of Western Australia at his mercy. I am told that many applications to join regiments, especially the Light Horse, have had to be refused1.
– What was the strength of the establishment prior to Federation ?
– There were about 2,000 men.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.That does not affect the issue. The question is whether the force is strong enough now. A larger apportionment of troops ought to be given to Western Australia, especial lv in respect to those regiments which men have been refused permission to join. I agree with Senator Matheson that it is extremely desirable that we should have guns of heavier calibre than those which it is proposed to put in at North Fremantle. Guns of a 7’5 calibre are not sufficiently powerful. At the same time, I do not know that cruisers or battleships would be able to bombard Fremantle from the same distance as they would be able to bombard the forts, because in front of Fremantle lies Rottnest Island. There are two means of approaching Fremantle, one on each side of the island, where batteries are fixed, but only the entrance lying between North Fremantle and Rottnest Island is deep enough for large vessels. A battleship or a cruiser would, have to come in much closer to bombard Fremantle than to reach the forts.
– It is the ships and wharfs that an enemy would bombard.
– My point is that the 7*5 guns mounted at North Fremantle would be nearar to the bombarding vessels than the wharfs and shipping would be.
– Only about 300 yards nearer.
– The Minister of Defence states that the order for these guns was given last April.. The circumlocution of the authorities in Great Britain is proverbial, and it is quite possible that that order has not yet even been put in hand. I should like the Government to get expert information as to whether it would not be advisable to cancel the order and to obtain larger guns. I asked somequestions of artillery officers in Western Australia, and they stated that they thought 7’5 guns would be large enough. Probably they were not the best authorities on the subject. They may not be au fait with the latest developments. Their opinion is not, at any rate, so valuable as would be the views of the members of the Defence Committee.
– It was the Defence Committee that recommended 7*5 guns.
– But how long ago?
– They recommended those guns at .the price, but they did not recommend them in. preference to 9*2 guns.
– It is self-evident to a layman that if a ship carries 92 guns, and the fort against which she is operating carries only 75 guns, the ship can lie outside the effective range of the guns of the forts and simply batter the town and the shipping to pieces. If that be the case, the fortification should have guns at least as modern and effective as would be carried by line-of -battle ships. There are 12-inch guns on some battleships, though I admit that they are comparatively few.
– There may be more of them in a few years-
– If warships are to be generally armed with 12-inch guns, it would be absolutely foolish of us to put 7-5 guns in our forts. We are assured that the Government desire to do what is best for the defence of Australia. Within the last few months our attention has been focussed on the necessity of defence more closely than previously. The Government can, at any rate, make inquiries as to the possibility of our having heavier guns at our forts, and also as to the desirableness of establishing a small -arms factory and a cordite factory. The fact that no cordite is made in Australia places us in an extremely dangerous position. I should like the Government to find out what would be the minimum cost of establishing such a factory, and also one for the manufacture of magazine rifles. If there were, such a factory we should be able to increase our effectiveness, even if communication were cut off with the rest of the world. The highest military authorities have laid it down that there should be not only sufficient arms for the whole of the forces and reserves on a war footing, but 50 per cent, in addition. We have only 30.000 or 40,000 effective rifles in the Commonwealth, and if by any combination of circumstances, an enemy landed a large force in Australia, we should, while able to obtain men to the number of about half-a-million, not be able to efficiently arm more than 50,000 or 60,000. I suppose the balance would be armed with pitchfork’s and boomerangs. We shall not be safe until either a large number of rifles are ordered, or we establish - as I think we should - a small-arms factory, and increase our reserve of arms until we have, as recommended, 50 per cent, more than necessary to place the forces on a war footing.
– I can assure Senator Smith that I have not lost sight of the proposal to establish a factory for the production of warlike stores and ammunition. I should be only too pleased if such a scheme could be carried out at a cost which would not prove too burdensome j but we must remember that there is such a thing as paying too dearly for one’s “whistle.” It would be well if we could manufacture our own cannon, rifles, cordite, and all that is absolutely necessary to thoroughly equip our forces for the defence of the Commonwealth. The proposal to establish a factory was not lost sight of by previous Governments, and I have looked up the records of the steps taken in regard to the supply of small arms. I have gone through all the documents which I thought would assist rae in the administration of the Department, but I cannot find that any Government has gone to the extent of obtaining an estimate of the cost of establishing a small-arms factory. However, the Colonial Defence Committee, the proceedings of which are conducted under Imperial auspices in England, have thrown the idea on one side as too expensive and impracticable to be thought of for a moment. But I promise honorable senators that I shall have an estimate prepared and submitted for their information. 1
– Why not extend the estimate so as to include the manufacture of heavy guns?
– I think that a proposal to manufacture heavy ‘guns is more out of the question than that to manufacture our small arms, considering that the number of heavy guns we require is so small. As to the establishment of a State factory for the production of cordite, an estimate has been prepared. Offers have been received from the proprietors of the Melbourne Ammunition Factory, and also from the Nobel Company, to manufacture cordite within the Commonwealth. To establish a Government factory on the smallest possible scale would cost £170,000 odd, or, say, in round numbers, £180,000 ; and if we manufactured for the whole of the Commonwealth Forces it would take only a month .to turn out ‘all the cordite required for twelve months. For the rest of the year the factory would have to lie idle, and the men who would thus be thrown out of work would, from want of practise, lose their power of manipulating the cordite, and would have to be trained over again. So far as I can see, a Government factory for the manu- facture of cordite would never pay. The Melbourne company, who, at the present time supply the cartridges for the Commonwealth Forces, have offered to manufacture our cordite on the condition, first, that they are paid £1,000 as a bonus every year; and, second, that we buy all our cordite from them, and pay for it prices varying in proportion to the quantity purchased. For the smallest quantity we should require we should have to pay 5s. per lb., whereas at the present time we pay 2s. 8d. per lb. for imported cordite, including freight and all other charges from England,
– Does the 5s. per lb. include the bonus of £1,000?
– No ; the bonus is additional, and I say that that offer would not pay the Commonwealth. An increase of 100 per cent, in the price is a little too much.
– Does cordite deteriorate by keeping?
– Cordite will keep for centuries if necessary.
– Could not a Government factory be utilized for the manufacture of other kinds of ammunition?
– What other am; munition is there to manufacture?
– Could- such a factory not produce different kinds of “ fracteurs “ for mining ?
– Without an alteration of the Constitution. I do not think that the Government could undertake the manufacture of explosives for the public. At present I am only stating the facts of the case, and it appears to me that the Government would not be justified in paying so high a price to the local manufacturer. The offer from the Nobel Company is practically the same as that of the Melbourne Company, except that the bonus of £1,000 is not asked for. These represent the best offers we have had up to the present time. The quantity of cordite we require is so insignificant that even if the Commonwealth Government got the right to supply the fleet, the forces of New Zealand, and so forth, there would not be sufficient demand to keep a factory ‘busy.
– But the Government could store the cordite.
– That may be; but the larger the quantity we stored the longer the factory would be left idle. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot recommend Parliament to accept either of the offers I have mentioned, or to establish a factory.
– Lord Curzon, in speaking of the defences of India, expressed the opinion /thai that country should be self-contained, as far as possible, in regard to ammunition, weapons andi stores.
– India is inhabited by several hundreds of millions of people, and there is a big army of 500,000 men to be supplied.
– The principle is the same.
– But the conditions -are different. No doubt in time Australia will have to be absolutely selfcontained in this regard, but, at the present time, we are not in a position to carry out the idea. At all events, I do not feel that I should be justified in asking. Parliament to pay 100 per cent, more for the cordite than we are now paying.
– Especially when it can be kept without deterioration.
– It appears to me that to pay such an increased price would be protection run mad. We can always purchase andi store a large quantity, so as to be prepared for an emergency. I should now like to say a word or two about the important question raised by Senator Matheson in regard to the fortifications at Fremantle, and the guns which the Government propose to mount there. I am sure we are all very much indebted to the honorable senator for the pains he has evidently taken in the collection of his facts and figures, and for the plain, common-sense, logical way in which he laid his case before the Senate. Not being an artillery officer, I db not suppose that I am expected to be able to reply to the criticisms of the honorable senator. Up to the present I have had no opportunity to consult my officers on the subject, except in the most perfunctory way. Senator Matheson some time ago expressed the opinion to me that the Government were making a mistake in purchasing these 75 guns, and I at once offered to supply the honorable senator with any information which would help him to arrive at a conclusion in the matter. Both the officers of the Department and myself assisted the honorable senator, as far as we could, and now he has laid before us a statement which requires, and shall receive, the greatest consideration on the part of the Government. I have already called upon the officers of the Department for a report on the remarks which have been made by Senator Matheson, and if they cannot satisfy me that the honorable senator has made a mistake in some way - if they have to admit that his premises are correct, and that his conclusions are fairly drawn - I shall have no hesitation, if I possibly can, in countermanding the order for those two guns, and in considering whether or not we ought to procure the 9.2 guns referred to, or, it may be, some other more improved weapon. I trust in the course of a few days to be able to inform the Senate as to the result of my inquiries. This isan exceedingly important matter, and I am very much impressed with the statement of Senator Matheson. The object of the Government is not to spend money foolishly; but, if we are to buy weapons, to buy the most effective for the defence of the Commonwealth”. In answer to an interjection made when I moved the second reading of this Bill, I said that Sir George Turner had instituted a method of charging for new works on a *per capita basis, instead of debiting the individual States with the expenditure, and I expressed the belief that the right honorable gentleman had justification for the step he took. That justification, which is based on the Constitution, may be found in his Budget speech on page 5650 in Hansard, of the18th October, 1904. Section89 of the Constitution provides - (ii.) The Commonwealth shall debit to each State-
But what about new works? There is not a word in the section about new works. Sir George Turner considered that under the Constitution new works ought to be debited on a per capita basis. He contends that the Constitution provides for it, and that up to the time he took action a mistake had been made in debiting the cost of new works to the States in which they were constructed. I have explained the position which the right honorable gentleman took up in October of last year. So far as I am aware, it has never been controverted. Some- people do not like it, be cause, apparently, the practice is an advantage to certain States and a disadvantage to others, but I do not know that any one who has really gone into the matter has said that Sir George Turner was not justified in the action he took. In consequence of the large sums now proposed to be expended in Western Australia, it would appear that that State will gain very considerably by this system ; but, as Senator Pearce has pointed out, we shall not have to buy back these works. In the long run the system will be found to work out equitably. We need not expect that it will always give satisfaction, or that each State will in each year have expended within its boundaries the exact amount per capita that is spent in each of the other States. New post-offices, telegraph stations, and other public works may be rendered necessary as a consequence of the growth of population in a State, and the settlement of previously unoccupied country. We must in such cases provide those facilities which have already been provided in older States, like Victoria, and for which we have now to pay under the head of transferred properties. Really, when we come to look into the matter, it is about as broad as it is long.
– No one would object to the plan if it were not for the bookkeeping system.
– Senator Pearce complained that we brought forward a proposal for the expenditure of certain money on warlike stores, and gave no information on the subject. If the honorable member would look at the appendix relating to war like stores, signed by Major Sandford, he will see how it is proposed that this money shall be spent. We propose only the expenditure of a certain sum each year. Honorable senators sometimes complain that there are only so many pounds down for a particular post-office, when if the item is carefully looked into it will be found that the work will eventually cost a very much larger sum. There may be a vote of £10,000 on the Estimates in one year, by which Parliament will be committed to an expenditure, it may be, of £30,000 for the. completion of the work. So in the case of the vote for warlike stores. When Parliament agreed to vote the sum fixed by the Government of the day for warlike stores to place the Defence Force of the Commonwealth on a war footing, it committed itself, not merely to the expenditure of the amount voted in that year, which happened to be some £96,000, but to the expenditure of £524,000 for this purpose. With the exception of the sum of £24,000 for new guns, the vote set down in the schedule to this Bill is merely a continuation of the provision previously approved for warlike stores necessary to place the Defence Force of the Commonwealth on a war footing.
– My complaint was that there was no vote set down for rifles, although the Minister said that it was essential that they should be provided:
– It unfortunately happens that in the original statement with respect to necessary warlike stores, there is no provision for rifles. The Government contend that rifles are of far more importance than accoutrements, saddlery, and things of that sort. We therefore propose to devote some of the money set down in the schedule for warlike stores to what we consider will be much more useful for the equipment of our Army than many of the items for which it is proposed that the money shall be voted. I should have been ashamed if I had had the compilation of these Estimates to have brought them down in the way in which they appear before the Senate, so, far, especially as regards the vote for special defence material. I should have deserved the most severe criticism that could be levelled at me if this were my work. But honorable members know the peculiar circumstances in which I have been placed. When I took office, the Estimates of the Department had been seen by the then Minister of Defence, and sent on to the Treasurer, who desired to place the Estimates in. Chief before Parliament as early as possible. As a matter of fact, I knew nothing about them until they were submitted. >I have frankly told honorable senators the exact position, and that when I did see the Estimates I recognised that a mistake had been made, and that it would be a great deal better that a sum of money should be expended a in providing cordite, ammunition, and additional small arms than in providing greatcoats and articles which could be made up quickly in the Commonwealth. It is better that we should spend some of this money on equipment which cannot be provided here, and which would be of vastly more importance in actual conflict than great-coats, saddlery, bits, and other items included in the vote appearing in the schedule. I have told honorable senators that I am willing to bring before them) a statement as to how I propose to vary the destination of these votes in order to bring the expenditure more into line with the real necessities of Commonwealth defence. Senator Pearce has suggested that we might add the words “and rifles” to the item “Accoutrements,” and the word “cordite” to the item covering ammunition. I shall be perfectly satisfied to accept that suggestion if honorable senators approve of it. It will give me the opportunity I desire to spend some of this money on items we consider urgently necessary.
– It might save the honorable gentleman some trouble with the Auditor-General’.
– It would save trouble with the Auditor-General, though, of course, honorable senators are aware that I could get Executive authority for the transfer of the votes. There are certain ways of overcoming these difficulties. I prefer to take a straightforward course, and to give Parliament the fullest information of what I propose to do. Then when we come to the item for mounting guns on the Cerberus, 1 1 shall raise no objection to an amendment to omit it altogether. Senator O’Keefe referred to the drill-hall at Newcastle, .and said that £2,000 appeared to be a very large sum for the-purpose. The amount required is to provide a drill-hall for the accommodation of No. 3 Company, A.G.A., No. 1 Squadron 4th A.L.H., Head-Quarters 4th A.L.R., “A” Company 4th A.I.R., two companies of Scottish Rifles, two companies of Irish Rifles, and the A. A.M. Corps. We are at present providing premises for the convenience of these military corps at a cost of some £300 a year in rent, and honorable senators will see that if we spend £2,000 on the erection of a commodious . drill-hall, we shall save ‘ at least £200 a year. It is of no use to compare the drill-hall at Newcastle with the hall required at some less important place in the Commonwealth. I now come to deal with the provision for post-offices and telegraphs. I find1 that £30,000 is looked upon as an exceedingly large sum- to spend in connexion with the Melbourne General Post Office, but every one who has had any business to do at that post-office must admit that it lacks necessary accommodation. It is proposed to spend £30,000 on additions, and the vote of £10,000 appearing in the schedule is, I am advised -
A first instalment of that amounttowards the cost of building the basement and ground floor of portion of the ultimate extension northwards covering about one-half of the present unoccupied portion of the site. The additional accommodation provided will be absorbed by the mail branch, including special provision for registration, inquiry, and stamps. The work will include temporary iron and wood telegraph office, at a northeast angle, and pulling down present brick telegraph office and rebuilding it at north-west angle of site (corner of Elizabeth and Little Bourke streets).
I contend that that work is absolutely necessary at the present time. I acted for some little time for Sir P. O. Fysh as PostmasterGeneral, and I was able to see that the Melbourne General Post Office lacked proper accommodation in a lamentable degree. The expenditure of the total sum of £30,000 will probably be spread over three years. Some severe criticisms have been passed on the proposed trunk telephone line between Sydney and Melbourne. Some honorable senators consider that it cannot possibly pay. Senator Matheson has worked out an arithmetical calculation, showing that if we allow three minutes’ conversation for 6s. 6d., and the line is occupied every day for a certain number of hours it cannot pay. I do not profess to know whether it will pay or not, but I do know that for many years past the Department has been urged to establish a trunk telephone line between Sydney and Melbourne. We have heard Senator Millen say that he is so satisfied that it will pay that he is prepared to float a company to build it to-morrow, and will give honorable senators a chance to obtain a certain number of shares, with a promise that they will receive an enormous dividend on the money they invest. I am informed that -
The matter received, consideration at the 1896 (Sydney) and 1898 (Hobart) Conferences, and at the 1900 (Sydney) Conference the question formed the subject of a joint report by the Deputies Postmasters-General, New South Wales and Victoria, and up to this stage it was not considered advisable, owing to the large outlay involved to recommend the carrying out of the work.
The subject again received consideration at the hands of the Electrical Committee which met in Melbourne in June-August, 1901. The committee reported somewhat fully on the matter, and recommended for favorable consideration the carrying out of the work, which they estimated to cost £49,596.
During the late Government’sterm of office, the matter was once more fully gone into by the Postmaster-General, who obtained full reports upon the various aspects of the matter. These reports indicate that the line could be erected with 600-lb. per mile copper wire, for a total cost of , £39,450, or deducting £4,800 as representing the value of material, which would be recovered for use elsewhere in connexion with the re-polling of the New South Wales section of the line, a net cost of £34,650. This amount would be apportioned as follows : - £4,400, to telegraphs, as representing the cost of re-poling required for telegraph purposes ; £19,250, as representing the New South Wales proportion of cost of the line; £11,000, as representing the Victorian proportion of cost of the line.
Estimates have been obtained which indicated, in the opinion of the late Postmaster-General, that the revenue that would be derived from conversations over the line would, at the outset, exceed10 per cent, on the cost of construction. It was also pointed out that the copper wires which would be used for the line would, if required, be available for telegraphic purposes.
Suppose that we divide 10 per cent. by 2 - and that is allowing a very liberal discount on the official estimate - Senator Matheson will agree that 5 per cent. would be a very fair interest on the expenditure. Surely the officers musthave based their figures upon very different lines from those adopted by the honorable senator.
– Mine were taken from Sir George Turner’s estimates. They were absolutely official.
– I have quoted the official estimate.
– Sir George Turner’s estimateswere amended by somebody else.
– They were amended by the late Government.
– They saw that the estimate of cost was hopeless, so they brought forward another one.
– I do not know, but I feel quite satisfied that they felt that the line, if erected at that cost, would return a profit. Suppose we take a very pessimistic view, and say that the late Government estimated double the amount that would be received, a very good margin of profit would be left.
SenatorTurley. - How about the statement which has been made, to the effect that Ministers would take up the wholetime? Would not their conversations over the line be recorded against them?
– I should imagine that my Department would have to pay for my conversations over the line. I should not imagine for a moment that a Minister would be allowed the free use of the line.
– Do not Ministers send free telegrams?
– No; all telegrams are paid for by the Department, Sometimeshonorablesenatorsreceivetelegrams on public, business, but they must not think for a moment that the Post and Telegraph Department loses any revenue from their transmission, because all such telegrams are paid for out of the parliamentary vote for the purpose.
– Does it not come to the same thing in the long run?
– No. It shows exactly what the Post and Telegraph Department fairly earns. It would be unfair to have a system of free telegrams and free postage. The Post and Telegraph Department ought to be credited with its earnings whatever they may be, and the Departments which make use of it debited with the cost of the services rendered to. them.
– If the Ministers occupied much time in speaking over the through telephone line, the revenue would suffer to that extent.
– Yes, but it is really absurd to think ‘that Ministers would listen all day to the squeaking of a telephone. I can assure my honorable friend that they have quite enough of that kind of enjoyment as itis Senator Matheson has said that we have no artillery . ranges. On almost the first day I entered the Department the head of the Intelligence branch said that we really ought to have artillery ranges if possible. He pointed out that there is a great difficulty in the way, because an artillery range has to extend over such a great distance. Where should we have to go to get an artillery range ten miles long and four miles broad ? We should have to go into the interior.
– What do they do in populated England?
– I am sure I do not know ; I suppose they have an immense area round Aldershot which is useful for that purpose, but I do not suppose they have an artillery range at Dover, Portsmouth, Plymouth, or any of their big cities. I believe they have only one or two in the whole country.
– They have an artillery range near Liverpool, at Salisbury Plains,Aldershot, and Hythe.
– In England they may have a few artillery ranges, as we hope to have by-and-by. The. question has not been lost sight of. It will be brought before me very soon, I hope, because I asked to be informed whether there was any likelihood of our being able to get an artillery range at the present time. In South Australia the men go down to the beach and blaze away at an old barrel in the sea, but my officers tell me that that sort of training is not so good for the men. as firing on land.
Question, resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 postponed.
Immigration: Offer from General Booth.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).I desire to draw attention to the following paragraph in this morning’s Age : -
Offer from General Booth.
A notable development took placeyesterday in connexion with the “Prime Minister’s efforts to secure reputable white immigration. Mr. Deakin received by cable an offer from General Booth, the venerable head of the Salvation Army, to send 5,000 families to Australia. Mr. Deakin at once wrote to Mr. Bent, Premier of Victoria, and despatched the following telegram to each of the other Premiers : - “ Have received cable from General Booth, asking whether, if he sends 5,000 families, principally agricultural and allied industries, Australia can place them, probably meaning that most desire to settle on land. He adds that they are of good character, healthy, and not destitute. Of course your representative in London can also be satisfied of this if desired. He expects to have them available during coming English winter. Shall be glad to learn whether your State is prepared to take and place any, and, if so, how many of these immigrants. Am so communicating all Premiers, and shall be glad of early reply.”
When making the foregoing announcement, Mr. Deakin said : - I am very gratified to receive a practical proposal of this kind.” Until He has the Premiers’ answers to his telegram, the Prime Minister will not say more.
I for one am not opposed to immigration, and by that term I mean the introduction of men to secure the proper development of the resources of this great country. I am in favour ofdeveloping our resources as early as possible; but I am opposed to bringing people out here until we have taken the steps necessary to provide work and food for those who have been born here, and have given their labour until the last few months, perhaps until the last year, towards the development of this country. The Prime Minister has pointed out to the Premiers of the States that he can get 5,000 families from England. After having lived for two years in Melbourne. I am prepared to say that I can get him 5,000 families of good repute in this city to go to any State in which a living is promised. Of course I realize that, owing to the state of the land laws, it ‘is of little use for men to stop in Victoria if they hope to get on the land. I sympathize with the people in every State who are in want of work. I sympathize- with the men in Victoria who are out of work, and I hold out my sympathy to the 5,000 families in England who might come here thinking that they can improve their position inAustralia under existing land laws. The families who are not destitute in Great Britain are better off than they would be if they were in Victoria under its present land laws. It is proposed to put on the land the 5,000 families who are to come from England. Of course it will be pointed out that, not being destitute, they will get on better than they would in the old country. There are thousands of unemployed men to-day who were doing well a little time ago. Owing to adverse circumstances, bad laws, and the gradual increase in large holdings, and decrease in small holdings amongst farmers, they got out of work. That I believe, would be the fate of the heads of the 5,000 families whom it is proposed to bring out here, unless the land laws be improved. Those who take an interest in the state of the land laws, particularly Victorians, owe a debt of thanks to a member of the State Legislature, Mr. Anstey, for the great pains he has taken in bringing together figures and facts dealing with the land laws of Victoria. At the present time the holdings in this State are too large, and the taxation is too small. In his articles Mr. Anstey has so clearly pointed out the position in Victoria that his remarks are worth quoting.
– They appeared in the Tocsin on 13th July. While I know that some honorable senators have a prejudice against the Tocsin, because it is a labour newspaper, I assure them that these articles are well worth reading.They also formed the subject-matter of a speech by Mr. Anstey in the Legislative Assembly of this State.
– I, asked for the information in order to enable me to do the very thing that he desires, namely, to read the articles.
- Mr. Anstey deals with the agricultural statistics of Victoria, and shows that while the area of land taken up between 1881 . and 1904 has increased, the number of people on the land has actually decreased. He shows that inthe followingpassage: -
While some people are talking of encouraging immigrants to come to this country, we actually find that although there is a larger area of land under cultivation, there is a lesser number of people on- the land. I know that there is a greater number of agricultural labourers on the land, but they are employed at extremely low wages. Mr. Anstey gives the following interesting” figures as to the persons who aresettled on the land : -
I point out these facts with a view of entering my protest against the encouragement of the immigration of persons to go uponthe land when we cannot find land for them or for those who are now walking about our streets.
– We can find it if we like.
– Of course we can, if we take proper steps, which, however, we do not seem to be inclined to take at present.
– We have full power to tax land to break up the large estates.
– At any rate, I think that a protest is necessary, and I. take this opportunity of making mine.
– I feel that it would be a matter of the deepest regret if an impression were to go abroad that the Senate as a whole, or any large number of its members, is antagonistic to carrying out the project initiated by General Booth. When he was in Australia a few months ago he made a public statement with regard to the small facilities, and the slight amount of encouragement offered, for the emigration of British subjects to Australia. I remember sending him a private telegram from Sydney to Melbourne, stating that I, at any rate, should do all I could as one member of Parliament to facilitate emigration to Australia of the kind that hedesired to promote. I cannot possibly go into this matter at length at this stage, but I wish to express my emphatic opinion that the future of Australia is involved in a material increase of immigration, and that it is the duty of this Parliament to do allthat it can at the earliest possible moment to see that the endeavours of General Booth are enabled to be given effect to.
– I do not see why my honorable friend, Senator Croft, should be annoyed at the efforts of General Booth, because I am convinced that they will have this excellent result - that it will be found that no State of Australia is prepared to give land to any number of immigrants, even if they are sent out free of cost to the Government.
– Western Australia is doing it now.
– I do not wish to depreciate the land of Western Australia, but really I do not think it would be wise to bring out a great number of immigrants and to put them there as an experiment. So far as concerns the other States, I say emphatically that there is scarcely one of “ them that can support one hundred families close to each other.” Land monopoly prevails to such an extent that it would be simply impossible to settle one hundred families contiguous to each other in Queensland, except on the worst land. The same state of affairs prevails in New South Wales, and in Victoria it is a thousandfold worse. What is the use of bringing immigrants here when we have not land enough to put them on? Senator Best is smiling, but 1 suppose that he is a member of the land ring, and never did anything whilehe was a member of the State Parliament to break it down.
– Pardon me, but I did. I introduced compulsory land resumption in Victoria.
– I am very glad that I have brought out that fact. If Senator Pulsford wishes to increase the population of Australia- and we all, I am sure, agree with him in that, though we differ in our methods - he should help to break down the land monopoly.
– We can accommodate a large number of immigrants in Western Australia.
– I have no objection to their going to Western Australia, if that State can accommodate them: - on its sand-hills.
– Is there no compulsory land resumption in Queensland?
– No. We have a, means of re-purchase, but the owners” of estates under the existing law cannot be compelled to sell. The result is that when they do sell they charge exorbitant prices for their land. The persons whom’ General Booth proposes to bring out want free land, as I understand it. I know of no State in Australia, except perhaps Western Australia, that has free land to offer. What we have to do - and I wish to hammer this into the head of Senator Pulsford. and every other conservative in the Senate - is to break up the land monopoly by direct taxation.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).It is a matter of very great regret that a subject of such overshadowing importance as this should be brought on at a time when it is impossible todebate it properly. If Senator Croft’s’ remarks are to be taken as amountingto a protest against the general principle of immigration - and I did not take them in that sense - I am not in accord with him. But at the same time I should not be at all inclined to support a general scheme of immigration for Australia before we have set our house in order. What I understand he wishes to do is to utter a warningagainst bringing out a large number of immigrants before we areready to receive them. If that is the purport of his remarks, I indorse them.. It would be nothing short of a criminal shame to bring out a number of unfortunate people until we have so ordered our affairs that there will be a reasonable opportunity of their being absorbed in the ordinary channels of industry. The matter is one of extreme importance, and I hope at an early date to have an opportunity to bring it under the notice of the Senate for discussion upon a definite motion.
– I cannot allow the debate to close without calling attention to this simple fact : We, in Western Australia, are prepared to give a most hearty welcome to the whole of the 5,000 immigrants whom it is contemplated, to send out to Australia. If there are other States in which land is not available, we, at any rate, have large areas of most excellent land for that purpose, and I take the opportunity to say that such immigrants would receive a most hearty welcome in the State which I represent.
– If it had not been for the remarks of Senator Stewart, I should not have troubled the Senate by joining in this discussion. On recent occasions we have tried to put down what is known as the “ stinking fish “ party in Australia. Senator Stewart . appears to be the latest recruit of that ignoble army. He has recently been in Western Australia, and yet he talks about the sand-hills of that country as though the State had nogood agricultural land to offer. One can only assume that he was so blind with prejudice that he could not see around him “at the time he was in the West. I do not know what quantity of good farming land may be available in other States, but in Western Australia I can assure honorable senators that there is any quantity available, Immigrants of the proper kind will be welcomed ; and I do not wish it to go forth that the party to which I belong takes a contrary view. There is plenty of room in Western Australia for suitable immigrants.
– Then why is not provision made for the unemployed in that State ?
– We have found work for a very large number of Victoria’s unemployed. Western Australia, with, perhaps, Queensland in a lesser degree, is the only State in Australia which is doing anything in the way of assisting immigration. Every week selected immigrants of the right type arrive, and are settled on the land, and, all the conditions being observed, there will be plenty of room for the 5,000 which it is proposed to send out, if they are farmers and desire to go on the. land.
– I agree with Senator Pulsford and others that it is extremely desirable to have a large population. It would be exceedingly good for Australia and the Empire if, instead of 4,000,000 there were 40,000,000 prosperous and happy people within the Commonwealth. But how are we going to enable 40,000,000, or any large increase on our present number, to live in that comfort, happiness, and prosperity we desire for all our citizens? Will Senator Pulsford, and others who think with him, assist to bring about that happy result? If 1,000,000 were added to the population to-morrow, the result would be a large increase in the crop of human misery, simultaneously with an enormous advance in the value of private property and land.
SenatorWalker. - The debt per head would be reduced.
– What does it matter whether forty or one hundred people owe money, if they cannot earn enough to make the burden lighter? Doubtless Senator Walker, as a bank director, would welcome a large increase in the population, seeing that thereby mortgages would be largely enhanced invalue. There is only one way to make a large population prosperous, and that is to free the land for their occupation. The compulsory purchase of large estates and the subsequent cutting of them up, would not settle the question, because there would be nothing to prevent the whole of the land gravitating back into a few hands.
– There would be a great deal to prevent that.
– In Victoria, I believe, there is a law that only a certain amount of Mallee land shall be held by one person ; but thatlaw has been evaded wholesale in the most shameful manner. The proper method is to impose a stiff graduated land tax. It has been suggested that it is for the States and not for the Commonwealth Parliament to open up the lands for the people of Australia, or for any new population. In my opinion, this is a question with which we have ample power to deal ; indeed, I think the Federal Parliament is the power to most effectually deal with it. But until there is a stiff graduated land tax-
– There is a land tax already in South Australia.
– I do not want a land tax in. isolated portions of the Commonwealth, but throughout the whole of Australia.
– And “ doublebank “ those already taxed?
– The money would be returned to the States, and local taxation could then be remitted.
– The money would never be returned once the Commonwealth got it.
– A good deal of money is returned to the States how. The desire is not to impose a land tax for the sake of raising an enormous revenue, but for the national purpose of making Australia prosperous and happy ; indeed, I should like to see such a tax rendered inoperative by the cutting up of estates. If we leave this national duty to the six Parliaments it will never be done, at any rate efficiently done, owing to the impossibility of having a uniform impost. But the Commonwealth Parliament, with its democratic Upper Chamber, can carry out such a work most effectively. If we had such a tax we should have no cause to complain of unemployed, or have the slightest fear of any large influx of population. We should welcome all immigrants of good character, because they would enable us to exploit the national resources of the country for the national well-being, instead of. for the sole benefit of a few landgrabbers.
– I deeply regret that a note has, been sounded by one or two honorable senators which might lead strangers to suppose that in Victoria there is not ample room for settlement, and that facilities arenot afforded to immigrants.
SenatorGivens. - In Victoria good land cannot be obtained under£70 an acre.
– In Victoria there is room on the land for the settlement of millions. Moreover, when once an influx of agriculturists can be secured, public opinion will demand the compulsory resumption of estates to enable settlement to take place.
– Why cannot the people already in the State bring about that result ?
– - In Victoria there has always been an anxious desire to encourage those who wish to settle, on the land.
– Not so; the State Upper House has always blocked the way.
– I desire to say that suitable immigrants will always receive every encouragement. At this hour I cannot go into the question at length ; but Senator Croft’s protest must not be. taken as an expression of opinion from this Chamber that we desire to discourage immigration. I agree with Senator Croft that some direct assurance must be given to these 5,000 families, provided they are of the right stamp, that facilities for settlement will be afforded. I have no doubt that every encouragement will be given to suitable men ; and the object of General Booth’s cable is, I assume, to enable the Prime Minister to consult with the various State Premiers, so that steps may be taken in that direction.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 September 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19050915_senate_2_26/>.