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Thursday, 19 November 1914

The PRESIDENT - Order ! There is no allusion to the death of FieldMarshal Lord Roberts in this Bill, and I must ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the subject-matter of the measure.

Senator BAKHAP - I defer to your ruling, sir; but it does seem to me a fitting opportunity-

The PRESIDENT - If the honorable senator desired to take the course which he has indicated there was an easy and proper method for him to follow.

Senator BAKHAP - I did not think that in a matter of this description it was necessary for me to take any lead. I merely desired to make a cursory reference to the late Field-Marshal Lord Roberts-

The PRESIDENT - It is no hardship for an honorable senator to be kept strictly to the subject-matter of a Bill. If honorable senators, even from the most admirable motives, were permitted to make references to extraneous subjects, the debate which ensues might be almost interminable.

Senator BAKHAP - You, sir, have been elected to preside over our deliberations, and any ruling, therefore, which you may give will always command my respect, and secure the deference which you are entitled to expect from honorable senators. But I do think that I shall be in order in referring very briefly to the general principles of our defence legislation which the Bill has been introduced to amend. Quite recently we had an illustration of the value of an argument I have used here previously. We had an illustration of the insufficiency of amateurism in regard to naval or military defence. Many of us were very chagrined a little time ago to hear that a couple of vessels of the. British Navy had been sunk off the coast of South America by German vessels, and many of us found it very hard to understand how such an undesirable result had been achieved by the enemy.

The PRESIDENT - I ask the honorable senator not to refer to that matter.

Senator BAKHAP - Very well, sir. Recent information has disclosed the fact that the defeat of the British Fleet resulted very largely from the fact that the vessels were manned with scratch crews. Consequently amateurism is at a discount more than ever it was. These crews were only embryo-professional sailors. . An honorable senator in speaking to this measure has spoken of a military bureaucracy coming into existence in Australia, and the desire of certain officers of the Permanent Forces to secure an augmentation of the permanent units. I think, that any statement of the kind is, with all respect to the honorable senator, rather far-fetched. It is a well-established principle in all English-speaking communities, and it has been long accepted by military and naval men, that' the military and naval powers are completely subordinated to the arm of the civil power, and British military or naval men would be the last persons in the world, at this time of day, to advance a claim to establish a condition of things which would subordinate the civil power in any way. That matter was fought out pretty well a couple of centuries ago, and in no English-speaking country is there anything like a well-based fear entertained that the civil power is in danger of being superseded by an aggressive military authority. I think that there is very little in the argument that we are on the eve of a more vigorous attempt on the part of our military authorities to secure an advantage over the civil power, which should always be the directing agent.

Senator Millen - I made no such suggestion ; my suggestion was that the military officers were always striving to increase the permanent units.

Senator BAKHAP - If that is the sum and substance of the honorable senator's statement, I say that the military officers are right, for we are in possession of a continent, and have increasing responsibilities - responsibilities which are ocean wide and which will entail in the near future the sending out of garrisons to take possession of those dependencies of a foreign Power which we have lately acquired, and which we are going to acquire. All these things necessitate a very large increase in what I might call our professional standing Army.

Senator Turley - Yes, but the officials whom Senator Millen was talking about were there before there was a war at all, and when there was no need for that expansion.

Senator BAKHAP.Ifthe military officers before the war initiated a movement, or gave advice to the authorities which would involve an increase in the Australian Forces, they disclosed the fact that they had that necessary prescience' which would justify us in employing them. They rendered a very great and useful service to the country by their advice, and I am sorry that it was not adopted. There will be nothing more sure in our history than that there must be a substantial augmentation of our Permanent Forces in the very near future. A full recognition of our responsibility of the fact that we inhabit a' continent, and that we have acquired territories which are in themselves most extensive, must lead one to the conclusion that in the near future there must be a substantial augmentation of our Permanent Military Forces. As all parties in the British Empire have been culpably remiss or blind in not taking notice of the very sound advice tendered to them, so will all political parties in Australia be just as remiss and culpable if they do not see the writing on the wall, and are not prepared to substantially augment, the Forces on which we rely for the defence of this continent and its dependencies. They are markedly insufficient. The present war may last several years; it will almost certainly last one year or two. We have ample opportunity for making good our defences. While I am not going to be anything like a severe critic; while I fully recognise that it is a non-party subject which we are discussing, I, in my humble capacity, issue the warning to the Administration that it is now full time for us to take into consideration the question of an increase in our Forces which will be commensurate with, the position to which we aspire, as possibly that portion of the King's Imperial dominions with the greatest national future. I hope that our defence system will not at any time be made too sybaritic. There is a great deal of talk about the hardships which are being imposed on lads io whom is to be intrusted in future" our defence. There is a great deal of talk about their being overworked and overtrained, about their being compelled to endure great hardships if they have to travel a few miles after their work to do the drill, which certainly is not of a very exacting character, because even when they pass through the cadet stage and become full-fledged members of our Military Forces, the training that is given to them is very much less than sufficient to enable us to class them as thoroughly efficient soldiers. Boys ten or eleven years of age will travel five or six miles on a moonlight night to shoot opossums - I did it on- many occasions when I was a boy. When boys will do this voluntarily, to say that there is any great hardship put upon them in asking them to travel a few miles to attend the not too frequent drills, is, I think, somewhat of an exaggeration, and somewhat of a tendency to make what I call too sybaritic our defence legislation. These boys have to recognise that in the future they will, in all possibility, have to go on active service, and that the duties of the soldier are such as always to subject him to a good deal of hardship. Unfortunately, I cannot come to the conclusion, at this juncture, that when the present war is over the world is going to secure peace for fifty or sixty or one hundred years.

I feel sure that we, inhabiting this sparsely peopled continent, will have to recognise that we shall be face to face with many problems of a most grave character, which may perhaps seriously imperil our possession of the continent. We know how international friendships fail or fade. We know that our Allies of to-day were twenty or thirty years ago our most feared antagonists. National combinations of all kinds are made in the course of a few years, and when this war is over problems even greater than those which we foresee will arise for settlement. We cannot regard ourselves as anything like substantial factors, if we are not able to speak to the enemy at our gate with a very good Force behind us. The stern arbitrament of war is not likely to be laid on the shelf in the years to come. Through all the generations man has been a fighting animal, and is likely to continue to be such." There is one "matter to which I think the Government might reasonably have addressed itself in connexion with this measure. It was my intention to give notice of an amendment on the subject, but I suppose that I would have been regarded as taking up a position which disclosed a kind of bias on my part. Nevertheless, I intend to allude to the matter, though I refrain from submitting an amendment simply because I think that a question of this description ought to be handled by the Government. Section 138 of the Defence Act is amended by the Bill. But there is one part of the section which it is not proposed to amend, and the abstention at this juncture' discloses an attitude of mind on the part of our people which lays us open to the imputation of being in a very large degree national hypocrites. The exemption provision exempts those who are not substantially of European origin or descent. Irrespective of the fact that certain people may be nativeborn Australians, may have been educated in Australia, may perhaps have lived all their lives here, and may be willing to serve in our Military Forces. they are exempted from duties other than those of a non-combatant nature in a most insulting fashion, and they are told, legislatively, that they may perhaps be taken to the battlefield very much -as the Spartans took their helots. They may be intrusted with duties of, presumably, a menial character. What are we at the present time? We are a people who are most laudably endeavouring to do a good deal in the interests of the Empire. The other day we sent away an Expeditionary Force - and I believe that a great many persons have assumed that it is to be taken to the scene of action - under the auspices of war-ships manned by Asiatics. It is notorious, too, that Asiatic troops in very large numbers, subjects of the Empire, are being used to further the efforts of the Allies on behalf of European civilization in Europe. Properly so.

Senator Gardiner - Which side is fighting for civilization ? \

Senator BAKHAP - The British and their Allies are fighting for civilization. No one who has any knowledge of or has enjoyed the benefits of British rule will for a moment hesitate in declaring himself in favour of the British Empire and its efforts to maintain the liberties of mankind. I have said that our troops are being taken to the front under the wing, so to speak, of Asiatic men-of-war.

Senator Gardiner - Where does the honorable senator get that information from ?

Senator BAKHAP - I get my information from uncensored publications, which are issued to the people of the Commonwealth.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - The Minister will not deny it.

Senator BAKHAP - I hope that I am discreet enough to refrain from asking the Minister either to affirm or deny it.

Senator de Largie - If the honorable senator were discreet he would not mention it.

Senator BAKHAP - I have mentioned it because illustrated, newspapers published within the Commonwealth have disclosed the fact. They have contained pictures of Asiatic sailors, who came here for a certain purpose, and who were to be seen in our ports only a few weeks ago.

Senator de Largie - That does not justify the honorable senator in referring to the matter.

Senator BAKHAP - I feel that I am justified in doing what I regard to be my duty, in suggesting a necessary amendment of our Defence legislation. Nothing will deter me from doing what I believe to be my duty in this regard.

Senator de Largie - We shall have to call in the censor to suppress the honorable senator.

Senator BAKHAP - I invite my honorable friend to call him in. Whilst admitting all the merit which British people may reasonably claim, I believe that they have the demerit of very often exhibiting evidence of what might be called national hypocrisy. We are willing to fight alongside of Asiatics, to accept as the convoy of our Forces to the battlefield ships manned by Asiatics, and yet men who may be Australian born of an Asiatic mother or father are perforce barred from taking part in the defence of the country in which they were born. I tell Ministers that very considerable indignity is to-day being put upon certain youths who have been born in Australia. They are asked to present themselves for examination as units 'of our Cadet Forces, the juveniles who will be the future soldiers of the Commonwealth. The officers in charge of these Forces, perhaps shamefacedly, have not had the courage to tell these lads the real reason why their services are not accepted - why they have been permitted to wander up and down for hours without being either enrolled or rejected. I have spoken to these lads, many, of whom have been educated in the colleges of the. Commonwealth, in which they have been members of their college rifle teams, and have learned to shoot. They have been asked to present themselves for examination, and have been allowed, after two or three hours' waiting, to return to their residences without any excuse being tendered to them or to their parents for asking them to present themselves for enrolment, and without the courtesy of being informed of the reason why they have not been enrolled'. I ask that this Spartan system of regarding certain of our countrymen as helots be abrogated. I do not ask for the indiscriminate admission to the Forces of the Commonwealth of any persons who may express a desire to serve in them, but I do say -that any Administration worthy of. the name, and unwilling to lay itself open to the imputation of national hypocrisy, should see that Australians born and bred are given the opportunity to serve in the Forces of their own country when they seek the privilege, irrespective of the races to which they may owe their descent. I can tell the Minister that at the present moment there are sons of German fathers and mothers serving in our first Expeditionary Force. They are Australian-born, and have had the neces sary patriotism and enterprise to enlist in the Forces of Australia and of the Empire. I say, more power to them and good luck to them. I respect their willingness to come forward to serve Australia and the Empire.

Senator Turley - They are Europeans.

Senator BAKHAP - They are, but, so far as race is concerned, they are Germans of the first generation succeeding the settlement of their German parents on Australian soil. Does the honorable senator believe that the son of a Japanese father and mother, born in Australia, should not have an equal right, if he seeks to do so, to serve in the Forces of the country] Circumstances are sometimes too great for even the most narrow and undemocratic legislation, and I can inform Ministers that there are numbers of men of substantially African and Asiatic extraction serving in the ranks of our first Expeditionary -Force. One or two of them, who are friends- of mine, are non-commissioned officers in that Force. In the face of these facts, is it not well at this juncture that any Administration having the interests of the Commonwealth at heart should remove the stigma which section 138 of the Defence Act puts upon certain men who are Australian born, but who do not happen to be of European origin. Some years ago, through the courtesy of Senator Keating, I visited Williamstown/ and saw there a number of recruits for the Australian Naval Forces. I remarked to Commander Colquhoun, who did me the courtesy of showing me through the Naval yards, that quite a number of the men seemed to me to be of almost purely African extraction. He said, " Yes, and they are very good recruits for our Naval Forces. They are the descendants of Brazilian negroes, who have settled along our coasts, and form a considerable proportion of some of our fishing communities."

The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator cannot continue to deal with the question of the admission of certain classes of people to the Defence Force. I did not feel called upon to prevent him making a casual reference to the subject. While he has been speaking I have looked into the Bill, and I see in it no proposal to amend any part of the Defence Act to which such a discussion would be relevant. It has been ruled by my predecessors in this chair that, in speaking to an amending Bill, or in moving an amendment upon it, an honorable senator's) remarks must be relevant to the subjectmatter of the amending Sill. The fact that the remarks may be relevant to some of the provisions of the principal Act does not constitute relevancy to an amending Bill which does not propose the amendment of those provisions. I must ask the honorable senator, in the circumstances, to confine himself to the subjectmatter of the Bill now before the Senate.

Senator Bakhap - While deferring to your ruling, you will, perhaps, forgive me if I point out that the matter with which I am dealing is embodied in one of the sections of the principal Act which it is the purpose of this Bill to amend.

The PRESIDENT - I do not think so.

Senator Bakhap - I refer you, sir, to section 138 of the Defence Act. There is a clause in this Bill which deals with that particular section.

The PRESIDENT - But the Bill does not propose an amendment of that section which will affect the matter to which the honorable senator has been referring. I have endeavoured to permit the honorable senator reasonable latitude to explain his views.

Senator BAKHAP - J thank you, sir, for the latitude extended to me, and I will be the last member of the Senate to show any disinclination to support your ruling. I shall only say that I earnestly appeal to Ministers, when a combined effort is being made by subjects of the Empire, irrespective of colour or creed, to assure the triumph of our arms, to remove from our Defence Act that stigma upon some of the Australian-born to which I have referred. No Administration fully alive to the momentarily widening responsibilities of Australia will fail to recognise that our defence legislation is at present radically deficient and unsatisfactory. I have heard nothing since I came here of the report upon our defence system which was secured from a very valuable and distinguished Imperial officer. Reading between the lines of that report, -or dealing entirely with its language, and without implication or inference, the conclusion must be arrived at that it does not disclose a state of things that is entirely satisfactory in connexion with the projected scheme of defence which will mature during the next three or four years, and upon which we at present appear to be content solely to rely. Australians will have to act as the people of the United States of America have found it necessary to act. We are at the present moment assuming many responsibilities, just as the United States of

America have done during the last ten or fifteen years. The people- of the United States of America have felt themselves under an obligation to keep a standing Army slightly exceeding 100,000 men. We exercise jurisdiction over territory greater, emptier, and more liable to attack than that of the United States of America. In the circumstances, we shall commit a very great error if we rely solely upon what are, after all, very raw levies, imperfectly prepared for war, and as incapable of being put into the field at a moment's notice as are the raw levies which Lord Kitchener is engaged in licking into shape at the present time. The safety of Australian interests, and the protection of the Territories of the Commonwealth, cannot, in my opinion, be secured if we do not make provision for a more substantial increase in our Permanent Forces, or, as I prefer to say, our standing Army, than the Government seem now to have in contemplation. I am not talking for's sake in this matter. I am fully convinced that we are, perhaps, in graver national peril than some persons believe, and that it is imperative that we should realize that we are assuming responsibilities of almost Imperial dimensions. Our defence scheme is a partial scheme, and can be only partially satisfactory"; and, in my view, we must have a better Army than we have at present, or than some persons have in contemplation; and we must, also, have a largely augmented Fleet. I hope that Ministers will recognise that my remarks have not been made in any party spirit, and will take them into consideration. I propose to give them, privately, further information in the light of which I have spoken, and if they do not feel inclined to attach any importance to the views I express, they must not complain if, in future, I find it necessary to criticise them for not having fully realized the responsibilities attaching to them as administrators.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [4.7].- I wish to make a few remarks upon the Bill, and on some matters which have come up in connexion with it. So far as an amendment to the principal Act is concerned, Senator Pearce has, I think, given good reasons why we should make a change in the direction he has indicated. We. must recognise that our officers who are going away with our Expeditionary Forces are entitled to every consideration in the matter of promotion in the Australian Forces to which they belong. It is well-known that men seconded from their regiments for the time being are not robbed of consideration when promotion in those regiments have to be made. The Expeditionary Forces are not raised under the Defence Act, and it must be agreed that some legislation is necessary to provide that men belonging to them should be recognised as belonging to the Defence Forces generally of the Commonwealth. As matters stand now, a man who joins the Expeditionary Forces owes no allegiance to the Defence Act. His enrolment, I believe, makes him a member, not of the Australian Forces, but of the Imperial Forces raised under Imperial law, and coming under Imperial control. Thus a certain number of men take the necessary oaths, undergo the training, and pass under the control and jurisdiction of the Mother Country. Whilst the Force remains in existence there should be some means by which we could keep in touch with the whole body, so that they would form an integral portion of the Australian Defence Forces as a whole.

Senator Turley - Not when they come back?


Senator Turley - Because they are volunteers for a specific purpose.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD. - Are they not equally as good as numbers of volunteers? No one is eligible for our Defence Forces unless he enters very young, and many of these men are considerably past the age that would enable them 'to enter the Defence Forces. They are going away to fight on behalf of the country, which should be only too glad to include them in the Defence Forces to provide for any future trouble in which we may become involved. They would have had experience, and be worth far more than men, however well trained or educated, who had never been on a battle-field.

Senator Turley - Would you organize special corps for them?

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD. - I should maintain them as members of the Defence Forces. It might be arranged for them only to report themselves from time to time, or to attend a certain number of drills until they reached a specified age.

Senator Turley - Our citizen soldiers do that after twenty-five.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD.- Why should they not be citizen soldiers after twenty-five, even though they have not undergone training at the age of seventeen or eighteen? It would also be well to enroll a certain number of men who, under the terms of their enrolment, would be liable to serve outside Australia. Under the Act no man is liable to serve outside Australia at present, except those belonging to the Permanent Forces, but we rely mainly upon our Citizen Forces, and have only sufficient permanent men to keep things going in time of peace. Whenever Australia becomes involved in war we shall have to rely for our main protection on the Citizen Forces, and the members of the Permanent Forces will be practically a negative quantity. We should so extend our powers under the original Defence Act as to provide for the raising and enrolling of men for the express purpose of forming any Expeditionary Force that may be required in the future. Under present conditions we have to rely for our Expeditionary Forces on men who volunteer. The majority of them come_in absolutely raw, with no knowledge of the work that will devolve upon them. If, on the other hand, we had men in training, part of whose duty was to go out of Australia whenever the Government thought fit to send them, we should be able to send our Expeditionary Forces out much sooner and in a much more efficient condition. Three months have elapsed since the war started, and during all that time we had no men ready or fit to send. We knew that all we had to do was to appeal to the patriotism of Australians and they would volunteer for the work; but they had to be given a certain amount of training, and that caused delay, apart from other considerations.

Senator Turley - We had no ships ready.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I said "apart from other considerations," but even had the ships been available as soon as the men were raised, we could not have sent them out of the country immediately with any degree of satisfaction or safety, because they would have gone out as raw levies requiring training. We have given them all the training we could, and they are familiar with the rudiments of their work, but we know that they will want more training at the other end. A system by which we could have men enrolled and trained for this specific purpose would be of great value not only to Australia, but to the Empire as a whole. We all realize that our protection is being fought for on the battlefields of Europe. What help could a body of men here, no matter how well equipped or efficient, give in the present trouble if they did not go beyond our boundaries? If Great Britain were defeated in Europe we should be vitally affected. It would be within the power of the conqueror to make the surrender of Australia one of the conditions of peace. If Australia were demanded as the price of peace, our men would not have had the opportunity of fighting for its defence, but if, when war broke out, part of our Forces could be immediately sent away to defend Australia in any other part of the world, their services would be most valuable. Such a power would have to be used with great care, and possibly the Government of the time might consider it necessary to obtain the opinion of Parliament if Parliament was sitting before committing itself to the despatch of an Expeditionary Force.

Senator Henderson - You held quite a different opinion twenty years ago.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - If we have not learnt a great deal in twenty years, we have no right to be hero. Our Navy is not kept hanging about our coasts to meet a possible enemy, because we realize and accept the doctrine that the duty of a Navy is to destroy an enemy as far as possible from its own bases.

Senator Turley - And it is a permanent force.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Undoubtedly. Probably the safety of our country will depend on battles fought on the water thousands of miles away from our coast, or on the fields of Europe. That is where our defence lies, and where our men can render the most efficient service to our people.

Senator Henderson - That is quite correct, but you have never realized it till now.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Perhaps the honorable senator has not.

Senator Turley - And now it is too late.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - It is never too late to mend. We are asked to amend the law with respect only to minor matters. I want to draw attention to a much more serious matter.

Senator Turley - We are all the time having our men trained up to twentyfive, and, in the future, when any Force is wanted the trained men will come forward and volunteer.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I hope they will, but they are not in a majority in the present Expeditionary Forces. There are a number of them, but an equally large number are not trained.

Senator Henderson - A number of the men trained under the old system probably went to be trained for fun.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Many of them did not do it for fun. They did it because they thought they might be of some value to their country in the future.

Senator Turley - When I came to this country they did it for land orders.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I had no such motive when I joined the Forces, nor did I join for the sake of the pay. A professional soldier gets paid, and properly so, because it is his business. We are annexing additional territory. We have had portion of New Guinea under our control for some time, and we have now another portion previously under German occupation. We are sending Colonel Pethebridge with a Force to take possession of other islands in the Pacific, and we shall naturally be responsible for their proper administration and defence. The Japanese propose to hand over to Australia certain islands taken from the Ger- mans, and I believe the Government are prepared to accept the responsibility. If so, we must have a Force to protect them, but no man belonging to our Defence Forces can be compelled to serve there. The Government will have to raise another Expeditionary Force for that purpose ; and, therefore, we must have men liable to serve outside the Commonwealth. We have none to-day, but are entirely dependent on Imperial laws or authority in this respect, and, though the Minister may not think it necessary at present to make a drastic change in our legislation for this purpose, he must realize that Australia now that, for good or ill, she has taken over the control of territory outside her own borders, is bound to raise Defence Forces for their protection. The United States of America found themselves in exactly the same position when they annexed Cuba and the Philippines. They had to increase their Forces materially to protect their interests there, and the men raised for the purpose had no say as to where they were to go. They were enrolled sis portion of the regular Army, and their duty was to go wherever ordered. It will have to be the same with our Forces. The United States of America followed very much the same lines as Australia has done. Their policy once was, "Hands off America, and we will not interfere with any territory outside." The moment they did so, they were compelled to adopt the same course with regard to their Army as older nations had done. We shall have to increase our Permanent Forces in the samo way, and can do it by amending our law as I suggest. If our destiny is to be what it promises to be - if we are ' to become the paramount power in the Southern Pacific - we must make provision accordingly, whatever honorable senators may wish or say to the contrary. I have no desire to labour this matter, hut I do feel that the present is an occasion upon which one may very well express views of this character, in order that honorable senators may have the position brought home to them more closely than it has been hitherto. Until we attempted the acquisition of territory outside the Commonwealth, no need existed for legislative provision in regard to these external Forces. We must have a large number of permanent men to give effect to our compulsory training scheme, and we ought to utilize their services in defence of our country in other directions.

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