Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 19 November 1914


Senator TURLEY -The only trouble is that it has not been in force long enough.


Senator PEARCE - That is the whole trouble. But there .is another difficulty to be mentioned. A large number of imperfectly trained men, although they come together with the best intentions, may not give us any real strength; in fact, they may be even a source of danger t because they are largely a paper strength-

Lord Kitchener laid it down that we should have a Citizen- Force, and, as regards our reserves, the best suggestion he could make was that we should enroll our rifle clubs. Our reply to the gentlemen from whom these offers come is, " If you wish to train for home defence there are the rifle clubs to join. They are the Reserve Forces of the Commonwealth. They are linked up with the Defence Forces, and therefore we do not need to introduce a new defence scheme. "We invite you to join the rifle clubs."


Senator Turley - Which cost the Department a considerable amount annually.


Senator PEARCE - Yes, but nevertheless the rifle clubs are a very cheap and very effective means of home defence, though there is not always the same amount of glory attaching to membership of a rifle club as is attached to membership of other organizations with highsounding titles. In a rifle club the highest title to be obtained is that of a captain, so that it does not offer the attraction which other organizations possess. At the present juncture we would not be wise in starting a number of now organizations and grafting them on to our defence scheme unless of course, they fit in. Senator Ferricks, if he looks into the matter, will see that in raising the new Force3, we have taken into consideration the fact that there are some places where the light horsemen predominate. In Queensland, Western Australia, New South Wales, and particularly South Australia, there are large numbers of persons who, so to speak, earn their living on horseback, and who are more or less good shot?, and just the right type of material for light horsemen. If my honorable friend will glance at the figures for the latter contingents he will find that those States are contributing light horsemen altogether out of proportion to their population, simply because of that very fact. We are relying on the States to provide the infantry and the reinforcements for them. Senator Millen, to my mind, took a very exaggerated view of the danger of extending our Permanent Forces unnecessarily. It has to be remembered that we have seven defended ports. A gunner to-day has to be a very expert man indeed. A lot of training is needed to turn out an expert gunner. He has to be a studious man. Ho has to understand a great deal about mechanism and to be fairly well educated. In these days actions are decided very quickly, as the result of the tremendous power of the modern gun and modern projectiles. In the case of attacks by ships or torpedo boats, it may be a matter of a few minutes rather than a matter of a few hours or days. It stands to reason that we must have at the defended ports, at any rate, a nucleus of thoroughly trained men. Right from the inception of the Commonwealth it has been found necessary to have more or less a nucleus- of permanent men at all these ports.


Senator Bakhap - The States had them, too.


Senator PEARCE - Yes. I may mention that Lord Kitchener said that we needed more. During my term of office the number was increased, still they were not increased up to the number which his Lordship recommended in order to bo absolutely on the safe side. I have here a return showing the total number of Permanent Forces. When it appears on the Estimates, or is mentioned in a newspaper paragraph, the total number of 2,936 seems to be fairly large, but when it is analyzed what do we find? In that number there are only about 1,500 who are actually doing the work of soldiering. The balance is made up of some 300 who, though termed military, are military clerks, not combatants at all; and some 1,100 who are associated with the Citizen Forces either as instructors or on the Ad,ministrative and Instructional Staffs, carrying on our system of citizen training.


Senator Bakhap - Do you tell us that the permanent strength of the combatant Forces is very much smaller than it appears to be on paper?


Senator PEARCE - Yes. Although the number 2,936 appears on paper, the fighting permanent soldiers number about 1,500, and when it is remembered that these men are distributed over seven defended ports, I do not think it can be said that we have a very exaggerated standing Army. Let us contrast that position with the Citizen Forces. Of the latter we have just under 60,000 citizen soldiers and 86,000 Senior Cadets, while in the rifle clubs we have a total of 196,000. "When we compare the total number of 2,936, or the actual number of 1,500 in the Permanent Forces, with the 196,000 in our Citizen Forces, it will be seen that we cannot be said yet to have a strong standing Army. Coming to the question of the Aviation Corps, at which Senator Millen shied, I may say that the aviation instructional staff numbers fifteen. I am glad to see that already there are certain citizen officers who have been trained, and have obtained their certificates. The object is not that we shall have a corps of permanent officers, but that we shall have an aviation school, at which we shall have sufficient instructors and mechanics, permanent men, to instruct all militia officers who desire to learn to fly and to take observations whilst they are flying. That is the object of the aviation school, and those who have read the cablegrams, and noticed the work which aviators have done for the armies of Europe, must realize that we will have to expand the Aviation Corps. It is not a question of keeping it down. It seems to me that, if our Forces are to fight, we shall need a far larger number of citizen officers to be trained in. the art of aviation than are capable of being trained under present conditions. I do not think that there are any other matters to which I need direct attention, because I recognise that most of the remarks made on the Bill have been of a friendly character.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Motion (by Senator Turley) proposed -

That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole on the BiU to amend the Defence Act 1903-12, to consider an amendment of section 123a of the principal Act.


Senator Pearce - I hope that Senator Turley will not take my acquiescence in this motion as an acquiescence in his proposal.


Senator Turley - N/o.


Senator Pearce - The proper place to discuss the proposal will be in Committee.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Motion (by Senator Stewart) agreed to-

That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole on the Bill to amend the .Defence Act 1903-12 to consider the amendment of section 51 of the principal Act.

In Committee:

Clauses 1 to 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 -

Section thirty-one of the principal Act isĀ» amended -

(b)   by adding at the end thereof the words or except Expeditionary Forces in time of war."







Suggest corrections