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Friday, 16 July 1915

Senator MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The inscribed stock will possibly be only in amounts of £100.

Senator Turley - And multiples of £100.

Senator MILLEN - I should think not. If I wanted to invest £1,000 in inscribed stock I should expect to get ten certificates of £100 each, and not one of £1,000. On the other hand, there is no reason why bonds should be limited to £10, because they are transferable like a bank note. It is not desirable to confine the bonds to the £10 denomination.

Senator Lt Colonel O'Loghlin - Do you think they should be lower than £10 ?

Senator MILLEN - I do not know that there would be much advantage in that. The difference between the interest on this loan and the Savings Bank interest is so slight on small amounts that it would probably be to the advantage of a man with £5 to invest to deposit it in the Savings Bank; with the additional advantage of being able to withdraw it at any moment. Considering the circumstances of this country, £.10 is a reasonably low minimum, but I suppose no one would object if the Government decided to make it lower. Five pounds in England corresponds with about £10 here, because both the amount of currency which people handle here and their position generally, measured by financial figures, are superior to those of people at Home.

The Minister, in reply to my question as to the earnings from shipping, said they went to reduce the expenditure. In a later reply to an honorable senator on his own side, he said the amounts were paid into the Consolidated Revenue. If so, it will be interesting to know whether they form portion of the revenue of £22,364,000 to which he referred.

Senator Pearce - Every amount received by the Treasurer is paid into revenue.

Senator MILLEN - If that is so, instead of a revenue of £22,364,000, leaving out the war figures, it is -really three-quarters of a million worse than that. Because the amount which is now included, according to the statement, as being consolidated revenue, in my judgment, is quite inaccurately there. It ought not to be there as an addition to the Consolidated Revenue, but as a partial set off against the extraordinary expenditure. It makes these figures therefore three-quarters of a million less comforting than they otherwise would be.

Senator Lt Colonel O'Loghlin - Does it make any real difference?

Senator MILLEN - I think it does.

Senator Pearce - If we had not had the war we would not have expended the £2,000,000 on transports. Certainly we would not have received the revenue of £200,000.

Senator MILLEN - I remind the Minister that so far the Government have been paying for the war out of a British loan.

Senator Pearce - Where would you put the item?

Senator MILLEN - As a reduction of the total expenditure.

Senator Pearce - You put the whole war expenditure against the revenue and make up the deficit by a loan.

Senator MILLEN - It is a misleading factor. When we have engaged the transports in connexion with the war, borrowed the money to pay for them, and are able in carrying on the transport service to earn something, it ought to be put down as a reduction of the war expenditure, and not as an addition to the Consolidated Revenue. It is quite an- extraordinary receipt. The fact that these figures show that the Department recognise that the expenditure on the war is extraordinary because they keep the figures separately, is a further confirmation of my statement that the sum of three-quarters of a million being also connected with the war, and an extraordinary receipt ought to be treated in the same way.

Senator PEARCE - It is not threequarters of a million, but a little over n quarter of a million. £235,000 was tho total revenue of the Defence Department, and £30,000 was received from other sources

Senator MILLEN - I see now that i he amount is much less than I said it was, and it does necessarily minimize the seriousness of the position. It is -a variation of the amount, but the principle is there. The interjection of Senator O'Loghlin discloses what to my mind is a fatal tendency on the part of some persons to disregard the teachings and the necessities of a proper system of accountancy.

Leaving those figures for the time being, .is I hope to have an opportunity of dealing with them on the Supply Bill, I desire to invite the attention of the Minister of Defence and the Senate to a few matters connected with the war. First, I deem it my duty to refer to the position of the men in camp as regards the rifle training they are receiving. It is disclosing no information, because it is known to everybody, to say that to-day the reinforcements in the camp and going to the front are quite insufficiently trained in the use of the rifle. It is alleged that some men have gone to the front without ever having put a rifle to their shoulder.

Senator Pearce - That statement is absolutely incorrect. Some men may have gone to Egypt, but not to the front.

Senator MILLEN - I withdraw the phrase "to the front" if the Minister attaches to it a meaning which I did not intend, because I wish to deal with this training of the men in Australia. It is alleged that men are leaving Australia who have never had a rifle to their shoulder.

Senator Pearce - Not now. Senator MILLEN. - Men have not only been sent forward in certain units, but there is a practice which is quite indefensible, though perhaps excusable as an expedient, and that is that when a unit, is about to embark, and it is found that there are any' deserters, volunteers are called on to take their places. The new men are not drawn from the unit which is next in point of training, but from anywhere, and as the result of the proceeding men have gone away without the possibility of having any training. I wish to deal first with the question of rifle training. So far as my reading goes, limited though it may have been, I do not recollect any war in which it can be said that the individual rifleman has counted for more than he does at present. In spite of all that science and art are doing in the way of multiplying the mechanical instruments of destruction, we still read of the effect of perfect infantry fire, and we hear more of the sniper in this war than probably we" ever did before.

Senator de Largie - No.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel O'Loghlin. - The machine gun is the great factor.

Senator de Largie - There is more done with the bayonet to-day than with the rifle.

Senator MILLEN - If my honorable friends mean by their interjections that the rifle does not count, I differ with them. I am not saying that the rifle is everything, but pointing out that, in my judgment, it is as important to-day as ever it was.

Senator Barker - Rifle shooting is not so effective to-day as it was in the past.

Senator MILLEN - I think it is more effective. Whatever may be the relative value of the rifle to-day as compared with its use in the last big war, it is at any rate the weapon with which the individual soldier is armed. Therefore, if we put a rifle into the hands of a man it is highly important that he should understand and have confidence in the use of the weapon. To send a man to the front and merely tell him that he need not bother about being able to use his rifle, because a machine gun operating somewhere else may be more effective, is a piece of foolishness which no sensible person would entertain for a moment.

Senator Guy - Have men been sent to the front without^ a knowledge of the use of the rifle?

Senator MILLEN -1 - I have made the statement, and die Minister of Defence has admitted that men leave Australia-

Senator Guy - You said they had gone to the front.

Senator Pearce - No man has been sent to the front without going through his full musketry course.

Senator MILLEN - If I have inadvertently used the phrase " to the front" I have already stated that what I desire to draw attention to is the despatch from Australia of reinforcements of men who have not had adequate training, and in some cases no training, in the use of the rifle. It has been said that these men will not go to the front unless they have undergone a thorough course of rifle training. If by that statement is meant, the course which is finplied to the Citizen Forces, it is totally insufficient. Men are returned as efficient who have simply marched on to the ground, fired fifty rounds in a certain time, and marched back again. The effect of such training on an average man is just to make him gun shy, and not to give him that confidence in the weapon which I assert is one of the most moral influences that could be brought to bear.

Senator O'Keefe - That confidence can only be gained by continuous and long practice.

Senator de Largie - We have not time for long practice.

Senator MILLEN - Because we cannot have perfection there is no reason why we should go to the other extreme and have no training at all.

Senator Barker - Why build a mountain out of a mole hill?

Senator MILLEN - I have not attempted to build anything. I have merely stated facts. I repeat that to-day men are being sent from Australia who have never had a gun to their shoulder.

Senator Watson - It shows how zealous we are in sending men to the seat of war.

Senator MILLEN - Whether or not it shows zeal, which I readily admit, it does not alter the simple fact. The suggestion I wish to -make is that, if we cannot send the men as expert as we would wish, they ought to be given here some grounding in the use of the weapon on which they will have to rely.

Senator O'Keefe - Efficiency in rifle shooting should be one of the first qualifications.

Senator MILLEN - Let me take a very simple illustration. I might explain the theory of driving a horse in a sulky to a man who has never had a pair of reins in his hands before, and ask him to drive down a busy street in Sydney alongside a man in another sulky who does know how to drive. The very element of confidence makes all the difference in the world in driving a vehicle through the streets of a busy city. The same thing applies with added effect when a man's life may depend upon the use he may make of the weapon with which he is armed. The mere knowledge that he can use his rifle when confronted with another man similarly armed has a considerable moral effect on the soldier. I am not bringing this matter forward in the way of criticism, but because it- seems to me to be a weakness in our present system that it should be easy to remedy.

Senator de Largie - If we could only get the German forces to wait for a while, until our men are trained, o

Senator MILLEN - According to the Minister this rifle training is being given outside Australia.

Senator Pearce - Only when it is not given here.

Senator MILLEN - It should be possible to give the elementary portion of the training in Australia.

Senator Pearce - That is being done.

Senator MILLEN - Some little time ago. when the question of rifle training came up for consideration, the Department adopted a suggestion which I now urge the Government to consider. It was recognised that the Instructional Staff would be heavily pressed with duties, and that their time would be fully occupied in other ways; also that many members of the Instructional Staff were not too well qualified to give instruction in rifle training, which involves a special knowledge. The suggestion was, therefore, put forward that the services of expert riflemen and others competent to give instruction in rifle practice should be utilized.

Senator Pearce - That is being done now.

Senator MILLEN - It was done for a few weeks in New South Wales, and then stopped.

Senator Pearce - Instructions have been sent out within the last month that every offer of assistance in that direction is to be fully availed of.

Senator MILLEN - I think that I am discharging a public duty in bringing under the notice of the Minister the fact that it was not being done even as late as last week in Sydney. Early in the war detachments from Liverpool were handed over for an hour or two a day to expert riflemen approved by the State Commandant, who undertook the duty of explaining the complicated mechanism of the modern military rifle. For some years I was able to hold my own with a sporting rifle against most people, but when a modern military rifle is- placed in my hands I have to ask the purpose of some of its little niceties, and how they are manipulated. The modern military rifle is a very complicated machine. However, that system to which I am referring was adopted for a few weeks, and then, without any explanation having been given to the rifle club authorities, it was dropped. The Minister says now that it is to be restored, but judging by the public utterance* of the officer in charge of the rifle clubs in New South Wales it was not being done on last Saturday week, because on that date this officer said, when the matter came up, that he would accept it as a duty to press the suggestion under the notice of the State Commandant. If any instruction had been issued on the subject he would not have bothered to carry to his superior officer a suggestion to do what was already being done. If the Minister has given the instruction, . showing that he is in sympathy with the suggestion, he has nothing more to do except to see that steps are taken to give effect to it.

In connexion with our attempts to organize the resources of Australia, we have to consider very seriously the effect which the enlistment of an increasing number of young men may have on the labour market, particularly in view of the prospects of an extremely heavy harvest.

Senator de Largie - It is very probable that there will be a great harvest.

Senator MILLEN - We are all pleased to realize that there is a prospect of securing a very fine harvest. Australia, with its large area, possesses this advantage, that even if there is a drought, or if prospects are not so bright in cue portion as they are elsewhere, there is generally some compensation in the shape of a good season in another portion of the continent. A little while ago, partly because of the failure of the last harvest, and partly on account of the war, special efforts were made in most of the States to increase the area under cultivation, so that, apart from the increased production per acre anticipated as the result of a bountiful season, there will be increased production on account of the increased area put under crop, and we may look forward to the task of having to garner and lift a harvest unparalleled in the history of Australia. At the same time, however, we are withdrawing from the ordinary labour market, by the voluntary action of those whose conduct we all admire - that is our recruits - a very large percentage of the most active labour of the community, and as we are confronted with the possibility of difficulty in this regard, it seems to me that we cannot too soon consider the question of our having to organize labour with which to lift the harvest. The rapidity with which the New South Wales wheat crop ripens is a factor which renders the prompt supply of labour allimportant. In many districts a delay of twenty-four hours may very often mean that a great portion of the grain will fall to the ground. In such districts the machine must be in the paddock to-day and out again to-morrow, otherwise very serious loss is entailed in the shedding of the grain. These circumstances necessitate the massing of considerable bodiesof labour in certain districts within a short space of time. This is not the time nor the place to suggest the machinery that will overcome this difficulty, but it is a problem that we shall have to face. There is one way in which I think a considerable amount of help might be given. We know that a number of young farmers, not merely the sons of land-owners, but those who have for many years followed agricultural occupations, are anxious to enlist, but when they see the harvest coming on they are doubtful about doing so. Particularly is this the case with farmers' sons. They realize that their families have lost very heavily through the failure of the last harvest, and when they see the prospect of getting a decent harvest this year, knowing that upon the result of the harvest depends the restoration of the fortunes of their families, they are naturally anxious to be available to help to reap it. Would it not be possible to allow these young men to enlist now, and get their training in July and August, and then give them leave until after the harvest, when they will return to the camps, and be in a position to go straight to the front? It has been said that we are doing as much to serve the Empire by providing its food supplies as in sending men to the front. The question of garnering this harvest is a serious problem, and, in my opinion, the Government cannot do wrong if they give kindly consideration to any suggestion that will tend to the satisfactory handling of it. What I am suggesting is not a cut and dried plan, but is one out of which some scheme might be evolved, enabling the farm labourers to enlist now on the understanding that they will be given leave for a certain number of weeks in order that they may return to their farms and reap the harvest. It may be said that these men should first get in the harvest and then enlist, but if that were done the two months now available for training would be lost. The only risk in taking men into the ranks now and training them for a period, and then giving them leave, is that some of them might do, as men now in the camps do, hot turn up again. But I do not think that the risk will be very heavy in the case of the class of men to whom I refer.

Senator Maughan - The percentage of deserters is very small.

Senator MILLEN - It has been very heavy.

Senator Maughan - I can only speak for Queensland.

Senator MILLEN - That is a matter with which I do not care to deal. At any rate; the number of deserters in the circumstances that I have detailed would be quite insignificant in comparison with the advantage that would be derived from carrying out my suggestion.

Senator Pearce - Does not the honorable senator think that these men might just as well remain on their farms until they have taken off the harvest, and then recruit ?

Senator MILLEN - That would mean losing two months between now and the harvest, when they could be learning their business as soldiers.

Senator Pearce - But it would mean loading up the camps and the Instructional Staff with men who were not to leave until after the harvest, whereas men could be in training for despatch at the time of the harvest. We must maintain a continuous flow of reinforcements.

Senator MILLEN - If the Minister means that the camps are already crowded his answer ls final, but if it is not merely a question of camp accommodation I would point out that by training these men during the two months when they are comparatively idle, they would be enabled to leave Australia within about three months, but if they are compelled to remain without training until after the harvest it will be at least five months before they can leave for the front.

Senator Pearce - We shall have to send men five months hence just as much as we have to send them next month.

Senator MILLEN - These men are willing to join, and necessarily by the nature of their occupation they are practically idle for the next two mouths, there being merely routine work, or at least not very strenuous work, on the farms during that period. By a little organization it should be possible to give these men their training now.

Senator Lt Colonel O'Loghlin - Let them join rifle clubs, and have voluntary drill.

Senator MILLEN - In certain districts, where there are a number of them who are willing to follow that course, the Department might evolve a scheme under which they can be trained locally with the assistance of local military officers.

Senator Maughan - Could not the State Governments organize sufficient labour to cope with the harvest, independently of the defence aspect of the question ?

Senator MILLEN - Possibly, but to hear even such a quiet suggestion as that my friend is making, that we should attempt to relieve ourselves of duties, and throw them on the State Governments, is surprising.

Senator Maughan - That was not my idea. The harvest is not necessarily Commonwealth business.

Senator MILLEN - This difficulty arises out of the war, and while the State Governments are the proper agents for dealing with the harvest, it is a matter that need not be limited to the State. Harvesting operations are earlier in one State than in another, and if something is done in the direction of Government organization of labour, it may be found necessary to transfer men from district to district and State to State. Having mentioned this matter, its seriousness will probably be recognised, and some scheme may be evolved.

Senator Lt Colonel O'Loghlin - Are there many who wish to join" in the circumstances that the honorable senator has detailed?

Senator MILLEN - At the recent Farmers and Settlers Conference in Sydney, I met quite a number of them - how many of them I cannot say - but they all seemed to express the same view independently of one another. The suggestion was that they should be allowed to join now, so that they might proceed, with their training and that subsequently they should be permitted to return home to reap the harvest.

Senator Maughan - That is not singular to New South Wales.

Senator MILLEN - One can sympathize' with the feelings of these young men. The parental homes in which they are living have had many shadows thrown over them by the failure of the recent harvest, and naturally these men wish to do all that they can to insure the fullest benefits being derived from the coming harvest. I need scarcely remind the Minister that in England skilled men are being withdrawn from the fighting line in order that they may be placed in the factories. That being so, It does not seem a very serious step to allow these particular recruits to return to their homes a couple of months hence to complete an operation which, important as it is to themselves privately, is of considerable value to the community.

Shortly after this war broke out, the idea was expressed in many quarters, and, amongst others, by members 01 the Government, that as Australia had hitherto obtained many articles from countries with which we are now. at war, an opportunity was afforded us of stimulating the local production of those articles. I recollect the AttorneyGeneral expressing - I presume on behalf of the Government - a desire to stimulate such production by means of Government assistance. I recognise that the Ministry have been busy, but I am not at all sure that this very happy train of thought has been followed out. I have seen no evidence of a systematic examination of the position, or of any activity on the part of the Government, with a view to inducing the people to manufacture those commodities the supply of which previously came from enemy countries.

Senator Pearce - Does not the honorable senator remember the Enemy Contracts Bill ?

Senator MILLEN - That did not deal with this aspect of the question at all.

Senator Pearce - It was preliminary to the establishment of a very important branch of industry, which could not be established until effect had been given to that Bill.

Senator MILLEN - But there is a difference between articles which cannot be made here because of legal technicalities and articles which can be. The fact that there are particular things the manufacture of which is impossible until we have solved certain local problems, does not dispose of the force of my suggestion in regard to those things which we are free to make. I am putting forward these suggestions, because I regard them as worthy of consideration.

Senator O'Keefe - Does the honorable member suggest the payment of a bonus, or something of that kind ?

Senator MILLEN - Before we can adopt that course, there must be some systematic, scientific, and organized investigation.

Senator O'Keefe - Particularly, we ought to inquire into everything connected with the metal trade.

Senator MILLEN - That is covered by the Enemy Contracts Bill. I have here some figures which will show honorable senators that there have been diversions of trade going on, the consequences of which I cannot pretend to understand, but which certainly indicate the need for an inquiry such as I have suggested. Before giving these figures, I assume that every honorable senator will assent to the proposition that the war, having disorganized many centres of trade, offers Australia an opportunity to make good any deficiency in this connexion, and that it is a duty which we owe to our fellow citizens to point out to them avenues to which their energies may be profitably diverted. Let me take the export of sheepskins by way of illustration. They are sent out, some with the wool on, and some without. Prom July to December, 1913, we sent to America 330 skins with the wool on. These were worth only £65. In the last half of last year we exported to America 204,637 skins, which were valued at £47,684. These figures show a tremendous jump.

Senator de Largie - The total exported is not very large, although the increase is a big one. ' Senator MILLEN. - I am not putting forward these figures as if they constituted a startling discovery, but merely for the purpose of demonstrating that diversions of trade have taken place. Apparently the opportunities, which were previously utilized by Germany in connexion with these products, are now being exploited by other people. The export of sheepskins is not a singular instance, and I am suggesting that we should have a thorough examination into trade movements since the war began in. order that we may see whether we cannot stimulate local activity.

Senator Guthrie - Will the honorable senator advocate an export duty 1

Senator MILLEN - I will not'.

Senator Guthrie - Not on those figures ?

Senator MILLEN - No. I am not in a position to read into those figures more than I am entitled to read. They are chiefly instructive as showing how, after a brief lull when the war broke out, a rapid expansion took place: In July, 1914, the export of sheepskins to America was a little over 3,000. In August, it was 2,600; in September, it had jumped to 23,569, and in October, to 157,502. Whilst that was taking place the export to Germany was necessarily falling off.

Senator Russell - Has the honorable senator the figures relating to the local production ?

Senator MILLEN - No.

Senator Russell - The men engaged in that line recently assured me that the local development had been wonderful, owing to secondary lines, such as handbags, being made in Australia instead of in Germany.

Senator MILLEN - I am glad to hear that. It is because I wish to see that expansion taking place that I suggest that the Government should have a systematic and scientific examination of "our trade figures. It is not possible for myself or anybody else to undertake that inquiry unaided.

Senator de Largie - The Inter-State Commission should undertake it.

Senator MILLEN - I do not desire to suggest that any particular body should undertake it. I am merely urging the necessity for inquiry.

Senator Russell - The honorable senator does not want to miss the present opportunity.

Senator MILLEN - No; it seems to me that it is a desirable course to adopt.

Senator Guthrie - The Inter-State Commission is not doing its duty, according to the honorable senator. -It has the power to inquire into this matter.

Senator MILLEN - I am not concerned with that. I think that I am doing my duty in bringing this matter before the Senate. During the year ended 30th June, 1914, S'7,533 sheep skins with wool on were exported to America. The following twelve months the quantity exported jumped to nearly 400,000. Another curious fact is that whilst the export of skins with the wool on, and without the wool, had increased, a distinct differentiation movement was in progress. In 1914 America took 87,533 with the wool on, and 125,529 without the woolIn the following year her imports of skins with wool had increased to 389,549, whilst in the other case there had beenonly a slight increase, to 169,541 - an increase of 10 or 15 per cent. I am not going to suggest that the destination of these goods should be impugned. I do not know whether ' it should be or not. But we have the assertion. of the AttorneyGeneral that, even in regard to zincproducts, German influences still control" the purchasing and distributing agencies..

I feel that the Government ought to, and I am sure will take any steps which may he necessary to insure that these goods do not reach Germany by a roundabout way.

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