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Wednesday, 14 October 1914

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Senator MILLEN» (New South Wales) . - I do not propose to detain honorable senators for more than a brief space of time this afternoon. In looking over the Speech which was read by His Excellency the Governor-General in this chamber last week, it seems to me that the various propositions contained therein may very readily fall under two headings - those which embody the party proposals of my honorable friends opposite, and those which have either "direct reference to the war, or which indicate action that will follow as the result of that war. With regard to the former - the party proposals - I do not at present desire to say any more than that it seems to me that my honorable friends opposite are fairly and fully entitled to the fruits of their victory. I only wish to supplement that remark by suggesting that it may be profitable to recall the circumstances under which the last election took place. As honorable senators are aware, it was the first occasion upon which the operation of the provision in our Constitution, known as the double dissolution provision, was invoked. That provision was inserted in the Constitution for the purpose of solving a deadlock which mayat any time occur between the twobranches of the Commonwealth Parliament. It enabled that to be done, but it also enabled the electors' to express an opinion upon the matter in dispute between the two Houses. Viewing it in that way, as one of those whose opinion has been overridden on this occasion, I feel that no other conclusion can be arrived at than that the electors did approve in that particular of the attitude taken up by my honorable friends opposite. In other words, they have expressed their opinion, by the only means knows under our Constitution, that the principle of preference to unionists is a good and right one, and ought to be adopted in the Public Service of this country. I do not in any way alter the view which I have previously expressed on that point. I arn now merely stating that the Government and those who support them are entitled to claim that their attitude upon this question has been indorsed by the people of Australia.' With these few remarks, I pass from the mere party aspect of the Vice-Regal Speech, and turn to those larger proposals, which all centre around the titanic struggle which is now being waged in Eur.ope. It seems to me, and I say it with a great deal of pleasure, that though the various paragraphs in the Governor-General's Speech relating to this matter are necessarily vague - because it would be impossible for the Government to speak with greater definiteness at this stage - still they are paragraphs which would have found a place in approximately similar shape in any speech presented by a Liberal Government. I believe that any Government, under similar circum-.stances, would have expressed themselves in very much the same terms as the present Government, through the mouth of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, have expressed themselves. There is one paragraph to which I desire to make a brief reference, namely, paragraph 3, which, as a matter of fact, gives the clearest and most definite indication of the policy which the Government propose to pursue. Tt reads -

Immediately upon the declaration of war the Commonwealth offered to raise, equip, and maintain an Expeditionary Force of 20,000 men for service in Europe with the armies of the Empire. Further units have been since offered. These offers having been accepted by the Imperial Government, the Expeditionary Forces will be despatched from time to time. Additional troops will be sent to Europe as required, until peace upon terms satisfactory to the Allies has been secured.

That paragraph is a correct statement of events which have happened. It was the intention of the previous Government to submit to the Imperial authorities offers of three separate contingents. The main contingent of 20,000 troops, a supplementary one, known as the line of transport unit, and a further supplementary one now being formed of infantry and light horse. That was the offer made by the previous Government. Since then, I understand, the present Government have supplemented that by making an offer of a further unit.

Senator Pearce - Of two units.

Senator «MILLEN» - Does the honorable senator mean two infantry and two light horse units?

Senator Pearce - No; a complete veterinary corps and a light horse brigade.

Senator «MILLEN» .The veterinary corps I regard as supplementing the light horse.

Senator Pearce - No; it is a distinct unit.

Senator «MILLEN» - The only point I wish to make in regard to this matter is not with reference to the paragraph I have quoted from the Governor-General's Speech as a statement of what has been done, but with respect to the concluding words of the paragraph -

Additional troops will be sent to Europe as required, until peace upon terms satisfactory to the Allies has been secured. I regard that as indicative of the determination of the present Government, following the lines adopted by the previous Government, to pursue wholeheartedly the policy of co-operation with the rest of the Empire until a successful result has been achieved in the war. I take that to be the policy of the present Government, as it was the policy of the last Government.

Senator Pearce - Hear, hear.

Senator «MILLEN» - All I wish to say on the subject is that, in the circumstances, I venture to assure the Government, for what the assurance is. worth, that in their efforts to give effect to that policy they will meet with nothing but loyal support from those who sit on this side of the chamber. However we may differ from our friends opposite, as we do very seriously and sharply upon many other matters, every attempt made to carry through to a successful issue the struggle in which the Empire is now engaged - and which I shall show a little later on means not more to the Empire than it does to Australia - will meet with nothing but support from honorable senators who are otherwise opposed to the Government. I want to utter a word of warning with regard to the present war. It seems to me that, although everybody here is aware that, as a matter of fact, the war is on, it has not yet been generally recognised that Australia is at war. A large number of people seem to me to have so far failed to recognise that this country itself is to-day as much involved in war with Germany as if the Germans were invading our shores.

Senator Pearce - Some consider, apparently, that we are mere spectators.

Senator «MILLEN» - That is so. Every day we hear the expression that we are "helping the Empire." I glory in that help. But I wish to bring home to honorable senators the fact that we are doing something more. We are fighting to-day for our national existence. In these circumstances I venture to say that any one who would hesitate to afford any measure of support, however small, which might be extended to those upon whom has fallen the responsibility of carrying on the war would not be loyal to the Empire or to Australia. In saying that, I do not wish for one moment to under-estimate or decry in any way the duty which we owe to the Empire as a portion of it. I am satisfied that if Australia were known to be absolutely safe, she would still be extending the same measure of assistance to the other and older portions of the Empire. We have every reason to be proud of this Empire, and proud of the part she is playing in this conflict. I repeat that if Australia were known to be safe so far as its own immediate interests, possessions, and national existence are concerned, if she were assured of safety upon all these considerations, she would, be found loyally and heartily extending to the Empire that assistance which she is endeavouring to extend now. I still wish to bring home to honorable senators the fact that, although in. Australia . at the present moment the horrors of war are far from us, it seems to me that there is. no portion of the British Empire which is in greater danger than is this Australia of ours. I wish, without being an alarmist in any way, to consider the whole trend and purpose of German policy since the Franco-Prussian War. For two generations there has been bred into the German people the sentiment and idea of expansion. That idea has dominated the naval and military policy of Germany. The German people did not set to work and make willing sacrifices for the expansion of their navy, with any belief that it would add to the strength and standing of Germany in Europe. Germany is strong as a military power in Europe. It: does not require prolonged or serious thought to recognise what is behind the German, policy. It is a desire, and. perhaps a natural one, 'on the part of Germany to extend her- dependencies, beyond the confines of Europe.

Senator Stewart - And in Europe as well.

Senator «MILLEN» - It may be true that, in a sense, it would strengthen Germany's position there. I do not thinkthat any one can doubt the fact that if Germany had thrown into military affairsthe same amount of energy and expenditure as she has thrown into the building" up of her navy, it would have made her position unchallengeable there. But the motive of the German policy has not been to enable Germany to extend her power1 in Europe.

Senator Mullan - It was colonial expansion.

Senator «MILLEN» - Its purpose was to stretch out to other portions of the world. Let us assume that Germany hasthis desire for expansion. I remind honorable senators that, roughly speaking, 10,000,000 of her people leave Germany annually to seek avocations in other portions of the globe. A country that is losing 10,000,000 of its people every year will naturally desire to acquire some portion of the earth's surface wherein she might gather together those who leave her shores and form a second Germany. Assuming that that desire has animated the policy of the German people, let us see in. what way Germany might gratify thai, policy. No immediate expansion in. Europe would be likely to strengthen Germany's position, because every area of Europe that she would bring under her flag would bring with it trouble to herself. As it would involve the annexation of. portions of other countries inhabited by people of other nationalities, and these would be to Germany what the two French provinces of' Alsace and Lorraine have been, and what German Poland is to-day, expansion ins this way would not strengthen thenational position of Germany. She must, therefore, look abroad, and where is she to look ? Is it to be Africa, a countrythat is not generally attractive to European nations, and a country which is already densely populated ? If we turn toAmerica, or even South America, there isbetween those countries and any European nation the bar. of the Monroe doctrine. Germany, is. practically warned off any portion of the American Continent. Where, then, is she to go>?- We have always to remember that a nation seeking to promote- a colonization policy, wants, two things: many acres and few- people-

No other portion of the globe's surface today oilers those two things with the exception of the Australia in which we stand. Whatever view we may take of the matter, the sooner we recognise the fact the better it will be for ourselves. If it should happen - which God forbid - that the German Emperor should be the victor in this struggle, in my humble judgment, Australia, or a portion of it, will be the prize claimed for the victory. If this be so, it must bring home as clearly as possible the fact that we are today not merely aiding the Empire from, feelings of loyalty and devotion to Great Britain, but are actually engaged in a struggle to defend our right to continue to live in our own way in this country which has come to us by the generous gift of the Mother Country. I make these remarks because it seems to me that the struggle is not going to be terminated very soon. I cannot resist the conclusion - I wish I could come to any other - that it is going to be longdrawnout, and, that being so, Australia will be -called upon to make heavier sacrifices than she has had to make in the past. No one will be better pleased than myself if that anticipation is falsified by the events of the next few weeks: but I do think it necessary to utter a word of warning against undue optimism regarding this struggle, because that sort of feeling, if not realized, is likely to give place to profound disappointment and dejection. We ought, so far as we can judge the difficulties confronting us, to set our teeth and steel our energies to face them, recognising that there is just one thing, and one only, that we cannot do - that is, we dare not cry a halt now that we are in the struggle. We have already invaded German territory and pulled down the German flag from some of her possessions in the Pacific. If the tide of war were to turn and Germany were in a position to do it. we should have no cause of complaint if she acted towards Australia exactly as we have acted towards her Pacific possessions. According to the rules of -war she would be fully entitled to do so. I want to bring that fact home in order to emphasize the proposition which I set out at the commencement of my speech - that it had not seemed to come home to the people of Australia that we were ourselves, actually engaged in war. I have tried -to bring home to everybody the actual position in which we stand in order that there may be no demur to any sacrifice which we aTe called upon to make; but, on the other hand, a hearty and loyal willingness to assist the Government in carrying through any operations which circumstances may require. I trust there will be shown a cheerful readiness to submit to any sacrifice, however heavy and bitter, which may be necessary to secure the continuance of our national existence. So far as it is within my power to assist in any of the difficulties with which this and the other House will undoubtedly be confronted - and I am sure that in this I speak, not merely for the extremely limited number of senators associated with me on this side, but also for a very large number of those whose votes were cast in favour of my political party at the last election, but who, owing to our electoral system, do not find representation here - there will be no captious criticism on our part of any action taken by the Government, provided that that action is directed to carrying through to a successful issue the life and death struggle in which we are now engaged. It would not be out of place at this stage to direct attention to one of the deficiencies in our defence scheme which came under my notice when administering the Department. It had not occurred to me before, for I had never been confronted with the same circumstances; but it is obvious to me now, and will be obvious to everybody once attention is directed to the matter, that our defence scheme has been designed solely for the purpose of resisting an invasion of Australia. All the preparation has been made in contemplation of some raiding party coming here, and we have made none for facing such an emergency as has recently called us to action. That is, we have made no preparation for service abroad. The result is that when this call came there had to be a great deal of extemporization. There was not a single man, officer, uniform, cartridge, or gun earmarked for anything but service within Australia. I do not think it necessary, nor do I believe Australia would approve of, any enrolment of troops in time of peace for service abroad, nor am I suggesting it; but it seems to me that when the Empire is at war - which necessarily means that Australia is at war also - there will be quite a natural desire on the part of this section of the Empire to do its share to secure victory for the common cause. If that is so, it will be a tremendous advantage to us, and to the Empire, if wehave already perfected before the emergency arises an organization for dealing with and equipping troops to send beyond our shores. That is all that I suggest. We may set on one side the equipment necessary for these contingents, keeping it in mobilization stores, and also have, if possible, lists of officers and men who will be willing to serve if foreign service is desired. In the meantime, they will still fill their places in the ordinary Citizen Forces. If that were done, it would save an amount of very valuable time when there is no time to be lost. I merely direct attention to the matter now, not because any steps can be taken at this stage - seeing that the hands of the Minister and the Department are much too full already - but in order that we may not lose sight when the war is over of the necessity of making some preparation for an emergency, for which, so far, we have been but ill-equipped. Paragraph 7 of the Governor-General's Speech refers to the important part played by our Navy, and by Australia, in connexion with operations on behalf of the Empire. I should like to say, in addition to what is said in that paragraph, that it has been possible for Australia to render to the general cause other assistance, as to the details of which I do not propose to divulge anything at present, but it has been a great sourceof satisfaction to me, as I am sure it will be to honorable senators when they learn the details, to know that in ways quite other than those already made public Australia has been able to render very material assistance to another portion of the Empire. I would say a word about the paragraph which deals with the pensions scheme. It seems to me that the Minister should ; make some supplementary statement on this point. The Speech sets out -

Proposals for a pension scheme for Australians engaged on active service and their dependants will also be laid before you.

It is quite natural, and I can say the feeling exists, that men who are going away should like to know before they go what those provisions are. Prior to leaving office I had announced in the press the basis of a scheme, so far as it applied to the rank and file. I supplemented it by the statement that it would, of course, be subject to parliamentary approval. There is nothing in the Speech to indicate whether the Government proposeto adopt that scheme or vary it, or in what way they intend to proceed. It is quite a fair thing that men about to leave our shores on active service should be informed before they go, so far as it is possible to inform them - and they can be informed, so far as the rank and file are concerned - of the exact basis of the pensions scheme, so that every man may know exactly what provision will be made for those dependent on him in case he falls, or for himself if disabled. The scheme approved by the previous Government provided that if a married man lost his life a pension of £50 per annum would be paid to his widow during her natural life, and that if a man was totally incapacitated, he should receive a pension at the rate of 30s. per week, with an allowance in case of children. That was definitely fixed by the previous Government, so far as the Government could fix it pending parliamentary approval, and was announced in the press. There was, in addition, to be a pension of £12 10s. for each child up to sixteen or eighteen years of age.

Senator Pearce - Up to a total of £50.

Senator «MILLEN» - That pension appeared to me as being, not unduly generous, but reasonable and fair, and it was one which I think the people of Australia would not only approve of, but could afford to face. When dealing with this scheme, it was not possible to complete details as regards the higher ranks. I put down for the Government Statistician the maximum to which he was to go, and left him to work out the intermediate' rates and the details. Owing to the catastrophe which occurred on the 5th September I could not approach the matter again, and I only bring it forward now with the view of impressing on the Minister of Defence that, prior to the departure of our troops, a public statement should be made as to whether the Government propose to adhere to that scheme or to put forward one of their own. Any scheme, of course, will be subject to parliamentary approval. I do not suppose that the scheme to be submitted will be defeated by Parliament. It might be varied a little, but it would give the men an indication of the provision to be made for those dependent upon them, or theallowance which they themselves would receive should they unfortunately be incapacitated in serving the Empire. I desire to refer to one other matter, and it is the last to which I want to allude, and that is the final paragraph of the Speech announcing, the appointment of a member of the Ministry as Finance Member of the Naval Board. It reads -

In order to complete the constitution of the Naval Board Mr. J. A. Jensen, M.P., Assistant Minister for Defence, will be appointed as Finance Member.

I should like to know from the Minister of Defence exactly what is meant by this appointment - whether, for instance, the appointment is to end with Mr. Jensen's term as Minister, or whether, when that term ceases, he will become a permanent official of the Navy Office. My honorable friend smiles, but it seems to me that it is a very reasonable question to submit to him.

Senator Barker - It would be a good thing for Mr. Jensen.

Senator «MILLEN» - It might or it might not. I do hope that is not what has been provided by the present Government. To my mind it would be a deplorable thing that any one should hold a position in Parliament knowing that the moment he ceased to hold the position he should be available to step in and become a member of the Public Service of the country. I am not prepared to believe, unless the Minister of Defence says so, that that course has been adopted. Still there has been no definite statement made as to the position of Mr. Jensen. I would remind honorable senators that there is on the Estimates a sum of £800 attached to this position. Mr. Jensen, as a member of Parliament, cannot draw the salary - he is debarred by the Constitution from doing so - but it would be possible for him to be appointed to the position without salary for the term of the Parliament, and when he ceased to be a member of Parliament to draw the salary attached to the position. I ask the Minister to make a definite statement as to the exact terms of the appointment of which Mr. Jensen has been the recipient. I wish to mention the reason why the position of Finance Member was not filled before. It was, it seems to me, very much the same reason as ..._lu. which induced the present Government to place a member of Parliament on the Naval Board. I did not leave the position vacant from any negligence, or from any doubt in my mind as to what ought to be done. I had firmly decided that it was useless to fill the position with an ordinary civilian member of the Board's staff, and so strongly did I feel on the matter that some time ago I addressed a minute to my colleagues in the Cabinet, and put a proposition before them. The Government, as was known, and as it had intimated in its policy speech to Parliament, contemplated a re-organization of the Departments, with the view of creating additional portfolios, because we had come to the conclusion that it was absolutely impossible for the number of Ministers then existing to satisfactorily discharge the duties which those growing Departments were throwing upon them. Having come to that decision the Government deemed it advisable to hold this matter over, so that the whole thing might come before Parliament in a proper and orderly way. I should like, if I am not trespassing on the patience of the Senate, to read the substance of my minute. Having given Admiral Henderson's proposals on the matter, which included, as honorable senators will recollect, a provision for the appointment of a Finance and Civil Member from Parliament, I went on to say -

It is quite clear from this that Admiral Henderson recognised the necessity of having finance closely under the control of some one, who in turn would be in close touch with Parliament, and would exercise that control with a knowledge of the mind of Parliament and in conformity with the policy of the Government.

The adoption of the suggestion of Admiral Henderson would be unconstitutional as regards the Finance Member, but I am convinced that some such check and connexion between the Executive and the financial side of Naval administration is absolutely necessary.

In the very natural desire to make the service as ideally complete as possible, every expenditure is regarded by the officers as necessary, and is put forward with strong recommendations. What is needed is some one who can be relied upon to maintain the balance between these demands and the resources of the Treasury. For this reason, I do not think that the appointment of an official as Finance Member will be of any advantage to the Board, while I am perfectly certain that it would be of no practical value as far as Parliament or the Executive are concerned. I repeat that the only possible effective financial check must come from some one in touch with Parliament.

My short experience at the Defence Department has convinced me that it is impossible for the Minister to exercise an effective check upon finance unless he is prepared to look very closely -into the details of expenditure. To do so, however, makes too great a demand on the time of any one individual, especially as both branches of Defence are embraced in the one Department. The Minister is consequently left with insufficient time for the larger questions requiring attention. One way by which the difficulty might be overcome would be to create a separate Department for the Naval Branch of the service. Though this may come with time, I do not recommend it now in view of the desirability of maintaining the closest co-operation between the two branches of Defence, and also because of the necessity of having, as regards finance, a common control ever both ; but, in the re-organization of public departments included in the Government's proposals, consideration will be given to the creation of a new position "Corresponding somewhat to that of the British Parliamentary Under-Secretary; with this difference, that, in order to meet the terms of the Constitution, the occupant of the position will have to be a Minister, but he oan aa allotted as Assistant to the Minister for the Naval Branch of the Service. He would be able, in that position, in addition to other work, to attend to those duties which, theoretically, are discharged by the Finance Member of the Board. He would "be entitled in the House, and also in a position, to answer questions relating to the Department. It will also be a further advantage if, as is certain to be the case, he is appointed from the House in which the Minister did not have a seat.

The ordinary official Finance Member, as I have indicated, is, in my opinion, unqualified for the duties that are expected of him, but, by adopting the course which I suggest, the Government will have a really effective check upon expenditure, and, at the same time, a considerable measure of relief will be afforded to the Minister, to the advantage of both branches of the Defence Department.

Senator Keating - Has not the present Government practically followed those lines?

Senator «MILLEN» - I am not quite certain that it has. I was seeking to know exactly what is intended by the appointment of Mr. Jensen, whether it is intended that he shall become a public servant when he vacates his Ministerial position.

Senator Bakhap - Is it an office of profit under the Crown ?

Senator «MILLEN» - £800 ; I do not know whether that is profit or not.

Senator O'LOGHLIN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -Colonel O'Loghlin. - That is looking a lone way ahead.

Senator «MILLEN» - That may or may not be. Mr. Jensen may become tired of the Ministerial position in a month if he knows that the moment he does so, he can take up the duties of Finance Member. I have indicated clearly the opinion which my experience forced upon me. What was first in my mind was the system indicated in the minute I have read, and I only regret that the Constitution does not allow us to adopt it, arid that is the system' which operates at Home with excellent results through an officer known as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary. He is a member of Parliament.

Senator Lt Colonel O'Loghlin - What about the First Lord of the Admiralty, then ?

Senator «MILLEN» - He corresponds to our Minister of Defence. In my opinion, the Minister requires some assistance. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary at Home is, of course, a member of Parliament, but does not have a seat in the' Cabinet. That, I thought, would have been an ideal system to adopt here, because I am not in favour of an unduly big Cabinet; it has a tendency to become an institution for the blocking of work if it becomes unwieldy. It seemed to me that, but for the bar in the Constitution, a great reform could have been mad© by the adoption of the English practice. But that not being possible, the previous Government had intended to ask parliamentary :sanction for the creation of additional portfolios. The present Government is seeking to get over the difficulty by what, after all, I venture to suggest is a mere stop-gap, and that is by the appointment of what it terms Assistant Ministers. I suggest to the Government that, if it is its policy to add to the Cabinet, it should do, as its predecessors intended to do, and that is, put the thing on a proper basis, with parliamentary sanction behind it. It is perhaps undesirable that we should alter the Constitution for a matter of this kind, but I do venture to predict that the time will come when it will be necessary to face one or two alternatives - either an unduly large Cabinet, or an alteration' of the Constitution - to (permit of the appointment of a Parliamentary UnderSecretary. If Mr. Jensen 'has been appointed Finance Member -of the Naval Board only during his term as a member of Parliament, and the appointment is to cease when the Parliament expires I have nothing -to say against ait. But, on the other hand, if it is intended to be a stepping stone to a permanent position for Mr. Jensen, I feel ; that I shall be compelled 'to -take the strongest possible exception to it, and especially to the idea of a member of 'Parliament warming, as it were, a seat in the Public Service, occupying it during his membership with the knowledge that the moment his parliamentary connexion ceases he is to step into the office and. become one of the ordinary public servants. I think it would be not only an undesirable, but an extremely dangerous, practice to be allowed to grow up. I do sincerely trust that the Minister of Defence will be in a position to say that there is no ground for the fear to which I have referred.

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