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Thursday, 28 June 1906

Mr MALONEY (Melbourne) .- I have only a few words to say ; indeed, I should not have spoken to-night had there not been, as I understand, an attack made on Colonel Hoad. As in a previous session I made an attack on this officer, which might almost be termed bitter, it is my duty to say to-night that when I afterwards made inquiries I saw from the evidence placed before me that my statement in regard to his leaving Japan was wrong. I further learned that officers and men who had served under Colonel Hoad spoke of him in the highest terms as an officer. Therefore, I make the statement to-night that, on full inquiry. I find that Colonel Hoad is a good, sterling man, and, as an Australian, I should be glad to see him elevated to the high position suggested. I do not voice the cry of ' ' Australia for the Australians " in any narrow-minded spirit. I would extend the hand of welcome to any European who would hold up his band and say that he was prepared to fight for Australia. At the same time, the system of importing officers from England - officers such as those who showed, in the late lamentable war in South Africa, that they were not up to their work - is the height of absurdity. Our men held their own against the British officers during that miserable and wicked war, and it is time that we stood up for Australians and gave them the highest positions that they have the brains and capacity to fill. I understand that the honorable member for Wentworth actually accused Colonel Hoad of using political influence. When the honorable member for Laanecoorie challenged him. what was the miserable response? He told the House that Colonel Hoad, upon leaving Australia for Japan, had actually sent him -a friendly telegram bidding him " Good bye." If' such an action is to be construed as an attempt to use political influence, we shall have to ask all officers who are departing from us not to leave their P.P.C. cards on our tables, or to send us any telegrams or letters of farewell. I am very glad that the honorable member's statement was challenged, and that it was demonstrated that his charge rested on the flimsiest of grounds. Our Australian Forces have not reached the high standard that we could wish, and we might very well take example from that country which is regarded by the highest experts as the military schoolhouse of Europe, namely, Switzerland. One authority has declared that Switzerland can, within three days, concentrate upon any part of its frontier, 250,000 men, perfectly disciplined, and with an equipment complete in every detail. Such a feat could not be performed by Great Britain, although her soldiers cost her £77 per head, as against £9 per head in Switzerland. Surely we have enough patriotism amongst us to enable us to establish a force of citizen soldiers which would efficiently guard our hearths and homes. I am sure that no honorable member desires that we should be ruled by military bureaucrats. We do not want to have amongst us a number of military snobs or gilded-spurred roosters, as the honorable member for Darwin calls them. On one occasion, an officer had the impertinence to tell me that he could not find in Melbourne or Svdney a tailor who was capable of making his uniforms. He had to import them, and he said, "That blessed Commonwealth Government makes me pay duty on them." He did not know who I was. When he asked me for my opinion, I told him that we did not want clothes props to fight our battles. We wanted men who could shoot straight, and who would not be afraid to die, if necessary ; men whose fighting qualities would not be affected if their collars were not quite as clean as some of their dandy officers might desire. The most difficult uniform to make properly is that worn by the "Victorian Highland Regiment, and there are tailors in Melbourne who can make the uniforms for that corps as well as they can be turned out in the old country. I have paid my meed of praise to Colonel Hoad, of whom I have heard an excellent report. He is creating a good impression throughout Victoria by his- action in devoting his spare evenings to delivering lectures which it is worth any one's while to attend, and if he is chosen for the high position of InspectorGeneral of the Defence Forces, I am sure that he will fill it with credit to himself and honour to the country to which he belongs. I should like to claim the attention of the Prime Minister for a few moments. There is a general feeling in Victoria that those who brought reproach on our Australian character by adopting the infamous practices disclosed in the course of the inquiry conducted by the Butter Commission, are likely to escape punishment. I understand that the State Parliament will not take any action, but I trust that in. the interests of justice, and of our reputation as a community, the guilty persons will receive their desserts. One eminent legal authority has expressed the opinion that certain men ought to be prosecuted, and I have no hesitation in saying that some of them should occupy a place in Pentridge. They should at least be compelled to disgorge the money of which they robbed the dairy farmers of Victoria. Although the Butter Commission no doubt cost a considerable sum of money, it has resulted in a saving of upwards of .£50,000 per annum to the farmers of Victoria. Some of the large ocean shipping companies emerged from that inquiry with disgrace upon them. Among these was the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation 'Company, which Mr. Ritchie, when he was President of the Board of Trade under the BalfourSalisbury Administration, threatened to criminally prosecute if they continued to break the law. They allowed the Lascars employed on their steamers only 36 cubic feet of space each in their quarters - hardly double the space that would be represented by a decent-sized coffin. The Board of Trade 'allowance was 120 cubic feet. Mr. Ritchie declared on 12th May, 1900 - his words were published in the London Times - that it had not been for want of warning or for want of continual objection on the part of the Board of Trade that the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company had not ceased to break the laws of the country. He said that they had been fined repeatedly, and that he would be compelled to prosecute them criminally if they did not mend their ways. The company was punished for not paying regard to the representations of the authorities by being prevented from taking away a certain amount of cargo in their steamers.

Sir John Forrest - That has all been altered now.

Mr MALONEY - I am very glad to hear it. Admiral Field, who was no labour man, stated on one occasion that he would not vote against the Government, but that, on the other hand, he would not vote for them, because he believed that by their policy they were trying to destroy the naval supremacy of England. He pointed out that it could not be expected that 75,000 Lascars and foreigners who were employed in the British mercantile marine would fight the battles of England, and that landsmen could not do it because thev had not been trained as sailors. It was shown that the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company was one of the worst offenders in the whole world in regard to doing away with the employment of British seamen on British ships. I hope that under the new arrangement for the carriage of our mails, we shall be able to sweep aside the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. I have followed their history very closely for the past sixteen years, and I say without hesitation that we have not to thank them for the improved facilities that have been afforded for the carriage of our mails. It was the Orient Steam Navigation Company, which employed white seamen on its steamers, that first compelled the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company to shorten the trip between Australia and the old country. Every time we wanted an accelerated mail service, we had' to fight the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation 'Company. Therefore, we owe them nothing, whereas they owe much to us. Thev will not bring to us the bone and sinew of England. Thev do not carry common third class passengers - the class of men who have made Australia. Those who are familiar with the circumstances under which Australia has been peopled and developed know full well that we owe more to those who came out here as third class passengers than to those who were conveyed here in the saloon. We do not want to perpetuate this absurd system of dividing people up into classes. The noblest aspirations of the British race will find expression in this great country, which we want to make a white man's land. I compliment the Government upon having made an arrangement for the carriage of our mails, apart from the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. I trust that we shall be able to put a cross against the name of that company, and that in future our mails will be carried solely in steamers manned by white labour.

Mr. HENRYWILLIS (Robertson)

X8.ii]. - I regret that the PostmasterGeneral has not been present to hear what has been stated by honorable members with regard to the shortcomings of the postal service. The honorable member for Hunter referred to the dilatoriness with which letters were delivered in various parts of his electorate. Similar remarks would apply to all the country towns throughout the Commonwealth. It appears to be the policy of the Government to make the Postal Department pay its way. I do not think that that principle should be applied to the country mail services', particularly to those in the wilds of Australia. If it were rigidly insisted upon residents in the backblocks would receive their letters about four times per annum, and many of them would pick up their correspondence at the deadletter office when they came to the city after a long period of residence in the outlying districts. In the country districts the postal service is about as bad as it could POSSl 1.,i V be. In the cities and suburbs the service not only pays its way, but leaves something to spare, and I believe that the Department as a whole shows a surplus. Yet the Postmaster-General apparently will not grant a service unless it is shown that the revenue derived from it will very closely approach the outlay involved.

Mr Wilks - Whom does the honorable member blame for that?

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