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Thursday, 19 July 1906

Mr SPEAKER - If the honorable member for Laanecoorie considers the remarks of the honorable member for New England offensive, I ask the latter to withdraw them.

Mr LONSDALE - I bow to your ruling, sir, and withdraw them. I do not know that I can say what I really mean on this subject and be in order. Speaking about British officers, and our treatment of the Empire-

Mr Salmon - Australian officers are British officers, too. Why does the honorable member discriminate between them ?

Mr LONSDALE - A number of honorable gentlemen, if they could prevent it, would not allow any one not born in Australia to hold a position here. They should not try to escape from the consequences of statements by raising quibbles. There may be Australian officers who are better than English officers.

Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - Is the honorable member a military expert, too?

Mr LONSDALE - No. What I wish to say is that if we have officers who are better than or equal to officers born in other parts of the Empire, they should be appointed to vacant positions ; but preference should not be given to any man merely because 'he is an Australian. Every man should be dealt with on his merits, and, in the matter of appointments, it should be neither an advantage nor a disadvantage to a candidate to be an Australian. Qualifications alone should be considered. In my opinion!, it would have been a good thing if Captain Creswell had been able to attend the manoeuvres. I understood the honorable member for Laanecoorie to say that his attendance would not have done much good, and to interject that some of the biggest failures in the British Army had done well at examinations.

Mr Salmon - I did not say that Captain Creswell's attendance at the manoeuvres would not have done him good.

Mr LONSDALE - Every one knows that ability to pass an examination is 'not necessarily a proof of fitness for a position. It mav only show the possession of a good memory. There are doctors who, having brilliantly passed examinations, are not successful in the treatment of patients, while other medical men who have not done well at examinations have been very successful in their practice. But those facts would not justify us in abolishing medical examinations, or in declaring that those who have not passed examinations are better than those who have done so. Examinations are a test of knowledge, and should^ as far as possible, be practical. If our officers can take part in naval or military manoeuvres, they thereby gain a training which they would otherwise be without, and I think that if Captain Creswell could have remained for the English manoeuvres he should not have been recalled, or, if he was not recalled, he had no right to return. I do not wish to discuss the Tariff, but I feel bound to express my disgust at what has been said regarding the fellmongers' grievance. In Victoria, whenever there are two or three men who are not doing well, some Member of Parliament comes forward to champion their cause, and an attempt is made to lay the great primary industries of the Commonwealth under tribute to give them assistance. That is the result of the' political training of the people of this State. Fast legislation has taken all the grit out of them, so that they now -wish to be shielded from every wind that blows, and to be protected from competition of every kind. The other day there was a great howl in the Victorian newspapers because of the action of the Geelong Harbor Trust in buying some barges in Tasmania. I cannot imagine anything more contemptible than that. Let us develop a stronger and nobler spirit, and divest ourselves of that intense selfishness which would sacrifice the interests of the community at large for the sake of affording a few days' employment to a certain section of workmen. Why should one of our primary industries be sacrificed for the sake of a few fellmongers? The people who buy our wool wish to treat it in their own way, and they should' be at perfect liberty to do so. Why should we reduce the price of one of our staple products by retaining it here? I hope that the Minister will take a note of my remarks with regard to the postmaster to whose case I referred, and that he will make inquiries into the matter.

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