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Thursday, 1 May 1902

Mr O'MALLEY (Tasmania) - I wish to know whether the Minister for Defence can give me the name of one nation which would invade this country if we at once entirely abolished the army and navy of Australia ? Every one is talking of what will happen if we do not keep up a great military establishment ; but, as the history of the East shows us that tropical conditions have the effect of making those who are subject to them, the easy slaves of a military despotism, I am anxious that that shall not occur in Australia. When I was in the Parliament of South Australia, money was always being voted to purchase arms, but our men are not properly armed yet. If we spent £1,000,000 in purchasing the newest rifles, they would ten years hence be as obsolete as wooden guns. It would be better to postpone our preparations for another 20 years, until these inventions are perfected, and we can get the new American rifles which they are bringing out.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member talks of nothing but Amenca.

Mr O'MALLEY - God pity those who refuse to get intelligence where they can. We do not invent guns here. It is a glorious thing to see how the Christion nations are inventing guns to destroy each other. A man can become great, receive titles, and live in a palace if he can invent a gun which will enable one nation to blow another into Hades more quickly than the existing guns would do. I shall vote for a reduction of the military expenditure by £200,000, and I should be ready to vote for the abolition of the whole system, and to provide fora great volunteer system.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why does not the honorable member abolish the United States army ?

Mr O'MALLEY - I have nothing to do with that. In America, 25,000 permanent soldiers are enough to defend 80,000,000 people, and they have over 8,000,000 volunteers. At the battle of Lundy's Lane, the American cow-boy volunteers broke the line of veteran British red-coats. We must have soldiers with intelligence. No country can advance unless its people mingle brains with their work. It is because the American people have done so that that country is now leading the world in inventions and in money making, and before the next 50 years are past will own the world. The block drill system should be wiped out, because it is of no service in Australia. We do not want marionettes. Although we hear cries for reform and economy from all the States, they inflated their army Estimates immediately the Commonwealth was about to take over the defence forces, and handed to us a cursed heritage of debt. That is why we are fighting this battle on the military Estimates to-day.

Mr. PAGE(Maranoa). - Will the Minister for Defence tell the committee what recommendations the Queensland Minister for Railways made to him in regard to retrenchment in the Queensland defence forces 1 Did he specify any particular mode of retrenchment ?

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