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Thursday, 2 October 1902

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN (Melbourne) - The honorable member for Maranoa, in his very forcible speech, was, I think, very unfair to those in authority in connexion with the military forces. I do not believe for one moment that there is any feeling that a man should not receive promotion if he is fit to fill a position to which the next step in promotion would entitle him. I do not believe that the fact of a man having risen from the ranks would in any way affect his promotion.

Mr Mauger - I can assure the honorable member that such a feeling does exist.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN -I do not believe that there is any reason for it. I do not know the particular instance to which the honorable member refers, but I am certain that there must be some circumstances to account for any man who can attain to the position of olonel not receiving any further step in promotion, apart from any question as to his having risen from the ranks. If that feeling existed at all, it would exist against allowing a man to rise from the ranks to the position of colonel. The position is altogether absurd.

Mr Mauger - There is a feeling that artisans in Australia have no chance whatever. I hope there is no ground for it, but it exists.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - I do not believe there is any ground for it. At any rate, I have seen no evidence of it during the small experience I have had. I was not here when the last Estimates were dealt with. I was in Japan.

Mr Crouch - Does the honorable member mind mentioning the name of the colonel who has risen from the ranks?

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - I cannot mention any one's name. I consider it a mistake in parliamentary debate to mention any names whatever. I know nothing of the circumstances referred to, and should have said nothing about it but for the interjection. As I was not present when the last Estimates were discussed, I know nothing personally regarding the arrangement made for a reduction. But I must say that I am in some little difficulty, because I believe there should be a further reduction, whilst at the same time I cannot help feeling that it would be somewhat unfair to the Minister who has had control of this department if he were to receive instructions from the committee to reduce the amount for the Defence Force when he has already reduced the Estimates further that the House demanded. It would be unfair after three or four months have gone by to call upon him to make a further reduction. On that ground, therefore, I shall not be disposed to go so far as to vote for the reduction proposed by the honorable member for Bland; but I shall vote for some reductions, and my reasons I shall state. I will deal with the figures, not upon the basis of the Estimates, but upon the basis of the reduction upon last year's expenditure. The reduction shown is £62,743. Now, part of that reduction is made up of £9,739 for the Royal reception; £15,000 for new rifles, and £20,886 for the naval forces. That is a total of £45,625 out of the £62,743. I find that £4,019 is accounted for by the disbandonment of the volunteer naval artillery of New South Wales, the ambulance corps, and the torpedo defences. I must say that, so far as concerns the reduction of the Victorian naval artillery, it is, to some extent, compensated for by the fact that a number of those who belong to the disbanded forces have been included in the naval brigade. But there has been a further reduction in the naval brigade in ' Victoria, which has been brought down from 729 to 538. The total number of men in the naval forces in 1901-2 was 1,933, and that number is now reduced to 1,463 - a reduction of 470, or 25 per cent. I quite agree with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, that that is a very large reduction compared with the total reduction of the naval forces. But when we come to look into the figures of the naval forces of all the States we find another matter that I think requires to be examined carefully. The total naval estimate for 1902-3 for New South Wales is £5,835, and the permanent staff, consisting of three officers only, receive of that amount £1,659.

Sir William Lyne - What?

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - I quote the figures of the Estimates, page 41.

Sir William Lyne - There are no highlypaid officers.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - It appears that three officers receive £1,659.

Sir William Lyne - Of the naval brigade ?

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - The figures may be wrong, but Iquote them from page 41 of the Estimates.

Mr Watson - For 1902-3?

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - Yes, They are transferred officers it is true.

Mr McCay - Of that amount £1,180 is for contingencies.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - If that is the case, these matters are not clear. The figures on page 41 are grossly misleading if what I have stated is not correct.

Sir William Lyne - I know of my own personal knowledge that that statement is not right.

Mr McCay - The three officers only receive in pay£479, and the rest of the money is for contingencies, as shown on page 43 of the Estimates, Division 41.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN -I grant that that appears to be so, and in that case, the statement on page 41 is not correct, because it shows that three of the permanent staff receive 27½ per cent. of the total pay. Evidently that statement is hot accurate, because I see that, according to page 43, only £479 is paid to the three officers - the officer instructor, the clerk, and the coxswain in charge of boats.

Sir William Lyne - The facts would appear to be as stated by the honorable member, according to page 41, but the matter is explained on page 43.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - A further reduction that has been made is in the naval brigade in Queensland, which has been brought down from 729 men to 538 - a reduction of 191. I must look to see whether there is any error so far as that statement is concerned, because this appears to be a worse example than that which I quoted from New South Wales. The figures show apparently that nineteen of the permanent staff receive £3,820 out of a total of £15,084.

Sir William Lyne - That matter is detailed in the same way on page 47. There are nineteen officers, clerks, drill instructors, and others getting that total payment.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - It is true that the particulars are detailed as the Minister states, but, at any rate, the Estimates are very misleading. I certainly think that before these Estimates go forth to the public, they should be corrected, because it looks as if three members of the permanent staff in New South Wales were receiving 27½ per cent. of the whole expenditure on the naval forces of that State. I will leave the point so far as concerns the navy, and turn to the question of the instructional staff, details of which are furnished on page 55. Here again I should not be in the slightest degree surprised if the figures turned out to be misleading, but I take them as they are. I find that the total number of the military forces of New South Wales is 10,666. Of that number 751 are members of rifle clubs, whom we will leave out. So that ostensibly there are 10,000 men in the military forces of that State. I desire to compare New South Wales with Victoria. I see nothing in the New South Wales Estimates as to cadets, so that in excess of the numbers set down there may be a number of cadets.

Sir William Lyne - There are very few cadets in New South Wales, and they are dealt with by the department of Public Instruction.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - If that be the case there may be some explanation in connexion with the figures upon which I am now going to comment. While the number of troops in New South Wales is, roughly, 10,000, the number in Victoria as here stated is 12,048. That number, I grant, includes the cadets. Now the number of instructors in New South Wales is81, and their cost is £18,049. That is shown on page 55. In Victoria, however, there are 49 instructors at a cost of £10,162. Even assuming that the extra number of cadets in Victoria is included, it seems strange that the instructors for New South Walesshould cost so much more than instructors for other parts of the military service. I wish to ask the Minister how it is that there are81 on the instructional staff for 10,000 troops in New South Wales at a cost of £18,000, and only 49 in Victoria for 12,000 troops at a cost of £10,000?

Mr Watson - Do the cadets in Victoria include the schoolboys oronly the senior cadets?

Mr McCay - Five hundred are senior cadets, and the rest are boys.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - There may be some explanation, but I deal with the figures as I find them. There is something in these figures which requires explanation, and that shows the difficulty one has in arriving at any correct conclusions upon the Estimates put before us. I grant that it is not easy to avoid difficulty. I grant also that the task of bringing together all the forces of six States was an extremely difficult one, and honorable members cannot expect to have everything put before them as clearly as should be the case in future years. There were anomalies in the various States that have to be overcome, and they cannot be overcome in the first year or two. Now I should like to call attention to the position of the mounted rifles of New South Wales. The details are on pages 70 and 71. I find there that the mounted rifles include 29.2 troopers and privates. In order to control those 292 men we find that there are one officer commanding, one major, eight captains, eight first lieutenants, eight second lieutenants, and one quartermaster. Taking the regiment as it was before the Estimates of this year, we find that the following officers have been transferred as members of the permanent staff - one adjutant and paymaster, one regimental sergeant-major, one quartermaster-sergeant, one orderly room clerk, and four sergeantinstructors. That makes a total of 35 so far. Then we have four squadron sergeants- major, four squadron quartermastersergeants, sixteen sergeants, and 32 corporals. Thus, last year there were 91 officers to deal with 292 men, or, in other words, one officer for every three men. It may be necessary to have these officers. I know nothing of the mounted rifles, but it appears to me that, considering the way in which the Scottish

Regiment is treated, it is ridiculous that so many should be employed. These are transferred items : Adjutant £319 per annum, regimental sergeant-major £109 per annum, quartermaster-sergeant £152 per annum, orderly-room clerk £125 per annum, and four sergeant instructors £548. Here we have transferred payments amounting to £1,253 per annum. According to the Estimates, it would appear that a reduction of £543 per annum has been effected ; but, as a matter of fact, although there is that reduction the expenditure of £1,253 per annum has actually been transferred to another department. I cannot help thinking that that does not look well for New South Wales. I think it will be found that the same thing exists right through, so far as the New South Wales Estimates are concerned. I believe that New South Wales is responsible for a great deal of the extra expenditure which has taken place. I know I am correct in making the statement that certain volunteer regiments were made partially-paid regiments within twelve months of federation. I do not say that was done with a view of throwing all the cost upon the Federal Government, but it is impossible ' to deny that that has been the effect of the change. I refer particularly to the Australian Horse. I believe that the amount which that regiment receives beyond its capitation grant is £7 8s. per annum per man.

Mr Crouch - It was £9 10s., but it has been reduced to £7 8s.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - The members of the militia or partially-paid regiments in Victoria receive £7 10s. per annum ; in Queensland they receive £6 10s. per annum ; and in South Australia £5 per annum. The militia in Western Australia and Tasmania are not even upon such good terms as those ruling in South Australia. I find that the volunteers of New South Wales receive a capitation and effective grant of £3 per head, while the partially-paid forces receive £2 per head over and above the sum of £7 8s., to which I have already referred. They receive £2 per head for uniform as well as £78s. per annum per effective man.

Mr McCay - Each man receives that.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - Yes, and theregiment gets £2 per head for uniform. In Victoria the Artillery receive 30s. per head, and £1 for efficiency ; and the Militia Infantry and Volunteers 25s. per head, and £1 for efficiency. The Rangers receive £1 per head, and £1 for efficiency, and the Senior Cadets £1 per head. In Western Australia they receive £2 per head, and in Tasmania 30s. per head, and outfit.

Mr O'Malley - T - That is something like what should be given.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - I believe that every one would be perfectly satisfied with such an allowance. What ever is done by the committee in regard to the Estimates, the Minister should be asked to put the whole of these forces upon a uniform basis. I do not say that the higher-paid forces should be reduced to the lowest rate at present ruling, but the funds would be ample if the capitation grant of £3 perhead were reduced to £2 5s. per head. All these troops would then be brought into line. The amount granted to the forces in Western Australian would be raised from £2 to £2 5s., and those in Tasmania from 30s., and outfit to the same rate.

Sir George Turner - The State would have to pay for it.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - I care not who would have to pay for it ; I want only equity. I presume that the various States will be debited with their proportions.

Sir George Turner - Each State is debited with the actual expenditure, and the honorable member wishes to increase these grants in the State which can least afford it.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - Queensland is the State which could least afford to bear any additional expense, but the adoption of my suggestion would lead to a reduction in the amount granted to the forces there.

Sir William Lyne - South Australia is the State which objects most strongly to an increase in the pay of the men if it has to pay for it.

Mr Batchelor - Who said so?

Sir William Lyne - I have been informed that that is so. I raised the amount in the first instance in order to make the grant even, but altered it again before the Estimates were submitted.

Mr Batchelor - I have never heard of any objection.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - I do not think South Australia would object to its troops being placed upon a fair basis as compared with those of the other States. In my opinion, the South Australian Government would be far more likely to object to the volunteers in Queensland and Victoria receiving £3 and £2 5s. per head for the maintenance of their regiments, while the South Australian volunteers were on a lower scale. I am sure that even if they had to pay for the increase themselves, they would think it right that the change I have suggested should be made. But even assuming that the Minister considers that it would not be right to make an increase in any instance, surely he can have no objection to a reduction ?

Sir William Lyne - I am not going to bring down the grant to the regiments in New South Wales to the level of that of South Australia.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - do not want the Minister to do so, but I contend that as the whole of the forces of Australia have been taken over by the Commonwealth, and are supposed to be placed upon an equal footing, it would be far more equitable to place them on an equal basis than to allow the existing arrangements to continue. I wish it to be clearly understood that I am in no way casting any blame upon the Minister, but I would point out that where it has been a question of levelling up for the New South Wales troops, he has not been too careful in his consideration of what would be the cost to that State.

Sir William Lyne - In what instance ?

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - I find that the gunners of the New South Wales Royal Artillery formerly received 2s. 3d. per day, but that the Minister has increased the rate to 2s. 6d. in order to place them upon an equal footing with the Victorian gunners.

Sir William Lyne - The gunners in the whole of the States have been treated in the same way.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - Still they haveall been brought up to the Victorian level. I cite this only as an instance.

Mr Crouch - This is the first year in which the gunners of Victoria have received 2s. 6d. per day.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - That does not alter my argument.

Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - The honorable member does not think that the rate of pay of only the Victorian gunners should have been raised?

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - No. The rate has not been increased in Victoria since federation. Last year's Estimates provided for payment at the rate of 2s. 6d. per day.

Mr Crouch - The rate of pay was 2s. 3d. per day under the last Estimates.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - Then the Minister was wrong in raising the rate in Victoria and failing to do the same in all the other States. With all due deference to the honorable and learned member for Corio, I have such confidence in the Minister that I do not think he would be one to increase the rate in one State without increasing it in all the others.

Sir William Lyne - The only instance in which I have not brought the rates in all the States up to the same level is in relation to the annual pay. The honorable member referred to the fact that the grant to the militia forces in South Australia was only £5 per man. Speaking from memory, I believe it would have taken £6,000 per annum to pay the men in South Australia the same rate as the forces in other States receive. I was anxious to make an increase, but found that it was impossible to do so at this juncture.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - Then why not bring down the rate of pay in the other States to the same level ?

Sir William Lyne -Iam not going to bring down the pay in New South Wales and Victoria to the South Australian level.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - I believe there is no man in the service who would not be willing to accept a grant of £5 per annum in addition to the £2 per annum allowed for uniform to the partially paid forces.

Sir George Turner - Does the honorable member recollect what happened in Victoria when I brought down the rate? There was trouble over it.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - I think the right honorable gentleman adopted the proper course. In Victoria the men are receiving £7 10s. per annum ; in New South Wales they receive £7 8s. per annum ; in Queensland they are paid £6 10s. per annum, and in South Australia they receive £5 per annum. Why not strike the happy mean by fixing the rate at £6 10s. per annum ?

Sir George Turner - We have to deal with individual States.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - In a matter of this kind we cannot consider too closely the position of the individual States. We have to consider what is the best thing to do in the interests of all. I hope that any amendment which may be tabled for a reduction of these Estimates will not be a mere instruction that they shall be reduced by a given sum. There should be some indication given to the Minister of the way in which he is to effect the reduction which the committee directs shall be made. Unless this is done we may have a repetition of what happened in connexion with the reduction of last year's Estimates - reductions to the extent of only some £5,000 being made in New South Wales, while in Victorih reductions were made to the extent of £18,000. For these reasons, I shall endeavour to urge the committee, in making any reductions, to indicate the form in which those reductions should be made.

Sir William Lyne - I find that the honorable member is mistaken in saying that the rate of pay to the gunners in Victoria was 2s. 6d. per day at the inception of federation. It was 2s. 3d. per day.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - According to the Minister's own Estimates the rate of pay last year was 2s. 6d. per day.

Sir William Lyne - It was 2s. 3d., but has been increased to 2s. 6d. per day.

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