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Thursday, 2 October 1902

Mr O'MALLEY (Tasmania) - I I think that the Minister stated to-day that we had 1,500 officers and men, and that 102 of these were officers. It would appear that our force is something like Artemus Ward's regiment, in which all were officers. I should like to ask the honorable gentleman whether he has a nurse for each of them, and, if not, whether he will secure a nurse for each of them ? Several of the American republics had, when I lived in them, a soldier with a bit of red dungaree upon him and some kind of wooden gun, and that was all, except at a time of a revolution. The Minister told us to-day that it was very popular to jump on the military man, but that is a mistake. I think it is very unpopular. It requires great courage in these days for a man to stand up and oppose military extravagance. It is most popular now even to be associated with one of the Generals. That can be seen if honorable members take up the Argus or the Age every morning, and read through the names of the guests at receptions. I say it requires pluck, and a man is ostracised in business and everything else if he opposes military - extravagance. The aristocracy of the various clubs and associations, and bullaroo rushes, will not do business with him, and they will not sit in the same pew with him in church. I am a martyr because I oppose these things. I can do no business in Melbourne. I am only paid £400 a year, and I am starving here. I say that this ought to be the standard salary for a General. They ought all be brought down to £400 a year. There are 3,400 miles of Canadian frontier to be defended against 80,000,000' of people to the south, 15,000,000 of Mexicans, and hostile Indians in the north, and they spend only £360,000 a year on the military in Canada. Surely if they can defend Canada with an expenditure of £360,000, it ought not to cost much to defend this country, which the Almighty has defended by the position in which He has placed it, by the fact that He has surrounded it by the eternal ocean, and made the dome of heaven above it. We require no military men here at all. I would abolish the army for 40 years to come,, and put the money proposed to be expended upon it into water conservation, into building up the country, and opening up avenues for our young men. It is all very fine for men to come here and talk so much about defending the country. Who are they going to defend the country against? Japan, England's ally, is our particular friend now. The United States is virtually England's friend now. She has entered into commercial relations with the people of England, and I tell honorable members that when business men are doing business, and one is making a profit out of the other, he does not want to kill him. There would never be any difficulty between nations if they would reason. I would rather sit down and reason with a man for 40 years as to how we should settle a question than fight him for one hour.

Mr Fowler - How did they settle the slave question in the United States?

Mr O'MALLEY - T - The slave question arose from the fact that a military oligarchy was established in the Southern States for the purpose "of overawing America. The slave question was the direct result of a military oligarchy. I am glad my honorable friend has referred to the matter. The Southern people were known as the aristocracy of America, and they had their military caste there. Only military men from the Southern States were allowed to go to West Point, because if Northern, boys went there they were insulted and were not looked upon as any- body. There were a few Northern men like 1 Grant,' Phil. Sheridan, and Sherman, who went to West Point, and then retired from the army and went into civil life. Those men' were called from civil life to settle the slave question. Then there was John Logan, one of the best Generals America produced. He was an ordinary working man, and became a Major - General. John Pat. Claybourne fought Peach Orchard, and America never had better Generals than she had in that war, though many of them never saw a gun in their lives until they went into the war.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What is all this about ?

Mr O'MALLEY -It is is about the fad of keeping the country filled with military men. I should like to pension them all off and give them a good time for 40 years, when we should have some new inventions. I should take all the old guns, ammunition, vans, and everything else and put them into the melting pot or sell them for old iron, and when we stood upon our commercial life we should have prosperity here. It is a mortal sin, and I do not know how any man can justify himself before his God for agreeing to an expenditure of £700,000 for an army in this country where we have nothing to fight but rabbits, bandicoots, and billy-goats. Who are we to fight here 1 Are we going to fight the people of New Guinea? We are all talking of war here, and I suppose it will come at last. When people are always praying for something to come it does come after a while ; but supposing the country was at war with Beluchistan, Afghanistan, San Salvador, Ecuador, or Patagonia, would the Minister give his consent to the General sending an army off to have a go at the fellows there, and, in the meantime, let them slip in here ? Supposing they divided up, which party would he attack? Supposing six or seven parties were going to fight this country, which would he have a go at first ?

Mr Isaacs - We must not disclose our strategy.

Mr Wilks - The Minister would have a go at the American visitor.

Mr O'MALLEY - T - The American is here to stay, and no honorable member can put him out. Honorable members can take it from me that he is here by the sovereign authority of the democrats of Tasmania, second on the poll. We find to-day that the people are absolutely in a panic. What are they frightened of ? They are frightened of their own shadows. They are frightened of war. For 30 years in the United States we heard nothing but war, war, war. " If England comes over with a fleet ; if Germany or France conies over"-

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did they talk like that in America ?

Mr O'MALLEY - The They used to talk like that, but the American people stopped the whole tommy-rot, and the result has been that for 30 years the money that has been wasted in Europe on this military business has enabled America to develop her marvellous resources to such an extent that to-day she fairly sways the whole world which is at her feet. We have this great southern continent placed here for us that we may develop and nurture a great and powerful people for the southern hemisphere, and we are wasting our lives in dancing to the tune of military glory. I do not wish to stay talking for weeks about a thing like this, but so long as I am in this House I shall oppose military expenditure and extravagance. Here we are for seventeen months for a miserable, paltry £400 a year, and I am walking through the side streets and the lanes because I am ashamed to be seen coming here at the price. There is not a word about giving us a rise, but any money proposed for the military is all right. I am prepared to take the contract now for the defence of Australia and to guarantee to defend it. The question arises whether there is to be no end to this military business. Shall we have to come back next year and battle over it again ?

Mr Macdonald-Paterson - This is only the beginning.

Mr O'MALLEY - One One of the most amazing beasts which has been brought to light by geological investigation is the sabre-toothed tiger, which the more it grew the more it developed its teeth. Instead of economy having been effected by means of a centralized military power, there has been absolutely more extravagance. I misrepresented the case to the people when I told them that under federation thousands of pounds would be saved in the management of the military forces by having one centralized Head-quarters Staff. I hold that federation in this respect was obtained under false pretences, and, though I shall not become a secessionist like Mr. Philp, I shall endeavour to put an end to the present state of affairs in the Defence department. It is true that we have one centralized Headquarters Staff, but, at the same time, not one general who was commandant in any one of the States has gone. As a matter of fact, the Defence department has extended beyond what it was prior to federation. The cry then was that there should be one general, one army, and one people ; but we have many generals under one general, and many departments, at a cost of £762,000. Nothing appears in the newspapers about what has been done by the Democrats in this House to avoid military despotism. It is the duty of the Parliament to protect the people of this great Commonwealth from any such danger.I warn the Minister that he had better take the advice of honorable members. The Government must not next session tell us that gentlemen have been appointed and that faith must be kept with them. If that be done, faith will be broken with me, and the Government will find things topsy-turvy.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I am sorry that I feel it incumbent on me to say a few words in reply to statements which have been made to-night. I do not complain of the discussion, except for one reason. I was not present last year when the Defence Estimates were discussed, but, so far as I can gather, the understanding was clear as to what was expected from the Minister for Defence and the Government in the way of reduction. In order to be quite sure I have looked up Hansard, and I find that on the 1st May last, the honorable member for Bland said -

I wish to test the feeling of the committee in favour of a reduction of the Estimates by £200,000, and, therefore, I move "That the vote 'Chief administration, £6,500 ' be reduced by the sum of £2."

The amendment was defeated by five votes, so that the committee clearly decided against a reduction by £200,000. Immediately afterwards, so far as I can gather from Hansard, the honorable member for Bland moved that the vote be reduced by £1, in order to test the question of whether there should be a reduction of the total estimate by £130,000. The Minister for Defence agreed to see that a reduction to that amount was made, and asked that no vote should be taken ; but the committee desired to have a division, and the amendment was carried. It will, therefore, be seen that there was not merely an understanding, but a definite amendment carried, showing what reductions were required to be made in the Estimates. Some honorable members have said that the reduction then decided on had to be. effected on the actual expenditure; but, while that may have been the impression in some minds, it could not be the fact, because until lately it has not been possible to ascertain the actual expenditure. I may point out that the actual expenditure was reduced by two processes. In the first place, a number of the men were in South Africa, and, of course, were paid by the Imperial authorities ; and, in the second place, recruiting was stopped. Since then recruiting has not been recommenced, and these two circumstances have caused the actual expenditure to be much below the Estimates of last year. We have, therefore, to consider the Estimates of last year as compared with the Estimates of this year, and, as I stated earlier in the day, there is this yearshown a reduction of £175,000. The instruction last year was to reduce the Estimates by £131,000, and I think I have used the pruning knife very diligently, though it is not pleasant work. I am quite sure it is not work that any member of the committee would be very anxious to undertake ; but, in face of the desire expressed last year, I made the reduction. WhatI complain of is that the committee, having arrived at a certain decision last year, should now re-open the question. What might reasonably have been done, if there were a desire to again discuss the matter, would have been to propose that any reduction suggested should take effect next year. Amongst other statements made to-night was one by the honorable member for Bland, to the effect that these Estimates have been prepared in a haphazard fashion.

Mr Watson - That would appear so.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I admit that the arrangement of the figures and headings might have been better, and that ifI had not known the details - or, as some one has said, if I had not been "behind the scenes - I could not have followed the comparison between this year and last.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then how can honorable members be expected to understand it?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - As I say, I admit that the arrangement of the figures might have been more clear. For instance, the honorable and learned member for Corio referred to the question of the payment of the Permanent Artillery of Victoria, and I believe Queensland was also referred to in this connexion. It was pointed out that the payment appears as 3s. 6d. in one case and 2s. 6d. in another. But the payment of 3s. 6d., as shown on page 90, was the standard of last year, and it should have been made clear that that payment had nothing to do with the present Estimates.

Mr Crouch - Was the payment 3s. 6d. last year ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Yes. But I now wish to show that there is nothing haphazard in the preparation of the Estimates. I have in my hand a document which shows the rates of payment in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland before the revised scale was adopted. In New South Wales, the payments for the first five years ranged from 2s. 3d. to 2s. 6d. ; in Victoria, from 2s. 3d. to 3s. 3d. ; in Queensland, from 2s. 3d. to 2s. 8d. Then, from the sixth to the tenth year, the payment in New South Wales was from 2s. 9d. to 3s. ; in Victoria it was 3s. 6d. all the time ; and in Queensland it ranged from 2s.8d. to 3s. The sum of 3s. 6d. which appears was the maximum pay for these men in Victoria before the new arrangement. It does not follow that all the men got the full payment, as the range was from the minimum to the maximum, the latter appearing in the Estimates. In the case where 2s. 6d. appears, that was the charge at a particular period. The rates which I have just mentioned have been revised, and a general rule made for the three States. The payments now are - 2s. 6d. for the first and second years ; 2s. 8d. for the third and fourth years ; and 2s.10d. for the fifth year ; or an average of 2s. 73/5d. Then the pay for the sixth year is 3s.1d., and 3s. 3d. for each succeeding year to the tenth. I mention these figures to show that there has been nothing haphazard in connexion with the Estimates. I should like to refer once more to the non-commissioned officers, in order to show that the rate of pay adopted in the various States is 3s. 6d. for the first year, 4s. 2d. for the second year, 5s. for the fourth and fifth years, and from 5s, 6d. to 6s. 3d. for the sixth year, according to rank. That is a higher rate of pay than prevails in Canada, and, under these circumstances, we cannot expect our military forces to cost as little as do the forces of the Dominion. I wish to impress on the committee the fact that the reductions in the Estimates have been brought about without dismissing any great number of men. I have had applications from all directions to allow recruiting to be recommenced; but I have refused, pending a decision by this House. I desire to give honorable members the details as to the dismissals, seeing that statements have been made to the effect that no reductions have been made in certain directions.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member should lay the papers upon the table.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I intend to do so, but they are very voluminous, and it will take a considerable sum to print them. The reductions at the present time amount to ten officers and 47 petty officers and men in the permanent naval force, and 28 officers and 379 petty officers and men in the volunteer naval brigade; in the permanent military forces, 15 officers, 48 warrant and non-commissioned officers, and 177 men ; in the militia, 47 officers, 831 noncommissioned officers and men ; and in the volunteers, 219 non-commissioned officers and men. Althogether there has been a reduction of 25 permanent officers and' 75 militia officers, naval and military ; 48 permanent warrant officer instructors in the militia, 224 permanent petty non-commissioned officers and men, naval and military; 1,210 petty officers, non-commissioned officers, and men in the militia, and 219 military volunteers, making a total reduction of 1801. The reductions which have been effected have been carried out in the most systematic fashion, and relatively as many officers as men have been retired. If I had time, I should like to give further details, to show honorable members exactly what has been done. The honorable member for Bland spoke of the deplorable plight in which the country would be if international complications arose, and the Commonwealth had not more ammunition than it has now. I should like to point out to the honorable member that ammunition does not improve with keeping. I think he will remember the strenuous efforts I made, when Premier of New South Wales, to start an ammunition factory there. I wanted Messrs. Nobel and Co. to undertake the working of the factory, because specially trained and experienced men are required for making ammunition, but I offered to take it over for the State.

Mr Salmon - How long ago was that?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Nearly three years ago.

Mr Salmon - Then it would have been taken over by the Commonwealth rather than by the State.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I tried to enter into the arrangement on behalf of the State, though, no doubt, the factory if established would have been taken over by the Commonwealth.

Mr Page - Will the honorable gentleman make similar strenuous efforts on behalf of the Commonwealth ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I shall be very glad todo so, but there is now in Victoria a private company which is supported to some extent by the Commonwealth, and the difficulties of starting a Government factory would be greater now than they were at the time I refer to.

Mr Watson - There is room for more than one ammunition factory in Australia.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Yes. I think that it is essential that we should be able to supply ourselves with ammunition, either by private enterprise or under State control, so that we may not be defenceless if cut off from other parts of the world.

Mr Fowler - How could ammunition be conveyed from the eastern States to Western Australia in war time ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - In time there will be railway communication between every large city in Australia, and, no doubt, the railway to Western Australia will come by-and-by. I had an inquiry made recently as to how much ammunition could be turned out by the Victorian factory in a year, and was informed that under existing circumstances they could manufacture about 6,000,000 rounds per year. Quite half of the total quantity of ammunition used in the Commonwealth is consumed in Victoria.

Mr Wilks - For the rifle clubs?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Yes. About 5,000,000 rounds are used annually in Victoria, of which about 4,000,000 rounds are consumed by the rifle clubs, the balance being consumed by the military. The other States use a little less than 5,000,000 rounds a year, the total consumption of the Commonwealth being about 10,000,000 rounds a year. We have now in stock a sufficient quantity of ammunition for this year, and for next year - our reserve supply - and 1,500,000 rounds in addition. Under these circumstances it is not necessary to purchase more ammunition this year, but next year we shall have to spend money in that direction to keep up our reserve stock.

Mr Watson - I did not advocate the keeping of a big stock of ammunition.

What I said was that we should provide means for making our own ammunition.

Mr Page - We want a large stock of rifles.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - We have about 74,000 rifles, a great many of which are magazine rifles and Lee-Enfields, without the magazines, and 17,000 or 18,000 are MartiniHenrys. As I explained this morning, we are awaiting a decision of the War-office as to the best rifle obtainable before purchasing new stock.

Mr Brown - Why is it that members of country rifle clubs have great difficulty in procuring rifles?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - There are a great number of persons in the rifle clubs of the Commonwealth - 20,000 in Victoria alone. For ordinary practice the MartiniHenry rifles might very well be used, but the men all want magazine rifles. The MartiniHenry costs about £5 each, and the magazine rifles about £7 each. An expense for which no provision has been made on these Estimates, but which may be considerable next year, is the cost of conveying members of the defence forces by rail. Hitherto in many of the States the military have been conveyed free on the railways, but in Queensland they are about to put an end to that arrangement, and some of the other States will do likewise. At the present time, there is only about £4,000 or £5,000 on the Estimates for travelling expenses, but next year a much larger amount will be required. In reference to what has been said on the subject of uniforms, I wish to inform honorable members that, while I do not approve of gaudy and expensive uniforms, I think that the men themselves like to have distinct and nicelooking clothing. The uniform of the AustralianHorse, to which, Ithink,thehonorable member for Bland referred, is, in my opinion, one of the prettiest and most inexpensive that I have seen, and is thought very highly of by those who wear it. To compel all in the service to wear the same uniform, and to make that uniform extremely plain, except in war time, would, I think, militate to some extent against the successof thevolunteermovement. The honorable member for Dalley complained that the Sydney public have of late been denied access to a military reserve in Middle Harbor. I intend to make inquiry into the matter to-morrow, and if the honorable member has been correctly informed, I shall probably issue instructions that the public are not to be prevented from landing and picnicking along the shore. My feeling in matters of this kind is shown by the action I have taken in regard to a military reserve between Bradley's Head and George's Head, which I have given the Mosman Council permission to beautify, so that it may be used by the public under certain conditions. It has been said that Colonel Stuart, of South Australia, has not received fair consideration, because he rose from the ranks, but that statement is not in accord with facts. Personally, I should be inclined to think better of a man who raised himself from the ranks through his energy and intelligence than of one who had jumped into' his position. I see clearly that the majority of honorable members wish to reduce these Estimates. I believe that the intention of the honorable member for Bland is to move a reduction of £62,000, to take effect upon certain branches. I thought that I had already done good work in reducing the expenditure of the department. I have done more than was actually asked for, and have firmly insisted upon economy in military matters. It is, however, possible to reduce still further, and I hope that a reduction can be made without impairing the efficiency of our forces.

Mr Sawers - Is the honorable gentleman going to accept the suggested amendment ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - If I do not accept it, it will be carried in spite of me.

Mr Sawers - That is the way to be defeated.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I have a compromise to suggest which I think the committee may accept. I have no personal feeling in the matter, beyond wishing to do what is right, and to get the committee to do the same. It will be quite impossible to make the reduction apply from the beginning of the present financial year. Over three months have already passed, and fully another month or two must elapse before the necessary adjustments can be made. I am prepared, however, to effect a reduction on a basis of £62,000 per annum from December to the end of the financial year.

Mr McDonald - Why does not the Minister say straight out that he will reduce the expenditure by only about £30,000 ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It is not possible for me to effect the reductions in a day, or even in a month.

Mr McDonald - The Minister could begin to-morrow if he chose.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I hope honorable members will be reasonable. I am endeavouring to meet them in a fair spirit and in accordance with the tone of the debate. I undertake to reduce the expenditure for the present year as stated, and to reduce the Estimates for next year by £62,000. I hope there will be no misunderstanding, and that the suggestion I have made will be accepted. I give my word, which I hope the committee will accept - and I do not think I have ever been accused of not standing to my word in a case of this kind - that the. reductions will be made, not in the direction that some honorable members seem to fear, but mainly in the expenses of the administrative staff. I cannot give particulars now, but I shall take care that the spirit of the debate to-night is reflected in the reductions, and that honorable members shall not be in any way hoodwinked or misled.

Sir Malcolm McEacharn - Will the Ministry try to equalize the capitation grants 1

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I am glad the honorable member has reminded me of that. I made a promise that I would place one regiment in which he is interested in f he same position as other corps of a similar character in other States. I believe that when the Scottish Regiment was formed in Melbourne, it was understood that they would pay their own expenses.

Sir Malcolm McEacharn - That is so.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - However, since that time the conditions have undergone a material change. We have corresponding regiments in other States which receive a small rate of payment, and I am prepared to place the Melbourne Scottish Regiment upon the same footing. I do not think it would be fair to do otherwise. It was intended, in the first instance, not to continue the annual grants to the various rifle clubs, but I have exercised my 'civil powers - although some honorable members seem to regard me as being subject to the domination of the military authorities - and I have made such provision in the Estimates that no reductions will be made in this direction. I wish the rifle clubs to understand that as an old club member who has used the rifle for a great many years, and who feels a great interest in rifle shooting, I do not wish to see them placed in an unfair position or prevented from fulfilling their . proper destiny. I believe that they will be of the greatest advantage to us in time of trouble, and I hope that they will not be brought too closely under the control of the military. At the same time there must be some regulation and control, and I trust that I shall be able to so arrange matters as not to offend the sensibilities of the members of rifle clubs in Victoria or elsewhere.

Mr. WATSON(Bland).- I think that those honorable members who are in favour of a reduction of the Estimates may very well accept the suggestion of the Minister, because on reflection one can see that it is only proper to give him and his staff some little time to arrange the method of the reductions. I do not wish to place the Minister or the members of his staff in a false position, and, for my part, I am quite prepared to agree to his suggestion.

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