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Tuesday, 8 March 1904

Mr HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh) - I have listened with "a good deal of pain to some of the remarks of the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. In reply to an interjection in regard to the sectarian cry which I regret has been raised in this House, he said that it would work much damage to the Labour Party at the next election in New South Wales, which is a clear indication that he believes that issue will be raised, and that he is anxious to raise it. Having listened with close attention to the speech of the clever but tortuous leader of the Opposition, and the brilliant reply of. the Prime Minister, I have a" certain amount of diffidence in taking part in this debate. I followed the remarks of the Prime Minister with very great interest, especially when he gave a fine exposition to this House of the new development of fiscal thought. With consummate skill and subtlety, he endeavoured to induce honorable members to believe that the gulf between the free-traders and the protectionists had now become so narrow that one could step over it. In listening to him I almost anticipated that he would fall upon the neck of the leader of the Opposition as though he were a long-lost brother, and weep tears of joy that they had found each other, and need be separated no longer. But though there were bright passages to both deliverances, they seemed to me to constitute only the little by-play of contending lawyers. It was only when the leader of the Opposition attacked the Labour Party that he "flung forth his foam, impatient of the wound inflicted upon him." I resent his imputation that that party is ready to enter into any dishonorable bargain. It has not done so in the past, and I am satisfied that its members will never use anything but legitimate and honorable means to secure the enactment of its platform, which has been approved by such a large number of the electors of the Com monwealth'. So far as South Australia is concerned, the principal issues which were placed before the people at the recent elections had reference to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, the Navigation Bill, and the question of old-age pensions. These were considered the matters that most urgently . required to be dealt with by the Commonwealth Parliament this' session. Personally I exceedingly regret the attitude which has been assumed by the Government upon the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I am sorry that they cannot see their way to make that measure1 applicable to public servants. I am' surprised that a Ministry with such a radical head should be willing to compel private employers to submit to terms which they will not impose upon public employers. That is a piece of sectional legislation to which I am sure the Labour Party will not subscribe. In the matter of the employment of coloured labour upon subsidized mail steamers, I trust that this House will also refuse to make any exception. I see no necessity for departing in the slightest degree from the great principle of a white Australia. I do not believe in having a white land and an inkyocean. We wish to have a white Australia and to insure that our factories and ships shall be worked by white labour.

Mr Conroy -- Are thev "our" ships?

Mr HUTCHISON - -At any rate, we have to pay the subsidies. I would point out to the honorable and learned member that the legislation which has been enacted in reference to this matter does not go so far as the law in either Germany or the United States. In the latter country, as honorable members are aware, they refuse to allow oversea vessels to carry a single passenger or pound of freight from one port to another. In Germany, all vessels which are subsidized by the Government must be manned by white crews. I think that is an example which might with advantage be copied by the Commonwealth.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - But it is not a German colony which makes that law.

Mr HUTCHISON - The German Government insists that all subsidized vessels shall be manned by white German crews - a piece of legislation which might with advantage be emulated by us. We do not propose to prohibit white sailors from any part of the world from obtaining employment on these vessels-

Mr Kelly - Is such a condition attached to the German subsidy ?

Mr HUTCHISON - I understand that all vessels subsidised by the German Government are required to carry white German crews.

Mr Kelly - The honorable member is mistaken.

Mr HUTCHISON - It would be a good thing if that were the law of the Commonwealth and of the British Empire. At the present time we find that our vessel's are manned by seamen from all parts of the world, not because the shipowners are anxious to employ the sailors of other nations in preference to our own, but simply because they can command, their services at a cheaper rate. There is not much patriotism in that. When we find that year after year . the number of British seamen engaged in our mercantile marine is seriously diminishing, and when we reflect that trouble may arise in Europe upon almost any day, surely it is about time that we looked round to ascertain if we are in a position to man our own ships. A good deal has been said concerning the question of old-age pensions. If it be the intention, of the Government to indefinitely postpone dealing with this matter, it seems to me that they have adopted the very best method for securing that end. If we are to make it a condition that old-age pensions shall be granted only upon condition that the States allow the 'Federal Government to take over their indebtedness, the position so far as South Australia is concerned, resembles that of holding up a red rag to an infuriated bull. The South Australian Treasurer, I regret to say, is the bull. He is continually belittling the Commonwealth Parliament, and constantly misrepresenting it by endeavouring to induce the people to believe not only that the Federal Government is extravagant, but that Federation is costing a much larger sum that it really is at the present time. If we are to make it a condition that the States shall have power to say whether or not we shall have a national system of old-age pensions, undoubtedly the South Australian Government and Parliament will oppose it. I. should have thought that an important question of this character would have been placed in the very forefront of the Government programme, and that they would have been prepared to provide the money necessary to successfully carry out any such scheme. How should the money be found ? I do not think that this question is surrounded with the difficulty which so many people anticipate. I find that out of the 3,750,000 people who in round numbers comprise the population of the Commonwealth, 2,500,000, representing those who have already reached the age at which- they are entitled to receive old-age pensions, have been provided for ; so that in reality we have to provide for only 1,250,000. That should be quite a small matter. If the Ministry are in earnest all that they have to do is to bring in a Federal absentee land tax. I am satisfied that there is no greater curse to any country than is the absentee land-owner. He contributes nothing through the Customs to the revenue. In South Australia Ave have recognised that absentee individuals and companies are very undesirable, and have imposed upon them a tax of 20 per cent, over and above the land taxation levied there. . If the Government were to impose a similar tax - and, in passing, I might say that I would favour an increased one - upon the absentee landholders of Australia they would .be able not only to provide old-age pensions, but to do something of far more concern to the Commonwealth. In that way they would prevent the aggregation of large estates in the hands of persons who have no thought for the country - who have no regard for the way in which the people live, but who care only for what they can squeeze out of the people earning a livelihood on their estates. If the Government were in earnest they could thus find a way to provide for old-age pensions without imposing any further burden on the people living in the Commonwealth.

Mr Batchelor - And at the same time help immigration.

Mr HUTCHISON - Quite so. I quite agree with an honorable member -who has already spoken, that the Government ha\'e viewed this question -from the wrong end of the telescope. We have not the power at the present time" to deal with the lands of the State ; but I would mention that every Land Board dealing with an estate purchased by the South Australian Government for closer settlement purposes is rushed by applicants. We are losing our population in scores, and unless something be done we are likely to continue to do so. We have our unemployed trouble in South Australia. The same trouble exists in Victoria, and I regret to learn that it is very intense in New South Wales. In' these circumstances, before Ave talk about encouraging immigration, our first duty should be to see that proper provision is made for those WhO are already here. We have artisans in the Commonwealth who are willing to go on the land, but have no opportunity to do so. I am glad to notice that the Western Australian Government is now offering land for settlement upon easy terms ; but, at the same time, I should regret to see any of the people of South Australia leaving for the sister State, because we have already too small a population there. I should heartily welcome the arrival of deserving persons of good character, whether they had a shilling in their pockets or not, as long as I was assured that employment could be found for them when they reached our shores. Until Ave are able to secure that assurance from the Governments of ihe States, I trust that nothing whatever will be done in regard to immigration. I commend the Government for their protest against the introduction of Chinese labour into South Africa for the purpose of WOrKing the mines of that country. I- do so for the reason that scores of our countrymen are walking about the streets of the different South African cities, not only out of employment, but, according to statements ">f recent arrivals - and I have it from the mouths of some of my own friends - -in a state of semi-starvation. In view of what, we have done for the British Empire, it would have been a disgrace had not theFederal Government entered a protest at this juncture ' against the importation" of Chinese labour into South Africa. In referring to the situation in South Africa, the leader of the Labour Party has had something to say upon the question of borrowing. South Africa' has no Labour Party, and is devoid of socialistic legislation worthy of mention, but Ave find that it has just as much trouble in borrowing money as have the Australian States. This shows, therefore, that there is nothing in the bogy which has been raised that thetightness of the money market, so far as Australian borrowing is concerned, is due to socialistic legislation in this country. I desire now to refer to a very great question, involving a large expenditure of money, and one which has not yet been very fully dealt with during this debate. Paragraph 17 in the Governor-General's speech states that-

The Defence Act' has been proclaimed, and regulations under it approved.

I hope that honorable members will take the trouble to go through the regulations framed under the Defence Act.

Mr Batchelor - Life is too short.

Mr HUTCHISON - It was regarded as the natural corollary of Federation that the military forces of the States would be dealt with under a system -which would render them cohesive and effective in time of war. It was necessary to do this, or chaos would have been the only result. It is against our instincts as a free people - against the instincts of the children of generations of free men, who have not only defended their own country, but have liberally assisted the people of other countries to gain liberties to which they were strangers - to consider ourselves in a happy position of safety, and to believe that we shall never have our liberties attacked in this country. We know that the day may come when our liberties and the land that we have inherited from our forefathers may be attacked, and it has been the policy, not only of the States individually, but of Australia as a whole, to see that our stalwart men are trained and ready to defend these privileges. But when ! glance at the regulations under the Defence Act I am amazed at the extraordinary task which has been undertaken by the Commonwealth. I feel assured that if this House had only considered what its action in sanctioning trie appointment of an Imperial officer to organize our forces would mean, it would have hesitated to bring that officer here. The House is perfectly familiar with the record of the General Officer Commanding, and knowing that record, I feel satisfied thai it would have refused to sanction Eis appointment had if known that the regulations now before the country would be the result. It is very difficult to deal with this important question without throwing a considerable degree of blame on certain persons. But it is the duly of a critic to apportion the blame, and I shall endeavour to do so. On whom does the blame for the present position rest? On the General Officer Commanding? I might answer - " Partially ' no ' and partially ' yes,' " because as this Parliament was responsible for the appointment of

Major-General Hutton to his present position, it must certainly take part of the blame for the way in which the task he was called upon to undertake has been carried out. I find that Major-General Hutton has his own personality, his own habits of thought, and his own methods of work. He is an Imperial soldier with all the prejudices and disciplinary ideas of a machinemade and mechanically-guided officer. The regulations that he has drafted may be excellent for an Imperial service - indeed, they may be absolutely necessary for such a service - but they are certainly not suited for a citizen soldiery of the Commonwealth. What the General has been trained to do he must naturally drag into the task placed in his hands. He has been trained in a certain way, and we can see the result in these regulations. Let me draw attention to one or two points in regard to them. As a unit of the British Army I wish to say that I have a very high opinion of Major-General Hutton. If he ' were drafting these regulations for the British Army - and they are based upon British Army regulations - they might be necessary. They might be necessary if the Commonwealth had what I hope it never will have - a permanent force.

Mr Deakin - The honorable member has noticed, of course, that the Defence. Act provides for certain regulations, and that the King's regulations have also to be embodied in the regulations of the Commonwealth in order that they may be brought into force?

Mr HUTCHISON - Yes ; I understand that the King's regulations have been embodied in them.

Mr Deakin - That makes the bulk and the character.

Mr HUTCHISON - I quite agree with the honorable and learned gentleman; but I propose to point out a good many regulations for which there should be no necessity in the Commonwealth.

Mr Kennedy - Several honorable members desired to have a reservation inserted when the Bill was before the House.

Mr HUTCHISON - I desire to show that the General Officer Commanding either I iws in an atmosphere removed from the forces, or is not gifted with that common-sense which should be the distinguishing characteristic of a gentleman holding that position. Possessed of that common-sense, he must have known before his recent visit to Tasmania that there were good patriotic men in the forces in that State who had given much of their time to the service of their country, and men possessing judgment as good as his own ; he must have known, too, that there was something radically wrong, and that these men would not be prepared to dance to any tune that he might call. They wanted justice and fair treatment, but that they have not received. The forces, not only in Tasmania, but in South Australia and the other States, have been kept together by a patriotism which is becoming strained to the breaking point.

Mr Crouch - Is the honorable member aware of the grievance of the forces in Tasmania - that, at the request of their own State Government, they were not paid?

Mr HUTCHISON - To my own knowledge they have many more grievances, jus' as have the forces in South Australia. I served for over ten years as a volunteer in Scotland. I served also in the old South Australian Volunteer Force of eighteen years ago, and as a member of a volunteer company in that State. It will thus be understood that I have always taken an enthusiastic interest in military affairs. It is for that reason that I am anxious to see the military service placed on a fair footing and contented, because we cannot have a dis contented and a patriotic force at the same time. The question is, is there room for' discontent? The honorable and learned member for Corio says that one of the -reasons for discontent in' Tasmania relates to the question of pay. That is a cause of discontent throughout all the States, and is, a matter which' will have to be re-opened inthe near future. If I were able to march the forces of South Australia into this chamber at the present moment I should be able to show the House men wearing uniforms are a disgrace to a decent soldiery; f should Be able to show men who went through their recruit drill six months ago but are not yet supplied with uniforms ; and I could show others who, notwithstanding all the vaunted advantages of the staff of drill instructors, are not nearly as well drilled to-day as they were when the non-commissioned officers of the various companies had to perform that duty. I believe that the sister States could tell the same tale. What do the regulations mean? They mean the Head-Quarters Staff - a staff that is mopping up a very large share of the military vote that ought to be spent on the men. It is a staff that could very well be wiped out altogether, and if we were to wipe it out we could immediately reduce the whole of the district staffs by at least two-thirds'. Let me tell honorable members that at the present time we have at work in South Australia a sta'ff of fifteen officers and clerks - I believe I am understanding the number - and the work is very indifferently done. We can get nothing quickly done there. I remember a time, some eighteen months ago, when we had a force of 3,000 men, as against a force of a little under 2,000 at the present time, and though we had a staff of only two officers and a -boy, we never had any trouble whatever., Speaking figuratively, I may say that if you go to the present staff for a pencil you are told that they must send over to Head-Quarters in Melbourne. They do send over, and the Head-Quarters Staff in Melbourne reply, inquiring whether it is a black or a blue pencil that is wanted. Then they would like to know whether you require that it should be sharpened. You are afterwards sent to some one else to get it, and finally you may get it. If you require 100 rounds of ammunition, you go to one official and he sends you to another, then you are sent away down near the gaol - I may say that that is where the magazine is situated - and ultimately you get the 100 rounds of ammunition. There was no difficulty of this kind in the old days when we had a staff of two, and there' was very little complaint. I maintain that the old condition of things could be secured if we had the forces on a different footing. I have no desire to say one word against the personnel of the South Australian staff. It is composed of valuable officers, who are, I believe, overworked. I am sure they are working late at night very often. Only the other day I heard that one officer was kept until 1 o'clock in the morning getting instructions, and it cost him half a guinea for a cab to take him home. There should be no necessity for overworking these men. There is no doubt that they have plenty of work to do, but a very poor result is shown. If the work were reduced I am sure the result would be very much better. The clerical work demanded at the present time is simply enormous. I maintain that not 10 per cent, of the officers of the Commonwealth can possibly find time to carry out the instructions set out in these regulations. They could not possibly fill in the books. The HeadQuarters Staff have produced regulations which really require every officer commanding a company to be provided with a clerk, and I am sure the clerk would find his time fully occupied. He has not only to fill in an enormous number of books, but is expected to be able to drillhis own men and to know his own duties, and the duties of every officer above him. He is expected to do the work of an ordinary drill instructor, and at the same time to know the work of a Brigadier-General. I should be very loth to advise the abandonment of a scheme so lately devised, but I think it could be worked very much better than it is being worked at the present time. It is bristling with imperfections, many of which might be easily remedied. If we are to maintain a military force - and we must do so - and if we do not have a citizen soldiery we must adopt a system of militarism. I have always been a" citizen soldier because I hate militarism, and because I recognise that the only way to check it is for every man in the State to be ready to take his share in the defence of the country when the need for it arises.

Mr Kelly - How would the honorable member man the guns at the forts ?

Mr HUTCHISON - We have men in South Australia thoroughly capable of" manning the guns at the forts. They were sent to South Africa, and earned the eulogy that they were the smartest artillery officers amongst the whole of the artillery engaged in South Africa, including the regulars. I understand that the honorable member wishes to know how we are going to provide a continual look-out and be ready at any moment to man the guns.

Mr Kelly - Hear, hear.

Mr HUTCHISON - I have no objection whatever to our having a small permanent force to man the guns and be on the look-out, but that is all that is necessary. These are so ridiculously few that they will be easily manned. In regard to the HeadQuarters Staff, I maintain that all we require is that the six District Commandants appointed by the Minister for Defence should be an advisory council, that a uniform plan should be drawn up, that each State should have its own administration, and that the administration, equipment, and pay should be uniform.

Mr Deakin - And the drill.

Mr HUTCHISON - And that the drill, of course, should be up to the proper standard. I believe that there would be no difficulty in that. I may say that the imperfectionsto which I am referring are, perhaps, imperfections only from the point of view of the citizen soldier. For a perma- nent force, I believe that the bulk of the regulations would be found to be necessary and workable. I believe that they do work well at the present time in the British Army, but in the case of thosewho have to earn a livelihood, and who do soldiering only in their sparetime, it is impossible for either officers or men to become acquainted with the duties there laid down, let alone carry them out. The number of books to be entered up is appalling. And yet all that is required is a simple statement ofthe duties expected of each District Staff, and that the duties should be uniform. There would then be no difficulty whatever in carrying them out. I do not know that it would not be wise, as I see has been suggested, to have an Inspector-General of Forces, but the senior of the six District Commandants could occupy that position, as well as attend" to his ordinary duties. I am not here to lay down a complete scheme. I admit the difficulty of doing so, but I am giving an outline which I believe practical men could work out, and which would be more effective and far less expensive than the scheme we have at work at the present time.

Sir John Forrest - It is just the same.

Mr HUTCHISON - I wish to tell honorable members what has been done in South Australia, and if I speak of my own State it is because I desire to speak of that of which I have had experience. We had there an active force, the members of which were paid £5 a year for their services. We had also a reserve force, to which the company I belong to is attached, the members of which received £2 10s. a year for their services. I may say that I belong to a Highland Company. Every man who joined' it had to pay£2 entrance money to go towards paying for his Highland uniform. He drew no pay from the company, because the pay to which he was entitled went towards the cost of his uniform, and also to pay the cost of an orderly-room, a secretary, printing, and general expenses. When Major-General Hutton came to Adelaide twelve months ago he gave permission to raise a second company, and led us to believe that we should be placed upon a better footing than we ever had been before - on the same footing as the active force. This would have given great satisfaction, but what do we find ? After raising half the new company - I am speaking of, admittedly, one of the best bodies of men we ever had in South Australia, and the only company that kept up its full strength all the time - how were we treated? After getting a number of recruits, and taking £2 each from them to provide for an expensive uniform, which cost the country nothing, we were suddenly told that we were to be volunteers for the future and should receive no pay at all.

Sir John Forrest - There is the capitation allowance.

Mr HUTCHISON - There is really no capitation allowance now. We receive only 30s. a year for clothing - and we must pay for our khaki uniform out of that - and£1 per man to cover incidental expenses ; every penny of which is required for an orderlyroom, secretary, and printing.

Sir John Forrest - That is what I said : a capitation allowance of £2 10s. is given.

Mr HUTCHISON -No, we previously received £2 10s., besides having a uniform free.

Sir John Forrest - I know that £210s. per man is paid towards expenses.

My-. HUTCHISON. - But the right honorable gentleman must see that we now get £210s. per man less than we got before, because previously we got uniform provided free and £210s. per man in addition.

Sir John Forrest - You are treated in the same way as every other volunteer throughout Australia.

Mir. HUTCHISON- That may be so, and I believe that every other volunteer throughout Australia is dissatisfied. At any rate, the volunteers in Adelaide are dissatisfied. I can tell the Minister for Home Affairs that one of the finest companies, admittedly, in South Australia, was so contented that it has been disbanded. I refer to the company at Port Pirie.

Sir John Forrest - Because they did not wish to be volunteers. They desired to be paid.

Mr HUTCHISON - I am satisfied that Major-General Hutton wished to destroy t he reserve force of South Australia. In giving effect to his Imperial instincts, and that is what I am talking against, he desired to destroy the reserve force, and then when we had not a citizen soldiery we must have a permanent force, and that would suit him better. I can show the Minister for Home Affairs how he could get the cheapest force possible, and yet have a most effective force.

Sir John Forrest - We must make the honorable member Commander-in-Chief.

Mr HUTCHISON - I propose to tell the right honorable gentleman what he did not make me. I can inform him that we have had a company at a strength of over 100, though the required strength of a company is only sixty. We have had as many as 1 20, and have been up to our full strength during the whole of the four and a half years we have been in existence as a company. We have received no new uniforms during that time, although the South Australian Defence Act of 1895 says that we must be provided with new uniforms every three years, and we have made no complaint. Further than that, whilst an officer of the active force got £10 for his uniform, an officer of the reserve force only received £5. What has happener now? Let me tell the right honorable gentleman that the Government has now actually compelled an officer of the reserve force to accept 30s., the same as a private, though he has to provide an expensive uniform.

Mr Watson - They want to confine the commissions to rich men.

Mr Batchelor - No rankers are wanted.

Mr HUTCHISON - In referring to the interjection made by the leader of the Labour Party, I was delighted to see that the Federal Parliament had decided that in promotion preference should be given to men from the ranks, provided that the applicants . for commissions proved that they were capable. But what has been done? If honorable members will look up the regulations, they will find that it will cost a man £50 or £60 to provide himself with what is demanded, and Major-GeneralHutton tells officers that they must getwhat is demanded, though they protest that they are not able to do so. Amongst the smartest officers in the service are civil servants, earning from£310s. to £4. per week, and how can they possibly do this?

Mr Mauger - They are not wanted.

Mr HUTCHISON - They have done worse than that. They have created us volunteers, and though some of the cleverest officers in the Commonwealth belong to the reserve forces, they have been made junior to some of those who have only lately received commissions, and who are not nearly so capable. Simply because they have to be volunteers, some old officers who have worked hard in the service of the States must now work as the juniors of these men.

Mr Crouch - Not under the regulations. The regulations provide for seniority according to the date of the commission.

Mr HUTCHISON - The honorable and learned member does not see that while that is exactly the position with regard to the active force, officers of the volunteer force must rank junior to officers of the active force.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the present Minister for Defence permitting all this?

Mr HUTCHISON - I do not see how the honorable gentleman can possibly deny it, when it is in black and white before him in the regulations.

Mr Crouch - The reserve is different from the volunteer force.

Mr HUTCHISON - I desire to tell the honorable and learned member that there is no difference whatever. There is no difference in the drill. The volunteers were expected to attend fewer drills, but as a matter of fact they put* in more drills than the active force, while in the matter of rank some of the oldest and best officers are junior to those who only lately joined the service. The Minister for Home Affairs talked of making me Commander-in-Chief if 1 could only show the Government a simple scheme. Let me tell the right honor- . able gentleman that' although we had a company that was always up to the full strength we had only one officer, a thorough enthusiast, and one of the most capable men in tHe Defence Force of South Australia at the present time. He has not had a single subaltern to work with him. About two years ago an application was sent in on behalf of another enthusiastic member of our company, a man occupying the highest position as a non-commissioned officer - a colour sergeant - ;and a man of . good social standing, as he was a solicitor, As in four months' time nothing whatever was heard about his _ appointment, he left the force disgusted. My own name, at the desire of the officer commanding the company and the unanimous desire of' the company, was sent in for a commission along with that of another member of the company, and though that was eleven months ago I heard nothing of it until the other day.

Mr Watson - After the honorable member was elected ? They found him out then.

Mr HUTCHISON - Yes, after I was elected, and after I had sent in a letter withdrawing my application because of the keen disappointment I felt that I should have been so treated after doing my utmost for the company, and after having been partially responsible for its formation.

Mr Mauger - The whole system * is rotten.

Mr HUTCHISON - The other applicant for a commission has dropped out, nothing having been heard of his application. Here we have one of the best officers in the service working without a subaltern for twelve months; and though during that time I acted as subaltern I was refused official sanction. Is there not something wrong in the forces when I can point out these undeniable facts? That is not the only cause of discontent. Some men say, further, that they cannot afford to pay for the whole of the uniforms, and that they were induced to join under false pretences, because they were led to believe that they were to be treated exactly as are the active forces. I do not think that it is possible efficiently to work a volunteer force alongside a partially-paid force which is doing precisely the same work, and to have the men contented. It would be better to do away with the volunteer forces altogether, and make the rifle clubs into volunteer forces, giving them a trifle more encouragement. They were promised a good deal of encouragement by the late Commandant in South Australia, Colonel Lyster, but very little has been done. The most outrageous bungling and wasteful expenditure I have ever witnessed have been exhibited in South Australia in connexion with the rifle ranges. Some time ago the Department erected about thirty disappearing targets. They had to dig shelter pits, and make ranges involving the expenditure of a large sum of money. I asked one of the officers - because, of course, being only a non-commissioned officer, I never interfered where- I had no business to do so - if he would try to induce the Commandant to inspect a target of the description of those erected on the rifle range. He did so, rightly deciding to have no other kind of target. A boy can work that target. The man who erected the target is one of the champion shots of the Commonwealth. I refer to Mr. Lake. He took a great deal of trouble in showing his specifications indicating how the targets ought to work. Then he sent in a tender which was only a trifle higher in amount than the lowest tender sent in. But they discovered that Mr. Lake had no patent for his target, and accordingly they took the matter out of his hands, and erected the targets themselves. What has the resultbeen? Instead of being targets which a boy could work, two men had a difficulty in working them at any time. They could have been erected just like the specimen target that was inspected. Mr. Lake has erected one since at Glenelg, and a boy can work it. But two strong nien can hardly work at times some of the targets which were erected in the manner I have described. Sometimes they go out of action altogether, and the shelter pits are so badly constructed that they are very dangerous to occupy. Two men have already been wounded to my knowledge, and it is a common thing to find bullets dropping into the pits beside the markers when there is firing at over 700 yards. I believe it is proposed to spend a further sum of money to put this bungling right. I am sure that if we had not had a staff of the description that we have had - if we had had less militarism and more com.monsense ideas in our Head-Quarters Staff - these bungles would not have been possible. I have felt it to be my duty to put these matters before the House, so that honorable members may know exactly what is going on at the present time. I think- it possible that the Minister for Defence may be able to save further useless expenditure. It is just a question whether the targets to which I have referred" will ever be able to work. I have seen them weighted with bags, and even tins of sand because the men could not pull them down. I have gone down with a team of men to shoot, and we have had to wait five minutes between the different shots before we got them signalled, because the men at work could not pull down the targets. I do not wish to touch upon other debatable subjects which are dealt with in the GovernorGeneral's Speech; because I shall have further opportunities of dealing with them in the subsequent debates. But I do wish to support the claim of the honorable member for Grey in regard to the treatment of some of our Commonwealth public servants, especially in South Australia. I find that some officers entitled to increases have not received them. That they are entitled to them is admitted from the fact that the money necessary for their payment has been placed upon the Estimates this year. I believe that one of the reasons given for their non-payment is in connexion with the re-classification of the service. But I want to point out that any lowering of status would be a breach of faith. It is clearly admitted in the Commonwealth Constitution, in the Public Service Act, and in the Act passed in 1901, that these civil servants have all' their accrued rights preserved to them. It would not be right to re-classify these men when they have a maximum or minimum wage fixed by Act of Parliament - an Act that has to be adhered to according to the Commonwealth Constitution. Surely, in all fairness, they should receive their increases. No Government should attempt to get out of its contracts with its servants. Whether the work which the men are doing is paid for at too high or too -low a rate has nothing to do with the matter.. That is a question that can only be dealt with when those who have accrued rights leave the service and others take their places. With regard to the travelling allowances paid to railway sorters, I must say that those officers appear to me to be badly dealt with. I wonder whether, if the members of the Government were absent from their homes for thirty-two hours at a stretch, they would consider that they were well paid for their keep and accommodation at 2s. 8d. per day. If the men are away on Sundays - and that means fifty-six hours' work in a week - they get 4s. extra. I now- find that, for the ordinary trips, in travelling allowances they received 6s. 5d.' a week, and including Sundays ios'. 8d. Under the State regime they used to receive for. ordinary trips 14s., and, including Sundays, 22s. I am not saying whether the State scale of payment was too high or too low ; I think that the men ought to demonstrate to the Government whether it was a necessity that they should spend the higher amount. But, at any rate, I maintain that 2s. 8d. per .day is altogether too small a sum for travelling allowance.

Mr Deakin - It is the honorable member's State that is always complaining of the expenditure upon the Public Service.

Mr HUTCHISON - And always unreasonably complaining.

Mr Batchelor - The complaints are not made in this House. The Government take more notice of the State Government than of the representatives of the State in this House.

Mr HUTCHISON - Let me tell the Prime Minister that the civil servants in South Australia are in a different position from those of any other State. We have had a " pro. and tem."' list, and a fixed list ; and some of the "pro and tem." officers have been on that list for as long as twenty years. They have been much longer in the service than some of the officers on the fixed list. I was a member of the Royal Commission that inquired into the state of the civil service, and we found that no 'department was more bristling with anomalies than the Post and Telegraph Department. Of course we cannot blame the Commonwealth Government for the anomalies which they found In the service, and there is every reason to reclassify the officers ; but, at the same time, we have to deal fairly with the officers whose rights are safeguarded by the Constitution. More we do riot ask. We ought not to expect men to be out of pocket for doing work for the Commonwealth, and -I am quite sure that if honorable members had to do the work which some of these sorters do. they would not be very well pleased if they received only 2s. 8d. per day for meals and all expenses. I ask honorable members to look into this matter, and to see that justice is done. As regards the position of parties in this House, however -much the ranks of the free-trade party may have been split up, and however much the ranks of the Ministerialists may have been decimated, I feel sure that as far as the members of the Labour, Party are concerned,' nothing will be done but what is for the best interests of the whole Commonwealth.

Mr Webster - I would ask the Prime Minister to consent to an adjournment of the debate at this stage.

Mr Deakin - It is very early, but I do not like to refuse the request of a . new member, particularly on a Tuesday evening, when we know that honorable members from other States are somewhat exhausted by travelling. If we adjourn the debate now 1 trust it will be understood that we do so only out of consideration for their position, and that such a request will not be entertained on any future occasion during the session.,

Debate (on motion by Mr. Webster) adjourned.

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