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Wednesday, 8 June 1904

Mr PAGE (Maranoa) - I have listened intently to the remarks made by the right honorable member for Swan - who objects,

I understand, to be addressed in that wayand also to the speech made by the honorable and learned member for Corio, Captain Crouch, of Albert Park fame. It is said that, so far as military events are concerned, history repeats itself only once in a hundred years, and I would remind the House that when the honorable and learned member for Corio took part in the celebrated Albert Park charge, he repeated an incident which occurred at the charge of Fuentes de Onoro, during the Peninsular War. On that occasion the infantry charged the artillery, and received a very rough handling; but at Albert Park the infantry turned the artillery. The Honorable and learned member complains that I speak of the Militia as " Saturday afternoon soldiers," but I should like to know whether any soldier would attempt such an act as was committed at Albert Park by the honorable member for Corio, Captain Crouch?

Mr Mcwilliams - The Japs, did the same thing a few days ago.

Mr PAGE - I have not read of that incident, but the honorable and learned member for Corio is in good company when he is with the Japs. The right honorable member for Swan desired to know the reason for the decision of the Minister, and I presume that he is satisfied with the explanation that has been given.

Sir John Forrest - No reason has been given.

Mr PAGE - Has not the PostmasterGeneral told the House of an incident which occurred at the Ballarat post office? A number of citizen soldiers employed in that post-office attended for duty one Saturday morning attired in regimentals, their desire being to go on parade as early as possible. Before setting to work they removed their coats, helmets, and military accoutrements, retaining only their military trousers, and as soon as their duties at the office had been discharged they were ready to don their accoutrements and set out for the parade.

Sir John Forrest - That incident does not apply.

Mr PAGE - I will show its application in the course of a few minutes if the right honorable n.ember will permit me to do so. The postmaster at Ballarat objected to these, men wearing their military trousers while on duty, although he was a stickler for titles, and insisted upon being addressed as "Captain." Notwithstand ing .that he was an officer he would not assist these men to attend on parade, and merely because they were only in the ranks. Had they been lieutenants or majors he would have given them every facility to carry out their desire to serve their country. I was never a prouder man than when I wore the military uniform, and I should advise every young man who is able to join a Military Force to do so as soon as possible. I have never regretted my connexion with the Army. There is no disgrace in being a member of the ranks, notwithstanding what may be said by those snobs who put o.i frills and insist upon being addressed by their military titles. There are many good officers in the British Army who do not wish to be given their military titles while in private life. It is only pettifogging men in the Public Service who insist upon being addressed in that way, whilst they are discharging their everyday duties. The right honorable member for Swan has said that these men join the Militia merely because of the titles they secure, and I ant satisfied that his assertion is correct. It seems to me that I might very well give the House on account of an incident that happened in one of the Commonwealth offices. A man once called at the Commonwealth offices, and, on inquiring whether Mr. Miller was in, was informed by a messenger that he did not know " Mr. Miller." The inquirer, on continuing his way along the corridor, asked another messenger where he could find " Mr. Miller," and received the reply, " I suppose you want Colonel Miller, -'Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs?" "That is the man," said the stranger, and he was directed to another messenger, who, he was informed, would conduct him to Colonel Millers room. The stranger then ' remarked to the messenger, "I suppose you are a major?" "No," answered the man, " I am only a captain in the Collingwood cadets." That is an illustration of the absurdity of the right honorable member's contention. Another incident that occurred some years ago in South Australia has also a bearing on this question. When the right honorable member for Adelaide held office as Minister of Defence in South Australia, he served as a corporal under the Under Secretary of the Department, who was in command of the forces. On one occasion, while the forces were in camp, the Under-Secretary sent for " Corporal Kingston," and, on the right honorable member attending at his tent, said to him, " I am addressing you, sir, not as

Corporal Kingston,' but as Mr. Kingston, Premier of South Australia. I desire you to grant me two days additional leave, in order that I may direct further manoeuvres on the part of the forces." Was not that an absurdity ?

Sir John Forrest - In what way?

Mr PAGE - It shows the absurdity of the whole system. When the UnderSecretary simply wished to ask for an extension of leave, why did he not go to, or send for, " Mr. Kingston," instead of sending for " Corporal Kingston." The right honorable member said in the course of his speech \hat the Postmaster-General could not override any law. A couple of years ago, when speaking on the military estimates, the right honorable member for Swan told us that in Western Australia he had spent over , £500,000 without the sanction of Parliament. Is not that rather inconsistent ?

Sir John Forrest - I acknowledged that, in that instance, I broke the law.

Mr PAGE - My fear is not that expressed bv the honorable and learned member for Corio, 'but that we shall have here a system of military domination. I do not wish every second man in the Commonwealth to call himself colonel or captain, as the honorable member for Darwin says is the practice in America. Let each of us stand or fall on his merits. The right honorable member for Swan twitted the members of the Labour Party with calling each other "honorable members," but no one knows better than he does that the parliamentary rule compels us to do so. Only this afternoon Mr. Speaker informed the House that we must address each other by the constituency which we represent.

Sir John Forrest - One could say the " member for so-and-so," instead of the " honorable member for so-and-so."

Mr PAGE - I will call the right honorable gentleman the " member for Swan " in future, if he prefers it. Personally, I do not care what I am called, so long as I am not called late for my " tucker." The right honorable member also spoke of the title of " honorable " which has been conferred upon the members of the first Federal Parliament. Members on this side of the chamber did not desire that title; and we may have an opportunity to prove our sincerity by voting on the subject. I 'do not wish for a colonial distinction. I am as Imperialistic as is the right honorable member; but, although he talks about the Empire and the soldiers of the King, he is willing to accept a merely colonial brand of title, which is not to be used outside the Commonwealth. No one on this side of the chamber wishes to use such a title.

Mr Fowler - It is an insult to us.

Mr O'malley - It is like the cheap edition of a novel - " For circulation in India and Australia only."

Mr PAGE - The right honorable member for Swan told us that he would show how the Postmaster-General had violated the law, but the Postmaster-General was able to prove very clearly that the right honorable member had not read the regulations. If we are to be forced to call these gentlemen by their military titles, by all means let it be known. The honorable member for Corio has compared Australian with Imperial officers. I have seen some Saturday afternoon soldiers in the old country, but I never saw such guvs' of volunteers there as I have seen in Victoria. If they compare with the British soldier, God help the latter. A military man in the old country does not carry his title about with him, and tell every one " I am Captain Soandso," or " Major So-and-so," and I think that the Postmaster-General has done the right thing in nipping in the bud an' objectionable practice which was springing into existence here.

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