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Thursday, 9 November 1905

Senator PLAYFORD - I have never said that I would bring a defence policy before the Senate this session, and I cannot be said to have abandoned an intention which I have not expressed. I shall make a statement to the Senate.

Senator Lt Col Gould - I think that it arose out of a statement made by a colleague of the Minister.

Senator PLAYFORD - Yes ; my colleague was under a misapprehension at the time. I told the Senate only a very short time ago that the problem of the defences of the Commonwealth was one which I was not prepared to face on so short a notice, but that I would take the opportunity of making a statement on the question of the defences and giving all the information I possibly could. I am not in a position to submit a special scheme of defence this, session, but I hope to be able, during the recess, to look into the subject with sufficient care, todecide upon a policy which I shall recommend for adoption to my colleagues, and with their consent submit it to Parliament next session. At the present time we have no policy of any sort; we never had one.

Senator MATHESON - Arising out of the answer, I wish to remind the Minister of Defence that he promised the Senate a report from either the Army Board or the Council of Defence, and to , ask him whether an annual report, such as Major-General Hutton used to submit prior to the consideration of the Estimates, is being prepared by either of those two bodies?

Senator PLAYFORD - I am not quite sure whether a report is being prepared at the present time. I hare, I think, given an instruction for a yearly report to be compiler!.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Col. GOULD. -I should like to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether he has formed any opinion as to the value or efficacy of the change which has been made in the administration ot the Defence Forces by substituting a Council of Defence for a General Officer Commanding?

Senator PLAYFORD - I have not had sufficient experience of the present system to be able to say whether it is preferable to the former one. I know that there are Boards in Great Britain and the United States. That wonderful little nation, Japan, never appoints a Commander-in-Chief except in time of war, and manages by boards. So far I have been able to work with the boards in a highly satisfactory manner.

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