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Thursday, 16 November 1905

The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator must not say that.

Senator MATHESON - I was withdrawing the remark, sir, when you intervened, because I recognised directly that I had no right to use it. The Act says what it does not mean, and I leave the Senate to apply an adjective to Acts which say what they do not mean.

Senator Playford - It is said that language was given to us to conceal our thoughts.

Senator MATHESON - Evidently the honorable senator does not suffer from that complaint, for he is one of the most straightforward men I have ever met. The Act of Western Australia was not disallowed by the British Government. Not very long ago proceedings were taken under the Act against certain employers of Chinese, and Mr. Justice Parker did what apparently Judges consider themselves entitled to do nowadays, but what was not done in times gone by : he took it upon himself to criticise the Act. To my mind, it was extremely illadvised for a gentleman sitting in a judicial position to express an opinion as to the

Tightness or wrongness of the legislation of the State which he serves as a servant. He may be in the very highest rank of the Civil Service, but still he is a civil servant who is paid by the State to carry out the wishes of its Legislature.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator forgets that he is one of the six families.

Senator MATHESON - I want to be as cool and collected as possible, and not to prejudice my case by bringing in any outside criticism.

Senator Dobson - Let us have the judicial utterance.

Senator MATHESON - In answer to Senator Dobson, I shall read to the Senate the following cutting from the Argus of the 30th September : -

The Full Court, consisting of Mr. Justice Parker and Mr. Justice McMillan, delivered judgment to-day in connexion willi four appeals from convictions recorded in the police court against Chinese for alleged breaches of the Factories Act. The appellants were charged with having allowed six persons of Chinese or other Asiatic races to work in their laundries longer hours than those allowed by the Act.

Mr. LeMesurier, counsel for the appellants,, contended that the Act was repugnant to existing treaties between the United Kingdom and Asiatic powers.

The appeals were upheld on the ground that the prosecution had failed to prove that the persons employed after hours by the appellants were Chinese -

There we have a specimen of legal subtlety ; there we have men brought into Court with pig-tails and conspicuous for Caucasian features, which you, sir, and I would know perfectly well were Chinese. But the Court and lawyers - gentlemen like Senator Keating - draw a subtle distinction. They say, " You must prove to the Court that these men are Chinese." I can imagine that I hear Senator Keating making that remark.

Senator Keating - I should not call them Caucasians, anyway.

Senator MATHESON - Quite right. No matter what they were called, they were Chinese.

07 5J- 2

Senator Dobson - In a Court it is necessary to prove the most obvious facts.

Senator MATHESON - The honorable senator is right. On this ground the appeals were upheld.

The Judges declined to express an opinion on the constitutional point raised.

Mr. JusticeParker said it seemed to him that this Factories Act was a most extraordinary piece of legislation -

I wish to say, in parenthesis, that he had dealt with the case upon the basis of the legal' subtlety, and that therefore there was no call for him, while sitting on the bench,, to express an opinion about the Act.

Senator Dobson - Except that he knew that the law was in violation of the treaties between the two nations !

Senator MATHESON - Does a State or the Commonwealth pay Judges to express on the bench what I may call afterdinner opinions ? I submit that, while Mr. Justice Parker is perfectly entitled to share with Senator Dobson any opinions on- the question of Chinese tba.t he may think fit, and to express them at any public meeting, in the privacy of his own room, in a park,, on tha Yarra) bank, or anywhere where Senator Dobson and he may care to address the people - even at a meeting of the Ladies' Political League - I submit that the bench is not a proper place from which His Honour should address the country.

Senator Dobson - Thank God that the honorable senator cannot silence the Judges ! When you break a' treaty, violate freedom, and treat men cruelly because they are coloured - the truth should be told-

Senator Playford - Let us hear what the Judge said.

Senator MATHESON - Mr. JusticeParker went on to say - and he was astonished that objection had not been taken to it by the Imperial authorities. It was adapted in parts from Queensland and New Zealand statutes. Apparently the most stringent clause referring to the employment of Chinese and persons Of other Asiatic races were original. For instance, he could find nothing in the Queensland Act analogous to section 23 of the local Act, or to section 46, which absolutely debarred a Chinese or any person of Asiatic races from being employed in a factory unless he were employed there on November rst, 1903.

So much for Mr. Justice Parker. Apparently the result of his remarks, or of some representation made to the Colonial Secretary in England, has been that a communication has been addressed to the State Government; taking exception to these sections. I cannot Quote the exact terms of the -objections, because they have not been made public, but the Premier has admitted that representations have been received from the British Government dealing with the sections, and it is stated in the press that they will be the subject of debate when the State Parliament meets towards the end of this month. But the grounds on which the objections are taken have been set out. The first ground is that it is illadvised and undesirable that ail Asiatics should be grouped together. It has been pointed out on previous occasions that Indians are subjects of the British Empire, that the Japanese are allies of the British, and should not be classed in legislation by one embracing term with savages, such as the people who inhabit Borneo, the Pacific Islands, and even parts of Asia. They in fact claim to be on a higher scale of humanity, and I notice that the Prime Minister,, when speaking from time to time in public, has alluded to them as being very highly intellectual, as a race of very great antiquity - in fact, of f,mr greater antiquity than what we can claim for our race. The second basis of the objection is that we have no right to differentiate in our legislation between white adults and Asiatic adults. That, I fancy, is the point which Senator Mulcahy wished to raise a little while ago. I took some trouble to look into the question of what the British Government have done in the direction of differentiation. My attention was called to a very well-known Act, and that is the one under which the Transvaal Government are importing Chinese slaves into the Transvaal.

Senator Dobson - The honorable senator should not spoil his case by calling these men slaves. They have gone to the Transvaal of their own free will, and under the supervision of Chinese officials. They are no more slaves than he is.

Senator MATHESON - The honorable senator is perfectly entitled .to call them free men, if he thinks that the terms of their servitude or employment justify the use of that word. I prefer to call them slaves, because I have looked most carefull v into the terms of their employment. J. have here the Ordnance under which they are employed.

Senator Dobson - We have seen it in print over and over again.

Senator MATHESON - From my point of view these people are undoubtedly slaves, subject to the lash at the will of their employer, without any pretence of going before a magistrate.

Senator Dobson - What nonsense !

Senator MATHESON - It has been admitted by Ministers of the Crown, in that great body which Senator Dobson is so fond of quoting - the House of Commons - that the lash has been employed most improperly.

Senator Dobson - Quite so.

Senator MATHESON - The honorable senator now says " Quite so," but a minute ago he said "What nonsense."

Senator Dobson - Because the honorable senator said they were slaves, and subject to the lash.

Senator MATHESON - The honorable senator has admitted that they are subject to the lash.

Senator Dobson - No.

Senator O'Keefe - From a mining manager in the Transvaal I have received a letter in which he says distinctly that he has the power to whip these men. It is connived at bv the mine-owners.

Senator MATHESON - Senator Dobsonis a little behind the times. If he would read the files of English' newspapers, and study the proceedings of the British Parliament, he would find not only disgusting and loathsome details of what Chinese have to put up with, but that cruelties and atrocities are admitted to have taken place.

Senator Gray - Atrocities have been committed upon Chinese in Australia, but that does not prove that they are permitted by the law.

Senator MATHESON - The honorable senator will find that I never said that the law gave any one the right to treat the Chinese in that way.

Senator Gray - The honorable senator said they were slaves.

Senator MATHESON - I repeat that the Chinese in the Transvaal h'ave been and are slaves, and have been and are being flogged. They have been and are being put in the cangue and tortured.

Senator Gray - The Kaffirs were illused by the Boers for years.

Senator Croft - Does that justify the ill-usage of the Chinese?

Senator Gray - No, but' there is no proof that the law permits that ill-usage.

Senator MATHESON - I have never said that the law gives any one the right to commit atrocities,, but the custom is such that these men are subject to atrocities, and they have to put up with them. They are slaves under indenture, and they have no power of effective appeal against ill-usage. They must submit, and I, therefore, consider that I am justified in alluding to them as n slaves." When I was interrupted, I wa's going to prove first of all that the British Government have thoroughly recognised the practice of grouping all Asiatics together as non- Europeans, This Transvaal Ordinance, No. 17, of 1904, in the Transvaal Code, was assented to on nth February, 1904, and in the Government Gazette of 14th March, 1904, the Government proclaim His Majesty's pleasure " not to disallow the Ordinance." That is to say, that it received thorough investigation at the hands of the British Government, and His Majesty the King was advised that it was a proper piece of legislation. The Ordinance is one " to regulate the introduction to the Transvaal of unskilled non-European labourers." That is the title, and we have the following definition of " labourer " in the first clause of the Ordinance - " Labourer " means a male person belonging to a non-European race other than one of the races indigenous to Africa South of 12 degrees north of the Equator, introduced into this Colony under contract of service.

There we have a definition far more sweeping than anything in the Western Australian Act, which simply alludes to Chinese and other Asiatics. In this Ordinance we have a reference to " non-Europeans." They are set on one side as distinct from Europeans. Non-Europeans, I need hardly point out, include all the savage inhabitants of the Pacific Ocean, all the inhabitants of Asia, and all the bushmen and savages in the interior of Africa, who are the lowest known specimens of humanity. These are all included in the one category as people of " non-European races." Clause 5 of the Ordinance goes on' to define how these non-European races may be treated -

It shall not be lawful for any labourer to enter be or reside, or to be introduced into this Colony unless he shall previously have entered into the contract referred to in section 8, and until such contract has been registered in the office of the Superintendent.

What is the position? Any labourer of European race may enter the Transvaal under contract ; he is a free agent ; but no adult of a non-European race may enter the Transvaal under any contract, except a contract which ties him down to slavery - the contract which is at the back of this Ordinance. Here we have the British Government distinctly recognising in the first place that all non-European races are to be placed in a different category to the European races, and, in the second place, the complete right of the Transvaal to differentiate in the treatment of these races, and to say that while any European may enter the Transvaal under a contract with the greatest freedom, the adult, if he happens to be a non-European, must enter the Colony under the specific contract which is set out at the end of the Ordinance.

Senator Dobson - The honorable senator is trying to show that this is similar to the Western Australian Factories Act, though one measure deals with alien immigration and the other with residents of a State.

Senator MATHESON - I say that the analogy between the two is complete, although they are not exactly similar. The point I desire to elaborate is that the difference in treatment meted out to the Asiatic under the Transvaal Act is absolutely inhuman when it is compared with the slight difference in treatment dealt out to the Asiatic under the Western Australian Act. Under the Western Australian Act, things are made a little more difficult for the Asiatic than for the white man, in order, if possible, to balance the disparity in their standards of living, and the Asiatic adult is placed for employment on the basis of the European woman or male child.

Senator Mulcahy - Can the honorable senator tell us whether Chinese naturalized in Western Australia are treated on the same lines?

Senator MATHESON - The honorable senator has asked me a question which I am not ^prepared to answer. That is a side issue, and does not affect the broad matter with which I am dealing. As Senator Dobson seems to doubt that these people are slaves, I should like to refer to the draw backs to which they are subject.

Senator Dobson - The honorable senator must first prove that they are slaves.

Senator MATHESON - There is one point which I have overlooked. Mr. Le Mesurier has contended that the Western Australian Act is repugnant to existing treaties between the United Kingdom and Asiatic powers. But what do we find?

The Transvaal Act deliberately overrides the common law of Great Britain, because, as I understand the matter, under the common law of Great Britain every: child born of parents, of no matter what race, in a British Colony or in Great Britain, becomes a British subject, and free.

Senator Dobson - Hear, hear.

Senator MATHESON - Senator Dobsoncheers that statement.

Senator Dobson - Does not the honorable senator see that these men have made a certain contract?

Senator MATHESON - I am not now dealing with the contract. Senator Dobson will probably be surprised to learn that section 33, sub-section 2, of the Transvaal Ordinance provides that any children, born to the labourer in the British Colony of the Transvaal are to be returned to the country of origin of the parents along with the parents at the expiration of the parents' term of service.

Senator Dobson - A very proper provision.

Senator Pearce - What about the kanakas ?

Senator MATHESON - I agree with Senator Dobson that that is a very proper provision ; but what becomes of the boasted British liberty of the subject of which the honorable senator is so proud? What becomes of the inalienable right of any one born on British soil to become a British subject and be as good as ourselves, although he should be as black as one's boot ?

Senator Dobson - The honorable senator is mixing up the whole thing.

Senator MATHESON - Lawyer-like, the honorable senator would like to break down my argument.

Senator Dobson - Is the reference to natural children or to legal children?

Senator MATHESON - The Act does not draw any such distinction, and I do not know that there is such distinction in the Chinese mind.

Senator Dobson - Would the honorable senator have the parents sent back to China, and their infant children left in the Transvaal?

Senator MATHESON - Certainly not. I have said that I quite approve of this provision; but when the Western Australian Act is objected to on the ground that it overrides treaties between Great Britain and Asiatic Powers, I point out that the Transvaal Act overrides the inalienable right of a child bom, on British territory to be a British subject, and free.

Senator Dobson - Because these men, as the honorable senator knows, have entered into a contract.

Senator MATHESON - Then Senator Dobson is prepared to maintain that a parent can contract his child out of a prescriptive right. That is what the honorable senator's interjection means when put into the English language.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator now recognises that thev are slaves.

Senator MATHESON - That is so.

Senator Dobson - I do not do anything of the kind. I am waiting, to near the honorable senator's proof.

Senator MATHESON - Proof of what?

Senator Dobson - Proof that the contract involves slavery. It is a contract of labour under far better terms than the Chinese get in their own country.

Senator MATHESON - I had not intended to allude to the matter, but I shall make the digression for the purpose of convincing the honorable senator. These men are bound to remain at the place where they are employed, unless they are let out on ticket-of- leave. They are only given forty-eight hours' leave, and if they are away beyond that time a reward of £1 per head is offered by the Government to an\ person who will bring them back.

Senator Dobson - Quite right.

Senator Pearce - Yet the honorable senator says they are not slaves.

Senator MATHESON - At the present time one of the most amusing occupations amongst people in Johannesburg is to join in a Chinese drive. I have seen pictures of them m the Morning Leader. The object is to get together so many head of Chinamen, and to secure £i a head for driving them back to the places at which they have been employed. As we go to a football match here, people in Johannesburg, on the Saturday afternoon, go to a "Chinaman drive." In addition to the restrictions to which I have referred, these men are debarred from engaging in any skilled labour. They may not be employed in skilled labour ; they may not own property-

Senator Dobson - That is the Australian law. We will not permit a kanaka to drive a horse or to plant a cabbage.

Senator MATHESON - They cannot be interested in any business ; they are obliged to return to the country of- their origin at the expiration of their term of service; and, as I have already pointed out, they are liable at the will of their employers to be flogged at a moment's notice.

Senator Dobson - Will the honorable senator turn to the schedule, and say where he finds that?

Senator MATHESON - It is not in the schedule.

Senator Dobson - What about the man here who sold his wife the other day for £5. The honorable senator might as well say that is the custom in Australia.

Senator MATHESON - The honorable and learned senator is playing with the matter. 1 sincerely trust that the Federal Government will take this matter up, and, if possible, prevent any unwarrantable interference with Western Australian legislation. Western Australia is a small, and, I gather, in the opinion of most members of the Senate, an unimportant State. It is invariably treated as if its interests were not parallel with the interests of the rest of Australia. I do not think that I stretch the point when I say that that is the feeling about Western Australia - that it is outside the live interests which honorable senators generally feel for the Eastern States.

Senator Best - Is the Premier of Western Australia going tq invoke the assistance of the Commonwealth Government?

Senator MATHESON - I cannot say. I think it is desirable that he should. I hope that the Federal Government will lend all the assistance it can, not only in the interests of Western Australia, but of all Australia, because that is the point. This is the first attack made upon this class of legislation since the Commonwealth was inaugurated.

Senator Playford - We have asked the Premier of Western Australia to send us all the information he has, so that we may know exactly what the Imperial Government asks.

Senator MATHESON - I am glad of that. I hope that the Government will consider this matter as one affecting the whole Commonwealth, and not merely as affecting Western Australia.

Senator Dobson - Suppose that one of the clauses of a treaty between Great Britain and China is violated by the Western Australian law?

Senator MATHESON - That is the point, and that, is the reason why the matter should be dealt with as Federal, and not merely as affecting a State. We do not desire that a precedent shall be set up.

Senator Dobson - Would not the honorable senator be loyal to treaties between the two nations?

Senator MATHESON - It is extremely unlikely that any section of the Western Australian Act infringes any treaty between Great Britain and China.

Senator Dobson - I should say that if the Act provides that a white man may work eight hours, and a Chinaman only seven, it is exceedingly probable that it does violate some clause in a treaty.

Senator MATHESON - The point I have been, trying to make has been lost sight of by Senator Dobson. I ask him to bear in mind that if a treaty is infringed by the Western Australian Act it must be still more infringed by the terms of the Transvaal Labour Ordinance.

Senator Dobson - Chinese enter into a contract willingly, under the advice of their own officers, to. work in the Transvaal. The Ordinance cannot be compared with the Western Australian Act.

Senator MATHESON - I fail to see the point which the honorable senator wishes to make.

Senator Dobson - It is an obvious point, I think.

Senator MATHESON - The point is that these labourers are absolutely 'debarred, as persons of a non-European race, from entering the Transvaal unless thev do sign this agreement.

Senator Dobson - When they sign that contract they are not alien immigrants, but people emigrating to South Africa under contract to earn wages which are double what they can earn in their own country.

Senator MATHESON - Senator Dobson'sargument is that there may be a treaty with China, which gives a Chinese adult the same rights as a European adult in Australia. What I wish to point out is that this Transvaal Ordinance makes a distinct difference between a Chinese and an European. It enables an European to go into the Transvaal under any contract, but no Asiatic may enter the Transvaal under any contract to labour except one which confines him to slavery. Passing from that point, I wish to touch upon two Bills which the Government have had printed, and which have reached my hands as advance copies. Though they are not yet 'before the Senate, I believe I have a perfect right to comment on them.

The PRESIDENT - On that point I am sorry that I misinformed the honorable senator privately. He asked me a question, which I answered without due consideration., But, after considering it, I have come to the conclusion! that, although, on the first reading of- the Appropriation Bill, honorable senators are entitled to discuss matters not relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill, that freedom does not go further than the standing order states. It does not enable us to discuss other questions which by other rules of the Senate we are not entitled to discuss. Can we, or ought we, to discuss the details of a Bill which is before another branch of the Legislature, and which has not yet come up to the Senate? That is the point. I find that that practice would not be allowed in the House of Commons. In May's Parliamentary Practice^ page 311, St is stated -

In like manner on an amendment to a Bill in Committee, which referred to the provisions of a Bill before the Lords, debate on the details of that Bill was not permitted, and a member was, on another occasion, restrained by the Speaker from commenting on the provisions of a Bill which was then before the House of Lords.

So that the rule of the House of Commons is quite clear. That does not bind us. But the question is : Ought we to make a rule to permit the details of a Bill which has not come before the Senate, and may never come before us at all - because it may not be passed by the other House - to be discussed ? I think we ought to wait until the Bills to which Senator Matheson desires to refer come up to the1 Senate. It appears to me that it would be establishing a very inadvisable precedent if we were to permit Bills of that nature to be discussed. I do not say that they are not to be alluded to, but I think that the honorable senator should allude to them only in general terms I do not think that he ought to discuss the details.

Senator Matheson - Cam you, sir, refer me to a standing order which deprives me of the right to do so?

The PRESIDENT - Standing order 402 provides -

No senator shall allude to any debate of the current session in the House of Representatives, or to any measure impending therein.

Certain measures are impending in the House of Representatives. It would be very inadvisable to discuss them at this stage. If the honorable senator were allowed to do so on this occasion, other hon orable senators would claim a similar right on other occasions.

Senator Matheson - If " any measure impending therein " is held to apply to Bills on the notice-paper of the House of Representatives-

The PRESIDENT - Certainly; that is what it means.

Senator Matheson - It seems that I cannot allude to those Bills.

The PRESIDENT - Strictly speaking, the honorable senator cannot allude to them, but I do not wish to tie' him too strictly to the terms of the standing order. I do not think, however, that he ought to allude to the details of the Bills.

Senator MATHESON -I may, however, allude to the principal Act, which is in our statute-book - the Immigration Restriction Act 1 goi ?

The PRESIDENT - Certainly.

Senator MATHESON - In that Act, as honorable senators know, there is a section dealing with contract immigration. It is section 11, and provides that no immigrant shall be allowed to come into the Commonwealth under contract unless certain specific grounds are proved to the satisfaction! of the Minister, which justify him in relaxing the section. I should most strongly deprecate any attempt on the part of the Commonwealth Government to alter that section in such a way as to allow the least scope for any Asiatic contract labour to come into this Commonwealth.

Senator Dobson - That is not proposed.

Senator MATHESON - I have no knowledge, under the President's ruling, of what the Government proposes. My mind is a blank upon that subject, as, no doubt, the honorable sanator's mind is also. It may be advisable to alter the section in such a way as to admit of European labour coming into Australia under contract in certain circumstances. Amendments of the principal Act having that object in view, if properly drafted, would probably secure my adherence. But there must be no possible loop-hole for any Government to be able to admit Asiatic contract labour on any terms whatever. There must be a most absolute and complete prohibition. I can give the Senate a most excellent reason why we should be most determined to keep the Commonwealth free from contract Asiatic labour.

Senator Dobson - The Commonwealth is going to be- kept free of it, I understand.

Senator MATHESON - We do not know what is going to be done. In England repeated attempts have been made to obtain money on the land-grant system for building a railway from Oodnadatta to Port Darwin, and invariably the promoters of that scheme have held out as an inducement to capitalists the promise that the Federal Government .will allow coloured labour to be employed for that purpose. If the least suggestion appears in any Act of the Commonwealth that it is a matter of option with the Government whether those labourers shall be admitted or not, those promoters will take advantage of the section, and later on this is what will happen : We, as a Federal Parliament, will be face to face with the statement that some Minister or other has held out the inducement and hope that these restrictions will be waived. There is no doubt that we might then, be saddled with an obligation in exactly the same way as we were saddled by Sir Edmund Barton with the naval subsidy, and have been saddled time after time with other pieces of legislation, which we would willingly have avoided if we had been left to ourselves, or had been consulted. That is the point on which I desire to lay special stress in connexion with Asiatic labour and interference by the British Government. I am convinced that any amendment of the existing Act, which satisfies members of the Federal Parliament, is bound, by that very fact, to fail to satisfy the requirements of the British Cabinet. That is why we must take the very greatest care in our amending legislation. There is another matter on which I desire to touch very briefly. I have a feeling of very great distrust in regard to an answer which I received some time back to a question I put to the Minister of Defence. I inquired as to the medals for long service which were to be given to members of rifle clubs. I had seen a paragraph in the Melbourne Age of 21st August, 1905, to the effect that the British Government had declined to advise the King to make his warrant governing the issue of auxiliary service long-service medals extend to members of rifle clubs. I asked the Minister whether it was a fact that the application for medals had been refused, and the reply I received was " No." I desire to place on record in Hansard the fact that I took- steps to inquire from a representative of the Age in the- galleries here how it came about that the statement made in his usually reliable paper had met with direct contradiction on the part of the Minister. I was told that the information had been derived personally from Mr. Chapman, PostmasterGeneral in the present Government. I wrote to Mr. Chapman, asking him if he could explain how the mistake could have arisen, and I received several communications' from him, all of a very unsatisfactory nature, so far as my queries were concerned. His final letter to me, dated 21st October, 1905, was as follows: -

In reply to yours of the 20th instant, respecting long service medals for riflemen, I desire to inform you that this is a matter beyond the province of my department. If you wish to obtain any information respecting any action taken, I feel sure Senator Playford, the Minister for Defence, will be pleased to afford same.

I feel I have no redress, and I merely call attention to the fact that, while Mr. Chapman was perfectly prepared to discuss this question with the representative of the Age, and to give information which, so far as one can see, must have been invented, he', on a plea that it. does not come within his Department, withholds information from a fellow member of Parliament. I really think his excuse the most extraordinary I ever heard for declining to give information. I did expect Mr. Chapman to say, either that the Age correspondent had unwittingly taken away a false impression, or that he himself had been mistaken. As the case now stands, I, as a member of Parliament, endeavouring to do my duty, am left without any redress from either party ; and I shall be very much obliged if the Minister of Defence will' investigate the matter further. I am satisfied that no smoke ever arises without there being a certain amount of fire, and I am satisfied also that the answer to my question was based on some subtlety I ""am not quite able to follow. The answer may be 'absolutely true, but I cannot help thinking -that if I had put my question in some other form, though I cannot guess what that form ought to have been,. I should have got a different answer.

Senator Playford - I merely gave the answer which was handed to me by my officers ; I know nothing of the matter personally.

Senator MATHESON - I quite understand that, and I have no doubt that literally the answer was perfectly true. However. I should like to have the matter investigated further, because it seems most extraordinary that we should make such an application to His Majesty's Government, and be met with a rebuff. I now propose to deal/ with a question which will be of more interest to the Minister of Defence, namely, the question of the organization of the Military Forces of the Commonwealth.

Senator Playford - The honorable senator may do that on the second reading.

Senator MATHESON - The Minister is quite right. But if I deal with the matter on the first reading, the Minister will be able to reply to my remarks when he moves the second reading of the Bill.

Senator Playford - I have my second reading speech ready, and' I cannot interlard it with* fresh matter.

Senator MATHESON - I regret to hear from the Minister that he means to ignore my remarks, because he has his whole speech cut and dried. In any case, my object in dealing with the matter now is that the honorable gentleman' may reply, either at the end of the present debate, or when he moves the second reading. I shall then have an opportunity to reply in turn to the Minister when I speak on the second reading, so that I shall get shot for shot with him. instead of only one shot to his two. I should like to recapitulate the views which have been expressed by the Minister of D'efence, and also by the Prime Minister, not in Parliament, but in a pamphlet which' has teen published. First of all. Senator Playford has told us that we have no policy, and that we never had one.

Senator Playford - Not a complete defence policy.

Senator MATHESON - The Minister of Defence has also told us that there is no report.

Senator Playford - What report?

Senator MATHESON - The annual report for which I asked in . August last. I say, on my own authority, that there is absolutely no organization. Mr. Deakin, in his pamphlet, has said that there is no efficiency, and that we have no naval side to our defence, or only a naval side which is so insignificant that it is not worth speaking of. Mr. Deakin has also stated that there is no efficient harbor defence; and. in addition, I may say that the Common wealth is most lamentably supplied with an absolute necessity - rifle ranges..

Senator Dobson - In the Works Appropr ration Bill we passed a few weeks ago we provided for several sites for' rifle ranges.

Senator MATHESON - The honorable senator is quite right, but I am taking rather a different point. I desire to call the attention of Parliament to this matter once and for all, and it will then be for Parliament and the Minister to deal with the question in the future, because it is not one which . can be settled in a hasty manner. The Minister of Defence has been kind enough to allow me to see the reports which Major-General Finn has been making since he was appointed InspectorGeneral ; and I am struck by the fact that Major-General Finn repeatedly mentions that the rifle ranges he visited are simply used by the Commonwealth on sufferance. That is to say, public-spirited land-owners, while only too pleased to allow their land to be used for the time being, are unable to give the clubs any tenure whatever. I regarded the matter of such importance that I went to the barracks, and inquired whether there was any report on the subject of rifle ranges. I ascertained that there is no schedule of the rifle ranges throughout the Commonwealth, and the tenure on which they are held. I do not wish to speak harshly; but I must say that, in my opinion, this is a most disgraceful state of affairs. We have been in existence as a Commonwealth, and have had a Defence Department, for over four years, and that Department should have been thoroughly well aware of the importance to the Commonwealth pf accurate knowledge in this connexion. Yet, in spite of the boasted Chief of Staff who was supposed to look after the Intelligence Department, under Major-General Hutton, and in spite of the boasted Intelligence Department, now under the direction of the Minister of Defence, there is no scheduled knowledge of the rifle ranges throughout the Commonwealth. I hope honorable senators realize the importance to the Commonwealth of acquiring the freehold of these ranges.

Senator Best - Is that necessary, if the rifle clubs have actual occupation ?

Senator Playford - Most of the rifle ranges are used in connexion with clubs, which are formed to-day, and may not be in existence to-morrow.

Senator MATHESON - I am speaking on this matter with some small experience which I gained in England1.

Senator Best - Look at the difference in 'population !

Senator MATHESON - I may be of a sanguine nature, but I look forward to a large increase in the population in Australia. I am not content merely to sit down and look ahead only ten years or so ; I desire to look forward fifty years, or even a hundred years.

Senator Playford - It ismostly in small country places that there is trouble about rifle ranges.

Senator MATHESON - That is quite right. What I complain of is that there is no foresight whatever shown in connexion with these matters.

Senator Best - What does it "matter what the tenure ie., so long as there is a range ?

Senator MATHESON - But the owner may get annoyed or he may die, and then the chances are that the rifle clubs will have to give up occupation.

Senator Best - Then get another site.

Senator MATHESON - But it is not always possible to get another site.

Senator Playford - Then a site may be taken compulsorily.

Senator Dobson - There were at least ten items of expenditure for rifle ranges in the Supply (Works and Buildings) Bill which we recently passed.

Senator MATHESON - That may be so, but I complain that the matter has. not been treated with any system. The Minister of Defence shakes his head, but he must admit that there has been no system.

Senator Playford - There may not be a tabulated statement in the office.

Senator MATHESON - If the Minister goes to his office, and asks his subordinates what rifle ranges there are in Victoria, and on what tenure they are held, he will not be able to get the information until communications have been addressed to the various centres.

Senator Best - If that be so, it is ridiculous.

Senator MATHESON - Senator Playfordwill also admit that that is not a proper state of affairs.

Senator Playford - It ought not to be later on. We cannot have anything perfect at once.

Senator MATHESON - I know that the Minister is doing his best; but; judgingby their interjections, I do not think that honorable senators realize the importance of these ranges being acquired in fee simple by the Commonwealth Go vernment.

Senator Playford - I have never seen the necessity for acquiring the fee-simple of a range which is held by a rifle club from a man, and spending money in that way now, because if he were to stop them from practising, and there was no other suitable site in the neighbourhood, I could take his land.

Senator MATHESON - There is something in what the Minister says.

Senator Playford - Why should we throw money away when a land-owner is quite willing that riflemen should shoot on his property? In all probability he is a member of the rifle club, and willing to give a subscription towards the range.

Senator MATHESON - The Minister misunderstands me. I do not advocate immediate purchase. I only ask that the matter be placed on a business footing, so that as, opportunity offers ranges may be acquired in fee simple.

Senator Playford - We are doing so gradually.

Senator MATHESON - I think the Minister will admit that rifle shooting is going to be one of the most important branches in the education of our Defence Force. It is an absolute essential, and unless we have ranges it cannot be carried on. Take the case of the guns for the Field Artillery, which have recently been ordered. In the Commonwealth there is no range on which they can be used in practice.

Senator Playford - It would require an enormous sum of money to get such ranges, because they must be ten miles long, and so many miles broad.

Senator MATHESON - That is a point on which I differ from the Minister, because there is no necessity for these ranges to be in the more desirable parts of Australia. In England the authorities choose wild districts - on heath and mountain - which have very little intrinsic value for the purposes of cultivation. Surely in Australia, with its enormous tracts of third or fourth or fifth' class land, which cannot be profitably used for cultivation, it should be much easier to get vast areas for practically a bagatelle.

Senator Playford - Not a bagatelle, because it is all purchased land, unless you go a long way back.

Senator MATHESON -It may be purchased land, but fits value is small unless it is fit for cultivation. I would impress upon the Minister that theartil- leryissentout for its training for a period of a week or so, and can be sent to any distance by train. The distance of| a range from the capital is not material to the question at all. The range may be in any wild part of Victoria or New South Wales or Western. Australia or Queensland. I now come to the question of policy. How is it possible to imagine any' policy in our military defence system, so long as the Cabinet is hopelessly divided on the question as it is at present? That is really why we have had no policy so far. Every Government has contained members who were biased in favour of the Imperialistic sentiment, and members who were just as strongly biased in favour of the Australian sentiment. Under these circumstances defence will probably be shelved until we get a Government which is wholly Australian in spirit. How can we expect Mr. Ewing, or Sir John Forrest, to concur in their military policy with Mr. Deakin or Senator Playford? What do we know about Sir John Forrest? This evening, Senator Higgs quoted the point of view from which Sir John Forrest felt bound to speak of Australia and Australian sentiment, when he left this Continent. He pointed out that in addressing a large and influential meeting in London, Sir John Forrest told his audience that he did not care a snap of his fingers for an opinion of Australians on matters of defence. It was on this very matter of defence that he made use of these expressions. What did1 he point out ? He drew up a memorandum, in which he pointed out that with her population, the amount which Australia should contribute to the Naval Defence of the Empire might run into millions.

Senator Dobson - He mav have been arguing that according to population and trade, we ought to contribute ^3,000^000 or ,£4,000,000, and so we ought.

Senator MATHESON - The honorable senator, I know, agrees with Sir John Forrest, and it is a great pity that he, Sir John Forrest, and Mr. Ewing cannot form a party of their own, quite apart from those other gentlemen who are Australians?

Senator Stewart - And1 get a Parliament of their own ?

Senator MATHESON - I do not care whether they get a Parliament of their own. They may sit anywhere they like, a contemptible minority, as they would be in this House of Australians.

Senator Dobson - Is the honorable senator in order, sir, in talking of myself and two other members of this Parliament as a " contemptible minority. ' '

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- If Senator Dobson takes exception to the expression, I hope that it will be withdrawn by Senator Matheson.

Senator MATHESON - With pleasure, sir. I did not use the word1 contemptible in the sense that I had contempt for the three gentlemen, but in the sense that they are a negligible minority.

Senator Dobson - Cannot the honorable senator grasp the fact that according to population and revenue our contribution would, on that basis, >run into ^3,000,000 or ,£4,000,000 ?

Senator MATHESON - There are no possible figures that Senator Dobson can adduce in connexion with what he is pleased to call the British Empire, which can justify that conclusion. If the population of the so-called British Empire be taken into account, our proportion, as Australians, would, according to the last statistics, amount to about ,£280,000.

Senator Dobson - The honorable senator is counting in 300,000,000 black men.

Senator MATHESON - To please Senator Dobson, the black men are to be admitted to Australia on equal terms with white men, but when we attempt to count them with white men we are told that we cannot expect these poor inferior races to contribute. Senator Dobson must take his choice. He cannot blow hot on one side and blow cold on the other.

Senator Dobson - Surely poor devils who are not allowed! to work cannot be counted for taxation purposes?

Senator MATHESON - For fear any doubt should exist as to Mr. E wing's attitude in this matter, I would refer honorable senators to a most remarkable letter which appeared from his pen in the Argus of 8th April, 1903, and in which, covering nearly two columns, he dealt most scathingly with the project of an Australian Navy. He said that such a thing was impossible, and, like Senator Dobson, he went into a calculation. They appear to have shared the same actuary or statistician between them. Using almost the words of Senator Dobson, Mr. Ewing wrote: -

It is a simple proportion sum that, if 41,000,000 people provide ^35,000,000 a year, 4,000,000, if they belong to the same nation, and have all the benefits therefrom accruing^ and the same responsibilities, should provide ^3,500,000 ; the- population being one-tenth, the obligation should be one-tenth. . . . The inhabitants of Australia can find no excuse on the score of comparative poverty, for the average wealth per head in the United Kingdom is ^'247 per inhabitant; that set down for Australia being ^'243 per inhabitant.

How is it possible for the Commonwealth ever to have a defence policy so long as those two gentlemen are retained in the Cabinet? 1 put it to my honorable friends who are deluded enough to. sit behind the Government that they are primarily responsible to the whole of Australia for the fact that we have no defence policy to-day. Every one of these honorable gentlemen who are subordinating their convictions of what is right and what is wrong to a desire to keep in office a Government ruled by Mr. Deakin, supported by Senator Playford and Senator Keating, are doing a criminal injustice to the whole of Australia. Senator Playford has been in office since 6th July, that is, for nearly four months, and yet he has candidly admitted that he has no policy of defence to enunciate.

Senator Guthrie - He has not had time to develop a policy.

Senator MATHESON - It is not a question of time, but a question of the absolute impossibility of getting the Cabinet to agree on any policy of defence.

Senator Guthrie - He says that he has not had time to submit a policy to the Cabinet.

Senator MATHESON - What would be the good of Senator Playford submitting a policy for the initiation, even on a small scale, of an Australian Navy to a Cabinet which contains either Sir John Forrest or Mr. Ewing? The Minister shakes his head, because he knows that it is absolutely hopeless, and I quite agree with him.

Senator Playford - If . the honorable senator had waited until he had heard my speech, he would not say what he is saying. That is the unfortunate result of discussing on the first reading of the Bill questions which could be debated much better at the next stage, and after I had spoken.

Senator MATHESON - It is with no desire to be pessimistic on these matters that I am speaking in this way. I feel it my duty to call attention to the absolute impossibility of the members of the Cabinet ever agreeing on matters of Defence so long as they adhere to the opinions which they have expressed in public and not withdrawn. Sir John Forrest was in power up to 23rd September. 1903, that is for over two years, and yet he never had the ability to frame a defence policy. Mr. Chapman was in power from 24th September to 26th April, 1904, and during that time he made no attempt to evolve a policy. Senator Dawson was in power from 27th April to 17th August, 1904. .To my certain knowledge, he did his best to" frame a policy, but, unfortunately, he fell foul of the General Officer Commanding over a question of revolvers or pistols, and I am afraid that that incident materiallyinterfered with the evolution of a defence policy. Then we have had Mr. McCay as Minister of Defence.

Senator Dobson - What about Senator Drake?

Senator MATHESON - I thought that Senator Drake was Minister of Defence, but I could not find his name when I searched Hansard.

Senator Drake - I was Minister of Defence for six or seven weeks.

Senator MATHESON - I am afraid that I did not strike the Hansard for that period.

Senator Drake - Hansard was not the proper book in which to look.

Senator MATHESON - That is the book to which I go for everything which is accurate. I prefer Hansard to any other handbook. In six weeks, of course, Senator Drake could not be expected to form a defence policy. Then we had Mr. McCay,

Senator Dobson - " Lt.-Col. McCay."

Senator MATHESON - For parliamentary purposes, "Mr. McCay," "Lt.-Col." is all very well on the field of battle, or at a review. Just as I should say " Senator Playford " rather than " the Minister of Defence," so I say " Mr. McCay," and I mean no discourtesy bv leaving out the " Lt.-Col." I believe "that Mr. McCay did evolve a defence policy, which he was about to place before Parliament, but the Government of which Senator Playford is a member came into power before he did so.

Senator Playford - I could not find it. It was not in the pigeon-hole.

Senator Drake - The honorable senator found a policy with respect to the cadets.

Senator Playford - -That is a very small branch of the Defence Force:

Senator MATHESON - I suppose that it was not Mr. McCay's intention that Senator Playford should plough with his heifer, and he., therefore, very properly, took his policy away. That brings us to the present day. Senator Playford seems pleased, but the matter is one of grave concern to the

Commonwealth. All these years have gone by without any defence policy being proposed. The next question is with reference to the report on the Defence Force. On the 31st August last I called the Minister's attention to the fact that M ajorGeneral Hutton had been in the habit of providing an annual report, which was presented in May or June, and I asked whether he would take steps to have a report framed up to date by those in authority. I am not certain what particular office or board is now in authority; but I presume there is some responsible authority who should furnish a report. The honorable senator promised to have the matter looked into. Three months passed, and I asked him how the report was progressing. His reply was that he. was not quite sure whether a report was being prepared at the present time; and he thought he had given instructions that a report should be compiled. The honorable senator was not only: in doubt as to whether he had given instructions, but also as to whether if any had been given his subordinates intended to carry them out. Tomorrow we shall commence to discuss the Appropriation Bill itself, and we shall have no report on the Defence Force before us. How is it possible for us to discuss the Defence Estimates intelligently without such a report?

Senator Playford - If the honorable senator had a report, he would not be much wiser. He was not much wiser when he had Major-General Hutton's reports.

Senator MATHESON - Major-General Hutton's reports were very valuable, because they supplied us with lots of matter to talk about. That, after all, is the main object in the debate on an Appropriation Bill, because we invariably pass the items of the Estimates as they stand. The question is how long the system of drift is going to be allowed to continue. I understand from Senator Playford that he proposes to make an interesting statement this evening or to-morrow morning.

Senator Playford - I wished to give the reporters a chance, and I hoped that we should adjourn at 10 o'clock, after passing the first reading of the Bill.

Senator MATHESON - If I had known that I should have been prepared to move the adjournment of the debate.

Senator Playford - I wish to make my speech in moving the second reading tomorrow.

Senator MATHESON - If the honorable senator desires to adjourn now, I am prepared to ask the leave of the Senate to continue my remarks to-morrow.

Senator Playford - That will not suit me. I wish to have the first reading, passed to-night.

Senator Dobson - The honorable senator cannot expect that.

Senator O'Keefe - When Senator Matheson concludes his speech, I have something to say which can only be said on the first reading.

Senator Playford - Then we must go on until 11 o'clock.

Senator MATHESON - Honorable senators will acquit me of " stone-walling." but I have material for a speech which will occupy another hour. I desire now to touch upon the existing organization of tlie Military Forces. In his report, of 7th April, 1902, Major-General Hutton was perfectly candid as to the objects he had in view. He advocated the constitution of a Defence Force able to operate in any part of the world. Its principal feature was to te a mobile field force capable of undertaking military operations in whatever part of the world it might be the desire of Australia to employ it. It was to consist of six brigades of Light Horse and three brigades of Infantry, with a proper proportion of Artillery. He said -

The large proportion of mounted troops to infantry will necessitate a partial reconstruction of infantry into mounted troops. This change provides exactly that description of fighting man which has proved so valuable in South Africa, and which without doubt would constitute a most powerful if not a controlling factor in any campaign in which Australian troops might be engaged.

With this fixed object in view, MajorGeneral Hutton drafted his complete plan of organization which may be gathered by any person who cares to read the report. However, Parliament, as honorable senators will, no doubt; recollect, became alarmed, and protested against what appeared to them to be the exteremely lavish expenditure proposed under the scheme, and the formation of an organization which was openly and avowedly to be used for foreign raids. The Minister of Defence at the time was Sir John Forrest. The right honorable gentleman was anxious to leave Australia to attend certain festivities in England, and in the freest waypossible he gave assurances to Parliament, that nothing of the sort was contemplated, and that, so far as he could make it so, the Defence organization should be one solely adapted for the defence of the Commonwealth and of the various States, in accordance with the terms of the Constitution. I desire to show how little Sir John Forrest adhered to his pledges, or how little Major-General Hutton allowed himself to be influenced by the pledges which Sir John Forrest gave to Parliament. The proposed new establishment for 1902 - the original establishment for making the raids which Major-General Hutton advocated - was to consist of six brigades of Light Horse, 10,458 men ; three brigades of Infantry, 12,120 men; and Artillery, 2,756 men; making 25,334 men in all. By comparing the military establishment to-day with that which Major-General Hutton advocated before his scheme came before Parliament we can judge how far Sir John Forrest carried out his pledges. . This is the establishment on a war footing to-day - Light Horse, 12,996 men; Infantry, 14,733 men; making in all 27,729 men. That is to say, the field force to-day on a war. footing is abso- lutely stronger by 2,395men than that proposed under Major-General Hutton's original scheme. That field force is the force which Major-General Hutton intended for the purpose of making raids in foreign countries. Now we turn to the troops for garrison purposes. It was never intended that they should leave Australia, but that they should be employed for the defence of Brisbane. Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Albany, and, I believe, Hobart. In 1902 Major-General Hutton provided for 15,470 troops for garrison purposes. In 1904, according to the latest figures I can get, the war establishment provides for only 11,752 garrison troops, an absolute shrinkage in the number of that class of troops for which we have the greatest need, ifwe have need for any at all, of 3,718 men. So much for Ministerial responsibility and the control exercised by Ministers over the Defence Department. Yet that Ministerial responsibility and control is what was thrown at my head time after time when I was advocating the appointment of a Parliamentary Committee to deal with these military matters. I was told that such a proposal would override Ministerial responsibility. What Ministerial responsibility is there? Here we have these pledges givenbysirJohn Forrest to Parliament, and repeated by successive Ministers of Defence, and yet when we come to analyze the figures we find; that the pledges have been no more than empty breath blown across the Legislative Chamber in order to get theDefence Estimates passed. That was the groundwork upon which the scheme was to be built up. We have now to deal with what would happen in time of war. The Defence Act provides that the Governor-General maydeclare that a state of war exists, and when that proclamation has been issued, the troops must forthwith be mobilized. That is to say, the organization is made available for purposes of war by bringing together the various scattered units, and making them into a cohesive force. This is what happens,; and it is really most interesting. The sixth light horse brigade consists of two regiments in South Australia, one regiment in Western Australia, a battery of South Australian field artillery, three South Australian doctors, one Western Australian doctor, fifteen men of the South Australian field hospital. All these men have to be massed together in one brigade to be an effective unit, and as the head-quarters of the brigade happen to be in Adelaide what happens is that Western Australia, when mobilization is ordered, becomes deprived of her only regiment of light horse, which has to take ship and go round to Adelaide.

Senator Playford - I think there is one case in which a Western Australian unit, a Queensland unit, and a South Australian unit, are united to make up a brigade.

Senator MATHESON - It has even struck the Minister of Defence that this arrangement is peculiar. Yet it is an arrangement on the top of which successive Ministers of Defence have sat without finding out the absurdity of it. Not one of the Ministers of Defence, until the present Minister came into office, was aware of the ridiculousness of it. We come to one infantry brigade. It consists, of a regiment from Western Australia, a regiment from South Australia, a regiment from Queensland, and a regiment from Tasmania. All hese regiments have to be mobilized and brought together in one State to become an effective military unit under one brigadiergeneral. In addition, there is one battery of artillery from Queensland, one from West- ern Australia, one from Tasmania, two Queensland doctors, one South Australian doctor, one Western Australian doctor, and one Tasmanian doctor ; forty men of the Queensland field hospital, and fifteen from

South) Australia. All these men have to be brought together and massed in one brigade to make up an effective military organization. And this is the great scheme of defence that was elaborated by MajorGeneral Hutton ! Western, Australia has to send one regiment of infantry, and one battery of artillery all the way round the coast to Brisbane, because Brisbane happens to be the head-quarters of the brigade; and her mounted infantry go to South Australia, so that Western Australia is left for defensive purposes with 804 men in time of war. Can any one conceive of a more ridiculous arrangement on the face of it than that which is solemnly set out in a beautiful red book which is called the Aust,alien Army List? But what happens to Tasmania? Honorable, senators from that State may be prepared for most harrowing revelations. Poor little Tasmania has my hearty sympathy in her unfortunate plight. She has to send a regiment of light horse to Victoria, a regiment of volunteers to Queensland, and a battery of field artillery to the same State. She is left with 698 men for the complete protection of Hobart, Launceston, Burnie, and all those other charming health resorts which Senator Dobson has taken under his .special patronage. Western Australia is left with no engineers, and no column of army service corps at all !

Senator Playford - It is a funny affair !

Senator MATHESON - If the Minister of Defence lived in Western Australia he would not think it very funny. His State is all right !

Senator Playford - We have the headquarters of the brigade in South Australia !

Senator MATHESON - Just consider the relative positions in which this magnificent scheme of organization will leave the different States. Here, we have Queensland with 1,671 garrison troops of her own, and with 870 light horse of her own. She retains those troops within her own borders. But she! receives from the other poor little States that cannot afford to part with their men 633 troops to contribute to her defence - troops for which, under this ridiculous per capita basis, Western Australia has been paying.

Senator Playford - The Military Forces are not paid for on a per capita basis.

Senator MATHESON - It works out on a per capita basis in some respects, and very much to the detriment of Western Australia and Tasmania, as I shall show. I have the figures here.

Senator Playford - Some portion of the military expenditure is on a per capita basis, but the greater portion is not. New works are on a per capita basis, and Western Australia gets the greater share by that arrangement.

Senator MATHESON - Queensland in this way gets a force in time of war of 3,174 men. I have already shown what force Western Australia will retain - 804 men; whilst Tasmania retains 698. Both of those States are denuded of their troops, in order that Queensland may have a couple of brigades to defend her. The summary is as follows: - When all these brigades are constituted or mobilized for War, New South Wales 'has 7,709 troops, light horse, infantry, and garrison ; Victoria has 6,075 troops; Queensland, 4,777-; South Australia, 1,747 ; Western Australia, 804; and Tasmania, 698. I submit to the Minister that the sooner he pays attention to this question of brigades, and the sooner he deals with' the* question of the general defence organization of the country, and arranges matters in such a way that the troops in each district are; available for the defence of that district without being carried round the whole of the coast of Australia, in order that their services may be effective,, the sooner we are likely- to get a force which mav be relied upon in time of war. The unfairness of the method by which the defence question is dealt with has been shown in some figures which I have worked out. The average cost per head of our Defence Forces is £22 16s. 8d.

Senator Playford - That entirely depends upon what the honorable senator means by cost. As I have it worked out, the highest cost is ^£17 per head.

Senator MATHESON - I cam give the exact figures. I like to 'be perfectly correct in these matters. They are contained in a pamphlet dated 29th August, 1905. issued bv the Department of Defence, and called Memorandum by the Minister of State for Defence on the Estimates of the Defence Department. It is a memorandum which emanated from the honorable senator's own office. In Appendix C of the pamphlet he will find that an estimate of the strength of the Forces for 1905-6 is given for each State. On another page, Appendix A., he will find the expenditure for each State for 1904-5. I have arrived at the figure which I have mentioned by dividing the estimate of expenditure in each State for that year by. the estimated number of inert on the roll. They are official figures, and I have merely applied simple division.

Senator Playford - I asked my officers, to give me a statement showing what a volunteer would cost, and what a militiaman, an engineer, and a permanent man would cost per annum. The estimate in no case exceeded ^17. even f°r the permanent men. An ordinary militiaman costs not more than £,12 or

Senator MATHESON - I am sorry if the figures given in the official pamphlet are wrong. The estimate for 1905-6 shows that there were 23,750 men on the rolls, and that the total expenditure was £542,372. If the Minister, before he goes to bed to-night, will work out a little sum in simple division over his supper, he will find that it comes to ,£22 16s. 8d. per man per annum. Now, let me show the cost in each State. New South Wales receives an expenditure of £20 16s. 3d. per head; Victoria receives an expenditure of £24 19s. 6d. per head ; Queensland receives an expenditure of £21 lis. 6d. per head ; South Australia receives an expenditure of £21 3s. rod', per head ; poor Western Australia only receives £16 19s. 3d. per head ; and Tasmania, worse off still, only receives £12 15s. per head.

Senator Playford - And she grumbles, about paying that?

Senator MATHESON - It is« not the injustice to Tasmania that I am complaining about, but the injustice to the whole Commonwealth. These are Commonwealth Forces. If you starve the Forces in one State, you are depriving the whole of the States of efficient defence. I want to get the Senate to look at this matter from the point of view of Australia, not of any particular State. The States boundaries were swept away as far as defences are concerned when the Commonwealth took over the Defence Department. It is important that we should look at these things, not as they affect State interests, but as they affect the problem of defence for Australia generally.

Senator Playford - I thought the honorable senator was trying to show that certain States were being badly treated.

Senator MATHESON -I say that the defence of Western Australia and Tasmania is being starved ; but, nevertheless, I am not looking at it from a State point of view. The point is. that the Defence Forces are being starved, and that is the only way in which I can get figures or proof to put the matter before the Senate. This is no new thing. Major-General Hutton himself alluded to it. fie has complained bitterly of the way in which Ministers treated Western Australia and Tasmania. The following extract is from a speech delivered by MajorGeneral Hutton, at Fremantle, on the 2nd August, 1904, as reported in the West Australian : -

He most sincerely sympathized with the military forces of Western Australia in that financial distress which had existed, and had prevented the State from being placed on the same footing as the larger. States. He had endeavoured, perhaps to a greater extent than became him, as General'' Officer Commanding, to urge the claims of Western Australia and Tasmania to be placed on exactly the same basis as the four larger States. He yet hoped that before he left Australia he would be successful in that matter.

We see from the Estimates that MajorGeneral' Hutton was not successful. It has been recognised from the first that the defences in the two States mentioned are being starved. I remember that not so many years ago, on returning to Western Australis., I found to my amazement that, under the regime of the great Sir John Forrest - the saviour, the inventor, the discoverer of Western Australia - there were only five effective men in the forts at Albany, on the average, over a week. When I called attention to the fact in the press, men were actually rushed on board a steamer at Queenscliff, and sent to Albany to fill up the gaps. I appeal to the Minister of Defence to correct those deficiencies to the best of his ability; at all events, he cannot now say that his attention has not been called to the matter. I believe and trust that when he moves- the second reading he will, although he has prepared his speech, deal to some extent with the points I have raised. I should like to refer to the Naval Agreement. I am most anxious that the Government should remember that New Zealand is the partner of Australia in this agreement with the British Government, and should be placed in possession of all the information which we have in regard to the strength of the squadron it is proposed to send out. The Minister has received from Captain Creswell a report which he is treating as confidential, and which he considers he should not reveal to the Senate. The honorable gentleman has certainly told us that, to a certain extent, the report is unsatisfactory ; in fact, he has said that, owing to Captain Greswell's report, the Government do not propose to proceed with the Naval Agreement Act Amendment Bill, which was promised at the commencement of the session, until they receive from London replies to the points which have been raised. I appeal to the honorable gentleman to place that report in the hands of the Government of New Zealand. We were informed by the Minister yesterday that he intended to consult with the Prime Minister on the point, and I emphasize the essential necessity for letting our partner know all that we know. In New Zealand there appears to have been passed an Act to enable the Government to confirm an amended agreement with Great Britain, but in New Zealand the Government are "going blind," not having had the advantage of reports of experts;, and no doubt that Government will, in all good faith, ratify some agreement which is not of advantage' to Australasia at large. The Commonwealth will then be left in the invidious position of standing alone, and may appear to the British public to be raising factious objection to a proposal which New Zealand has freely accepted. We should take every step to avoid being placed in thatposition, and I hope that the Minister,, when he speaks to-morrow-

Senator Playford - I shall certainly not occupy so much time as the honorable senator has occupied to-night.

Senator MATHESON -The Minister of Defence is probably not so enthusiastic in the matter as I am, and he is overwhelmed with the difficulties encountered in the administration of his Department.

Senator Playford - Difficulties which the honorable senator has not to meet.

Senator MATHESON - I am free from all those difficulties and responsibilities, and I have not two wretched colleagues - I withdraw the word "wretched" - clinging like an octopus roundmy throat. If we relied on the Minister of Defence alone, or on the Prime Minister, we should doubtless get a satisfactory defence policy. But I return to the point with which I began my address; I repeat that it will be. absolutely impossible to get an efficient administration of the Defence Department so long as the Government includes Sir John Forrest and Mr. Swing.

Debate (on motion by Senator O'Keefe) adjourned.

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