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Wednesday, 29 November 1905

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) - I should like some information regarding the item of £579 set down as a contribution towards the maintenance of a telegraph station at Goode Island, and cable communication with the Prince of Wales group of Islands, Torres Straits. A short time ago it was reported that the Colonial Defence Committee had recommended a fortification at Goode Island. I should like to know from the Minister whether it has been finally decided to fortify Goode Island, and whether the vote to which I have referred is asked for in order to give effect to that decision?

Senator PLAYFORD(South AustraliaMinister of Defence). - No. A similar vote was passed last year, before the suggestion with respect to the fortification of Goode Island was made. Last year we voted £838 for this purpose. The provision is necessary for the maintenance of the cable between the groups of islands in Torres' Straits, and particularly in order that Thursday Island may be in cable communication with the mainland in time of war. The vote has nothing to do with the fortification of Goode Island. On that subject we have only some memoranda forwarded by the Colonial Defence Committee and a report by an officer who was asked to investigate the matter. Unfortunately, it has been found that the port at Thursday Island is silting up with very great rapidity. It is a question whether it would not be better to have the coaling station and fortifications at Goode Island rather than at Thursday Island ; and if that is the case, of course an unfortunate mistake was made in the selection of Thursday Island in the first instance. No definite request has been made in connexion with the matter, and at the present time there is no necessity for immediate action.

Senator STEWART(Queensland). - I wish again to direct the attention of the Committee to the amount spent on the paid forces and their number, and the amount spent on the Volunteer Forces and their number. In the Permanent Forces in New South Wales we have 505 nien, who mop up £70,776; 5,127 militia, or partiallypaid men, who cost us £45,726 ; and 2,490 volunteers, who cost £6,357. The volunteers cost a little over £2 per head, the militia, or partially-paid forces, £9 per head, and the Permanent Forces £150 per head. I do not know whether honorable senators have given this aspect of the question the consideration which it deserves, but it appears to me that it would be very much better for the Commonwealth if we disbanded the militia and partially-paid forces and spent the £51,000 now spent on those forces and on the Volunteer Forces entirely on the volunteers. We should then have a verv much larger force, and, in my opinion, it would be as efficient as the present force. The number of men at the service of the Commonwealth might be doubled, or more than doubled, for the same money, and that ought to have some influence with the members of the Committee. If honorable senators are determined on continuing militia, or partially-paid forces, I shall be compelled to move a reduction on the amount set down for the Volunteer Forces, with the object of getting an expression of opinion as to whether honorable senators desire that those forces shall be continued. My own opinion is that we cannot have the two forces running side by side successfully. Men who desire to be paid will not join the volunteers, but very many men would certainly join the volunteers if there were no paid branch of the service. They are not willing to volunteer while there is a paid branch. They very reasonably say : " Why should we give our services for nothing when these other men are paid?" It is an absolute waste of money to have these two arms of the service maintained side by side. If the Committee determines to keep the militia, or partially-paid force, they should disband the volunteers, and spend all the money available on the rifle clubs and cadet corps. I move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote, New South Wales, "Volunteer Forces, ^6,357," by the sum of £1.

The CHAIRMAN - Honorable senators will notice that the summary of the Military Forces of New South Wales covers divisions extending over twenty-three pages of the schedule. I point out that honorable sen ator are at liberty to test any particular question on the summary, and if that is acceptable I will put the summary for each State to the Committee as one vote. That will save a very great deal of time, and if any honorable senator should desire to deal with any particular item I shall be quite willing to put that item to the Committee. If there is no prior request I propose now to put Senator Stewart's request.

Senator O'KEEFE(Tasmania).- I have no wish to occupy time unnecessarily, but I think that "Senator Stewart's arguments should nol go unsupported. They are entirely in accord with what I said this afternoon.

Senator Stewart - Then why did not the honorable senator support me?

Senator O'KEEFE - I propose to support the honorable senator now, but I do not think he took the right step before. Senator Stewart has placed his finger on the weak spot in our defence system. He has said that we should have a militia or partiallypaid force at the cost of £7 or £8 per head, or a volunteer force at a cost of less than half that amount. If the request moved is supported, Ministers and honor- able members in another place may take it as an' indication of the feeling of the Committee that up to the present time the authorities of the Defence Department, in administering our land forces, have not paid sufficient attention to rifle shooting, and have paid too mud] attention to drill. There can be no doubt that the money paid to the members of the militia, or partially-paid forces, is an incentive to many to join those forces, and it is looked upon as a wellearned return for the work they put in at drill. I believe that a large proportion of the members of the militia or partiallypaid forces who receive or to a year, and earn it, could not hit a man at 200 or 300 yards distant. That is well known to those in charge of our land forces.

Senator Clemons - Does it follow that because a man is in the militia he cannot shoot?

Senator O'KEEFE - No ; but if the money which is now spent in drilling the militia forces were devoted to training them in the use of the rifle it would be much better spent.

Senator Lt Col Gould - They must know something about drill.

Senator O'KEEFE - They must; but it would be better that they should know a great deal about rifle shooting and a little about drill than that they should know a great deal about drill and be unable to use the rifle. We know that at the various rifle matches held throughout the Commonwealth, in the majority" of cases the best shots are members of rifle clubs who have not spent much time in drill-halls, but who have spent a great deal of time on the rifle ranges. I support Senator Stewart's request.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator proposes to wipe out the Volunteer Forces.

Senator O'KEEFE - The volunteers and members of rifle clubs are practically on the same footing. Why should we have militia or partially-paid forces, and volunteers as well as members of rifle clubs ?

Senator Lt Col Gould - The members of rifle clubs should have to do some drill, and should be sworn in also.

Senator O'KEEFE - I have admitted that it is necessary that the men should do a certain amount of drill, but I contend that it would be better to spend the money in teaching the militia or partially-paid forces the use of the rifle rather than on uniforms, and in return for the work done in the drillhalls. I can see no necessity for having members of rifle clubs and volunteers under a different heading. Neither of these forces are paid.

Senator Lt Col Gould - They stand on a different footing to the militia in regard to their liability for service.

Senator O'KEEFE - Under what liability is it necessary to place them beyond that of having to serve in the defence of their own country in time of war? The idea of Major-General Hutton, in encouraging the militia, or partially-paid forces, against the volunteers, was to raise up a Defence Force which could be called upon, if necessary, to serve outside the Commonwealth. That I hold is utterly repugnant to the feelings of the people. We do not wish to impose upon the members of rifle clubs any liability of that kind!.

Senator Lt Col Gould - A rifle club is a club for the amusement of men at the expense of the Government.

Senator O'KEEFE - The drill which Senator Gould so strenuously advocates is amusement. Will he tell me that there is not more utility in a man being able to shoot straight than in being able to perform certain evolutions?

Senator Lt Col Gould - I admit that.

Senator O'KEEFE - Then the honorable senator has to admit that a very large proportion of the drilled men cannot shoot, and that a very large proportion of the rifle men can shoot.

Request negatived.

Senator WALKER(New South Wales). - I wish to ask the Minister of Defence if the Department has thought pf a system by which, upon paying a premium to an accident 'insurance company, they could get the necessary compensation for injuries done to men while on duty ? I find that as compensation for injury suffered by men on duty, we are asked to vote £300 for New South Wales, £250 for Victoria, and £100 for Queensland.

Senator PLAYFORD(South AustraliaMinister of Defence). - The Military Forces are in this respect in exactly the same position as the buildings of the Government. It is a great deal better for a Government to be its own insurer, than to pay annual premiums to a private company, because in the long run it will cost a great deal less. When I was Treasurer of South Australia, I came to the conclusion that it was not desirable to insure any public buildings.

In ten years we had paid £8,000 or £10,000 for insurance, but we had received only £1,000 or £2,000 from the companies for compensation for fires which took place. With a big military force such as we have, it is a great deal cheaper to be our own insurers than to pay a company, who would charge sufficient to cover all risks, and to leave a profit. I think we had better keep the profit for ourselves.

Senator Walker - I am much obliged to the Minister for the information he has given.

Senator STEWART(Queensland). - A short time ago the Defence Department in Victoria advertised for the services of a labourer - a packer. I understand that the candidates had to put in three days' work for nothing, to pass an examination, and to pay a fee of 7s. 6d. There were eightyfour candidates to fill one vacancy, so that the imposition of the fee yielded a very nice sum. I do not know whether the candidates had to be examined in subjects other than arithmetic. I shall read the paper on arithmetic. In view of the fact that the occupant of the position would probably never be asked to do anything but pack away stores, I should like honorable senators to say whether they approve of all this superfluity of examination. The paper reads as follows: -


Time allowed : Two hours.

N.B. - Show the whole of your working,

1.   Divide 65358547823 by 5578.

2.   Multiply seventeen millions three hundred and seventy-six thousand eight hundred and seventy-two by Ninety-six thousand and seventyeight.

3.   In a game of cricket, A, B, and C together score 108 runs; B and C together score go runs; A and C together score 51 runs. Find the number of runs made by each of them.

4.   In a division sum the divisor is 8274, the quotient is 94907, and the remainder 65. What is the dividend ?

5.   Divide £21s. 8d. amongst three persons, A, B, and C, so that for every penny A has, B may have threepence and C sixpence. 6- A man bought 25 baskets of fruit at 4s. 6d. each. Five baskets proved to be bad and were thrown away. Find at what price per basket he must sell the balance so as to get back his original outlay, and also make a profit of one guinea on the whole transaction.

7.   A hospital collection consisted of 220 sovereigns, 401 half-sovereigns, 508 half-crowns, 716 shillings,808 sixpences. This is divided amongst four hospitals, three of them receiving equal amounts, but the fourth receiving twice as much as each of the other three. What do they each receive ?

8.   The National Debt on 31st March, 1890, amounted to Six hundred and ninety millions six hundred and sixty-four thousand pounds, and has since then been gradually reduced at the average rate of Seven millions nine hundred and sixty-five thousand pounds a year. If this rate was maintained till 31st March, 1900, state in words the amount of the debt at that date.

9.   The double and the third part of a number, added together, give as a result 140. What is the number ?

10.   Find the cost of 247 articles at£23 16s. 13/4d. each.

Is it not utterly absurd to ask a candidate for a position of labourer in the Defence Department to pass an examination of that kind?

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