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Friday, 15 June 1906

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) .- - I should not have! spoken to the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply but for the remarks made by the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat with reference to the bookkeeping section of the Constitution. The period fixed for the bookkeeping system, will expire during the present year, although it may continue as a constitutional enactment until the Parliament otherwise provides. At the Conference of States Treasurers, held recently in Sydney, a proposal was made that the revenue of the Commonwealthshould be distributed on a per capita basis, instead of, as at present, under the bookkeeping system. Opposition was raised to that proposal, and several of those who made it appeared to be ashamed of it. They seemed to recognise that they were asking for something that was not honest. Western Australia was not represented at that Conference, and that fact was pointed out by the Treasurer of Queensland who urged that the position of the western State should be considered. The Premier of Tasmania replied, however, that it was not the duty of the Conference to put forward the views of Western Australia, and consequently three out of the five Treasurers present voted for a resolution asking that £500,000 now contributed by the tax-payers of Western Australia should be expended in the eastern States. Such a proposal can be stigmatized in only one way : It is an impudent, barefaced proposal of public robbery. Because the majority of the taxpayers of Western Australia, as the result of its progress, happen to consist of adults, that State is contributing about £7 per head of the population to the Customs revenue. On the other hand, Tasmania, owing to its stagnation, has a population composed largely of women and children, who are contributing only a little over £2 per head to the revenue.

Senator O'Keefe - There are more men than women in Tasmania.

Senator PEARCE - The proposal is put forward' that Tasmania should reap the harvest of Western Australia's progress, and that taxes paid by the people of that State should be expended in the other States of the Commonwealth. The excuse put forward by the honorable senator, who to my surprise has championed this infamous proposal, is that since the Commonwealth Government have initiated the system of distributing expenditure on a tier capita basis, the same principle should be applied to the distribution of revenue. What has been the result of the per capita distribution of expenditure. Last year Western Australia received under this system about £20,000 more than that to which she would otherwise have been entitled. I would point but to Senator O' Keefe that the system of distributing expenditure on a tier capita basis was not proposed bv Western Australia. The representatives of that State in the Federal Parliament never demanded it, and it was not as the result of action on their part that this expenditure of £20,000 was incurred. Another point is that whilst our revenue remains fairly steady, and can be gauged with something approaching accuracy, our expenditure varies, so that, while £20,000 in excess of the sum to which Western Australia would otherwise be entitled may be expended this year on a per capita basis, it may be that next year a greater expenditure will take place in Tasmania. You cannot compare Federal expenditure with Federal revenue, because the one is steady while the other fluctuates all over the Commonwealth, although the total amount may approximate year by year. But if the per capita system is wrong, are we to perpetrate a greater wrong? Are we to say that because last year Western Australia reaped, an advantage of £20,000 she is to be robbed of £500,000 ? Is thatto be the remedy applied? The proposal has only to be looked at by any honest man for him to come to the conclusion that it is a preposterous one. I am certain that no Government would ever hold the Treasury Bench for long which would propose the remedying of one evil by creating another evil. If the charging of expenditure on a per capita basis is an evil, let it be remedied by adopting the bookkeeping basis, and then certainly. Western Australia would have no reason to complain j it might be that it would not lose anything. But it is wrong to remedy an evil by perpetrating a greater injustice.

Senator O'Keefe - What does the honorable senator suggest?

Senator PEARCE - The honorable senator left" the Chamber when I was suggesting something.

Senator O'Keefe - I could not help leaving.

Senator PEARCE - I hold that if there is an injustice inflicted bv pursuing the per capita system, it should be remedied by reverting 'to the bookkeeping system, and debiting to each State the expenditure therein.

Senator O'Keefe - They tell us that that is- unconstitutional.

Senator PEARCE - Sir GeorgeTurner, who first introduced the system, has a doubt as to whether it is constitutional or not. He says that some authorities tell him that it is unconstitutional, and that others tell him that it is not. When legal minds differ, who shall decide? In this case, Sir George Turner made himself an umpire, and decided to adopt the percapita basis. I venture to say that had he decided to continue to follow the bookkeeping system, not a protest would have been heard from Western Australia, because in the first years of Federation that was the system in vogue, and its representatives never raised any protest against it. Not a protest was heard.

Senator O'Keefe -Still, the per capita system is there, and it cannot be changed now.

Senator PEARCE - I think that it can be changed. If the bookkeeping system was legal in the first years of Federation, it is legal now. The question has never been tested yet.

Senator O'Keefe - On certain items it was tested in the Senate.

Senator PEARCE - As I said before, it is by no means certain that under the per capita system Western Australia would continually reap an advantage at the expense of other States, and next vear the advantage may possibly be reaped by Tasmania. It will all depend upon the decision of the Government as to where public works shall be carried out. Take, for instance, defence works. It could reasonably be argued that the placing of guns at Hobart is the best way of effectually defending, Victoria.

Senator O'Keefe - I do not object to extra expenditure for defence in any State.

Senator PEARCE - The increased expenditure in Western Australia last year was chiefly due to the large expenditure on the defences of Fremantle.

Senator O'Keefe - I did not object to that.

Senator PEARCE - I am sure that every Australian will recognise that the defence of our ports, wherever they may be situated, is an Australian matter. Therefore, there is no just reason why such expenditure should not be charged on a per capita basis.

Senator O'Keefe - That is the truly Federal system.

Senator PEARCE - I do not propose to take up more time, but I do raise my protest against the proposal which has been made. I feel sure that the Government and the Parliament would never for a minute tolerate a proposal which would rob the taxpayers of Western Australia of £500,000 annually.

Senator Lt.-Col.GOULD (New South Wales) [11.34]. - It is really quite refreshing to listen to a little discussion between the members of a very important body known as the " Caucus " ; because I understand that, generally, matters are debated amongst themselves, that the majority rule, and that the minority very humbly follow in their train.

Senator O'Keefe - Yes, but most of the honorable senator's friends tell us that in caucus we are bound hand and foot.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - Possibly this is one of the matters which are reserved from decision by the caucus, and therefore we hear a contention 'between two of its members as to the way in which certain funds should be administered. It is also interesting to notice that, as soon as these gentlemen who believe inequality, a fair distribution of wealth, and all the rest of it, begin to find that one is poor and the other is rich there is a difference of opinion. We know that it is laid down as a principle by a great many senators that it would be a good thing to put everything into a common pool, divide it amongst the contributors, and have a fresh start. Judging by his speech, that is exactly the way in which Senator O'Keefe would like to see the revenues of the Commonwealth appropriated.

Senator O'Keefe - Is not that the true Federal system?

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I am not disputing it.

Senator O'Keefe - Yes, but the honorable senator will not vote for it.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- The honorable senator has told us' all this. Yet Senator Pearce, who believes in the true Federal spirit, says, " No, my State is too well off to put its money into a common pool so that the poor State of Tasmania may have a division."

Senator Henderson - Nothing of the kind. He does not want his State to be robbed.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- Unless my ears deceived me, Senator Pearce said that he did not see that this principle was a fair one. In fact, I understood him to speak of it as an " infamous " proposal.

Senator Pearce - So I did.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- The rich man says that it is an infamous proposal that the poor man should share his wealth.

Senator Pearce - Who makes the proposal?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I am glad to notice that Senator Pearce is beginning to realize, after all, that if a man has made money fairly and justly, it is rather rough upon him to be asked to divide it with a man who is very badly off.

Senator Pearce - I realized that long before I ever saw the honorable senator.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I am glad to know that the honorable senator has realized that fact. I have been wondering whether, if he represented Tasmania and Senator O'Keefe represented Western Austrafia, their opinions would have been exactly the same as they are to-day.

Senator Pearce - Mine would.

Senator de Largie -Will the honorable senator put down his wealth, and let us equally divide it?

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I should not, perhaps, object to a general division of all the money in the Commonwealth. But I do not think that either Senator Pearce or Senator O'Keefe would be prepared to agree to a bargain of that kind. If they will not do it in the case of their States, they will not do it in their own case.

Senator Playford - The best way is to do as the Bible says - to kill the proprietor and divide the inheritance.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- Possibly that might be an easy way out of the difficulty.

Senator Pearce - This kind of stuff is all right for the platform, but it is rather rough upon us to fire it off here.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - Really I thought that my two honorable friends were talking to their constituents.

Senator O'Keefe - We were talking on a big public matter.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - Yes ; but my honorable friends will have to go before their constituents by and by. I do not object to this proceeding because I recognise that the last sessionof a Parliament is generally taken advantage of by those members who haveto go before their constituents to strengthen their position as much as possible. Therefore my honorable friends must not get very angry with me for chaffing them a little over their difference of opinion.

Senator Pearce - We are amused.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I am glad to hear that my honorable friend is amused. In his speech Senator O'Keefe passed a very high panegyric upon the late Mr. Seddon. It is true that men of all shades of opinion recognised Mr. Seddon's great abilities, and the great work he had accomplished. But it must be borne in mind by my honorable friend's that they cannot expect everybody who recognises the ability and the talents of the man who has passed away to say that they appreciate and believe in the whole of his public utterances and public work. I should be very sorry indeed to think that the day would ever come when public men would not be able to appreciate the talents and services of men who advocated views which were opposed to their own. Public men, no matter what their opinions may be, can all do good? work for the States, and it is only by means of differences of opinion that we manage to find out eventually what is the best proposal in the long run for the people.

Senator O'Keefe - Practically all Mr. Seddon's work was in the direction to which the honorable senator is opposed.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- If my honorable friends who talk about the relative difference between New Zealand and Australia will refer to Coghlan, they will find that, while the public debt, brought about to a large extent by Acts of Parliament, amounts to£57 8s. 8d. per head in the Commonwealth, it amounts to £6811s. per head in New Zealand.

Senator O'Keefe - For what purpose was the money spent in New Zealand ? Was not a great deal of it spent upon the purchase of estates which now belong to the Colony?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- Really, I am not in a position to go into details at this stage. I want to get honorable senators to realize that there is a great difference between the amount of public debt in the two countries, and that it has been brought about in consequence of certain legislation.

Senator O'Keefe - But has the honorable senator differentiated between interestpaying public debt and non-productive public debt ?

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I believe that in most of the States there is an endeavour being made to cover the interest on the outlay by getting revenue from various public works constructed with loan money. But in any case we must realize that a heavy debt has been placed upon the shoulders of every person in the community, and that taxation has to be imposed to providie the money which ultimately will have to be paid, as well as to meet the interest on the loans and the ordinary outgoings of the Government. Unless a loan be expended in such a way as to yield a full return in interest, it is adding day by day to the indebtedness of the country and to the struggles which its people have to undergo.

Senator O'Keefe - Was not the honorable senator's point that New Zealand had a larger non-productive public debt than Australia? Does he mean to say that that is the case?

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I mean to say that New Zealand has a larger per capita public debt than has Australia, but I cannot go into the details now.

Senator O'Keefe - But the honorable senator must know quite well that a large proportion of New Zealand's public debt is interest-paying.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - And a large proportion of the public debt of the States in the Commonwealth is interest-paying. I believe that all the railways of the various States are either interest-paying now or very soon. will- be. I make these remarks by the way, in order that my honorable friends may realize that while persons may appreciate a man who has passed away, they might not like to see many Acts of legislation which he had assisted to pass adopted in Australia.

Senator McGregor - Because the hon.orable senator does not want the same prosperity.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- That is a gratuitous interjection, which is not correct, because I take it that every member of the Senate desires to see the fullest measure of prosperity possible in Australia, though we may differ as to the way in which it should be brought about. I give the honorable senator credit for being animated by that desire, and I claim the same credit for myself and for every other senator.

Senator McGregor - Well, carry out Mr. Seddon's policy.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I might retort to the honorable senator " carry out some one else's policy and the result will be very much better," but he would not agree with me.

Senator McGregor - If the honorable senator could give proof I might.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- Passing away from that question, I was very glad to learn that Senator Playford had taken steps with a view of insuring more work for the Senate to do. On several occasions it has 'complained of having been to a certain extent ignored by the other House, and certain efforts have been made in order to assert the position which it ought to occupy. But I am sorry to say that it has not always followed up the expression of opinion to which it has given vent, either by means of a resolution or otherwise. It depends entirely upon senators individually as to whether the Senate shall occupy the position which it is entitled to occupy under the Constitution, or a purely subordinate position, such as that of the Legislative CounCil of a State in relation to the other branch of the Legislature.

Senator Staniforth Smith - And it depends upon the Ministry as well.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- It depends upon every individual member of the Chamber, and it also depends, possibly to a greater extent upon the Ministers who represent the Government here. Because after all, the leader of the Senate is naturally entitled to more weight and influence than any other member, and I am very pleased to recognise that Senator Playford has pointed out very strongly to Mr. Deakin the necessity of providing us with more business. I trust that he will continue to take the same interest in the proceedings of the Senate as he has shown by that statement, and will insist that we shall not be left idle while there is work waiting in the other Chamber. If that be done the Senate will be put in a proper position, and the despatch of Government business facilitated. If there is a certain amount of work to be done, and it can. be done in four or live months, it is evidently better to allow it to be done in that way than for us to wait upon the other House, and then to force business through in a verv short time. In the course of Senator Styles' speech, in moving the Address-in-Reply, he took occasion to refer to the Tariff, and there was a little interchange of opinion as to whether fiscal peace should prevail, or whether this is an appropriate time to reopen the Tariff issue. It has always been my impression that there was a clear and definite understanding between Mr. Reid and Mr. Deakin that the Tariff question ought to be left severely alone during the present Parliament, but that it was quite possible that the whole question would be raised during the forthcoming elections. I entirely dissent from any attempt either to convert the present Tariff into a high protective or a free-trade Tariff. I am perfectly willing to do what has been offered by the leader of the Opposition in another place - to allow anomalies to be rectified! during the present session.

I do not think that honorable senators have a right to expect more than that. Nor is there need to do more. While I do not believe in a protectionist policy - while I believe that the incidence of taxation might be altered materially by the reduction of duties to the advantage of the community - still I do not want to see the whole Tariff issue brought up again. Therefore, I am prepared to do anything which is reasonable to remove anomalies, so that there may be jio complaints of unfairness as to the way taxation is being levied through the Customs. But I entirely dissent from the idea that we should) discuss this question with thi- view of increasing the duties. In fact, it will be quite impossible to do anything. Of the kind this session. Senator Styles quoted a. remark by Mr. Reid as to the number of men employed in the manufacturing industries. When he compares those figures with the number of men engaged in. the primary industries of the country, he will see that the employment given by manufacturers is comparatively insignificant. We are all aware that there is a large number of persons employed in factories. But there is a greater number employed in the primary industries. While Australia remains as she is now, a sparsely populated country, the bulk of our people should not be absorbed in the manufacturing industries of the great cities. We want to see our men spread over the land, and to lake advantage of the opportunity to encourage the pastoral, the agricultural, and the mining industries, together with the many kindred industries in connexion with them. Those honorable senators who wish to see a large number of persons employed in manufactures, must bear in mind that as they increase artificially the cost of living, while they may be doing a certain amount of good to a handful of people, they are doing a great amount of injury to the great bulk of tha consumers, upon whom the strength of the country depends. Unless our primary industries are developed to the fullest extent, the country can never progress. We have no right to increase artificially the cost of living to a dozen people, in order to give One individual a little better wage than he would otherwise have. Even the few individuals who benefit find1 that the system reacts upon them, and that their £1 is not nearly so valuable as it would be under another set of circumstances. We are confronted with another cry - that of land taxation. We were told by Mr. Deakin, iri one of his speeches, that though he had always been in favour of land taxation, he thought it a matter that should be left to the States, and that the Commonwealth should not take it up. A month or six weeks elapsed, during which Mr. Watson strongly urged land taxation. Then the Prime Minister suddenly discovered that we can take up land taxation in order to find the money for old-age pensions. This seems to me to be the thin end of the wedge, which it is intended to drive up to the hilt, in order to bring about a scheme of land nationalization. It is proposed to tax the man who has put his money into land, and to increase his burdens so that his property shall become worthless. Do the advocates of that policy think that it is going to increase the prosperity of the country? Do they really believe that the land of the man who has only £5,000 worth of property, is going to be increased in value through heavy taxation imposed on those who have larger estates? Do they realize that there is hardly a man in this country who has land of his own who does not require to get accommodation and to borrow money upon the security of that land in order to develop it ? I say that the man who has £3,000 or £4,000 worth of land will find that he cannot raise money upon it, for the simple reason that the lenders of money have to look forward to a rime when certain properties will be thrown upon their hands. They will have to foreclose on a proportion; and then they will find that their land is not worth) a snap of the fingers, because they hold more than £5,000 worth.

Senator McGregor - Has that been the effect in New Zealand?

Senator Lt Col GOULD - The method adopted in New Zealand when the State wanted a piece of land to cut up for settlement has been to pay for it at its full value. I am perfectly prepared to see that system adopted by the various States. But here! it is proposed to tax land ultimately up to the value of is. in the £1 for the express purpose of taxing ou't the landholders Immigration will never be encouraged by that policy.

Senator O'Keefe - Who proposed that?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- Mr. Watsonin one of his speeches said that he would impose a tax up to is. in the £1.

Senator O'Keefe - Did Mr. Watson say that on behalf of his party or did he intimate that he gave it as his individual opinion ?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- The opinion of the caucus is formed by the individual opinions of its members ; and we know perfectly well that Mr. Watson is not the most extreme man in the caucus.

Senator O'Keefe - The honorable senator is not fair in giving that as the limit of the tax.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- The limit may be 2s. in the £1, for all I know, but I am sure that is. is quite enough to do great mischief. Honorable senators talk of offering inducements to immigrants to come to this country. They will not come unless they can acquire land and homes of their own. The labour members of this Parliament have not advocated the bringing of men into this country to enter into the manufactures of the State. They say, " Place them upon the land." I reply that if we wish to do that we must not, at the same time, impose such taxes as will drive people off the land. Something has been said on the question of Socialism. It is all very well to talk of Socialism as being a bogy. It is all very well to say to those who are anti-Socialists that we must not judge by the utterances of extremists. But the Labour Party have themselves to thank if we form our impressions from the men who advocate their cause on the platform, and who talk of continental Socialism as being the object aimed at. I do not say that the members of the Labour Party in this Parliament would go to the extremes advocated on the Continent. I do not believe that they would. But thev have advocated the nationalization of all means of wealth and the nationalization of all land. Thev would even nationalize industry and capital, and bv that means put everything in the hands of the Government. That is an extreme proposal, that would work the greatest possible injury to every man in the country. It behoves every man who does not believe in that system to put his views clearly before the public, and let the electors of this country judge as to what opinions are best in the interests of Australia, and what are likely to be detrimental to it. I say, withnall respect for honorable senators opposite, that I believe their objective to be one of the most dangerous platforms that could possibly be put before this community, 'and, so far as my vote is concerned, it will never assist them to attain their end. I see also that they want to nationalize what they call the tobacco monopoly, the sugar monopoly, and other enterprises that are doing good work, at any rate so fax as the shareholders are concerned, and, I believe, so far as the people are concerned also. They wish to nationalize all these things, and to put everything into the hands of the Government. Governments - I am not speaking particularly of the present Government - are about the most incompetent body of employers to be found in any great industries of this character. Private companies and individuals can carry on such work far better in the interests of the community than can any Government, no matter how honest or able or determined to do their duty the latter may be.

Senator McGregor - What about the Sydney trams as compared with the trams in other places where the people are robbed ?

Senator Lt Col GOULD - The honorable senator is harking back to the old contention that because two or three great enterprises may be placed in the hands of the Government, therefore all enterprises ought to be conducted by the State. We ought to be very careful in regard to the cry of Socialism or antiSocialism. Protectionists who think that, by a coalition with the Labour Party, they will be able to obtain high protective duties, must bear in mind that, while they may get assistance at the elections, and for the time being, a higher Tariff, the Labour Party has declared in favour of nationalizing all industries as soon as- they are strong enough, and so destroying any chance of protection for the individuals. Such a coalition is the most dangerous that any body or party could enter upon. It will truly be a case of the protectionist lamb lying down by the side of the labour lion to be gobbled up very soon. I should like to make some reference to the question of defence, in regard to which there has been an uneasy feeling for many years past. Time and again before Federation was accomplished, we were told that under the Commonwealth the system of defence would be materially improved, and Australia put in a better position to take its own part in the event of Great Britain being involved in war. Can any one say that our defence system is now better than it was when each State undertook its own share? Nay, more, is the condition of the defences of Australia to-day not infinitely worse than it was when each individual State was called upon to look after itself ? What has been the system? We have passed from one system to another. Are we one whit better off? We have never gone to the root of the matter. In Great Britain the authorities determined to have a Council of Defence, and we immediately set to work to devise a similar Council for ourselves. We got rid of our General Officer Commanding and appointed an Inspector-General, whose reports, however, are subservient to the determination of his junior officers, and of men who are not in an independent position, that is, not independent of the Minister. The whole of the service is under the control of a Council of Defence, the members of which have neither the experience nor the knowledge of the Inspector-General. The Council of Defence has to determine the policy subject to the Minister, who may override all. While we have every respect for our friend, the Minister of Defence, can it be said that he, by his training or knowledge, is qualified to determine the difficult questions which must arise from time to time in regard to the defence of this great country ? It is absurd to suppose that the honorable gentleman is so qualified. If we had had a different body of men available to compose the Council of" Defence the experiment might have been better justified. I am not blaming the present Minister for the state of affairs ; he was not in office at the time the change was made, and made without sufficient consideration. It would have been much better if Australia had waited to see how the change worked in Great Britain, when we should have had a clear object lesson.

Senator Playford - There is the same system in Canada.

Senator Lt Col GOULD D- At present the system is practically on its trial, and in mv opinion it has been adopted here at too earl v a. date, when we have not men who' are fully qualified to carry it into effect as efficiently as is necessary. Colonel Antill made a speech, when he was retiring from the Forces, and if ever there was a condemnation of the change of system, it is to be found in the words of that officer. Colonel Antill was a man of experience, who had been trained and placed on the Permanent Staff, and he left the- Forces in order to better his position by going on the land. In a Sydney newspaper of two days ago, which I picked up in the. train, I found an article headed "The Military

Muddle : Disgusted Officers : What is it Coming to?"

Senator Playford - There is nothing in that article ; it is all rubbish,- to which there is a complete answer.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- Of course; it would be 'a strange thing if the Government had not a complete answer to everything. The newspaper gives a report of an interview with a military man - I do not know who he is - as to the reason for Major Hilliard's retirement. This officer spoke as follows : - " He is one of the most valuable men we have," continued the officer, " but I don't think a yearning for pastoral pursuits has driven him to throw up a profession for which he was eminently suited, and in which he was so successful. No, the sa.-ne mismanagement that drove Antill from the service in disgust has proved too much for Hilliard."

The interview goes on to declare that it is not the men we can afford to lose who are leaving the Forces, and the officer concluded by saying -

Anyhow, it looks as if soldiering in Australia had arrived at the gold-braid-and-button stage. There is no place for men who know their work.

That may or may not be true; and I see the Minister laughs at the statement.

Senator Playford - I laugh it to scorn ; there is no truth in it.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- We are told over and over again by military men that there is a feeling of disgust and dissatisfaction throughout the whole Forces - permanent, militia, and purely volunteer.

Senator Playford - No, no.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- There must be some radical cause for this state of affairs.

Senator Playford - The honorable senator is altogether wrong.

Senator Col Neild - One of the leading professional officers of the Commonwealth says that the trouble is due to what happened under the late General Officer Commanding, and that it will take twenty-five years to put matters right.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- We know that Senator Neild has a " bee in his bonnet " in regard to one General Officer Commanding. That officer is now gone, and we have made a change in regard to the administration. Has there been any improvement in consequence of that change ?

Senator Playford - There has not been time.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - The Forces are now really in a worse position than they were before.

Senator Playford - The Forces are now in a better position than ever. There are more men in the Forces, and they are better armed and better prepared) to meet an enemy than ever before.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I am very glad to have that assurance from the Minister of Defence; but the information which comes to me is of an entirely different character.

Senator Pulsford - And so is my information.

Senator Lt Col GOULD -What are we doing, in regard to our defences? We are getting more rifles and ammunition, and a report is to come from people at Home as to the best system we can adopt generally. It is good to have more rifles; but when is the Government going to establish a small arms factory within the Commonwealth ?

Senator Playford - It would not pay.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- Is defence a paying concern? Is it not a matter of insurance for which we have to pay to insure our safety ? Whether money can be made out of it or not, we ought to have a factory for small- arms here, so that in time of difficulty, when we may not be able to import ammunition, we shall not have to throw down our rifles and beg consideration from the enemy.

Senator Playford - The honorable senator is a good protectionist. I am glad to hear him say that.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- Then I ask the Minister if there is a port in the Commonwealth fitted to stand against an attack?

Senator Playford - Yes, of course.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I suppose that Sydney is about the most strongly fortified place in the Commonwealth ; but where would Sydney be against some of the war vessels which might possibly be sent here? The other day the Minister of Defence stated that if any war vessel attempted to run into Sydney Harbor there would be such a hail of lead on the deck that it would find it impossible to get out again. But would any war vessel attempt to enter Sydney Harbor until the forts had been silenced? Would such a vessel not lie a few miles off the Heads and shell Sydney to pieces? We require guns to keep such vessels well off the coast.

Senator Playford - And we have them. There are 9.2 guns at Coogee and Bondi.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- What would those guns be against 12 -inch guns?

Senator Playford - We are told there is no chance of a battle-ship coming out here against us.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- Then what need is there for a 12.5 gun on an ordinary protected cruiser which does not come within range of a 9.2 gun?

Senator Playford - What does the honorable senator know about the matter?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- The other day a lecture was delivered in Sydney by the well-known writer, Mr. Frank T. Bullen, who pointed out that the Powerful, great ship as she is, would be helpless against the small Japanese cruiser then in Sydney Harbor, simply because the latter carried a 12.5 gun.

Senator Playford - The honorable senator is talking, of cruiser against cruiser, whereas the question is cruiser against forts. In the forts there are 9.2 guns, which can keep any armoured cruiser away.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I know we have, at any rate, some 9.2 guns, but we have also a great many guns which are not worth the iron they are made of. We cannot, of course, defend our whole coastline, but we want strong defences for our cities, and the naval base, wherever it is,ought to be made impregnable.

Senator Playford - And it is impregnable.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - Reference has been made to the usefulness of torpedo fleets, and if a proposal is introduced to carry out the suggestion offered!, I shall be prepared to support it, so that we may have some floating defences, as well as the fixed defences on shore. The amount of damage clone by the bombardment of any of our great cities would be simply incalculable.

Senator Playford - Bombardments do not cause so much damage, after all. Look at the result of the bombardment of Paris.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- A great deal of damage was done to Paris.

Senator Playford - There was precious little.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - In any case, such an event would greatly damage the prestige of Great Britain, and the Government ought to take every possible step to make this country practically impregnable. We talk a great deal about the annual expenditure on our defences, but if we compare it with the expenditure by some smaller countries, with no greater population than ours, or with the expenditure of Great Britain, we find it to be a mere bagatelle. It would be a wise policy to expend more on our defences.

Senator Playford - We spend annually over £1,000,000 now.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- It would be wise also not to regard officers who happen to be Australian as the only officers capable of taking charge of our defences. That has been suggested, and we also hear that our Inspector-General is to be an Australian.

Senator Playford - Hear, hear !

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- That is to be the qualification.

Senator Playford - Oh, no.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- The qualifications ought to be fitness and ability.

Senator Playford - We have men with such qualifications.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - If we have Australian officers possessing the requisite ability, no one would, be better pleased than I should be to see them appointed to these high positions. But we should not imagine in regard to military or other matters that an Australian must necessarily have a monopoly of ability. No one is more anxious than I am that Australians shall occupy the most prominent positions in the Commonwealth service, but I do not wish them to do so at the cost of efficiency.

Senator Playford - And it will not be done at the cost of efficiency.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- The Minister is acting wisely in sending to England and India officers who are to receive special military instruction. I hope that he will send still more away, for in that way we shall help to fit Australians to fill the high positions in the service. I deprecate the cry of " Australia for the Australians," irrespective of merit. " We have practically the whole of the British Empire from which to make a selection, and we should be careful to recognise merit and to appoint the most capable men. If that be done, I shall be satisfied. I have no desire to further discuss the Address-in-Reply. I regard the Vice-Regal Speech as a verv fine electioneering platform. It is very verbose, and commits the Government to little. As a rule, that is, I suppose, regarded as one of the advantages of an electioneering speech, although a few that have been .delivered here have certainly been definite and clear. I have no doubt that the Address-in-Reply will be carried without difficulty, and that by-and-by we shall have an opportunity to discuss more fully many other matters that are touched upon in it.

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