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Thursday, 9 August 1906


Senator DOBSON (Tasmania) .- I move -

That the Senate, while recognising that the Government has done good work in establishing a uniform scheme for the training of cadets, regrets that only about one-tenth of our youth can now take advantage of such scheme, and is of opinion that Ministers should amend the Defence Act and provide for a universal system of gymnastics, military drill, and rifle practice, to be applied to all boys and youths in the Commonwealth up to the age of 18 years, such scheme being urgently required -

(a)   To prevent the physical deterioration of our youth.

(4)   To teach them loyalty and patriotism, and give them such lessons in discipline and obedience as will develop and improve the moral side of their nature ; and

(c)   To teach them how to defend their country, and thus probably obviate the necessity of applying a scheme of universal military training to the manhood of the Commonwealth, 01 greatly lessen the tax such a scheme would entail upon the revenues of the Commonwealth, and the time of its citizens if such a scheme should hereafter prove to be necessary.

I regret to have to trouble .the Senate again with this subject, but it is one of the greatest importance. Until we have a system of defence which has a national foundation, and is as safe as it' can be made, I shall deem it my duty, on all occasions, to appeal to the Senate. I admit that the Minister of Defence has, perhaps, the most intricate and difficult Department to administer. Like his predecessors, he has already had great difficulty in determining how to meet the different views which ha.ve been expressed on naval and military defence - universal training and cadet training. I do not wonder that sometimes he is puzzled as to what course to take. But I do not think that either he or any one else can contend that our system of defence has a national foundation. The great question before the people of the United Kingdom, and one of the great questions before the Australian people, is the question of universal training. The reason why I am so greatly disappointed with the Minister's very meagre cadet scheme is because the Prime Minister published in the daily newspapers his views on the subject of defence, boldly setting forth 'that he was in favour of a scheme of universal military service. I understood from Mr. Deakin and some of his colleagues that every member of the Cabinet, possibly with one exception, held similar views. It is no wonder then that we are disappointed when we are given a scheme which applies to only the boys and youths of the Commonwealth, which is not compulsory, and which does not attempt to place the slightest control upon the boys when they have left school, except in regard to the senior cadets, who, of course, are a mere handful. In that way alone it is a very meagre scheme indeed. Lately, three systems of cadet training have been proposed. In the first' place, a Committee of Defence, presided over by Colonel Williams, proposed to train 22,956 cadets at an annual cost of about £30,700. I think that these officers must have intended that some kind of compulsion should be used, because they state distinctly that it is essential to the organization of all the existing cadet schemes, which, as we know, were under the Education Department in some States and under the Military authorities in other States. They went on to say that the organization should provide for the training of all boys in school, and of all boys who had left school, up to. I think, seventeen or eighteen years of age.


Senator Walker - I draw your attention, sir, to the state of the Senate. (Quorum formed.)


Senator DOBSON - The second scheme, which emanated from Lt.-Col. McCay, provided for the compulsory training of all boys during their attendance at school. It made no provision for boys who had left school, but in regard to those boys Lt.Col. McCay said that it might be possible to form voluntary cadet corps. That is one of my objections to the whole of these schemes. We do not want to talk about what is possible. We do not wish to leave theboy the master of the situation, and to say whether there shall be a citizens' army or not. That appears to me to be a weak spot in Lt.-Col. McCay 's scheme; but, on the whole, I think it is the best that has been admitted. , He promised to make a beginning with 20,000 cadets at a cost of £22,000, but he went on to say that at the end of the fifthyear he would have 60,000 boys being trained, at a cost of £43,500. Perhaps I had better read the passage to which I refer. It is as follows : -

To provide for a total of 60,000 boys under instruction at the end of fiveyears, commencing with. 20,000, and increasing by 10,000 each year, and to provide rifles during these five years, without allowing for the rifles in Victoria, would involve an expenditure for the first five years of the system respectively of £22,000, £24,000, £34,500,£37,000, and £43,500.

The Minister of Defence has departed from that scheme, and adopted one of his own. I think it would have been much wiser, and far more satisfactory to those who take an intense interest in this subject, if he had followed the principle of Lt.-Col. McCay's scheme, and been able to show that at the end of five years there would be a reasonable number of boys undergoing military training. But we are cut down to about 23.000 cadets, at an annual cost of £20,000 or£22,000, and that appears to be the end of the matter.


Senator Guthrie - And it would impose a big expenditure upon the parents.


Senator DOBSON - Yes. I am quite aware that the Minister's scheme can be extended, but it is unbusiness-like. Suppose that the movement spread, and that more than 23,000 boys offered themselves, no provision would have been made for the training of the additional number, and consequently their ardour would be damped. On the other hand, under the voluntary system we have 10,000 cadets. If the Minister does not enrol the 23,000 cadets under his scheme, there will be no power to attract the boys, unless we tempt them to join by means of the uniform, and that again is another weak spot in the scheme. Under his scheme, Lt.-Col. McCay said that no uniform would be required for the boys, but under the Minister's scheme a complete uniform is required. A Stateschool master who conferred with Colonel Hoad seemed to place great reliance upon the uniform, and the Minister, I think, places- too much dependence upon it. At all events, he intends to provide £7,500 a year for uniforms alone. The military men whom I have consultedsay that a uniform, which would cost 15s., is not required that it would be a waste of money to give it to boys of twelve, thirteen, and fourteen years ofage, and that whatthey ought to get is a regulation cap, belt, and pouch, at a cost of2s. or 3s. Inmy honorable friend's scheme I do not think thateconomy with efficiency has been sufficiently kept in view. I should say that in New Zealand there is a splendid cadet force. I admit that it is voluntary but during the last few years it has increased enormously. I believe that the

Government allow each boy 2s. to provide a cap, belt, and pouch. But that is verv different from requiring a boy to have a uniform which is to cost 15s., and which is to last for two years.


Senator Henderson - £1 per head.


Senator DOBSON - A boy is to buy the uniform out of the £1.


Senator Henderson - The boys will have to pay £1 each for the uniform.


Senator DOBSON - No; I understand from the Minister that the uniform is to cost 15s., and is to last for two years', practically costing 7s. 6d. a year. In New Zealand the authorities allow only 2s. per head for cap, belt, and pouch, but they make a per capita allowance of 2s. 6d. as against the £1 which my honorable friend proposes to give. Here is an allowance of 4s. 6d. per head as against 20s. If the Minister condemns the officers' scheme as being a little too costly, I think that his own scheme may very fairly be described in that way. I would suggest the adoption of a scheme under which, for the first two, if not three, years, nothing but a cap. belt, and pouch should be required, and afterwards the boys might be put into uniforms if they could be afforded. If, however, we could not afford that expenditure - and I understand that that is the sole reason for having such a very small scheme of defence - let us do away with the uniform. What we want are the boys and rifles and ammunition. If we cannot afford to provide a uniform, do not let us curtail the education of the boys, do not let us have a half and half sort of scheme when it is possible to have a thoroughly good scheme of a national character. Here is another argument which I ask my honorable friend most earnestly to consider. Unlike the officers, neither he nor Lt.-Col. McCav has made any "provision for the boys who have left school. Had he before him any statistics when he settled upon his scheme? Did he Lear in mind that the great bulk of our boys leave school at the age of thirteen or. thirteen and a half?


Senator Playford - Yes ; in my scheme provision is made for senior cadets.


Senator DOBSON - Yes; but only to the number of 3,000. According to a return from the Education Department, which I hold in my hand, the compulsory age of school attendance is as follows: - Victoria, from 6 to 13 ; New South Wales, from 5 to 14; South Australia, from 7 to 13; Queensland, from 6 to 12; Western Australia, from 6 to 14; and Tasmania, from 7 to 13. What real scheme have we when all boys in Queensland who leave school at the age of twelve years can snap their fingers at the Education and Military Departments?


Senator Playford - They can leave, but they do not.


Senator DOBSON - I think that my honorable friend is wrong.


Senator Playford - Some of them leave, of course.


Senator DOBSON - In all the States except two, boys can leave school at the age of thirteen years. In the great bulk of cases if a billet worth 2s. 6d. or 5s. a week could be got, the boy would leave the State school, especially if he were the son of a workman, or mechanic. How can such a scheme be called a national scheme? How can it do away with the necessity of, perhaps, universal training amongst adults? In a return, the statistician for Tasmania gives the number of youths of the age of twelve years, and , under the age of nineteen years, in each State, and states the total number at 295,359. Let us compare the number of youths in each State with the scheme of roy honorable friend and. notice how it works out. In New South Wales there are to be 8,520 cadets, senior and junior. There happen to be in that State between the ages of thirteen and nineteen 114,918 youths. So that the Minister's scheme provides for between' one-thirteenth and onefourteenth part of the youths of New South Wales. In Victoria his scheme provides for 7,020 cadets of both classes, whilst there are in this State 87,170 youths. He therefore provides for about onetwelfth, of the number. In Queensland* 3,110 cadets are provided for, and the number of youths is 36,270. The Minister therefore provides for about one-twelfth. In South Australia, 1,990 cadets areallotted, and the number of youths is 30,128. The scheme, therefore, provides for about one-fifteenth.


Senator Playford - That is better than* none at all.


Senator DOBSON - In Western Australia 1,320 cadets are allotted, and thereare 12,465 youths. The Minister provides for about one-ninth of the whole. In Tasmania there are to be 860 cadets, whilst there are 14,408 youths in the State.

There again the Minister's scheme provides for about one-fifteenth. These figures give us a real insight into what the Minister's scheme is. I t is very meagre, and by no means provides for the expansion that we all require.


Senator Playford - Parliament votes the money every year according to its own sweet will. Anything that I can say amounts to nothing.


Senator DOBSON - I understand that the reason why Ministers have come to such a feeble decision with regard to universal training is that they believe that Parliament would not vote the necessary money. I am perfectly satisfied that Parliament would not vote the money for any large and elaborate system, and therefore I am putting aside for the moment the scheme to which I believe we shall have to come ultimately - a scheme of universal training, as in Switzerland', for all youths between 17 and 23 or 16 and 22. I tell my honorable friend plainly that the only possible way to escape from that is to extend the cadet system and to make it compulsory for the youths at our schools to be trained. Lt.-Col. McCay, when he was Minister, agreed to the extension of the cadet system, and I ask my honorable friend to do the same.


Senator Playford - I could' easily say it, but what is the use of saying it? It will all depend upon Parliament. I will extend the scheme nextyear if I can.


Senator DOBSON - I understood that Ministers were to be leaders, not followers.


Senator Playford - I will be leader in this matter nextyear.


Senator DOBSON - The Minister does not even ask Parliament to grant the necessary money.


Senator Playford - The time has not come. I have asked for the money that I want this year.


Senator DOBSON - The Minister practically tells us that it is Tor Parliament to decide. It is not. It is for Ministers to take upon themselves the responsibility of laying down a policy. Instead of that, however, my honorable friend is waiting to see which way the cat jumps. That is not what we expect from a Minister of Defence. We shall never be able to get this matter into anything like order until the Minister at the head of the Department shows a determination to lead Parliament. I can quite understand that the Minister would not be able to lead Parliament in the direction of great expenditure. He cannot compel Parliament to spend £50,000 if it will vote only £30,000. Butmy complaint is that he does not even, put before us a scheme to accomplish what he professes to desire. He puts forward a plan which involves the spending of altogether too much money on uniforms.


Senator Playford - The honorable senatormay move to strike out the vote for uniforms if he likes.


Senator DOBSON - I am glad that my honorable friend agrees to that. I have endeavoured to obtain all the information I could from all parts of the world on this subject, and I can assure the Minister that the feeling throughout theBritish Empire is coming round more and more in favour of some sort of scheme of universal training.


Senator Playford - It is all conscription, compulsion, and everything that is foreign to the British people.


Senator DOBSON - We do not want conscription, and we do not want compulsion, except in the same way as we have compulsory education. At present our system of compulsory education is incomplete.


Senator Playford - I have nothing to do with education.


Senator DOBSON -The Minister has everything to do with it. He can, if he likes, insist that our system of compulsory education shall be made complete by teaching the youths not only reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and the other subjects in our educational curriculum, but also the virtues of patriotism and courage, and their civil duties.


Senator Playford - The things which the honorable senator says should be taught are taught already: Patriotism, civil duties, and so on, are all taught in our schools. So are gymnastics. They even drill the girls.


Senator DOBSON - But there is no compulsion in our schools, as there is in Japan, to drill our boys, and teach them patriotism and the duty of defending their country. Let me quote a few opinions on this subject. The first is that of Bishop Barlow. He said - he trusted the Governments, both in the State and Commonwealth, would soon abandon that narrow, short-sighted, perilous policy of reducing to an unworthy and almost unworkable minimum the grants forthe defence of our homes, and he trusted still more that public opinion might soon be roused to demand that every incentive should be given to train and encourage Australia's sons.


Senator Playford - That is a general statement that anybody might make, and amounts to nothing at all.


Senator DOBSON - It amounts to a criticism of what the House of Representatives did a little while ago, when it cut down the Defence vote. My honorable friend is evidently afraid that the vote for his Department will be cut down again. I next desire to quote an account by an, anonymous writer in the Times of the Japanese military manoeuvres.


Senator Playford - These anonymous contributions cannot be recognised.


Senator DOBSON - My honorable friend is hard to convince, although he has agreed to knock off the cadet uniforms.


Senator Playford - No, I have not. What I meant was that I should like to see the honorable senator try to knock them off. He would find that the uniform is one of those things which the . cadets and the schoolmasters most appreciate.


Senator DOBSON - One moment my honorable friend Says that he will do a thing, and the next moment says that he will not. I say that the uniform is a matter of no importance whatever.I find it quite impossible to argue with the Minister, he so constantly shifts his ground.


Senator Playford - The honorable senator should not fling anonymous writers at my head.


Senator DOBSON - This writer is an officer who attended the military manoeuvres in Japan after the Chinese war. He gives an account of how, in the Japanese schools, the boys are taught drill, and are instilled with ideas of patriotism, courage, and devotion to their country. That is what we require to do here. On the occasion of the military manoeuvres referred to. the school boys were marched out the night before and camped close to the field. Officers were detailed to attend them, and to explain to them the meaning of the manoeuvres which they witnessed. This writer says that compulsory training has been the making of the Japanese nation. Marshal Oyama and the leading citizens of Japan are agreed that the two main elements which have contributed to the success of modern Japan are the adoption of constitutional government and of compulsory military training.


Senator Playford - They are an aggressive people. They wanted to go and fight neighbouring nations.


Senator DOBSON - I hope that my honorable friend will not interrupt, if that is the sort of stuff he is going to give us. I shall next quote an opinion by Dr. Bryant with regard to the need for physical training in this country. Dr. Bryant says -

A system could be used to increase the chest measurement by three or four inches, make the body supple, and increase the nervous vitality that enabled a race to make its way. Awarding the first place to the Japanese system, Dr. Bryant went on to say that nearly all the systems were closely connected. It was disheartening to notice the number of weedy men in an Eight Hours' Day procession. He had been an examiner of recruits for the past sixteen years, and during the last two years it had been the exception to examine a well developed young man. To neglect the physical culture of the rising generation was criminal, and it should be included as a branch of education under qualified instructors. Medical officers might also make inspections, and in doing so would be able to note the health of the pupils. He suggested that if the Government would not take this in hand, a league should be formed to work out the details of a national scheme.


Senator Playford - Is that in Australia?


Senator DOBSON - Yes.


Senator Playford - To what State does that doctor belong?


Senator DOBSON - He is a Melbourne surgeon. The statement was made in a lecture delivered under the auspices of the Australian Health Society. I come now to another article in the Times with reference to the Commission which was appointedby the British Government after the South African war. The writer says -

The criticisms of the Royal Commission on the War in South Africa as to organization, and the suggestions of individual members, interesting and important as they are, could have hardly come as a surprise to any one in any way cognisant of the shortcomings of our military system. By far the most pregnant of the suggestions contained in the report is that of Sir George Goldie, to which Lord Esher, Sir F. Darley, and Sir John Edge apparently give their adherence - viz., compulsory national military education. SirGeorge Goldie proposes the institution of national cadet schools, officered from the Regular Army, in which all youths not in the Navy or merchant service or efficient members of Volunteer cadet corps would have to serve for a term.

Speaking again of compulsory national military education, he says: -

The latter, in the opinion of every soldier who has had occasion to study the question, is the only solution of the problem - how to organize a really efficient army for the needs of the Empire.

That was the opinion of the Royal Commission which was appointed after the Boer war; and I should like now to direct attention to the findings of what is known as the Norfolk Commission, presided over by the Dukeof Norfolk, and appointed to inquire into the position of the Militiaand Volunteers. Eight out of the ten Commissioners were of the opinion that -

A home defence army capable, in the absence of the whole or the greater portion of the regular forces, of protecting this country against invasion can be raised and maintained only on the principle that it is the duty of every citizen of military age and sound physique to be trained for the national defence, and to take part in it should emergency arise.


Senator Playford - The present Government in England have refused to adopt that report.


Senator DOBSON - I am aware of the fact ; and that iswhy the National Service League at home is working so hard, and why they have sent for the photographs which I have asked the Minister to supply. They desire to educate the people of England in the same way as a few persons in Australia are trying to educate the people here, with a view to the adoption of a national system. The following is an extract from the memorandum of Colonel O'Callaghan Westropp, which is attached to the report of the Norfolk Commission -

There is one way, however - a way which ought to be used without delay - in which the physical advantages of drill could be brought to all, at an age when it would be of great value. Compulsory drill ought to be enforced in every school. In the schools the entire rising male population is mustered. If every boy before he was 14 had done 60 drills of one hour each he would, at all events, know how to hold himself and how to walk, and if, in addition, he had by that age fired 100 rounds from a cadet rifle, divided between 50, 100, and 150 yards, he ought to have mastered the art of holding straight. Boys of that age are very teachable, they would take kindly to the drill, and keenly enjoy the shooting ; what is drudgery to the recruit of 18 would be play to them. A considerable increase in the militia and volunteer permanent staff is necessary for peace training and even more requisite on mobilization, and these sergeants could, when not required with their units, be dispersed (and even live) within easy reach of the schools which they would drill. Lord Methuen was very strong on this point. He advised - " Make it compulsory in schools that all boys should be drilled." " Every boy at school should be able to shoot and drill, and that would help you a great deal."

Sir JohnFrench's views were similar, and Sir Henry Hildyard confirmed it in these words - " The more preliminary education of a military kind that you can get into a nation the better, and the earlier you can get it again the better."

I could quote hundreds of authorities to the same effect. What I ask the Minister to do is to amend his scheme, and make it a little more universal, so as to embrace every boy and youth in the Commonwealth.


Senator Playford - We cannot by Commonwealth legislation compel the drilling of the boys in the State schools; that is cut of our province.


Senator Best - There would be no difficulty in making an arrangement with the States Governments to enable the drilling to take place.


Senator Playford - The Federal Government are co-operating with the States Governments now, but we' have not the power to enforce compulsory training.


Senator DOBSON - I say that there is the power.


Senator Playford - Yes; outside the schools.


Senator DOBSON - No; in the schools. It must not, however, be done by flouting the States, but in conjunction with the States. Do I understand the Minister to be of opinion that the States Governments would raiseany objection? My own opinion is that no objection would be raised ; but, as a matter of fact, the Minister of Defence has simply taken the easiest course.Why did the Minister not give us an opportunity to discuss thescheme? We take a great interest in this matter, and leagues have been formed in Sydney and Victoria with the object of bringing about universal training. The Minister of Defence had two or three schemes before him, buthe set to work and created another of his own - which, by the way, I regard as the worst - and did not give us an opportunity to discuss it. I urge upon the Minister to listen to the opinions of honorable senators, and, after consultation with his officers to improve the scheme. From an article in one of our own newspapers, under the heading, " The Training of a Nation," I take the following, which shows what is the opinion of The Times -

If we can trust much that we read in current literature, the British people are in sore need of physical training, and, indeed, of discipline of more than one kind. Thus, we may discover a great good in what, to a certain extent, is an- evil, and the British population may be made more capable and presentable than it now is. On this point, the Times speaks out very plainly, and, evidently, but echoes a fast-growing public opinion. It says, "Drill for everybody, familiarity with a rifle for everybody, and higher education as applied to war for all who possess superior intelligence would do nothing but good' all round."

Then Lord Raglan's opinion in regard to the great grammar schools of England is thus set forth -

Lord Raglan states that the National Service League, of which he is President, recently communicated with the principals of these -schools, pointing out that a system of preliminary training in drill and the use of the rifle would, besides imbuing the boys with a sense of manly discipline and true patriotism, enable them to carry out their military training properly, much more easily, and at much less sacrifice of time than would be necessary if no ground work had previously been laid. The league offered to give annually two prizes - a gold medal and a silver medal - for the best trained boys in each school. " I am now," says Lord Raglan, " able to state that we have received answers from nearly all the public schools, and that they have been favorable in almost every! case. This fact, indicating as 'it does the complete acceptance of our principles by the head masters of 90 per cent, of the big schools, shows that it would be easy to carry a Bill making military drill and rifle shooting compulsory as the ground work of a truly national reserve."

Under these circumstances I hope the Minister will make some promise that he will consult with his officers with a view to presenting a scheme of wider dimensions than that which he at present favours. I notice that, under the scheme of the Minister, a considerable proportion of the training has to be carried on in school hours ; and that, in my opinion, is a great mistake. The curriculum of the States schools has been /getting wider and wider, and it may be that too great a range of subjects is attempted. The object ought to be to teach the boys reading, writing, and arithmetic, with history and geography, of which they ought to have a firm grasp, so that they may be able to take any situation that offers.


Senator Guthrie - Drilling forms part of the school curriculum.


Senator DOBSON - I know that the boys do a little gymnastics and drill; but rifle shooting and manoeuvring could not be taught in school hours. One writer points out that a boy at school, between the ages of ten and seventeen, is practically compelled to devote, I don't know how many thousands of hours to cricket, football, and other games, and contends that if a tenth, or a fifteenth, part of that time could be devoted to military drill, the. boys would be partly trained .soldiers at the end of their school life. I, therefore, ask that the scheme should be amended in this connexion, because it has been impossible to introduce the military training in the school hours between nine and four. It is inevitable that the boys must" be asked to drill sometimes on half -holidays, and do part of their work out of school hours. Another writer on this -point, Mr. C. E. Dawkins, says -

Our system is doomed to failure. The Boer war would never have come about had we had a trained citizen soldiery.


Senator Playford - People are always making statements like that, which are not worth the paper they are written on.


Senator DOBSON - I believe that statements are worth the paper they are written on. I do not think the Boer war would have occurred had the Boers had any idea that there was a citizen soldiery behind the regular army. Out of 137,000 soldiers who went to the front, over 50,000 were, I believe, condemned as ineffective, owing to want of training, poor physique, or absence of skill in shooting and riding.


Senator Guthrie - That is a terrible indictment against the British War Office.


Senator DOBSON - It is. Another ' writer says that of 50,000 militia reserves in Great Britain, only 5,000 were found to be effective.


Senator Guthrie - The honorable senator knows what the British militia is?


Senator DOBSON - Quite so; but surely we might expect more than 5,000 effective soldiers out of 50,000.


Senator Guthrie - I do not think so.


Senator DOBSON - Does not all this go to show that the morale of our people requires improving - that their physique wants building up? Dr.. Bryan tells us how an improvement could "be brought about by proper means ; but the Minister of Defence has not done anything in this direction, except in a very small degree. Sir James Creighton Brown says that from 60 to 70 per cent, of the British population falls short of the physical standard it ought to attain, and he advises compulsory militia drill in all schools. Newspapers and magazines contain numerous articles on this subject, and in reference to the S'wiss system Colonel Gerald Campbell says -

It is a citizen militia force based on " universal compulsory service " in peace as well as in war ; and it may be asserted with confidence that the excellent results - both as to numbers and quality - which have been obtained could never have been reached under a system of " voluntary " service in peace, which is unfortunately the basis of our Commonwealth Army.

If we in Australia would only adopt a suitable " compulsory " training of a similar nature during the years 16-20 as a beginning, a vast amount of good would accrue, not only to the DefenceForce, but to the whole community.

The leagues in Victoria and New South Wales advocate universal training between the ages of 16 and 21 or 22. If the Minister wishes to avoid that training for many years to come, and, perhaps altogether, he ought to provide for the compulsory training of the boys in our schools. In Switzerland, although the population is halfamillion less than that of Australia, there are 200,000 members in the rifle clubs.


Senator McGregor - Would military training not have a tendency to make our young people pugnacious?


Senator DOBSON - I have a number of authorities who declare that there is no such effect, but that on the contrary, patriotism, discipline, and devotion to duty are developed and encouraged. We are told that this military training does not arouse the martial spirit, of which, of course, we do not desire' too much.


Senator de Largie - There is less jingoism in Switzerland than, I suppose, in any other country in the world.


Senator Guthrie - Switzerland has no sea coast. Our first line of defence is naval, and I should like to know whether Senator Dobson proposes to give the boys naval training.


Senator DOBSON - In Canada, the rifle clubs have extended until now they number 400 with a membership of 34,000 or 36,000.


Senator Playford - There are more members than that in the rifle clubs of Australia.


Senator DOBSON - The Minister is quite wrong. The number of rifle clubs is 686, and the members number 30,242. I instance Switzerland and Canada because both these countries have more members in their rifle clubs.


Senator Playford - I think not.


Senator Best - I think those were the figures given us by the Minister.


Senator Playford - Those might be the figures for last year ; but this year there has been an increase of 7,000 or 8,000 in the number of members of rifle clubs.


Senator DOBSON - The number was given as 30,242, and the cost £50,566. Those are last year's figures, and there may have been some slight increase since, but how does the Minister get over the fact that in Switzerland there are 200,000 members of rifle clubs ?


Senator Playford - No; 200,000 compulsorily trained men.


Senator DOBSON - No, riflemen; and a great number of them are civilians. Does not the honorable senator see that if we educate the people in rifle-shooting they will soon begin to take an interest in it? Unfortunately that is what I cannot get the Minister to see.


Senator Playford - If the honorable senator could show that we required 200,000 members of rifle clubs we should get them. We should have as many as are necessary..


Senator DOBSON - I do not know that we require 200,000 of them. No man in Australia or in Great Britain is able to prophesy what danger we shall have to meet in the time to come. It is for that reason that we find every general, colonel, and major recommending the drilling and training ofboys and citizens generally. We should have a citizen army, and then we should be able to meet in the best possible way any emergency that might arise.


Senator Playford - That is the perfect system; but the question is are we prepared to pay for it?


Senator DOBSON - I ask honorable senators to consider the splendid raw material we have in Australia. Look at the splendid light horse companies we might have, and yet there is no provision in the Minister's scheme for them.


Senator Playford - We have light horse in the militia.


Senator DOBSON - We have some light horse, but we are not giving them the slightest training. We have boys in the country riding horses all day long, and we are giving them no encouragement. In many ways I think that the Minister's scheme can be improved.


Senator Playford - This is carping criticism.


Senator DOBSON - I do not desire to take up any more time ; but I should like to call attention to one very important matter. I ask honorable senators to consider all the schemes which are now before the Commonwealth. We have schemes for a £5.000,000 railway, a £4,000,000 Capital, an Australian Navy, which is to cost some £3,000,000, and all sorts of things.


Senator Playford - And the honorable senator is now proposing another scheme for compulsory military training, which would entail very great expenditure.


Senator DOBSON - Will the honorable senator kindlyhear me out ? I say that the best thing that heand his colleagues can do is to look into some of these schemes, and see whether they cannot put them aside.


Senator Playford - Knock them on the head, and commence with that proposed by the honorable senator.


Senator DOBSON -They should ask themselves what is the foundation of the prosperity of a nation. What are the essentials? What do we really require to drive us ahead ? They must at last fall back on the conclusion that there is nothing so important as education. But instead of educating our youths and men to defend their hearths and homes, we let them go asthey please. The honorable senator's system is a go-as-you-please system.


Senator Playford - The honorable senator's system is a regimental system, under which men are to be compulsorily drilled and trained.


Senator DOBSON - When the Estimates come on for discussion I suppose we shall hear something from the honorable senator about our Australian Navy, but before we establish an Australian Navy is it not better that we should educate our boys? If we cannot afford £35,000 a year to educate our boys, can we afford £3,000,000 for torpedoes ?


Senator Playford - That amount is to be spread over a number of years.


Senator DOBSON - Why should we not give £50,000 or £75,000 a year to educate our boys? If we can afford to establish an Australian Navy, and Parliament desires its establishment, let us have it, but donot let us forget the foundation, or build it in an unstable manner. I have not exhausted more than one-half of my notes, but I shall resume my seat with the expression of a hope that the Minister, when he hears the criticisms which I hope other honorable senators will offer, will confer with his officers and see whether he cannot propose some scheme which will be a little more universal than that which he has submitted, and which will make some provision for boys who, although they may have left school, are still running about the street. If the honorable senator will do that, he will confer a great boon upon the Commonwealth.

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







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