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Thursday, 7 December 1911

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) -24]. - I congratulate Senator Pearce on his good fortune in occupying the position of Minister of Defence when this great project of an Australian Navy is reaching completion. I understand, although, of course, nothing definite has yet been fixed, that the training of officers for the Navy is to occupy a period of something like six years, including the time spent in the training cruiser fleet. That, as some honorable senators may be aware, is longer than the present period in England. There the period of training for a cadet is two years at Osborne, two yearsat Dartmouth, and six months in a training cruiser, which is supposed to complete the actual training. But, of course, a naval officer's training, for -the very reason that has been indicated by Senator Millen and by the . Minister, goes on perpetually. As he is concerned with a very complicated machine - as modern warships are - his training hardly ever comes to an end. Every day there are new improvements - enlargements of battle-ships, new inventions in connexion with munitions of war, and so forth.

Senator Millen - Does the honorable senator say that the period provided for in this Bill is longer than the period in England ?

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - The Minister's suggestion is six years in the Naval College

Senator Millen - I understood him to say that the period was shorter.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Yes, for the men, but not for the officers. The period is six years before a young officer is rated as midshipman.

Senator Pearce - Before he is rated as sub-lieutenant.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - During that period, of course, there are examinations to test efficiency. Nowadays there is very much specialization in the Navy, and an officer undertakes special duty in a particular branch. The selection of officers for, particular branches of the service ' in England is now left entirely to the Admiralty authorities. Whenever a boy goes , as a cadet to Osborne, his parents have to sign an undertaking that they will consent to his being entered for any branch of the naval service to which his aptitude, training, and inclination lead the Admiralty to think he is best fitted. That is because of the high degree of specialization now required. One class of officers specializes in torpedo work, another in submarines, another in gunnery. A high degree of technical training is required for each branch of the service. I was exceedingly pleased to hear that it is the policy of the Government to have, in case of' ordinary seamen, an agreement by which, after a period of eighteen months, or whatever period of training may be considered necessary, he shall be obliged to serve in the Navy for a period of seven years. I think it would be disastrous to our Navy from the point of view of the efficiency of the personnel, if we had not some such provision as that. In fact, if any complaint is to be made it is that the period is too short. That, however, is a matter that can always be altered. Experience will teach us what is necessary for efficiency. I again congratulate the Minister! It is something to be proud of that we are now in the position of having the nucleus of a navy - in fact almost ' an efficient service - within sight in our Australian waters.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel CAMERON (Tasmania) [3.28]. - I should like to join in expressing my satisfaction that this movement for the establishment of an Australian Navy has been brought to the satisfactory point that has been reached. Without touching upon technical details, which are practically outside the consideration of any member of the Senate. I should like to dwell upon the broad principle, which has been at stake in connexion with the defence of Australia. The defence of this country has been thrown to a very large extent upon the shoulders of the people, who should bear the burden. That has been the basic principle underlying- the whole movement of Australian nationality. The second point that I desire to emphasize is that, if the Bill means anything, it means that the future standard of efficiency of our Navy cannot be anything less than that of the Royal "Navy itself ; also that provision has been made for the services of our Navy wherever its services may be required. I am extremely gratified that the Bill provides for the bringing about of so satisfactory a result.

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