Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 9 August 1906

Mr HUGHES (West Sydney) . - I .move -

1.   That, in order to effectively defend the Commonwealth against possible enemies, it is imperative that all able-bodied adult males should be trained to the use of arms and instructed in such military or naval drill as may be necessary for the purpose.

a.   That the foregoing resolution be forwarded to His Excellency the Governor-General.

The motion is substantially the same as that which I had the honour to bring under the notice of the first Parliament on the occasion of the introduction of the Dofence Bill by the right honorable gentleman who occupies the position of Treasurer in the present Administration. At a later date, in connexion with the proposed amendment of that Act, I again brought the matter forward, without on either occasion pushing my proposals to a division. So far as I recollect, the objections urged against them by the right honorable member, who was then at the head of the Defence Department, were, first, that they were opposed to the spirit of the British Constitution, and, secondly, that they would cost a lot of money to carry into effect. As to the first objection, since he did not then, and has not since, explained exactly what he mea;it by it, I shall not now endeavour to traverse it. As to the second, I would point out that it is obvious that expense is no longer of vital consideration. The Treasurer has told us in his recent Budget that the country is in a most prosperous condition., and that he has an overflowing Treasury, and he sees his way clear,? I gather from an expression which he made use of in replying to an interjection by the honorable member for Bland, if the revenue is insufficient to do what he wishes, to float a loan.

Sir John Forrest - The honorable and learned member should not misrepresent me.

Mr HUGHES - Therefore, whatever objections the right honorable gentleman may have now that he is no longer a.t the head of the Defence Department, those to which I have referred will not lie. Since that time, however, a change has taken place in the attitude of manyhonorable members. And many citizens of the Empire, not alone in Austral ia, have, by reason of the irresistible logic of facts and the teachings of experience, altered their opinion. On the occasion when the National Defence League, with which I have the honour to be connected, was inaugurated in Sydney, we were favoured with the presence of the representative in this House of the Defence Department, who spoke with very great eloquence, as he always does, and with very much reason, as he always does when he is on the same side as myself. Further, on the occasion of the inauguration of the League in Victoria, the Prime Minister himself was good enough to favour us with his presence and with his advocacy, without precisely committing himself to the details of any scheme - which, indeed, he was not asked to do then, and which I myself do not now. I am not, in this matter, to be tried by what other men may have conceived to be a proper . scheme of national defence, involving compulsory .military training. I am advocating the broad principle without committing myself to any details whatever. Since there will be no opportunity of pressing this matter to a division this afternoon, I may be permitted to put forward, not at any great length, but still with some detail, the reasons why I advocate the introduction of universal military training. Australia, a country of 3,000,000 square miles, practically as large as Europe or the United States, but with a population almost as small as that of Switzerland, a country whose aggregate wealth, excluding the value qf unalienated Crown lands and public property, is close upon 000,000,000, whose annual oversea trade is valued at ^95,000,000, and whose Inter-State trade by land and sea is valued at ,£75,000,000 annually, offers as rich a prize as well could be imagined to the enterprising powers of Europe. When I add that we have a. coast line of some 8,000 miles, and that the opportunities for the landing of an enemy, or for raiding, are almost innumerable, I think that I have stated the position without exaggeration. In this morning's newspapers a report was published to the effect that the German Emperor had stated that anti-militarism was the international plague of Europe. On the previous day it was reported that the Czar has declared his intention to rule his people, as his forefathers had done, by fire and the sword. And we know that the whole of Europe is an armed camp. Britain has not in the past - nor is she likely to do so in the future - so conducted herself as to merit, or, at any rate, to succeed in obtaining, the good will of the nations. Nations that are successful seldom do. At the present time we are protected from the aggression of foreign nations, first, by the British Fleet, and, secondly, by our own land forces. I shall have something to say with regard to the latter presently. With regard to the

British Fleet, our first and most important line of defence, it is only necessary to point out that it is magnificent, and that while it- maintains a position of superiority, we need have little or no fear of aggression. But in the very nature of things, it is not invulnerable. And, of course, it is intended for the defence of the Empire, as a whole, and not of any particular portion. The warships in our waters mav be called upon at any- time to proceed to the China seas or elsewhere; they must, in short, proceed where the requirements of the Empire are most pressing. The British Navy, resting as it does on a prestige acquired by a series of victories at the end of the eighteenth and at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the like of which the world has never known, is now desperately struggling, to maintain a two-power standard. Captain Mahan points out that - and I emphasize this point, because it is the chief argument of those who object to any innovation such as I propose that whilst the British Fleet is here all is well - the British Navy, magnificent and powerful though it is, is nevertheless very much less powerful relatively than it was 100 years ago. He states that a century ago the British Navy was superior to the whole of the fleets of Europe put together. At the present time, however, it is maintained with difficulty - the Navy League declares it is daily falling further from that standard - only on the basis of equality to the navies of any two other Powers. It is true that since the destruction of the Russian fleet by the Japanese, there is less menace of an effective hostile alliance against Great Britain than was 'formerly the case. But the fact that we should now rely on the Japanese for the maintenance of British supremacy in eastern seas is not calculated to inspire with confidence those who have the ideal of a White Australia, and all that this term connotes. In any case, a life of inglorious' ease and luxury under the aegis of a people whom we affect to despise is surely a grievous fall from the ancient traditions of our race. That the British Fleet is not all-powerful has been amply demonstrated by the Navy League of England. It is regarded as scarcely powerful enough, in view of the ever-increasing efforts of Germany to attain naval supremacy. Since that country seems to gain fresh vigour with every advancing year, and to press more strongly on towards a goal which is only too obvious, it follows that as each year passes our reliance as a portion of the Empire on the British Fleet becomes less and less warranted. Even at the best, there will surely come a time, as even the most optimistic must admit, when Britain's supremacy will be challenged. It is obvious that in that day the enemy will not make war where it suits Britain, but at the point that will best suit themselves. The enemy's fleet will concentrate, not after having given notice, but like a thief in the night; and in spite of wireless telegraphy and of all the other resources of modern civilization, as has been proved by Admiral Togo - a large fleet can lie hidden from the most prying eyes for weeks and weeks together. Therefore the British Fleet might be withdrawn from our coasts, and we left defenceless. What is our position? We have here now a population of 4,500,000. According to Brigadier-General Gordon, we had, in 1905, a population of some 750,000 persons between the ages of twenty and forty years of age, capable of bearing, arms. According to the returns made available by the Defence Department, we have a total fighting force of 23,582 men of all arms, or, including the administrative and instructional staff, 23,933 men. That is to say, less than, 3 per cent, of the total population, between the ages of twenty and forty years, are in any sense of the word being trained to the use of arms. I am not omitting from my calculation, although I have not yet made any mention of them, the members of rifle clubs. No doubt the rifle clubs are doing a great deal of good. I cheerfully assent to the proposal that it would be an excellent thing if every man in this country could be taught to shoot. But, after all, only a comparatively small number of persons are pursuing, ' in the most desultory wa.y, the practice of rifle shooting, and they are largely, if not almost entirely, untrained. We have a permanent army consisting of 1,389 men. We cannot contemplate without some feeling of amusement such a comic opera army - not as to its personnel, or its discipline, which is excellent, or its courage, which is undoubted, or those other qualities that go to make up a soldier, but in its numbers. Scattered over 8,000 miles of coast-line, and over 3,000.000 square miles of territory, what could 1,389 men do, even if every one of them were the very apotheosis of a hero? Success goes with the big battalions, all other things considered, and assuming that our Forces "were capable of the utmost mobility, and assuming that we succeeded in doing what has never yet been achieved, namely, in hurling our troops from one quarter of the Continent to another with inconceivable rapidity, and without breakdown, and assuming, further, that we were able to make the best possible use of our militia and regular troops, we should be hopelessly outnumbered and outclassed in an v serious encounter with an enemy. In Great Britain,- it is already recognised by competent authorities that the present volunteer system has failed. We have the declarations of distinguished soldiers like Field-Marshal Wolseley and Lord Roberts to this effect. The latter, whose experience has been later than that, of any modern general, except those who were engaged in the -Russo-Japanese war, who has had ample opportunities of seeing, in the course of the Boer war, what 'British troops could do, and who saw there the efforts of an unprepared army, does not hesitate to declare that England now has an unprepared army, and, what is worse, an unprepared nation. Upon the occasion when a motion was submitted in the House of Lords by Earl Wemyss, Lord Roberts declared that the one salvation of Great Britain was to be found in some sort of compulsory universal training.

Mr Kelly - Mr. Haldane, the present Minister of War. has expressed an opinion to the very contrary.

Mr HUGHES - I know nothing of that, but I do know that the declaration of those who are best able to form a sound judgment - I am speaking of soldiers and not merely of persons who haunt the War Office, because, after all, we must recognise that there is a great difference between men who sit in an office, and who manipulate divisional corps as if they were chessmen, and those who go to the front - including Lord Roberts, who has had an honorable career, and is now regarded as one of the chief soldiers of the Empire - is that the present system has failed, and that England is unprepared for war. Lord Roberts makes that statement, despite the fact that England enjoys a protection, which we lack, in the majesty of her fleet. Under such circumstances, how much more do we require some secondary line of defence? Notwithstand ing that Great Britain does not embrace more than one-twenty-sixth the area of Australia, that she possesses a population of 40,000,000, that she has a regular army, of which, a very large proportion is retained within her own borders, that she has a large militia and volunteer force, and a still greater number of men who practise rifle shooting, it is declared by. competent authorities that she is unprepared to resist invasion. Further, she has the Channel Fleet and the Mediterranean Fleet at her disposal. Yet, in spite of all these advantages, it is unhesitatingly asserted, both by the Navy, League and the Army League, that she is quite unprepared to resist invasion. Under such circumstances, we have to consider what is our own position. This year it is proposed that we shall spend nearly £700,000 upon defence. The expenditure in this direction for the year 1906-7 is estimated at £617,837, exclusive of the Naval Subsidy, and of the amount to be expended in the purchase of rifles, and in undertaking new works. The sum which I have stated is to be utilized for the purpose of maintaining our existing forces. In the light of these figures it seems to me that we are paying a very great deal for defence, and getting very little for our expenditure. I am not at all inclined to blame any particular person for this. Upon the other hand, I am disposed to be particularly guarded in my criticism. It is very much easier to be destructive inone's criticism than it is to suggest a practical remedy. Nevertheless, it is a fact that. Major-General Hutton, BrigadierGeneral Gordon, and every other professional soldier- irrespective of whether he be a soldier who has had1 the advantage of experience in the Imperial Army, or whether he be one who has grown up and won his spurs in the Australian service - are of opinion that our present system of defence is hopelessly inadequate. I shall say nothing regarding the way in which we are armed, because I suppose that nothing could be at once more fatal and more conclusive in its way than the statement that the number of modern rifles which we possess - I see that we are going to purchase some more - are totally inadequate to arm one-third of our forces. I am very well aware that the- principle of compulsory military training finds numerous objectors and critics. It is, of course, very much easier to sit at home and to allow other men to fight than it is to go into the field of battle and fight oneself. The reasons against' any change are various. I know that a section of the community declares that if we had a larger population we should be better able to put up a fight. Dr. Richard Arthur, President of the Immigration League in New South Wales, in writing to the press' concerning the amount which has been placed upon the Estimates for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth, has affirmed that we ought to spend ,£50,000 in that direction, because by that means we should secure a larger population, and thus be better able to defend our country. I admit that if, by that expenditure, we could secure immigrants to the number of those who ure pouring into Canada- - say 50,000 per annum, it would no doubt solve some of the problems by which we are confronted. That immigration would be a very good thing indeed for Australia - assuming that the immigrants were of a desirable class, and that suitable land was available for them - but the suggestion that it would solve the question of defence is, upon the face of it, absurd. Only 3 per cent, of the adult males who are available for service have been trained to the use of arms, and if the same proportion were maintained amongst the new arrivals it would mean that there would be exactly 240 persons out of every 50,000 added to our Defence Forces. ' The position of England is, however, a sufficient answer to Dr. Arthur's contention. Population in itself is no guarantee of adequate defence. On the contrary, the more numerous the mob the more easily it is dispersed. I would point out that in this matter neither courage, nor wealth, nor anything else can make up for lack of discipline and skill. The report of the Committee, which was appointed by the Senate of the United States to inquire into the condition, of the American marine, states that had one reverse overtaken the' American navy in its war with Spain, it would have been impossible to obtain fresh crews of trained men. At that time there was not one boat's crew available for service, apart from those who were already engaged upon the fleet. For some reason or other it has been impossible in the United States to induce sailors to volunteer for the navy. ' Although America is possessed of magnificent resources - her power of building ships is certainly not ex- celled, if it be equalled by any other nation in the world - it is a fact that her navy would have been hopelessly defeated had any ordinary disaster overtaken her. The importance of having a reserve force available is obvious. During the discussion which took place upon this motion when I had the honour to submit it upon a previous occasion, one honorable member stated that it was an admirable thing to vest in the Government power to call upon the available population to defend the country in time of trouble. I pointed out then - and I repeat my statement now - that the Government take to themselves no new power in that section in our Defence Act to which reference was made, and which gives them the right to call the nation to arms. Every executive Government has the right to call upon any citizen or upon any number of citizens to defend the country, or to do anything else for the purpose of preserving law and order. But I would point out that to call upon men for the defence of the country who are quite unable to defend it, is but a sorry farce. To insert a section in. our Defence Act which gives us power to levy upon our citizens in time of danger - when the tocsin rings and the enemy is it at our gates' - and which enables us to call upon every male between the ages of eighteen and sixty years to stand to their guns, is a sorry farce, unless they have received a preliminary training. The effective complement of the right to call upon our. population to defend the country is a preliminary military or naval training. In a speech delivered in 1806, Lord Castlereagh, in referring to the insertion of a similar clause in an Imperial Defence Bill, said -

The principle of that Bill rested on the undoubted prerogative of the Crown to call upon the services of all liege subjects in case of invasion ; and the only power that was added by that Bill, was the power of organizing and training those men who were subject to this exercise of prerogative ; so that, in case of invasion, the prerogative might be effectually exerted for the defence of the country.

I say that that is a salutary principle. It is an obvious corollary that the right to levy en masse must be preceded by the right to train the persons who are subject to that levy. When I submitted a similar proposal upon a previous occasion, the right honorable gentleman who was at the head of the Defence Department said that it was opposed to the spirit of the British. Constitution. So far from that being the case, it is eminently in harmony with it. It was by the practice of such principles as I advocate that all the most precious privileges and liberties which we enjoy today were obtained. And it was by a standing army that these privileges were first invaded. It was because the people of England would not permit King Charles to abrogate this ancient law, and to illegally levy taxes upon them by means of a hireling soldiery, that a revolution took place. It is pointed out in Clode's work on The Military Forces of the Crown, volume 1, page 16' -

When Charles I. ascended the throne, the law recognised the obligation of every citizen to bear arms, either in the country force, or in the trained band of his own town or city.

Upon page 31 of the same volume I find that-

By an early statute every free man between the ages of fifteen and sixty years was obliged to be provided with armour to preserve the peace.

Again, on page 350, chapter 18, I read -

The duty of every subject was stated to be to serve and assist his sovereign at all seasons where need shall require.

The law of England is the same in principle now, although the yearly suspension of the Militia Act does permit of the employment of a standing army. In 1757 the Militia Ballot Act was passed, the underlying principle of which was that the militia should be raised only by ballot. Prior to that; every person was liable for military service. The Militia Ballot Act provided that only certain persons, to whom the lot should fall by chance, should be so liable. That Act was passed in 1757, but its operation, is now suspended. The ancient law of England was that all the people were liable to serve in the ranks, and very properly so. " Conscription," which term it is attempted to apply to my proposal, is absolutely a misuse of language so applied. It does not follow, because a term when used in one sense connotes certain things that one of those things can be properlydescribed only by that term. The conscription in force in Europe - which creates an armed camp, which makes as it were the maintenance of an army one of the chief industries of a country, and draws from productivity a very large proportion of the flower of the nation - is a system to be not eulogised, but universally condemned. Mv scheme means something very different. It is that which has been adopted by a European country, which, though it may be small, is one whose history is not sullied with disgraceful defeat, nor cowardly surrender, arid which has never meekly bent its neck to the yoke of any foreign power, however great. I refer to Switzerland, which has at the present time an army that for its size, effectiveness, and cost, will compare with that of any other nation.

Mr Deakin - Colonel Bridges is attending the manoeuvres there this year in. order to study that system.

Mr HUGHES - We have the opinionsof a very lange number of experts who have no hesitation in saying that the Swiss army to-day offers one of the most admirable^ examples of discipline, of skill in the use of arms, and particularly of effectiveness from the stand-point of speedy mobilisation, that the world affords. No other European nation mobilizes such a. considerable portion of its troops every year, nor mobilizes them as quickly as does Switzerland. It is a nation in which every man is a soldier, and every soldier is a citizen. There a citizen is a soldier by virtue of his being a citizen. I emphasize that as being the' chief reason why a man should defend his own country. In these " piping days of peace" - and I use the term in no derogation of peace, for it is, I suppose, the end of civilization - we see the brutalized application of force gradually being replaced by appeals to law and by other peaceful tribunals. Yet it is in this arena that Force takes her final stand, although, doubtless as. time goes on, resort to some generalinternational tribunal will replace - perhaps not in all, but in most cases - those terrible struggles that now disgrace mankind. We live, however, not in Utopia, but in an everyday world of hard facts. Those who . cry out for peace where there is no peace are men who, whatever they may, call themselves, are enemies both of peace and of their own country. The man who failed in the face of an approaching epidemic to do all that he could to build up his constitution to ward off the attacks of that epidemic would be a fool. If he insisted upon applying the same methods to his children or others under him, he would be something worse. We are living peacefully, and with no immediate prospect of war, but we are nevertheless exposed to dangers. Those dangers which may come to-da.y. to-morrow, or ten year* hence, ought to be provided against now, just as a man insures his life or insures himself against accident, the risk of unemployment, or losses by fire, not because he hopes to die very shortly, or because he hopes to meet with an accident, or believes that his building will be burnt down, but because these are risks against which every prudent person and nation provides. Lieut.-Col. G. F. Ellison, C.B., who had an opportunity to see the Swiss army at work, writes of it -

Of the Swiss Army, as a war machine, it is impossible to write in terms other than those which to any one who has never witnessed its performance, must, I fear, appear somewhat too laudatory. That it is perfect in all its details, or that it is the same highly-finished instrument, that the French or the German army is, I do not pretend to assert, but I do unhesitatingly affirm, and in this opinion I am supported by more competent judges than myself, that taken as a whole it is, for war purposes, not unworthy, so far as it goes, to court comparison with the most scientifically organized and most highly trained armies of the Continent. In some respects it even surpasses all other armies in its readiness for war, for no other military force in Europe can it be stated that the establishment in personnel is the same both for peace and war, and there is certainly no other country that I am aware of, a fourth of whose army is annually mobilized for manoeuvres on exactly the same scale of equipment and transport as it would be for actual warfare.

What are the objections to this scheme? It is said, first of all, that its compulsory nature makes it distasteful to liberty-loving people. No doubt complusion in itself is very odious. Nothing can be said in its favour except that without it civilization, peace, and very many of the blessings which flow from it would be impossible. Those who urge that compulsion is in itself so objectionable as to afford a reason why we should not adopt this scheme, should consider the functions of legislation. In these days law enters into the most complex ramifications of life, and there is scarcely one act performed by the citizens which legislation or some sort of compulsion does not control or modify. We are not in any case to choose between nondefence - the proposals of the " peace at any price party " - and the proposal that I make. We are to choose between a standing army, a professional soldier)', between the present system and that which I propose. The present system is, on the face of it, hopelessly inadequate, and a standing army that would be sufficient to defend these shores would1 be impossible because of its cost. We should require 50,000 regular trained troops to offer a successful resistance to an enemy. We could not afford to withdraw from production such a number of the prime of our nation, nor could we afford to pay them even if we did withdraw them. We have, therefore, to choose between the present system and that which I propose. On the 5th August, 1903, I moved in this House that -

The mole population liable to serve in the national Militia Forces shall -

(a)   Present themselves once in each year at such times and places as may be prescribed for the purpose of undergoing fourteen days continuous training ;

(b)   Present themselves for detached drills on such other days as may be prescribed. Provided that it shall not be compulsory to attend more than 32 of such detacheddrills, aggregating a period of 112 hours....

Whilst I do not pin myself down to any of the details of that motion, it will serve sufficiently to show what is my idea as to the application of this proposal. It was proposed by me for reasons that are obvious, that the scheme should not apply to persons under eighteen years of age. This is a novel, if it be not a new, system, and it would be difficult to fix any particular age at which it would be desirable to commence the training of our male population. There is no reason why we should say that persons who are now over or under twenty-five should be exempt. I, therefore, thought, and still think, it advisable that the scheme should not apply to those who are at present under eighteen. With this limitation there would be something like 40,000 persons available during the first year, when only those under eighteen years of age would come under the scheme, and they would devote fourteen or sixteen days per annum to continuous drills. The Government Statist's Department has supplied me with a return showing that there are in the - Commonwealth 74,000 persons between the ages of eighteen years and nineteen years inclusive, and, assuming that the number of persons of eighteen years of age was equal to the number nineteen years of age, there would be some 37,000 available for training during the first year. Therefore, the cost in that year would be only that necessary to cover the maintenance of 37,000 persons. In the second year there would be some 74,000. When all males from eighteen to twenty-one years were available, we should have, I apprehend, 108,000 persons coming under the scheme. These would constitute, as it were, the first line of defence, whilst those who had passed through the first .grade, and were in the second! line of defence, would, perhaps, have to put in a smaller number of days at continuous drill, and attend a reduced number of detached drills. We should thus have available at all times a number of persons who would be familiar with the use of arms, and would be taught to shoot. I can hardly emphasize too strongly the necessity of replacing, by rifle shooting, some of the sports in which our men engage to-day. Archery very properly was considered the national sport of England, when her military glory, having regard to her population, was not exceeded by any other nation. Her archers then won all her battles, and in these days rifle shooting plays almost the same important part. As to the cost of the scheme, the honorable member for Bland, during the discussion of this subject which took place in 1903, estimated that it would cost some hundreds of thousands of pounds in : excess of the present expenditure to carry my proposal into effect. The Government now propose to introduce penny postage throughout Australia, having £209,000 to spare for making this change; but I say, with all deference to those whose positions make them much abler to judge of the value of money than I, that it would be better to expend this amount in preparing for the defence of our country than in making good a loss of revenue consequent upon a reduction of the postage to one penny. I shall not, however, commit myself in regard to cost. I believe we could effect the change for little, if any, more than we expend upon, the present unsatisfactory and inadequate system, and it is difficult to exaggerate the gain. We should then have a nation in arms, and no enemy would dare to think of invading us, although it might bombard and raid our great cities. Not even the innumerable hordes of Asia, now awakening, could, with any hope of success, land a force in a country where it would meet 200,000 or 300,000 persons, familiar with the use of "arms, and able to shoot with precision ; and where our coastal defences, torpedo craft, and forts would be manned ' by ' a trained citizen Naval Force. No expenditure is too great to incur for adequate protection, and, therefore, arguments brought against this proposal on the ground of expense will not weigh with me. I am, however, as I have said, perfectly persuaded that the expense need not be great, being inclined to think that -£100,000 or, at the most, £200,000, in addition to that which we now spend, would give us am adequate system of defence, which in times of difficulty, would render us independent of the rest of the Empire, and able to defend our country without assistance from abroad. Now let us consider the effect of this system upon the nation in other directions/ The effect of regular training upon the physique of a nation can hardly be exaggerated. It is undoubted that sufficient importance is not attached to physical culture in this country, or sufficient time and attention given to the subject. .The effect of physical training upon not only the physique, but also the mental and moral powers of a people, is tremendous. I was made acquainted with this fact in a very simple way. At one time I lived in London, within a stone's throw of a great barracks, and upon the other side of the water I used to see the Surrey Militia going each year to its annual training. When it went down a certain road, the shutters of many shops were closed, and those shop-keepers who ventured to present themselves to the public .view during the progress of this marvellous force, did so with fear a,rid trembling. As the men passed down the road, some had their bayonets fixed and some their bayonets unfixed; some carried their guns at the port, some at the trail, and some in other positions, not generally recognised by military authorities ; some of them held their helmets in their hands, while others wort them on their heads, but "rarely in the rightway ; and some were accompanied by females whose character, or lack of it, was but too obvious. But after the period of six weeks' training they returned different men, changed, if not in spirit, at least in bodily appearance. They then carried their arms, in a way which the Brigade of Guards might have envied, whilst their martial bearing must have inspired every one who sa.w it. They had evidently come to recognise that there were other things in this world besides walking through the chief thoroughfares of London arm-in-arm with females' of doubtful reputation. In short, they were men who had been physically, mentally, and morally braced. They had been treated as men ought to be treated. They had been worked hard, and made capable and decent citizens, and London and England were the better for their training, quite apart from the fact that they . had been made of service for the defence of their country should occasion arise. These remarks would be true of the training of any militia regiment. No doubt the tremendous vitality of Australians is something to be proud of ; but it is important that it should be directed into the proper channels. That is what is needed. Our people should be taught obedience, which is a primary virtue, and an essential of citizenship in a free State. I wish now to say a word about the political aspect of the subject. I do not hesitate to affirm that democracy and a standing army are incompatible. Democracies have arisen and flourished', but they have, without exception, fallen through the one cause, having been ground beneath the heel of military despotism. If one ransacks history he will not find an instance, from the beginning of things down to now, which will disprove that statement. The Athenian the Spartan, the Roman, and the French democracies all succumbed to military despotism, usually effecting its purposes by constitutional means and the terrorism of a professional soldiery. The third Napoleon effected the change from practically a republic to a despotism by a coup d' etat. Herr Bebel, the leader of the Socialist party in the Reichstag, declares that a citizen soldiery would prevent coups d' etat, and is in favour of establishing such an institution. The Socialists like all decent citizens, are good patriots in this matter. They realize that it is the first duty of citizens to defend the State. Men speak about liberty and' about compulsion, but I suppose that John Stuart Mill will be accepted as an authority on the subject. Although, in his Essay on Liberty, he goes almost to the length of advocating anarchy, he declares that it is essential to citizenship and not incompatible with liberty that men should be forced to defend their country. These are his very words-

Every one who receives the protection of society owes a return for the benefit, and the fact of living in society renders it indispensable that each should be bound to observe a certain line of conduct towards the rest. 'This conduct consists, first, in not injuring the interests of one another . . . and, secondly, in each person bearing his share (to be fixed on some equitable principle) of the labours and sacrifices incurred in defending the society or its members from injury or molestation. These conditions society is justified in enforcing, at all costs, to those who endeavour to withhold fulfilment.

The International Socialists' Congress of 1896 put forward as the first plank of its platform the abolition of standing armies and the establishment of a national citizen defence force, its second plank being the establishment of tribunals of arbitration to regulate peaceably- disputes between nations. It regarded as essential, and as the concomitant, the necessary precedent of tribunals of arbitration, that there shall be a citizen defence force, because at the' back of all tribunals there must be force. Force is the sanction of law, and law, without some sanction of force, is of little, if any, value. Some people regard the Hague tribunal with a degree of optimism which - in view of the present antics of the semi-insane person who is now permitted by the Deity to afflict the Russian nation - is extraordinary. The day of universal peace is not yet. What can stand behind the decisions of the Hague tribunal but force? Why should not a nation which is peacefully pursuing its way towards a higher civilization be ready to defend itself if attacked by an uncivilized people or an unscrupulous ruler ? There is nothing to prevent it from doing so if its citizens are armed and ready to defend themselves. If it does not do so it must perish, and neither the justice of its cause nor the peaceful achievements of its people will save it from destruction. Therefore we must first prepare to effectively defend ourselves, and then, if you like, prepare for the submission of all disputes to arbitration. I am very pleased that the Socialist Party of Europe, which has been subjected of late to much abuse in this House, and in the country, has made a straightforward declaration of its attitude in this matter. Instead of a wholesale condemnation of military training, it has condemned only training such as that of which we see the fruits on the Continent of Europe at the present time. The establishment of a citizen soldiery,too, will do a great deal to kill the jingo spirit, the cheap patriotism which makes men throw up their hats and sing patriotic songs. They do that because they know that they will not have to fight themselves, but will send others to fight for them. Men who have to fight 0their own quarrels will be very careful about entering into wars. When one knows that if he insults another he will be called out to justify his action in his own person, he is generally willing to submit differences of opinion to arbitration ; but it is another matter if he can hire some one to fight for him. The existence of a mercenary professional soldiery, whose only opportunities for advancement occur in warfare, and the disturbed conditions resulting from the fomentation of quarrels between peaceful nations, is incompatible with the higher civilization, and a direct incentive to and cause of war. I might have emphasized my points at greater length, but it is sufficient for me to have shown that the present military system is inadequate, having been condemned alike by *the professional soldiers whom we have had the honour to employ here, and by every thoughtful' man among us; that we are living in a fool's paradise in relying entirely upon a fleet which, in the nature of things!, may be called away from our shores at any moment. We must have a navy of our own, manned by our own citizens, in such an emergency, and an armed nation in reserve. The opposition to my proposals is based largely upon sentiment. Instead of them being contrary to British traditions, they are in the highest degree in consonance with the old and admirable methods followed with such success in Great Britain for hundreds of years. Standing armies are incompatible with democracy. A professional soldiery lives by fomenting disturbances, and sees its only chance of advancement in war. To defend one's country is the first duty of citizenship, and is one that every citizen should be taught to perform. Men should be ready to fight as they should -be ready to vote. It is proposed in Victoria to adopt what I believe is already the law in New Zealand, and tq make it compulsory upon electors to vote. It should be also compulsory for citizens to fight if necessary. In fact, the statute law of the country compels every one to fight, if called upon. I merely ask that citizens shall be trained, so that' they shall be able to fight if called upon, and so that we may, by being prepared for war, insure everlasting and honorable peace.

Suggest corrections