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Thursday, 3 November 1910

Senator SAYERS (Queensland) . -I am quite in accord with this Bill, and glad to see that the Government are following out the policy of the previous Government in the establishment of a navy, which, though small, will, I believe, be effective. I believe that, in time, Australia will develop a big navy. I hope that the young men of the Commonwealth will take to the sea, and will look upon our Navy with pride.

Senator Stewart - I should prefer to see them growing potatoes.

Senator SAYERS - Growing potatoes is a very good thing in its place, but if we have no means of defence we may have no land on which to grow potatoes.

Senator Stewart - We shall be all right.

Senator SAYERS - I have no doubt that the honorable senator will be all right, but I am afraid that the people who will come after him would not be all right if his policy were carried out. I am pleased that the Government have taken this matter properly in hand. I hope that if ever Australia should have the misfortune to be engaged in a war, our Navy, in conjunction with the Imperial Navy and the ships of other British Dominions, will be able to give a good account of itself. Some people, I am aware, think that the course which is being followed in New Zealand at the present time is the right course to adopt, but we have launched upon a definite scheme, and I hope the Government will carry it to a practical conclusion ; that they will not halt half way, because half measures in a matter of this kind are worse than useless. It may be many years before Australia will become involved in a war, but I have no doubt that, when she is, the seamen of our Navy, whether natives of Australia or of the little islands in the North Sea, will be found to be worthy descendants of the men who have held the command of the sea for so many years. The people of New Zealand seem to take to the sea even more readily than do the natives of Australia, but I hope that if we are ever involved in a war we shall, with the assistance of the people of New Zealand, be able to bear our part well, and show that we are worthy descendants of a worthy race.

Senator STEWART(Queensland) in this debate, but my Imperialistic sentiments have been stimulated by the very thoughtful discourse to which we have been treated by Senator St. Ledger. That honorable senator seems to be of opinion that in the event of Great Britain losing her command of the sea, it will be a very bad day for Australia. I agree with him that if Great Britain loses her present position as mistress of the ocean, Australia will have to fall back upon her own people for her defence. We agree so far, but I do not know whether the honorable senator will agree with what I am going to say next, but I believe I am correct in my forecast. I think it is just as sure that Great Britain will lose her present position as that every other country which previously held it lost that position. It may not happen in our day, and we hope that it will not, but that it will come some day is as sure as that I am standing here to-night. Honorable senators are aware that history has a marvellous trick of repeating itself, and if I am correct in my forecast, what we ought to do now is to begin the development of a defence policy for this country, and not depend upon any outside assistance. We should rely upon our own strong arm and the patriotism of our citizens.

Senator Millen - Is the honorable senator prepared to rest on that alone to-day?

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