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AUSTRALIAN NAVAL DEFENCE.
TO THE EDITOR.
Sir,-I should like to say a few words on the subject of Australian naval defence. As an island country, and with a view to her future position as a nation of British race, It seems to me high time that Aus- tralia should take some definite steps to- wards developing and advancing a scheme of naval defence from her own resources. Surely the time has arrived when a con- tinuance of the mercenary scheme for Aus- tralian defence should be supplemented or replaced by the formation of a special branch of the Royal Naval Reserve through- out the country, organised and trained to meet 'local conditions ; and further for the purpose of reinforcing and manning ships of the Imperial Navy in time of war. The true defence of an island country Iies In the command of the sea, therefore the encouragement and ad- vancement of a local naval force is neces- sary In Australia, and also the foundation of a Federated Naval Reserve, Instead of a continual money contribution. The 'great want of England now lies in the direction of manning her fleet, and although the gift of a first-class battleship by Cape Colony is generous and patriotic, especially in
country which has to expend largel/ on land forces to protect her inland frontiers ; and as this gift means an expenditure of nearly one million pounds sterling, I think that both at the Cape and in Australia (par- ticularly the latter) a reserve of qualified seamen would be a more acceptante pre- sentation in the eyes of the Imperial author- ities. This, too, would encourage a naval spirit and lead the way to suitable training establishments and adequate machinery for the future defence of a sea-girt continent. A country, moreover, cannot continu- ally pay a money tribute to Great Britain
for her defence without sacrificing the self- I reliance which she should maintain if de- j sirous of becoming a great and worthy
I cannot see any reason why an Aus- tralian navy should not be incorporated in the Royal Navy in the same way as dn the Indian Marine, now known as the Royal Indian Marine. The present administration of the local Australian marine forces can be productive of no useful results, but the federation of all, combined with periodical inspections by a duly qualified British naval officer appointed for the purpose, would probably produce a force of which "Aus- tralia might bo proud, and the Empire find available and useful. The preliminary sug-
gestions to this end might be settled by a I convention of the officers in charge in the different colonies, who would furnish re- ports to their respective Governments for transmission to tho Imperial Government for further consideration and reply. I may also point out that the facilities for the drill and training of men at present obtain- able in the colonies are not far short of that supplied at home for the training of
the Naval Reserve.
In conclusion I reiterate that the ina'n point to be considered is the supply of trained men rather than ships ; for a battle- ship can be built in twelve months, but it takes years to produce qualified officers and men. Moreover, for the Australlsu station battleships are probably not so suitable as fast heavily-armed cruisers,, and there, no doubt, would be forthcoming from England when needed. The whole matter certainly calls for early and serious consideration by Australian statesmen, and the opinions of experts suoh as Lord Charles Beresford, Admiral Bowden Smith, and Lord Brassey should carry very great weight.-I am, sir, &o., , , ,
23rd July. i. , R.M.
In an article on the above subject, the " Rockhampton Bulletin" of 21st instant, says :-If it is resolved that the squadron Is not to be removed under any circum- stances from the Australian coast, it is to be hoped some effort will be made to use it as a training fleet for Australian sea- men. The great objection to the present agreement is that it is too much like a charter party for so many tons of ship- ping for a certain period. Australia pays so much money, which certainly is all spent hore again, and for this she is assured of the presence of a naval' squadron always on her coasts. But the squadron is manned entirely by crews sent out from Britain, and consequently ita presence on our coaets does not develop in. the slightest what raaf be called the native defensive powers of tha colonies. -Jf some arrange
ment could be made whereby a certain por- tion of' the crews would be recruited In Australia for a period of three or flvo years, at the end of which term they would return again to civil life or to tho mer- chant marine service, we should Boon pos-
sess a line body of thoroughly trained naval '
men in these colonies. Australia is an island, and it is a truism that sho must either herself become a great naval power or be In the closest alliance with one. Out of all the men at present serving In the Australian coasting service. It is doubtful If a competent crew could be picked to work and fight a single one of the ships of tho Australian squadron. There Is a very fine body of seamen at work on the Australian coast, but they have not been trained to naval work, and are quite ignorant of it. Were the opportunity gnen them of spend-
ing a certain number of years on the ships j of the Australian squadron, and then pas3- ' lng into a Naval Reserve, there-can-tcarcely bo a doubt that hundreds would take advan- tage of it. If such a scheme had bean grafted on to the proposal which was made and accepted ten years ago, we should have had at present in Australia as fine, though not as large, a body of Naval Reserve men as could be found in -the world. The op- portunity was let slip then, but it is to be hoped that error will not be repeated now, otherwise the end of the next ten years will see us in exactly the same position
we are in now.
At the South Brisbane Police Court yes- terday, before Xr. W. Yaldwyn, P.M., Wil- liam Arnold summoned Hugh Eadle for assault. Mr. W. Morse appeared for the complainant. Tho defendant admitted striking Arnold, bul stated, in extenuation, that he was greatly provoked by complain- ant pushing in between himself and an- other person whilo they were talking. De- fendant was fined £1, with Cs. Sd. costs of court, los. three witnesses' expenses, and £2 2s. professional costs, in default one month's
At the Central Police Court yesterday, before Mr. P. Pinnock, P.M., William Wat- son, for being drunk, was fined 5s., or six hours.; and James Tioy, for a similar offence, was fined £1, or twenty-four hours. Wil- liam Henry Bidde&combe was charged with vagrancy, and was remanded till Monday.