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COLONIAL DEFENCE.

The Commonwealth's defence scheme, as set forth by Mr. Fisher, makes veryinteresting reading. It is clear that the Labour party, which now holds the reins of power in Australia, is very much in earnest about national defence, and that it is prepared to make serious sacrifices to secure its ends. Very little exception can be taken to Mr. Fisher's pronouncement on the proposed Dreadnought offer, for even assuming that, as we believe, his judgment is at fault, he has honestly tried to devise an alternative policy. In the opinion of the Federal Government, Australia, can do more for England and itself by begfnning to build a colonial navy than by paying large naval subsidies or offering to present warships to the Imperial authorities. We are by no means convinced that Australia will ever be able to build fleets large enough to defend its shores against all possible enemies, and we .hold as firmly as ever that the best means for maintaining the Empire is one great navy under centralissd control. But the torpedo destroyers with which Australia is beginning h-er naval programme would be , useful adjuncts to an ocean-going fleet, and the outlay which 'the Federal Government contemplates is sufficient proof that Australia is taking this question seriously to heart. But Mr. Fisher I does not confine himself to naval deI fence. He has drafted a scheme for compulsory military service that would ultimately cost something like a million aad a-half a 'year, and .would ensure proper

- training and. discipline for all youths up a to the age of 21. We hope that this t project more particularly will appeal for- .- cibly to public'tihaghiation at Home, and - that it may serve as a precedent or r example to England itself. We may 4 note in passing that New Zealand is f fully prepared to initiate a system of - national military training, though Sir 3 Joseph Ward has just stated that no i definite scheme has yet been organised . on these linea. But we may be sure . that when the right time comes New . Zealand will not lag behind Australia j in this respect, and we may be equally j sure that Australia, whether it offers t Dreadnoughts to the navy or not, will r justify Mr. Fisher's promise that the , Tesources of the Commonwealth, are at f the disposal of England when the emer- , gency demands. l „

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COLONIAL DEFENCE. Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 77, 31 March 1909

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