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THE DEFENCE PROPOSALS.

PRIME MINISTER'S POLICY ORITICISED. {By Telegraph.—Own Correspondent.) DUNEDIN, this day. Mr. James Allen, M.P. for Bruce, crltlcibing thc Prime Minister's speech on the subject of defence, said: "The Defence Minister has not thought the question out, nor can I understand these words, 'To ensure the maintenance of peace throughout the Empire they would have the assistance of large numbers of men who might be termed reserves.'

"I presume," continued Mr. Allen, "that he means in New Zealand. This is not very explicit, and one awaits further explanation before commenting upon it. The provision for rifle ranges I quite endorse, but there is another provision even more necessary, and that ls the provision for field firing. As far as I can see, the Prime Minister's mind is this: He is going to rely upon a eystem of cadet drill extended to the age of 21 years, reserves and rifle clubs, to whom he promises a supply of free ammunition to the extent of 250 rounds per man, for the defence of the country. I do not hesitate to say that in my opinion the rifle clubs are excellent things in their way, but they are not an efficient means of protecting this ! country unless they can be organised and disciplined and moved iin the field. A good shot at a target it | not of necessity a good shot at, perhaps, the head or shoulders of a man behind cover and at ranges not known, and where rapid firing is essential sometimes. Nor do I agree with the Prime Minister for one moment when he says with regard to the Commonwealth that what they are doing is next door to childish, in my opinion they have a very much mere statesmanlike idea of the position than our. Premier has, and I cannot cease from calling attention, whenever I get the opportunity, to the faot that the position in the Pacific is very greatly changed of recent years. It is true that: in the flrst place, the most important thing that the British Empire has to provide for is the supremacy of the British fleet itself, but the British fleet nowadays is not a fleet that commands or even patrols the whole of the seas. The necessities of recent years have compelled the British authorities to concentrate their fleet around the British shores, and) whilst they are there in sufficient strength, they can command all the eeas around those shores and the Mediterranean, if they were- strong enough. And, whilst they have this command, we in Australasia need fear little from any European Power so long as they have no cruisers of any importance in the Pacific. But the British fleet is led to British shores by modern conditions, and concentration is essential. Who could say it is not with the German programme before their eyes at the present moment 7 And I see no prospect ,of them, or even a cruiser portion of any strength, coming into the Pacific. Under such circumstances, a statesman would look to see what might be the position of his country in case of trouble arising. We are at present the ally of Japan. Who knows how long we shall be! Our policy is one which must indeed be irritating to the Japanese. I don't say it is not the right policy, but it has its responsibilities. We have- heard of the awakening of China. The awakening at present, so far as military matters are concerned, extend chiefly to the army. There is, I believe, some ship-building going on, and there probably will be more. At the present moment Great Britain has practically no ships , ot value in the Pacific, and the East, and the Pacific ie at the mercy of Japan. I cannot help looking forward and trying in my own mind to realise what may be the position in ten or twelve years' time, and when I do so it is forced upon mc every time that, though our first and primary duty is to maintain the British fleet in British waters strong enough to maintain the supremacy of Britain, then it is also our duty to prevent our. own shores being attacked with success; and, secondly, to protect our own trade routes in the Pacific. The Commonwealth may not have adopted exactly the right means for her coastal defence. Judging from the conference of the Prime Ministers, and the opinions of experts given there, they have to a very large extent certainly done so, and their general idea is to my mind undoubtedly sound. We talk of helping the Mother Country with her navy,, and we are accepting from her year by year the cost cf the Australasian equadron, less the contribution that the Common weal ..a and ourselves give to the Imperial Government. I may be 'before the time, but I am perfectly certain that the day will come when New Zealand statesmen will' recognise that the Australian squadron ' ought to be a portion of the British navy, built at the expense, and equipped at the expense, of Australians and New Zea- j landers." ...

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THE DEFENCE PROPOSALS. Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 81, 5 April 1909

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