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Nelson Evening Mail FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1906. THE NEW DEFENCE SYSTEM. THE CIVIL AND THE MILITARY ARM.

THE Defenco Act Amendment Bill, which has just pa.sed through the Hou-e of Representatives, in a comparatively short but important measure, making very material alterations in the system of control in the Defence Department. • ••••• It empowers the GoVtM'ri&r to appoint a Council of Defence consisting of such persons and for such period . as lh6 Governor may think fit; with the right of reappointment') the term of office at one tinis being not longer than five years. The Minister of Defence is to be responsible to the Governor and to Parliament for all the budiuesf! of tne Council, and eucll blisinS&Sj oilier than that businesn which the Minister reserves to himself) is divided as follows : — (a) The firsb military moinb«r of the Council (the Chief of the General Staff), and thfc Second riiilitary niembor (tho Adjutant-General ahd Quarter-master-General) are to be responsible to the Minister of Defence for the administration of so milch of the business relating tb tne Organisation, dispesi: tion, personnel, armament, and maintenance of the Defence Forces as shall i i be assigned to them, or each of them, from time to time by the Minister. (b) The finance member of the Council shall bo renpppihl*! to the Minister of Defence *bl ; the finance of the deFHhcH lorces, and for so much of the other business of the Council as may be assigned to him from time to time by the Minister of Defence. (c) The Secretary to the Council will be charged with the preparation of all official communication? of tlie Council, and with such othe* 1 duties as the Minister of Delerice niay from time to time assign t'6 him. * • • * « • The Governor is empowered to appoint from time to time an InspectorGeneral, who will hold office for a pe j •iod not exceeding five years at a time, but he may be reappointed. The duties of the Inspector-General of the Defence Forces shall be, under the orders and direction of the Council, to review generally and to report to the Council on the practical results of the policy of the Council.. for that' purpose he will inspect and report annually upon the training and efficiency of all members of the defence forces, oil the suitability of their arnlarnent ahd equipment, and oh the fortifications and defences of the colony, and generally on the readiness and fitness of the defence forces for war. The members of the Defence Council and the Inspector-General are to be Haiti aHtitial Salaries out of the consolidated revenue. » » • • • • In moving the second reading of the Bill, Sir Joseph Ward said it was the desire of the Government to place defence Matters in the colony on a better footing than they had been for many years. There had been considerable difficulty in the administration of a department that was really a double department, with a military side and a civil side. The experience of past Ministers of Defence had been that in whatever reforms they desired to bring about they meti with difliculty owing to the fact that the various Commandants desired to obtain power of a nature that the Minister, with responsibility to the eountfry, was not prepared to give. That fact had to some extent raised a barrier betweon the civil side and tho military side, and had made the position extremely difficult. Under the Bill now before the House it was proposed to amend the Defence Act in the direction of setting up a Defence Council to work in conjuntion with the Defenco Minister in administering the defenco forces of the colony. The Premier read a memorandum from the late Commandant (Major-General Babington), showing that that officer had approved of the initiation of such a system.

• • •

Sir Joseph Ward, in explaining the Eersonnel of the proposed Council of efence, said it was do-.ircd to set up a board of five, consisting of an Imperial officer with the rank of Major; two officers at present commanding districts in the colony ; a financial momber; and a secretary, who would also be a member of the" board. The Imperial officer would receive about £550 a year. One of the officers at present commanding distiicts would be made the Inspector-General, and he would do the general inspection work hitherto performed, by the Commandant. Sii Joseph added that only two officers had been decided upon so far for appointment, Lieut. -Col. Davies, of Auckland, and Col. Robin, of Robin. One of these would be a member of the Board and the other Inspci tor-General. Latei they would exchange positions, so as t' acquire a full knowledge of all duties.

With regard to tho functions of the Board and the position and status of the Minister of Defence, the Premie! said the control of defence matters, as far as Parliament! was concerned, would be vested in the Minister of Defence The board would carry out the praitica' work of superintending the defence forces of the colony, and would really occupy the position of an executive officer, acting without reference to the Minister of Defence in minor thing:. In each district there would be sta tioned an officer who would be directly responsible for the control of stores oi all kinds. It was not intended to r.p point an Under-Sccretarv of Defence

In connection with actual defences, Sir Joseph announced to bhe House that it was proposed to discontinue the defence of harbours by mear.s of fixed submarine mines. He quoted authorities to show that this method of defence was obsolete and useless. He also informed the House that it was intended to establish a school of instruction in; eacn island, each being placed in charge of "an Imperial officer' holding staff college qualifications. A new field battery, with the necessary ammunition, had been ordered from England in the previous August. The four new 6in. guns were to be mounted on suitable sites, and plans were being prepared for the necessary mountings. One was do be placed on Palmer Head, Wellington. Two twelve-pounder quick-firing- guns were to be placed at Dorcester Point, Wellington. It was proposed to have an instructor for mounted, corps in each island. A chango was to be made in respect to capitation. In future the payment of capitation would not depend on a certain number of men attending parades, so that men who did their duty would not be deprived of capitation because of the non-attendance of a few men in the same corps. It was also intended to establish supply and veterinary corps, and to encourage rifle-shooting throughout the colony. Sir Joseph expressed the hope that borough councils would exercise their authority to establish rifle corps, and it would be a good thing if this were done without any suspicion of militarism.

With regard, to enlistment, equipment, etc., the Premier said the Government intended to permit a man to enlist in: a volunteer corps for one year instead of three as now. The reason for this change was that if a volunteer was a good man he would continue in hi. corps voluntarily, and if not, then he could leave or be got rid of, at the end of his first year. Overcoats are to be furnished to the members of the defence corps at a very

low tost. Sir Joseph said that in this respect the corps outsido Canterbury and Otago wera very badly equipped. Passing to *)*<• f'ipply of arms and amnuiriiMod, tae Premier said the reserves of small arms' ammunition at the moment were on a war basis Thia ivM to say that if evantualltieS ot an untoward eUarH'cUr occurred, they would haVe 12,000,000 rounds of ammunition. I The Government had a supply of ; 46,021 small arms of .206 calibre, y1,032 j of which were issued. There were also | in hand 4753 ' Martini -Henri rifles arid I 10,700 Sniders. Anna would be issued to men who desired to become good marksmen -, in fact, every encouragement would be given to thore who wished to become good shots. As a community which did not tlC3ite to take up arms t-h«y Would, however, be made to excel in handling them, and use them if necessary. Sir Joseph added that the Government was desirous of putting volunteering on .«. Pood footing in this coiin»ra- In the pa:t difflcuties hs».d „HsSn under tho divided conH-o! OV the one-man system. But in future they hoped to get over this by having representatives of the military and civil side on the Council.

The forpHoing •'Splaiiis in full the objects ahd scope of the changes about to bo made in the administration of the Defenco Department. The Bill has passed through the House with virtually no amendment of the original clauses, and it will become law in the course of the next few days. It Will be 6een that many important alterations, in the existing system ale nladPi artd soma of thenl arc, cßrtnihly for the belteh During the debate in the Ho'iipi* exception was taken to the inclusion of so many Imperial officers, the contention being that locally-trained officers' were available in plenty fti'd equally pf)icien%. But it niust Be generally adrtiiUeci that for the present at least locally-trained officers have a good deal lo .learn, anti that the Imperial officer of staff college status is aiorie capable of placing matters on a sound footing.

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Bibliographic details

Nelson Evening Mail FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1906. THE NEW DEFENCE SYSTEM. THE CIVIL AND THE MILITARY ARM., Nelson Evening Mail, Volume XLI, Issue 292, 26 October 1906

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Nelson Evening Mail FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1906. THE NEW DEFENCE SYSTEM. THE CIVIL AND THE MILITARY ARM. Nelson Evening Mail, Volume XLI, Issue 292, 26 October 1906

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