Grandpa Pencil's
Australian Colonial
Intelligence

7

Defence in Australasia to 1896

Records drawn from a statistical account of the seven colonies of Australasia 1895 - 1896, T. A. Coghlan

In all of the colonies a small permanent military force, consisting for the most part of artillery and submarine miners, is maintained.

The colonists of Australasia have always manifested an objection to the maintenance of a standing army, and a disposition to rely mainly on the patriotism and valour of the citizens for their defence.

But each colony possesses a more or less complete system of fortifications, armed with expensive ordnance which requires a more regular and constant attendance than could well be bestowed by those who devote only a portion of their time to military affairs.

Hence it has been found advisable to institute the small permanent forces alluded to, whose chief duty it is to man the fortifications and keep the valuable armaments therein in a state of efficiency, so as to be ready for any emergency.

At the same time it is expected that they will prove the nucleus for an effective defence force if ever hostilities should unfortunately occur.

The greater portion of the Australian forces, however, consists of volunteers enrolled under a system of partial payment, which affords an effective defence force without the disadvantages and expense of a standing army.

The men receive payment according to the number of parades and night drills they attend, in order to compensate them for loss of wages during the time they are away from their employment for the purposes of receiving military instruction.

The remuneration varies in the different colonies, the New South Wales scale being 8s for each whole day parade, 4s for a half day parade and 2s for a night drill.
(Note: 1s is one shilling or the equivalent of 10 cents)

There has been a marked tendency in most of the colonies to discourage the services of those who are purely volunteers, as the system was found to work unsatisfactorily, especially in the country districts.

In New Zealand and Western Australia alone is the volunteer system the mainstay of defence.

The following table shows the strength of the military forces maintained by each colony. The figures refer to the end of the year 1894 with the exception of the colony of Victoria, which refer to the first of July, 1895

 

colony
Full
paid
Part
paid
Un
paid
Total
force

N.S.W

635
4089
840
5564

Victoria

334
2917
3650
6901

Queensland

130
1806
1504
3440

S. Aust.

22
1187
824
2033

W. Aust

36
0
740
776

Tasmania

14
408
989
1411

N. Z.

215
0
4172
4387

Total

1386
10407
12719
24512



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