8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took thechair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
SenatorFOLL asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister,upon notice -
Is it a fact -
That, since the Government tookover control of Rabaul and late German New
Guinea, recruiting of native labour has been prohibited?
That labour shortage exists on many plantations, causing them to deteriorate?
– The answers are -
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 28th April, vide page 7857)
Section seventeen of the principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (1) thereof and inserting inits steadthe following subsection : - “(1) An officer may at any time, by writing under bis hand, tender the resignation of his commission, and a resignation so tendered, unless sooner withdrawn or accepted, shall take effect at the expiration of three months after the tender thereof unless a time of war exists at the date of such tender or expiration, in which case it shall take effect at the expiration of three months after the cessation of the time of war :
Provided that an officer who is a graduate of the Military College shall not, during the first eight years ofhis service as an officer, be entitled to resign his commission except on the approval of the Military Board and upon payment of the prescribed amount.”
– May I Suggest to the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) that we should, this morning, have a discussion on clause 18.
– When we come to it.
– It is all very well to say, “When we come to it,” but it is possible that after discussion on clause 18 the Minister in charge of the Bill may find it necessary to withdraw it for the purpose of re-drafting. I say this in view of the opinion of the Committee concerning clause 18. If such a thing as I suggest is possible it does seem to me that we shall be rather wasting our time in considering now the clauses which come before clause 18.
TheCHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap). - The honorable senator must connect his remarks with clause 9, which is now before the Committee.
Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) [11.41. - I was addressing myself to this question last night, when the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) asked me to resume my seat to enable us to adjourn. I might, suggest or might move that the debate on the clause now before the Committee should be adjourned until after we have dealt with clause 18, because I think there is very much in what Senator Pratten has said.
– “What has this clause to do with clause 181
– I think that the only matter concerning which the majority of honorable senators are keenly interested is dealt with in clause 18.
– Then let us get to it.
– I believe that if we did get to it at once it would assist (he rapid passage of the Bill, and. that is why I support Senator Pratten’s suggestion. I assume that the Minister does not desire that the clauses of the Bill should be passed without criticism, and I assume also that he does not wish to prevent the usual adjournment of the Senate thiB afternoon, at 4 o’clock, to enable honorable senators to catch their trains. I agree with Senator ‘ Pratten that it would be well to at once test the opinions of honorable senators on, clause IS, and if the Minister of Defence is successful in carrying it, we must let it go.
– I see no reason whatever for the request that is made. I am as much in touch with the feeling of the Committee as any other honorable senator, and I do not think that the majority desire that we should consider clause 18 before we have dealt with the clauses which come before it.
– I have no wish to take the business out of the hands of the Government, and will ecn* tent myself with the suggestion I have made.
Honorable senators, will remember that in addressing myself to the fixed period of service after training which under this clause students attending Duntroon College are required to give, I said that I considered the provision a mistake. It would be a mistake, even though without it we lost to’ the service of the Defence Department one or two per cent, of officers turned out of the college. We know that one thing from which the Military Service is suffering at the present time is that, brilliant men who on the field of actual warfare displayed military genius and great capacity for military service, are shut out from employment in our Forces, because of the need for finding employment for trainees of the Duntroon College. Senator Pratten informed us that the cost of training men at the Duntroon College amounts to £5,000 per head. Knowing that the honorable sen a* tor is so careful in dealing with financial matters, X have accepted his estimate; but, when we take into consideration that from 130 to 150 students are being trained there each year, although the full course covers four years, I am inclined to believe that Senator Pratten’s estimate is altogether too great. If those trained at Duntroon remain in Australia we shall be well equipped with officers for our military needs. I have a son who is now too old to be sent to the -Military College, but if he were young enough tobe sent there I should hesitate very seriously about letting him enter the college if he was to be bound down for eight years after he became a man. Such a provision must be injurious, rather than beneficial to the college. No thoughtful man would think of binding a son to a profession which he could not leave for eight years after he reached manhood. He would prefer that his son should enter a profession which he might leave at any moment. We know how many professional men change their occupation. We know that there are many who have passed as doctors or barristers who later have engaged in altogether different pursuits.
Senator Pearce may argue that this provision is already in existence, add that he is proposing in this Bill only to put it in a different form. By the form in which it appears in the’ existing Act, a general impression is conveyed that a trainee at Duntroon College may leave the Military Service at any time, but the Minister is proposing iri this Bill to make it quite clear that there is no “get out” for a trainee of the college. I should like to suggest that this is a time when we might suspend the work of the college altogether, and decide that for ten years we shall have no ‘ further military training in Australia. We might decide that for ten years we are sufficiently equipped and trained for war. We have officers and good soldiers here, and the nucleus of an efficient army, and a substantial saving of expenditure might be brought about by cutting down at once the operations of all military training institutions; This might be a wise course to adopt if the financial position is as disastrous as Alinisters are making out. I do not underestimate the seriousness of- our financial position,, and for years past I have taken advantage of every occasion to voice the need for careful attention to our finances”. If there is to be a sudden curtailment of expenditure, what better course could we adopt than the suspension of these institutions when we have an abundance of the material they turn out in the shape of trained military men? I shall call for a division upon this clause, because of my objection to the binding of trainees of the Military College for eight years after they hare left the college, and because the time is opportune for the military authorities to consider whether they cannot effect a great saving in expenditure by suspending the operation of these training colleges for the next ton years.
– With regard to Senator Gardiner’s objection to the length of service required from officers after they have been trained iu the Military College, there is an aspect of the question upon which some light may be thrown. I understand that we bare in Australia to-day so many men trained at Duntroon that it is found almost impossible to place them in jobs in the Military Service. We have a number of men who were staff-sergeant-majors, warrant officers, and instructors before the war. Some of these men who went to the Front rose as high as majors, and in one case that I know of to the rank of lieutenant-colonel on the field. These men, on their return, were required, in accordance with the promise they made before they went away, to revert to their pre-war rank. When some of them who had gained distinction in the field asked that their claims should be specially considered by the Military Department, they were told in effect - and I have seen this in writing - that there was no opening for. them, because the Department had a number of Duntroon Military College men for whom they were looking for jobs I understand that in districts where, previous to the war, Citizen Force officers acted as adjutants for regiments, we have Duntroon-trained men now occupying positions as adjutants and quartermasters in each of the Military Districts. If we have not a surplus of officers trained at Duntroon, how is it that the men to whom I have referred who have achieved distinction in the field cannot he granted even honorary commissions? Senator Gardiner has said that men trained at Duntroon might, after their training, desire to leave the Military Service rather than continue to serve for a period of eight years, as provided by the clause under consideration, and I say that, even in the interests of the Service it might be advisable that some of these men should get out. We had a case recently of a man who, for some reason, wished to leave the Service, and did leave it. He was court martialed, and a great hullabaloo made about the case, lt was said that discipline had to be maintained, and that others who might wish to leave the Service should be impressed by the horribly shocking example of a Duntroon officer being arrested and court martialed. Then the whole thing fizzled out. After hearing the evidence of the military medical officer the court martial said everything was quite all right, and the officer was allowed to get out. Such restrictions should not be imposed upon men who wish to leave the Military Service.
– T wish first of all to say, with regard to the Grainger case referred to by Senator Foster, that what happened was that the officer took french leave, and he was court martialed for that. When he appeared before the court martial his counsel put up the defence that he was medically unfit. As a result of the evidence given, I ordered a special medical hoard of inquiry. It was found that the man was medically unfit, and for that reason he was allowed to resign. If that officer had applied to the Medical Board there would have been no need for him to have taken french leave.
– Did he not ask for leave, and did not the authorities neglect to answer his correspondence? In such circumstances ho had to do something.
– My recollection is that he took french leave first and asked for leave afterwards.
– I understood that he repeatedly asked for leave over a considerable period until his case seemed quite hopeless,, and that he then took french leave. The Department ordered an inquiry to enable it to get out of a difficulty.
– There ig nothing to prevent any officer who is medically unfit getting his discharge. As a matter of fact if he is not medically fit he cannot be retained in the Service except for certain duties.
– The Department used a good deal of diplomacy in getting out of that difficulty.
– I do not know that there is any particular diplomacy in the appointment of a medical board to determine whether an officer is medically unfit for service. “ Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind.” And even when the Department does right, from the standpoint of Senator Thomas, it does so from unworthy motives.
– The Minister knows that what I have stated is correct.
– In that particular case, was it not proved that the officer had been medically examined, and was quite unable, through the ordinary military channels, to get out of the Service?
– There was a medical examination, but it was of quite an inconclusive character. That fact was disclosed in the evidence tendered to the court martial. One part of the finding of the medical inquiry was that the officer was physically unfit, whilst another part of it affirmed that he was still fit for home service. The inquiry did not result in a definite finding either way. I assure Senator Foster that there is no present difficulty in placing Duntroon graduates. That is proved by the fact that we have temporarily filled a number of positions with the non-commissioned officers to whom he has referred. There are many of these officers still holding temporary positions because there are not sufficient Duntroon graduates to fill them. That position is quite consistent with the reply which I have given, that we cannot permanently appoint these officers to such positions, because, as time goes- on, we shall be able to fill them with Duntroon graduates.
– Are these noncommissioned officers doing their work all right?
– As far as I know, they are. But we must have regard, not merely to the number of cadets who are taken into the college for any one particular year.’ They have to undergo a four-years’ course there, and consequently we have to plan for quite a number of years ahead. . Otherwise the result would be that when the graduates left the college there would be nothing for them to do. That is why these non-commissioned officers - who did well at the Front - have not been permanently appointed to the positions which they are now filling.
– Do I understand that the number of graduates from Duntroon will be reduced during the next few years ?
– It may be increased. What I have said is in accord with the principle which was laid down by Lord Kitchener in regard to the establishment of the college. Not only amongst our Permanent, but amongst our Citizen Forces, we have a large number of officers who did splendidly at the war. But it does not follow that the officer who has been a success in leading troops in the field will necessarily be a good instructor of troops.
– That is just the point. Are these non-commissioned officers efficient instructors ? If they are they should not be supplanted, by Duntroon graduates.
– The college was established not merely to supply instructors but also administrators. The students there are specially trained in order that they may be qualified to impart military instruction and also to perform administrative duties. Many good officers in the field are total f ailures when it comes to administration, and are not the best officers even in the matter of imparting instruction.
– I do not know that that applies to the warrant officers.
– Lord Kitchener recommended the establishment of the college in order that it might turn out the schoolmasters for our Army. It is a mistake to think that it was founded to supply anything else. It is intended to turd out the future instructors for the officers of our Citizen Army. Having established it, we have practically contracted with, its trainees, that they shall instruct our Citizen Forces. If we now turn round and appoint citizen officers to instructional positions, we shall break our contract. Obviously the officers of our Citizen Forces cannot be as competent as those who are specially trained as instructors and administrators. For that reason, Parliament has always laid down the principle that positions on the Instructional Staff must be filled by the college graduates. Otherwise we might as well wipe out the institution entirely. There can be no halfway house. For that reason these non-commissioned officers cannot be permanently put into the positions which they now hold. But there arc positions in the Permanent Forces which they can fill permanently, such positions as quartermaster, &e. Wherever it is possible to do so, we are putting them into these positions, so long as they have served successfully at the Front. But the instructional positions must he reserved for the Duntroon graduates because that is the plan which has been laid down. We have entered into a contract with these graduates, and if we break it we shall be morally obliged to pay them compensation. I repeat that a man who has distinguished himself upon the battlefield is not necessarily either a good instructor or a good administrator.
– There are some (officers, I understand, who were great failures upon the field, but who are great instructors here?
– I do not know to whom the honorable senator refers. I prefer that he should father that statement himself.
– What salaries dd the Instructional Staff receive?
– For the honorable senator’s information, I will get the rates which are paid to graduates who are put on the Instructional Staff.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) has pointed out that under this clause graduates from the Duntroon Military College will be required to serve the Commonwealth as officers for a term of eight years. But there are two sides to that question.
– I find that it costs the Commonwealth roughly £2,000 for each Duntroon student who completes his four year course.
– The Government have a right to say to the Military College graduates that the Commonwealth shall have the benefit of their services for a prescribed term in view of the expenditure to which it has been subjected upon their behalf. But after these men have completed their training they should have some guarantee that they will occupy positions of a certain standing. In Sydney, only last week, I was talking about some young men who were sent to England during the regime of the second Fisher Government, in order that they might he taught how to build submarines. I suppose that there were eight or a dozen of them. After having been in the Old Country for some time they returned to the Commonwealth. Upon his return, one of them who did remarkably well at Home, who had passed all his examinations, and upon whom the Commonwealth had expended £1,000, obtained a job which he could have ‘secured had he never been sent to England, and had never a single penny been spent upon him. To-day he is in charge of a ,big private concern, and is doing remarkably well. Another of these young men secured a good position in America, where he is doing excellent wark. Whilst 1 agree that the Commonwealth is entitled to some return for its expenditure upon Duntroon graduates, upon the other hand we have a right to see that during the eight years for which they will be bound to serve the Commonwealth as officers they receive fair play. It was a scandalous thing for the Commonwealth, after spending £1,000 in sending a young fellow to England, to allow him, upon his return, to be appointed to a job which he could have obtained under any circumstances.
– That is an argument for the retention of the clause.
– Not at all.
– Those men did not, as I thought they would, take up the building of submarines.
– One of their number is now in charge of a certain private enterprise in South Australia Under this clause we would have kept him at Cockatoo Island or somewhere else, and he would have Been receiving practically a labourer’* wage, after £1,000 had been expended upon his training by the Commonwealth
– That is not the case. They know what pay they get.
– I am one of those who are hoping against hope that the League of Nations will one day be able to accomplish something to prevent war in the future, and I am thinking of the future of these young men. I recognise, of course, that the Government have some claim upon them, but I would rather have the term fixed at four years than at eight.
– I cannot agree with the suggestion made by Senator Gardiner, that in the interests of economy Duntroon College should be discontinued, but he has set me thinking whether fair opportunities are given to those men who are now holding * certain positions in the Citizen Forces. Until something definite is done by the League of Nations to prevent wars Australia, of all countries in the world, cannot afford to relax her efforts in the direction of defence. While listening to the debate I could not help thinking that our system of training cadets at Duntroon is perhaps operating unfairly to those men who received their practical training on the battlefield. No doubt the Minister is quite correct in saying that some of the men who proved excellent leaders during warfare do not possess the necessary qualifications for successful administrators or for imparting instruction to recruits; but an ounce of practice always appeals -to me more forcibly than a ton of theory, and so I cannot see why these men with their practical experience of warfare cannot be properly equipped for instructional duties in a much shorter time than is now required for the training of our cadets. I should like to know if there is anything in our regulations to prevent those officers who satisfactorily served this country during the war from entering Duntroon College for short periods of training for the particular duties they are asked to undertake. .
– A section of the Act permits of that, and last year there were only two applicants, both of whom failed to pass the preliminary examination.
– But these citizen officers have to leave their civil occupations to enter Duntroon College.
– I am speaking of those men who are employed temporarily by the Defence Department, and who will be displaced as our Duntroon cadets become qualified for instructional work.
– Many of the men referred to are up to middle age, so how could they be started on a college career again ?
– To what extent would they require training ? Having a thorough . knowledge of the .practical side of the military business all they need is ‘’ topping off,” as it were, in the duties ‘ of the administrative and instructional staff, and I should say that they would acquire this theoretical knowledge in about half the time necessary . for the training of raw recruits. I am an uncompromising advocate of preference to returned men. If it is possible for the Government to assist these men, I believe it should be done, because they have the practical side of their work at their fingers’ ends, and we should avoid, if possible, superseding them by Duntroon students, and casting them on the labour market. Surely we could enable them to acquire this knowledge without keeping the college going at its full strength in the training of recruits. I do not know that this would be economy, because no doubt the same staff would be required to teach 50 as to teach 100 or more students. I believe that if these men possess ordinary intelligence - and I have no doubt on that point - and have an interest in their profession, the Government should help them, rather than allow them to drift on in temporary employment, until the time comes for their replacement by Duntroon students. I know the Minister’s heart and soul is in the business of his Department, and I hope, therefore, that something will be done.
.- I promised Senator Gardiner a little time ago that I would. supply him with information as to the salaries paid ‘to the students when. they go out from the college to take up their official duties. The pay of a lieutenant starts at £275, and rises, with increments of £25 in the first, third, fifth, and seventh and eighth years, to £400. A captain receives £425, rising to £525, increments beginning in the third year.
..” - I have strong sympathy with the view expressed by Senator Earle. Very many of these men won commissions and did brilliant work in the field. But I realize the difficulties confronting the Government. These men are married, and have families dependent upon them, so that if they enter the college even for a comparatively short term, some living allowance will have to be made for their families.
– Surely they are not all married !
– The majority of them are men up to middle age, forty years and over, so that the Government will have to face a considerable increase in expenditure if anything is done on the lines suggested. There is another difficulty. The Duntroon students are given an all-round training, and, when they go out from the college, may be posted to the artillery, engineers, infantry, or any other branch of the Service.
– I think the students are posted to a particular arm in the Service during the last year of training.
– If the practice here is the same as in Great Britain, the men who get the highest marks in the last year are posted to the more scientific arm, that is to say, they go to the engineers or artillery. But every student has a grounding in all branches of the Service, whereas these sergeantmajors, who have strong claims for consideration, have been trained in only one branch. They are infantrymen or artillerymen pure and simple, so it will be difficult to adjust these men to a proper course of study. They have, however, rendered this country invaluable service. Long before the war they laid the foundation, in many cases, of out Citizen Army, and carried it on right through the war, doing, really magnificent work. They realize now that they are coming nearer to the time when they will be displaced by Duntroon students, and so, in the latter part of their middle age, they are faced with the probability of being obliged to take some labouring job.
– Quite a number1 - I think twenty-five - have been appointed quarter-masters, and I believe another twenty-five are filling . temporary positions. As other vacancies occur we are doing what we can for these men.
– I am very glad, indeed, to have the Minister’s assurance that some provision is being made for them in this way.
– I do not know whether the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) ‘ quite understood my argument in regard to these men. He suggested that while these men on active service proved very good men in the field, they were not necessarily good on the instructional and administrative side. But I want to point out that the men to whom I referred are those who for a great number of years were engaged on the administrative and instructional side of the Defence Department.
– As noncommissioned officers under the command of an officer.
– I was going to say, and I shall stress it all the more, that those of us who knew . what war training was prior to the war, know that in a great many cases it was the instructional non-commissioned officer who really ran the show. He knew more’ about the work than the officer who nominally was in command.
– That is a libel on the Citizen Forces.
– lb is quite wrong. I have had as much experience in military matters as any one in the State, and I know it is incorrect.
– I am sure an honorable senator holding the rank of General will not infer from my statement that I meant that a non-commissioned officer knew more about military matters than a General. When it came to the training of the Citizen Forces and the cadets prior to the war it was usually the noncommissioned officers who did the instructional work.
– The honorable senator is probably referring to cadets.
– The noncommissioned officers had sufficient knowledge and ability to give instruction before the war.
– That is what they were there for.
– Of course.
– They were running the junior portion of the .” show,” and no one said they were there for any other purpose.
– I will go further, and say that a great many of the men who went «away under Senator Cox were ‘ trained by non-commissioned officers. I am also prepared to stated t cannot be denied - that a great number of the non-commissioned officers -were refused permission to enlist prior to October, 1916, as instructional officers were needed in Australia.
– That is quite correct.
– Some of the noncommissioned officers train men at Duntroon.
– In certain branches only.
– Only in drilling.
Senator Cox__ That is the junior portion of the training.
– They are instructors -all the same.
– I am not suggesting that an officer in charge of musketry -does not know a little more about his work than a captain or a warrant officer under him. I consider it my duty to say that the non-commissioned officers in Aus- tralia are men who do a good deal of instructional work of greater importance than ordinary preliminary training, such as Senator Cox suggests. Some of the men holding non-commissioned rank in Australia have been to England to be trained, and a man I know of is one of the finest musketry instructors in Australia. There are other non-commissioned officers equally efficient if they are to be judged by their capacity for instructional and administrative work. I may mention as an illustration a man who was recently appointed Federal Secretary of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia; who was a noncommissioned officer prior to enlistment, but whose services abroad were so satisfactory that he became a Brigade-Major on the Staff in France. When he returned to Australia, despite the fact that he possessed sufficient instructional and administrative ability to be promoted to the rank of Brigade-Major when abroad, he was told that there was- no position carrying a commission available. What I fear in the future is that unless a man has the hallmark of Duntroon College on him, and is one of the “ socially elect,” he will have no chance.
– There is no such thing as the “socially elect” at Duntroon, as the cadets at that College come from all classes’ of the community.
– I know there is the possibility I have mentioned. I am speaking of a man who is too old. to go into
Duntroon to quality, and I repeat that- if he. is not one, of. the “ socially elect “ he has no opportunity. I am prepared to adhere to that statement.
– There are none of the “ socially elect “ at Duntroon.
– These men are placed in the position, that unless they have the hall-mark of Duntroon, and belong to the “socially elect” they have not a chance. I am afraid that even in this democratic country there is very little, if any, opportunity at all, for a man to rise from the ranks to any position of importance in the Army. I regret that such is the case.
– The honorable senator is referring to the permanent men, and not to the members of the Citizen Forces
– They are absolutely barred now.
– There will be absolutely no opportunity for such men except under the conditions mentioned bv the Minister, where a non-commissioned officer is given an opportunity by passing a preliminary examination.
– He can be appointed as a quartermaster.
– I rose particularly to point out that the Minister’s statement, that non-commissioned officers cannot be appointed to the permanent staff because of their Jack of instructional and administrative ability, is one that will not stand investigation.
Senator VARDON (South Australia) [11.501. - The most important point in connexion with this discussion is the service required of a student, and, person: ally, I think it would be well if the term were reduced from eight to five years. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) may be able to convince me to the contrary, but I feel that a man having undergone a period of training at the Military College may find that he possesses some latent ability of which he had no previous knowledge. It is ‘quite possible that some students may find after several years of instruction that they would be’ more successful in some other capacity where the remuneration would be more attractive. I do not think it advisable for students to be compelled to serve such a lengthy period, because it may not be of advantage to the individual, and on the other hand good men are required in other spheres of activity. In these circumstances I consider it desirable to limit the term to five years, and if any honorable senator is prepared to move in that direction I shall support him.
– I do not feel disposed to support She suggestion of Senator Vardonthat we should decrease the term of training from eight years to five years, because when a lad goes to Duntroon he has practically made up his mind to follow a military career.
– I think Senator Vardon meant that a lad may have mistaken his vocation.
– If, when a student has been at Duntroon for twelve or eighteen months he discovers that he has mistaken his vocation, it should be possible for him to apply to the Military Board or to the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) to be relieved of his obligation. If a lad has been trained at Duntroon College at the expense of the Government it would not be fair for him to say when he had completed his training that he was all the better for the physical and educational instruction, but had decided to follow some other occupation. There is an obligation on the part of the youth who goes to Duntroon to give some service for the expense incurred.
– Could he not render good service with the Citizen Forces.
– He might do so; but I do not think we should altogether regard Duntroon College as a high or public school, and allow him, after completing his course to follow other than a military career. Before a youth goes to Duntroon we may assume that he has made up his mind to become a soldier, and that he enters the College for that purpose.
– The average age of a boy entering the College is seventeen years, and most Australian youths have made up their minds as to their career at that age.
– Probably so. I wish to indorse the remarks of Senator Foster in regard to non-commissioned officers. I was rather surprised to see the fiery flame in Senator Cox’s eyes when Senator Foster mentioned that there are occasions when a non-commissioned officer gives his senior a dig in the ribs, and tells him that he should have directed his men to turn to the -right instead of to the left. A case was brought under my notice a short time ago of a man who had served for a good many years as a sergeantmajor on the Instructional Staff, and who alsoserved with distinction abroad. Onr Lis return he was appointed to the Instructional Staff, but it was suddenly discovered that he was a quarter of an inch too short.
– Could they not “ pull his leg” a little?
– Probably they could not pull both. The ability of this man was not in question; but because he was a quarter of an inch below the regulation height he was superseded by a man who is practically new to the work. The man submitted his grievance to me, and I passed it on to the authorities. It is quite probable that the matter has not. been brought under the notice of the Minister for Defence, as it is impossible for him to keep in touch with the details of such a large Department. Notwithstanding the man’s ability and experience abroad he has been placed on the scrapheap becausehe is slightly under the regulation height. During a period of 3tress the Government were quite prepared to utilize his services to the full; but now the war is over there is no room for him.
– Perhaps his case has been prejudiced as a result of the honorable senator using political influence.
– Not at all. He had been superseded before he submitted his case to me. I believe the Minister would do well if he weighs very carefully the words of’ Senator Foster. The Minister has stated in the Senate that, in connexion with the building up of the Citizen Forces, it is his desire to have noncommissioned officers and men of the rank and file of the Australian Imperial Forces at his disposal. If the Minister is really anxious to have a number of the rank and file in the Citizen Forces, he cannot do better than give preference to those who served with distinction in the Australian Imperial Force.
– In opening the debate on this particular phase of military training, I drew particular attention to the question of efficiency. We have to consider the methods adopted at the Military
College; particularly in binding a man to serve for a period of eight years at the salaries quoted by the Minister.
– They were the minimum rates. It is possible for a man to make more rapid’ progress.
– I do not think any one who is familiar with ,the manner in which promotions are made will believe that increases will occur very frequently.
– Consider General White’s career.
– I will give aU that in. I admit that he is a very excellent officer.
– There is the same opportunity for other men. to get on if they possess the necessary ability. .
– A man with ability will get on anywhere. The Minister, not intentionally, but in the adroit manner .he always adopts, draws a conclusion from the argument one is submitting to the Senate different from that intended. Senator Earle puts the position more clearly than I succeeded in doing when he stated that there were returned men who were not only fit and capable to undertake the task of training our Forces, but who might be actually more fitted for such duties. The Minister has said, in explanation, that while a man may be an excellent leader during war operations, he may prove a poor instructor. My desire is that the authorities should permit a test. I suggest that every returned man who desires to do so should have the right to undergo’ an examination, together with Duntroon trainees. Men who have never seen the inside of Duntroon, and who have never even been to the Front, should have their opportunities, by way of competitive ex-, animation ; and if they proved more fitted than the Duntroon cadets they should be given preference in the matter of appointment to training positions.
– I do not think these outsiders would have a chance in competition with Duntroon cadets, fresh from school as they are. I would not like to undergo a competitive examination with them, and I happen to have some degrees.
– I can quite appreciate that; but there should be the opportunity, and men who have had active service should be encouraged if their ambitions turn in the direction indicated.
– Would any of the craft unions admit to their ranks a man who had not been properly trained?
– Very few, unless he had served a proper term of apprenticeship.
– They would not admit him unless he was properly trained in his craft. That, however,, does not bear upon my suggestion. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has opened my eyes concerning the future of our military college graduates. The chief purpose of Duntroon appears to be to produce schoolmasters. My idea was that Duntroon was to become an institution which would provide us with our military officers. Senator Foster has set out the position of non-commissioned officers on the Instructional Staff, and he has pointed out that they are often better informed and more capable of training than the commissioned officers over them. The argument was questioned by some honorable senators. I have a keen recollection of the career of an individual from the early days of our Citizen Force training. He entered the service as a lieutenant, but so incompetent was he that he was hurriedly made a captain. He was absolutely unfitted to perform the duties attaching to that rank; so he was made a major. It was a standing joke among the men in the ranks to watch the performance as they marched out of camp each morning. The major would be sitting stiffly on his horse, and there would be an old sergeant-major, a British Army man, standing by his side. The troops, as .they passed, would watch the sergeant-major bring his heels together with a click as he came to attention, and they would hear him growl, sotto voce, “The Brigade will move out in sections of four from the left.” The major would then loudly repeat this order - sometimes, however, forgetting its completion when’ only half way through; whereupon, he would have to appeal to the sergeant-major again: to help him out. This kind of thing would go on in one camp after another, until the major rapidly became a general. The reason for his promotion was that he could not be trusted in any other jobs. The authorities could not always be telling off sergeant-majors to stand at his elbow and give him every order. “ All this is an absolute fact.
– How many years ago?
– It occurred within my lifetime.
– The honorable senator says this officer became a general. It was only during the recent war that a Citizen Force officer could have attained to that rank.
– I will give the honorable senator the name if he desires. I may, perhaps, have made a mistake as to the exact ranks through which he rose and to which he attained; but I know that he became a general - whether a brigadier or some other kind of general I cannot say.
SenatorFoll. - Possibly the honorable senator is mixing up “ brigadier “ with “ bombardier.”
– Not at all; but I do know, further, that he even tried on several occasions to’ become a legislator. However, that was too much ! Along these same lines, I might say that I have heard of a private at the Front who considered his officers so rotten that he felt himself bound, in the interests of the rank and file, to have recourse to appointing himself a corporal.
As for Duntroon and the question of permitting outsiders to compete with trainees, I would remind the Minister for Defence that the men who were forced to remain behind and train our battalions have been treated very unfairly and, indeed, cruelly. They proved their efficiency, and now they are being turned out in order to make room for others. They were anxious to go to the Front; but, seeing that some one had to remain behind to train the raw battalions, the most efficient non-commissioned officers were selected and kept back. They never had a chance to gain commissioned rank, for there was a huge gap which they could not bridge. Why should there not be, in this democratic country, every opportunity to rise by each consecutive rung in the ladder of military promotion? Duntroon is being developed in the direction of making the military utterly exclusive and sheltered from the competition or interference of outsiders. If an out- sider, with all the benefits of war service, could hold his own with the cadets, why should he not be given his chance ?
As for the matter of binding down the Duntroon graduates to a period of eight years’ service, what attraction is there for them in the amount of pay which they may earn ? The Minister should not forget that the sacrifice is not all on one Bide. While it may cost the country a large sum to train these cadets, it should be remembered that if they had not entered Duntroon they might have been earning considerably more at the age of eighteen or nineteen than is available to them right up to. the end of their compulsory term of service. If the authorities cannot train and turn out enough graduates for the purposes of officering our Australian Forces, there is no insurmountable reason why the numbers of cadets who may be accommodated at Duntroon should not be increased. . No very considerable additional outlay would be involved. My chief aim in regard to military matters is toinsure efficiency. Nothing could be more fatal to efficiency than to bind down those who enter the Military College to long terms of service at an inadequate remuneration. I regret that the obvious feeling of the Committee is against my proposal in regard to the clause under discussion.
– If there should arise any marked demand on the part of outsiders to enter into’ competitive examination with the Duntroon cadets, I think opportunities might be provided for them to sit for the Duntroon examination, just as there are chances for those who have not entered our universities to sit for university examinations. It should not be impossible, if deemed advisable, to conduct Duntroon on the lines of a university, and to throw open the examinations to outsiders. Such a procedure, I take it, would meet the ideas of Senator Gardiner, and possibly’ numbers of Citizen Force officers might be ambitious to undergo such tests. I do not see that any harm would result, while possibly great good might follow.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10 -
Section 20a of the principal Act is amended -
Section proposed to be amended - 20a. Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, an officer who is eligible for promotion to a higher rank and who has served on active service abroad, shall, other things being equal, be granted preference in promotion to an officer of the same rank who is eligible for promotion to that higher rank, and who has not served on active service abroad.
– I desire some explanation of this clause. As I understand it, it makes service equivalent to active service, whether at home or abroad.
.- What is proposed is to prescribe what is “ service abroad.” For instance, under the existing law an officer who was Appointed in command of a transport has served abroad. There is no reason why such an officer should be given preference over an officer who has not had service overseas because there is no difference between their military qualifications. There are certain officers who have served abroad in purely administrative positions. They had no active service whatever, and there is no reason whythey should be given preference over an officer who did administrative service here.
– Have we the Minister’s assurance that in striking but the word “abroad” we should not be giving equality of preference to men who did not go abroad.
– First of all we say “who has served,” then we propose to leave out the word “abroad” and insert the words “ as prescribed.” We propose to make provision for preference to chose who served on active service, and then the only service in Australia that would count would be active service. In the last war there was no active service here, but the provision is intended to apply so long as the Defence Act continues in operation, and there may be a war in which we should have active service in Australia.
– Is not the Minister, by prescribing certain things, providing, for instance, that men who were in charge of the guns at Queenscliff should be considered as having been on active service ?
– No, the intention is not to prescribe service at Queenscliff as active service. As the Act now stands, service on a transport or in an administrative position overseas is service abroad, and itshould not give preference over men who had rendered similar service here. We do not hold that service in the forts in Australia during the war was active service because there was no actual fighting here.
– The Minister’s explanation does not appear to me to warrant the striking out ofthe word “abroad.” I think that the word should be allowed to remain, and the authorities might still prescribe what was active service abroad.
– That is defined in the definition clause.
– The retention of the word “abroad” seems to me a very necessary safeguard at the present time. It might be held that service at Thursday Island or some such place was service abroad, and surely officers who rendered service in such places should not be placed in the same position as men who fought all through the war in France, Gallipoli, and elsewhere.
– I must confess that I could not follow the explanation of the Minister for Defence, particularly with regard to the striking out of the word “ abroad.”
.- If the honorable senator will permit me to read the definition of “ active service “ he will see what is intended. In the Defence Act, “ active service “ is defined in this way - “ Active service “ has a meaning corresponding to that of the same words as used in subsection 1 of section 189 of the Army Act defining the expression “ on active service.”
The definition given in the Army Act is as follows: -
In this Act, if not inconsistent with the text, the expression “ on active service “ as applied to a person subject to this Act, means whenever he is attached to or forms part of a force which is engaged in operations against the enemy or is engaged in war-like operations in a country or place wholly or partly occupied by the enemy or is in the military occupation of any foreign country.
That is “ active service.” We are, therefore, striking out the word “ abroad,” and using the term “ active service “ to mean active service in accordance with the definition I have just read.
– I think that is all right.
– I thank the Minister for his further explanation. I had the impression from his previous remarks that the omission of the word “abroad” was to prevent the penalizing of any member of the Australian Imperial Force who, for military reasons, had to remain in Australia during the war.
– I did not say that. I said that as between such an officer and one who merely served in command of a transport, or in a purely administrative position abroad, there should be no distinction made.
– I should like to know what under this clause will be prescribed as “ active service.”
SenatorPearce. - “Active service” is, as I have explained, already defined. Nothing we prescribed could affect that definition.
– It seems to me that there may be active service of several varieties. There may be active service in the field before the enemy, and active service in the case of a man who went tol Horseferry-road, and never got any further.
– We will so prescribe that the latter shall be given no preference over an officer who carried out administrative duties here.
– Service in command of a transport might be defined as active service, or, to use the Minister’s own words, the service of a man who did his duty in Australia in connexion with thewar.
– That would not be “ active service “ unless the war were carried on here.
– The Minister says that it is intended that a man who did duty in Australia shall be placed at no disadvantage as compared with a man who, for instance, served only in command of a transport.
– That is why it is desired to insert the words “ as prescribed,” and to strike out the word “ abroad.”
– It appearsto me that the intention is that the prescription of “ active service “ shall remain in the hands of the military.
– No, it is defined, as I have explained, in the Act.
– Then why does the Minister make any reference to the man who did his duty here in connexion with this clause ?
– Because it is my justification for taking the power, as I do in this Bill, to prescribe what is meant by “served.”
– If it is not the desire of the Minister and the Military Board to prescribe that men who did not leave Australia should be recognised as having been on active service, why should the word “ abroad “ be omitted ? The retention of the word would, it seems to me, define “ active service “ better than it will be defined under the clause as proposed.
– Then, according to the honorable senator’s suggestion, a man who served only at Horseferry-road would have served on “ active service.”
– I must confess that it appears to me that if the section is amended as proposed by the Minister, the prescription of “active service” will be entirely in the hands of the Minister and the. Military Board, and it may’ be that the absolute preference to members of the Australian Imperial Force who saw fighting, which, I believe, is desired by the members of this Parliament, will be evaded.
– Of course the Minister would do that. That is his nature.
– If is not the duty of members of this Parliament to place such a power in the hands of the Minister.
– Is not “active service “ defined in the Act ?
– Yes, and we cannot alter that definition.
– I think that is right.
-We require to prescribe “ active service “ not covered by the definition of “active service” in the definition clause. That is all that we can do. If we prescribed something which clashed with the definition of “active service” in the Act, it would be ultra vires.
– Am I to understand that no power will be given under this clause either to the Minister or to the Military Board, other things being equal, to appoint men who saw no fighting over the heads of mon who did see fighting?
– The amendment of the section proposed in this clause is actually designed to prevent the Minister or the Military Board having such a power.
– Then the Minister assures *the Committee that if the clause is passed as it stands it will restrict the power of the Minister and the Military Board in the way I desire!
– Yes. Under the Act as it stands the Minister might do what the honorable senator takes exception to, but if the Act is amended as proposed by this clause, he will be prevented from doing so.
– Despite the omission of the word “ abroad,” we are to understand that the clause will, other things being equal, safeguard the interests of the men who fought abroad.
– That is so.
.- The drift of the discussion, if the Minister’s explanation is correct, and I do not doubt that it is, leads me to the conclusion that the Com”mittee, in agreeing to clause 9, “will deliberately do a great injustice to a number of valuable men in the military service. I take the case of men who volunteered for active service, but whose services in the organization of the Forces here were held to be so valuable that they were not permitted to go to the Front. Many of these men were actually looking for any opportunity to get away, but they were always met with the official- reply that their services were required in Australia. These requests to be allowed to go to the Front were made to such an extent that a regulation was issued preventing men soliciting permission to go abroad.
– -Were officers prevented from going abroad right to the end of the war?
– There were many competent officers who, during the first two years of the war, were prevented from going to the Front.
– I think that every one who wanted to go ultimately got away.
– Those -who were no’t allowed to go during the first two years were alive at the end of that period, which was a certain advantage.
– Quite so. Honorable senators should consider the the injustice that may be done under this clause. I take the case of a man holding ‘ the Tank of captain who was not permitted to go to the Front because of the value of his services here. Another officer, his junior, was allowed to go away as a lieutenant. In two years this junior officer rises to the rank of colonel, and then the man who was a captain when this man went away, and is still a captain, is permitted to go to the Front and serve under the colonel who had been his junior, because the junior was given an opportunity that was never given to the captain. If we, at this stage, agree to a clause which may have the effect of inflicting grave injustice upon men who were prevented from going to the Front because of their efficiency, we shall be doing the Military Service no good. We shall, on the other hand, be continuing throughout their military careers the injustice inflicted upon men who were prevented from securing promotion in the early days of the war by being compelled to remain in Australia. We are going to say that, no .matter what position they may occupy, cr what their abilities may be, there shall be no more promotion for these men. That is not justice. It is not a fair deal. If these men were prevented from going to the Front after they volunteered, and if their persistency in trying to get away was such that the Defence authorities had to make a regulation imposing a penalty upon a man for trying to get away, I cannot agree with honorable senators if they decide, by passing this clause, to further penalize such men for the term of their natural life. To test the feeling of the Committee, I move -
That the following new paragraph be inserted : - “ (d) Nothing in this section shall, militate against the promotion of any officer or non-commissioned officer who volunteered for active service.”
The question of whether an officer went to the Front was one which the military authorities determined. If he was asked to go there and did not go, he should be put out of the Service. Upon the other hand, if his services were required here, and he was kept in the Forces, we should not impose a perpetual bar against his. promotion.
– I hope that the Committee will not agree to the- amendment proposed by Senator Gardiner. If this particular clause be agreed to, the provision .in the principal Act will read : -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, an officer who is eligible for promotion to a higher rank, and who has served as_ prescribed on active service, shall, other things being equal, be granted preference in promotion to an officer of the same rank who is eligible for promotion to that higher rank and who has not so served on active service.
Under that provision we shall have the choice between two officers, each of whom is qualified for promotion to the higher rank. Which of these officers ought to secure promotion - the one who has had active service, or the one who has not? Surely the former.
– Did not the Minister issue a regulation, preventing officers who were kept behind even from applying for leave to go upon active service?
– There was a regulation of that sort framed during the early stages of the war, hut before the conflict ended every officer who wished to go to the Front was at liberty to do so. Of course, there were certain officers who desired to go upon active service, and whose names were submitted to the General Officer Commanding overseas, who said that he did not want them. Most of those officers are now out of the Service. The amendment is entirely unnecessary.
, The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner ) has completely ignored the explanation given by the Minister regarding this clause. Instead of the officer to whom he referred being penalized, he will be protected by this clause. The supposititious case put forward by Senator Gardiner about the captain who was retained in Australia in order that he might prepare the men about to proceed to the Front sounded all right for the moment. But the Minister has since explained that an officer of similar rank might have been in charge of troops upon a transport, and that, under existing conditions, he enjoys a considerable advantage over the officer to whom Senator Gardiner referred. The clause will remove that injustice.
– If an officer who went overseas had active service, he will have preference over an officer of equal rank who did not see active service in the matter , of promotion.
– Yes. Senator Gardiner might just as well argue that every man who volunteered for service abroad and was rejected is equally entitled to a preference. Surely it is reasonable that v/e should continue the policy of recognising actual service upon the field of battle, by giving a preference, other things being equal, to those who have incurred all of the risks of war. * It is perfectly clear that the object of the clause is not to inflict injustice upon the officers who remained in Australia, but to remove an injustice by placing them upon the same footing eis officers who were engaged upon transports during the war.
.- I listened very carefully to the statement of the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), and it was hecause of his statement that I submitted the amendment. I ask honorable senators whether an officer who was prevented from going to the Front should be obliged to suffer because his superiors would not permit him to go? That is the question upon which I desire to get a decision.
– Hard cases make bad laws.
– But a hard case may illustrate a bad law which should be remedied. I am not putting an isolated case, because whenever a new brigade was going to the Front there were any number of applications from officers who desired to accompany it. Indeed, the trouble became so acute that a regulation was issued forbidding these men to apply for permission to go upon active service. These officers acted under orders, and did their joh well. Now, when the war is over, we are asked to say that they shall have no promotion in .the future.
– Is it a fact that men in the Permanent Forces who obtained promotion abroad have upon their return reverted to their former status?
– They got a step up in rank.
– I know a man who went abroad as a lieutenant-colonel, but he did not come back as a lieutenantcolonel.
– I do not wish to prevent the advancement of men who went to the Front. I am concerned only with officers who were kept here because they were efficient, and upon whom the training of our troops actually depended. Under this clause a man who joins the Service to-day may become a captain at the end of perhaps three or. four years. Then, when it comes to a question of promo tion, that man will be promoted over the heads of officers, with perhaps twenty years’ service who were prevented by the Defence Department from going to the Front. The provision will inflict a grave injustice upon such officers, and will put a stigma upon them merely because they were prevented from going to the Front because their services were required here.
– The regulation to which the honorable senator refers was rescinded.
– Let Senator Duncan state the date upon which it was rescinded. I do not know that it was rescinded.
– I have a personal friend, an officer, who at first was prevented from going to the Front, but who, towards the close of the war, after the regulation had been rescinded, was told that if he did not go he would lose his job.
– I do not know that the regulation was rescinded.
– Yes, it was.
– Then let us know when it was rescinded. To the best of my knowledge, it was never rescinded.
– I am certain that it was.
– I invite the honorable senator to produce the notice of its repeal. I will produce the regulation after the adjournment for lunch.
– And I will produce the announcement of its repeal.
– This is a matter which is surely worth the attention of the Committee. Ought officers who remained in Australia owing to the action of the military authorities to be precluded from gaining future promotion? If they were not allowed to go to the Front, why should they now be penalized for staying at home? If they were required at the Front, they should have been sent there.
– What about the permanent officers who were sent away against their will?
– The permanent officer who refuses to go to the Front should be put out of the Military Forces.
– The honorable senator would not make the poor fellow go ifhe did not wish to go?
– The permanent officer in our Military Forces who refuses to go to the Front when his services are required there should be put out of the Service. But if officers who were kept in Australia because of the valuable services which they were continually rendering in the preparation of our troops are to be prevented from gaining promotion in the. future, they will be. the victims of a very grave injustice. Have these men. shirked their duty in any way? Did they not volunteer ?
– The honorable senator would provide for officers who volunteered for service abroad, when they knew jolly well that they would not be allowed to go.
– I do not think it will be said that, in the earlier stages of the war when divisions were being formed, these officers volunteered knowing that they could not get away.
– At one stage many of them volunteered, but knew they would not be allowed to go.
– No doubt the honorable senator has inside knowledge of military matters of which I know nothing, when he says that certain persons volunteered, but knew that they would not be allowed to go. I am speaking of those who volunteered and wished to go but were prevented.
-brockman. - And how are you going to distinguish between them?
– They could be dealt with, as the clause suggests, in the manner prescribed ; while those who volunteered and were willing to go should, I contend, be treated on their merits now. That is all I am asking. I only want a fair deal for these men, and having put the position as clearly as I can I have no desire to delay the Committee further.
– Had not the utterances of the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) and one or two interjections satisfied me that there would be no case of injustice such as Senator Gardiner anticipates, I should have been inclined to vote for the honorable senator’s amendment. But I understand from the interjections and remarks that have passed round the
Chamber that for some considerable time before the war ended permission was practically given to every man to gotothe Front, and that those who did not volunteer, in effect, did not want to go. I cannot, therefore, support Senator Gardiner’s amendment. I shall support the clause in order to give preference to the “dinkum” soldier as opposed to the man who had an opportunity to go to the war but did not avail himself of it.
– During the discussion on the amendment, I have been looking at the British Army Act, and I desire to direct the attention of honorable senators to subsection (1) of section 189 -
In this Act, if not inconsistent with the context, the expression “ on active service,” as applied to a person subject to military law, means whenever he is attached to or forms part of, a force which is engaged in operations against the enemy, or is engaged in military operations in a country or place wholly or partly occupied by an enemy, or is in military occupation ofany foreign country.
– I read that yesterday.
– Yes, but the point to be emphasized is the interpretation of the words “ if not inconsistent with the context.” If they were eliminated I agree that the difficulty would be satisfactorily solved. This section was passed as being applicable, to the British Act, and in its present form it by no means excludes the supposition that there may be some form of so-called active service here, at home. I think, from that point of view, it is advisable to retain the word “abroad.”
– No. Is there anything in the context of our Defence Act that is inconsistent with that section? There is not. You must see that.
– It is an extraordinary proposition in law, and I suggest that the Minister should ask the AttorneyGeneral to consider whether the words “ if not inconsistent with the context ‘ ‘ may not give to the clause a meaning which we do not desire.
– That point has been fully considered by the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. We told them that we wanted to distinguish between active service abroad and real active service; that is to say, between those men employed in transport and administrative jobs and those on active service at the Front. This is what theygave us.
– They may be right, but it seems to me that there may be grave legal difficulties about establishing it if the point should ever arise.
– Again, on the definition of “ active service “ as interpreted by the British Army Act, I would draw the attention to sub-section (2) of section 189.
– That does not apply. There are no Forces of the British Government serving here.
– I shall readthe sub-section referred to -
To me this seems to indicate that if any declaration of this sort was made during the currency of the war by the officer commanding the Military Forces of Australia, it could be claimed now that soldiers who enlisted here were actually on active, service in the same sense as those who enlisted and went to the Front.
– Do you say that such a declaration was made?
– No. I am saying if any such declaration were made this might be the result.
– There was no such declaration.
– Then, of course, this second sub-section cannot apply.
– No part of that section is applicable as regards the late war.
.- If I understand the Minister correctly, there is now to be differentiation in military service between those who were not actually fighting, such as the men who were garrisoningRabaul, and the men who were at the Front. I presume, then, that the Minister will not regard their services as being more valuable than the services of an officer doing training work in Australia.
– Then, I have no intention of further delaying the Committee on this clause, because it will to some extent restore the balance. I sometimes deliberately- set out to oppose the Government with respect to matters of which I disapprove, but I have no intention of delaying the passage of this Bill.
– I am not quite satisfied yet that with the elimination of the word “ abroad “ the interpretation of this particular section of the British Army Act is in harmony with our views. It is, I think, advisable that we should definitely establish this question of consistency with the context. We have had a very profitable discussion upon it.
– Attention has already been directed to the point raised by the honorable senator as to the meaning of “ active service.” This clause has been put in deliberately. It is not an accident.
– I hope the Minister will not think that any honorable senator who gets up to discuss this point is opposed to the measure.
– No; but I cannot understand why you assume that it is a blunder.
– I regret the Minister cannot understand me, because I am endeavouring to make my position clear.
– - You are assuming that the draftsmen did not read the definition of “on active service “ in the Army Act.
– When the Minister dealt with this matter before the question of consistency with the context was not raised. It appears that the definition of “ on active service “ in the Army Act rendered it necessary to strike out the word “ abroad,” so as to clearly define that it referred to those who were really on active service and not to those engaged driving waggons.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– I suggest to the Minister for Defence the desirableness of inserting at this stage a definition of “ active service” on the lines ‘of the Army Act, but leaving out such words as “inconsistent with the context.”
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia have the point looked into. In connexion with the question raised concerning members- of the Permanent Forces who were unable to go on active service, I have made inquiries, and find that there were two sections, which were dealt with in a different manner.’ The members of the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery were prevented from going abroad in the early stages of the war; but I am unable at this juncture to give the date when they were released and allowed to volunteer, but it was, I think, during 191-6 or 1917. That release did not apply to other members of the Permanent Force. On the 23rd July, 1918, the Military Board recommended that all members of the Permanent Forces should be given an opportunity of going on active service in such capacities as could be arranged, and that was approved and promulgated on the 24th July, 1918.
.- The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has been good enough to give the Senate information, which, I think, strongly supports the argument I previously submitted, and proves conclusively that these men would have been committing ,a military offence if they had applied to go abroad before that date.
– They would not have been committing a military offence.
– Then it would have been contrary to military discipline. I understand from the Minister’s statement that a number applied, and were permitted to leave Australia. My contention is that an order was issued - I want to be quite clear upon this - prohibiting men from applying. Applications were numerous, and I have a very clear recollection of some restriction being placed on the men. ‘ I am not stating definitely that an order was issued, because I do not claim to have a very clear recollection of the incident; but there are things that come under one’s notice that are not forgotten in a hurry. I shall be glad if the Minister for Defence will make further inquiries, because if I cannot get the desired information in this way I shall place a question on the notice-paper so that it shall be supplied. If an order was issued in 1914 or 1915 prohibiting permanent officers from applying to go abroad with . the Australian Imperial Force, and that order was not cancelled until 24th July, 1918, I feel sure that honorable, senators will see that the men affected did not receive a fair deal, because during the whole .time they remained in Australia they were not entitled to promotion. That is what I have been arguing . throughout the debate. I «m under the impression that a regulation, or a general order, or something of that nature, was issued to prevent them from going abroad.
– Was not the honorable senator Assistant Minister for Defence at the timet
– I had .a slight connexion with the Defence Department which may have brought me somewhat prominently into the matter, but this was something I had nothing to do with. The Minister for Defence gave me a certain section of the work to attend to - I have no complaints to make - but I was not conversant with all that was happening. One would naturally be more impressed with ‘what was brought under one’s direct notice; but I have a strong belief that officers were prevented by a military order from going abroad. The statement which has just been made by the Minister for Defence shows that a certain section of the men were not released until the 24th July, 1918.
– Some of them’ were held up for two years ,
– That is so. Surely honorable senators can see the unfairness of the whole position, because if a man applied in July or August, 1918, he would he open to all sorts of imputations, and probably be_charged with endeavouring to go overseas when there seemed a possibility of the conflict terminating. I think I have clearly stated my reasons for moving in this direction, and honorable senators will realize that I have done so in an endeavour to prevent these men being unjustly treated.
During the course of - this debate we have listened- to some interesting statements made by Senator Elliott and other honorable senators, and sufficient has been said to prove that a good deal of dissatisfaction exists. There is an impression abroad that appointments go by favour, and that they are in the hands of a military clique. I do not think any one will say that that impression has been caused by the statement of one person; but the impression exists. It is understood that if an officer has the support of a certain sec tion of the Administrative Staff all goes well, but if that support is lacking his position is hopeless. I followed Senator Elliott very closely when referring to the . case of “Albert Jacka. I have had the pleasure of reading a report written by Colonel Courtney concerning the circumstances under which Captain Jacka won his distinction, and the value of the report is increased by the fact that it was written before the honour was conferred upon the gallant soldier- Senator DrakeBrockman’s references to the incident, although very excellent, corroborated practically all that Senator Elliott had said. The fact that Jacka’s report as Intelligence Officer did not go to the General Officer Commanding does not carry much weight, . as I take it that Jacka’s superior officers would not have forwarded the report above their own signature if they did not think that it was substantially correct. The fact remains that after a certain incident, particulars of which have been’ related, this fine officer did not receive any more publicity, which clearly indicates that there is something lacking in our Military Department. No room should be left for false impressions, and w© should draft our Acts in such a way that men cannot be unjustly treated. I am obliged for the information which the Minister tas given, and I trust that later on he will supplement it “with the particulars I desire. I know from experience that the Minister will be quite prepared to give all the information at his disposal, even though it may not suit his case. ‘ I’ still assert that in the early stages of the war many were prevented from going abroad, and. I am supported in that contention by Senator Duncan.
– I asked the honorable senator to produce the document.
– Buts the honorable senator agrees with me- ‘
– The honorable senator is wrong. He has not done what I asked.
- Senator Duncan must admit that I am right up to a certain point. I said an order was issued, and if it had been repealed I had no knowledge of it. Senator Pearce will not acknowledge even now that the order was issued, but admits that the men were informed that they could enlist.
– The /act that such an - -announcement was made proves that there must have been some prohibition.
– Exactly, and I want proof of that, because I think it has an important bearing on the manner in which we are to treat such officers and men. Those who were in that unfortunate position have been superseded for all time.
– They lost their promotion by not being able to go.
– Exactly. All these injustices are placed upon those men who were reduced in the estimation of their fellows because they did not proceed overseas. I do not wish to thresh this matter threadbare, though the Minister’s statement bears out what I have already said. If such an order was issued on the 24th July, 1918, I think we are perpetrating a further injustice if we penalize these men ‘because they obeyed military orders.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 -
Aftersection 21a of the principal Act the following sections are inserted : - “21aa. Notwithstanding anything contained in the last two preceding sections, an officer of the Military Forces, who has been engaged on active service abroad, may be promoted on such conditions as are prescribed. “ 21ab. Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, persons who have been engaged on active service abroad may be -
.- Will the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) explain whether sub-clause 21aa deals with all the officers of the Australian Imperial Force who served abroad ? I understood him to say, in answer to a question I put to him, that all officers of the Australian Imperial Force who served abroad had been admitted to the Forces here with a rank equivalent to that which they held overseas. . If such is the case, presumably they are covered by the term in this proposed new section “ an officer of the Military Forces.”
– It includes those and others.
– Those who have been subsequently appointed.
– Proposed new section. 21 ab will necessarily relate only to officers of the British, Canadian, or other . outside Forces?
– That is as I understand it.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 12 to 14 agreed to.
.- I move -
That the following newclause be inserted: - “ 14a.Section 40a of the principal Act is amended by inserting after the word ‘ apprenticeship ‘ the words ‘ or articles of service ‘.” Section proposed to be amended: - 40a. In time of war any person who it employed under articles of apprenticeship may, notwithstanding any provision of or obligation under the articles, enlist in the Military Forces, and any person who so enlists shall not be liable, during the period of his service in the Forces, and until a reasonable period thereafter, to be claimed for service under the articles.
My object is to provide for articled clerks of solicitors and articled employees of surveyors, architects, and professional men generally. These persons are as strictly bound in their clerkships as ordinary apprentices, and the same degree of protection should be given them if they are compelled to break their articles by force of law.
SenatorPEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Defence) [2.50]. - I am prepared to accept the proposed new clause, and am obliged to Senator Elliott for drawing attention to the matter dealt with. It might be held that a person articled, for example, to an architect, is not an apprentice. Clearly, however, such person would be in the same category as an apprentice, and, therefore, should be granted a similar degree of protection.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clause 15 -
Section 40b of the principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following subsection: - “ (3) Where any . person employed under articles of apprenticeship is required to attend a ship or camp of continuous training under Part XII., or is on war service with the Citizen Forces called out under section 46 of this Act, his articles of apprenticeship shall be deemed to be suspended during the period during which he is attending the ship or camp of continuous training or is on such- war service, and if his master refuses to re-employ him at the conclusion of the continuous training of war service the master shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty: Fifty pounds.
Section proposed to be amended : - 40b. - (1) Any person employed under articles of apprenticeship who has in time of vor enlisted in the Military Faroes shall, upon discharge from the Military Forces, unless the Minister otherwise determines, he entitled, within a period of three months after the date of his discharge, or, in the case of a person discharged before the commencement of this section, within three months after such commencement, to resume his employment under his articles of apprenticeship and the period served by him after discharge shall be deemed to be acontinuance of the period served by him prior to enlistment.
Penalty: Fifty pounds.
Motion (by Senator Elliott) agreed to:-
That the clause be amended by inserting after the word “ amended “ the following paragraphs: - “(d) by inserting after the word “ apprenticeship”, (wherever occurring), the words “ or articles of service” ;
by inserting after the word “employment “, the words, “ or service “;
by inserting after the word “apprentice” the words “or person serving under articles and “. (d)”.
.- I direct attention to the penalties set out in connexion with infringements. It seems incredible that any employer would refuse to take an apprentice into his service again after he had been compelled to absent himself owing to military duties. However, should such a case occur, a fine of £50 would be inadequate. The offence is, in my opinion, a criminal one of the worst type. If an employer is so antagonistic to the defence of his country as to penalize an employee by dismissal merely because he has compulsorily attended his. military duty, he should be punished by a term of imprisonment. There were cases during the war where certain employers - either anti-militarist or indifferent to the defence of Australia - refused to take back their mcn upon returning home. Such conduct may well be repeated in the future, either in time of peace or war. I therefore move:-
That the words “Fifty pounds”, (wherever occurring) be left out with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the words, “six months’ Imprisonment “.
– Would not an action at law lie against the employer if he refused to re-employ his apprentice!
– Even so, who is going to finance the latter in undertaking a civil action? We should insure that no such circumstance shall arise by providing such a deterrent as a term of imprisonment.
.- I can appreciate Senator Earle’s motives . in submitting this amendment, and his enthusiasm for the protection of the interests of apprentices or persons serving under articles who may be dismissed by their employers because of the breach in their articles of apprenticeehip involved in service at the Front or in camps of training. Such enthusiasm is to be respected, but we should not allow enthusiasm to run away with discretion. Under Senator Earle’s amendment all employees offending against the clause would be liable to the same penalty of six months’ imprisonment.
– That would be the maximum.
– What I mean is that they would be liable to imprisonment instead of to a monetary penalty, no matter what extenuating circumstances they might be able to advance. If the honorable senator were to suggest that, in addition to the fine, there should be an alternative of imprisonment, that would give the authorities the opportunity to exercise their discretion, and deal with each case on ite merits. . It is quite possible that at the outbreak of hostilities an employer might be conducting a highly prosperous business, enabling him to employ a number of apprentices. Something might happen during the war period which would so diminish his business that at the close of the war it would be quite impossible for him to employ the same staff of apprentices as be had before the war. Senator Earle, by his amendment, proposes that such an employer should be imprisoned because he could not comply with the Act.
– That would be a very exceptional case.
– We have to provide for exceptional cases, and the provision should be made so elastic as to give the authorities the discretion necessary to mete out justice. I hold no brief for the employer who has taken advantage of the absence of an apprentice fighting for his country, in order to refuse to re- employ him on his return. It is my desire that every returned soldier should, on his return, secure as good, if not a better position, than that which he occupied before he went to the war. But I think it would be dangerous to accept so severe a penalty as that proposed by Senator Earle when in the case of some offenders against the clause there might be extenuating circumstances which would not justify the imposition of the penalty of imprisonment. The honorable senator wouldbe better advised if he proposed that provision should be made for a fine or for imprisonment, so that the merits of each case might be considered.
– To provide a fine or imprisonment would leave matters as they are, as only a fine would be imposed.
– Does the honorable senator desire to lay down a law that, no matter how mild an offence against the clause may be, the penalty imposed shall be imprisonment? To do so would be to do an injustice to citizens of Australia. I hope that discretion will be given to the authorities to treat every offence against the clause on its merits.
– I should like to hear from the minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) whether there is anything in the principal Act permitting extenuating circumstances to be taken into account. Senator Payne has mentioned that . an employer might go out of business, and I should like to know. ‘whether there is any provision in the existing Act to exempt him insuch circumstances from liability under this clause.
– He might trade as a limited liability company, as a proprietary company, or in half-a-dozen other ways, to escape his obligation under the clause
– Senator Payne has pointed out that owing to adverse conditions an employer might find it impossible to re-employ apprentices who had been on active service. I think provision should be made to meet cases of that description. 1 am heartily in agreement with the sentiments expressed by Senator Earle, and I should be prepared to give him support if he proposed an alternative of imprisonment as well as a monetary penalty.
I should like the Minister to include amongst those liable under thisclause every employer, and not merely those who employ apprentices or articled clerks. In my opinion, every employer should be compelled to re-employ previous employees on their return from active service or from training in camp. There have been cases in which returned men have been unable to secure the positions which they filled before they enlisted because, in their absence, other persons have been appointed tofill them. If the Minister shows any inclination to accept my suggestion I am prepared to move an amendment making this provision applicable to all employers.
– In regard to Senator Earle’s amendment, I remind honorable senators that the clause does not deal merely with offences in regard to those who enlist for active service, but in regard also to those who are called up to attend camps of training. If an employer refuses to re-employ an employee because of his military service, a pretty stiff penalty is proposed by the Bill. If honorable senators do not consider £50 a sufficient maximum penalty for the offence, I have no objection to increasing it or to accepting a proposal for an alternative of imprisonment.. I think that we should allow the monetary penalty to remain, as there might be cases in which it would be reasonable to give an employer the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, there might be very serious cases where punishment by imprisonment would not be too severe.
– Fifty pounds, six months’ imprisonment, or both ?
– I could not see my way to accept such an amendment as that suggested by Senator Foll. Because, with the best will in the world, an employer might not be able to reemploy a man after his return from the Front. He might not have employment to give him. Speaking generally, I think that the employers of Australia have fairly honoured the bond they made that they would re-employ their men on their return from the Front. There have not been many cases, though I admit there have been some, where it has been proved that employers have not honoured their agreement in this regard. If Senator Baria proposes imprisonment as an alternative penalty, I stall not ‘oppose the amendment.
, - The suggestion offered by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) is a wise one. The end’s which legislation has had in view have often been defeated by undue viciousness in legislative provisions. I recently came across a case where a contractor to the Australian Navy was a company. It was really a proprietary company, but there was only one man concerned. He defrauded the Australian Government and the Navy. When the officers of the Crown Law Department got on his track they found that the only punishment provided for his offence was imprisonment, but they found also that they could not imprison a limited liability company. Consequently, this- “ scallywag “ who took down the Australian Navy got off scot-free from any consequences of his ‘ illegal . action. I think that Senator Earle would be well advised if he proposed to add after the words, “ Fifty pounds “ the words, and, or six months’ imprisonment.”
– I ask leave to with- . draw my amendment in-order to submit an amendment in a different form. ,
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Earle) proposed -
That after the word “ pounds “ the following words be inserted,’ “or six months’ imprisonment, or both.”
– I oppose the amendment or any amendment that suggests imprisonment for a breach of the law in Connexion with our cadet training. I can. well understand militarists who are in favour of discipline, penalties, and fines to the extreme limit to enable them- to have their own way, voting for- such an amendment, but I shall not commit myself to the imposition of a penalty upon an employer who,, for reasons of his own, keeps a cadet from serving his duly appointed time in a military camp.
– Did the honorable senator say “ for reasons of his own “?
– Yes. For reasons of his own, reasons of hia business,, of his environment, and peculiar ‘ to his own case. The penalty imposed by the Bill for an offence against the clause is £50. That is the maximum penalty that could -be enforced under the clause. I ask honorable senators on one side or the other not to suggest savage penalties, such as a penalty of six months’ imprisonment for an offence against this clause would .be. . I am not keen at any time that this Legislature should force upon the people of Australia a system that, in , the whirligig of international events, might shortly be found to be altogether unnecessary. This proposal will go abroad, and a very bad impression of the action of the Committee will be formed. I intend to oppose any suggestion of a- military caste or a military clique so far as the imposition of penalties in the administration of the Defence Act is concerned. I must oppose such a penalty as Senator Earle has suggested.
.- When first it was submitted, Senator Earle’s amendment appealed to me.
– But since it has been accepted by the Government it bears a different complexion?
– I do not think my remarks on this measure justifies the Minister’s suggestion that I am “ agin “ the Government all the time. I thought, when Senator Earle was speaking, that if an employer deliberately used his power to prevent a youth in his service from doing his military training, in the’ interests of the country, almost any penalty was good enough for him; but while Senator Pratten was speaking so effectively against the proposal, I could see, with him, the gradual encroachment of the military influence on the civil power. I think now,, that there is room for thought concerning Senator Earle’s amendment. Why should penalties for military offences be more savage - if I may use the term - than penalties for civil offences? I am satisfied that if the penalty be made so severe no Courts in Australia will order any imprisonment for offences of this kind. At all times the penalties must be commensurate with the offence, otherwise we shall never get a conviction.
– This is not for the protection of the military authorities, or the enforcement of military discipline. It is designed for the protection of an apprentice against an employer.
– I see the position quite clearly. And if it is for the protection of the apprentice, why not provide that, instead of six months’ imprisonment, the employers be required to pay, say, six months^ wages to his. apprentice ‘i That certainly would be some protection for the apprentice. “We must look at the facts as they confront us. We must realize that if an employer really wants to get rid of an apprentice, he need not commit an offence against the provisions of this Bill at all. I venture to say that, in order to evade a conviction, he would take good care to re-engage his apprentice at the conclusion of his period of training, and then discharge him for some other offence.
– It is not so easy to discharge an apprentice.
– No doubt; but if we make the penalty for an offence of this nature too severe, employers will be well aware of the risks, and adopt other means to ‘ send about their business apprentices or employees whom they do not wish to continue in employment. Senator Pratten’s remarks awakened in my mind thoughts that were there all tho time. I see the danger of the encroachment of military influence in civil affairs, and I join him in resenting it.
– After the fine appeal by my honorable friend, Senator Gardiner, on behalf of the employing classes, I should like to- say a word or two for the employed, for the apprentice, who, to my mind, is more worthy of consideration in a matter of this sort than anybody ‘ else. Senator Pratten and Senator Gardiner have both missed the point. The clause proposes to establish a penalty for the employers who refuse to engage or reestablish in their work an apprentice who has bet- n called away to do ‘military training. The position is perfectly clear. An apprentice, by the law of the land, is required to do certain military training or war service ; he may bc away -a week or- two, or longer, and in th:s clause we are providing that when his period of military service is completed he shall, at least, be assured re-engagement by hk employer. This, I submit, is entirely in the interest of the apprentice. We do not want it to go forth that this Senate has so little real concern for the interests of apprentices, and other employees, as to make no effort to protect them in such circumstances. We want to take away from the employer the right to refuse reengagement to any employee who may be taken away temporarily from his employment to do military training. It is refreshing to hear Senator Gardiner speaking on behalf of the employer. As a rule, the employer is well able to look after himself. He has at his disposal other means of getting rid of an apprentice whose services are not satisfactory. The articles of apprenticeship contain provisions to this end. We want to be sure that the interests of no apprentice shall be sacrificed by reason of any Act of Parliament compelling him to do certain military training whether he likes it or not. I hope the clause will be allowed to stand.
– I venture to say,, if honorable senators think it strange that I should say a word or two on behalf of the employers, it is equally strange to hear Senator Duncan speaking on behalf of the employees. * But when he has been here a little longer, he will realize that, after all, there is a strong strain of Conservatism in my nature. I am never in a great hurry to interfere with those customs and institutions which have been established in this country and been found good. Senator Duncan prides himself that he speaks as the champion of the employees: I may point out that he directed my attention to this clause,, and showed how it was possible for an employer to dispense with the. services of his employee without anything being done; but that if he dispensed with the services of an apprentice, he might be punished.
– Other employees are provided for under section 134 of the Act.
– I nm very glad to hear that. But why are we dealing’ with apprentices in this clause, if in some other portion of the Act the position of other employees is safeguarded? The question of employment., I take it, should, be dealt with in one section.
– I must qualify what I have said. Section 134 penalizes aa employer for not re-engaging an employee after his period of military training; hut it does not, as in this clause, compel re-engagement.
– Is there protection in that section of the Act for a boy who is not articled?
– If an employer discharges him because he is called upon to do military duty, yes.
– But they can get over the difficulty in some other way.
– There have been several convictions.
– It will be easy for an employer to adopt other means if there is a penalty for the discharge of an employee because he attends to his military duties.
– That defence has been put up in other cases, and yet we have a substantial number of convictions.
– I am glad such is the case. I should be glad, also, if it could be provided that some of those penalties could be directed into the pockets of the people who suffered, because, after all, it is not much satisfaction to a man who has been discharged because he has been called upon to do military training, to find that his former employer has been penalized to the extent of 5s. or £50, or imprisoned for twenty-four hours or until the rising of the Court.
– That is provided for in the Act. The Court may, if it thinks the circumstances warrant, order some portion, or the whole of, the penalty to be paid to the employee who has been discharged.
– The remarks I made just now m connexion with this clause were really in support of protection for the master and apprentice against the military system. We have had cadet training in Australia for a number of years, and the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) admits that there have been a number of convictions.
SenatorPearce. - No. I said we had prosecuted under section 134, which does hot deal with apprentices.
– The penalty in the existing Act is £50.
– The penalty under section 134 is £100.
– I have an explanatory measure before me which, under the heading of “Resumption by Apprentices of Service under Articles,” reads -
Section 40b of the principal Act, as proposed to be amended by clause 15 of the Bill, will read as follows. . . . Penalty £50.
Then there is an amendment, and a new sub-clause, with another penalty of £50.
– The section under which we obtain convictions is No. 134 of the principal Act, where the penalty is £100.
– That will not affect my argument, which is that if there is a monetary penalty in connexion with this, and no other, it is more likely to protect the employer’s apprentice than if we had a sentence of imprisonment up to six months. It must not be overlooked that not only cadets are affected, but men who go on military service for a period of years. I believe that, as the months roll on, the Minister will find it more and more apparent that our Defence Acts and military methods will very largely have to go into the melting pot. If a sentence of six months’ imprisonment is added to the penalty, it would give greater power to the military authorities to deal with an apprentice in whatever form they like, because his interests will not always . be considered. To carry the argument to its extreme, a Force could be sent to Thursday Island, Rabaul, or any other of the Possessions under the Commonwealth control, and kept there on military service for twelve months, or even two years. In such a case, those serving would be considered to be on service, and the military authorities would allow both the employers’ interests, and, in certain circumstances, the apprentices’ interests, to go hang.
– The honorable senator means in times of peace.
– These penalties apply to apprentices serving in the Australian Military Forces.
– We could not send apprentices to Thursday Island for two years in time of peace.
– Perhaps not. But I repeat that I do not wish to see extreme penalties imposed on either side.
.I believe that power is given to the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) under the Defence Act to grant exemption from service wherever hardship would be imposed upon the person called up, and consequently, if the Act is administered in a sympathetic manner there is power for the Minister to grant exemptions in cases of hardship. On the other hand, nothing is provided in the principal Act to assist an employer who may be detrimentally affected by his apprentices being taken away. If the Minister has power under the Act to grant an exemption to- an apprentice in cases of hardship, it is not unreasonable to ask - although I do not see how it can be done in this clause - that similar exemption shouldbe granted to the employer, the success of whose business may depend upon the assistance of his apprentices. If the clause is passed in its present form, perhaps it could be redrafted so that power could be given to the Minister to grant exemptions.
– In practice employers have availed themselves of the power of the Minister to exempt. They have frequently applied, and have been granted exemptions.
– It mayhappen that a boy is learning a most important branch of a trade when he is called upon for service, and the authorities, wherever possible, should grant an exemption. I am glad to learn that exemptions are allowed, as that, to a large extent, overcomes the point raised by Senator Pratten.
– Senator Gardiner said that excessive penalties would be detrimental to the apprentices; but he must not overlook the fact that the provision we are now inserting is in addition to what is already in the principal Act. The honorable senator will see that this provision is designed to protect an apprentice against a. master who desired to take advantage of his compulsory absence. An apprentice is bound to his employer under articles which provide that the service shall be continuous. On the return of an apprentice from war service, an employer may say, “ These articles provide that your service shall be continuous, and as you have violated them by going away, your apprenticeship cannot be continued.” If a youth goes abroad to serve his country, the Government have provided that he cannot be punished, and, therefore, a penalty of £50 can be imposed on an employer who treats an apprentice unfairly. Senator Gardiner was advocat ing the interests of the employer, and he could not understand why Senator Duncan was supporting the apprentice. The honorable senator has lost sight of the fact that it is the employer who would be involved, and that we are trying to protect the apprentice against an unjust employer.
SenatorGardiner. - I did not have an opportunity of fully stating my case, and I resumed my seat to assist the Minister. If the honorable senator attacks me I must reply.
– On the question of penalties, Senator Gardiner said that if we make them too severe we are likely to defeat the intentions of the Act; but directly after that he said that we were only protecting the apprentice, and not the. youth who is not an apprentice. In that plea he would wax eloquent, and say, “You are only protecting one class.” My answer to that is that it is quite true. In one case we have clear evidence that a lad was engaged in an employer’s service, but in the other we have no clear evidence that it would be continuous. Senator Gardiner objected to the penalty because he thought it would protect the employer. The employer undertakes to keep a lad in his employ for a certain period, and when he returns he may endeavour to break the arrangement, in which case the Government have power to impose a penalty of £50.
– Does the honorable senator think that that is a fair penalty? If an employer attempts to spoil a man’s life?
– That is the maximum. Senator Gardiner objected to imprisonment for six months, and he now says that the punishment is not sufficiently heavy. .
– I was objecting to the penalty for offences that seem trivial.
– The honorable senator is now. convinced that his previous statement was unjustified.
– I had not finished what I had to say.
– He now admits that the penalty should be greater. In view of the discussion, I think we can anticipate the honorable senator’s support, because he now believes that we should not do anything unjust to a man who is doing what is right.
.- I have listened with interest to the arguments submitted, and I am totally opposed to vicious or savage penalties. I think the Government would have been well advised if they had allowed the clause to remain as it is. Honorable senators will remember that 100 years ago the laws throughout the world, including those in our own Empire, were extraordinarily se v ere, and men were transported for stealing a pocket handkerchief or killing a rabbit.
– What about the number of times the honorable senator has “ savagely “ punished men for failing to salute him?
– I was practically the only senior officer who emphatically protested against an attemptto institute the practice of saluting a general’s motor car.
SenatorPearce - I rise to a point of order. On a discussion of what is or is not an adequate penalty in such circumstances as are set out in the clause under consideration, I submit that it is not in order to indulge in personal reminiscences which have no bearing whatever.
– I understood that the honorable senator was introducing an illustration to show the undesirableness of inflicting what he termed “savage punishment.” I do not think he will be straining the provisions of our Standing Orders in reasonably following that line of argument.
– An effort was made to create another “custom of the Service” which would have been fruitful of evil. I refer to the practice of attaching a Union Jack to the front of any motor oar appropriated to the use of a general. Every time that car went by everybody- officers and men - had to salute. Often the car would be empty,
– Would you be saluting the general, thecar, or the flag?
– The idea was that the general, who was in the car, or - owing to the fact that the flag was therewas presumed to be in it, should be saluted.
– Order ! The honorable senator is not entitled to introduce matter which he cannot connect with the question before the Committee, namely, the dereliction of a master’s duty in respect to apprenticeship. L ask him not to heed irrelevant interjections.
– Orders were issued that men should be punished if they failed tosalute a general’s motor oar as it passed. I was almost alone, I think, among the senior officers to enter an emphatic protest I pointed out that the effect of punishment for such an offence would be to defeat its very object, namely, the enforcement of discipline, and that to inflict punishment of a savage nature would tend to bring the whole authority of the Army into contempt among the ranks.
– Order I I consider the honorable senator is now indulging in redundancy which, in any case, is irrelevant to the amendment.
– The point I wish to make is that this is a civilized age, when the public are more amenable to the laws of the land, and when punishments provided in’ regard to breaches of the law are no longer savage or out of proportion to the nature of the offence. I f any employer, in the exercise of what he believed to be his rights, were to attempt to dismiss an apprentice, it would be rightly regarded as a savage form of punishment if he were landed in gaol without redress. The tendency of the infliction of such punishments would be. to turn the public mind against our military laws altogether. It might even swing the people right over from a state of obedience to law to the embracing of Bolshevism.
– The honorable senator is giving them a good lead in that direction.
– There is no ground for an accusation of that character.
– I ask the honorable senator not to digress with a dissertation upon Bolshevism.
– If we deface our defence legislation with the provision of savage penalties, the people will not only be prejudiced against the laws of the land, but there will be a tendency to active revolt against them.
Question - Thatthe words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Senator
Earle’s amendment) - put. The Com- mittee divided.
Ayes . . . 14
Noes .. ..7
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 4p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 April 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210429_senate_8_95/>.