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Tuesday, 31 August 1920

Mr MAKIN (Hindmarsh) .- I desire to utter a word of protest concerning the. treatment meted out to some of theex-members of the Royal Australian Naval Brigade, " M " class, who were disbanded on the eve of the visit of the Prince of Wales to Adelaide. I have endeavoured to find an opportune time to bring this matter before the House, and I thought I would have an opportunity on grievance-day, but there was insufficient time.

The, men who were recently disbanded renderedvaluable service to Australia as members of the Royal Australian Naval Brigade. Some had served from ten to thirty-three years, and notwithstanding this, were notified by circular from the Navy Office that the force was being disbanded, and that they were to report themselves on29th July to receive one year's retaining fee and their discharge.

I understand that no word of appreciationof their work has come from the Navy Office, and that the district naval officer was not in attendance when themen were disbanded. Whilst an apology . was tendered on behalf of the district naval officer for his Absence, there has been a lack of recognition of the valuable services rendered. They werecalled up in 1914 by proclamation, and performed very valuable work in guarding wireless stations, on various merchantmen, and on enemy vessels lying in our ports. They were subjected to many disabilities, and had to work excessively long hours, for which they received very little orno recognition in the way of extra pay. I have in my possession a statement which shows that on many occasions' they were required to work many more than eight hours, and that some of them were not in receipt' of more than an able seamen's pay of 5s. per day. The claim these men make that they should come under the provisions of the war-time measures thathave been passed by thisHouse in recognition of services rendered is worthy of consideration. A number of the men were drafted overseas, and. of course, there were others in the same brigade who were compelled to remain in Australia, although they desired to go abroad. Naturally, they feel that they have as good a claim for consideration by the Government as some of those who rendered service abroad by taking work on transports, and who are allowed to participate in the benefits provided under the Repatriation Act, War Service Homes Act, War Gratuity. Act, and other measures. Some of the men were employed in isolated places such as Neptune Island andCape St. Albans for monthsat a. time, and many of them were compelled to give up permanent employment, which they could not regainon being disbanded. Honorable members will recognise that in consequence of the service they were compelled to render they had to make sacrifices in regard to seniority and inother ways. I trust the Government will give favorable considerationto my request, and see that the men will be able to receive benefits under the measures that have been passed to assist soldiers. There aremany details which. I could bring before the House, but in consideration for honorable members and the hours . they are required to sit, I shall content myself by saying that there is every justification for giving the case of these men further consideration. I trust the Minister for the Navy (Mr.Laird Smith) will investigate the claims of men who have rendered such valuable service, not only during the war, but in times of peace, and who, on the outbreak of hostilities, were subject to compulsory service by proclamation.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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