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Wednesday, 29 June 1938

Mr LANE (Barton) (6:26 AM) .The naval authorities at Edgecliff are refusing to admit into the navy boys of 18 or 19 years of age. I know of two brothers who applied on the same day. One of them, aged 16, was accepted, while the other, aged 18, was rejected. The Minister for Defence , (Mr. Thorby) has written informing me that he had issued instructions that boys from the coal-mining districts should be given preference. Boys of 19, 20 and 21 years of age are children of the depression. The navy is closed against them.

Mr Thorby - That is not so. I have made special arrangements to avoid it.

Mr LANE - I can show the Minister replies that have been received from Commander Spurgeon. I cannot secure the admission to the navy of a boy who is over 16 years of age. Hitherto, I experienced very little trouble in advancing the claims of boys who had a good character.Some of these lads are discharging family responsibilities. They have never had a chance to enter industry. I am sure that if the Minister had a talk with Commander Spurgeon he would learn the nature of the letters which that officer is sending to applicants for admission to the navy. Boys of 16 years of age are able to obtain employment in civil life, but those who are 19 or 20 years of age find it impossible to secure a place in industry. The Government of New South Wales has appointed a special board to deal with these boys psychologically, and has made an arrangement with employers in that State to pay a certain portion of the wages of those who are apprenticed.The instruction ought to be issued that no boy under18 years of age may be admitted to the navy. I sincerely trust that an improvement of the position will be effected at Edgecliff.

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