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Wednesday, 29 April 1942

Mr FORDE (Capricornia') (Minister for the Army [9.50]. - We all listened with interest to the remarks of the honorable member for BassMr. Barnard) , and we were intrigued by his graphic descriptions of the journals that he said were sent through the post by big Sydney emporiums in order to advertise their wares to the affluent people of Tasmania. His suggestion that, at a time like the present when it is necessary to conserve paper supplies and labour, this form of advertising should be curtailed is worthy of sympathetic consideration. It will be brought to the notice of the appropriate Minister.

The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) asked that an inquiry be held into the administration of the police force in the Australian Capital . Territory. I shall bring his representations to the notice of the Minister concerned with a. view to having an investigation made.

The honorable gentleman also spoke of the grass misuse of the powers of the censorship authorities. There are several phases of censorship. Communications censorship is controlled by the Department of the Army, but the branch to which the honorable member referred is subject to the direction of the Prime Minister's Department. I shall see that his complaints are referred to the Prime Minister. Nevertheless, the honorable member should not lose sight of the fact that articles may be published in newspapers without falling into the hands of the enemy, but when they are broadcast over wireless systems they may be heard by the enemy in territories to the north of Australia. That fact was probably taken into consideration by the censorship authorities when they permitted the publication of certain statements in the newspapers but banned the broadcasting of them.

Mr Calwell - Does the Minister consider that a reference to Senator Leckie's relationship to a former Prime Minister would have a disastrous effect upon our war effort?

Mr FORDE - No. I do not consider that the publication of that fact could have done any harm, but other matters which have been referred to in the newspapers might have been of advantage to the enemy if they had been broadcast over the air. The honorable member also asked that protection be afforded to persons who had brought these matters to his notice. Nobody wishes to victimize anybody who has supplied information to the honorable gentleman. I have no knowledge of the sources of his information. He seems to be-

Mr Calwell - Well-informed always !

Mr FORDE - He seems to be very resourceful, sometimes to the annoyance of some honorable gentlemen who wish to leave- as soon as possible after the motion for the adjournment of the House has been moved. I have known him to rise at 1 a.m., with a bundle of papers in his arms, and become eloquent. He is indefatigable, and he airs his grievances even at the risk of incurring the displeasure of some of his colleagues. I assure him that there will be no victimization of any person who has supplied him with information which may lead to the better administration of a Commonwealth department.

I was interested to hear his comments about the uniforms of Australian and American soldiers. We all admire the men of the American Army whom we have met in Australia. The honorable gentleman himself accompanied me on a visit of inspection to some of the American army camps in this country. We were both greatly impressed with their uniforms, the quality of their boots, their general smartness, their physique, their behaviour and their high standard of discipline. Both the officers and the men take pride in their appearance, and I have no doubt that we can learn many lessons from them. It is desirable that we should, consistent with economy, improve the type of uniform supplied to Australian soldiers. The quality of the material is excellent, but some of the uniforms do not fit very well. I shall not make any extravagant promises now, because I realize that, with the huge forces thatwe have under arms to-day, the cost of issuing new uniforms would be tremendous. However, the honorable gentleman's suggestions will be considered sympathetically if and when the Government decides upon an improvement of the uniforms of Australian forces. All of the matters which have been raised on this motion will he given close consideration.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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