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Wednesday, 27 May 1942

Mr RANKIN (BENDIGO, VICTORIA) .- In last Saturday's issue of the Melbourne Herald there is a statement under the heading: "Dr. Evatt gets close to our R.A.F. Fliers". It is as follows:-

The Australian Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) visited the Australian Spitfire Squadron this morning. He had scarcely been at the aerodrome a few minutes before he had emptied out the senior officers and visitors from the hut, where the pilots assembled, and settled down for a confidential chat.

He repeated this procedure with the ground crews, and then, with a sheaf of notes, went into a vigorous discussion on the spot with Air Commodore F. H. McNamara, V.C., Australian Air Liaison Officer at Australia House, Wing Commander T. W. White, who is attached to Royal Australian Air Force head-quarters in London, Squadron Leader Barrett, who is station commander, and Group Captain K. L. Atcherley, who is sector* commander.

The problems ranged from provision of footwear and how to get more fruit to the question of greater facilities for members of ground crews to become members of air crews. Air Commodore McNamara is taking immediate action.

Dr. Evattlater told a Herald representative that all members of the squadron were magnificently fit and cheerful, and were as keen as mustard. What was most pleasing was that they were strongly opposed- to being posted to other units. They had a spirit of loyalty and comradeship like a football team.

Squadron Leader Barrett said: "Dr. Evatt's visit was worth while, if only for one thing: Two of our boys were to be posted to officer training units as instructors. They were almost in tears when they got the news, but now the Minister has overruled that project.

If the Prime Minister intends to allow people to interfere, as the Minister for External Affairs has done, with the training programmes and the efficiency of our armed units, he will destroy what discipline is left in the Australian army to-day. When senior officers consider that men should be sent to new units in order to perform instructional work their decisions should be upheld. The men should not be encouraged to tell tales. I say without hesitation that, in order to. have any chance of success with our armed forces against o.ur enemies, a feeling of confidence must exist between the senior officers and the men in the ranks. The senior officer must trust his men, and his men must trust him.

Mr Morgan - The newspaper report does 'hot say that the Attorney-General used any influence.

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