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Wednesday, 16 September 1942

Mr ANTHONY - Nothing more dangerous could be done to the services of this country than would be likely to result from the dragging of an issue such as this into party politics. If that is what honorable members want, the safest thing for the sake of all of us and for the security of this country would be to grant Aircraftman Falstein his discharge from the Royal Australian Air Force, in order that there might he no suspicion of political influence in the treatment meted out to him. I do not consider that there is any justification for the innuendos and statements that have been made by the two honorable members opposite who have spoken on the matter. Squadron-Leader Gorrie, by a piece of smart manipulation of his own name, has been described as " Goering " and " Goebels ", and by other names that reflect on him, but he has no friends in this chamber whom he has approached in order to present his side of the case. On the other hand, Aircraftman Falstein has his colleagues here, and they have admitted that he told them what he was going to do. He said that he intended to expose this, that and the other matter, in the Royal Australian Air Force. How can we have discipline if an AC2, who has been in the Air Force only six or eight weeks, is permitted to tell a camp commandant how the Air Force is to be conducted. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) said that this was not only a matter of supplying beer but one which went far deeper than that. Aircraf tman Falstein was going to tell the world about his commanding officer and every body else who had authority over him, so that he could alter the system of training in- this country which has produced pilots of which we are so proud to-day. If that was his object I am very glad that he has been thwarted in his purpose. I sincerely hope that the Minister for Air (Mr Drakeford) will disabuse his mind of all political influences. I do not believe that there is political prejudice in the tribunals set up in the Navy, the Army and the Air Force. It is true that the individuals who compose those tribunals may have held certain political beliefs in private life just as they probably have religious views, but it is most unfair to men who are doing a job for this country that statements concerning them are made under the cloak of parliamentary privilege, simply for the purpose of enabling a private person - for that is all Aircraftman Falstein is as a member of the Air Force - to drag the names of those connected with the administration of Brad field Park in the dirt. I do not believe that the Minister for Air or the Minister for the Army will be influenced by petty complaints such as have been introduced to-night. If we do not take a more realistic attitude towards the war, and consider how we are to win it and how our troops should be trained, I am afraid that we may lose the war. It is the duty of Ministers to' look at this matter from a non-political point of view. I regard what has happened to Aircraftman Falstein as though he were the most humble individual in the country. If he be treated in that way, there will be no doubt about the result.

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