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Tuesday, 14 May 1957

Mr LUCHETTI (Macquarie) .- Not one honorable member on the Government side has supported entirely the clause now under consideration. I have waited to hear even one Government supporter extol any virtue that he believes it possesses, but not one has risen in his place to speak favorably of it. Each honorable member on the Government side who has spoken has set out to excuse his particular section of the community. I consider that that is quite unnecessary and quite wrong. There is no need to make this a country-city contest in any way.

I believe that the committee should consider, firstly, whether this provision is necessary; secondly, if it is necessary to select 1 2,000 young Australians by ballot, whether that is adequate; and, thirdly, if it is adequate, what it is proposed to do with these 12,000 young men? I want to dismiss from our consideration, to some extent, the question of whether a ballot is necessary. I do not think that that is the all-important question. The important question is: Will the ballot be conducted properly? If it is conducted properly, will it produce 12,000 young men to be trained? I then ask whether it is necessary to have 12,000 semitrained young men, who will have no knowledge of modern weapons? Those 12,000 young men will go into camp. Will they be equipped with or trained in the use of the latest weapons of war? At the moment, it is certain that they will not be issued with FN rifles.

The CHAIRMAN - Order! That is not an issue in this clause. The honorable member must keep to the subject-matter of the clause.

Mr LUCHETTI - The clause makes it clear that 12,000 men are to be called up. lt is proposed that they shall be called up by means of a ballot. In passing, I wish to mention a matter referred to by other speakers - that is, what is to happen to these young men when they have been called up. I dispute the necessity for this. Obviously, it will not be an adequate number, because 12,000 semi-trained men could not serve this country in any worthwhile way. Consequently, I believe, with other honorable members of the Opposition, that the clause ought to be withdrawn, the bill thrown out and the whole matter reconsidered in a realistic manner.

I believe that this proposal is unworkable. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) asks about what will happen to a person whose birthday falls on the last day of February in a leap year. That is a most important point. There are many difficulties involved in this matter. The question of the owner of a one-man business arises. Quite recently, representations were made to me by a person in Katoomba who runs a motor lorry, which he is buying on time-payment. He has a personal contract. If he is unable to continue with his work, he will lose his contract and his lorry. What does the Government propose to do in a case like that?

The case of the seasonal worker also arises. Is his period of training to be deferred or is he to be exempted from training? I believe that consideration should be given to the circumstances of seasonal workers. A person engaged in tourist activities is in a similar category. I know that this Government has compelled men in the tourist trade to go into camp at the height of the tourist season. They would have been willing to undergo their periods of training and give their services at times of year when the tourist trade was not at its peak. Obviously the Government has overlooked realities. No consideration is being shown by the Minister or the Government to men in such circumstances.

The difficulty of training centres for trainees from country districts arises. Training centres did exist in the country districts, where such men could be trained. The army camp at Bathurst is an example. That place served the people very well during the war and some thousands of Australian servicemen were adequately trained there. After the war, that camp was closed down by this Government, the buildings were sold and the land has reverted to private ownership. That would have been an ideal place for decentralized training. It would have provided an opportunity for young men from country districts to receive their training without having to come to camps near the city. There are great difficulties in the way of bringing country boys from their farms to the big centres of population and to places where they can be trained. As a result of the Government's failure to provide good roads in the country, in many cases helicopters would be required to bring boys from distant country areas to training centres.

This clause proves beyond a shadow of doubt that the scheme is unworkable, that it is unrealistic and that it cannot usefully serve the nation. It ought to be withdrawn and the Government should reconsider it in an effort to evolve a workable and an acceptable scheme - one that will serve the nation and give our young men a proper understanding of what is required for defence. This scheme will not do that, because, as I said at the outset, it will not work. Although 12,000 young men may be selected by ballot or by any other means, it will not be possible to train them in the use of modern weapons of war and, as a consequence, their time will be wasted.

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