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Tuesday, 22 March 1966

Mr CALWELL - I address a question to the Prime Minister. On 20th August 1964, the then Minister for the Army, Dr. Forbes, said in this House that the Government had not introduced national service training, because firstly, to do so would be against the unanimous advice of the Government's military advisers; secondly, it would have an adverse effect on the morale and the role of the Citizen Military Forces; thirdly, it would level out at an additional cost of £117 million a year and, fourthly, for reasons of this kind the British Government abandoned its two-year compulsory military service scheme. I ask: Why did the Government, in which the Minister who made these observations was still Minister for the Army, introduce national service training three months later? I also ask: Was it the intention of the Menzies Government, when it introduced national service training, to conscript the trainees to die in a bogged down, unwinnable war in Vietnam? Finally, what made the Government's military advisers change their mind on the question of national service training, if they did so?

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