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Wednesday, 30 March 1966

Mr IAN ALLAN (Gwydir) .- I wish to draw the attention of the House to the inequity which exists in the application of the National Service Act and which causes youngsters and men in the country who wish to enlist in the Citizen Military Forces to be at a distinct disadvantage as compared with those who live in the cities or who are located elsewhere within handy reach of a C.M.F. unit. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury) is empowered to grant deferment to certain classes of persons. The first of these is defined as follows -

Those who elect,, before the ballot relating to the registration of their age group, to serve in the Citizen Forces under specified conditions as an alternative to national service are eligible for indefinite deferment of call-up for national service provided they serve efficiently as members for the specified period.

That is an excellent provision. It is being availed of by those who live in the cities or who are fortunate enough to live elsewhere in proximity to a C.M.F. unit. In the cities, not only can they join a C.M.F. unit, but I understand that they can join the other citizen forces which are associated with the Air Force and the Navy. The inequity to which I refer appears to me to cause great hardship to youngsters in certain cases.

However, I do not wish to elaborate on that particular aspect of the matter.

I want to suggest to the House and to the Government that there are ways in which to correct this situation. It should be possible for the Services to devise a system to permit youths who wish to join the citizen forces to carry out their obligations without having to attend weekly parades or bivouacs or annual camps, as the ordinary C.M.F. personnel have to do at the present time. It should be -possible for the Services to devise a system to enable a youth to serve for an equally long period but for his year's training to be concentrated into, say, six weeks, two months or perhaps a little longer. In this way, he could fulfil all his obligations, become thoroughly trained and obtain the benefit of exemption from national service training if he so wished. Furthermore, this should not be considered solely in relation to service in the Army. It should be possible for the Air Force and the Navy on this basis to absorb as recruits country boys who are now deprived of the opportunity to attend any kind of military camp and thus are deprived of the opportunity to serve, unless they enlist and consequently serve for six years rather than for the shorter period of two years as national service trainees.

The situation that I have mentioned represents an anomaly. It reveals an inequity that should be corrected. I believe that it should be corrected quickly. As I have said, it should not be the responsibility solely of the Army to do the job. It is a job for the combined Services, which should look at the situation as a whole and determine how they can best handle the intake of country youths who are deprived, by the present administration of the National Service Act, of the opportunity to serve their country in the same way as youths who are more fortunately situated.

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