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Wednesday, 10 October 1973
Page: 1816

Mr LYNCH (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) - I address my question to the Deputy Prime Minister. Does he recall stating to this Parliament on 26 September that the number of Army volunteers 'exceeds even the Government's expectations'? Does he also recall stating that the Army Director-General of Recruiting had been misquoted in a public statement on the decline in enlistments? I ask the Minister directly: Is it not true, as I am advised by Army sources, that his Department's statistics show a decline in Army enrolments of 25 per cent and a decline in re-enlistments of 17 per cent? Is it also true that trainees are now shown on battalion establishments immediately after recruitment training whereas formerly they would have been engaged in approximately 3 months corps training? In other words, is some of the increase to which he has adverted due to a change in reporting techniques?

Mr BARNARD (BASS, TASMANIA) (Minister for Defence) - It is true that I informed the House that the number of applications for enlistment in the Army had exceeded Government expectations. At that time I gave no indication of figures, I did not refer to figures at all. The information that had been conveyed to me by the Department of Defence was that enlistments were running at a satisfactory level. I say to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that it would appear that for the month of September - the figures which I referred to previously related to an earlier period - the rate of enlistments has fallen. I have no figures that I can give to the honourable member at this stage. They have not been made available to me. It is conceded that the number of applications during September had fallen somewhat. What I did say to the House and what I wish to reiterate is that I indicated that there had been a satisfactory rate of applications for enlistment up to that period.

Mr Lynch - 1 will be happy to give you the figures if you want them.

Mr BARNARD - I can assure the honourable member that if figures are available and have been supplied to him from the Department of Defence I will have no difficulty in obtaining them myself. I will certainly move to substantiate what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has indicated in relation to the rate of enlistments. I will be happy to let him have the information which is provided to me by the Department.

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