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Wednesday, 17 November 1976


Mr KILLEN (MORETON, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Defence) - I would not like to leave my right honourable friend with the impression that I am without occupation but, unlike him, I have read the article. The cover of the magazine and the article represent an unconscionable slur upon every person who wears the Queen's uniform and upon every person who serves with the Department of Defence. The author makes charges of the utmost gravity. I read the article not only as the Minister ultimately responsible to this Parliament but also, I trust, with the mild discipline of a lawyer. The author offered no evidence whatsoever to support any of his charges. But evidence, I apprehend, is not one of the continuing preoccupations of some journalists who are our associates, and evidence is not to be found in this article which in any way supports the grave charges he has made. I join with the Prime Minister in saying that, to the best of my knowledge, I am not aware of any classified defence material which has in any way been improperly disclosed since the advent of the first Fraser Government.

Beyond that, I say this: The article makes a charge concerning officer resignations. I make 2 observations concerning that. The author alleges that the officer resignation rate is worsening, or he uses words to that effect. That is simply not true. I think it has been the common concern of all honourable members that the resignation rate has been too high. It has been impossible to find one single reason why the rate has been so disturbingly high, but if the author of the article would care to look at the White Paper on defence, which he seeks to disparage in a rather anaemic fashion, he will find the answer which repudiates his contention in most explicit terms. The only other reference I make is to the paragraph which commences with this felicitous term:

The younger critics of the Russell Hill establishment say that for all the much vaunted integration of the bureaucratic superstructure and elimination of separate service departments, it remains dominated by dilettantish diplomatics and stodgy bureaucrats who still let the three services make all the real equipment and force structure decisions independently and on the basis of what suits them best.

The author of the article does not seek to identify the critics. They remain anonymous; their qualifications are unstated. He seeks to redeem them by applying to them the adjective younger'. I say in conclusion that the author of this article has, over the years I have known him, written a great deal of mischievous and meretricious nonsense. He has now ascended his Everest.


Mr Yates - I wish to raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I beg leave to move that the matter be referred to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Privileges. At what time and when should that matter be referred to that Committee on Privileges?







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