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Wednesday, 2 November 1910

Senator PEARCE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Defence) - Having noticed the paragraph, which appears in the press this morning, I. brought along with me the reply of the Commandant of Western Australia, which reads -

District Headquarters,

Perth,21st October, 1910.

Secretary for Defence,

In reply to your wire E.2197 re discharge by State Government of Warder Wise, as far as I am concerned, I have to report that in August last I received a private note from the Acting Premier enclosing a file concerning this case, and asking me to speak to him.

In this file Wise made several misstatements, and also stated that he "could not be discharged from the militia until the expiration of his term"; this is the statement that the Premier asked me if it were correct. I told the Premier that I could, under regulation 184, discharge a man free at any time, and having perused the file and seen how the man's attendance at drill had interfered with his prison duties, said that I would do so in this case if the man applied.

Later on I had an interview with the ComptrollerGeneral of Prisons, and he asked me to put this in writing ; this I did (see copy attached), and also referred the Colonial Secretary to a telegraphic report published in the West Australian on the 18th August,1910, giving a resume of the contents of the Defence Bill 1903-10, which gave the list of persons exempt, but did not state that same were " in time of war."

This reference was only to draw attention to the fact that the nature of warder's duties were recognised as liable to clash with military duties.

G.   G. H. Irving, Lieut. -Colonel,

Commandant, C.M.F., W.A.

In reply to the honorable senator's further question, I may say that I have not yet received a reply from the Premier of Western Australia to the representations which I made to him by letter, in which I asked for a reconsideration of the case, and pointed out that the State Government had made an error in regard to the clause of the Defence Bill to which they had referred. I may add that I have also telegraphed to the Commandant of Western Australia, asking him what were the misstatements alleged to have been made by

Warder Wise, and requesting him to furnish me with proof that the man's attendances at drill had interfered with his prison duties.

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