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Friday, 29 May 1914

Senator LONG (Tasmania) .- I am inclined to think that honorable senators on both sides are unnecessarily magnifying the importance of this question. If the desires of the Scottish people are to be given effect to, there will be ample time in the course of two or three years for them to manifest their enthusiasm on the subject of national regiments. Personally, I think that, under our system, Austraiian sentiment will overshadow everything in the nature of Scottish or Irish sentiment.

Senator Lt Colonel O'loghlin - T - They are not in opposition in any sense.

Senator LONG - I am aware of that. I am not at all anxious to do anything to damp the ardour of either Scottish or Irish people who are anxious to form national regiments. It has been contended that such regiments will have a decided tendency to interfere with that spirit of rivalry we desire to see throughout the Citizen Forces, and that, therefore, interest in our defence scheme will wane or cease to exist. That is not my opinion, in view of the fact that our system 13 absolutely compulsory.

Senator Senior - The honorable senator will admit that there is a great deal of difference between mechanical service and heartfelt service.

Senator LONG - But patriotic service will be rendered by the great bulk of Australian citizens, and, as I say, I think Australian sentiment will overshadow any other national feeling. I am going to vote for, the right to create national regiments, with a view to their development to the highest point.

Senator Pearce - Not in Perth or Hobart.

Senator LONG - I understand that there is to be no limitation, but that the policy will be extended to every part of the Commonwealth.

Senator Pearce - Senator Millen did not say so.

Senator LONG - There is, however, one fundamental objection to distinct uniforms. If the Minister of Defence is serious in his statement that, in the event of war, those regiments will continue to wear their national uniforms, he ought to realize that this would be flying in the face of the experience of the Imperial authorities during the South African war. '

Senator Millen - The kilts were not taken off the Scottish regiments at that time.'

Senator LONG - The kilts had to be taken off when the men came in contact with the barbed-wire fences and other obstructions.

Senator Millen - I. asked Senator Pearce to say whether the Scottish regiments did not go to South Africa wearing their kilts.

Senator Pearce - Yes, but when they got to Capetown they were supplied with khaki aprons to put over the kilts.

Senator Millen - That was to disguise the gaudy colours.

Senator LONG - Of course. The Minister knows that, on that occasion, uniforms of a distinctive character were set aside, and ordinary khaki uniforms substituted. To send regiments to war with distinctive uniforms is to simply make a target of thom.

Senator Millen - I do not think that the honorable senator can have seen the proposed Scottish uniform, or he would not speak like that.

Senator LONG - I confess that I have' not seen the uniform, but the description in the regulation is sufficient to enable one to . judge as to its effect. Sending these men to the scene of operations equipped with a uniform of this character would be absolutely suicidal; and if this policy is carried into effect, and if the response on behalf of the Scottish people is as great as the Minister anticipates, and as I hope it will be, we shall find that further expense will have to be undertaken by the Commonwealth in order to provide these regiments with another uniform that will be less conspicuous on the field of battle. Notwithstanding this, I am not going to deny to the Scottish or the Irish the opportunity of establishing regiments in Australia. I am of Irish extraction, but I am, an Australian all the time, and I have three boys who are trainees) and, no matter whether the Scottish or Irish regiments are inaugurated, now or in years to come, the Australian system of defence will be good enough for them.

Senator Oakes - Do you go' to the sports on St. Patrick's Day ? .

Senator LONG - Sports and the defence of the country are quite different things. Of course, I respect the Irish people; I respect the Scotch; I have tho greatest love for all sections of the British race: hut I would be less than human if I did not give my wholehearted support to the grand, splendid, and free institutions that we enjoy in Australia. They are good enough for me, and I make bold to prophesy that they will he good enough for my boys'. I have no desire to " stone-wall " the motion, nor to throw cold water on the establishment of these regiments; but I feel certain that the results anticipated will not be attained. It was my privilege a couple of years ago to pay a flying visit to Scotland. One thing I did not see there was people wearing the kilts. Senator Stewart and other Scotchmen will bear me out when I say that the kilts in Scotland are as rare a sight as snow in summer. I have no desire to hear all sections of the Senate ejaculating " Sit down !" I do not trouble honorable senators more than once a . week. However, I shall not speak any longer. I am opposed to the motion submitted by Senator Pearce.

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