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Wednesday, 24 June 1914

Senator STORY (South Australia) . - I desire to get a little information, if possible, from the Minister of Defence in connexion with the subjectmatter of one or two questions I addressed to him last week about the horse allowance to certain warrant and noncommissioned officers of the Instructional Staff in South Australia. I have received a reply containing a recommendation of the Military Board, and an intimation that the Minister has approved of the recommendation. I wish the Minister to explain what the recommendation means. If I briefly state the case, honorable senators will be better able to understand the position. I have been furnished with the following statement of the case, which is briefly a history of the question since the horse allowance was stopped during last year: -

The regulations governing the paymentof horse allowance to warrant and noncommissioned officers of the Instructional Staff prescribe that those instructors who were in receipt of horse allowance prior to the 1st November, 1910, shall, provided they are required to provide a horse, continue to draw an allowance of £30 per annum.

Other instructors, when required to be mounted, to be provided with a horse by the Department, or through a contractor, and not draw the allowance. In country districts, where no contract exists, reasonable horse hire to be refunded on production of receipts, &c.

Garrison Sergeant-Major Marshall, Warrant Officers Denniston and Read, and Staff SergeantMajor Martin, of the Instructional Staff, South Australia, were in receipt of the allowance of £30 per annum above referred to; but in June last the Commandant directed that the horse allowance for Marshall, Denniston, and Read should cease from 1st September, 1913, and in October directed that the horse allowance for Martin should cease from 1st December, 1913, on the ground that their work was chiefly administrative, and that the value of their parades at which they appeared mounted on their own horses provided at their own expense during the previous twelve months, if paid for at ordinary rates of hire, fell a good deal below the amounts paid as horse allowance.

The warrant and non-commissioned officers concerned protested against the withdrawalof the allowance as not being in accordance with the regulations.

On 21st November, 1913, Head-quarters issued a circular providing that the horse allowance of £30 per annum should, from the 1st January, 1914, only be granted to those warrant and non-commissioned officers eligible under the regulations to draw such allowance, who actually own a horse suitable for military work.

On 23rd January, 1914, the Acting Commandant, South Australia, after reviewing the matter, informed the District Paymaster that the notification stopping the payment of the allowance to the warrant and non-commissioned officers concernedshouldbe rescinded, and that the allowance should be paid as if no such notification had been issued. The District Paymaster, however, declined to pay without finance authority.

On 2nd March, 1914, the Commandant accordingly applied for finance authority.

On 21st April, 1914, in reply to a memorandum from Sec., Commandant states that the garrison sergeant-major is very rarely required to perform mounted duty, and that the expenditure of horse allowance for the garrison sergeant-major is scarcely justifiable.

He also states that Warrant Officer Denniston, since 1st July, 1913, has been mounted at three light-horse camps of eight days each - twenty-four days, one light-horse school of ten days; one squadron camp of four days, and a few ordinary parades.

I point out that that means thirty-eight days, and a few ordinary parades might mean ten or twelve, or one day every week. The statement continues -

Warrant-Officer Read, since 1st July, 1913, to 26th May, 1914, was actually mounted on nine parades.

I now come to the recommendation of the Military Board, which is so vague that it really does not recommend anything definite. It is as follows -

Financial Regulation 93 (5) (f) states -

If in receipt of such an allowance from the date of coming into force of this regulation (1st November, 1910), a warrant or non-commissioned officer of the Instructional Staff required to provide a horse shall continue to draw horse allowance at the rate of £30 per annum.

That is clear and definite enough, but it goes on to say -

The foregoing places upon the Commandant the responsibility of determining whether a warrant or non-commissioned officer will be required to provide a horse, and in the event of his deciding the question in the negative, it is clear that the warrant or non-commissioned officer is not entitled to receive the horse allowance.

In June, 1913, the then Commandant, after due consideration, determined that Staff SergeantMajor Marshall and Warrant Officers Denniston and Read, should, from the 1st September, not be required to provide a horse; and in October he similarly determined that from the 1st December following, Staff SergeantMajor Martin should also not be required to provide a horse. The names of these Instructors were accordingly removed from the list of those toreceive horse allowance.

The Board considers the Commandant was justified in this decision, unless any one of the instructors concerned could prove that he personally owned a horse, certified as fit, suitable and available, and that the ordinary duties of his position necessitated his being mounted. In such a case the Board considers that the Commandant should have determined that the men were required to provide themselves with a horse whereby they would be entitled to receive the consideration as authorized by Financial Regulation 93 (5) (/).

T.   Griffiths,

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