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Wednesday, 24 June 1914

Senator STORY - I have shown from the statement I have read that for thirtyeight days in each year, and in addition a few ordinary parades, these men have to perform their duties, and that should be sufficient to entitle them to be supplied with horses. Whether honorable senators are military authorities or not, it must be clear to them that if an instructor is required to be mounted on parade, he should have a suitable horse. If he has a- horse of his own, it will be trained; it will know him, and will probably know the drill as well as he does himself. If he is compelled to go to a stable to hire any old crock people like to give him, he will be very much hampered in giving instruction, because the horse may be unmanageable. Many, if not all, of these drill instructors are men getting up in years, and it is not fair to ask a middle-aged man to ride any half -broken horse that the keeper of a livery stable may supply. I personally know that one of these officers - though I do not know which of them - bought a horse for which he paid £25, and in order that he might be able to look after it properly he purchased an allotment of land at a cost of £100. After incurring all this expense, this new regulation comes along, and the man finds himself debarred from receiving the horse allowance which he previously received. He very naturally objects to the allowance being taken from him when it was distinctly provided for by the military regulations operating when he joined the force. It is a downright injustice that when officers join the force under regulations having the effect of law providing for the payment of certain allowances on compliance with certain conditions, a new Minister of Defence or officer of the Department can deprive them of the allowances which they have earned by providing horses for themselves, without any recompense for the expense to which they have been put, such as in one of the cases mentioned, the purchase of a block of land on which to give the horse a run. I have some figures here showing the cost of keeping a horse in Adelaide. This is the estimate of a man who kept a horse there and knows really what it costs. - £18 per year feed; £13 for rent and stabling; £3, shoeing; clipping, &c, 7/6; rug, 12/6. That is to say that it costs £35 a year to keep a horse in Adelaide. The allowance they received was £30 a year. Officers very much prefer to incur the additional expense of keeping a horse and drawing the £30 allowance, so that they may be mounted upon suitable horses and will have no fear of being thrown, to being compelled to go to a livery stable to be mounted on horses that are entirely unsuitable. I wish the Minister to show, if he can, the justice of stopping this allowance which these officers were entitled to under the regulation in force in the service when they joined. Perhaps the honorable senator will say "why the recommendation of the present Commandant was not taken into consideration by the Military Board in arriving at their .decision.

Senator Millen - Who says that it was not?

Senator STORY - If it was taken into consideration, it was not acted upon.

Senator Millen - That is quite another matter.

Senator STORY - The present Commandant was distinctly in favour of warrant and commissioned officers owning their own horses if they had to appear mounted on parade.

Senator Millen - If that is so, then there is no trouble.

Senator STORY - The trouble is that the Military Board have recommended that these allowances should not be renewed.

Senator Millen - No, they have not.

Senator STORY - I may be under a wrong impression. If I am, it is due to the vague nature of the recommendation of the Military Board, and I ask the Minister to explain what it means. The fact of the matter is that the officers there are suffering under a very real grievance, having been deprived of an allowance to which they are entitled. They have been endeavouring now for nearly nine months to get to the Minister to obtain some, definite reply as to what is to be the result of their protest. The present Commandant has recommended that the men should be mounted on their own horses when it is necessary for them to have them.

Senator Millen - Where is that recommendation ?

Senator STORY - The Acting Commandant - I assume that refers to the present Commandant in South Australia - after reviewing the matter, informed the District Paymaster that the notification stopping the payment of the amount to the warrant and non-commissioned officers should be rescinded, and the allowance paid as if no such notification had been issued. The District Paymaster, however, declined to pay without finance authority. The colonel of the regiment - Colonel Rowell - protested most strongly against the action of the paymaster in first refusing to pay the allowance and then putting what he characterized as most impertinent questions to the officers, wanting to know if they had a horse, whom they bought it from, and how much it had cost. This Colonel Rowell regarded as humiliating the officers and prying into their private business, and very properly interpolates that when these questions had been answered by the officers the paymaster, in all probability, would have wanted to know where they got the money to pay for the horses from. Colonel Rowell and the present Commandant are both of opinion that officers who are required to be mounted should have their own horses, and my reading of the recommendation of the Military Board, although it is vague, is that it supports the stoppage of the allow ance. I shall be glad to hear from the Minister on the question.

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