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Thursday, 19 November 1914

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - In my reply I propose to deal first with the remarks of the last speaker about the voluntary offers from persons in various parts of the Commonwealth. We have received a very large number of these offers, and it is very gratifying to find so many of them coming forward. But there is a difficulty in many cases. Obviously, if we are going to arrange, whether for Expeditionary Forces or for local defence, it must be on some well-defined lines. Many of these offers have been of a peculiar character, though I do. not say that the offers referred to by Senator Fer ricks come within that category. In many cases some gentleman will write to the Department offering to raise a regiment or a squadron of light horse, of which he is to be the commander. In the first place, in the Forces to which we would have to attach the gentleman we may have already provided for sufficient light horse. It must be remembered that in these Forces we need to observe the proper proportion of the various arms. In the second place, it may be that the gentleman is not one who is suitable to have command of a regiment. He may have a very good opinion of himself, but in the view of the military officers he may not be the best man to put in command. Some of the offers have been rather embarrassing because of the conditions attached to them. There has been another class of offer which, on the face of it, seems a very good one. There have been offers from men to raise a regiment of light horse, each member to find his own horse. The offer, on the face of it, looks very good, but when it is examined what does it come to t It comes to a property qualification, because, no matter how good a soldier a man might be, if he could not provide his own horse he would be excluded. I am sure that Senator Ferricks would not congratulate me if I accepted that method of raising Forces. Again, gentlemen come forward and say that we ought to organize a Force for home defence, or a home training guard, and make various suggestions of that kind. They are prepared to prescribe the conditions under which the home Forces shall be trained, and what the Department shall do for them, and viceversâ. We have a defence scheme which was laid down by the man who is now thought fit to guide the defence of the Empire in the present war. We accepted that scheme, and we believe that it is capable of meeting our requirements in peace and, with modifications, also in war.

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