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Thursday, 26 November 1914

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - I move -

That after the word "training," line 9, the following proviso bc inserted: - "Provided that the regulations may authorize the District Commandant to grant temporary exemption for a period not exceeding one year, renewable from time to time, to persons who reside at to great a distance from the places appointed for training that compulsory attendance would involve great hardships."

The object of this amendment is to meet the complaints which have been urged that in some districts great hardship is imposed on cadets who reside more than 5 miles from the training centre, and who have to attend from these extreme distances to undergo their drill. It is difficult to frame a general clause to meet such cases. There are some districts - for instance, in the metropolitan area - in which no hardship is imposed by requiring a lad to travel a distance of 3 or 4 miles to attend his drill; but there are other districts in which an extreme hardship is imposed by subjecting cadets to a similar obligation.

Senator Long - There is the West Coast -of Tasmania, for instance.

Senator PEARCE - Yes. I had in my mind the West Coast of Tasmania, and also the Newcastle district, in New South Wales. In regard to the latter, I am informed that in some of the smaller centres lads employed in mines are sometimes engaged a couple of miles in one direction, and after they have ceased work they have to walk, perhaps, 5 miles in another direction in order to attend their drills. In other words, they may be obliged to tramp 7 or 8 miles after they have done their day's work. It occurs to me that the best way of meeting this difficulty is to empower the State Commandants to grant temporary exemptions for a period not exceeding one year, to be renewed from time to time. I believe that the amendment I have submitted will overcome the difficulty, while at the same time it will not lay down the hard and fast rule that we are prepared to decrease the distance from the training centre. We wish to train as many of our youths as possible, and consequently we require an elastic clause to avoid hardship.

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