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Friday, 23 April 1915

Senator O'KEEFE - When the honorable senator was' speaking, the Minister interjected that in cases in which no allocation orders have been left he had power to allocate the money.

Senator de Largie - He did not. He admitted that he had no power to take the matter into his own hands.

Senator O'KEEFE - But in the case to which the honorable senator has directed our attention the Minister was prevented from doing that by reason of the fact that Major Mills had specifically allocated his wages. Any man acting in that way may be a very bad citizen, but that does not justify us in imposing on the Minister the duty of acting as an arbiter in such cases. If we accept for service abroad a married man who has a family dependent upon him, and who leaves definite instructions that all moneys payable to him shall be allocated in a certain way, are we going to authorize the Minister to override his directions? I say no. If an injustice will be inflicted on a wife or family by accepting a mau for service in our Expeditionary Forces, we ought not to enlist him.

Senator de Largie - But the man may be accepted and have gone to the front before the fact is known.

Senator O'KEEFE - There are dozens of cases in which injustice has been done to wives and families in other directions. If this woman knew that her husband intended leaving her without means of support, I imagine that she could have obtained redress by having him arrested as an intending deserter.

Senator de Largie - He went away with the first Expeditionary Force.

Senator O'KEEFE - Did not his wife know that he intended going ?

Senator Henderson - He was at Broadmeadows for weeks.

Senator Pearce - I understand that a separation took place long before.

Senator O'KEEFE - That is another aspect of the case. If a separation took place some time previously, it was doubtless for some reason, and the Minister would have a big task thrust upon him if he were called upon to discharge the duties of a Judge in such matters.

Senator Keating - We would first require to know the terms of the separation.

Senator O'KEEFE - Yes.

Senator Pearce - Wherever a maintenance order from a Court is produced, the Defence Department give it preference over any allocation order.

Senator O'KEEFE - And very properly so. Whilst we fully sympathize with this woman-

Senator de Largie - A lot of good sympathy is to a starving family.

Senator O'KEEFE - My sympathy as a member of this Chamber will be more practical than that. I am perfectly willing to do anything we can to provide for such cases. So far, however, we have made no provision to meet them, because the Minister has not the requisite powers.

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