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Friday, 23 April 1915

Senator LONG (Tasmania) . - In speaking to the question that the Ministerial statement be printed, I made certain references to the manner in which the members of the Permanent Forces were denied that promotion in rank and payment in the shape of salary to which their qualifications and long service entitled them. I made special reference to one particular case, and the facts I adduced in support of it were contested by the Minister. I said that an appointment of, not only an absurd and stupid, but of an unjust, character had been made of a certain individual to take charge of the concentration camp at Claremont, in Tasmania. The Minister denied that any such mistake had been made. I further said that the appointment had been made in opposition to the recommendation of the Commandant. The Minister of Defence denied that the appointment had been so made.

Senator Pearce - When did I deny that?

Senator LONG - The Minister denied it from his place in the Senate, when I was addressing myself to the question of the Ministerial statement.

Senator Pearce - Do you mind quoting my denial, because I have Hansard here, and there is no such denial in it?

Senator LONG - It is a most extraordinary thing that if the Minister did not deny it he should have immediately communicated with the Commandant for Tasmania, asking for the confirmation or otherwise of the statement I made in that, respect.

Senator Pearce - Do not dodge, now. You have made a statement, prove it.

Senator LONG - I am not going to dodge it; I am not going to follow the disreputable example of the Minister in that respect.

Senator Pearce - Prove your statement.

Senator LONG - I shall prove it to the satisfaction of the Senate, if not of the Minister and some of his twopennyhalfpenny subordinates. I will produce the statement from these files.

Senator Pearce - You said I denied it from my place in the House. Hansard shows no such statement on my part.

Senator LONG - I made the statement in the Senate the other night. This is the official file, and, consequently, I am justified in quoting from it. The Minister immediately sent a memorandum to his secretary, saying, " Senator Long says that Captain Payne was put in charge of the concentration camp in Tasmania again =t the recommendation of the Commandant. Is this so? Please ascertain."

Senator Pearce - Was that your statement?

Senator LONG - That was my statement.

Senator Pearce - And that has been shown to be incorrect?

Senator LONG - And that has been shown to be incorrect, but the Minister a. moment ago denied that he contested the view I had just presented to the Senate. He has just now affirmed it.

Senator Pearce - I do now, but I still deny that I contested it from my placein the Senate. I did not deny your statement before, but I deny it now.

Senator LONG - Whether- the Minister denied it before or behind is quite, apart from the question at issue.

Senator Pearce - Here in Hansard is your statement that Captain Payne was placed in command of the camp in opposition to the recommendation of the Commandant of Tasmania. There is no statement of mine following that.

Senator LONG - Without making any reflecton upon those who are charged with, the official recording- of honorable sena-. tors' speeches, I may say that on reading one honorable senator's speech recently I- found myself credited with making an interjection, although I was not in the chamber at the time. My mind is quite clear that at the time I made this statement the Minister contested the view I |>ut forward.

Senator Pearce - I did not, and that minute shows that I did not. I wrote it to find out the facts.

Senator LONG - If the Minister assures me that he did not, I have nothing further to say so far as that question is concerned, but there is no doubt that the Minister contests it now. To show how the appointment of Captain Payne was made, let me read the Commandant's letter in respect of Captain Payne's application.

Senator Pearce - His application for what ?

Senator LONG - Will the Minister let me proceed in my own way t

Senator Pearce - There are two applications from Captain Payne. That is where you want to confuse the issue.

Senator LONG - So that is where the Minister wants to make the quibble?

Senator Pearce - No. One of his applications was for promotion to the rank of captain, and the other was for appointment to the command of the camp.

Senator LONG - The Minister knows that if Lieutenant Payne had not got promotion to the rank of captain he. could not have secured the position of officer in charge of the camp.

Senator Pearce - Your statement was very definite.

Senator LONG - If that is the attitude the Minister is going to take up in respect of a gross injustice of this kind, the sooner he gets out of the Labour party the better, so far as I am concerned. We want justice, and I am going to insist on getting it. The Minister has contested my statement that this man was placed in charge of the camp in opposition to the wishes of the Commandant.

Senator Pearce - Hear, hear!

Senator LONG - Then let us see what the letter of the Commandant was in respect of his promotion to the rank of captain.

Senator Pearce - That is a different thing.

Senator LONG - Surely the one is governed by the other!

Senator Pearce - You are going fro bring in a letter dealing with one thing to prove your statement dealing with another.

Senator LONG - I am going to do nothing of the kind. I am going to prove that this is a job that wants looking into, and that there is an absolute necessity for some investigation by this Parliament into the method by which appointments are made and promotions regulated by the military authorities of the Com m on wealth .

Senator Pearce - It is to be hoped that you will have better grounds than this.

Senator LONG - And it is to be hoped that I shall have the sympathy of men other than the Minister, who talk3 a lot about labour and justice on the platform, but acts up to it in a very poor spirit in his place in Parliament. Notwithstanding the Minister's attempt to haul me off the track, I want to read this letter to the Senate to show what justification there was for giving this gentleman the position of captain over members of the Administrative and Instructional Staff, and what further justification there could have been for placing him in absolute charge of the camp. That is the position which the Minister of Defence wants to justify. Colonel W. J. Clark, Commandant of Tasmania, wrote on 8th January, 1915, as follows: -

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