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Thursday, 29 April 1915

The PRESIDENT - I did not catch what the honorable senator said, as I was discussing a matter connected with the business of the Senate with the Clerk; but if the honorable -senator made a statement that something which any other honorable senator said was not true, meaning that the honorable senator said it knowing it to be untrue, he was distinctly out of order. It is out of order in any case for an honorable senator to make such a statement. He could say that what another honorable senator said was not in accordance with fact, or that the other honorable senator was making a mistake. If he insinuates that a Minister or other honorable senator has made a statement that is untrue, and implies that he knew it to be untrue, he is distinctly out of order. I therefore ask the honorable senator to take the ordinary parliamentary course of withdrawing the remark.

Senator LONG - I suppose I am bound by parliamentary procedure to do so, but I am perfectly justified in characterizing the Minister's statement by an even stronger term. However, to bring myself into conformity with the rules of the Senate, I shall withdraw the remark, but shall hold my opinion all the same. Although I have been somewhat devoted to the Minister for a number of years, I assure him that I am not a hero worshiDper, and that if he or any other Minister does something which I think is not in accordance with justice, he can rely upon me being up against him. It is because I believe a grave injustice has been done to a number of very capable men in the permanent military service of the Commonwealth, that I have with great reluctanca brought this matter before the Senate. The Minister said it was too trivial to bring forward, and that I was ill-advised to make my protest here. How are men to get justice except through their parliamentary representative? Wo are told that a Military Board has been established to hear complaints from men in the Military Forces who are at all dissatisfied. These men receive very little consideration from the Military Board. These matters were placed before the Board, but only one individual, the Adjutant-General, gave them any attention, and the Minister referred this question to the very member of the Board - the Adjutant-General - who had previously expressed a very definite opinion upon the promotion of Captain Payne. The Minister, therefore, took the precaution, so to speak, of referring it from Csesar unto Caesar, thereby giving the courteous representations made by Lieutenant Tackaberry and Lieutenant Davis against supersession by an officer from the Militia Forces very little chance of receiving consideration. The Minister said I was not justified in bringing the matter before the Senate, but I want to hold him entirely responsible for my action.

The PRESIDENT - I do not know how far the honorable senator proposes to go in this matter, but standing order 413 says -

No senator shall allude to any debate of the same session upon a question or Bill not being then under discussion, nor to any speech made in Committee, except by the indulgence of the Senate for personal explanations.

If the honorable senator is going to debate over again the same matter that he debated on Friday, I shall have no other course under that standing order than to rule him out of order. The honorable senator is entitled by leave of the Senate to make a full explanation, but otherwise he cannot resume a debate which has been closed, as the debate on Friday was closed, by the Minister's reply.

Senator LONG - I have no intention of repeating the arguments I used on Friday, but propose to introduce entirely new matter.

Senator Gardiner - The Minister made a reply.

Senator LONG - The President has already pointed put the fact, but I thank . the Minister for his extra advice. On the 22nd February, I wrote to the Minister of Defence pointing out that, in my opinion, an injustice had been done to these men by the appointment of Captain Payne to his position on the Administrative and Instructional Staff. I received no reply to that letter until the 8th April, six weeks afterwards, and then only after I had wired to the Minister asking him when I should receive the courtesy of a reply. In the circumstances, who is responsible for my having to trouble the Senate with the matter? In his reply, the Minister made a statement which is not supported by facts. In order to back up the contention of some of his officers that Lieutenant Tackaberry was doing very well, and was not entitled to promotion, the Minister pointed out that he had only four years' service to his credit. According to the official file, Lieutenant Tackaberry had nine years' service as a member of the Citizen Forces, two years' active service in South Africa, five years as a non-commissioned officer, and four years as Lieutenant on the Administrative and Instructional Staff. Yet the Minister, in an official communication, sought to deprive him of the recognition to which his length of service entitled him, to say nothing of his very fine record in his examinations both for his lieutenancy and his captaincy. The other day the Minister went to no end of trouble to assure the Senate that this appointment was only of a temporary character. Senator Keating, by interjection, however, got down to the root of the whole trouble when he inquired -

Could not a permanent officer fill this position temporarily?

To which the Minister replied -

In that case, every one of our permanent officers would have to be moved up temporarily. Then, when the officers whose positions they were filling returned from the war, they would have to be moved down again.

Will not that happen in hundreds of instances? Are there not officers in Tasmania who have been moved up temporarily, and who will have to be moved down again when those whose places they are filling return from the war? All. I rim contending is that these officers whose qualifications cannot be disputed should have been afforded an opportunity of filling these positions temporarily. The Commandant of Tasmania stated that it would be better to put a little extra work on the staff than to bring another officer of the capacity of Captain Payne on to it. Captain Payne is not now on the Instruc tional Staff at the Claremont camp. He is not connected with that camp. For some reason, he has been removed to Devonport. What position does he occupy there? Lieutenant Davis has been promoted to the position of acting brigade major of the 91st Infantry, and Captain Payne, who is his senior in salary and rank, is his assistant, at £375 a year. Although he is performing work which any second lieutenant could perform, he is receiving a salary of £375 a year, or £75 per annum more than the officer to whom he is only assistant.

Senator Ready - Who is that?

Senator LONG - Captain Payne. Of course we have plenty of money to throw about. There has been an indecent haste exhibited to push this man along. I do not blame him for that. No man who has not ambition is worth his salt.

Senator Shannon - The honorable senator does not imply that he is not fit for his position?

Senator LONG - Certainly not. I know nothing about him, and have never seen or spoken to Captain Payne. My complaint is that he has been put over men who are superior to him in length of service and qualifications. Captain Payne was offered the position at £250 a year, but would not accept it. Now the authorities have said to him, in effect, "All right; come in and take it at £375 a year." It may be, as the Minister has attempted to prove, that there was urgency in making his appointment to the staff at the Claremont concentration camp, but is there any urgency to keep him at his present salary of £375 a year whilst he is discharging the duties that could be performed by a second lieutenant? Will the Minister attempt to justify that? Yet I am told that I have no right to bring the matter before the Senate; I ought to permit this sort of thing to go on. The Minister's subordinates have only to submit recommendations to him in order to secure their confirmation. I have performed what I believe to be a duty cast upon me as one of the representatives of the people of Tasmania. I make the same claim as did Senator Shannon this afternoon. I do not care what class of the community is concerned ; I am here for the one purpose of seeing that justice is done. If it is not done I shall be up against the man who is responsible, whether he be the Minister of Defence or any other Minister. I do not wish to continue my remarks, because I do not suppose they will have any effect.

Senator Shannon - They will only end in the honorable senator airing a grievance ?

Senator LONG - For the present, yes. But it will be a lasting grievance till the injustice has been remedied. A somewhat covert attempt in that direction has already been made by the removal of Captain Payne from a position that he was not capable of filling to a subordinate position under a lieutenant in another part of the island. Knowing that I am unable to convince this Labour Minister, whose function we thought it was to see that fair play was meted out to every section of the Military Forces, and realizing how impossible it is for him to take any action which will not harmonize with the wishes of some of his twopenny-halfpenny subordinates, I propose to leave the question where it stands for the present. But whenever any instance of a similar character is brought under my notice, I shall feel it my duty to bring it before the Senate. Whether my action gives the Minister offence or pleasure will not trouble me in the least, so long as I have the consolation of knowing that I have discharged my duty. It is not pleasant - it is not a labour of love - to be obliged to come into conflict with one of my own Ministers; but if one sees injustice done, and makes no effort to remedy it, he is not worthy of a place either in this or any other Parliament. Having done my duty, I will now leave the question, and Wil return the official papers to the Minister and his subordinates, with my blessing.

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