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Thursday, 13 May 1915

Senator READY - Arising out the reply, I wish to know whether the attention of the Minister has been called to an article appearing in to-day's Age, headed "Australians in Egypt," from its Special Representative, and containing the following passages: -

I cannot refrain from again referring to the irregularity of mails, and after careful investigation I am convinced that the error does not lie with the postal corps at this end. . . . The Minister of Defence seeks abroad for the fault; let him question the PostmasterGeneral more closely, and he will, perhaps, be able to find reason why letters dated 6th January are delivered in Cairo on 15th March, bearing the Cairo post-office stamp of that dato, and the Melbourne post-office stamp of 6th .January. Perhaps the mail bags are never taken off the ships, and travel back and fro between London and Australia several times before being put off here.

Will the Minister have special inquiries made to ascertain whether the allegation made by the representative of the Age as to the fault being in Australia is correct or otherwise!

Senator PEARCE - Yes; I will bring the matter under the notice of my colleagues and have it investigated.

Senator LONG - In view of the very fine tribute which the Minister of Defence paid to-day to Australian troops, will he, at the earliest possible moment, give some consideration to that section of the Defence Forces in Australia which is in a great measure responsible for the efficiency of the troops and the ready manner in which they adapted themselves to active warfare conditions? I refer to the non-commissioned officers and staffsergeantmajors at .the concentration camps, upon whom, I think it will be admitted generally, the brunt of the responsibility rested for giving the men early training and fitting them for the task in which the Minister admitted this afternoon they acquitted themselves so well in the recent campaign.

Senator PEARCE - I think it would be invidious to pick out any particular section of the Defence Forces for special recognition at the present time when all sections are doing so well.

Senator Long - Hear, hear ! They are all doing well.

Senator PEARCE - I think that they are all doing what we expected them to do, and that is their duty.

Senator Long - Some of them are getting two guineas a day, and others are getting ten " bob."

Senator PEARCE - Every honorable senator is getting a salary, and somebody outside is not getting the same salary. I daresay the honorable senator can justify that, as I can. We do not all get the same salary, though I daresay we all think that we deserve to receive the same amount.

Senator Long - It is a very clever answer, but I do not see the analogy.

Senator PEARCE - I shall endeavour to see that the efforts put forward by every section of the Defence Department meet with the recognition they deserve.

Senator Long - I will not forget that when the Estimates come on.

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