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Friday, 25 June 1915

Senator GARDINER - Because they asserted a position which they were not entitled to assert.

Senator Russell - I- suppose that, during the time Senator Millen acted as Minister of Defence, he inspected every lieutenant personally.

Senator STEWART - If we find many cases of gross favoritism such as this undoubtedly appears to be, the sooner the Government are put out of office the better.

Senator Russell - I am only taking exception to the words of. the honorable senator, who says that the Minister " violated " a regulation.

Senator STEWART - The Minister is in charge of the Department. The young man could not have been appointed without the warrant of the Minister. Indeed, Senator Pearce defended his action in this Chamber yesterday, and was very discourteous to Senator McDougall in connexion with it. If what is stated here be true, a gross act of favoritism has been committed; and if that sort of thing is allowed to continue, the very foundation upon which our Defence Forces rest will be sapped. If our young men once get into their heads the idea that promotion goes by favour instead of by merit, our Defence Forces will not be worth a snap of the fingers, and we shall get into a position similar to that which obtains in Great Britain. It has hitherto been our boast that every young man joining our Forces has, as Napoleon used to put it, "a marshal's baton in his knapsack." But if this sort of thing is to be countenanced, where will it end ? If favoritism is to be exhibited in one case, it will be exhibited in another and yet another until it becomes the custom, and it will then be extremely difficult to uproot. I trust that full and complete information will be supplied in reference to this matter. I hope that some mistake has been made; but I fear that it is not so. So far as I can gather, this is a case in which social influence has governed the appointment. I trust that this sort of thing will not be permitted to continue. It will not continue with my consent, no matter what Government may be in power. I say, without hesitation, that the Government which is guilty of such ^conduct is unworthy of the confidence of the people, and ought not to be allowed to govern for a moment longer than is unavoidable.

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