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Thursday, 28 April 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is that the Army Act? '

Senator ELLIOTT - Yes. It will be seen, therefore, that under that Act the higher authorities are in a position to smite one hip and thigh.

Senator Senior - And that is what some honorable senators desire to see incorporated in this Bill.

Senator ELLIOTT - Exactly. This sort of conduct was upon the point of ruining the discipline of the Australian Imperial Force. All the senior officers, including McNicoll, Tivey, and myself, were absolutely "fed up." I am not in a position to say definitely what General Tivey said, but .what his batman -told my batman that his General said was very much to tha point.

Senator Earle - It was not printable.

Senator ELLIOTT - Probably. Gene ral McNicoll says -

I do not know whether I told you that in June, 1018, after Sir John Gellibrand had been appointed to the 3rd Division over- me, he treated me so abominably that I asked to be relieved of my command and sent back to Australia.

That was the direct result of the procedure to which I have already referred. General McNicoll continues -

This Sir John Monash would not permit. He made an inquiry, and the Divisional Commander, Sir John Gellibrand, was compelled to withdraw his offensive remarks to me and apologize.

Honorable senators will note the ' difference between the treatment 'which, was meted out to General McNicoll by General Monash and that which was meted out to -him by General Birdwood. What actually happened was this : It was the "first occasion when the new Divisional Commander came to inspect McNicoll's command. McNicoll led the way into the saps. A " digger " coming out saluted, and McNicoll instinctively returned the salute. Now it is an offence in the British Army for a junior officer to take a salute which is intended for his senior.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap - I would like to remind the honorable senator that while he is quite at liberty to adduce any argument bearing upon the subject-matter of his amendment, he is not entitled to go beyond that.

Senator ELLIOTT - I wish to show the evils which are attached to the unrestricted operation of what is called the " custom " of the Service-

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the saluting business provided for in the Army. Act, too?

Senator ELLIOTT - 'Yes.

Senator Pearce - And is what General Tivey's batman said to Senator Elliott's batman also contained in the Army Act?

Senator ELLIOTT - Naturally when a junior officer is raised over - a senior officer, and the latter cannot' see any reason for it except that of gross favoritism, he becomes riled, and in the ' nature of things is unable to co-operate genuinely with the officer who is above him. In addition, the former junior officer naturally becomes . alert to teach his former superior his place. This is what happened upon the occasion to which I am referring. The " digger " came out and saluted McNicoll, and McNicoll acknowledged the salute. Sir John Gellibrand immediately dashed at him with blazing eyes and said, '" How dare you take a salute which was intended for your senior officer. I will have you removed from your command." McNicoll attempted to explain, but Sir John Gellibrand would not listen to a word. Then McNicoll did the only thing which a self-respecting officer could do. He said, " Take my papers. I cannot serve under you." Fortunately, the incident came under the notice of Sir John

Monash, who had just succeeded to the command of the Australian Imperial Force. He inspected the documents, and said, " Look, Gellibrand, McNicoll is one of the finest officers we have. You- have treated him rottenly. N!ow apologize or leave." That is the difference between the treatment which was meted out by an Australian officer and that which was meted out by an officer who is imbued with the ideals which are embodied in the British Army Act.

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