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Thursday, 28 April 1921

Senator ELLIOTT (Victoria) .- When my candidature for the Senate was first announced I received a letter from a man who had been in my battalion, and who, although I had sentenced him to two years' hard labour, still remains my friend, in which he said, " For God's sake, don't go into Parliament. It is no -place for an honest man."

Senator Senior - Surely the honorable senator does not consider such a man an authority ?

Senator ELLIOTT - No. I took no notice of him at the time. I do not ever remember hearing such a travesty of facts as I have heard from the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce') this afternoon, and since hearing him, I am forced to concede that there is something in what the person I have mentioned stated. The Minister (Senator Pearce) has said that all sorts of disaster would occur if the amendment I have moved were embodied in the Act.

Senator Cox - So they would.

Senator ELLIOTT - I can prove that during the whole period of the war those rights which I desire to see embodied in the Bill were given to officers by regulation, and none of the disasters to which the Minister has referred ever occurred. The Minister taunted me the other day, during a similar discussion, by saying, "You had a 'dud' staff officer, of whom you told us, and he made a shocking blunder; with such a provision as. this in the Act you would have to keep him there until an inquiry had been held." The Minister knows very well that an officer can be placed under suspension at any moment, when his place is taken by another officer whose, duty it is to carry on the work. In the very case mentioned by the Minister during the war I suspended the officer and placed the next Senior officer in charge, and having done that, could ask him to write out the history of what occurred, and place it before the suspended officer with a request to state if the facts were correct or otherwise. This report was sent to the Divisional Commander for investigation, after which it would be transmitted to General Birdwood, during all which time the officer remained suspended. In the meantime another officer was carrying on, and . I am amazed to think that a responsible Minister should suggest the possibility of tlie catastrophes he has mentioned, because he must know he is merely fighting shadows.

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