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Thursday, 28 April 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) .- I stand to what I said, but I do not think that that is what Senator Elliott is trying to accomplish at all. Senator DrakeBrockman, in his second-reading speech, pointed out that at present senior officers had only the right of appeal from Cæsar to Cæsar, and that they should have the right of appeal to the Governor-General in Council. I tEen interjected that that would be only a change in form, because the Governor-General in Council would be advised by the Minister.

Senator Crawford - In time of war, as well as in peace?

Senator PEARCE - No: not in time of war. If Senator Elliott will accept my assurance that I will find some way OUt of the difficulty, so that officers appointed by the Board will have the right of appeal to some other tribunal, the difficulty should disappear. May I point out that if, at the inception of the Australian Imperial Force, the principle of promotion by seniority had been observed,

General Bridges, the man selected for the post by Senator E. D. Millen, would not have 'been intrusted with that responsibility, because he was not the senior officer. There were senior to him seven Citizen Force officers, as well as several permanent officers, but yet not a solitary voice was raised in protest when they were passed over and the choice, fell upon General Bridges. Honorable senators surely will realize how important it is that there should be freedom in selection in such circumstances, and how inadvisable it is to hamper a commanding officer by the authorization of inquiries in regard to his selection of his senior officers. No doubt Senator Elliott himself has many times exercised hi3 untrammelled choice in regard to the men under his command, and, as we all like to think well of ourselves, it is natural that some of the men who were passed over .by him would not agree that his selection was the wisest that could have been made. It is not in 'human nature to be so. As Senator Foster has pointed out, this matter goes right down through the ranks. I trust Senator Elliott will not press his amendment. He will see, from the general expression of opinion, that it is not palatable to the Committee. I trust, therefore, he will rest satisfied with my assurance that I shall endeavour to provide a satisfactory form of appeal for the military officers.

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