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Thursday, 28 April 1921

Senator ELLIOTT (Victoria) .- If the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) carefully peruses my subsequent amendments he will see that under them the Minister would in time of war have power to suspend an inquiry until hostilities had terminated, but that facilities would be given for the recording of evidence. The work of promotion could be carried on, but it is my endeavour to insert a provision so that when war is over what is, perhaps, an unnecessary stain on an officer's character may be removed. Although the Minister has said that an officer's character i3 not necessarily affected by supersession, he is always a marked man, because it has been decided by a high authority that he is absolutely unfitted for promotion.

Senator Pearce - No; that he is not as suitable as some other officer.

Senator ELLIOTT - That is the effect, and when once a man is superseded he is to some extent damned. If I were to succeed a commander in the field, and I ascertained that Brown and Jones had been superseded by Smith and Edwards, I would be very careful before I promoted those officers, and I would not do so until I had kept them under close observation for a considerable time. The Minister pointed out that there was some doubt cast upon my judgment, but if there is a scintilla of evidence on that point, I should be told of the occasion on which it was displayed, and of the exact nature of the charge. It may not have been a lack of judgment in military matters, but lack of judgment in some minor matter. That is the extraordinary position in which an officer is placed under the present law. I notice, with regret,that I cannot expect the support of the majority of the Committee, and it is, therefore, not my intention to press my amendment to a division.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is very largely owing to the conciliatory attitude of the Minister. v.Senator ELLIOTT.- I trust the Minister will very carefully peruse the amendments I have placed- before him, which have been framed, not with the idea of redressing some personal grievance, but for the general betterment of our Military Forces

Proposed new clause negatived.

Clause 8 -

Section 16a "of the principal Act is repealed.

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