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Thursday, 28 April 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I notice here a provision which purports to bind graduates of the Military College to eight years' service as officers. I recognise that the Commonwealth gives to the young men of this institution quite a valuable education. But I do not think that this gift by the Commonwealth warrants us in insisting upon an agreement that the services of these young men shall be retained for eight years after they leave the College. It is not an extraordinarily generous thing for a Government which really requires the services of highly-trained military men to say to our youths, "We will give you a free education at the Military College." In almost every State of the Commonwealth, the State Government has provided bursaries which not only permit young men attending the University to become doctors or lawyers, but are sufficiently liberal to maintain them in reaonable comfort whilst they are completing their course. Why does the State do this? Because it is a distinct advantage to the State that it should have welltrained medical men. It is equally a distinct advantage to the Commonwealth that it should possess highly-trained military officers. Why, then, should we compel Duntroon graduates to complete eight years' service as officers?

Senator Cox - They can pull out if they like to pay the expense to which the Commonwealth has been put in training them.

Senator GARDINER - I do not think so.

Senator Cox - Does the honorable senator mean to tell me that they cannot pull out if the Government chooses to allow them to do so upon payment of the expense to which the Commonwealth has been subjected.

Senator GARDINER - Of course they can pull out if the Government will permit them to do so. But when they have reached the full age of twenty-one years, why should we seek to bind them to eight years' service?

Senator Cox - Because the Commonwealth has paid them, and the country has been put to a tremendous expense in educating them.

Senator GARDINER - Governments all over the world lay themselves out to fit men for all professions. Yet I never heard of a Government wishing to bind those men to give their services to the country for a period of years.

Senator Earle - They do not get their training gratuitously.

Senator GARDINER - What about the. young medical student who is maintained throughout his medical career by means of a bursary?

Senator Drake-Brockman - The community afterwards gets the benefit of his services.

Senator GARDINER - And will not the Commonwealth get the benefit of the services of these officers?We do not bind a doctor down to render service to the communityfor a period of years.

Senator Drake-Brockman - Because it is unnecessary to do so.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - There is a great difference between a bursary and what is offered at Duntroon College. In the latter case, we feed, clothe, house, and train the students, whereas in the former he ismerely given a bursary, which is a very small thing indeed.

Senator GARDINER - There are quite a number of cases in which bursaries cover all the incidental expenses to which Senator Millen has referred. In regard to our Military College, we all aim at efficiency. Will it make for efficiency if we retain in the Service for a single day after he wishes to get out of it a man who is dissatisfied ?

Senator Cox - We do not want to do that. If he is dissatisfied, let him recoup the Government the amount which has been expended upon him.

Senator Earle - In any ca3e, .he must obtain the approval of the Military Board.

Senator GARDINER - Senator Cox is under a misapprehension regarding the proviso in the Bill, which reads: -

Provided that an officer who is a graduate of the military shall not, during the first eight years of his service as an officer, be entitled to resign his position except upon the approval of the Military Board and upon payment of the prescribed amount.

Suppose that the Service is quite distasteful to a man, and that the Military Board will not permit him to resign. What can we get from an obstinate man who is retained in the Service against his will! I recollect a very distinguished parliamentarian in New South Wales, who in the early days became a member of the Artillery Force there - I refer to the late A. G. Taylor. In those days a man had to pay £25 if he wished to get out of that Service. They were the days of the nice, white, pipe-clayed belts. Taylor had no £25 to enable him to get out of the Service, and, accordingly, he appeared on parade one morning with his boots whitewashed and his belt blackened. The military records of that State contain the intimation that he was ' ' incapable of being taught," and that is how he got out of the Service. I suppose that it costs £200 for the maintenance of every student who enters the Duntroon College.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Probably it takes £5,000 to make an officer at that College.

Senator GARDINER - I dare say that Senator Pratten, who usually speaks with authority upon financial matters, may be somewhat : near the mark. But I was viewing the position from the stand-point of a student's maintenance. I do not anticipate that there will be any sudden break away of graduates from that College, but I do anticipate that occasionally a man will desire to leave a Service which has grown distasteful to him. In that case we can only charge him the cost of his maintenance, because in the event of war we could still count upon getting his services.

Senator Cox - The honorable senator knows very well that an officer would be out of date after he had been out of the College for years.

Senator GARDINER - I might retort that the honorable senator has never been in the College, and yet he will never be out of date. It must be remembered that we have thousands of capable young officers who received their training, not in the Duntroon Military College, but on the battle-fields of France.'

Senator Cox - The man who won his commission there would not be capable of instructing recruits.

Senator GARDINER - I realize that it is not the same training, but I am also persuaded that, so far as men trained in actual warfare are concerned, they could easily adapt themselves to requirements, and that some of those who have never seen the inside of a Military College would prove better than certain of the Duntroon-trained men. S.o far as Duntroon graduates are concerned, I am sure they did all that was expected of them, and more. Their . war-time services demonstrated that they had been raised to the highest standard of efficiency.

Senator Cox - I agree with the honorable senator.

Senator Foster - Men who were made officers on the field compared favorably as fighting men- with Duntroon graduates.

Senator GARDINER - I do not doubt it. For the next ten years, at least, there will be thousands of young Australian fighting men available and adaptable for imparting military training. There need be no fear that during that period we shall suffer any lack of material necessary for being turned into training officers for our Forces.

Senator Drake-Brockman - Such men have been excluded from our permanent staffs, in the interests of the Duntroon graduates. So, why not keep the Duntroon men, sinoe we cannot use the others ?

Senator GARDINER - Does that not involve the restriction of our choice of proficient men?

Senator Drake-Brockman - The Duntroon officers were a very fine lot. The war proved that.

Senator GARDINER - And some of the Duntroon students were anxious to get out of the Service.

Senator Pearce - They are not anxious to get out now.

Senator GARDINER - I recall recent newspaper reports having to do with the case- of oneil graduate who- was anxious to get out..

Senator Pearce - A number were anxious to get out, but are not now; and others who were anxious' have since asked- to1 come1 back.

Senator GARDINER - I am glad to bear it. Their services, however, should not be made compulsory- for 'a specific* term of years ; The' Military Service1 should1 be made to compare favorably in its' scope and opportunities with, the chances of advancement, afforded, in civilian' avenues. Why. should Duntroon, cadets be bound down by conditions: which take* away all prospects comparable with the opportunities, open in. private life? Our military Service to-day shuts out scope for a brilliant, career, even though a cadet might be so gifted as, in ordinary walks,, to become a successful business- man of- the type of Senator Pratten, and: - like the. honorable senator. - an. adornment to this Chamber..

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