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Friday, 29 April 1921

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) has pointed out that under this clause graduates from the Duntroon Military College will be required to serve the Commonwealth as officers for a term of eight years. But there are two sides to that question.

Senator Pearce - I find that it costs the Commonwealth roughly £2,000 for each Duntroon student who completes his four year course.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Government have a right to say to the Military College graduates that the Commonwealth shall have the benefit of their services for a prescribed term in view of the expenditure to which it has been subjected upon their behalf. But after these men have completed their training they should have some guarantee that they will occupy positions of a certain standing. In Sydney, only last week, I was talking about some young men who were sent to England during the regime of the second Fisher Government, in order that they might he taught how to build submarines. I suppose that there were eight or a dozen of them. After having been in the Old Country for some time they returned to the Commonwealth. Upon his return, one of them who did remarkably well at Home, who had passed all his examinations, and upon whom the Commonwealth had expended £1,000, obtained a job which he could have 'secured had he never been sent to England, and had never a single penny been spent upon him. To-day he is in charge of a ,big private concern, and is doing remarkably well. Another of these young men secured a good position in America, where he is doing excellent wark. Whilst 1 agree that the Commonwealth is entitled to some return for its expenditure upon Duntroon graduates, upon the other hand we have a right to see that during the eight years for which they will be bound to serve the Commonwealth as officers they receive fair play. It was a scandalous thing for the Commonwealth, after spending £1,000 in sending a young fellow to England, to allow him, upon his return, to be appointed to a job which he could have obtained under any circumstances.

Senator Rowell - That is an argument for the retention of the clause.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Not at all.

Senator Pearce - Those men did not, as I thought they would, take up the building of submarines.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - One of their number is now in charge of a certain private enterprise in South Australia Under this clause we would have kept him at Cockatoo Island or somewhere else, and he would have Been receiving practically a labourer'* wage, after £1,000 had been expended upon his training by the Commonwealth

Senator Pearce - That is not the case. They know what pay they get.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am one of those who are hoping against hope that the League of Nations will one day be able to accomplish something to prevent war in the future, and I am thinking of the future of these young men. I recognise, of course, that the Government have some claim upon them, but I would rather have the term fixed at four years than at eight.

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