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Friday, 29 April 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) .- What is proposed is to prescribe what is " service abroad." For instance, under the existing law an officer who was Appointed in command of a transport has served abroad. There is no reason why such an officer should be given preference over an officer who has not had service overseas because there is no difference between their military qualifications. There are certain officers who have served abroad in purely administrative positions. They had no active service whatever, and there is no reason whythey should be given preference over an officer who did administrative service here.

Senator Foster - Have we the Minister's assurance that in striking but the word "abroad" we should not be giving equality of preference to men who did not go abroad.

Senator PEARCE - First of all we say "who has served," then we propose to leave out the word "abroad" and insert the words " as prescribed." We propose to make provision for preference to chose who served on active service, and then the only service in Australia that would count would be active service. In the last war there was no active service here, but the provision is intended to apply so long as the Defence Act continues in operation, and there may be a war in which we should have active service in Australia.

Senator Foster - Is not the Minister, by prescribing certain things, providing, for instance, that men who were in charge of the guns at Queenscliff should be considered as having been on active service ?

Senator PEARCE - No, the intention is not to prescribe service at Queenscliff as active service. As the Act now stands, service on a transport or in an administrative position overseas is service abroad, and itshould not give preference over men who had rendered similar service here. We do not hold that service in the forts in Australia during the war was active service because there was no actual fighting here.

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