Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 29 April 1921


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I thank the Minister for his further explanation. I had the impression from his previous remarks that the omission of the word "abroad" was to prevent the penalizing of any member of the Australian Imperial Force who, for military reasons, had to remain in Australia during the war.


Senator Pearce - I did not say that. I said that as between such an officer and one who merely served in command of a transport, or in a purely administrative position abroad, there should be no distinction made.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I should like to know what under this clause will be prescribed as " active service."

SenatorPearce. - "Active service" is, as I have explained, already defined. Nothing we prescribed could affect that definition.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It seems to me that there may be active service of several varieties. There may be active service in the field before the enemy, and active service in the case of a man who went tol Horseferry-road, and never got any further.


Senator Pearce - We will so prescribe that the latter shall be given no preference over an officer who carried out administrative duties here.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Service in command of a transport might be defined as active service, or, to use the Minister's own words, the service of a man who did his duty in Australia in connexion with thewar.


Senator Pearce - That would not be " active service " unless the war were carried on here.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister says that it is intended that a man who did duty in Australia shall be placed at no disadvantage as compared with a man who, for instance, served only in command of a transport.


Senator PEARCE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - That is why it is desired to insert the words " as prescribed," and to strike out the word " abroad."


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It appearsto me that the intention is that the prescription of " active service " shall remain in the hands of the military.


Senator Pearce - No, it is defined, as I have explained, in the Act.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then why does the Minister make any reference to the man who did his duty here in connexion with this clause ?


Senator PEARCE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Because it is my justification for taking the power, as I do in this Bill, to prescribe what is meant by "served."


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If it is not the desire of the Minister and the Military Board to prescribe that men who did not leave Australia should be recognised as having been on active service, why should the word " abroad " be omitted ? The retention of the word would, it seems to me, define " active service " better than it will be defined under the clause as proposed.


Senator Pearce - Then, according to the honorable senator's suggestion, a man who served only at Horseferry-road would have served on " active service."


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I must confess that it appears to me that if the section is amended as proposed by the Minister, the prescription of "active service" will be entirely in the hands of the Minister and the. Military Board, and it may' be that the absolute preference to members of the Australian Imperial Force who saw fighting, which, I believe, is desired by the members of this Parliament, will be evaded.


Senator Pearce - Of course the Minister would do that. That is his nature.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If is not the duty of members of this Parliament to place such a power in the hands of the Minister.


Senator Earle - Is not "active service " defined in the Act ?


Senator Pearce - Yes, and we cannot alter that definition.


Senator Elliott - I think that is right.


Senator Pearce -We require to prescribe " active service " not covered by the definition of "active service" in the definition clause. That is all that we can do. If we prescribed something which clashed with the definition of "active service" in the Act, it would be ultra vires.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Am I to understand that no power will be given under this clause either to the Minister or to the Military Board, other things being equal, to appoint men who saw no fighting over the heads of mon who did see fighting?


Senator Pearce - The amendment of the section proposed in this clause is actually designed to prevent the Minister or the Military Board having such a power.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then the Minister assures *the Committee that if the clause is passed as it stands it will restrict the power of the Minister and the Military Board in the way I desire!


Senator Pearce - Yes. Under the Act as it stands the Minister might do what the honorable senator takes exception to, but if the Act is amended as proposed by this clause, he will be prevented from doing so.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Despite the omission of the word " abroad," we are to understand that the clause will, other things being equal, safeguard the interests of the men who fought abroad.


Senator Pearce - That is so.







Suggest corrections