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Friday, 29 April 1921

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Those -who were no't allowed to go during the first two years were alive at the end of that period, which was a certain advantage.

Senator GARDINER - Quite so. Honorable senators should consider the the injustice that may be done under this clause. I take the case of a man holding ' the Tank of captain who was not permitted to go to the Front because of the value of his services here. Another officer, his junior, was allowed to go away as a lieutenant. In two years this junior officer rises to the rank of colonel, and then the man who was a captain when this man went away, and is still a captain, is permitted to go to the Front and serve under the colonel who had been his junior, because the junior was given an opportunity that was never given to the captain. If we, at this stage, agree to a clause which may have the effect of inflicting grave injustice upon men who were prevented from going to the Front because of their efficiency, we shall be doing the Military Service no good. We shall, on the other hand, be continuing throughout their military careers the injustice inflicted upon men who were prevented from securing promotion in the early days of the war by being compelled to remain in Australia. We are going to say that, no .matter what position they may occupy, cr what their abilities may be, there shall be no more promotion for these men. That is not justice. It is not a fair deal. If these men were prevented from going to the Front after they volunteered, and if their persistency in trying to get away was such that the Defence authorities had to make a regulation imposing a penalty upon a man for trying to get away, I cannot agree with honorable senators if they decide, by passing this clause, to further penalize such men for the term of their natural life. To test the feeling of the Committee, I move -

That the following new paragraph be inserted : - " (d) Nothing in this section shall, militate against the promotion of any officer or non-commissioned officer who volunteered for active service."

The question of whether an officer went to the Front was one which the military authorities determined. If he was asked to go there and did not go, he should be put out of the Service. Upon the other hand, if his services were required here, and he was kept in the Forces, we should not impose a perpetual bar against his. promotion.

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