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Thursday, 5 May 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- I have listened very carefully to the speeches that have been made on this important subject, and, while not agreeing with the extreme views put forward by many honorable senators, I have come to the conclusion that it would be inadvisable to incorporate the provisions of the Army Act in our Defence Act. At this period in our history we should do all that we can to popularize our defence system in the eyes of the people. I feel that throughout Australia there is strong prejudice against the incorporation of the Army Act, although I do not suggest that the Senate should always bow to public opinion, which sometimes is not based on sound premises. But there appears to be a feeling in Australia that the British Army Act in its administration is much more severe than is our Defence Act. Consequently, aswe have to rely upon the good-will of the parents of those lads who may be called upon to do their military training, it is desirable we should have their support with regard to the compulsory provisions of the Act. I have not the slightest doubt that members of our Defence Force would much prefer to work under an Act that had been considered and passed by this Parliament than under British legislation designed to meet the peculiar circumstances of the Mother Country. For that reason I intend to oppose the clause. I am anxious to see our defence system made as popular as possible in order that it may became thoroughly effective. The suggestion made, by the Minister, that if the clause is rejected two separate Bills may be introduced, one to deal with the administrative and the other with the disciplinary provisions of the Defence Act, is welcome, and, although this course may take time, I think it will be time well spent. I do not accept the extremistview that have been expressed concerning the British Act. I do not fully- understand it. I doubt if any honorable senators know it in all its ramifications. We are, therefore, indebted to those honorable senators who were active members of the Australian Force in the war for their contribution to this debate, because thsy have had experience of its working. However, I am sorry that some of the statements have been made, because it is our duty to appreciate the wonderful work accomplished by the British Army under that Act.

Senator Elliott - It is just as well to tear the scales from your eyes.

Senator PAYNE - I hope the scales will neverbe torn from my eyes to such an extent that I will hold in: detestation anything . thit has made the British Army so effective, as it has always prove to be on the field of battle. I am a Britisher first.

Senator Elliott - But I am pointing out that it has attained to perfection in spite of these army regulations.

Senator PAYNE - That may be so. I am not in a position to question the statement, so I stall content myself by repeating that I am opposing the clause for the reasons given. I believe that if we pass the Bill as it stands, we shall, to a great extent, prejudice the success . of our defence scheme. That is my candid opinion. I want to popularize it so that the whole of our people will take pride in the fact that we have evolved, by Act of Parliament, a Defence Force of which any country might be proud, and in which every unit will be a willing helper.

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