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Friday, 6 May 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) . - I am very astonished at this amendment being submitted, but om more astonished at its receiving the support of those who were in favour of restricting the use of medals. The amendment of Senator Gardiner - I do not know whether Senator Earle realizes it - actually goes further than the provision in the existing Act.

Senator Earle - I do not think it does.

Senator PEARCE - Section 80s of the principal Act provides that a person shall not make use of any military decoration as a brooch or a pendant; but Parliament at that time also thought it necessary to provide the following: -

Nothing in this section shall prevent the female relative of a person upon whom a military decoration has been conferred from- wearing a .decoration after the decease of that person.

Senator Gardiner'sproposal is to allow any person to wear such a decoration.

Senator FOSTER (TASMANIA) - That is not making use of it. The honorable senator's suggestion is that it should be worn as an ornament.

Senator PEARCE - I can assure Senator Foster that I know what the section means, because- we have had to take proceedings under it. Under that section, il; is not lawful at present, for any one to make a brooch or ornament out of a decoration, and it was intended to prevent them being converted into ordinary medallions for decorative purposes. I can see no objection to a brother wearing it; but the honorable senator's amendment does not confine- it to a brother.

A man's mate might be entitled to wear a decoration. Even one of those gallant gentlemen who stood in the breach, preventing recruits from going to our men when they were so hard pressed,, would be able, under Senator Gardiner's amendment, to display a Victoria Cross, simply because he happened to be the relative of some deceased soldier to whom a distinction had been awarded.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Can the Minister say who will be entitled to wear these distinctions if the clause is passed as it stands !

Senator PEARCE - Yes; after the decease of a soldier his mother or widow.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Nobody before his decease ?

Senator PEARCE - No. At present the only persons entitled to wear the decorations after the decease of a soldier are his female relatives. How far this definition may be extended I do not know. I trust the Committee will not agree to Senator Gardiner's radical amendment; and, if I rightly judged the temper of the Senate during the secondreading debate, it will not.

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