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Wednesday, 11 May 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) . - I cannot see my way to accept Senator Gardiner's suggestion. I did not bring forward this clause thoughtlessly or without 'the fullest and most careful consideration. It seemed to me that it was a misuse of a military decoration to allow it to' be used in this way. We have made full provision for the female next-of-kin to have a suitable badge, which is publicly recognised as that of a woman who has lost her husband or son or brother at the war. I . venture to say that that badge is looked upon by the people of Australia with as much respect as any military decoration. It excites great sympathy in the breasts of Australians, who know quite well what it. means, and re-' spect it accordingly: Military decorations, however, are given to certain persons for feats performed in battle or military services rendered, and it is a misuse of them to allow them to be worn by anyone else. In deference to the strong wish of the Committee, I have agreed that their use should be extended to the mother and widow, but I do not think we should go beyond that. The fostermother and step-mother have also been included, because they stand in the same relationship, and are often the only mother the lad has known.

Senator Gardiner - So is the sister. ,

Senator PEARCE - I cannot accept the suggestion' to extend the clause any further, seeing that, in the Way I have indicated, we have given full recognition to the claims of other female relatives.

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