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Wednesday, 24 September 1941

" Extract of Entry No. 71540.

Office of the Government Statist, Melbourne, 8th September, 1941.

Re Application Fol. 34932

Memo. -

According to the Registers in this Office, George Marcus, son of George Ernest Moyes and Florence Moyes, néeStone, was born at Northcote on the 26th November, 1922.

The Official Number of the entry is 34266/22.

O.   Gawler,

Government Statist

I asked Major Saber a very plain question; I did not ask him for his views or opinions. I merely wanted to know the position with respect to an application by a mother for the release of her son, who is under 21 years of age from service in the Australian Imperial Force. On the 15th September, Major Saber wrote the following letter: -

In acknowledging your letter of 6th September relative to the above member of the Australian Imperial Force, I wish to apologize for the delay, due to my absence on sick leave, the correspondence was not opened by my staff, as it appeared to be of a private nature from the envelope. 1.In the case of Private Moyes. - It will be necessary for him to make application for discharge through his Commanding Officer and prove his relationship with the person named in the letter, viz. Florence Peck.

If a soldier has made a false answer on attestation in regard to his age, it does not necessarily become obligatory for his discharge to be effected, especially in view of the fact that he is within two months of the age for

Australian Imperial Force: enlistment, and that Mrs. Peck, from herown statement, was well aware that he had been in the Australian Imperial Force for some months, and was quite happy, that the Government should, at considerable expense, continue to clothe, equip, ration and pay this soldier.

I contend that it is not necessary for Private Moyes to make such an application. An application was made in the first instance by his mother, who, for the reason which I have just stated, objects to her son being in the Australian Imperial Force. Major Saber said - if a soldier has made a false answer on attestation in regard to his age . . .

He does not say that the lad did give a false answer; he uses the qualifying word " if ". The suggestion is that the boy did give a false answer, but Major Saber is not prepared to say definitely that that is so. Even if Private Moyes did make a false answer, in my opinion the position is not affected, since the mother has brought the matter to the notice of the authorities. Major Saber also said that " Mrs. Peck, from her own statement, was well aware that he had been in the Australian Imperial Force for some months and was quite happy ". Mrs. Peck denies that she was happy about the matter. This officer evidently adopts a very dictatorial attitude, either on his own responsibility, or under instructions from someone else. When one addresses a courteously-worded letter to an Army officer, or to any one else representing the Government, one is entitled to an answer without an expression of opinion suggesting ulterior motives and reflecting upon a mother. In fact, Major Saber is not even prepared to accept an official copy of the birth certificate. He says it is necessary for the lad to prove his relationship. Surely a copy of the birth certificate supplied by the Government Statistician of Victoria is reasonable proof of age. Major Saber then goes on to say in effect that because the Government has expended money in clothing, equipping, rationing, and paying this soldier, he should not be discharged. I suggest that it is not for that officer to express such an opinion. I was not satisfied with Major Saber's answer, and on the 19th September I wrote the following letter to the General Officer Commanding Southern Command: -

The G.O.G.,

Southern Command,

Swanston-street, C.I.

Dear Sir,

ReVX56832, M. G. Moyes, E.T.D., B Company.

Puckapunyal

Representations were made to me by the mother of the above-named soldier, who asked for his discharge from the Australian Imperial Force, as he had enlisted without her consent, and she did not wish him to go overseas at present, having already two sons on active service. I communicated with Southern Command, vide File No. 85393,15th September, but not feeling that the reply was satisfactory,I placed a question on the notice-paper for Wednesday last seeking information as to whether the Army could legally retain a youth in these circumstances. The Minister was unable to supply me with on answer yesterday, but I expect to have one when the Senate reassembles next week.

My reason for writing you is to know if it would be possible for this youth to be retained in Australia pending an answer to my question to the Minister; that is, of course, assuming there is a likelihood that he may be embarked in the very near future.

As I have not yet received a reply to that letter and as the Minister for the Army has not yet seen fit to answer any question relating to the matter, I had no alternative but to bring it before the Senate.

I am informed that men under 21 years of age are not sent overseas if it is known that their parents object to their going. It seems to me that there is something in the contention of young soldiers' mothers and fathers that they are not receiving from the military authorities the consideration to which they are entitled.


Senator Leckie - Why did the honorable senator not write to the Minister for the Army?







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