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Wednesday, 8 October 1941

Senator SAMPSON (Tasmania) . - I rise to refer to a matter which I bring forward with regret. Parliaments have been termed " coward's castles " because in them men may make statements under privilege which they would not dare to make outside the Parliament. On the 26th June, in a rather long and rambling statement on a supply bill, Senator Amour said -

I had experience in the last war in the 18th Battalion, in which there were some old and some young officers, and it was not very happy. The colonel, our battalion major and another major, the adjutant and seven of our lieutenants were cashiered for cowardice. Such a situation is not desirable.

I came across that report of the honorable senator's remarks before I took my place in the Senate in July last, and

I determined to sift the charge to the bottom. I communicated with an association consisting of members of the 18th Battalion in order to ascertain whether there was any truth in the statement which the honorable senator had made in this chamber. I also put on the notice-paper a question dealing with the matter. As a member of the first Australian Imperial Force, I am jealous of its good name and reputation. I frankly admit that a lot of us were not as brave as were others. Indeed, there were many occasions when, if my legs would have carried me, I would have run away had there been somewhere to run to. It ill becomes any former member of the Australian Imperial Force to make such a statement as that made by Senator Amour. Although I asked my question on the 25th September, I did not receive a reply until last week. The question was as follows: -

1.   Is it a fact that during the war of 1914-18 the battalion commander, two majors, the adjutant and seven subalterns of the 18th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, were cashiered for cowardice?

2.   Is the Minister aware that a statement to the above effect was made in the Senate on 26th June, 1941, by Senator S. K. Amour?

The ex-Minister for the Army supplied the following answer : -

No officer of the 18th Battalion was cashiered for cowardice, nor was any officer of that battalion charged with that offence.

Senator Arthur - Does the honorable senator believe him ?

Senator SAMPSON - Of course I do. The facts are on record, and there is no record of any inquiry or court-martial. Yet, we have here an honorable senator saying that a colonel, two majors, an adjutant and seven subalterns were cashiered for cowardice.

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