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Thursday, 17 September 1942

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (A few minutes ago the Leader of the SenateSenator Collings) made a statement concerning certain questions which were addressed to him by my colleague, Senator James McLachlan, and myself. If the Minister will look at the report of what was said he will find that I made no complaint about the absence of protection from air raids at the Hotel Canberra, but when my colleague asked why people in Parliament House were ordered out of the building when the sirens sounded and people in the Hotel Canberra were ordered to remain inside, the Minister, not knowing anything about the matter, immediately said that the reason was that the protection for persons working in Parliament House was outside the building, whereas the protection for those at the Hotel Canberra waa inside the building.

Senator Collings - That is true.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Having walked about the grounds of the Hotel Canberra earlier in the morning, I asked the Minister where the protection provided inside the hotel was situated. I also made some remarks regarding the dimensions of the trenches which were alleged to be provided in the grounds of the Hotel Canberra. I should have some difficulty in getting into the trenches; and if I did get in I would be confronted with many difficulties. I explained that I was quite unaware of the provision of any protection inside the Hotel Canberra, and apparently the Minister himself was unaware of it when he answered the question.

Senator Collings - I ordered the protection to be provided, and so I was aware of it.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The Minister could not answer the question.

As regards the statement by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) concerning the use of motor cars by Ministers and their families, I suggest that it would have been more appropriate if the reply had been made in the House of Representatives. I notice a saving clause in the statement as to where the oars were alleged to have come from. There are places besides Canberra where the Government has cars in use. It would have been fairer if the statement in reply had been made in the place where the allegations were made, and not in the presence of persons who know nothing of the circumstances and did not hear the statement.

Senator SAMPSON(Tasmania; [10.18]. - I desire to say a few words about what transpired in the Senate last night, and I regret that Senator Aylett is not now in the chamber. I suggest that all honorable senators read the Hansard report of what that honorable senator said last night with regard to Senator Brand. Senator Aylett's remarks in print really appear worse than his statement in this chamber. His remarks were studied insolence, and were both insulting and cruel. I personally resent them very much indeed. I had the very great honour of being associated with Senator Brand in Gallipoli and France. I remember him as Major Brand, the brigade major of the 3rd Brigade, which made the initial landing at 5 a.m. on that never-to-be-forgotten Sunday. Before the day was over he had won the Distinguished Service Order for gallantry in the face of the enemy. It is the fashion in some quarters to talk about " brass hats ", but men do not become " brass hats " in five minutes. A long apprenticeship has to be served first. I also served with Senator Brand in France; for about three months I was his brigade major of the 4th Brigade - the original brigade which was commanded by the late General Monash. I was associated with him also after the war. Ask any man who was a member of the 8th Battalion, which he commanded at Gallipoli, or any officer or man who served in the 4th. Brigade in France, what manner of man Major-General Brand was, and he will say that he was brave, courteous and a " white " man. He was wounded in the service of his country on several occasions. After his return to Australia he served in the Australian Military Forces and held many positions with great credit to himself and benefit to his country. As quartermaster-general during the time that the defences of this country were in a serious state - in 1929- 31 - he carried out a difficult task efficiently and well. I do not suppose that Senator Aylett stopped to think before he spoke last night, but as the years pass, his hair, like that of many of us, will become grey. His remarks last night with regard to our friend and colleague, Senator Brand, were those of an ill-bred man and were most discourteous. Moreover, they were said with intention to hurt. I hope that, on second thoughts, when the honorable senator reads what he said, he will see the error of his way. I am not preaching a sermon, but I feel this matter keenly. I can say with regard to my well-beloved old chief that he did, and is doing, a great job of work. Although he has not been on the active list of officers for many years, he has never forgotten the men who served with him overseas, and to-day he is doing splendid work on their behalf. He is also doing a good job as a member of the committee to which he has just referred. Notwithstanding the cheap sneers to which we listened last night, that is the truth. I hope that there will be no repetition of remarks such as we heard last night. The members of this Senate have a common job to perform, and even though we may disagree on many things, at least we should act courteously towards one another.

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