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Wednesday, 28 October 1964


Senator O'BYRNE (Tasmania) .- I refer to Division No. 708 - Arms, Armament and Equipment. I shall refer particularly to item 03, which relates to clothing, medical and general stores. The proposed expenditure is £4,500,000. The Department of the Army is short of numbers. Even though a well directed and concerted recruiting drive has been carried on, the recruitment targets have not been achieved. I suggest that in this item we find one of the main reasons why the Army is unattractive to 3'oung men. There is an old saying that clothes make the gentleman. I believe that what is inside the clothes makes the gentleman. Nevertheless that saying carries some weight. I cannot say anything about the officers in the Australian Army because they are always meticulously clothed in well fitting uniforms, but the other ranks are not so well clothed. I have seen most of the armies in the Western world and also some in the Eastern world. I should say that the uniform with which Australian troops are supplied is as poor as any I have seen. It just is not good enough if we want to compete for the services of young men in this day and age, when there is full employment. In these days of glamour and status symbols, young men wish to look sharp and smart. We need to look very closely at the uniform we provide for our soldiers.

An Australian soldier on a wet day has two alternatives. First, he has a greatcoat which was designed for the trenches in the First World War. Goodness knows what it weighs when it is dry, but when it is wet it weighs almost as much as Phar Lap could carry. Secondly, he has a ground sheet which he can place around his shoulders. What young lady would be attracted to a man dressed in that way? in the days of trench warfare, camouflage was important. The troops wore khaki. Many people cannot pronounce that word properly, and foreigners especially experience difficulty with it.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Wood - Order! The honorable senator is getting a little away from the estimates we are discussing.







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