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Wednesday, 28 October 1964

Senator WILLESEE (Western Australia) . - I am encouraged by Senator Paltridge's invitation and also by the arguments advanced by Senator Cavanagh. I think that advertising should be left to the experts, but I suggest to the Minister that he has a vast body of people whom he can use in an unpaid capacity to advertise the Services. I refer to the people whom he has already recruited. But they are not doing that job for him at present. As I see it, the Minister for Defence controls a vast industrial organisation, without having the worries associated with wages and conditions that confront an outside industrial concern. The Minister is responsible for the working conditions of his men and he must try to keep them happy. He has to adopt the relationship that normally exists between employer and employee. But he has more than an ordinary industrial concern because he has to concern himself wilh feeding, clothing and accommodation.

Quite unconsciously a degree of dishonesty appears to have crept into the advertising for the Services. One often reads that a recruit has a choice of some 300 jobs. No doubt we all have tried to help sons of friends and constituents who have approached us about recruiting. When we make inquiries we often find that the advertising is not completely honest and that ali sorts of conditions precedent must be fulfilled before recruits can progress to the job of their choice.

In addition, when they come out of training camps they do not have a completely free choice. Perhaps the exigencies of the Service make that impossible. If that is so, the advertising should not be so misleading in the first instance. It should be a little less glowing and a little more honest. No doubt this accidental dishonesty has crept in because so many advertising people have been involved. Probably nobody has had the specific job of ensuring that the advertising is more conservative. It is not much good getting people into the Services if they are to become disgruntled and spread the bad word rather than the good word.

I was encouraged when the Minister said that he has taken a personal interest in the advertising campaign. I do not point the bone at anyone, but the Services comprise people who have to do as they are told; people who cannot walk off the job; people who are pretty well disciplined; people who arc in uniform and who have signed up for a period. In those circumstances there is inclined to be harshness that would not enter into normal industrial relationships. When I mention this aspect to people I am generally greeted with the horse laugh and told: " Oh well, it is the Army. After all, that is Service life ". True as that might be in wartime, I do not think it should apply in peacetime. In our enlightened age I do not think we are toughening people if the nutritional quality of their food is not what it should be and if the uniforms - I do not comment on this aspect particularly - are not up to scratch.

Consider the young people in Australia who have been killed in the course of physical training. I could refer to many instances. With the knowledge that we have today, there should almost never bc even a strained muscle when bringing people to physical fitness. There is not the extreme urgency these days of an immediate fighting war and it should be possible to bring recruits up to the peak of physical fitness without injury and certainly without loss of life. There is no excuse for poor washing facilities, poor showers and that kind of thing. There is no excuse for poor food. There is no excuse for the incorrect handling of men in the physical sense. Over the last few years I have been shocked to find that men have been killed in this toughening up process. You do not toughen mer by killing them. With the knowledge that we have today of physical fitness and athletics there is no excuse for any injury, let alone death.

I feel very strongly about this. The Minister represents the civilian side of the Australian nation and for that reason he should take a very active interest in what goes on. This subject is so highly political that the debate on the last three proposed votes has hinged almost entirely on recruiting. We are all seized with the importance of this. We approach this question in a much more united way than many people imagine. As the Minister has admitted, there has not been a change of policy simply because there has been a change of government in Great Britain. This indicates that a fair amount of poppycock is talked about the subject from time to time.

If the Government, through the Minister, held a civilian watching brief and exercised continual surveillance over the Services, if lt took an active interest in the members of the Services and made them feel that they had not been forgotten, I think that within a very short time more would be done for recruitment than all the advertising has achieved so far.

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