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Wednesday, 28 October 1964

Senator WILLESEE (Western Australia) . - What I tried to do earlier was to accept the invitation of the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) and establish in broad principle the kind of complaints that I thought might be within his power to correct. I spoke about the sort of things I felt he could investigate. The one suggestion of mine to which he did not refer was that he as the civilian arm of the organisation should keep the civilian pipeline to the defence forces under constant surveillance. I thank him for the confidence he places in me in inviting me to investigate these matters personally. I did not understand, as Senator Cavanagh suggested, that the invitation was restricted to me. Nevertheless, I suggest that it would bc far better if the Minister set up a permanent organisation for this purpose within his Department. That was the sort of suggestion I thought he was seeking and that was the suggestion I made.

I drew broad outlines of the type of matters that I thought the Minister could look at and I am sure that when he and his advisers put their minds to this matter, they will find that there are many other things to which the Minister can apply himself. 1 instanced particularly certain matters on the physical side because I have been shocked by happenings, not only in the forces but outside as well. I believe that somebody has only to apply his mind to these matters to correct them. I do not reject what the Minister has said. Broadly he has invited us to bring forward any matters of which we have knowledge and he has said that he will listen to us. If we have a Minister who will listen to complaints and suggestions we are getting somewhere.

I suggest to the Minister that he listen now to the suggestion made by Senator Cavanagh that this might be a job for an all party committee. If such a committee were appointed, it might add to the wonderful record of work that has been done by other committees of the Senate in many fields. My suggestion, on which I feel strongly, is that the Minister keep a constant check on human relationships in the forces through the civilian side of Government administration. This is within the Minister's power if he has the will to do it. It cannot produce anything but good, and I suggest that the Minister has everything to gain and nothing to lose.

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