Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 6 May 1965

Senator PALTRIDGE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) . -I move -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Under existing legislation national servicemen will serve for two years' full-time duty in the Regular Army Supplement and will then serve for three years in the Regular Army Reserve or, if they volunteer and are accepted, in the Regular Army Emergency Reserve for four years. The Bill provides for the extension of the period of full-time service in the Regular Army Supplement in two major contingencies. The first of these is time of war when the period of full-time service of the national serviceman, as of any other serviceman, would be extended for the duration of hostilities.

The second contingency is a time of defence emergency. The Bill provides that a national serviceman may be required to serve on full-time duty in a time of defence emergency for longer than two years, but not for a period in excess of his statutory obligation to render five years' total service. It could lead to unacceptable administrative difficulty in a time of defence emergency if a member has to be discharged from the Regular Army Supplement and must then be served with call-up papers for full-time duty as a member of the Regular Army Reserve, particularly if he is serving in a forward area. Such transfers could have a disruptive effect on the formations in which the national servicemen are serving. It is proposed therefore that they should remain as members of the Regular Army Supplement and the Bill makes provision for this.

Provision is also being made to extend a national serviceman's service in the Regular Army Supplement to allow him to volunteer for full-time service beyond two years if he so desires. A member's obligation to serve three years in the Reserve would be reduced by the term of any voluntary full-time service. The Bill also makes provision to allow a member to remain on full-time duty to complete medical treatment which has begun prior to his discharge.In such circumstances he would thus be entitledto pay and allowances under the same provisions that relate to members of the Regular Army and the Regular Army Supplement.

In addition to the existing provisions which enable a national serviceman to volunteer to carry out the Reserve element of his service with the Regular Army Emergency Reserve, a new provision is being made to permit a member if he so desires to volunteer for the Citizen Military Forces for three years in substitution for his Reserve service.

National servicemen may be commissioned as officers and accordingly would be discharged from their obligation to serve as soldiers under the National Service Act. The Bill contains provisions to ensure that the period of service which is undertaken as an officer shall be the same as that which would have applied had the national serviceman continued as a soldier. The opportunity has also been taken to effect some minor amendments to the National Service Act which experience has shown to be desirable.

I commend the National Service Bill to honorable senators.

Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.

Suggest corrections