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Wednesday, 12 May 1965

Senator CORMACK (Victoria) .- I rise to seek some elucidation rather than to involve myself in advocacy of the cause sponsored by Senator Wright, although I do not deprecate it in any way. 1 would like to obtain from the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge), when he replies, an explanation of that element in the legislation which Senator Wright cited in his special plea in relation to the Anzac decoration. We know that decorations for valor are conferred by Her Majesty the Queen. But since the adoption of the Statute of Westminster, we have moved from the tightly knit concept of a British Commonwealth of nations. Inevitably, we have reached a situation of special nationhood among the nations descended from the people of the British Isles. The Crown, which in this element is the source of military honours, has acquired separate identities. The Queen of England is also the Queen of Canada, the Queen of Australia and the Queen of New Zealand. Therefore, I think it is logical to postulate that the Queen, as the source of honours has separate roles in relation to the various nations which owe allegiance to her.

Nowhere does the legislation we are considering spell out means that provide a special channel through which honours may be conferred on Australian citizens who serve in Her Majesty's armed forces, so that these awards will have a special significance. 1 think we are reaching the stage where there must be a special process by which honours can be conferred by Her Majesty, as Queen of Australia, on forces operating in defence of Australia. This comes back to Senator Wright's argument, because it relates to two things: First of all there was an enormous difficulty - as I well know - in getting a special decoration for those who served in the South West Pacific area in the last war in the defence of Australia. Senator Wright is advocating that in circumstances precedent to those I am describing it is not yet too late for Australia to make a special application to Her Majesty, as the Queen in Australia, to acknowledge that in fact Australia has a special right in this regard in view of its contribution to a war long past. I would bc grateful if the Minister would make some observations on the matter which 1 have elaborated.

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