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Wednesday, 12 May 1965

Senator CORMACK (Victoria) .- ] have been sitting here watching the legal hawks soaring in the hot air that rises from a parliamentary debate and wondering whether I, as a humble quail that runs along the ground, should intrude myself. I thought that we were dealing with clause 16, which states -

Section SOC of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - " 50C. Members of the military forces may be required to serve either within or beyond the territorial limits of Australia."

At this stage there is no question of war or the imminence of war. The clause is designed to provide that, in order to meet the strategic needs of Australia, the military forces shall be disposed where the Government wishes them to be disposed and at a time when it believes it is necessary for them to be disposed.

Senator Morris - It is forward planning.

Senator CORMACK - It does not matter about forward planning or strategy or anything else. We are dealing in the Committee stages with clause 16. It does not say that the forces are to fight. It says that they are to serve, to be disposed either within or beyond the territorial limits of Australia.

Senator Mattner - They are members of the military forces.

Senator CORMACK - Yes.

Senator McClelland - Surely the words " to serve " mean to fight?

Senator CORMACK - They do not. The members of the military forces may be required to fight under the conditions that are set out in the definitions.

Senator Mcclelland - In accordance with their branch of the Service.

Senator CORMACK - We are dealing with clause 16 of the Bill. We are not talking about Vietnam or any other place. We are saying that troops may be required to serve where directed by the Government in subsequent conditions and ~.t subsequent times. Under the provisions of this Bill they may be required to fight. That is all this means.

I want to move on to the matter raised by Senator McKenna, both in his observations in his second reading speech and in the remarks he made during his consideration of clause 16 of the Bill. The tragedy of this whole debate, it seems to me, is that the concept of a military force is seen in a static situation. Senator McKenna has spoken about ultimate reserves - the bottom of the barrel being drawn in. The whole function of this Bill and of this clause 16 is to create certain conditions, not when the last 60 year olds have been dragged in to defend this country, but in connection with the building of a military force comprising the three armed Services, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. These Services do not embody a static situation with X number of divisions, Y number of squadrons and Z number of ships. There is a whole establishment set behind them that can reinforce them. That is the whole object of the Defence Bill before us at this moment. I revert to clause 16 again. We have been led off the trail. We have been asked to pass this clause which requires men to serve where the Government requires their disposition. The subsequent factor of where they become involved in battle, subject to the definitions in the Bill, will be determined by proclamation.

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