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Thursday, 13 May 1965

Senator PALTRIDGE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) . - I would like to comment on the very interesting matter which Senator Wright has raised. I think I should say at once that the cooperation which exists between the Department of Labour and National Service and the three branches of the Armed Services is first class. The degree of co-operation which exists gladdens my heart. The Department of Labour and National Service is the Department, in the postwar context, which has had actual experience of this kind of thing. During the earlier national service campaign the Department carried out all the recruiting arrangements. In those years the officers of the Department acquired a familiarity with the matters which the officers in the Service departments did not have an opportunity to acquire. It developed, I am pleased to say, a degree of efficiency which was well worth while.

Another comment which I feel I should make refers to the fact that the Services are not carrying out this function. I want everyone to understand that the officers in the Service Departments today are pretty busy people. If one looks at the Army, onefinds aprogramme of expansion which is requiring the concentration of all personnel. For example, by the end of 1966 the manpower strength of the Army will have increased by about SO per cent. I think I have only to state that figure to indicate the degree of activity which is taking place within the Army in order to effect that expansion. Expansion is taking place in the other Services - although not to the same extent as in the Army. There is also a high degree of activity in the other Services, particularly as new ships and new aircraft are brought in, and the activity is increasing.

In those circumstances, and having regard to the total job that has to be done and the total resources that are available, it was clear that the Department which could best administer the task of raising the personnel before transferring them into the Services was the Department of Labour and National Service. Having said that, I would not like it to be felt that servicemen cannot and should not play an active part in recruitment for their own Services. Indeed, they are frequently the medium by which an immediate interest is inculcated in the lads coming into the Services. They could, probably better than other people, transmit a degree of enthusiasm. As men become available this is one of the matters which might well be looked at in order to ensure that their services are used to the best effect.

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