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Wednesday, 20 September 1972
Page: 1066


Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) - This debate is most peculiar in that it is the first reading of a- money Bill, as Senator Davidson who haS just resumed his seat said. Many honourable senators on this side, with the exception of Senator Gietzelt who spoke to the Bill, took the opportunity, which is available under Standing Orders, to bring up matters which in the opinion of honourable senators are in need of early rectification and which show to a great degree some mismanagement by the Government. No-ohe can condemn the issues which have been brought up. When we hear what Senator Turnbull has brought before the Senate on the first reading of this money Bill we are thankful that the Standing Orders give us an opportunity to raise such matters. I do not want to enter into the matter related to Ipec Australia Ltd. Opportunity to do so may be given in a subsequent motion relating to the advisability or justification for tabling certain documents.

One was surprised that Senator Turnbull made a direct challenge to the Government. Even I think that he imputed improper motives to the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) in being friendly with a director of Jetair Australia Ltd. One can realise the extent of the accusations made by the honourable senator. One would hesitate to say that such serious allegations show some defrauding of the Commonwealth for the purpose of bestowing favours. But then the honourable senator said: 'You can prove me untruthful by presenting the papers.' Tonight we heard a long ministerial statement which wandered all over the place. There was a certain degree of irregularity in it and it cast certain suspicions in that someone from the Department on 31st December, New Year's Eve - perhaps they were affected by the festivity of that occasion - mistook Jetair for Gordon Barton of Ipec when they inspected the planes which had 'Jetair' stamped all over them.


Senator McAuliffe - And approval was given on 1st January - a holiday.


Senator CAVANAGH - Approval was given on 1st January. I suppose to secure this approval the Executive Council met on 1st January. There is no let-up for Ministers. Therefore there must be some suspicion about the figures and the dates as read to the Senate. Senator Turnbull could be proved to be speaking untruths or speaking irresponsibly if the very thing that he asks to be done - that the papers be tabled - was done. Every attempt was made to avoid tabling those papers.


Senator Wright - The papers were tabled.


Senator CAVANAGH - No. Some extracts from the papers were tabled but the files were not tabled. No doubt the Government forces would combine to ensure that a resolution that the papers be tabled is defeated. Senator Turnbull has made accusations which could be proved incorrect by the papers being tabled, but the fact that they have not been tabled means that his most serious allegations cannot be proved incorrect. We are aware of the dodging by the Minister to ensure that they are not tabled. There is something to hide, everything to hide, if the accusations made by Senator Turnbull and his serious alegations against certain departments, particularly the Prime Minister's Department, are correct. I want to mention the sanctimonious hypocrisy of Senator Davidson.


Senator Wright - I rise to a point of order. I submit that that is not parliamentary langauge. It is offensive to any parliamentarian, and on behalf of Senator Davidson I ask for withdrawal of that remark.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - I ask Senator Cavanagh to withdraw that remark. It is not right to accuse any person of hypocrisy because the word indicates dishonesty.


Senator CAVANAGH - I will withdraw it because possibly it was too strong. The sanctimonious humbug that goes on here-


Senator Wright - 1 rise to a point of order. I ask you, Mr Acting Deputy President, not to be trifled with in that way, by the honourable senator substituting sanctimonious humbug' for 'sanctimonious hypocrisy'.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Senator Cavanagh, since you are aware of parliamentary practice, I think I ought to ask you to withdraw that remark. It implies certain qualities about a person which I do not think the average person would care to have implied about him.


Senator CAVANAGH - What word do you ask me to withdraw? Is it the word humbug'?

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Yes.


Senator CAVANAGH - All right, Mr Acting Deputy President, I will withdraw it. 1 do not want to offend the Chair. I could substitute the word 'inanities'.. Maybe that would get over it without the necessity of withdrawing the other word. .

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - I think you could express it in other strong terms to which exception could not be taken.


Senator CAVANAGH - So much that was insincere and wrung out in a sanctimonious voice for the purpose of getting on the air and the shedding of Christian tears over; the microphone was all a waste of time, for he is the very individual who has done more filibustering in this chamber than any other senator. It is not true to say that any time taken up on this first reading debate delays the operation of benefits under the Budget. The legislation which carries the benefit will come into operation either on the date stated or the date proclaimed no matter when it goes through this House. If the Government wants to pay a benefit from any date then that can be stated in the Bill and it will not be opposed on this side of the House even if the date is earlier than the date on which it could be proclaimed. This could be done just as the Government found it convenient to do in the recent legislation validating certain ordinances and as it found it convenient to do on the industrial legislation when it was before this chamber. If speaking on this Bill could delay the operation of any benefits under the Budget, members on this side could perhaps justify it insofar as they had some criticism of the Government to make. But Senator Davidson could not justify his taking up of 20 minutes speaking about matters about which he has the right to speak when the appropriate legislation comes before the House, only for the purpose of disseminating political propaganda over the air tonight. That was the purpose, and that is why one is led to use such strong language as 'the sanctimonious hypocrisy that goes on from time to time'.

Does any honourable senator recall the occasions when Senator Davidson was used to talk out legislation or Bills before this House so that the vote would not be taken? Does any honourable senator recall the motion by Senator Murphy to refer to a committee the question of medical and hospital costs which were to bring benefits to the community and that for the last 35 minutes on that occasion Senator Davidson talked and talked about nothing relevant to the Bill for the purpose of permitting half past 10 to be reached before the question was put? He so incensed the Senate that the Senate, in disgust at the attitude of this particular individual, voted against the motion for adjournment and continued to sit until the legislation went through. This is the man who is critical today for no reason other than that he had the opportunity of speaking on the air.

I rise on the first reading of this money Bill to talk about a particular matter, namely, conditions at the Puckapunyal Army camp which is, I understand, the induction centre for Army recruits. Recruits I have spoken to have told me that they spend 10 weeks of their initial training at Puckapunyal before being drafted to other camps. Many national service personnel are inducted into this camp. Despite some resistance to national service and to being victims of the ballot, and causing a lot of worry to their parents by being away from home, they win a l:/t of admiration from their parents. It is not without pride that some parents recall that their sons whom they have cherished for 20 years now wear the Queen's uniform and are being trained in the honourable and heroic profession of defending their country, making this country safe and engaging in Commonwealth defence projects. One can imagine the pride of such parents.

At the end of the 10 weeks introduction to Army training an open day is held at the camp which parents can attend to see the advancement of their children who have been conscripted into the camp. An open day was held at Puckapunyal on Sunday, 10th September, for the parents of the troops, and it was with pride that 3 busloads of parents from South Australia travelled to Puckapunyal to see their darlings in this camp, to view their progress and to observe the great service that they had entered into, and the good conditions^ - that they were now part of a big organisation. A number of other parents travelled by car. Approximately 5,000 parents, sweethearts and wives of the men in training assembled at this Army camp last Sunday week.

The troops did a kind of slow march onto the oval, with an officer giving them directions. He was described to me as 'the little chap with the red sash'. He gave an order which apparently the., troops thought was an order for a normal march. It was not. When his order was not obeyed, and despite all these people there, he used every 4-letter word that is in 'The Little, Red Schoolbook'. This Army officer used vile vituperations in the presence of citizens - mothers, fathers, sisters and sweethearts of these Army recruits.


Senator Wright - I expect he thought he had the liberty of the new South Australian outlook, the Dunstan outlook.


Senator CAVANAGH - That expression of the Minister's is an expression of approval because someone in South Australia has condoned the use of this language, so if it is good enough for South Australia, it is good enough for the Army. It is not good enough for people who have had church upbringing - Christians. Mothers and fathers who have not spoken to their sons in terms other than terms of endearment did not send their sons to the camp to be. abused and to be sworn at by an Army officer. I suggest that the Minister, rather than justifying the use of the language because it may have been used elsewhere, should have an inquiry conducted into the incident.


Senator Wright - It was objectionable.


Senator CAVANAGH - It was more than objectionable. It should never have been used in the Government service. It was such that those present protested by raising their voices and shouting to the officer to treat these men like humans and not like animals.

One young soldier had sticking plaster under his chin. The story was that the previous day, during rehearsal on the parade ground, he had fainted and had cut his chin on his bayonet. The cut needed stitching. As he lay stunned on the ground one of the servicemen, seeing the blood, sought to go to his assistance. The officer in charge, in true Askin style, said: 'Let the bastard die'. That was the effect on the officer of the cut under the lad's chin. The young man was later taken to sick bay and stitches were inserted in the cut. He was on the parade ground the following day with plaster under his chin.


Senator Wright - Has the honourable senator brought this matter to the attention of the Minister for the Army?


Senator CAVANAGH - I hope I am doing so tonight, through the Minister.


Senator Webster - Is this story as reliable as some of the reports of protests in Adelaide?


Senator CAVANAGH - Never mind about protests. I will give the Minister due credit. He is possibly the only one who is prepared to take an interest in the matter and see that it is reported to the responsible Minister. Everyone else is trying to cast doubts upon the story so there will not be an investigation.


Senator Gair - Who is?


Senator CAVANAGH - The honourable senator is interjecting, for a start. Senator Webster is another.


Senator Gair - Did you see this incident or are you relying on evidence given to you?


Senator CAVANAGH - I have the names of at least half a dozen parents who will verify this story if an assurance is given to them that no disciplinary or vindictive action will be taken against their children who are still in the Army. If this assurance is not given we will have to wait another 18 months before the names can be given. The young soldiers left the parade ground and went to a clear area by the huts where an order was given to them to disperse and they dispersed in that they broke formation. The parents, thinking that the soldiers were dispersing, rushed to greet their children. Obviously it was not such an order. The officer turned upon the parents and used filthy language. He may have had a grievance against the parents because of the way they had protested on the oval. He told them - I do not know how to say it - in the words of 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' to get off his 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' paradeground, which was a clearing in front of the huts. While all the parents had pride in their children, it was only then they learned, because of the names that the children were called, that all of their children were illegitimate. Every reference to them was 'bastard' - Pick up that chair, you bastard'. This was the manner of address to the troops on that occasion.

The reports are that the beds and the wardrobes in the huts are overturned, and that if anything is broken that is just bad luck.


Senator Wright - Overturned by whom?


Senator CAVANAGH - By Army officers, for some reason or other, if something is found wrong in the huts. One lad left an unemptied ash try in the hut so the cigarette butts were scattered on the floor, the ash tray was thrown on the floor, a heel was stamped on it and it was broken. One dropped his rifle on parade. He had to stand and yell, until he was hoarse in the throat: T love my rifle'. I believe that it is a usual Army custom. He had to repeat, until he could say it no longer: T love my rifle'. This is the humiliation that lads who are inducted into the Army have to suffer. As one lad said, although he was not a conscientious objector and although he had no great objection to military service, he would rather have spent 18 months in a civil prison than 10 weeks in that camp. That is what lads who are inducted into the Service have to face That is why we cannot get recruits for the Permanent Army. This matter needs investigation.


Senator Wright - The honourable senator is not suggesting, is he, that the officer to whom he referred is anything but most exceptional?


Senator CAVANAGH - He was in public and he behaved in this way. I assume that it was not exceptional behaviour as other officers were there. If it were exceptional behaviour, he would have been demoted or would be out of the Service by now. I am suggesting that this conduct is common to the Service. Already there have been 3 attempts at suicide - 2 of wrist slashing and one of hanging - by lads in that camp. This conduct is driving to destruction, breaking the spirit and humiliating lads to get them to conform with orders issued under the military system. This system has to be changed if we are to have a defence force. On no account should mothers have to return home and worry about what they saw of their lads who have another 14 months to serve under the tyrannical and oppressive conditions which operate in Army camps.







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