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Tuesday, 22 March 1966

Mr HAROLD HOLT - The honorable gentleman has asked why an adequate body of volunteers is not coming forward. If he studies the figures in respect of volunteers in each of the last three years he will see that they have borne a quite interesting consistency in proportion to people in that age group. The total number of volunteers for the Army in each of the last three years has been in excess of 8,000, but the proportion found suitable for the requirements of the Army is comparatively low. Certainly fewer than 3,000 of the 8,000 have been found to be suitable. When the Government decided that it was necessary to enlarge the Australian Regular Army - this necessity followed on the closest consultation in relation to these matters with our most expert military advisers - it was made clear to us by those advisers that, in order to maintain an army at the strength required, it would be necessary to introduce a scheme of national service. The legislation introduced, therefore, followed the most expert military advice available to the Commonwealth in relation to a strategic situation on which our security arrangements were made.

Mr Uren - What about the Government's asking national service trainees to sign a document?

Mr HAROLD HOLT - The honorable gentleman asked about some proposal which the trainees were required to sign. I shall examine that aspect of his question and see whether the text can be made available to him.

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