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Wednesday, 23 March 1966

Mr Malcolm Fraser (WANNON, VICTORIA) - The role of the Citizen Military Forces cannot be looked at entirely in isolation. As honorable members know, the Australian Regular Army has the prime job of undertaking the cold war tasks that may be required of it and limited war tasks in a more serious situation. But our official military advice is that permanent forces large enough to meet all contingencies would be extraordinarily expensive and would cripple the general development programmes of the Government in many spheres. Therefore, the Citizen Military Forces are maintained. These comprise an extremely important part of our one Army. The role of the C.M.F. is a dual one. First, it has to provide additional forces in a situation of defence emergency in any combat or conflict in which the C.M.F. may be required to serve.

Secondly, in a more serious situation mat could lead to mobilisation under conditions of general war the citizen forces would be the prime vehicle for a general expansion of the Army. The role of the C.M.F. has been made meaningful by changes in the Defence Act which were introduced by the Government not so long ago and under the terms of which all members of the Citizen Military Forces would be required to serve overseas if the security of Australia were to demand that. 1 turn now to the precise questions that the honorable member asked. At present there are no occupational restrictions, on enlistment in the Citizen Military Forces. The ultimate target so far announced by the Government is 35,000 men. The number is now running not far short of 30,000 and enlistments in the first seven months of the current financial year have been going quite well. In that period, the total numbers increased by about 1,400. If there were a situation of genera] war in which mobilisation might become necessary, the manpower needs of the C.M.F. would be looked at in accordance with the overall manpower requirements in the particular situation.

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