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Thursday, 28 April 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - Having listened with a good deal of enjoyment to the whole of the discussion this afternoon, I suggest that whoever is engaged in writing up the history of the war should be supplied with a special desk in this chamber and should be given a special invitation to be in regular attendance in the Senate, because matters of the greatest interest to them may crop up here at any time. What is the amendment we are asked to consider? We know that from one end of the Military Service to the other there are grievances m connexion with supersessions. Senator Elliott, with a good deal of courage, has made use of his own case, not with a view to " pushing his own barrow," but to give facts which show what may happen in the Service.

Senator Elliott - I propose to submit an amendment to provide that no senator or member of the House of Representatives shall hold an active command while occupying that position; and that would debar me 'from a command.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That seems aimed at somebody else.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap - I ask honorable senators to proceed with the discussion of the proposed new clause before the Committee.

Senator GARDINER - I am- endeavouring to discuss it. The proposed new clause is intended to deal with a grievance which is known to exist in the Defence Department. If the Minister for Defence will nOt make provision in the Defence Bill to remedy that grievance, he must submit, at least, to the discussion of the matter by the Committee. I do not believe that we have any chance of carrying an amendment, as the Senate is constituted. ' "With such a majority behind the. Government we cannot expect to carry anything against it.

Senator Pearce - The members of the Committee will vote on the merits of the proposal.

Senator GARDINER - The merits of the matter will be held to be that the Bill has been introduced by the Government, and honorable senators are bound to support it.

Senator Pearce - Nothing of the kind.

Senator GARDINER - I am glad to learn that the Minister for Defence is prepared to accept the democratic view of the Senate that honorable senators,, without regard to the possible embarrassment of the Government, may vote as they think right on matters submitted to them. I believe that Senator Elliott's amendment would be more in order if proposed upon a later clause; but there is not an intelligent man in the community who will deny the existence of the evil for which the honorable senator is seeking a remedy. The Minister for Defence has made no proposal to remedy that evil, and as Senator Elliott's amendment is the only remedy put forward, I shall vote for it if a division is taken upon it.

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