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Thursday, 12 May 1921

Senator GARDINER (NewSouth Wales) . - I do not mind taking a vote upon this matter in the simplest way that is possible. I have taken exception to the proposed new sub-section 2 because itrepresents practically the whole of the proposed amendment of section 113 of the principal Act.In view of a previous vote by the Committee, cannot the Minister himself move in the direction. I have suggested?

Senator Pearce - No, the clause isin conformity with what wehave already done. I have not heard anybody, save Senator Gardiner, object to the application of the Army Act to our Forces in war-time.

Senator GARDINER - When the Minister introduced the Bill he stressed the necessity which exists for trainingour men, in time of peace, so that in time of war they would be accustomed to the Act under which they would then be operating. That was one of his principal reasons for desiring to apply the Army Act to our Forces in time of peace. The Committee, however, emphatically decided that the Army Act should not be applicable to those Forces in time of peace. The Minister has asked whether we should have one Act operative in time of peace and another Act operative in time of war.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Brockman. - Why should we have one army operating under several Acts in time of war?

Senator GARDINER - The experience of the late war has shown us pretty conclusively that no matter where our troops may be engaged in the future they will be commanded by. Australian officers. I join with the; Ministerin expressing the hope that they will never again be called upon to fight outside the Commonwealth .

Senator Foster - The retention of the Army Act in its application to our men in time of war means that in the next war our troops will be fighting merely as an auxiliary to the British Army.

Senator GARDINER - The honorable senator must possess some hypnotic power, because he has expressed my own idea much more clearly than I could have expressed it myself.

Senator Pearce - I do not anticipate, as some persons do, that we shall be fighting the British Army .

Senator GARDINER - I do not think that. I am sorry that the Minister should lose his temper.

Senator Pearce - My remark was just as much deserved as was Senator Foster's interjection.

Senator Foster - I would not hurt the Minister's feelings for the world.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator should not make interjections of that character, because I am not less an Australian than he is.

Senator GARDINER - I hope that the Minister will not lose his temper.

Senator Pearce - Whenever anybody imputes that I am not a good Australian, I shall lose my temper.

Senator GARDINER - The first time that I make a few remarks upon a matter which appeals to me the Minister loses his temper.

Senator Cox - He did not lose his temper with the honorable senator.

Senator GARDINER - I am sure that when I indorsed Senator Foster's remarks I had no intention whatever of reflecting upon the Minister. In my opinion, the. retention in this Bill of the Army Act in its application, even in time of war, to a grown-up nation like Australia, is altogether unwarranted. During the recess the Minister will do well if he calls together his officers and advisers and instructs them to draft an entirely new Army Act, so that when our troops again engage in war they may do so under an Australian Act, and under the command of Australian officers. I trust that the honorable gentleman will look into the clause with a view to seeing whether - without weakening our Defence Act - this new provision cannot be struck out. It is not a provision which he cannot do without. The provisions under which he has been working for a considerable time are already in the principal Act. This is a new proposal, and in my judgment he may well allow it to go by the board. The matter will still be provided for in our Defence Act.

Senator Duncan - If this clause be not retained, it will prevent a small Australian Force from co-operating with the British Army in any sphere of action.

Senator GARDINER - I cannot argue with the honorable senator when . he expresses an idea of that kind, because we all know that during the recent war we had the co-operation of Portuguese, French, and Italian troops, not to mention the troops of many other nations. To pretend that the deletion of this clause would interfere with the co-operation of our troops with the British Army is too absurd to warrant serious consideration. This is a question! of wiping out the Army Act in its application to our Australian

Forces. Without delaying the Committee longer, I intend to vote against the clause.

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