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Thursday, 12 May 1921

Senator ELLIOTT (Victoria) .- I do not want Senator Gardiner to think that, because honorable senators did not immediately rise to discuss his amendment, there was any lack of sympathy with his proposal. The difficulty we feet is in connexion with effectively carrying it out as training progresses from year to year, and it would be impracticable to compress the whole of the various sections of military work with which a man should be familiar in one or two years. If it were only a matter of becoming efficient in the old-fashioned drill that was undertaken in the days of the Peninsular War it might be possible. But the modern military syllabus is very extensive in its scope and training during the war and since has become still wider in its scope. Before the war we knew nothing of bombs or trench, mortars, but with them we are now quite familiar. The probabilities are that in or after future wars the syllabus will again be extended. Whilst I have the greatest sympathy with Senator Gardiner's idea, I believe that it is somewhat impracticable. In the past we have had competitions between brigades in an endeavour to create a spirit of rivalry, and to make battalions efficient, but I do not think it is possible to work along the lines indicated by Senator Gardiner by exempting any portion of the Forces for a period. It is true that some individuals may in a week's time acquire as much knowledge in a particular branch of military work, as other individuals would acquire in three weeks, but even then there is great danger in attempting to make any exemptions and exceptions in favour of individuals. It would inevitably lead to an outcry as to favoritism, and would generally cause discontent, if we were to attempt anything of the kind. I am not criticising the amendment in a hostile manner, and desire to. assure .Senator Gardiner that I am opposing it only because I consider it impracticable.

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