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Thursday, 12 May 1921

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . - I do not think Senator Gardiner should be depressed at the reception given to his proposition. It has received the close attention of the members of the Committee, and after hearing what the Minister has said it is evident that the principle on which the honorable senator based his proposition is one which appeals to the Minister. The Minister has pointed out that if a clause of this kind were inserted it would prejudicially affect training as a whole, and Senator Elliott has mentioned that it might possibly lead to all kinds of complaint being made by individuals on the ground that favoritism was being shown. That, to an extent, could be avoided if the conditions of the examination or the requirements to enable any individual to be exempt were laid down in sufficient detail. The Minister has said that he will give consideration to the principle, and has intimated, I think, that it might be applied not merely to individuals, but to units. I am not quite sure whether the Minister, even under the clause he has proposed, would not have that power, because if he will look at the operative words he will see that any male inhabitant of Australia, except those exempted by this Act, will be liable to be trained as prescribed. I do not think that there is any one in this chamber who knows the meaning of the words "as prescribed" better than the Minister, and' possibly when regulations are being introduced to give effect to the principle of compulsory service it will be possible to prescribe something that will give effect to the principle embodied in Senator Gardiner's amendment, and in a form that will not be detrimental to the efficiency of the trainees. I invite the Minister's consideration to the words I have quoted, because I think he will find that if he desires to give effect to the principle there is sufficient power to carry out what is in his mind and in the mind, of Senator Gardiner.

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