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Thursday, 12 May 1921

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - The commission is a guarantee of efficiency in these technical matters.

Senator Duncan - It is like an engineer's certificate.

Senator GARDINER - I know all about that. Let us take the man who, for actual practical work- in handling a machine, has all the qualifications, but for being a commissioned officer has- very few; there is then a' distinct loss to the community, for he simply cannot get a commission. I realize, of course, that mechanics have to be taken up; otherwise, if something goes wrong', a commissioned officer, though very highly trained, is not so expert as a mechanic in, repairing work. My own opinion isthat a non-commissioned officer or private may fly a machine just as well as a general or any other officer. The idea that a clause in the Bill, or a custom in a Department, shall permit only certain people to take control is altogether wrong. We have to realize that flying machines are not like military companies. If only commissioned officers are to have charge when we have hundreds, or it may he thousands, of machines, there will be thousands of commissioned officers, and that point is worth considering. We shall be using flying machines much as we have used cavalry in the field; there will be air squadrons, and to contend that every man in charge of a machine shall be a commissioned officer is almost unthinkable. It is in my mind that that is the condition that obtains at the present time, and it is unwise and detrimental to the Service. When these flying machines become as plentiful, as we hope they will, if the preparation for war is to continue, we shall be in the absurd position of having more commissioned officers in the Air Service than in all the other Services put together.

Senator Elliott - There is nothing in the Act that has the effect you suggest.

Senator GARDINER - I am glad to have that assurance, but I know there is something in thecustom of the Department which has brought effects of the kind. Quite a number of excellent men have never had a chance of advancement; they have never had a chance of developing their ability in charge of a machine. I do not say there has been no chance of promotion to the rank of officer, but such chances are very rare; and it is an absurd proposition that only officers shall be allowed to take charge of machines.

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