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Thursday, 12 May 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence.) (1:43 AM) . - I think that probably Senator Gardiner has been led astray by applying to the Air Service his knowledge of the principles adopted in the Military Service.

Senator Gardiner - Yes.

Senator PEARCE - As to the permanent officers in the Military Service, there is only one gateway, and that is through the Military College. In regard to the Air Service, however, there is no such provision. Officers may be provisionally appointed, but before their appointment can be confirmed, which must be within six months, theyhave to pass the prescribed examination. In that prescribed examination they must, amongst other things, show their ability to fly a machine. The analogy with the Military Service is not a correct one; it should be rather with the Mercantile Marine Service. That is to say, a man may commence as a fireman, become a greaser, and eventually, by stages, chief engineer. But the difference between the engineer and the fireman or greaser is that the engineer, of whatever grade, has charge of the engines and the direction of the propulsion of the ship. A man may become a mechanic, but, if he wishes to become an aviator and drive a machine, he must pass the necessary examination, and on passing, he becomes a commissioned officer. It is not that the commissioned officer gets the right to fly the machine, but the fact that he can fly it confers upon him the right to become a commissioned officer.

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