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Thursday, 12 May 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) The point which Senator Elliott has overlooked is that our Air Force is not merely a military Air Force; it is ako a Naval Air Force. It is true that during the late war we had an Australian Air Force as a military wing, and that its members did exceedingly well, and greatly distinguished themselves. But we had absolutely no Naval Air Force whatever. Now it is proposed that our Air Force shall provide for both the military and naval sections of our defence. It- is obvious that at its inception we shall require to obtain officers from the British regular Air Force. There is one such officer here upon the Aif Board - I refer to Wing-Commander Goble. " He is an Australian by birth, but he is a member of the British regular Air Force.

Senator Elliott - He will have passed his examination, no doubt.

Senator PEARCE - Not for the rank which he holds at present. For a period at least, we shall need to obtain other British regular officers for .our Air Force upon the. naval side. We do not anticipate that we shall require to secure any such officers upon the military side. What .is the position to-day? We go to England and ask an officer to come out here. Let us suppose that he holds the rank of captain. Our rate of pay for a captain is no higher than is the rate of pay in England. Yet we ask him to cut himself adrift from the .Forces there, to lose his opportunities of advancement, to come out here for two or three years in order to suit our convenience, and then to return to the Old Country and take his chance. In the early stages of our military training we found that if we wished to obtain- efficient British officers who were worth having we must give them one step, and sometimes two steps, up in rank to compensate them in some degree for' the sacrifice they made in coming here for a few years to suit our convenience; This provision has- been inserted solely for that purpose- to enable us to give an officer who is a, member of the British Air Force one or two steps up in rank.

Senator Duncan - That will be done only in exceptional circumstances ?

Senator PEARCE - Yes. At the present time Wing-Commander Goble is not a member of our Force. His services have merely been loaned to us. He holds in our Force a higher rank than he held in the British -Force. We are endeavouring to obtain one or two other British officers in the same way. The only way in which we can compensate them for the sacrifice which they are called upon to make is set out in this clause. Under it, I assure Senator Elliott that it is not intended to appoint any officers upon the military side.

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