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Thursday, 12 May 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) (2:21 AM) . - I cannot accept this amendment, although in the regulations we propose to issue in the majority of cases the principle laid down by the honorable senator will be followed. There is a difficulty in making it a hard-and-fast section of the Act. It is intended to recognise war service. We may appoint in the first commissioned rank two officers, one of whom may have had active service and the other may not and the one who has not. had active service may happen to be appointed a few days before the other. That would make him senior to the other.

Senator Elliott - You could date him back.

Senator PEARCE - We could, but we prefer to ask Parliament to give us latitude to make regulations, recognising the conditions we have to deal with. At first we shall probably have an adequate staff of officers who have had active service, but as time goes onwe shall have a lessened supply of them, and a greater supply of persons who have not had active service. In the circumstances, fairly flexible regulations will be needed to enable us to give effect to the spirit of the Act, which is' that active service shall be recognised. I ask Senator Elliott to accept my assurance that the regulations in the main will follow the lines which he has set out in his amendment, but we feel that his proposal is too inelastic. It does not give us as much freedom as we should have if we were free to make regulations to meet the kind of case I have put.

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