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Tuesday, 23 May 1972
Page: 1890

Senator GREENWOOD - The honourable senator has made answering his question very difficult because he has not defined his terms. He asks about draft resisters and wants to know how many there are. But, Mr President, who is a draft resister? A draft resister may be a person for whom a warrant of arrest has been issued and who is dodging the law. A draft resister may be a person who has not obeyed a call-up notice or a notice to attend for medical examination. He may be a person who has not fulfilled the requirement to register. Such persons may call themselves draft resisters. Again, as my experience indicates, a draft resister may be any one of a number of hangers-on, political activists and members of the Australian Labor Party who for the time being want to call themselves draft resisters. In those circumstances it is impossible to answer the honourable senator's question in the way he phrased it because he has not defined his terms.

If he wants to know how many people have not registered, whilst this matter strictly comes within the jurisdiction of the Minister for Labour and National Service, I have obtained figures from him. Some 695,000 people have registered since the scheme was introduced in 1964 and 2 per cent, or 2 in every 100, of the total number of those required to register, have failed to register at the due time. That figure can be deduced. The important obligations are to obey the call-up notice and to attend for medical examination. Approximately 147,000 people have been required to attend for medical examination and 0.3 per cent - that is 3 in every 1,000 - have failed to attend. Some 55,000 men have been called up and enlisted. The percentage of men who have not responded to their call-up notices is ! 0.2 per cent or 2 in every 1,000. Those figures do not bear out what so many people through the public media would like to have people believe, namely that there is a great amount of resistance to the National Service Act. In fact, at the end of April there were 20 warrants outstanding for persons who had failed to appear in court to answer a summons either for failing to attend a medical examination or for failing to obey a call-up notice. Those figures indicate that observance of the National Service Act in this community is at a tremendously high rate. The publicity and all the gimmicks and political stunting which people engage in to suggest otherwise cannot belie the true facts.

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