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Wednesday, 24 May 1972
Page: 2044

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - They are the general rules that are laid down.

Senator Cavanagh - If that information is correct, he was in breach of the orders.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Yes. The decision must be left to the discretion of the commanding officer and of the individual. My understanding is that in this case approval was given by the unit commander for this man to engage in civilian employment. I understand that approval was given on the basis that the man would be in employment with Metropolitan Security Services Pty Ltd. On the night to which the honourable senator referred this man was not working for that organisation. Apparently he was working in a private capacity, unknown to his commanding officer.

As soon as the honourable senator raised the matter with the Minister for the Army (Mr Katter) the Minister immediately called for a report. When he found out that one of the five or six big burly men of whom the honourable senator spoke was a serviceman, he took action. The honourable senator said that he had information that one of the five or six big burly men was a man who, the honourable senator's informant believes, is a serviceman. So, he said, the Government was using the military for an incorrect purpose. I think that that statement is a little unfair. This man was off duty. Unknown to the Army and not working-

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I said 'If the Government allows it'. That is what I said.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - I think that statement was a little unfair because one swallow does not make a summer. The man was working, unknown to his commanding officer and not at the particular job at which he was given approval to work. As soon as the Minister heard about it he called for a report. The report stated that a member of the provost corps was involved. The Minister immediately issued, as the honourable senator said, a statement that he was most concerned and that he treated the matter very seriously. He has asked that the orders be again promulgated in routine orders, and stated that this kind of think has to stop.

Senator Cavanagh - Is working for a night watching service permitted?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - I would have to take up that matter with the Minister.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I would think that under no circumstances should ft be tolerated, because it is work of a like nature, related to his military duties.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - A night watchman can go on the rounds, look at buildings, see that doors are locked and so on. His job does not always involve him in this kind of work. As Minister for Air, I am most concerned. I will not tolerate one of my servicemen trying to act as a guard or as a picket in a strike. I will see that the Chief of Air Staff and the Secretary of my Department understand my feelings on the matter. I am sure that the Minister for the Army, from his discussions with the honourable senator, feels exactly the same way. He has already acted in this connection. I feel quite sure that I am also speaking for the Minister for the Navy (Dr McKay) in this matter.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order. Some time earlier I was required to give a ruling on a point of order on the matter of the withdrawal of words deemed to be offensive. It has been drawn to my attention that it is possible that my words in that connection could b? construed as meaning that the Chair had no option but to request the withdrawal of any matter deemed to be offensive by a senator. The practice of the Senate is that the Chair has a discretion in the matter. In the circumstances I exercised a discretion, but I would not like honourable senators to believe that in all circumstances it is obligatory to withdraw any words deemed to be offensive.

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