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Friday, 18 September 1942

Mr CURTIN - Earlier, the Minister for the Army indicated that, for a considerable time, clerical and similar work carried out by men in the Army has been closely reviewed. That inquiry has applied to the Royal Australian Air Force also. As the result of these investigations, many men have been transferred to other duties, and their places have been filled either by women or by other nien who are unfit for more active duties. I am not able to announce any declaration of policy upon this matter, other than the general direction given to the reviewing committee to see that the best use shall be made, from the national stand-point, of the attributes of each person.

Mr Rosevear - That does not answer my question.

Mr CURTIN - I understood the honorable member to ask me to ensure that when men are replaced by women and their age exempts them from active military service, they shall be given pick-and-shovel work.

Mr Rosevear - No.

Mr CURTIN - We are doing our utmost to make the best use of the services of every individual in the community in as fair a manner as possible.

But the honorable gentleman will realize that a declaration of policy cannot be made by the Prime Minister in answer to a question without notice. For a considerable time, machinery to review the work that is performed by men in the Army has been functioning, and a large number of men have been relieved of the duties which they were performing.

Mr.Rosevear. - As these men are too old to engage in combat duties, will the the Prime Minister arrange for them to be discharged so that they may take work at award rates?

Mr CURTIN - Provided they can be replaced by competent persons?

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