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Thursday, 24 September 1942
Page: 889

Mr ABBOTT - If the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) cannot see that the Minister for the Army could be better employed than in pursuing ordinary peace-time activities, he is not worthy to be a Minister.

Mr Frost - Tasmania is one of the most important States of the Commonwealth.

Mr ABBOTT - No doubt, and the Minister for Repatriation probably has the most important parish pump there. Every member of the Advisory War Council, with the exception of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) should make it their business to inspect the New Guinea front as soon as possible. There is not one returned soldier on the Advisory War Council except the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). How can these gentlemen decide matters affecting strategy if they have no experience of the terrain where the battle is being waged ? It is their duty to go there and see what they can, so that when General MacArthur and General Sir Thomas Blarney, and their other military advisers, discuss the situation with them, they will be in a position to make proper decisions.

Mr Coles - How often does General Sir Thomas Blainey visit our forces in New Guinea?

Mir. ABBOTT. - I do not know. I now desire to refer to the importance of maintaining discipline in the Army, and at battle stations. Honorable members are familiar with the quotation "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump ". There are very few men in the Australian Army who will not accept discipline, but they are the little leaven which may leaven the whole lump. It is most cruel to send undisciplined or partially trained troops to fight against Asiatic hordes, who have been trained for months in the jungles of Formosa, and who have superb battle discipline. I shall give a few examples of lack of discipline which have come to my notice in the last few months. One instance occurred at the battle headquarters of a division in Australia. A gentleman, at night, walked through the head-quarters into the officers' mess, where the commanding officer was, and there was not a sentry to challenge him. At that time, the battle head-quarters was liable to be raided by the Japanese. That was an example of shockingly bad discipline.

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