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Thursday, 24 September 1942
Page: 925

Mr FORDE (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - The representations wore made particularly in relation to Victoria, but I shall be pleased to meet the representatives of other States, as occasion offers, as I mot representative people in Tasmania recently. If any Victorian member of this Parliament would care to spend a quiet Saturday afternoon at the conference, I give hi.m an invitation to attend. I make it clear, however, that, notwithstanding the difficulties of the butter manufacturers, it will not. be possible for us to release thousands of men from the Army in order that primary production may be maintained as in peace-time. A report received recently from our man-power officers has been considered by Ministers. Tt was also referred to the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Land Forces in the Couth-West Pacific and discussed with the Supreme Allied Commander, General Douglas MacArthur. I have now received a report from the Commander-in-Chief regarding the Army requirements, and in view of its contents I am unable to give any undertaking that large numbers of men can be released from the Army to engage in seasonal occupations. That does not mean that we cannot release men here and there for butter-making, shearing and the like within reasonable limits; but we cannot release men in such numbers as to impair the efficiency of the Army. These matters will be discussed al: the conference on Saturday.

Mr Guy - The problems of primary production are not peculiar to Tasmania.

Mr FORDE - I am well aware of that fact.

The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) referred to a number of subjects in the course of his speech. I do not propose ro discuss them in detail now, but 1 assure him that they all will receive my careful consideration. The honorable gentleman said that certain men who had been enlisted to work in the finance branch of the Army as clerks had been transferred to labour units. 1 point out that no nian is enlisted in the Army for a particular duty. Those enlisted for service may be allotted to any duty required of them. The rank given to persons enlisted for special duties is temporary, and when they cease to perform those duties they automatically cease to hold their rank. I shall inquire into the instances referred to by the honorable member. The Australian Army is being carefully combed, and ruthless action is being taken to remove unqualified men who are not satisfactorily carrying out the duties allotted to them. All I can guarantee is that men who are not qualified to perform the duties that they are expected to perform will he removed from their positions so that efficient men may be put in their places.

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