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Tuesday, 29 September 1942

Mr RANKIN (Bendigo) .- Since raising in the House the case of Mr. J. A. Mendes, of the Mayfair Hotel, Darlinghurst, I have had brought to my notice another case which, in my opinion, calls for a searching investigation by the Minister for the Army. The case to which I wish to refer is that of Noel Hackett, of "Amberwood", Milfordstreet, Randwick. Hackett, I have been informed, is about 28 years of age, is in good physical condition, and has passed the military authorities as Class Bl. Recently, according to my information, he inherited a considerable sum of money from his father, the late J. Hackett, a bookmaker, and he has boasted on several occasions that he would not be called up and could always buy his way out of the Army. I have been further informed that he was called up in January last and since then he has evaded military duties in every possible way. This, it is alleged, had been brought about a good deal with the assistance of a Doctor Guiney, who is his own doctor in Randwick, and also the doctor who examines recruits at the Area Office at Randwick.

This, to my mind, raises an important question as to whether a medical man who had been attending a family for a number of years in a professional capacity should be the examiner of a member of that family who is called up for military duties. I should like to hear the views of the Minister for the Army on the subject.

I have also been informed that Hackett at one time made a very foolish statement in front of a woman whose sons had fought at Tobruk. I believe that this woman communicated with Captain Gardiner, in charge of the military division at Randwick, and, it is stated, found out that Hackett had evaded military service since January last. My further information is to the effect that last month Captain Gardiner again called up Hackett, and Doctor Guiney passed him as Class Bl.

I come now to a really serious aspect of this matter. According to my informant, three or four days after Hackett was called up and told to report for duty, a letter was received from the Man-power Office, signed by the Deputy DirectorGeneral in New South Wales, Mr. Bellemore, to the effect that nothing was to bo done in reference to Hackett reporting until the 31st October. The lady who first complained to Captain Gardiner then wrote to the Man-power Office asking why Hackett was not being called up until the 31st October. She drew attention to the fact that he had evaded service for several months and stated that Hackett had told a certain person that he was getting a member of Parliament on the job and that he would never go into the Army. Twenty-four hours after this letter was received by the Man-power Office, I am informed, urgent instructions were given that Hackett was to be called up immediately.

The information which I have received reveals a really serious state of affairs. I ask the Minister to make a detailed statement concerning this particular case, indicating the grounds on which the Manpower authorities issued instructions to defer Hackett's call-up. I suggest also that this man should be called up to undergo an independent medical examination, and if it be proved that he has evaded military duties, appropriate action should be taken against him.

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