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Thursday, 4 October 1956

The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honorable member cannot speak on that subject at this stage.

Mr WARD - I am referring to the part that was played by the armed services in the atomic tests at Maralinga. If there were members of the Royal Australian Air Force, the Army and the Navy employed in the tests there, and if somebody has bungled, I am entitled to direct attention to the matter.

The CHAIRMAN - Order! That matter will be left until the committee is considering the Estimates for the Department of Supply.

Mr WARD - I am referring to it on the basis that men of the armed services Were engaged in the tests.

The CHAIRMAN - Order! That mattei does not come into the discussion of the Estimate's that are before the committee

Dr Evatt - I rise to a point of order. Mr. Chairman. Your ruling is that the reference that was made by the honorable member for East Sydney to the atomic tests is out of order, but it is common knowledge, and has been explained by the Minister, that members of the Australian Army took part in those tests. The votes for the Army and the other armed services are included in the Estimates that are before the committee;- therefore, 1 submit that thehonorable member is in order in discussing this matter.

Mr Whitlam - Speaking to the point of order, Mr. Chairman, I submit that there are twenty honorable members who know, from their personal observations, that members of the Royal Australian Air Force provided the transport at Maralinga, men of the Army did the providoring and the Royal Australian Navy provided all the electricity and water distillation services there. They are covered by the Estimates before the committee.

The CHAIRMAN - Order! J shall adhere to my ruling. Honorable members will not be permitted to make this discussion a general budget debate. They must confine their remarks to the Estimates for trie various departments that are before the committee.

Mr WARD - With due respect, Mr. Chairman, and although the Government has the numbers to enforce it, I say that that is an outrageous ruling. The Australian community does not need to be convinced by anybody thai there was bungling in connexion with the bomb explosion at Maralinga.

The CHAIRMAN - Order! Will thehonorable member for East Sydney obey the Chair?

Mr WARD - Yes, I will obey the Chair. I am making only passing reference to this matter because the bomb was either exploded prematurely-

The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honorable member for East Sydney will cease defving the Chair, or T shall ask him to resume his seat.

Mr WARD - I am not defying the Chair. I am merely warning the Australian people about the bungling of this Government.It bungled the matter to which I have referred. If I am not permitted to tell the Australian people during this debate what happened, I shall take the earliest opportunity of doing it inside or outside the chamber, because it is a fact that the Government has bungled. It has lied to the Australian community. It has not told the people what actually happened in regard to the bomb explosion, and the danger to which the community has been exposed.

We want members of the Government to tell us what they have to show for the vast expenditure on defence. This is a bungling Government. Let us consider the national service training scheme. It has cost more than £100,000,000, and what has the Government to show for it? It puts boys into camp, taking them out of industry and affecting production, but it is generally recognized by the military authorities that the training the youths receive is of no use to them in a military sense; it is merely good as physical training. If the Government wants a physical training scheme, it could put one into operation through the educational institutions. We do not need such a costly structure to carry out the national training scheme that has been undertaken by this Government.

It does not matter in what direction We look; there is theft and there are losses from naval and military stores. The recruiting campaign has been bungled. How many men have we in the forces? According to Sir Frederick Shedden, we are 5,000 men under strength. The men in the Royal Australian Navy are so dissatisfied with their conditions that only 3 per cent. of them intend to apply for another period of service when their present term expires. That shows that the men have no confidence in the Government.

Let me quote a little poem that was sent to me by a constituent. I think it fits the bill. It is this -

That megalomaniac, Bob,

Is becoming a bibulous blob.

He had skill - as a bluffer-

But was always a duffer

At doing a national job.

I think that is Very good. It is obvious that the Writer was referring to Our bungling

Prime Minister, who bungled the national defences in 1941 and is doing it again in 1956.

The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honorable member's time has expired.

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