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Wednesday, 26 September 1973
Page: 1510

Mr LYNCH (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) - I direct a question to the Minister for Defence. I ask him whether his attention has been drawn to an article in the Sunday Observer' of 23 September which reads:

Defence Minister Lance Barnard may have lied to Parliament this week when he claimed Army recruiting was on the rise.

They are the newspaper's comments, not mine. I ask the Minister whether he recalls saying to this House on 19 September:

The Government has moved to provide a volunteer Army in this country of 31,000 by the end of this year. It will rise to 34,000 by 1976, despite what our critics have said.

Is the Minister aware that in the article referred to the Army's Director-General of Recruiting, Brigadier Rex Roseblade, is quoted as raying that Army enlistments began declining in the first part of this year, that is, under Labor - those are my words - and continue to do so? Will the Minister explain in detail the apparent discrepancy between those 2 statements?

Mr BARNARD (BASS, TASMANIA) (Minister for Defence) - I did see the article referred to by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I want to inform the House that I did not state to the House as alleged in the Melbourne 'Sunday Observer' of 23 September that army enlistments this year were increasing compared with the same period last year. What I did say was that the number of volunteers exceeds even the Government's expectations, despite the fact that we were told by the Opposition when it was in government that it would not be possible to have an all volunteer force in this country. For example, during July and August of 1973 there were 2,789 inquiries for enlistment in the Army and there were 1,622 firm applications for enlistment. Actual enlistments in these 2 months numbered 557, which, I believe, is a good start in achieving the enlistment target which the Army set for 1973-74. I reiterate to this House that I did not say what the 'Observer' article alleged I said. The statement I made was that we would be able to fulfil the Government's aim for an all volunteer army.

The last part of the honourable gentleman's question referred to the Brigadier in charge of recruiting. I have received a communication from the Brigadier indicating that he waa misreported.

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