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Thursday, 18 November 1976
Page: 2927

Mr KILLEN (Moreton) (Minister for Defence) - Yes, Mr Speaker. May I say to the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) that I find myself in substantial sympathy with the case he has put to the House. I have looked at the regulations governing the relationship of members of the Services with political parties. I think they are anachronistic. I would like my honourable friend to know that the regulations are currently under study. For my part, I would seek to interpret them liberally- I do not use that word in any fierce sense, I use it in its technical sense.

Mr Hayden - In its real sense.

Mr KILLEN - My honourable friend says in its real sense. My only reservation, as presently minded, is that I would seek to protect the uniform from being sullied by any fierce political conflict. For example, I think it would be sad if we saw the mythical Sergeant Bloggs, to whom the honourable member referred, in uniform and involved in one cause or the other. Of course the members of the armed Services have political attitudes, affinities and allegiances. It would be unreal if they did not, and the Parliament, the country, does not serve itself well if it seeks to pretend otherwise. The armed Services have an immaculate sense of loyalty to governments; nevertheless the people who serve do have attitudes.

Mr Hayden - You might say that that is the quality of their conception.

Mr KILLEN - Yes. I would like my friend to know that I have looked at the regulations. I have them here, but I do not seek to weary the House by referring to them. I have discussed their import and their impact with the various legal officers of the Services. I think there is a clear need to tidy them up. When a person comes out of civilian life and joins one of the Services he does not shrug off easily his political attitude, and that is the view my friend has put. Might I say, Mr Speaker, that you and I have sat together in this Parliament for 2 1 years.

Mr SPEAKER -It has gone like that!

Mr KILLEN - You have a fragrance of expression, Mr Speaker, which rivals only your fragrance of memory. I cannot recall, and I say this to my friend the honourable member for Oxley, one occasion in all of those years on which any member on either side of the House has raised the case of a member of the armed Services who has been subject to some discipline, to some form of punishment, to some penalty because of his political allegiance. I would like my friend from Oxley to know just that, but I give him the assurance and give the House the assurance that I have the matter under study at the moment. When that study is finished, of course I will come back to the House and give the result.

Mr SPEAKER -The House stands adjourned until Tuesday, 30 November next at 2.15 p.m., unless Mr Speaker shall, by telegram or letter addressed to each member of the House, fix an alternative day or hour of meeting.

House adjourned at 11.5 p.m.

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