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Thursday, 3 November 1910

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - The honorable senator wants me to meet the devil half way. This is one of the most prickly and thorny subjects that a Minister has to deal with. The difficulty has been got* over in the Military Forces here by deciding seniority by the date of the commission. Still, that has not got rid of the soreness. In the British Navy the man holding a commission in the Royal Navy ranks senior, the man in the reserve next, and the man in the volunteer reserve next. I have not thought out the problem whether, for our Navy, we should adopt {Eat practice, or the course followed in the Military Forces.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [10.33].- The question, although thorny, will eventually have to be tackled. I am satisfied to let the clause go, and follow the Minister's example of offering no opinion as to which course it will be best to adopt. I think the Minister, like myself, rather likes to hold his judgment in suspense ; but he has the responsibility.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 16 to 42 agreed to.

Clause 43 (Transfers between King's Naval Forces, and Commonwealth Naval Forces).

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [10.40]. - I ask the Minister whether he will see if provision can be made for the transfer of officers and seamen of our Naval Forces to the Imperial Navy, not only for the purposes of training, but also for the purposes of promotion. It should be possible to arrange that an officer who has served in our Navy for a period entitling him to promotion should, if there is not then a vacancy, be given an opportunity to be transferred at a higher rank to the Imperial service.

Senator Pearce - We cannot legislate for that.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD .- Of course not. Still, it might be possible to make an arrangement with the Imperial authorities. If men are told that there will be no opportunity for promotion in our service, except as vacancies occur on the half-dozen vessels comprising the Australian unit, many who would otherwise be desirous of entering our Navy will be deterred from doing so. But if the possibility of transfer to and promotion in the Imperial Navy were held out, it would be an inducement. There are men now in the Imperial Navy who, having friends or relatives in Australia, would be glad to take sen/ice in our Navy, but they naturally wish to know how this would affect their future. In the Imperial Navy an officer of ability who behaves well, and has good fortune, may ultimately climb to some of the higher rungs of the ladder of rank, but in a small Navy like ours men would eat their hearts out before getting promotion. In the Imperial

Navy, many men have to retire on half -pay with the rank of captain, and occasionally with the rank of lieutenant, and that would happen much more frequently in a small service like ours. I recognise that we ourselves cannot do this, but that it must be done by mutual arrangement. If it can be accomplished, however, it' will make the Australian unit more truly an integral portion of the great naval defence forces of the Empire.

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