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Friday, 29 May 1914

Senator McCOLL (Victoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - My views on this matter are well known in this Chamber, as I put them forward very clearly some time ago in advocating the retention of these regiments. Senator Findley said that the Minister's proposal would weaken the Forces, and that the Minister had introduced the innovation in the interests of a small section of the community. The Minister did not introduce it. He found it in the Department when he went there. He found it approved of by the Military Board, and by the Inspector-General. Senator Pearce asks the reason for the regulation. I ask him the reason for his motion? Why has he pursued this matter with such eagerness and animosity, since he occupied the position of Minister of Defence? Does he want to blot out altogether our connexion with the Empire, with its memories of the past? He seems entirely to ignore the fact that we are dependent on the Empire, and that we ought to try to strengthen, instead of weaken, the links.

Senator Pearce - Give that sort of " tripe " to the National League to-night; it is no good here.

Senator McCOLL - I am not a tripe seller like the honorable senator, nor a tripe dealer, and I want none of his insults when I am speaking. We are asked why there is so much talk on the part of the Scottish portion of the community about this matter. It is because there is no other section of the community, and perhaps no other people, who have the same distinctive national garb as the Scotch. It is connected with their youth, and all their memories and historic traditions, and is dearer to their hearts than perhaps the garb of any other nation is to its people. There are over 100,000 Scottishborn people in Australia, and they have, I suppose, 300,000 or 400,000 dependent on them. Nothing has so stirred them throughout the Commonwealth as this question has done'. What they ask is a small thing. It is simply that the regiments that have been in existence for years should be allowed to continue. Surely it is not very difficult to fall in with their wishes ! I listened for one sound argument from Senator Pearce why these regiments should be abolished, but he gave us nothing but " tripe." I, like Senator de Largie, fail to see a single reason for the motion. If these regiments are abolished, there will be a great feeling of disappointment on the part of a large section of our people. Instead of their retention weakening the interest taken in the Forces, it will be found that their abolition is much more likely to do so.

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