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Friday, 11 December 1914

Senator MULLAN (Queensland) . - I have a small matter that I would like to bring under the notice of the Minister of Defence. Early in November last I directed his attention to a series of complaints by the men at the Enoggera Camp, Brisbane, regarding the conduct of a Mr. Thompson, one of the officers in charge of the Remount Depot Those complaints were to the effect that this officer had harassed the men as unionists in every possible way, and that he had 'intimated that they were not to speak of unionism in camp, otherwise they would be kicked out of it. I have here a statement of four of these men. These charges were handed in to the Minister of Defence, with an accompanying letter from me. The Minister promised that he would have full inquiries made into the matter. I believe he took steps with that object in view. After an interval of about a month, I received a letter from the Department last Saturday, which shows that there really has not been a sufficient inquiry made. If there was to be an inquiry, it should have been a fail one. I was so satisfied that the inquiry was not a fair one that immediately I received the letter from the Department, I wrote to the secretary of the union of which these men are members, and asked if any inquiry had taken place, and if so, whether the men who made the charges were given an opportunity of substantiating them. The reply I received by wire yesterday was -

Interviewed members Remount Dep5t. No inquiry held, or members consulted.

These men made serious charges against this officer, and it was not fair to have completed the inquiry without at least consulting the men who made the charge. All I ask is that the Minister will have an inquiry made in accordance with his promise, and shall see that the officer responsible for the alleged inquiry, which has resulted in so unsatisfactory a reply, shall reopen the matter. The statement of the men indicates that something very unfair has been carried on at the Remount Depot, and I ask merely that the men should be given fair play. I expect the Minister of Defence to give me some assurance this afternoon that the inquiry he promised will be made, and that these men will get justice, which, up to the present, they have not received. It is ridiculous to say that an inquiry has been held when the men responsible for the charge have not been consulted. I cannot expect the Minister to be conversant with all the details of a big Department, and especially at a critical juncture. The matter has so far been dealt with evidently without any reference to the Minister, and, personally, I think that the report of the alleged inquiry should have been referred to him before I received my reply. I have brought the matter under the honorable senator's notice again", an'1 I ask that a proper inquiry shall be made into the charge which these men have made against Mr. Thompson.

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