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Tuesday, 15 December 1914

Senator KEATING asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that members of the First Australian Expeditionary Force returned from Albany to Melbourne were unable, for some time, to obtain their discharges or the pay due to them?

2.   What was the reason of such delay?

3.   What was its duration?

4.   To how many members of such force did it apply?

5.   Have all such members so returned now received their discharges and the pay due to them?

6.   If not, how many have not, and why not?

Senator PEARCE - The answers are -

1.   Discharges. - There is every reason to believe that the men received their discharges before being put ashore at Albany, in accordance with the orders of the General Officer Commanding, No.36, paragraph 216, which reads as follows: - 216. The following procedure will be followed in the case of men discharged at Albany : -

(i)   Applications accompanied by the following lists will be made to the Assistant Adjutant and QuartermasterGeneral for approval : -

(a)   regimental number;

(   b )rank ;

(c)   name in full;

(d)   corps;

(e)   reason for discharge;

(f)   statement of personal clothing and necessaries in his possession;

(g)   whether all arms and equipment have been returned, and value of discrepancies, if any;

(h)   a last pay certificate;

(ii)   Upon approval of discharge being given -

(a)   The Assistant Adjutant and QuartermasterGeneral will make the necessary arrangements for reception of men by the Officer Commanding troops, Albany, notifying the District Commandant,5th Military District, and the District Paymaster of the District in which men were enlisted. The Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster - General will inform the officer in charge, Base Record Office, of such discharges. (b) The Officer Commanding transport concerned will, upon first opportunity, send such men in charge of a non-commissioned officer to the Officer Commanding troops, Albany, for return to the district of enlistment.

(iii)   The date of discharge will be entered on nominal Tolls.

(iv)   The word "discharged" and the date and place will be written across page 4 of the soldier's paybook, which will be retained by him for production to, and cancellation by, the District Paymaster of the Military District in which he was enlisted.

Pay. - If unable to obtain pay immediately upon application, the fault lay with the ex-member of the Australian Imperial Force in not producing his soldier's pay-book as laid down in above quoted order, paragraph iv.

2.   Answered by 1.

3.   Specific cases are required, as each case was dealt with on its merits.

4.   Similar information as required for 3 is necessary in this instance.

5.   Discharges should be issued to men when their discharge takes place, and a report is being obtained from the General Officer Commanding the troops as to whether there has been an omission to do so in any instance. Pay - The Department has no knowledge of a case where pay justly due to a man has been withheld.

6.   The Department has no means of knowing how many have not, but if there be any, the explanation is that the men concerned have not produced a certificate of discharge, the last pay certificate on their soldier's pay-book to indicate whether any money is due to them.

Senator KEATING - It would appear that the whole of what has been said has been governed by the first statement, " There is every reason to believe." Am I to understand that the replies to my questions are purely given on the assumption that there is " every reason to believe ' ' that certain rules have been complied with? And if it be on that assumption, will the Minister cause further inquiries to be made into the matter?

Senator PEARCE - I have already communicated with the General Officer Commanding to know whether that was carried out.

Senator Keating - Will further inquiries be made to see whether that is so?

Senator PEARCE - They are being made.

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