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Thursday, 15 July 1915

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister of Defence) .- In moving -

That the Senate do now adjourn,

I wish to refer to a matter which was raised by Senators : McDougall and Stewart, and that is the appointment of Acting-Sergeant MacArthur to the 13th Battalion, of the Australian ImperialForces. I have had the matter looked up, and find that they were evidently under a misapprehension. Senator Stewart, in the first place, took exception to the appointment because of the young officer being under the_age of twenty-three years. I find that at the time he was gazetted - that is, on the 19th December, 1914 - the rule under which officers below twentythree years of age were not accepted, except in a case of special qualifications, was not in existence, and did not come into force till the 3rd March.

Senator Millen - What was his age?

Senator PEARCE - He was twentyone. Senator Stewart also said that the man was pitchforked from the position of a private into that of lieutenant without examination. That, again, is a misconception. The man was not a private, but an acting sergeant, and he was not appointed without examination. The file shows distinctly that he had qualified and passed the examination for' second lieutenant. The point was made that the Selection Committee had recommended another officer holding a commission, who ought to have been appointed. Lieutenant Dunnington He is referred to in the Committee's recommendation as " Lieutenant Dunnington, retired list." As a matter of fact, he was not a lieutenant, and was not on the retired list. He had been a second lieutenant in the Commonwealth Military Forces, from which he resigned on the 31st December, 1913; he had not enlisted in the Expeditionary Forces, and, therefore, he was not eligible for the appointment recommended by the Selection Committee. I notice that Senators McDougall and Stewart are not here, but I may say that I have already given them the purport of my statement to the Senate.

Senator Keating - Will you indicate the business for to-morrow?

Senator PEARCE - I propose to ask the Senate to deal with the Appropriation Bill.

Senator Millen - To put it right through ?

Senator PEARCE - No. I propose to go on with the Bill. The financial year with which it deals has closed, but it will give honorable senators an opportunity to ventilate any matters.

Senator Keating - You have a pound or two in the locker in respect to last year?

Senator PEARCE - Yes.

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