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Friday, 6 May 1921

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap (TASMANIA) - I suggest that the honorable senator should allow the Committee to dispose of Senator Senior's amendment to that of the Minister for Defence, and that he then move his amendment.Otherwise the issue may. become confused.

Senator GARDINER - My sole desire is to broaden the privilege. I would like to give the right to the mother-in-law as well as to a sister. Indeed, the only exclusion which I would suggest is in respect of a person to whomthe soldier himself, had he been alive, would have objected to concede the right to wear his decoration. After all,why should the Government seek to restrict the wearing of a soldier's medal? Is it not his own, and inno sense the property of the Government ? Surely the person to whom a soldier bequeaths his decoration should be . permitted to wear it.

Senator Duncan - It is given as a military, and not as a civil, decoration.

Senator Pearce - It is not a birthday present.

Senator GARDINER - It is not a decoration given with a string to it by which those who give it may pull it back at any time. It is a reward for something done.

Senator Pearce - And is put on the watch chain of a man who did not do it.

Senator GARDINER -Ihaveseen hundreds of these decorations in pawnshop windows.

Senator Cox - That is one of the things we wish to prevent.

Senator Foster - The honorable senator is wrong in saying that there is no condition attached to the grant of a decoration. Although it may be given to a man in the Army as a reward, possibly for bravery, in the event of his misconduct it may be taken away from him.

Senator GARDINER - That is news to me. I should be very much astonished to find that that is so.

Senator Foster - It has been done on more than one occasion.

Senator GARDINER - It might be done while the winner of the decoration is under military control, but when he returns to civil life, I doubt very much whether the military could take his decoration from him because he happens to offend against a civil law. The Act as it stands is too narrow, in my opinion, and

I would have availed myself of any opportunity to widen it.

Senator Pearce - At present the honorable senator is preventing the Committee from widening it.

Senator GARDINER -When Senator Seniorwas speaking-, I mentioned that he ought to include a sister in his amendment. If that had been done, I would not have had anything more to say.

Senator Senior - The honorable senator would then have asked that a brother should be included.

Senator GARDINER - And why should not a brother be included? If a sister or a stepmother can wear a decoration, what harm is there in a brother of a soldier swinging across his watch chain a decoration won by that soldier ? I say that honorable senators are trying to do the impossible. The Minister andthe military may fill the country full of spies, who may discover many persons wearing medals as pendants or Brooches, and may get many Court cases. I hope they will.

Senator Cox -.We might get a decoration out of a pawn-shop, and let the honorable senator wear it.

Senator GARDINER - I have had a decoration conferred on me by the people who conferred a similar decoration on Senator Cox. I wear it, and am proud of it.

Senator Pearce - But the honorable senator is not allowed to give it to his mother -in-la w .

Senator GARDINER - I may say that I also wear a decoration conferred upon me by His Majesty, and if I felt disposed to have it made into a brooch, and let my daughter wear it, are honorable senators going out of theirway to prevent my doing so, by legislation? I can tell honorable senators that all the military attempts to encroach upon the liberties of the general public will fail. I realize that Australia . has to be defended, and that our Defence Act must be made popular. Why should honorable senators endeavour to make it a little more unpopular than it already is by denying to one person the gratification of wearing a medal?

Senator Pearce - We have not passed a clause for some hours.

Senator GARDINER - The Minister's interjection astonishes mo. Before lunch the honorable senator was inviting discussion of the clause to get the sense of the Committee.

Senator Pearce - I realize that I made a mistake.

Senator GARDINER - But surely the Minister will not put the blame onme. Since half -past two o'clock, we havehad under consideration an amendment submittedby the honorable senator himself which is bigger than the clause with which we are dealing. He was good enough to give me beforehand a; copy, of that amendment. I have endeavoured to point out that Senator Senior's amendment does not go far enough;

SenatorSenior. - Let us pass it, and we can then go further.

Senator GARDINER -I am afraid that if I do not support the honorable senator's amendment strongly enough, the Committee will not pass it. When Senator Senior's amendment is dealt with I shall moveto include the word" sister," and we shall have the whole of this discussion over again. If Senator Senior had consented to include the word in his amendment we might have discussed' the matter on the one amendment.

Senator Crawford - The honorable senator mentioned the mother-in-law, but he will want the sister-in-law included also.

Senator GARDINER - I mentioned the mother-in-law, because of the deep feeling of love and reverence' I have for mothers-in-law.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap - I direct the attention of the honorable senator to the fact that the time allowed him under the Standing Orders has expired.

Senator GARDINER - I regret that I have been drawn off the track so much that I have so far said nothing about the amendment I desired to discuss.

Amendment (Senator Senior's) agreed to.

Senator GARDINER(New South Wales) [3.41}. - I move-

That the amendmentbe further amended by inserting after the word. " step-mother " just inserted the word " sister."

I seriously think that this amendment should be agreed to. When it is dealt with, I shall move to further extend the operation of the clause. I do not propose to link two or three relatives together in one amendment, as an honorable senator who might he willing to include a sister, might not support an amendment which would include also a motherinlaw.

SenatorEarle. - I am afraid the honorable senator has lost his only supporter.

Senator GARDINER - I am aware that I have lost the support of Senator Earle. When he announced that he would support my amendment, I was sure that I had lost his vote. If the honorable senator says that anything that is proposed in this Chamber is right, we may be sure that, on mature consideration, he will alter his opinion.

Senator Earle - The honorable senator knows that that is unjust.

Senator GARDINER - I need go no further than to refer to what occurred last evening, to prove the justice of my statement. The estimate I have formed of the honorable senator is that when he hastily says that he will do a certain thing,' he subsequently deliberately does the reverse.

Senator Earle - The honorable senator cannot sustain that statement.

The CHAIRMAN - Order!

Senator Earle - Senator Gardiner is not going to say that I give inconsistent votes, without having his statement challenged.

Senator GARDINER - I have no de- sire to be offensive to the honorable senator, but I can assure him that if I hear him say that he is going tovotein a given direction, I look for his name in the division list on the other side. There are manycases in which, owing to the death of a mother a sister becomes practically the mother of a family. The family cares may fall uponher shoulders at an early age. Such a case is frequent in the life of our community. Honorable senators are proposing to deny to such a sister the right to wear one of these decorations, although they would confer it on a stepmother who might have driven her son to the war; because, with her there, war with all its' horrors was nothing to home. Many young men went to war because of the treatment they received at the hands of stepmothers. We have said that a stepmother, irrespective of her virtues or failings, may wear a decoration, and surelywe can say thesame of a sister? There are many young women who have been responsible for the conduct of a home and the upbringing of the younger members of the family, and who would prevent such women from wearing a deooration which a stepmother is entitled to wear? I do notthink we should, and that is why I have moved in the direction. I have. It may be as Senator Duncan stated, that there are sisters who are unworthy; but it can be alsosaid with equal force that there are stepmothers who are equally unworthy. We are not to be the judges.

Senator Earle - Is not the honorable senator advocating that such decorations shall be worn officially?

Senator GARDINER - No.

Senator Earle - That is what the amendment means.

Senator GARDINER - It does not

Senator Earle - I am still supporting the honorable senator's first amendment that any one may wear them.

Senator GARDINER - Senator Earless interjection makes me believe that his reading of the clause leads him to think that the people will be permitted to wear them officially.

Senator Pearce - It may be prescribed that they be worn on the right breast

Senator GARDINER - I have moved the addition of the word " sister," and in all earnestness I appeal to honorable senators to carefullyconsider the question, and to give the amendment their support Is it not reasonable to suggest that a woman, whose brother has bean killed at the Front or who has died since his return, should be allowed to convert a decoration into a brooch or a pendant? It is, but the Government are deliberately saying that it shall not be done.

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