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Wednesday, 2 April 1941

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - I rarely delay the Senate on the motion for the adjournment, hut the answer that I received to-day to a question which I addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army warrants my doing so now. The question reads -

Having regard to theprobable temporary termination of Militia camps, what is proposed to safeguard the position of Militia officers who relinquished other callings and enlisted for Australian Imperial Force recruit training at depots for the duration of the war, and who were in January last recalled for training of Militia and demobilized from Australian Imperial Force recruit training?

The answer I received was as follows -

The position of an officer who is refused reinstatement in his employment by the employer by whom he was employed at the date upon which he volunteered for war service or received a notice requiring him to perform war service (as the case may be) is safeguarded by National Security (Reinstatement in Civil Employment) Regulations.

That reply is not one of which the Minister could have approved, because it sidesteps the question. The men concerned were accepted for the duration of the war to instruct recruits for the Australian Imperial Force. They were demobilized and have now been given jobs at Militia camps where members of the Militia are trained. When that training ends these men are to be thrown on to their own resources. Consider the answer that I was given. I did not asls for information of that character. The gentleman who framed the reply must not think that those who represent the people in this Parliament are school children. One knows the provisions of the regulations. Scores of these men not merely relinquished their employment but they also sold their businesses when they enlisted for the duration of the war. Wow they are calmly told that nothing can be done for them. The following statement does not answer my question: -

Aefar as the military positions of these officers are concerned, no undertaking as to their reappointment can be given as they are not called up for any specific period, but only during such time as the need for their services exists-

The Government should always play fair, more especially at this time when it is anxious to obtain re/emits for war service. Had I been able to make contact with the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) during the day I should not have taken up time by bringing this matter before the Senate to-night, but I appeal to him through his representative in this chamber now to remedy what, on the facts, is clearly an injustice. Senator Brand, who is familiar with these matters, endorses my complaint.

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