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Wednesday, 17 December 1941

Senator BRAND (Victoria) .- I view the present situation not as a politician, but as a General. I picture myself in command of a division which may or may not be supported when engaged, determined to fight to a finish. Opposite the area for which I am responsible, is a locality which an enemy desires to secure. 'Some units of the division are fighting hard to deny him the right to occupy that locality from which he could launch a large-scale offensive. If I sat tight and did not strengthen those forward units I would soon be replaced. On the Western Front in theGreat War such situations did occur. The responsible General put forth every effort short of involving his whole command - to remove the menace - to deny the Germans permanent occupancy. ChippleySpur, on the 8th August,1918, stands out vividly in my mind as one example. Itis a minor example, perhaps, but the analogy between Singapore and Australia holds good. Singapore is a locality; if occupied by the Japanese, will he a menace to Australia. We must, with other Empire troops, remove that menace. Japan might, not consider an efficient, determined Australian Army a sufficient deterrent to launch a large scale attack. The unexpected is continually happening in this war. What, is the proper course of action ? Sit down and wait forthe enemy? No! Do everything possible without unduly depleting or jeopardizing the main force which might be required in ease of failure.

Reinforce our men in Malaya. Where are these reinforcements coming from? The Militia, of course, no other source. We cannot, send self-contained units but we can send individuals anxious to transfer to the Australian Imperial Force

Hundreds are straining at the leash to go overseas, but their names are just taken and recorded as Australian Imperial Force reserves. That is not good enough. The strength of a modern division, including all ranks, is 13,000. Following major operations extending over a period of two or three weeks and involving heavy casualties, a division usually requires 50 per cent, reinforcements to replace casualties and other wastage. The reason given for debarring enlistment from the Militia is that the organization will be disturbed and gaps created in the ranks. My answer is : Call up more men and more men not engaged in essential civil services and production of war material, and replace them by older military unfit mcn, women and youths.

I have always advocated, as a deterrent to a large scale invasion, a home defence army of 500,000 men including replacements, backed by a strong air force. A deterring force with the frontier locality or localities blocked is preferable to a deterring force with all the avenues of approach open to the invader. The former keeps the enemy off, the latter contains an element of danger. "We must not, risk war coming to Australia. Head it away at whatever cost. Sooner or later wo must expect air raids on certain localities. They are inevitable. Our virile Royal Australian Air Force cannot be everywhere. Japanese bombers are bound to get through somewhere. I hope that the Government will take steps to enlarge the zone of Australia's defence system to include distant locations which might be used as bases for enemy operations southward.

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