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Wednesday, 27 November 1985
Page: 2346


Senator GRIMES (Minister for Community Services)(12.34) —The retention and recruitment campaigns that have been conducted were not expected to have immediate results, given the normal lead time for processing inquiries and applications and the testing of applicants that goes on in the Army and that all of us can remember. The net monthly changes in the Army Reserve strength since the campaign began are: July minus 49; August minus 147; September minus 113; and October plus 27. I do not think we can take anything much from those figures immediately.

As to the question on the future of the taxation of payments to the Army Reserve, that is a matter for the Minister for Defence (Mr Beazley) and the Treasurer (Mr Keating). I certainly do not know of any intention to change that. We have a strange principle in the Australian Labor Party that people should be taxed on their capacity to pay. We look askance at situations in which people in particular positions can receive amounts of money and not pay tax on them for reasons other than equity. We did introduce a Reserve allowance to offset the taxation changes. The reservists will also benefit from the pay increase recently given to the Services.

Of course officer retention is a matter of concern. That is why the Government is looking at means of retaining current officers and recruiting people for officer training in the future. We will continue to do that. We are flexible. We will look at all methods, including the methods suggested by Senator MacGibbon. It is a bit unfortunate, though, if what Senator MacGibbon is suggesting is that a whole swag of people go into the reserve forces only because they do not have to pay tax on the money.


Senator MacGibbon —I never said that, Minister. Do not misrepresent what I said. If I were asked why members join the Reserves, I would say that they do it for the national interest. They do it for the highest of motives.


Senator GRIMES —I think they do too, but Senator MacGibbon said that they left because we put a tax on.