Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 2 October 1902

Mr PAGE (Maranoa) - I hope that the Minister will take notice of what has been said in connexion with Colonel Stuart. I feel very strongly on this question, -as I know the disadvantages under which a man labours in the Imperial service who has risen from the ranks: In my own corps one man hod to refuse a commission because the officers declined to sit at table with him. I heard the Minister say this afternoon that the man he believes in is the man who can rise from the ranks to the highest position in the service. I wish to see him give effect to that idea, and to let the House know before it goes into recess that he has meted out justice to this officer. 46 o

The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, made a very pertinent remark when he was speaking of the colonel who was appointed to the position of Commandant in South Australia. The Minister said that £650 was the amount of this officer's salary when he was in Queensland, and he could not be given less than that. How does it come about that Colonel Stuart has been offered a salary of £300 when his remuneration as Commandant of South Australia was £500 ? If the same argument applies, and he cannot be mode Commandant of that State, let him be given a position equal to that which has been taken from him. If it is a crime for a man to rise from the ranks and work his way up until he is Commandant of a State, the sooner it is made known to the House the better. 'In season and out of season, I have urged that, before becoming an officer, every man should put in twelve months in the ranks. If the Minister will only exercise a little of his assertiveness on the present occasion, I shall feel very much obliged to him.

Mr. POYNTON(South Australia).There is another phase of the cose under discussion which is very unsatisfactory to me, and which also must be unsatisfactory to other honorable members. Only about three days ago I was speaking to the Minister in regard to this particular case, when he showed me a letter and a report which he had received, in which it was distinctly stated that the officer referred to hod asked tobe retired. But the facts of the case which have been elicited since then are quite different. As a matter of fact, the officer did not wish to retire, but a position was offered to him which, as compared with the position he hod held, was regarded as inferior, and the acceptance of which would be considered undignified on the part of the officer accepting it There was no alternative than to refuse or tacitly agree to the conditions offered. In regard to the drill instructors, I notice that MajorGeneral Hutton said in Adelaide that the former Commandant of South Australia had represented that there was a need for further drill instructors, and had pointed out the inefficiencies of that State. I referred the honorable gentleman to a question asked by the Attorney-General of South Australia, and the answer given by him in the South Australian Parliament on the 9th September last. The answer read as follows : -

The Attorney-General told Mr. . Lucas that Brigadier-General Gordon, late Commandant, had not at any time during the past two years complained to the South Australian Minister for Defence of the inefficiency of the forces under his command. In December, 1900, he recommended that Sergeant Taverner should be appointed as an instructor of infantry.

I refer to this matter in order to show that what has been said since does not warrant the inference that it was necessary to appoint additional drill instructors for South Australia, and I trust that the Minister will not keep the men there if ho comes to the conclusion that they are unnecessary.

Suggest corrections