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Wednesday, 8 June 1904

Mr FOWLER (Perth) - The honorable member for Franklin was hardly fair in imputing to honorable members a desire to sneer at our volunteers. I heartily approve of the action of the Postmaster-General, because I am anxious to uphold the honour of the Defence Forces. As a volunteer I have worn a military uniform, and am proud of the fact, and I shall continue to do all, in my power to encourage those upon whom we must rely for defence in time of need. I should be one of the last to adopt an arbitrary attitude towards gentlemen who are entitled to use military designations. But the Postmaster-General has made it clear that his object is, not to prevent the use of military titles by their possessors, but to resist the attempt, made with more enthusiasm than good taste, to compel others to use them. That is how the trouble has arisen. I think that if a vote of the officers of the Defence Force were taken on the subject, they would be found to approve of the action of the PostmasterGeneral. They do not, I presume, consider the title so necessary that they are willing to insist upon its use by those who do not wish to recognise it. That is apparently what is being done in at least one case, and that in itself is sufficient to give point to the direction of the Postmaster-General that in future no attempt of the kind shall be tolerated. I feel quite sure that in acting in this manner, the Minister has been defending the honour of the large majority of the officers of the Defence Forces, who, whilst fully entitled to their military designations, do not insist upon their recognition by others. That is the whole position, and I do not think that it is quite fair to attempt to make capital out of the incident. One or two honorable members have represented the action of the Minister as humiliating to the officers of the Defence Forces, and the attitude of honorable members on this side as distinctly hostile to our citizen soldiery. I desire to protest against both those suggestions.

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