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Wednesday, 27 July 1904

Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume) - I do not agree with the right honorable member for Swan. The matter was first brought under the attention of the Department of Defence when I was acting as Defence Minister. The General Officer Commanding then recommended the dismissal of Major Lenehan from the Australian Forces, but I refused to accept that recommenda-tion until further information had been received in regard to the case. I also gave instructions that all documents and .other information relating to the court martial upon Major Lenehan, said to have taken place in South Africa, should be obtained. That information was obtained, and I venture to say that the evidence submitted is not sufficient to warrant the action which has been taken in regard to Major Lenehan. The right honorable member for Swan criticized Major Lenehan for not taking action on his own behalf. But that officer applied first to myself.

Sir John Forrest - Personally?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - No, through a third party, though I am not quite sure that he did not also apply directly. As I would not agree to his dismissal without further' information, the General Officer Commanding informed me that no

British officer would serve in Australia if Major Lenehan was allowed to remain in his position j to which I replied that the Government would deal with all such matters as they thought lit'. That was as far as the case had gone when the right honorable member for Swan resumed his duties, and mv administration of the Department ceased. Had I remained in charge of the Department, I should have taken the course which . has since been taken, and perhaps a stronger one, and reinstated Major Lenehan, unless much blacker evidence than that obtained in the documents and information sent from South Africa was given. I do not think it has been proved, nor is it said to have been proved, that Major Lenehan was connected with the shooting which caused all the trouble. I heard rumours of some other charge against him for his conduct in South Africa, but it related to a private matter, and I could not take notice of it, as it was not formally placed before me. The evidence submitted does not contain anything to justify taking away this officer's character, and unless the Imperial authorities can give better ground than appears in the papers for what was done, I shall support the action of the present Government. Representations were made on behalf of Major Lenehan, not only to myself, but also to the right honorable member for Swan, and I think to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, asking for reinstatement.

Sir John Forrest - Not representations by the officer himself. I think that he only once made a representation himself.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I do not think that 'Major Lenehan is to blame for not having given up all hope of being dealt with fairly and honestly bv the Minister in charge of the Defence Department, and, if necessary, sending through that channel a petition to the King.

Sir John Forrest - The trouble arose when Major Lenehan was in the King's service in South Africa.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Yes. He went to South Africa with the contingent sent from New South Wales.

Sir John Forrest - He was found guilty by court martial of failing to report.

Mr Watson - That is a very small offence.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The papers disclose what evidence there is against him, and those who look through them 'will see that he has been very severely dealt with.

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