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Thursday, 29 April 1915

Mr FISHER (Wide Bay) (Prime Minister and Treasurer) . - I am sorry that there was a false impression in the mind of the honorable member, because I am clear that I invited discussion on the sub-clause referred to. In view of the position that we find ourselves in to-day, it is necessary, if we are going to do anything at all, either to take ample powers or leave the matter alone. That is my opinion. As regards the character of military officers and others, I think the honour of the former is equal to that of anyone else in the world. The time is past when we should cast any reflection upon them. We should realize that they are doing their best to meet the difficult circumstances of this world-crisis. The time has come for plain speaking in these matters, and that plain speaking ought to be done by me. If there are military officers who are incompetent to discharge the duties intrusted to them, they should be pointed out, and if the charge can be proved, they should be dismissed as not being worthy to carry the King's commission or be intrusted with the honour of this country. As far as I am concerned, I have said again and again that this is not, and must not be regarded as, a party measure in any way; so I would ask honorable members to be reasonable in their criticism, and not cast any reflection on men who are not in a position to answer the charges made.

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