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Wednesday, 26 May 1915

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (INDI, VICTORIA) - Material in greatcoats, trousers,, puttees, undershirts, and so forth. I understand that when cadets pass into the Defence Forces they are provided with a new outfit, the old outfit being discarded; and my suggestion is that all this material at present going to waste should be utilized. At Broadmeadows, a little while ago, it was customary for boots that had got into a state of disrepair to be cast aside; but a suggestion by myself,, amongst others, that boot-menders should be employed has, I am glad to say, resulted in a saving of hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds-. I do not suggest that this clothing should be called in by the Defence Department and used for the soldiers; but we have a number of Red Cross Societies, and I have no doubt that the material would prove of infinite use at the present time. We know that now it is scarcely possible to purchase woollen underclothing, owing to the fact that most of it has been commandeered by the military authorities, and surely some method could be devised, by which such garments could be called in by the Area Officers and used in some way. I should now like to learn from the Assistant) Minister exactly what method is being adopted - in our camps in regard to promotions. Is there any method at all ?

Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) - And we ought to know how recent promotions affect those who, in the first place, went to the front.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (INDI, VICTORIA) - That is another serious matter. At any rate, the present method, whatever it may be, seems a most unfair one. I do not in any way blame the Minister, or the Assistant Minister, but I think we are all of one mind in this - that there is something radically wrong. Two officers who called on me this morning declared that all they desire is equal opportunity for' promotion; and, I think, that is a very reasonable request. One captain, to whom I spoke yesterday, said that, had he been in the

Citizen Forces, he would have received his appointment as major before now, seeing that he has passed all the necessary examinations. As a matter of fact, other officers who have not passed the examinations have been promoted over his head; and his case is typical of a dozen that I am aware of.

Mr Jensen - The honorable member is wrong, because there is no promotion without examination.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (INDI, VICTORIA) - I can assure the Assistant Minister that I am correct in my facts; indeed, T intend, later, to give names to the honorable gentleman. There is a School of Instruc tion at the camp, anr! officers are supposed to attend there for six days as the concluding part of their examination. I am further informed that there was a number who volunteered on the understanding that they were to get promotion to the position of major; and there are two such cases that I know of myself. Whether these officers got the guarantee before they went into the Forces or afterwards, it is a fact that when they got there they received promotion.

Mr.John Thomson. - Had those officers seen service before?

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (INDI, VICTORIA) - They had seen service before.

Mr McGrath - I know a case where a man who had been in neither the Militia nor the Citizen Forces got his promotion.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (INDI, VICTORIA) - There is no doubt that some of the cases of which we hear complaints are genuine, if that be not so in the great bulk of them; but if there is only one genuine case, it ought to be immediately inquired into. I do know of one case where a man was appointed captain, and later major, without passing an examination ; and his name I shall give to the Minister later.

Mr Jensen - Had that person had any previous experience? Had he passed prior examinations?


Mr Jensen - I know lots of complaints the other way - complaints that men have passed their examination and cannot get appointments.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (INDI, VICTORIA) - And they rightly complain, I should say. But I wish to know why those who do not pass the examinations should get promotion.

Mr Jensen - The whole business of promotion is in the hands of the Selecting Board. The Minister takes no part, so that he may not be charged with favoritism.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (INDI, VICTORIA) - A Board of that kind should not have a free hand, if it does not do the fair thing. There should be some way of insuring fair play and justice.

Mr Wise - No doubt the influence exercised is far worse than political influence.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (INDI, VICTORIA) - Political influence is not " in it " with the other influence that is exercised.

Mr McGrath - There are most remarkable rumours as to how some promotions are obtained.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (INDI, VICTORIA) - There is no doubt about that. However, I know of the one distinct case I have mentioned, in which a man, who had passed his examinations, and would have received his promotion in the Citizen Forces, has been passed over for others who have not passed examinations. The other day, in answer to a question by the honorable member for Wimmera, the Assistant Minister said that a captain had been brought from Queensland and placed in charge of a squadron here because n competent man for the position could not be found in Victoria. This seems a most extraordinary statement on the part of the Assistant Minister. The position given to this man was one for major, although he is only a captain, and yet he was promoted over the heads of two Victorian men who had passed all their examinations for the rank of major, and who are consequently his senior.

Mr Jensen - Are not Victorian officers transferred to other States in a similar way?

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (INDI, VICTORIA) - But why should this particular transfer have been made? The case is typical of many others, and there is sufficient evidence to show that there is something radically wrong, either with the composition of the Board orwith its methods. Not a day should be allowed to elapse before an inquiry is made. I should not be doing my duty as a member of this House if I did not raise my voice in protest against the most unfair method now adopted. The only other matter I wish to mention is that of the transfer of the Camp from Broadmeadows. We were told to-day that three officers had reported against the present camp, but I should like to know whether these, or any other three officers, have taken any trouble to inquire into the suitability of places besides Seymour. Have they made quite sure that exactly the same set of circumstances will not arise at Seymour as at Broadmeadows? I do not desire to take a narrow view of the question, but I know of a number of places in my electorate far more suitable than Seymour.

Mr Jensen - Benalla?

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (INDI, VICTORIA) - Benalla is one of them, with a contour of country and other conditions eminently suitable for a camp of this kind. I am not as familiar with the contour of Seymour as the honorable member for Echuca, but I do know something about it, and I have a very grave suspicion that it will not be found more suitable than the present camp. It would be a very serious matter if the Government went to all the expense of removing the camp, before a thorough inquiry as to the suitability of the site selected had been made.

Mr Fowler - Did not we have a report regarding Seymour, in which the place was condemned?

Mr Fenton - That was only a toy affair compared with this.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (INDI, VICTORIA) - I have no prejudice against Seymour, but I would like the Assistant Minister to say whether the three officers who reported against Broadmeadows, or whether any three officers, have taken the trouble to inquire into the suitability of any other place.

Mr Jensen - They have only reported in favour of a temporary removal. It may be for only a week or two. I cannot say.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (INDI, VICTORIA) - Surely they have satisfied themselves that what has occurred at Broadmeadows will not occur at any new camp. If they have done that, and have made a thorough investigation, we will have to accept their judgment.

Mr Watt - The complaint is not only against the site at Broadmeadows. It is the administration - the method of running the camp - that is bad, and will have to be radically altered.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (INDI, VICTORIA) - I have already had something to say with regard to what is going on there, and I hope it will be rectified. There are quite a number of matters that require to be put right, but it would be most serious if the camp were removed to a place that is likely to have the same drawbacks that Broadmeadows has. I do not say this because my own electorate is affected, but if a Committee of Inquiry had gone further up the line, they might have found several places where the ground is higher and eminently suitable for a camp. Above all things "a camp should not be placed on flat country. If there are suitable sites anywhere else, it should have been the du«,y of the Defence Department, which has charge of the lives and health of the men in camp, to have examined them. Nothing could militate more against successful recruiting than the fact that men are asked to live in a camp situated in unsuitable country. I hope the suggestions I have made with regard to this, and the matters I referred to earlier, wherein many thousands of pounds might be saved, will be considered. Perhaps the Assistant Minister will say whether any suggestion has been made by which the Department could utilize all the clothing material which is now being eaten by moths. It is a pity that so much material should be going to waste in the manner it apparently is.

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