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Wednesday, 18 May 1960

Mr REYNOLDS (Barton) .- It is all very well for the Government to seek to speed the passage of this measure. 1 suggest that it should have been speeded on its way about five or six years ago. Let us evaluate what the national service training scheme has cost, especially in view of our experience, and see whether this will give us some guidance for the future. We have talked about the cost of the scheme in terms of money, but I could tell the story of the cost to many young fellows in our community in terms of what they lost in respect of their future because of lost education opportunities. I could bring evidence of many young men who had to lose years in their courses of education, both technical and tertiary, because of the interruption to their careers caused by the national service training scheme.

If this national service life had been really worth while no young men would have begrudged the sacrifice they had to make, but in the majority of cases the testimony of these young fellows has been - as honorable members could confirm by the stories they have been told by many national service trainees - how unreal was the training they were given and how unrelated it was to any kind of concept of effective defence. The Government has acknowledged this because over the last three years it has whittled down to about one-third the intake of national service trainees available and has conducted a lottery to determine who would go in and who would miss out. Many young men were drafted when it would have been much more to their own advantage and that of the nation if they had been left to pursue their course of training for civilian life. Other young men were not drafted, or were not included in the lottery, who could have benefited by the training they would have received under this scheme.

The cost of this scheme in money alone was £150,000,000. I invite honorable members to contemplate what use might have been made of that £150,000,000 for the benefit of technical education, let alone any other kind of education, throughout Australia. During the last war the Commonwealth had to come to the aid of the States and create new technical institutions and courses and provide teachers. All these services were regarded as an urgent necessity of war and they were provided substantially by the Commonwealth.

We are invited to-day to contribute to the real defence of this country. Last year I went to Woomera where one of the highest ranking officers disclosed to us the short-range policy in scientific training in which Australia was engaged. In fulfilling the needs of science at Woomera they are having to take teachers-

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