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Thursday, 2 June 1960

Sir WILFRID KENT HUGHES (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) - I wish to ask the Minister for Defence a question supplementary to the one just answered. The coroner's inquiry now having been concluded into the unfortunate and tragic circumstances surrounding the deaths of three members of the Citizen Military Forces in the Rip on the night of 17th February last, what action is being taken to ensure that the Higher Command makes a reasonable appreciation of the situation and exercises an efficient supervision of similar training manoeuvres in future? Will the Minister lay on the table of the House the final appreciation and the operation orders for this exercise and indicate the chain of command responsible? While initiative and enterprise are fundamental characteristics of a commando, does the Minister consider that in future it will be necessary to test these qualities by crossing one of the most dangerous rip tides in the world in kyaks and ducks? In view of the fact that reporters and photographers were invited to publicize the exercise and provide evidence that the Higher Command was fully cognizant of all that was happening, will the Minister give instructions for a proper court of inquiry to be convened to ascertain the chain of responsibility and the reason why the crossing was attempted in circumstances which would appear to have been hazardous even in war and foolhardy in peace?

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