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Monday, 19 October 1970

Mr CALDER (Northern Territory) - I will leave the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser) to handle the rubbish that has been spoken by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). I should like to refer to the remarks of the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison) earlier in the debate. He criticised the Army booklet which is handed to troops going to Vietnam. He placed great emphasis on the final words in the booklet, which contain advice to the troops. They are told to adopt an attitude of constant vigilance and eternal suspicion. I do not know whether the honourable member for St George has been a serviceman, but if he has, he has forgotten what he ever knew. If he has not been a serviceman, well he has not been one. But it is very sound advice to warn servicemen to be on the alert if they are going to live in an area in which every serviceman is vulnerable through propaganda, rumours, physical attacks, acts of terrorism, the throwing of grenades, attacks by snipers and the use of knives. The best way in which to help Vietnam, the country where these men are serving, is to stay alive. The only way to stay alive when you are with any force on active service at all - whether it is in the Navy, the Army or the Air Force which some of you people may know something about-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - I suggest to the honourable member that he should address his remarks to the Chair.

Mr CALDER - Certainly, Sir. This advice is very relevant to any serviceman, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) would know. He has been a member of an air crew, and he would know that he had to watch and be vigilant. One has to be on the ball all the time, lt is completely puerile to rubbish that sort of advice, but I believe that the honourable member for St George did this for purely political purposes. I consider that he has grossly misrepresented these estimates by saying that the Government had resorted to the use of accountancy in order to mislead the Australian people. As to the cost of the commitment in Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore, he said that transferring various items from Division 666, which deals with Army forces overseas, to Division 670 was just an accountancy swindle.

Mr Morrison - Trick.

Mr CALDER - Trick, he said. Let us turn to the Air Force. The same thing applies to Division 696 of the Air Force estimates in relation to expenses for forces overseas. Division 700 includes equipment and stores amounting to $54,143,000 expenditure. The item for liquid fuels and lubricants is the last one. That is not all being used overseas. It is not all being used in Malaysia and Vietnam. It is being used for the general running of the Air Force.

The honourable member made some play about the Navy. He said that the Navy made no admission of expenses at all. There is nothing under the heading of overseas expenses, but once again we find the same sort of entry in Division 636, general stores. The same thing is obvious throughout the Services estimates. These are their accounting divisions. These are the headings under which the stores - the shells or whatever they are - are bought. Under the heading of general stores, HMAS ships, are rations, electronic, electrical, armament stores, oil, fuel and so on, amounting to $44,405,000. The honourable member tried to make the case that the Government was misleading the people by putting these items under this sort of heading. That is complete bunkum. The honourable member has just taken a few figures out of the Appropriation Bill and used them to suit his own particular shabby political purposes. He has been misleading. .

Turning to the Defence Report I see that at page 10 there is a considerable list of hardware, lt has been announced in the last 12 months that we are to have 2 Oberon submarines. This has been criticised very severely by people who obviously know more about it than I do but who may not know as much about it as the Service chiefs do. Under this Division 1 would compliment the Minister concerned on buying another 10 Skyhawks. I think they are first class aeroplanes, and the more we have the better. While referring to this type of hardware I suggest to the Government that consideration be given to purchasing the Phantom aircraft, which we are now leasing, as a tactical strike aeroplane.

Mr Daly - What is wrong with the Fill?

Mr CALDER - There is nothing the matter with the Fill at all.

Mr Daly - Only it will not fly.

Mr CALDER - As a pilot, I consider it a very fine aeroplane. So does every other pilot and so does the Royal Australian Air Force. In considering this hardware list I would say that I hope the work on the light destroyer proceeds at speed. We need this sort of patrol craft around the north and west of Australia. In the remaining time I wish to discuss service personnel, for what is the use of having this sophisticated equipment if the men who man it are brassed off? Many of us have been very concerned for a long time about service pay and conditions. I welcome the Minister's statement of this matter. In so doing I note that the chairman of the committee of inquiry happens to be a 2nd AIF man.

Mr Foster - What has it got to do with defence?

Mr CALDER - This has all to do with defence. [ turn now to the statement by the Minister for Defence in which he said that a review is to take place of the group pay system whereby industrial award rates are taken into account, to examine the demands and exigencies of the Services. If anyone has ever been in the Services - and little gunner on the front bench would know this - they would know that the exigencies of the Services are applied to every possible manner of thing one can think of with regard to the Services. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the Labor Party would look into the whole social environment of the Services - pay, moves and establishment, civil life assimilation, separation, disturbance and housing. This is covered by the term 'exigencies of the Service'. As the honourable member ought to know, and as anyone who has ever been in the Services knows, this covers the lot.

The Minister also says:

The Defence (Conditions of Service) Committee is well placed to consider and bring forward prompt recommendations. lt is capable of doing this. In that statement the Minister also says that there will be no freeze on terms and conditions of employment while the inquiry is under way. In my mind, this completely knocks what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had to say regarding the Senate special committee looking into the whole affair. Since I have little time left I. would like to refer in conclusion to national service. The situation in Australia is being whipped up by the Opposition. It is sick. I hear around the country - I am only repeating what I hear - that people say we cannot afford not to have national service and thereby eliminate the policy which is referred to by honourable members opposite as conscription.

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