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Thursday, 21 September 1972
Page: 1743

Mr BARNARD (BASS, TASMANIA) - Has the Minister for the Army seen reports from New Zealand that New Zealand Army instructors in Vietnam had trained Cambodian boys aged between 9 and 12? If so, is it a fact that these reports have not been denied by senior members of the New Zealand Government including the Minister for Defence? Has the Minister any indication that Australian Army instructors in Vietnam have been required to train children for war? What criteria are applied by Australian Army instructors in accepting Cambodians for training? Is it a case of 'just accepting anybody who steps off the plane' as a New Zealand Army spokesman is reported to have said? Finally, will the Minister make an urgent check of Australian Army practices in Vietnam to ensure that there is not the slightest chance of such highly objectionable practices occurring?

Mr KATTER This matter has been brought to my notice. I can assure the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that there is no question whatsoever of the Australian training group in Vietnam deliberately setting about the training of Cambodian children. No doubt as part of the general troops who do come along there could be people of an age younger than we are used to in this country, but in no circumstances would we deliberately set about to train young people. I assure the honourable gentleman that I will go into this matter much more closely and inform him subsequently.

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