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Friday, 24 November 1911

Senator PEARCE - I sent on to the Adjutant-General for report the statement of the honorable senator who drew my attention to a newspaper paragraph.

Senator de Largie - What was the question ?

Senator PEARCE - The statement in the newspaper paragraph was that, owing to complaints regarding the excessive drill of a number of cadets, the matter was brought under the notice of the local council, and that it decided to enter a vigorous protest against the harsh manner in which senior cadets were drilled. The officer in charge of "A" Company Senior Cadets at Shepparton, who I may mention is also a teacher at the school, reports as follows -

Rereportthat several boys fainted at drill; I desire to point out, firstly, that the statements referred to do not concern the senior cadets, but were made by the school committee in reference to the school boys.

The statements are misleading, and grossly exaggerated.

The following are the facts : - Some time ago one boy, named Henry Lear, faintedwhile doing physical exercises. An inquiry elicited the fact that the boy had a weak heart, andwas subject to fainting fits, having one day previously fainted while standing alongsidethe school fence in the playground, during recess.

I would also like to mention that during th summer months we have frequent complaints from children who feel unwell, both inschool and out. The ratio, however, of those who feel unwell out of school to those who complain in the class-room is only about one to five or six. That is, five or six children complain, or get permission to leave the class-rooms, to one getting permissionto leave the drill lines.

We make a special point here of drilling, as far as possible, in the shade, and not only give " Stand Easy " frequently, but allow a rest every ten or fifteen minutes. The drill is, therefore, one of the most pleasant and healthful of our lessons, and during the hot weather it is quite refreshing to get into the fresh air, out of the vitiated air of the class-rooms.

Senator MILLEN - The report will certainly be reassuring to honorable senators, but it is not a full answer to my question. What I asked was, whether drilling was going on, irrespective of the drilling which was authorized by the Department, and for which it was responsible. The answer does suggest that there is some drill going on with which the Department has nothing to do.

Senator PEARCE - Yes, physical drill is carried on by the Education Department of the State independently of the Minister.

Senator Millen - This officer is acting in a dual capacity.

Senator PEARCE - He is a cadet officer and also a schoolmaster who evidently conducts physical drill for the State Government.

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