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Wednesday, 13 December 1911

Senator McDOUGALL (New South Wales) . - Some time ago I asked a question of the Minister of Defence concerning the importation of English officers for our Military Forces. The reply was very satisfactory to me, but, nevertheless, I think that the Department ought to do something to afford Australian officers a better chance of promotion. The exchange officers who come to this country from England remain here from twelve to eighteen months. When they go away their work is practically undone by other officers who take their place. It would be much better if the English officers remained here for, say, four or five years, to instruct our army. That remark especially applies to the engineering section. Undoubtedly officers with Australian experience are more adapted for giving instruction to our troops than are freshly imported officers. I shall not say very much upon the question, although I could say a good deal. It is unjust to young Australian officers that they should be crushed out of the chance of promotion, as they certainly are to-day. I trust that something willbe done so that officers who come from- England may be attached to the army for a number of years, and so 'that the work which they are called upon to perform, especially of an instructional character, may be of more permanent effect. The position of Director of Military Training has been held by three different officers during the last eighteen months, all exchange officers. Such rapid changes in control cannot be good for the efficiency of that Department. Some of the officers who come to Australia regard the visit merely as a break in their soldiering career. They look upon their connexion with the Australian Forces as in the nature of a holiday. I do not think that they should come for such a purpose. They should be regarded as being attached to our army for instructional purposes. At present much of their time is occupied in doing work that could be better done by clerks.

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