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Tuesday, 10 December 1912

Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - I desire to ask the Minister of Defence if he can give any explanation of the long delay in receiving the promised report about the alleged flogging or caning of a cadet who attended the Sydney Grammar School. The incident occurred some time ago, and as the officer concerned and the place where the incident occurred are within a short distance of one another, it seems - peculiar that there should be any circumlocution about getting a report on the matter. It looks to me as though some of those concerned were trying to concoct some feasible story before they let the Minister know their version of the incident. It is also stated - I do not know with what degree of truth, but the statement has appeared in, the Sydney press - that a cadet named Wall was punished by the adjutant and some other officer.

Senator Pearce - Do you know what area ?

Senator RAE - I do not, but I think I could get the information. It is stated that the same officers who are concerned in the case of the Sydney Grammar School boy are also concerned in the case of this lad, who is the son of a widow, and is working for the Fresh Food and Ice Company in Sydney. The charge against him was that he had repeated an order given by his officer. It is said that the officer had given the order " Shoulder arms," " Present arms," or " Order arms," and the lad afterwards explained that he merely repeated it in order to memorize it, and did not mean it as an insult to the officer. For this alleged offence, the adjutant and another officer arrested the lad and took him to the barracks, and caused him to be flogged. When he returned home, his mother saw that he was in some pain or trouble, and questioned him, but he refused to give her any satisfaction. After he was asleep in bed, however, she examined him, and found great weals on his body, which had been inflicted by a stick or cane. She was urged by her neighbours to take the matter to Court, but she did not like to. Many people do not care about going to the Law Courts. The statement is that this officer said to the lad that he could either be prosecuted and fined, or take a flogging. The lad replied that he was poor, and could not afford to undergo a prosecution, and so the two officers flogged him. Whether the story is a true one or not, I do not know ; but investigation of these matters should not be delayed. If there is going to be strict military discipline and prompt obedience by cadets of the orders of their officers, there should also be prompt action with regard to officers who are guilty of this kind of conduct. If the facts are as alleged, the officer should be dismissed from the service. If we are going to introduce the old system of flogging into our Defence Force, it will soon burst up the show, and those who share my feelings will help to do it. I am not putting this forward as fact. I am merely making the statement as it has been reported. What I want to know is the reason for the delay that has occurred in connexion with the report on the matter.

Senator Pearce - This is the first time that case has been mentioned.

Senator RAE - I am not so unreasonable as to blame the Minister for not taking action regarding a matter of which he has no knowledge, but I do say that there has been delay in connexion with the other case.

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