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Wednesday, 29 September 1971
Page: 1659

Mr STREET (Corangamite) (Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Labour and National Service) - I do not quite know why the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) referred to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund and the other matters he brought in towards the end of his speech on this clause but it must be quite obvious to him and to the other members of the Opposition that this amendment is unacceptable to the Government because to accept it would completely negate the concept of national service altogether.

Mr Hughes - It would help to negate the Army as well.

Mr STREET - Yes, it would. But to those honourable members who sat through the debate on this Bill the situation must be quite obvious. The Government has made it clear that it is the intention of the Government to continue national service. The Opposition has made it perfectly clear that its intention is to abolish national service at the earliest opportunity. Therefore it must be obvious that this amendment is unacceptable. 1 find it rather extraordinary that while the Opposition were not prepared to vote against the motion for the second reading of the National Service Bill it is prepared to move an amendment in the committee stage which if adopted would virtually abolish the need for this Bill altogether. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has made the point, not only in his last speech a few moments ago but also previously, that in his opinion in today's circumstances there is no necessity for national service. This is the Opposition's stated attitude. On the other hand the Government's stated attitude is that there is a continuing necessity for national service and not merely to cope with the immediate circumstances. The Opposition is continually harping on the fact that there is no obvious immediate threat to Australia but I would make the point that no government is a responsible government if it fails to take into account the possibilities as well as the probabilities. We are concerned not only with the immediate circumstances.

We believe that there is a necessity for national service to provide a continuing army of adequate size. I would stress the word 'continuing'. This is a guarantee of an army of adequate size and not merely a pious hope, as I said last night, that we would have an army of adequate size. It will also provide adequate reserves, subject to immediate call-up for a period of 3 years, of men fully trained and able to take their place in an operational unit. It will assist in the build up of adequate Citizen Military Forces to fulfil their role in times of emergency. It will provide a further reservoir in the community of those who, although no longer serving actively in the reserve, have had the benefit of full-time training in the Regular Army in Australia. Therefore I cannot see how the Opposition which has neglected to vote against the motion for the second reading of this Bill can bring forward this amendment which is completely unacceptable to the Government. I suggest that this continuing programme - and I stress the word 'continuing* which has an element of guarantee in it - of maintaining an army of adequate size, giving encouragement to the Citizen Military Forces, establishing adequate reserves subject to immediate call-up and providing a further reservoir in the community is an immeasureably superior system and gives immeasureably greater security to this country than rh; Opposition's system which as I read it is one of panic call-up in times of emergency and panic training to get men called up to adequate standards. There can be no comparison between the 2 general approaches of the Government and the Opposition and I therefore have no hesitation in rejecting this amendment.

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