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Thursday, 30 September 1971
Page: 1722

Dr GUN (KINGSTON, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Has the attention of the Minister for Defence been drawn to a newspaper article attributing to the Minis;ter for the Army the statement that he had directed that only national servicemen who wished to go are to be sent to Vietnam from now on? He went on to say:

It would be less than sensible to send someone to Vietnam who does not want to go.

I ask the Minister: Does this represent Government policy? If so, has his attention been drawn to a statement which his predecessor once removed, the present Minister for Education and Science, made on 7th July 1970 in which he rejected the concept that only volunteers for overseas service should be sent to Vietnam, saying that it was not practical and that it would establish a 2-Army concept?

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The question would be out of order if I were to apply the rules strictly. I suggest to the honourable member that he now ask his question.

Dr GUN - Does this reflect a change in Government policy? If so, why was the policy not changed before so many conscripts were pressed into service in Vietnam, some of whom were not to return?

Mr FAIRBAIRN - There has been no change whatsoever in Government policy on this matter. The situation referred to applied merely to one final movement of 84 men who were being sent to Vietnam for an extremely, short period. It was felt by the Minister for the Army to be wise to vary the policy on that occasion. He discussed the matter with me. It does not mean that there has been any change in Government policy generally.

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