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Thursday, 8 March 1973
Page: 361

Mr SPEAKER - Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?

Dr FORBES - Yes. At question time the statement that has been made by Australian Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) repeated a statement that has been made by Australian Labor Party members for their own political purposes on many occasions and which they continue to repeat despite the fact that I have answered it on many occasions. Because there are many new members in this House I take this opportunity to explain exactly what the position was. Also, and more importantly, the explanation I will give is relevant to the question that I asked the Minister and which he failed to answer. What the Minister said at question time was that at the Returned Services League Congress in Hobart in 1963 I had argued against national service and then 2 months or 6 months later the Government had brought it in. Of course, that was the story that was spread by the Labor Party during the Senate election campaign at that time.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable gentleman is debating the matter.

Dr FORBES - I am explaining the situation which the Minister misrepresented. What I said at the RSL Congress in Hobart was quite clear. I will give the Minister a copy of it if he wants to read it. I said that the military advice available to the Government was opposed to the introduction of a universal national service scheme as advocated by the RSL at that time. The Minister will remember that the scheme brought in by the Government was not a universal national service scheme; it was a selective national service scheme. It was proposed by me as Minister for the Army to the Cabinet and I am proud of it. At the RSL Congress in Hobart I made public the military advice available to the Government. When the Prime Minister of the day introduced the national service scheme or made a statement about it he made public the military advice available to the Government. Today I asked the Minister for Defence to agree to make available to the House the military advice on the future strength of the Army. He avoided that question. I hope he will follow the precedent established by the previous Government.

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