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Wednesday, 19 September 1973
Page: 1232

Mr BARNARD (Bass) (Minister for Defence, Minister for the Navy, Minister for the Army, Minister for Air and Minister for Supply) - I have listened to both the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) and the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), who seconded the motion. At the outset I want to say that the Opposition has already raised for discussion this week 2 matters of public importance. Of course, the Estimates will be coming up for debate soon and in these circumstances-

Mr Peacock - I do not like it but I am forced to say that you are a hypocrite.

Mr BARNARD - I listened to the honourable member in silence. He should at least have the decency to do the same for me. I did not interject in any way at all and I think he ought to do the same. What I did, and I concede this and df there is to be any criticism on this point I must accept it, was to extend an invitation to the honourable gentleman to move a vote of no confidence in myself or the Government on this issue. I did not refer to the question of the suspension of Standing Orders. This is a matter for the Opposition to determine.

A number of issues have been dealt with by the honourable member for Kooyong. Firstly, he referred to the Galston issue. I believe I behaved as would be expected of an honourable member who regarded the propriety of this Parliament as something that ought to be upheld at all times. When I realised that I had genuinely but inadvertently misled the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch), I corrected that at question time. Of course this is in direct contrast to the actions of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Those who were in the last Parliament will remember his own performance on the water torture issue.

Mr Lynch - That is going back a few years.

Mr BARNARD - Yes, but the Deputy Leader of the Opposition does not like to be reminded of it. The honourable member did not have the courtesy and the decency at that time to explain to this House that he had been wrong. He then had to go through the trauma of a no confidence motion being moved against him. The Deputy Leader of the

Opposition complained because I corrected a statement. The Galston issue has been raised. This is not the issue under consideration at all. The motion that was moved by the honourable member for Kooyong dealt with morale in the armed forces^ I would welcome a debate on this matter. I think I indicated this morning during question time the extent to which this Government has moved to improve not only the morale of members of the armed forces but also to improve their conditions of service, and to make the Services attractive for them. However, a government must look at the situation in the light of information provided by those who are responsible for giving to the Government advice about the security of this nation against external aggression.

Mr Peacock- I rise to order. I have shown restraint in not interjecting but I am moved, Mr Deputy Speaker, to draw your attention to the content of the Minister's speech. He is not speaking to the particular motion before the Chair as I did. I ask that you ensure that he does so.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Thehonourable member has taken a point of order. I am not in a position to know what the honourable gentleman did when he moved the motion. I think the Minister was replying to matters which the honourable member raised, but I ask .the Minister for Defence to deal with the reasons why the Standing Orders should not be suspended.

Mr BARNARD - The honourable member for Kooyong raised the question of Galston. I referred to it. He dealt with the question of morale. Naturally I want to keep my remarks within the terms of the motion that the Standing Orders should be suspended. But the honourable member for Kooyong referred to Major Peter Young. I said and I want to reiterate that Major Peter Young is not responsible for the policy decisions of this Government. That is all that I want to say in relation to that matter.

I come back to the question of morale which was raised by the honourable member in moving this motion. I say that this Government has a great deal to its credit in a period of only 9 months in the improvements it has made in the conditions for Australian servicemen and servicewomen. As the Opposition knows we moved to the position of having an all volunteer army in Australia. Of course the Opposition will remember that before the elections it said that this could not be done. Since I have assumed the responsibility of Minister for Defence I have made it perfectly clear not only in the Parliament but also outside the Parliament that as a result of the Government's decision we will have an all volunteer army in Australia and that the size and shape of the Army for the 1970s had already been determined by the Government. As I said this morning and I repeat now, the Government agreed to an army of 34,000 men in Australia by 1976. That will mean an increase by 1,000 a year in the strength of the army up to 34,000 by 1976, with a further review in 1976. This compares with the size of the Army that applied during the period when the Opposition was in office. I point out to 'honourable members that even in the mid 1960s the size of the Army ranged between 20,000 and 25,000 until after 1965 when, of course, the national service -

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