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Thursday, 23 March 1972
Page: 853

Senator JESSOP (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Has he read the reported statement by the Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr Whitlam, when in Ade laide attending the unusually quiet Australian Labor Party Federal Executive meeting, that Labor would try very hard - I believe this is significant enough to repeat - labor would try very hard - to raise a volunteer army and do away with conscription if it won the Federal election? Is it a fact that the present Government tried very hard to maintain Australia's armed forces by voluntary means? Is it also a fact that this effort failed in spite of increased pay and improved conditions and that in order to meet Service requirements the Government was obliged to introduce national service.

Senator Murphy - I rise to order. The purpose of question time is surely to seek information. The honourable senator has made a small speech putting a point of view and surely has not asked for information. It is a distortion of question time when a question such as this is asked.

The PRESIDENT - Honourable senators will acknowledge that sinceI have had the honour to sit in the chair I have attempted to curb the asking of questions of a propaganda nature and questions that contain an element of speech making. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that question time should be used for the seeking of information. I will attempt to apply this standard in the asking of questions and see that they relate to the Standing Orders as effectively and in as disciplined a manner as I can. But I cannot do that without the co-operation of all honourable senators - those on my left as well as those on my right. I call the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON - As you would anticipate, Mr President, I concur completely with your interpretation of the use of question time. I feel bound to say that one is not unaware that sometimes questions are banded around on pieces of green paper prior to the commencement of proceedings. It also does not go unnoticed that sometimes I give a reply to a question about which I have been alerted. This process of alerting is not peculiar to one side of the House. I would like to have a comprehensive reply prepared to the honourable senator's question. In general the points he made about the attitude of the Australian Labor Party are true. I do not think that can be challenged by its members. It is equally true that since 1964 wideranging steps have been taken to make the conditions of the Services as attractive as possible. These steps have been taken over a very wide field of activities and are related also to national service. Some regard has been paid to family life. This has been looked at very critically in terms of allowances and accommodation. The steps have met with a degree of success. It is true that our voluntary forces have increased. But it is also apparent that for Australia's defence protection - I am sure that effects all of us here - we must have a certain quantum of forces. The gap in the forces that we need cannot be filled by voluntary recruiting. I do not want to transgress any more on your ruling, Mr President, but may I say that I will give a detailed and considered answer to the honourable senator's question. Our attitude on this side of the chamber is clear and the attitude of the Opposition is clear.

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