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In connection with the Ashburton County Council's resolution opposing the suggested compulsory military training, the council received the following letter from Sir James Allen, Minister of Defence, which was read at the meeting to-day: — . " I have to acknowledge receint of your letter of February 10 enclosing resolution carried at last meeting of the Ashburton County Council.^ I feel sure that .your council has misunderstood the position, and trust on reviewing the question the members will come to the conclusion that there is quite another side to the story. If you are alluding to training camps for. this year, I desire to'inform you that'it is not intended to hold such. If your resolution was intended to cover the training camps in the future,, then I am not in accord with the resolution. We lhave no assurance that the League of Nations, if it is formed, can guarantee the safety of our country in the future, is impossible to say that there will be no menace to this country in the years to come from outside. Apart altogether from this aspect of the question, there. is another .equally important. A very large percentage of Tlie men who. came to camp were physically unfit for. military service.; .1 deem it to be the duty of the Government ,to provide that this unfitness shall not prevail in the future. ' ■ The physically fit man is required as a soldier, and I venture to.say that the physically fit man is more useful as an ordinary citizen than the unfit," The physical training, the medical, inspection, and dental treatment, which can be so well provided in camps of graining, are means to-bring about pJaysical fitness' and remove disabilities,- Again,, there is abundant evidence to show that the smartness and discipline inculcated in camps bring' out characteristics in those tinder training which'make. .them more efficient as workers or .producers. For these and many otheiv reasons, I would impress upon your council that they have come to a wrong conclusion; I would urge upon you to. _reconsider the auestion. If time would permit, it would give me great pleasure to meet your members and to lay' before 'them more fully <iiiy views on the question of defence and the creation of the best type of citizen. Regarding the second paragraph of your resolution, I would point out that before any alteration in the system of training can be made it must be submitted to, and approved by. Parliament. With respect to the return of soldiers to civil life, I may. say that the Government is; bringing the men to New Zealand as ouickly' as possible, and the Repatriation Board has been set up for the purpose of assisting the men to secure civil employment in cages where they are imable to return to. their old, or desire to take up new, occupations." The council has received replies from 13 local bodies approving of the resolution, and 10 against it. Twelve others either decided to take no action in the" matter or deferred consideration. '

The reading of the letter caused many smiles on the part of councillors, particularly the portion relating/>to physical fitness and medical examinations.

The chairman said that Sir James Allen had asked the council to reconsider the ..question.' He asked ■ the councillors whether they considered" it would be fair to the other local bodies who had supported them in this matter to co back on the decision. If the council did as Sir James Allen" wanted it to do, now, the members would be called cocktails.

Cr C. Reid said the council should be willing: to hear what Sir James Allen had to say on the matter. To his mind the Government was fishing over this military business to try and , find a scheme. He considered that to take young men into camp lor some months in the year was an impossibility,, and it would disorganise the whole business of the Dominion. It was just as well to face this matter in a logical manner. At Home at the present time there.\yas an attempt to reduce armaments, and the best brains in the world were at work. New Zealand should wait until this auestion had been settled at Home. Cr. W. T. Lill said it was not the the Minister who had misunderstood the Minister who ha dmisunderstood the Council. He was not opposed to physical- training for. youths. He md not think, however, that after, a boy reached 16 years of age the Government should then lay claim to htfnjand take him on for yearn in this military business. .' ■ n - The Chairman said it was; all very well to get the boys up to camp m the North "Island. He considered jfchat long ago a military camp should have been in the South Island instead ot the relatives of the boys being put to unnecessary expense of travelling ■ up to the North Island. It had cost thousands of pounds in tlie aggregate. Cr. Lill said it had averaged at least £10 per head. .: The Chairman said he was going to say £5, but, on second thoughts, a man would need to be a prohibitionist to do tlie trip on that amount. (Laughter). : . ' . '■' Cr. H. J. Harrison' said there were a lot of colonels and other military fellows who were afraid they would .be out of a job soon. He thought if prohibition was carried they could put these colonels, majors, etc., in tlie pubs, and make depots out of them to train tlie young men. (Laughter). Cr A. Drummond said he believed in the youth receiving a certain amount of training. Ho thought it was good to bring the young men together occasionally, and this had a tendency to create, the social aspect and keep in check internal strife. He believed also in physical training in schools. . The Council, then resolved "That this Council, after carefully considering the Minister's letter, feels there is _no reason to reconsider the resolution passed on February 7, seeing that the .views expressed in that resolution have met with the approval of various County Councils in the Dominion, some supporting it in its entirety and others partly. The Council is, however, quite in accord with physical training of youths in schools, but does not approve of the, military aspect of the quesltion." * ' „■.-.,; ' '■■

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Bibliographic details

MILITARY TRAINING, Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9578, 4 April 1919

Word Count

MILITARY TRAINING Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9578, 4 April 1919

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