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Wednesday, 27 May 1942


Mr CURTIN (FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Prime Minister) - The House will recall that, some time before the outbreak of war, this Parliament passed the Defence (Visiting Forces) Act 1939. That act, broadly, prescribes the procedure to be followed in respect of forces of the British Empire in Australia. Australia is working under a reciprocal arrangement with the rest of the dominions and the United Kingdom in the general terms of that statute. Such legislation as would give to the American forces complete jurisdiction in respect of their own men in Australia does not exist, if the law of the Commonwealth or a State were to be applied by either the Commonwealth or a State. For some time, discussions have been proceeding between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of the United Kingdom, having regard to the fact that allied forces are now to be found in various parts of the British Commonwealth; American forces are in Australia with the consent of the Commonwealth Government, and in Northern Ireland and Britain itself with the consent of the British Government, and there are Australian forces in Canada. The Commonwealth Government and the Government of the United Kingdom are of the opinion that, broadly, the provisions of the Defence (Visiting Forces) Act should be applied to the forces of countries that are our allies, while operating in any part of Australia. This Government therefore decided to gazette amending National Security (Allied Forces) regulations, and the procedure in future will be along the following lines: -

1.   Notwithstanding anything contained in regulation 4 of these regulations, where any member of the United States forces in Australia is arrested or detained on a charge of having committed an offence against the law of the Commonwealth or any State or territory of the Commonwealth, the appropriate officer of the United States forces shall be notified and, if he so requests, the member shall be handed over to him and shall thereupon cease to be subject to the jurisdiction of the criminal courts in Australia, and the appropriate naval or military court constituted in accordance with the law of the United States of America applicable to the United States forces in Australia may exercise in relation to the member such powers as are conferred upon it by that law.


Mr Blackburn - " That law " means " American law " ?


Mr CURTIN - It means American law.


Mr Blackburn - How are witnesses to be compelled to give answers to questions ?


Mr CURTIN - In the following manner -

2.   For the purposes of the trial of the member by the appropriate naval or military court constituted in accordance with the law







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