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Monday, 14 September 2009
Page: 9448


Dr KELLY (Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support and Parliamentary Secretary for Water) (6:31 PM) —I present the explanatory memorandum to this bill and move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

On 26 August 2009, the High Court declared that the Australian Military Court, which had been established under the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982, was invalid. This decision had significant consequences for the administration of discipline in the Australian Defence Force. The main object of this bill is to maintain the continuity of discipline in the Defence Force in light of the High Court’s decision.

The principal mechanism by which the bill seeks to maintain the continuity of discipline within the ADF is by imposing disciplinary sanctions on persons corresponding to punishments imposed by the Australian Military Court and, to the extent necessary, summary authorities in the period between the AMC’s establishment and the declaration of invalidity by the High Court.

The bill does not purport to validate any convictions or punishments imposed by the Australian Military Court. Nor does the bill purport to convict any person of any offence. Rather, the bill, by its own force, purports to impose disciplinary sanctions. The bill does not purport to impose any liability in relation to imprisonment. Further, consistently with the exclusively disciplinary purpose of its provisions, the bill is expressed to have effect for service purposes only.

The bill recognises that there may be circumstances in which a person affected by a disciplinary liability imposed by the bill wishes to contest whether that liability should remain imposed. The bill gives affected persons a right to seek review of whether they should remain liable under the act, and the reviewing authority is given power to discharge persons from such liability. In cases where the disciplinary liability imposed by the bill relates to detention—a serious disciplinary measure peculiar to the ADF—the bill requires automatic review by the reviewing authority to determine whether that disciplinary liability should be discharged.

I commend the bill and the explanatory memorandum to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Baldwin) adjourned.

Leave granted for second reading debate to resume at a later hour this day.