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Friday, 24 August 1923

Mr BOWDEN (Parramatta) (Minister for Defence) (7:28 AM) . - I do not want honorable members tobe under the impression that I have been trying to side-step my promise to them. I remind honorable members that there are three forces - the Air Force, the Military Force, and the Naval Force. The forces referred to in the Defence Act, having relation to the Imperial Acts, are the Military and Naval Forces. Provision is made in the Defence Act that the Military Force, in certain circumstances, shall come under certain provisions of the Army Act. It also provides that, in certain circumstances, the Naval Force shall come under the Naval Discipline Act. Neither of these two Acts refer to the Australian Air Force, nor to the Air Force of England. Those Acts will be inoperative as far as the three forces as a whole are concerned, because they relate to either the Military Force or the Naval Force.

Mr Scullin - The Imperial Air Force Act comes under the Army Act in many respects.

Mr BOWDEN - No ; the Imperial Air Force, does not come under the Army Act. The British Parliament passed an Imperial Air Force Act in the same way as we did when we constituted a separate force, which Act, of course, embodied nearly all the provisions of the Army Act and adapted them to the Air Force, but a separate Act was necessary.

Mr SCULLIN (YARRA, VICTORIA) - But every amendment of the Army Act automatically affects the Imperial Air Force Act.

Mr BOWDEN - The Air Force in England is controlled by the Air Force

Act only. I am not aware whether the Imperial Act makes such provision as the honorable member indicates. We have to provide, not only for the formation, but also for the organization and government of the Australian Air Force.

Mr Charlton - This Bill brings the Air Force under the Defence Act 1903-1918, which embodies the British Army Act.

Mr BOWDEN - The Defence Act embodies the provisions of the Army Act in reference to the military forces only. We might have included in this Bill all the provisions of the Defence Act that are applicable to the Air Force, but as this is only a temporary measure and the Air Force has, up to the present time, been working under the Defence Act, I thought it better to provide in this Bill merely for the constitution of the Air Force, and to carry on under the Defence Act by reference until a comprehensive measure can be brought down. Part XV. of the Defence Act is excluded, because, otherwise, the Air Force officers would be required to go through Duntroon Military College, and that is not desirable. In order to make the Bill as simple as possible, it has been drafted in this way, and its general effect is to continue the Air Force under the Defence Act as heretofore. The only extra provisions are- those duly constituting the Air Force and rendering it unnecessary for officers to pass through Duntroon College. But, in order to meet the view of the Leader of the Opposition, I shall be prepared to move, in Committee, an amendment to specifically provide that the Imperial Army Act shall not apply to the Air Force.

Mr Charlton - That will do.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In Committee:

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 - .

3.   The Defence Act (except Part XV. thereof) and the regulations thereunder shall, with such modifications and adaptations as are prescribed hy regulations (which regulations the Governor-General is hereby authorized to make), apply in relation to the Air Force and the members thereof whether serving within or outside the limits of the Commonwealth.

4.   The Governor-General may at any time, by order published in the Gazette, disband any portion' of the Air. Force.

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