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Friday, 24 August 1923

Mr SCULLIN (Yarra) (7:49 AM)

I suggest to the Minister that he should alter the amendment to read - " Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, the Imperial Acts, called the Army Act and the Air Force Act, and any Acts amending or in substitution for those Acts for the time being in force, shall not apply to the Air Force."

Mr Groom - The Air Force Act is not referred to in the Defence Act.

Mr Hurry - The suggestion of the honorable member for Yarra is quite unnecessary.

Mr SCULLIN - It is quite possible that regulations framed under the Imperial Air Force Act may be applied to our Air Force.

Mr Groom - That cannot be done.

Mr SCULLIN - The very fact that the Minister resists my suggestion makes me feel that what I am afraid of is intended.

Mr Bowden - The only reason why we ask the honorable member not to press his suggestion is that it will make the amendment absurd.

Mr SCULLIN - It may be said that we are too suspicious, but we have very strong reasons for suspicion. The Minister told us that this Bill was quite all right, and we found it was not so. The original Air Force Bill was not drafted by the ordinary legal advisers of the Government, and this Bill has come from the same source. These Bills bear on their face the mark of blue-blooded militarists. It makes one suspicious when he learns that the Imperial Acts make possible a death penalty for the ordinary rank and file and only cashiering for the officers.

Mr Bowden - This Bill was drafted by the legal advisers of the AttorneyGeneral's Department. I hope that the honorable member for Yarra will not start the old discussion again.

Mr SCULLIN - I do not want .'to start it again, but we are justified in taking every precaution.

Mr Bowden - I hope the honorable member will not press his suggested amendment. There is no reference in our Defence Act to the Imperial Air Force Act. His suggested amendment is unnecessary.

Mr SCULLIN - In all the circumstances, I think it will be safer for me to go on with it. Therefore I move -

That after the words "Army Act " the words " or Air Force Act " be inserted.

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