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Friday, 24 August 1923

Mr FENTON (Maribyrnong) (7:56 AM) . - When the previous Air Force Bill was before us, the Minister for Defence will remember that I specially referred to one clause of the Canadian Air Defence Act under which numerous regulations were framed. The Minister said then, "I would not mind if I had a clause like that."

Mr Bowden - But I purposely refrained from using that clause because I did not want a general power to make regulations.

Mr FENTON - Our Defence Act gives considerable power to make regulations. Will it be possible for the Minister, under the clause now before us, to introduce and apply to the Australian Air Force what are practically British Army Act regulations?

Mr Bowden - No.

Mr FENTON -Will the Minister be able to apply to our Air Force the pains and penalties which are provided for in our Defence Act ?

Mr Bowden - Yes, because we are adopting the Defence Act in this Bill.

Mr FENTON - Then the Minister will be able to frame numerous regulations under this measure, which may be practically on all fours with the British Army Act regulations.

Mr Bowden - The honorable member for Maribyrnong is wrong, because the power under our Defence Act to impose penalties in peace time is very limited. I think the most severe penalty that can be imposed is a fine of £5 or a month's imprisonment. As a matter of fact, we are almost entirely dependent upon the civil law for the enforcement of the Defence Act in peace time.

Mr FENTON - Will the Minister give Parliament an opportunity to discuss the regulations he frames for the control of the Air Force before they become operative? .

Mr Bowden - I cannot promise that, because Parliament will not be sitting. I can assure honorable members that I do not intend, under these powers, to do anything in the direction of bringing in extreme penalties in connexion with our Defence Force.

Amendment of amendment withdrawn.

Amendment agreed to.

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