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Wednesday, 3 May 1939
Page: 54

Mr WARD (East Sydney) . - I move -

That the following new sub-clause bo added: - " (7) Notwithstanding anything contained in tl is act, no penalty shall be imposed inconsistent with or repugnant to the law of the Commonwealth or of . a State."

When the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) was addressing the chamber, the Minister indicated by interjection that the British Army Act was one of those that would apply in certain cases to members of visiting forces. The Labour party recognizes the need to maintain discipline amongst armed forces, but the people of Australia will not countenance the imposition in Australian territory of some of the penalties provided in the British Army Act. Speaking from memory, I believe that that act, which perpetuates many barbarities that ought long ago to have been removed from all legislation operating in British communities, provides for such penalties as the crucifixion, in which a man is tied to the wheel of a gun carriage, and exposed to the elements. Certain other sections nf the act provide penalties similar to the thumb screw, while others provide for the carrying out of the death penalty. The people of Australia will remember, as should the members of this Parliament also, that when our forces were abroad during the war an attempt was made to apply to them the provisions of the British Army Act, and the attempt failed only when the authorities found themselves. faced with the certainty of revolt among the Australian troops. Irrespective of what this Parliament might propose or authorize, I am certain that there would be a tremendous popular outcry against any attempt to apply to the members of British forces visiting Australia some of the penalties provided in the British Army Act. There may bc some people in this country who would like to see the provisions of the British Army Aci made to apply generally throughout the community. There is one member of this Parliament who was recently a member of the Government, who favoured the shooting of the Leader of the Opposition because he disagreed with him. When persons holding responsible positions in this Parliament are prepared to go to such extremes, it is not difficult to imagine that there may be in command of British forces visiting Australia persons who, because they would not be answerable to any authority in this country, would be prepared to go to any lengths in the punishment of those under them. I hope that the committee will accept my amendment and thus place upon such persons a proper restraint. We should make it clear that we will not tolerate the carrying out of penalties in Commonwealth territory which are repugnant to Australians, or inconsistent with the law of the Commonwealth or of a. State.

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