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Wednesday, 27 May 1942

Mr BRENNAN (BATMAN, VICTORIA) - Do the regulations which the right honorable gentleman has just read, and the statement he has made, represent the law of this country? Have the regulations been gazetted?

Mr CURTIN - Yes.

Mr BRENNAN - Then I desire to ask the right honorable gentleman whether representations have been made to him by a representative of the allied forces of America, regarding the trial of the accused person before a tribunal other than that provided for in such matters by the law of this country? If so, has the right honorable gentleman acquiesced in such a trial, to the exclusion of our own procedure requiring a trial that is applicable to such a case? Does he not think that so radical a departure from the law of this country might well have been submitted to this Parliament for its consideration ?

Mr CURTIN - The answer to the first part of the honorable gentleman's question is " Yes ". Some considerable time ago a formal submission was made by the American forces in Australia for the adoption of this proceduce. The reply to the second part of the honorable gentleman's question is, that a formal answer was not given to those submissions because of the discussions that were proceeding between the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America in order that a uniform practice might he adopted throughout the British Empire in relation to such American forces as were serving in any part of the British Empire. The answer to the final part of the honorable gentleman's question is that, having regard to the Commonwealth's insistence in past years that members of the Australian Imperial Force serving in other countries should be judged by the law of this land and under the authority of the commanding officer of the Australian military force-

Mr Brennan - British law.

Mr CURTIN - And having regard to the passage by this Parliament of the Defence (Visiting Forces) Act, the Government considers that the gazettal of these regulations is entirely consistent with the development of policy governing the matter.

Mr BRENNAN - I ask the Prime Minister whether the present position is that during the war visiting troops from allied countries are to he placed on the same footing as to trial of charges of offences as the visiting troops of members of the British Commonwealth of Nations?

Mr CURTIN - Broadly speaking, yes, but, in the particular matter that has been under consideration, if the United States army officer requests that a person be handed over, the regulations are for the purpose of enabling that request to be met and also to ensure that the court, which the American forces will establish, shall be able to ensure the attendance of requisite witnesses. In the statement made to me by the commander of the United States Army, it was indicated that in every instanCe the proceedings would be such as to satisfy the conscience of the Australian public and the penalties would be, on any reading, regarded as adequate.

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