Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 12 June 1914

Senator RUSSELL - I rise to ask the Minister of Defence, in no carping spirit, a question arising out of a letter I havereceived in connexion with the case of Cadet Roberts, which, I think, ought to be denied. The parents paid a visit to Queenscliff, and the letter reads as follows : -

For continuing in his refusal, the boy was placed in the cell next the guard-room on Thursday night, where he was confined until 11 a.m. Saturday morning, and then courtmartialled. The Military Court then ordered him.' to be placed in a cell for seven days. He is locked in a cell 10 feet by 10 feet, built of wood, with an iron roof. lt lias no window, the light coming through a grating. He has a wooden stretcher; the mattress and blankets are taken away in the morning, and not brought back until dark. He has halfanhour's exercise in the morning, and again in the afternoon; he is on half diet; has not been, allowed to read, nor to write to his parents.

We were quite unaware of this treatment of him until we visited Queenscliff on Monday,, when- we found him looking worse than whenseen five days previously. This we attributed to the mental strain of the solitary confinement, a recent illness of a month in bed, and. to the reduced diet. After, lunch time on Saturday he received only bread and water until breakfast time Sunday.

The boy endeavoured to cheer his mother by saying that he had only four days' more solitary confinement to go through. However, this morning we waited on the Defence Department authorities, and were officially informed that if the boy continued in his refusal toforego his convictions he would be ordered a further period of solitary confinement.

The civil court ordered the boy into military custody, but surely it is going beyond the intentions of the citizen army for a court martial to be allowed to step in after a case has been dealt with by the civil court. Furthermore, solitary confinements should never be ordered. The question may well be asked, is this a citizen army controlled by the Military Board. A

Melbourne lawyer states that solitary confinement is considered inhuman, and only used in the case of refractory criminals of the worst type.

My wife and I earnestly appeal for your influence in this distressing matter, and hope you will, at least, write a letter to the Minister of Defence.

Seeing that the letter is not in confirmation of what the Minister of Defence told us yesterday-

Senator O'LOGHLIN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - Is it a letter out of a newspaper ?

Senator RUSSELL - No ; it is a letter which was sent to me from 125 Newstreet, Middle Brighton, and is signed by a person,' on behalf of the parents. I do not question the statement of the Minister, but I wish to give him an opportunity to put the matter on a firm basis - in other words, to reaffirm the reply he gave yesterday.

Suggest corrections