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Thursday, 22 April 1915

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - I move -

That all the words after " stead " be left out, with a view to insert the following : - "4. (1.) The Governor-General may make regulations for securing the public safety and the defence of the Commonwealth, and in particular with a view -

(a)   to prevent persons communicating with the enemy or obtaining information for that purpose or for anv purpose calculated to jeopardize the success of the operations of any of His Majesty's forces in Australia or elsewhere, or the forces of His Majesty's allies, or to assist the enemy; or

(b)   to prevent the transmission abroad, except through the post, of any letter, post-card, letter-card, written communication, or newspaper; or

(c)   to secure the safety of His Majesty's forces and ships and the safety of any means of communication or of any railways, ports, harbors, or public works; or

(d)   to prevent the spread of false reports or reports likely to cause disaffection to His Majesty or public alarm, or to interfere with the success of His Majesty's forces bv land or sea, or to prejudice His Majesty's relations with foreign powers; or

(e)   to secure the navigation of vessels in accordance with directions given by or under the authority of the Naval Board; or

(f)   otherwise to prevent assistance being given to the enemy or the successful prosecution of the war being endangered, and for conferring such powers and imposing such duties as he thinks fit, with reference thereto, upon the Naval Board and the Military Board, and the members of the naval and military forces of the Commonwealth, and other persons. " (2.) Any such regulations or any orders made thereunder affecting the pilotage of vessels may supersede any enactment (whether of the Commonwealth or a State), order, by-law, regulation, or provision as to pilotage. " (3.) The Minister may -

(a)   require that there shall be placed at his disposal the whole or any part of the output of any factory or workshop in which arms, ammunition, or warlike stores or equipment, or any articles required for the production thereof are manufactured ; and

(b)   take possession of and use for the purpose of His Majesty's naval or military serviceany such factory or workshop or any plant thereof; and the power to make regulations under this Act shall extend to the making of regulations in relation to the matters specified in this subsection."

Senator Bakhap - Are the words " or to prejudice His Majesty's relations with foreign powers" in the Imperial Act?

Senator PEARCE - Yes.

Senator Bakhap - They are rather vague.

Senator PEARCE - I do not think so. There is a certain Power which could afford very valuable assistance to the Allied cause, and which we believe is likely shortly to take a very important part in the war. We could not allow in this country a public demonstration through the press or otherwise against that Power, for it would certainly have the effect of prejudicing His Majesty's relations with it if we did. That is the meaning of the phrase. We want power to prevent anything being done to prejudice us with other countries with which we are not at war, while the war lasts.

Senator Bakhap - A very casual observation with regard to the undesirableness of some action may be construed as a contravention of such a general term.

Senator PEARCE - I can assure the honorable senator that he need have no fear in that regard. The power will not be used wildly, but with common sense.

Senator Bakhap - I accept the Minister's assurance.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Amendment (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -

That the following new clause be inserted to follow clause 3 : - 3a. Section six of the principal Act is repealed, and the following section inserted in its stead : - " 6. (1.) Any person who contravenes, or fails to comply with, any provision of any regulation or order made in pursuance of this Act shall be guilty of an offence against this Act. " (2.) An offence against this Act may be prosecuted either summarily or upon indictment, or if the regulations so provide by court martial, but an offender shall not be liable to be punished more than once in respect of the same offence. " (3.) The punishment for an offence against this Act shall be as follows : -

(a)   If the offence is prosecuted summarily - a fine not exceeding One hundred pounds or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both;

(b)   If the offence is prosecuted upon indictment - a fine of any amount or imprisonment for any term, or both : Provided that where it is proved that the offence is committed with the intention of assisting the enemy the person convicted of such an offence shall be liable to suffer death.

(c)   If the offence is prosecuted by court martial- the same punishment as if the offender had been a person subject to military law and had on active service committed an offence under section five of the Army Act :

Provided that where it is proved that the offence is committed with the intention of assisting the enemy the person convicted of such an offence by a court martial shall be liable to suffer death. "(4.) For the purpose of the trial of the person summarily or upon indictment for an offence against this Act the offence shall be deemed to have been committed either at the place in which it actually was committed or (subject to the Constitution) at any place in which the person may be. " (5.) For the purpose of the trial by court martial of a person for an offence under the regulations the person may be proceeded against and dealt with as if he were a person subject to military law and had on active service committed an offence under section five of the Army Act. " (6.) Where a person being a British subject but not being a person subject to the Naval Discipline Act or to military law is alleged to be guilty of any offence against this Act which is triable by court martial, he shall be entitled, within six clear days from the time when the general nature of the charge is communicated to him, to claim that he be tried by a civil court instead of being tried by court martial, and where such a claim is made, the offence shall not be tried by court martial :

Provided that before the trial of any person to whom this sub-section applies and as soon as practicable after arrest the general nature of the charge shall be communicated to him in writing and notice in writing shall at the same time be given in the prescribed form of his lights under this sub-section. "(7.) The expression 'British subject' in sub-section (6) of this section includes a woman who has married an alien but who before marriage was a British subject. " (8.) In the event of any special military emergency arising out of the present war the Governor-General may by proclamation forthwith suspend the operation of sub-section (6) of this section, either generally or as respects any area specified in the proclamation, without prejudice, however, to any proceedings under this section which may be then pending in any civil court. " (9.) The regulations may authorize a civil court or court martial, in addition to any other punishment, to order the forfeiture of any goodsinrespect of which an offence against this Act has been committed."

Clause 4 agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.

Bill read a third time.

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