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Friday, 30 April 1915


Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - This morning we have hearda good deal about martial law and courts martial from honorable senators who apparently knew very little about what they were discussing. We have just listened to the testimony of an honorable senator who has sat as the president of a court martial, and I understand that there is not a drop of blood on his hands to-day.


Senator McDougall - He was never a prisoner, though.


Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - He has never ordered the execution of a single individual. What do my honorable friends chink of that?


Senator Guthrie - He sent a man to gaol for blowing a bugle with bad lips.


Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I do not know whether my honorable colleague from South Australia has been guilty of such a cruel act as that.


Senator Lt Colonel O'Loghlin - The case had nothing to do with a court martial, anyhow.


Senator Guthrie - It was a military trial by Colonel Stewart, and you were Chief Secretary at the time.


Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am satisfied that neither in South Australia nor in any other part of the Commonwealth can a glaring act of injustice be sheeted home to any court martial. Mistakes, no doubt, have been made in courts martial, as in civil trials, but we are quite confident that nothing of the kind related has ever happened. We have been told to-day about what happens under martial law. We know perfectly well that in the case of industrial disputes - and we regret the fact - the Lord Mayor, or some other person in authority, is called out, the Riot Act is read, and, if necessary, the military or the police can be ordered to fire on the crowd. This amendment has noth ing to do with courts martial. The supporters of. the amendment have gone from Dan to Beershebah to find arguments to bolster up a very weak case. They have dragged in some most outrageous things - things which could not possibly occur in connexion with a court martial - to strengthen their contention. I ask honorable senators who have raised this plea what they would have done if they had been at Singapore a few weeks ago, when the mutiny broke out ? Where would civil law have been then ? The services of the military had to. be employed.


Senator Bakhap - Quite right, too.


Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - No court martial ordered that action. The mutineers were shot whenever they were found. People were shot in the streets of Singapore by the mutineers. Doea my honorable friend suggest that a member of a British force who shoots a British subject should be arrested, lodged in a lock-up, and then provided with the best legal authority in the country for his defence ? Of course he does. not. He would he the last to suggest anything of the sort.


Senator Guthrie - But the innocent may suffer under a proposal of this kind.


Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - There is no suggestion of that.


Senator Guthrie - Does the honorable senator know when he isbreaking these military regulations ?


Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I think so.


Senator Guthrie - The honorable senator may be breaking them now for all he knows to the contrary.


Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The point we have to recollect is that this is special legislation which is being enacted for extraordinary times, and the Government are merely asking that in such circumstances those who are guilty of a crime against the Crown shall meet with summary justice.


Senator Guthrie - No. For any offence against this Act.


Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The only argument advanced in favour of the amendment has been put forward by Senator Bakhap, who has championed the cause of ignorant persons who may not be aware that under this Bill they will have the right to be tried by a civil Court. I admit that there is a good deal in that argument, but not enough to warrant the Government in accepting the amendment made by another place. I do not scout the proposal merely because it emanates from another branch of the Legislature. On the contrary, I ara prepared to give it all the consideration that it merits. But some amendments which have reached us from another place have received very scant consideration at the hands of honorable senators.


Senator Guthrie - And some amendments have been very fully considered.


Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Personally, I do not feel very strongly on this matter. But considering the extraordinary circumstances which exist I think that the Government should be vested with full power to deal with the enemies of the Empire either by court martial or in any other way.







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