Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 27 April 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - This clause incorporates the British Army Act in this Bill, inasmuch as it incorporates the British Air Force Act, and the British Air Force Act incorporates the British Army Act. The clause also provides for -Air Force offences, and that, of course, means incorporating the offences covered by the British Army Act, if the British Army Act is incorporated in the Bill. It also incorporates the Defence Act of £he Commonwealth, which it is proposed in its turn shall also include the British Army Act. This is,, therefore, the time when the Senate should consider whether the British Army Act is at all applicable to the military position in Australia in times of peace, particularly with regard to our Forces, which are so different in their constitution from the regular Forces of the British Army, for which the British Army Act was originally specifically designed. It is most unwise of the Government in the first place to attempt to foist the whole of the provisions of the British Army Act on this country by means of a few simple words, and, in the second place, I object to legislation being placed before this Senate, and an attempt being made to enact laws, about which honorable senators are not fully informed. There is a further dangerous provision somewhere in the Bill, by which, if we pass the Bill unamended, we shall not only be committing ourselves to the British Army Act as it stands to-day, but we shall commit ourselves also to any amendments made by the British Parliament in that Act, inasmuch as those amendments will automatically operate in Australia. We, therefore, have the spectacle of another Legislature imposing legislation upon this continent.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It does not impose it. You are asked to adopt it.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The adoption of the proposal of the Government means also the adoption of any future amendment of the Army Act passed by another Legislature.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It does not say that the Imperial Parliament imposes it. We accept or reject it of our own volition.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If we swallow at one gulp the British Army Act of 190 sections there is also a provision in the Bill by which automatically any amendment of the British Army Act will apply also to Australia without coming before this Parliament.

Suggest corrections