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Thursday, 5 May 1921

Senator EARLE (Tasmania) .- I oppose the amendment and the clause itself. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has given an assurance that if the clause is rejected the Government will take a certain line of action. The course indicated would be, in my view, the right one. I am not in a position to criticise the Army Act -and the matter of its adaptability to our Forces in peace or' war. Therefore, my principal reason for voting against its incorporation is that I am not prepared to accept the responsibility for its inclusion. I hold that no honorable senator could make himself sufficiently familiar with the Imperial Act unless he were prepared to give to it some two or three months of close study. Senator Drake-Brockman, speaking of the British Statute, referred to it as the most complete piece of legislation for the government of an Army in the English language, if not in the world. His familiarity with it, I understand, was gained during a time of war.

Senator Drake-Brockman - Also in time of peace.

Senator EARLE - The honorable senator's working knowledge of it was obtained during the war. I cannot conceive that a piece of legislation, regarded as perfect for the control of an, Army in time of war, can be accepted as in every way applicable to our Australian Forces under conditions of peace. I am led to the conclusion, therefore, that the Army Act could not be properly adapted to our purposes.

Senator Cox - Would you have a different law for a time of peace?

Senator EARLE - Absolutely !' It is necessary to do many things in time of war which should not be permissible in days of peace.

Senator Cox - But how. would we get our officers trained in accordance with the Army Act so as to take charge of our Forces in time of war?

Senator EARLE - 1 consider that our officers would be fully capable of grasping the main requirements of the Imperial code during the few months necessarily absorbed in the ordinary training of our troops. I emphasize that I oppose this clause, and will subsequently vote, if necessary, for the deletion of all clauses aimed at the inclusion of the British Act in our Australian defence legislation.

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