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Wednesday, 11 May 1921


Senator ELLIOTT (Victoria) .- We have had a fine picture of the perfection of the military jurisdiction painted for us. It must be remembered, however, that the late war was exceptional in that the whole of the manhood of. Great Britain of military age was calledup - conscripted - and that in consequence . the military authorities had a wide field of selection from which to obtain legal advisers, to constitute legal tribunals. That condition of affairs did not exist in previous wars, which, in the main, were fought by the British Regular Army, the personnelof which by no means, affords the same wide field of selection among men with legal knowledge.


Senator Drake-Brockman - But we are- dealing with the Australian Army, which must be a citizen army.


Senator ELLIOTT - The Australian Army, at any rate overseas, will probably be recruited by voluntary enlistment,, and leading legal men do not in such circumstances volunteer.


Senator Senior - How is it that you got there, then ?


Senator ELLIOTT - I do not claim by any means to be one of the leading counsel of Australia.


Senator Fairbairn - How did you come to volunteer?


Senator ELLIOTT - I volunteered, if the honorable senator wants to know, because the Government sent me a circular' asking me to call for volunteers in my battalion, and I had sufficient sense of shame not to say, " Boys, are you going to the war? I am not going." I put my name down at the top and said, "Boys, who is coming with me?" That is how 'I came to volunteer, and I lost all my legal business during my five years of absence. I do not suggest that Senator Drake-Brockman is misleading the Committee, but he has perhaps misled himself by applying to all wars the exceptional circumstances of the late war. We are legislating, not for the late war, but for wars which will probably be waged on the more primitive lines of the wars of the past.


Senator Cox - Did not the same principle apply in the Boer war?


Senator ELLIOTT - They had judge advocates, but these were regular soldiers who had given a certain amount of study to the Army Act and to military law. Still they were not men of the type of Mr. Justice Brissenden and many others who were serving as junior lieutenants and available for duty, as they were in the late war. There were K.C.'s serving in the ranks in this war.


Senator Cox - But in South Africa we had the Militia Forces, and the Yeomanry, and the Irregular Army of Great Britain, as well as the regulars.


Senator ELLIOTT - Of course we had, but there were not amongst them leading barristers such as we had in the late war, from Australia and other parts of the Empire.


Senator Foster - Did the honorable senator know about all these lawyers roaming around in London and at headquarters ?


Senator ELLIOTT - I knew that during the closing year of the war we had on the divisional staffs and corps staffs men like Mr. Justice Brissenden.


Senator Foster - How many men in your brigade knew about them?


Senator ELLIOTT - Not very many. As a matter of fact my legal adviser for a long period was a man who, although he had passed his examinations, was not even admitted to the bar and had never practised. He had taken a certain course of study in the law, and had become familiar with the Army Act, but he was not by any means a man whom one could rely on as a sound adviser on a difficult and intricate point of law. But certainly on the Army Head-quarters Staff they had towards the close of the war extremely able men, and they sent back quite a number of cases for review. I say again that in discussing this clause it should be remembered that the circumstances of. the late war were quite exceptional.







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