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Wednesday, 11 May 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) .- Although there is reference in the clause to the Army Act, it is necessary to retain it. In the proposed new . sub-section 4 there is comprised the addition of offences against specified sections of the Army

Act, for the. trial of -which' limitation of time is not to. apply. These offences are offences of a fraudulent nature. One, for example, deals with fraudulent misapplication or embezzlement of ' public moneys or goods. Another deals with Stealing, embezzlement or receiving goods or money the property of a comrade or -a regimental institution, or of the public.. Another deals with offences of a fraudulent nature or of disgraceful conduct of a cruel, indecent, or unnatural kind. Another deals with fraudulent actions in respect of the sale of provisions to camps., Another deals with fraudulent manipulation of army documents relating to pay and other matters. Another has to. do. with wilful false evidence on oath before ' a court martial; another with taking from persons money or reward for excusing persons from their liability in re'spect of billeting soldiers; and still another with offences of treason, murder, manslaughter, rape, or any civil offence ordinarily punishable by the law of Eng- land.' The waiving of die limit of time for trial is necessary as, except in very few instances, offences committed outside Australia cannot be .tried by civil Court in Australia owing to want of jurisdiction, nor, with the present limit of time, can they ordinarily be tried by court martial in Australia after the offender's re-: turn. One recent case is that of an officer who was a paying officer in one of the camps in England. He manipulated the pay rolls so as. to make it appear that he had paid the officers more than he actually had, and he retained the balance. The fraud was not revealed until the pay books were audited some time afterwards ; and to take action was impossible, as the officer had returned to Australia and been demobilized for a period over the present limit of time prescribed. The addition of the words at the end of the proposed' sub-section 4, " an indictable offence against this Act committed outside Australia," are necessary, in view of the new section 56 embraced within clause 19 of this Bill, which applies the Defence Act to the Militia Forces outside the Commonwealth.

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