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Monday, 16 November 1964

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) .- I am glad that the Government has given consideration to the arguments of Senator Murphy to the extent that it has. However, after listening to the honorable senator's observations tonight, I express myself as being unconvinced as to the existence of any great objection to the method of treatment for which provision is made. I understood Senator Murphy to say that the present proposal would apply the law of the Australian Capital Territory insofar as it creates offences, not merely to any person serving in a foreign country - Cyprus or elsewhere - but to any person who is resident there. I do not think that the Bill sustains that interpretation.

Senator Murphy - I said " serving under arrangements made with the United Nations ".

Senator WRIGHT - It applies strictly to a person who is an Australian citizen or a British subject ordinarily resident in Australia who is serving in a country outside Australia under arrangements made between the Commonwealth and the United Nations, but does not include a member of the defence forces. Clause 4(b) of the Bill makes it clear that it is only to a person so serving that the Australian Capital Territory law applies to create an offence.

The second point is that it is suggested that if these people carry with them the benefit of the Australian law, they should be given, for the purposes of a defence, the benefit of the local law of the country in which they are serving. Some criticism was made the other day of the out of date and confused state of the law in the Australian Capital Territory for the purpose of creating offences. We have to acknowledge that the law of the Australian Capital Territory is out of date and confused. I think that is due partly to the federal system, partly to the autocratic system by which it is made - that is to say, by ordinance instead of act of Parliament - and partly because of its smallness and', therefore insignificance. Nevertheless, it is a characteristic law for people representing Australia, under arrangements with the United States, to carry with them.

Senator Henty - And the United Nations.

Senator WRIGHT - And the United Nations. 1 suggest that the last point is a matter that we should deal with independently of this Bill. Is it a not valid proposition that these people should carry with them the benefits of Australian law which, under the arrangements made, as the Minister has explained, exempt them from procedures for offences at the instance of the local government?

Is not that a very real benefit, particularly when we have regard to the countries in which the persons concerned may from time to time be serving? In many instances, an Australian citizen would find himself awkwardly placed if he had to defend himself according to the law . of Cyprus and according to the procedures of the courts of Cyprus. If we gave to such a person a clear understanding that the law by which he was to have his conduct judged for the purpose of offences against the law, was the national law of Australia as typified by the Australian Capital Territory law, I should think that he would be under no grave disadvantage or risk of injustice.

The benefit that the person concerned obtains from the local law outweighs

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