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Wednesday, 12 May 1965

Senator COHEN (Victoria) .- So far as my memory carries me, what Senator Wright has said about the decisions of the High Court on these matters is correct. But I think the problem is not so much the amplitude of the Commonwealth's defence power in time of war because that is extremely wide and the High Court has consistently supported a wide view of that power. The point I think Senator Mc Ken n a was raising was whether there is in proposed section 61a (2.) sufficient clarity of definition so that the person on whom the obligation will rest will know the kind of thing that is in store for him. Some of the things Senator Wright suggested that such a person should be willing to do under direction and under regulation would seem somewhat far fetched in relation to the occupation of the exempted person, lt is difficult to think that a Judge of a Federal or a Slate Court, or a member of Parliament, would be the kind of person contemplated in his illustration of a requirement to go to Queensland and do some non-combatant duty in a military establishment.

What the Leader of the Opposition has asked the Minister to do - it seems to me to be a reasonable request - is to limit in a more precise way the obligations which rest upon a person who is, by definition, exempted from service in time of war. Senator McKenna has suggested three aspects to which the service may be limited. He has not regarded those as exhaustive and he has invited the Minister to expand the categories if he thinks fit. I rise only to say that it seems to me, accepting the view of the amplitude of power put by Senator Wright, that there is still room for this practical suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition) and that the person exempt should not be completely at the mercy of the Executive using its regulation making powers under the Defence Act generally. There should be some kind of definition of his obligations. because we start from the proposition that he is a person exempt from service under the Act.

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