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Labor welcomes new Advocate General, but where is the military prosecutor?



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MEDIA ALERT

Senator Chris Evans Labor Senator for Western Australia Shadow Minister for Defence

5 July 2002

LABOR WELCOMES NEW ADVOCATE GENERAL, BUT WHERE IS THE MILITARY PROSECUTOR?

The welcome announcement today of Justice Roberts-Smith as Defence’s new Judge Advocate General serves to highlight the Government’s continued failure to appoint a Director of Military Prosecutions (DMP) and supporting Office.

Justice Roberts-Smith’s achievements are impressive and he will provide valuable leadership to the Defence legal system.

However, Labor is increasingly disturbed by the Government’s failure to appoint a DMP, or even to commit to a timetable for introducing the legislation to set up the office.

That we are still waiting for the establishment of the office of the DMP is a key failing in the Government’s administration of the military justice system.

Recent episodes have highlighted this gap in Defence’s legal justice fabric.

The handling of the allegations relating to misconduct by some crew from the HMAS Arunta on Christmas Island last year shows that a lot more needs to be done to ensure that complaints are investigated in a timely and sensitive way.

After pressure from Labor, six months of no information and five investigations, a significant change has been made to investigation practices relating to indecent assault claims.

The Government has admitted that a DMP is necessary to ensure that prosecutions are conducted fairly and rigorously.

The Government’s announcement that a DMP would be instituted was now almost a year ago, on 16 August 2001, in response to a number of strong urgings by independent audits into the military justice system.

The Government’s delay on this important initiative is inexcusable.

For information: Chris Evans 0419 983 593 Mary Wood 0421 910 128