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Thursday, 16 May 2013
Page: 3594

Dr MIKE KELLY (Eden-MonaroMinister for Defence Materiel) (10:50): I thank the member for Ryan for her comments and I congratulate her son for his service. Please pass on our regards and thanks to him for that service, particularly having returned from the difficult environment of Afghanistan. I have had the opportunity to observe and understand the nature of that service.

This obviously has been an issue that has been fraught for some time. There have been many attempts to navigate some of the vagaries of the issues thrown up by military justice. In reply to some of the comments that were made about our commitment to defence spending, as you have seen in this budget, that spending has actually increased. In my quarter of a century of involvement in security policy in this country and in the Defence Force, I have never seen a more significant delivery of capability to the Defence Force in that time. It is a very exciting time for the Defence Force. We have carefully balanced the challenges of defence capability planning and are delivering capability that is going to set this country up very well for its security needs and for its ability to respond to disasters both nationally and within the region as well. I congratulate our service personnel, our service chiefs and all of those within the Defence Materiel Organisation who have helped us manage that difficult challenge of juggling the delivery of that capability with our revenue needs.

In summing up the debate on the Military Justice (Interim Measures) Amendment Bill 2013, I would like to thank all of those who have taken an interest in this issue and who have contributed to the debate. As outlined in the explanatory memorandum to the bill, the High Court on 26 August 2009 found unanimously that the provisions of the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 establishing the Australian Military Court were invalid because they were not consistent with the requirements of chapter 3 of the Commonwealth Constitution.

The Military Justice (Interim Measures) Act (No. 1) 2009 was subsequently passed by this parliament to reinstate the pre-2007 military justice arrangements. This act ensured that military discipline arrangements, in particular the system of court martial and Defence Force magistrate trials, continued to operate effectively. The reinstatement of the pre-2007 military justice system was also required to allow time for the consideration and development of options for a new military justice system consistent with the requirements of chapter 3 of the Constitution.

The Military Justice (Interim Measures) Act (No. 1) 2009 provided for a tenure of up to two years for the Chief Judge Advocate and the judge advocate's panel. The Military Justice (Interim Measures) Amendment Bill 2011 previously extended the appointment arrangements for the Chief Judge Advocate and judge advocate's panel for a two-year period. However, this tenure is due to expire in September.

The Military Justice (Interim Measures) Amendment Bill 2013 will continue the appointment, remuneration and entitlement arrangements for the Chief Judge Advocate and judge advocate's panel for an additional two years or until the Minister for Defence declares by legislative instrument a specified day to be a termination day, whichever is sooner. The purpose of Australia's military discipline system is to support command in maintaining and enforcing service discipline in order to enhance operational effectiveness. A military discipline system that supports the authority and effectiveness of commanders is of vital importance in the operation of the Australian Defence Force. This bill is one contribution in support of an effective military discipline system.

In closing, I would also like to say that both the coalition and the government have a bipartisan approach to the funding of the Defence Force. It is pleasing to see there is now certainty in that respect going forward. I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.