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Thursday, 12 May 1921

Senator PEARCE ("Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) . - Proposed new section H9a is intended to cover the cases of men who were discharged, whilst absent through desertion, by the Governor-General. It is also a necessary provision for the future. Proposed new section 11 9b is designed to cover the cases of men who, at the time of the armistice, were placed upon leave of absence, without pay, and who were not discharged for some time. These men were not given permission to engage in civilian occupations during their leave. The Government gave their cases full consideration and granted them every possible benefitBut it decided not to discharge them, because the armistice might have been of only a temporary duration. Hostilities might have been resumed, and, accordingly, these men were discharged only as if they were on leave without pay. Subsequently it was discovered that they might be able to claim pay. To avoid that contingency this provision is being inserted. Provision is also being made to cover the question of the pay of men who were allowed to return to their homes on account of sickness, &c, and who never returned to duty, but were discharged. The cases of men who were reduced in rank for inefficiency ot for offences are also covered by the clause where the reduction was irregular. There is a number of these cases - not a very great number - and as Senator Drake-Brockman pointed out earlier in the discussion, many of these irregular discharges were due to a lack- of knowledge of the Army Act and of the procedure to be followed. The man himself suffered no wrong in any- way, except that the technical requirements of the Army Act were not complied with. Any cases of hardship that may arise are left under the proposed section to the discretion of the Minister, but no hard and fast rule is laid down. Some men, for instance, were placed on leave of absence without pay, and they may have been unable to obtain employment by reason of their not possessing a discharge certificate. These cases can be dealt with, although we have not met any of them so far. Then there were the men who deserted in England, and did not report, although frequent advertisements were inserted in the newspapers. We had eventually, by order from the GovernorGeneral, to discharge them. Our Act makes no provision for it. Some of those men may come along-

Senator Foster - You said just now that this trouble was due to irregularities in the Army Act- Did you not' mean the Defence Act?

Senator PEARCE - No; I meant irregularities in the administration of the Army Act overseas. These were faults of administration. Things which were quite justified and morally right were done, but were technically irregular because of our officers' lack of knowledge of the Army Act. This is really a validating clause to deal with those cases.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 58 -

After section 123b of the principal Act the following sections are inserted in Fart X.: - "123*?. - (1) No person lawfully having in his possession or his power any book, document, paper or record relating to any matter under the control of the Department of the Navy or the Department of Defence or the Air Board, or relating to the defence of the Commonwealth or to the Defence Force or to any member of the Defence Force, shall be required by any Court to produce that book, document, paper or record to the Court without the consent of the Minister for the Navy or the Minister for Defence or the Minister for the time being administering the Air Defence Act 1021 or the Naval Secretary or the Secretary to the Department of Defence or some other prescribed person. " (2) Where the consent required in pursuance of the last preceding sub-section is refused, no person failing or refusing to comply with the order of the Court as to such production shall be liable, in respect of that failure or refusal, to any process of the Court." " 123g. - (1) Any person who sells, and any merchant, trader, dealer, pawnbroker, or shopkeeper who buys, any article supplied or issued by any Red Cross Society or Red Cross organization, knowing it to have been so supplied or issued, shall be guilty of an offence. " (2) Any person who buys or sells any article bearing a brand or mark indicating that it has been supplied or issued by a Red Cross Society or Red Cross organization, shall be deemed, in any proceedings for a breach of this section, to know that it has been so supplied or issued. " (3) Any merchant, trader, dealer, pawnbroker or shopkeeper on whose behalf or at whose place of business any article as aforesaid is offered or exposed for sale or is sold, exchanged, traded in or disposed of contrary to this section, whether contrary to the instructions of the merchant, trader, dealer, pawnbroker or shopkeeper, or otherwise, shall be guilty of an offence.

Penalty: Twenty pounds."

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