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Thursday, 12 May 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - We arc on dangerous ground. In a case arising in a centre_ some distance from Melbourne: the' prompt production of a document may be of the greatest advantage to the Court. I am not referring to secret or valuable documents which would give away information that should not be given to the public. I take it that, beyond everything else, the Government and Parliament, should take very fine care to keep justice pure. No document which is required to enable justice to be done should be withheld from a properly-constituted Court. It may be taken for granted that if a document is asked for, and counsel for one. side or the other thinks its production will injure his case, he will object; but. if the immediate production of a document by the Defence Department will help to put the truth more clearly before a Court, I can see no reason for delaying, it. Justice delayed is justice denied. Already in the great and important city of Sydney we are suffering fearfully throu'gh having to come to the Minister in Melbourne in connexion with the most trivial things, and by this clause it is possible that our Courts of justice in Sydney will be compelled to send to Melbourne for evidence which is essential to accomplish the ends of justice. If Senator Pearce were asked to attend a Court inSydney, he might not consider himself subject to the laws of the State of New South Wales. The production' of some document may be essential to prove or disprove an allegation against the reputation of a soldier. The production of his own certificate will be the very thing that is required to prove that the allegation against him is untrue.

Senator PEARCE - If the soldier consents, there will never be a refusal. If the soldier asks for -it, it will be produced at once.

Senator GARDINER - If the document would put the truth before a Court, why should there be any objection! I do not see why the representatives of the Defence Department should be placed in a different position from any other member of the community in connexion with the production of documents, particularly when the Court considers that they are necessary to assist them in fully considering the case before it.

Senator PEARCE - We have no right to medically examine- people in the interests of public morals to see if they are fit for military service.

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