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Thursday, 12 May 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) . - I cannot think of any word at the moment that would make the proposed sub-section clearer than it is, because if an officer thinks he is wronged, it does not matter how, or by whom, 'or whether he has any rights under the Act - the fact that he thinks he has been wronged gives him the right to appeal. The wording is as wide as we can possibly make it.

Senator ELLIOTT.(Victoria) £5.55].- Senator Gardiner -seems .to have some doubt as to whether the wording is .sufficiently wide. I ' originated the discussion on this particular subject, and I considered it most carefully in conjunction with the provisions of the 'Army Act. I' do not think we can go wrong in adhering to the words in the proposed new clause. If a man thinks - he need not have any greater foundation than that - that he is wronged, he can have his case heard.

Senator Gardiner - Does the honorable senator think that a man would have the right to say that he had been wronged if the regulations interfered with his, position ?

Senator ELLIOTT - Yes, if he thought he had been wronged. It has been suggested that the proposed new subsections should be taken seriatim, and my object in moving to eliminate sub-clause 2 is merely for the purpose of placing the soldier and officer on the same basis.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap - The honorable senator will realize that in a Committee such as this opinions vary. Some honorable senators may wish to retain one or more of the proposed new sub-clauses, and I therefore ask Senator Elliott, if he so desires, to formally move that sub-clause 2 be omitted - .

Senator ELLIOTT - I move-

That sub-section 2 of tlie proposed new section be left out.

I do so in deference to the opinions expressed during a previous discussion that in this matter officers and men should have similar treatment. I have no objection to the sub-clause in relation to officers, but wish to provide that officers and soldiers who are dealt with in the following sub-clauses shall be in a similar position. I can assure honorable senators that the men are better provided for under my proposal than under that of tho Minister. When I first gave notice of certain amendments, the Minister had not made any provision for the redress of wrongs except by regulations, which, for various reasons, I considered ineffective. I came to the conclusion that, in this instance, we should follow the British Army Act, and have it in black and white, and not in regulations which could be varied from time to time by the authorities. I am merely moving in this direction with the idea of providing that soldiers and officers shall start in the same place and end by appealing to the Governor-General if necessary.

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