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Thursday, 12 May 1921

Senator ELLIOTT (Victoria) . - An officer who was a member of the Permanent Forces has told me that during the war a complaint was made against him and he was allowed to inspect the official reports and confidential documents relating to the matter, but as certain of the complaints were made by civilians - and it was upon these he considered he was harshly dealt with - they were regarded by the Department as not being official documents and he was not permitted to inspect them. In order, to get justice he appealed to the Supreme Court, whereupon all those concerned climbed down and paid him damages.

Senator Pearce - The instance quoted by the honorable senator shows that each man has a remedy at common law.

Senator ELLIOTT - A permanent officer of the Defence Forces might have a fairly good knowledge of the military law, and perhaps of the common law, but the average citizen or soldier would not have that same knowledge.

Senator Pearce - Neither would he have knowledge of the amendment which the honorable senator now proposes. He would be obliged to employ a solicitor to tell him his rights under the honorable senator's proposal.

Senator ELLIOTT - My proposal if accepted would find a place in the Defence Act, and any officer seeking promotion would attend lectures in which the instructional staff would acquaint him with the rights it would give him.

Senator Pearce - Each man has the right to make an application to inspect the documents relating to his case and to draw attention to any refusal to allow him to inspect them.

Senator ELLIOTT - That may be the case, but I am endeavouring to show how necessary it is for the benefit of our citizen soldiers to codify the vast body of common law which exists in numbers of cases and which can hardly be obtained by any person who is not a lawyer within reach of a law library.

Amendment of the amendment negatived.

Amendment (Senator Pearce's) agreed to.

Senator Elliott - I do not propose to pursue the matter further.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule verbally and consequentially amended and agreed to.

Clause 48 reconsidered and consequentially amended.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments.

Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) put -

That so much of the Standing and Sessional Ordersbe suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.

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