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Thursday, 12 May 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) (3:20 AM) .This clause applies, among other provisions, the Air Force Act to the Air Force in the same way as a similar clause in the Defence Bill applies the Army Act in peace time to the Defence Act. The Committee was against me on that principle in the Defence Bill, and so, in conformity with that decision I have had amendments drafted to this clause providing that the Air Force Act shall not apply to the Air. Force in peace time, though it will apply in war time. If these amendments are agreed to the Air Force will be in exactly the same position, with regard to the Air Force Act, which embodies the Army Act, as the Defence Forces are with regard to the Army Act. I wish to say a few words concerning the principle. First of all the Air Force Act can never apply except in wartime. Therefore it can never apply in Australia in peace. It can only apply when war actually comes here and is being fought on. our soil, because in the late war, although we applied the Army Act to the Australian Imperial Force, our Forces were not brought under it in Australia. The Act did not apply until members of the Australian Imperial Force went outside the three-mile, limit, so it really did not apply in Australia, even in war-time. Nor could the Air Force Act apply in Australia unless there was war on Australian soil. As to the necessity for affirming the principle, the same arguments apply as in relation to the Army Act. Only a just war will gather together allthe resources of the Empire, and then of course we shall hope, for the sake of the Empire, that the Australian Forces will be fighting alongside Forces from all the other Dominions, fighting as a British Force, under similar conditions and regulated by a similar Act. If there is to be fighting on Australian soil, we shall hope for the assistance of the Air Forces from the other Dominions,, as well as the British Air Force, and the same restrictions regarding the application of the Army Act to the Australian Imperial Force in war-time will apply to the Air

Force; that is to say, in so far as the Imperial Air Force Act is inconsistent with this Act or with the Defence Act,, it will not apply. "With this explanation, I trust honorable senators will support the amendments I have indicated. I move -

That after the word "times," line 1, the words, "while on active service" be inserted.

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