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Thursday, 31 October 1974
Page: 2191

Senator GRIMES -Has the Attorney-General seen again this morning Press reports on the possibility of the setting up of private army and vigilante groups by certain ex-service organisations? Will the Minister clarify for the Senate and for these gentlemen their legal position which one assumes would be a danger to the principles of rule of law in this country?

Senator MURPHY - This issue was raised here, I think, about a month ago. I then indicated that there were certain provisions in our law which were aimed against the development of private armies. I suppose, if necessary, these provisions will be invoked. It is quite undesirable in a world which has been characterised by more and more violence that there should be suggestions in Australia of a private army. I think those in the Returned Services League ought to understand quite firmly- I think we can speak for any government of any political character- that if the Government thinks it needs the assistance of the Returned Services League to run the defence force or any kind of para-military force, it will ask for it. It does not do any good for democracy and the preservation of peace for this kind of idiotic suggestion to be put forward by the Returned Services League or anybody else.

Senator Drake-Brockman - Just as well you said anybody else.

Senator Webster - Yes, it is just as well.

Senator MURPHY -I thank Senator DrakeBrockman and Senator Webster for indicating their concurrence with what I put. We do not want the development of any private army under any guise whatever. The suggestion that such an army would be standing by, ready to help is something that is quite unnecessary. This kind of volunteering by such bodies or any other body- I repeat or by any other body- is to be deprecated. We want no private armies from any source whatever in Australia.

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