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Friday, 12 December 1913

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) (Minister of Defence) .- I move -

That this Bill be now read a second time.

This is a little measure which can be disposed of in a very few minutes. It may be remembered that last year Senator Pearce, then in charge of the Defence Department, brought forward a Bill to amend the Act substituting detention in military custody for gaol, where a sentence of imprisonment was imposed for offences in reference to the enrolment and training regulations. It was discovered afterwards, that, owing to a slight defect in drafting, that amendment of the law covered =only certain offences, but not the whole of them. The result was that, with the best intentions in the world, its objects were not fully achieved. It was found that it was still possible for magistrates to send cadets to gaol for certain offences. The object of this Bill is to stop that little gap, which was left as the result of faulty drafting. If it becomes law, it will mean that no cadet can be sent to gaol for offences under the universal training regulations, but will, instead, be sent into military detention. That, I venture to say, is a proposal which will command the respect of the House, as did a similar proposition in the previous Parliament. A second amendment of the law made by this Bill is that contained in clause 3. This limits the period of detention which may be allotted to any defaulter to thirty days in any one year. It has happened that where a cadet has been proceeded against for a series of defaults - such, for instance, as failing to register, failing to present ' himself for medical examination, any default as to drills, and so forth - magistrates have imposed sentences which, in the aggregate, have amounted to much more than was intended. For instance, I have a case in mind wherein a magistrate sentenced a lad to thirty days for one offence, to thirty days for another, the two to run concurrently, and to an additional twenty days for a third offence, making a total of fifty days. It is obvious that if proceedings were taken for a repetition of offences in any one year, the penalties would pile up to a very serious extent indeed. It has appeared to me, as I hope it will appear to the Senate, that it is desirable to prescribe a limit to the period of detention which can be enforced against any cadet in any one year. That period I have put down at thirty days.

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