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Thursday, 12 May 1921

Senator ELLIOTT (Victoria) .- The points raised by Senator Foster are not directed against the purposes of the amendment, the effect of which is to secure justice. At the request of the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), I submitted my proposed new section to his own draftsman to be licked into shape, and he now criticises their draftsmanship.

Senator PEARCE - Where is power derived whereby the Minister for Defence may order Supreme Court Judges to hold an inquiry?

Senator ELLIOTT - That is constantly done by the appointment of Royal Commissions.

Senator Pearce - Only with their consent.

Senator ELLIOTT - There is no provision in my proposed new section whereby the Minister shall order a Judge.

Senator Pearce - The word " direct " is used.

Senator ELLIOTT - If the term is objectionable, I would be glad if the draftsman would suggest the pro-ยป per word. In cases of grave complaints against officers that they have suppressed documents which are vital in their effect upon a man's character, there ought to be some tribunal. An inquiry can be directed by the Minister, and such inquiry is usually conducted before a Military Board. I contend, however, that the investigations should be made by a Judge who is accustomed to weigh evidence.

Senator Foster - The honorable senator is not dealing with the circumstances of an individual who has actually suffered serious injustice, but he is proposing to give to every officer and man who may think himself ruined opportunity to apply for a tr: bun al whereupon the Minister must appoint a Judge of the Supreme Court.

Senator ELLIOTT - There will not be many officers or men anxious to go to the expense of such an investigation merely because of a fad.

Senator Foster - If a soldier cannot have a wrong redressed without having to put his hand into his pocket, this Parliament should do something to provide means for him.

Senator ELLIOTT - Then if the honorable senator knows of any better way-

Senator Pearce - The common law provide? a much better method.

Senator ELLIOTT - The common law applies, 1 admit; and I urge on the Minister that he instruct his law officers to codify that law so that the public may understand it, and not be obliged to pay high fees to lawyers in order to have the law pointed out to them. I have endeavoured here to produce something in the natura of a code, and tlie proposed additional sections deserve the serious attention of the Committee.

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