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Wednesday, 19 September 2001
Page: 31077


Mr Laurie Ferguson asked the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 8 August 2001:

(1) Does Defence currently maintain a centralised case flow management system in order to ensure that the military justice system is operating efficiently and to prevent unnecessary delays with individual cases before court martials, Defence Force Magistrates and summary authorities.

(2) In particular, does Defence currently monitor progress with (a) notification of laying of charges, (b) the steps proceeding to trial and (c) the result of any trial; if not, has the need to introduce such a system been identified by the Judge Advocate-General.

(3) Does Defence currently utilise a structured system of directions hearings to ensure that appropriate preparations are being made for a trial; if not, has the need for such a system been identified by the Judge Advocate-General.

(4) Has the Judge Advocate-General noted difficulties with the ready provision of statistics on the operation of the military justice system; if so, would the proposals referred to in parts (2) and (3) assist in overcoming these difficulties.


Mr Bruce Scott (Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) No. However, once a court martial or Defence Force Magistrate trial is convened informal centralised monitoring by Defence Legal Service occurs.

(2) (a) No. The laying of charges are currently single service command based decisions. As such charges are monitored at unit level and at some superior headquarters.

(b) No. The laying of charges and the proceeding to summary or court martial/Defence Force Magistrate trial are currently single service command based decisions. As such proceedings are monitored at unit level and at some superior headquarters. Local legal officers provide legal advice at various stages of the process.

(c) Yes. The need to introduce case flow management procedures has been identified by the Judge Advocate-General. Paragraphs 32 to 40 of the Judge Advocate General's Report for the period 1 January to 31 December 2000 refers. Mr Burchett QC has also recommended the introduction of a similar system in his recent Report on Military Justice.

(3) No. The need for such a system has been identified by the Judge Advocate-General. Paragraph 38.b. of the Judge Advocate-General's Report for the period 1 January to 31 December 2000 refers.

(4) Yes. The proposals in parts (2) and (3) may assist in overcoming these difficulties.