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Wednesday, 28 April 1915

Mr McGRATH (Ballarat) .- I am not inclined to vote for this clause, including as it does the sub-clause to which objection has been taken, because by passing it we shall be placing too great a power in the hands of the military authorities. I would like to ask the Attorney-General who is to be the judge of any case being a matter of special urgency. I take it that the Governor-General will act on the recommendation of the Minister of Defence, and that the Minister will be guided by the advice of his officers. Why should there be any hurry to shoot a man ? Even if he has committed a serious offence against the Empire, I see nothing wrong in the proposal that he should have a fair trial, and be judged by the civil Courts. As the honorable member for Angas has pointed out, many military officers have a very exalted opinion of themselves. They may be splendid officers, but still they have no legal training to qualify them to act as judges. I hope the AttorneyGeneral will amend the clause, because I do not want to vote against any clause in the measure now before the Committee, as I recognise that in these times we must be guided to a large extent by the responsible Minister.

Mr J H Catts - But we want some justification for the great power contained in sub-clause 8.

Mr McGRATH - Yes ; that is what I am asking for. Australia is not honeycombed with spies, and what may be necessary in Great Britain may not be necessary in the Commonwealth. At present we are not threatened with any invasion, and have very little to fear, yet, in spite of this, the Minister brings down a Bill practically similar to that introduced in Great Britain, and seeks to give the military authoritiesthis great power over the lives of our people.

Mr King O'Malley - They have not got it in Great Britain.

Sir Robert Best - Yes, they have.

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