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Thursday, 29 April 1915


Dr MALONEY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) .- If sub-clause 8 is to be struck out, then I think I shall be right in stating now what I had intended to say when we reached that provision. I have given this matter considerable thought, and I intend to follow an example once set us by the honorable member for Flinders, although with a very different result. The honorable member said on one occasion in this House that he would have voted for a certain proposal if the Labour party had not been in power. In determining what should be my attitude iu regard to this clause, I asked myself whether I should have voted for it if the late Government had been in power. My conscience told me that I would not, and, therefore - and this is where my action differs from that of the honorable member for Flinders - I decided that I could not support it, even with the present Government in power. Let us consider for a moment what martial or military law really is. According to Haydn's Dictionary of Dates -

Military or martial law is built on no settled principle, but is entirely arbitrary, and, in truth, no law; but sometimes indulged, rather than allowed, as law. - Sir MatthewHale. It has been several times proclaimed in parts of these Kingdoms, and in 1798 was almost general in Ireland, where it was also proclaimed in 1803. Military Manoeuvres Act, passed 1897, Military Works Acts, passed 1897; another, 1899. The King's regulation and orders promulgated, 1901.

Honorable members must know that martial law has never yet been proclaimed from frontier to frontier of the British Empire. It has never been proclaimed throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland, but only in parts. Lest honorable members think that statement is too farfetched, I shall refer them to page 792 of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, where we have the statement that -

In 1803 a similar Act was passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom-

That was an Act of indemnity - as it was after the Act of Union. In introducing it, Mr. Pitt stated : " The Bill is not one to enable the Government in Ireland to declare martial law in districts where insurrection exists, for that is a power which His Majesty already possesses - the object will be to enable the Lord Lieutenant, when any persons shall be taken in rebellion, to order them to be tried immediately by a court martial."

This power exists in Great Britain at the present time. There is a special law, to which the honorable member for Angas has referred. Let us see now where martial law has been proclaimed -

During the 19th century martial law was proclaimed by the British Government in the following places : - .

1.   Barbadoes, 1805-1816.

2.   Demerara, 1823.

3.   Jamaica, 1831-1832; 1865.

4.   Canada, 1837-1838.

5.   Ceylon, 1817 and 1848.

6.   Cephalonia, 1848.

7.   Cape of Good Hope, 1834; 1849-1851.

8.   St. Vincent, 1863.

9.   South Africa, 1899-1901.


Mr Glynn - In some of those cases it was held subsequently that there was no power to proclaim it.


Dr MALONEY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - That is stated in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. In such cases, I presume an Indemnity Bill was subsequently passed. Last night, in answer to an interjection, which I regret was made regarding a name I did not desire to make public, I did an injustice to the honorable member for Balaclava. I withdrew the remark at the direction of the Chairman, and I wish now to express my regret for having made it. The honorable member for Balaclava is not to blame for the fact to which I am going to refer, and which will prove my statement in regard to a certain officer. I have always fought against military domination, and shall continue to do so. I glory in the idea of a civilian citizen soldiery to defend Australia, and am proud whenever any of our citizen soldiers enlist for active service in this war, because every one must recognise that the fight for civilization is taking place on the battle-fields of Europe. We have had in our midst a coterie of officers who have advanced men who had not the courage to volunteer for the front - men who stayed at home and polished up the handle of the big front door. The latter have thus attained high rank. Only when they could not skulk any longer did some of them volunteer for service abroad. I have in my possession a letter from a man at the front whose statements I was able to verify to-day by reference to a member of our Expeditionary Forces who lias been invalided home. My correspondent assures me - and I know him as an honest man - that a free gift of two barrels of wine from the Mayor of Fitzroy, together with other gifts of preserved fruit and eggs, were sold in the regimental canteen, and the proceeds given to the officers.


Mr Watt - Was that on board a troop-ship ?


Dr MALONEY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - Yes.


Mr LAIRD SMITH (DENISON, TASMANIA) - Where did it happen ?


Dr MALONEY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - On the way to "Egypt. Whilst on this subject, I would like to quote from a report made by a deceased senator, who was not then a Labour man, but a Liberal, and who was an exceedingly straight goer - the honorable member for Balaclava will understand why I do not wish to mention the name of the officer concerned - I refer to the late Senator Styles, who said -

Last year the following prices wore charged at the canteen : -

 

Even mean and paltry thefts of coal belonging to the men were committed. But the late Senator Styles affirmed - and I think his statement drives the nail home better than does any statement I have ever heard -

If the higher prices fixed for the men were to discourage the use of intoxicants, it follows that the rates shown above were also fixed higher to check over-indulgence in limejuice and sarsaparilla. On the other hand, if the lower charges were to wheedle officers and sergeants into drinking canteen limejuice, it follows that the same cause would produce a like effect on the lower-grade non-commissioned officers and the men.

If these things are done in time of peace, it is not impossible that they are done in time of war. I also hold in my hand a statement to the effect that members of our Expeditionary Forces abroad have not been provided with the clothes which have been sent to them. Whenever they have to rid themselves of vermin, they are obliged to strip for the purpose. Why

 

should men who draw only 2s. per day be required to pay for their clothes, after the Government have undertaken that they shall be properly equipped? I am sure that no honorable member will imagine for a moment that either the Minister of Defence or his colleagues have been unduly impressed by the views put forward by military officers here. We all know that this Bill is almost a copy of the Imperial Act. But anybody who is familiar with the British Parliament knows that it consists largely of retired military and naval officers, and as a result not only every clause, but almost every line, of this measure is tinged with the military advice which is thus at the command of the Imperial Government. I repeat that martial law has never yet been proclaimed throughout the United Kingdom. With all its evils, I consider that lynch law would insure a person quite as fair a trial as would a court martial. I hope that an inquiry will be conducted into certain remarks which one of our brigadiers is alleged to have made on New Year's Day - remarks which were an insult to every honest man in our Expeditionary Forces. I would not soil my lips with the language which he used. Such language, addressed as it was to Australian natives, who have sacrificed much to uphold the cause of the Empire, should certainly be sufficient to warrant him being speedily brought to book. The remarks of this officer have not yet been published in the press - perhaps the censor has prevented that; but we may yet see them there. What is a trial by court martial? It is simply a trial of the accused by an officer who has had the advantage beforehand of seeing every document pertaining to the case, and who has, therefore, acquired an unconscious bias. How different is the trial of a soldier from that of an officer? We know that one soldier is now serving a term of imprisonment in this country for a certain offence, whilst an officer who is a greater thief and a viler man has escaped. Fortunately, he may yet be brought to book, because the Government have promised an inquiry into his case. On the suggestion of the Attorney-General, if the honorable member for Batman is prepared to withdraw his amendment, I would like to move that the following words be inserted in lieu of the first paragraph of subclause 6 -

Notwithstanding anything in this section, no person other than an alien enemy or a person subject to the Naval Discipline Act or to military law shall be tried by court martial for an offence against this Act.







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