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Wednesday, 12 October 1949

Mr. DEDMAN(Corio- Minister for

Defence and Minister for Post-war Reconstruction) [11.24]. - by leave -I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

As honorable members are aware, during the war it was necessary to supplement defence legislation with a large body of National Security Regulations. The greater part of these have already been allowed to lapse, or are now no longer required. A few, however, relate to matters of a continuing nature, and have an important bearing on the present and future administration of the services. The main purpose of this bill is to give legislative effect to the substance of such of the remaining National Security Regulations which are administered by the defence and service departments, as it is considered essential to continue in permanent form in the Defence Act. The bill thus forms an important part of the action necessary to be taken to bring to an end war-time legislation continued in the form of the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act. Certain "other proposed amendments of an urgent nature, outside the scope of the National Security Regulations, have also been included in the bill.

Some provisions of the measure concern the three services; others concern the administration of the Department of the Army only. A bill to amend the Naval Defence Act to give permanent legislative effect to the substance of certain National Security Regulations which relate only to the administration of the Department of the Navy, will be brought flown during these sittings by the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan) . The f ollowing National Security Regulations are now administered by the defence ana service departments: - National Security (Internment Camp) Regulations, National Security (Military Forces) Regulations, National Security (Naval Charter Rates) Regulations, National Security (Naval Forces) Regulations, National Security (Prisoners of War) Regulations, National Security (Women's Services) Regulations, certain regulations of the National Security (General) Regulations and National Security (Supplementary) Regulations.

This bill and the measure to amend the Naval Defence Act which is tobe brought down by the Minister for the Navy, incorporate the substance of such of these regulations as are still required, or provide for the making of similar regulations under the Defence Act or Naval Defence Act. From the 1st January, 1950, therefore, the regulations which I have mentioned will cease to operate under the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act, except a few provisions of the general and supplementary regulations which are administered by the defence and service departments and which it is considered necessary to continue. The latter will be repealed as soon as possible after that date, and will be replaced by appropriate regulations to be made under the Defence Act as it is now proposed to be amended. This bill and the Naval Defence Bill deal with such National Security Regulations as are the sole concern of the defence and service departments. There are other regulations, however, such as the provisions of the National Security (General) Regulations which relate to the handling and conveyance of explosives, and the provisions of the National Security (Supplementary) Regulations which relate to the administration of the affairs of persons missing as a result of war operations, in which those departments are interested, but which are administered by other departments. Consideration is being given by the responsible departments to the taking of appropriate action in regard to these.

Among matters now covered by National Security Regulations and for which this bill makes permanent provision are the adjustment of ranks of members of the military forces after war service, which is covered by clause 4, and the unauthorized use, possession, or supply of uniforms and emblems. Clause 15 will strengthen the existing provisions of section S3 of the Defence Act in relation to the latter. In addition, it is proposed to amend section 124 of the Defence Act to enable regulations to- be made under that act to deal with the following matters which are now covered by National Security Regulations : - The suspension, variation, or cancellation of allotments of pay of members of the military forces; the extension of existing powers in the Defence Act to regulate and control buildings, &c, in defence areas; certification of death and the post-mortem examination and disposal of the bodies of members of the defence f forces who die while on service ; prisoners of war ; command and discipline of bodies of the Naval, Military or Air Force or any two of those forces acting together; and provisions relating to the administration of oaths and the execution of powers of attorney by members of the defence forces.

Apart from the provisions of the bill which arise out of National Security Regulations, the most important amendment proposed _ is that which relates to the composition of the Permanent Military Forces. In my statement to the Parliament on the 4th June. J 947, on the Government's post-war defence policy, I said that the army programme provided for the raising of permanent forces, including a field force, certain fixed establishments, and cadres for instructional, administrative and other duties. These forces, which are known as the Australian Regular Army, have been raised under war-time powers in the Defence Act which will cease as soon as a proclamation is issued terminating the " Time of War ". Section 31 of the act provides that, except in time of war, no permanent military forces shall be raised or organized except for administrative and instructional staffs, including certain specified corps. It is therefore proposed to repeal the existing section an-' to replace it with a section which will give the necessary statutory authority for the Australian Regular Army.

Other provisions to which I invite the attention of honorable members are to be found in clause 14, which gives statutory recognition to the Australian Cadet Corps, and in clause 19 which regulates the appointment of officers to the Australian Regular Army. With the establishment for the first time of an Australian Regular Army, it is considered that the restrictions imposed by the existing section 148 of the act are too rigid, and the bill therefore provides such relaxation thereof as is considered necessary. It is intended that the amending act should commence on the 1st January, 1950, that being the date up to which the continuance of National Security Regulations is authorized by the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1948. Provision is made in clause 20 of the bill for the continuance in force, under the Defence Act, of the National Security Regulations specified in that clause. These will be amended or repealed as soon as it is practicable to prepare and gazette new regulations under the Defence Act as now proposed to be amended. I commend the bill to honorable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.







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