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Friday, 30 October 1970

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I wish to speak only briefly. In fairness to my colleague the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby), who has had to put the argument on behalf of the Opposition, I think it should be pointed out that Worthing's case still presents some doubt about the law that applies in respect of time and about the law that applies to an offence committed at a place acquired by the Commonwealth. It could well be that many criminal prosecutions could be launched by the Commonwealth because the law was in existence before the place was acquired. It ought to be said on a social basis that it is well known that a soldier has already been charged and acquitted for a so-called offence on Commonwealth property, and I think the one thing that we are anxious to see does not happen is his being re-charged, because the matter on which he was charged comes within the time that will be covered by this Bill. This is the thing that I think is important.

Surely nobody, not even the most vicious opponent of a man who breaks the law, would want to see him again charged because this Bill is to be retrospective in its application. I think that is something that ought to be said in fairness to my colleague. The case in point, as the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Hughes) would know, concerns an alleged drug offence in an Army camp in Brisbane. Because of the so-called weakness in Worthing's case, the soldier Who was charged was acquitted. The Attorney-General surely would not want it to be suggested that he should now be recharged for that offence because it is within the 6 months period specified in the Bill. I think that is the real issue involved in this matter.

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