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Friday, 19 July 1912

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) '. - The whole trend of this: debate suggests that we should treat all offences by members of our Cadet Force as minor offences - that we should distinguish between the hearing of such charges and ordinary Police Court trials. The more thismatter is ventilated the more convinced I am of the necessity for the adoption of the- proposa.1 of Senator McDougall. After all. what are our cadets? They are mere children.

Senator Henderson - Some of them think that they know a lot.

Senator DE LARGIE - Yes. When we were eighteen years of age. possibly we used" to think that we knew more than our elders. But most lads of eighteen years of age are mere children, and we ought not to associate them with a Police Court, which, after all, is a Criminal Court. As Senator McDougall . stated by interjection, some of these lads have been put into " Black Maria " with criminals and taken to gaol. We want to prevent that. I would suggest that the Minister should ascertain whether it is not possible to have all lads who are proceeded against for breaches of our Defence Act, irrespective of whether or not they are over sixteen years of age, tried before a Children's Court. After all, non-attendance at military drills is merely equivalent to truancy from school. My desire is to prevent these youths from being haled before a Police Court. Even in those States in which Children's Courts do not try children over the age of sixteen years, an extension of the age limit to eighteen years would, I think, be a step in the right direction. I support the amendment, and do not think that it should be weakened in any way.

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