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Thursday, 27 March 1969

Senator McKELLAR - The Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

1.   No, the Department of the Army does not pursue a policy of presumption of guilt of any soldier charged with an offence.

2.   Allotments payable to the wife of a soldier are part of a soldier's pay and allowances. As in the case of a civilian, pay and allowances are discontinued if a soldier is absent from duty without prior authority. When the soldier returns to his unit his pay and allowances are restored from the date of his return. This process must clearly be distinguished from the question of an offence which has to be determined by the due process of military law. Pay and allowances can be forfeited if the soldier is convicted of an offence. If, for instance, in the case of absence without leave it is proved that such absence was deliberate, the Court or the Commanding Officer may include forfeiture of pay for the relevant period as part of the verdict. However, if it is established that the absence was involuntary and of a nature for which leave can be approved, the pay and allowances are restored from the date they were discontinued.

3.   If a soldier considers he has been unfairly or unjustly treated he may complain, in succession, to his commanding officer, his formation commander, the General Officer Commanding and, finally, the Military Board. Applications for such redress are considered in the first instance by the commanding officer and, if not granted, are the subject of legal opinion before submission to the next highest authority. The proceedings of any application for redress made to the Military Board are made available to the Minister for the Army.

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