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What has happened to the Australian Military Court, Minister?

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What has happened to the Australian Military Court, Minister?

March 21, 2012

Defence personnel are still being tried under the old courts martial system because the Defence Minister is once again procrastinating on another important issue for his portfolio.

Shadow Defence Minister Senator Johnston today asked in Question Time where was the legislation needed to reconstitute the Australian Military Court (AMC), which was declared invalid in 2009.

In August 2009 the AMC was subject to a challenge through Lane v Morrison when the High Court declared it to be invalid because Commonwealth judicial power could only be exercised under Chapter III of the Constitution.

“The Minister’s predecessor Senator Faulkner announced interim measures where personnel would be tried under the old courts martial system, and declared the legislation to reconstitute the military court as a Chapter III court to be a priority for the Government,” Senator Johnston said.

The Bill was introduced in into Parliament in 2010 but lapsed when the election was called.

“It is now 18 months since the election and this Bill is nowhere to be seen, even though it must already be drafted as it has previously been introduced - what is the Minister doing?”

“His predecessor declared it a priority for the Government.”

“The Defence Minister is becoming a master of delay and I suspect he has little appreciation for military justice and it has been crossed off his ‘To Do’ list entirely.”

Senator Johnston said the creation of the Australian Military Court was the single most important recommendation to come out of the 2005 Senate inquiry into military justice and vital if we are to claim our defence force was modern and professional.

“It is totally unacceptable for two and a half years to lapse without this important issue receiving timely attention from the Minister, particularly given it has bipartisan support. Under this Minister the legislation has not just stalled, it has disappeared without a trace.”