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After 12 weeks still no response on military justice.

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Robert McClelland MP Federal Member for Barton Shadow Minister for Defence

8 September 2005


Today marks exactly 12 weeks since the Government received the unanimous Senate Committee report into the effectiveness of the military justice system.

Thus far we have heard nothing but a deafening silence from the Government.

Upon the Senate Report’s release on 16 June this year Senator Hill said he would take action “earlier rather than later”.

Three months of silence from the Defence Minister is totally unacceptable when victim’s families have laid down a powerful case for root a branch reform to a dysfunctional system.

In a rare demonstration of collective conviction, Committee Senators from the Coalition, Labor and Democrats recommended significant reforms including:

ƒ all suspected criminal activity in Australia be referred to the appropriate State/Territory civilian police for investigation and prosecution before the civilian courts; ƒ Service police should only investigate a suspected offence in the first instance

where there is no equivalent offence in the civilian criminal law; ƒ the Director of Military Prosecutions should only initiate a prosecution in the first instance where there is no equivalent or relevant offence in the civilian criminal law; ƒ the Government legislate as soon as possible to create the statutorily

independent Office of Director of Military Prosecutions; ƒ the ADF review the training requirements for the Permanent Legal Officers assigned to the Office of the Director of Military Prosecutions, emphasising

adequate exposure to civilian courtroom forensic experience; ƒ the remuneration of the Director of Military Prosecutions be adjusted to be commensurate with the professional experience required and prosecutorial function exercised by the office-holder; ƒ all Permanent Legal Officers be required to hold current practicing certificates; ƒ Judges appointed to the Permanent Military Court should be required to have a

minimum of five years recent experience in civilian courts at the time of appointment;

When a young recruit signs up for service they should be entitled to the same standard of justice as every other Australian citizen.

Recruitment and retention remains the sleeping giant of the ADF’s future challenges. Any perception that the ADF is a place of injustice must be promptly addressed and dispelled to ensure potential young recruits see the ADF as an employer of choice.

There have already been six reports which the out of touch Howard Government ignored and failed to produce any effective reforms.

Just how long does the Defence Minister expect the Australian people to wait and the Howard Government mismanages this important issue?

Further information:

Tom Cameron 0417 147 932