09 September 2009

Australia seeks a return to court-martial system a month after High Court struck down the Australian Military Court

Today Minister for Defence, Senator John Faulkner (ALP-NSW) introduced legislation that would provide Australia with an interim military justice system after the Australian Military Court, or AMC, was held, in Lane v. Morrsion, unconstitutional last month by the High Court.

"The High Court declared that the provision of the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 creating the AMC were invalid. The AMC was found to be exercising the judicial power of the Commonwealth by did not meet the requirements of Chapter III of the Constitution," said Defence Minister Faulkner.

"As an interim measure, the Government is reintroducing the former system of trial by court-martial and Defence Force magistrates. The system has a number of safeguards within it to ensure that ADF members are treated fairly."

The interim legislation will also give effect to punishments (other than imprisonment) and orders that were imposed by the former Australian Military Court.

"Beyond the interim measures introduced by this legislation, the Government remains commited to resolving the future of the military justice system with certainty.

"Defence will be working closely with the Attorney-General's Department to develop, as a matter of priority, a model for ensuring these matter are heard by a court constituted under Chapter III of the Constitution. Establishing a Chapter III process presents a range of challenges which need to be fully addressed before moving to a a new system," Faulkner said.

The interim legislation, introduced today, will retain improvements to the military discipline system made by amendments in 2008 to the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982.

A copy of today's introduced bill is presently unavailable. I'm working on obtaining a copy and once I do it will be posted to the blog. For further information the ADF issued a press release today which can be found here.

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