COURTS-MARTIAL: NAVAL FORCES OF COMMONWEALTH CONVENING OF COURTS-MARTIAL FOR TRIAL OF MEMBERS OF ROYAL NAVY ACTING WITH ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY: WHETHER PROPER FOR ADMIRALTY TO CONFER AUTHORITY DIRECT ON NAVAL BOARD: ADVISABILITY OF COMMONWEALTH BODY HOLDING AUTHORITY DIRECT FROM IMPERIAL GOVERNMENT
NAVAL DISCIPLINE ACT (IMP.)
The Admiralty has recently issued a commission authorising the Rear-Admiral Commanding H.M. Australian Fleet to convene courts-martial for the trial of offences under the Naval Discipline Act committed by officers and men of the Royal Navy when the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy are acting together.
It has been suggested that as the Governor-General has, under the Naval Discipline Act as amended in its adaptation to the Royal Australian Navy, authorised both the Naval Board and the Vice-Admiral to convene courts-martial, a commission similar in effect to that issued to the Rear-Admiral be issued by the Admiralty to the Naval Board.
The Minister desires advice as to whether the proper course is for the Admiralty to be asked-
- to authorise the Naval Board to convene courts-martial on Royal Naval officers; or
- to confer such authority on the Governor-General or the Minister who could by Order in Council delegate his powers to the Naval Board.
I submit that the second course proposed by the Minister for Defence is the correct one. I agree with the Crown Solicitor that as a general rule it would be inadvisable for a Commonwealth authority (other than the Governor-General) to hold a direct authority from the Imperial Government.
I recommend that the Minister for Defence be informed accordingly.
[Vol. 14, p. 301]
- This Opinion is endorsed 'Approved' by Mr Mahon, Acting Attorney-General.