I disagree with the Minister there. I think it very unlikely that commanding officers will be universally available. First, for many purposes under the Act, it would be undesirable to give every officer the powers of a commanding officer. Undermodern service conditions, troops will be very widely dispersed. In the last emergency I was commander of a certain company of a certain battalion. At one stage I was constituted as an independent column and given attachments—it was all done in perfect order—and sent off on my own. My commanding officer was miles away from me. There were three columns which were scattered over a fairly wide area. If anything happened of a serious nature, the commanding officer was not readily available but it was a long time before a specfic arrangement was made to give me powers. A situation could easily have developed where I had my column organised by platoon columns. In a certain set of circumstances they would have to be widely dispersed and I would have no authority to give the platoon commanders the powers of commanding officers. If they ran up against that situation they would not have those powers. You cannot provide for that by law and to have a restriction like this in an active service provision is all wrong.
Deputy Cowan will agree that on earlier sections the view of the Committee—and of the Minister—was that where you are dealing with active service conditions you have to put law, when it comes to fine details, into the background and you have to rely on discipline, morale, common sense and things like that. Here is a case where we should do the same. No officer is going to arrest a brother officer or soldier or Press correspondent or—and I suspect that here is what this may have been designed to protect—the officials of the Department or State servants generally when sent down to such positions, or is going to interfere with their duties in that way. In the particular circumstances, what is sauce for the goose should be good enough for the gander.