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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3432


Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (Werriwa) (18:39): I congratulate the member for Fremantle on moving this motion not only to outline the specifics of the Second World War incarceration but because it represents a broader international problem. After the Second World War, Stalin deported hundreds of thousands of Chechens, Volga Germans and Crimean Tatars. In Czechoslovakia the government expelled hundreds of thousands of Sudeten Germans. This is symptomatic of societies that distrust their citizens in times of conflict. I do not want to cover extensively the Second World War situation—other members have—but there are some very worrying historical patterns in this country. In the First World War, because we had doubts that King Constantine would stay onside with the allies, every Greek family in this country was investigated by the precursor of ASIO, who went to their neighbours and asked them about their loyalty. In the Riverina, particularly, in both world wars the large number of German settlers were very heavily persecuted and the names of towns were changed. I had the opportunity in my political career to discuss this with Tim Fischer, a previous National Party member from the Riverina, whose own family endured these kinds of circumstances. It was not here of course. In the United States, although they only incarcerated one per cent of Hawaii's huge Japanese population, 100,000 Japanese in the United States were incarcerated. It was only Reagan's apology in 1998 that put some end to that.

Similar events occurred in this country. Sir Henry Bolte was probably one of the toughest politicians this country has ever produced and was famous for hanging Ronald Ryan. If you go to this country's National Archives and listen to his oral history, he said that throughout his political career he always dreaded that the Australian people would find that he was of German extraction. In the Riverina, in Mildura, and in the Albury area we incarcerated two Lutheran ministers because they might have been pro Nazi. One of them, unfortunately, was a Lutheran convert from Judaism. A person active in Sydney's Jewish community, Josie Lacey, tells the story that, when she arrived here as a Jewish refugee, she and her family were so distrusted that they were not allowed to live on the coastline near Bondi or Vaucluse. They were moved out to Wentworthville because they might otherwise communicate with German submarines.

My local Guilford chemist is of Italian extraction and told the story that throughout the Second World War his father was forced to work for the Catholic Church from Monday to Friday, basically for nothing, and only come home on weekends. We have a situation in this country where, in times of conflict, minorities are doubted and there is no respect for their citizenship of this country. Amongst the 7,000 incarcerated during the Second World War, 1,500 were nationals and were actually British citizens.

There are other things I had not heard about. One thing I came across when reading about this resolution was an incident that I was previously unaware of. At Cape Bedford in Northern Queensland, because the local Lutheran pastor was a German, they moved 250 Aboriginal Australians to Cooktown and Cairns because we could not trust them because they had a Lutheran pastor. Of those people, 28 died in the first month because of the change of temperature and climate and, eventually by March 1943, 60 of them had perished. We pride ourselves on multiculturalism and, of course, we are a world leader. But these are things we should be very careful of. As I say, in times of frantic nationalism and patriotism, these kinds of mentalities and situations arise.

Another incident in this country happened in Broken Hill, where rioters burned down the German club and a large number of other properties connected with Germans. It is a situation that is very damning. The major writer in this area is Klaus Newmann author of In the Interest of National Securityand another article on Wolf Klaphake entitled, A Doubtful Character. Another incident is that a person, who was an inventor, was victimised by the German Nazis and managed to get to this country. However, he fled and got to this country to be liberated and then we incarcerated him because he might have been a Nazi sympathiser.

The dimensions of this are that people were ostracised by their neighbours, by the people that they went to school with and by their friends, they were marginalised in society and not trusted, their lives were basically torn asunder and careers that they might have aspired to were destroyed. All of these are things that are very integral to the resolution that the member for Fremantle has moved. I recommend it very strongly to the House and congratulate her endeavour in an important issue.