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Friday, 5 December 1986
Page: 3526

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK(3.45) —As I was saying, the report mentions specifically a Yugoslav Slovene named Lyenko Urbanchich, whose name has been frequently denigrated in this Senate-indeed, in the last day or two by a Minister. From time to time I have had reason from my own personal judgment to criticise the man himself, not in any sense for nazi criminality but for particular views that he may hold. I wish to make it clear, in fairness to the man himself, that whether one may disagree with him on other political matters, the report itself says that there is no evidence of nazi war criminality on the part of Lyenko Urbanchich. I say that as one who has been critical of him on other grounds. It is fundamental to our Australian sense of decency that we distinguish between the ordinary differences of opinion in politics and dubbing a person a nazi war criminal.

Over a period of years all sorts of allegations have been made of men such as he. The report itself mentions that there is no proof of collaboration. I do not intend to go into whether there was or not. In any case, the report says that whether a person was a collaborator with the nazis is not important. All it was interested in was whether a person had been a nazi war criminal. I rise to tell the people of Australia and the many, many migrants who have worried about name dropping that there are three names at least-Mr Rover, Dr Degay and Lyenko Urbanchich-which have been cleared because there was no evidence that they were nazi war criminals. That must be said. I was very angry indeed when a former Labor Attorney-General came into this Parliament in 1973, I think, and tabled the names of some 2,000 Croatians whom he alleged had been criminals or had had bad records.

Senator Georges —But you almost did the same.

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —I wish that Senator Georges would pick his time. I am trying to make an objective speech about value judgments and how one should walk with sensitivity in relation to human beings. He, in his own way, understands that. Let me simply say this: It is the duty of the people in this Parliament not to brutalise the reputation of others unless there is some very good evidence. That particular Attorney-General at that time did that; he did an ugly thing. He suggested to the people of Australia that a huge number of the Croatian community had been guilty people and were not good Australian citizens. He did not produce one tittle of evidence about that, and that in itself is a bad thing.

It is against that background of evidence that we have a sensible and sensitive report by Mr Andrew Menzies-a report which warns us against just name dropping, a practice indulged in by the ABC and the then Wran Labor Government in New South Wales and Mr Walker. It warns us not to call people nazi war criminals if we do not have proof. If we have proof, let us go to the proper tribunal and present the evidence and indeed, even though the years have passed, if there is a significant criminality, let ordinary justice take place. I repeat that we have had the independent ABC using the liberty that it has to do objective things as licence and doing damage to people. This was also done by a State parliament with a State Labor government. It did the dreadful thing of announcing names and making allegations. My colleague Senator Peter Baume and I came into this place and said `Let us have an impartial investigation'. The Jewish Board of Deputies took a first class objective view. It said: `We would like to have an investigation, but it must be balanced and not biased in any way. It must not be a witch hunt'. I commend the Jewish Board of Deputies and its leaders for what it has done in this regard.

The matter emerged more recently in America where an investigation was going on episodically into whether there were nazi war criminals there, and in Canada where a royal commission was investigating the matter. It should have made a finding now or it will do so in the near future. The suggestion that emerged was that those two investigations had revealed that a flood of nazi war criminals had come into Australia as a refuge; that Australia was a dumping ground. That was how this matter emerged again against the background of the media, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the State Parliament. Against that was the picture that not only did they come in here and use Australia as a dumping ground, but also that there was a deliberate ploy, a deliberate conspiracy to let them in through the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, through governments of the day, Labor and Liberal, through governments that had connived with overseas governments, to protect them because international communism was now the issue. Now all of that, thank goodness, has been put aside. Mr Menzies has found that there is absolutely no proof at all in this allegation. He has very rightly said that screening at that time was poor and therefore errors were made. There was a shortage of staff and, in any case, in a confused world undoubtedly some war criminals would have come to this country.

It is no good name calling. I have to say, sadly, that the Labor Party has tended to name call on this over the years. I say emphatically that there is no merit in that; in fact, I could have said repeatedly that the great bulk of the screening of the displaced people who came to Australia occurred under the Chifley Government. I do not make that as a smart point. I just point out that the Chifley Government was in office in Australia from 1945 to 1949, when the bulk of the screening took place. I understand that Government's difficulties in this regard. I have risen to my feet today primarily to say that we should put this matter to rest from now on. Let us put the point scoring to rest. Do not let us be fighting over displaced people, with name calling and trying to score political points, when we are dealing with human beings and the sensitivity of their reputations.

I have risen specifically because along with the generality of the report there are some names in the report-Rover, Megay, Urbanchich-and I have risen to say that, whatever else the report says, there is no proof that those people were war criminals, whatever else they may have been. That ought to be said in fairness to them whether we may have had a particular political difference with them; whether we think that their behaviour in other matters is right or wrong. The important thing is the men's names and reputations have been damaged, and this report has gone out of its way specifically, with three or four names, to remove the element of criminality, while saying that in other areas, such as collaboration, there may not have been proof.

This is a good report. I hope that the Government will set up a sensible inquiry. I am sure that the approach to those 60 or 70 names will be not to do any witch hunting but, in the spirit of Mr Menzies' recommendations, only to look at those about which there is absolute evidence of criminality, not collaboration. I rose in this place to point out that none of us could be judges.

Senator Georges —Of collaboration?

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —I wish that Senator Georges would stop interrupting, because this is an important matter. It does no credit to him at all. I remind the Senate that there has been a tremendous controversy by the Labor Party over one ethnic group of people, the Croatians. I remind the Senate that no group of people has suffered more in history than the Croatians, and indeed from actions by allies in two wars. I remind the Senate of the heterogeneous collection that was forced to be the fate of Yugoslavia-how a whole host of people of different languages, races, beliefs and cultures were brought together, whether they were Croats, Serbs, Macedonians, Hercegovinians or Slovenes and were forced together into a state. I remind the Senate that when World War II broke out King Peter of Yugoslavia went to England. One would have expected that the British Government and the allies generally would have taken a sympathetic view of those who were the royalists, Mihailovics and the Chetniks, inside Yugoslavia. The choice for those in Yugoslavia, with Germany on one frontier and with Russia breathing down their necks, was either to go along with the royalists, with Mihailovic and the Chetniks, in that direction, to go with Tito and the communist partisans in the other direction, or to go with the Germans. That was quite a possibility, because a person who joined the German army or supported it was no criminal as such. Another choice was even to go with the Ustasha, although it turned out to be a detest- able situation.

What happened at the end of the War? Did the allies support Mihailovic and the Chetniks? Not on your life! They gave their support to Tito, and Tito and his partisans not only murdered Mihailovic but also slaughtered some 200,000 Chetniks. Does anybody here not feel sympathy for a nation that has been fought over in that regard? Out of that came all the heartbreaks, all the passions for freedom. That is the background against which we are talking. I am old enough to have seen in World War II the displaced people, to have met them and their leaders in the decade after the war, and to understand the enormity of their problems. Many people were in confused and difficult situations; many would have been in controversial situations. It is not for us to attack them and name call them now. It is for us to look at only one thing-criminality.

The side one took in the war is irrelevant to this argument. That is a justifiable situation, but whether in taking one's partisan side one caused murder and mayhem, did damage beyond the ordinary rules of war, is the judgment we must make. That is the judgment that Mr Andrew Menzies invites us to make in a document which has removed all those allegations of conspiracy and that some kind of trumped up job was done between intelligence agencies, governments of Australia and the West. He comes to a conclusion that we must face, that there was very great inefficiency and undoubtedly bad screening, and a number of war criminals got in. He said, `I am not giving a list of names. I am making a recommendation for investigation, and you should proceed further only if you have solid evidence'. He has also done what I think is the decent thing. He has looked at some names that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation had branded and has found that there is no ground in terms of criminality. I am delighted that that is so.