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Friday, 5 December 1986
Page: 3529


Senator PETER BAUME(4.05) —Mr Andrew Menzies has now reported to the Government on the findings arising out of his investigation into the immigration of former nazis to Australia. In parallel with his inquiry, but on a much more limited scale, through a lawyer on my staff and with the good will and assistance of the Australian Archives, I have carried out my own investigations into some of the circumstances surrounding post-war immigration from Europe to Australia. Today I want to draw to the attention of the Senate some of my findings. I hope that this speech and the attached background documentation will give people an added understanding of the problems of nazi immigration to Australia in the late 1940s and early 1950s. It should enable us more easily to absorb the detailed research of Mr Menzies and his team.

From the outset, I believe that the issue is a non-partisan, bipartisan or multipartisan issue. Mr Menzies was asked by a current Labor government to make his inquiries. This was in response to calls from Mr Frank Walker of the New South Wales Labor Party, and Senator Sir John Carrick and me from the Liberal Party. The inquiry was endorsed by the Australian Democrats. My research indicates that the immigration policies of both the Chifley and Menzies governments were very similar. Documents I have found show that on occasions both Mr Calwell and Mr Holt, as Immigration Ministers, were tardy in following up nazi-related allegations against some immigrants. Other documents show that in one instance speedy action was taken by a Liberal Party government against an alleged former fascist-and so it goes.

My investigations clearly show that former nazis did come to Australia in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Some of these immigrants were German nazis, while others were members of equivalent organisations such as the Arrow Cross of Hungary, the Zbor of Yugoslavia and the Croatian Ustasha, to which reference has already been made. The conditions were just right for nazis to slip into Australia at that time, for a number of reasons. First, central Europe was in a state of turmoil, with many personal records destroyed. Secondly, an inadequate screening system was in place. Thirdly, confusion abounded about which groups would be refused entry. Fourthly, many former nazis assumed new identities. Fifthly, obtaining what were called `good workers' seemed to be a higher priority than making sure that what were called `undesirable migrants' were kept out. These problems led to a situation in which nazi criminals and war collaborators in Germany and eastern Europe could more easily migrate to Australia. I agree completely with the first finding made by Mr Menzies in his report.

I have obtained numerous documents that support these claims. While none of my documents provide conclusive evidence of a war criminal entering Australia, I am in no doubt that at least a few did so. Many of these former nazis carried on their racist and violent behaviour in Australia. Others laid low, hidden behind their new identities. But many were identified-some by the authorities, some because of bad conduct, some by boasting about their past, and some by former victims. Occasionally foreign governments requested the extradition of suspected war criminals. In these ways people did come to the attention of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and its predecessor organisation, the Commonwealth Security Service.

The Archives contain many ASIO and CSS files documenting investigations of former nazis. Unfortunately, there was at that time in that era a marked reluctance-one can see this in the documents-to hold full and open investigations into these allegations. Instead, the following features seem to have guided most of the activities of the time: First, there was less concern about uncovering nazi connections and fascist attitudes of immigrants than for protecting the immigrants-often the same people-if they were found to be staunchly anti-communist. This was in the McCarthy era. Secondly, there was the assumption that every accusation was likely to be unfounded. Thirdly, there was the assumption that the screening system which had operated before these people came to Australia was adequate. Fourthly, there was the intuitive feeling that significant political difficulties would arise from admitting publicly that former nazi collaborators, war criminals or nazis had entered this country.

Documentary evidence which I have found has led me to conclude that many of the investigations were inadequate. Some were whitewashes and some were cover-ups. Many of the former nazi immigrants did become naturalised Australian citizens, and they may well have become very good Australian citizens. In the naturalisation files I have reviewed there have been police reports on the migrants' background. They are generally in inadequate documents; these reports were not such as would ever have uncovered the conduct of former nazis or would have prevented their naturalisation. This was another failure in the process at the time.

I want now to justify my general conclusions by referring in detail to some of the important documents I have uncovered. Senator Gareth Evans has pointed out correctly that some of them might be too voluminous to incorporate in Hansard so I shall seek to table some and to incorporate a number-mostly brief documents. Although my none too startling revelation of turmoil in Central Europe can be taken as read, it is important to note its effect on Australian immigration from Europe. My first document, which is a fairly sizable document, sets out the nature of the turmoil in Europe at the time and the problems it caused. It is a nine-page document marked `confidential', dated 1950 and about German migration. I seek leave to table this document.

Leave granted.


Senator PETER BAUME —I thank the Senate. Even Mr Holt, who as Immigration Minister of the day had to defend the integrity of the screening system, had to admit in answer to a parliamentary question on 7 November 1951:

I do not say that it is impossible for a nazi, or a communist for that matter, to get through the screen, but I contended that it is highly improbable that such a person would succeed in doing so.

I discuss the migrant selection documents in more detail in a background paper which I have prepared and which I also seek leave to table.

Leave granted.


Senator PETER BAUME —The documents add weight to the suggestion that the screening process was inadequate. My paper reveals little in-depth investigation into the background of potential migrants. There are good reasons for this: There were not enough people doing the job and there were too many people to be screened in too short a time. But the confusion about which group should be refused entry to Australia is best exemplified by document No. 3, which I seek to table and from which I shall quote.

Leave granted.


Senator PETER BAUME —I thank the Senate. I shall quote paragraph 6 of that document, which is written by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Regional Director for New South Wales. In relation to some allegations, he stated:

Most of the allegations dealt with in the separate memoranda boil down to accusations that the subjects were members of the Nazi Party, or Hitler Youth and fought against the Allies in the last war. All the German immigrants employed by the Snowy Mountains Authority must be fit and comparatively young men and therefore it almost necessarily follows that they fought in the last war, and all Germans normally belonged to the Nazi Party or to some allied organisation such as Hitler Youth. As far as I am aware-

this is the part I want to emphasise-

it has never been laid down as policy that a history of this kind is a bar against entering Australia as a migrant, nor has it ever been laid down officially (though I think it has been laid down in Parliament) that high office in the Nazi Party of proof of ``war crimes'' would act as a bar. It seems a matter of some urgency that a definite policy be stated for guidance.

I endorse his concerns that it was a matter of urgency that the policy be laid down. If that statement of 14 January 1952 in that memorandum is correct, it is clear that there was no bar on former nazis, possibly including war criminals, entering Australia. Contrast that with Mr Holt's answer to the question which I read earlier in which he said that it was most unlikely that people would have slipped through. Should this statement be incorrect and should the Regional Director have got it wrong, it is still enlightening. If such a senior official as a regional director of ASIO was in doubt about the policy, certainly other officers would have had similar doubts. In fact, the first document which I tabled suggests that the recommended policy was to let some former nazis into Australia. Documents 4 and 5 give examples of former nazis assuming new identities. The names are still there. I would like to table these documents but I would like to hold on to them until I have whited out any appropriate names. I seek leave to table these two documents.

Leave granted.


Senator Georges —With the names deleted?


Senator PETER BAUME —Yes, with the names deleted. There is no point in using names here. These people adopted new identities. They required little proof to do so in the post-war years. I possess many other documents which refer to such changes of identity. In the background paper which I have tabled I consider in more detail the theme running through many administrative documents, that it is very important to obtain good workers. My reading of these documents leads me to believe that this goal took priority over the need to screen out un- desirable people from Europe. Although officers always expressed confidence in the integrity of the scheme, this confidence prevented them from needing to make a choice. The fact that they had confidence relieved them of having to make a choice between the admitting of fewer good workers and the better screening out of undesirable migrants. If they assumed the screening process was impeccable, they had to do nothing more. To provide hard evidence that any nazi war criminals and collaborators did migrate to Australia, I sought information from the Australian Archives about a number of individuals on a list which was supplied privately to me of alleged former nazis who were suspected of having come to this country. Some of the people on that list had in fact come to Australia together with a number of other former nazis. By the way, that does not make them nazi war criminals.

I have a whole series of documents here which I do not seek to table or incorporate which sets out the names of some of those alleged nazis and some of the ways in which they came to light. All of them were investigated by ASIO. I also have whole files of ASIO documents on people from certain eastern European countries who were former and continuing members and supporters of the Zbor, the Ustasha and the Arrow Cross. Even ASIO, with its distinct lack of enthusiasm for finding former nazis, concluded in a number of cases that former nazis were in Australia.

I have deliberately not revealed my whole hand in this regard. My investigations are continuing. I do not know where they may take me. Although these documents do not prove that nazi war criminals were discovered in Australia, I take the words of an ASIO director who said about one person, whom I will not name: `It is difficult to appreciate that a number of people who have made statutory declarations have done so in complete error'. It is just too convenient that in every case it was concluded that the accused people were clean, were not war criminals and those making statutory declarations were all in error. I seek leave to table document No. 14, which is a censored ASIO report entitled `Nazi Migrants in Australia'.

Leave granted.


Senator PETER BAUME —Only two of the names were not censored. So there were 13 names, I think, on the list. I am not allowed, even today, to know what most of them were. They have been censored by ASIO for secret service reasons; I do not know what the reasons were. I have appealed under the provisions of the Archives Act against this ASIO decision as I have in many other cases where ASIO censorship appears to hide information which I consider to be important. The form of this censorship is discussed again in the background document which I have tabled.

I turn now to discuss in more detail the reluctance to hold full and open investigations into those allegations, when they were made, that there were nazis or significant nazis entering Australia. I want to illustrate the four elements that seemed to guide these inquiries. First, in the documents I have already drawn to the attention of the Senate, there are constant references to the staunch anti-communism of the accused migrants. That is very important but it does not, of itself, have any relevance in relation to the question of whether they were nazis or nazi war criminals and it has no relevance to any conduct, past or present, which was in question. This attitude is well illustrated in document No. 15, a short letter over the signature of the Director-General of Security which I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The letter read as follows-

COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

ATTORNEY-GENERAL'S DEPARTMENT

D BRANCH,

BOX 5219 BB, G.P.O.,

MELBOURNE

11th July, 1951

Telegrams:

`Austerity, Melbourne

SECRET

The Secretary,

Department of External Affairs,

CANBERRA, A.C.T.

Dear Mr Watt,

With reference to your memorandum 1550/20 of 13th June, 1951, seeking information in connection with the note from the Yugoslav Consulate General requesting return and to Yugoslavia for trial as War Criminals, I am forwarding the attached report compiled by my officers.

While this matter appears to be an extension of Yugoslav internal politics, it must be stated these two men represent a body of Yugoslavs who cause infinitely less trouble to this organisation than the great body of their fellow immigrants. They are unceasing in their campaign against Communism and can and do assist A.S.I.O. to the limit of their ability.

It would be appreciated if I could be informed in due course of the nature of your reply to the Yugoslav Consulate General.

Yours sincerely,

Spry

Director-General of Security


Senator PETER BAUME —Colonel Spry said in that letter:

While this matter appears to be an extension of Yugoslav internal politics, it must be stated these two men-

whom I will not name-

represent a body of Yugoslavs who cause infinitely less trouble to this organisation than the great body of their fellow immigrants. They are unceasing in their campaign against Communism and can and do assist A.S.I.O. to the limit of their ability.

We have to remember that officers were operating at the beginning of the Cold War. They were operating in the context of a post-war Europe in turmoil. This explains why their priorities lay as they did, but it must not cloud our judgment if what we are considering is who entered Australia and whether any of them had a past about which we wish to know more. Secondly, many of the documents indicate that the investigating officers worked on the assumption that an association was likely to be without foundation. My next two documents, document No. 16 and document No. 17, both single page documents, are a draft and a final letter over the signature of Mr Holt as Minister for Immigration. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard both the draft and the final letter.

Leave granted.

The documents read as follows-

19th January, 1950

Dear Mr Renouf,

I wish to acknowledge your letter of the 11th instant with which you forwarded copies of documents purporting to support recent allegations of the unsavoury political leanings of certain former displaced persons who are in Australia.

Copies of the statements you sent me had already been received in my Department of immigration, and a thorough investigation is now in progress. Preliminary advice from the investigating authority in respect of three of the men indicates that there is little substance in the allegations made against them. Enquiries into the backgrounds of the remaining persons are continuing.

While not discounting the seriousness of the charges if proven correct, I must inform you that charges and counter charges of the nature of those in your correspondence are not unusual among these people. On investigation it is generally found that the informant is actuated by religious or national bias and that the charges made cannot be substantiated.

However, you may be assured that I shall have the matters raised in your letter carefully sifted and take appropriate action should it be warranted.

Yours sincerely,

H. E. HOLT

Minister for Immigration

E. W. Renouf, Esq.,

65 Turton Avenue,

Belmore, N.S.W.

19th January, 1950

Dear Mr Renouf,

I wish to acknowledge your letter of the 11th instant with which you forwarded copies of documents purporting to support recent allegations of the unsavoury political leanings of certain former displaced persons who are in Australia.

Copies of the statements you sent me had already been received in my Department of Immigration, and a thorough investigation is now in progress.

You may be assured that I shall have the matters raised in your letter carefully sifted, and take appropriate action should it be warranted.

Yours sincerely,

H. E. HOLT

Minister for Immigration

E. W. Renouf, Esq.,

65 Turton Avenue,

Belmore, N.S.W.

Secretary:

This replaces letter of 19-1-50 prepared in the Department.


Senator PETER BAUME —Mr Holt, to his credit, refused to sign the draft letter but it gives us a good insight into the attitude of the Department of Immigration in respect of such accusations. I refer particularly to the last sentence of paragraph 3 of the draft, which states:

On investigation it is generally found that the informant is actuated by religious or national bias and that the charges made cannot be substantiated.

Such sentiments are a common theme in the documents. Thirdly, there was an assumption that the screening system was perfect. I have already indicated that that is not the case. Indeed, Mr Menzies makes that clear in his report. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard document No. 18, which is a letter of just a little more than one page. It is from Mr Calwell.

Leave granted.

The letter read as follows-

(Written at Melbourne)

10th November, 1949

Dear Mr. Leno,

I refer to your representations regarding the views expressed by your Committee that immigration into Australia should be confined to persons residing in countries within the British Empire, and that a grave risk is involved in admitting Germans who were former members of the Nazi party.

In the forefront of the entire immigration programme of the Commonwealth Government are the free and assisted passage schemes designed to bring to this country a steady stream of the best possible immigrant types from the United Kingdom. The Government is determined to preserve the predominantly British character of the Australian nation by insisting that the highest possible proportion of our population gain through immigration should be from the United Kingdom and other Empire countries.

The vital necessity for considerably increasing the population of Australia, both from the defence and economic aspects, cannot be too greatly or too often emphasized. As I have pointed out, preference is given to the entry of British subjects, but it has been found that Australia can absorb immigrants in greater numbers than that offering from British countries. However, non-British persons are, and will continue to be, admitted only in such numbers and of such classes that can readily be assimilated, and every precaution is taken to ensure that they are desirable types.

With regard to the entry of German nationals, you will note from my letter of the 11th October last that only close relatives of residents of the Commonwealth are eligible for admission, and that a thorough investigation is made to ensure that the nominee does not constitute a security risk or is not an active Nazi or Fascist. I would like to point out that these checks, which are of an extremely exhaustive nature, are carried out by Australian and other British authorities in Germany, and if the slightest doubt is held regarding the integrity of the nominee a visa would not be granted in his favour.

While Australia needs migrants, both British and non-British, to maintain her economic stability and ensure her future prosperity, you will see that every care is taken to see that only those who are able to comply with the high standards required, and will become good Australians, will be admitted to the Commonwealth.

In conclusion it is desired to express appreciation of the interest your Committee has shown in the vital question of immigration.

Yours sincerely,

(ARTHUR A. CALWELL)

Minister for Immigration

A. E. Leno, Esq.,

Secretary,

Combined Union Committee,

Newport Railway Workshops,

Victoria


Senator PETER BAUME —In this letter Mr Calwell expressed this generally held view:

. . . a thorough investigation is made to ensure that the nominee does not constitute a security risk or is not an active Nazi or Fascist. I would like to point out that these checks, which are of an extremely exhaustive nature, are carried out by Australian and other British authorities in Germany, and if the slightest doubt is held regarding the integrity of the nominee a visa would not be granted in his favour.

I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard document No. 19, which is another single page letter.

Leave granted.

The letter read as follows-

August 1950

Dear Mr Ward,

I refer again to your inquiry regarding the issue of a Landing Permit in favour of . . . a German national, and his wife.

This case has been fully investigated and the following information has been obtained.

Mr . . . first came to Australia in 1929 and remained here as a woolbuyer until 1939. In the latter year he married and left for Germany on a business trip.

Mr and Mrs . . . were in possession of a Re-Entry Permit and obviously were unable to return to Australia owing to the outbreak of hostilities.

In 1949 an application by . . . was made for the readmission of . . . and their child and in accordance with the usual practice, this was submitted to the Security Authorities for advice as to whether there was any security objection to the application. As the answer was in the negative and the nominees came within the categories of German nationals normally eligible for entry into the Commonwealth, a Landing Permit was issued in their favour on the 26th October, 1949, subject to the usual conditions, including security checks in Europe. . . . could not have received a visa for Australia unless he had been thoroughly screened by Australian Officers in Germany.

I may add that security checks are made in Europe in regard to all holders of Landing Permits, before they are granted visas for Australia. If it is found that a permit holder is an active nazi, is considered to be likely to engage in any other subversive activity or is undesirable in any way, a visa is not granted and the permit is impounded for cancellation.

It will be seen that the question of the readmission of Mr and Mrs . . . was dealt with strictly in accordance with immigration policy.

Yours sincerely,

(H. E. HOLT)

Minister for Immigration

The Hon. E. J. Ward, M.P.,

Federal Members' Rooms,

SYDNEY, N.S.W.


Senator PETER BAUME —I thank the Senate. On this occasion Mr Holt wrote:

If it is found that a permit holder is an active nazi, is considered to be likely to engage in any other subversive activity or is undesirable in any way, a visa is not granted and the permit is impounded for cancellation.

Honourable senators should note that he refers to the exclusion of migrants who were undesirable in any way. Yet I have found a large immigration file index containing the names of immigrants who were identified as undesirable by that Department for a number of reasons, including their nazi backgrounds, but who apparently still came here. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard two brief documents-document No. 20 and document No. 21, letters.

Leave granted.

The documents read as follows-

C2768

To Marks, Sydney

from Lawrey, Canberra.

50/3/25750. Complaint received by Minister concerning re-admission landing permit C.38922, your File N49/3/6015.

Presume case referred to security before permit was issued. Please confirm this and that no objection was raised.

MT 21/7/50 12.15

COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

DEPARTMENT OF IMMIGRATION

CANBERRA, A.C.T.

9th May, 1950.

SECRET

The Secretary,

Department of External Affairs,

CANBERRA, A.C.T.

I refer to your memorandum of 19th April, No. 1550/18, covering copy of a Note received from the Yugoslav Consulate-General concerning a migrant named . . .

This man appears to be identical with a displaced person known to this Department as . . . born 15/4/97, who arrived in Australia under the Displaced Persons' Scheme by the vessel ``Fair Sea'' on 9/6/49. He was accompanied by his wife, . . . born 26/10/07, and his son, . . . born 29/8/32.

. . . is at present employed at this Department's Reception and Training Centre, Bonegilla, Victoria, as a Block Supervisor, his wife is also employed there, whilst the son, . . . is employed by the Department of the Army at No. 1 C.O.D., Bandianna, Victoria.

History cards prepared initially by the International Refugee Organisation in Europe and completed by our Selection Teams in Germany show that these people were of Yugoslav/Serbian nationality and under the section ``Security'' that the family ``fled from the political regime''. They were cleared by the Allied Security Authorities and our own Security Officers attached to the Australian Military Mission in Germany, otherwise they would not have been accepted for settlement in Australia.

Whilst the question raised in the Note received from the Yugoslav Consulate-General is one with which this Department is not directly concerned, our views are that the family having been accepted for settlement in Australia should be permitted to remain here and should not be handed over to the Yugoslav authorities, subject to-

(a) any further security inquiries which you may consider it necessary to make not proving adverse;

(b) it is within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government to refuse to hand over persons cited by another nation as war criminals.

(T. H. E. HEYES)

Secretary.


Senator PETER BAUME —I thank the Senate. These letters demonstrate the reliance which was placed by the governments of the day-whether they were Labor or Liberal-on the imperfect screening system after a complaint had been received. In both of the cases that I have referred to the investigation merely consists of a check that the person was originally screened and that no objection was raised. This assumes that it was a pretty good screening system. Fourthly, many documents convey a feeling that the political difficulties that would arise from admitting that former nazi collaborators and criminals had entered Australia would be too great. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard document No. 22, one of my last incorporations, which is an External Affairs minute of one page.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-

EXTERNAL AFFAIRS

File No. 1550/20.

FOR THE SECRETARY:

Yugoslav ``War Criminals'' in Australia

The Yugoslav Consulate-General has asked that the Australian authorities should deliver to the Yugoslav Government two Yugoslav displaced persons now resident in Australia named . . . and . . . who apparently have been named as war criminals by a Yugoslav Federal Commission. The Yugoslav Note is attached.

2. . . . is at present Editor of the Perth migrant newspaper ``Sloga'', which is allegedly hostile to the present Yugoslav Government. . . . is stated to be associated with . . . on ``Sloga''. The political motive behind the Yugoslav request is thus quite apparent.

3. The evidence advanced against . . . is particularly weak and is unsubstantiated. A rather better prima facie case has been made out against . . . but of course it should not be accepted as true without verification. There does not appear to be any international agreement binding on Australia to surrender such persons.

4. Even if investigation discloses that there is some truth in the Consulate-General's allegations, it does not appear desirable to accede to its request for the men's extradition. Similar requests have been made to the United Kingdom Government but almost all have been refused on the grounds that it is time to bring to an end the punishment of minor war criminals. The few persons handed over to the Yugoslav Government were those who ``by the nature of their official positions, rendered such signal service to the enemy that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to justify a refusal to consider surrendering them'' . . . and . . . do not appear to be in this category.

5. It is recommended however that a copy of the Note should be referred to Immigration and the Security Service for a report, for it seems desirable to ascertain the facts of the matter and to inform these agencies that this request has been made. A report might also be obtained from the British Embassy in Belgrade, if this is practicable for it, upon the findings of the relevant War Crimes Commission and the validity of its decisions.

4th June, 1951.

PO'C/HN

Legal & Consular.


Senator PETER BAUME —That document exposes the nature of some of these political problems. In that minute, the External Affairs officer stated:

A rather better prima facie case has been made out against-

I will not mention the name of the person-

but of course it should not be accepted as true without verification.

He went on to state:

Even if investigation discloses that there is some truth in the Consulate-General's allegations, it does not appear desirable to accede to its request for the men's extradition. Similar requests have been made to the United Kingdom Government, but almost all have been refused on the grounds that it is time to bring to an end the punishment of minor war criminals.

The then Attorney-General, Sir Garfield Barwick, explained these political difficulties in more detail in refusing the Soviet Union's request for the extradition of Ervin Vicks who had been accused of mass shootings which were organised by him while he was chief of the political police in Estonia. Sir Garfield Barwick said at that time:

`Two deep-seated human interests, however, may well here come into conflict. On the one hand, there is the utter abhorrence felt by Australians for those offences against humanity to which we give the generic name of war crimes. On the other hand, there is the right of this nation, by receiving people into this country, to enable men to turn their backs on past bitterness and to make a new life for themselves and their families in a happier community. This has formed a precious part of the heritage of the West, in which Australia has an honourable share.

I interpolate here that Mr Menzies has made it clear in his recommendations that he believes we should take a different course and that, if there are war criminals, they should remain fit subjects for search even 40 years later. Sir Garfield Barwick continued:

In a given case the choice between these two human interests may present a government with a difficult decision. In the present instance, however, the Government came to the conclusion that, all questions of legal obligation apart, if such a choice had been necessary to resolve the matter, its right of asylum must have prevailed. Australia has established a thorough, though of course not infallible, system for sifting and screening the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have enriched our national life since the World War. In default of a binding obligation to do otherwise, those, who have been allowed to make their homes here, must be able to live, in security, new lives under the rule of law.

So my conclusion is that many of the investigations were whitewashes and in others people just really were not terribly interested. There was a very serious allegation in one of the documents which I have not tabled concerning a person said to be a nazi. The investigation of this very serious allegation against six people amounted to little more than asking each of them what he had done during the war. In each case an interpretation was placed on his background circumstances that was most likely to lead to conclusions that he was neither a former nazi nor a former war criminal. In another extradition request concerning a certain person, whom I will not name, there is clear evidence that a cover-up exists. I refer again to document No. 21, which has been incorporated, which acknowledges that this certain person:

. . . appears to be identical with a displaced person known to this Department as-

it gives a different name-

born on 15/4/97, who arrived in Australia under the Displaced Person's Scheme by the vessel `Fair Sea' on 9/6/49.

There are yet other documents which I have, which refer to this person. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard these two very brief final documents.

Leave granted.

The documents read as follows-

DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS,

CANBERRA.

17th July, 1950.

Sir,

I have the honour to refer again to the Consulate's Note P. No. 176 of 24th March, 1950, regarding . . .

Inquiries into the matters raised in this Note have been made, but it has not been possible to identify this person in Australia.

There is a record of a . . . having arrived in Australia in 1949, but the personal particulars of this person and of the members of his family do not square with those contained in your Consulate's Note. In any case, the Australian Government would be unable to agree to handing over . . . as his past history was thoroughly examined before he was accepted for settlement in Australia and he was cleared in every respect.

I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant,

(A. S. Watt)

Secretary

The Consul-General for Yugoslavia,

Yugoslav Consulate-General,

10 Clement Street,

Rushcutters Bay. N.S.W.

24th August, 1950.

Sir,

I have the honour to refer again to the Consulate's Note P. No. 176 of 24th March, 1950, regarding . . .

Inquiries into the matters raised in this Note have been made, but it has not been possible to identify this person in Australia.

I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant,

(A. S. Watt)

Secretary.

The Consul-General for Yugoslavia,

Yugoslav Consulate-General,

10 Clement Street,

Rushcutters Bay. N.S.W.


Senator PETER BAUME —I thank the Senate. These documents show the response to the Yugoslav Government in both draft and final form and it is quite clear that they state that they do not know who the person is. Yet the Department's internal minute, which I quoted earlier, states that the person appears to be identical with a person who is in Australia and who arrived on the Fair Sea. The draft letter is quite misleading, but by identifying the person at least it offered the Yugoslav Government the opportunity to check him out. The letter actually sent-not the draft-covers up the matter. It hides the fact that we knew he was in Australia under a different name, so no possibility of further follow-up could arise.

Overall, my limited research has revealed a degree of sloppiness of procedure partly due to the tough conditions of the time and partly due to the turmoil in Europe. It has shown a lack of willingness in this country to deal with the entry of former nazis, to investigate those who may have come in, to investigate complaints, or to pursue them with diligence and thoroughness. I find it disappointing and disturbing.

Many more files could have been available but, unfortunately, some of them have disappeared from the Australian Archives. Others have been censored heavily and I cannot get access to them. They may have thrown more light on this matter. I am still following up some leads. I have lodged numerous appeals against decisions to refuse access to information. However, some files have been destroyed and their secrets are hidden forever. For me these have been frustrating dead ends.

I welcome the publication of Mr Menzies' findings. They are everything my colleagues have said. They are careful, reasonable and balanced, and they seek to get in this country a debate which is equally reasonable and balanced. Let me finish on a note of caution. It is important that the facts do come out. It is important that we know whether we admitted to this country, among the great number of people who were the victims of World War II, who were never nazis, who suffered under the Germans, any people who could have been nazi war criminals. It is important that we know the extent of entry of any nazi war criminals into this country, but in finding that out we must avoid a witch hunt and we will do this only if we make sure that we do not try to identify whole migrant communities as being either undesirable or unsavoury in some way, that we do not identify particular nationalities as being unsavoury. I do not seek necessarily the punishment of nazis. Forty years on, let them rest. I am not even certain that we have to seek out and to punish those who were nazi collaborators, those who may have been publicists for nazi regimes. Forty years on, let them go. However, if there are people who were war criminals, guilty of crimes against innocent civilian populations, there is no statute of limitations. Mr Andrew Menzies, in some of his main findings, has taken us down that path and if we pursue that path and acknowledge that we have a task to carry out, I believe that Mr Menzies' report and his work will have been well worth while.

Debate (on motion by Senator Gareth Evans) adjourned.