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Friday, 16 July 1920

Mr LAVELLE - Judging by the honorable member's statement it would be of advantage to him as a big farmer; but I think it would also be of advantage to the small farmers whom I represent.

Mr Hill - That is the scheme of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart).

Mr LAVELLE - The Country party stole it from us. They saw that it was a grand scheme for the farmers, and made use of it in order to secure the votes of the farmers. What I have read is a clear reply to those who have deliberately misrepresented the attitude of honorable members on this side towards the farmer.

Mr J H Catts - That policy was adopted by the 1917 Conference.

Mr LAVELLE - Yes; the proposals as adopted at that Conference were outlined and moved by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts), who has been continually misrepresented' during the last few days by honorable members on the Government benches, and honorable members in the corner, and who, I am pleased to know, has given notice of motion to bring the matter specially before the House. It is also a clear reply to those who ask us to prove our statements from our official records. The official record from which I am quoting shows conclusively that the policy and platform of the Labour party are identical with what has been enunciated from this side of the House. When the Minister referred to Soviet Russia he was deliberately misleading honorable members.

The deportation of Australian citizens without trial is a negation of every principle of British liberty. For what was the war fought? For what were the lives of 60,000 Australians laid down ? For what was Australia saddled with a debt of £400,000,000, and its pension list increased so enormously ? The war was fought in order to bring about liberty and justice in the world. But it is a remarkable way of extending justice to every one, to tear persons from their wives and families, their hearths and homes in the country in which they were born, or have made their homes, and deport them without a trial. In my school days, atan Empire Day celebration I remember one gentleman proudly referring to the Union Jack, and declaring that it stood for liberty. He impressed upon us how the great Charter of British liberty was established at Runnymede in 1215. He told us that wherever it flew, the flag was a guarantee that every person would have the right to trial by a jury of his own countrymen; that law, order, and justice would reign supreme, and that every individual in the community, rich or poor, in high or lowly station in life, would receive an equal measure of justice. I was very much impressed. I felt a pride at living in a country sheltered by a flag that guaranteed liberty and justice to every person within its borders; but, unfortunately, I have lived to be disillusioned. In common with other members of this House, I have lived to see men taken from their homes and placed in internment camps without any charge being levelled against them, and without being given any opportunity to meet their accusers.Now, although the war, so far as the actual fighting is concerned, has been over for eighteen months, we find the same conditions existing, and to-day men are being deported, as they have been for some time past, without any semblance of a trial. In this way the Government have torn up the Charter of liberty signed at Runnymede, and are denying to persons in this community that justice to which they are entitled.

I am ashamed to reflect that I live in a country where the National Parliament so degrades parliamentary institutions and responsible government, and so denies the liberty for which we are told the Union Jack stands, as to permit men to bo taken as they have been taken for some time, and as to-day the Reverend Father Charles Jerger has been taken, that they might be deported from this country without a trial.

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