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Wednesday, 21 July 1920

Mr TUDOR (Yarra) .- I shall be brief, because other members desire to discuss the motion ; but there are one or two points which should not be lost sight of. You stated, Mr. Speaker, that your ruling was based on the principle which had been accepted by the House of Commons that nothing should be said in debate that tended to prevent men from getting a fair trial. Now, surely what was said on Thursday last did not tend to prevent any man from getting a fair trial, seeing that it was a demand for a fair trial. We have been told that the case is sub judice. If so, it is extraordinary that there should be an attempt to send Father Jerger away while he is still awaiting trial. The Government informed you, Mr. Speaker, that the case was sub judice, and yet they have moved heaven and earth to send the man out of the country while his case is before the Courts, and had it not been for the action of the British seamen on the Nestor he would not be in the country "to-day. What was said was not tending to prejudice the granting of a fair trial. It is not right for the Government to prevent a fair trial, or to prevent members from speaking on this case. On Wednesday last, before I rose to move my motion of censure, the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) asked a question of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) about Father Jerger's case, .and the right honorable gentleman's reply was that the honorable member would have an opportunity to talk as much as he liked about it during the debate on the censure motion. The honorable member was, however, prevented from talking on the motion because of the arrangement to take a vote on it- before 4 o'clock p.m. on Friday last. I do not think the Prime Minister endeavoured to mislead the honorable member. He, no doubt, thought that on the censure motion we should be able to discuss everything connected with the case, because it was not sub judice in the ordinary acceptation of the words. When a case is sub judice, no one is allowed to say or publish anything about it. The press, however, is not treating this case as sub judice. It knows tha>t it can say what it likes about it, and the Argus comments upon it freely to-day. If the press can comment on it, why should not members on this side be allowed to do so? The newspapers have gone so far a.s to declare that this is the first time that an objection to deportation has been raised by us ; but that statement is a deliberate lie, because on the 17th August last the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs), who was then Deputy Leader of the Labour party, moved a motion protesting against it, as honorable members will see by reference to our Hansard record. Outside the chamber any member may say what he likes about the Father Jerger case; the War Precautions Act does not prevent its discussion. Many of us have said a good deal about, not only this case, but other cases of the kind. Every person in the community is- entitled to a fair trial, and to be told who are his accusers. We have no right to assume a man to be guilty without trying him. What we say now in this matter is what we said twelve months ago. The honorable member for

Angas (Mr. Gabb) some time back spoke of the ill-treatment of internees in internment camps.

Mr Brennan - The longer the Act remains the greater the scandal becomes.

Mr TUDOR - I realize that. To-day the Government were asked whether they intended to employ black labour to effect the deportation of Father .Jerger. I assume that the suggestion was that they might utilize the black labour on board the Peninsular and Oriental steamer Khyber. It would be a disgrace to a country professing to believe in the White Australia policy for a Government to use black labour to obtain their ends. To-day I .received, a telegram from Adelaide, which says -

Glynn, ex-Minister Hughes Government, has given exhaustive statement for publication. One paragraph stating not a single direct proof of any disloyalty has been adduced against this man.

Mr Bell - Are the merits of the case now before, us?

Mr TUDOR - No ; but I am entitled to say what I have been told of the opinion of a leading member of the party opposite, and an ex-Minister and exmember. If the statement that this case is sub judice means anything, it means that the trial of Father Jerger is not concluded, or that he is going to be tried. We say that he is being deported without a trial, and, therefore, the case is not sub judice. If the case were sub judice, surely the Government should not be moving heaven and earth to get the reverend gentleman out of the way before a trial could take place!

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